Adding A Plugin

Plugin Menu

Welcome to Geeky Wednesday. Today I am going to talk about adding plugins to a wordpress blog.

Naturally this topic is only relevant to those who blog using WordPress, I am not familiar with the inner workings of Blogger so I don’t know how to do anything similar in blogger.

Plugins add verstility to your blog and different plugins perform different tasks. WordPress does of course have lots of information about using plugins here.

Currently there are over 12,000 different plugins available for WordPress.

You will often find lots of plugins that apprear to do the same thing when you do a search for a plugin to do a particlar job and it can be very difficult to figure out which plugin you want to use or indeed which plugin will perform the best.

In order to do a search go to your dashboard and click on Plugins. A new page will open showing you all the plugins that you are currently using, or perhaps none if you are just starting off.

Plugins Page

Click on “add new” to search for a new plugin. For this purpose I typed the words “fixed social buttons” into the search box  because I know that this is the name of the plugin.

As you can see in the picture below when the search results come back there is a star rating, this rating is a very good way to guage the quality of the plugin. If it is possible then I would advise that you use plugins wiht a high rating.

Searching for a plugin

And just to show that sometimes things are not as straighforward as they should be I could not find the plugin that I wanted for this post, even though I am using the plugin and know both the name of the plugin and the name of the author.

If you can find the plugin that you want then click on “Install Now” and if you are lucky enough to have a god server it will upload quickly and all you will have to do is click on Activate.

Previously to this green hosted server that my blog is hosted on now I was on a server which made uploading plugins very slow and laborious, even though I followed the instructions as told on screen. However sometimes it took  ages and I would start to wonder if everything was going according to plan. It looked as though worpress was having trouble however it was the server at fault and the pugins never uploaded. If you are having this problem then the fault may lie with your server, not with wordpress or the plugin.

Fixed Social Buttons

This is the website of the Fixed Social Buttons that I am using on my blog. You can see the buttons on the home page of the blog on the right hand side and the very cute buttons float as the page moves up and down.

If you wish to use this plugin wander down the page until you see the Download section and then click on the most recent version, in this case V2.4.4.4, which is the current version of the software.

Download the software and you will most likely be asked whether to unzip or save.

Save it to your downloads folder, do not unzip the file.

Go back to your Plugins page and click on “upload”, you should then see the page pictured below.

Click on Choose File and look for the zip file that you saved to your Downloads folder and click on it. Then click Install Now and the magic should happen by itself.

Installing a wordpress plugin

Once the file is installed go to Settings in the menu on the left, when it expands look down the list for Fixed Social Buttons and click on it. This is where you get to play with the plugin and decide how it should look on your lovely blog.

You choose which buttons to use, such as Follow me on Twitter, Digg it, StumbleUpon etc. Decide which style of button to use and how large it should be, then where on your blog page you want to see the buttons.

If you are using buttons such as twitter or facebook then enter your social media profile details and you should be set to go.

I hope this was helpful and if you decide to go ahead and try the plugin please let know. I am not connected in any way to the design team who developed Fixed Social Buttons, I just like how they look and when a twitter friend asked how set the buttons up I thought that it would be a good subject for a Geeky Wednesday post.

Remember if you have any geeky questions that you think I may be able to help with then I would love to hear from you, next Geeky Wednesday post will be at the beginning of next year!

Connecting to the Internet in Rural Ireland

It seems logical to me that the first Geeky Wednesday post is about the method that I use to connect to the internet.

As you know if you are a regular visitor here, I live off-the-grid, which in general terms means that my household is not connected to the electricity grid, using instead alternative energy in the form of a wind turbine and solar PV (photovoltaic) panels. Some years ago we also made the decision to cut the connection to the telephone lines and rely on our mobile phones and Skype. This was a budgetary decision which was heavily supported by our dissatisfaction with the internet connection (12 bits per second) that was provided by our telephone provider.

