You And Me We Go Wayback

The Archive Team are doing the lord's work downloading all Tumblr content before it goes away. I wish them every success.

I've long used the wayback machine to look at old sites of yore so wondered how far down the rabbit hole of my own storied past I could go? All the way it seems. For many moons and domain names ago I started what was known as "updating your website frequently".

The very first ever "blog post" I did was on a long defunct site on October 31st 2001. The wayback machine has it. I'm not linking to it. Interesting from a personal growth angle, my head was in a different place 17 years ago. The cringe factor is high.

I wonder how all this will sound 17 years from now?

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On Gutenberg

After a month of using it, I've deleted the WordPress Gutenberg plugin.

Editing tools shouldn't get in your way. Editing tools shouldn't make you fight them. Editing tools shouldn't make the process frustrating. Editing tools shouldn't make the process take longer. Editing tools shouldn't make you have to roll the dice on whether that paragraph has the right amount of whitespace under a photo.

But Gutenberg did all those things. And now I'm back to the old familiar intuitive interface. Posting is a breeze and easy and quick. Which makes me happy, albeit temporarily. For I know it's only a matter of time before this is forced in WordPress core. Perhaps by then a lot of the bugs will have been worked out?

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Gutenberg

I switched to the new Gutenberg editor in WordPress this week.  I kinda like it.  The first real change to the default editor in just about forever.  Right off the bat it's obvious they're focusing on a lot more than just blogging.  Now we have more of a first class full on content editor.

Instead of one free form text area you now insert blocks.  Blocks can be made up of text, images, media, quotes.  Wanna write a straight blog post, just add blocks of text.  Wanna embed media, blocks make it super easy to do that.  And in my testing it all 'just worked'.  Not bad for something that isn't 'production' per-se.  It won't ship officially until WP 5.0 and early birds can use it by installing the plugin.

There is a bit of a "kinda solves a problem I didn't have" feel to it.  Adding images and media wasn't something I was having all that much bother with?  But I can see this being super appealing to a wider audience.  About the only thing I didn't immediately like is that it decided to hijack the Flickr link I used for the previous post.  Adding additional CSS and alignment wasn't really the help I was after. I hope I can figure out how to turn that off as having 3 extra manual steps per photo post doesn't seem appealing.

Oh and with forced tooltips on for my first 'onboarding' of Gutenberg my Mac became lava and the fans were all a spinning like little supersonic jet fighters. You go javascript in 2018!

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See The Difference A Day Makes

Yesterday I lamented the end of an era.

When I was younger this is exactly the sort of thing an evening of Perl hackery and some beer could fix. I'm at the time of my life where tinkering is unappealing and I want things to "just work". So looks like this really is the end of the MT road for me. For real this time though, four years after I already declared it so.

So that didn't age well. For I did indeed have an evening of tinkering. The key was just finding the last version of Perl that old MT code would run on and force MT to use it instead of the system Perl. And thanks to Perlbrew this was a lot easier and quicker than it otherwise could have been.

And would you look at that, it all works again.

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End Of An Era, Really

So a wee spot of site administrivia this morning then.

A hundred thousand years ago when I started "updating my website frequently" I looked into getting what the kids at the time called 'blogging' software. Movable Type was the best thing around back then. Well, times change, things change, feelings change. And four years ago I decided to retire that old MT install and move to WordPress.

Except, I didn't really retire it at all. One of the things it was bloody great at was powering my Action Stream list. So I was quite happy to let it chug along for as long as possible. Well the long as possible appears to have been last week. My hosting provider upgraded Perl and now that old MT code is borked and none of it works any more.

When I was younger this is exactly the sort of thing an evening of Perl hackery and some beer could fix. I'm at the time of my life where tinkering is unappealing and I want things to "just work". So looks like this really is the end of the MT road for me. For real this time though, four years after I already declared it so.

Update: so I guess tinkering was more appealing than I thought? It all works again and back from the dead.

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The Independent Web

Remember the good old days of blogging? Or even before that when it was just called updating my site frequently? It was a simpler time without walled gardens or the need to have an account on a service just to leave a comment. Information was free, open, and easily consumable.

(Takes in breath of fresh nostalgia)

Andy Baio recently redesigned waxy.org and penned an excellent post lamenting the state of independent blogging. He puts it far more eloquently than I ever could.

But there a few reasons why I’m sad about the decline of independent blogging, and why I think they’re still worth fighting for.

Ultimately, it comes down to two things: ownership and control.

Last week, Twitter announced they’re shutting down Vine. Twitter, itself, may be acquired and changed in some terrible way. It’s not hard to imagine a post-Verizon Yahoo selling off Tumblr. Medium keeps pivoting, trying to find a successful revenue model. There’s no guarantee any of these platforms will be around in their current state in a year, let alone ten years from now.

Here, I control my words. Nobody can shut this site down, run annoying ads on it, or sell it to a phone company. Nobody can tell me what I can or can’t say, and I have complete control over the way it’s displayed. Nobody except me can change the URL structure, breaking 14 years of links to content on the web.

Yes. That.

I wholeheartedly support all those that still run their own sites and haven't moved to Facebook/Tumblr/Medium.

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Photography Things

Back in 2010 I added a photography page here. Nothing fancy really, I just wanted to display the latest photos I've uploaded to Flickr. So I wrote some rather dodgy PHP that utilized the Flickr API and phpFlickr. Over the last few years it's started to look a little dated. Flickr has a really nice justified view and I've wanted to do something similar.

I started hacking on some jquery code a while back to do just that but didn't get around to finishing it. And now I really don't need to. For the rather lovely Flickr Justified Gallery plugin takes care of all the things. Up and running in less than 5 minutes.

So now the photography page looks exactly like I've wanted it to for a while now.

(I'd be remiss if I didn't tip my hat to Adam Bowie for the nudge to use WordPress itself)

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WordPress So Far

I've been using WordPress for a little less than a week and I really like it so far. Super easy to install and configure. Really nice looking dashboard with everything organized well. Adding plugins a breeze and changing themes simple. And the fact that there's a living breathing active community of developers and theme authors out there is really a breath of fresh air.

What Plugins I'm Running

Akismet – because who likes blog spam really?

wpuntexturize – because WordPress unhelpfully turns single and double quotes into some unicode nonsense. Stop that. This plugin stops that.

WPtouch Mobile Plugin – to make your site look relatively sane on mobile devices.

Limit Login Attempts – does what it says on the tin, helps to prevent brute force login attempts.

I also had the Movable Type importer installed for a bit but obviously that's a use once and delete kind of plugin.

What's Not Running WordPress

For aggregating online activity, I've yet to find anything as nice as MT's Action Streams plugin. So much so that it's still running in cron driving my stream page. So I can't quite say that I've completely replaced Movable Type yet.

What's Not To Like

There's something to be said for the speed of serving up static HTML. Out of the box WordPress dynamically serves up your pages each time a page is visited, so it's a little slower than the old Movable Type site. I suspect I'll get used to that in time.

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