Fighting with WordPress admin / editor – a bleat rather than a solution

For work we have a paid-for work-related WordPress dot com website (not self-hosted WordPress dot org which is a completely different thing). I thought I’d keep a tally of some of the (reasonably recent) changes to the layout that really annoy me about it. Seemingly aesthetics has one out over functionality and it is extremely poor and unintuitive to make changes on the site.

The first thing to commit to memory is the suffix /wp-admin (stick it at the end of your homepage address) which will always take you to the main ‘old’ admin bit of your site, from which you should be able to find all the things you want to do.

My site has information about a 10-week course. There’s a landing page with an overview of the course and 10 sub-pages for each week, to which I add material every week. I’m fairly sure I used to be able to ‘URL hack’ the address to bring up the next page that I wanted to edit. If you can guess what the link for Week 8 might be you’ve already grasped URL hacking.

GCSE Computer Science – Week 5
GCSE Computer Science – Week 6
GCSE Computer Science – Week 7
what could go here… 🙂

Things aren’t that simple once you’re stuck in their awful new editing system, the address I’m actually stuck with is

https://wordpress.com/page/teachinglondoncomputing.org/6925 [hopefully this won’t actually work if you click on it as you’re not logged in to my site]

This means I have to prune everything up to teaching… and after .org and re-add /wp-admin to start a new editing instance. It is seemingly impossible to navigate to other pages from within the editing pane. You may be lucky, if you’ve recently been on the /wp-admin you can use the back button, but invariably this won’t take you to where you want to be.

I can’t understand why the WordPress-using community (particularly those of us who’ve paid for an ad-free service) isn’t up in arms about how poor this interface is.

One thing they have fixed though is being able to access a new page or post you’ve just created. For a long time using the View Page (once the page was published) would only give you a sort of pop-up overlay but with no way of getting the actual address. If you click on the new button below it that looks like this you’ll be taken to a copy of the page from which you can collect the URL.

magicbutton

More bleats to come as I remember things about this new interface that annoy me…

 

 

 

How to connect to QMUL’s Eduroam wifi with a new password on Windows 10

Admittedly this one might be a bit niche. It’s something I probably do no more than twice a year, whenever I am forced to change my password.

The trick is to forget Eduroam. I’ve spent much longer than is reasonable trying to prod it into prompting me for the new password but it refuses, so the successful route was basically to turn it off and on again.

There’s more than one way to reach the network settings but today I did it by clicking on the wifi icon in the bottom right tray…

01 network and internet settings
I’m sure you know which one is the wifi icon but in case not it’s between the battery icon and the muted speaker icons. Let’s assume you know those too 🙂

…then clicking Network & Internet settings. This brings up a range of options in a menu on the left and the one I want is Wi-Fi. Once clicked the text on the right shows me a new option, Manage known networks

02 manage known networks

…which lets me find Eduroam, click on it and forget it (or check its properties).

03 forget

Then start the process again by clicking the wifi icon bottom right, it will include Eduroam in the list (assuming it’s in range) and at this point will ask you for your login name and password. Remember that for QMUL folk the login is NOT the same as your email address.

Pictures to follow…

Excel ‘concatenate’: how to combine FirstName LastName columns into one column – Name

Formula
The formula is of the format =CONCATENATE(A1,A2) which will combine the separate names in Cell A1 and Cell B1 into one.

concatenate

On my version of Excel this format will include a space between the two but you can force one if yours doesn’t, with =CONCATENATE(A1, ” “, B1).

Note that Cell C1 is highlighted (surrounded by a green border). If you have lots of names in columns A and B you can double click on the tiny green square at the bottom right and the formula will cascade all the way down your list, stopping at the last item.

This format will also work =A1 & A2 (or if you need a space it’s =A1 & ” ” & A2)

Beware: do not now delete columns A and B or your newly created column C will disappear as each cell is actually a formula, contingent on the contents of other cells. If you want a text-only version I think the quickest way to do this is to select Column C and copy (Ctrl+C) its contents, then paste temporarily into a text file (eg notepad.exe) which will paste the words you see in the column and not the underlying maths. Then paste from the notepad file back into an empty column and you can delete the other three safely.

