One of my New Year’s resolutions is to give the web site a make-over. During the past few days, I’ve taken the first step and done some basic clean-up and updated the software.

I’ve even started thinking about what kind of new look I want, but that’ll be a ways down the road yet.

Update WordPress Software

One of the great things about WordPress is that it works. First time, every time, all the time. There aren’t many programs you can say that about. When I log on (as admin), it checks to see if a new version is available. If so, it displays a message to that effect, along with an “Upgrade” button. With a single mouse click, it is auto-magically upgraded to the new version. No muss. No fuss. I could not be happier with the software.

I did setup a blogger account at one point, just to see what it was all about. It was functional. I didn’t have any trouble with it during the minimal time I spent playing with it. But imo it was far too restrictive. I like to write my own tools and am used to absolute control over everything. Blogger tried to do too much for me and blocked me from certain aspects of control over the site. So I tired of it quickly.

Beyond that, I have heard, from many people, that Blogger gave them endless headaches and was down a lot. Some of that could certainly have been user error. But the volume of complaints I had heard, made me suspect there was at least some truth to those stories.

In any case, I love WordPress and doubt I will ever switch to anything else.

Update Plugins

Most of the added functionality on my site is php code that I wrote myself. But there are still probably a dozen or so plugins that I’ve gotten from the WordPress site. Of those, many didn’t do exactly what I wanted, so I’ve gone in and manually tweaked them. Naturally, I hesitate to upgrade to newer versions of those plugins, as that entails finding what changes I made and then making those same changes in the new version.

The other day, I backed them all up and clicked on the “Update All Plugins” button. That was a fun day. Most hadn’t been updated in quite a few years and nearly all of them broke. I think it took four hours to get everything running again.

All with one exception that is. The Collapsible Archive plugin still doesn’t work quite right. It is supposed to show a list of months and years with a togglable arrow next to each entry. Currently you can click on a month or year and be taken to a page showing posts made in that month or year. However, the arrow doesn’t toggle so only posts during the current month are shown. Not a big deal but I need to go back and fix it when I get a bit more motivated.

Edit: After far too much time, I was not able to get the updated version to work. Instead, I reverted to the previous version for the time being. It may not be as aesthetically pleasing, and I would prefer some of the new functionality from the new version, but the old one works which is far more important. I’ll give it another go when it bugs me enough to spend more time on it.

Note that this isn’t a contradiction to what I said about WordPress always working. These are plugins written by random people and not tested by WordPress. Overall though, I’ve had very good luck with plugins being reliable.

Dead Links

I received a message from a visitor the other day informing me that I had a dead link in my “Links” section. I always appreciate the heads up on something like that. But I groaned a bit nonetheless. It had been a very long time since I had gone through those links, so I had some idea what I would find there. Sure enough, there were tons of dead links. Many were completely dead, while a great many others had simply been changed. I will never understand why some people feel the need to reorganize the file structure on their website. But I went through and corrected them all. All links should be good now. I even managed to add a few in the process.

If anyone runs across a bad link, please let me know.

Other Cleanup

While I was at it, I tested links on all the other pages as well. Beyond that, there was a bit of odd maintenance here and there that I’ve meant to get to for some time, but always found a reason to put off. Most of that is done now. There are a couple of things intentionally left undone for one reason or another. But, for the most part, all the cleanup is done. Now I can start giving some thought to a new look and a new interface. It will probably be a while. I like to let things like that mull over for a bit, and then test the changes on a test site before going live.

In any case, the first step in done!