WordPress Tip: Preview post in the same tab

When I’m working on a blog post I can easily have half a dozen tabs open in my browser displaying sites supporting the topic of the article. Having WordPress open up yet another tab just so I can see what the article is going to look like can be quite irritating. Thanks to the WordPress ribbon, I can now easily move between the editing window and preview window all in the same tab.

Both preview options on the actual editing screen will open your preview in a new tab, but if you choose the View Post option from the ribbon, it will open the preview in the current tab.

You’ll notice that the View Post option changes to Edit Post when you are looking at the preview. Click it to return to editing this post. You can also click on the New button from either screen to start a new post – again in this same browser tab.

It may take a bit of effort to get used to using the ribbon instead of the original links, but it won’t take long before it becomes second nature.

Review: Photogene for iOS

Photogene2 [iPhone – $0.99] and Photogene [iPad – $2.99] are photo-editing apps designed for on-the-go photo-editing and sharing. I started using the iPad version on my first generation iPad to edit photos I imported from my camera and found it both easy and impressive. I can straighten, crop and adjust images quickly, then, when I have an Intenet connection, send them on their way to my Flickr account for safe-keeping. This was especially handy on our family trip to Hawaii last spring.

Those very useful features just scratch the surface of Photogene’s possibilities. This video demonstration provides a more complete. view.

Originally, the iPhone version was much the same as the iPad one, but the developers recently released an entirely new app – Photogene2 – which provides both a new interface and additional features. It does all the editing and sharing things the iPad version does, but it also has a group of creative effects and filters to turn your photos into works of art. And, there is a camera module to help while you’re taking photos. My tool of choice is the stabilizer which saves a lot of my photos from the delete button. I also like the ability to choose the point of focus. The in-app purchases for the Photogene2 provides additional frame designs and collage templates. Here’s a video demonstration of this app.

There’s a very nice in-app tutorial for each app. Click on the information button at the top of the Photogene2 screen. On the iPad, you’ll find the information icon in the app’s title also at the top of the screen. Both take you to the app’s information page where you’ll find a prominently displayed link to the tutorial page.

I have yet to take advantage of any of the additional features available through in-app purchase. I’m more than happy with the built-in features. And, while it did take some time to adjust to the tool wheel on the iPhone app, once I became familiar with where my favorite tools resided on the wheel, I was able to quickly move from one tool to the next.

If you are an iPhone photographer or using your iPad to process photos from your digital camera, you will find these Photogene apps are useful tools to include in your digital camera bag.

FD Footnotes plugin for WordPress

As family historians, citing sources is a fact of life. Just because we are publishing online more often than print doesn’t reduce the need for citations. And while a bulleted list of sources at the end of an article is quite acceptable, the FD Footnotes plugin for self-hosted WordPress users makes it delightfully easy to provide our sources in the traditional footnote style. Here’s how it works.

Once FD Footnotes has been installed and activated, you’ll find a Footnotes page added to your WordPress settings. There are only two options:

  • Only show footnotes on single post/page. If you display the entire post on your blog’s home page or any of the index pages, checking this book will hide the footnotes on those pages. Footnotes would then only be seen when the reader follows the link to read the post on its own page.
  • Collapse footnotes until checked. When checked, the footnotes are hidden until the reader clicks on a footnote number or manually expands the citations at the bottom of the article.

Adding footnotes is quite simple. Immediately after the reference text, type a number, period and space followed by the citation, surrounded by square braces such as you see in this example.

Here’s how it looks once your post or page has been published.

The footnotes are collected at the bottom of the post. The footnote number displayed as a superscript right after the reference is actually a link that will take you to that citation and the return arrow icon at the end of the citation is a link which returns the reader to the reference point within the post’s text.

Do you see the error in this example? Notice that there’s a space between the end of the reference and the opening square brace of the footnote. Wherever that opening brace is located is where the superscripted footnote number/link will appear in the text. In this example, it’s hanging out there in space because there is a space between the end of the reference and the opening brace.

Although you do need to include a number (followed by a period and space) with each footnote you create, they do not have to be unique and you don’t have to keep them organized. When FD Footnotes collects them, it automatically re-numbers them in the order they appear in your text. This is most appreciated when you have a long text full of citations.

This plugin can’t help you format craft your citations, but it sure can make it easier to include them in your WordPress posts and present a very professional image for your writings.

Tech Notes – 13 July 2012

First on this list is Mollie Lynch’s fabulous Genealogy Book Links resource courtesy of Dick Eastman. If you haven’t checked it out yet, why?

Mashable has a great article on using Twitter’s new search features.

