Glenn Messersmith is, by profession, an architect in Northwest Wyoming.
His true love (besides
is the outdoors. He also enjoys photography. When the weather really sucks,
he is a potter. He is a rank amateur film maker. He is amused by the oddities of life.
Most recently, he's become somewhat of an expert in customizing WordPress sites.
How to initialize the WordPress Environment
(and create a dynamic CSS page that calls WordPress functions)
When you request a custom PHP code page that uses WordPress functions, you will get a
undefined function fatal error related to the WordPress functions you tried to call
unless you load the WordPress environment as part of your code. The easiest way to
do this is with a line that looks something like this:…and there's more!»
Hacking WordPress Emails
If you have a WordPress site, you've no doubt received email messages from
"WordPress". If you've also registered with other WordPress based sites, you've
probably received more emails, all from WordPress, though the emails were from
a variety of sites. Obviously, site owners do not know how to alter this default setting
so that messages from their site can be uniquely identified. There's very little excuse
for this, it's quite easy to change this, though it does involve a small amount of coding.
(OK, that's actually a decent excuse) The necessary coding can be mostly cut and paste from right here.
…and there's more!»
Modifying Administration Tables
The WordPress administration panels make extensive use of the WP_List_Table class to organize
and display data related to a wide variety of WordPress features. You may or may not know it's
possible to add custom columns to any of these tables. And even if you did know, there's a good
chance you don't know how it's done because the
is very sparse on this sort of information.
If you would like to know how custom columns are added to admin tables or how to alter other
table features, you came to the right place, …and there's more!»
Easy WordPress Security Measures
Recent (well, over a month ago now) widespread brute force attacks on popular blogging platforms including WordPress has
renewed site owner interest in security measures. While these attacks are large in volume
and scope, some very easy measures will defeat these attacks. While it's a good idea to
address the imminent threat, realize these attacks are not sophisticated. Also consider
more sophisticated attacks will happen a bit farther in the future. You must protect
yourself from these as well.
…and there's more!»
WordPress Default .htaccess Rules Explained
Maybe you've noticed the mysterious code inserted in a file in WordPress' root installation
folder and wondered what its purpose is. In short, it allows permalinks to work. If that's not
an adequate explanation, and you'd like to really understand what every character means and what
it's purpose is, this article is for you. We're going to put this code under a big magnifying glass.
In the end, you'll understand everything there is to know about this block of code.
…and there's more!»
AJAX for WordPress
AJAX is a common technique used in modern web applications, so many developers are familiar in it's use.
Unfortunately, how it is implemented in WordPress is unique, so seasoned web developers new to WordPress
will need to alter their ways slightly. If you are new to AJAX, getting it working in your WordPress plugin
by referring to the
examples will likely be more confusing than helpful. I hope to remove this
potential confusion here and properly illustrate the "WordPress Way" of using AJAX to developers
of all skill levels.
…and there's more!»
WordPress Top Tips
My latest endeavor involves hacking
the popular blogging platform. No, not black hat hacking
WordPress sites to inject link spam for counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags. I mean white hat hacking
to customize it's function and appearance to meet specific needs of site owners. I'm active on the
WordPress Hacking Sub-Forum.
(where I go by
I've also improved and added content to the
the WordPress documentation
resource. For various reasons, some of what I'd like to share is not appropriate for the Codex, so I'm
sharing it here.
The first thing I want to share is my Top Tips for someone just starting out with WordPress who thinks they
will likely do some hacking themselves. Some of this I learned the hard way, with much wasted time.
…and there's more!»
Car Talk Condensed
As a long time fan of NPR's Car Talk, hosted by Tom and Ray Magliozzi, I realized at some point what the brothers
say at the end of their show is true: "Well, you've wasted another hour listening to Car Talk."
