WordPress, it is

WordPress, it is

Since I failed to gain mastery of PHP in the decade or so I was dabbling in it–first, with my grand plans for the defunct Toastie Radio site (I miss that), and then with my seven years of WordPress blogging–I thought it might be time to switch to a platform that’s Javascript-heavy. After all, Javascript is at the heart of what I’m working on in front end engineering boot camp this summer, and what I’ll be working on going forward in my career.

Aside…I do myself a disservice to imply I’m learning Javascript for the first time right now. I’ve known enough to get by when it’s been needed for web tweaks in my jobs over the years, and I’ve stuck it on my resume. But there’s a dramatic difference in scale between using Javascript to dynamically update a web page element here and there or pop up some dialog boxes and actually building websites. This is a good example of the very vague statement I made about a month ago in which I declared that I did not want to be a generalist. I did not mean that there is anything wrong with being a “jack of all trades, master of none.” I just never saw myself of much of a jack of anything. How much expertise I have in a skill I claim to possess has always been difficult exercise…

You know, I’m going to table this line of thought for another time. I wasn’t planning a mammoth post, and I’m not going to make one, but I’m also not going to censor myself and delete what I’ve started.

My point in posting this link is that WordPress is becoming more of a Javascript-based platform, and that means any inkling I had to abandon WordPress is probably gone. I obviously don’t follow WordPress closely enough to have known this until now. I’ve basically been on auto-pilot for the past couple of years as far as learning anything more about developing for WordPress. But I hate to abandon this platform I’m so used to, despite my mini-rant about some annoyances I have with the .com site. I’ll probably move this to a self-hosted site at some point, but I have absolutely no time for that right now.

I’m really psyched about this.

Ideally, I’d make some time to get to work on customizing this blog some more. (This theme doesn’t put a YEAR on the post? WAT?) But I already have a custom theme to play with on Top 379. (I need to explain that someday, or look for an old post that explains why I have a countdown of songs by the like of Air Supply and Barry Manilow. Or do I have to explain it? So many tangents, Dave…) And, more importantly, I’ve got a quite complex web page to build over the next three days for class. Any activity that diverges from that should fall under categories such as physical activity, basic chores, and Orange Is The New Black.

Identity management part 3

For better or worse, I’ve imported every post from Toastiest to Bull City Dave. This current state of internet presence may not survive the weekend, but I wanted to sit with it for a little while. Before-and-after BDC is easy to discern. Everything posted prior to June 7 was written by Toastie.

Another wordpress.com rant. I don’t want ads to ever appear on here. Another reason to get back to a wordpress.org blog or get away from WP. And I can’t stand the return message after I publish something, “You published your 6th post on this blog.” What is the point? I don’t want a badge. I presume I can turn that off somewhere, but any service with too many default behaviors I need to turn off is not a service I want to use regularly.

Taking the night off

Moksha and her new toy

I told a couple of classmates that I might “take the night off.” I deserve it. I’ve been working hard for a week-and-a-half and been getting about four hours of sleep a night. I’m not complaining about that, because I love what I’ve been doing. Wednesday night, I finally took the final exam for my online masters course. That coursework had been a huge burden, overlapping with my Iron Yard work. I had fully immersed myself in that course and the winter quarter course prior to that, or at least as much as I could while dividing my attention between that and my full-time job. As recently as six weeks ago, my inclination was to leave my job to pursue that degree full-time. But then I found about Iron Yard, and, well, I decided this would put me on a path to a fulfilling career doing something I’d truly enjoy, whereas the grad program…who knows. I’m being purposely vague. I don’t want to slam this particular grad program here, nor do I want to get into the merits of online education versus face-to-face instruction, let alone the merits of a graduate program offering access to a wide body of knowledge but no explicit career benefit versus a an intensive non-degree program of learning that guarantees employment in one’s desired field. (Yeah, I know I’m on the cusp of launching into something lengthy, but I told myself I’d just blog for a few minutes.)

Anyway, tomorrow, I’ll attend a talk on “Personal Branding & Blogging”, which is quite timely given my conundrum over what exactly to do with this blog. All of us at The Iron Yard are potential free-lancers who will need to market ourselves and build “our brand”. To be quite blunt, I’ve always become queasy over the mere mention of personal branding. I’m queasy as I type this. Why? Because I know that what I was doing on The Old Blog was most definitely not appropriate for building a marketable brand in the real world. Furthermore, I strongly suspect that my blogging “style”, even if somewhat moderated from what I did on The Old Blog, isn’t appropriate either. I have lots of presumptions about what constitutes proper personal branding and blogging, and I’m not sure I’m cut out for it. Overall, I’d say I’ll have a hard time doing any sort of blogging that compromises my authenticity.

