17th March 2022: Since I last made a note here much has happened with the development of WordPress, Gutenberg and use of blocks. I am doing my best to keep this site up to date and since WP version 5.9 (now 5.9.2) I have taken on board the Twenty Twenty-Two theme.
By using the Twenty Twenty-Two theme I am more readily able to make the site look how I want both on wide PC screens and on small mobile screens.
I have also produced a better menu although I feel it could still be improved on mobiles. If mobile screens are held in portrait mode, as phones usually are, a small Menu button is displayed. Selecting this will fill the screen with a scrollable menu where the text is indented to show the different levels.
If a mobile screen is rotated to landscape mode the Menu displays with the same format seen on large screens.
Currently the homepage shows a scrollable list of posts from the present to the past. They are no longer continuously scrollable but have ten posts to a page. Having continuously scrollable posts made it difficult to get to the distant past. With pages some higher number page can easily be chosen to get a few years ago. By choosing post archives specific years and months can be selected.
I have deleted the sidebar. The popularity of sidebars on blogs has dwindled. While blogs were mainly displayed on large PC screens they were acceptable, but on mobile screens they can’t be displayed at the same time as the post content so it becomes difficult to display them at all. That was especially the case with continuous scrolling. The side bar only appeared after all the posts – which was never.
I have put sidebar content, as was, onto the menu. This News Archive being one such article, others being:
- Last Week’s Most Popular Posts,
- All “Railway” Posts,
- “Do It Yourself” Posts,
- “In The Home” Posts,
- “Human Interest” Posts,
- “Natural World” Posts,
- “Plumbing & Heating” Posts,
- “Science & Technology” Posts.
6th October 2019: I have in the last few months worked through all my blog posts and pages and converted them from Classic Editing mode to Block Editing mode. While doing this I have found posts that had problems which I fixed. In particular with linked videos which were no longer working. I deleted one post amongst these. I may be tempted to delete more posts which are no longer relevant and just take up space on the server.
Along with the list of contents introduced to longer posts I have added a list of pictures too. I have been able to do this by giving the pictures their own headings. They could be interspersed with the contents but I am keeping them separate at the moment.
On some posts I have introduced a Preface to give a simple description of the post. This enables me to put the contents before the introduction.
The contents are compiled from all the headings in a post and underlined. These can be selected in the normal way in order to navigate straight to them. This should save a lot of scrolling for anyone who is referring to a post and its pictures to help them fix the item described.
NOTE: I have noticed that selecting a heading might not scroll all the way to it at the first attempt. Successive attempts during the same viewing get nearer. I hope to get this fixed in the course of time.
I have found that the reason the headings on small screens aren’t emboldened is because they aren’t set to use a bold font. On large screens there isn’t an issue because the headings look like headings anyway. However I use Jetpack to convert my blog for display on mobiles which displays headings as normal or bold according to how they are set. So I will be emboldening headings to give a better display on mobiles as and when I get around to it.
NOTE: I do expect most people to read my blog on a mobile phone these days. So I will try to keep it looking good for them.
3rd June 2019: I’ve had a go at making testimonials look better. The previous method was a mess so I’ve used the Kadence Testimonials block to produce a testimonials page with two neat columns which are now accessed from the Posts menu since they all originate via Post Comments.
1st June 2019: Continuing to edit using blocks I have changed to a Kadence FAQ block to display Frequently Asked Questions and their answers. I spotted a problem with the accordion block and Ben Ritner has very kindly edited the block to resolve it. There has been some editing of the Qs & As and you might find I mess with it some more.
I have also begun using the Contents Table block by Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg to show the contents of my posts. I am inserting this block after the Introduction. If I put it first, as it would be in a book, it causes some issues:
- In my list of posts that is shown in reverse date order I only want the Introduction or part thereof to be seen. If I put the contents block first that will be seen. It will take up a lot of screen space and won’t be very interesting.
- The contents block links to all the headings used in the post but that doesn’t work when it’s viewed in the list of post snippets described in 1 above.
1st February 2019: I have just deleted a file named wordfenceScanner.php.bin from my PHP .opcache folder on my server. Wordfence had detected it contained the TimThumb script which is considered to be unsafe. I must look into methods of cleaning my PHP cache. It looks as if it contains some outdated files.
2nd January 2019: Again I couldn’t get my WP v5.0.1 to update to v5.0.2 so I followed Wordfence’s instructions and upgraded it manually. I made a good job of it and searched for the cause of the problem. It turned out to be caused by the plugin DGXPCO which is designed to improve Core update security.
Hopefully if the Core updating server got hacked and a false Core program was sent this plugin wouldn’t allow it to be applied due to manual intervention. Well that manual intervention failed to allow valid Core updates through so I have deactivated that plugin for the time being.
21st December 2018: I just upgraded my server from PHP 7.2 to PHP 7.3. I had an immediate problem with the plugin Taxonomy List Widget. I have sent a comment to the author Erick T. Hitter asking him to look into it. Otherwise so far so good.