For the last few years we have used a Vodafone mobile modem, a sim card based dongle. At the beginning the reception was very good and we even utilised an old network hub to run both of our laptops on the one mobile dongle, which meant that we were now paying €20 each month for our internet connection. Even including the cost of our mobile phones at an average of €20 each per month we were still saving up to €100 per month.

For our budget we think that ending our contract with the telephone company was the best decision we ever made and we wonder now how did we manage to pay those bills and how did we use the phone so much? We never once missed the old telephone line.

It is not unusual these days for people to need an internet connection that is not telephone line based and lots of people in Ireland live in areas that are not yet serviced by wireless broadband companies offering service.

Over the years the Vodafone dongle became increasingly irritating, with speeds varying between 70 bps to zero. We could no longer run both laptops from the one dongle and had to get a second one. We experimented with placing the dongles in different places to see where the reception was best and noticed that quite often the weather affected the effectiveness.

However the situation became worse and unfortunately the service provided by the help-line was not satisfactory with endless excuses being presented to us for the lack of a reliable service – why can companies not just come clean and admit to allowing their service to become over-subscribed?

Last year we switched to another company with the same price deal and were delighted to have an internet connection that was reliable. Not so long ago I unlocked the second Vodafone modem and oredered a second O2 Sim card so that we could both have internet whilst travelling separately.

Recently the company O2 released a new form of wireless dongle, the Hotshot.

Hotshot Modem

The new modem is larger, about the size of a mobile phone, however so is the download allowance. Previously we were paying €20 per month for a 5 gigabyte download allowance, with the new Hotshot we get to an allowance of 15 gigabytes per month for €20, a pretty good improvement I think.

The Hotshot creates it’s own WiFi zone and we can connect up to 5 different units (computers or internet phones) to the Hotshot so anyone who visits can also use the modem.

Our large pc, which was recently rebuilt, connects quickly with the new Hotshot. My old laptop is too old to connect wirelessly however I simply plug the modem into a USB slot and can connect with no problem whilst using a Windows based operating system.

So far we are happy with the performance of this new modem, the only negative comment is that the battery life is really poor. This may be a problem which is particular to our modem, I am chatting with the O2 forum on twitter about the battery and will do a few tests to check exactly how long it lasts on each charge.

I am awaiting the arrival of a little USB stick which will allow my lalptop to pick up WiFi and so connect wirelessly to the Hotshot which will be more convienient for moving my laptop around.

USB wireless device

Happily we can also connect to the Hotshot whilst using a Linux operating system, in fact that is the main reason why I bought the wireless stick – to allow me to use Ubuntu, but that’s another Geeky Wednesday post.

Remember if you have any geeky questions that you think I may be able to help with then I would love to hear from you.

Geeky Wednesday

I have decided to take some of the great advice in Rachel Meeks new e-book, Simple Blogging: Less computer time, better blogging.  One of the ideas that appealed to me is to set a schedule for blogging.

This idea has benefits for me and for people who like to read the blog. It gives me some structure to work within and I have to admit that I could benefit from a wee bit of structure. It also means that people who read the blog on a regular basis will know when to expect something new and wonderful to read about 🙂

I will of course blog about the usual subjects that take my fancy, without any particular schedule whatsoever. I am not becoming completely organised, that would be far too much for me and my family to expect, I am just making a wee change.

So I had a few thoughts about things to blog about aside from the usual stories about the progress in our house building and came up with the idea of writing a few geeky pieces on a regular basis hence the wonderful name – Geeky Wednesday.

1951: Whirlwind Computer - The First to Display Real Time Video

I do have already a few geeky things to write about so I should be alright for subject material for a wee while however if you have any geeky questions that you think I may be able to help with then I would love to hear from you.

I expect to write on such subjects as wordpress plugins, open source software, keeping older laptops up to speed and lots more.

I do have some great geeky advisors so if I don’t have an answer for you then I would certainly try my very best to find one and would relish the learning that I would have to do……

So please check back in next week for the first installment of Geeky Wednesday and from then on – the First Wednesday of the Month…..