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WordPress feeds can now include pages

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

During the past few years new versions of WordPress have made this system much easier to use — and our community has made use of these new abilities to make a wide range of sites structured in many ways.

Most of the content in WordPress sites are Posts, chronologically ordered entries that make up a ‘blog’ or news site. Pages on the other hand, are non-time-dependent content that can be arranged in a hierarchy. Traditionally, Pages in WordPress sites were used mostly for describing the blog, contact information, or other content that rarely changes and isn’t ‘newsworthy’. (more on Posts vs. Pages)

Recently, a number of sites have been making increasingly large use of Pages, such as to hold curricular resources that are then referenced from Posts describing assignments that use them. For sites that make significant use of Pages, site-owners can now enable the RSS Includes Pages plugin so that new pages are added to your site’s main feed. For course sites in WordPress, enabling this plugin will allow page additions to be fed into the Course Hub as updates.

We still recommend making use of Posts in WordPress sites to share new material with readers rather than heavily using Pages as Pages are still second-class citizens in many ways (such as support for tagging and categorization). With the new RSS Includes Pages plugin, Page-heavy sites can now feed new content to the Course Hub and others subscribed to their feeds.

Information Overload

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to read?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  There’s a long history of information overload.  Read about it here: ‘Too Much to Know’ (from Inside Higher Ed).

WordPress Update

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Yesterday, we updated WordPress to v3.1. Most noticeable change in this update is the introduction of a new “admin” bar that appears after you log in. This admin bar includes quick links to all sites in which you are a registered user.  Site authors will also see links to add new posts and editors will have quick links to comments.  The other notable new feature is a “link browser” that allows you to search and quickly link to other posts/pages on your site.

Most importantly, this release includes over 800 bug fixes by over 180 developers from around the world. It has been downloaded over 1 million times in the last week.

Let us know if you have any questions about this update or experience any problems.

New Books On Two Great Hollywood Directors

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

New books, DVDs and Blu-Rays keep streaming through LIS & onto our shelves! LIS currently has a couple of gems which take a “behind the scenes” look at two giants in film, John Ford and Elia Kazan. The first book, “Ford at Fox: A Great Director’s Professional Home,” was published in 2007,  with an introductory by Joseph McBride. It follows Ford’s early years at Fox, where he began his career in 1920, while on loan from Universal. He stayed at Fox through its transition into Twentieth-Century Fox, after the Depression era in 1935.  Ford directed nearly 50 films at Fox, up until 1952. “His long and fertile relationship with Fox was among the most extensive director/studio relationships in the history of American film.”  In 1939 Ford directed “Up the River,” debuting young actors Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart in their first full length feature.  1939 brought Ford’s classic, “Young Mr. Lincoln” with Henry Fonda. The 40s’ decade offered  ”The Grapes of Wrath” and ”How Green was my Valley.”  This is a fascinating look into American icon John Ford and his work at Fox.

Also on the new books shelf is a look at Elia Kazan’s brilliant, yet sometimes controversial career. Simply titled, “Elia Kazan” by David M. Gillen, published in 2010, it chronicles the films of another Fox veteran, who began his career in 1944 at Fox to direct five films in the same amount of years.  Kazan bravely confronted pressing social topics in his time: class division, bigotry and corruption. Uncomparable works of directorial art were crafted; these films  include  ”A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “On the Waterfront,” “East of Eden,” “Splendor in the Grass,” Babydoll” and ”A Face in the Crowd.”  His last work was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s  unfinished novel, “The Last Tycoon” (1976) with Robert DiNiro. Oscar awards for recipients crowd the book’s pages, along with notes on celebrated actors and collaborators with whom Kazan created his cinematic masterpieces. Both books are fantastic “must-reads” for those who appreciate the art of film.

WordPress Workshops

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

I’ve coordinated with the Education and Training Team to offer some workshops on WordPress next week, here are details:

  • 2 – 3:30 pm, Monday, January 17, Library 105
  • 1 – 2:30 pm, Weds, January 19, Library 105

These workshops will give an overview of latest version of Translucence, the theme framework that powers many Midd blog themes and will showcase a variety of sites that have recently been created to highlight the many different ways that WordPress can be used.

For other upcoming workshops, see: How to Learn More » On-campus Workshops.

Send us your photostreams, and blogs, and facebook groups, and….

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

There are lots of places you can go to find people at Middlebury engaged in social media, but most of these are the official content of campus Departments and Offices. We are putting together a new site to highlight the informal online activities of Middlebury faculty, students, and staff. There are a great number of blogging about your life experiences, putting together fun videos, showing off your photography, and organizing for causes, or just for fun with social media.

