Category Archives: WordPress

The weblog publishing software that runs this site

How to Disable Autosave in WordPress

The autosave feature in recent versions of WordPress (versions 2.5–2.7) is actually a misfeature:

… A misfeature is not a bug. Nor is it a simple unforeseen side effect; the term implies that the feature in question was carefully planned, but its long-term consequences were not accurately or adequately predicted (which is quite different from not having thought ahead at all).

The improper functioning of the WordPress autosave has bitten me several times. It’s supposed to prevent you from losing work by periodically saving your blog edits in the background, when in fact it has caused me to lose work by its very operation.

[WordPress Logo Inverted]

Basically, the most recent edits made to a blog entry often get dropped when you go to “Preview” or “Publish” the entry. In other words, during either of these two operations, it reverts you to what it had autosaved in the past and the new edits are lost. The frustrating thing is that most users would expect the “Preview” operation if not the “Publish” operation to properly save what’s in the edit box. So often, you might end up publishing an incomplete or incorrect version of your blog entry without even knowing it.

This is madness. Let’s stop it.

Find the following four files in the wp-admin/ directory of your WordPress installation:

  1. page-new.php
  2. page.php
  3. post-new.php
  4. post.php

and comment out the following line:

wp_enqueue_script('autosave')

by changing it to:

//wp_enqueue_script('autosave')

This will disable the autosave feature in the WordPress user interface.

A secondary part of the solution, too, is to always hit “Save Draft” before hitting “Preview”. I’m not sure if this is strictly necessary, but now I’m paranoid.

Thanks to Allen Day and William Lone for showing me how to do this.

A quick synopsis of the last few days

Here’s a quick synopsis of the last few days of my life:

  • In trying to create a page for a new project idea, I discovered that my WordPress installation was now broken. WordPress is the thing that runs this site.
  • In creating a new WordPress installation for my Tchou Tchou’s new website, I found that it was broken too. Out of the box. No final solution yet.
  • I successfully started a mailing list for my extended family. My first use of the list was to wish my Grandparents a happy 65th wedding anniversary today. (Wow!)
  • I bought a new 250-GB hard drive to house my growing media collection.
  • I managed to decimate my computer’s hard drive at work and I lost everything. And I mean everything. Fortunately there was no important data there. I keep it all online or at home, surprisingly enough. I don’t know if it was my fault, though. A 7+ hour transfer from a USB hard drive locked up my Ubuntu and left the ext3 partition in an unmountable state. Bye bye data.
  • In lieu of a working hard drive at work, I’m using Damn Small Linux as a life-raft “Live” operating system. At 50 MB, it’s awesomely powerful.
  • I absolutely fell in love with Jonathan Coulton’s music when I heard his song “Shop Vac”. (Go download it. You know you want to.) Some of my money will be flying his way very soon.
  • I reconnected with my friend Juraj from Calgary. We haven’t seen each other or talked since about 1999 or 2000, I think. I’m glad he uses the same email address, anyway. I’m still waiting to hear back from another lost friend, Matt, though.
  • This week (and the next two) I’m helping my Tchou Tchou work on her research project for a course she’s taking. She’ll be surveying art students at the college level to get their opinions on curriculum and teaching style.

So, all in all, I’m quite busy, and I’m having mixed high and low experiences with computer technology. But the lows are pretty low right now. I wish things would stop breaking. <sigh> Yet, life is going well.

Swing abates, my online life abounds

Today is July 4, which marks the two-year anniversary of my involvement with Swing Beijing!. And how am I celebrating? By skipping, actually.

For the last two years, Swing has not just been a part of my life, but it has been my life. I found it at a time when I was just emerging from a one-year hermit phase. Thus, it launched me from my social isolation into a world where I was having multiple encounters with people each week. It also broke my one-year isolation from other foreigners here in China. It allowed me to develop the extroverted part of my predominantly introverted nature.

But it seems as though that time has come to a close. No, I’m not closing myself off and re-entering a hermit phase. I’m just moving away from Swing and concentrating my creative energy in other areas. In November last year (2004), I started to discover other bloggers and also the phenomenon of podcasting. I started connecting with people online, and I began contributing to conversations with others through leaving comments and giving feedback through email. And it has been an exciting time for me.

I’m not sure what the ultimate goal of this new direction in my life is, but I can tell that it’s the right direction. And that’s thrilling.

The hosting woes that I experienced a few months ago forced me to find a new hosting solution and ultimately a new blogging tool called WordPress. And the change has been fantastic. It’s a very powerful tool. But I’ve been sitting on the default look of the WordPress 1.5 install since then, so my site looks like too many others out there. I have been looking for a new design for the header at the top of the weblog, and I finally found one last week. So, here is the new look. It’s a star scene that I generated entirely from the mathematical functions found in the GIMP drawing program. I feel it suits my character and the nature of a “Mad Philosopher” quite well. Here is a screenshot of the new look. Here is the old look for comparison.

As always, comments are welcome. Thanks for joining me in the journey thus far.

