Cool Install and Upgrade Plugins for WordPress

I use WordPress for several sites, so I’m always on the lookout for good plugins. I stumbled upon two today that could make all of our lives a little bit easier.

The first, is not really a plugin. It’s more of a script. What it does is make it insanely easy to install WordPress. One of the bottlenecks for WordPress installation is the FTPing of all the WordPress files to your server. EasyWP WordPress Installer (hat tip: DazzlinDonna) is one little file. You upload it to your server and then run the script. The script takes care of the rest and prompts you with a webform for the info that you would normally put into a wp-config file. Sounds easy.
At this point, I haven’t tested this, but it really does seem to be that easy. The only caveat that I see so far is the security of the files that it’s downloading to do the install. I’m assuming that it’s pulling the file directly from the WordPress repository, but even so, some caution will still be required.

The second plugin really is a plugin.  It’s called the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin.  Wanna guess what it does?  There are a couple of programs out there that will automatically upgrade your WordPress install.  This one seems to be a good one.  It automatically backs up  your files, and backs up your database.  It then ftps the zip file from the WordPress repository and unzips it.  It then gives you the link to the upgrade page.  Oh, and it deactivates all your active plugins and then remembers which ones were on so it can reactivate them when it’s done.  It also has a feature to do all of it completely automatic with no prompts.  Pretty cool huh?

I’m sure I’ll find a good excuse to test these two out over the next week or so.  The auto upgrade one should come in really handy for a few sites that are using WordPress as a CMS and don’t get the attention that they deserve on the backend.  And the install one should come in very handy for another project that I’m thinking about.

Anyone else tried either of these out?  Or have others that are cooler?

Akismet/Popularity Comment Count Workaround

When I moved to the new design, I switched the “popular posts” plugin to the much more feature rich plugin “Popularity Contest” by Alex King.  I really like the plugin and the features that it added.  I like that I can weight the different aspects of the posts popularity.  If I think that Comments are most important, I can weight them higher than pageviews.

One downside to the plugin is that it counts all comments made.  That means that any comment that a spammer leaves gets counted.  Even if Akismet catches it.  What that does when you have a couple of popular spam comment targets is to skew the popularity counts and make your spammiest posts your most popular.  In effect, it becomes a most popular spam post list.

I haven’t yet found a permanent fix to the problem.  One way I’ve found to help with it (I haven’t implemented it) is to use both Akismet and Spam Karma.  I haven’t done that because I  didn’t like Spam Karma the last time I used it.  Personal choice.

I did, however, find a bit of a workaround to the problem.  The plugin options page has a button for recalculating the numbers.  Every time I go to delete my spam from Akismet, I then just add the step of going to the options page for Popularity Contest and click that button.  It resets and recounts the counts without the deleted spam comments included.  Giving a bit more accurate list.

Of course, the downside is that if I don’t delete spam for several days it still will be heavily skewed until I delete them and recalculate.  I’d like for it to be automatic or just not count the spam queue comments altogether.  I’m sure that it could be done via some code to eliminate certain flagged comments in the DB, but I really don’t feel like tearing apart the plugin code to figure it out.  Hopefully, Alex will find a way around it in a future release.

Until then, that’s my workaround.