Tag Archives: Wordpress

How to turn off infinite scrolling (and the floating footer)

Why I hate infinite scrolling has turned out to be quite a popular post. However, some people appear to both hate it and still have it turned on. So here’s how to turn it off if you’re one of them.

The instructions are for wordpress.com blogs, as of July 2012. They also get rid of the floating footer that follows readers down the page.

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Annual report? Really? Apparently . . .

According to WordPress’s automatically generated text, “The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.” I think it was more likely done automatically and digitally. Also that if it has to be done by hypothetical sentient beings I prefer helper monkeys to Tumblr’s conceit of tumblrbeasts. Or is it tumblbeasts? I’ve forgotten.

They additionally provided a button for me to push to post the report to my blog. I pushed it. This post is the result. But now I’m going through and changing most of the text to make it bearable. 😉 I’ll leave the picture. It took me a while to realise that the upward-pointing arrows are meant to be firework rockets:

Along with the animated fireworks the report contains such information as

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

I’m sure that’s helpful if you make a habit of travelling on tube trains in New York. If not . . . well apparently their trains hold quite a lot of people.

To be honest, there isn’t a a lot for the report to report, since for various reasons I only wrote a handful of posts in 2011. It’s still quite interesting though, and doesn’t take long to read. You get to find out what the most common search terms were that brought people here and suchlike. Some are surprising.

You can see the full report here.

Taming the snapshots

Snapshots

Snapshots in WordPress are popups which appear when you hover over a link. They’re meant to preview a site so you can decide whether to visit.

Sometimes they’re useful: I use them to check which blogs in my blogroll have been updated, so I can visit just the ones with new material. At other times they’re downright annoying: for example when one pops up over a picture I’m viewing.

At least for the theme I’m using, WordPress settings only let you turn all snapshots on or off. There isn’t a setting, say, to turns them off just for pictures, or show them only for external links.

Mine are currently turned on. So I can demonstrate, with a link to the brilliant comic xkcd. Hover over the link below and you’ll see that

  • this is what happens.

(It took me a while to realise that you’re then supposed to click the link in the snapshot, not the one in the text; I was trying to chase the snapshot out of the way in order to get at the link in the text and click that.)

But

  • what if you’re rather it did this
  • or even just this?

Gaining some control

Opera 9.6 has some nice features to analyse displayed web pages and see what’s going on. A rummage through a page of my blog revealed the existence of some likely-looking classes (categories which can be applied to HTML tags) with names like snap_preview and snap_noshots. So I tried these out in some test posts and now have what I think is the solution. It works for my blog, at least. (I suspect there may be some variation depending which WordPress theme you’re using; mine is Cutline with some changes I’ve made to the appearance.)

This is what I found:

Turn off all snapshots throughout the blog, overriding any settings made in individual posts
Go to Appearance ⇒ Extras and untick the box.
If you want any snapshots at all
Leave the box in Appearance ⇒ Extras ticked.
Turn off snapshots for an individual link
Include class="snap_noshots" in its tag.
Example: <a href="http://xkcd.com/" class="snap_noshots">
Turn off snapshots for a section of a post
Put <div class="snap_noshots"></div> around the section concerned.
Caution: it’s tempting to do this for the More tag. But this doesn’t work properly, since when the post’s introduction is displayed alone, it has the opening <div> tag but no closing </div> tag. Similarly, if you decide to put <div class="snap_noshots"></div> around the entire post, you’ll have to avoid using the More tag in it.
Override this to turn snapshots on for an individual link
Include <class="snap_preview"> in the link’s tag.
Example: <a href="http://xkcd.com/" class="snap_preview">
Turn snapshots back on for part of a section where they’re turned off
put <div class="snap_preview"></div> around the part where you want them.
Add hover text to a link
Include title="the text you want" in the tag.
Example: <a href="http://xkcd.com" class="snap_noshots" title="Link to a web comic I  enjoy">