14th December 2018: Having experimented with the new Gutenberg editor for over a year I was finally able to update WordPress to version 5.0.1 with Gutenberg in core yesterday. I couldn’t do it last week due to a technical hitch resolved by 1&1 IONOS. I then deleted the Gutenberg plugin, which had already been de-activated by the update. That caused a block editing problem where I only had Classic Paragraphs instead of Gutenberg Paragraphs. That was resolved by me de-activating TinyMCE, a plug in to enhance the original editor.
I can now report that I have adjusted some posts created or edited using various versions of Gutenberg to be editable using version 5.0.1.
2nd July 2018: I have added the Google Translate widget from Jetpack and put it at the top of my sidebar. Just select your desired language from the drop-down list. I apologise to all readers for not doing this sooner.
29th June 2018: Any post containing a WP Google Map is currently unable to display it. I have attempted to fix the problem but the adjustments I made have not worked. I hope to resolve the problem in the near future.
As of 26th February 2018 I have installed a badge on my site just to indicate to visitors that I protect my site with the free Wordfence Security Plugin. Wordfence give me a firewall and perform some scans. Visitors selecting the badge will be directed to the Wordfence web site where they can find out for themselves what Wordfence do. I am not paying for their Premium service yet but I am contemplating it.
It’s 23rd February 2018 and I just realised I haven’t got a GravityScan badge. Not because I’m on a blacklist this time, but because GravityScan is no more. They had to wind up their business due to insufficient take up. There is obviously a lot of educating to do among thousands of WP bloggers if they don’t grasp some of the basics of security. This badge was free. Now we’ll just have to go and pay for one. They probably haven’t converted their sites to https either.
On 3rd February 2018 I posted an article written entirely using the Gutenberg editor. I know we’re advised not to use it to edit real sites yet but I wanted to give it a go. I was so pleased with it that I’m well on the way with my next post using Gutenberg too. I can’t justify text to make it line up on the left and right margins, and the Text used for image titles doesn’t look correct because a different construct is being used to manipulate them. There is also a problem turning Comments on. I have to redo it using Quick Edit after each edit of a post.
Nearly 2018 (its 30th Dec 2017) and I haven’t had any further problems with Gravityscan since I got the badge back in September. I’m very pleased with it.
I’m also pleased that Wordfence is protecting my site adequately.
It’s 5th October 2017 and I have just asked 1and1 Internet (they run my server) about what Sitelock scans. I had a trial of their premium service running. That scans up to 500 subpages. I asked what constitutes a subpage. They gave me the impression that with WordPress each post is a subpage and each image (JPEG, PNG, etc.) that can be selected from a post and shown in its own page as an enlargement is also a subpage. If that’s the case then I must be near to the 500 subpage limit. They told me Sitelock can’t test more than 500 subpages. Logically I think there is something wrong here. There must be professional websites that need protecting with more pages than I have. I would expect Sitelock Premium could be sold to them. Anyway until I get more information I have removed my site from the Sitelock scheme before the end of the 30 day trial. I will continue with Gravityscan alone as it seems very good so far.
Tag Clouds are back (2nd October 2017). After probably 2 years, at least, tags can be seen in one place again. They went away when my tag plugin reacted badly with other plugins. They’re on the Posts & Tags menu. You will find them in groups. Mostly they are in alpha-numeric groups but some are more easily found in Places or People for example.
I am also trying to redirect links as a result of post title changes and picture name changes. With this I am having limited success. I have 8 yrs of problems to fix. The problems are not on this site they are caused by others saving links which are now out of date. I can observe 404 errors seen by others.
It’s 20th September 2017 and my Gravityscan Badge is back, after 8 days, as you can see. I’ve learnt a lot in the last week. I now understand that my IP address is shared so I take the rap for the actions of others. For now I’ll wait and see what the future holds. You may see the badge come and go as a consequence.
Well on 12th September 2017 I had a Gravityscan setback. My 1&1 server was found to be on a spamming blacklist. Why I don’t know. Gravityscan have not found malware on my site. I have now deployed Sitelock too and that hasn’t found a problem with my site either. I will automatically be removed from the blacklist after 7 days if there are no more spamming incidents in the meantime. Meanwhile I don’t have a Gravityscan Trust Badge but I do now have a Sitelock Badge.
I’m currently trying to improve older posts which have fallen foul of theme changes and don’t have satisfactory images.
I consider the action I took on 13th August 2017 to harden my header against Cross-site Scripting, Cross-site Tracing, Clickjacking, MIME Sniffing and Directory Listing by sending messages to the server from my .htaccess file to be ineffective. I will try again.
I took on the benefits of Gravityscan as of 28th July 2017. It checks this site for malware every day as you can see from the Gravityscan Trust Badge in the page header. Gravityscan have changed the date display to an international format yyyy-mm-dd. Selecting (clicking on) this badge will take you to the Gravityscan website.
On 30th June 2017 I took the step of securing my server communication with browsers by using 1&1 Internet’s TLS and certificate services. So now my main URL is HTTPS://helpfulcolin.com. Readers will see a padlock in their browser as a consequence.
I have also taken two more domains onboard “helpfulcolin.co.uk” and “helpfulcolin.uk”. Connections to them use HTTP not HTTPS but security is maintained by them redirecting links to “HTTPS://helpfulcolin.com”.