Glenn Messersmith is, by profession, an architect in Northwest Wyoming. His true love (besides Suzanne) 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.

Musings


How to initialize the WordPress Environment

September 2014
Start button (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

November 2013
E-mail Box 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

July 2013
Admin Table 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 CodexLink is to outside of this site 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

June 2013
Barbed wire over WP logo 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

May 2013
Image description 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

April 2013
Image description 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 CodexLink is to outside of this site 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

March 2013
WordPress Logo My latest endeavor involves hacking WordPressLink is to outside of this site, 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-ForumLink is to outside of this site. (where I go by bcworkzLink is to outside of this site) I've also improved and added content to the CodexLink is to outside of this site, 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

December 2012
Cartoon of Tom & Ray Magliozzi 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)Link is to outside of this site 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!


Display Adjustment

March 2012
Macbeth squares I've made some basic test patterns 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

February 2012
screen grab 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 this little calculator to do this for me. It will work for all of but the most bizarre setups.


Color Sampler

January 2012
color samples 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 website project.

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.

New! 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.


MSWsmoke

November 2011
formatted text 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 Download July 2011
Navigation Buttons 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 on the web, so the entire sshow viewer is implemented in javascript. It also runs efficiently because the viewer 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 in this zip file 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.


Poland
January 2011
Polish Factory 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) photos Opens in pop-up window.


Iceland
August 2010
Icelandic Farm 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 slideshow Opens in pop-up window 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
May 2010
Le Vigan 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) photos Opens in pop-up window.


Ghana
August 2009
Boats 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 onlineLink is to outside of this site. While teaching took the bulk of our time, we also went to Kumasi, Cape Cost, and Kakum National Park. Take a look at our slideshow Opens in pop-up window, which 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.


International Characters
September 2010
E-mail Bcc field 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 here since it was written in Javascript and runs in any web browser. 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 Addresses
December 2008
E-mail Bcc field A simple way to extract addresses from arbitrary text into a format compatible with the address fields of most e-mail clients.


Spiral Jetty Visit
October 2007
Spiral Jetty We took a trip to see Robert Smithson's iconic "Spiral Jetty." Check out our photos and trip report Opens in pop-up window.


Teton Co. Address Map
September 2007
Teton Co. Address Map 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.


Elusive Solution
August 2007
Error icon I found it very difficult to find a solution to the error message: This application has failed to start because the application configuration is incorrect. Suddenly a few apps would not start, only producing this error. The answer after the jump.


Iceland & Scotland Photos
April 2007
Castle Photos from our trip to Iceland & Scotland are now posted for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.


QUADTOOL
November 2006
QUADTOOL in use I'm not sure how I forgot to post this. I helped design the QUADTOOLLink is to outside of this site. (Disclosure: I make money on their sales) You can also get more info hereLink is to outside of this site. 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.


Greece Photos
October 2006
Parthenon Photos from our trip to Greece are now posted for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

Beat Jet Lag 16 Aug 2006
Beat Jet Lag I've been following the advice of How to Beat Jet Lag, A Practical Guide for Air TravelersLink is to outside of this site 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 look-up table. Having just developed some basic Javascript skills in creating custom Google maps, I thought "Hey, I can do my scheduling in Javascript and put it on my site." So here it is, along with some background information.

AOL Sucks 8 Aug 2006
AOL Sucks 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 Maps 8 Aug 2006
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 page.

Custom Google Maps 23 Jul 2006
Google Map 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 great stuff. You need to be proficient in Javascript, but if you've written some kind of object oriented 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 Bar 9 Apr 2006
Energy Bar 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.

BC Bar Recipe

Airport Security 25 Mar 2006
X-Ray 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 "underwear bomber.")
Link Link is to outside of this site

Hello World 7 Feb 2006
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.

Poland

May 2005
Polish grave marker Our photos Opens in pop-up window 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.