Notes

  • I’ve been cautious in those instructions and only used  <a> and <div> tags. That’s because those are the only ones I’ve tried. Presumably you could add the class= settings to other tags  too, e.g. <ul class="snap_noshots"> to remove snapshots from a list of links. But I’ve not checked.
  • I’m not sure how universal it is for browsers to turn title="sometext" into hover text; all I can say is that Internet Explorer and Opera 9.6 both do it. If you know what other  browsers do please tell me, and I’ll add the information to this post.
  • There appear to be circumstances where turning snapshots off in Appearance ⇒ Extras only turns some of them off. I suspect it might vary from theme to theme. Any more information on that welcome too.

A paradox: improving for the worse

Two things seem to be happening simultaneously on the Web.

  • More and more people are accessing the Web from mobile devices (phones, etc.)
  • Websites are becoming less and less accessible to mobile devices.

Take the example of Opera Mini. This is a brilliant web browser for mobile phones. In fact, because I don’t have broadband access at home, and my PC with a dialup connection is too old and decrepit for today’s websites, Opera Mini on a k750i phone is my main web access.

When you’re using Opera Mini, it feels like running a browser on your phone. It lets you display the desktop versions of websites, rather than the usually extremely cut-down mobile versions, beautifully converted for your particular phone screen. You browse pretty much as you would on a PC.

But really, it’s a remote-controlled browser on the Opera Mini server. You send instructions to it from the 206kB Java application on your phone, and it sends back converted pages for viewing.

This means that virtually all HTML pages can be viewed, subject to a few restrictions. The main one is that any change to what’s on the screen involves receiving a new page from the server: animations like Flash aren’t possible, and neither are interactive effects like menus which pop up when the mouse hovers over them.

Websites seem to be becoming more and more fond of these effects (often, I think, for no good reason at all, but merely to have fun with Flash or dynamic HTML, or to impress the person paying for the design), and thereby becoming less and less accessible. This is rarely announced: one simply visits a favourite website one day and discovers that it doesn’t work any more, or that a crucial function has disappeared.

The worst example I’ve experience was when I woke up one morning to discover that Twitter, which I’d been using for months to communicate with friends, (http://twitter.com) no longer worked. Well not if I wanted to actually send anything. But I’ve also become unable to bid on eBay items. A week or so ago, the lists of menu options in the left-hand column of my WordPress dashboard was replaced by a column of rather cryptic icons with popup menus; I don’t have access to those menu options any more unless I’m in the library.

Previously, apart from length limitations, I could use virtually all WordPress features from my phone.

This really puzzles me, since mobile access is surely becoming more important, not less important…! Surely improving websites would involve making them more accessible to more people, not more restricted in how they can be used? Is it not possible to simply use the most inclusive technology that will do the job for each task?

Edit (March 28th): OK, it turns out that I wasn’t quite right about WordPress. I’ve just discovered, by chance, that clicking the separators in the menu sidebar collapsed or expands the menus. When collapsed, they’re no longer accessible to Opera Mini’s Mobile View. But in Desktop View, which is like looking through a tiny hole at the PC screen, I can click the separators and get the menus back. Which I have just done 🙂

So it wasn’t a WordPress change, just a rather nasty feature of its interaction with Opera Mini.

Trying out Wordpress

Well, here I am. Discovering that there are lots of useful settings I can set, which do all sorts of useful things, and that I don’t know where most of them are…

It looks pretty flexible, and I like that.

Hey, it saved my draft too, without me having to do anything. I approve of that, too.

Oo, password-protected posts! That’s a good idea too. Show people stuff without showing it everyone.

I don’t like the watery grey type. Doesn’t anyone use black ink any more? Let’s see…  Hmmm. Looks as though I can’t actually change the colour without creating a CSS. Why on earth use GREY as a default colour for text people might be going to READ?

Let’s try using the Font tag on it. Yes, that does seem to give me black text. Messy solution, but better.

Here’s a bit more outside the tag, just to check that the black bit really is a different colour from this and it’s not just my eyes going funny.