Website updates took almost a whole day

Excluding quantum effects, of course

Excluding quantum effects, of course

JISHOU, HUNAN — What started out to be a few simple housekeeping chores turned into an all-day affair. I’d forgotten how time-consuming website maintenance can be.

With a day off from classes, I wanted to clean up two things on the site that have been bothering me for months.

  1. Clean up the header, to put the site title and logo over the banner image, to recover some lost space.
  2. Refine/reinstall the PayPal and Bitcoin donation buttons.

I tackled #2 first, because I naively assumed it would take less time than #1. Nope.

Taking care of the PayPal donations button was not especially time-consuming, aside from dealing with PayPal’s hidden user profile page, which contains the merchant ID. I no longer have a merchant account, but the ID is still valid. Using it allows me to keep my personal email address out of reach of spammers when I use the PayPal donation button.

You’d assume that PayPal would place the ID in plain sight, like on your profile page. I had to go to a usergroup discussion to find the link to it. PayPal still has the information; it’s just not included in the newly designed profile page.

There will now be a PayPal donation button at the end of each post, as long as I can remember to put it there, Those have a $5 donation hardcoded in, but the donation box in the sidebar allows donors to specify any amount. Hint, hint.

[The plugin that provides a button at the end of each post has a sidebar widget, too. I tried it. The widget broke my front page layout. So, I’m using PayPal’s widget.]

The Bitcoin issue was a bit more time-consuming. Previously, I had a Coinbase Tip plugin for each post and another Bitcoin/Litecon plugin in the sidebar.

Both of those gave up the ghost months ago. Coinbase stopped supporting their code — the app stopped working when WordPress updated to a newer version — and Coinbase was supposedly migrating users over to Changetip.com. Changetip has two WP plugins available. neither worked for me.

So I tried other plugins offering Bitcoin integration. Like the one I formerly had in the sidebar, most of those have been abandoned by their developers, and the ones that are still actively supported are for ecommerce sites. All I wanted was a simple button to allow readers to find my Bitcoin address, enter a donation amount, and be done quickly. I had one in the sidebar, but it’s no longer being supported.

Ah, the joys of open source, free software!

In the end, I had to make a pseudo-button with a tag line, QR code and Bitcoin address to append to each post manually. Not elegant, but it works, and I don’t have to share donations with the developer of a fancier solution.

Well, all that took me the better part of six hours last night and today. Fixing the header image was much easier.

Theoretically, with the theme that I use, it should be possible to superimpose the blog title and tagline over the banner image I use. I’d previously tried to work it out when I updated the site to the new theme, but couldn’t get it to work. So I saved that task for another day.

Months (years?) later, today was the day. I realized as I got out of bed that i didn’t need to jimmy the theme’s code to superimpose the title on the image. I could just use Photoshop to do it. And once I downloaded the right font (Yanone Kaffeesatz), it went pretty quickly. Like an hour or two. I don’t do this stuff on a regular basis, so it takes a while to get everything just right.

I hope you like the results.

Also, I rewrote the donations page, and wrote a new page explaining how to donate with Bitcoin. Those are linked in the sidebar at right.

Now, I can eat dinner, and prepare tomorrow’s classes. C U

[paypal_donation_button align=”center” price=”5.00″]

Donate with Bitcoin

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