jaredwsmith.com is now running WordPress 3.5. Chief among the improvements: The new media manager. It fixes a ton of my gripes with previous versions. Twenty Twelve, the theme I’ve been running for a few months, is also the new default (with 20 days to spare!) and it still performs very well. Looking forward to doing more with it. I just installed the upgrade so I haven’t yet found any major pitfalls but it is always best to stay up-to-date with WordPress upgrades for security improvements (and just a progressively better experience across the board).
After four years, I’ve changed the design of jaredwsmith.com. It now runs on the extremely elegant and nicely responsive Twenty Twelve theme released by the WordPress team a few weeks ago. I never thought of myself as a default theme kind of guy until my life become incredibly busy and a much-needed redesign got totally out of reach. Twenty Twelve is an outstanding theme and should do well here for a while. At some point I’ll graft a custom design back on but it’s not a high priority.
What is a high priority going forward is spending more time working with this blog given the precarious state of third-party social networks and data ownership/display rights. Take Twitter’s much-maligned policy changes as an example — Twitter is about to really limit the power of its service, chilling its ecosystem and everything that attracted me to Twitter as a platform in the first place. I’ll still use Twitter and invest some time into it, keeping in mind the caveats going forward as it tries to become a profitable business, but if they restrict clients too much more it’s going to be tough to hang in there. (And I firmly realize that my issues with Twitter are from the standpoint of a power user, but something needs to be said for content ownership and display rights.)
Facebook is a family-and-friends communication tool for pithy thoughts with familiar folks. (I do have subscriptions turned on but I’m not sure who would want to watch.) Again, not a place I want to invest much brain power.
I’d invest more heavily in Google+ if they would open up the write API to, well, anybody other than HootSuite. (Nothing personal against HootSuite, but I prefer native desktop clients.)
Since I have this WordPress blog, I see less utility in installing a tool such as StatusNet or a Tent protocol-capable server. The ability to federate them is the trump card in their favor, and perhaps that’s something I should investigate more closely as an integration into WordPress — it’s just a protocol, and WordPress’s flexibility is why it survived the downfall of mainstream blogging (and, quite honestly, has thrived at an unprecedented scale).
It’s damn good to be writing here again. I seriously regret not doing it more. This blog has missed out on arguably the most important stretch of my life, and that really sucks.
Here’s to new beginnings…
Not sure what happened earlier when I posted my missive about IE 6, but Apache lost its mind and ground to a halt earlier today. A quick look at some vitals indicated that the issue was related to the Twitter API (which points to the Twitter Tools plugin which has archived my last four years of tweets). Interestingly, my disk IO skyrocketed at the same time. Nuts. Anyway, here’s hoping that was just an isolated incident and that I won’t have to troubleshoot this site again for another year and a half because I really don’t have time for that. :)
You can now follow a full feed of updates from jaredwsmith.com over on Twitter — just find @jaredwrites for all of my screed here. I’m using Twitterfeed right now to pull in the updates; hopefully its PubSubHubbub engine will pick up my feed and move it off the 30-minute polling interval sooner rather than later.
I will be perfectly honest: I have resisted this move for a very long time. Call me old-fashioned, but I do not believe this is what Twitter is for. As long-time followers of @jaredwsmith can attest, I very infrequently tweet blog links (and usually, I would only tweet links to the most important stuff that I actually spent time thinking about). It has been a very fascinating A/B test to see how posts perform when I get Twitter involved, and I had a couple hits in 2011 (my open letter regarding the National Weather Service in particular was a huge hit) when I got social networks involved. RSS by itself just doesn’t cut it — and this goes for both new bloggers and established big blogs. Like it or not, Twitter is one of the two essential distribution channels now. (Facebook is the other, but I’m not going to do anything with it.) Let’s see how this works out and if the account gets suspended.
It’s been quite a long time since I’ve done much with this blog either design-wise nor writing-wise, so I figured I’d give it a little refresh (though far from the full HTML5 redesign it desperately needs and probably won’t get for a long while yet). I even bumped the version number! This is now jaredwsmith.com version 4.1.
These tweaks do a couple nice things, including giving me my newlines back in asides. Looking back, this theme is full of questionable decisions (which was pretty standard for 2008, when I released this look and feel), so it was nice to get a few things straightened out. I’m using a HTML5 DOCTYPE but no actual HTML5 code just yet; that will probably change with a redesign. There was no way this was validating as XHTML 1.1 so I figured I would switch the DOCTYPE to reflect something more realistic.
There are still bugs and stale things cached, I’m sure of it. Please bear with me.
After seeing and experiencing development versions of WordPress 3.2 and its incredibly sexy updates at WordPress DC, I had been kicking around the idea of running a development version here on jaredwsmith.com — and so it is done. Not only am I on a dev version, but I’m also updating it via Subversion, which is really nice. Most people probably should wait for the official release (not much longer, given that this nightly build sports 3.2-RC1 versioning); to get a taste of what’s coming in 3.2, check out Aaron Brazell’s excellent preview.
I regret to report that I am shutting down the Charleston Weather blog after a year and a half of frustratingly infrequent blogging. A dedicated weather blog should be updated more than a few times a month, and that just wasn’t happening (nor would my current workload allow it). Thus, I opted to shut it down rather than continue to prominently feature outdated information.
This certainly does not mean I’m going to shut up about the weather. The Charleston Weather Twitter account is alive and well and will absolutely continue (it’s where most of the energy I’d use for blogging goes). @chswxextra is my conduit for Charleston weather-related speculation and discussion, and the Charleston Weather website will continue to offer up the temperature and current sky conditions in big, bold fonts. (I have plans for more enhancements to that site as well.)
If you are dying to read about Charleston’s weather in detail with updates multiple times a day, look no further than the official Area Forecast Discussion from the National Weather Service in Charleston. The AFD is pretty detailed and if you’re into weather, you will learn tons.
In the insane asylum that is my life, I forgot to mark September 18, 2005: the day I launched jaredwsmith.com on WordPress 1.5 after a few failed attempts at writing a custom CMS from scratch and then running a mostly unfocused community here. I would never have known it then, but WordPress was a big reason why I finally learned standards-based design (I had still relied on tables until early 2005) and was a vehicle for giving my career a journalistic bent (even if my paying jobs haven’t always reflected it). Incidentally, I chose WordPress mainly because of the book I helped write, Building Online Communities with Drupal, phpBB, and WordPress. Little did I know that I would never launch my planned phpBB-based forums (sorry, old-school The Realm/jaredwsmith.com forumgoers) and simply stick to the blogging route, but that’s exactly what happened. Since relaunching the blog, I’ve gotten an opportunity to meet many wonderful people and find community well before “social media” was a household buzzword. Lately the blog has been more neglected; the convenience of Twitter and other outlets takes time from traditional writing. I have a few changes in mind (including a fresh coat of paint; I haven’t redesigned in almost two years) that I hope will motivate me to post more things here. What I’d like to know is: How are you maintaining your blog?
WordPress 3.0 is now live with nary a hiccup on jaredwsmith.com. It was mostly very smooth, though I did have a CSS change to make to my theme (looks like there was a small output tweak to the_category() that broke something — and I could have avoided it had I coded better). I’m also using W3 Total Cache, and while I can report that everything mostly works, I’m having some trouble uploading via FTP to my “CDN” — which, in reality, is just another account on another domain on my shared host. However, everything else is looking pretty good so far. Fingers crossed!