Send anything you think other people would be interested in seeing to website@middlebury.edu, or feel free to add it to the comment here! Expect to see another post here soon letting you know where to go to see what your peers are up to!

New WordPress Themes Available

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We’ve made several changes to the WordPress platform, known on-campus as sites.middlebury.edu. Hey! You’re there right now!

New Header

Soon, we will update the design of the header so that a small bar appears across every blog we host with some useful links. This design is modeled on blogger.com and its purpose is to foster a sense of community amongst the many blogs we host on the site. You can read more about this design in the original White Whale strategic recommendations document on the Web Redo blog, but here is the recommendation that led us to make this change:

Once some Midd-specific WordPress themes are created, Middlebury’s blogs should be linked together via a unifying header or title bar element of some kind. The bar across the top of most Blogger blogs is a good example; it doesn’t interfere with the branding or messaging of the blog itself, but provides quick and consistent links back to the Blogger homepage and other blogs. Once some Midd-specific WordPress themes are created, Middlebury’s blogs should be linked together via a unifying header or title bar element of some kind. The bar across the top of most Blogger blogs is a good example; it doesn’t interfere with the branding or messaging of the blogitself, but provides quick and consistent links back to the Blogger homepage and other blogs.

The logo at the top left will bring you to the home page of our blogging network. If you’d like posts from your blog to appear there, send an email to website@middlebury.edu and we’ll add you to the list.

New Themes

There are three new themes available on our blogging platform. These are based on designs we received from the people who put together our new site design. We put these together in a way that makes them each to set up. The catch is that there are very few configuration options for these themes. That means these are great for people who want to set up a blog quickly and aren’t interested in doing a lot of customization on the look-and-feel of their blog. Additionally, these themes do not work properly in Internet Explorer 6. As of today, only 3.06% of visitors to our blogs use this browser and we are going to recommend phasing out support.

For themes that offer you a massive variety of customization options, be sure to check out the many theme options Alex Chapin has created for our blogging network.

BLOGS DOT MIDDLEBURY Navy

The new Navy (as in blue) theme offers a straight-forward, even minimalist, design for your blog. There is no background image on this theme, which offers two columns for you to add widgets. The left column only appears on pages with more than one post: the blog home page, search results, and archives. If you are viewing a single post or page on this theme, the left sidebar will disappear, giving the post more space on the page.

BLOGS DOT MIDDLEBURY Pastoral

The Pastoral theme features an image of the Bread Loaf campus as its background. This theme uses the same two-column format as the Navy theme, with the left column only appearing when more than one post is being displayed. The big difference with this theme is that you can change the background image if you like (more on that later).

BLOGS DOT MIDDLEBURY Map

The Map theme uses a professionally done watercolor illustration of the campus as its default background. As with the “Pastoral” theme, you can change the background image if you like. The big difference with this theme is that the left column is on the left of the blog’s content. Because of this positioning, both columns appear on all views of the blog, even when viewing a single post. Use this theme if you really like columns!

MiddLab Blog Theme

We’ve also added a new theme that you can use for a research project that you would like us to feature in MiddLab. Remember to send your MiddLab project ideas to middlab@middlebury.edu and check out the site to discuss the ongoing research projects of your fellow faculty, staff and students.

Setting up one of these themes

To add one of these themes to your blog:

  1. Click the Log in link at the top right of the page and fill in your username and password.
  2. Click the Dashboard link at the top right of the page.
  3. In the Appearance box on the left, click the Themes link.
  4. Click Activate below the picture of the theme you want to use.
  5. In the Appearance box on the left, click the Widgets link.
  6. Drag the widgets you want to use from the boxes in the center to the Left Column or Right Column boxes on the right.
  7. You’re done!

Adding a custom background image

Middlebury’s status as a top school depends on offering the services our students require. Perhaps one day Middlebury will accept penguins as applicants and you’ll be asked to create a blog for the new Office of Penguin Services and you’ll realize that you need a background image that speaks to the students you’re helping. Our themes support this.

This can only be done on the Pastoral or Map themes.

  1. Click the Log in link at the top right of the page and fill in your username and password.
  2. Click the Dashboard link at the top right of the page.
  3. In the Appearance box on the left, click the Custom Header link.
  4. Click the Browse button, select the image you want to use and click OK.
  5. You’ll be asked to crop the image you chose. Select the part of the image to use as the background and click Crop Image.
  6. You’re done!