About Brian Fitzgerald

Brian is the web communications manager for Computing Services at Lincoln Public Schools.

Adding Users to Your Site

Want to get some help with your site or have plans to work on another site as a group, WordPress makes it easy to invite others in. Simply visit the “Users” section in the admin menu and choose “Add User” to pop in any LPS username. You can manage your users by clicking on “Authors & Users”. Not sure of somebody’s username? Look them up in the staff directory. Wondering what permission to grant? Here’s a breakdown of the options.

Placing Tables into WordPress Posts and Pages

I get asked a lot about placing tables into WordPress. I’m obligated to first say that tables are intended for tabular data that you wish to display in your site such as a directory or anything that would feel at home in a spreadsheet. Tables are not intended to be used as a layout tool and can cause a lot of problems for folks that are using assistive devices such as screen readers to consume your information. I would strongly encourage that if you are simply looking for a way to put some text and images on your page that you stick to simple paragraphs in tandem with left or right aligned images.

That being said, here is a two part video detailing the use of tables in WordPress at LPS

WordPress Upgrade… What’s New?

This past weekend, WordPress at LPS was upgraded to the latest version: So what’s new? Here are the biggest changes you will see:

  • When you upload a photo you will have a button to “edit photo.” This new feature will give you the opportunity to crop, rotate, flip and scale your photo. Note, these changes are not destructive, meaning that you can always get your original picture back. It also means that you won’t reclaim any disk space by cropping and sizing your pictures down.
  • Removing pages and posts is now more like removing items from your computer. Every item has a “trash” link that will send the item to the trash can. This means that you can quickly delete things without bothersome “are you sure?” messages and then empty your trash at your convenience (or recover from the trash if you make a mistake).
  • Easy video/picture embeds. Looking to drop in a video from a video sharing site? Now you can simply include the address to the video page on a line by itself and WordPress will figure out the rest. This will NOT work for LPS solutions such as Docushare (for which you will continue to use the ProPlayer button) but does work for the following sites among others: YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, blip.tv, Flickr (both videos and images), Viddler, Hulu…

Using this last point, here is an embedded video with some more details about WordPress 2.9


Why Won’t You Install “x” Plugin or Theme

… You just opened a can…

Professional, Consistent and Supportable

This is what we are after with our sites. When you are looking at your site and we are looking at 5,000 potential sites, our perspectives are going to be different. This first section, “The Computing Services Perspective” will get us on the same page. The second section, “Pr’tty your site up” will give some ideas for customization.

The Computing Services Perspective

Computing Services is tasked with providing sites that can be used to extend your classroom online. The intent of these sites is to be a resource to your students and improve communication with parents and the community. These goals are served by the functionality of the platform and the content that those using it provide. The visual appearance of the sites impacts our intent in that visitors are more likely to read and enjoy a site that isn’t punishing their eyeballs. With that in mind, we provide a theme that is clean, simple and emotionally neutral.


Your web site likely serves a number of audiences. As you are posting assignments and class notes, You may consider your primary audience to be your students. As you post this content, you may also have in mind that this information helps some parents stay informed and hold students accountable when at home. In this sense, your web site becomes your way to offer a transparent classroom, giving nobody the opportunity to say, “I didn’t know” whether that be students or those encouraging them. In this sense, your site needs to “dress” appropriately for it’s daily job of working with these diverse groups.


Your web site is part of a community of LPS web sites. While it can be personally fun and rewarding to design your page, it is not in the best interest of those visiting your page to have it be different from everybody else’s. Your web site is more friendly when it looks and behaves like other sites in your community. Likewise, you are more able to help others or be helped when you have the same configuration that another educator has.


What can seem like a small decision can be a pretty major one on the support end. Consider adding an additional theme. Here are some of the technical/support questions that have to be addressed.

  • Does the browser work in the browsers our users use (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer-Win v.7/v.8, Safari)?
  • Does it support the plug-ins that we have installed?
  • Is it compatible with our current themes so that somebody can switch to/from it easily?
  • Does the theme look like it has solid development structure behind it?
    • Are problems with it promptly addressed?
    • Is it made compatible with new releases of WordPress promptly?
  • Is the theme compatible with alternative user-agents such as screen readers

While it would be easiest for a while to just install themes/plug-ins for folks, over time it would begin to degrade everybody’s experience as a platform developed that was unmaintainable. The only shot that we have to be successful supporting the system is to limit the system add-ons to as few as possible.

Besides, keeping our system small provides many benefits. As we get feedback about how people are using their sites and what should be changed and improved, we have a clear target for those improvements. It would be much better use of time to make 5 improvements to the one core theme, than 1 improvement to 5 different themes. The new customization feature for example took most of a day to get working the way that we need it to, and will still take some tweaking. If we were running multiple themes, we would be quickly talking about almost a week to do the same thing. It unfortunately just doesn’t make sense institutionally to multiply the time required for every support effort so that some folks can have a site that looks just the way they want.

Pr’tty your site up

Now that that is out of the way and you know where we are coming from, here are some ideas for customizing your site that don’t require us to make changes for you on the system side.

Using video on your wordpress site

Uploading video into your wordpress site can seem trickier than it should be. One of the biggest reasons for this is that the audio or video format that you saved to is incompatible with the flash video player in WordPress. This video demonstrates how to re-encode your videos easily to a format that will work and then upload them for use in your wordpress site.

Categories: I’ve added them… but where are they?

You can use the “Categories” section in WordPress to create has many categories and nested categories as you wish, but you may notice that if you return to your site you will find little evidence of them. The reason for this is that WordPress does not display categories on your site that have no posts attributed to them. Once you create some posts and assign them into these new categories you will start to see the categories themselves appear.

Pasting from Word? Please view this…

It’s come to my attention that if you paste from Microsoft Word directly into WordPress WITHOUT using the “Paste from Word” button in WordPress, that Internet Explorer users on Windows are unable to view your content. The simple solution is to always use “Paste from Word” when you are pasting in your text.

Need more explanation or a demonstration? Here ya go: