Spice Up Firefox’s Appearance with Personas

firefoxFirefox is a great browser, but despite all it’s usefulness it is pretty drab in the aesthetics department.  While the browser has always allowed you to install themes to modify its appearance, they have never been wildly popular nor particularily intuitive for the everyday user.

Personas for Firefox are lightweight, easy-to-install “skins” that can be changed quickly and easily.  New Personas are added every day to the Persona gallery, and users can easily create their own Personas.

Personas have a some great benefits:

  • They can be changed on-the-fly.  While browsing Personas, simply hover your mouse over a Persona to preview it in real time on your browser.  If you like it – simply click “wear this”!
  • Personas can be added, removed or updated by their designers at any time, without requiring a software update.
  • The software is open source!

Want to see what Personas can add to your browser?  Check out the Personas demo from Mozilla or go directly to the Personas page to install it and get started.  Once installed, you can check out the Personas gallery or be creative an make your own.

Personally, I’m really enjoying the Firefox B Persona.  Have a favorite Persona or have you created your own?  Share it in the comments!

Fix: Featured Content Gallery WordPress Plugin Displays Incorrectly in Internet Explorer 6

For many websites, the Featured Content Gallery for WordPress provides the centerpiece and main focal point of the front page (Techerator included).  This plugin has the ability to display posts in a specific category as well as a graphic and accompanying text for a great preview of articles on the site.

The Problem

When doing some cross-browser compatibility checking, I noticed that the Featured Content Gallery plugin (version 3.2.0) was rendering incorrectly in Internet Explorer 6.  Instead of displaying the article’s preview text as an overlay on the bottom of the article image, it was displaying directly in the middle and looking very out of place.  The picture below shows the rendering error.

Featured Content Gallery Rendering Problem

The Fix

The solution to this problem was a very simple CSS fix.  Find and open the jd.gallery.css file for the Featured Content Gallery plugin (usually located at yoursite.com/wp-content/plugins/featured-content-gallery/css/jd.gallery.css).

Locate the following code (approximately line 41):

* html .jdGallery .slideInfoZone
{
bottom: 100px;
}

And replace with:

* html .jdGallery .slideInfoZone
{
bottom: 0px;
}

Voilà!  The Featured Content Gallery plugin now renders properly in Internet Explorer 6.

Featured Content Gallery Rendering Correctly

How To: Remove the Smiley from the WordPress.com Stats Plugin

One of the first plugins I installed when building the Techerator website was WordPress.com Stats, a plugin which offered useful and practical statistics (instead of the overwhelming metrics that Google Analytics and others provide) with the added benefit that since the statistics monitoring is hosted by WordPress, it would have no adverse impact on the site’s performance.  The only requirement to activate WordPress.com Stats was an API key, which is provided to anyone with a WordPress.com account.

WordPress.com statistics have been very useful and a welcome addition to my WordPress dashboard.  However, I noticed that when logged out of WordPress, a small smiley face icon was appearing at the bottom of the website and breaking the template!  Check out the picture below to see what was happening…

Smiley
Oh Snap!

As you can imagine, I was pretty unhappy to find my template being destroyed by such an innocent emoticon.  At first, I wasn’t even sure where the smiley was coming from so I had to examine the site’s source code to determine its diabolical origin.  It turns out the smiley graphic is added by the WordPress.com statistics script, and isn’t even a part of the plugin (trust me, I looked).

The smiley face can be removed with a very simple addition to your style.css file.  By adding the line:

img#wpstats{display:none;}

to your style.css file (located in your theme directory, usually www.yoursite.com/wp-content/themes/theme_name/style.css), the smiley face will be automatically hidden and no longer wreak havoc on your beautiful template.  The reason the smiley face only is displayed when logged out is so administrators of the site do not inflate the site’s statistics.

Hooray!
Hooray!

Incidentally, this little tip was included in the WordPress.com Stats plugin readme, but who really reads that stuff anyway? 🙂

The Evolution of the Category Page

One of the bigger items on my “to do” list was to get the category page layout looking similar to the front page layout (with the thumbnails and short article text).  Although specifying the “read more” tag in each post worked well enough to make the category pages easier to read, I still felt it would look the best if it was displayed the same as the front page.  I was finally able to accomplish this thanks to Charles K. Clarkson who helped me with the WordPress code required to do this – I couldn’t have done it without him!  You can see a before/after picture below.

This is the original layout for displaying categories.
Old and busted.
New and Improved Categories
New hotness.

The layout will still be undergoing a few changes as I keep adding/fixing things, so please post in the comments if you see anything displaying incorrectly or have any suggestions for the site.

