WordPress goodies of the week

I spent some time playing around with WordPress themes and plugins this week.  While most of the stuff I discovered was cool, as usual, a few thins stood out.  For the benefit of the general public, here they are.

  1. Automatic thumbnails in Swift theme.  One of the problems that I face when choosing a new theme is that often theme author would expect you to do things in a certain way – organize your menus using pages and not categories, or use specific custom keywords, etc.  For some time now I was interested in a theme with post thumbnails, but never dared to try.  After all, I have more than 4000 posts and the last thing I want to do is go through all of them adding thumbnails.  That’s why I was so surprised by how nicely Swift theme handles this problem.  It does expect that you add thumbnails using custom fields, but if you don’t, it just grabs the first image from the content of the post and prepares the thumbnail itself.  If there are no images in the content, it uses a default one, which can change easily. Awesome!  Here is how it looks.
  2. After The Deadline spell-checker.  Michael Koenig commented on the post about me trying IntenseDebate comments plugin, and suggested that I enable After The Deadline plugin for comments, which I did.  Looking further into it, I noticed that After The Deadline spell-checker is also available for posts.  I already have a spell-checker built into my browser, but it doesn’t seem to check the grammar or anything else beyond the syntax mistakes.  So, I installed the After The Deadline and I do enjoy it.  It doesn’t stand in the way, while at the same time, provides some feedback about my writing style.  It has a number of useful features, such as highlighting passive voice, suggesting replacement for complex words and expressions, and more.  Recommended, especially for non-native English speakers.
  3. Security tips. A reader of my much outdated, lost, and forgotten WordPress Bits blog asked for some tips to improve WordPress security.  I compiled my list of tips and then looked around for a few suggestions from other people.  Apparently, there are a number of blog posts (one, two, three) on the subjects and even some plugins (one, two, three) that can help you out.

Minimum salary in Cyprus

Living and working in Cyprus, I am often asked by people from other countries what are salaries like in Cyprus.  I never had a good answer to the question, because the answer depends a lot on the company you’ll be working for and your position.  Even the range for the same position across different companies can vary 3-4 times easily.

Cyprus Mail reports that the government had decided to increase the minimum wage (salary).  Gladly, the article provides a reference for average salary across the island.

THE MINIMUM wage is being increased to €887 from €840 effective from Thursday, the Labour Advisory Committee announced yesterday. Final approval for the 5.6 per cent increase, which will bring the minimum wage to 50 per cent of the average national wage, rests with the Cabinet.

So, this means that the while the minimum wage will now be €887, the average is twice that much – €1774.  That’s good to know.  Now I have an a better answer for all those people who are asking.

The Road

Last Friday I went to see “The Road“.  I’ve seen a trailer of it several times before and figured that it would be one of those post-apocalyptic zombie movies that I don’t particularly want to see. But I was with my wife and there was no better choice of a movie in the cinema, so we went.

As I mentioned on Twitter earlier, it’s been a while since I wrote a movie review.  But this film is something!  It’s such a load of crap!   Everything about this film is bad.  Not neutral, but bad.  The story is extremely shallow.  The dialogues are horrible.  There is no common sense what-so-ever.  The film is boring on so many levels that it’s unbelievable.  It is even boring visually.  Everything is shot in a greyish colours, with decreased saturation, and with no highlights at all.  The images of the post-apocalyptic world don’t touch on any feelings – they are not sad, not horrifying, not inspiring.

I was very surprised to see both Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy) and Charlize Theron (“The Italian Job”, “Sweet November”, and many others) in this crappy movie.  They were trying their very best to save it, but there just wasn’t enough ground.  Kodi Smit-McPhee, who played a kid, delivered horrible acting and all the dialogues that he had to do weren’t helping at all.

The film is running for almost 2 hours (111 minutes), and I think it is about 100 minutes too long.  Overall, I’ll rate it a 1 out of 5 and recommend you avoid it at all costs.  It’s just that bad.