We Updated WordPress

Since I talked about not doing it, it only seems right to bring it up again now that it’s been done.

Yes, we’ve made the switch to WordPress 5, but no, we’re not using the new editor. I haven’t heard anything more about progress on the accessibility front, but what I have heard are several recommendations for the classic editor. So since it’s generally good to be on the latest and greatest from a security and plugin compatibility standpoint when possible, I thought we’d give it a go.

So far I’ve only written one post with it not including this one, and it appears to be working exactly as it should. In fact, had I not been the one pushing the buttons, I likely wouldn’t have even realized we’d upgraded.

If you’re running a WordPress site of your own and want to join us and the other 3 million plus people doing things this way, here’s the Classic Editor. Be sure you have it activated before updating.

Classic Editor is an official plugin maintained by the WordPress team that restores the previous (“classic”) WordPress editor and the “Edit Post” screen. It makes it possible to use plugins that extend that screen, add old-style meta boxes, or otherwise depend on the previous editor.
Classic Editor is an official WordPress plugin, and will be fully supported and maintained until at least 2022, or as long as is necessary.

By default, this plugin hides all functionality available in the new Block Editor (“Gutenberg”).

No WordPress Gutenberg For Us Just Yet. We Prefer Our Interfaces Accessible

WordPress 5.0 is set to be released tomorrow, and it’s going to be a huuuuuuuuuuuge change. They’re unleashing an entirely new editing and customization system called Gutenberg that’s set to radically change how pretty much everything looks, acts and feels. That link right there will provide you with a fairly simple explanation of what’s happening, as well as caution you about updating if you happen to run a site using WordPress. There’s a lot of potential for site breakage here, both in terms of what you’re all looking at right now and the stuff that allows us to create it. Everything from themes to plugins to whatever else you can think of could cause you some kind of trouble if they and Gutenberg decide they’re not compatible.

I’m quite concerned for all of those reasons plus I don’t like the idea of every post becoming a mini web design project when all I want to do is write my fucking blog, but there’s also the issue of screen reader accessibility. Much of what I’ve seen on the subject doesn’t exactly sound encouraging, and absolute horseshit like this from members of the WordPress team absolutely does not give me the warm fuzzies about the future and my place in it. Nice to know I don’t fit into your release timelines, guys. Merry Christmas to you too.

So where does that leave us? Well, for the time being at least, it leaves us on WordPress 4.9.8, the current stable release. We’re going to stay there for as long as we have to or as long as we can, and if accessibility matters to you, you may want to do the same. There will be security fixes pushed to our version for now, so we can hang back here and do our thing while the various aspects of this hopefully get sorted out.

I should also mention that there is a classic editor plugin available, which could be handy should you decide to update and it goes poorly or the update is forced upon you by your company or hosting provider.

Where Did That Fifteen Years Go

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube

That is a short and very incomplete list of websites that the Vomit Comet is both older and slightly less popular than. I was going to make a MySpace joke here, but apparently it beat us online by a couple of months and is rumoured to still exist.

But yeah. Fifteen years. Not bad for a dumb little blog that most of the world wouldn’t miss were it to suddenly disappear tomorrow. Having said that though, thanks to everyone who would miss it. Whether you stop in every day, swing by once in a blue moon to see if we’re still alive or came around once, got mad about something and swore never to come back, we’re glad you’re here. All of you being here is the reason that we’re still here. That and we like the sound of our own voices, but whatever.

Thanks to everyone who has said nice things to me over the years that I really don’t deserve. Thanks to everyone who has said nice things to Carin over the years too. She does deserve them, because Carin is awesome. Thanks to everyone who wonders who the hell Matt is. He’s this guy, for the record. You should listen to his podcasts. They’re pretty good. They’re especially good because he doesn’t have to spell anything. Thanks to the people who send in jokes and stories and things. There are less of them these days because everything that used to go around by email goes around by Facebook now, but I appreciate the ones I do get even if I don’t use them all. And to the search engines that started obscuring all of the search queries, thanks for nothing, you tools. You killed “You Are Here?”, and I’m still not over it.

