Recently I've been battling with a couple of issues on my site. I've been wanting to customize it and make it stand out from the rest but every time I got to the point where I need to pick the content to show in different places, I would run into strange 404 pages. For example, my lifestream page. No matter what I did, it would not show and if I went to its URL a nasty 404 page would show up.
I was about to give in when I realized I had a plugin that could be causing this problem. Good thing I thought about this because I was about to install this plugin at a client's site to take care of some CMS related work she wants done. The plugin in question here is Advanced Category Excluder, or ACE as it's come to be known.
ACE usually does a good job of hiding categories, pages and other content from different sections of your page. However in this case it was hiding things that weren't meant to be hidden, I didn't have a whole lot of time to troubleshoot the problem and at first I didn't know ACE was the problem.
I started my way down the list of plugins, deactivating one at a time until I found this one to be the problem. You see, when you're running a myriad of plugins, and basic functions like publishing a page aren't working then the culprit is most likely one of those plugins. I don't just disable all the plugins, instead I look for plugins that seem related to the problem.
I had two choices at this point, troubleshoot the problem between ACE and Lifestream, and spend possibly hours debugging or disable ACE, or disable the plugin.
I thought about the reasons to have ACE installed, I couldn't really tell why I had installed it on this blog in the first place. It didn't make sense to debug it at all. The most I did was visit its pages, at the WordPress Plugin Directory, and on its official home. Both locations indicate that the plugin hasn't been updated in a while, and it isn't compatible past 2.7.1, despite the fact that other people are able to run it at more current versions like 2.8.4.
My Lifestream is now working and you can see it in action, I'm pulling in feeds from Delicious, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Google Reader, Pandora and a few other services. A small version of it can be seen on the front page on the sidebar, but the full feed can be seen at my Lifestream
Ultimately I decided that the Lifestream plugin is more important for this site than the ACE plugin, because, well, it is my personal site. I bounce around so many sites on the web and I'd like to be able to share those activities with you that having Lifestream working was a priority. I can at some point write some conditional statements into my theme to show or un-show categories in different places and pages, thus simulating what ACE did. Perhaps not as easy as checking a couple of boxes, but just as effective and some may argue even more efficient. Perhaps when ACE gets updated I might look at it again.