Tag Archives: WordPress

When Blogs Collide

It’s the end of the world as we know it (merging WordPress blogs)

When Blogs Collide

You know how you have great ideas and you start them and you get side tracked by other things? This is the post about a few of them. You may know a few of my blogs that live in the wild? If not they are ( or now … they were ) Forbairt.ie JamesLarkin.ie BrittanyBeers.com. I’ve one or two others I may also pull into this one I’ll see iacceptcookies.com just doesn’t have enough useful content I’d like to have on here it’s an old blog without much value but there’s still quite a bit of link love in there I just need to figure out what I’m going to do with it.

Anyways I’ve gone and closed down those three blogs. Why? I just don’t have the time to write much decent content and writing a decent post on one means I’m neglecting the others so it ends up getting to the stage where I simply say what’s the point. Life has gotten in the way of a lot of things. With the arrival of my daughter my blog Brittany Beers which I was creating a few blog posts for suddenly died.

Forbairt.ie I re-created in the new year after my daughters birth and you know what it fizzled out after a few blog posts. Writing decent content isn’t that hard. It is however time consuming. I’m not assuming all my content is worth while but I have in the past created a few decent articles that ended up crashing my site at times due to lack of caching on my part.

Flash forward anyways to my current thinking. Too many blogs not enough Forbairt. So I’ve gone and merged them all into one. (No for the love of god think of the link love I hear you scream … or maybe not) I did however so here’s what I did. It it the perfect way of doing things? probably not but it’s what I’ve done so far and I’m open to suggestions if you know better.

WordPress actually offers a very simple way of moving content from one blog to another and that’s via Tools -> Export. Generally when I’m moving a blog I’ll opt for a complete database / file move to the new site and see how I get on. In this case however I want to merge blogs and not overwrite things so Export / Import to forbairt.com is the way to go for me.

The tools import section will look something like this …

WordPress Tools Import

If you don’t have the WordPress export tool you’ll be prompted to install it.

Install Importer Tool

Click click click and hey presto you’ll be able to export all posts.

WordPress Tools Export

Then on your destination blog you’re ready to import the XML file

WordPress Tools Import XML

Hey presto you’re almost done BUT wait … there’s more

Remember how your old website still exists? Well you don’t want to just nuke it so you’ll want to redirect over your content in a sane way. We do this by creating a redirect link. Simply put a 301 redirect link tells anybody who goes to the site that the content they are looking for now lives at this new address. We’ll dump this info into the .htaccess file on the old website.

In the case of forbairt.ie the website had a domain/postname structure so this made things rather simple and by putting

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^forbairt\.ie$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://forbairt.com/$1 [L,NC,R=301]

into the .htaccess file I was good to go.

Moving JamesLarkin.ie turned out a bit a bit trickier why you might ask? Well posts on that site were in the format of domain/year/month/day/postname so a small bit more regexp magic was required

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine On
RedirectMatch 301 ^/([0-9]{4})/([0-9]{2})/([0-9]{2})/(.*)$ http://forbairt.com/$4
RedirectMatch 301 ^(.*)$ http://forbairt.com/$1

Finally in moving BrittanyBeers.com over I noted that I had one page the about page on there that I didn’t want to include as an about page on forbairt.com so hey presto .htaccess rules to the rescue. I recreated the original about page from Brittany Beers as a post on the new site and gave it the old date. I think went ahead and added the following redirect from there …

RedirectMatch 301 ^/(about)/*$ http://forbairt.com/brittany-beers/

Taking me from the original matching /about to the /brittany-beers post to the new website blog post I’d setup.

All in all I’m rather happy with the results so far have I missed something probably so I ended up installing the Redirection plugin from WordPress at least for a few days. It lets me know things like what’s not getting redirected correctly and I can then go ahead and setup appropriate redirects. It also alerted me to the fact I’d forgotten the permalink structure for jameslarkin.ie was different to the current blog.

