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Experimenting with WordPress child themes and overriding template-tags.php December 14, 2017

Posted by Steven in Software, The-Web.
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I recently realized a small project with WordPress. If I do get my hands dirty, the projects are really tiny so I usually resort to very simple platforms such as Squarespace, wix.com or indexhibit. Just anecdotally I believed WordPress has become to complex and the time vs. quality ratio of pulling together a good WordPress platform (with different plugins, template configurations and so on) is just not worth it. But as so many sites on the web are powered by WordPress I wanted to give it another shot.

I must say in current version 4.9.1 WordPress feels swift and powerful and also -in my view- the documentation improved and is now really easy to understand. So it was quite fun to set up the project.

Some things did not change: So either you fork $ for really complex and customizable themes or you start with a free theme and will eventually have to adapt it. Really any kind of intimate visual tweaks do require some jumps to the php / css code editor. I learned that my old copy paste approach is not the way to adapt themes. So I created a proper child theme. The procedure works fine but I must say.. again.. comparing it to Squarespace or the like: It is quite an intricate operation for something as simple as adapting an existing theme.

So I got basic custom styles and formats in and .. fast forward .. I needed to adapt some entry-meta-information. This resulted in the need to change php functions in:

template-tags.php

I used the good old child approach and simply tried to override the file in

<theme folder>/inc

But it turns out this approach does not override the functions loaded in the parents function tree. :-(

I googled and this forum post explains it very well:

https://wordpress.org/support/topic/customizing-inctemplate-functions-php-in-child-theme/

So the solution is to take great care in how the classes and functions are loading. And when you really step into this order of functions loading (pls. see the link above) than you can make it work and get your custom tags and stylings in.

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HEIF HEIC Converter for Windows December 13, 2017

Posted by Steven in Apple, Software.
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Apple seems to be aware that local storage on iPhones is mostly scarce. Recent iOS releases brought a number of improvements and more transparency regarding the storage management on iOS and iCloud.

I was quite surprised that Apple did not only pull of a couple of tricks regarding the display and management of storage but it even thought about the file formats that take up most of the space on an iPhone. For many people the storage fills up quickly by taking a lot of pictures. Apple looked at the way photos are stored (usually in .JPG format) and jumped in to change that format on iPhones.

The new modern file format  HEIF was specially designed by Apple to efficiently store a lot of photos and save this precious storage space.

Now the downside of this great change is – that the format and the usage of this efficient image storage system is right now an isolated Apple thing. iPhones do a good job in letting you post to Instagram and Facebook – handling the conversions in the background. But when you use old fashioned cables to access or copy files off your phone than you might get stuck with a file that your Computer can’t open.

To solve this some free tools are available: For Windows have a look at:

https://www.copytrans.de/copytransheic/

And for Macs there are also free tools available: https://imazing.com/heic

My view: give it a try and fear not: the move to efficient image formats is surely a great move for users. More space on your device.. more features like these neat live photos and just a bit of getting used to in your daily workflows.

 

Simple and Creative Wireframe inspirations December 6, 2017

Posted by Steven in The-Web.
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Here is a great blog post by inVision which showcases great wire-framing work:

https://www.invisionapp.com/blog/wireframe-examples/

of course the team promotes their own tool: freehand by invision.

Learn about the CMS used by media upstart Vox December 4, 2017

Posted by Steven in In-Media, The-Web.
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Here is an interesting write-up of the CMS “Chorus” an in house developed super tool for vox media.

https://pfauth.com/publishing-platforms/vox-medias-chorus/

Design Inspirations November Edition November 30, 2017

Posted by Steven in The-Web.
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Showcases and curated visual lists of front-end designs for inspiration purposes.

https://dribbble.com/Stugbear

https://medium.muz.li/ui-interactions-of-the-week-101-72fb2885d477

https://muz.li/join/

 

https://www.invisionapp.com/blog/introducing-design-systems-handbook/

 

Excellent Summary of Discounts (Germany Black Friday) November 24, 2017

Posted by Steven in In-Media, The-Web.
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I am getting really distracted by all of these Black Friday deal adverts. My gut feeling is that many retailers really stepped up their game: E-Mail marketing (lots), instagram adverts, even updated shop apps which reflect special icons / banners to guide shoppers to the “crazy discounts”.

In my quest to bring order to the chaos I found this brilliant blog which nicely lists prices and discount offers grouped by item category. So one can really decide what one needs and look it up.

http://www.schimanke.com/

 

Quick Link Toss: Martin’s Photos October 11, 2017

Posted by Steven in Freetime.
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Here are the Link to Martin’s Fotocommunity portfolio + website:

Always great places to wander around and check out gorgeous photos. I see a lot of portraits and artistic blacks and whites there.

 

The End of Flash October 11, 2017

Posted by Steven in The-Web.
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When I was a student in school a whole new world opened up with the boom of the internet. Back then with slow modems and AOL access software which was shared on CD-ROMs. From the beginning on my friends and I tried to scope out how much you could do with the world wide web. How much “multi media” and how much interaction could you send through these tiny pipes.

Obviously in these wild times of the 90ies the company macromedia and their incredibly promising flash / shockwave product attracted our attention.

