Tag Archives: wordpress

WordPress search sucks

I really like WordPress, I’m glad I moved to it from Blogger.  I think with the right templates it’s pretty flexible, I wish I had a) more time and b) more css/layout skill to do some template work.  However, WordPress search sucks.

It sucks for a few reasons,

  1. results come back in reverse date order (which makes sense for a blog but is too inflexible)
  2. there’s no indication in the search results which words matched the article
  3. the search just takes all the terms and does a basic sql query for any of them, so if you search for ‘i like bacon’ you get posts with the word like and then posts with the word bacon
  4. the standard navigation doesn’t tell you how many pages of results you got, just that you can read the next page

For blogs, I guess it’s ok as a basic tool, but really it should,

  1. return posts by most relevant first
  2. do proper searches based on the phrase you submit
  3. indicate which words matched the post
  4. show how many posts matched
  5. list the posts by just title, or summary or full and allow you to switch
  6. show which page you’re on, if there are more than one page of results

I’ve looked at various plugins, but not really had any luck finding one which fixes all the problems.  I’ll keep looking.

So, what went wrong (or WordPress, Cron and Squid)

Recently my web host (Gradwell) moved to a new hosting platform (Apache 2, php 5.2) to try and bring things up-to-date.  In general, the end result worked okay.  However, the load balancing they had in front of their web cluster was apparently sub-par.  This became entirely apparent when a single customer was able to bring the whole thing to a grinding halt with some kind of chess related website.

Now, I know it’s shared hosting, and you have to take the performance hits every now and then, but there’s a difference between ‘takes 2 or 3 seconds longer sometimes’ and ‘didn’t load’, ‘won’t load’, ‘took 8 minutes’.  I raised a ticket on the Friday when the problems got to their worst, but for reasons I’m not sure about, that didn’t get looked at by anyone technical until Monday.  So from Friday to Monday all my Gradwell sites were basically unusable between 1pm and 8pm UK time.

Gradwell made some changes on Monday and spoke to the owner of the other site, but it didn’t really fix the problem.  Eventually they decided to replace whatever load balancer they were using with a Squid reverse proxy, which had been running ‘fine’ in front of their php4 cluster.  They did this Tuesday night and since then the site has been a lot quicker.

However, it broke WordPress.  Let me explain.

Continue reading So, what went wrong (or WordPress, Cron and Squid)

Grrr and sorry

Sorry if your feed reader got about 20 test posts to my blog, but something’s broken.  The automated posting of scheduled posts isn’t working along with pings and a couple of other features.  It seems to be related to Gradwell putting squid in front of it’s shared hosting infrastructure, but I can’t work out where the issue is.  I was making lots of test posts to try and work out where the issue lay.

Sorry about that.

Just upgraded

Just upgraded the site to WordPress 2.7 which was released today and wanted to make sure everything was working.  It’s going to take me a little while to get used to the new admin layout, but I’ve played with the beta’s and release candidates and I know for a fact that some things are a hell of a lot easier.

Then I read today that you can move the different boxes around on the admin pages and get to a very nice wide posting area and that made me very happy.

I’ve noticed that the category pages on the site no longer show custom headers after a Mandigo upgrade, hopefully that’ll get resolved soon, but until then, enjoy the default red mandigo logo on the category pages.

WordPress & Grete

I really can’t praise WordPress enough.  It’s such a simple install (point it at your mysql server, and it’s done) and although out of the box it looks pretty ugly (in my view), there are so many quality free templates that it can look however you want in about 20 minutes.  Of course, it takes more time to use some plugins and decide on a layout in general, but really it’s so easy to use everyone who wants an web presence but doesn’t want to spend much time should use it.  It’s mainly a blog, but the pages feature means you can certain include a lot of ‘non-blog’ content easily as well.