Here’s to another fifteen years, I hope.

AdSense Auto Ads: A Blind Kid’s Dream Come True?

If you run a website, putting ads on it often just makes sense. Nothing comes for free (at least not without limitations you eventually may not be able to live with), and at the very least you don’t want to go too far in the hole paying for what you need. Programs like Google’s AdSense which we’ve used for many years make it pretty easy for the most part for just about anybody to get up and running.

Why for the most part?

That’s because as simple as they’ve made things, there’s still one pretty big problem. Have you ever blindfolded yourself and tried to figure out where all of your ad blocks should go, what size and shape each should be or which colours would work best? If you haven’t, don’t. It’s no fun. But it’s what we’ve had to do here pretty much from day one.

But now, perhaps without even realizing it, Google is making the wishes of website owning blind kids around the world come true.

Today we are introducing AdSense Auto ads, a powerful new way to place ads on your site. Auto ads use machine learning to make smart placement and monetization decisions on your behalf, saving you time. Place one piece of code just once to all of your pages, and let Google take care of the rest.
Some of the benefits of Auto ads include:

  • Optimization: Using machine learning, Auto ads show ads only when they are likely to perform well and provide a good user experience.
  • Revenue opportunities: Auto ads will identify any available ad space and place new ads there, potentially increasing your revenue.
  • Easy to use: With Auto ads you only need to place the ad code on your pages once. When you’re ready to use new features and ad formats, simply turn them on and off with the flick of a switch — there’s no need to change the code again.

Holy hell, right? We certainly hope so. We’re trying it out, which is why things may look a little different than they did the last time you were here. They may also look a little wonky at times especially in the beginning while the robots sort us out.

And because I know people will ask, yes, there’s a plugin for WordPress that makes this absurdly easy. It’s called Advanced Ads, and you can read more about it plus some early impressions of Auto Ads here.

I don’t say this often, but thank you, Google. It’s going to be nice to have one less irritant to wrestle with every time we need to change something.

Commenting By Email Is Back, Hopefully Better Than Ever

If you’ve been coming here a while, perhaps you remember Echo. It was a really slick commenting system we used for a time back in our Blogger days until the folks that ran it decided to screw a bunch of us the hell over.

One of Echo’s best features was the ability to let you not only subscribe to comment notifications by email, but also reply to those emails to post comments in response without having to go back to the site over and over again. Since the incident, that’s always been a thing we’ve wanted to bring back, and today, I think we have.

We’re testing something called Replyable, and it would be cool if you’d help us out. So if you get a second, leave a comment on something, be sure to subscribe and then use the reply dealy in the messages you get to leave more comments and help us make sure this all works. If it does, maybe we can bring our poor comments section back to a happier time when it was a thing people actually wanted to use. Or maybe that’s a lofty goal and that time has passed. Either way, we’d still like to know if it works at all so we know whether to keep it around for those times when somebody shows up and is all like “oh hey, a comments section. Let’s roast these people.”

What’d You Do!?

So…uh…things look a little different, don’t they?

There was a pretty substantial update to our site theme today. It moved some things, it added some things, it fixed some things, and then I added and moved some things myself after the fact. I won’t bore you with all of those things, but here are a few you might want to know about.

  • The post author’s name is now above the post instead of way the hell down at the bottom, making it simpler for you to figure out which one of us you should be yelling at. If you’re looking for it, it’s above the title heading next to the date and the categories, which have also moved up from the bottom.
  • Speaking of yelling at us, the specific leave a comment links on each post seem to have vanished. We didn’t do that. We also didn’t close our comments section. If you want to leave one, click on the post title and the good old form will be underneath, basically where it’s always been.
  • Where did the posts a computer thinks you might enjoy thing go? For now, it’s gone. The theme fairies added in a similar posts function, so we’re going to try that out and see how it goes. Having two separate spaces for related posts doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, plus having to use one less plugin might make things load slightly faster.
  • Social sharing buttons are back. I found some that shouldn’t be too annoying since they’re specifically designed to be simple and accessible. Feel free to make liberal use of them if we happen to write something you like. They’re under each post and have their own heading so should be nice and easy to find. If you’re reading this from the main page or an archive page of some sort and you don’t see them, click the post title.

