How to easily add a widget area to WordPress

Does your WordPress theme not have enough widget areas? Do you want to add a widget to an area that does not have a widget area? No problem. This is a simple, easy-to-follow tutorial showing how to add a widget area to WordPress.

Step One

How to easily add a widget area to WordPress - Bent Corner
Open up an FTP client and go to the themes folder on the web site’s server and select the child theme for your website. If you are not using a child theme, you really should, but I’m not going to tell you how to run your life.

Then, move a copy of functions.php and style.css to your desktop. In Filezilla, this means selecting the files in question and simply dragging them to the desktop.

You can keep local copies of a child theme’s files on your computer, but I prefer to grab fresh copies off the server if I need them. With local copies, you sometimes run the risk of customizing older versions of the child theme’s files. When you grab copies of the server, that will not happen. Reload the website to make sure there’s not an error in the PHP, which will result in the dreaded white screen of death.

How to easily add a widget area to WordPress - Bent Corner
The graphic novel White Death by Robbie Morrison and Charlie Adlard. Oddly enough, not about PHP errors in WordPress.

Step Two

Open functions.php in the editor of your choice. Go to the bottom of the file and add the following code:

You will want to rename name_of_widget_area to something that will identify your new widget area in the code. You will also want to rename “Name of Widget Area” to something that will identify your new widget area on the Appearance > Widgets screen in WordPress.

Once you’ve done that, save functions.php and move it back to the server.

Step Three

Go to Appearance > Widgets in WordPress. You should now see your new widget area.

Go back to your FTP client and navigate to the file where you want to place the new widget. I’m using the default Twenty Sixteen WordPress theme as the parent theme, and Claire Brotherton’s most excellent child theme for Twenty Sixteen.

Since I wanted to add an extra widget area under the author area and above the comments section on single posts, I grabbed a copy of content-single.php using my FTP client and moved it to my desktop. I then added the following code at the bottom of the entry-content division, where I wanted the new widget area to appear.


The heart of the modification is line 3. It is what inserts the new function added to functions.php in step three into the theme. I placed the code in an aside with after-author-info as the ID as well as the class.

Step Four

Now it’s only a matter of making the new widget area look pretty. Open the style.css file you moved to your desktop in Step One and at the bottom of the file, add new CSS selectors for what you named the new ID and another for the new class. Then style them as needed. This is what I added to my style.css:

You’ll need to move the modified style.css to your server to see your changes.

Once you’re done, go ahead and delete the files you moved over to your desktop. If you need them again, go into your FTP client and grab fresh copies.

In Conclusion

There’s really no limit to the number of widgets you can add to WordPress. I’ve seen some non-blog websites where almost everything is added as a widget. I don’t think I would ever do that, but the possibility exists.

If you have any questions, please post a comment.

WordPress 5.0 is the New Coke of WordPress

I logged into this blog this morning and saw that I had an update to install. It’s for WordPress. 5.0 “Bebo.”

WordPress 5.0 is the New Coke of WordPress - Bent Corner
Update my site to WordPress version 5.0? Not today Satan.

I am not going to update my blog to version 5.0. Instead, I will wait for version 5.03 or higher before I even think about updating WordPress.

I have no reason to update my blog to version 5.0. The bulk of the update seems to be to add Gutenberg, a new editor. It’s totally different from the current editor. WordPress touts it as, “A whole new way to use WordPress.

What if I don’t want a whole new way to use WordPress?

If you’ve ever written an article on Medium, you will recognize Gutenberg. It borrows heavily from the Medium interface. Maybe people want that. All I know is I don’t. If I wanted a Medium-like experience, I’d write more articles on Medium. I don’t want that so I don’t do that.

Gutenberg seems to be a top-down change. People who use WordPress to create websites and blogs seem to be perfectly happy with the existing editor. People at the top, people like WordPress co-creator Matt Mullenweg are the ones clamoring for a new editor. If you install version 5.0 and you still want to use the regular editor, you have to install a plugin called Classic Editor. According to Mullenweg, it will be supported until 2021. As of this morning, it already has over 700,000 active installs.

WordPress 5.0 is the New Coke of WordPress - Bent Corner
Matt Mullenweg

WordPress 5.0 is very much like New Coke. It’s a change no one asked for meant to replace something no one wanted to be changed.

What is with the name Bebo?

