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Transcript of Episode 209

It’s episode 209 and we’ve got plugins for changing user roles, admin ajax relief, adopting pets, block queries, replacement images and one more reason to migrate from Joomla to WordPress. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!

All transcripts start from the point in the show where we head off into the meat and potatoes. They are the complete verbatim of Marcus and John’s discussion of the weekly plugins we have reviewed.

See complete show notes for Episode #209 here.

It’s episode 209 and we’ve got plugins for changing user roles, admin ajax relief, adopting pets, block queries, replacement images and one more reason to migrate from Joomla to WordPress. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!

Episode #209

John:                All right, the first plugin I’ve got for you this week is called Enable Media Replace.  Now I know like most folks out there, I run into an occasional problem where I need to replace a single image, you know.  And you want to replace just the image; you don’t want to have to upload new image, recreate the links and everything else for it — just simply the replaced image.  Maybe the image has gotten out of date, maybe it was an image with text on it, and you have to change that text then update it.  It happens.  I know it happens with me with a couple of clients where we do some stuff on their images and once a year the image has to be replaced.

Well, I’d gotten tired of the old-fashioned way, you know, the one where you create the image, you create the same file name, you do an FTP in the site and you replace that one FTP file name.  Well, no longer.  This plugin here, it allows you to upload the image with the same file name and it will go through and replace that image for you throughout the site anywhere it’s located, and even replace the thumbnails for it at the same time.

Now there’s also a bonus here.  If you didn’t want to use the exact same file name, after you upload the new image to replace, it’ll go through all the links in WordPress that used the old file name and it will update all those links for you — all the embeds, so that the new image is now used everywhere instead of the old image.  And it really works like a hot damn.

It saves a ton of time, no FTPing, no grief.  Just quickly upload it to the media file.  You just go into the media library, get a list on it, and click the button that says ‘Replace Image.’  It comes up and says ‘Select Your Image,’ select it, upload it, and done.  Check it out: Enable Media Replace and I gave this one a hot 5-Dragons.

Marcus:           Wow!  Do you know how much time you just saved me, John?

John:                Oh, I know.

Marcus:           I replace images every day.  Every day, and I have to upload another one and then I have to delete the old one.

John:                That’s right.  Yeah.

Marcus:           And that sucks, so I am so, so thankful because sometimes — yeah, you need to replace a bunch of images at once or you have tickets or something like that where it’s, you know, layouts or anything like that — banners, whatever!  Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you.

John:                Well, this works great because one of the areas I found it useful, the client I used this on is what we do is we created widgets with images in there via HTML.  And I would not only have to upload a new image, but then I’d have to go change the HTML code.

Marcus:           Yeah.

John:                You don’t have to even do that.  You just upload the image and it automatically sets the HTML code in the widget.

Marcus:           Killer.

John:                Exactly.

Marcus:           That’s awesome.

John:                And it works great.  I’ve used it a couple of times now, so check it out.

Marcus:           Very good!  All right, John.  Well, I have a very, very handy plugin that you could probably use because you deal with clients in making sites and probably there are certain sections of the website that you may not want a client to get into, right?

John:                Right.

Marcus:           Well, this is called User Roles and Capabilities, and it’s a new plugin that lets you manage and modify user roles and you can create, delete, clone, do whatever you want as far as the user roles.  You can do it all from just one single page.  Now what would you use a user role for in the capabilities?  Well, here’s a couple of things.  If you had say a client and you don’t want them to monkey around in the plugin section or definitely don’t want them monkeying around with appearance, you know, to get into widgets or create crazy stuff like that, so you just kind of want to lock them out of different sections of the website.

Perhaps you have customers that also login to the back end and maybe there are things natively as a customer that people see that you don’t want them to see, or maybe there’s extra sections that you want them to see and want them to play around with.  So this lets you do all of that.

Now there is a safeguard, John.  Before you get any ideas, you can’t go in and edit the admin role and make it so that I can’t do anything on the website, okay?  But in fact, all of the native formats within WordPress as far as user roles still remain, but you just get to make new ones.  That’s really all it is.

John:                That’s good.

Marcus:           I’ve found it a really handy plugin and it served a purpose that I desperately needed it for.  I know that there’s other user role plugins out there, but they don’t do the cloning feature like this one does — not this well.  So I rated this one a perfect 5 out of 5.

