Pizza and Karate

Wednesday night is karate night. Not for me, but all three of the boys spend an hour improving their martial arts. It’s an interesting sport and one from which (I hope) all three are benefiting. This is certainly the case for the eldest who has already competed in several tournaments and who is in training for his next.

Since I am home before the karate lesson finishes, organising dinner often falls to me, which is handy because Wednesday night is also cheap pizza night — any pizza for €6.50. They’re good pizzas, too.

Over the years, several pizzerias have come and gone locally, but this one has always remained. It’s been through a couple of changes of ownership while we’ve been in Belgium, but the restaurant itself has remained pretty much unchanged — cheap, friendly and reliable. Clearly, a winning formula is not to be messed with.

So here I sit, enjoying a glass of Duvel and finding myself being pleasantly surprised by the WordPress app.

I installed this app some time ago, back when this blog was still self-hosted, and… it wasn’t very good. The app had a rather annoying habit of freezing — generally when I wanted to upload a draft — which led to me removing the app out of frustration.

Now that I have WordPress hosting the blog for, I thought I’d give the app another go. It’s not always as intuitive as I would like but it does seem to be a lot more reliable now and I have been able to successfully use it to follow conversations where possible.

The acid test, of course, will be to see what happens when I press the Publish button.

Decoupling

When I last moved my blog, I exported my posts archive, used Vim to correct all of the internal links in the XML file and then imported it into the new instance. I don’t think an option to export and import media even existed back in 2010. If it did, I didn’t see it and simply FTP’ed the images from the old site to the new.

With the move to WordPress.com I encountered a couple of glitches. The first one was my own fault — I forgot to fix the links which means that there are still some posts on here posting to images on the old server. Those images are still there, so this isn’t a problem — yet.

Slightly more concerning is the fact that not all images seem to have been transferred. This could either be because WordPress didn’t always neatly organise it’s media files by year and month, or it may just because I have too many of them. Again, this isn’t a problem while the files can still be found on the old server, but I don’t want to be dependent on having to indefinitely maintain a bunch of old domains.

So I am thinking of hosting my media files elsewhere. Media Goblin is my first thought, which would allow me to host images elsewhere while retaining control over them.

I’m not in any great hurry just yet, but decoupling my posts from my images does strike me as an effective way of maximising flexibility at minimal cost.

Another task for 2019, I think.

WordPress and walled gardens

Here’s a coincidence. Shortly after I decide to abandon my self-hosted WordPress instance for the safety of a site hosted on WordPress.com, John Beckett starts mulling over whether to leave the WordPress walled garden:

As we have seen in recent days with Tumblr, a shoe could come down one day, and change the rules that govern the existence of our words on the internet. If I choose to walk away from a hosted blogging service, am I really taking ownership though? I still won’t own or control the hardware — I still won’t own or control the connection between the hardware and the wider internet. I’ll just have moved the goal-posts a little closer to me — I won’t own them, or the ground they are planted in.

For me, there are two issues with walled gardens. Firstly, and most importantly, the owners of these networks tend to try and force people to sign up to their networks — I can’t see what someone has posted on Facebook, for example, without first signing up to Facebook. The second issue is one of exportability — once you have placed your content into the walled garden it can be difficult, if not impossible, to get it back out.

In the case of WordPress, neither of these issues apply. You don’t need a WordPress account to visit, or follow, this blog and if I do decide to self-host again at some point in the future, exporting and importing my posts is a very straightforward process.

Crucially, I do own this domain name and, if I did decide I wanted to self-host again, it would be possible to do so pretty much seamlessly. And because I can easily move the blog, I have much less desire to do so.

And by hosting the blog on WordPress, I can leave tasks like security, sizing and the rest to people who (should) know what they are doing.

WordPress may be a bit of a walled garden, but the walls are very low and the gates are wide open.

Rolling back

I noticed that the Twenty Seventeen Theme that I installed on this blog at the start of the year wasn’t playing too nicely with Epiphany. Having lots of links in a post is a bit pointless if you have to hover your mouse over them in order for them to be highlighted.

So I have rolled back to the previous theme which, if I’m honest, looks a lot nicer than all this new-fangled modernity,

New Year, New Look

With the latest release of WordPress, the Twenty Seventeen theme was also released. And I’ve not only managed to find a bit of time to play around with it, but I’ve also cleaned up some of the sidebar links while I was at it. I’m not entirely sure about the massive header image, but the theme itself seems to work reasonably slickly so I shall see how it goes.

And, as we venture cautiously into 2017, all that remains is for me to with you all the best of luck for the new year.

Congratulations on surviving 2016, here’s hoping we all make it through the next 365 days.

Happy New Year Danbo.
Photo by Leland Francisco. Click image for original.

Change is the only constant

WordPress 4.4 was released yesterday and, after a bit of poking around, I found that — at first glance — I quite like the new Twenty Sixteen theme (the last theme I liked being the Twenty Twelve one).

I am still poking around a bit to see what options the theme gives me out of the box, so consider this to be a warning that the look of this blog has changed and may change further over the next few days.

Spamtastic

The Akismet spam filter in WordPress really is very good indeed. It does an excellent – and endlessly improving – job of identifying and deleting comment spam that I can simply leave it running and forget about it.

Nothing is perfect, however, and the occasional comment does make it through to my moderation queue. Like this one:

I am John, how are you everybody? This paragraph posted at this network site is really fastidious.

And the post containing this comment worthily fastidious paragraph… Is here.

A change is as good as a rest

Much as I liked the Arjuna-X WordPress theme that I have been using, it does have its limitations. The main one being that the fixed width display really does require a full size screen and this is not a lot of fun if I want to access the site from my mobile phone. So, after a bit of poking around, I have decided to give Designfolio a try.

I will probably tinker with the theme a little once I have found my way around it but, for now, I am very impressed. Especially when I access the site from my mobile phone.

Housekeeping note: Now with syntax highlighting

I haven’t posted a lot of code on this blog, but I have started to find the plain text formatting used up to now is not as readable as it could be. Since this site is a WordPress install, it seemed sensible to take a look at the Plugin Directory to see if I could do anything about this. And I can.

WP Code Highlight provides syntax highlighting and, handily, uses the <pre> and </pre> to establish where to apply the highlighting.

I have, therefore, installed it, tinkered around with the settings and then adjusted the theme settings to accommodate it. I may make a few minor tweaks if I spot any glaring inconsistencies but, for now, I am pretty happy with the way things are starting to look.