208 posts categorized "Blogging"

Initial Thoughts on WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg

Wordpress 5 0

Yesterday (Dec 6, 2018) was TheBigDay when WordPress 5.0 with the Gutenberg block-based editor landed in all of our WordPress sites for upgrade. Some of the places to learn more about the launch include:

Changing the core editor over to Gutenberg was a massive effort over the past two years - and the launch this week was both an amazing accomplishment... and a very divisive event within the WordPress community.

I was very much hoping to be down in Nashville for WordCamp US this weekend, where parts of the community will be gathering. I expect it will be quite a passionate weekend! (Unfortunately some family medical issues kept me closer to home.)

I *really* like Gutenberg...

My initial reaction was... I really LIKE Gutenberg!

Now, I've been playing with it for much of the last year, and the more I work with it, the more I like it.

It really DOES enable more beautiful and powerful publishing with great ease.

I'm looking forward to doing even MORE with it and learning how far we can go with using Gutenberg.

... but it needs to work! :-(

However, after the upgrade to WordPress 5.0, the Gutenberg editor didn't work on all my sites. For several of my sites, I had NO PROBLEM after the update. It "just worked." I was immediately able to go in and start editing with Gutenberg.

But on a couple of other sites, when I went in to edit an existing page or post - or to create a new one - I made all my changes and pressed the "Update" or "Publish" button and...

Gutenberg updating failed

"Updating failed" in a big red bar across the top of the screen!

Amusingly to me, some searching on the web brought me back to a Github issue I had opened back in August 2017.

All I had to do to "fix" the issue was this:

  1. Go to Settings -> Permalinks, and change it from "Month and name" to "Day and name" and press "Save changes". I received the message "Permalink structure updated."
  2. Change it from "Day and name" back to "Month and name" and press "Save changes". I received the message "Permalink structure updated."
  3. Switch back to the tab where I was editing the post and had the error message. Pressed "Update" and.. ta da... the updating worked perfectly fine.

I had to do this on two different WordPress sites (both running on the same WordPress multisite server). Strangely, other sites on the multisite server were fine.

While the fix was easy, it concerns me that I had to do this and that I didn't really do anything. But somehow my act of changing the Permalink Settings did SOMETHING internally to make things work.

That concerns me.

Now, someone in that ticket or elsewhere suggested that this particular issue was NOT a Gutenberg issue, but rather an issue with the REST API, which Gutenberg uses.

Regardless, my point was that I couldn't use the editor to make changes on my site.

And beyond my own issue, I see many other Gutenberg issues piling up on Github. Now, yes, these may be initial launch pains for launching such a massive change.

But I do hope the team of developers can fix these in the 5.0.1 release that I'm sure will come quickly.

I really DO like the Gutenberg editor - and I look forward to seeing all we collectively can do with it!


P.S. This post was NOT written using Gutenberg because this Disruptive Conversations site is sadly still over on TypePad. I look forward to migrating it some day so that I can use Gutenberg!


Have we given up on personal blogging? (In favor of social media)

Cemetary keene

Have we given up on personal blogging? Are we instead doing that all writing in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and similar services?

Is the personal blog dead? [1]

I had lunch this week with a friend who, like me, has been online since long before this thing we now call the “Internet” came into being. We were having one of those “back in the old days” conversations where we talking about the discipline that came from programming in assembly language, the challenges of early computing and networks, how the programmers these days no longer need to understand how things really work, how they write bloated code, etc., etc.

Along the way we talked about the changing nature of the Internet and the growing consolidation / centralization of so many key services. We talked about how so many people no longer host their own web servers (both she and I do (for some of my sites), but talked about the issues with that and how attractive it is to look at hosting options)… about how many people no longer run their own mail servers (I don’t, but she does)… and how people have just generally given up running their own services because the hosted services are just so incredibly convenient and useful. And somewhere in there she just tossed in a comment along the lines of:

“… and then we’ve given up on blogging in favor of Facebook…"

It was just a throwaway comment in the midst of a longer discussion that went on into the rise of CDNs, overlay caching networks, cloud computing and more. (It was a great conversation!)

But that comment stuck with me… and as it rolled around inside of my brain, I sadly had to conclude that for the most part[1]...

she’s right.

