Weekly Photo Challenge: Variations (on Branches)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Variations (on Branches)

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Variations.

Variations are like variables. Variables are my life these days because a) I don’t have a life, b) I’m filling in the void of my life with learning JavaScript.

Should we apply these terms on everyday life, then: Life is a variable. Death is a constant. What follows from it? Absolutely nothing, but that’s the way with most deep quotes, no?

Here are some branches.

18-01-24-variations02

And here is some JavaScript.

switch (status) { 
case 'live': 
console.log('I\'m alive.'); 
break; 
case 'dead': 
console.log('Game over.'); 
break; 
default: 
console.log('Vegetable status.'); 
break;
}
My WordPress Highlights of the Year

My WordPress Highlights of the Year

Those ill-advised individuals who follow my blog know that I don’t have a life. It won’t therefore come as a surprise that in the balancing act, my highs of the last year are pretty low. Perhaps not incidentally, they are all associated with WordPress in one way or another.

In 2017 I did not get featured on Discover, or whatever they call Freshly Pressed now. I used to covet this caveat before I discovered (and freshly pressed) that I’m too subversive to get publicised anywhere (unless I invite myself, see further below).

On a side note, I’m so wiped these days that I spent five minutes trying to remember the word subversive. It’s ridiculous because, as I rarely fail to mention, I have a PhD in literature (in-yer-face), and, furthermore (and is the same as furthermore, hence it’s pleonasm—I am aware of it and yes, I just spent five more minutes trying to remember the word pleonasm), subversive is my middle name. (Kidding. Slavs don’t get middle names.)

What I did in 2017, however, was WordPress user testing. You might or might not remember my enthusiastic, carefully crafted (and subversive) post on my experience. If you missed it, read it (because I wasted so much time and effort making the post), and if you’re not up to it, please be advised that user testing didn’t involve testing on humans (or pets). Wait. It did. Never mind.

IMG_20171115_193907-01
Picking my poison

What I got from this user testing (no humans or cats were harmed in the process, or not too much anyway), was an Amazon gift card (I’ll be buying self-help books on how to make myself, the world and the web a better place) and a one-year extension of my WordPress subscription. Hey, I got to do what I love and I got rewarded for that! Now, that I call a sweet deal.

My another not-too-dazzling highlight was when I was a speaker at WordCamp. Keep your pants on, though, it’s not what it looks. There indeed was a national WordCamp in my area and I did actually speak on the stage, but it was part of lightning talks, a free-form session in which volunteers from the audience were encouraged to come up and talk. No one volunteered but I invited myself (see above for not getting invited anywhere unless I invite myself).

I blame the great coffee that they offered for free (well, included in the price of the ticket) at the event. Considerably better than my generic brand coffee. IT people are known for their coffee after all. (I’ll start buying better coffee when I earn as much as IT people.) Well, where was I? I took the microphone fearlessly (I was high on caffeine and anti-anxiety meds) and said: “They say that each day, you should do something you’re scared of. So I guess I can check this box for today.”

The audience was well pleased and applauded me, but, much to their dismay, I went on and couldn’t be stopped. I have photos to prove it. I won’t be posting them here because that would not be exactly in keeping with my idea of blogging anonymously and enjoying the privileges that come with it. Duh. Huh. So these were my WordPress highlights. That’s all, guys. I’m going to get high on caffeine or benzodiazepine, I’m not sure which yet.

Making the World a Better Place

Making the World a Better Place

Because that’s what you say in tech, right?

I’ve always wanted to be a software tester. (Always means ever since I got sense and shifted my flaming passion for Scottish Literature—why, yes, Scotland has a literature—to all things tech. After all, it is a truth universally acknowledged that code is poetry.) If you’re, like me, deeply in love with WordPress and testing, I have a secret to tell you. You can totally test WordPress! Check out WP Horizon testing environment! (This so deserves exclamation marks in two consecutive sentences.)

That’s however not how I got to be a WP tester myself. (No, I’m not really a WP tester, but I had a go at it, twice!—another excited exclamation mark.) A few days ago I received an email from WP offering me to take for a test drive a new commenting interface. I nearly spammed the message (because, hello, if it’s too good to be true, then it must be spam). Then I googled the sender, who actually appeared to be WP staff. (Either that, or I’m the victim of a conspiracy scheme. Or I’m just paranoid.)

