Category Archives: Site News

News & updates concerning this very website.

What’s old is new again

I decided to dust off my Twenty Twelve child theme for from years ago and reimplement it with a little custom CSS. The more I look at Twenty Seventeen, the more I realize just how heavy it is. My aesthetic preferences lean far more minimalistic than they used to, and I find Twenty Twelve does an excellent job at scratching this itch — even in 2016 and beyond.

I love one tweak in particular: I’m now using system fonts for WebKit and Blink-based browsers. System fonts have gotten ridiculously good in the last few years. The performance and readability benefits make sacrificing some typographical creative license absolutely worth it.

Apologies for the Crash

Unfortunately, for a couple days it looks like none of you were able to get your fix of largely outdated blog posts. I’m not terribly sure why the pool for was trying to allocate a metric crap-ton of memory, but I’ve got it all fixed and running some newer stuff as well, including a rather nice upgrade from Linode (for free!) that will help me do some more interesting number-crunching on weather data.

Now running WordPress 3.5 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).

…and we’re back.

After four years, I’ve changed the design of 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…

First unplanned downtime in a year and a half

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. :)

Follow on Twitter

You can now follow a full feed of updates from 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.

A little love for the blog

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 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.

Now running on WordPress 3.2 Trunk

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 — 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.

Closing the Charleston Weather blog

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 is alive and well and will absolutely continue (it’s where most of the energy I’d use for blogging goes). 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.

Thanks to those who read the blog! I look forward to continuing to serve you on Twitter and