John:                Very nice.  Yeah, you definitely don’t want to mess with the default roles though.  You want to be able to at least not break your website beyond repair.  I remember a couple of years back when I was experimenting with it and I managed to do damage to the default roles and I ended up having to wipe the site and reinstall it because I couldn’t get the roles back properly again.

Marcus:           Oh!

John:                So —

Marcus:           That sucks.

John:                Oh, it was an experiment before it was a real website, so —

Marcus:           Yeah, and you’d probably didn’t have a backup, I’ll bet.

John:                Well, no.  But I wasn’t overly concerned because it wasn’t an actual live functioning website.  I was just trying to see what would happen if I did this before I tried it on a live site.  Whenever you’re experimenting, never do it on a live site.

Marcus:           No way.  Yeah, see?  That’s what happens.  John blew up that bomb.

John:                Oh, yeah.

Marcus:           But he knows never to touch that hot stove again.

John:                Oh, yeah!  I know not to touch the hot stove when it’s really truly hot.  All right, well the next one I’ve got here — now I know from time to time I’m sure it’s happened to you.  You’ll see in your reports of your site usage stats you’ll see the Admin Ajax has had numerous hits to it and you can’t really account for why.

Well, part of the reason that happens is that WordPress has built into it what’s called its heartbeat API and the admin Ajax is called to do numerous different things across different pages in your site.  Well, there’s now a way to control that heartbeat so the Admin Ajax is not called nearly as often and you can slow down some of the calls that are made to your website.

This plugin is called Heartbeat Control.  It helps eliminate many of those issues on your site and it does it by limiting access to the WordPress Heartbeat API.  And you can limit that access all the way down to simply the page that you created a post on where that API is required, and not have it come from plugins and other areas in the site that truly don’t need access to it but for some strange reason are called with it.  It’s a real simple plugin to set up and occupy, and if you’re not really into putting in a plugin, I’ve even added the code that you can drop into your functions PHP to completely stop the Heartbeat code itself entirely — except for the post PHP.

So anyway, this is a great plugin.  Check it out.  You can save yourself some time on a website, especially if you’re on one of them really tight sites that controls every call that’s ever made from your WordPress site into it.  I gave it a 5-Dragon rating.  Heartbeat Control.

Marcus:           So does this — would you gain any speed on your website by slowing this down?

John:                No, it’s not so much a gain in speed.  It’ll be a minimal gain in speed.  But what it is, there’s some hosting providers out there and I won’t run into names.  Everyone knows who some of them are that control your resources by the number of CPU cycles you use, the number of process that are started, the number of events that occur in your website.

WordPress can call up a crapload of those, just by sitting idle sometimes.  And one of those idle things is the heartbeat that pops out and you need to control that from time to time.  I recently ran across it with a listener out there who contact me who was having troubles with their hosting provider limiting their website because it was having too many calls to different areas of the website.  So I tried this to see how well it helps them.

Marcus:           Great.  I’m gonna try a few experiments with that.

John:                Yeah.

Marcus:           I think that’s cool.  All right, John.  I’ve got a plugin that’s — I love bringing up plugins like this just because of the fact that it’s kind of a good-natured thing.  This is called Pet Adoption Listings and it has two different ways in which you can display the listings of adoptable pets from your local pet shelter.

It’s run from and it does run through an iFrame, but that’s okay.  So you can embed it with the short code or you can also do it on the sidebar.  Now what’s pretty cool about this is you can specify down to the breed at the shelter, so it’s got some functionality to it as well.  So if you’ve got any kind of a specific breed website, this is perfect for that and I’ve seen tons and tons of pet websites out there.  So this is really cool.

If you’ve even got a local business or something like that, it might be good karma to put something like this up.  So check it out for yourself; it’s called Pet Adoption Listings and just for the heart factor alone of it, John, speaking of heartbeats, I gave this one a 5 out of 5.

John:                That’s kind of cool, actually.  That’s actually really cool for it.

Marcus:           Yeah.  I’ll tell you, John, far too many pets are in shelters.

John:                Oh, yes.  That there are, especially after Christmas.

Marcus:           Yeah, unfortunately.

John:                All right, the final plugin I’ve got here, this is another one to help improve site usage and it will actually sort of improve your website speed a little bit also.  Now every once in a while you need just a little voodoo on your website, some magic that you don’t have to do anything about.  You just plug in a plugin, turn it on, and go.

