22 Fresh and Usable vBulletin 4.0 Themes

Since the release of vBulletin 4.0 a few weeks ago, one of the downsides to upgrading is that very few premium themes have been updated to work, leaving many forum owners stuck with using the default theme. For those not into tweaking their own designs the new template system can present a daunting task.

Here’s 22 fresh, clean and simple vBulletin 4.0 themes that, if nothing else, will get your VB4 upgrade a choice of colors and styles. Most can be found at vbulletin.org but I felt these were the ones best suited for use on a board right now. Again, while nothing overly fancy, any should be a good starting point or nice diversion from the default theme.

Default V2 – Simple Blue

Reaxtion Studios – Elegant Gray

Christmas Style

VB 4 Sky style

K2 Feeling Xmas

V-vb4 Style Vbulletin4 By eTiKeT

Vista on vb4

Alternatives (Rouge Et Noire)

Rainbow Skin

BlueHaze

BP-Brown

Little Black – vBpixel

Green Island

SimpleBlack

vBFans.com CleanCut Style


DarkChrome vBulletin 4 Style

SpeedMotiv Theme!

Happy New Year 2010

Darkness vB4

DarkVision

Desert Warfare

BlueTeck vB4 Gold

vBulletin 4.0 Forum: First Impressions

I mentioned back in a post about the release of vBulletin 4.0 that it was a different animal and I didn’t expect to be migrating anytime soon. So much for famous last words, after having spent the better part of last week upgrading my Carrie Underwood forums to vBulletin 4.

I did get one thing right in that post, VB4 is definitely a different animal and after working with it on the dev board the default theme has grown on me. It’s simple and after 5 years of messing with forums, I’ve come to the real conclusion that splash does nothing but get in the way when things get busy.

If you’ve been using VB4 them you’ll be happy to know that the forum part of the software is still rock solid as ever. There’s a few things that have been changed or removed with the new templates but most seem to be oversights and simple plugins or template mods have been released to address those issues.

One of the big pluses I found is the theme editor has some incredible potential. If you’re big into creating or manipulating your own themes then it’ll take a bit of getting used to, but I was able to do the conversion with a minimal amount of template edits which should make upgrades a good bit smoother.

The upgrade process was really smooth. I jumped from VB 3.8.1 and it went as smooth as upgrades typically do.

The major stumbling block with the forum portion of the new software is the lack of available themes. vBulletin.org has a bunch of simplistic themes that are VB4 ready, but most of them are the typical gaudy things you’d expect (honestly I’m not sure why some people think a fire engine red forum, with a red background and orange fonts looks good).

If you’re waiting for your favorite premium theme to be converted and made 4.0 ready, plan to wait a while. From what I can tell with the ones I’ve used in the past, the developers are trying to stay with the tableless concept and I think that’s going to be a futile effort for some of them. Some themes out there just have to have tables in order to function properly across all browsers and while it’s great to not have to use them, does it really matter? Probably not. So my expectation is a few will get converted to tableless version but in the end most themers will simply convert their existing skins to work with the new templating system.

Feature wise, not a great deal has changed. There’s some advancements like the ability to embed video without the need for a plugin now, but the calendar still isn’t integrated into the forums. The new class structures also means major changes for plugin developers. Very few, if any existing plugins will work in VB4 and while a fair amount have been converted, I suspect that most are either still struggling grasping the new methods or just not bothering to. So if you’re planning to upgrade, you have to consider what plugins you have, which of those have been converted and which haven’t (and may not be).

Overall though, I am pleased with forum product. I have the CMS and blogs turned off at the moment but I hope to play with them a bit this week. The reviews in that area are all over the board so I’ll just to test it and see if it’ll do things I’d like to see it do.

Incidentally, vBulletin announced they are planning a scheduled release of VB 4.0.1 sometime later today. Hopefully this will address some of the little things that I had to chase down or that got left out. We’ll see.

Avatar Movie Review


Just got back a little while ago from seeing the James Cameron’s epic Avatar. In a word, the movie was BRILLIANT! Yes, that’s right, it was that good. I seriously think I’m ranking it #2 right underneath the Lord of the Rings Trilogy on my all time favorites list. It’s great when directors are allowed to take their time and and just create. Cameron doesn’t disappoint. So what was so great about it?

