WordPress Reinvents Gutenberg and I Can’t—

WordPress Reinvents Gutenberg and I Can’t—

WordPress invented the printing press for the post-printing age. They called it Gutenberg, thus positively impacting people’s factual knowledge in the post-factual age, while adversely impacting search trends on Google. Every idiot is searching for keyword Gutenberg and the more enlightened ones for phrase whats the difference between gutenberg and hewlett packard. Apart from circa half a millennium, none.

As for me, who was brought up at the height of the trivia age (aka let’s-see-how-much-encyclopaedic-facts-we-can-input-in-a-schoolkid’s-head-before-it-implodes age), I have a more interesting question. What’s the difference between Gutenberg à la WordPress and Shakespeare? Apart from a few random centuries, none. Both are much ado about nothing. Also, I tend to disapprove of both of them, while everyone else seems to be shitting themselves with enthusiasm, and I’m thinking what the heck I’m missing.

What is this thing, then, this Gutenberg by WordPress? Well. Since we’re on the literary note, let me whip up a simile (worry not, that’s the shit that is easier than the metaphor, or even the oxymoron). Just as WordPress allows you to make a website without actually knowing how to code, so Gutenberg allows you to produce content without knowing how to write. Okay. I might be exaggerating, but not much. Gutenberg is a kind of an upgraded visual editor. Like Word is an upgraded Notepad.

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This may or may not be my make-up (see below for [ir]relevance)
I have literally (not to be confused with literary) no idea (I could just as well finish the sentence here, right?)—no idea what my problem with visual editors is. A childhood trauma, perhaps? Hardly, unless my traumatising encounters with MS Dos count. (To my schoolteacher of IT, who never graded me better than a B: Dude, wanna see my latest bit of JavaScript? Or my new CSS tricks? You know, I happen to be a coder now. So fuck you, in yer face. [Not literally, please.])

I love new stuff and shit that makes other shit easier. I’m not the fashionable weirdo who bakes her own bread though she can buy it courtesy of the supermarket. I suspect I’ve had too much experience with visual editors not doing their one job and me ending up just coding the job, which, as it happened, was more efficient on all fronts. Whenever I hear visual builder, I’m getting measles. I’m kidding. I’m not getting measles at any time because my mother wasn’t a militant bio-mother, so I’m fully vaccinated.

I’m not sure whether the vaccine is the reason I’m semi-autistic. Maybe I was born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline. It could be Rimmel, too. But not Sephora. I’m not a Sephora person. I know a person who is a Sephora person, which is why I researched what the fuck. It appears that Sephora sells overpriced make-up to those dumb enough to buy it. Which didn’t really answer my what the fuck question. I wear make-up once a week at most (not coincidentally, it coincides with the equally rare occasions when I leave the flat), and so I’m still wearing the glossy red lip gloss I bought five years ago.

Glossy lip gloss is no more fashionable, I hear (and deem it irrelevant), but I no more like it. Trouble is, as is the case with all things you don’t like any more, that the product is bottomless. I assume it’s also past its expiry date; fortunately, I don’t believe in expiry dates. Nothing but propaganda. I shall keep on using and/or eating any expired thing until it manifests highly visible signs of mould which I evaluate as severe enough to justify throwing the shit out. Don’t even try to argue with me. See above for post-factual age. You’re welcome.

Aside

On Blogkeeping and Changes

The only change that doesn’t change is change. Duh.

I’ve been up to no good, as always when I’m up to something. In the unlikely scenario that you’re a professional stalker and stalk me proficiently, you would have noticed a few months ago that I went sort of off-the-grid. Not because it’s fashionable and the internet is full of it—see the irony? how can you report your off-grid experience when you’re off-the-grid, huh?—but because I woke up one day with the excellent idea to remove myself off of the face of the earth. (Is there any linguist or language user who would explain to me how to use off of? Or is it of off? Does it even make any sense, language-economy-wise?)

This time, I wasn’t thinking of a literal removal of my person from among the living—though it is indeed my favourite image to dwell upon—but a partial removal of my online persona from among the asocial people who socialise online. I’m kidding, as per usual. Or am I? In any case, in a rare moment of deployment of common sense, it occurred to me that since I’m not using the gazillion social media I senselessly subscribed to, I could just as well delete my accounts. Following this logic, I killed myself on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Blogloving, Vine (the latter was a step ahead and had killed itself before I did) and probably elsewhere I don’t even remember now.

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My blog in 2014 according to the WayBack Machine,  which is terribly wrong about the design

I only kept this blog—should you wonder whether I kept the blog that you’re currently reading, you know—and my Instagram, both of which I hardly use anyway, but anyway. My point is that if you happened to notice me having disappeared, it’s not you—neither is it me; it is what it is. (I understand that a point should be deep, hence the populist and Buddhist crap respectively.) My killing spree also affected the blog as I took down some images that I in retrospect evaluated as too revealing. Keep your pants on, I don’t mean revealing in the good way, as in nudes, but in the indifferent way, as in showing too much of my real-life person, as opposed to my blogging persona.

Please don’t refute this point by arguing that I don’t have a life, less so a real life. I’m aware of this fallacy. Also, no need to point out that once shit gets on the internet, shit gets real; in other words, once online, always online. I’m aware of that, too. My message here is that you may see some images on the blog that you can’t see. See? As in the classic rectangular outline with no content but a cross in it and a message that the image can’t be displayed. Duh. As to the thought of preserving my blog for posterity—though I don’t intend to multiply, so I won’t produce any posterity of my own—the WayBack Machine does this job. Even if poorly, as you can see in the snapshot of my blog from four years ago.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sweet (Sixteen)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sweet (Sixteen)

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Sweet.