Bebo Valdés
Bebo Valdés

The fact that WordPress 5.0 has the dumbest name of all the WordPress versions is appropriate. Would anyone name a new car model Bebo? Nope. It’s named after Cuban jazz musician Bebo Valdés. Who likes jazz music you might ask? Matt Mullenweg, that’s who. Like more normal human beings, I hate jazz music. It’s pretentious and annoying. I’d rather listen to country music or even Jimmy Buffett than the noise pollution known as jazz music. I hate country music and I hate Jimmy Buffett, just not as much as jazz.

Update (8 December 2018)

Unfortunately, I awoke this morning to discover my site automatically updated to WordPress 5.0. I don’t understand how that happened as I have automatic updates turned off. Even if I didn’t, I don’t think major updates automatically update.

I didn’t realize it even happened until I opened up the editor to write a new post and I discovered Gutenberg on my screen. I quickly installed Classic Editor and everything seems to be okay now.

I’m not someone who fears or avoids change. I just don’t see the need for swapping tools without a reason. Much like a hammer is the best tool for driving nails, the pre-WordPress 5.0 editor is the best tool for writing blog posts.  It’s not like I’ve never given Gutenberg a try. I did and didn’t like it.

I have a feeling I’m not alone on this.

I’m extremely thankful to have health insurance

I’m so, so thankful I have health insurance. I received a statement in the mail from the University of Maryland Medical Center for the surgery to remove part of my large bowel last month.

I'm extremely thankful to have health insurance - Bent Corner
(Click to see a larger version)

Because I have health insurance, my out of pocket cost for the whole thing was zero.

I’m lucky to have health insurance. Actually, I’m lucky to be married to Sheri who works for a company that offers health insurance at a subsidized cost. One of the drawbacks of working in the gig economy is that I don’t have employer-subsidized health insurance. That’s because I’m my own employer.  And yes, my boss is a real jerkface.

Not having health insurance is not an option

I’d like to think I wouldn’t put myself into a situation where I didn’t have health insurance. Without actually being in that situation, I can’t be 100 percent certain, but if Sheri didn’t have access to health insurance, I would get a job, any job that provided subsidized health insurance.

The topic of not having health insurance has come up recently in the online Magic: The Gathering community. Wedge, a popular YouTuber, does not have health insurance. He had a serious problem with his back and traveled against doctor’s orders to Grand Prix Las Vegas from upstate New York. The day after he arrived, he woke up not being able to move his legs.

He was taken to the hospital by ambulance and had surgery the following day. Being that he didn’t have health insurance, his sister started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for his hospital bills. So far they’ve raised nearly $80,000.

I'm extremely thankful to have health insurance - Bent Corner
Wedge

Because of people who donated to the GoFundMe campaign, he was able to make a huge dent in his medical costs.

I'm extremely thankful to have health insurance - Bent Corner

For everyone’s sake, I hope Wedge does whatever he needs to do to get health insurance. First, it’s the law. Secondly, I doubt people will donate to a GoFundMe campaign the next time he has something majorly wrong with his health. Then again, maybe they will. It’s really hard to say for certain. If there’s anything people online can be counted on to do, it’s doing the unexpected.

My wife is my hero

If I wasn’t on Sheri’s health insurance, if she didn’t work for a company that provided subsidized health insurance, I’d have to jettison my dream of driving strangers in my car and get a job doing something I hated even more than driving strangers in my car. I could still do e-commerce integration jobs on the side. I could also still sell WordPress plugins on my business website. The nice thing about that stream of revenue is it’s all automatic. I created the plugins a while back and people can buy them and then download them without any action taken by me. It’s all automatic. Someone bought one last night when I was sleeping.

Making money while you sleep is the real American dream.

I cannot wait for Thanksgiving this year

I'm extremely thankful to have health insurance - Bent CornerI’m looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. I have quite a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful to be married to the greatest woman in the world. When I first experienced complications from what would be later diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I’m thankful I was taken by ambulance to Meritus Medical Center where I received world-class care, especially from the nurses on staff. I’m also extremely thankful to have Dr. Tu Bui as my primary doctor. He not only provides excellent care when I see him for an office visit, he visited me in the hospital several times. In fact, he told me I had Crohn’s before any of the experts in gastroenterology made the diagnoses. He’s the best primary care doctor I’ve ever had. Finally, I’m extremely thankful I was able to have Dr. Andrea Bafford perform the surgery that saved my life. 

