Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.

Oh no! You get this message on every single page of your WordPress site including the Admin area.

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.

It’s likely you were doing an update of WordPress or a WordPress plugin/theme and something went wrong or maybe you interrupted the process by closing your browser window.

Simply login to your server and in the root of your WordPress directory you’ll see a file called .maintenance. Delete it… yes, just delete the file called .maintenance.

Now your site is back up and you’ll be able to access the WordPress Admin area again. Just remember that when you’re doing a WordPress software updates, wait for the confirmation screen before clicking on something else or leaving the page.

Facebook Like Box is blank/empty in some browsers

Recently, I discovered that my custom Facebook Like Box on my website was totally empty or blank, but only within all versions of Internet Explorer and still working fine in certain other browsers. (I run all my versions of Explorer in a virtualization environment.)

At first, I thought that I overlooked something in my code. After rearranging some code and inspecting the DOM, I still could not see any problems, but yet the Like Box remained invisible.

Then I thought that Facebook updated their Like Box code making mine obsolete, so I updated it to the latest version… still invisible.

Finally, I found a thread on StackOverflow that had the solution. Apparently, if you have any age or country restrictions on your Facebook Page, the Like Box will remain invisible unless you’re logged into Facebook in that particular browser. Sort of makes sense, since Facebook cannot validate your age or country unless you’re logged in.

The solution is simple, remove all age and country restrictions from your Facebook Page forcing the Like Box to always appear on your website.

It seems weird that they give you this tool, but yet there’s no graceful degradation for the very common situation where a visitor may not be logged into Facebook. Rather than breaking your website layout, it seems that they could have put a placeholder or some other generic content into the Like Box for any unauthenticated visitors.

jQuery Nivo Slider has broken effects within WordPress

I’m using the jQuery Nivo Slider plugin on a WordPress project. Keep in mind that this is the free jQuery plugin version, not the WordPress plugin version, so I’m doing the integration myself into a child theme of the stock Twenty Thirteen WordPress theme.

To make it align properly with the other page entries, I used the standard WordPress classes on the wrappers…

The problem is, although the slider is nicely positioned on the page, the transition effects are broken. The slider is still working but just before each transition animation is supposed to start, you get a flicker of a tiny thumbnail in the upper-left corner and then the new slide appears… no slicing, no boxing, no wiping… nothing but sadness.

I was able to recreate my exact slider code in a jsFiddle and it worked flawlessly. After much troubleshooting, I discovered that the WordPress class .entry-content in the parent theme was the culprit.

However, the removal of .entry-content fixes Nivo slider, it also breaks the layout. By the time I figure out how to recreate the necessary parts of .entry-content to fix the layout, I’ve a whole bunch of unnecessarily redundant CSS.

Another look at the default CSS for the parent Twenty Thirteen theme reveals line #659…

Yes, this is it. This one CSS rule is completely breaking Nivo slider’s animation effects.

The fix is to simply un-set max-width to the default value of none by very specifically targeting the slider img elements. I placed this rule in my child theme’s style.css file.

Since .entry-content #slider img is more specific than the original selector, .entry-content img in the parent theme, it will automatically take precedence.

Nivo slider is now working as designed.

Prevent Akismet plugin from auto-deleting comments

If you’re using the Akismet plugin on your WordPress site, you love its ability to identify spam comments and automatically block them from appearing on your blog… that’s something we all should appreciate greatly.

The little issue here is that Akismet will always automatically delete any flagged comment that’s older than 15 days. There is no option to disable or change this interval.

What’s the problem with that?

  • Nothing is perfect and false positives are a possibility; in fact, it’s already happened. This means that a legitimate comment is flagged as spam.
  • Maybe you’re being stalked or harassed and you need to keep these comments as a research aid or as evidence.

If you neglect to take action within 15 days, these flagged comments are permanently deleted by the plugin.

What’s the cause?

A function within the Akismet plugin called akismet_delete_old checks the age of flagged comments and just proceeds to delete anything older than 15 days.

You could edit it yourself from 15 days to whatever. Or you could remove the call to this functionality entirely.

However, I don’t recommend editing plugins as every time a plugin is updated to a new version, you’ll lose your edits. That, among other reasons, makes it not a good practice.

What’s the real solution?

Use WordPress’s remove_action() function to remove the function in the Akismet plugin that deletes old comments.

Simply place this line in your theme’s function.php file…

remove_action('akismet_scheduled_delete', 'akismet_delete_old');

However, any time you switch themes, you’ll also lose this custom function. Instead, you can easily break this dependance by saving the following code in a php file uploaded to your WordPress plugin directory. It will automatically show up in the plugins section of your WordPress Dashboard. I named mine Akismet Keep Comment and it’s saved in a file at /wp-content/plugins/Akismet_keep_comment.php. Yes, you just created a real WordPress plugin.

What about this checkbox option in the Akismet plugin?

“Auto-delete spam submitted on posts more than a month old.”

It doesn’t mean what you might think. Upon first reading, I thought it simply meant “auto-delete blog spam that’s more than a month old”. So by leaving it un-checked, I erroneously thought no comments would ever be deleted.

Okay, so what does “Auto-delete spam submitted on posts more than a month old.” really mean?

It means that if your posting is more than a month old, spam comments will be deleted instantly (rather than being held for 15 days). This part is in parenthesis because you have to dig through the php code to determine that comments are being auto-deleted after 15 days- no matter what.

I’ve discussed this issue with the developer and the possibility of the Akismet plugin having user controlled options for comment deletion. Unfortunately, they are very adamant about not allowing the user to have any control whatsoever over this automatic comment deletion. I guess you better hope there’s never a false positive. They are concerned about your server filling up with comments. Really? Many blogs are plagued with much bigger problems like hundreds of posts and thousands of images. What bothers me the most is the total lack of disclosure or documentation explaining that flagged comments will be auto-deleted, and after only 15 days.

I firmly believe this is an issue best left to the site admin, his webmaster and hosting provider to manage. No plugin should be blindly deleting comments, even those flagged as spam, without some admin control or knowledge.