And, speaking of new things at Twitter, have you checked out the updated apps yet? They are impressive!

You’ll find even more book goodness with the news that Project Gutenberg has launched a self-publishers portal.

MacWorld shows you how to backup your Instagram photos.

I’ve got an article on MagCloud coming later this weekend, but iPad users will find the new Poyogi app is a fun and easy way to create a photo book – which will be printed at a very reasonable price via MagCloud. I’ve done a test one and am waiting for it to arrive.

At DearMYRTLE’s, the first two editions of Taneya Koonce’s WordPress webinars are available in the archive.

Mac|Life shows you how to use QuickTime to record a screencast.

Emergency Tweets

Twitter is an amazing communications service. Those 140 characters have generated conversations, shared interesting tidbits, organized movements and made a damned good news service. They are also an impressive emergency communications system. Not only are there Twitter apps for just about every mobile device, you can also use the SMS system on even the most basic cell phones to send and receive Twitter updates.

Why is this important? Because when disaster strikes, one of the first things that happens is both land and cellular phone systems become clogged with traffic as emergency services rev up and people start calling their loved ones to see if they are okay. Within a matter of minutes, it’s almost impossible to get a call through. In most situations, however, you can often send and receive SMS messages. SMS operates on its own communications backbone and it doesn’t hog as much bandwidth as voice communications. So, if you and your family have Twitter accounts set up for mobile access, each of you can let the rest of the family know your situation with one 140 character tweet. Here’s how it works.

The first step is to set up your Twitter account for mobile. In your settings, go to the Mobile pane and under the section titled Activate Twitter text messaging, select your country and enter your mobile phone number.

The mobile pane in your Twitter settings

Next you’ll want to select the mobile options you want turned on. If you’re paying for text messages with your phone service, you will want to limit the notifications Twitter sends you. In this example, I’m only getting notifications from the Twitter accounts I’ve enabled for mobile. Even that can be a lot of traffic, but fortunately, you can turn that off/on via SMS so I usually keep that off until I need it.

Activate mobile notifications on an account.

The next step is to turn on mobile notifications for each Twitter user you want to hear from/send to in an emergency. Go to their profile and select the Turn on mobile notifications setting. I’ve also included a local news radio station which uses Twitter to broadcast news and weather bulletins. Make sure your family members have their Twitter accounts set up for mobile too.

To tweet via SMS all you do is send a text to 40404 in the US. If you’re outside the US, check Twitter help for the code for your country.

Now develop a plan for your family so everyone knows how to use Twitter and SMS in emergency situations. It could be as simple as having each person tweet where he/she is and his condition. That one tweet will let all the other family members know his status. You could also define a family hash tag for use in an emergency to manage longer conversations. SMS users can’t search for hash tags, but they can include them in their messages so others can. Don’t forget, there are family members outside the disaster zone who are concerned about you too.

You might want to create a cheat sheet of Twitter SMS commands to share with your family. Even though they may all be big Twitter users, if SMS is the only transmission system available, it’s good to have the important commands handy for reference. For smart phone users, save it as a note or PDF that they can keep on their phone.

Twitter is an amazing service for news and conversation, but its simplicity makes it a valuable tool for your disaster plan too. These few steps will help you and your family stay in touch when other communications services are too overloaded or fail.

To learn more about Twitter’s capabilities, check out The Twitter Book by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein.

Phone it in!

The best camera you have is the one that’s with you.

Our grandchildren have been winning all kinds of awards at this year’s Alameda County Fair. Thanks to their parents’ iPhones and Facebook, we’ve been right there with them even though we’re more than 3,000 miles away. And, because it’s so easy to snap and post photos to Facebook, we’re not just seeing the awards ceremonies, we’re seeing all the effort – and exhaustion – that generated those awards.

I would love to have a single photo of a prize ceremony from one of my ancestors, let alone pictures of the farm, animals and their chores.

If you bought a smart phone in the last couple of years, you have the ability to take photographs, capture video and record audio – all in this small package that is normally close by wherever you are. So, put it to work capturing your family’s history! You don’t need the excuse of an occasion – use it to capture ordinary, everyday things that are part of your family’s world. Wouldn’t you love to know what your ancestors’ homes looked like or who their friends were. Your descendants will love to know that about you, too. The difference is you have an easy and inexpensive way to do it.

If you haven’t already, invest in a car charging kit to help insure your phone is ready when you want to use it. You might add a larger memory card or invest in an online photo-sharing/cloud storage plan that supports uploads from your phone. While Facebook is a great way to share these moments with others, it isn’t the best option for archiving photos so look for something like Flickr or SmugMug that lets you upload full-size images. Yes, I know that camera images are much lower resolution than most of today’s digital cameras, but you still want to get every pixel you can out of your shots.

