WordPress Plugin Updates

I’ve just pushed out updates with both my Last FM and Calendar plugins for WordPress.

Calendar is still going strong after all these years and has recently received a security audit and associated fixes as well as some useful fixes and tweaks as reported by users in the forums. As such this is well worth grabbing.

Last FM is less of an update, more of a health check. This continues to work well with the latest version of WordPress and so with no reported issues in the user forums and other commentary areas, this just receives a update to its tested up to tag compliant with WordPress 5.1

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Eastern European Road Trip Completion

It’s been such an incredible adventure and such a strange feeling to be back that I think we’ll be waiting a week or so to re-adjust to life in a more stationary setting before sharing stories or posting anything significant.

Suffice it to say at this stage that the trip has been deeply enlightening, a true journey of discovery and has changed us both as people for the better.

If you missed anything on our travels or indeed the entire thing, the tracker will be permanently archived here

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Eastern European Road Trip Begins

It’s been a long time in the planning but it’s finally upon us! Shweta and I are off for a month around Eastern Europe, taking our own car over 6,000 miles, visiting in excess of 12 countries and reaching as far East as the Black Sea coast of Romania and Bulgaria.

As you would expect there is a little technology backing us up along the way and so if you click on the tyre tracks on the right or follow this tracker link, you’ll be taken to a dedicated trip page where you can follow our progress and share in some of the travel excitement.

We hope you enjoy our updates and we look forward to meeting up with friends upon our return to tell our travel stories!

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Akismet Invalid Key

I upgraded the Akismet anti-spam plugin on my site earlier only to be greeted with a message stating “your akismet key is invalid”. Turns out that despite having my personal key since early 2006, I had to re-request the key on the Akismet site. I noticed when I did this that I was encouraged to pay a subscription fee of my choosing.

While I do completely understand the need to monetise services like this, I really didn’t like the underhand way in which I was forced onto that page. Plugin upgrades shouldn’t render a previously issued key invalid and certainly shouldn’t force you onto a site where payment is solicited to proceed (even if you can side-step this). As a plugin author, if I published a plugin into the WordPress repository that did this kind of thing I’d likely have my entry deactivated for violation of terms of service – smacks of double standards to me

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Hashing phpBB Passwords

At some point in the future I’ll be writing a more comprehensive article on linking external applications authentication to the phpBB user system, but in the meantime, if you just want to hash passwords or compare hashes then the following code is really useful

define('IN_PHPBB', true);
$phpbb_root_path = './';
$phpEx = substr(strrchr(__FILE__, '.'), 1);
include($phpbb_root_path . 'common.' . $phpEx);

$password = 'password';
$hash = phpbb_hash($password);

if (phpbb_check_hash($password, $hash)) {
echo '"Hash "'.$hash.'" matches password "'.$password.'"';
}

It allows you to run a separate php file which utilises phpBB functions to hash passwords; call it from a shell script, use it to login to servers etc.

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Renaming WordPress index.php

Now as any developer who’s dabbled with WordPress knows, it’s easy to change the root directory location of WordPress so that directory structure wise different CMS systems can play nicely alongside one another.

What about, however, the situation where two CMS systems both require a root file of index.php? Well there you have a problem because if you change the name of the WordPress index file, which on the face of it seems easiest, you break the search feature (and possibly other things I’ve not found yet).

Fortunately I found a simple 3 step method which requires modifying only 1 line in 1 core file, which compared to other CMS systems, is not that many.

  1. Firstly you’ll want to follow the instructions on the link at the start of the article to move your WordPress root away from the root of your site so that it can co-exist with your other app. Then, instead of creating a file named index.php in your website root, you create wordpress.php or another name of your choosing
  2. Secondly, in the .htaccess file you created as part of the aforementioned guide, replace instances of index.php with wordpress.php or whatever name you chose
  3. Now, for the final bit of magic, locate the following file wp-includes/class-wp-rewrite.php and replace

    public $index = 'index.php';

    with

    public $index = 'wordpress.php';

    taking care to use your alternative file name if it differs

That’s a wrap as they say! You should find that WordPress works fine, including the search feature, all the while leaving index.php free for use by another CMS. Do let me know in comments how you get along with this if you try it.

