Create a website instead of a blog from WordPress using the right theme

WordPress is no doubt a great blogging platform. However, it is also a user-friendly Content Manangement System (CMS) that can be used to run a website. However, you have to tweak it to not look like a blog and more like a traditional website. The easiest way to do so is probably through an appropriate theme. I ran into the Phanatics theme, which looks very asthetically appealing with a monetary fee for its license. I also found the free Weaver theme to also be good looking.

For basic sites that I don’t want to host, I’ll probably still be using Google Sites. For sites that I want more control over and be able to host, I’ll rely on WordPress with an appropriate theme.

create online store easily: google docs + google sites + google checkout

so i have so many things on my to do list, so i’ll just get this post out of the way while i can….it’s ‘old’ in that i’ve known about this last month but didn’t blog about it yet.

google made it very easily to create an online store. u can set up a spreadsheet in google docs (inventory), embed the google checkout gadget in your google site, and u have an online store. see here for a how to.

i was thinking about using this to create an online registration program for my youth group, but google collects a fee, so it probably isn’t worth it for my non-profit group.

one of the downside (?) to this is u need a google checkout account…hmm…but i think this is better than paypal.

Online storage: A Drive

So I mentioned before about using Drop Box to sync my files, and I use google sites to host my website, etc. However, both have limits on files uploaded and stored. What if I have large media files? I can upload videos to youtube for videos, but they convert the video to flash, and these days they remove audio if u have any copyright sound like music. Crap.

I ran across MS skydrive, which gives 25gb. I was surprised at this, a MS product that Google doesn’t have? I decided to google online storage, and i ran into this site and this site. After some research, it appears ADrive seems to be the best out there, with 50gb free storage, and the limit on a file is 2gb. That’s plenty for me and my youth group. Now I will use A Drive to store large files….until Google G drive comes out.

UPDATE: based on this post, it seems like the public link of each file gets changed every 14 days if you click on share this file. This means i can’t put the link on my google site. ehh, i guess i can only use it to store important files, not necessarily share them.

Publish RSS feed in google sites

Google sites is great, but there are still some features that it lacks, such as RSS feed (for updates), better file management system (for the file cabinets and attachments), copying/moving pages, and archiving/exporting/importing.

So recently I wanted to make my youth group’s google site more tech-savvy by publishing an RSS feed for updates (maybe this will motivate me for more updates). After googling, there are many services that can do this for u, however, u have to input javascript code in your page, which google sites does not allow. I emailed the owner of www.steegle.com, and he pointed me to this site, which relies on the feed43 service.

Had a quick trouble because I inputted the “search” code in the wrong box – it should be in the repeatable one. Life is super! Life is cool! MY life is nerdy! My life is super nerdy cool!

slideshows from photobucket or flickr etc. in google sites

Google sites is great. It allows for easy website creation, and easy group collaboration on projects, wiki, intranets.

What am I using google sites for? Well, for the non-profit youth group that i volunteer with at my local church, I created:

  1. A webpage for the group, where i mapped the domain that we registered to it. It is great in that i can have many people work on the site using the built-in features; no html or javascript experience needed. It is as easy as a WYSIWYG word processor, but here, a webpage creator. You can embed such things as a picasa slideshow, google map, youtube video, and everything google. For each page that you create for the site, you can make it a page, a file cabinet, a discussion (announcements), or a list…really useful for my group.
  2. An intranet-type site where I keep private – only the management board of the group gets access. I created this site to upload all the documents and paperwork we deal with. There is a page for each term (every management term is 2 years), and the site serves as a repository of documents for future management boards to use, and as a record/history.

Yes, so google sites is great. What i wanted to blog about was that it is very easy to embed a picasa slide show in the site, but most of the pictures for our group is located on photobucket. There is an old method that uses an iframe hack to get this, but google sites will throw out all “illegal” iframes now. Thissite talks about it, and mentions that it no longer works. However, we can embed google gadgets to get the slideshow to work from photobucket. From the site: “”” To use them, simply select “more” from the “insert” menu (while editing a page in your site) and search for “sites iframe gadget”. “””

You can find a gadget that will take feeds. Get the feed url from photobucket (on bottom…. *.rss) and paste it into the gadget. Now things work. very cool!

UPDATE: search for “takeslides.” There are a few, take the 3rd one (the one to www.takeslides.com). Info: takeslides Slideshow Gadget

Jeremy R. Geerdes for takeslides.com Uses the Google AJAX Feeds API and GFslideShow to create a simple slide show of your favorite media RSS feed

http://www.takeslides.com

Making my personal website and course websites: iWeb + rsync

So I’ve been using iWeb on my macbook to create my personal webpage and potential course websites. I use it because i don’t really know html, and i don’t think I NEED to learn it right now. Point and click to create them is fine with me for the time being. Actually, I would prefer to create the pages in google sites, and export them to my professional-life host, ie, uci-ics domain. However, this option isn’t quite available from google yet.

My main webpage is http://www.ics.uci.edu/~vqnguyen/, and from there, i can have my personal homepage and course websites hosted. However, when I use iweb to publish multiple sites to the same destination via the sftp option, things get funny because iweb puts a default index.html file in each directory, and this file directs u to a page. As i upload multiple sites to that one root domain, re-direction get’s a little fuzzy. I fixed this by uploading the course websites first, then my personal site (root directory) last. Then, with every update, i just use “Publish Site Changes.” However, what if i want to add some more pages? I didn’t like this, and i finally did something about it.

Got my information from UCI’s EEE help on iweb.

Now, what I do is this:

  1. ICS servers: websites are in ~/public_html/
  2. Created ~/public_html and ~/iWebSites on my macbook.
  3. Publish my sites to a local folder, ~/iWebSites, instead of using sftp, one directory for each site.
  4. After every update and publishing to my local folder, i run the following script (supposing my i have two sites, one personal, and one for a class website):
   <pre class="src src-sh"><span style="color: #ff4500;">#</span><span style="color: #ff4500;">! /bin/</span><span style="color: #00ffff;">bash</span>

rsync -progress -av ~/iWebSites/Vinh_Q._Nguyen/ ~/public_html/ rsync -progress -av ~/iWebsites/stat8 ~/public_html/ rsync -progress -av -e ssh ~/public_html/ vqnguyen@chi2.ics.uci.edu:~/public_html/

Now things work great! Good thing i have passwordless ssh!

Next thing to try is html in org-mode (emacs), which i found out through Michael Zeller’s comment on here (he makes his website with it).