Neal’s List of Must-Have (Favorite) WordPress PlugIns

As of June/July 2011, these are the WordPress PlugIns that I use across most all of my WordPress sites. In the future, as I find new ones, I will post here.

The PlugIns include:
1. Akismet – the standard SPAM prevention tool
2. Delete Pending Comments = useful for deleting a lot of old SPAM comments
3. RSS Icon Widget – A quick and easy way to put an RSS Icon on your sidebar via a widget. This is important, so that people will subscribe to your RSS feed and read your blog more
4. Three Way Links – A great way to get backlinks for SEO/traffic
5. Ultimate Google Analytics – simply paste in your Google Analytics number; the nice thing is, when you are logged on, it doesn’t add to the traffic/hits
6. WordPress Database Backus – automatically mails a backup of the MySQL database to you once per week

Quickly Upgrade WordPress 2.7 to 3.x

Below is an original video I created and uploaded to YouTube.

It shows how to upgrade from WordPress 2.7 to 3.x in just a few minutes. In the past, I used to FTP the entire set of hundreds of files to the server, which alone could take 10-20 minutes. Now, I just upload one file and extract it on the server, using CPanel’s “FileManager

Now beginning with the 3.x versions of WordPress, this is no longer needed, because you can easily upgrade from within the dashboard, a really fast and amazing feature, and one of the reasons I love WordPress.

Google Prefixes (for advanced searches)

The “google prefixes” are code words, also called operators or shortcuts that you can enter along with or in place of your keywords. Some prefixes require a URL instead of keywords. The article below will explain in more detail.

Here are the google prefixes that I find most useful:

  1. Site:URL – shows all pages Google has indexed on your site. Useful to see if your site has been indexed yet or not, and how many pages Google found. This is also very useful to search a specific site for a keyword, for example: “dog training”. Some sites use this internally with some programming to allow site users to search the site with Google, instead of some other search program.
  2. Cache:URL – see if Google has cached a page. I use this to see if Google has indexed a specific page of my site.

    I also use it when buying expired domains, sometimes it allows me to see the former content of the home page of the site, which might help my “buy”/”no-buy” decision.

  3. Link:URL – shows pages that point to the given URL, i.e. shows you your “backlinks”. Everyone doing SEO is interested in getting as many backlinks as possible. If you are running an SEO program such a Bruteforce EVO, this can be used to help you determine if your backlinks have been crawled and “accepted” yet; i.e. if they “took”. The concept is similar to a picture on a camera; some take and some don’t…
  4. AllInTitle:KEYWORDS – restricts results to those containing the query words you type after the colon. Some people use to to analyze competition, i.e. how many sites have titles containing the keyword you are researching. The related prefixes are: AllInURL, AllInText, and AllInAnchor.
  5. Define:WORD – gives websites that provide a definition of the word, usually dictionaries first.
  6. Filetype:FILETYPE – limits search to files ending with a certain extension, most useful with files such as .PDF or .DOC
  7. Info:URL – a quick way to show how Google would display your site in a search listing, but only shows your site. Below this, are some of the other common prefixes already encoded for you.

Here are some others, but they will actually work fine without the colon.

  1. movie:Harry Potter” will help you find local theater play times
  2. stock:AAPL” will give you a stock quote on the ticker symbol for Apple.

You can actually leave the colon out on these last two, and you will usually get the same results. The only time the colon might be useful in these, is when the keywords themselves might contain the prefix. For example, “movie:Scary Movie”. In this example, the prefix helps google to know that you are looking for the movie locations and times, even though the word “movie” is in the name of the movie itself.

Does Google Calendar Really Drop Your Pop-Up and Email Reminders?

I rely heavily on Google Calendar to notify me of events, and it has never failed until today!  Normally, I get a pop-up, an email, and my Android phone reminds me as well.

But yesterday, I had an important interview, so to make it stand out from all my other daily tasks, I moved it to a different calendar (after first creating it), in order to make it show-up red (i.e. more important).

It turns out, that when you change the calendar (i.e. move an event to a different calendar), the event notifications (reminders) totally vanish!  Similar users experience same issue in this Google thread.

Due to this, I actually missed a phone interview for a new consulting gig.

So a big lessons was learned today.

How to Create a Public Link (URL) to your Amazon S3 files

1) Install S3Fox Organizer into FireFox browser (or choose a different tool to work with Amazon S3).

