WordPress: A Month Later

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I have been using my new WordPress site for about a month now and can say that I am very satisfied with how everything is working. So much so that I would really like to convert all my sites to WordPress, if not for the fact that hand migration process from Drupal was a horrible pain.

The Good

WordPress is much faster than Drupal. Even without a caching plugin I am seeing my pages load up super quick. With the cache enabled—which, as an editor, I don’t actually see—the pages load almost instantaneously.

The Gutenberg editing interface takes a little getting used to, but works very well especially with the addition of the EditorsKit plugin. Adding images and media like YouTube embeds or audio files is completely hassle/code free. The EditorsKit plugin adds in the all important Insert Special Character function and a few other less common HTML tags like `abbr`.

Askimet provides spam-blocking that actually works. Drupal used to have a great anti-spam service in Mollum, but that was unceremoniously discontinued and the floodgates of spam opened up. In a related note, WordPress comment moderation is very simple and clean and, for the time being, I actually like seeing pingbacks

With the right plugins, creating custom content isn’t as bad as I originally thought. I had to pay for the unlimited install Advanced Custom Fields plugin, but, between this site and my work projects, it has been well worth the investment.

Finally, as I have stated before, updating the site is a complete breeze. This was my main reason for making the switch to WordPress. Click a button and the WordPress core is updated! The latest version allows me to tell the system to install updates automatically based on a per-plugin setting. Coming from Drupal, this is life changing.

The Bad

It’s not all hearts and rainbows here in WordPressland. There are still a few areas that could use some improvement. First and foremost is that lack of anything like Drupal Views. Views allows front-end users to display site content in any manner they can imagine without needing to touch a single line of code. Instead, I am stuck having to hand code queries into WordPress PHP template files. The query code is relatively easy to learn but every little tweak you want to make requires hours of combing through help forums and documentation for an answer. I still have no idea how to add filters to my various Reviews lists. In Views you just expose a filter and poof you have a dropdown or a field that visitors can use to narrow down a list.

I’m sure there is a plugin for this, but I would want to set up automated backups of the site. The WP All-in-One Migration plugin makes backing up easy, but I can figure out a way of making it run on a schedule.

While the front-end of the Media Library is excellent, WordPress is constantly creating unnecessary image copies of every image I upload, regardless of context. This means there’s a lot of unused junk in my uploads directory. It’s not horrible, but my Internet ’98 mentality wants me so save as much hard drive space as possible.

Most of my other complaints are about things that could be accomplished with a module in Drupal but require PHP coding to do in WordPress. Off the top of my head: highlighting a menu-trail based on a content type, customizing RSS output, custom menu blocks, etc.

The Ugly

Clint Howard

Ballot Box + Match = ???

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We are about a month away from what I am told is, “The most important election of my lifetime.” They apparently have forgotten about the season three semi-finals of Dancing with the Stars, but that’s to be expected.

Devil Man Himself!
Actual photo of U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

With the pandemic lockdowns and the anxiety-riddled drones being in a constant state of mortal fear, the big newness this year is mail-in ballots. For a brief moment this became a rallying cry to defend the indefensible U.S. Postal Service. Seriously, this year I have had no less than four horrific experiences with the U.S.P.S. either lost packages, express delivery taking months, or just the usual mail clerk incompetence. This was long before Trump appointed that guy (who my Facebook friends assure me is the Antichrist) as Postmaster General.

Thankfully, we are now about 300 news-cycles away from when U.S.P.S. was all that stood between democracy and Armageddon. Since then we’ve been told that dropping your ballot in a specified drop-off box is now the way to go to insure fair election results. Of course, with this is now coming stories of fake ballot boxes. I googled photos of these fake boxes and can’t believe anyone would fall for what is essentially a rusty file cabinet with a printout taped to the front inscribed with the words “Offishal Ballot Box.”

This got me thinking that wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to simply drop a lit match into an actual ballot drop-off box? I can’t be the first person to have thought of this. I haven’t been able to find anyone else suggesting it. Sure, there wouldn’t be enough oxygen inside the box for it to burn very long, but I suppose you could prop the flap open and provide some sort of accelerant. I guess today’s electioneering fraudsters just lack creativity. I blame social media.