Why not just collect people’s names as names rather than FirstName LastName?
Sometimes it’s handy to be able to order a spreadsheet of people’s names by their surname as well as by their first name, so it’s quite handy to have one column for their forename and another for their surname.

Further reading
Microsoft’s help page on the CONCATENATE function

This post is a neatened update of a post originally published on my main blog (I’m gradually transferring the techy posts I’ve published there… here).

 

 

Voting for the slightly forgetful

Voting is tomorrow, from 7am until 10pm. If you’re reading this on Wednesday and will be heading off somewhere tomorrow… are you going to vote before you go there or on your way back?

It’s very easy to get up and get ready to go to work or wherever and find you’re halfway there having meant to have voted already. Similarly on the return journey. Generally we vote once every four years so this isn’t part of our normal ‘going places’ routine and easily overridden by habit. Exploit anything that helps you remember. See point (1).

If you’re not going anywhere tomorrow then vote whenever you feel like it, but do vote 🙂

Let me know @JoBrodie if I’ve forgotten anything, or need to correct something, ta.

Table of Contents
1. Set a reminder or an alarm
2. I’ve forgotten my polling card
3. I’ve forgotten where I go to vote
4. Whose names will you find on your ballot paper?
5. Oh crap I’m not going to get there before 10pm
6. I’m not well / something’s come up at work urgently
7. Further reading

1. Set a reminder or an alarm
My phone lets me set a reminder that will send me a message whenever I enter (or leave) a particular geographical area, which is quite useful. Or stick a post-it note on the door. Incidentally these strategies for ‘helping you remember something that you don’t do routinely’ are sometimes known as resilience strategies.

2. I’ve forgotten my polling card
Doesn’t matter, you don’t need it. You only need to confirm your full name and address.

3. I’ve forgotten where I go to vote
Go to https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/ and look for the lavender-coloured box saying ‘Enter your postcode’. You’ll need to use the full postcode as each polling station covers only a bit of your constituency.

4. Whose names will you find on your ballot paper?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/constituencieseither enter your full postcode in the search bar on that page or use the A-Z filter to pick the first letter of your constituency (if you don’t know, use the postcode one).

5. Oh crap I’m not going to get there before 10pm
If you’re in the queue by 10pm then I think they’re meant to let you vote. I’ve not seen anything official to confirm this though [can anyone point me to something official?].

6. I’m not well / something’s come up at work urgently
You can get an emergency proxy vote up to 5pm tomorrow (it’s too late to get the regular in-advance proxy vote) – https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/how-do-i-vote/voting-by-proxy

Ignore the first bit about proxy votes and see the second bit about “Can I apply for an emergency proxy?” – download and fill in whichever PDF is relevant to your situation (work or medical – you’ll need to get it signed by your employer or a healthcare professional – full info is in the PDFs).

A proxy vote means someone else will go and vote for you (with your permission).

[Does anyone know if you can write your information on a piece of paper, for people who don’t have access to a printer? Can you fill it in on a computer and email it?] A short version of the link above, for writing down and giving to someone who does have a printer plus internet is http://tinyurl.com/vbp2017

7. Further reading
Ways of voting – from GOV.UK
https://www.gov.uk/voting-in-the-uk

Where is my polling station? How to find out where to vote – from Metro
http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/07/where-is-my-polling-station-how-to-find-out-where-to-vote-6692484/

How to remove the audio track from a video made on an iPhone, using iMovie

Sometimes I take a video of something and on listening to it hear other noise or conversation that I don’t particularly want to include. Here’s how I get rid of it in ‘post-production’.

This may not be the best way of doing it and I’m certain it’s not the only way. However, it works and doesn’t involve downloading any extra apps or spending money, so it’ll be the method I’m likely to favour. If you know of a better way, others might be interested so please feel free to share your improvements and suggestions in the comments below.