2) Create a new unique “bucket” (or use an existing bucket you have created).  Upload your files

3) Right click on the file (on S3) and click “Edit ACL” (stands for “Access Control List”). [Picture shown below.]  Click on the intersection of “Read” and “Everyone” indicating that it will be public to the world (for read only). Then click “Ok”.

Amazon S3 - Access Control List (ACL)

4) You can then share the file with a URL, like this:
(just substitute your bucket name for “mybucket” and your filename for “myfile.txt”). Use the normal HTML anchor link to a link to

the file on a web page so someone can download it. Or use it in an image tag to put an image (or video) on your web page).

Start a WordPress “Membership” site for under $100

A few years ago, I needed a quick and easy way to create a membership site for my Spanish lessons. I wanted to use WordPress for the site, and set off looking for membership software.

There are two reasons for wanting a membership site: 1) to build continuity income (members pay a monthly fee), or 2) you want to have “secret” or “private” information that is only shown to registered members (i.e. you want to collect their email addresses for marketing).

I discovered “WishList”. It’s easy to install as a WordPress plug-in, and there are at least 50 videos available on their site, that teach the ins and outs of the tool. After installing, and set up your multiple membership levels, it’s easy to associate any WordPress page or post to one or more membership levels.

You can start with $97 for one site, but I went with the $297 for unlimited sites. For more info, click the banner below.

Offsite Video – Upgrading Moodle (Using CPanel)

I found this great video that shows you how to update Moodle (a learning management system or LMS). This video shows some tricks I have never seen before, the author uses CPanel to do everything.

This could perhaps be a lot faster than doing an FTP of hundreds of small files (in other words, he uploads the, and actually unzips it right on the server using CPanel!).

Upgrade Moodle Video

The Easiest Way to Get an RSS Icon on a WordPress Blog

WordPress RSS Icon Widget Configuration Widget

Step 1 – Install/Activate Free Plug-In

Install and activate the plug-in: RSS Icon Widget 2.2.

Step 2 – Go to Appearance, then Widgets, Drag Widget to Sidebar

In your “Appearance/Widgets”, drag the “RSS Icon” to the sidebar.

Step 3 – Change size, click “Save”

Set the size, I prefer 24×24 or 32×32. Most people are used to the orange color (as you see on the right side bar of this page), so I suggest just accepting the default color.

On some blogs, either the widget is hard to find, or people do a CNTL-F (Find) for the phrase “RSS”. So to the right of the icon, the default text is “Subscribe via RSS”. You can change it, but regardless of what you might change it to, I strongly suggest you leave the phrase “RSS” in it.

The widget will automatically have the correct link to the RSS page of your WordPress site, regardless of which format is being used.


So Install, Activate, Add Widget, Click 24×24, then Save and have fun.

How to Install and Use Pligg’s “RSS Importer”

“RSS Importer” was dropped in Pligg 1.0.2. The website forum says that it

Step 1 – Download

For release 1.1.5, I found the most recent install in a link in the “online store” for Pligg. The product “My-RSS” apparently relies on “RSS Importer” to be installed. So the following link worked for me: Download RSS Importer 1.1.2 for Pligg 1.1.5

Step 2 – Install

To install it, 1) Unzip, 2) FTP the rss_import directory on your PC to the modules directory on your server, 3) Go to the “Admin/Modules/Uninstalled Modules” screen and click the “Install” button next to “RSS Importer”.

What is “RSS Importer”, and why do you need it? Most sites and blogs now publish what is called an “RSS feed”, to allow their content to be “syndicated” to sites like yours. Why do you want this? If you just put up an empty Pligg site, it will be indeed

be empty. Nobody will want to add new links, because they won’t think the site is active. So you can jump-start your site with lot’s of interesting links by automatically adding links and contents to the most popular RSS feeds in your content-area.

Step 3 – Settings / Add a New Feed

To use “RSS Importer”. From the Admins panel, go to “Modules” then “Installed Modules”, scroll down to “RSS Importer” and click “Settings”. You will need to then maually add and configure each feed. You might consider adding 5 to 10 RSS feeds. If you need some to add, just go to Google and search for “your topic blog RSS”, with whatever “your topic” is. Try to find the best blogs. On the blog, find the “RSS” icon, click it, then copy the URL from the browser. This is the link to the RSS feed.

