WordPress Plugin: Bing Translator

[sc:wordpress-category ]When I first setup JumbleCat, I had a translator plugin using Google to do the translation work.  After a while the plugin broke and the author didn’t update the plugin so I had to remove it.

I’ve had a requirement recently to support translation on another WordPress site so I poked around in the plugin repository and found Bing Translator.

It’s a nice little plugin that uses Bing to do the translation and doesn’t require a page reload either.

There are only a couple of settings; whether to automatically or manual translate the site based upon the detected user language, a colour theme to use (which doesn’t seem to do anything, it looks like Bing has changed the back-end and no longer needs this) and a setting to let users submit translations or not.

So far it works well and I haven’t had any issues.

Favicons and Tiles with WordPress

[sc:wordpress-category ]Running JumbleCat exposes me to some things I general don’t want to deal with, one of those is making sure the site looks right when bookmarked or pinned to the Windows Start page.

Recently I found RealFaviconGenerator.net (via WPTavern) which highlighted some pretty bad results for how the JumbleCat.com favicon looks on some of the modern mobile platforms.  There’s really four areas of concern when it comes to favicons:

  1. The classic desktop favicon.
  2. Apple’s home screen icons.
  3. Android’s home screen icons.
  4. Windows Live Tiles and Task Bar icons.

Searching the WordPress plugin directory for an easy solution turned up a couple of different options for 1 or 2 of the above items but nothing that took in to account all of the above.

This really seems to be something that should be in WordPress core, basic functionality that every WordPress site should have.

User Registration Protection for WordPress

[sc:wordpress-category ]When I first started JumbleCat I opened the user registration up to everyone to be able to comment on my posts, however it quickly became flooded with spam registrations.

I implemented a couple of different solutions but after a while it became apparent that reCAPTCHA was a requirement and so I settled on Pie Register.

Pie Register had several big advantages; simple to setup, reCAPTCHA support, additional fields to the registration page, user registration through verification messages and so on.  It worked well and provided very good protection against spam accounts.

Then version 2 of Pie Register was released.  It was a complete rewrite and broke virtually everything.  As I had automatic updates enabled it came down as soon as it was released.  Once installed it:

  • Broke ALL user registration
  • Broke all logins (luckily my admin account was still logged in)
  • It didn’t bring across ANY configuration from version 1
  • The custom form editor didn’t work
  • Registration was required
  • The normal registration and login pages were replaced with a themed version, with no option to go back.
  • The top level menu ignored the theme options and changed the color to a white background with red lettering.  Make it stick out like a sore thumb and looked terrible.

I downgraded back to version 1 and left it for a while to see if the issues would be resolved, while some have been, it’s still just too complex for what I need so I’ve removed it and replaced it with two other plugins.

User Registration Aide

User Registration Aide provides all kinds of features but I’m really only using it for one thing, the addition of my site guidelines to the registration form.  Overall it’s a good plugin and has been working well but I have just two nitpick about it really, the configuration interface looks to be from the 90’s.  Ugly does not begin to describe it:

User Registration Aide

The second is that it adds a top level menu to WordPress instead of sitting under Users or Settings.  I don’t think something that is usually only configured once should intrude at the top level.  Anyway, beside that it does the job.

Better WordPress reCAPTCHA

Better WordPress reCAPTCHA is a great plugin that focuses only on integrating reCAPTCHA in to WordPress.  It’s easy to set up and works well.  The only nitpick I have is the same as for User Registration Aide, it adds a top-level menu to WordPress instead of sitting under Settings.

Closing Thoughts

Between the new plugins I get pretty much everything I had before, however I have lost the two stage registration.  No a big deal hopefully as I never saw any users stuck waiting for confirmation with Pie Register so the bot’s got around it anyway.

I won’t know for a while if the setup works as well as Pie Register did, but I am hopeful it will.

 

Rating and Reviewing Apps and Services

[sc:internet-category ]Here’s a question for you… how often do you rate and review the apps and services you use?

I’m not talking about the big ones like Microsoft and Google, everyone know about those and if they want to use them.  I’m talking about the smaller ones.

Recently I’ve posted about the various WordPress plugins I’m using and they are all free and from the WordPress Plugin directory.  The plugin directory has rating and review built-in to it but I hadn’t gone through and done any reviews.

So I took some time and wrote each and every plugin I use a review and rated it.

After all it didn’t cost me anything more than a little bit of time.