Not much of a photo but clever, right? The sweet sixteen.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Beloved; or, My Precious

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beloved; or, My Precious

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Beloved.

The other thing I love, besides my cat. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have a Mac to love your computer. I have a Lenovo called Lena and she’s perfectly lovable as she is. Of course, Windows keep on trying to ruin her, but nothing’s perfectly perfect.

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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.

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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.

I’ve Been Actively Anti-OCD Today

I’ve Been Actively Anti-OCD Today

It’s not often that I try to go against my OCD. After all, I have more urgent issues to struggle with. But when I do go anti-OCD, it’s in the weirdest ways. You’d never believe what one can OCD about. For example, a computer game.

The only game I ever purchased is Age of Empires. Yes, the 1990s game. The idea of the game is that you build a town and defeat your enemy. I don’t care about the fight (see above, I have enough to fight with) but I care about my virtual city immensely.

So my idea of this game is that I set the difficulty to the easiest level and spend the game time carefully aligning my town buildings, producing a predetermined number of villagers and distributing them equally among various tasks.

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OCD style

Mind you, there must be an equal proportion of male and female villagers. The total number of each gender and the total number of villagers respectively must be divisible by two. Female villagers must not be assigned strenuous tasks, like ore mining or wood gathering. Male villagers must not be farmers, fishermen or gatherers.

Also, soldiers must come in even numbers. The army must consist of only one type of soldier, though extra siege weapons are allowed. Should anything go wrong at the first attempt—a building is misaligned or villagers aren’t divided into two equally sizeable groups by gender—the unit must be deleted and replaced as applicable.

Today I ended up with one extra female villager. That was a bugger. The villager insisted that she feels to be a woman, hence I couldn’t pretend they were transgender. That pissed me off and, against all idiosyncratic rules I created for the game, I assigned the poor woman to gold digging, along with three males.

I didn’t enjoy the game and resigned it after a few minutes. This might or might not have to do with my OCD. I’m pleased with myself because I’ve been actively anti-OCD; but I’m somewhat upset that nothing holds my interest these days. I used to play this game often and with pleasure, and now I can’t find anything that I’d marginally enjoy. So please excuse me, I’ll try my hand at reading for a change.

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!)

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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.)

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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).

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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*)!

Developing Your Eye I: My Most Treasured Treasure

Developing Your Eye I: My Most Treasured Treasure

Part of WordPress’s photography course Developing Your Eye I.

Today’s photo prompt is open to abuse: it asks for a portrait of treasure. Well, if I had a treasure, the last thing I’d do is to flaunt it for thieves and murders to get. Since I don’t have a treasure though, it’s a no issue. In lieu of treasure, I present my beloved laptop Lena. Sure, I wanted to present my cat, but you know her already.

 

What I Hated the Least Today 261/365: MS Paint and the Practice of Ensō

What I Hated the Least Today 261/365: MS Paint and the Practice of Ensō

Recently I noticed a huge discussion sparkled about MS Paint, which was announced to be retired but the decision was promptly withdrawn because people are sentimental about it and not ready to let it go yet. I’m pretty unsentimental and don’t give a shit.

But—this was the first app (then called programme) that I ever used on a computer. I was in my early teens and among the first at school who got a computer at home and later, dial-up internet. I was allowed an hour of computer time per day and spent it drawing wildly coloured zig-zags in Paint because I couldn’t draw a straight line if the life of my dog depended on it (yes, I was a dog person as a kid).

For the sake of reminiscing, for the sake of trying something new (something so old that it is new again) and just for the kick out of it, I opened Paint today on my laptop. I selected a thick painting brush and started to draw circles. My mouse movements, though I thought them quite precise, translated into very shaky and jagged  lines.

I’ve always been attracted to warm colours and to the shape of the circle. I find warm colours soothing and the circle is the only shape that doesn’t have edges. I feel edges as threatening. Whenever I attempt anything with a brush or a colour pencil (which is rarely), I do circles, semi-circles or waves. I am aware that I suck at being creative and I can’t produce anything even approaching a realistic depiction, so I always do abstract crap.

Drawing ensō (no, these are not onion rings)

Since I started doing yoga a few years ago or so, and especially since I started meditating, I became a bit interested in the philosophy of the whole thing. It’s not that there is any unified philosophy, and I’m not really looking for one either. However, I came across a number of concepts which appeal to me and to which I can relate. It’s best described as a personal eclectic selection from Zen Buddhism.

The traditional symbol of zen is ensō, a circle which is hand-drawn in one stroke and not corrected once it’s complete. I prefer an open circle, whose openness implies development, movement and is associated with the beauty of imperfection. The practise of drawing ensō is a self-expression of the creator at one particular moment, which is transient. It allows for the release of the mind, letting go of the need to be in control, allowing oneself to be imperfect. This is obviously helpful for anyone with mental health issues.

During my yoga practice, I have been experimenting with mantras, which is like positive affirmations, but more specifically, it’s an idea you keep in mind while doing things on the yoga mat and, perhaps, off the mat too. At first it sounded like mambo jumbo to me. Then, I had to admit that for your mindset, it is more beneficial to be telling yourself something positive than to be imprinting on your mind that you’re a loser (the latter of which is what I’m naturally inclined to do).

What I have ultimately learned from yoga are some generally applicable values which I’m trying to cultivate. I’m not saying I’m any successful at it, just that I have discovered and pinned down the words for some values that are important to me. I’ve never been religious or spiritual, and I still keep it pretty secular, but it’s a new experience all the same. In case you wonder, among the things I’m working on are: generosity, patience, gratitude, acceptance, fearlessness, focus, flow and others. Also, I’m practising creativity—I mean, I just made a connection between MS Paint and Zen Buddhism.

 

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.