What makes for a great wordpress theme?

A recent post at performancing is asking bloggers what they consider essential ingredients for a good wordpress theme. I’m going to go a step further and not only list some ingredients for a good wordpress theme, but some of the features that I look for when trying to find a great theme for wordpress sites.

The first thing I look for when trying to find a theme is the overall color scheme and how the sidebars are laid out. Some of my associates who use wordpress want cartoony fun themes, but a majority of my clients want something that is professional to a degree, so finding a basic, business like color scheme is important most of the time.

Sidebar layouts are my next consideration, and overall navigation are issues. This has changed a bit now that wordpress allows for quick end user modification of sidebar ordering with the widgets, so dynamic sidebar is considered a necessity – and is available on every theme I’ve seen for a while. Even with dynamic sidebars, sometimes a web site only needs one sidebar, so depending on the deployment, I will often skip themes that have 2 sidebars.

Validation and looks that work in firefox and multiple versions of IE are essential. I’ve found a few themes that include CSS hacks to make them look right in different versions of popular browsers, and I really appreciate that! It could be embarrassing to have a good tlooking theme only to have it break when you are showing it off and your client or friend is using an old IE browser or something.

Changeable header graphics – good themes allow the end user to change the colors of the header and upload and crop a custom image. If the theme has a default header and no way for the end user to upload and crop, then I am disappointed. No big deal for me to create graphics and ftp them to change header images, but there are a lot of users out there who want or need to upload through the browser. This also saves some of us administrators from having to ftp when clients change their minds.

What makes a theme great?

Changing color schemes within theme options is a great option. I have found a few themes that allow for total change of the color scheme with a simple click, this is great when you find a layout that you approve of and need a different overall look. Sometimes a them has this option, but you do not see those options when surfing theme thumbnails, and that’s a huge loss for everyone when a good theme is missed because the default color schemes is all you see, when there are other color options built in. The furry family theme being used on Nashville pet watch has some great color scheme options, even the default graphics change to match the various color options. You can’t see that by looking at the default thumbnail that shows at wordpress.org, but it’s one of the things that makes the theme great!

Navigation is important, I lean toward themes that have pages navigation in the top header area, and this is especially true if the theme designer would make it possible to widgetize that somehow, so the end user could go into widgets area and exclude pages from the navigation. Some themes have these options in theme options area – very nice. Of course I can go in and manually hack the code to only show which pages we need, but having the pages navigation at the top is a big bonus. If the pages have css button highlighted for rollover of the pages then that definitely attracts me to it more. Added bonuses for options top “back to the top of page” buttons as the fusion theme we are currently using has. One of my recent favorite themes has three widgets in the footer that are changeable – and that allows for the end user to add further navigation at the bottom of a blog, and that makes for a better surfer experience and encourages reading to stay on site reading more. I love that.

If the sidebars have place holders for advertising graphics that is a big bonus. For some selling ad space is a necessity, some themes have them options that allow you to select the graphics and corresponding url for the ads to click to. Having an option to rel-nofollow those links would be icing on the cake. Having the option to set the ads to be 125 x125 or 125 x 250 would be great, and if there was a standard google adsense ad size setup for the sidebar would be awesome. Ad graphics in the sidebar can add some professional blog to a blog that may appear as just another personal wordpress blog without those graphics.

I like matching graphics for column headers in the sidebar. If a theme has just text, that is plain and boring, sure we can change the style some with css if it has special classes for them and not simply an h-two class for example, but having graphical headers or at least css button styling for sidebar widgets gives a theme extra professionalism. The top notch themes we use also have matching graphics created for other options like rss feed, and feedburner email signups, etc.

Custom pages. When a theme comes with a few unique page layouts, I get all fuzzy inside. It’s such an added touch of professionalism to have a few custom page options that incorporate matching theme graphics for a 3 picture layout for example, one with a nice layout for picture gallery, another for a video perhaps, and maybe one with buttons for email / contact / register, stuff like that.

It is so much easier for a theme designer to crank out a few matching buttons while they have photoshop open, then it is for blog owners to try to re-create the wheel one color picking match up at a time. I have customized one theme for use simply because it came with a big matching “register now” button for the sidebar. It gave the wordpress site the look of a professional web site, looking nothing like a blog, mainly because of the one matching custom graphic that came with it.

Themes get extra greatness in my mind if they have buttons for the blog reader to make the text bigger.

a few caveats – them options are great – but too many cause problems – it’s not good to be confused by theme options – when they are needed, explanation of how they work is essential. Having so many options that it slows down the blog displaying on readers’ screens is a problem. I was blown away by the options available for the Atahualpa theme, impressive programming, but slowing down page loads is a bad idea, especially considering most bloggers are using shared hosts that can slow down enough on their own.