Out of this process came a few questions:

  1. If I’m rating a plugin from 1 to 5 stars, what constitutes a 1 or a 5?
  2. Should you rate a plugin low ever?
  3. If a donation link is present should you take the next step for those plugins you use?

The rating is a hard question to answer, I don’t use plugin’s that don’t work and there’s enough plugins in the repository that I don’t use plugin’s that only do half the job.  So I came down to ignoring anything but a 1 and a 5.

The second question is harder to answer and I still don’t know if I like what I choose to do.  I didn’t rate any plugin as a 1.  Mostly because I was going through plugins that I use all the time and for it to rate a 1 would mean it basically didn’t work.

Perhaps in the future as I try new plugins I might rate them low, but I haven’t had that come up yet.

The third question is still an outstanding question for me.  I feel like the answer is yes, but I don’t make any money off of my blog though that really has no bearing on the question.  I suspect I’ll go back through the plugins I use and make some donations in the near future.

Along those lines there are a few plugins that I’ve donated code to so in that respect those plugins are taken care of 🙂

JumbleCat WordPress Plugins: Update 6

[sc:wordpress-category ]This is another post in an ongoing series of articles here at JumbleCat about the plugins I find useful for WordPress.

The first four were:

  1. Happy 1st Birthday JumbleCat! AKA WordPress Plugins!
  2. Total Backup for WordPress
  3. Some More WordPress Plugins
  4. Even More WordPress Plugins
  5. JumbleCat WordPress Plugins Update

It’s hasn’t been long but there have been a few changes worth mentioning.

Plugins Added:

Custom Windows Pinned Tiles

Plugin’s Description: With Custom Windows Pinned Tiles 2, you can set up your site to display beautiful live-updating tiles in a matter of seconds.

Windows 8 brought live tiles to Windows and websites can support them with a bit of HTML.  This plugin adds the required HTML and even supports using your RSS feed to update the status of the live tile on a recurring basis.

Simple Feed Stats

Plugin’s Description: Tracks feeds, displays subscriber counts, custom feed content, and much more.

It’s a little simple and doesn’t exclude robots from the stats, but it does provide some useful view of how many subscribers you have to your blog through RSS.

Simple Local Avatars

Plugin’s Description: Adds an avatar upload field to user profiles. Generates requested sizes on demand, just like Gravatar! Simple and lightweight.

I have been using the “User Avatar” plugin since the start of my blog and it’s a good plugin, however it hasn’t been updated for WordPress 3.8 and it was getting kind of annoying.  The issue is that it uses a floated “div” to display your profile picture in your profile page and with the new admin color scheme’s layout it obscured some of the color schemes.

Simple Local Avatars does everything that User Avatar did but uses the standard WordPress API to add a section to the profile page, avoiding any conflicts in the future as well.

WordPress phpinfo()

Plugin’s Description: This simple plugin adds an option to an adminstrator’s Tools menu which displays standard phpinfo() feedback details to the user.

I had been using a plugin to do this for a while but it added a top level menu item, which as it was only a once in a while thing was a little obtrusive.  This plugin adds it’s menu item under tools, which seems more logical.

Plugins Removed:

User Avatar

Plugin’s Description: Allows users to associate photos with their accounts by accessing their “Your Profile” page.

I removed this plugin and replaced it with Simple Local Avatars as per above.

Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu

Plugin’s Description: All admin links available in a neat horizontal drop down menu. Saves lots of screen real estate! For WordPress 3.5+

This has been a staple of my blogging life since I started with WordPress, the old menu system in pre 3.8 WordPress wasn’t very good and took up too much room.  However with 3.8 this plugin doesn’t quite work as it did.  The icons are missing and there doesn’t seem to be an update coming any time soon.

So while it surprised me, I found myself disabling it and finding the new WordPress admin screen much better than before and I didn’t miss it at all.

If your still interested in this kind of horizontal menu, you might want to check out “WP Top Navigation“, which look interesting but I’m not using at the moment.

SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam

Plugin’s Description: Adds CAPTCHA anti-spam methods to WordPress forms for comments, registration, lost password, login, or all. This prevents spam from automated bots. WP, WPMU, and BuddyPress compatible.

This had been my go to plugin for avoiding spam user registrations, however the CAPTCHA is too simple and the bots have worked out how to get around it now.

Instead I’ve enabled re-CAPTCHA in Pie Register, which has gotten around a lot of the spam.  I also enabled email verification in Pie Register which has caught most of the remaining ones.