My Own Example

I look even at my own writing. Despite my post in September about “Returning to POSSE - Writing on my own site, THEN on Facebook, Twitter, etc.”, the truth of the matter is that I haven’t been writing on my own sites.

If you take a look at my danyork.me aggregator site, you’ll see that I’ve been writing for the past week, but if you go back beyond that, or use the little calendar on the right sidebar to look at past months, you’ll see there is very little activity.  And what there is of my writing is most often on the Internet Society websites, rather than my various personal blogs.

For example, when I wrote on my Disruptive Telephony site on Monday, it was my first post there since March 2017 - that is 21 MONTHS!

Some of my other sites are worse.

Now, you could argue in my case that this just a matter of changing priorities. I don’t work as much with voice-over-IP or messaging, and so NOT writing on Disruptive Telephony makes sense. The site chronicled by activities in the VoIP world when I was active there. Now maybe it’s time to just park it and leave it alone. I could make similar cases for why I haven’t written on other sites.

And this may just be the consequence of my choice many years ago to spread my writing across multiple topic-focused sites, instead of just writing about a wide variety of topics on a single site such as danyork.com.

And it may be that it’s just me with everything else going on in my life over the past year.

The Directory Dilemma, Again

Or maybe not.

My lunch companion mentioned the challenge of finding where companies have their main information. Are their hours of operation most accurate on their website? Or on their Facebook page? 

And the same is true of personal blogs and sites. 

How do I find where people are writing?

Back in the early days of blogging (mid-2000s), of course,  many of us used RSS readers and got our feeds from sites that way.  We found new feeds from references, from searches, from different directories. But while I’m still one of those dwindling number of people who use a RSS reader, the vast majority of people do not. 

How do you find writing?  Well, usually through mentions in social media. It’s the “syndication” part of POSSE.  

But if you are using social media to distribute and promote your writing… it’s not a huge step to simply just write in the social media platform because it’s so easy and distribution is automatic. I know people who have moved all their writing to LinkedIn, for instance. Or people who are writing long threads in Twitter now that the site supports longer tweets and threading.

It’s another version of the Directory Dilemma - it’s easy to find content within those nice hosted walled gardens.

Running Servers Takes Work

And let’s be honest - running your own personal website can be a bit of a pain. If you use a self-hosted content management system (CMS) such as WordPress (as I do), you find yourself pretty much constantly needing to apply updates. Updates to the core… updates to the plugins… updates to the theme.  And then of course possibly updates to the underlying operating system if you are running the CMS in a virtual machine.

And then if you want to set up TLS certificates to support HTTPS, that can be a whole adventure! And if you mess it up, your sites are offline.

It’s enough to make you say… "<expletive> it, I’ll just go write on Medium!” … or hosted WordPress.com … or… to just write inside of Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn.

After all... I just want to write! 

Every minute I spend doing system admin or applying plugin updates is a minute I could be doing more writing.

Add in that all of those social sites have very easy-to-use mobile applications. It makes it so easy to just start writing inside those pretty walled gardens.

In contrast, many of the blogging and website hosting services have a less-than-stellar mobile UX. WordPress does a nice job with its mobile apps... but others? Not so much.

So is personal blogging dead?

Wellllll... no. There will always be some of will write on their own sites.

And I'd like to hope not for the larger independence of the Web. I'd like to hope many people will continue to embrace the “POSSE“ content publishing model from the “IndieWeb” movement:

Publish on your
Own
Site,
Syndicate
Elsewhere

I am going to continue to try.

But I also understand why some give up on it. The sweet convenience, ease-of-use and simplicity of the social networking platforms is extremely seductive. And they encourage consumption of content (because that helps get them the ad eyeballs they need to get paid) - and finding the balance of consumption and creation is hard!

What about you, dear reader? Have you given up


[1] Realizing that there will always be outliers in terms of very active personal blogs - and people who just choose to write on their own - but are personal blogs no longer of interest for the vast majority of people?

Photo: an image I took in the Woodlawn Cemetary in Keene, NH


WordPress 5.0 now targeted to launch on.... Thursday! (Dec 6)

Printing blocks unsplash raphaelphotoch

The news out of Matt Mullenweg last night was...

THURSDAY!

That day, December 6 (2018), is the next target release date for WordPress 5.0.

If you have been paying attention to WordPress, or listening to any of my reports into the For Immediate Release (FIR) podcast over the last, say, year or so, you would know that WordPress 5.0 is a huge departure from all previous WordPress releases. The big change is the replacement of the default text editor with the new "Gutenberg" block-based editor.

