Category Archives: Site Update

Mucking about with WordPress Themes

Things might get a bit wobbly for a bit tonight. Maybe a few surprises around some corners, but nothing dangerous (I don’t think).

UPDATE: I didn’t change the theme. I want something that uses Bootstrap because I used for a web programming class just this past semester and I really liked it. I understand that it’s really meant for non-designing developers to work up quick, useful interfaces for their work, but it does have a very clean, readable style and is useful for simple sites like this one. But none of the themes I found worked out.

One OSS version I found required command line apps that I won’t use on my server. It’s a theme, guys; I shouldn’t need grunt and all of its dependencies just to get it going. But, I might revisit this one this weekend since it appears to be the most robust of the bunch I tried.

The themes delivered through WordPress all exhibited the same problem of completely messing up the menu system in two ways. First, the menu system was displayed flat, without its hierarchy. I have a lot of pages on this site organized so that the default layout doesn’t get completely cluttered with the thirty or so links. This goes back to my complaint about the latest theme to come from WordPress that destroys the hierarchy. Hierarchical menus are not trivial (they’re not exactly hard either), and they can take some work to build and maintain. A theme that does not respect that hierarchy is useless to anyone that has them.

Second, the menu system was displayed twice no matter where I activated it. So, thirty-ish flat links turned into sixty-ish flat links. Even if I were to tolerate the flat menus, and I tried to reconcile it but couldn’t, I couldn’t tolerate having everything displayed twice. I’m guess that this is a problem with WordPress since all of the themes I tried exhibited the exact same behavior. Weird and disappointing. Oh, well.

That WordPress Update

I use WordPress for this site because it makes managing the site mostly easy. But two things about the recent update:

  • Every automated 0.1 release freezes on me. Every time. Without fail. The 0.0.1 work fine. I use the default everything on this site. I’m guessing there is a permissions issue involved, but the update routine doesn’t (can’t or won’t?) report those, and I don’t want to go resetting permissions on the server just to avoid manual upgrades.
  • The latest theme Twenty Fifteen completely disregards the hierarchy in the baked in menu systems, which makes no sense. Why support hierarchical menus and then ignore all hierarchies in the default theme? This is a waste of people’s effort, for both the designers and the site owners. I understand they want to be “blog focused” but surely there must have been some kind of compromise to be had.

Beyond that, WordPress is the ol’ reliable.

Fixed the dastardly green to orange on the site

Not the biggest change, I know. But it’s important to me. It does also bring to light one of my irritations with the default WordPress styles in that in order to change a dominant color, like the green, that there are multiple variations of ostensibly the same color. In this case, I had to change the green in three different places to get all the instances, and I have a doubt as to whether I caught them all. I’m not even going to bother with the Dashboard even though I can see green in there.

Whatevs. I have my orange in enough places that I’m happy. Ever onward…

WordPress 3.x to 4.0 and a fresh coat of paint

I made the jump from WordPress 3.x to 4.0. Things went mostly smooth, though there is something about my server setup that does not allow for the archive to be unpacked automatically and I need to do a manual upgrade.

In an effort to make the site easier to maintain, I have decided to use the default theme as given. Previously, I had made a few tweaks to the CSS to scratch some itches, but since my free time is minimal, I’ll just take what they supply, the moral equivalent of grabbing cans of paint from the return shelf at Home Depot.

One thing I will say about the new theme is I’m not pleased with their use of green as the accent color and the inability to change that color within the dashboard. I’m not a big fan of green outside of plants. (I own a couple green shirts, but they were chosen at the behest of my wife to add color to my wardrobe.) I’m surprised that it’s not possible to easily change that accent color except by editing the CSS given its prominence now that the theme is almost entirely black and white and other aspects of the theme’s colors can be changed in the dashboard. But, since I am walking away from tweaking the styles, I have to go by my family’s maxim “you get what you get and you don’t get upset.”

Regardless of that, WordPress still has an insanely easy upgrade process despite its complexity. I’m very pleased since having moved over a year ago.

UPDATE: While surfing the web this morning, I realized that by picking the default theme my site now looks like Wil Wheaton’s. This is not necessarily a big problem if only because I always felt his site looked really sharp. But now the underlying designer in me feels that my site ought to have some distinction to its design. Not sure when I will find the time to do that since school has started, but now I have that “itch” to scratch.

New Unix section

Subject says (most of) it all. I have been working with the command line more lately, partially out of need, largely out of preference, and am starting to collect a bunch of little snippets I have modified from other or created out of whole cloth to get me through my day.

The section has a germinal collection of command line snippets, but the real work lies in the shell scripting cheat sheet and info on creating a command line application with Xcode using Foundation classes.

A note about comments on the blog

The issue of whether comments should be on blogs in order for them to be considered blogs has been debated ad nauseum. I am firmly in the camp of not having comments and any reasoning I could muster has already been better explained by Alex Payne 1:

For most sites, though, comments are worse than useless. The anonymity of the Internet inspires hit-and-run attacks, unintelligible ramblings, and truckloads of spam. I believe that comments are evil by default, and the sites above that seem to have healthy communities are blessed flukes.

For me, the spam and hacking that come with allowing comments are really the main reason why I won’t allow them. I enjoy hearing other people’s opinions and have had luck with them in the past. But that was a long time ago. This site (and blog) is customized to be as low maintenance as I can make it without writing an entire framework myself, and the last thing I want to do here is intentionally leave myself open to security problems. So, off with the comments. I can understand (and can hear) the argument that this makes the blog an echo chamber, but I do not agree with that assessment because the quality of comments is usually really crappy and not worth their time to respond. Again, Alex Payne…

I think people do their best writing when they’re forced to defend their ideas on their own turf. It’s one thing to leave a comment on someone else’s blog, but quite another to put your argument in front of your own readers.

This is ultimately simple: My turf, my rules; their turf, their rules; optionally calling and responding across domains. Don’t like the rules, don’t play the game. I don’t like how commenting generally runs on websites, so I won’t allow them since I can avoid them. Done and done.

1 Please also see Daring Fireball who also links to Alex Payne.

Updated Site

There are a number of reasons why I moved away from using RapidWeaver to WordPress.

The primary one is that I need to flex my web skills regularly in such a way that RapidWeaver didn’t allow. I can tweak WordPress at a very low level whereas RapidWeaver keeps things at a very high, GUI level.

I also wanted to resurrect the blog, but RapidWeaver’s built-in blog tool doesn’t really suit my needs. I had to have RapidWeaver installed and running to post, but with WordPress I can manage the site from anywhere. I didn’t want a separate blog site where the designs didn’t match (or rather, I didn’t want to take the time to tweak the designs to match).

None of the above is to say that I don’t like RapidWeaver; I still use RapidWeaver for another ongoing project. I think I just wanted to add something new to the mix, so WordPress since it is new to me.

Station Identification

Oatmeal & Coffee is owned and operated by Philip Regan.

Applescript, Objective-C, and their variants are the main topics found on this site, mainly in the form of my favorite code snippets from my personal wiki. I post them in the hopes that they will help someone out of similar jams I have found myself in after I had found documentation seen elsewhere lacking for whatever reason. Some large and mostly complete projects have been placed on GitHub for others’ use and enjoyment.

Beyond that, there is also my resume and some obligatory legal jargon. Below is a copy of my usual avatar for the online forums I frequent to varying (usually lesser) degrees and elsewhere a picture of a shoe. The shoe is important.

Anyone is welcome to contact me (an email address is casually hidden in the Legal page) with comments and questions.