I’m a lucky and thankful man.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever

I don’t know why, but yesterday was the worst day I’ve ever had as a part-time Uber and Lyft driver. It was like somebody came to Hagerstown and gave everyone who didn’t have a car a free one if they agreed to delete the Uber and Lyft app from their phone.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever - Bent Corner

I had a total of five drives yesterday for a total of $22.47 not including cash tips. For some reason, the few riders I did have were being quite generous with the cash tips.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever - Bent Corner

All five rides were with Uber, not Lyft. I don’t even know if Lyft was working yesterday. Normally as soon as I get a ping from Uber or Lyft and I accept the ride, I go to the other app and go offline. I got to the point yesterday where I didn’t even bother going offline in Lyft. What was the point? It was like Lyft forgot I existed yesterday.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever - Bent Corner

Not getting many drives meant I spent a lot of time sitting in the car reading. We had a wonderful spring day in Hagerstown yesterday. It got up to 95 degrees. That’s right, 95 degrees. The perfect temperature for sitting in the car reading a book. It’s not August, it’s May. Whatever happened to four distinct seasons? Is that just not a thing anymore?

To make matters worse, I didn’t sell any WordPress plugins yesterday. I did get a promising email from a WordPress developer asking if I would be available for future freelance work, so there was that shining moment in a day full of economic darkness.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever - Bent Corner

Not driving people around yesterday meant I had a lot of time for other stuff. I stopped in at Walmart while still logged into Uber and Lyft and bought a magnetic dry erase board and a white t-shirt. It meant I spent more money in less than ten minutes than I earned yesterday.

I haven’t read many books on business, but I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

And so goes the life of a professional freelancer. It’s a lot of hit and miss. Yesterday was pretty bad, but last month I made more money with selling WordPress plugins, integrating eCommerce onto websites, and rideshare driving than I’ve ever made working at a real job. Last month was a very good month. Yesterday was a very bad day.

Update

After writing this post on Friday I went out and made $134.56 just from Uber and Lyft. That doesn’t even include the cash tips I received. This one-day success more than made up for Thursday’s meager earnings. I guess all I have to do is complain here on my blog about not making enough money and poof, the following day I will rake it in like I’m Thurston Howell III.

Thurston Howell III

2015 Hugo Awards nominees announced

The 2015 Hugo Award nominees were announced yesterday, and the list of nominees is reportedly rife with controversy.

I wouldn’t know. I look at the list of finalists for Best Novel, do a quick mental check to see if I’ve read any of them, and then generally move on with my Internet browsing.  The list of finalists is controversial supposedly because lists were published encouraging voters who to nominate, not based so much on the merits of the work, but on the political leanings (or lack of political leanings) of the finalists.

Leckie_AncillarySword

Some have criticized the Hugo Awards for being manipulated by so-called Social Justice Warriors (SJWs), people who believe white men have too much clout and power at the cost of non-white, non-men. SJW’s try to even the playing field by promoting, usually on Twitter and Tumblr, less deserving women and minorities over more deserving white men.

Dark_Between_the_Stars_2014_1st_ed

Or maybe the women and minorities are more deserving than the white men, but the white men are getting ahead because their whiteness or maleness is just too overpowering, like too much Old Spice slapped on by an octogenarian with a head-cold.

17910048

The main list of recommended nominees was Sad Puppies 3, published by writer Brad R. Torgersen. Many of the finalists on the Sad Puppies 3 slate made the final cut and are now in the running to be winners of the 2015 Hugo Award.

lines-of-departure_334739

The Hugo awards are weird. Though they said to be the most “prestigious” award in the world of science fiction, fantasy, or speculative fiction. The cold hard fact of the matter is anyone willing to fork over $40 for a membership to Worldcon, can nominate finalists and vote for the Hugo Awards.

733745104_skin_game_butcher_jim

Anyone means anyone. Technically, you don’t even have to be a fan of the genre. If you have $40, your opinion is just as important as anyone else who is voting for the Hugo Awards.

What this “controversy” really does is illustrate just how meaningless and stupid the Hugo Awards are. If you have an extra forty bucks and you’re  willing to spend it for the privilege of voting, your say is just as important as anyone’s.

As I said earlier, I mostly pay attention to the list of Best Novel nominees. With this year, I haven’t read any of the titles nominated. That’s not to say I won’t eventually. I purchased Ancillary Justice, the first book in the same series of Ancillary Sword, I just haven’t read it yet.  I also want to read The Goblin Emperor. Although I have never heard of it before, it sounds like an interesting read.

These two books that I want to read, Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor did not appear on the Sad Puppy 3 slate, yet were nominated anyway. They also seem to be the only novels written by women. The other books nominated for Best Novel did appear on the Sad Puppy 3 slate.