Watch this if you’re still on the fence about the new WordPress Editor (aka Gutenberg)

If you’re still unsure about the new WordPress Editor (aka Gutenberg), it’s worth watching Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word keynote at the recent WordCamp US 2018 event in Nashville.

You can find links to parts of the talk, along with slides, and commentary in Matt’s post, here:

I’ve been using the new Editor almost exclusively lately, not because I work for Automattic, but because it’s actually a pretty enjoyable way to write posts.

I still prefer to write longer posts in my text editor, and then add the posts into the editor afterwards (I’ve always been a little twitchy about my only version of long posts being in an online editor, just in case something goes pear shaped and I lose it all).

The new Editor isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good! It does work a little differently in some respects, but that isn’t a bad thing (necessarily). Also, it’s improving (I can add galleries that work the way they’re supposed to! Yay!) all the time.

I like the new Twenty Nineteen theme, but …

WordPress 5.0 has been released, and with it the new default theme, Twenty Nineteen. I like the theme, except it doesn’t support a sidebar, and all my widgets look like they’re really packed in there when I test my site with the theme.

WordPress 5.0 “Bebo”

I’d love to have a theme that’s pretty close to this one, Independent Publisher 2, and that also supports different post formats. Ideally, I’d like to have a theme that provides better IndieWeb tech support too (such as Post Kinds), but finding a theme that does both isn’t that easy.

If you’re interested in what this release entails, check out the announcement post:

Colourful computer history

Liked Guide to Computing — docubyte by an author (docubyte)

I love James Ball’s colourful photographic history of computers.

These machines are grossly under-powered compared to the devices we use today. Still, they’re a wonderful reminder of how far we’ve come, and what lies ahead for us in technological terms. This Telefunken RA770 (circa 1970) is one of my favourites:

Via The Stylish & Colorful Computing Machines of Yesteryear by Jason Kottke

Scientific papers shouldn’t be published as PDFs

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Jupyter notebook examples
Examples of Jupyter notebooks

I enjoyed James Somers’ article in the Atlantic titled “The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete” about how the standard format for scientific papers, namely PDF, is no longer the appropriate format for such data-intensive work.

This is, of course, the whole problem of scientific communication in a nutshell: Scientific results today are as often as not found with the help of computers. That’s because the ideas are complex, dynamic, hard to grab ahold of in your mind’s eye. And yet by far the most popular tool we have for communicating these results is the PDF—literally a simulation of a piece of paper. Maybe we can do better.

The article recounts the history of Wolfram’s Wolfram Mathematica notebook model, and the rise of Jupyter notebooks as an open source alternative that’s also rising to prominence in the space.

I love the idea of more open, more dynamic formats for sharing knowledge, capturing ideas, and promoting access to knowledge.

The Explainer

A big part of my role as a Happiness Engineer at Automattic is explaining stuff to our users. I have a knack for it, particularly when it comes to email support.

I commented to some colleagues today that I should change my job title to “Explainer” (we can basically choose our job titles at Automattic). One of them came up with this awesome mashup:

The Explainer

I had to share it. It’s awesome!

ISS Expedition Posters Are Gifts For Geeks

If you consider yourself a geek, especially a space and sci-fi geek, you have to take a look at this collection of ISS Expedition Posters. They are awesome. Expedition 42’s poster is one of my favourites:

Expedition 42 poster
Expedition 42 – Don’t Panic!

You can scroll through all of the posters on Spaceflight101.com:

ISS Expedition Posters

You can also read about ISS Expeditions on the NASA website at Crews and Expeditions.

The rat race and our search for Happiness

Steve Cutts‘ video titled “Happiness” is disturbingly accurate portrayal of so many aspects of our daily lives. When I watch this video, I can’t help but wonder why we buy into all these promises of happiness, and chase them so relentlessly?

Cutts’ work seems to capture so much of the futility of so much of what we do to achieve happiness in our lives. There is a better way to live our lives. Realising that and shifting our perspective isn’t as easy as it seems, though.

A little Firefox nostalgia

The Firefox 3 robot
The Firefox 3 robot declares victory. Design apparently by Nobox.

I’ve started using Firefox a lot more lately. The browser feels like a new beast lately, especially Firefox Nightly which I started using because of the CSS Grid Inspector tool.

Firefox 55 was released on the stable channel yesterday and it is also pretty snappy. Chrome is starting to feel a little sluggish by comparison (although it’s possible that I’m imagining it).

I found myself thinking back to the marketing campaign for Firefox 3 back in 2008 (I think). At the time, Firefox wasn’t on its current 6-8 week release cycle so developments took a bit longer.

For some reason, Firefox 3 was a big deal back then. I don’t remember why but I do have a vivid memory of the robot imagery that Mozilla used to publicise the release. I found this image on Flickr earlier this afternoon.

Almost a decade later, there is still something about this robot imagery that I love.

Firefox making moves on Chrome

If you’re curious about this “new” Firefox that people are talking about lately, you may find this article interesting:

https://twitter.com/firefox/status/893131422797574144

It’s tempting to just dismiss this browser as a “has been” and stick with Chrome. Chrome is a great browser and dominates the Web. Still, I think having a spunky challenger with a strong focus on an inclusive and open Web is important.

Just as it successfully challenged Internet Explorer back in the day, Firefox could help keep Chrome in check where it counts.