This post assumes that you have an iPhone with the built-in camera, and iMovie apps. I’m running iOS 7.6 (if you’ve got a higher iOS then my screenshots might look a little different from yours, but hopefully not so much as to make the instructions unworkable).

Here are the basic instructions, repeated below with the addition of screenshots

1. Record your video
2. Open iMovie
3. Click the + at bottom right to create new project
4. Click Movie
5. Click Create Movie
6. Tap the icon to ‘insert media’
7. Select your chosen video, it goes yellow
8. Click the down arrow to insert
9. Your video appears as a panel of images, and the cursor leaps to the end
10. Click the video panel, it goes yellow
11. Audio is already selected, click the two dots below the dustbin, click detach
12. The audio track is now separated from the video and you can, if you wish, move it into a different position. It’s already selected (yellow) so press delete to remove it
13. Try out your now silent video, all the sound should have gone
14. To export it click on the back arrow at the top, then the upload icon for sharing options. Your options will depend on your phone and apps but I’ve got Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo etc. and if I scroll along there’s the email option at the end and WhatsApp. The save video, in the lower down (not brightly coloured) panel will save it to your camera roll, from which you can also email and send it other places etc.).

To share it on Twitter, note that it will need to be reduced in length to just a few seconds and you’ll need to save this ‘iMovie project’ to your camera roll to do so (and ensure that you’ve granted Twitter access to your iPhone’s camera roll [at some point I might add something about how to do this but it’s in Settings somewhere]), you can also email it to yourself.

You’ll end up with a much smaller, squarer version of your video, rather than the rectangular one you created. I’ve no idea why, nor how to make it larger. If you know a better way that will let you end up with a video that’s identical to the one you recorded minus the audio, please let me know. I’m less interested in costly professional tools though.

The same again but with added images

1. Record your video
2. Open iMovie (it was already installed on my phone)
3. Click the + at bottom right to create new project

photo 1(5)
4. Click Movie (in blue, below)

photo 2(4)
5. Click Create Movie (top right in pale blue, below)

photo 3(3)
6. Tap the sprocketed film + musical note icon at the top to insert media

photo 4
7. Select your chosen video, it goes yellow – you can slide the yellow boundaries to make your clip shorter too.
8. Click the down arrow to insert

photo 1(5)
9. Your video appears as a panel of images, and the cursor leaps to the end

photo 2(4)
10. Click the video panel, it goes yellow

photo 3(3)
11. Audio is already selected, click the two dots below the dustbin, click Detach

photo 4
12. The audio track is now separated from the video and you can, if you wish, move it into a different position. It’s already selected (yellow) so press the dustbin icon to delete it

photo 1(5)

13. Try out your now silent video, all the sound should have gone
14. To export it click on the back arrow at the top, then the upload icon for sharing options. Your options will depend on your phone and apps but I’ve got Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo etc. and if I scroll along there’s the email option at the end and WhatsApp. The save video, in the lower down (not brightly coloured) panel will save it to your camera roll, from which you can also email and send it other places etc.).

photo 2(4)

Above: Click the left-facing arrow in the top left to start the export process.

Below: you’ll see this screen, choose the upload icon in the middle to upload your silent film.

photo 3(3)

Below: Mail is at the end of the list of things you can send the file to and you can also save it to your camera roll.

photo 4

 

How to do .@ replies on Twitter

How to open up a tweet or conversation thread to your public timeline without quote-tweeting it (which breaks any threading as that creates a new tweet).

Updated – whether or not your mobile phone app can or can’t do the .@ may depend on the version of your software (eg iOS) or whether or not you’ve updated the app.

Mobile phone users
Carry on as you were by clicking the start of the reply to position the cursor there and typing the . as normal (tested on Twitter for iPhone, Echofon for iPhone and Twitter for Android – I’m assuming other apps behave similarly but please let me know if not).

@Flatsquid tells me that he can’t do this on his version of Twitter for iPhone (whereas I can) so this may be a version issue. I don’t have an option to update my version so can’t confirm, though I am using an older iOS.

