Change excerpt length in WordPress

Some themes have hard coded (built in without options) lengths for excerpts on the home page, search results, and archive pages. Without the ability to change this easily, you’re left with a theme that may not suit your needs. The two choices that I find to be the easiest are to edit your functions.php file to include a filter or to install a plugin to handle this for you. Either way is fine, though you may use one over the other based on your experience with WordPress internals.

Plugin

This is by far the easiest method, though not the most customizable. You’re bound by whatever the plugin allows you to change, and there’s no guarantee that the plugin will work with whatever version of WordPress is installed on your host.

  1. Search for the Advanced Excerpt plugin.
  2. Go to its settings page and choose your options.
  3. The first setting is the excerpt length (based on words or characters).
  4. The rest allows you to change what is being filtered, what text you want to show when the user can read more, and other options.

Functions.php

If you’re more comfortable with coding, changing WordPress internals, and have general access to the source code of your host’s WordPress installation, then this is the best option for you.

  1. Using a FTP client (I use FileZilla), connect to your host’s WordPress installation.
  2. Download and edit the functions.php file.
  3. Add the following to the file, where “20” is the length of the excerpt. Change that to whatever you want to use.
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Remove and disable “Get Windows 10” icon

Microsoft seems to have pushed an automatic update to Windows 7/8/8.1 machines with an annoying popup in the notification tray exclaiming that you need to reserve your copy of Windows 10 immediately. If you’re like me, you wanted to figure out how to kill this thing for good. There’s a few ways you can do it. There’s a temporary until reboot way and a permanent way.

Temporary

On Windows 8.1, go to the Task Manager (right click the Task Bar, click Task Manager) or CTRL+ALT+DEL and then click Task Manager. The process you want to kill under the “Details” tab is called GWX.exe. Once you stop that process, the icon will go away. Be warned that it will come back when you reboot your machine.

Permanent

  1. Open the Control Panel and click Windows Update.
  2. Click Installed Updates in the lower left.
  3. Find the update named “KB3035583”, right click it, and uninstall.
  4. Go to “C:\Windows\System32\” in an Explorer window
  5. Right click the “GWX” folder, click Properties and then the Security tab
  6. Click Advanced and then click the “Change” button next to the Owner
  7. Change the user to your account or group that you use on the computer
  8. Click OK/Apply and then delete the “GWX” folder

Your computer is now free from that annoying popup, but make sure to hide the update in the Windows Update window if it ever comes back asking to be installed. This is a good time to remind everyone that they should set their Windows Update settings to Manual Installation so that you don’t get stuck with these botched updates automatically.… Continue reading

Setup a blank WordPress site in Azure

One of the reasons WordPress is hugely popular is because it’s super easy to setup and has a large developer base around it which is responsible for creating many useful plugins. If you’re interested in setting up WordPress in Azure, look no further! Make sure you understand the pricing structure of Azure before you go this route. Often, the cost isn’t really worth the return unless you have 5+ blogs that you want to setup on Azure. You can stick to the Free or Shared ($10/mo) tiers, but the performance can suffer quite a bit depending on your site’s popularity and you may not get certain features like custom domains and SSL support.

Azure can be a little confusing for newcomers who don’t realize that some functionality is split across two different portal/management sites. One of these (the “new” portal) is in Preview status while the other (the “old” portal) is the status quo which should be used for most operations. You can follow either section below to achieve the same result, though one may be simpler than the other depending on your use cases.

“Old” Azure Portal

  1. Login to the “old” Azure Portal with your Microsoft Account.
  2. In the lower left, click New > Computer > Web App > Quick Create.
  3. Enter the URL name that you want. If you end up selecting the Shared pricing tier or above (Basic, Standard, Premium) you will have the option of setting up a custom domain. See my guide to doing this with Namecheap.
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Custom authorization with ELMAH and ASP.NET Identity Framework

If you’re using any of the most recent ASP.NET MVC 5 project templates with authentication and authorization built in, then you’re probably using the ASP.NET Identity Framework. With any ASP.NET project, it’s smart to add references to the ELMAH library just in case any unhandled exceptions occur. You can use both of these libraries together to restrict access to the remote ELMAH page with custom authorization.

First, install the Elmah.MVC package from NuGet. This should download the correct libraries and add the necessary lines to your web.config.

Substitute the “your_user_name” entry with your own username that you’ve setup in the ASP.NET Identity Framework backend. For example, the AspNetUsers table in SQL Server contains your usernames. It appears that ELMAH does get the authentication information from the current thread principal, which the ASP.NET Identity Framework will establish on your behalf upon login.… Continue reading

The required anti-forgery cookie “__RequestVerificationToken” is not present.

In your ASP.NET MVC adventures, you may come across the following error when loading a view.

The required anti-forgery cookie “__RequestVerificationToken” is not present.

After searching Google for awhile, you might become desperate with the many different solutions presented. Normally, the solution to this issue is related to the ValidateAntiForgeryToken attribute on actions. When accessing a GET action, you don’t need to use the anti-forgery token.

However, this is not the only solution. In my case, my web.config had this entry:

Checking the project settings in Visual Studio revealed that my project was not set to use SSL which caused a conflict. Either comment out the above line or set the project to always use SSL.… Continue reading

3 Types of Questions You Should Never Ask During an Interview

So your boss came to you and told you to conduct an interview for a new hire. Or maybe you’re actually the hiring manager. Guess what? These suggestions apply to everyone! Based on my experiences with many technical interviews, avoiding these 3 types of questions applies to anyone wanting to steer clear of legal issues and attract the best candidates with the most accurate predictions of success.

