Thinking Out Loud

October 5, 2020

The Dumbing Down of WordPress

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:38 pm
I can think of various reasons why I expected this blog to someday reach its conclusion, but not being able to compose articles the way I have done so here for 12½ years was never one of them.  
 
I’m typing this in HTML for the first time partly so I can enlarge the font as I’ve been doing for more than a decade. The theme for this blog, which has never changed, was chosen because it allowed an extra wide margin at a time when skinny column formats — no doubt influenced by the number of Blogspot blogs which existed at the time — were more dominant. I wanted something that made the text of the articles front and center. However it came with a very small default font.
 
I’ve often thought about upgrading the theme but I’ve kinda wanted to hang on to the old-school blogroll and other widgets in the right-hand margin (or at the bottom for those reading on mobile) for as long as I could. Having those links at my disposal when we were on road trips was especially convenient when using my wife’s tablet or laptop.  
 
But last week WordPress forced the new “block” formatting on me and with only a few hours to post the day’s devotional at Christianity 201, it was like learning a whole new language.   There are things I want to be able to do that I simply can’t.
 
While their system generously allows me to compose in the “classic” format, I can’t seem to then read what I’ve written in HTML to do things like quote poetry, add pictures, or add superscripts for footnotes such as1 that one! See this: H20. I know how to format that. And now I am being punished for having that ability because I can’t do it and use the visual editor at the same time.  
 
Poetry? So many times on WordPress blogs you see people quoting song lyrics like this:  
 

This is a verse  

Of a poem in my mind  

But has all these spaces  

Between all the lines

When in fact poetry should look like:  
This is how
A poem should read.
To eliminate the spaces
I often have need.
[Update: At first the example didn’t work. It forced double spacing not showing on my screen.] [Update to the update: Fixed it using evil ‘div’ tags, not the way it worked previously.]  Up until today I could do that at will.
 
So now we have WordPress for dummies. If I’m complaining it should mean I’m smart enough to learn the new language, right? Theoretically? But am I motivated? Not really; right now I’m more angry that this “block” nonsense was foisted on everyone.  
 
There are simply too many programmers out there who are being paid to reinvent things that simply never needed fixing.

April 3, 2020

Welcome to Social Media: Content Creators Need Not Apply

Filed under: Christianity, writing — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:04 pm

When you think about it, social media platforms never need create a single article. Facebook wants you to create content for them to surround with advertising, and if it’s been awhile since you did, they will send you a reminder. Twitter has never published anything significant either, and dare I say that’s also true of WordPress.

When the social media thing — much less the internet itself — started growing exponentially a dozen or so years ago, I thought I was set. I was a writer. All these sites need content, right? I even looked into registering a business — Content Factory — only to discover several others had beat me to that particular name.

Today, the internet of 2020 tolerates typos, grammatical and syntax errors, and let’s not even think about spelling. Everyone is a writer (and everyone is now a photographer) with varying results.

Earlier today John Mark McMillan asked his Twitter followers if there were a better word than ‘content.’

I’d like to propose we all stop using the word “content”. When I think about making “content” I die a little. It sounds like filler, stuffing… air in a balloon. Does anyone have any better words we can use for the meaningful work we’ve all give our lives to?

(I’ve corrected his spelling of balloon; I didn’t need him proving my point.)

I wrote back,

I noticed this a few months ago when it comes to writing. We usually refer to having seen an
• article
• item
• piece
which is somewhat non-descriptive.

Others suggested

  • pith
  • art
  • creations
  • the goods
  • offerings
  • portfolio
  • stories

As I type this, his tweet is just four hours old. Feel free to add your own descriptor. What’s a good word to describe the written output of people on social media?

 

April 18, 2015

Dear WordPress: Your “Improved Editing Experience” Really Sucks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:14 am

Beep Beep Boop - WordPressToday I’m going to bite the hand that feeds me, I think; or at least one that I feed daily myself.

While it takes a lot of smarts to come up with something innovative, it’s really easy to build on the imagination and work of others. Hence, there are a large number of people in the tech community who earn their take-home pay by “improving” websites that, before their input, were working relative well to begin with.

The blog platform I have used every day for seven years, WordPress, is in my opinion one of the better ones out there; but recent changes to the text editor used to create new posts causes all manner of liabilities.

Specifically:

  • There is no longer any indication as to when posts are auto-saving, if they are at all. Best bet, I suppose, is to save manually and do it frequently.
  • There’s no longer a save that happens when you assign your post a title. I suppose that might benefit people who create the header at the very end, but when you’ve become accustomed to the old system and then hit enter, the screen just stares back at you as if to say, “So….?”
  • When you place some text in a different color, you can’t see that color until you preview. I didn’t know this and kept repeating the same operation over and over. Furthermore, for some inexplicable reason, when you complete a color change, the cursor and text jump to the beginning of the post. Which is a good time to mention that…
  • When you get to the bottom of the visible text area and then go to the top, returning to the very bottom can very difficult. Whether it’s HTML or Visual editor you’re using, the only way to make changes near the bottom of your article is to hit Ctrl-minus until the screen shrinks to a size that it deigns to show you the entire post. You might decide reading glasses are in your future at this point.
  • Your categories display alphabetically, but if you have many — I think I have about 25 — they are impossible to view beyond the first half dozen. In the past, I would create tags first, and then decide which of my recurring categories were suitable. No longer.
  • And then there’s that annoying “Beep, Beep, Boop” every time something is loading. Seriously?

But mostly:

  • There’s no longer an option to return to the classic editor. Not visible, anyway.

Blogging can be challenging. Occasionally, something releases before its time, or I have a sentence that is missing a critical word like “not” (Thanks, Lorne) but the new editor, like the revised stats page, simply offers fewer of the benefits I have come to appreciate about composing on WordPress.

August 16, 2009

Great Blog Names: Taken, But Not Used

Filed under: blogging — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 3:24 pm

We’re having a major heat wave.   I don’t want to be on the computer today, but it’s one of the cooler rooms in the house.

So I’m thinking, what if you were looking for a Christian blog, because you’d heard there were such things, but didn’t know of any?   I started typing in names that you’d think would be appropriate.

The names were taken, but they weren’t being used.

It would seem that someone went on a mission to tie up a number of fairly obvious and/or fairly good names for Christian blogs, and then never so much as made a single post.   Much of the activity took place in October of 2005.   Did other interest groups see the same assault on available names?   Motorcycle enthusiasts?   Model train collectors?   Quilters?

There ought to be a way to petition WordPress and Blogspot for some of the great dormant blog domains — not that I have any intention of starting another.

Or, better still,  a formula consisting of E=existing number of posts online and D=date since last post that determines when your time is up.    No posts ever after one year, then you’re done and the name becomes free.   No notice.

What do you think?

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