Category Archives: Announcements

Major Facelift for wp.vcu.edu Dashboards

Update: This change has been rescheduled for Thursday, March 27, at 7:30 a.m.

The dashboards for sites on wp.vcu.edu will soon be getting a major facelift. We will be upgrading WordPress to version 3.8, which “brings a fresh new look to the entire admin dashboard,” according to its makers. Watch the video below to learn more about all of the changes the update will bring.

We normally update WordPress quietly, and you likely don’t notice when we do. However, this update overhauls the dashboard so significantly that we wanted to make you aware of the changes. Read the blog post announcing WordPress 3.8 to read about these changes in more detail.

At the same time, we will be making some tweaks and adjustments behind the scenes. These should provide wp.vcu.edu with a performance boost.

Unused Personal Blogs to be Deleted on February 18

As part of routine maintenance on VCU’s WordPress installation, a number of unused personal blogs will be deleted on Tuesday, February 18. The following criteria were used to identify the blogs that will be deleted:

  • the blog’s path (the first part of the URL after wp.vcu.edu/) is the same as the owner’s eID; AND
  • the blog has no published posts, pages or attachments, or there is only the default ‘Hello World!’ post or ‘Sample Page’ page; AND
  • the blog has not been updated since September 1, 2013.

Owners of these blogs will be notified by email that their blogs are scheduled for deletion. If there are any questions, please email the VCU Webmaster.

Update: Additionally, blogs belonging to former students or former employees will also be deleted. These former users will not be notified by email.

WordPress Dashboards Will Be Unavailable on June 15, From 9 to 10:30 a.m.

The administrative dashboards for all sites on VCU’s instance of WordPress on wp.vcu.edu will be unavailable on the morning of Saturday, June 15, as the University Computer Center increases the RAM in one of its database servers.

Content on wp.vcu.edu that is CAS-restricted will also be unavailable. All other published content will remain publicly accessible.

The upgrade is scheduled to last from 9 to 10:30 a.m., though the official Change Management entry says it may be completed in less time. The change has been scheduled to minimize any disruption. Please contact the VCU helpIT Center (828-2227, helpIT@vcu.edu) with any questions.

We appreciate your understanding.

WordPress Downtime: Saturday, March 9, 6 – 10 a.m.

VCU’s instance of WordPress on wp.vcu.edu will be unavailable on the morning of Saturday, March 9, as the University Computer Center upgrades its database server. During this time, published content and administrative functionality will be inaccessible.

The upgrade is scheduled to last four hours, though the official Change Management entry says it may be completed in less time. The change has been scheduled to minimize any disruption. Please contact the VCU helpIT Center (828-2227, helpIT@vcu.edu) with any questions.

We appreciate your understanding.

More Ham, Less Spam With Akismet

Akismet, a web service offered by the creators of WordPress.com to help control spam, is now in full effect across every site on wp.vcu.edu. That means you should see a significant decrease in the amount of spam comments requiring your moderation.

For the curious, this is how Akismet works:

Each time a new comment, trackback, or pingback is added to your site it’s submitted to the Akismet web service which runs hundreds of tests on the comment and returns a thumbs up or thumbs down. As a result, you don’t have to waste your time sorting through and deleting spammy comments from your blog.

So sit back, continue blogging and let Akismet separate the spam from the ham (i.e., “not spam”).

Update: You can set a couple of configuration options for Akismet by going to Jetpack > Akismet Configuration on your dashboard. You can also view your ham versus spam stats at Jetpack > Akismet Stats. (Note that Jetpack does not need to be enabled for you to use Akismet, which is already enabled for everyone — they are both simply developed by Automattic, the creators of wordpress.com.)

 

Unused Personal Blogs to be Deleted on June 15

As part of routine maintenance on VCU’s WordPress installation, a number of unused personal blogs will be deleted on Friday, June 15. The following criteria were used to identify the blogs that will be deleted:

  • the blog’s path (the first part of the URL after wp.vcu.edu/) is the same as the owner’s eID; AND
  • the blog has no published posts, or the only published post is the default ‘Hello World!’ post; AND
  • the blog has not been updated since April 15, 2012.

Owners of these blogs will be notified by email that their blogs are scheduled for deletion. If there are any questions, please email the VCU Webmaster.

Most of these personal blogs were created automatically when a user logged in for the first time, a policy which has since changed. Deleting these blogs will have no effect on their owners’ privileges on non-personal blogs.

New Procedure for Creating Personal Blogs

We recently changed the way that personal blogs are created. Before this week, a user’s personal blog would automatically be created the first time the user logged in; the new blog’s URL would be created by appending the user’s VCU eID to http://wp.vcu.edu/.

Personal blogs are no longer created automatically. Instead, we have added a widget (shown below) to the dashboard from which a user can create his or her personal blog at any point in the future. The URL structure for personal blogs remains the same, and each user’s eID is reserved for that user’s blog.

Create my Personal Blog

Some users may have no intention of maintaining a personal blog on wp.vcu.edu and log in solely to manage a departmental or group blog or site. Now, such users have control over whether to create a personal blog or not.

Embedding Video in Posts

There are two options for embedding media inside the VCU WordPress system.

The first way is simply pasting the url of the embedded media into the “Visual” post field, like so:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJxDjML2ldw

The second option allows you a little more control over your embed. This involves wrapping the link in an embed shortcode — use this option when you want to retain control of the dimensions of the embed by declaring height and width properties, like so:

[embed height="180" width="320"]. . .[/embed]

Of course, be sure to replace the ellipsis with an actual link.

Bear in mind that this only works with sites that have been whitelisted by WordPress, but this list includes all the usual suspects, like

  • YouTube (only public videos – “unlisted” and “private” videos will not embed)
  • Vimeo
  • Flickr (both videos and images)
  • Hulu
  • FunnyOrDie.com

For the most recent list, please visit http://codex.wordpress.org/Embeds.

40 New Themes Added

4o new themes from WooThemes, a premier provider of themes for WordPress and other platforms, have been added to the VCU Blog. Users now can now customize the look and feel of their blogs to an even greater extent, pretty much ensuring that no two blogs will look alike.

When you activate a WooTheme, a menu will be added to the left sidebar on your dashboard from which you can access your theme options. The actual options will vary by theme, so try a number of themes and options before settling on one that’s right for you.

WooTheme Options Screen

Note: Always click the ‘Save All Changes’ button on the ‘Theme Options’ screen if you switch back and forth between themes, even if you have not actually made any changes. These themes use a common framework, and this will flush all of the options that were set for the last theme you activated.