More Clicks with Amazon Associates Link Builder WordPress Plugin

Amazon Associates Link Builder

In case you didn’t know, Amazon has a plugin for WordPress users that are also members of Amazon’s affiliate program. The affiliate program allows you to monetize visitors to your site by promoting products and getting a commission if users click through to Amazon and make a purchase. I think the most successful thing is to promote products that you use regularly and can write a review about. Users are typically looking for reviews/recommendations and if you already have users coming to your site, promoting products that you find useful is a great way to add content to your site and monetize your visitors. I personally find writing a review about a product that I believe in to be better than putting another ad on my site.

The plugin from Amazon provides an easy way to embed affiliate links into your site. These affiliate links allow Amazon to credit visits/transactions to your account. If users don’t click on your links and go directly to Amazon, you won’t get credit. With the plugin, you can search for products and get real-time prices. There’s also different widgets and custom ad-units (but I don’t recommend these as they’re basically ads and users don’t like/click on ads).

The reviews for the plugin aren’t great with a current rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars. There’s a lot of complaints about the plugin not working and functionality only working if you’re already a member of the affiliate program with significant sales. So I would recommend only using the plugin if you’re already a member of the program.

Google Pixel Slate – Chrome OS + Tablet

Pixel Slate

The Pixel Slate isn’t new at this point, but it’s an interesting piece of hardware. The hardware looks amazing, the accessories also look high quality and it’s running Chrome OS. It all sounds perfect. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t live up to the promises. Let’s start with the configuration options:

  1. 8th Gen i7 with 16GB RAM 256GB storage
  2. 8th Gen i5 with 8GB RAM 128GB storage
  3. 8th Gen m3 with 8GB RAM 64GB storage
  4. Celeron 8GB RAM 64GB storage
  5. Celeron 4GB RAM 32GB storage

The entry level with the Celeron comes at the right price-point, around $500, but reports are that the Celeron and 4GB RAM is woefully under-equipped to match the high-performance looks of the device. And unfortunately, they top of line is probably out of the price range of most buyers, around $1500.

The physical configurations are also interesting, the Slate can be a tablet, a laptop with either a rigid or flexible keyboard and a tablet in tent mode. The keyboards and Pixel Pen are nice additions as well. Unfortunately, all these things are additional and will increase the overall price of your purchase.

Another interesting feature which isn’t exclusive to the Slate is the support native Linux applications. You can now run Linux applications in addition to the Chrome OS and Android applications that you could previously run. This does open the door to having Chrome OS be a full replacement for Mac for software development. More on this in a future post.

I personally got the i5 model and the performance has been good. I’ll save my full review for another post, but the TLDR is that the Slate is an excellent replacement for most users but probably priced too high. A better alternative would be the original Pixelbook. The current Slate doesn’t really provide a better experience. Maybe the next version (if there is one) will have a stronger value proposition or a lower price that will help increase user adoption. Here’s to the future.

Best New Chromebook On The Block: HP X2

HP Chromebook X2

The new HP X2 looks to be one of the best non-Pixelbooks currently available. With a 12.3″ touch screen, Intel Core M processor, 4GB memory, a 32GB eMMC hard drive and an included Active Pen for $599, that’s an excellent value. Currently, only available from BestBuy but luckily it seems like you can get them now instead of their projected June 10th release date. There are some early reviews from folks who got their hands on the X2 early. Overall, it seems like a solid Chromebook with the right bells and whistles and doesn’t break the bank. So if you’re in the market for a new laptop but don’t want to go high-end and low-end, this is a great feature-packed laptop with a mid-range price.

Check out the latest review from Chrome Unboxed.