This is called BBQ Block Bad Queries, and what it’s designed to do is it’s designed to slow down the hackers and spammers into your website who are trying to inject code.  And when they inject code, oftentimes they have specific known file headers that are included when they’re trying to do those things.  This plugin grabs from a known list of headers that are known to be bad and it compares them with the data as it hits your website.  If it notices a problem, it immediately drops the connection before it continues through to your website, thereby slowing down or preventing those robots and other spammers and hackers from getting through to your website.

There is no settings for it but there is a link in here to a website that has shown you how you can go in and modify the code in the Block Bad Queries plugin if you’re so inclined to enhance the usage of this plugin.  Other than that, it’s a great plugin.  Just simply turn it on and it goes, and I gave it a 4-Dragon rating.

Marcus:           Very interesting.  How does it block?  How does it do that?

John:                Well what it does is it compares this information with the database it’s got.

Marcus:           Okay.

John:                As soon as it gets a match —

Marcus:           So it’s internal —

John:                Yes.

Marcus:           It’s their internal?

John:                It’s — I’m not sure if the database is contained in the plugin or if it’s contained externally, wraps it out, and bounces it back.  I’m not certain on that aspect of it.  But if it gets —

Marcus:           See, that’s my question.

John:                Yeah.

Marcus:           Is where is this — is the site?

John:                Oh, that’s not the site; that’s the site that gives you the information for —

Marcus:           Oh, I see.

John:                — how to modify the code.  Okay?

Marcus:           Okay, well I’m going to do some digging into this.  I know this thing has been for a while.

John:                It’s been out for a while.

Marcus:           And downloaded a number of times.

John:                Yeah, 180,000 times.

Marcus:           I’m just curious as to where it gets the information, because if you’re not careful, this could turn into another Norton, right?  Something on your site that’s, you know, maybe I’ve got something running through Zapier or into Sales Force and I don’t need this thing slowing it down with, you know, as a Norton Antivirus would.

John:                Yeah, a quick check on it says it uses the 5G Blacklist and the 6G Firewall beta version.

Marcus:           Hmm…

John:                So that’s where it grabs the information from.

Marcus:           Okay.

John:                At any rate, I’m sort of testing it out on a couple of websites right now to see how it helps the websites that were being pounded on, see if it helps.  And —

Marcus:           Okay.

John:                — we’ll find out more on it.  So I know that I’ve had a lot of questions on security in the last few weeks, so I’m starting to test out several different security plugins to see how they work, function, see if they slow down the website, or see if they speed up the website.

Marcus:           Great.  All right, John, the last plugin I talked about was all about adopting, right?

John:                Right.

Marcus:           And it’s time.  Come on, Joomla users.  It’s time that we adopt you as abandoned puppies that you are.  Right?

John:                Yep.

Marcus:           Come on over and here’s the reason why.  This plugin is called Login Joomla Users and really what it does is it lets you take a migrated Joomla site and it takes your entire user base that you’ve already got in Joomla, and it brings it right in and makes nice WordPress users.  You can define the roles and all of that.

John:                Nice.

Marcus:           So it’s really cool.  It’s been tested on WordPress, all the way up to 4.1 and Joomla 2.5.9.

John:                Nice!

Marcus:           And it works pretty well.  I actually tried it on a — I stole a client’s Joomla user base and put it in WordPress and it worked.

John:                Nice!

Marcus:           So I rated it a 4 out of 5.  It would’ve been a 5 John, but it’s Joomla.

John:                Yeah.  What the hell.  All right, well that pretty much covers it up.  This episode I covered up Enable Media Replace, which I gave a 5 to, Heartbeat Control, which I gave a 5 to, and then BBQ Block Bad Queries, which I gave a 4 to.

Marcus:           Hmm…so I’m seeing a pattern here.  User Roles and Capabilities, I gave that one a 5 out of 5, Pet Adoption Listings, 5 out of 5, and we just talked about Login Joomla Users, which I gave a 4 out of 5.


All transcripts start from the point in the show where we head off into the meat and potatoes. They are the complete verbatim of Marcus and John’s discussion of the weekly plugins we have reviewed.

WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for See complete show notes for Episode #209 here.

It’s episode 209 and we’ve got plugins for changing user roles, admin ajax relief, adopting pets, block queries, replacement images and one more reason to migrate from Joomla to WordPress. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!

transcript here

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