Jun 12

No, I don’t care what you had for lunch (or how to hide friends’ statuses in Facebook)

There’s no reason to have to read your friends’ statuses on Facebook. Hide them, hide them away. They won’t know, they’ll still be your friend (perhaps in copyrighted name only) and you’ll be spared, well.. you know what you’ll be spared. It’s hard to exaggerate stupid statuses, it’s simply not possible to be inane enough.

I have shown this to a couple of people, so thought I’d write it down.

1- Scroll over a status from the offender. Look for the downward arrow in the right hand corner of the status.

2- Click on that arrow, then click on “Unsubscribe from..” and poof! They’re gone from your timeline.

There are a few choices. Who know wtf “Most updates” and “Only important” mean. I suppose “Most updates” means you’ll get a random assortment of most updates and “Only important” is a random assortment of fewer updates. Facebook is a bastard when it comes to showing you things – you can never be sure you’re seeing everything. Eg from “What Facebook knows” on Technology Review, writing about a scientist with the Data Science Team at Facebook:

So he messed with how Facebook operated for a quarter of a billion users. Over a seven-week period, the 76 million links that those users shared with each other were logged. Then, on 219 million randomly chosen occasions, Facebook prevented someone from seeing a link shared by a friend. Hiding links this way created a control group so that Bakshy could assess how often people end up promoting the same links because they have similar information sources and interests.

(Link is via @pyker on twitter.)

If you hide someone in error or if they calm down a bit and get more of a real life, I’ve written about out how to unhide friends on Facebook too.

Feb 12

Importing products from Magento to WP e-commerce

If you have come to this post looking for an easy, straightforward way to get products from Magento to WordPress e-commerce, this is not for you.  If you don’t mind digging around in databases and unclear directions, then welcome, sorry for the mess, have a seat (just shoo off the cat there – oh, is that a hairball? let me get you a new cushion).

I had a tiny shop in Magento Community (because I was too scared to update it, that’s why) but decided to move it all to WordPress using the WP e-Commerce plugin.  Even though the shop is quite small, I didn’t want to have to put in every product by hand.  So here’s what I did… (nb: as these weren’t large tables and I didn’t know what I was doing, I decided to dump the whole table and edit down to what I needed in Excel.  You might want to do it properly. You might not.  Also, I’m setting up WordPress on another server, so don’t have both of these installed on one.)

  1. In Magento: export the catalog_product_flat_1 table to a csv file
  2. Neaten up a version of csv file so you have the columns: Description, Additional Description, Product Name, Price, SKU, weight, weight unit, stock quantity, is limited quantity
  3. Save another version keeping at least the name and the relative image path intact (this is used for the images, as might be obvious)
  4. In the “import” tab of the plugin, import the file

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.  Except, of course, where are the images?  They are nowhere.  They are not there.  Bastards.  So here’s where it gets a little dodgy and you’ll have to use these following directions as a guide.

    1. Find your images in Magento and download them.  You can figure out their path using the catalog_product_rule_flat_1 table
    2. In WordPress admin, upload them into the media library.  Have a cup of coffee.
    3. You need to know the post ids of the product posts and the post ids of the image posts (attachment paths are saved as posts when uploaded) – go into wp_posts and export those.

At this point it gets a little fuzzy, so I’m going to stop numbering the steps.  This is all step 5.

The table wp_postmeta is where the linking of the image to the post happens –

post_id is the post id of the product post and meta_value is the post id of the image post.  What you need to do is write a series of insert statements eg:

insert into wp_postmeta (post_id, meta_key, meta_value) VALUES (18,’_thumbnail_id’,29);

I think I put the post ids on my copy of the Magento table with the image paths (edited down to filenames) then used the image filename – the same(ish – enough) in both the Magento table and the WP table – to match up the image post ids to the product post ids.  That might not make a lot of sense but you should be able to look at what you have and figure out how to get everything together.  I then simply wrote my statements in Excel:

=CONCATENATE(A18, “VALUES (“,B18,”,’_thumbnail_id’,”,C18,”);”)
where: A18 = insert into wp_postmeta(  ; B18 = the product post id ; C18 = the corresponding image post id

and slapped them into the table.


 This only gives one image per product but that’s fine for me.

Feb 12

Buy, buy again

The start of this post was about beauty blogs but I don’t read them, except occasionally, except Facegoop which is utterly funny and fantastic and if I don’t read that regularly, it’s because they don’t post regularly.  Bad M! Bad E!  I do flip through other ones every now and then to see the latest and greatest but always get the feeling that they’re testing testers and it’s not a true measure of a product.  What I would love to know is what people repeatedly buy and not because they’re in a rut but because they like the product enough to not buy the current hot new thing.

