Category Archives: This Blog

Starting a WordPress 3 Blog from Scratch, Part 3

More Links in the Sidebar. Since my last post (Part 2), I’ve added more good links to my sidebar. I’ve used the Link widget that comes standard with WordPress 3 and dragged it in several times with different titles. Each link group shows all the links I’ve assigned to a particular link category. You’ll find link categories in the WordPress dashboard under Links. By default all of the links you create get assigned to the link category blogroll.

Appearance / Background. I experimented briefly with the Twenty Ten Background option under Appearance in the dashboard. I selected a shade of red from the color wheel. This was pretty random but I liked it. It can be hard to be objective about your own style choices. I will be trying lots of different color options to see how well this red holds up to the competition.

Customizing the Theme. I’ve been researching the subject of modifying styles in the Twenty Ten theme and found some really good information. The WP-recommended way to change styles is with a child theme.

Child Themes. A child theme uses a reference line to take all the style information from its parent theme as its starting point. Then any additions to the child theme are overrides to the parent theme. This way, when the parent theme is replaced with a newer version, your customizations, safely stashed in the child theme, aren’t overwritten.  There’s a detailed tutorial on creating child themes at

Child Theme-Makers. Bruce Wampler has created a child theme-maker called WordPress Weaver and a version specifically for the Twenty Ten theme called Twenty Ten Weaver. These are donationware offerings. Weaver child theme-makers show up in your dashboard with checkboxes and such. They allow you to make style adjustments to your wordpress site without having to write any CSS code yourself.

I’m on the verge of installing Twenty Ten Weaver myself even though I’ve done lots of CSS work over the last 15 years. The advantage is that clicking checkboxes is faster than writing code. You can quickly try different options in the brainstorming phase and then undo a change by unchecking a checkbox.

Creating My Own Child Theme. I haven’t installed and tried Twenty Ten Weaver yet but I wanted to try a child theme. In my first experiment, I used the Otto on WordPress blog post that walks you through creating a really minimal child theme for your Twenty Ten themed blog. It just changes 1 style: the color of the title for your blog posts from black to green. In the example below, I use a dark red for the heading color and green for code.

Example. You create a new folder in your themes folder with a new text file called styles.css. And enter an @import url reference to tell wordpress to use the twentyten theme as a starting point (parent theme) then override the parent style info with anything you add in your child theme style.css file. Here’s what my child theme style.css file I called jt2010 looks like:

/*Theme Name: jt2010
Template: twentyten
Author: Janet Tokerud*/

@import url('../twentyten/style.css');
#content h2.entry-title a {color: #A81A16;}
code {color: #087F11;}

I’m stoked. Between the excellent tutorial resources I’ve identified above plus the weavers Bruce Wampler has created for us, I’m looking forward to quickly getting my blog styles the way I want. By the time you read this, I hope to have a few more tweaks in place.

Thirty Ten. There’s a child theme for Twenty Ten called Thirty Ten that gives you three columns in case you are interested. The post called Thirty Ten Three Ways gives you the choice to have the content on the left or right with two columns beside.

Update Sep 12: I downloaded and activated the Twenty Ten Weaver theme and got a really large list of style options with checkboxes in a new Twenty Ten Weaver menu under Appearance/Themes in my dashboard. The list is a little overwhelming at first glance but pretty easy to work with anyway. I found it easy to try out many different options to see what I would get. After experimenting I went back to my JT2010 child theme and am playing with that today.

Starting a WordPress 3 Blog from Scratch, Part 2

WordPress 3 works really well once you get the hang of it and I found WordPress for Dummies to be an excellent guide — see more about the brand new 3rd edition below. I’m having no trouble so far running the blog which means making posts, setting up categories for posts and links and moderating comments. It all works like clockwork.

Everything is going swimmingly using WordPress 3 with the default theme: Twenty Ten. The above photo is one of the 8 header photos that comes with the theme. I’m using the theme as is with just a tweak of substituting my own photo. In the coming weeks, I will be making more changes, so stay tuned.

I haven’t tried to make any major changes to the theme as yet. I will be changing settings for type, size and color, of course. It is big fun to play with styles in cascading style sheets. It’s kind of a cross between art and programming and since I’ve taken only one art class my whole life, the chance to play with color, type, borders and backgrounds is a kick. Make sure you have a reference handy — pretty much anything can be found on google at this point when you get stuck.

The Twenty Ten theme seems really generic and clean. This clarity makes it easier to write widgets for. You get four columns in the footer area for widget material and two sections in the right column.

One demerit for Twenty Ten so far is that it doesn’t have a way to change the number and arrangement of columns the way Thesis Theme does. Twenty Ten defaults to a wider main content column on left and a thinner widgets and links column on the right. I’ve heard that it is easy to set it to have a single column. I wonder if adding a third column would require rocket science.

I’ve gotten used to a 3-column layout on my site. The extra column allows me to show my 12 most recent tweets without obscuring links and other vital information that typically goes in column 2. I’ll let you know how it goes with 2 columns. I have already seen one site running Twenty Ten with three columns. My guess is that before long a simple way to do a 3-column version of the theme will get published and be readily available.