I replied not at my earliest convenience, not even ASAP, but immediately. I jumped at the opportunity, obviously, and reserved my slot for a video call straight away. Another day, I found another email from WP in my inbox. It was an invitation to do user testing of WP’s new editor. (Yep. That’s how popular I am.) I tried to act casual. It didn’t work out because I replied in the affirmative (What’s more than affirmative? Superlative?) and hastily signed up for a slot for another video call. (Whew!)

IMG_20171205_233321-01
WordPress swag ❤

I got instructions that I didn’t need to prepare for the testing in any way. So I took a day off to prepare for the testing. (Yes, I know.) On D day, as the H hour was approaching, I started to panic. For no good reason, but try telling that to my anxiety. I ended up medicating. (Perfectly legit and prescription sanctioned.) Shaking just a bit, as the Lexaurin was starting to take effect, I opened the link for the video call as my clock struck five. (Kidding, I don’t have a clock, this is the 21st century.)

A youngish good-lookish male face popped up on my screen (the youngish good-lookish guy would surely prefer not to be named here and I can’t vouch for the youngish and good-lookish part because the picture was small and blurry). But, that was a reason to panic. I know what a video call is but it didn’t occur to me that we’d be exchanging faces. I thought we’d be exchanging screens (screen is not an euphemism). Damn it. Seriously. I wasn’t presentable. I was wearing pants, but a hairband and no make-up isn’t presentable. (Of course that no one cares, but I do. Full stop.)

For convenience, let me call the youngish and good-lookish guy GOD. (At the uni, I’d idolise professors, now I idolise tech people, so GOD it is.)  God spoke to me: I can’t see you. I talk back: It’s a good thing you can’t (not what I said). Of course God can’t see me, I have my camera covered for paranoia security reasons. (Also, I didn’t switch on the video function in the app—duh.)

After initial ice-breakers (Hello, I’m God and I am who I am. — Hello, I’m Mara and I don’t have a life and you’re the first person I’m speaking to in days, so please excuse my, uh, everything.), we got down to the testing. I opened the new commenting interface and went aww. Seriously, guys, it’s pretty and practical and when I love it, you’ll love it too. I wouldn’t bother praising something I don’t adore.

I was being extremely helpful. Such as: Oh, the Spam icon is the same red colour as the Bin icon, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. On which I went to my desktop to check what colour my Windows bin is, and it was grey. God, shall we make the bin grey, pretty please? I got an hour to play around with the new interface. According to God, it should roll out in a few weeks. Also, I was granted permission to blog about it because it’s apparently not secret. (Unless it is, and I’m an Edward Snowden.)

IMG_20171205_233833-01
Packed with Jetpack

The testing was awesome and thoroughly enjoyable. I even got excited. (I never get excited unless there are kittens involved.) I was so excited I could hardly talk. You’d never believe they gave me a doctorate in English Literature if you heard me struggling with conditionals and spontaneously constructing new, never heard-of tenses at the spot. (*shrug*) At the end, I was asked for some general feedback on WP. I complained that with my second-world earnings, the cost of the paid plans is a small fortune. (Another greatly helpful feedback. Not.)

We said goodbyes. And God will never know I’m pretty. (Does one qualify as pretty when one is only pretty when made-up and dressed-up?) Anyway.

Cut. Enters God2. That’s the nickname for the other youngish and good-lookish WP guy whom I had a video session with. This testing was about the new editor. (But really, it was all about me. Better than therapy.) God2 says that he isn’t testing me and that there aren’t right and wrong answers. I say: Sure. (And I think: Sure, that’s what you say, but I’m prepared, and I start: “WP was founded in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and is currently running on more than 60 million websites etc. etc.” Because I’m a Wikipedia.)

To start off on the right foot, I immediately offend God2’s professional pride by confessing how I disapprove of the new editor. However, I blame myself. (I’m not sure why but I say so, and that’s enough.) God2 is visibly upset and blames himself. On which I’m sincerely sorry, from the depth of my cold black heart, and I mention kittens. Not related to anything whatsoever, but kittens! God2 cheers up because he has three of them. Kittens. I cheer up because he’s a cat gentleman (the male mutation of a cat lady).

