Announcing the BuddyBar Widget for BuddyPress

Slushman publishes his first plugin, the BuddyBar Widget for BuddyPress. The widget places all the links on BuddyPress’s BuddyBar in a sidebar widget.

My first WordPress plugin was recently published in the WordPress directory: BuddyBar Widget. While working on the Towermix Network for Belmont University‘s Curb College, they asked about getting rid of the Admin Bar across the top of the page, which is part of the default installation of BuddyPress. Since the BuddyBar (as some call it) contains all the links necessary for managing one’s account, this posed a problem. After some hacking and research, I found out how those links were structured and put them all into a nice little sidebar widget. I’ve called it the BuddyBar Widget and you can download it from the WordPress Plugin Directory.  You can read up on the plugin, it’s features, and get the FAQ on the plugin’s page.

How to Hide the BuddyPress Admin Bar (aka BuddyBar)

Many sites tell you how to hide the BuddyPress Admin Bar (aka BuddyBar), but only this code eliminates it completely from your site.

I’ve seen a bunch of sites that supposedly show you how to do this, but none are complete.  I have a client who wants to use BuddyPress, but doesn’t want the Admin Bar (I call it the BuddyBar) across the top of every page.  So I’m building a plugin called BuddyBar Widget that includes a sidebar widget with all the BuddyBar links in it.  Another part of the plugin hides the BuddyBar completely, even when you’re on Dashboard.

To hide the BuddyBar from users that aren’t logged in, go to the BuddyPress General Settings page and select “Yes” for the Hide admin bar for logged out users? option.

That’s great, but it doesn’t hide it if you ARE logged in.  For that, we’ll need some code.

EDIT ( February 1, 2012):

Ignore the old post from below. After trying to get that to work properly, I’ve switched to something far more effective. Paste the code snippet below into your wp-config.php file. I put it right above the “Authentication Unique Keys and Salts.” comment block. This works for sure. It’s not what I had hoped to do, but it works.

https://gist.github.com/slushman/115c3fb781a921a9f593

I created a function (I’m calling it remove_buddyadminbar), then used define to tell WordPress to turn off the BuddyBar.  This, by itself, will turn off the BuddyBar.  It may complete overkill, but I also use remove_action hooks as well.  BuddyPress uses the add_action hook in the WordPress footer to activate the BuddyBar.  Remove_action simply negates that call from BuddyPress.  You’ll notice, I also include the call for the admin_footer, which should hide the bar on your admin pages, including Dashboard.

While that’s all well and good, now you’ll notice a nice gap at the top of your admin pages.  When you kill the BuddyBar for the Dashboard, it doesn’t undo the CSS formatting that creates room for it at the top of your admin pages.  This bit of CSS takes care of that:

CODE BLOCK REMOVED

Using those two bits of code will completely eliminate the BuddyBar from appearing on your site.  I’ll post again about this when the plugin is ready to ship.

How to Change the New Mail Sound in Office 2011 for Mac

Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 doesn’t have an easy way to replace the sound alerts, but with a little digging, it can be accomplished. “Message for you, sir!”

Outlook 2011 IconI just got Office for Mac 2011 yesterday and I’ve been putting it through its paces.  So far, I’m impressed.  Sure, the “Ribbon” takes some getting used to, but overall, I haven’t had any insurmountable issues.  Two things that I’d like to see improved: 1) there’s no way to create an automatic archive for back ups like on the PC Outlook.  2) There’s no easy way to change the sound alerts.

This second one began to bother me today.  I’m a fan of Monty Python and several years ago started changing my new mail alert to a recording from the Holy Grail when Lancelot’s trusty servant Concorde gets shot with an arrow and says “Message for you, sir!”  I wanted to change that setting in Office for Mac 2011, but the alert options only has a checkbox – the alert is either on or off.  After some Googling and digging, here’s how to customize your alerts sounds for Office for Mac 2011:

Close Outlook

Open your hard drive and go to Applications > Microsoft Office 2011 > Office

show-package-contents

Right-click (or control+click) on OutlookCore.framework and select Show Package Contents

resources-wavs

Inside the Resources folder are the wav files for the alerts sounds.  To change the “new mail” sound, we want to replace the newmail.wav file by renaming the new alert to the same name and copying it into this folder.  Select to replace the file when asked.

Open Outlook.

Now, when you get a new message, it will play your new message wav instead of the default one.  It would be nice if there was a way to do this without digging through framework files, but until then, this will work for you!

WordPress 3.0 “Thelonius” is out!

Update your blogs, WordPress 3.0 is out!

Log into your Dashboards and update your installation, 3.0 is out and available! I’ll be writing up some articles about the new features soon. I’ll also be updating Your Band Blog to reflect 3.0 and the changes it offers us musicians. Until then, get your blog updated!

Sonicbids buys ArtistData!

Sonicbids, the company that helps you get gigs, has acquired ArtistData, the company that helps you promote gigs. Read on to find out why this is a good thing.

Sonicbids, the company that helps you get gigs, has acquired ArtistData, the company that helps you promote gigs.  Brendan Mulligan, CEO of ArtistData, published a letter to ArtistData users talking about the transition and what it means.  When I first read the news, I have to say I was pretty pissed.  I have a Sonicbids membership and while they have some good exclusive gigs, parts of their system desperately need improvement.  My fear was that Sonicbids would screw up ArtistData and/or lock it up for members only.