For instance, I’m enjoying exploring map and reduce array functions in Javascript, but I don’t feel any inclination to write a blog entry about them.

What I am doing right now, that extemporaneous thing, that could veer from point A to point X, is what I’d rather do.

Anyway (and I’m fond of the “anyway” transition, though it does seem like sloppy writing), I am not “taking the night off”. I would say it’s the first somewhat light night for me since Monday of Week 1. To be clear, just because I am not overwhelmed by the homework assignment I am working on, there is always a mountain of work I can be doing. There are dozens of articles that have been suggested that I should and that I do want to read. My future success depends on how deep I’m willing to dig on my own time. I admit that, for tonight, I’m needing to watch a little Orange Is The New Black. But I still can do, and want to do, some map and reduce work at the same time.

A note on WordPress…I have been using the full WordPress package from WordPress.org for over 7 years, and that’s given me the freedom to explore and customize to my heart’s content. I like being able to go into the file system and underlying database. I’ve used WordPress.com for a private blog for a couple of years (which is a bit ironic, I know), and now I’m using WordPress.com for this, and I find the experience jarring compared to the “full” experience. I hate how if I attempt to create a post from the top menu (“New Post”), I’m presented with this simple interface that I realize is geared towards the millions who don’t care what’s “under the hood”. What would like to post? Text, Photo, Video, Quote, or Link? Um, I don’t know yet, WordPress. I probably want to reserve the right to decide later if I’m going to embed photos and videos and links into my post. Let me figure it out for myself! And then I’ve got to remember to go to the full dashboard’s “Add New” link.

In other words, I so much prefer to have the power to write a post using HTML and styling, and I don’t like to be steered towards a particular workflow.

This is an excellent reminder of why what I’m doing now is right up my alley. I care about how content looks, not just the getting it up there, and I prefer to have complete control. That’s why I loved working on my own webpage back in 1995 that was just plain-old HTML coding. There was no Frontpage, no Dreamweaver, no WordPress. Pico. That’s right. Telnet to godzilla.acpub.duke.edu and pico. (I took a few years to learn vi.) Such tangents…

And I could get into a whole spiel about why a self-hosted blog is so much better than a hosted blog, which is better than merely tossing thoughts out via Facebook or Google+, or, ugh, Twitter. (Ironically, I just dusted off my two-old-year unused @bullcitydave Twitter account.) And that gets me full-circle back to my earlier point about figuring out how to put forth my social media self. To be continued.

Oh, and I should absolutely put a picture in every blog entry. If I have nothing off the top of my head that’s relevant to my writing, a pet photo will do.

Oh, and I must spend some time getting a better theme. I can’t stand that I’m using a default theme.

Identity management

Step 2. Change “a fine wordpress.com site” to my name. That’s a big deal, because, while I have a WordPress blog since 2007 and a Live Journal blog prior to that, I have never blogged using my name. Years ago as an undergrad, I offered up my name on my primitive webpage. Don’t search the Wayback Machine for it. I’m not going to be “authentic” to the point of sharing that. I’m sure it’s not too difficult for you to find it if you really wanted to.

Anyway, I’ve just proclaimed this to be Dave Seidman’s blog, which is difficult to come to terms with at the moment.

It’s 2:52AM. Shall I blog about web development? I’m at 2:52AM because I can’t help but work on my homework. I am at a point where it wouldn’t be dire if I didn’t do anymore work on it this weekend, but I have a compulsion to work on it. Tonight, it’s mostly responsive web design I’m working on, in addition to continuing to fine-tune the full-sized web design I’ve been working on all week. This is my sixth consecutive day of classwork, and I don’t mind all the time I’m spending on it one bit.

I recall how I used to spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to work on the custom styling for my blog(s), though I could never get the layout as precise as I wanted it, because I didn’t truly know what I was doing. I was self-taught, and, for me, that only took me so far. The Iron Yard is teaching me the right way to do it all, and I’ll say more about this going forward. But it’s 3:01, and I’m thinking sleep should be sought out at this time.

 

WordPress technical difficulties

WordPress technical problems…

Just spent three hours upgrading from 3.2 to 3.2.1, which I only did in an attempt to get a plugin to work. I want to automatically send my Durham-related posts to another blog, because I want to play with another WordPress blog and can’t think of anything useful or productive or interesting to create. Well, I’ve thought of some things that might be interesting to me but nobody else.

Anyway, I curse the WordPress automatic update, as it wrecked havoc with my site. The manual upgrade is easier than I remember it being, so I think I’ll always do that from now on.