I won’t make any claims about being able to predict applicant performance in specific scenarios. This is mainly because studies have shown such predictions to be difficult to obtain regardless of the type of measure utilized during the interview process. While interviews can be a good predictor of how an applicant will apply knowledge in a general and broad scope, it’s extremely difficult to judge whether or not said applicant will succeed with a specific technology for a specific project that your company has in mind. It’s even more difficult to predict when you’re using bogus, irrelevant, and nonsensical questions as a measure.

My advice is to stick to standardized, measurable, specific, and proven questions that are directly relevant to the job position and company as a whole.

1. Personal Questions

I’ve already discussed this one in an article about learning to conduct interviews, but I want to repeat it because it’s an important one. I’ve personally experienced and heard stories about some interviewers who feel that it’s appropriate to ask the applicant about their personal life including hobbies, what they do in their spare time, family life, age, birthdays, religion, and more.… Continue reading

Teach your employees to conduct interviews

Conducting regular interviews is essential for any company that wants to find top talent. Not only is there a possibility of finding a random gem, but it guarantees that your business stays informed of the job market. How many people are looking? What are they looking for? Is my business situated to attract the right people? Such an important thing should probably be conducted by knowledgeable individuals, right? Hey, that’s just my opinion.

As someone who has experience being on the receiving end of the job interview onslaught, I want to take some time to give advice to those who conduct the interviews. This obviously comes from the perspective of the receiver, so I can’t help if my opinions are a little biased. Regardless, I think that there’s some valuable information on the other side of the table for those who are conducting the interviews. As a frequent interviewee, it it’s painfully obvious when an interviewer is not interested or isn’t trained well in conducting interviews.

Read the Resume, Please

I’ve noticed an alarming trend of some interviews being conducted without any references to or knowledge of the applicant’s resume. You know there’s some important stuff on there, right? Larger companies seem to be particularly guilty of this. It’s probably a symptom of receiving too many applicants to filter through at the beginning stages. I totally get that. I sympathize with companies that receive thousands of applications each week. But to ignore important background for applicant’s that pass various phases of the process seems silly.… Continue reading

If you’re a professional, communicate like one

So you’ve landed that job after reading my interviewing tips, right? When you start that job, what skills do you think will be necessary for success? Obviously, you’ll need the relevant knowledge, technical, and physical skills to get the job done. Unfortunately, one very important part of a successful employee is often neglected due to ignorance or indifference. Based on the title of this blog post, you may have guessed that the often lacking skill is “communication.” To clarify, the following advice can be applied to many types of jobs, but focuses on technology and office-oriented service positions.

It’s a shame that this skill is so poorly understood by many professional workers and academics, because it’s absolutely critical to conveying our ideas, knowledge, processes, and skills to colleagues and coworkers. Here are just some of the scenarios in which good and proper communication is key to success. These are just the things that I thought of in the last 45 seconds! The interested readers among you can probably come up with many more relevant examples.

  • Transferring domain specific knowledge to new workers or replacements
  • Training new workers on domain specific processes
  • Conveying company policies, rules, and regulations
  • Working within the immediate team to provide regular updates, feedback, and support
  • Communicating with remote coworkers, customers, and clients via video conference, teleconference, instant message, email, and phone

Transferring Knowledge and Training

There are often circumstances either within your control or beyond your control that may require you to transfer domain specific knowledge to a coworker, a new hire, or a replacement.… Continue reading

Tips for a successful software job interview process

Ah, the dreaded job interview. The call to set up an interview is always exciting, but the moment you realize that you have to perform well is nerve-wracking. Fortunately, I’ve been through the gauntlet of many interviews. I have some practical advice for you in this article, so read on! I recently wrote about some heinous experiences interviewing with some of the larger technology companies in the US. I can say, without a doubt, that I have some experience when it comes to being on the receiving end of the endless questions in an interview. Success in interviews comes from practice, study, and some luck. Not only are you being interviewed, but you should also be evaluating the company. How would you consider it a success if you end up in a company you hate?… Continue reading

In the last 8 months, I have interviewed with Google, Amazon, SpaceX, Blizzard, and StackExchange

Repeating the ridiculous technical interview process (including the onsite gauntlets) so frequently in such a short time span makes me feel like Bill Murray stuck in Groundhog Day. You know, the movie about the poor guy doomed to repeat the same day over and over until he becomes a better person. Am I stuck in a loop? Am I doing something wrong? Or are these job opportunities really just as “competitive” as the HR representatives claim in the copy and pasted emails that get sent out to the unlucky losers? I’m not convinced that the status quo for interviewing processes is sufficient.

I’ll admit it. I’m a bit cynical. It’s entirely possible that companies employing the standard technical interview process deserve the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are bombarded with completely atrocious applicants who don’t even know how the most basic parts of a computer function. That’s fine. I understand. I get it! If I was receiving thousands of applications each week, I’m sure I would try to devise a firewall to keep most people out as well. But making a filter too finely grained causes one to miss out on some truly hidden gems.

For reference, every tech-related company seems to follow a fairly standard process of interviewing. It’s nearly formulaic.… Continue reading