Here are mine with photographic proof that they get heavy use. Oh!  You need to know about my face.  I’m 40, have dry-ish skin and eyelids that get irritated if I’m not a little careful.  Serious under eye circles but no bags.  I need yellowy foundation and concealer and look better in makeup although I don’t wear tons.

Lipstick Queen in Saint Wine and Saint Nude

These are sheer lipsticks with colour that can be built up a bit – there’s not a ton of pigment.  The feel is absolutely fantastic; they are not drying at all and excellent even on chapped lips. I swear that Saint Wine has magical powers, too; if I’m stressed or feeling out of control, I slap a bit on and am ready to face things.  Saint Wine is a more blue-y red and Saint Nude is, well, nude.  If you know what colour would look good on someone who doesn’t wear a lot of makeup, these are a great gift.  (I have had good luck in this department at least. They are one of the most user friendly lipsticks I’ve ever worn.)

By Terry Touche Eclat and Teint Délectation

I tried Teint Délectation after running out of Chanel Vitalumiere and have not switched since.  It’s the reason I (occasionally) get the “you have such lovely skin” compliment.  Lovely stuff – if you’re looking for a change, try it.  Touche Eclat is the only concealer that doesn’t make my wrinkles look wrinklier or make my eyes flakier.  It has great coverage and simply works.  I’m of the opinion that foundation and concealer shouldn’t be too exciting and these aren’t – they just get on doing what they’re supposed to do.

The only thing about the Teint Délectation bottle is the stupid metal coating on the top.  It’s been flaking off and into the squirt of foundation, so I end up with metal flakes on my face.  I need to stop putting the cap back on, really, but I like putting the cap back on.  Dilemma.

RéVive Moisturizing Renewal Cream

This is like putting acid on your skin. It burns! The pain!  I love it.  I imagine it’s dissolving away old, tired skin so that new, lovely skin can come through.  I have no idea what the bumpf says – let’s see how close I am…

Results include tight, glowing skin. This rich cream exfoliates, retextures uneven skin, improves skin clarity and creates a luminous, firm and youthful complexion. (from Space NK site)

I totally buy it.  Literally and figuratively.

A couple others

I love Philosophy Hope in a Jar – it’s another moisturiser that can burn and has pretty visible results for me.  What else?  Révive Fermitif Neck Renewal Cream.  It works!  I just haven’t bought more – am trying the Chantecaille one – but I probably will.

Most of these – well, all except one – were bought at Space NK.  I shop there, I like it, especially the Bishopsgate store.  If you do go and don’t have one already, get one of their loyalty cards, definitely worth it!

Jan 12

Mind the shopping

I’m not buying anything ever again. No clothes, certainly, no shoes, no socks, no pants (I will mend mine and then go without), no restaurants, no bananas, no food at all (I will scrounge and free – what is that called? Freeload, no.. I will become a freegan but I think I will freeload too, that sounds fun).  No baskets, no drinks, no presents, no water bottles, no water, no food for the dog*.  *We don’t have a dog but if we did, no food for it.

I’ve been reading about people who are doing this.  Albeit in a more reasonable way, buying pants as needed, not starving their pets.  It sounds strangely attractive, doesn’t it?  Very zen.  Step right up and off this treadmill of consumption.  Headspace currently crowded with stuff and things will become free for happy bunnies and unicorns.  More room for a sleeping dormouse or two.

I’m not sure it would work like that for me.  The cute animals would be immediately crowded out with unrelenting angst over every purchase, no matter how necessary (“Do I NEED toilet tissue?  I will use this old catalogue like in the olden days and derive satisfaction that I am not only environmentally sound but also MAKING A STATEMENT”). [ed note: I am giving into the temptation to capitalise more often.  If I start in on the emoticons, run.]

I’m opting out of the opting out.  I like shopping – the wandering around chatting to people, the small shops where the person behind the counter is the owner, the sheer joy of being completely selfish and buying something just because I want it.  Shopping works for me.

However – a big however – I love the idea of scaling back.  My house, my mind, my life are cluttered to the point of being batshit insane.  I can see the appeal of cutting out the crap and I desperately want what people who do it are getting from it.  I’ve been reading Meg Hourihan’s Make it do blog which is calm and reflective and without that franticness that I’ve seen elsewhere, the kind mocked above.  Hers isn’t that; hers is what I want.  But I know myself well enough to know her way – “use it up, wear it out, Make It Do, do without” – isn’t mine.  I’d love to be what she seems.  I’m not.