As always, there’s a very good chance I’ve screwed something up. If you find that I have, let me know. If I can fix it, I will. If I can’t, I may learn. If I don’t want to, I won’t, at least not until somebody gives me a good reason why I should or a bunch of you make it clear that I’m wrong.

In Spite Of Its Best Efforts, We’re Now Using DLVR.it

Twitterfeed, the service we’ve been using mostly reliably to tweet our new posts to the world since 2010, is shutting down tomorrow. If you’re a webmaster and you didn’t know that, you might want to get on finding a replacement soon. Sorry for fucking up your Sunday.

I’ve known for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to setting up something new until this morning. The service we went with is DLVR.it, which looks like it should handle things just fine and has a lot of other bells and whistles that we’re likely never going to use. At least it had better handle things just fine, considering how much of a pain in the ass it was to get going.

It’s designed to be an easy set-up, which it absolutely would have been if not for the part where I’m blind and the folks what built the dlvr.it website didn’t feel it necessary to use proper buttons, links or checkboxes to control things accept in a few places seemingly chosen at random and worse yet, couldn’t be arsed to put labels on the list of social networks you could connect to which meant I had to try each clickable until I found the right one. Thankfully Twitter was the second one from the top so I didn’t have to click all nine that were showing in the list, but why should I even have to do that? It takes mere seconds to add alt text to something. Please take them. It means a lot.

If you’re blind and choose to use this service, I should also note that if you want to get to the rest of the set-up process once you’ve found a feed, don’t click the view link that appears below the title of your feed, click the feed title itself, which of course isn’t a link and doesn’t indicate in any meaningful way that you’re supposed to press enter on it to make things happen. Also, that clickable that says sharing to one of one socials that you’ll see at some point after you’re done, don’t touch it. It’s meant to be a checkbox and pressing enter on it will cause you to suddenly be sharing to 0 of 1 socials, which is not, I assume, what you want since you’re setting up auto tweeting and it has to have somewhere to go.

Dlvr.it is far from the clunkiest, most inaccessible pile I’ve ever seen, but it’s a completely unnecessary slog since the issues are so easy to fix if somebody would just take the time. It’s enough of a slog that I, whose main functions in life are to write dick jokes and make chili, went through the process twice to spare Carin, who does accessibility for a living, the hassle of dealing with it.

My tests show that everything should be working as it’s supposed to, but as usual at times like this, if you’re following either of us on Twitter and notice anything odd, let us know. And if you’re not following us on Twitter, good for you. But if you’d like to start for whatever reason, all you need to know is on this page right here.

Some Site Stuff And Some Wrestling Talk

Sorry I haven’t been posting as much lately. I decided to rest my brain a touch and also to actually make some good progress on my goddamn VC to do list. Yes, the one I’ve had in mind basically since we moved the place over from Blogger in…2012? Yeah, 2012. Jesus. And amazingly, I think I’m accomplishing those things. We’ve got a new theme that nobody’s complaining about and visits are starting to pick up again, so mission pretty well accomplished, I’d say. I’ve also been plugging away at some small stuff that most of you likely won’t even notice and finally getting around to adding a few new categories that we should have had years ago. It’s going to take a while to fill them in because sometimes we can be pretty verbose which makes it hard to remember quickly what should go where, but I’ve gotten a decent enough start on it to be fine with them being a work in progress.

And now I shall yap about wrestling for a few minutes.

