WordPress 4.9

A few nice new features in this release.

All of our WordPress installations here at TLTC have been upgraded to the latest version, 4.9. There’s a lot going on under the hood, but there are also a few new features that can make your site better.

Gallery Widget

Would you like to show an image gallery in your sidebar? It used to require a plugin with some tedious configuration. The new gallery widget makes it simple. Add the widget, give it a title, select your images and save.

 

Here’s the final result:

If you have the Simple Lightbox plugin enabled and set to work with widgets, you get this effect when your reader clicks on one of the images:

 

By the way, if you want to add a video to your sidebar, a Video Widget was added in the last update.

Improved Text Widget

It used to be complicated to add an image tag in your sidebar. But the improved text widget, besides adding support for some basic formatting, now offers an Add Media button so you can embed media in your sidebar just as you would in a regular post.

 

One perfect use is adding your school or organization’s logo along with an address or contact information.

Better Customizer

One problem with previewing themes with the customizer has always been that it doesn’t pick up your widgets and menus. Unless you were lucky, it would show every single page as a running multi-line menu, making it impossible to see what your site was going to look like without re-building it; and the only widgets it would show would be the default most-recent posts and comments. I doubt it will ever be a perfect experience, but the customizer has been upgraded to at least give it a best guess as to where all your carefully crafted content is supposed to go. Here’s a case where it guessed pretty well, going from Divi to Accelerate:

 

There are a couple of other tweaks to the customizer that should make it easier to build menus.

Updates, Updates, Updates

Along with the new WordPress 4.4, theme and plugin developers are swiftly moving to upgrade their products. 22 plugin updates and 11 theme updates in the last two days alone.

Along with the new WordPress 4.4, theme and plugin developers are swiftly moving to upgrade their products. 22 plugin updates and 11 theme updates in the last two days alone. You shouldn’t notice any changes at this point.

One plugin, “Subscribe By Email”, was causing problems for people trying to sign up. If you were using it and weren’t getting any new subscribers, that’s why. We’ve transitioned all those blogs over to “Email Subscribers,” which is considerably more robust (meaning: it actually works). If you’ve got an active blog and think your audience might want to hear from you, consider activating it. It’s a simple matter of going into Plugins in your dashboard and activating it, then adding the widget.

Coming Soon: WordPress 4.4

Released today, WordPress 4.4 is a big upgrade with some nice new features.

Version 4.4 of WordPress, named “Clifford” in honor of jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown, is available for download or update in your WordPress dashboard. New features in 4.4 make your site more connected and responsive. Clifford also introduces a new default theme, Twenty Sixteen.

There’s a lot going on under the hood, but what might be most interesting to us are the new oEmbed and responsive image features.

What’s oEmbed?

oEmbed is what lets you paste a URL into a line by itself to a resource on another site, and that resource is automagically rendered right on your post without having to deal with sometimes-cryptic embed or iframe tags. For example, I can paste “https://vimeo.com/86120207”, as below, on a line all by itself, and I get this:

Or just paste the URL of a Tweet, “https://twitter.com/bobdylan/status/672062682632028160”, like this:

Screenshot_1

Will render complete with its embedded media:

There’s a long list of providers that WordPress is compatible with, including YouTube, SoundCloud, Vimeo and now — WordPress itself. Just put the URL of a WordPress blog post on a line by itself, and the headline, featured image and excerpt will be displayed within your post.

Better Image Support

Also new to 4.4 is “responsive images.” WordPress will now resize the images you upload, automatically, so that they look right on any kind of device. Additional code is generated behind-the-scenes which lets your readers’ devices select from several different resolutions and download the one that is correct — a large image for a desktop browser or a smaller one for a mobile phone. This protects their monthly bandwidth allowance, and makes for faster load times.

We’ll be following this over the next week or so to check for stability and possible conflicts. Usually there are no issues.

WordPress 4.2

Emoji.

Updated this afternoon, our WordPress installation offers some interesting new features. They’ve extended their recent multilanguage support with more extended character sets; improved social sharing via an improved “Press This” and easier embeds from Tumblr; and an improved theme previewer. Oh, and emoji.

WordPress 4.1

We’ve updated to version 4.1 this week. The biggest change is a new theme, ‘twenty fifteen.’ It’s a very blogging-specific theme that highlights your content nicely on all kinds of devices.

We’ve updated to version 4.1 this week. The biggest change is a new theme, ‘twenty fifteen.’ It’s a very blogging-specific theme that highlights your content nicely on all kinds of devices.

Java Update Causing Problems With Some IT Services

Summary:  On Tuesday, January 14, Oracle released Java Version 7 update 51. This version does NOT currently work with Banner INB. If you use Banner INB, please do NOT upgrade to Java 7 update 51 if prompted by your computer.  … Continue reading

Summary:  On Tuesday, January 14, Oracle released Java Version 7 update 51. This version does NOT currently work with Banner INB. If you use Banner INB, please do NOT upgrade to Java 7 update 51 if prompted by your computer.  If you are a Banner INB user and Java has already updated to Java 7 update 51 on your computer, please uninstall all versions of Java on your computer and go to Banner INB; Banner will then re-install Java on your computer.  When Java finishes installing, you may be prompted by Oracle to verify your version; if this happens, please close the Window without verifying the version or updating your computer to Java 7 update 51.  For assistance with this issue, please call the Technology Service Desk at 972-275-2222.

To the University community:

Java is a program that is used by many Web sites to provide the ability to interact with information on the Web.  This Monday, January 13, Kronos was upgraded, and as part of this upgrade, Kronos requires Java version 7 update 45 to work.  If Kronos detects you have an older version of Java, it will update your computer to Java 7 update 45.  This version of Java works with Banner INB.

