thoughts on tech targeted at helping small businesses innovate

How to fix: “Unable to create directory” Error for Media Uploads on WordPress 3.0?

Posted: July 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: wordpress | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

So. I had a problem with one of my customers wordpress sites this evening: when uploading content I kept on getting this error:

Unable to create directory /home/username/public_html/wp-content/uploads/2010/07. Is its parent directory writable by the server?

As I hadn’t changed anything and had been able to upload images easily enough before so I was a tad perplexed. After a little googling I thought it might be a permissions problem.

The permissions on my wp-content/uploads directory were set to the default setting of 755 but I read that occassionally it might be helpful to change this to 777 to correct such a problem.

755 File Permssions

Logging in via FTP I changed the permissions to 777 but to no avail + later googling led me to suspect this might not be too good an idea. See here for more info.

So it was back to google and I stumbled across this excellent article, which gave me a few other ideas. It was point three:

3. If this doesn’t work. Check the upload path in the admin – Settings – Miscellaneous and make sure it is wp-content/uploads sometimes the upgrade or server move changes it to the absolute path.

that worked for me too.

But it wasn’t so easy to find the Miscellaneous Settings as they have moved since the upgrade to WordPress 3.0. And WordPress doesn’t make it easy to find. Oh no. But a couple of pages into their help files, I stumbled across this page and found the answer.

The Miscellaneous Settings controlling the upload of Media files are now stored, perhaps more sensibly, under Settings > Media. Just make sure that your setting for the upload path is set to: wp-content/uploads and you’ll be just fine.

Media Settings

This has happened on all my WordPress 3.0 blog upgrades on Dreamhost so I hope this helps anyone in the same position.

Thanks to Paulo Orquillo and Tips & Tricks HQ for pointing me in the right direction.


@Disqus Comments at the Independent

Posted: June 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: wordpress | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments »

I was very excited to stumble upon this (recent I presume) development at the Independent newspaper: an abandoning of their old comments system and it’s replacement with the Disqus system of comments I use here at nealandassociates.co.uk and for most of my other clients.

Now I like to comment on stories I read, and I read alot, and before I stumbled across disqus I was constantly frustrated by the login processes normally involved with commenting on a story. The Disqus system, however, makes this a synch and means I can comment, easily and be updated on a story in just a couple of seconds.

The service is free (with a premium version available) and I can’t praise it more highly or wish for it’s adoption on more sites. It’s great to have feedback and it’s great to give feedback and disqus really helps with both of these processes, as well as nesting comments so your readers can keep track of a discussion (yes dear guardian keep track).

I can only hope that my favourite news site (the guardian) implements it soon… (hint, hint) I’m sure there is also a cost saving for them somewhere in there…

If you use wordpress and want to add the system you can grab a copy here.


Backing up WordPress

Posted: January 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: wordpress | Tags: , , | No Comments »

As a recent convert to WordPress (within the last 12 months) it has been one of the last areas I have considered putting backups in place. In the decade I have been working with websites (I currently manage two dozen or so) I have never had a web hosting company lose a website. Consequentially backups of our various websites have invariably been kept to note changes we have made to them, rather than to give us a backup of the site should the web host fail in their obligations.

As a relatively new user to WordPress I have watched it move from version 2.7 to 2.9 (with plenty of .1 upgrades in-between) in little less than 12 months. Each time a new version has been released WordPress has discretely pressed me to update it and obligingly I have complied, each time holding my breath for a good few seconds, until that welcome success message is returned and I am sure that my databases are intact (the real risk of corruption).

So in line with my New Year’s resolution to make sure that everything is backed-up and in recognition that most of the html content of my sites (excluding WordPress) is now additionally supported by  git, which acts as an effective backup process in my opinion. I thought it was about time I found a suitable, easy solution for backing-up WordPress and that solution came via a new beta program called WordPress Backup.

Though the site is little more than a year old (it celebrates it’s first year anniversary of its beta on 14th January) it offers an easy, automatic method to backup your site via the installation of a plugin in WordPress, which is complimented by a free account (so long as it’s for personal use or you just need to backup one site) with WordPress Backup. Overall the setup process takes less than ten minutes (instructions here) and after that automatic backups are made every two days to its servers, from which you can download a backup if your site corrupts.

Thanks to the development team at WordPress Backup I and the 2571 other users it caters to are able to easily and seamlessly ensure that we have a modicum of protection when upgrading between different versions of WordPress (and any unforeseen horrors that may happen) and work, such as this, is finally protected. Phew.


