DIY Soft Focus Lens

Sometimes you need a shot that’s a bit different and look to a distortional focus lens. Even though there are others, you are probably most familiar with the Lensbaby line. And while the images coming from Lensbaby lenses can be spectacular, sometimes even the $100 or so for their cheaper models can be too much if you’re just wanting to play a bit.

If that’s where you find yourself, take a look at this video from Randy Snook. It’s not quite as professional looking as a Lensbaby; but with about 15 bucks, a trip to the hardware store, and a bit of time you can build your own soft focus lens.

ProofBuddy updated to 3.1.4

Seems like a waste of a really good version to use on just a simple bug release. But here we are. ProofBuddy has been updated to version 3.1.4.

Updates

  • Default to no_height on the full image template. This won’t affect you if you are upgrading, but will make the template more responsive friendly for new users. If you’re an existing user with a responsive theme, here’s how to implement the fix yourself.
  • Minimum and maximum cart values not always working correctly.
  • Currency values not always storing in the database correctly.
  • Dashboard links now include all of our blog posts instead of just updates to the main ProofBuddy plugin.
  • Dashboard links are now HTTPS instead of plain HTTP. They were redirecting anyway, but this should speed up the dashboard a bit.

Download or Upgrade

If you’re a current ProofBuddy user you should see an update message inside of WordPress.

New users can download ProofBuddy by adding it to your cart. It’s free.

Free Download

Coupons Plugin 1.2.1 Update

We’ve just released an update to our Coupons Plugin.

Auto Coupons

With the update you’ll now be able to create coupons that are automatically applied to carts depending on how much your client has ordered.

ProofBuddy Automatic Coupon

Editing a coupon with auto coupon enabled

For the screen shot above, the coupon would be automatically added to the cart when the total cart value is between $25 and $100. Outside of that range the coupon isn’t used.

If you leave the checkbox next to Auto Coupon cleared the coupon will behave as it always has.

Updates

And as always, there are a couple of bug fixes.

  • Restricting coupons to a specific album, or group of albums, was not always working.
  • Coupons were getting logged even if they didn’t remove any cost from the cart. This would cause their use counter to go up, but didn’t affect the value used.
  • Minimum and maximum values would not always save correctly.

Downloading and Upgrading

If you’re already using our coupons plugin you should see an update message in WordPress.

If not, you can purchase the plugin by clicking on this button.

Add to Cart

Or, if you’d like more information you can visit the Coupons Plugin page.

Coupons plugin updated to 1.1

 

Quick update for the Coupons plugin.

Main reason for the update was inconsistency in how the minimum and maximum values were working. In some cases they would actually swap with the minimum value acting as a maximum value and the max value acting as a minimum. Obviously even if it wasn’t happening every time, that was a pretty significant problem.

HTML Issues

The remove coupon icons were not working in most current browsers. Originally this plugin was using a non-standard, but very common, way of getting information when a user clicked the image to remove a coupon. Non-standard is dangerous though, and in the browser updates since Coupons originally came out the method that we were using stopped working.

A little JavaScript and it’s working again.

Coupon List

And a small change to the coupon list table in wp-admin. The minimum and maximum cart values, if defined, are shown in the table.

If you never use those values, or just don’t want to see them in the table, you can opt to not view them by clicking on the Screen Options tab on the top right of the coupon list page.

Updating or Downloading

If you are a current Coupons user you should see an update notification in the next few hours. If you don’t see it, get in touch and we’ll get you a copy.

You can also download the plugin by adding it to your cart with the button below.

Add to Cart

ProofBuddy 3.1.3 Released

Small, but very important update. And one that’s related to the previous release.

Turns out there were some upgrade issues going to WordPress 4.4 with ProofBuddy that were causing permissions issues when you edit albums and orders on the admin side. We fixed the album issue on the the last release, but didn’t catch that it was also affecting the order pages.

What was happening is that you would get an error that you didn’t have permission to edit an order. Of course this is a big problem since you couldn’t change order statuses or even see the contents.

With the release of 3.1.3, that should be fixed. In the next few hours you should see a notice inside of WordPress that there’s an update available. If not, you can also download and install a fresh copy.

5 things to do with your new camera

Do you have a shiny new camera in your hands? Digital Photography School has a list of 5 experiments to do to get to know your new toy camera.

Most interesting to me was this one.

White Balance can be trickiest when there is more than one light source and it’s helpful to know which way to adjust the colors. A lower temperature (incandescent and fluorescent) give more of a yellow/green cast while cloudy and shady gives your more of a blue tone. If you want to eliminate that color cast in your images, move the White Balance toward those settings.

White balance has always been one of those settings that I just leave on auto as it’s usually good enough.

