Additional Technical Notes, 12/6/20

I noted last week that WordPress was transferring me over from its now-shuttering-VIP hosting tier to its business tier, and that there were likely to be a couple of changes, mostly not on your end but on mine. That switchover is (mostly) done, so I thought I’d give an update on things as they stand.

As promised, most of the changes were invisible on your end. The biggest change on this end is that I’m learning to use WordPress’ “Gutenberg” editor, which has a tiny bit of a learning curve and which doesn’t have a couple of functionality bits I typically use (like, for example, an easy way to put a border on a picture). On the other hand, once I do get the hang of it, there will be some cool things I can do with it. Also, uploading speed for posts is much, much, faster. So it will be worth making the effort. In the meantime, look! I can make photos with wavy borders!

Krissy, obviously.

Also, I’m talking with WordPress about making a couple of small changes. One, the return of an easy way to add borders on pictures; two, adding dates and bylines to posts. The photo bylines are fine but kludgy, so just being about to have “by” right up at the top will be nice.

There are a couple of weird technical issues I want to alert people to. The first is that Google has changed the way Web Fonts get served on the Chrome browser, which means that sometimes on loading a page on the site you’ll see different fonts than what you’re used to. Hopefully Google will fix how this functions, or I’ll have to figure how to download and put the fonts up on my end. But in the meantime, if you see different fonts, wait a minute (for the font to download) and then reload the page. Annoying I know, but it’s Google, not me.

The second is that the header images don’t appear to be automatically resizing anymore, which I think is related to some WordPress updating on their end (this would have been prior to my switching plans). We’re looking into it and it’s really not a big deal since the worst-case scenario is that I just go in and resize all my header photos and re-upload them. But if you’ve at all been wondering why the header photos look a little wonky, that’s why.

Oh, and: We’re looking at restoring a comment preview function, one that’s hopefully more up-to-date and functional than the one I had before.

These changes will take some small amount of time to implement, not in the least because it’s currently the holiday season, and also because I’m not the only person WordPress switched over to a new plan, so they’re having to deal with a bunch of clients. But these are mostly cosmetic things, not issues directly relating to the functionality of the site, so I’m perfectly willing to be patient about them.

On the mobile/AMP side, I implemented a new theme which I thought better reflected the site and is easier to use in mobile. If you dislike it, just snip off the “/amp” bit in the URL or have your mobile device force the desktop theme and everything will be fine again.

That’s where we are with the technical bits regarding the site at this moment. If any other momentus things happen, I’ll let you know. But by and large: This is it.

— JS

25 Comments on “Additional Technical Notes, 12/6/20”

  1. At work, half the systems I use are on the Gutenberg, and the other half are pending updates on old-school WordPress. At first my staff hated Gutenberg, but as they learned/loved it, they started griping about the systems that /haven’t/ changed over (and I’m totally with them.)

  2. One thing I notice that’s different is the Favicon (icon on the browser tab) is now a generic WordPress blue. I don’t remember what it was before, but it was NOT that. No big deal, but in case you aren’t seeing this, I’m using Chrome 86.0.4240.198 on Mac OS X 10.13.6

  3. Glad to hear it’s going well. Personally I despise the Gutenberg editor. It interferes with my flow of thoughts when writing and forces me to think about the editor, which is not exactly what I want from a platform I just use for writing and working through my thoughts when I feel like it. But as long as I can continue to swap out the Classic editor instead, that takes care of my problems. Obviously I don’t do anything on the scale you do, even for your non-commercial “fun” blog.

  4. It looks like the site lost its favicon, is that on purpose or a known limitation, or should it be fixed?

  5. Just FYI, the email (in the Gmail app and iPad Mail app, at least) doesn’t display the wavy border of the picture of Krissy. She’s just as lovely with a straight border on the picture, of course.

  6. Ok, slightly odd,not getting the header photo on the iPad in safari, except when I clicked on “comments” that loaded with he header photo. Desktop, obviously. I checked other browsers on iPad- chrome defaults to mobile version and I couldn’t force it to desktop. Firefox also doesn’t have the header photo in the desktop version, just a nice blue background, that switches to fuzzy green when I go to comment. I could convince myself the fuzzy green was a distorted photo of yours.