Wordpress Redirection Plugin

Me I’m happy out all the content in the one place seems a lot more worthwhile and less spread out. Who knows I may even keep on blogging




How can I speed up my website? Part 2

So there I was sitting in front of my computer, it’s Friday, I’ve got Tweetdeck open on the right hand monitor and I see a message including my @forbairt username and my blog post on how to speed up your website. Queue fuzzy feelings :)

Twitter message promoting my post

As one does I says thanks for the mention (it’s the polite thing to do). I’d been playing with my site last night, tweaking a little of this, tweaking a little of that and all on the live site I might add ( probably best you don’t do that if your site is getting any kind of traffic). One of those things I did was to use Google +1 to send a message saying should I just drop google +1 does anyone really use it? ( My verdict is still out. Tech people yes, normal people no at least as I see it) it was picked up though by the same Paul Conroy who’d mentioned me in the tweet earlier.

Like a lot of people I’m a “like” whore ( there I said it :P ) nothing quite like getting likes on your latest blog post / Facebook picture or retweets and favs on a tweet you make ( we seem to think it matters but if it’s not converting into sales does it and how do we measure that? ). Part of the fun for me is seeing the number of shares, tweets and so on. I’ve thrown a WordPress plugin onto my blog for this exact purpose. However what it does is it pulls in Javascript share code from all the major social networks. You’re talking about including Javascript from twitter, facebook, Google Plus, Linked In … and any others you’d care to mention … with those also come the images no doubt and other bits and bobs. Might not sound like a big deal but every time your site is loaded these are getting loaded. (well unless they get cached but we’ll just deal with first page loads here which may be how google views a page).

Social Share Buttons in Action

Paul mentioned that they ended up replacing all of these with static images. 4 Javascript files become 4 images with normal links and this sounds good to me. We end up losing some functionality however. We don’t see any of the Shares / RTs / +1s on our site. ( I think I can live with that for now )

Daft Social Share Links

As you can see from the above image they have a Facebook Like / Tweet / Pin It and G+1 link well I don’t really want the Pin It link for now. If I had more shiny imagery on the site I might again I’ve not looked into the impact that pin it can have on blog traffic.

Anyways how big an issue not having the numbers of shares is I’m not sure. I’d need to get into some A/B testing to determine if seeing a number on a share button increases the likely hood of sharing it as well. This blog was setup a bit over a week ago so it really doesn’t have the numbers so I can test these things and anyways, there are probably posts out there related to this so of course feel free to share links if you’ve got them ( as long as it’s not too spammy and semi reputable throw them into the comments )

So enough with all my yadda yadda :) In my last post I went into how a couple of simple enough things could speed up your website no end. A 3.5MB page load became 2.5MB for 10 – 20 minutes work. I touched upon the idea of reducing the number of images that are getting loaded on the site. Not getting rid of the images as such just getting rid of the number of images that are getting loaded. Confused? :) I like to think I’ve done well.
Well this is my second post on how to speed up your website and I’m going to get into CSS Sprites. What is this CSS magic I speak of? well think of all those images that were on the DollyRouge.ie website. There were around 20 images and they could simply be merged into one image. A small bit of CSS and we can create links that have background images and replace all these images we were previously using. In the case of Dolly Rouge website we replace the 20 or so images with the one. This means only 1 load of an image … less handshaking going on between you and the server … request an image … wait for a response .. start receiving the image .. confirm it’s there and request the next image. (Remember that there are limits on the number of files you can request at the same time as well)

Lets get down to business and some tweaking of images and CSS hacking.

First we need to get some images we want for our website. ( You might have thought I was going to fix up the DollyRouge images but well I need some new share buttons for my site not to mention quick links to my social ninja profiles so the process is kind of identical. )

So I want the following 3 buttons (not the pin it one)

Share Buttons from Daft.ie

Lets put the 3 images into the one image as tight together as possible and we’ll end up with the following.

Share Buttons Image

This image is 143 pixels wide. Time to figure out where the buttons are in x / y coordinates.