IMG_20171205_233716-01
I have a rainbow WP sticker and the cat isn’t impressed

I beg God2 to outlaw hamburger menus and toggle options. Because I WANT TO SEE IT ALL. At once. That’s how greedy I am. In exchange, I promise God2 that I will give the new editor yet another chance. I mean it. For God2’s sake, I’m writing this in the new editor! Also, to give the impression that I’m knowledgeable (and to pass the test which isn’t a test but it is), I throw around random terms: Calypso. Framework. CMS. target_blank. White screen of death (no, seriously, that’s a thing!).

I wanted to conclude with something deep and important but I forgot what. Instead, I’d like to thank everyone involved, that is, WP staff, particularly God1 and God2, my laptop Lena and myself, who collectively made all this possible. Also, I’d like to thank my cat (who makes the world a better place too). The testing opportunity was a geek girl’s dream come true. So you know, WP people are really trying to do their job, as I’ve seen for myself. Let’s gloat in that. Here’s to WordPress (*raises her mug of generic brand coffee*)!

What I Hated the Least Today 250/365: The Joys of JavaScript

What I Hated the Least Today 250/365: The Joys of JavaScript

A JS Troll Game

Remember how I reported a year and half ago that I was starting to learn <HTML>? Neither do I. But I found the post for you: it was a What-I-Hated-the-Least-Today number 44. Half a year after this, I decided that my immersion into coding was permanent and sealed the deal with a {CSS} tattoo. It was a Hate-the-Least number 203.

Currently I’m on JavaScript. High on it. It doesn’t need to be assumed that I have meanwhile mastered HTML and CSS, though I did my best. I also dipped into SASS, which is just a sassily named condensed version of CSS. I liked it to start with but then it got too abstract and logical. I know, right. How can I even attempt coding if I have trouble with abstract and logical? Well, *shrug*, I have no idea how come I’m so passionate about something at which I suck so much, but I just am.

Today I had a thrilling JavaScript (JS) revelation. Since I have no one to tell to, I  need to blog about it. So, have you ever wondered how to make a computer choose a random number, such as in lottery? Me neither. Despite me not wondering and you not really wanting to know, I discovered (as many have before me), that JS can be used to make the computer do this.

In JS, there’s this fascinating function, Math.random(). It doesn’t exactly do what it promises: it does produce a random number, but just between zero and one, and most likely not an integer on top of it. To fix the *not-integer* part, there’s the Math.floor() function to add to it. To fix the *between-zero-and-one* part, you can multiply the number by another number. So, e.g., Math.floor(Math.random() * 5). There must be an easier way to do such a simple thing. I’ll report back in several years when I discover it (as many have before me).

Also, don’t get me started about what you can do to random numbers. You can assign them options, for example. If there are two options, you’d use the if/else statement to do something; else you’d use switch, if there are more cases. You don’t need numbers to do if/else or switch, obviously. Today I was practising switching, but since if/elseing is shorter, here’s an if/else if/else. It does nothing in particular, and nothing at all on WordPress, where JS isn’t allowed. It’s just supposed to remind you that you should like code and cats, like I do, because code and cats.

var cat = prompt('Do you like cats? Type YES or NO.').toUpperCase();
if (cat === 'YES') {
console.log('Good!');
} else if (cat === 'NO') {
console.log('We can\'t be friends.');
} else {
console.log('You say what?');
}

And, finally, here’s my JS-themed recent tweet. Based on actual events.

What I Hated the Least Today 210/365: Fonts Redux

What I Hated the Least Today 210/365: Fonts Redux

More Mara-approved fonts
More Mara-approved fonts

After another night of fiddling with fonts—because that’s the most crucial part of a site, right?—I might have the winners. My current candidates to be deployed at my site (not this one, another one, and rest assured, even of less interest than this one) are two unbearably cute fonts. Cute like me. How professional (not).