What is with the search graphics that disappear from some themes when you go dynamic with widgets. I use a great theme on tow blog sites that have great matching search graphics until the sidebar is widgetized, then the graphics disappear and it becomes a blank box.

This post was inspired by the contest for premium themes club membership that I found at performancing. After writing this post I took a look around their site and I must say that I am quite impressed at how modern they appear to be. I can’t wait to look into their themes further, and I may have to sign up for their affiliate program to promote the premium theme site.

Online Videos Could Become Conduits for Viruses

Hopefully there will be more attention to this from spyware and antivirus companies, along with Microsoft and google and others. It is a sad state of affairs when we have Virus writers exploiting people who just want to enjoy the internet. We need to stop all this malware BS and get more and more people using computers to communicate and share, not waste time fixing hard drives and operating systems.
From Newsvine / AP

ATLANTA — Online videos aren’t just for bloopers and rants — some might also be conduits for malicious code that can infect your computer.As anti-spam technology improves, hackers are finding new vehicles to deliver their malicious code. And some could be embedded in online video players, according to a report on Internet threats released Tuesday by the Georgia Tech Information Security Center as it holds its annual summit.

The summit is gathering more than 300 scholars and security experts to discuss emerging threats for 2008 — and their countermeasures.

Among their biggest foes are the ever-changing vehicles that hackers use to deliver “malware,” which can silently install viruses, probe for confidential info or even hijack a computer.

“Just as we see an evolution in messaging, we also see an evolution in threats,” said Chris Rouland, the chief technology officer for IBM Corp.’s Internet Security Systems unit and a member of the group that helped draft the report. “As companies have gotten better blocking e-mails, we see people move to more creative techniques.”

With computer users getting wiser to e-mail scams, malicious hackers are looking for sneakier ways to spread the codes. Over the past few years, hackers have moved from sending their spam in text-based messages to more devious means, embedding them in images or disguised as Portable Document Format, or PDF, files.

“The next logical step seems to be the media players,” Rouland said.

There have only been a few cases of video-related hacking so far.

One worm discovered in November 2006 launches a corrupt Web site without prompting after a user opens a media file in a player. Another program silently installs spyware when a video file is opened. Attackers have also tried to spread fake video links via postings on YouTube.

That reflects the lowered guard many computer users would have on such popular forums.

“People are accustomed to not clicking on messages from banks, but they all want to see videos from YouTube,” Rouland said.

Another soft spot involves social networking sites, blogs and wikis. These community-focused sites, which are driving the next generation of Web applications, are also becoming one of the juiciest targets for malicious hackers.

Computers surfing the sites silently communicate with a Web application in the background, but hackers sometimes secretly embed malicious code when they edit the open sites, and a Web browser will unknowingly execute the code. These chinks in the armor could let hackers steal private data, hijack Web transactions or spy on users.

Tuesday’s forum gathers experts from around the globe to “try to get ahead of emerging threats rather than having to chase them,” said Mustaque Ahamad, director of the Georgia Tech center.

They are expected to discuss new countermeasures, including tighter validation standards and programs that analyze malicious code. Ahamad also hopes the summit will be a launching pad of sorts for an informal network of security-minded programmers.

___

On the Net:

Georgia Tech Information Security Center: http://www.gtisc.gatech.edu

Nashville Delivery, Courier and Limo sites

New web sites created by Global Advanced Media – www.wedelivernashville.com and http://www.nashvillelimoco.com/

Two new Nashville web sites created by Global Advanced Media

These sites are currently in version 1.1 and will have some revisions as we work with our clients to get them exactly what they want. Delivery and courier services in Nashville TN are being handled by the fine folks at We Deliver Nashville and for transportation in uber luxury look into the Limousine services inNashville with the Nashville Limo Company.

Delivery drivers, couriers, professional drivers and more, getting the word out with Global Advanced Media.
We are currently handling the design and web hosting for these fine companies!

Hack your router – easily add more power and features

So I was tipped off about this open source frimware upgrade from the rss feed I subscribe to at digg. It seems pretty easy to upgrade the firmware on your router to add many features and boost the wireless power, and more…

So I was tipped off about this open source frimware upgrade from the rss feed I subscribe to at digg. It seems pretty easy to upgrade the firmware on your router to add many features and boost the wireless power, and more…

From an article at lifehacker:

Of all the great DIY projects at this year’s Maker Faire, the one project that really caught my eye involved converting a regular old $60 router into a powerful, highly configurable $600 router. The router has an interesting history, but all you really need to know is that the special sauce lies in embedding Linux in your router. I found this project especially attractive because: 1) It’s easy, and 2) it’s totally free.

Read more about it from lifehacker click here.

2 teens charged with MySpace.com extortion

From Yahoo / Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Two New York teenagers were in police custody Wednesday facing illegal computer access and attempted extortion charges after they allegedly threatened to shake down the popular Web site MySpace.com unless its operators paid them $150,000, prosecutors said.