Facebook is 49×20 starts at x = 0
Twitter tweet button is 63×20 and it starts at x = 63
Google +1 button is at 32×20 and it starts at x = 112

( I’m using my image editor to see how many pixels wide things are )

While I’m at it there are a few direct link type images I’d like to add to it so I’ll end up with the following image

Generic Site Buttons and images

I’ll also need to create some CSS for the site. The plan is to create a number of links for each of the buttons.

We’ll give the links class names share-facebook, share-twitter, share-google

We’ll try to use html code such as …

<a class="share-facebook" href="#">Share this post on facebook</a>

The plan being to replace that with a fixed size background image and move the text out so it’s not seen by the user. There are  pluses and minuses to this but we’ll go with this for now.

I’ll go through a few of the link / images. The .share-facebook css becomes

.share-facebook {
display: block;
text-indent: -9999em;
width: 49px;
height: 20px;
background: url(sharebuttonsplus.png) 0 0;
float: left;
margin-right: 4px;

From the CSS … we’ll display the link as a block ( in this case we want it to be the width and height of the facebook part of the image) we want to hide the text we’re displaying so that’s where the text-indent:-9999em; comes in. In order to show an image we’re going to make the background image into the share button and position that background image at 0 0. Floating left means the next thing beside it will be pulled up beside it and margin-right means we’ll throw 4 pixels onto the right of the image. You can obviously tweak all this :)

The next element is going to be pretty much the same expect it’s the twitter button and it’s 62 pixels wide. We need the image to display the right place so we need to pull it back to use 49 pixels. Everything else remains the same. This link ends up being.

.share-twitter {
display: block;
text-indent: -9999em;
width: 62px;
height: 20px;
background: url(sharebuttonsplus.png) -49px 0;
float: left;
margin-right: 4px;

You can work out any other buttons you’ve made but I’ll just make a follow me button for the facebook icon.

We need to in that case pull it back vertically ( pull it up 20 pixels ) and we end up with ..

.link-facebook {
display: block;
text-indent: -9999em;
width: 32px;
height: 32px;
background: url(sharebuttonsplus.png) -32px -20px;
float: left;
margin-right: 4px;

So in my case here I’m ending up with 8 images in one.

So now all we need is the various share code / URLs we need for each of the buttons.

Hint … here they are :)


So we’ve gone and created a CSS sprite to do some shiny goodness for us.

In my case here it’s 8 images into one. I’ve gotten rid of a WordPress plugin to create share buttons which includes LOTS of links to Javascript that needs to get loaded on other websites and other crud.

While it might not sound like a HUGE amount if you take the case of daft above their post from May last year stated they had 1.9 million unique browsers. 137 million page impressions. Taking simply their 4 share images and making them into one erm hang on you do the maths :) ( The daft numbers – http://blog.daft.ie/2012/05/daft-ies-record-new-audience-figures/)

Hope you enjoyed the second blog post on how to speed up your website. Slightly more complicated than the first though I hope it has given you some food for thought. ( now to get around to making some of these changes on this blog :D )


Hello World! I want a website

I don’t think I can begin to tell you the amount of times I’ve come to my own websites and thought to myself, I’m going to make something amazing. You start on your own projects, you get sidetracked, you come back and you scrap all your thoughts on it. You start fresh once again the cycle tends to repeat at least for me. I’m rather doubtful I’ll ever be completely or even close to completely happy with my own site. I can rather easily however be quite happy with a customer site. It’s strange you think to yourself, I can do so much better than this it’s going to be completely amazing … time passes and you don’t get around to it. Client work gets in the way and if you’re busy then you probably shouldn’t be working on your own site too much unless you’re worried for the future. With all that being said I’m launching my site and it’s going to not have very much in the way of amazing styling. Why? because as most SEO expects will tell you content is king. While of course imagery is content (and the old adage “a picture paints a thousand words” rings true) it hopefully shouldn’t be the focus of your site. Will people remember the nice image or will they remember the cool article on your site?

With that in mind I’m starting fresh and I’m starting clean.

I’ve countless commercial themes at my disposal all of which make me go I’m not happy with them for my site and of course there are all the free themes available as well. So I’m going to stick with the default WordPress theme and I’m going to try to focus instead on writing some useful content.

