Why you should AVOID WordPress 4.3!

WordPress has been helpful in many ways, allowing us to build out sites quickly and efficiently.  Yet during their “upgrades,” they often build in new features that serve to frustrate long-time users, or introduce features which make absolutely no sense.

One of the lamest developments on the Internet is something called Markdown.  What it does is allow lazy users to use characters such as #, *, >, etc. to format text.

Why is it lazy? They claim it is so their hands to not have to leave the keyboard.

Well, let me clue all of you in to something: I have used keyboard shortcuts in web-based editors for years, and they mirror keyboard shortcuts in common word processing programs we have used for nearly two decades now.  My hands do not leave the keyboard, even to submit messages in some cases, as a simple keyboard shortcut or two gets me to the “submit” button, and I’m in business.

These users are too lazy to memorize/learn these shortcuts.  They’d rather use some lame character-based formatting that comes from the trainwreck that powers Wikipedia (MediaWiki).

Google Plus has had similar editing shortcuts, and they are ultra-annoying.  I cannot even put two hyphens in a paragraph without it assuming I mean to strike out the text.

WordPress, you really need to rethink this strategy. As of yet, nobody has showed us how to deactivate this shortsighted and very frustrating feature.  When they do, I will post it here.  Until then, I will regret upgrading to WordPress 4.3 on one of my servers (which I have already done), and leave the rest at 4.2.

Even better–if someone creates a plugin to dump this nasty feature, I’ll be in full support of it.

WordPress was supposed to be smart.  This is just another case of their serially dumbing-down the product to clueless social media addicts who can’t be bothered to learn what the rest of us have known for decades.

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Sour grapes for Mozilla? Boo hoo.

So the CEO of Mozilla is throwing a tantrum in an open letter to Microsoft. Well, boo hoo. I’m crying for you right now.

Let’s see.  If you install OSX or buy a new product with OSX install, tell me again, what is the default browser?  Yep, Safari.  You install Windows 10, like any early version of Windows, and what do you get?  Exactly. Microsoft’s browser, which this time is Edge.

So, what exactly is there to complain about?  It takes me all of two minutes to download Chrome, install it, log in to sync everything, and answer the magic question as to whether or not I want Chrome to be the default.  And even without that, I can hop to the default browser choice in Windows 10’s settings and change it within seconds–Microsoft has made it dead easy to change.

Listen, Mr. Beard, don’t presume that everyone wants your inferior browser, bloated and memory-leaking as it is.  And don’t presume that people out here are so stupid as to not know how to change a default browser.  If they want your bloody Firefox, then they’ll download it, answer the “default” question, and be on their way within minutes.

Mozilla only sees Edge as a threat to their marketshare, nothing more. And that goes back to the ancient browser wars again, something most of us outgrew a decade ago.  Stop living in the past, and go overhaul that mess you call a browser.  Clean up your own yard, Beard, before bitching about someone else’s.

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Moving domains to Google

I started out getting my domains from InterNIC way back in the 1990s, when they were $50/year.  That later was scaled back to $35/year but was still pricey.  And, it was still a monopoly.

Once the monopoly was busted, I went with a registrar which used services from Tucows. It worked well, but it always required a prepayment; you could never have them charge a debit or credit card on file.

Due to cost, I ended up moving domains slowly over to GoDaddy.  Despite the fact that their site can be quite spammy during the checkout process, and navigation can sometimes run you in circles, I saved quite a bit of money.  Others have had issues with them but in my case, it was all pretty much easy to work with, and I never had a major issue.

About two years ago, they offered a free upgrade for domain privacy–your domain’s details would show through a proxy, as opposed to revealing your name, address and contact details to the public.  Well, the free ride on privacy only lasted a year, so I ended up having to bounce back and forth from a third party site just to get them all cancelled.

On top of it, GoDaddy quit giving discounts for renewals like they used to.  Not only that, they were adding some sort of “ICANN fee” to each domain, rather than just bury it within the cost.  A minor issue but still, I don’t know of any other registrar itemizing that line item as they do.

Enter Google Domains.  After doing some research, I found that most of my domains would transfer over for a flat $12/year.  Not a spectacular deal, but privacy is free.  So as each batch of domains has come up, I have been switching over.  Since I use Google Apps for email services on a lot of my domains, this actually may work out a bit easier.  And they have made the transfer process as simple as possible.

By the end of the year, everything should be transferred over.  There are other registrars out there, but I recommend giving Google Domains a glance before registering elsewhere, even if just for the free domain privacy service.

 

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RSS feeds in WordPress not updating?

While trying to use RSS feeds in WordPress, I noticed that a forum I was referencing in the RSS feed was not having posts updated in my WP sidebar.  The feed itself is good (you can check by viewing it in View Source), so I knew the problem was in WordPress.