Well to start with the imagery is absolutely amazing. A gorgeous visual masterpiece that is both stunning and breathtaking. It’s certainly all about special effects and they are impeccably accomplished, never once did I feel like something was faked (remember Anakin slicing the apple in Attack of the Clones). The detail spent in building the Pandoran world alone is worth sitting through the 160 minutes. Another plus was that not once was any one thing in Cameron’s world made to call attention to itself. Everything fit, it all flowed seamlessly and the actors did incredible jobs inferring raw emotion into their Avatar characters.

There’s three versions of this movie, a regular cinematic version, a cinematic 3D (or what they call REAL D 3D and an IMAX 3D version. We saw the cinematic 3D version and for the most part it was excellent. I’ll be going back to see it again in IMAX because the sensory immersion should be well worth it. People say 3D and just roll their eyes, remember Jaws 3D or any of your favorite horror movies that were done in 3D. It always seemed cheap and gimmicky right? Not this movie. Sure you can tell it’s not true 3D but it’s very minimal and after the first few minutes you hardly notice it. Even the subtitled translations of the Na’vi native language seems completely natural. If I have one complaint about the 3D it’s the peripheral field of view, that’s where I noticed the typical 3D glimmer but it was minimal. I also think the IMAX version will compensate for that, we’ll see.

Something else about the 3D effect is how Cameron expertly weaves it into the movie. Rarely is it “in your face” and those moments were suttle, perfectly executed where a raindrop might slash off to the side or a leave floating in the wind. No rockets shooting “at” you or flying monster trying to eat you.

Pandora itself is a spectacular visualization of the imagination. You’ll want to go there, probably move there. Everything about it is in a nutshell “perfect”.

Ok so you get the picture, visually the movie is beyond excellent. So what about the story itself? There’s been a lot of hype about the underlying themes the story implies. It’s all true, everything you’ve heard. Every tree hugger story, liberal, white man conquered the Indians story is absolutely true. At least from a moralistic viewpoint. Avatar is every movie you’ve ever seen. It’s absolutely Dances with Wolves, it’s every video game storyline, every novel and every big budget movie plot line. Whatever your moralistic and/or political viewpoints are, this movie has it. However, none of it matters.

If you can’t shed a tear for how the Na’vi are treated then there is something most definitely wrong with you. Seriously, I can’t think of another movie, aside from the three Lord of the Rings movies that even remotely compares. Braveheart and Gladiator are in my top 5 as well, yet even they don’t compare.

Avatar is worth every minute you sit there. Long yes but not drawn out with meaningless filler and you hardly notice the length. I’m sure there will be numerous folks who disagree with me but in my opinion it’s just extraordinary and I think it will break Titanic’s Oscar record as well.

So after all that, if you skipped way down here to read the last few lines the best advice I have is (as with most movies) turn your brain off before you go in, don’t worry about what the movie “might” be trying to tell you, just sit back and enjoy it.

Overall I’d have to give it 5 out of 5 stars.

WordPress MU not adding new users as subscribers to main blog

If you’re using WordPress MU you may have run into a problem where new users aren’t added as subscribers to the main blog (blogid: 1). Some may prefer it this way but I ran into this issue on Stampin Corner because I also wanted users to be able to post in the help forums which use BBPress. For some reason nobody could post in there, and it turns out this was the reason.

According to the developers BBPress is a bit behind handling this integration and it’s assumed at some point it will. That said, I got around this irksome problem by creating my own little plugin. (Actually I maintain a custom-functions plugin for just this type of thing). It’s pretty simple really, just create a new file in your mu-plugins directory and this code to it.

//--------------------------------------------------------//
//---Hook-------------------------------------------------//
//--------------------------------------------------------//
add_action('wpmu_activate_blog', 'add_new_user_to_mainblog', 10,2);
add_action('wpmu_new_blog', 'add_new_user_to_mainblog', 10,2);

//--------------------------------------------------------//
//---Functions---------------------------------------------//
//--------------------------------------------------------//
function add_new_user_to_mainblog($blog_id, $user_id) {
	add_user_to_blog( '1', $user_id, 'subscriber' );
}

Basically all this is doing is using the hook wpmu_activate_blog to trigger the function add_user_to_blog. WPMU also has this habit (not sure why exactly) of removing an existing user from the main blog when they reated another new blog. Not a huge deal again but problematic if they haven’t logged into BBPress already. So the second add_action triggers on wpmu_new_blog to add the user back.