Everyone tunes in to the weekly show for the laughs. Unfortunately, listeners waste a lot
of time listening to caller's problems with their cars and other jibber jabber. I made a
demo track(1.1MB .mp3 download)
of 2 hours worth of Car Talk with all that useless stuff removed. The
shows are exactly as broadcast, in order, no repetitions. I only removed most of the talking.
The result is a 2:24 minute track. I actually sent my demo to the show as a suggested 'improvement'
for the show. They replied
back, asking for permission to post it on their website. Of course I gave permission,
but I don't think it was ever actually posted. Hard to know for sure, their site is huge!
I've made some basic
for adjusting computer and TV displays. I use
them when I'm away from my file server to setup displays of friends and families,
so I need 'cloud' access to them. So I'm posting them here to share with anyone
else that may find them useful. The gamma test is rather unique and quite useful, and very
accurate as well. Few graphics cards can display the enitre brightness range at
exactly 2.2 gamma.
Optimal Shift Point
There's been much misinformation on the web about when is the optimal shift point
of a manual transmission car to achieve maximum acceleration. The answer is both
simple and complex. Simply, shift up when the output torque of the next gear is
equal to the output torque of the current gear, or at redline, which ever comes first.
On most street cars, the output torque of lower gears is always higher than that
of the higher gears, so the optimal shift point is typically redline in most cases.
Confirming this is very complicated, depending on the gearing and torque curve of
the car, and analyzing the output torques throughout the rpm range. I developed
to do this for me. It will work for all of but the most bizarre
While developing a color scheme for a new website, I found several online tools that
generated color schemes based on math and geometric color theory. I figured this
rigid approach would establish a good starting point, even though I knew the whole
scheme would need to be tweaked by hand to arrive at an ideal color scheme for my
This is where I ran into trouble with online resources. First, very few of the color
scheme tools I found had a realistic web page layout on which to test the color scheme.
Secondly, there was no easy way to individually alter the various page element colors
on any of these tools. My solution to this problem was to throw together my own
color sampler page
on which I could develop my color scheme. I am sharing it here in case
it may be useful to someone else.
It looks rather crude, and the labels aren't all that clear, and it's sort of a pain
to input the initial colors. But the sample page actually looks like a layout commonly
used by many websites, and each element's color is easy to tweak. In addition, this
tool can be used to establish the ideal font, text size, and line spacing to use as
a site's basic text. It may not look like much, but I'm finding it's pretty useful,
maybe you will too!
While I was at it, I also updated a couple other web utilities I've had on this site,
my slide show viewer and international character input.
I've added a little function that indicates how
well each color element and background complies with the European Commission web
content standards for element contrast. Voluntarily complying with this standard means
your site will be accessible by many visually impaired people.
I've been developing my own font off and on based on my architectural hand lettering.
Part of a typical truetype font development was to use a particular Microsoft Word document
called MSWsmoke.doc to test your font to ensure it displays and prints properly.
The file is essentially a large variety of glyphs in various combinations of styles.
At some point, I misplaced my copy, and found it was no longer available online.
I eventually found my copy, and am
sharing it here (Google Sites download, 55kb)
for anyone else that lost their
copy and wants to use it to test their font.
sshow Viewer DownloadJuly 2011
sshow viewer is the viewer used on this site and suzannemorlock.com to display our travel slideshows.
I developed it so I could pull pictures from various photo sharing sites and display them in one integrated
page that blended seamlessly with our site's styling. I also have a pet peeve with excessive Flash used
page only loads once, after that, the various images are swapped in AJAX style. Less data is transmitted,
benefiting those with slow connections or limited bandwidth. Those with limited screen size also benefit
because once the optimal scroll position is set to view the images, new images appear in the same position
without having to re-scroll the page. Robust key and mouse navigation means the navigation graphics do
not have to be on the screen to navigate the slideshow.