If you’re new to websites it can be rather daunting at first. Hell it can be rather daunting even going on. There’s always something new to do or think of so it can always be worth paying someone to do it all for you. Whether you’re after something basic or a completely custom job time is money. I’m working for a web hosting company called Blacknight and one of the things they offer with their shared hosting ( see we’ve already gone from wanting a simple website to talking about web hosting … a company called Blacknight .. and shared hosting whatever that is.

So let me dumb things down if you’re new to all this. If you want a website you generally need a few things

1: A credit card ( or some method of paying for your website … paypal .. cheque (though there will be delays) … and so on ) There are always free ways of getting a website but as we can see from yet another example in the last week or so .. Posterous ( a free website provider ) is closing up and this leaves all their existing users / website owners .. well .. basically homeless on the web. So I put together an article the other day on moving from Posterous to WordPress. One of the key things I mention in there … if you’re not a paying customer then you generally are the product.

2: You’re going to want a domain name. A domain is basically what you see up top in the address bar. My domain is forbairt.com. There are many different extensions ( the ending bit .com .me .net .org …. ) The most popular is .com ( there are around 90 million registered in the world .. so changes are you’ll having difficulty getting mydomain.com ) If you’re based in Ireland .ie is quite popular but again there are problems with .ie as you need to provide a lot of details as to why you should have the domain name. If you want a personal domain I love the idea of .me

3: You’ll want web hosting. Web hosting is where you put all your files. In my case here I’ve installed WordPress which lets me use a nice interface to add pages / images and tweak my website. There are many ways of going about this. WordPress is one of the most popular systems out there. (shared hosting mentioned above means your website lives with a lot of other websites on the same machine … this is generally the most cost effective way of getting online)

4: Time. Getting everything together for your website takes time … a whole lot of precious time ( I promise I won’t break into song) Writing takes time. Think about your website takes time. Taking a photo takes time. Getting people to visit your website … making a logo … creating banners and so on… So now the big question is how much of your time can you spend on this and is it just easier to go hire someone?

So what do you need for a website to summarize:

  1. Payment Method
  2. Domain Name
  3. Web Hosting
  4. Time … if you don’t have it you might want to think about hiring someone who does.

What I recommend .. go to blacknight.com today find a domain name you like. They cost a few euro. Can’t think of something … brainstorm with friends you trust. Buy the domain name. Buy some web hosting (I’d recommend getting a 1 year linux minimus subscription). Use the app vault that comes with your web hosting to install WordPress (it’s quick and easy and practically automatic). Play a little bit. It’s going to take you an hour or two in total to get your own website / hosting and WordPress installed. If you can’t invest that to start with in your website why are you even bothering. After that you’ll be able to decide is this something I can do myself and can invest the time in or should I just hire someone or a company to do it all for me. A lot of your answer is going to boil down to two things.

  1. How much is your time worth
  2. Can you afford to pay someone to do a professional job for you

And hey presto … I’d like to think I’ve started with a bit of a bang on my blog. Can I keep up writing content. Will it get better. Who knows stay tuned :)



What i Do

What does Forbairt do?

What does forbairt do?

A little bit before Christmas I was asked a pretty simple question. How will I introduce you. As in what’s my job title. I guess it’s a pretty basic question and one I should have had an answer for. I hummed and hawed for a minute mumbling something about being a web designer or developer or doing a bit of marketing as well. I guess a lot of freelancers are in the same boat. You tend to take on multiple roles to some extent when you work for yourself as a web designer.

In the last year I’ve migrated (from Movable Type to WordPress) and templated up the new Blacknight Blog. I’ve worked on the Getting Irish Business Online project with Blacknight / Google / An Post and the County and City Enterprise Boards. I’ve taken photos and even ended up using some for strange little marketing promos. I’ve come up with ideas on how to market various things more recently with the launch of Dot XXX. I’ve developed Dropped.ie the Irish domain dropped .ie tool as well as GetPersonalWith.Me. I’ve worked on the stand design for the .Me Domain Registry. Tutorial videos, blog posts, manning the twitter / facebook accounts, support, vBulletin theming, Logo design, Print design,  numerous micro sites for Blacknight, the Blacknight newsletters, spoken on the radio promoting the company, helped develop the new Blacknight Cloud Store investigating new tools and technologies and a whole lot more that I can’t remember right now. Least I forget it I’ve taken Squishy The Cat‘s Facebook page up to 900 fans and hopefully brought a smile to peoples faces as well in doing so.