So I’ll find my own way, somewhere around the shops.


Jan 12

Show me the menu! (or How to put a vertical Superfish menu in WordPress)

edited on 28 December 2012: I have been having the worst trouble getting Superfish to work in WordPress so came back to this. There is one major edit, you need to change the wp_nav_menu parameter ‘theme_location’ to ‘menu’ – I’m now using WordPress 3.5, so this might have to do with one of the recent upgrades. Please note, that you don’t have to use the vertical menu, just take out sf-vertical in the wp_nav_menu menu_class bit.


Doesn’t everyone want a vertical slidey (according to my spellchecker, “slidey” is not a word. Really? Weird.) menu?  No?  Ok then, stop here.

If you do want a slidey (I’m just going to keep using the word, that’ll teach ’em) menu and have figured out that the one you want is J Birch’s excellent jQuery plugin Superfish (it is the one you want btw) and have read Kavin’s excellent tutorial but still need a bit of help and want it vertical, then here you go.

Oh damn, I meant to add in that thing that makes code show up properly.  Hang on.  Ah – the Syntax Highlighter plugin by Alex Gorbatchev should work.  It does!  Excellent.

Here are the steps you want to take, in plain-ish English:

  1. Download the Superfish plugin.
  2. Upload the plugin to your template directory (it needs to be unzipped either before or after upload obvs) – I renamed the folder “Superfish-1.4.8” to “superfish”.
  3. In your wp_nav_menu bit (in header.php or wherever), use ‘menu_class’ => ‘sf-menu sf-vertical’ eg:
    wp_nav_menu( array( ‘sort_column’ => ‘menu_order’, ‘menu_class’ => ‘sf-menu sf-vertical’, ‘theme_location’ => ‘primary-menu’ ) );  — this is what needed to be edited. Change ‘theme_location’ to ‘menu’ to get the right menu. Below is correct sample code.

    wp_nav_menu( array( 'sort_column' => 'menu_order', 'menu_class' => 'sf-menu sf-vertical', 'menu' => 'primary-menu' ) ); 

    I’m using a custom nav menu, ‘primary-menu’ – don’t just copy and paste the above.

  4. Make a file with the following – mine is named jqsf.js (taken from this support thread) – and upload to your superfish (or whatever you’ve named it)/js directory
    animation: {height:'show'},   // slide-down effect without fade-in
    delay:     1200               // 1.2 second delay on mouseout

    This initialises Superfish and is where you can change the animation options and various bits and bobs.  It’s good fun to play with these.

  5. In your template’s style.css file, disable / delete any and all styles relating to the navigation lists – you can add them back later when it’s working.  (Setting a width on the ul caused mine to break which is easy enough to fix but took a while to figure out.)
  6. Add the following to your functions.php file – this assumes you’ve named the directories and files the same as I did.  This is, in large part, taken from Kavin’s tutorial mentioned above. He goes through it more thoroughly, so have a look there if you have questions.
    //jQuery Insert From Google - via http://digwp.com/2009/06/use-google-hosted-javascript-libraries-still-the-right-way/
    if (!is_admin()) add_action("wp_enqueue_scripts", "my_jquery_enqueue", 11);
    function my_jquery_enqueue() {
    $scriptdir=get_bloginfo( 'template_url' );
    wp_register_script('jquery', "http" . ($_SERVER['SERVER_PORT'] == 443 ? "s" : "") . "://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.7.1/jquery.min.js", false, null);// Register the Superfish javascript file
    wp_register_script( 'superfish', $scriptdir.'/superfish/js/superfish.js', false, '1.4.8');// Register the file you made that initialises Superfish
    wp_register_script( 'jqsf', $scriptdir.'/superfish/js/jqsf.js', false);// Now the superfish CSS - you need superfish.css AND superfish-vertical for the vertical menu
    wp_register_style( 'superfish-css', $scriptdir.'/superfish/css/superfish.css', false, '1.4.8');
    wp_register_style( 'superfish-vertical-css', $scriptdir.'/superfish/css/superfish-vertical.css', false);//Put all the scripts and styles in the header where they belong

And that’s it.  You should have a working vertical menu.  You’ll need to style it – just edit the superfish.css style.  It’s well annotated, so you shouldn’t have any trouble.  The site I used this on is not yet ready for public consumption, but I will update this post when it is.