As I always use child themes, I simply added the following code to functions.php within the child theme I had the problem with:

add_filter( 'wp_feed_cache_transient_lifetime', create_function('$a', 'return 1800;') );

That did the trick.  The “1800” is seconds, so you can adjust that for your needs. With a busy forum, I would want that to be much more frequent.  Likewise, news updates from other RSS feeds are now freshened regularly, so our site does not look stale.

Original tip here:  http://www.newtotheweb.net/2009/10/25/rss-widget-doesnt-update .

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Five arguments against the Internet Archive

Internet ArchiveWhile helping a friend with his web site, we made small talk about certain information he had displayed that he wished he had never made public.  While removing it from his site was the first order of business, I also presented the idea of making sure the old versions were not living anywhere else on the Internet…namely, at the Internet Archive.

For those unaware, the Internet Archive is an archive of a large portion of the World Wide Web from across the years.  It is accessed at http://archive.org, and you use their Wayback Machine with a site’s original URL to locate snapshots of that site from months and years past.  Granted, much of the archived material is broken (images are often not available, and anything like scripting does not make the translation), but there is usually enough meat there to find what you are looking for.

For blocking the Internet Archive from spidering a site and taking snapshots, you simply upload a robots.txt file to the root of your site which disallows access to the selected directories, or the entire site, using the following:

User-agent: ia_archiver
Disallow: /

Simple!  Your site will no longer be spidered, and any existing archive material will not be displayed either.  (It is unknown whether or not they delete what is there, or simply block it.)

What really got under my skin, though, was the attitude of some commenters about robots.txt.  Some are complaining about us “evil webmasters” destroying the archives of the Internet one site at a time.  Some go even further, as though they demand the right to anything archived.  Here is a quote from one of those posts to which I refer:

Honestly, half of the internet is being missed because some honest do-gooder decided that the garbage that is robots.txt should be followed by this archival service. This needs to stop.

The wayback machine is exempt from copyright issues under fair use doctrine and due to its educational purpose.

Please stop ignoring website because of ignorant, uninformed, or possessive webmasters.

This seems to be typical of Internet mentality today.  What’s yours is mine, and I have every right to use it for any purpose whatsoever.  Oh, and all the hate spewed through insults?  Nice touch.  Comments like this simply come across as being stupid.

I won’t get into the gross cluelessness of this particular person about the function that robots.txt serves, nor his/her unabashed hatred towards us “ignorant, uninformed [and] possessive” publishers.  But I will touch on other issues regarding the Archive itself.  Here are FIVE arguments I have against the Internet Archive.

  1. Site owners and operators create sites to dispense timely, relevant information.  It is up to us to control how it is presented, and where.  We frequently update or remove content for valid reasons, especially when information becomes outdated and stale, or is deemed to be inaccurate or irrelevant.  We crack down on unauthorized usage, while at the same time enable proper channels so the content can be shared properly.  Our information is not a free-for-all, and our sites are presented in the here-and-now, timely and relevant.  Allowing past copies of our sites does more harm than good; we have our own “archives” which visitors are more than welcome to browse…on our terms, not a third party’s.
  2. Some Internet users, especially those who *cough* “borrow” *cough* content from other sites, automatically hide behind the concept of “fair use,” claiming that such usage is for “educational” purposes.  They clearly have no understanding of what “fair use” actually means, and use it as a broad paintbrush to cover their unauthorized activities.  To them, their line of thinking is, “I’m not making money from it, therefore it is ‘fair use’.”  The Internet Archive really does nothing more than perpetuate this misguided thinking, and provides an endless source for such content.
  3. I feel that the Internet Archive should not be exempt from copyright laws.  Of all the sites I have created or maintained over the years, I have never once given them the explicit permission to use my content, nor has anyone else to my knowledge. Some content I may donate if asked, and be glad to do so.  Otherwise, no.
  4. For security and privacy reasons, there are perfectly valid reasons a page, directory or entire site may need to be removed from the archive.  Many busy site publishers may have created dozens of sites over the years, and (present company included) it is possible to overlook some of the earliest.
    I found an archive page from one of my sites that was chock full of email addresses, personal names, and even some street addresses, as part of an Internet guestbook hosted on one of my sites.  Do I care if this is public?  Yes.  Not so much for myself, but for the visitors who trusted me to keep their information secure.  Back in 1995, we never had the concerns we do now about privacy and security concerns.  Yes, we were all naive.  But when my visitors applauded my reasoning behind deleting the page, it is not fair to them to have that same page perpetually and publicly stored without either their or my consent.
  5. Finally, I feel that the Wayback Machine should be strictly an opt-in service, not an entity that simply grabs anything it finds and stores it.  I did not give permission for any of my copyrighted work to be accessed and stored elsewhere.   I am surprised they have not yet been sued.  There really is no reason for archiving the entire Internet if you think about it.  Most of it is outdated anyway, and most pages and sites are broken anyway.

While the Internet Archive itself may be a worthy cause for archiving some types of content, many of us out here would appreciate it if the Wayback Machine would simply go away.  Or at the very least, let us opt in to be archived, as opposed to having it taken from us.

 

 

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