Anyway, the point of this post, Grete has moved her blog from blogger to WordPress over at her old URL (http://www.darkstorm.co.uk/grete) and she’s slowly moving the content over from her old personal website at that URL, so it’ll be more than a blog in the end (she assures us!)  She’s using the Mandigo theme as well, so I put together a few random headers for her site, she’s not seen them all yet so they may not all stay and at least one of them doesn’t work very well in my view, so I’ll probably get rid of it later.  But I liked them all anyway 😉

A month with WordPress

It’s just over a month since I left Blogger and started running my own WordPress site.  I’m not new at hosting sites, I have several (some phpBB, various custom stuff, previous goes at CMS’s) and I’m comfortable with apache and mysql.

Here’s a few random thoughts about WordPress.

  • Easiest, cleanest and best ‘default settings’ install of just about any web-app I’ve installed.  Really impressed with the ease at which it goes on, and how it works out-of-the-box without having to worry about any settings.
  • Solid and robust plugin architecture.  It’s a constant battle when you host your own sites to keep the number of plugins down while still adding some stuff to the site which makes it easier to use.  WordPress handles the plugins really well, I’ve not had any conflict with each other yet and I’ve not had any cause any weird issues.  I’ve added one or two that I think really add some value and I’ve added a few that are just fun stuff for me (like Pull Quotes).  Overall I’m really impressed, and the automatic one click upgrade for plugins rocks.
  • Because WordPress is popular, there are a lot of templates and I was lucky enough to find one which is basically bullet proof and ideal.  I usually have a lot of problems with templates and CMSs, either having to do a lot of customisation or losing out on features because the templates are old.  This isn’t really a WordPress ‘good point’ since it’s the template designer who’s done the hard work, but I guess the popularity and template system in WordPress helps.
  • The actual process of writing posts is pretty easy.  Sometimes I find the editor a bit clumsy, and having to flick between HTML and Visual editing mode for the more complex post styles can be annoying.  The built in media manager seems powerful and I’m probably only just scraping the top of that but it does what I need (allowing me to upload images and then including them in posts without having to FTP them to my hosting provider and work out a URL).  Compared to Blogger it’s far more flexible and powerful.
  • I like the pages feature – I felt it was a major issue that Blogger didn’t provide a built-in method of including non-dated pages/posts.
  • Managing posts / tags and categories is a pain (in 2.6 you have to edit a post to change the category / tags).  I think they’re changing this in 2.7 or later.  But, a simple plugin fixed this for me anyway and made it a lot easier.  Blogger’s tagging / category feature was reasonably limited and although I don’t think I’m benefiting yet fully from WordPress’s tagging / category system it is far more flexible.  I love the tag to category and category to tag feature, which has saved me a lot of work in restructing the posts.
  • Overall page views are down a great deal since leaving Blogger.  This is party because of the (bizarre) popularity of my posts on my thumb pain / tendonitis and party because the site doesn’t rank as highly in Google for other random topics.  Generally, I don’t mind.  This is a personal blog for me to vent and my friends to read, so how highly it ranks on Google isn’t an issue.  I could have spent a lot more time with the redirection from the Blogger blog, sending visitors to specific posts on this site, but I decided it really wasn’t worth it to preserve the people reading about thumb pain.
  • I think i already blogged about the fantastic seamless import of Blogger content into WordPress.  If not, it was fantastic.
  • I like trackbacks.  I like sending pings when I link to another blog.  Part of the reason why I left Blogger was a lack of trackbacks / pings.  If I link to someone’s blog I want them to know it, so they feel like their blog is valuable and being read.  Even if they don’t display the pings / trackbacks on their site, it’s just a nice easy way of letting people know they’re being read.
  • I never did find a plugin that worked as well as the Blogger blogroll one (which shows the last post in an rss feed you choose, for each entry).  Which is a shame.  There are some, but they seem over complex.

Overall, I’m more than pleased with the move.  I feel more in control of how the blog looks (even though I’ve hardly touched the template I’m using) and I have direct and immediate access to the content (I back the mysql database tables up each night).  WordPress itself performs flawlessly, and there aren’t any major features that I wish it had.