Personally, I'm rather excited about the change. I've been using Gutenberg on a number of my sites and really like how much you can do with it.

But... reaction within the WordPress community and ecosystem has been decidedly mixed.

Matt's post has more info.

We'll see if it happens! But if you are a WordPress site operator, get ready! 5.0 is coming soon!


Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

WordPress.com Offering free .Blog subdomains for new sites

 

The good folks over at WordPress.com are doing something interesting - they are giving free .blog subdomains for any new sites created on WordPress.com.

Now, to be clear, this is not ANY subdomain under .blog. For instance, I was immediately curious if I could get “danyork.blog”, but no, they are giving away for free third-level subdomains under the following second-level domains:

  • art.blog
  • business.blog
  • car.blog
  • code.blog
  • data.blog
  • design.blog
  • family.blog
  • fashion.blog
  • finance.blog
  • fitness.blog
  • food.blog
  • game.blog
  • health.blog
  • home.blog
  • law.blog
  • movie.blog
  • music.blog
  • news.blog
  • photo.blog
  • poetry.blog
  • politics.blog
  • school.blog
  • science.blog
  • sport.blog
  • tech.blog
  • travel.blog
  • video.blog
  • water.blog

So I could possibly get “danyork.tech.blog”, “danyork.news.blog”, “york.family.blog”, or “Vermont.travel.blog”. Basically, a free domain underneath that set of domains.

When you create a NEW site (and that is important because this is currently NOT available to existing WordPress.com sites), you will have a chance to claim one of these subdomains in this process.

Now, for most of us who are more serious about this, we may already have a domain. Or at least will want to get our own.

But for someone just starting out, I could see this being a useful way to get started without having to buy a domain, get it set up, etc.  Cool move by the Automattic team behind WordPress.com!


How to Run WordPress in a Docker Container, Part 1

Wordpress docker installation

Here is a quick 3-step process for launching WordPress in a Docker container. You can use this to easily launch a new WordPress instance on your local system to test out new versions, new plugins or anything else.

First, though, you need to have Docker installed on your system. The simplest way for Mac and Windows users is to install Docker Desktop. This desktop download also gives you Docker Compose, which you will need. If you are running Docker on a Linux system, you will need to manually install Docker and Docker Compose.

To run WordPress, you also need a database running. The steps here use Docker Compose to launch TWO containers: one for WordPress and one for MySQL.

Three steps

Step 1 - Create a directory (a.k.a. "folder") and install the docker-compose.yaml file found in this Github repository. You can get the file three ways:

The key is to have this all in a separate directory because your WordPress installation will store some plugins there (see the notes below).

Step 2 - In a terminal window[1] type 'docker-compose up

This will launch the two containers and link them together. You will see logging to your terminal window. You can press Ctrl+C to stop the containers and get your command prompt back. To launch the containers in the background add a "-d" option:

docker-compose up -d

Step 3 - Connect to your new WordPress server at http://localhost:8080/

That's it!

Wordpress installation 660px

Now you simply go through the normal WordPress installation process and within a few screens your new site will be fully active.

Next you can update WordPress to the latest version, install whatever plugins you want, etc.

For example, I installed the WordPress Beta Tester plugin, went into its settings and turned on "Bleeding edge nightlies", performed an upgrade... and now I'm running the very latest WordPress 5.0 build. Perfect for the testing I want to do.

Credit for the simplicity of this approach is due to Github user "wglambert" who answered a request I made about help using the WordPress Docker container. Thank you!

Notes

  • Stopping the containers - do 'docker-compose stop'. This will stop the containers from running. Doing 'docker-compose start' will start them up again.
  • A 'wp-content' directory is created is created inside the directory in which you put the docker-compose.yaml file. Any plugins or themes you add will be stored here. This allows you to do a reinstallation and have all the plugins and themes available.
  • WHEN YOU ARE DONE and want all this to go away, just type 'docker-compose down' and the services will be stopped and the containers removed.

There are many more things you can do with docker-compose. The command-line documentation can help you learn more.

Next parts

I labeled this as "Part 1" because I'm planning to write about my own ongoing testing with Docker and WordPress. In future parts of this series, I intend to cover:

  • How to load in an existing site for testing
  • How to save your changes in a Dockerfile (so you don't have to start at the very basic installation each time)
  • ... and other things I learn along the way.

