Archive for January, 2014

WordPress Missing Gallery Slideshow Option?

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Today I am working on a simple WordPress based website for a small school. On this particular site, a slideshow will be required. If  you Google for “WordPress slideshow” you will find a few links on the various WordPress websites and user forums regarding the built-in slide show tools.

Well, that’s misleading.

It took far too long for me to figure out that self-hosted WordPress does NOT include a slideshow option for image galleries. Slideshows are available to those who use a WordPress hosted site. So, for those of us who host on 3rd party web hosts (or on your own VPS, perhaps), you need to use a plugin (still).

I have used NextGen Gallery in the past, and it still is one of the most popular image gallery managers for WordPress, so it looks like I will be using it again.

And for your reference, here, is a list of features that are different between the “.com” and “.org” WordPress systems.


Using the PHP PEAR Services_Twitter Package with HTTPS

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

I have a PHP script that runs every few minutes via a cron job that has been running for a few years to send me direct messages on Twitter from a single-purpose Twitter account. The net result is that I can have system alerts sent to me by text message (by having direct messages from this special account subscribed for mobile alerts).

This script stopped working a week or two ago, and I finally got around to figuring out why. On Jan. 14, 2014, Twitter made SSL/TLS mandatory for connections to The announcement / blog post about that is here:

Apparently, and not surprisingly, the PEAR module, Services_Twitter (available here:,  works with, and thus stopped working.

The fix was simple, once I was able to decipher the automated docs…

After this line: $twitter = new Services_Twitter();

I added this line: $twitter->setOption(‘use_ssl’,true);

The placement is probably flexible. But this one line worked. And my phone is now getting all those text message alerts that I dread. Yipee (?)

I wonder if I’m the only person using this library, considering that my Google searches came up surprisingly sparse on this topic…



How to Transfer Ownership/Management of a Google Plus (Google+) Page

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Here’s a hint for every group and business: I highly recommend having a Google+ Page for your organization – even us at Perceptus will be setting one up sooner or later. Why? Because, I highly suspect that having a Google+ Page will influence your Google search ranking.

I recently helped test the transferring of ownership and management of a Google Plus Page – mostly as a favour to someone I know who needs to make one for her club Toastmasters of Today (Vancouver). If you are creating a Google+ Page for your business or club, it is possible to transfer the ownership of a Google Plus page and to have multiple managers, which is useful for when those pesky personnel changes come up!

Here’s the gist of how ownership and management of a Google+ Page is handled:

  • The first person to create the Google Plus Page automatically becomes the owner.
  • There is only 1 owner of a Google+ Page, but the owner can add multiple managers.
  • There are 2 types of managers: managers and communications managers. The owner and managers have different permissions.
  • The owner can transfer ownership to a manager – BUT that manager must have been a manager for at least 2 weeks (I assume this is to prevent theft of control of a page by giving managers a few days to discover and remove false new manager additions). Then the initial owner automatically gets demoted to a manager. This means that if your organization is preparing for a pesky personnel change, make sure to plan the Google+ Page ownership change at least 2 weeks in advance! :)


On another Google+ topic, what search term are you supposed to use to search for a Google+ Page? “Google+”? “Google Plus”? I’ve randomly used both terms throughout this post. How ironic that Google picked a name that’s so confusing to search. Ugh. Never mind the fact that “+” is frequently used in that silly thing called math?

Microsoft Security Essentials for XP alternatives?

Friday, January 10th, 2014

It was widely reported this week that Microsoft will be ending updates (including definitions) for MS Security Essentials for Windows XP when they end support of XP itself.

This is a problem for me. I have been recommending MSE to friends and family for years – it’s non-intrusive, it generally works, it’s never broken any software for me, and it doesn’t constantly produce false or exaggerated  warnings over things like “tracking” cookies.

Sadly, anti-virus software in general is awful. The marketing of AV requires long lists of checkbox features. Every single one of these features takes just a little more resources or risks software conflicts.

In business environments, I have used many of the familiar brands over the years – now that I think about it, I’ve directly worked with most of the common paid software brands at one time or another – though, some of these were a decade ago, and the experiences are irrelevant to the current versions of the packages. I have also tried many of the common free AV options for home users.

Universally, they have had their annoyances and/or huge limitations. I remember the time an AV program deleted (not quarantined!) a contact database file that happened to have a magic string that looked like a virus. Or the time a business AV package sent me literally thousands of emails warning me about something or other (it was too stupid a package to recognize that it had already emailed me the exact issue seconds ago). Or the AV feature that inserted itself as a HTTP proxy and thereby broke the instant messenger and some websites. Or incredibly resource intensive AV, bundled by the PC OEM, that brought brand new computers to a crawl.

This post has drifted a bit… I am currently testing Immunet on one of my daily use computers. Immunet was recently purchased by SourceFire, and uses the ClamAV antivirus definitions (and I think engine) that is community run (and powers many open source anti-virus systems). This isn’t a recommendation, merely a mention of another option that is a little under the radar.