The Robservatory

Robservations on everything…


Site upgrade completed

Welcome to Robservatory 2.0!

We're now running the latest and greatest version of WordPress, but the big news is that I've spent a fair bit of time digging for and installing useful add-ons. (I've also converted the sidebar to WordPress widgets, a cool plug-in that makes it much easier to add and remove things from the sidebar.)

Read on to see some of the new features, as well as some notes from the conversion process...

Here are some of the new features you'll see:

  • Login in the sidebar. No longer do you have to view another page just to enter your username and password.
  • Live search results. As you type your search terms, the top 10 matches are immediately displayed below the search box, along with a link to find more matches using those same search terms. [Added January 21st]
  • Expand-in-place for the "read more" tags. When you click the "More" link, the article will expand in place, letting you keep reading when you're done with the long story. At that point, you can click the new "Less" link, and the second part of the story will magically disappear again.
  • The sidebar now calls out active posts, not just the most recent comments (which you can still subscribe to via RSS).
  • Real comment previews: No longer is there an "as you type" preview, but an actual Preview button you can click to see what your comment is going to look like before it goes live.
  • The weather in my area (Beaverton, Oregon) is shown at the bottom of the sidebar (it's updated every 15 minutes). From December through April or so, this is here mainly to show all of you how much it rains here!
  • Though I haven't yet put it to use, I can now run polls--both in questions, and in the sidebar. I have no idea when I might find a use for this, but I wanted to have the feature there, just in case.
  • Custom registration form. OK, this one's pretty minor, but the reg form is no longer the generic "Register for this blog" WordPress form.
  • There's a new RSS feed in the sidebar for Find Mac Stuff. This is a site launched by a buddy of mine that helps you find the right URLs for Mac hardware, software, books, and more. So instead of searching Google and finding a million "for sale" matches, Find Mac Stuff will give you just what you want--the product's home URL.

Hopefully I didn't break anything in the upgrade, but I probably did--so if you see something non-functional, please let me know!

Here are some updates I originally ran at the top of this story, updating the status of the conversion...

Update: It seems I have some learning to do relative to the widgets. As of now, they only display on the main page, not in the article view you see when posting comments. I'm not sure if this is a limitation or something that can be fixed, but I'll look into it.

Update #2: Widgets now work on the single page view. For anyone working on a widgetized site, the trick is need to add a single command near the bottom of single.php. The command calls the sidebar:

<?php get_sidebar(); ?>

With that in place, everything is working as expected.

Update #3: I think everything is now working right, and I added in one more nifty plug-in (live search).


Add a Comment
  1. Yeah, you should be able to get widgets in the sidebar on individual article pages too. Might take a bit of tweaking - I know it did for me using the Rubric theme.

    Sounds like you've got some awesome plugins. Care to post a list? Also, I'm interested in whether your poll plugin(s) work as advertised - I haven't had much luck with polls so far.

  2. I'm seeing weather info, but it looks like there should be something above these three lines:

    Current Time: 11:58 PM
    Temperature: 31F
    Forecast: Partly Cloudy

    There's a >> just under "How's Rob's Weather?" with a lot of blank space - should there be a picture? A video of Oregon drivers in the snow?


  3. The image should be working now...and it was for me in all my testing, mainly because I (whoops!) forgot to test in Safari. It looked fine in Camino and Firefox. However, the style for the weather graphic included background: transparent;, and I guess Safari didn't like that, as it made the resulting graphic invisible.


  4. The site upgrade seems to be working great. I love the expand in place feature. This is definitely one of the better casual sites on the web.

  5. Thanks for the upgrades and for mentioning them. Especially for the sidebar where you can sign in. I hate having to navigate to other pages just to log in to my own account on a site. If there’s one thing that has bugged me the most is that sites require me to navigate away from the page I’m looking at to login and then I can never find that page ever again. It makes me so mad that I have stopped using some sites because of it. One of my favorite sites is VocalNation because of the way they do it. They have you log in and then choose to continue what you’re doing or go to your profile. But honestly I have to tell you that I hate the click through you’ve created with the Preview button. So annoying. I like the preview as you go. It’s the same thing with less clicking and I happen to think the less clicking the better. Don’t you?

  6. Great upgrade. It is good to see that we can now sign in at the sidebar.
    All the other features are fantastic and the site is now easier to use.
    Keep it up.

  7. I love the new features Rob,

    One question though, how do we subscribe to the RSS feed? I canno seem to find it (although I am sure it is staring me in the face)

  8. Just wanted to say thank you! Worked very well for me, ok my sidebar is full of custom code but i found out where i can put it in :D

  9. Just like Kirk I’m also seeing a weather report thingy. I’ve been visiting your site for the past few months but I haven’t seen those plug-ins you’re telling us. Am I missing something?

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