That was painless!

I just update this site to WordPress 2.1 (Ella).

The entire process took under ten minutes and so far, eveything seems to be working as it should!

This is the first WP update I’ve bothered with and I’m not sure how many of the new features I’ll use (I already have a spell checker in firefox for a start). Any way, the new features are listed as follows:

  • Autosave makes sure you never lose a post again.
  • Our new tabbed editor allows you to switch between WYSIWYG and code editing instantly while writing a post.
  • The lossless XML import and export makes it easy for you to move your content between WordPress blogs.
  • Our completely redone visual editor also now includes spell checking.
  • New search engine privacy option allows you take you to indicate your blog shouldn’t ping or be indexed by search engines like Google.
  • You can set any “page” to be the front page of your site, and put the latest posts somewhere else, making it much easier to use WordPress as a content management system.
  • Much more efficient database code, faster than previous versions. Domas Mituzas from MySQL went over all our queries with a fine-toothed comb.
  • Links in your blogroll now support sub-categories and you can add categories on the fly.
  • Redesigned login screen from the Shuttle project.
  • More AJAX to make custom fields, moderation, deletions, and more all faster. My favorite is the comments page, which new lets you approve or unapprove things instantly.
  • Pages can now be drafts, or private.
  • Our admin has been refreshed to load faster and be more visually consistent.
  • The dashboard now instantly and brings RSS feeds asynchronously in the background.
  • Comment feeds now include all the comments, not just the last 10.
  • Better internationalization and support for right-to-left languages.
  • The upload manager lets you easily manage all your uploads pictures, video, and audio.
  • A new version of the Akismet plugin is bundled.

…and much, much more.

What I’d really like is a nice simple way of including HTML code in my articles. I’m not sure if I’ll find that in this release. Fingers crossed

Creating your own wordpress theme

It was never my intention to use an existing wordpress theme for this blog. My original plan was to build a theme myself, however a combination of time pressure & a creative mental block meant that I ended up with a theme that I’d downloaded (albeit slightly modified).

My biggest stumbling block was that all the WP themes I looked at were pretty bloated and it was very difficult for me with my limited php knowledge to sus out what I needed to keep and what I could throw away. I searched in vain for “blank” wordpress theme after a couple of weeks I gave up.

A few days ago I stumbled upon an article by Ryan Arrowsmith which has a link to that elusive blank theme and step by step instructions for creating your own theme! (Thanks Ryan)
So now I have a blank theme sitting in the background on the server. Now all I have to do is decide how I want this site to look.

Announcing markford.me.uk

My blog posts are like buses, you get none for ages then three come along at once.

I’ve just launched a new website all about me: markford.me.uk

The new site will not replace this one, I’ll still continue to blog here; markford.me.uk is more for people who want to know about my background and maybe take a look at my CV.

This is a very new site and as such it’s still a work in progress, but I felt it was finished enough to unveil.

Web Accessability Petition

It’s not like me to post anything political, but I’ll make an exception for this.

In the UK the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) covers access to services for disabled people; the part of the act that covers websites came into force in 1999.

The act states that “reasonable adjustments” to ensure that their service is accessible to people with disabilities.

A widely accepted measure of accessibility is the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). There are three levels defined in the WCAG A, AA & AAA. Any site claiming to be accessable should really meet the AA standard as a minimum.

It may come as a surprise that the government launched a new website in June last year that fails to do this.

In June 2006 the DTI launched their new website. Despite an approximate cost of £200,000, the website failed to meet basic accessibility standards. In short, this meant that the information on the website was inaccessible to some UK citizens – this is absolutely inexcusable. Further work (requiring further taxpayer money) was promised to bring the website up to Level AA of the Web Accessibility Initiative. The purpose of this petition is to ensure that all future government websites meet basic accessibility requirements from launch.

Clearly this is wrong. At best it can be seen as negligence on the part of the DTI; for a government department to ignore the guidelines like this is inexcusable. That’s why I’ve signed this petition, and you should too.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that any website launched by the government complies with accessibility standards (WCAG AA at least).

Sign the petition.

@media 2007 registration is open!

I just got this email from those lovely folks at vivabit:

The @media 2007 web site has just been launched, and you can now register to attend:

http://www.vivabit.com/atmedia2007/europe/

Taking place on June 7th and 8th, this year the bar will be raised and web design and development best practices will be pushed that one step further. Providing an unparalleled educational, inspirational, and all-round enjoyable experience, @media will once again demonstrate why it has a reputation for being the foremost web design conference in Europe.

The last event sold out, so be sure to register soon – we hope to see you back this year!

Damn I wanna go! I guess I’ll have to sweet talk the boss.

Family update

Time has just flown by over the past few weeks; Erin is now over a month old and is doing really well. Generally she is only up for one feed during the night, however that can take anything up to two hours which has taken some getting used too. She still seems to be putting on plenty of weight and in the last week or two she has started to smile.

Isla really enjoyed Christmas, although she was a bit overwhelmed by all her presents and at one stage refused to open any more!

I’ve added some more photos of the girls to flickr for those that are interested.