Tablet users
Twitter for iPad can’t do .@

Twitter on Safari doesn’t work either but it seems that using Dabr on a browser does (thanks @medtek for checking). Open browser app, go to http://dabr.co.uk/ and log in by authorising with Twitter credentials. Click reply and place the . at the front. Possibly Echofon for iPad would work too.

Web users
Twitter dot com and Tweetdeck can’t do .@

1a. On Twitter dot com or Tweetdeck reply within the confines of the new system
1b. Then retweet your own tweet – this makes it available to all your followers and maintains the thread so people can click and see the conversation.

OR

2. Dabr: Go to http://dabr.co.uk/ and log in by authorising with Twitter. Click reply and place the . at the front.


What’s this all about?
Twitter’s latest improvement meddling has removed the capacity to insert a . before the username of the person you’re replying to on the desktop / web browser version of Twitter (eg Twitter.com or Tweetdeck). The simple addition of the . before the @ did two things (a) it converted a reply (which has a more limited distribution to those involved in the conversation and people following both them and you) to a broadcast tweet (visible to anyone following you) so that more could see it while (b) maintaining the threading, letting people click and see the expanded tweet in context. [Note that any tweet sent is visible on your public timeline unless sent as a DM or you’ve locked your account.]

In the new format Twitter has removed the usernames from the text of the tweet (giving us more characters, a potential plus I suppose) but making all replies replies and not easily ‘surfaced’ to more people.

I think this ONLY affects people tweeting from Twitter dot com and Tweetdeck, phone apps appear to be unaffected (may depend on OS version or app version).

I have no idea why Twitter has done this. I’m assuming they want to make desktop Twitter as difficult as possible to use to force everyone onto mobile apps, though that doesn’t make sense since there are so many things you can’t do (in terms of settings) on mobile apps. People have suggested that it reduces the risk of people piling on in response to a more publicised tweet – that would only be true if .@ was also removed from mobile apps or you couldn’t retweet your own tweet (which serves the same purpose, but perhaps doesn’t cue people in the same way that seeing .@ does). Possibly this will change in future.

Removing / adding people in the conversation
The other annoyance with Twitter’s new replies is that it adds an extra hassle barrier in untagging people from the conversation. They have now added a ‘remove everyone other than the person I’m replying to from this conversation’ one-click option.

Clicking ‘reply’ has always meant ‘reply all’ but the previous system made it easy to select the usernames as a chunk of text and delete, now you have to go and look for them. To do this click reply, then click on the line above saying ‘Replying to @name, @name etc’ and choose the options to delete people. You can write the names of new additions within the tweet – so there’s one way to remove people but a different way to add them, which seems confusing.

Threads are now a mess and it’s not clear who’s replying to whom.

Further reading
The New Twitter @-Replies Are Giving Me an Ulcer (30 March 2017) by Sarah Jeong

Twitter search operators, for better search results

seewhatshappeningnow
Screenshot of Twitter’s dedicated search page. It looks like ‘operators’ is a link
to another page but it’s just a pop-up and there’s no real useable link there.

Below are Twitter’s search operators. There doesn’t seem to be an actual page I can link to so instead I pinched them from the pop up window that appears when you click operators on Twitter’s dedicated search page (see picture above). Here’s the link for the Advanced Search where you can do even more. I haven’t tried all of them but the one at the end doesn’t seem to be working now.

Edit: Heh, note that WordPress dot com auto converts text smiley faces like : and ) into 🙂 so in the table below please remember that you’d need to write colons and brackets into your search terms. I’ve no idea if this even works though. I think some of these operators might be out of date.

It’s possible Twitter will make me take this down cos I have totally stolen their content (literally in fact, when the popup appeared I used Ctrl+U on Firefox to bring up the ‘page’ sourcecode and then collected the HTML which I pasted into the draft of this post, above. Beyond me why they don’t make it more shareable. Mind you having seen their latest fiddling with replies…