I just made a pretty significant update to the site’s main navigation. Finally, I am using a more mobile-friendly menu system in which the various depths slide left and right as you drill down. This article about WordPress menu walkers was extremely helpful in getting all this to work correctly.
I probably should add a bunch of accessibility attributes, but that is a bit much for now. I’m just shocked the thing works.
While playing Fallout 4 I ran into this glitch that ruined my completion of the “Destroy the Brotherhood” quest. After triggering the explosion on the blimp the escape helicopter left me stranded in midair allowing the ground defenses to murder me in the sky:
The past week or so I have spent a bunch of time working behind-the-scenes on this WordPress site. My first priority was getting a handle on the new-ish system for creating and displaying sidebar blocks. Since WordPress 5.0, the goal of each subsequent update has been to make as much of the backend operate like the Gutenberg editor. When that change came to the widgets interface it ended up conflicting with a number of plugins that I was using: mainly contextual widget display and the sidebar nav. The side-nav is gone, and now I am using logic within my theme files to determine which sidebar items get displayed. So far it all seems to be working.
My next big change was to clean-up and consolidate my CSS so that I could use a single template to render the various content types on this site. In the process I have re-added a few pages that I had created in Views back on the old Drupal version of this site. Art and Retro-Computing feeds are back. Many of the reviews pages now have alternateviews.
I fixed a bunch of little details all over the place and have made it so my artworks exist apart from my posts (even though they are in this main home page feed). The final change which I have yet to get to is making the navigation more mobile friendly. I never look at the Web on my phone, so this is low-priority for me.
Best of 2021!!! Honestly, I didn’t buy enough music in 2021 to warrant a top 10 list but here’s what I got:
6. Gazelle Twin & NYX “Deep England” – What if your high school choral group was composed of a bunch of crystal worshiping hipsters? They would record covers of songs from “The Wicker Man” of course! That and a few Gazelle Twin traxxx.
5. “PAURA: A Collection Of Italian Horror Sounds From The CAM Sugar Archive” – A wonderful compilation of Italian horror and giallo music. I already own about half of these songs but this collection is great.
4. Cabaret Voltaire “Shadow of Funk” – Richard H. Kirk decided to bring back Cabaret Voltaire in a big way… then he died. He also released two records of 40 minute drones. This was better.
3. Jacob Haage & Sarah Assbring “Riptide” – Sarah Assbring is also known as El Perro Del Mar. I thought that “Free Land” was released this year. It wasn’t. If it was, it would be my #1. Instead I have to settle with this artsy soundtrack to a Momenshantz wannabe dance troupe.
2. Dame Area “Ondas Tribales” – They are literally the first band ever to realize their drum machine also has conga patches. It’s a fact. This is basically tribal beats with a woman screaming in Spanish, Italian, or some other shithole country’s language that I don’t understand. In any event it’s awesome.
1. Hannah Peel “Fir Wave” – Hannah Peel learned about synths and stuff from being John Foxx’s violinist and backup vocalist in The Maths. This record is based on samples of Delia Derbyshire’s music. Yeah, I didn’t know who she was either, but then again, I couldn’t care less about Dr. Who. In any event, this is another epic sonic journey in the vein of her last record, “Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia.”
A pandemic ago I decided to heed the warnings on the Apple ][ Facebook group and remove the 30-year-old battery from my Apple IIgs computer. This is harder than it should be since Apple thought it was a good idea to permanently attach this ticking time bomb to the motherboard. My solution was to clip out the old battery and solder in a plastic battery holder instead. This is not that hard to do, but I am a complete klutz when it comes to soldering. Destroy the motherboard with a mountain of silvery metal was always a possible outcome. I documented the process and present it here. Originally I had intended to do a hilariously comic narration over the video but I eventually came to my senses. Enjoy the video, video enjoyers:
Hey everybody, did you know today is election day? I hadn’t seen any reminders on social media at all so I thought I’d just let you know here. Remember, post a photo of yourself holding a sticker because voting is not just an expressive act, it is also a performative one!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.