View the whole article at Digital Photography School. Image from Paul Reynolds.

 

 

How to Schedule WordPress Posts

There’s a little known feature in WordPress that you’ve probably seen, just never noticed. But with a little work, the ability the schedule WordPress posts can make your website appear much more active without much effort on your part.

Why Schedule WordPress Posts?

Let’s start with this one. Why wouldn’t you just always hit post when you’re done? Why would you schedule it for later?

For the first reason, let’s look at this post. It’s in a category called “Tuesday Tips.” It wouldn’t make much sense if this post came out on a Friday.  Before I hit the Publish button I’m going to change the publish date to next Tuesday.

Or, maybe you’re a night owl and like writing at 3am.

Day job during the week? It might work better for you to write a few blog posts on Saturday afternoon and have them scheduled out over the next week.

Finally give in and decide to take a vacation? By scheduling you can write up a handful of posts and have them drip out while you’re gone so that your blog doesn’t appear inactive.

And there’s probably a dozen more reasons. There’s pretty much not a bad answer to the why question. It’s your blog and your reasons.

How to Schedule Posts

Let’s take a look at one of the meta boxes that you’re familiar with, but with a link you may not have noticed. This is the Publish meta box on the WordPress post editing page. Notice the line “Publish Immediately” with the Edit link.

WordPress Publish Dialog

If you click the Edit link it will change the dialog to look like the following.

publish-dialog-2

There’s a series of text fields that pop up and let you pick exactly when you want to schedule the post. It’s not quite as user friendly a way to pick a date as you’re probably used to, but it works.

Pick your date and time and click on the Ok button and the Publish button changes to a Schedule button.

publish-dialog-3

And now your post is scheduled.

… sort of …

Scheduling in WordPress isn’t exact though. For the example above, the post probably won’t get published exactly at 9:35am on Dec 28, 2016. WordPress, by default, uses something called WP-Cron to handle scheduling and it’s dependent on page views. So rather than the example above getting posted at exactly 9:35am, it will get published on the first page view after 9:35am.

Most of the time that would only be a couple of minutes. But if you do have a very lightly visited site it may be a bit longer than you’re expecting.

What about Plugins?

So that’s all well and good, but once you get past a few scheduled posts it gets tough to keep track of what you have scheduled. That’s where a couple of plugins come in really handy.

The first one that I’ve used is one called Automatic Post Scheduler, and it does exactly what you would expect.

Automatic Post Scheduler screen shot

When activated Automatic Post Scheduler adds an option to the WordPress settings that allows you to specify a minimum and maximum amount of time between posts. It also adds a checkbox to the publish meta box.

publish-dialog-scheduler

If you leave it checked then the plugin will take care of scheduling. If you clear the checkbox it will let you either schedule yourself or publish immediately.

But that’s a little haphazard for me. If you really want to schedule WordPress posts, you’ll probably want to take a look at called WordPress Editorial Calendar.

Once activated, the WordPress Editorial Calendar adds a Calendar link under each post type.

calendar-link

Clicking on that link takes you to a calendar where you can see where all of your posts are scheduled.  Since this particular site doesn’t have a very busy calendar though, I’m going to show a screen shot from another site.

editorial-calendar

This particular site has posts scheduled to go out once or twice a day, and uses both of the plugins we’re talking about to keep everything scheduled out.

What I find the best feature of the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin is not the calendar itself, but the unscheduled posts column. The way I write posts for this site is to keep everything as a draft until it’s done. Then, instead of clicking the Publish button I’ll go into the Editorial Calendar and drag the post from the unscheduled drafts area to the day I want it published, usually fixing the time along the way.

What about Social?

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+; what about those?

Once I’ve scheduled a post I’ll also go to a site called Buffer and schedule it to go out on our various social accounts shortly after it’s published here.

There’s plugins for that as well. I just haven’t had time to look into them yet. Maybe for another Tuesday Tips post.

ProofBuddy 3.1.1 Released

Small update this afternoon for ProofBuddy.

The first update is one that was needed for users who are using WordPress 4.4. The upgrade to 4.4 mixed with ProofBuddy to cause a permissions error when you try to edit one of the template files. You would get a message that you are not allowed to edit posts in this post type.

hideFeaturedImageThe second is to fix an issue between featured images and some themes. The ability to add a featured image to ProofBuddy albums was added a couple of versions ago. What we found is that some themes automatically insert the featured image at the top of the page, which wasn’t such a good thing on an album. As a solution we added an option that will cause featured images to not display on album pages, but leave them alone on any other post type. You’ll only need this if your theme is automatically inserting featured images and you’re selecting featured images for your albums. If neither of those applies to you, you can just leave the option unchecked.