Click “Add a new feed” in Pligg/Admin/RSS Importer/Settings.
Paste in the URL that you copied above.

Step 4 – Configure the New Feed

The frequency (in hours) indicates how often you want your site to go read the RSS feed and update your site. If you want to make your site look like people have been voting on the links (instead of all the links having a rating of zero), then configure “RSS Importer” to assign random votes (between min/max “Feed Votes”).

The last step might be the trickiest. You need to map the RSS field names to the Pligg field names. Not all RSS feeds are the same; there are several formats, and they use different names. So you need to click “Add new link field” at least 2 or 3 times. You must map a minimum of two fields: 1) the URL, 2) the title. Most likely, you will also map the summary or content, and/or tags/categories.

Step 5 – Import this Feed

Click the “Import this Feed”. In other words, no need to wait the 12 hours until the next import happens, you can manually do it immediately. This will allow you to test your feed.

Step 6 – Verify Results

Go to your home page, and see the new imported feeds. Make sure the everything looks good (i.e. that you didn’t incorrectly map any of the fields).

Step 7 – Setup Cron Job

If you want the RSS content to automatically be “fetched” every x hours, then you also have to use your website “CPanel” to set up a cron job. The site below explains this:

Someone else created this video on You Tube, it’s an older release, but it will give you another good overview. Just note that the screens in the newer releases will probably look slightly different.

How to Add a SideBar in Pligg

Pligg is an open source CMS that allows you to create a site similar to Digg. In all my Pligg sites, I wanted to add a side-bar or “side-panel” to contain a small list of links to other of my own websites for SEO optimation (backlinks). It’s fairly painless, you have to edit one file and create one new file and edit it. The following was done in Release 1.1.5. (Note: the side-bar will display on every page of your PLIGG site, not just the home page). But, if you want to get going click, skip to the shortcut at the bottom.

Step 1 – Copy about_box.tpl to custom.tpl

Copy templates\wistie\sidebar_modules\about_box.tpl to custom.tpl
NOTE: Do this in whatever theme/template you are using. The default theme is “wistie”.
Change the file to more-or-less match the following. You put the title of your side-bar where I have the word “Recommended”, and you put your content where I have “put your content here” (which could be a series of links). I have shown this in italics below.

           <div class="headline">
               <div class="sectiontitle">Recommended</div>
           <div id="aboutcontent">
                 <!-- put your content here --> 
                  <a target="_blank" 
                    Stock Trading Systems</a>
                 <!-- end of your content here --> 
<!-- END CUSTOM --> 

Step 2 – Edit sidebar.tpl

Now go up a level in the directory structure, and modify: Pligg_1_1_5\pligg\templates\wistie\sidebar.tpl.
Find the literal “about_box”. Copy the “START ABOUT” section after itself, and call your new section “START CUSTOM”. Change one thing only; change from value=”about_box” to value=”custom”.

<!-- START ABOUT -->
		{assign var=sidebar_module value="about_box"}
{include file=$the_template_sidebar_modules."/wrapper.tpl"}
	<!-- END ABOUT -->
	<!-- START CUSTOM -->
		{assign var=sidebar_module value="custom"}
{include file=$the_template_sidebar_modules."/wrapper.tpl"}
	<!-- END CUSTOM -->

Step 3 – Result

Pligg uses a nice system called “Smarty Templates” which allows separation of code from presentation (the html/graphics, etc…). So the .tpl files above are templates.

The Shortcut

There is actually another twist to the above. If you just want to add a few links, and don’t need to create multiple side-panels, then you can just modify the “about_box.tpl”. Every default Pligg install has a rather gratuitious advertisement for Pligg itself in the right sidebar.
Simply edit templates\wistie\sidebar_modules\about_box.tpl. Change the box name (called the sectiontitle) and put in your own contents. This forum discussion shows how to remove the “About Pligg” box: Amoxil

I changed the sectiontitle to “Attention” and copied a link to a Clickbank product into the “aboutcontent” section.

<!-- START ABOUT -->
        	<div class="headline">
            	<div class="sectiontitle">Attention!</a></div>
            {checkActionsTpl location="tpl_widget_about_start"}
            <div id="aboutcontent">
<a href="">
<img src="" alt="" width="125" height="125"/></a>
<!-- END ABOUT -->

For more information, see this blog:

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