One thing I’ve done so far is add a Blogroll. I wrote my About page which is just like making a blog post – dead simple. I’m adding links as they occur to me and have been setting up several link categories. Blogroll is my favorite. The Blogroll is where I put my favorite bloggers and blogging friends. I will add several links groups to the sidebar as I go along so that it is easier to find the kind of links you like.

As mentioned, Lisa Sabin-Wilson’s Word Press for Dummies 3rd edition was just released August 9th. Unfortunately for ebook fanatics, it is only available in trade paper so far. Buy the paper edition if you need it now. Don’t accidentally buy the 2nd edition which is dated Feb 2009. I  will post  part 3 of this series on WordPress 3 once I’ve had a chance to play a bit with the information I find in the new WordPress for Dummies book.

[Image: one of the 8 photos that comes with the Twenty Ten theme.]

Writing with your iPhone 4

I just hooked up my bluetooth keyboard to my iPhone 4. Saw a guy at my local Starbucks doing it and he raved about it.

All this is wireless — no dreaded cables at all. Ever. Just 3 AAA batteries to power the keyboard which is surprisingly light at about 10 ounces. Lighter than carrying an iPad.

Here I am at the Caffe Acri in Tiburon writing a brand new blog post. I’m using the WordPress app which has crashed a couple of times already. Not to worry, though, it saved all my work anyway.

If you have an iPhone, you may want to get on this brand new bandwagon. It started after a recent iOS4 update that enabled bluetooth keyboards to work with iPhones, not just iPads.

I’ve got my iPhone 4 in a vertical position tilted up against a coffee cup. I guess I will photograph it with my iPhone 3GS that’s still kicking around. The keyboard is on my lap where it belongs. It works on the table but isn’t really very ergonomic that way.

The reason to have a keyboard with your iPhone is to do some serious keyboard input. It’s not for twitter, but when you want to write in paragraphs, this keyboard is a godsend. I didn’t realize how light it is.

It is a lot more comfortable on your lap than a laptop — even a MacBook Air! Even an iPad which is more than twice it’s weight and fiddly — you don’t want to drop your iPad.

So, what can you do? You could write email if you must. But I would suggest writing in your journal or simply writing in Momento, 3Banana Notes, Awesome Note, Simplenote, Evernote or even the built-in Notes app.

I love the 3Banana Notes app for its responsiveness, ability to add a photo to your note and the excellent hashtag keywords feature that lets you make keywords in your notes on the fly which subsequently act as hotlinks to all notes containing that keyword. I think 3Banana is better than Simplenote. Evernote lags from my point of view because it tends to be sluggish and sometimes that looks like unuseable if you need to get your note entered without delay.

I have greatly enjoyed the Momento journaling app for its great tagging, photos, UI and more. It works great on iPhone but a big upgrade has been in the works a long time and many of us are getting impatient for the promised new features.

In all these apps, all you need to do is type and won’t find it difficult to occasionally touch your iPhone screen when you need to press a button. I found a list of keyboard shortcuts at theappleblog:

You can find detailed instructions on how to pair the Apple wireless keyboard in the iPhone User Guide PDF. See page 48. I’ve heard other keyboards work with the iPad, so I’m guessing they will also work with iPhone now. If you want to write and travel light, this combo can’t be beat!

I’m an Independent Knowledge Professional

These three words work as a descriptor for me and many others in business today. First, I’m independent. I’m not an employee. I work with others on contract or by project. I have long-time clients, but my work with them is project-based.

Second, I’m a knowledge worker. I’m paid for what I know, how I communicate, project management skills, my advice and vision. Many of my investments in time and money are to improve my knowledge and mastery so that I can then share that knowledge / mastery with clients.

I use the term professional loosely to mean anyone who is a  highly skilled purveyor of knowledge-intensive services. If you are practicing the knowledge art at higher levels and as a business, you are a knowledge professional.

As an independent knowledge professional, you are on your own and you need to pay attention to current trends. If you are a technology professional, you have to be sensitive to the threat of obsolescence. You study technology and other related developments to stay competitive in your field.

We have more of these independent knowledge professionals around than ever right now. One reason is that knowledge is the coin of the realm in our post-industrial, information exploded society.

Lots of people are doing knowledge work in one capacity or another. The economic downturn and downsizing practiced by major corporations the last 20 years or so has made it harder work to stay in a full-time job — there are fewer to go around. People that do have jobs are holding on to them for dear life, creating a logjam that hinders advancement for those below them in the hierarchy.

A core part of the American Dream is to work for yourself – many of those who haven’t done it, pine for it. The most talented and optimistic, frustrated by lack of opportunity as employees, take the risk of going it alone. Some don’t have a choice.

I got off the corporate/employee merry-go-round early in 1986 and became a computer consultant. I focused on small businesses in the creative industries like graphic design, architecture, photography, printing and prepress. I was attracted to the aesthetics and creativity. That’s still my niche today. I acquired a few others along the way including consultants, psychotherapists and executive recruiters.

With this glut of independent knowledge professionals on all sides, it seems like a good idea to start blogging about what I see and am finding valuable as tools in this time of change. We need to create our own futures and I want to be a part of that creation process. I plan to write more on this topic here in the near future.

[Image: from Wired story by Daniel H. Pink: Revenge of the Right Brain, Feb 2005]