Spend some time experimenting with your phone’s camera and various camera apps. Instagram [iOS & Android – free] lets you connect your Flickr account so you can archive your Insta-pics there as well as sharing them. Camera Awesome [iOS – free] is a must-have app for all iPhone users. It’s got tools that help you get the best photos possible from your iPhone’s camera plus it has plenty of editing tools to make them even better. It’s got tons of photo effects – many free, but others require in-app purchases. If you think all of this makes it truly awesome, you haven’t heard about its sharing capabilities. In addition to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SMS and email, it supports SmugMug, Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket and even YouTube. The PicsArt Photo Studio [Android – free] lets you edit your photos, add special effects – including sketches – and also offers a large number of sharing options. These are just a few of the many apps available.

Don’t stop with photos either. Put your phone’s video capabilities to work too. It doesn’t have to be a full-length movie to make an impact. A 20- or 30-second clip of a child blowing out birthday candles or seeing that diploma handed to him will combine with others to become a history of special moments. Smaller clips are much easier to incorporate into slideshows and even ebooks.

And, don’t forget to turn on your phone’s audio recorder when a relative starts telling a story. Mobile phones are always laying around and so are less intimidating than recording devices – and the results are priceless. The Evernote app [iOS & Android – free] will record up to 2-hours in an audio note for free accounts and up to 4-hours for premium accounts. Add that to your list of reasons Evernote is a necessity of genea-life.

Spend some time finding the apps that best suit your purposes and experiment to learn your limits [For example, trying to capture Uncle Joe’s stories in a busy restaurant may be a waste of time and digits.] so when the opportunity arrives you’ll be ready to capture your family history as it’s being made.

EasyRecipe Plugin for WordPress

EasyRecipe turns a blog post into a well-formatted recipe that will show up as such in a Google search. It’s so well formatted that I can easily capture a complete recipe – including picture – with one click using my favorite cookbook app. (Paprika [Mac – $19.99 , iPhone – $4.99 & iPad – $4.99]) The only thing I have to add is the category where I want it located.

Once installed and activated, you’ll find an Easy Recipe section added to your WordPress Settings. Check the Text/Language section to make sure all the label text for the different elements within a recipe suit your needs. If you make changes, make sure you hit the save button at the bottom of the screen.

When you create a new post, you’ll notice the Easy Recipe button has been added to your toolbar. Because each of the recipes I blog about has a story behind them, the actual recipe is usually towards the end of the post. No problem! When you reach the point in your blog where you want to include the recipe, click on the Easy Recipe button. The recipe form appears as an overlay pane (much like the media overlay pane) on top of your post. Here’s what the blank form looks like.

It’s easy to copy/paste recipe text right into this form. Each form entry has instructions on how to enter that particular type of information. If you want to include notes or other content, click the plus icon in front of those titles to display their sections. Once finished, click the Add Recipe button to place your recipe in your post.

On the left you see an example of the resulting recipe as it appears in my post. You have the ability to adjust the formatting on any of the components of your recipe using Easy Recipe’s live formatting feature. Go back to the Easy Recipe settings page and click on the Live Formatting button in the Appearance section. Navigate back to a live view of the post with the recipe in it and click the Easy Recipe Format link in the Admin bar at the top of the screen. A formatting panel (shown on the right in the example above) appears and you can open each of the sections, make your adjustments and watch them change on your recipe in real time. Once you’ve got everything looking the way you want it, save your changes and this is the way your recipes will look on each post. Notice the format panel also has a Print tab. You can create a custom format for the printed version of your recipes too. And, if you want to see all this in action, watch their formatting tutorial for all the details. There’s a link to this tutorial right next the the Live Formatting button so it’s available whenever you need it.

EasyRecipe is a delight to use and will present your recipes beautifully. If you’d like to see it in all its formatting glory, check out the developer’s blog, The Orgasmic Chef.

Found Ephemera: Obsidian Dawn

Obsidian Dawn is a digital design studio offering gorgeous graphical elements with both reasonable prices and terms of use. You will find most of her packages can be downloaded for free, but I would recommend going for the commercial licenses (a whopping $3.00 per package) if you’re planning any kind of book project you may put up for sale.

You will find many delightful packages ranging from brushes, shapes and patterns that can be used in Photoshop/Photoshop Elements to vectors for use in illustration apps to images that can be used just about anywhere. And, if you don’t know what these things are, there are also tutorials explaining everything. Here are just a few examples of the goodness you’ll find at Obsidian Dawn. Stop by and see what else is waiting for you there.

