Web Related

Batch File Conversion – OpenOffice to MS

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

I Googled myself into a frenzy attempting to find a solution for ods to xls batch conversion for the Mac. The majority of downloads are for Windows. But then it struck me to try a different Google solution—Google Docs.

  1. In Google Docs, click the “Upload…” button in the left sidebar
  2. Drag the files you want to convert onto the drag and drop area.
    • Choose a collection to put them in (not necessary, but it makes it easier to manage the sudden import of a lot of files)
  3. Click “Start upload”
  4. Once upload process is complete shift select all the files you wish to convert
  5. Click “Download…” in the right sidebar
  6. Choose the file type you want to convert them to
  7. Click “Download” and you’ll have a zip file to uncompress in a few minutes
    • You can even have Google shoot you an email when the files are ready for you

And there you go, a quick easy conversion.

WordPress – Featured Articles with Excerpt and Read More Link

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

I’ve been rather busy lately, mostly with web work, so I’ve been manipulating the WordPress template tags with increasing frequency. I often come across an issue that I can’t find the answer to as quick as I like, or in this case at all, so I’m sharing my little code developments with you. It is rather simple, and highly customizable, so use and update it to your heart’s content.

The below code creates, in WordPress, an unordered list of the 5 most recent posted items with your custom crafted excerpt followed by a read more link which can be changed as desired:

<h3>Recent Articles</h3>
        <ul><?php $postslist = get_posts('numberposts=5&order=DESC&orderby=date');
 		foreach ($postslist as $post) : 
 		?>
   	<li><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>">
              <?php the_title(); ?></a> - <?php the_excerpt(); ?> <a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>" class="more">More &gt;&gt;</a>
        </li>
	<?php endforeach; ?>
    	</ul>

Here we have the same general code, but with this the there is a specific category it is pulling from, so you would change the “category=3” to your category’s id number:

<h3>Featured Articles</h3>
        <ul><?php $postslist = get_posts('numberposts=5&order=DESC&orderby=date&category=3');
 		foreach ($postslist as $post) : 
 		?>
   		<li><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>">
                      <?php the_title(); ?></a> - <?php the_excerpt(); ?> <a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?> "class="more">More &gt;&gt;</a></li>
		      <?php endforeach; ?>
    	</ul>

If you just want it to pull the first 55 characters from your entry, instead of a custom made excerpt, use the following:

<h3>Featured Articles</h3>
        <ul><?php $postslist = get_posts('numberposts=5&order=DESC&orderby=date&category=3');
 		foreach ($postslist as $post) : 
 		?>
   		<li><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>">
                      <?php the_title(); ?></a> - <?php the_content('<span class="more">More &gt;&gt;</span>'); ?></li>
		      <?php endforeach; ?>
    	</ul>

So, hopefully you WordPress users out there will find this useful. I’ll post a link to the site I’m currently using this on as an example, once the site is ready for public viewing.

Widgets for Design

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

I’m always looking for ways to improve my work flow as a designer, and I’ve found a few Dashboard Widgets for my Mac that have proven themselves time and again.

Lorem Ipsum Widget

The Lorem Ipsum Widget from g-design.net has been invaluable for my work in print and web. Often for client mock ups I’m in need of some quick placement text, and within a few keystrokes I’ve got just what I need. Try it for yourself >>
If your not a Mac user try: html-ipsum.com

Entities Lookup Widget

LeftLogic’s HTML Entity Character Lookup is a fantastic way to avoid scanning through the list of entity codes. With over 250 character entities this time saver is quite useful for those moments when you can’t remember the valid way to present quotations or bullet points. Try it for yourself >>
If your not a Mac user, don’t worry LeftLogic has other plugins on their site: leftlogic.com

I do wish I could have a third widget on here to round out my collection, but I am still searching for the cure-all to my color woes. Adobe’s Kuler has a nice interface but I don’t enjoy the reliance on an Internet connection without a color picker. I have also attempted to use Color Theory by Jumis Inc., but it needs better integration with the OS. For now I will continue to use ColorZilla for my web needs, and the built in color picker in Adobe’s programs when working on print design.

Don’t Forget to Check the Checklist

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Even if you are making a theme for your own use, make sure you follow the theme development check list over on the WordPress Codex.

I’m working on revamping my portfolio section, and in the extensive troubleshooting process I came across a nice little plugin for Slimbox2. Which just like everything else I tried, failed to work. They appeared to have a nice little support forum so I posted my query and after much trial and error with the plugins creator (oddly enough I went to high school with his brother), I discovered the issue was with my theme.

I poked around and discovered that I was missing a small bit of quite important code for plugins to work:
< ?php wp_head(); ?>

This little line of code is essential for WordPress and its plugins to know where to add elements to the header.

With that mystery solved, expect a better portfolio section soon.

For an example of what the Slimbox2 plugin does, view this post of mine on the iPod case I made, and click on the image.

Answers about Analytics

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I include the free tool Google Analytics on all of my website development projects, as it provides clients with a good overview as to where people are coming from, how they got there, and what they hope to achieve while at the site.

Despite my love for this addition to my collection of web tools, I often misunderstand a great deal of information about it.  I sometimes lack a precise definition as to what each metric is measuring or how to really extend use of the software to get as much out of it as possible.

Fortunately, Analytic’s grandfather, Google search, has once again delivered.

Official Google Analytics Blog
Go straight to the horse’s mouth for the latest information and goings on with features and updates on their own software.  On a related note, never underestimate the power of the Help section.

Google Analytics Maximized: Deeper Analysis, Higher ROI & You
This more advanced article provides 9 tips for making you into an Analytics Empress/Emperor.  My favorite being number 8, make use of Analytics ability to provide information about internal site searches.  I had no idea this aspect existed and activated immediately on the sites I manage with a search feature.
Also check out the author’s archives on analytics for more insights to what you can learn from your implementation of Analytics.

5 Google Analytics Features You May Not Know About
A repeat of some earlier suggestions, however, the last tip cannot be overstated. Filter out your own visits. This is especially important if you check your site frequently, which you should, or if you have hired any one else to assist in the process.  Get the static IP address of as many of your internal visitors as possible and filter them out now.

Google Analytics Interface Tutorial [YouTube]
An often underutilized place to find information on just about any topic is YouTube.  This video tutorial is a good overall introduction to Google Analytics, perhaps a nice link to send to clients unfamiliar with the software.  Although, I do often revisit basic tutorials on all of my skill sets as more technical documents may overlook basic features that I may have never heard of during my initial research.

Update, a wonderful article from Smashing Magazine:
A Guide to Google Analytics Tutorial and Useful Tools
Covers more angles than I thought existed. The review of tools provided extends the usability of Google Analytics.