Well time moves on. Flash’s is quite a similar fate to that of other 90ies stars like Netscape or Nokia (for completely different reasons though). There were so many exciting options with Flash in the 90ies: Interactions beyond having to input a form and press submit + real rich animations including vector shape modifications. However the world moved on and the pipes became bigger and the interaction frameworks surrounding dynamic HTML and several JavaScript engines matured so quickly. Steve Jobs famously condemned flash in 2010. And the highly optimized browsing platforms of modern day laptops just can’t really run Flash in a secure, non-annoying and battery-saving way.

So even the now-Flash-Owner Adobe has realized: Flash has to be decommissioned.

https://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2017/07/adobe-flash-update.html

So with my positive experience in the 90ies and with looking at the long Flash history, I wanted to reiterate. It is good that Flash will die. But it has had its place in digital history.

 

OwnCloud and External Storage via Dropbox.com September 29, 2017

Posted by Steven in In-Media, Innovation.
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I know I am late to the game. But just recently I discovered “OwnCloud“. In my view OwnCloud is mainly a well designed server software which can be used and installed freely. The suite also includes some client-side Apps and some extensions – some of these additional tools require a purchase. When you install your own cloud server you essentially get a nifty cloud file storage solution with easy ways to upload through a browser, manage files and documents, share stuff and keep track of versions and basic collaboration features. You can check out all the details on their official site:

https://owncloud.org/

As I said I am fairly new to that game. And I just recently installed an OwnCloud server on a backup webspace that I maintain since Uni. It works really well and it is a good extension to my regular drobobox and onedrive accounts. Over the weeks I casually looked through the features and discovered nice ways to extend an OwnCloud installation. You can access it through many clients and out of the box it supports the WebDav protocol. Also I would like to mention: The mobile and desktop web client is also really really good.

One nice way to expand is to add your external storage providers. I’ve done that with my Dropbox account and I was quite happy with having everything in a nice view through the lean web interface of OwnCloud.

However since one or two days or so this solution stopped working. I.e. there were error messages in OwnCloud and I could not open my Dropbox folder via OwnCloud.

It turns out that this OwnCloud external storage solution seems to use the OAuth 1.0 protocol as part of the Dropbox API v1. I feel that OwnCloud is already a fairly complex product and many enthusiasts work on the code and tirelessly want to improve the core and key features. The external Dropbox  solution seems to be a lower priority and it seems it was left untouched as Dropbox API v1 continued to work in parallel to the new Dropbox API v2. But just now on 28-September-2017 Dropbox really switched  off API v1.   :-(   for me this means – the just discovered option to use  Dropbox from within OwnCloud does no longer work.

https://blogs.dropbox.com/developers/2017/09/api-v1-shutdown-details/

I believe work will continue on that piece but I may need to stay patient. So OAuth 2.0 and consequently the new Dropbox API v2 needs to be incorporated in OwnCloud. People are already talking about this challenge and work has started:

https://central.owncloud.org/t/gsoc17-dropbox-v2-integration/5901

Video Conferencing and Screen Sharing – easy and seamless September 20, 2017

Posted by Steven in In-Media.
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I’ve recently had the opportunity to meet some talented developers from the distinguished city of Nuremberg. It was inspiring to learn how they specialized on certain skills and how distributed teams work together seamlessly.

I generally observe that freelance developers and smaller companies can tap into new and innovative tools much quicker than large companies (partly of course due to regulatory reasons applied to large institutions).

Appearin Illustration Banner

For easy stand-up-meetings and to pull distributed teams together they used “appear.in“.

Their tag-line says it quite well: appear.in  –  one click video conversations. But it can do even more. It can share your screen and it works nicely on an Android device or on an iPhone. I tried it out and I was surprised how easy, hassle free and quick it is.

Essentially you:

  • go to their site: https://appear.in
  • pick a name for your room (any kind of name – I know there may be Security concerns for confidential meetings but for quick team huddles it is really nice)
  • and a second later you’re in your meeting room (which seems to use a nice web standard front-end / no flash or plugins needed)
  • you can invite others and start chatting
  • there is easy text chat and screen sharing capabilities as well
  • and as far as I can see: it’s free!

 

And to cater just a little bit for the fine print: they seem to be based on Norway and their terms of service states that they don’t store any transcripts or call content on their servers. Also they have a nice blog and seem to be a cool bunch of people :) go say hi.

go try it out and let me know what you think in comments.

Great Spots Showcased: Awwwards June 13, 2017

Posted by Steven in In-Media.
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Always on the run for inspiration and for great spots on the world wide web. Now I found one little service that makes for a good starting point.

http://www.awwwards.com

In my own words: it’s a website aggregator which allows users and jury members to assign grades (1-lowes 10-highes) to website projects. It’s updated daily and provides a great overview of well designed or very usable websites. A good place to skim for inspiration.

 

Great Spots on the Web – made with Squarespace May 2, 2017

Posted by Steven in In-Media.
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Just yesterday I met with a friend who is planning to start her own business. It was an inspiring afternoon with lots of great ideas and the true free spirit of getting things done and working on things who make sense.

This inspired me and I brainstormed some of my own ideas again. So here we go – directly from the brainstorming session: Some great examples of sites which use Squarespace:

sites made with squarespace (illustration)

quick observation: apparently everyone needs huge images :-)

 

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