Brushes are the digital version of rubber stamps, only more versatile.

Patterns can be used to create backgrounds for slides or scrapbook pages.

Shapes can be used as frames, clipart and much more.

Stock images – especially PNGs with transparent backgrounds – have tons of uses in all kinds of projects.

Tech Notes – 6 July 2012

Summer’s here and from now thru September you’re most likely to find me in my favorite chair – which just so happens to be located right under an air-conditioning vent. Fortunately, the wi-fi signal is very strong there too.

Apparently it’s the DRM Apple adds to each app that’s causing the problem. I’m waiting for an “all clear” before I install any updates or new apps.

DNSchanger hits Monday. Have you checked your system yet to see if you’ll be affected? Follow Paul’s link to TeleRead for information on how to check and how to clean your computer if it is one of those affected.

By the way . . . Caroline has introduced a video tutorial library at her 4YourFamilyStory site. It’s high on my list of things to do this weekend.

This is just part of the conversations this week related to genealogy conferences. Y’all know I’m promoting virtual conferences as an affordable option.

Over at the Cottage Arts.net blog, there’s a scrumptious (literally) article on photographing food – along with some scrapbook ideas for showing them off. I challenge you not to drool as you read the article. You’ll also find even more food goodness over at The Family Curator with Denise’s article on Preserving Old Cookbooks.

Great article from MacWorld on how to present from your iPad.

ResearchBUZZ does:

Just barely, hon. And speaking as someone who’s been watching all this silliness since 1994, Google is going down the same road as AltaVista, only with better special effects. What may save it is the fact that AltaVista only had eggs in a few baskets. Google: lots of eggs, lots of baskets, lots of money, probably too big and too critical to the social and actual infrastructure of the Internet to fail. That doesn’t mean that it can’t diminish. That having been said, I’m thrilled that Google does things that end up being huge failures. What’s the point of having a market cap of over 190 billion dollars if you don’t have the pinwheels to occasionally try ridiculous stuff? It’s the overfocus on advertising, and the cramming of ads into search results, that I object to…

 

New features include longer battery life and built-in camera with one-touch sharing to Facebook. The phone costs $99 and the service is $15/month. Details at GreatCall.

An Introduction to BuddyPress

BuddyPress is a WordPress plugin that can turn a self-hosted version of WordPress into a collaborative and social platform supporting any number of functions. It supports activity streams similar to Twitter to include @mentions and a nice threaded view of conversations. Members can friend other members for both public and private messaging. The group feature is similar to Facebook in that any member can create one. The difference is in the conversation within the group. With BuddyPress, you can create a forum for you group which keeps the conversations associated with topics in an easy-to-read threaded view. There’s also a notification system to let you know when new content is posted.

The truly amazing thing about BuddyPress is that it is a WordPress plugin. Basically, all you have to do to create a BuddyPress site is install and activate the BuddyPress plugin and then activate a BuddyPress-supported theme. Yes, it’s that easy. That’s also where the fun begins. It’s still a totally functional WordPress blog, but now with all this social goodness added. And, there are hundreds of BuddyPress plugins offering additional features like photo albums within member profiles, collaborative document creation and even a full-blown courseware platform.

So, how can you put BuddyPress to work? Here are a few ideas:

  • A private family social network. It won’t have all the functionality of Facebook, but it won’t have all the strangers watching everything you do and say either. This would be a great way to share news, photos and maybe even post a bit of family history too.
  • Societies could use BuddyPress for members-only areas, as a collaboration site for board members or as a committee or project  workspace.
  • It can be used to support special-interest groups who want to build a collaborative and social network without the distractions of a larger network like Facebook.
  • When incorporated into a multi-site version of WordPress, it could be the backbone that supports a virtual conference. Speakers and exhibitors could be given their own blog sites which would serve as the booth – for vendors – or room – for speakers. Groups provide social centers where attendees could get together to get acquainted, compare notes or just socialize. Plugins can maintain the conference schedule, handle registration and access and offer additional functionality. Yes, some custom themes would be needed, but much of the rest of it could be done using existing plugins.

I’ve been experimenting with BuddyPress to determine its potential as a self-help center. While the genealogy community has been using Facebook groups to share their knowledge on various topics, it does leave a bit to be desired. It’s difficult to keep up with conversational threads and has limited functionality to provide links to documents, articles, tutorials and training resources. With BuddyPress, a self-help center makes it easy for members to find groups discussing the topics they want help with along with pages providing links to outside resources. If there isn’t already a group discussing a topic, any member can create one.