Blogging on a Chromebook

Chromebook

While there are a lot of options for your primary computer ranging from tablets, desktops and laptops – a Chromebook is a perfect blend for bloggers. So if you haven’t heard of a Chromebook before, it’s a laptop that runs Google’s Chrome OS. We’ll get into why Chrome OS is great, but let’s start with the physical device itself. While not universal, there are a lot of Chromebooks with a touchscreen, so you get the ease of touch navigation and a familiar tablet interface. On top of that, Chromebooks are generally extremely light and portable so you can slip one into your bag and basically blog from anywhere. And probably one of the most compelling reasons to get a Chromebook is the price. Without much hassle or waiting, you can get a Chromebook for under $200. Compared to high-end Windows or Mac machines that can cost over $1000, a Chromebook is an extremely affordable option. Now for Chrome OS, it’s a custom operating system built by Google that focuses the experience around the browser which happens to be Chrome. Google provides a suite of browser-based office applications like Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides and others. These applications provide the basic functionality everyone expects from a laptop and basically more than most people need. On top of that, you have access to a number of apps that can run inside of Chrome ranging from music players, image editing software and even games. And you can also install Android apps from the Google Play store. So, you get a cheaper alternative to high-end laptops, similar office functionality to a laptop, a touchscreen like a tablet, a full keyboard that will make typing easier than a tablet, a portable light-weight device you can carry with you and a simple intuitive browser interface.

Next time, we’ll start comparing Chromebooks from top manufacturers like Samsung, HP, Acer, Lenovo, Dell and Google.

WordPress 4.7.4 Maintenance Release

After almost sixty million downloads of WordPress 4.7, WordPress 4.7.4 is available for download/upgrade.

WordPress 4.7.4 fixes 47 bugs from Version 4.7.3, including an incompatibility between the upcoming Chrome version and the visual editor, inconsistencies in media handling, and further improvements to the REST API.

For a full list of changes, consult the release notes and the list of changes.

WordPress Fatal error: Call to undefined function current_theme_supports()

WordPress

It’s another day and another WordPress error. You might see the following error after some type of update:

Fatal error: Call to undefined function current_theme_supports() in /home/u691482164/public_html/wp-includes/taxonomy.php on line 148

The exact cause is a little murky. The most likely cause for this is while you were updating WordPress or possibly a plugin, the files didn’t get updated correctly. Old files weren’t replaced or the update only partially completed. The good news it that to fix this error, you just need to do the update again. You’ll probably have to manually do the update. So if you were updating WordPress, make sure to update the appropriate files/folders (root, wp-admin, wp-content, wp-includes). But be careful not to delete your theme in wp-content. Definitely back-up your files before you start replacing things. That way you at least have something to go back to if you seriously mess things up.

I hope this helps someone. If you’re still having problems or need help, leave a comment and I’ll try to help. But I also recommend checking on the WordPress Support Forum – lots of super helpful and smart people. And if you already host your own WordPress instance or want to start, check out my list of Best WordPress Hosts.

WordPress 4.7.3 Security and Maintenance Release

There’s another update by the WordPress team. The last update was back in January, so it’s been over a month since the last update. I definitely recommend upgrading as soon as possible. I had not updated my system and hackers were able to compromise my site and publish their own content. It was easy to revert the content, but it was not a great a feeling knowing someone had updated my site without my consent. Details on the update below.

This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.

WordPress versions 4.7.2 and earlier are affected by six security issues:

  1. Cross-site scripting (XSS) via media file metadata.  Reported by Chris Andrè Dale, Yorick Koster, and Simon P. Briggs.
  2. Control characters can trick redirect URL validation.  Reported by Daniel Chatfield.
  3. Unintended files can be deleted by administrators using the plugin deletion functionality.  Reported by xuliang.
  4. Cross-site scripting (XSS) via video URL in YouTube embeds.  Reported by Marc Montpas.
  5. Cross-site scripting (XSS) via taxonomy term names.  Reported by Delta.
  6. Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) in Press This leading to excessive use of server resources.  Reported by Sipke Mellema.

In addition to the security issues above, WordPress 4.7.3 contains 39 maintenance fixes to the 4.7 release series. For more information, see the release notes or consult the list of changes.

PHP Fatal error: Call to undefined function wp_suspend_cache_addition()

WordPress

I encountered another error causing my site to not load and blocking me from logging into the admin console. So if you’re getting the following error in your logs, keep reading to learn how to fix the problem and get your site up and running.