Enhance Websites in Firefox with Greasemonkey

Greasemonkey is an extremely versatile add-on for Mozilla Firefox which allows users to install scripts that can make modifications to most HTML-based websites.  Greasemonkey can greatly enhance a website by changing the layout, adding new features, or increasing ease-of-use.

To install Greasemonkey, head on over to the Firefox Add-On Greasemonkey page and click “Add to Firefox”.  After restarting your browser, Greasemonkey will be active and ready to accept scripts (it should be noted that Greasemonkey will have no installed scripts by default). Continue reading “Enhance Websites in Firefox with Greasemonkey”

How To: Use Your iPhone/iPod Touch as a Wireless Flash Drive

airsharingOne of the most useful applications I’ve used for the iPhone/iPod Touch is Airsharing ($4.99, app store), which allows you to use your device as a wireless flash drive.  Not only can it store (and view!) files wirelessly, it also works on Windows, Mac, Linux and even through a web browser.  If that wasn’t enough – Airsharing also includes helpful instructions on how to setup and connect to your device for your specific operating system.

Airsharing Initial ScreenThe initial screen in Airsharing displays a list of files and folders on the device, as well as the IP address of your device which can be used to view and upload files through your web browser.  Airsharing is capable of viewing many different types of files, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDFs, and images which is extremely useful for viewing files on the go.

To protect your data, Airsharing comes equipped with security options such as password protection as well as sleeping after a period of inactivity.  Airsharing also offers the option of keeping your device password-free, which is convenient if you’re using it exclusively on a secure private network.

Connecting to your device via a web browser is as easy as entering the provided IP address into your location bar, but for a more permanent connection method you can use the included instructions (accessible via the ? button) to mount the device as a network drive.  I found this very to be very practical when transferring multiple files because the browser-based uairsharing31ploader only allows one file transfer at a time.

Do you have any suggestions for expanding the storage uses of your iPhone/iPod Touch?  Share them in the comments!

Windows Won’t Boot? Try The Recovery Console

bsodIt is all too easy for the Windows operating system to become damaged and render your computer unusable, stranding you from your critical applications and documents.  Events such as power outages, electrical surges, or even an improper shutdown can damage or corrupt important system files which may cause the operating system to fail when loading.

This guide will show you how to use the Recovery Console feature provided on the Windows installation CD to repair your system files and get your computer working again. Continue reading “Windows Won’t Boot? Try The Recovery Console”

Conficker Worm: How to Check If Your Computer Is Infected

keysToday is April 1st, and with that comes the fear of your computer being infected with the Conficker worm.  Besides following Lifehacker’s tips to protect your PC from Conficker, you can follow a more advanced method of scanning your computer in this guide.

UPDATE: There are new and easier methods to scan your computer for the Conficker worm:

Thunderbird Fix: All Emails Show Attachment Icon (even if they don’t have attachments)

thunderbirdSoftware Involved: Mozilla Thunderbird, AVG Anti-Virus 8.0/ 8.5

Problem/Symptoms: All incoming emails in Mozilla’s Thunderbird appear as if they have attachments, regardless if they have attachments or not.  The attachment icon disappears immediately after opening the email (as long as the email did not legitimately have an attachment).

Solution: AVG automatically attaches an email certification message to all incoming emails stating, “No virus found in this incoming message.” which Thunderbird interprets as an attachment.  This problem has a very simple fix:

  1. Open the AVG Anti-Virus User Interface. This can be done by right clicking the tray icon.
  2. In the menu bar, click Tools –> Advanced Settings.
  3. Select the E-Mail Scanner tab, check the box next to With attachments only under “Certify email”. (See image below)

This will only add the “No virus found…” message to only emails with attachments, solving the false attachment problem.

avgfix

Flashreview: Power Support Anti-Glare Film for iPhone/iPod Touch

filmIn this day and age, you don’t buy electronics (especially touchscreen electronics) without investing into some form of screen protection.  For  devices such as the iPhone or iPod Touch, screen protectors can also improve the responsiveness of the device by improving the screen’s traction.

The product: I stumbled upon Power Support’s Anti-Glare Film for the iPhone/iPod Touch, which is available from Power Support USA as well as the Apple Store.  This product boasts a “custom-fit film that will reduce the visual impacts of glare and finger printing while providing scratch protection”.  Included in the package were two anti-glare films (one for the front and another for the back) as well as a pre-installation film which was for removing dirt and dust from the screen. Continue reading “Flashreview: Power Support Anti-Glare Film for iPhone/iPod Touch”