I also expect I may update THIS article over time as I do more with using WordPress and Docker.

I hope you found this helpful. Please feel free to leave comments here (unfortunately I have to moderate due to spam, and so comments will not appear immediately).

I also welcome pointers to other "WordPress and Docker" tutorials that people have found helpful. If you want to follow along with some of my other experiments with Docker and containers in general, I'll be writing about that over on Code.DanYork.com.


[1] or "command shell" or "powershell" or whatever you call it...


Returning to POSSE - Writing on my own site, THEN on Facebook, Twitter, etc

Sheriff posse flickr tom kelly

Over the past few weeks as I’ve been grappling with colon cancer, it has been soooooooooo tempting to just pop open the Facebook app, write a story in the box and press “Share”.

Simple. Easy. Done!

Or inside the Twitter app… or LinkedIn… or… or...

But here’s the problem with that...

All the stories get LOCKED INSIDE A PLATFORM!

They are there living on the platform’s servers, inside the platform’s systems.  Maybe they are visible publicly, maybe they aren’t.  Maybe they will be around in two years, maybe they won’t.  Maybe people will find them, maybe they won’t.

The future of your stories is entirely at the whim of the platform.

As I wrote about on the Internet Society’s blog earlier this year, one of my own guiding principles is “POSSE“, a content publishing model from the “IndieWeb” movement:

Publish on your
Own
Site,
Syndicate
Elsewhere

And so over these past few weeks, I tried really hard to do that with my journey through cancer: the diagnosis, followed by the recovery, followed by the results.

But it’s HARD. It was so insanely tempting yesterday when I got the great news just to pop open Facebook and share it with everyone.

But when I do that… it’s shared ONLY within Facebook’s shiny “walled garden”. It’s not shared with people I know who choose NOT to use Facebook. It’s not shared with the communities I’m in on other social networks.

The “open Web” on top of the “open Internet” is really the only way to do that. But it’s hard. There’s extra steps involved for me right now with the way my various blogs are set up.  I want to work to make that easier and simpler… but doing so will take time… which is challenging to find.

But if we don’t find ways to OWN OUR OWN STORIES then they will stay locked away in closed, proprietary walled gardens.  And maybe that’s fine for some of those stories. Maybe they are small and mundane… “in the moment” stories that we don’t really care about. But even so, we feed the platforms. We help them to grow.

 I’ll keep trying to follow the POSSE rule… and I’ll be writing more here about that.


Image credit: Tom Kelly on Flickr CC BY NC ND


Revisiting a Not-So-New Rule - No Social Media Usage Until I Have Created Something New

Being a writer not being distracted

I woke up this morning frustrated that I simply haven’t been writing across my various sites. In theory I am a “writer”, but I haven’t been writing! And as I wrote in My 3 Words for 2018: “because if I don't write... the stories build up inside of me until they want to explode like a pressure cooker without a relief valve. Writing is my relief valve. I need to do it.

So I said to myself- I know, I will impose a new rule on myself... no social media usage until I publish something new! A blog post, a podcast episode (such as my The Dan York Report short audio segments), an article on some site (ex CircleID), a longer update on a social site... something.... anything.... BEFORE I get sucked into the vortex of social media updates. 

And I will start with a blog post like this one...

Except... I discovered I WROTE THE EXACT SAME POST TWO YEARS AGO! July 24, 2016, to be precise.

And... I noted that on day #2, July 25, 2016, I had already failed. ☹️

So this morning’s great idea turns out to be nothing new. 

In fact, I can go back 10 years ago, to a post in September 2008, where I wrote about Jeremiah Owyang’s “Pay yourself first” philosophy. Or may many other posts about struggling with consistent writing.

Now, maybe this rule is like the “no sweets today” diet rule that turns out to be an aspiration that just doesn’t happen. And maybe EVERY day is too high a goal. Maybe every other day. But I have to do something, or consumption will win over creation. 

Unless, of course, I want to reframe my own perspective and think of myself as an “occasional writer”... and just accept only writing now and then  

I am not quite ready for that. Let’s see how I do this year!