Fatal error: Call to undefined function wp_suspend_cache_addition() in /home/u356894638/public_html/wp-includes/cache.php on line 415

This error is most likely due to a caching plugin – if you’re not sure what that means, check to see if you have one of the following plugins:

  • WP Super Cache
  • W3 Total Cache
  • WP Rocket
  • Any plugin with the word “cache” in it

What probably happened is that the plugin was updated and/or WordPress was updated and is causing this incompatibility. So what do you do? The only guaranteed solution is to disable the plugin until the issue is resolved by the plugin. To disable the plugin, you’ll need to access to your website’s filesystem through your control panel’s file manager, FTP or direct shell access via SSH. Then follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to /wp-content/plugins
  2. Find the directory/folder of the plugin causing the problem
  3. Rename the directory to something else (i.e. badplugin-disabled)

Once you’ve done that, your site should be active again and you should be able to login to the admin panel.

I hope this helps someone. If you’re still having problems or need help, leave a comment and I’ll try to help. But I also recommend checking on the WordPress Support Forum – lots of super helpful and smart people. And if you already host your own WordPress instance or want to start, check out my list of Best WordPress Hosts.

WordPress 4.7.2 Security Update

WordPress

We have an update from the WordPress team and WordPress 4.7.2 is now available. This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately. It’s great to see another update addressing some fairly serious security issues. This is a good sign of well-maintained software. Kudos to the team over at WordPress.

WordPress versions 4.7.1 and earlier are affected by three security issues:

  1. The user interface for assigning taxonomy terms in Press This is shown to users who do not have permissions to use it. Reported by David Herrera of Alley Interactive.
  2. WP_Query is vulnerable to a SQL injection (SQLi) when passing unsafe data. WordPress core is not directly vulnerable to this issue, but we’ve added hardening to prevent plugins and themes from accidentally causing a vulnerability. Reported by Mo Jangda (batmoo).
  3. A cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability was discovered in the posts list table. Reported by Ian Dunn of the WordPress Security Team.

Download WordPress 4.7.2 or venture over to Dashboard → Updates and simply click “Update Now.” Sites that support automatic background updates are already beginning to update to WordPress 4 look at more info.7.2.

UpdraftPlus PHP Fatal error: Can’t use function return value in write context

WordPress

If you’re reading this, you probably have a dead site and you’re seeing the following error in your logs:

Fatal error: Can’t use function return value in write context in /home/u356894638/public_html/wp-content/plugins/updraftplus/admin.php on line 3855

This is luckily a known issue and something that can be fixed. Unfortunately, the options to fix this are manual and may require more technical understanding than some people have. You can read through the thread on the WordPress Support Forum or just take a look at your options below:

1) Download this file and save on your computer: https://plugins.svn.wordpress.org/updraftplus/tags/1.12.32/admin try this site.php. Then, using a FTP or the file manager in your web hosting control panel, replace the file wp-content/plugins/updraftplus/admin.php with this file:

OR

2) Using FTP or the file manager in your web hosting control panel, remove the directory wp-content/plugins/updraftplus. You will then be able to log into your admin area. Your front-end site will be down until you do so.

OR

3) Use any remote-control panel product that you have connected your site to (e.g. UpdraftCentral, JetPack Manage, ManageWP, etc.) to update UpdraftPlus.

OR

4) Edit the file wp-content/plugins/updraftplus/admin.php in any tool of your choice, and remove lines 3855-3857, which are:

if (isset($settings['updraft_include_more_path']) || UpdraftPlus_Options::get_updraft_option('updraft_include_more_path')) {
$more_files_path_updated = true;
}

OR

5) Using your web hosting control panel, update your site to use PHP 5.5 or later.

I hope this helps someone – I would highly recommend option #4 if you’re comfortable editing files on your server. Then you’ll be able to update the plugin from within the admin console which will be least risky way to upgrade a plugin.