Fortunately, Brendan relieved these fears.  Part of the acquisition deal was a free option for ArtistData’s services.  The paid parts of ArtistData would become standard issue for Sonicbids members (yea for me!).  He also said he’d be helping improve the Sonicbids system.  If the amazing work he’s done with ArtistData is any indication, we can all look forward to a vastly improved Sonicbids!  I’m very happy about the change in this case.

What does this mean for you?  Since there will still be a free option, we can still publish our gigs through ArtistData for no cost.  If you have a Sonicbids membership as well, like I do, it will mean getting the extra features for free.  I think the biggest thing will be having Brendan and his team working with Sonicbids.  I sincerely hope they are able to help Sonicbids improve their system.

Here are some suggestions for Brendan as he helps improve their system at Sonicbids:

More granular options for gig listings.  Nashville is only a four-hour drive from Cincinnati, so I have to include Ohio in my options for gig listings to see shows there.  Unfortunately, Ohio is lumped in with Michigan and Pennsylvania, so I see tons of gigs that too far away for me to consider.  Not to mention seeing gigs for Cleveland which also too far away.  It would be nice if you could select not only which states you’d like to see, but which parts of states like southern Illinois vs northern Illinois or eastern, middle, or western Tennessee.  Or maybe by city.  I know several musicians who fly back and forth from Nashville and Los Angeles, so it would benefit them to see gig listings from those cities, but not every city & state in between.

Improved email notifications.  I’ve changed my email preferences several times and I still get daily emails with gig listings (I’ve asked for a weekly digest instead).  For the last three weeks, these daily emails have included all the same gigs.  While I understand why you’d relist the same upcoming deadline, if you’re going to send a daily “new listings” email, it should only include actual new listings.  Not listings from two weeks ago that  you’ve already either submitted to or decided to ignore.  Same thing for deadlines.  Maybe try sending a third email when a listing is half way over to remind people about it.

What about listing venues, period?  There’s a site called indieonthemove.com that lists venues and allows bands to give their feedback about the place and their experiences there.  Sonicbids could allow members to submit venues and their contact info, which could then be verified and listed in the Sonicbids database.  As part of the verification process, SB could contact these venues about possibly accepting peformance offers from their members.  Keeping in regular contact with venues would also give SB the most current, up-to-date venue listings around; that alone would be worth the SB membership fees!  I do the booking for my band and I can’t tell you how many closed venues still have sites up with no news about them closing.

AD improvement:

Have a form to submit media.  I have a habit of picking up out of town newspapers and periodicals and such, but there’s no easy way for me to submit them to your database.  Crowdsource this part of the process to make your life easier!

W3 Total Cache

Load and activate the W3 Total Cache plugin to see significant improvement in your WordPress blog load times.

I just discovered an amazing caching plugin, thanks to yoast.com.  It’s called W3 Total Cache and is available through the WordPress plugins directory.  I’ve endorsed WP Super Cache in Your Band Blog, but frankly, I never really noticed it making my site faster.  When I installed and activated W3TC, I noticed.  I completely believe their claims of a 10x load time improvement.

The best part is, it doesn’t require much tweaking, most of the default settings are great.  I had one minor issue: for some reason the plugin wasn’t able to put its file, advanced-cache.php, in the plugins folder, so it disabled that portion of the plugin.  I manually uploaded the file, reloaded the plugin options page, and all was well.

Here are the settings I changed from the defaults:

Page Cache Settings:

Change HTTP compression to gzip and deflate (best).

Minify Settings:

Change HTTP compression to gzip and deflate (best).

Check the enable box for HTML minify settings.

That’s it.  The plugin will prompt you to empty the cache after each change, just wait until you’ve made all three, then you’re good to go.  You should notice a dramatic increase in your page load times, I know I did.  I have yet to gather any concrete data, like Google Page Speed analytics, but it appears to load much faster than before.  Give this plugin a shot and I think you’ll be happy with the results!

BuddyPress

BuddyPress was recently updated to include support for single WordPress installs. Is this useful or just another social network?

Last May, I read about BuddyPress, a new plugin from Automattic, which also produces WordPress, that would bring social networking to WordPress blogs.  I immediately began dreaming up ways to create a community of my music’s fans.  Then I read up on it.  It required WordPress MU, which allows you to create blog networks (like for a school, company, etc).  Since I wasn’t running MU, and didn’t know any bands that were, I forgot about it.

BuddyPress 1.2 was released Friday, February 26th and can be used with a single WordPress install, so we can all have social networks related to our band blogs!  However, I’m a little hesitant: do our fans need yet another social network?  While I’m sure there are bands that could easily support their own (think: Phish, Dave Matthews Band, or KISS to name a few), most of us don’t have enough fans to justify it.  We’re better off with sticking to Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter because our fans are already on those sites.

Before you think I’m just being pessimistic, I’m in favor of using this plugin.  I just wonder how effective it will be for most artists.  If you have a community created around your band already, this will work well to help you unite them.  For the rest of us, it could assist you in building that community around your music.  Either way, this is a good step for this plugin and I hope to start working it into some artist blogs to see if it’s helpful or just another useless social network.  Once I have some first-hand knowledge, I’ll write some more (but I’ll bet you see this plugin in the next version of my book).