On Tuesday, January 14, Oracle released Java 7 update 51. Normally, users should update Java to the latest version for security reasons.  Unfortunately, Java 7 update 51 does not currently work with Banner INB.

If you go to the Kronos Web site and it updates Java on your computer, you will be prompted by Oracle to verify your Java version.  If you are a Banner INB user, please close this Window without verifying your version or upgrading your version of Java to the latest version, since Java Version 7 update 51 does not currently work with INB.

If Java has already updated to Java 7 update 51 and you are having problems with Banner INB or other services, uninstall all versions of Java on your computer and let Banner INB or Kronos re-install Java. Note that if after installing Java you are prompted by Oracle to verify or update Java, please close this Window without verifying or further updating Java. If you have any questions about this process, or would like to have a PC Technician assist you with this process, please call the Technology Service Desk at 973-275-2222 for assistance.

Ellucian released a patch for Banner yesterday that will allow Banner INB to work with Java 7.0 update 51.  University IT Services has started testing this patch today.  We hope to have an update to the community on this issue next week.

WordPress 3.8

You might have noticed already, but last week we upgraded to the latest version of our blogging platform. There are a few changes, most of them cosmetic. The dashboard uses a new, more modern font. Plus, you can now customize your colors. No more of the boring shades-of-blue or shades-of-grey styles. Go into your Users::Your . . . → Read More: WordPress 3.8

You might have noticed already, but last week we upgraded to the latest version of our blogging platform. There are a few changes, most of them cosmetic.

The dashboard uses a new, more modern font. Plus, you can now customize your colors. No more of the boring shades-of-blue or shades-of-grey styles. Go into your Users::Your Profile menu and try a few out.

Ocean Sunrise Default Blue Midnight Coffee Ectoplasm Light

I’ve been a fan of the WordPress app for Android, but the new administrative theme is responsive, and largely makes the app pretty much superfluous.

It’s a bit easier now to manage and select themes, with the Theme Details panel right up front. And adding widgets is much easier — no more drag-scrolling beyond the page margins to get the one you want.

One downside is these new fonts take longer to render, so if you have a lot of blogs under your Multisite Switcher or My Blogs menus, they all have to render before the page is ready to go. The reason why is a little technical, but it has to do with the number of nodes in the DOM. When I, as the administrator, look at the page there are something like 18,000 nodes to be dealt with. But on an individual site there’s a small fraction of that many so it may not even be noticeable.

The new default theme, Twenty Fourteen, is a beautiful magazine-style theme. It has a few flaws, which we’ll try to fix, but on the whole it’s pretty impressive. After maybe 20 minutes putting together a banner and a couple of menus, I had this:

honors

Behind the scenes there are various security fixes and optimizations.

Our mobile plugin, WPTouch Pro, is activated automatically on all your blogs. They too have introduced a new theme, Bauhaus. It’s much like the others, but it offers the chance to do circular featured images, which can be kind of cool. If you don’t see it, go into the WPTouch Pro::Themes and Extensions panel and click “download.” While you’re at it, switch over to the extensions part and install and activate the Responsive Images plugin. This will deliver optimized (smaller, and faster) images to devices with smaller screens.

honors_mobile

Important Information for Lenovo Helix Users: Update Your Wireless Driver for Improved Network Performance

University IT Services has received reports that some students and faculty with the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix are experiencing problems connecting to the University’s wireless network. This seems to occur most frequently in areas of the residence halls, but IT Services … Continue reading

University IT Services has received reports that some students and faculty with the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix are experiencing problems connecting to the University’s wireless network. This seems to occur most frequently in areas of the residence halls, but IT Services has received a few reports of wireless problems with the Helix in classrooms and faculty offices as well.

Working with Lenovo and Intel, the University has obtained a new driver for the wireless cards in the Helix and will push out an update to all devices.  This new wireless driver will increase the power and range of the wireless radio in the Lenovo Helix.  We believe it will fix any issues you might be having with wireless on your Helix. On Wednesday, November 13, University IT Services will send all Lenovo Helix users an email with instructions for downloading the new wireless driver upgrade.

If you experience wireless connectivity issues anywhere around campus please report it to the Technology Service Desk by calling (973) 275-2222 or emailing servicedesk@shu.edu as soon as possible.  Please provide the location and specific device(s) you are using when you experience the problem.  Having complete information about the areas and devices experiencing wireless problems helps University IT Services to investigate the cause and develop a resolution to the problem.

John D. Fernandes
Director, PC Support Services
Office (973) 275-2270

Internet Service Outages This Morning

This morning around 10AM Level3, the University’s Internet Service Provider (ISP), began experiencing a regional “degradation of service” due to equipment failure in its NYC data center.  As a result, the University experienced a complete Internet outage from approximately 10:00 … Continue reading

This morning around 10AM Level3, the University’s Internet Service Provider (ISP), began experiencing a regional “degradation of service” due to equipment failure in its NYC data center.  As a result, the University experienced a complete Internet outage from approximately 10:00 AM until approximately 11:45 AM.  During this time, users on campus were not able to access the University’s Web site, and users off campus were not able to access University services, including PirateNet, email and Banner.

Partial service has now been restored to all of Level3′s NYC regional customers. Level3 is continuing to work to restore full service. In the meantime, the University may experience a slower than usual Internet connection.

Update 10/19/2013, 8:00 PM: Level 3 reports the issues that affected Internet service in the NYC region this morning have been resolved.  For more information see, for example, this post in the WSJ:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304864504579145813698584246
“Internet users from Brooklyn to Philadelphia suffered slow to nonexistent service Saturday after equipment at a New York-area network hub broke down, disrupting service for several hours.”