Category Archives: Google

Installed Google Friend Connect WordPress Plugin

Google just made the Google Friend Connect API available to developers. What made this interesting was that it would make it easier for site admins/developers to integrate Friend Connect into existing login systems. As a WordPress user, I was excited to see that there was a plugin for my blogging platform of choice. An added bonus was that I knew some of the people involved in the development of the plugin. :)

I wrote that first paragraph with the understanding that readers would know what Friend Connect was and what it was for. However, it is not that widely in use so I can’t expect people to know what it is.

Google Friend Connect provides a simple means of one-click user authentication using a pre-existing Google, Yahoo, AIM, or OpenID account. This means that a user doesn’t need to create a new account for every site that he comes across.

After installing the plugin to enable Friend Connect authentication on my blog, I tried out the Friend Connect sign-in process while I was logged out to see what it would look like to non-admin visitors. I had a few moments of panic after seeing that logging into the Friend Connect system also logged me into my blog. The scary part about that was that I saw a link that said Site Admin, which only I as admin should see. It turned out that I was only logged in as a Subscriber, and the Site Admin showed the dashboard, but only as much as subscribers can see. Basically, regular visitors were not getting admin access. It was a false alarm. I was able to confirm by checking the list of Users and saw my Friend Connect user identity was appropriately marked as Subscriber.

That’s the other cool thing about this plugin; it is able to add users to a website’s database. A couple of weeks ago, I was working on a Friend Connect login solution for Coppermine Photo Gallery but got stuck due to CPG needing database access to the application’s users. If I or any CPG developer can work with the GFC API, we could enable visitors to login with their Friend Connect credentials, and have those accounts create new users in the gallery’s user table in the database.

Feel free to try it out here by logging into Friend Connect to leave a comment. Of course, comments are still open to visitors who are not logged in, but when logged in, you won’t have to enter the usual blog comment form fields.

If you installed the plugin for your site and noticed that the blog looked different in places you did not want it to look different, it is due to some css definitions that the plugin has.  You will need to delete or comment out the unwanted css definitions in fc_plugin.php

Webmaster Tool: Find Sources of 404 Errors

Thanks to Matt Cutts for the heads up on how to use Google Webmaster Tools to get more information on our websites’ 404 File Not Found errors. As the Google Webmaster Central Blog announced: Webmaster Tools shows Crawl error sources.

For those who have not used the diagnostic tools of Webmaster Central, one of the informative features is getting a listing of the urls that resulted in 404 File Not Found errors. Previously, it was an exercise in futily, though, since we did not know where the incorrect link(s) originated. Now, that we know where the sources are, we have a better chance of correcting the links.

When I went to find out what caused my site’s 404 errors, it was pretty enlightening. I found out what appeared to be a hack attempt on my blog. I found some bad urls in the form of Fortunately, my blog was up-to-date so those urls didn’t do anything malicious nor contain anything bad on the pages. I checked Google’s cache to confirm that there was no spam. However, those results did show up in a Google site search of my blog so I needed to do something to get rid of them. This was what I added in my robots.txt to tell search engines to drop those urls from their indices:

Disallow: /blog/page/*/?ref=*

I love being able to use wildcards in robots.txt. Another nifty tool in Webmaster Tools is “Analyze robots.txt”, which enables testing of robots.txt disallow/allow patterns against actual urls to see if Googlebot will respond to the urls correctly.

Another thing I found was that there was a broken file path for a flash file on my site. Once I found out on what page it occurred, I was able to come up with a solution and fix it.

Thanks to the Google Webmaster Tools team for giving us webmasters such a useful tool.

Coppermine in Google Summer of Code 2008

For the second year in a row, Google accepted Coppermine to be a mentor organization in Google Summer of Code. Yay!

I am again going to be an organization administrator to coordinate Coppermine’s participation in the program. The student that I mentored last year not only continued to work with Coppermine, but signed up to be a mentor and organization administrator this year. :)

I decided to make use of Google Sites to have one place where interested students can learn about working with Coppermine in GSoC. There is a thread in Coppermine forums to post public questions about Coppermine in GSoC. For non-public GSoC correspondence, there is an email address: The email address is specifically for Google Summer of Code communications and isn’t necessarily going to forward only to me (that means no love letters! :D). For anything else, please use the other means of communication.

Google Summer of Code Mentor Dinner

As I mentioned before, some of the participants of Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit had dinner together the night before the “unconference” earlier this month.

When I volunteered to make dinner reservations due to my being a local, there were less than 10 people. By the time I was to make reservations earlier in the week, the number made it challenging to get reservations on a Friday night. Fortunately, someone at work helped me out by getting me in touch with the owner of Don Giovanni in Mountain View. He said there would be no problem accommodating a party of 25 since they had a second dining area. When I called him the morning of the dinner to give the menu selection, there were 43. When we got there at 7, there 12 people, so we thought maybe fewer people would show up than had signed up. Eventually, 53 people showed up. The staff was great about getting everyone to fit. Initially, everyone ordered individual dishes. It turned out to be too difficult for the chefs to prepare such a vast variety of dishes and ensure that everyone would get the food at the same time. So we were given four choices to pick from. That ended up working well. It was pretty clever how they kept track of who ordered what; they gave each of us a poker chip that represented

What we noticed and discussed was the percentage of women at dinner. Out of 53 people (although not all were GSoC participants and not all participants were there), there were two women, including myself. What’s interesting about that is the approximate 4% representation at the dinner is the same percentage of GSoC students who were women. It’s one thing to see statistics on paper but it’s even more striking to see it in person. I don’t remember Google asking my gender in my mentor “paperwork” so I don’t think they have stats on percentage of female mentors. That would be interesting to know.

Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit

Yay! I will be going to Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit where I will get to meet some of the mentors and organization administrators of GSoC. What I look forward to in particular is meeting open source developers from other teams, and around the world. The only bummer is that I am the only one from Coppermine who can attend because the other mentors have visa and passport issues. :( I was really looking forward to the opportunity to meet my team members, whom I have only interacted with over the internet.

The summit will be this Saturday, October 6. People will be flying in the day(s) before, so we’re planning a group dinner on Friday. Since I am a “local” I volunteered to make the reservations as well as research restaurants and transportation. The scary part is finding a restaurant that will accept such a big group on a Friday night, as well as finding transportation for people who aren’t all going to have cars. The restaurant selection is even dependent on transportation in case we have to take the bus.

The hotel where the attendees will be staying is not too far from where I live so I’m also going to attend the after party after the summit on Saturday. I have volunteered to bring my Wii if anyone is willing to host the Wii party in their room.