I ditched my original idea of using web safe fonts—it’s not like it’s necessary anyway—and explored Google fonts. Not explored, researched is the word. As I said, I spent a whole night on it.  So, unless I change my mind (again), my choice for headings is the Karma font (I love-hate the name) and for paragraphs it’s Crimson Text (reminds me of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, which is ridiculous, as the letter was scarlet, not crimson).

This WordPress-hosted site doesn’t seem very happy with me trying to implement other fonts than those offered in the Customiser—I suspect I can’t even do that and I’m not going to try harder because what’s the point (not much or nothing)—so if you’re a fellow font fanatic, follow this link to check out Mara-approved Google fonts.

What I Hated the Least Today 209/365: Fonts

What I Hated the Least Today 209/365: Fonts

Messy cascading notes
Messy cascading notes

I’ve been working on one web site for a week now and so far it’s not only not finished, but it’s not even getting anywhere near. As the sample of my notes in the snap above indicates, I’m heavily overthinking the thing. It’s a self-hosted WordPress site, which means I’m able to modify the CSS files and the PHP templates (the latter with utmost caution, as usually the formula is: me + PHP = white screen of death).

I spent the whole night just changing font sizes. That’s what the notes above were for – as I only have one screen to work with, I take some of my notes in longhand on a piece of paper to be able to refer to them without switching tabs and splitting screens too much. I hated the result of my night’s work.

However, I figured out what I hated about it the most. It was the Verdana font I picked for headings and navigation links. It gave the site a tabloid look (it’s not intended to be a tabloid). Too big and too bold. I chose the classic Times New Roman for paragraphs, which gave the site a rough draft feel in turn (it’s not intended to be a rough draft either).

So, ultimately, what I hate the least about the whole business is that I now know what the chief source of my disgust with the site is. It’s the fonts. Currently I’m considering the classic sans serif Helvetica for headings and my favourite serif font, Georgia, for paragraphs. I’m writing it down here lest I can’t remember it when I wake up.

Also, as part of my Code a Day project of learning a code a day, I’m now at lessons on text and fonts and it’s all kinds of awesome. Though I can’t imagine who would want to use text shadows – unless as a parody of 1990s sites – and for my purpose, I don’t think I’ll ever want to change the direction of text to make it go from right to left either. Well, good to know I could if I would.

What I Hated the Least Today 207/365: Proud (Not Really)

What I Hated the Least Today 207/365: Proud (Not Really)

Not really proud
Not really proud

I’ve sort of finished the W3Schools HTML tutorial. It took me three times longer than I had expected. Anyway, I tried the quiz on the same site to test myself, and I didn’t score full points. Therefore, I’m not proud of myself really.

I wonder if the note “You can be proud of yourself!” that appears after completing the quiz shows in the same wording no matter what one’s score is, but I can’t be bothered to retake, score poorly and see for myself.

So now it’s the CSS tutorial time. It’s high time too, as I’ve been using CSS forever without knowing entirely what I’m doing. While I’m not really proud of myself for having finally finished with HTML, I’m glad it’s done. Let’s cascade now.

What I Hated the Least Today 204/365: On (C)lick

What I Hated the Least Today 204/365: On (C)lick

On lick
On lick

I’ve been learning HTML on and off for the last half a year. I’ve now thoroughly covered the basic tutorial at W3Schools, but there’s more. There’s always more. My original idea(l) of encompassing all of HTML, as in moving all there is to know about it in my head, proved to be rather naive.

I’m also finding that there are overlaps in the HTML tutorial with other coding / programming / scripting languages. There are always overlaps, of course. For now I’m skipping anything that involves functions, but I am trying some very primitive scripts. If I knew a word meaning more primitive than primitive, I’d use it now to describe my attempts.

I’m a rather good typist and I rarely make typos, but I made one that amused me when I was trying to write a more primitive than primitive button. I told the button what to do on lick. Well, the canonical idea is to tell the button what to do on click. The lick button didn’t work, and I didn’t try licking it to see if that would work out.

What I Hated the Least Today 195/365: Blank

What I Hated the Least Today 195/365: Blank

My mind is a blank document
My mind is a blank document

The other day we were talking with a fellow postaday project runner, Rebekah, about how it’s getting increasingly difficult to think about what to blog about. I don’t mean to think about something worth blogging about, I mean about anything to blog about. On which Rebekah admitted that her mind was blank that day. On which I had a free association with the HTML attribute target="_blank". On which we pursued a discussion of what target="_top" does.

