A Word About WordPress

-- by Jeff Chappell

I know, I know.

“But you said …” Yep, I sure did. “It’s too …” Yeah, yeah, I said that, too. And don’t forget “I want to keep it simple.” I’ll have that carved on my tombstone, if nothing else.

In the months -- 11, yikes -- since my last post, I’ve spent much of my free time evaluating this and that — lots and lots of this and that. I even thought at one point of doing it myself and coding it all by hand from scratch; I even put together a working website:

Hello, 1999!
Hello, 1999!

This site looks like a refugee from the late 90s, doesn’t it? Like it was stuck on an old 10-gig hard drive in some forgotten, dusty IBM PS/2 clone sitting in a garage somewhere for the last two decades.

As a matter of fact I had in mind a website that I had from that era — minus the gifs of laughing skulls, shimmery, glowing candles and the blood-dripping lines that were forerunners of <hr> tags today (this was in my vampire/goth/still-clinging-to-my-youth-even-though-I’m-thirty-and-should-know-better phase). There are a few tell-tales of modernity though: the copyright date and the creative commons license for one, the buy-me-a-cappuccino sticker for another — not to mention the web browser its displayed on. The “connected successfully” at the top was the PHP message letting me know I was communicating with my MySQL database, incidentally.

Anyway, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted something a little more than static HTML and PHP — as in the aforementioned database (nerd is as nerd does) — which was a little beyond what I was prepared for (as I soon found out, much to my chagrin). And the more I tried to deal with flat-file CMSes and the like (I’m too old and crotchety to learn four or five different new programming languages — one or two, sure, but four?), or tried getting beyond mid-level PHP and introductory MySQL … well, you see where this is going.

Jeez, I just wanna write, ya know?

So here we are. And in a way that seems apropos; I switched to WordPress way back in 2006 when Automattic, the company behind WordPress, pressed — heh! — forward with its trademark and logo. Not that I knew any of that that then: I just thought I would give this open-source CMS a go — it was relatively new, looked cool and relatively simple (especially compared to Drupal or the in-house content management systems I was used to — yikes!).

Me and WP, we go way back, yo.

So I know the snow has melted a while ago — officially summer is still several weeks away, but I’m already sleeping all night with the windows open and the fan on — but site’s not quite ready yet. But soon. It’s close …

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
— Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

— May 25, 2021

Just an Update: Pandemic Blues

Hey kids,

Just a quick update for anyone who might be interested.

But before all that, let us address the mask-wearing elephant in the room. Rhetorically speaking, everyone survived Captain Trips, I trust? I remember when I uploaded this ... er, placeholder ... in early March; it was a different time. I had plans to go places and do things, back then, and none of them involved wearing a face mask or social distancing or germ protocols à la Howard Hughes.

And being canceled, for that matter.

Back then, a mere five months ago, if I had worn a face mask into the grocery store it would warrant at best a few stares and giggles and at worst a visit with the cops. Now, masked soccer moms look down their nose at me as if I farted in church when I forget and don't wear a face mask in public.

Never saw that one coming. But such is life in the time of cholera corona.

And yes, it is supposed to be love in the time of cholera, and apologies to Gabriel García Márquez.

Now on with the show.

First off, it's Neil, not Neal, so apologies to him, too -- not that he is likely to care -- and his kith and kin (and it's Peart, while we are at it). One would think that a pasty North American white guy who has met his relatives in Northern Ireland (who originally came there via Scotland and the English) would not need his spelling corrected on a name derived of Gaelic origins. Well póg mo thóin for all that.

Second, I have made some progress on my ... "project" (that will do for now). No, really. One of my reasons for doing this was that WordPress had become too unwieldy over the last decade or so for what I had in mind, and I was looking for something a little less ... well, less. Not that it's not good for what it is and does, mind you; it is a great content management system (CMS). It's just that it had become too much for me -- like fishing for bluegills with an arctic whaler, as it were.

So after looking at things like Pico CMS and whatnot -- no databases (hell yes!) for example, which was closer -- but not quite -- to what I had in mind, it dawned on me that I was reinventing the wheel. Back in the days of yore -- 1998 to 2006 -- and the halcyon days of the 'net, I put up my own websites, having learned HTML and CSS myself. Then WordPress, Drupal and the like came along and I got lazy. Now it's 2020 and the answer was staring me in the keyboard: keep it simple and do it yourself. Thus right now I am knocking the rust of my web skills -- mainly updating myself on what's changed; I want my project to actually look like it was made today, in 2020 (well 2021, anyway), and not 2004.

So what is this project, you ask? Well, you'll just have to wait and see. Still shooting for a spring 2021 start date though. And it's ... coalescing, if you will, in the back of my head. Plus, if you look just a bit further down you can catch a partial glimpse of the tentative (!) title. ...

P.S. Props to the makers of BlueGriffon; it is a kick-ass HTML editor, and it is free, open source and WYSIWYG. Très bien!

--Mid June, 2020

Just wondering ...

Hi. I know, I know, but it has been lying fallow for sometime now, and one day I just got a wild hair and took a scythe to it.

All of it.

And it felt good to just throw it all away. Damn good. Huzzah.

Of course long-time visitors may recall there was a lot information here, of various types and descriptions -- from my deepest and sometimes rather darkest thoughts, to how to get Linux and WinDoh!s to work together. There was lots of work-related writing as well, everything from -- relatively! -- recent semiconductor crap, to a blog I kept while meandering about China in 2005, to scans of crap I wrote in the '90s. And don't forget all those lovely photos.

But now it's all gone. Every last bit, figuratively and literally (get it? Bit? Never mind ... sigh). So sayonara to this blog. Toodle-loo. See ya in the funny papers.

Alas, poor blog! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his monitor a thousand times, and now how abhorr'd in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it.

Heaven forfend I bid adieu and not borrow from The Bard. A blog of most excellent fancy, indeed.

So I've got something different in mind for this space. What that is, I'm not exactly sure; I've just been ... well ... wondering. I won't say when, exactly, either -- we all know how that goes with me, deadlines and whatnot -- let's say before the spring of 2021 -- isn't that a Rush song? RIP Neal Pert -- there will be some new goings-on here.

And lest you feel the need to reach me: jchappell68 at yahoo. And no, the new whatever-it-is will not involve any sort of social media, so don't ask.

--Early March, 2020