Other nice features include a help window, thumbnail index navigation, pull down navigation to named
sections, user controled auto-advance timer, and the ability to build in 'sidebar' slideshows that users
could skip without missing the high points, but is available in a logical manner for those that want
to see a wider variety of images.
sshow is licensed for non-commercial use with attribution, share alike under Creative Commons. Everything,
including documentation and examples from some of our own slideshows, needed to integrate into your site is available
download. (0.32 MB) The actual sshow app, including scripts and graphics, amounts to less than 50 KB. The rest are
support files not directly needed to run sshow.You will probably want to extract it all into
a test area to get the hang of defining
slideshows before you integrate it into your site. The latest version for download, v1.11 was
released on 04.05.2012. It replaces v1.10 which had a corrupt CSS file.
We traveled to Poland to install Suzanne's piece at the Textile Museum in Łódź. We also
visited a friend's brother and his family in Warsaw. Check out our (99)
We spent a month in Iceland while Suzanne attended an artist residency. She spent most of the time making
art, but we did travel around a bit. Our
has several 'sidebars' similar to the Ghana slideshow below. This main sequence has 79 photos, plus
another 78 in all the sidebars. Total data volume is 9.5MB.
Le Vigan, France
We traveled to Le Vigan, France to install Suzanne's piece in an old chapel converted to art space. We spent
5 days in Paris before heading South. While we spent a lot of time working, we did some sightseeing
as well. Check out our (73)
Suzanne and I volunteered at the Cross Cultural Collaborative in Nungua, Ghana. We taught art, papermaking
and computing to the local children. Some of the kid's creative writing is
online. While teaching took
the bulk of our time, we also went to Kumasi, Cape Cost, and Kakum National Park. Take a look at our
contains several 'sidebars' which contain more photos of a particular topic. They are accessed with the
up arrow button from the last image of a topic contained in the main sequence. The main sequence contains 72
images, with another 78 photos total in all the sidebars. The total data volume is 11MB.
In my travels, I have posted slideshows of my experiences. I became frustrated
typing foreign words containing characters with diacritical marks. The US computer keyboard provides
no support for extended Latin characters, and I could never remember the HTML codes for the characters
either. I eventually built a tool to help me input these characters. I am sharing it
Maybe you might find it occasionally useful. I
also built this character table to assist me in determining whether
a particular computer font supports
all the foreign characters I need for a particular print project.
Extract E-mail AddressesDecember
A simple way to extract addresses from arbitrary text into a
format compatible with the
address fields of most e-mail clients.
Spiral Jetty VisitOctober
We took a trip to see Robert Smithson's iconic "Spiral Jetty." Check out our
photos and trip report.
Teton Co. Address MapSeptember
I've learned how to make custom maps for Garmin GPS receivers. My first serious attempt
was to map all the addresses in Teton County, WY.
This (second entry) is the result.
Iceland & Scotland PhotosApril
2007 Photos from our trip to Iceland & Scotland are
now posted for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.
I'm not sure how I forgot to post this. I helped design the
(Disclosure: I make money on their sales) You can also get more info
Unfortunately, as GPS displays have gotten better, fewer people use paper maps any more. I hope
for their sake they at least carry a paper map as backup. Brunton no longer sells these sort of tools.
2006 Photos from our trip to Greece are
now posted for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.
Beat Jet Lag16 Aug
I've been following the advice of How to Beat Jet Lag, A Practical Guide for
Air Travelers for several years during my international travels,
and have found that it helps quite a bit. I had tried building a spreadsheet to customize my schedule
for my personal needs, but was not able to capture all the deviations without just making a giant
here it is, along with some background information.
AOL Sucks8 Aug
What else is new, huh? We were a subscriber to Compuserve, a subsidiary of AOL. We began using
Compuserve many years ago, it was one of two options that had a local access number in our area. We
stuck with them all these years mainly to keep the same e-mail address. Kind of stupid in an age where
people change e-mail as often as underwear. It certainly wasn't the 'special' content of their portal.