Oh and remember, if you upgrade WordPress, which will happen every now and again, do check to make sure your core file change gets put back – I hate to change core, but as index.php is hard-coded, it’s the only way.

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Last FM 1.0.1 Released

I’ve just pushed out a quick update to Last FM for WordPress. As well as validating compatibility with recent changes to WordPress core, the release comes with a number of useful bug fixes and features, including a rather nice one that permits the display of album covers alongside the track listing. Hope you enjoy the release!

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Calendar 1.3.10 Released

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a blog update on the WordPress Calendar plugin, but as I’ve just pushed out another bug fix version I thought it a good idea to outline what has changed since I last posted and what is to come.

Firstly in skipping the last 2 versions worth of blog posts I’ve missed trumpeting a really useful new feature. I was contacted by an individual at the BBC last year who wanted to use my calendar (amongst others) to syndicate music event listings across a number of websites for a local radio station. What emerged was an iCalendar feed which both provided long desired functionality to the masses as well as allowing BBC local radio to syndicate events to their own music pages from dozens of local music related websites. Beers all round I think. The 1.3.10 release contains some well deserved fixes to this new functionality along with the usual checks to ensure the latest version of WordPress causes no issues.

In the pipeline then are performance boosts and a semi-rewrite which will seek to harmonise the visuals of a much loved and actively used front-end with developments and improvements in the big wide world of online calendaring. I’d like to provide a date, but as ever, these things take time and thought, neither of which are easy to estimate when holding down a day job and a hectic social schedule.

As ever it’s well worth hitting the update button to get hold of 1.3.10. Any problems or questions in the forums as usual please.

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Expanded ULEZ Consultation Response

Living in Central London I recently submitted the following response to the consultation on expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone from the congestion charging area outwards to the boundaries of the North and South circular roads. While I strongly believe that greener vehicles alongside reduced car use is essential for the improvement of our health and environment, I feel it’s not right to impose such things at a local level in such a way as to cause those who are already doing their bit to end up paying a pseudo tax.

While the rationale behind these proposals is extremely laudable, the financial implications for residents living within the proposed expanded ULEZ zone who own non-compliant light vehicles is simply unacceptable. For car users in this category, many will be faced with the prospect of borrowing large sums of money to replace perfectly serviceable vehicles or paying a pseudo tax every time they drive their existing car (the word pseudo is used here because if there is little choice in the matter it equates to a tax). The daily charge is most likely then to be paid by infrequent car users as such a cost would be significantly less than replacing their vehicle and yet these infrequent car users are the ones who should be supported; though infrequent car use they necessarily use public transport where possible and in turn will be at the bottom end of the scale in terms of contributors to pollution and congestion amongst the car owning public. These issues are compounded by the fact that there is no proposed sunset period for expanded ULEZ area residents which might have allowed for either a period of saving for replacement or natural wastage in terms of eventual expensive repairs necessitating replacement anyway. Despite the undoubted health and environmental benefits for such residents, the uncompromising nature of the proposals make it impossible for these individuals to support these plans which is very great shame.

Having shared my response, I now feel that I should explain my position in an attempt to solicit a response from readers. I own a car, but use it infrequently – primarily for visiting friends or family out of town at weekends or to facilitate hiking trips. It is an old car, but as current electric vehicles are not capable of the kind of range I would require, I’m retaining my existing car until such time as technology improves to allow me to make the switch.

I feel this is the greener option; if I was to switch immediately, it would likely be to another fossil fuel vehicle which I would then keep for much longer on account of the investment cost and thus would, most probably, end up contributing more negatively to emissions. Insight and opinions from those with a better knowledge of these matters would be most welcome!

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Family Christmas 2017

Continuing the tradition of a family photo at the Christmas dinner table before tucking into the festive feast. Shweta’s Father was able to join us from India this year which made the occasion all the more special.

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