I was explaining my understanding of this in two convoluted paragraphs, while Rebekah summed it up in one sentence. I don’t understand how I can be a teacher. I’m presumably as miserable a teacher as I’m a coder. We however reached an agreement that basic HTML deserves some love too. Like the ugly child (the ugly cat, in my case, because I object against children in general). Now, I think I could combine my two absent skills and teach you code. Hilarious, right?

To sum it up, for my own sake rather than anyone else’s (I’m hoping I’ll remember it forever/longer if I blog about it), target is an attribute of the <a> element. The default value is target="_self", which opens a link in the same window. The aforementioned target="_blank" opens a link in a new window/tab. So far, obvious. But, target="_parent" opens a link in the parent frame. And target="_top" breaks out of a frame when a page is locked in one. Hm.

I probably get it, unless I don’t. I wish I could experiment with frames more, but WordPress apparently doesn’t allow <iframe>. There’s less fun in experimenting when you can’t impose your experiment on your followers (and consequently unfollowers). Ha. At least I’ve progressed insofar that I know the difference between a HTML attribute and CSS property and hopefully use the terms correctly, along with elementvalue and other element-ary things I should’ve known earlier.

What I Hated the Least Today 193/365: Tattoo Ideas

What I Hated the Least Today 193/365: Tattoo Ideas

Your code goes here
Your code goes here

I’ve been thinking forever of getting tattooed because that’s the kind of thing you do when you’re in the midst of a third-life crisis (probably an early mid-life crisis in my case, as my lifestyle isn’t consistent with longevity). One gets to see a plenty of tattoos in summer, when people go around semi-naked, which serve as great examples of how not to do it. Of course, I’m hypercritical and subversive, and I’m sure said tattoo wearers are perfectly happy with their creations.

I find it hugely entertaining when people get tattooed with mottoes in a foreign language, preferably one they don’t speak. Latin, particularly. (My apologies to all speakers of Latin with tattoos in Latin.) A friend has a nasty, cheesy piece covering most of her calf, depicting a dove and Latin for “Soar to the stars” (I can’t be bothered Googling how you say it in Latin because I don’t speak Latin, and neither does my tattooed friend).

If I ever finally get down to getting ink of my own, I’ll design it myself for myself specifically. I have one idea (two ideas, in case I like it and want more), which I’m not going to share because it’s so awesome that you’d want to steal it from me (ha). It has to do with my penchant for punctuation (I proofread) and code (I’d like to code). It has nothing to do with the featured image of this post, which is thrown in just so.

Meanwhile, I’m amusing myself with coming up with subversive alternatives for cliched tattoos. A hand-coded HTML table follows (in case you wonder how I got a table in, as WordPress’s WYSIWYG doesn’t do tables). A code for the table follows next, which I suggest you don’t borrow either because it’s not very good.

Inline CSS, apparently the only CSS you can use in WP Text Editor, should override any external stylesheets, however, I can’t get rid of my theme’s default tr:nth-child(odd) property, which sets the background of every other table row to grey. I solved it, probably improperly, by modifying each <td> in the offending row rather than just the entire <tr>. I guess I could overwrite the offending values via the CSS Editor, but I can’t be bothered (again).

The Table
Cliche Subversive
Reach for the stars Whatever
You got this We’re all going to die here
Never give up Just let me die

The Code

<table><caption>The Table</caption>
<tr style="background-color:#cc2a41;">
<th style="color:white;">Cliche</th>
<th style="color:white;">Subversive</th>
</tr>
<tr style="background-color:#44749d;">
<td style="color:white;">Reach for the stars</td>
<td style="color:white;">Whatever</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td style="color:white;background-color:#44749d;">You got this</td>
<td style="color:white;background-color:#44749d;">We're all going to die here</td>
</tr>
<tr style="background-color:#44749d;">
<td style="color:white;">Never give up</td>
<td style="color:white;">Just let me die</td>
</tr>
</table>

Please note that I dot my i’s, close my tags and quote my attributes. ❤