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forget the bling. make the simple stuff, simple.

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over the last day or two i’ve been trying reeeeeeally hard to justify skipping the blog-bling assignment. “but i’ve been administering wordpress sites FOR FIVE YEARS,” i whine. “how much more exploration / playing around do i really need to do?” of course the overachiever in me does not take that for an answer, reminding my lazybones self that most of those five years have been spent attending to other people’s needs and desires, not my own. (nb: i’m not complaining, just observing; although i got started with server and web administration as part of a paid job, i sysadmin now only on a volunteer basis, and i do it because i enjoy it. so there.)

ANYWAY. there are still puh-lenty of things about wordpress that make me want to curse, so i treated this as an opportunity to fix at least one of them. last night, while looking for images with lots of sparks for this post (sadly, my initial query of “insane welding” returned only four results, none of which had anything to do with insanity or welding), i started getting irritated with the process of searching for creative commons-licensed images, downloading them to my laptop, uploading them to my media library (future-proofing so i’m not screwed when the owner pulls down the image, fails to renew their flickr pro account, or the image moves or disappears for any other reason), inserting them into my post, and creating a decent caption that includes an attribution link. here’s the rundown:

  • when you run a search on creative commons, the site automatically assumes you’re looking for an image that can be used for commercial purposes, and adapted / modified / built upon. i’m not doing this for many, most of the time i don’t want to do any work, i just want a pretty picture to look at. it’s irritating that i have to run the search, uncheck the commercial and adaptation-allowed checkboxes, and run the search a second time in order to even start looking at images.
  • the creative commons user interface is a fracking mess. a quarter to a third of my vertical screen real estate is taken up by a donate banner (which has a close icon, but “closing” the donate banner takes you completely out of the cc website), a search box with my search terms and those stupid useless checkboxes i mentioned a second ago, a series of tabs for running searches individually on the sites which host creative commons-licensed content (I WANT TO SEARCH THEM ALL AT ONCE ARGH), and the header of the website i’m searching, which usually includes a second box that also contains my search terms. srsly, yo, this is messed. up. here, see for yourself (click the image for full-size):
  • depending on whether your chosen image is on flickr or google images, it takes between 5-10 clicks just to download a medium-sized copy of the image onto your desktop. the whole process shouldn’t take that many clicks, let alone just this one step of it.
  • if you are using multiple images in a post, you have to upload them one by one using the wordpress media library user interface. wordpress is a really smart piece of software …. i should be able to drop images into a specific directory via SFTP and have them be recognized within the system. period.
  • if i want to insert a link into the caption, i have to enter the a-href tag by hand.
  • if i enter the a-href tag by hand into the caption, insert the image + caption into my post, and then switch over to visual editing mode on that post at any point in the future? HAHAHAHAHA LINK IS GONE

this is really, really frustrating; inserting images and providing credit for them is a really basic blogging activity, and it should not be this hard. fortunately i found a plugin this evening which appears to make it easier: flickpress. it has its own downsides — it only searches flickr; in order to use it you have to have a flickr account; after creating a flickr account you then have to go through the process of getting your flickr api key, which is not as bad as setting up twitter tools but still more difficult than it should be — but once you get past the setup process? it integrates really cleanly into the wordpress post editing toolbar, lets you import the image into your wordpress media library with one click, and will automatically create the caption and provide links based on a template you provide (or just use the default, which inserts the name of the image, the name of the author, and links to both the author’s flickr photostream and the individual image you selected).

much more better.

i’m going to hold off on describing HOW to install and use this plugin for a few days, until i have had a chance to see if it’s as awesome as it appears to be. (also, i was planning to go to bed early tonight. so much for that.) in the meantime, try flickpress yourself, and let me know if you’ve found another plugin which helps your blog do something simple, and do it well.

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