Delete Google Analytics Accounts

Posted: January 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: General | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Argh! I’ve had a really frustrating time with Google Analytics over the past few days. So…

I was adding Google Analytics to one of my client’s brand spanking new Google account (see my earlier comments about a fragmented Google here) and somehow I managed to create two accounts, each with analytics profiles.

After setting up Google Analytics on her new WordPress site and leaving it a while, I could see which of the two accounts and thereby the two profiles was working.

It was easy enough to delete the profile. The “edit | delete buttons” are next to each of the profiles. Deleting the account, however, was a bit more difficult to find as there is only an “edit button” next to each account.

The problem was not necessarily difficult to find a solution for, although the first entry for the google search “delete google analytics account” actually produces a help result for deleting a profile not an account.

When I saw it wasn’t what I wanted I went straight back to the results page and at position eight I found this post which came with handy photos, although I think this is clearer:

Delete Google Analytics Account

It did however highlight what I think is a significant flaw in the Google Help Pages – no images (answer here).

It also builds on my earlier post about fragmentation, why isn’t the visual design between the two different delete methods the same? What is the benefit of a different visual interface, a warning can still be provided after all.


Fragmented Google

Posted: January 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Tech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Like most of us I’ve been the frequent and appreciative beneficiary of the wonderful talents of the Google engineers, however, all too frequently I experience the downsides that are a clear consequence of the fragmented results of a company run by engineers (and sometimes I think for engineers). Take this most recent experience:

At the beginning of last year I setup Google Standard Apps for one of my clients. It is really the perfect solution for practically any business (to be honest though I know some people who pay for the business version I can’t really see the advantage; what SME really needs more than 7gb of email storage per account?).

At the same time I moved them over to my hosting account (only £25 a year inc. setup of the Google Standard Apps) but for the moment that was all she wanted to do, although we discussed re-vamping her website, we decided to leave it for the moment.

So at the end of last year we started to discuss a revamp and over the last few days we have done exactly that. In just a couple of days, with a few adaptions to a free WordPress template (cleanr if you’re interested) and we got the new site up and running. Check it out here if you’d like to take a look.

As part of this process I had to setup Google Analytics for her site and as experience has taught me rather than adding it to my account (after all I’m probably the person most likely to use it for her) I prefer now to set it up in an account in my clients name.

Now my client uses a private msn email address rather than Google. So I had to setup a new Google account for her. It is possible to setup a Google account using another email address so I used her work one (from a Google Standard Apps account) and off I went.

It surprised me that there is no method within the Google Standard Apps account management interface that would allow me to add a Google account for an individual user (or at least an administrator) or to link an existing account in any other way. Just so everything was under one roof so to speak.

It seemed a natural leap for me to assume that if you were going to use Google Apps for your website then you would likely be going to use Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Google AdSense and maybe Google Checkout to think of just a few; all of which you need a Google account for.

In the SME arena (mostly under 25 employees) if you’re a business owner then setting up an additional account for a business is pretty straightforward, though an unnecessary extra step, but if you are hiring someone to do it and you’re not sure what is going on this can place alot of power in the hands of your consultant.

Anyway to get to the point, you have to activate each of these services, individually authenticate them. For example, if you’ve verified your Google Standard Apps account, you still need to verify your Webmasters account, your Analytics account, and so on.

This all adds additional costs, additional time, and additional hassle. It’s the perfect example IMHO of an unnecessarily fragmented service. This seems to be something Google is attempting to solve (see Analytics in AdWords) but it doesn’t seem to be taking the easy route. So come on Google cut us some slack, start integrating your services.

Oh and before I go. Why do we need a separate account for Google Wave?


WordPress as a Business Website

Posted: January 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: General | Tags: | No Comments »

So it’s the new year and I’m revitalising another website… This time it’s for my old driving instructor, who’s website hasn’t been altered in a couple of years and was originally created in Microsoft Frontpage, which as we all know creates really nice code.

After some discussion we decided to pop for the ever popular Hemingway Theme, which shared the black theme of her original site. Unfortunately it wasn’t a good fit, so after some consideration we settled upon the Cleanr Theme, which I’d adapt from a white to a black background.

Changing the colour of the theme took only a matter of hours, after which replicating the pages from her site itself was a quick efficient process, meaning that after some tweaking and some back and forth discussion we had a new website up and running for her driving school in a couple of days.

The only real problem that I ran into was learning how to configure wordpress to display a static page first, rather than a list of posts. This tutorial from wordpress gave me an excellent tutorial to follow and I had it redirected in a few minutes.

All in all I think that the process has been quite a success and like many dated sites, this simple quick replacement (sans logo initially) was a distinct improvement over the one it replaced.