Simple as that. Of course, this doesn’t handle getting any existing users set as subscribers so you’ll have to do those manually or write a script to do it, but any new users should get added just fine.

vBulletin 4.0 series is finally here

Well this is news. I got an email from the vBulletin team announcing the official release of the vBulletin 4.x series.

The vBulletin team is very excited to announce the availability of vBulletin 4.0 Gold. The release includes vBulletin 4.0 Forums and the all-new vBulletin 4.0 Publishing Suite. As of this week, these are officially supported products that are eligible for both ticket support and phone support.

The 4.0 Gold release is the result of huge investments in development resources, rigorous new development and testing procedures, and unprecedented levels of customer input throughout the development process. We’re very grateful for the continued support and passion the vBulletin community has displayed throughout the development process.

Customers can download vBulletin 4.0 from the customer area at https://members.vbulletin.com.

I’ve been playing around with the recent release candidate. It’s ok and is a major change in the development. Some plugins seem to still work, a bunch don’t and none of the templates are compatible. The new template management system has also been redesigned and well, let’s just say it’s quite the different animal. I haven’t used it enough yet to really form an opinion. Everybody can gripe about change and this certainly qualifies so we’ll see.

The forum product looks very promising, as expected, however the CMS suite…. not so much. again, haven’t played with it enough but so far I’m not seeing enough there to convince me to move from a WordPress/vBulletin implementation to the new one, feature wise anyway so there again, we’ll see how it develops.

Should you upgrade? That depends. I haven’t touched either one of my main forums with it yet and don’t really plan to anytime soon. Mainly because I don’t want to use the default theme and I don’t have time to architect a new one at the moment but if you’re game for new and exciting things, then this one is for you.

If you’ve upgraded to 4.0 already, let us know how it went, what you think of it and any problems you might have had.

11 Awesome Snow Scenes

Snow makes for such a backdrop doesn’t it? We missed out on any significant snowfall this year (again). It’s been several years since this area of North Carolina has seen a good “Snow of the Century”. You know, a good 2 to 3 inches and the world would shutdown for a month. Oh and bread & milk, forget about it.
Sun kisses Mountain
Creative Commons License photo credit: 8#X

Aglow in the Snow
Creative Commons License photo credit: Pear Biter
winter brightness
Creative Commons License photo credit: Grant MacDonald
vancouver snow
Creative Commons License photo credit: .mused | maziarh

Neve notturna E
Creative Commons License photo credit: Iguana Jo

joenmutka
Creative Commons License photo credit: Marko_K
St. Columb_Z11055XLV
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ennor

Creative Commons License photo credit: josef.stuefer
Snow Fence (last Winter)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Lutz-R. Frank
Swamp Creek Valley
Creative Commons License photo credit: road_less_trvled
The Mountain Exhaled
Creative Commons License photo credit: laszlo-photo

WordPress 2.9 released upon the world

WordPress version 2.9 “Carmen” named in honor of magical jazz vocalist Carmen McRae has been released upon the blogging world. You can upgrade easily from your Dashboard by going to Tools > Upgrade, or you can download from WordPress.org.

The coolest new 2.9 features from a user point of view are:

  1. Global undo/”trash” feature, which means that if you accidentally delete a post or comment you can bring it back from the grave (i.e., the Trash). This also eliminates those annoying “are you sure” messages we used to have on every delete.
  2. Built-in image editor allows you to crop, edit, rotate, flip, and scale your images to show them who’s boss. This is the first wave of our many planned media-handling improvements.
  3. Batch plugin update and compatibility checking, which means you can update 10 plugins at once, versus having to do multiple clicks for each one, and we’re using the new compatibility data from the plugins directory to give you a better idea of whether your plugins are compatible with new releases of WordPress. This should take the fear and hassle out of upgrading.
  4. Easier video embeds that allow you to just paste a URL on its own line and have it magically turn it into the proper embed code, with Oembed support for YouTube, Daily Motion, Blip.tv, Flickr, Hulu, Viddler, Qik, Revision3, Scribd, Google Video, Photobucket, PollDaddy, and WordPress.tv (and more in the next release).

There’s also a neat video that usually accompanies major releases. It highlights a few of the changes you can expect to see in this version.

Download WordPress 2.9

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day people. Remember we have so much to be thankful for this year. Our health, family, friends, pets and much, much more.

If this is your first time or 100th time passing by my little section of the blogosphere I thank you. Hope you have a wonderful day fill with food, fun and cheer.

Onward and upward!