Pages of Fun, Now With WordPress

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It took about two weeks, but I think I have finally finished converting this site to WordPress. The bulk of that process was copying and pasting every post into the new system. I’m sure I probably goofed up a few posts along the way and there are bound to be many broken links. But I think was very thorough, going as far as copying every single comment and tag description.

My reason for moving away from Drupal was my general disappointment with Drupal 8. Nothing ever seemed to work exactly right. I’d make a few changes on the back-end and the site would unbeknownst to me be put in maintenance mode. Several key plugins withered on the vine and stopped working. The built in WYSIWYG editor was absolute garbage. And the worst part of it all was the horrifically user unfriendly update process. There are modules that require Composer to install and update and others that are always in pre-release dev states. No thanks. After a decade of loyal advocacy and usage, it was time to bid Drupal farewell.

I have built a couple WordPress sites for work this year and now feel much more capable in this system. The main disadvantage of WordPress is its lack of a Views plugin. If you want to get creative with outputting data, you need to dive in to .PHP files and WP_Query() loops. There’s a massive user base, so finding help on the Internet is fairly easy and, once you understand the basics, you get an idea of how to accomplish tasks.

As I type this, I am prepping to launch the site. Hopefully all will go well. Having never run a WordPress site with comments enabled I worry that I will find myself buried in comment spam.

The Last Straw

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This was all a big mistake. Upgrading to Drupal 8, that is. Nothing ever works right and Drupal hates casual users. I am now in the process of converting this site to WordPress by migrating every post by hand. There’s about 1700 posts so it’s going to be a while. There’s probably a plugin that can automagically do this, but the biggest con of WordPress is that good plugins aren’t free. Sigh.

Tireless Work During This Crisis

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This quarantine has been hard on all of us, but let us not forget the dedicated work that still continues for our nation’s homeopaths. They’re out there in the middle of the fray insuring that the correct dosages in parts per million are being applied to their tinctures. All this despite the disruptions in the world-wide rhinoceros horn supply chain.

Haunted House: Remastered

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Followers of this site (ed. yeah like that’s a thing) will remember a few years ago I created a in-browser playable version of the Applesoft BASIC game Haunted House for this site. Over the past month or so I got it in my head to push my skills as a programmer and make a much more fully realized version of the game. Today I am releasing my new version of the game, Haunted House: Remastered! It’s a vast improvement on the original in almost every way possible. In other words, it’s actually fun to play.

While it’s nowhere near the level of sophistication of an Infocom game, I think it does some pretty impressive stuff (for my skill level as a programmer). It’s still a two word parser, but the vocabulary is increased. There are full-page help screens, triggered story events, a retro-styled monochrome monitor look, and a bunch of scary sound effects! Please take a few minutes and give the game a try. It’s not too long and I try to keep the puzzle reasonably fair.

Legendary Junk of China

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Tonight I just started to watch The Legendary Weapons of China again by mistake. This is why I keep blogging these movies. I will eventually forget I’ve seen them before. In any event, I forgot how awesome the first ten minutes of this film is (the rest is not that great). Leave it to the Shaw Brothers to create movies that are written for eight year-olds but filled with all sorts of graphic violence. The best moment is when a fighter is commanded to rip his crotch out. At first he has a very dainty technique:

But it ends with a quick grab and, a backwards flop, and then a fistful of gore flying through the air:

Here it is in case you missed it:

The Witcher TV Series

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Just finished watching The Witcher on Netflix. I’m probably biased from playing the games, but I thought it was quite good. The lead’s voice takes some time to get used to. Seems like he is just doing an impression of the game’s growly voice actor (complete with the hmms and nose breathing). The series takes about four episodes to start clicking. It’s then that you realize that the story is not being told in chronological order and you start to see how the characters relate. My main quibble is that it jumps into the magic stuff a bit too quickly before laying out ground rules. Going full “epic” so fast is overwhelming. It’s when the show focuses on its characters that it becomes fun. Like an old episode of Hercules or Xena. That is all.