Where Did My Brain Go?

Getting Started

I’ve spent the past few days learning WordPress. My daughter Audrey bought me Wordpress 2, Visual Quickstart Guide. It is prominently displayed on wordpress.org but it is very disappointing.

The book helped with the initial installation, but not much else. I have over a dozen years of experience using HTML and writing CGI programs using the C language. I am also a Sun Certified Java Programmer. Unfortunately, for me anyway, Wordpress relies upon PHP, and I knew bupkus about PHP.

I have learned enough PHP over the past few days for basic stuff, like modifying the presentation, and running a CGI program, written in C, which attempts to keep out some annoying robots. But I got lost trying to get two plugins to work.

The aforementioned Wordpress book is particularly useless helping with plugins. It recommends plugins for previous versions of Wordpress and others that are no longer maintained. My biggest problem was trying to create a “Contact page” using a PHP plugin.

I tried “WP Contact Form” and “wppccf”. The book describes a discontinued version of the former. I found an updated version, it didn’t work. It would not display properly until I removed the “required entries” line. Then I had to hardcode the security question, which is designed to keep out more robots. After that, the form was presentable, but it would not send mail. I spent over an hour messing with the mail headings but I never got it to work. What was especially frustrating, was that I know how to use sendmail and I know how to write a "contact page" in C. But I wanted to use a Wordpress plugin. I finally decided that I am easy enough to contact because anyone reading this can see my name and knows the domain. However, if anyone understands why “WP Contact Form” did not work, I would love to use it, please write to me, and let me know where I messed up. Oh yeah, I know how to RTFM, and I read all about “mail()“ on php.net, but I never received any mail using that plugin.

Besides plugins, Wordpress 2, Visual Quickstart Guide does not explain much about RSS, which I have never used, other than how to “Import an RSS Feed.“ Why would I want to do that? Don’t I want to export an RSS feed? Or anything at all about putting in links to Technorati and digg. Or adding a spelling checker. I had to run this through aspell and tidy!

Shame on WordPress for recommending a mostly useless book! But of course, Thank You Audrey for getting it in the first place!

If any of you nice folks can explain how to do anything I mentioned here, please help!