    But the wavy border is there for Chrissy in all of them!

  7. I was looking at the post in Feedly, using Safari, and didn’t see the wavy edge; I opened the post to see what you were talking about. And I agree Krissy looks lovely either way!

  8. Thanks for the tip about switching my bookmark from the mobile to desktop version. Besides that everything seems to be in working order that I care about (ie the words) so far.

    Although, I will mention something that you are probably well aware of: Ghlaghghee’s pic is missing from the bookmark. I do miss it and hope that the learning curve isn’t too much for you to add it back. :)

  9. I’m seeing
    “By John Scalzi Post date December 6, 2020”

    At the top. Are you hand jamming that?

    Safari on iPad.

  10. I’ll also add that in the Android Feedly app and mobile Chrome browser the bylines “by John Scalzi” or “by Athena Scalzi” are clearly visible on each post, independent of the kludged photo byline. When I click through on “exit mobile version” the byline disappears, so it appears the byline issue is with the desktop version of the site. I can send photos if that would be helpful (you have my contact details).

  11. OK. Can see wavy bottom on the portrait.(OS X 10.11.01, Safari 14.0.1)

    Logging in via the WordPress icon not working…it just has runs the running bar forever. But I think I can post fine by filling in the email and user name every time…

  12. Are you subscribed via WordPress to your own site, so you can see what gets sent in WP emails? I have noticed some (understandable) differences between the email and the site, such as:
    • Embedded YouTube videos show as photos only in the emails and are not clickable links.
    • The photo of Krissy was not wavy, as was previously mentioned, but also, the “Krissy, obviously” caption was centered in the email rather than left aligned as it is here.
    • Links are more visible in the email (light blue in color, underlined) than here (bold black, no underline, which looks more like a formatting choice than a link; I’m on Windows 10 using Chrome browser).
    • No header image in the email, but I do get the icon at the top, next to your name (when it’s you and not Athena) that’s the one that shows when you post here in the comments (the drawing of you in front of a planet, holding the mallet).
    None of these are worrying or even annoying, just noted for your edification.

  13. Isn’t a byline a core function of WordPress, and just a matter of enabling it in your theme? (Or picking a theme that uses them?)

    Though I agree with Jason above — the byline pics are neat, you two did a great job with making them look classy, and they help the site stand apart.

    On mine I believe it’s this line of code in the index.php template, in the div class=”post” section:
    (I’ll use curly brackets instead of angle brackets to not break the comment)

    {?php the_time(‘F jS, Y’) ?} by {?php the_author() ?}

    (Though maybe putting that line of code into your theme is a service that you’re paying to do for you ;)

  14. What can you do? Blogger has messed things up so much that it is like they want to get rid of people who aren’t really tech savvy. WordPress is about to corner the market because there really isn’t any other place to go.

    Thanks for the heads up, but I’ll probably forget the points by the time I switch to WordPress.

  15. Re favicon, I don’t know about that, but before the Firefox “Top Sites” button for Whatever was a mini version of the top picture on the page, while now it it just a white on blue WordPress logo.

  16. As another side note, images in posts in general mostly stopped working/loading on my (admittedly extremely outdated) Firefox 52, and perceived loading speed dropped a bit. So that is annoying.

  17. Here’s a good thing: the RSS feed is better, now.

    For the last N years, every photo in a post has been repeated in reverse order at the bottom of the RSS entry. Now they are only appearing where you placed them.

  18. The feature I miss, that seems to have gone missing from all WordPress blogs though it is still there at the WordPress site itself, is the bar at the top of the page that has the bell icon on the far right side which, when clicked, expands a long list of all responses to your comments and alerts you to new ones.

  19. Snipping the /amp does not work for me; it still loads as mobile version on my android tab. I have to scroll about 40 feet down to the bottom of the page to hit the “Exit mobile mode” bar.

    Only happens since the changeover.

  20. Hi, John! This is not actually relevant to this post, but I want to say that I found out about the Zoe Keating streaming concert from your Twitter feed, and it was really cool, so thanks for that.
    (I have since subscribed to her newsletter, so I won’t be needing updates from you on a regular basis.)

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