Upgrading

If you’re already using ProofBuddy it should show up as an option to upgrade in your WordPress dashboard within the next few hours.

Or, you can download the zip and upload it directly to your server.

Free Download

ProofBuddy 3.1 Update

It’s way past due for an upgrade to the main ProofBuddy plugin. But that time is now. We’re pushing out version 3.1

New Features

Dialog to change individual image pricing along with setting title, caption, alt text and description.

Image Specific Pricing

My guess is that for most users this will be the most welcome change. Don’t have the analytics in front of me, but I’m thinking that this is the single most popular feature request since we moved ProofBuddy to a WordPress plugin.

Album edit page improvements

This one was the big one.

First change was that we moved the image list out of a meta box and up to the top of the album editing page. What we found is that the image list meta box was getting pushed down by other plugins where it should pretty much always be at the top. Now, instead of a draggable box the images show up directly on the admin page where you would normally find the post editor when you’re working with standard WordPress posts.

And, you can also change the size of the images. Before ProofBuddy filled in the image list with images in whatever size thumbnails you had set. That worked fine for most users, but we’ve talked to quite a few of you that like really big thumbnails. Originally we were just going to limit the size, but came up with a better solution and added a slider so that you can change the size of the images. This doesn’t do anything to the actual file, but does let you get a better view while you’re working.

Updates to the album edit page include a zoom slider - see the top right of this image.

Updates to the album edit page include a zoom slider – see the top right of this image.

Possibly the biggest change was switching out the dialogs that you could use to view and edit individual images with the JavaScript media manger that was added in WordPress 3.5. Should make it much easier to upload and edit the information on individual images. This is also where the setting for changing the pricing on an individual image shows up.

Featured image on albums

Featured images added to albums.

Featured images added to albums.

The albums now have the option for adding a featured image just like most other WordPress post types.

Right now this isn’t being used, but it does give the option for other plugins to use the featured image in the future.

Better Session Handling

We had been using WordPress transients to keep track of users and their carts. Turns out that wasn’t something that we should have been using transients for. Normally it wasn’t an issue, but on some servers there were options in place that would cause either lost carts or the total inability to login.

So we went back to scratch on sessions. First we added the option to use text based sessions, storing small files in your server temp folder. This is similar to how most PHP applications store session data. We also totally rewrote the session handling so that if you’re using the database it’s no longer handled with transients and ProofBuddy keeps track of when sessions expire and should be removed instead of relying on WordPress.

More Shortcodes

Added three new shortcodes for your images

[pb_img_description] – Replaced with the description entered for an image through the WordPress image manager.

[pb_img_caption] – Image caption

[pb_img_alt] – Alt field for the image

Other fixes

  • Sales order report was only printing orders that were “New” or “Completed” when it should have included any orders that were not deleted or cancelled.
  • Only five pricing lists were showing in the dropdown on the pricing options page
  • Some of the shortcodes had defaults that were not run through i18n
  • Cart shipping amount is now run through a filter
  • Headers on the sales report PDF were overlapping

Getting the update

You should see a notice inside your WordPress admin within the next few hours prompting you to upgrade.

If you, you can also head over to the download page and get a fresh copy.

Watermark Plugin update 1.2

We know… it’s only been a couple of days since the last update to our Watermark plugin, but there were a couple of significant enough updates that we felt like we needed to go ahead and push out a new update.

Watermarking Thumbnails

Watermark Settings Screen Shot

Watermark Settings Page

Watermarking thumbnails is something that we actively decided not to add when the watermark plugin was originally written. In fact, when I went back into the code to add it in I found that some of the code had already been written and commented out with a note.

The thought is that while adding a watermark to an image is a relatively “expensive” process, watermarking a single image wasn’t that big of a deal. But watermarking potentially dozens of thumbnail images on a single page might be problematic.

But it’s your site. That decision should be left up to you. So what we’ve done is add an option to the watermark plugin so that you can turn watermarking on for the thumbnails. If it slows your server down too much, you can leave it off.

But it really should affect page speed much past the first time the page is viewed. Watermarked version of the images are cached so they only need to be created the first time an image is viewed.

Watermark Files with Spaces

Turns out our testing didn’t include watermark files with spaces in them. And we’ve found that spaces in the filename is something that was breaking the plugin. So with this update the plugin will rename the watermark file before it saves it to your server so that it doesn’t have spaces. This is something that WordPress does anyway with most files. We just hadn’t coded the plugin to take advantage.

Updating

If you’re already using this plugin you should see a note within the next few hours inside your WordPress admin prompting you to update.

If not, you can get it with the button below.

Purchase