We just needed an access point. Eventually, we were getting so much spam, we were forced to change our
e-mail address, so of course we changed to a better service and canceled our Compuserve account.
This is where the nightmare begins. I got the full AOL treatment when I tried to cancel. It took over half
an hour on the phone to cancel our account, resisting all their hard sell tactics to retain me. What makes
them think treating customers like dirt will inspire them to stay with their over priced piece-of-shit service?
Having dealt with that abuse, it should be over, right? Noooo, enter part 2 of the infamous AOL treatment. Around
comes the 1st of the month, and sure enough, they charge my credit card. I call them up. The first CSR
simply hangs up on me. The next CSR insists that she can't find my account, so can't stop the charges. They
can charge my credit card without any account information? Yeah, right. I finally get a supervisor, and she
gives me the same bullshit, and basically refuses to help me. So I get no progress after over an hour on the phone.
I then call my credit card bank and get the charge reversed in about 5 minutes. That's where I stand right now.
What do you want to bet that the charge shows up again? We shall see.
Update: Being a pessimist, I was totally amazed when AOL failed to try to charge my credit card again. Could
it be they're getting soft? In any case, it appears that my account is actually canceled. Curiously,
my forwarding page is still live on their server. No doubt if I tried to FTP it or use the old e-mail account
I would start getting charges again.
It is amazing that this company can get away with treating customers this way. When will someone step up with
a class action suit? When will an Attorney General get an injunction stopping this fraud? When
will the remainder of AOL customers get a clue and effectively shut them down? Or are they too afraid
to try to terminate their service? If so, have AOL's abusive tactics been successful?
More Maps8 Aug
I've been busy exploring various techniques of customizing Google Maps, so much that
I placed my background information and links to the maps on a separate
Custom Google Maps23 Jul
I've become fascinated with the potential of creating custom maps using the Google Maps API.
I'm not sure what I would actually DO with this capability, but many others have come up with
code, it's easy to pick up.
Right off the bat, I created this static map.
I quickly realized the utility of having a tool that returned coordinates
of points that you pick on the map, so I created this map,
which I'm still dinking around with.
Energy Bar9 Apr
I've been looking for a snack food to give me an energy boost when I work out
after work, before dinner. Typical energy bars would work, but they don't taste very good
and are rather expensive. Candy bars would work, they're cheap, but they're laden with saturated fats.
Turns out it's cheap and easy to make your own bars that are tasty and 1/3 the saturated fat of candy bars.
I don't travel a lot by air, but enough for security screening to be more
irritating than curious. The latest irritation for me was instituted a while
back, the "optional" shoe removal policy where not removing your shoes
subjected you to a battery of additional screening, even if you clear the
metal detector. Thus, I enjoyed Bruce Schneier's blog entry:
It seems like every time someone tests airport security, airport security
fails. In tests between November 2001 and February 2002, screeners missed
70 percent of knives, 30 percent of guns and 60 percent of (fake) bombs.
And recently, testers were able to smuggle bomb-making
parts through airport security in 21 of 21 attempts. It makes you wonder
why we're all putting our laptops in a separate bin and taking off our
shoes. (Although we should all be glad that Richard Reid wasn't the
Hello World7 Feb
I just set up this page. Come back later for my musings on a variety of
topics. Sounds boring you say? You're probably right, but it's an avenue
for me to vent, and it's my page. So go get your own.
from our trip to Poland for Suzanne's "Propped" show opening are online.
This is the debut of my custom slideshow viewer. Clicking or keying almost
anywhere in the viewer will advance to the next photo. Click the question mark in the upper
left corner of the viewer for detailed help on using the viewer.
For a full experience, keep an eye out for an up arrow navigation button to appear. This leads to
mini-slideshow sidebars of extra photos on a particular topic. There are 67 photos without
the sidebars, 176 in all if you go to all the sidebars. Some sidebars are giant sized panoramic
photos. Be sure your browser is not shrinking such photos to fit the window.