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Blogs and blogging Mindsets People

Feedback that inspires me to be a better blogger

I enjoy blogging because I enjoy sharing things that interest me. My blog has a pretty modest following, and I like receiving feedback on posts that resonate with readers.

This evening, I opened Twitter for some reason, and noticed this wonderful tweet from Jamie Rubin, a writer, blogger, and stimulus for my Field Notes obsession:

What makes Jamie’s feedback so much more meaningful is that I’ve followed his blog for a little while now, and I have great respect for his writing just based on his blog. Feedback like this inspires me to be a better blogger, so I can do justice to such kind words.

Jamie’s latest blog post, “Inside My Notebooks“, will give you a terrific sense of what he writes about (if you haven’t read it posts already):

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Adam Jang
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Mindsets People

Tim Cook interview: why he publicly announced that he’s gay

I just watched this interview with Tim Cook about why he made the decision to publicly announce that he’s gay. It’s well worth watching!

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Blogs and blogging People

Read Matt Mullenweg’s Gutenberg FAQ

Matt Mullenweg (my boss*) has published a Gutenberg FAQ that you should read if you’re interested in Gutenberg (aka, the new WordPress Editor aka the block editor), the upcoming WordPress 5.0 release, and the accessibility debate about Gutenberg.

Read Matt’s Gutenberg FAQ

*In case you weren’t aware, I work for Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com). I don’t speak for Automattic, but I do believe in our mission, and love working there.

By the way, we’re hiring!

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Books Education People Useful stuff Web/Tech

Building a computer with my daughter and Hello Ruby

I bought the Hello Ruby books for my daughter a couple months ago. She was interested in learning to code, and I had recently watched Linda Liukas’ wonderful TED talk about how she came to write her books.

So I bought both of the Hello Ruby books: one about programming, and the other about computer hardware. I read the stories in both books to my daughter, and then we paused for a time.

I realised that Liukas also made available PDFs of the computers that school kids could download and print to make little cardboard computers. I downloaded the PDFs, and had them printed on 300 gram paper the other day.

Our daughter cut out the various pieces, read about components like RAM, ROM, the CPU, and GPU, and then we sat together this afternoon and built her computer.

Having done this, it may be time to return to the books, and start exploring some of the exercises in the books. It’s a great way to introduce kids to what is otherwise a pretty technical field. Our daughter loves the Hello Ruby approach. I’m a fan too.

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Blogs and blogging People Publishing

On Manton Reece’s thoughts about WordPress, and the new Editor (formerly known as Gutenberg)

I just read Manton Reece’s thoughts about the new WordPress Editor (formerly known as Gutenberg), and I don’t really agree:

As I test Gutenberg, I keep coming back to one question: is it good for blogging? The goal with Micro.blog is to make blogging easier so that more people will have their own site instead of delegating their web identity to a social network. Gutenberg is more flexible than today’s WordPress, but it’s also more complex for someone who just wants to type in a few sentences and hit publish.

The new editor is available to both WordPress.com and self-hosted sites ahead of the WordPress 5.0 release. I’ve been using it on this site for a couple weeks, and in a couple test sites so I can anticipate or troubleshoot issues that our users may encounter.

I think there’s some merit in Reece’s perception of Gutenberg. I also think I fall more into the category of bloggers who like to open a simple editor and start typing into a text box.

A lot of WordPress users don’t want this simpler experience. I come across many people who want a very visual editor where you can create pretty dynamic layouts on the fly.

The new editor may be more for those people, but it can work pretty well for someone who wants to open a blank editor window and start typing, too.

Put another way, as WordPress matures I think it moves further away from the ideal blogging interface for someone who wants to write every day. Even as we add features to Micro.blog — domain names, themes, full-length posts, photos, podcasting — the core platform will always be rooted in the simple idea of a text box and a timeline.

Granted I’m a little biased because I work for Automattic, and I believe in what we’re doing. At the same time, I was a blogger long before I joined this company, and WordPress has been synonymous with “blogging” for me for almost 14 years.

I’m still deciding whether the new WordPress Editor is going to be the default on my personal site. It’s still early days for Gutenberg, and I think it has an exciting future.

That said, I like my simpler text windows, Markdown, and monospace fonts when I write (thank goodness for MarsEdit). Not everyone does, and WordPress is still flexible enough to accommodate almost all of us.

(Now, if I could just configure this blog to play nicely with all its IndieWeb cousins again, that would be great.)

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People

Bill Gates on Paul Allen

I enjoyed this post that Bill Gates wrote about Paul Allen. It’s a touching post about a friendship that precipitated a tremendous success story.

Paul Allen, one of my oldest friends and the first business partner I ever had, died yesterday. I want to extend my condolences to his sister, Jody, his extended family, and his many friends and colleagues around the world.

I met Paul when I was in 7th grade, and it changed my life.

Bill Gates

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Books People Photography

A terrific way to spend a weekend

This looks like an awesome way to spend a relaxing weekend, actually.

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Blogs and blogging Mindsets People Publishing Semantic Web

Rethinking Mastodon

I’ve been pretty interested in Mastodon as a Twitter alternative, at least until I noticed Brent Simmons’ post.

He linked to Wil Wheaton’s post titled “The world is a terrible place right now, and that’s largely because it is what we make it” in which Wheaton described a particularly unpleasant, and unexpected experience on Mastodon:

I thought that if I left Twitter, I could find a new social network that would give it some competition (Twitter’s monopoly on the social space is a big reason it can ignore people who are abused and harassed, while punishing people for reporting their attackers), so I fired up this account I made at Mastodon a long time ago.

I thought I’d find something different. I thought I’d find a smaller community that was more like Twitter was way back in 2008 or 2009. Cat pictures! Jokes! Links to interesting things that we found in the backwaters of the internet! Interaction with friends we just haven’t met, yet! What I found was … not that.

I’m sure that Wheaton’s experience of Mastodon doesn’t describe all Mastodon interactions. The same could be said of Twitter. In both cases, the trollish elements spoil the experience for everyone else.

His experience doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in Mastodon as a more civil alternative to Twitter. This isn’t because Mastodon is fundamentally bad, it’s just being used by people who are behaving much the same as other people on Twitter who I’d prefer to avoid having to deal with.

I’ll just stick with my blog, and some sort of Micro.blog hook for now.