Saying I’m a web designer or developer doesn’t seem to be quite right so I asked the powers that be at work what’s my job title. They weren’t sure and said come up with something. I asked friends on twitter and in the end I opted for the title / description of Creative Lead. Guess it sums me up pretty well. Makes it sound like there are more creatives in the company too I guess but ah well I don’t want to just call my self creative.

I do what needs to be done with my own style and sense of humour.

I am Forbairt hear me type :)

my wordpress site got hacked

A few weeks ago I upgraded to the latest 3.2.1 release of wordpress. Of course like everyone I’ve a few what I’ll call core plugins I require.

The most recent of these to get added to my list is Donncha O’Caoimh’s http://ocaoimh.ie/exploit-scanner/

Of course when I installed it at the same time as installing the 3.2.1 release of wordpress the hash files weren’t available for 3.2.1. This lead me to lots of False positives. Yesterday then when I scanned I for some reason thought I was seeing the same thing. I mean upd.php and config.php seem like two perfectly normal files don’t they? Well hell no after asking a rather silly question over on Google Plus I realised the error of my ways and went about fixing things.

Exploit Scanner works on the basis that all your core files should have the same hash as a clean version. ( A hash is a value that gets created and mostly two different things can’t have the same hash )

Exploit Scanner Results
Click to enlarge


The md5 Hashes for the two files are as follows

  • exploit-scanner.php (1.0.5): ac8d7f3574a7470a245a2067e9c79072
  • hashes-3.2.1.php: a660a35382f648c8735414a7d3531970

So if your websites version of these doesn’t match it’s fair to assume someone has edited the files on your site. You can always find these values on the exploit scanner plugin page. It’s well worth installing.

Install Exploit Scanner

The Exploit scanner immediately told me about the errors. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a manual process as you still need to see what’s wrong and make sure the files aren’t valid. So backing up is a good idea first. I also ended up removing a few unused plugins and all the old themes I had on the site. It doesn’t have hash values for any plugins or themes you’re using so you may need to manually scan these and check if they have been altered. One way I did this was visually check the date of creation / modification of the files in my ftp client.

Anyways exploit scanner is about to become the first plugin that gets installed on all new wordpress installs ( and even a few older ones ) and I’m debating creating a rather simple script to show the last edited / created time for files as I’d find that one handy as well. The files were uploaded to my site on the 6th august for example. I know I wasn’t doing much there then so apart from an image or two and my cache things shouldn’t have been changed recently.


And God said let there be LightBox …

Let there be LightBox

In general I resize images before I upload them to WordPress and as a result I disable the click the image link. However I noticed no nice lightbox (click image and it pops up rather than taking you to a page with just the image) effect as so sent up a call on twitter if anyone knew a quick plugin that’ll work with existing content and hey presto twitter.com/thelinden ( Barry Walsh ) gets back to me in seconds mentioning ShadowBox JS. God I really love twitter sometimes can save you ages looking up things and  making up a forum post and so on.

Cheers Barry and you can see the results on my previous post its automagic (Just needed to select JQuery in the plugin preference and it auto picks up linked images)


Social Media For Dummies I

Social Media For Dummies

My name is James and I made the Greatest SEO Marketing Guru website ever I also made the theme for the site Social Media Expert

Like most people using “social media” I’m constantly amazed by the amount people seeking advice / how to’s and so on. I’m also heavily amazed by the amount of people offering their services to them. While I realise there is always a need to have some advice with new technology / ways of doing things the social media guru stud guy coaching type thing is a bit extreme no ?

So really what you’re wanting to ask is WTF is social media marketing ?