Shaun Harrison, 18, and Saverio Mondelli, 19, of Suffolk County, N.Y. allegedly hacked into the social networking site and stole personal information from MySpace users.

After MySpace booted them from the site, the pair threatened to distribute a foolproof method for stealing information unless MySpace paid them $150,000, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Mondelli and Harrison were arrested Friday when they traveled to Los Angeles to allegedly collect the payoff. Instead, they were taken into custody by undercover officers from the multi-agency electronic crimes task force who posed as MySpace employees.

Each was charged with two felony counts of illegal computer access and one count of sending a threatening letter for extortion and attempted extortion. They face more than four years in prison if convicted of all charges, prosecutors said.

Mondelli and Harrison entered not guilty pleas at their arraignment Tuesday. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge set bail at $35,000 and set a preliminary hearing for June 5.

MySpace.com, owned by News Corp., allows users to post photos, blogs and journals and create networks of friends.

Yahoo makes Web video search more like TV channels

Yahoo makes Web video search more like TV channels
By Eric Auchard

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Yahoo Inc. is making it easier for Web surfers to find videos by upgrading its search system to become more like saving favorite TV channels with a remote control, the company said on Wednesday.

The Internet media giant aims to recapture share in the fast-emerging market for viewing videos online — the year’s hottest Internet trend — where Yahoo has lost ground over the past six months to upstart video search company YouTube.

“Instead of having to discover individual videos one by one, once you have found a source you like, you can keep coming back,” Jason Zajac, general manager of social media at Yahoo, said in a phone interview.

YouTube, a San Mateo, California-based company with only 30 employees which was founded by two former developers at online payments company PayPal, surged from nowhere earlier this year and now attracts tens of millions of monthly users.

That is five times the U.S. audience of former market leader Yahoo Video Search, according to data from Internet measurement firm Hitwise. MySpace ranks second, Yahoo third and Microsoft Corp.’s MSN is fourth, data shows. Other rapid gainers are start-ups Grouper and Daily Motion.

Among the changes Yahoo is introducing to its video search service at http://video.yahoo.com is a simple way for users to subscribe to and watch “channels”, or groups of videos related by videomaker, programmer or keyword topic.

Yahoo now allows subscribers to specific channels to tag, or categorize, videos to make it easier for viewers with similar tastes to find the video later. Users can browse for featured videos, popular videos or by category or “tag”.

“It is really worthwhile to create something that people can go back to and not have to find all over again,” said IDC analyst Josh Martin, who was briefed on Yahoo’s plans. “Searching for video kind of sucks right now.”

USER-GENERATED CONTENT

Taking advantage of the growing availability of broadband Internet connections, YouTube has made its name as the playground of quirky short-form videos contributed by users. It has yet to figure out how to make money off its service, through some form of advertising or other money-making effort.

To date, Yahoo had taken a cautious approach to serving up user-created video that is suddenly all the rage on the Web, focusing instead on acting as a showcase for professionally produced videos available across the Web or sports, news and entertainment programming licensed or created by Yahoo itself.

Zajac said Yahoo is applying an editorial process to its video search home page that balances high-quality programming against the popularity contest for the latest joke videos.
“Of course, users have access to all the content across the Yahoo network,” Zajac said. “What we are adding to that is user-generated content.”

The changes Yahoo is introducing to its video search service combine an uncluttered design look with linkages to its wider network of other Internet properties.

Videomakers both amateur and pro can now upload a video to Yahoo. Users can then post a version of their favorite videos onto their own Web sites using an embedded Yahoo video player.

“This is a good step for Yahoo,” Martin said. The next move for the Sunnyvale, California-based company is to connect together video content across its network of sites ranging from news to travel to sports fantasy leagues. “Yahoo has stuff that others like Google or YouTube don’t,” he said.

YouTube Now Supporting Mobile Uploads

From Online Media Daily, YouTube, the popular user-generataed video content site has finally enabled a feature that should have been part of their feature set for ages; the ability to upload videos directly from your phone or handheld device.

Service which is currently available only on Cingular, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon requires that users have mobile phones that are capable of taking video and sending multimedia messaging service, or MMS, messages.

Personally, I’m curious to see how the nature of the content changes with the adoption of thie feature. I expect we’ll see more spontaneous content as well (unfortunately) as more bathroom humor type stuff.

Read the whole story with links and comments at MobileCrunch, click here.

online/multiplayer cheating out of the shadows

I stumbled across a very interesting story written by a game maker about cheatingin online games.. definitely worth a read if you are into programming, or online gaming.

I stumbled across a very interesting story written by a game maker about cheatingin online games.. definitely worth a read if you are into programming, or online gaming.

How to Hurt the Hackers: The Scoop on Internet Cheating and How You Can Combat It