1. While the retirement of AJ Lee is a disappointment, it will not end up hurting the WWE Divas division.

I’d be a lot more worried about this if NXT didn’t exist, but there are women down there with a lot of potential that WWE can try to slide into that spot whenever they find they need it. Without that fall back plan, they’d be screwed. Other than AJ and maybe Paige (even she’s iffy at this point), who do they have there that they haven’t 50-50 or stupid ass storyline booked into absolute irrelevance? Please do not say the Bella Twins, because I will punch you. Other than “sister’s fight sometimes,” there’s literally no reason why they’re together after the events of the summer. You don’t just tell somebody “I wish you died in the womb”, repeatedly beat that person up, cost her opportunities at important things like titles and personal redemption, belittle her while she’s forced to be your personal assistant and then suddenly waltz out happy as could be a few days later where I come from. It’s lazy, nonsensical storytelling that I can’t take seriously, not to mention that for the most part they’re pretty terrible at the execution of these stories, such as they are. Not that the company does them any favours, but still.

2. You are disappointed that NXT will not be running monthly specials.

Absolutely not. One of the best things about NXT is that it rarely feels rushed. Things have time to breathe and build slowly to where they need to be. If they were constantly having to be ready for the next big show and the next big show and the next, the product would absolutely lose something. They won’t learn it, but I think there’s a lesson in there for WWE proper.

3. Randy Orton challenging Seth Rollins for the WWE Title was the right main event to make for the Extreme Rules PPV.

Yes. Orton beat him at Mania just a couple hours before the biggest moment of his career (cashing in MITB to win the WWE championship), so he’s got a built-in reason for getting another shot at him. Plus it still feels like a fresh match that people may want to see and it allows WWE to save Seth vs. Reigns and Seth vs. Lesnar for some of the more important shows like Summerslam, Survivor Series, Rumble or even Mania next year if you want to get crazy and think really, really long-term.

4. While WWE reportedly wants Ronda Rousey to be a part of WrestleMania 32, Dana White will never allow her to do a match.

If the timing, money and whatever other circumstances need considering can be made to work for everyone, I can absolutely see a match happening. To not allow it would be to leave some pretty crazy money on the table, because based on the angle they did at Mania a mixed tag between her, the Rock, HHH and Stephanie would be huge. Hell, I’d pay for it and I’m not even much of a UFC guy these days. Show clips of Ronda arm barring everybody within reach and then almost getting her hands on Steph over and over again leading up to the PPV and everyone else will, too.

5. The booking of the Seth Rollins vs. Neville match on Raw was poorly done.

Ahh, the controversy that isn’t. I have no idea why people are making such a big deal out of this. Yes, the new guy lost a match on just his second week in. I get that. But he lost to the world fucking champion. Everybody should be losing to that guy, because he is the champion. You wouldn’t know it watching WWE most of the time, but winning is what champions are supposed to do. That’s precisely why they are champions. And even though the new guy lost, he looked great in defeat, coming across as anything but the afterthought or off night that the champ was expecting. He gained a lot by losing, in other words. Now that said, WWE needs to be careful about how they handle this from here because there’s a fine line between hard fighting loser that’s eventually going to win one and jobber to the stars. Too much “aww, he was so close” and the audience is going to paint him with that second brush for a long time.

6. Kurt Angle as TNA champion is a good move as long as it leads to Angle dropping the title to a fresh talent like Ethan Carter III.

Absolutely. TNA is getting itself established on a new network and Angle is a name people are going to know. He’s also somebody who can have good matches with everybody provided he can stay healthy. He has credibility, something a lot of people in TNA don’t have to a wide audience. So to use him to show that the TNA title is something important makes perfect sense. And as long as it’s done properly, whoever eventually beats him is instantly more important.

That’s all for now. I’m off to eat, crash through some more to do list and then to the Blues Hall of Fame tour at Centre In The Square. It’ll be our second visit to the Centre this week. What a great live entertainment city KW is. It’s one of the things that’s made our move absolutely worth it. Expensive, but worth it.