WordPress: DIY or die

Getting into WordPress publishing is like cooking a Thanksgiving dinner when you subsist on fast food and frozen entree. There’s a cookbook with a table of contents an index, and a bunch of descriptions of cooking techniques, but all the recipes are blank.

For example, I wanted to create a page that duplicates an existing on, change it slightly, and post it. After 20 minutes of mousing around the dashboard I gave up and went to WordPress Forums (e.g., this one), only to lean that this isn’t a built-in feature; you need to get a plug-in for that.

But other things I need to do are built in, but how to know how and when to use them? They’re all nicely documented in the WordPress Codex, but there aren’t very many how-to’s except for the code examples (that don’t necessarily tell you where you must put them to make them work.)

When something doesn’t seem to be working, is it a bug, misconfiguration, or my ignorance of how it works? So many mysteries, like why the Categories widget doesn’t show my categories when placed under a post, but does on the sidebar. I just know if I asked a forum (but which one?) about this, some kind soul would give me code to patch it, not telling me where it should go.

The second week things got better after I concluded that plugins are my friend. Of course, no matter what you want one to do, you first need to come up with terms to describe it and then pick from umpteen search results. So you need to consider: Does its author describe the gizmo cogently? Does it do what you want the way you want it? How many users does it have? Is it compatible with the current version of WP? Is it loaded with features you’ll never need? Does it tease you with features only to tell you oh BTW, they’re only in the premium version?

So far I’ve only encountered one plugin that didn’t work. I junked it and got another I’m happy with. But now I worry I’ll  plug in one too many times and my install will run out of memory. Actually, that happened almost as soon as I unboxed WP. Eventually found a nice forum user who had posted fixing up wp-admin/includes/media.php to allocate more memory to solve this problem (obviously), which worked but then I had to up it again.

So I have a site now that more or less does what I want. All I need now are visitors to give me feedback telling me what sucks.

The Daily (or whenever) Eruption


Understanding Virtual Money: Monday 1/15/18

Given that financial derivatives and robots manning trading desks is the new norm, the conduct of finance is already etherialized. Now, following Bitcoin come a whole range of cryptocurrencies, issued by everyone but your cousin Jake (Like Goldman Sachs, for instance). Bitcoin itself is in bubble territory and several clearing houses have been smacked by hackers. Writing in NY Review of Books this week, Sue Halpern reviews two books that demystify the blockchain thing, one of which offers the astounding statistic that “By the end of 2016, a single [Bitcoin] mining facility in China was using over half the estimated power used by all of Google’s data centres worldwide at the time.” I reckon that’s more energy than it takes to mine  equivalent value in gold, except that Bitcoin is untethered to any outside reality.

Sue Halpern explains our moment in history better than almost anyone. Watch her unwind the ways in which Internet users are data-mined, sliced, and diced in a speech at Dartmouth College in 2014. It hasn’t gotten any better for us since.  File under Someone Else’s Money.
Continue reading “The Daily (or whenever) Eruption”