 


Heading to Belgrade This Week for WordCamp Europe 2018 (WCEU)

Wceu 2018

If any of you will be at WordCamp Europe 2018 this week in Belgrade, Serbia, please do say hello. I'll be there starting this afternoon and am greatly looking forward to learning from many of the people involved deeply in the WordPress community.

In particular I'm looking forward to the Developing for Privacy and Data Protection session. Based on the work done in the community to help website operators comply with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this workshop will look at what comes next. I'm personally very interested to see where this will go.

I'll also be going to some accessibility workshops and checking in on topics such as caching, security and mobility that are always of interest. I also have some meetings with partners and others.

Anyway, if you're there at WCEU 2018, feel free to drop me a note.


Big News! 360° photos now available for any WordPress site via JetPack plugin

360 photo

For those of us experimenting with "360-degree photos", last week's announcement of Jetpack 4.5 had a hidden but awesome feature: you can use a shortcode to embed your 360 photo or video into ANY WordPress site (that uses the Jetpack plugin).

Here is why this is so huge - up until last month, the only sites that would display 360 photos were either:

  • Facebook
  • Google StreetView

That was it. Two effectively closed walled gardens of content.

As I mentioned in my reports into a couple of For Immediate Release podcast episodes, my concern was that only Facebook users would really get this benefit. I wanted the ability to display 360 photos on any website.

On December 15, 2016, WordPress.com announced that all hosted sites could embed 360 photos or videos. This was a great step forward in bringing 360 photos out to more sites.

Then just last week version 4.5 of the JetPack plugin was released and, somewhat bizarrely, while the announcement contains no mention of this awesome new feature, an Automattic staff person confirmed the inclusion of the support in a comment.

You can read all about this new capability here:

Now, since this Disruptive Conversations site is sadly NOT on WordPress, I can't show you the features directly here. However, I've gone ahead and embedded 360 photos on two WordPress sites I have:

Those were both taken using the Google Street View application on iOS. (And yes, sometime I need to write or record a tutorial about how to do this.)

I have included the shortcodes in the blog posts so that you can see how easy this is to do. You just:

  1. Take the 360 photo using the Google Street View app on your smartphone. (This will save it to your camera roll on an iPhone.)
  2. Upload the image to your WordPress site.
  3. Use the appropriate shortcode in your blog post.

That's it!

Of course, you need the Jetpack plugin installed in your site, but that's all.

Many thanks to Automattic's Jetpack team for bringing out this capability so that we could set our 360 photos free of the walled gardens and bring them to any WordPress site!

What do you think about this? Will you try some 360 photos now?


Writing Every Day of November - the NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo Challenges

NaNoWriMo NaBloPoMo 2016

Today is the day! Every year on November 1 some number of writers across the world challenge themselves to write EVERY SINGLE DAY in November.

Some amazingly choose to focus on writing a novel. They go the "NaNoWriMo" route, a.k.a. "National Novel Writing Month"... where "national" is really any nation in the world. Best place to learn more is the simple address: nanowrimo.org

Given that the target of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000+ words, that's a serious commitment!

Others of us, and I'll add myself this year, choose to focus instead on writing at least one blog post every day as part of "NaBloPoMo", a.k.a. "National Blog Posting Month".

NaBloPoMo started back in 2006 and since 2011 has been championed by the BlogHer community. BlogHer is supporting NaBloPoMo again in 2016, but it wasn't clear for a while if they were going to do so. Meanwhile, another group at the "Cheerpeppers" site started a "blog once a day" challenge under the name "Nano Poblano".

Regardless, the point is to challenge yourself to write every day.

And of course being in our social world, you can follow along at the hashtags #NaNoWriMo and #NaBloPoMo - and also now #Nanopoblano (the hashtags all link to Twitter here but you can find them used on other social networks as well).

For myself, I am going to give it a try. Writing (and publishing) every day. As I recently wrote, I'm struggling to write consistently... so this provides a goal for me to strive for.

Now, I won't be writing here on Disruptive Conversations every day. My personal goal is publish some article across all my various blogs each day of November. That includes the blogs at the Internet Society, my employer.

You - and I - will be able to track how I am doing at my danyork.me site where I aggregate all my posts across all my sites.

We'll see how I do!

And best wishes to everyone else who are pushing themselves to do one of these challenges this year. Let's see the writing happen!

P.S. I haven't signed up for either the BlogHer or Cheerpeppers challenges. I'm just doing this for me right now.