That New Blog Smell

It’s been a few years and this blog has become stagnant. Over that time I have worked on some interesting projects both at work and on the side and decided it’s time to share some of those stories. So just like most developers out there, the first thing I did instead of actually writing was rebuild the blog onto a new platform. If you build it, the words will come.

After a few times of the old WordPress site going down because of MySQL issues, I knew I wanted to rebuild it in something more stable. Static sites have become popular recently and I can see why. They offer performance and stability; just not a user friendly CMS for writers. However, as a developer, there are many options geared towards our crowd. I chose to use Octopress from a colleague recommendation. It runs on Jekyll which we have used many times around the office for small websites. I had a feeling using Jekyll for it’s intended purpose was going to be a lot smoother, especially with a framework like Octopress to bundle commonly used modifications. And I must say, so far I am very pleased.

Leaving the Country Made Me a Better Web Developer

After spending a short time where English is not the primary language, I have learned first hand the importance of proper translation. There have been many times when I was translating a website that I did not put much thought into how those random arrangement of characters fit into the place they were suppose to go. However, I have now seen what it looks like for translations to be an after thought. The problem is not that the message is broken, but that it gives off a bad impression and sometimes can be interpreted as offensive or insensitive.

It’s not that this is new to me, but that I never understood how important it was until I was on the receiving end. This has given me a whole new perspective on the importance of being diligent with my localization tasks. Another thing I have noticed are how many things are designed without relying on text and use clever illustrations to convey the message like on road signs and exit lights. I have seen this being done using meaningful icons on websites, but I always looked at that from a design prospective and not a localization tactic.

It feels like to me that most cultures are better at a multilingual society than the United States. This shows from their intuitive solutions to overcoming a language barrier. My time abroad has not only changed my impression of other cultures, but given me stronger awareness to the importance of my attention to detail.

WordPress Unbranded / Simple Admin Plugin

WordPress makes a great CMS for clients on a budget. However, many of those clients don’t know and don’t need to know what WordPress is. This plugin is built to make the admin experience a little more personal for those who just need to log in and make a few copy changes.

Download / GitHub


Unzip and copy the folder into your plugin directory. Activate it from the Installed Plugins page. Plugin options can be found at Settings / WP Unbranded


  • Remove “Howdy”
  • Remove WordPress logo and link drop down from the admin bar
  • Replace user name drop down with just a logout button
  • Change login page image
  • Change login page image link to homepage url
  • Change Admin footer

Debug Ghost CSS Elements Causing Unwanted Scrolling

Have you ever been working on a site and come across strange horizontal scrolling? Or perhaps you opened your site on mobile and the width does not fit. This often happens from some rogue style breaking out of the main layout. Sometimes this can be found by scanning through the html with your favorite web inspector, but often the task is like finding a needle in a haystack. I came up with this css trick to help quickly scan a page for unexpected styling. Place this snippet at the bottom of you css file:

To make things even easier, I created a bookmarklet that inserts this code to the bottom of any page. Drag this link >> Ghost CSS << to your bookmarks to use anywhere… or just click and see what happens.

Custom Shortlinks for Your Website

It’s like a vanity license plate for your website. Normally I glance over short-links without thinking nothing of them, but I came across a tweet by @destroytoday with the url dstry.it and BOOM the brand was burned into my head. Although having a bad ass business name helps too. I also like that a personalized short-link gives the user a bit of confidence it’s safe to click. The hardest part to setting up a custom link system is registering a relevant domain. Two characters is almost impossible and not allowed by some top-level domains. If you’re lucky you can find a clever three or four character domain that bleeds into the TLD so it’s easy to remember and recognize.

The easiest part is setting up the domain with bitly. While there are some free products like yourls that allow you to host your own service, they take a little more work to setup.

Finally, if you use WordPress there a lot of nice plugins to make the process even easier. My personal favorite is bit.ly shortlink by Yoast.