Theme Updates

Over the past few days, we have been updating many of our themes in order to bring you added customizability and to increase the stability of onMason.

As part of this update, when you check the Appearance menu in your Dashboard, you might notice additional options. Additionally, you may notice slight changes in the spacing and alignment of elements on some pages.

All of these changes should be positive. However, if you are experiencing any problems as a result of this update, please submit a support ticket through your Dashboard. You may also leave feedback by commenting on this post.

Upgrades and privacy plugin phased out

We are in the process of upgrading onMason for the Fall semester. As part of that process,  we will be phasing out the Private WP 2 plugin. That plugin’s functionality is now included as part of WordPress. Here is how you can activate it:

  • We’ve attempted to migrate all sites using the plugin to the appropriate privacy setting on WordPress.
  • If you are running the plugin, check your settings. Go to the Settings menu and click the Privacy option.
  • If not already selected, select the setting “I would like only logged in users who are registered subscribers to see my blog.”
  • Save changes
  • The result should look like below:

If you have any questions please leave a comment below.

We will be turning off the Private WP 2 plugin at the end of the week.

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System upgrade… and a Userthemes error

Hello onMason users!

It’s been a while, I know, but I come with good news! The onMason site has been upgraded to a newer version of WordPress-MU. Things should be running faster and more smoothly now.

Unfortunately, with every upgrade, there’s the chance of an unexpected error coming from the system. Please keep an eye out for us and report any errors you encounter via the comments on this post or by filing a support ticket.

We’ve only encountered one error thus far: Userthemes, which allows users who have requested the ability to edit their themes to do so, seems to have reacted oddly with the latest upgrade. It may list an excessive number of themes copied to your account and it may not give you access to the edit page in UserThemes. We are aware of this difficulty and working quickly to resolve it.

Thanks for your patience and understanding,

-Aram Zucker-Scharff

On Downtime and a New Podcasting Plugin

Hello all,

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the recent downtime. The issue was not with onMason but with an impossible-to-anticipate server hardware fault.

The problem was within the server’s RAID, which is a set of redundant hard drives designed to automatically duplicate file systems and spread out data to minimize loss. That set of HDDs is governed by their own set of hardware and software and I believe it was the governing mechanisms which were experiencing issues. Because the method by which the HDDs are accessed has been malfunctioning, there was a problem keeping them active or reaching them in order to transfer the data. However, the server host transfered onMason to an entirely new set of hardware.

The server seems to be working fine now. However, due to frequent problems with the current host and communications issues, the Office of Student Media is now in the process of seeking out a new server host.

Now, on to the good news! podPress, the best podcasting plugin out there, has finally upgraded to work with the latest version of WordPress. We are very very happy to install this as an option to activate as a plugin. If you are already using the Blubrry plugin, we’d recommend you carefully consider what would happen when you switch and make sure that all the info is properly ported over. If you are not using any of the plugins but are intrested in making a podcast, podPress makes it easy, so activate it in your plugin page today!

onMason Admin

Upgrades and Improvements

Hello onMason users,

We’ve spend the time over the break thinking up new ways to improve onMason and considering how to make the platform better than ever.

We know that there has been some confusion with system downtime last semester and we have reviewed the problems and we do not anticipate them happening again. However, we are constantly testing and reviewing and we hope soon to take measures to make onMason even faster. In addition, we’re talking with ITU and DoIT to create a monitoring system for the site as well as insure that your support questions will always make their way to us.

If you’d like to help support onMason, don’t forget to tell folks about the platform, how you use it, and its importance. Pass along the info to DoIT, your department, your professors or your friends so that we can all work together to make onMason better.

As you may have noticed, some of our functionality is still down after the last update, we’re working on getting everything back in tip-top shape, but in case we don’t know, don’t forget to report all errors that you encounter. Keep an eye on this blog, we’ll be creating a page to document known issues and solutions soon.

Stay tuned to this blog to hear about more upgrades and further progress.

– The onMason Team

onMason Downtime Update

Hello onMason users,

As you are aware, the onMason system has been experiencing some unexpected downtime over the last few days. We’ve been able to track the problem down to issues with our server’s firewall, which have proved temporarily resolvable.

The team at the Office of Student Media has been working hard to find the cause of the problem, however, we have not isolated the exact issue that has been causing the repeated periods of downtime.

Due to continuing problems with our server firewall, there may be further downtime until the system regains full stability.

In order to remain updated on the situation, we advise you to check our Twitter feed at We are also working with DoIT and Learning Support Services to have outage alerts visible on other Mason sites as well as help provide you with a point of contact for any questions you might have. You should e-mail the onMason team with any questions at

Remember the onMason platform is maintained by The Office of Student Media at GMU. ITU does not support the platform and will not be able to answer most questions you have. If you have any issues with the system while it is running, please file a support ticket. If you need to contact someone while the system is down use the e-mail above.

We will keep you notified as we resolve the issue.

– The onMason Team

onMason Experiences Unanticipated Downtime

Hello all,

onMason was down briefly today, from sometime around 1:00 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. We’re currently unsure of the reason why the server went down, however we are investigating the incident now and it should not happen again.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused, we understand that the sites you create are important and that it is important that they remain up.

Thank you,

-The onMason Team

ALERT: WordPress 2.8 Upgrade

The onMason platform has been upgraded to WPMU2.8+. At this time we are seeing some plugin issues which are undergoing repair. We anticipate full functionality returning to the site by the end of the week.

If you experience any problems, it appears our Support plugin is currently malfunctioning. Please leave a comment on this post and we will respond to you as soon as we can.

EDIT: The Support plugin is now working. Please direct any questions or bug reports to that area in your backend.

ALERT: Transition to WPMU2.8

We are currently transitioning from WPMU2.7 to 2.8. You may notice some errors and decreased functionality (like on this blog) as we prepare the site for the upgrade. Do not be alarmed.

New onMason Features and ScholarPress

The following new features have been added to onMason via plugins:

  • Use aggr to embed RSS feeds in your posts.
  • Create footnotes.[1.Using the FD Footnotes plugin, like this]
  • Private WP allows you to lock down your blog to make it invisible.
  • Publish2 is a link journalism tool. It has been auto-activated over all blogs as part of the testing process. If it is interfering with your blog, you can now turn it off from your plugin panel.
  • Riffly Video/Audio comments has been activated over all blogs. It gives all onMason blogs audio and video commenting systems by default. You can turn it off, or replace the commenting system using DISQUS
  • VodPod integration: VodPod is a site that allows you to collect and bookmark videos from any number of websites. You can now activate the VodPod plugins and display your VodPod gallery using a widget or by typing [Insert Video Gallery] into your post.
  • You can activate threaded comments from the plugin page.
  • You can now activate a Flickr widget to display your Flickr stream on your blog.
  • You can now go to your widget page and activate a widget to display your delicious stream.
  • You can display your Twitter stream using a new built-in widget. (Issues with Twitter’s API may cause tweets not to show up.)
  • You can create polls using the PollDaddy Polls plugin, made by the creators of WordPress.
  • Trackback and Comments RSS feeds are now available through the Subscribe to Comments page.
  • Users can now subscribe to your blog via e-mail when you activate the Subscribe2 plugin.

We have also launched support for ScholarPress, a set of plugins developed by Mason’s own Center for History and New Media. The first plugin is WPBook, which allows you to generate a Facebook app that will allow others to add your blog to their Facebook pages or profiles. The second plugin is called Courseware and allows you to manage a class using your onMason blog. You can use Courseware to “add and edit a schedule, create a bibliography and assignments, and manage general course information.”

Please report any problems or issues you have with the new plugins.