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Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

WPAPI.org – A stats API for WordPress.org hosted plugins and themes

WPAPI.org, the brain-child of Dean Robinson (who has been mentioned a few times here on First Initial, Last Name), is an easy to use stats API for plugins and themes hosted on WordPress.org. Simple idea, perfectly executed.

Why you don’t need a URL shortening service if you use WordPress

I was in the mood for a long post title. Sue me.

My thoughts on URL shortening services are pretty public but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a need for them. I prefer Bit.ly over any other URL shortening services that I’ve used to-date.

With Tr.im dying I thought that there was always the possibility of Bit.ly going down the same path. It was time to create my own URL shortening service for short URLs pointing to my site using my own domain. I browsed around, found two WordPress plugins that could have been candidates – but ultimately decided to use nothing but vanilla WordPress.

The Short URL plugin makes it very easy to take any URL and make it nice a short, track clicks, etc. I have this installed in case I want to shorten URLs that are not ultimately here on my site. (Though I still plan on using Bit.ly for these links). Short Post URLs is a plugin that seemingly does exactly what I want – which is make a shorter URL automatically for every post here on my site. However, the problem is that by default the plugin does not redirect from the short URL to the long one. This means that my posts would have two URLs. This isn’t what I was looking for and I didn’t want to hack someone else’s plugin.

That is when I saw it, right under my nose. The default link for any post on any WordPress blog is domain.com?p=postID. For instance, the short URL for this post is http://cdevroe.com/?p=2682. If you link to that URL WordPress will automatically forward that request to the full URL. Simple. Beautiful. Exactly what I need.

Occam’s Razor in full effect.

Update: Dean Robinson, maker of the fine mobile Twitter client Hahlo, suggests in the comments adding a simple line to your .htaccess file (if you’re so inclined) to pretty up your URLs. I’ve decided to add this for mine so that now both the original, default WordPress URL of ?p=postID works as well as /p/postID works now. Thanks Dean.

An odd Safari mobile tab bug

While my friend Chris Masto, whom I met through Viddler, and I waited to go to lunch on Thursday in New York City he mentioned to me how much he likes to use Hahlo as his Twitter application of choice on his iPhone. Chris was probably the tenth person in a week to tell me to use Hahlo. However, he described an annoying bug that he found in Hahlo – but after he described it I thought it was a bug in Safari Mobile. Time would tell.

After lunch I decided to switch from Thincloud’s Twitter application to Hahlo and give it a whirl. Hahlo is great. It is quick, easy, and does nearly everything I need to interact with Twitter* and does it in an aesthetically pleasing way. I highly recommend using Hahlo.

Onto the Safari mobile bug. If you click a link in a tweet it will open a new tab in Safari mobile with that URL loaded in it. This is exactly as it should happen, because you wouldn’t want to have to navigate back to Hahlo. However, if you close the tab that it opened, Safari will replace Hahlo with the last tabs URL. This gets to be pretty annoying and I’ve found it happening in other applications besides Hahlo.

I have yet to figure out a sure-fire way to reproduce this in a consistent way and I can’t seem to find a pattern for successful opening and closings of tabs. But I can say this; this bug happens just about every single time a tinyURL is involved.

I’ve emailed Dean Robinson, lead developer of Hahlo, and he’s looking into it. I’ve also described the bug and submitted it to Apple Support.

Has anyone else seen this? Can you figure out why this is? Secondly, John Gruber recently stated that he’s finding the latest version of the iPhone’s software to be buggier than the previous – and I agree with him.

* By “nearly” I mean that Hahlo doesn’t yet have the ability to “friend” someone. Seems a little odd but Dean has assured me that it is in an upcoming release. Gauging from the work Dean has done so far on Hahlo – I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

Lucasfilm, ILM, and Skywalker Sound sold to Disney

The price? Four Instagrams.

Dean J. Robinson:

Lots of people I follow on twitter [sic] (pretty much all of them actually) are Star Wars fans of some description – and the general consensus is that while they are quite surprised by the announcement they don’t necessarily have negative feeling about it. In fact many seem enthused by the prospect of a Star Wars film that George Lucas isn’t at the helm for.

My little tirade on Twitter last night may have been seenby some as an indication that I’m mad or upset about the transaction. I’m not. Well, maybe I am.

If George no longer wants ownership of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc. etc., or the companies that have done the sound and special effects for countless films over the last 35 years there is probably no better home than Disney.

I am upset, however, at the current state that Star Wars is left in. A Star Wars without George Lucas is not the same Star Wars. Think about it. A New Hope was a smashing success in 1977. Arguably one of the biggest successes in film history on many fronts. And, economics aside, it is a great Sci-Fi film. Some say that Empire Strikes Back is one of the best sequels of all time. And, aside from the Ewoks, Return of the Jedi was about as good of a trilogy ender as anyone could hope for. And then, a slow plummet. The Special Editions. Episodes I, II, and III simply never had a chance. (By the way, I think Episode III was actually pretty great. The Emperor really comes out looking like a clear winner.) And the Bluray release.

The last thing George did was go in and fiddle with the originals and add Ewok eyelids and emotion to Darth Vader where no emotion was needed. As Dean said some are excited by the prospect of an Episode 7 that he has nothing to do with. I, on the other hand, was rooting for George to come back and make something great since I was very young. And nowwe’re left with George Lucas never doing another Star Wars. I guess I was always hoping he’d find that same spark he had in the 70s and 80s.

That’s what I’m most upset about.

Hahlo 4 – coming soon

Dean J. Robinson, the developer behind what is easily the best iPhone web application for Twitter, recently gave us a glimpse of what we should expect from the next version of Hahlo. He lists ten things we should know about the next version – and here are three that I’m really looking forward to.

  1. Better profile support. For some reason it seemed as the though the only part of Hahlo 3 that was either ignored or never throughly developed was the individual profile pages. Now with support for viewing the archive, favorites, and profile information it seems like Hahlo 4 will solve that.
  2. OAuth support. I trust Dean. I’ve used Hahlo for a very long time. But having an extra layer of protection against Dean, or any other developer, getting my Twitter credentials makes me a very happy man.
  3. Browser back/forward buttons working properly. This is something that sets apart the good iPhone web applications from the great ones. Flickr’s iPhone-friendly mobile site does this perfectly – and I’m looking forward to Hahlo now handling browser history properly too.

All of the things that Dean listed in his post are, of course, exciting updates to an already great application. The reason I’m looking forward to the above three the most is because I feel that Hahlo 3 was sorely lacking (whether by its own fault or Twitter’s) them.

Source: 10 things you should know about Hahlo 4.

Site: Hahlo.com