To My Ello Friends: A Few Days Into the Experiment.

Some thoughts on @ello

If I recall correctly, the way MySpace got rolling was that they recruited a bunch of lower-tier models and bands in order to make the population seem cool. And that slimy quality never really went away.

Of course, this is probably a premature complaint (is it?), but I fear that something similar might be going on here on ello. In the few days I’ve been here, I feel like there’s tons of stuff flying around that’s really just magazine spreads and and logos… MySpace was once described to me as “an online version of the inside of a teenager’s high school locker.” Now the kiddies use tumblr for that purpose and everyone else uses pinterest: topical passive image consumption and re-posting things that manifest how you want to be seen, by consuming a feed of re-posted crap from a bunch of strangers whom are filtered by topics or genres. Right?

And for now I really don’t want to see runway models and futuristic, laser-accurate post-modern woodcarvings from wall to wall. It actually makes me feel like I’m part of some sort of ‘early adopter’ demographic and I’m being profiled and marketed at. Pretty funny. I put myself here and I’m complaining. But bear with me for a sec.

Once #hashtags are working, and I can actually filter the noise in useful ways, OK fine. But until then, there’s really no value here, beyond the manifesto, unless everyone just shuts the fuck up and talks about what they had for lunch and then uploads a picture of their cat or their baby, while recruiting their ‘real’ friends and family to come here and do the same. Seriously.

The appeal of FaceBook, at least for me (and I suspect the vast majority of people who are not early adopters), is that it doesn’t have to be noisey/quiet if you don’t want it to be. It can be less-quiet/quiet. I know a lot of early adopters are also hustling to promote themselves as the next super-important entrepreneur/influencer/visionary. And I love all those/us people too. But it is a bit ironic to me that everyone flocking to the non-data-mining, non-commercial social software platform (which even has a goddamn ‘manifesto’ for cryin out loud) gets here and and immediately whips out their SEO/follower-collection habbits.

This isn’t going to stick if we can’t get grandma and Joe Blow on here. So I guess what I’m saying is, perhaps we should, as a community of people who are early to this place, think about the potential here, that is, if we decide to steer the status quo of behavior in a constructive direction, acting as an example to the next round of people. Construction problems, missing features, and an unfamiliar interface aside, I know the old ladies I know would bounce right the fuck back out the door if they came to this place and saw what I’m seeing.

I may be sounding like a luddite to you (and to me a bit too), but there’s no way to filter all this content yet. So maybe we should dial back our douchebaggery and think about the ello manifesto and what appeals to us most about it, and what will make that actually happen: Grandma and Joe Blow coming here, along with a few hundred million other people (most of whom live in stupid towns and just have jobs and cats and babies) who are tired of being spied on, bought and sold by Facebook, data-mining companies, marketers Etc. Right?

We’re expecting company! Right?

fix: Shortcodes in NextGen Descriptions, Simple PayPal Shopping Cart

NOTE: this will probably work to use shortcodes for any plugin or theme within NextGen Image Descriptions, but this does not make the shortcodes get parsed and work in the lightbox effects. Also, you’ll have to put the gallery template file somewhere where it works. I couldn’t get it to work in my theme’s folder. So this post has it in a plugin’s folder, but you may not be using that plugin (although I guess you could install it, just for the shortcode-enabling bit)

Link to modified gallery-wp-cart.php file which should be used to overwrite the version in /plugins/wordpress-simple-paypal-shopping-cart/lib/.

This was a NIGHTMARE for me to figure out. After some recent software updates, probably most notably, Nextgen Gallery’s big v2 update, my client’s descriptions disappeared from the lightbox effect.

We had things set up so that each image in a gallery represents a product.  Underneath each thumbnail in the gallery is an “add to cart” button created with WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart Plugin. This was done by adding the following syntax to each image’s description in “Manage Galleries:”

Visible human-readable description is here followed by human-friendly price, followed by shortcode contained within SPAN so I could selectively hide the shorcode. $20<span class=”cart”>[(remove this)wp_cart_button name=”Product Name” price=”20.00″(remove this too)]</span>

Then with CSS, captions were hidden from thumbnail view, buttons were un-hidden and styled for thumbnail veiw, lightbox captions were styled and lightbox shortcodes (which just display as the shortcodes, a challenge I’m not up to night now) were hidden via the span.

It worked fine, but after some site maintenance, shit went crazy.  Captions disappeared.  The closest I could get to getting things back was to use “template=caption”  in a legacy Nextgen shortcode, but this did not allow the Cart Buttons to be parsed and render as buttons.

Nextgen says on their site that you can create new gallery templates by adding them to your active theme.  While this may be the case, it wasn’t working for me.

I noticed, by the way, that that span id=”lightbox-image-details-caption” now had style=”display: none; and the span that previously contained the caption was now empty :(

I think having gallery-wp-cart.php in two places (the theme and the plugin) favors the plugin over the theme.  And anyway, the file that came with WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart is out of date, at least as of writing this, 2014-09-28.

So after spinning my wheels for hours and hours, I finally created a hybrid of gallery-caption.php (from nextgen) and gallery-wp-cart.php (from WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart). Link is below and above (zipped file). I used this to replace the plugin’s version.  Of course, this will get overwritten when there’s an update to the plugin.

If you are going to try to use my solution, and you’re working for someone else, I recommend, at the very least editing the cart plugin’s description  to contain a warning not to auto update (in wp_shopping_cart.php).

Here’s the Gallery Template file I made.