So, back to my wanting to play with another WordPress blog…I just want to configure one from scratch where I actually do it by-the-book instead of guessing how to customize stuff and just making it harder to maintain four years later, because I’ve got layers upon layers of improperly coded customizations.

Oh…and someone comment so I can see nested comments in action. I don’t know how long WordPress has included those as an option, but I’ve only noticed the setting now.

WordPress 3.0

WordPress 3.0 is out, and I will use that development as an opportunity to overhaul this site. Like many things of a technical nature, I never learned WordPress inside and out. Rather, I used functions as I felt I needed them. As a result, I don’t the half of what I can do with WordPress. I took a pretty lousy theme and made it into something I like. But that means I’m not using widgets, and all modifications are a pain.

I’m actually having a hard time finding a new theme that I like as much as my current one, but I think I will make do with something interesting that will look pretty good out-of-the-box.

I just need a project to work on.

Hmm…this is the 27850th most popular blog according to Technorati. I was 1,749,839th on 2/19/2007. May I crack the Top 25000 in 2010. That’s somewhat of a shallow goal. Let’s see if these rankings mean anything. Bull City Rising just won The Independent’s Best Blog award. BCR should be ranked, say, between 5000 and 10000 in the country. Let’s see…it’s appears, but it’s unranked. I must have some code somewhere that makes mine get a ranking. What about Dependable Erection? 24149.

Off that tangent…anyway, I’ll being working on the design of this blog over the next few weeks, just for my own learning experience.

I have this need to know how to do SOMETHING, and even if it’s not particularly ground-breaking to know WordPress, I want to finally KNOW WordPress after having played with it for three-and-a-half years.

WordPress fix

Ever since upgrading to WordPress 2.9 in December, I’ve gotten an error when initially saving every draft:

Your attempt to edit this post: “Wordpress fix” has failed.

Please try again.

And then the draft is usually still saved, although the last portion of what I’ve typed is sometimes lost.

I finally got this annoyance fixed. The fix was here all along. I guess I was too lazy to actually deactivate every plugin to isolate the problem. I finally did that, but plugins weren’t the problem.

I just assumed my web host was using PHP 5. Nope. But there’s a setting via cPanel to have PHP processed by either PHP 4 or PHP 5.

Just posting to give back to the internets. Paying it forward.

SuperClock

In my attempt to learn web skills, circa 1999, I’ve added SuperClock to this website. How is SuperClock better than a normal clock? You’ll have to watch it and observe for yourself. An earlier theme I used had come with a clock. This new one is homemade. So anytime you visit Toastiest, you’ll know what time it is! (Just in case you’ve inadvertently block your OS clock).

I wonder if I can get a trademark on SuperClock.

Back to black

I changed my black-and-blue theme to white-and-black about a week ago. I’d had themes with black backgrounds for a couple of years. I thought I needed a change and should go to something a little more standard. Alas, I’ve decided I prefer a black background. I’ll probably continue to mess around with the stylesheet over the next few days. It’s the closest thing to “development” that I get to do.

If you’re usually reading this on Facebook or through some other feed reader, you really don’t care.

Turkish Hackers

12:30AM via vi tex editor
My website was hacked a few hours by some fun-loving Turks. I have a ticket in my web host provider. I don’t know if was caused by my own WordPress security holes or the web host provider’s security holes. The WordPress database is fine as far as I can tell. Perhaps this will be a good opportunity to upgrade to WordPress 2.5. The hackers seemingly only impacted some index.php files, but even after restoring what I think are valid index.php files, the site just doesn’t work.

In the meantime, I realize the world does not miss this site. I’m annoyed, but what else is new. I mean, I’m annoyed that the frat boys at the end of the block keep their trash bins out at the corner seven days a week. It doesn’t take much…

Maybe I’ll make an extra effort to Twitter. That Twitter, that’s why the really scary thoughts go, because I really don’t think about what I’m putting out there. Que sera, sera.

1:22AM via WordPress Got the site working again. For the benefit of other WordPress users who get their sites hacked by a Turkish hacker, or just for anyone whose WordPress suddenly starts showing only blank pages, for either content or admin screens, I’ll share the fix. I backed up all my plugins in the wp-content/plugin directory. I deleted the plugin directory. (Simply renaming the directory and adding a plugin at a time to a blank plugin directory didn’t work. Having a blank plugin directory still caused blank pages). I recreated the plugin directory while I was already logged into the admin part of WordPress (wp-admin) and navigated to the Plugins option. Then I added all the plugins back. Then I reactived the ones I wanted one at a time and tested to see if any had broken WordPress. None had. All better now.

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