In a nutshell … its spamming the **** out of your friends initially in the hopes things will take off and you’ll get more people following you. This in turn will lead to every “tweet” / Post / Message you make getting read by an ever increasing number of people.

Wow you make it sound so great where do I sign up?
Well like most things I’d first advise you have a website to redriect your “fans” (people that follow / stalk you) to

This will help and who knows a few might even end up book marking your actual site instead of just seeing the off message from you. I’d also recommend you get and RSS feed onto your site. A what now ? .. ( an RSS feed is simply put … a list of the recent posts / activity on your site) People will see updates from you in an RSS reader of their choice if they use one. I actually being quite computer il… er … literate don’t use one. Why … again its down to time and how much time you have at the end of the day. There are so many posts to read things to check and so on it can be a bit overwhelming.

So you’ve got your site .. you’ve got something that you can drag people back onto your site with (RSS feed) .. what do I do next.

Well you pretty much start telling people about what you do. Its social media … can you be social ? .. can you be social online ( its potentially a lot easier to be social online than in real life) and away you go. Follow people you find interesting .. interact with people … let people know whats happening … open up your “company” to the world and interact. O…. K … you say … erm really thats what its all about.

  1. Interact with people
  2. People may follow you back if you’ve something interesting to say
  3. You’ll follow them back
  4. Connections will be made .. you’ll say hey to them they’ll say hey back
  5. You’ll update info … people will see it .. some might like it and let their friends know
  6. Interact Interact Interact ….

So … erm … that sounds simple enough doesn’t it? This is what social media is about … you’ll have people telling you its all about the number of followers you’ve got following you. NO … this is pure BS for example … I could have 10 people following me who are my customers and who might like to see I’m available for work … or I’m interested in doing XYZ … and there’ll be some interaction … or I could have 10000 people trying to sell their services to me .. following me … me following back … cluttering up my stream ( twitter stream … updates from people ) … which is more useful … well to be honest the 10 people you’ll interact with. Of course if you’re huge and can hire a marketing department and get loads of people involved in your twitter account then go for it. If its just you .. then … erm forget about it … follow people have them follow back or not … and let things happen naturally so to speak.

All this said there are a few things you can do to speed up the interest in you / your product or service …

Special offers … ooooh wow 20% off and save now today only .. <-- you like the look of that no ? well why not make a few discounts available for people. What will it cost ... hopefully much .. you've probably got margins worked out on what earn >Things not to do:

  1. Don’t spam … don’t spam your product .. don’t spam messages …
  2. Don’t direct message people about your products
  3. Don’t auto message people saying thanks for following
  4. Forget about the .. you can earn $50,000 a day with my social media tool!!! click here to find out more … type offers. They are BS
  5. Don’t read posts online and think they are the number one way of doing things … Trial and error should be heavily involved in your process ( We all make mistakes .. I’ve made them others have made them .. we try and move on )

Do realise that all the social media interaction is free BUT its damn expensive …
1 Tweet – 20 – 30 seconds of your time … (thats nothing you say)
.. reading the tweets of others … add on another bit of time …

We’ve 5 minutes gone just there like that … what have we done .. posted one message read a few others tweets.

Lets speed up things … how? … erm … social media is about building up a following .. interaction … respect (respect is import .. if people like you or your product they’ll help you promote it .. if they don’t .. you’ll have pointless twitter accounts RT’ing (Re Tweeting .. sending one your message to people who follow them) .. all your messages .. end result you’ll pick up useless followers

You will come across the odd thing which takes on the Viral nature … you say something clever .. you write something clever and suddenly lots of people are linking to you RT’ing your message ad so on … GREAT … WOO HOO and I’m happy for you .. but generally you can’t force this to happen it just does and if it does congrats and well done

So this ends part I of maybe a one part article .. maybe I’ll write a bit more ( For most people reading its hopefully DUH! material .. for others hopefully its something of an eye opener to the magic that is Social Media) Let me know what you think


(PS: Please note I’ve been really using twitter as my social media tool of example here … similar would apply to facebook and so on)