Jan 12

Buy the hype

I believe in magic. Completely and absolutely. I believe in creams that will even out my skin, scrubs that will smooth my orange peel face and serums that will plump the fine lines I have from smiling so damn much. So when I read about a perfume that would make me desirable to every living thing within sniffing range whilst being undetectable, I wanted it desperately, then promptly forgot about it because I have the attention span of a gnat. Years later, a Cult Beauty email arrived at the same time my husband was asking me what I wanted for Christmas. My desire was re-awakened and fulfilled.

Tim Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume provides the sum total of what I know about perfumery. I have read Perfume too, but didn’t like it, so have blanked whatever it had to say on the subject from my mind. I don’t wear perfume often either – I like it, kind of, but it makes me sneeze and I always feel like I have too much on. I want to like it. I love nice smelling things. My bath and shower collection is immense and I could keep warm for years with the scented candles I own.  But perfume eludes me; it seems complicated and easy to get wrong.

The bumpf for  Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules on Cult Beauty is

Product description
Escentric Molecules’ Molecule 01 is created solely from the aroma-chemical Iso E Super, traditionally a perfume basenote that adds allure to a scent, which works as more of an effect than a fragrance. The scent has a subtle, velvety, woody note which will meld with your natural pheromones, vanish, then re-surface after some time, making it totally individual and personalised to the wearer. You will rarely smell this fragrance on yourself, Molecule 01 is more about the effect it has on others.

Why it’s cult
Molecule 01 fragrance from Escentric Molecules smells so good, every man, woman & child in a 5-mile radius will wanna know your secret. Remember the old Impulse ads? This is even better. Developed by rising star of the perfume world Geza Shoen, Molecule 01 smells different on everyone, but amazing on everyone, an expert favourite that gives the unique quality of a bespoke fragrance without having to remortgage.

Doesn’t that sound fabulous?  Doesn’t that sound absolutely perfect?  Magic even?

I will readily admit that I’ve been sucked in by pr and advertising.  I always am; I’m Barnum’s ideal woman. The perfume probably does nothing except smell nice every now and then. And who wants a perfume that doesn’t smell?

I do. I love it. It does vanish and re-surface after some time.  I adore the initial smell, the inconstantness of it and the fact that I forget I have it on until I get a random waft.  It’s not overpowering, I don’t sneeze and I don’t feel like I’m choking passersby.  Reader, I’ve drunk the Kool-aid.

I put to you that it doesn’t matter that the hype is most likely pure bullshit (let’s leave a little room for magic here, please) and that I’m simply paying more for what is merely one component of a normal perfume.  I enjoy wearing it.  I like the ritual of putting on perfume and feel a bit more finished.  I feel slyly sexy when I get a whiff of it, even sitting on a bus having a bad hair day.  It gives me an instant kick of confidence.  I ask you, what else, exactly, is a perfume supposed to do?


Jan 12

I agree completely

What I learned during an emotionally charged, frustrating phone call with the headmistress of my son’s (soon to be former) school:

  • I am more in control when I don’t respond to anything implied, but only to what is explicitly said.
  • Keeping it short works, as does not giving into the temptation to justify or explain.

    I hear you are considering leaving the school.



  • It’s possible to stop someone short by saying “I agree completely” and nothing else.

    This move will be extremely disruptive to your son.

    I agree completely


  • Ranting about a laundry list of minor complaints adds nothing.
  • I don’t have to reply to questions. “I’m not going to answer that” is an answer.
  • There is no point rehashing old arguments; it is frustrating and counterproductive.
  • When I’m more gracious and less horrid, I win.

Jan 12

Say you were me in math class…

Excellent funny videos on plants and math by Vi Hart (I love her website, go visit her website – it’s all math stuff like this, utterly brilliant) – vihart on youtube

Contains added slug cats.


Jan 12

A place to play with other people’s javascript

I am not a natural coder.  Or at least, I don’t know how to code from scratch.  Well, html and css but those don’t count, do they?  There’s so much to learn, so many rules to remember and computer languages have an annoying habit of only doing what you tell them to do and only if you ask properly.  Luckily, I don’t need to be.  I am a natural adapter-of-things.

So when I needed a content slider for my site, I found one close enough with lovely clear code, nice documentation and started in on Moving Boxes.  Googling around for how to change various features, I came across this jsfiddle.  I’d never seen the site before – basically, you upload some javascript, css and html then fiddle with it on the fly.  You can fiddle with other people’s, fiddle with your own, fiddle away to your heart’s content.  Genius idea.  My fork is here – it’ll be slightly prettier on my site, I will wait to put in custom arrows, can’t be bothered now.