WordPress hacking

I’ve been using a default WordPress installation to run this blog for a few months now. But there have been a few things that I didn’t like about how it works, and so I jumped into the php code to see if I could make some changes. My biggest gripe was that on the monthly archive pages, each entry is truncated to the first 100 characters, whereas I would prefer to see the entire entry displayed. So I replaced the code < ?php the_excerpt() ?> in archive.php with the code < ?php the_content('Read the rest of this entry &raquo;'); ?> that I found in index.php. I was just guessing at what these two functions actually do, but I guessed right and got rid of the annoying truncation.

I installed a spelling-checker plugin so that I can check my spelling before I post an entry. (Before this, I actually performed a forensic spell check via lynx -dump -nolist http://madphilosopher.ca/ | ispell and found some old spelling errors, but I haven’t gone back and fixed all of the back entries yet.)

I changed the permanent link scheme so that links to old entries look like this: http://madphilosopher.ca/2005/03/the-wedding/. This makes it obvious what the link is about before the user clicks on it. And when examining my web server logs, I’ll be able to tell what posts are what by examining the URL. Before the change, I used this scheme: http://madphilosopher.ca/archives/107/, which is not nearly as user-friendly.

I also learned that the default linking scheme index.php?p=107 can be used within a blog post to refer to another blog post, so that these references won’t break even when I change the permanent link scheme.

So, the mechanics and structure of this blog are slowly becoming my creation. I made some major changes today, and I learned a lot about WordPress. It feels great!

Technorati and me

This is cool. I just learned that the categories of my blog posts are picked up by the Technorati search engine and used as tags. So, my Antiwar blog posts show up in a Technorati “search” for Antiwar, for example, according to this URI: http://www.technorati.com/tag/antiwar. Awesome. Check these out:

To see how this works, read the original article by Tom Raftery, entitled “WordPress Categories, Technorati Tags and Search Engine Optimisation”.

Four more days to go

I just read an interesting Wired article about how Blogger has been experiencing tonnes of glitches and outages lately, really diminishing the blogging experience for its users. I just had to smile, knowing that Mercury is just shaking things up for us again. You see, Mercury is retrograde right now, and Mercury is all about communication, thinking, and technology. So when that planet’s motion reverses in the sky, miscommunications happen, and the communication channels that we rely on—especially technological ones—tend to break. This doesn’t happen because Mercury is somehow punishing us, but it is intended to remind us from time to time how reliant we are on our technology. It is good for the soul to be “off the grid” for a while.

I have talked to numerous people in the last few weeks about miscommunications that have happened to them, and I relate them all back to this. I was tipped off to Mercury’s action when my webserver went completely off the wall. This forced me to find a new hosting solution, and alas, to move away from Blogger. As a result, I discovered a new technology called WordPress that I am quite happy with. It’s really a joy to manage and create blog entries under WordPress, and it’s responsive and reliable. Much more so than Blogger.

As for Mercury, we have about four more days to go before the planet goes direct again. Take the time to reflect on the gift of communication, in its many forms from natural speech and body language, to the technologically-enhanced forms we use today. And call your Mother!

Working on the blog

Since the server crash, I’ve been working hard at putting my weblog back together. I’ve been trying to learn how the WordPress publishing system works, and later on I’ll work at customizing it. So for now, you’re stuck with the default look that comes with WordPress. It’s not bad, actually, but this site doesn’t feel like it’s mine because I haven’t customized it yet. Remember, I built the last incarnation of The Mad Philosopher by hand. I received a great idea from the ether for a new logo, so I’ll eventually design it and then choose my colour scheme and integrate it with the site. But for now, I’m still working on the content.

It turns out that the backup I recently made of the old site got erased because Bruce forgot it was there. I got very mad and couldn’t sleep well last night because of that, but I’ve let it go now. I’ve managed to find most of the missing files in various places on my computer. All of the blog entries were safely stored on Blogger, so it’s only the graphics and sound clips that I’ve had to dig up from various places. Most files I’ve been able to restore from a backup that I do have from way back in August 2004.

WordPress comes with a script that will import your blog entries from Blogger. It worked pretty well. Because I’m the careful guy that I am, I generated a list of my Blogger entries by title and timestamp and compared it to what got imported into this new system. I’m glad that I did because I found that two months got missed in the transfer. I was able to redo the transfer for just those two months. The entries from a year and a half at the beginning of the blog didn’t have titles, so I retroactively gave them each titles. While doing this, I read through what was imported and found that a couple of entries were truncated, so I’ve fixed that. I’ve also categorized half of the old entries and half of the new ones. There’s just a batch in between that I’ve yet to do. But it’s pretty cool to be able to browse my blog by category. See the sidebar on the right of the main page.

Once the blog is taken care of, I can add some pages of my old content, and fill this site out into a real website. Wish me luck. And thanks for reading and staying with me through the turmoil. Especially those of you on RSS. I probably broke your aggregators more than a few times!

What’s up with this new site?

My webserver went FUBAR a few days ago and my administrator, Bruce, is AWOL. So I found a new hosting solution (which is how you’re reading this message now) and I’m trying to restore the site as soon as I can. Sorry for all the mess. And for those of you who have been paying attention, Mercury is retrograde again. 🙂

The new look is here because I’ve just installed the WordPress blogging system on my website. It’s not much of a website so far since the latest backup of my website is locked behind a bad behaving gateway. Once that gets fixed, I can restore my old stuff. But I want to explore WordPress and I’ll be working on converting my Blogger entries over to this new system. Ya know, make everything seamless.