What I did is pretty obvious.  My goal is a slider that goes across the browser window with translucent non-current panels.  The two small problems I had that I should mention are:

  1. the current panel was not centered on the page
  2. the slider didn’t re-center after the window is resized.

For the first, adding :

#slider{margin-left: -6px !important;}

worked.  Not sure about the -6px.  Might be more on that as I actually get it all live.  It might all fall apart, in which case I’ll edit this.  (And I’ve got to do that thing that makes the code look nice – I have how to do it bookmarked somewhere.)

For the second, I had to force a page reload.  Not ideal but not disastrous.  This is how I did it – copying this (gotta love Stack Overflow):

// resizeStuff() via http://stackoverflow.com/questions/667426/javascript-resize-event-firing-multiple-times-while-dragging-the-resize-handle
function resizeStuff() {
var TO = false;
if(TO !== false)
TO = setTimeout(resizeStuff, 200); //200 is time in milliseconds

All good stuff.  If you’d like a go, you can play with mine.  (It’s more fun on their site because the layout is better…)

Jan 12

The Blackhouse by Peter May

[edit: Actually, let me start by saying that this might contain spoilers about this book and A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley – depends what you call spoilers but wanted to warn you]

Let me start by saying I love India Knight’s writing, at least the columns and the couple of books I’ve read (the ones on thrift and shopping).  I can’t comment on her novels, haven’t read them – I’d be surprised if they don’t have the same lovely writing, but I don’t like those sorts of novels.  This isn’t to say they’re not good, but they’re not for me.  No bad thing; this would be a recommendation for some people.

What I do like are crime thrillers, set somewhere atmospheric and mysterious like Iceland or Scandinavia or Edinburgh.  I’ll read just about anything in that genre and, if not fully enjoy it, usually come back for more.  So when @indiaknight tweeted:

Crime novels fans: read The Blackhouse by Peter May. Set on Lewis in Outer Hebrides. Brilliant writing & so gripping that I can’t tweet.

I immediately bought it.  Over the Christmas hols I have been reading through the Detective Erlendur series by Arnaldur Indriðason.  They’re ok – formulaic in the sense that every book has the same structure and the writing or perhaps the translation leaves a little to be desired.  I fancied a break but not too much of a change and have an appalling tendency to impulse buy.

The Black House by Peter May

I hated it with a ferocity that a crime fiction novel should not inspire.  I think I disliked everything about it, but had to finish because I had to. I am like that.  It was whingingly dramatic whilst being curiously dispassionate.  The sheer amount of bad shit (for lack of a better phrase) that happened to poor, unsympathetic Fin, the protagonist,  quickly descended into unbelievability. About halfway through, A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley came to mind.  I have never liked the final twist in that book and think it would have been a greater book without it. When the twist in The Blackhouse came (the final, “ha ha, didn’t see this coming, did you?” twist), I had to laugh.  Not that it’s funny, but, you know, I called it.  Go me!  By that point I was too tired by the trials and tribulations of Fin to care.  And it was all about Fin – the soulless parent untroubled in the main that his only son had died a mere four weeks before.  Maybe I just couldn’t get past that.

It is possible I would have liked the book some if Peter May had eased up on the drip feeding and attempts at emotional manipulation.  It felt a great deal like one of those people who answer the polite question “How are you?” with “Everything is fine, except.. oh. Nevermind.  <sigh> <sad eyes>”.  Good lord, either spit it out or suck it up, don’t try that bullshit with me.  After the millionth time, I wanted to punch somebody.  Does anyone enjoy that? Does anyone think “Ooh, what a fun game, string me along some more!” Maybe. However, I am not that type of masochist.

Thinking about it today, after I’ve calmed down a bit, I think it reads like a movie.  It could work as a movie, actually.  The reason we know about the lack of grieving in the book is that we are privy to what Fin is thinking and it’s not about his son.  It would be possible to keep the story as it is and have the actor act like it’s always on his mind.  In my mind this would involve that little “I need to fart” look that botoxed actors use to indicate, well, any sort of negative feeling.  That and swelling, sad music.  The constant barrage of bad things happening is par for the course in movies, so they’d be ok there, too.

So that’s my review.  I had thought I’d include books I’ve read in this blog every now and then – not anything re-read or anything not really worth going over.  I still love India Knight’s writing, of course, and her amazing sense of style, but think my taste in books differs.