Just over a year ago, I finally joined the smartdumbphone crowd (I wibbled about my experience at the time, in case you’re interested). I’m proud of myself in that I haven’t succumbed to the urge to become a meanderthal — I never use it when walking.
I learned a valuable lesson (recounted in Part Five of my earlier ‘Adventures’) when I was a teenager: Early Adopters get Kicked in the Teeth. I’m immensely grateful to all of the early adopters who teased out the bugs before I jumped on the bandwagon… and it’s time for some payback.
One thing I’ve learned (that’s probably no surprise to you) is that there’s a serious amount of dross in the ‘Play Store’; but there are some real gems in there too. My plan is to offer some thoughts about Apps You Might Enjoy; this is the first in that series, and it features an app I recently discovered. It’s called Morse Mania, by Dong Digital.
Morse Mania – a brilliant way to learn Morse code!
Cost: Free! (at least initially) 🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠
Availability: Android and iOS
Storage space: 34.10 Mb 🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠
User interface design: 🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠
Advert intrusiveness: 🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠
Music: None (but it doesn’t need any)
I’ve known about Morse code for donkeys’ years, but before now I’ve never felt the urge to learn it. It didn’t seem like a skill I needed. It’s still not a skill I need, but learning new things is good for keeping the mind sharp. And when you can do so and have fun doing it, well, that’s a bonus!
One of the things I like most about Morse Mania is that there are absolutely no irritating, intrusive adverts. And, at least while you’re learning the basics, the app is free to use. Also, it doesn’t feature that other bane of my life: annoying constant nagging to ‘upgrade’. I haven’t even been able to find a way to donate to its maker, ‘Dong Digital’. Having said that, from the (admittedly minimal) investigation I’ve done, I gather that there is ‘premium’ content available; my guess is that this is introduced once the learning mode is complete. I haven’t got there yet, but I’m so impressed with this product that I suspect that I will be quite happy to hand over some of my hard-won cash when that time comes.
You can find out more for yourself on Dong Digital’s website; I see no point in copy-pasting the information from there to here. So, without further ado, here are a couple of short video clips I’ve made to demonstrate Morse Mania’s gameplay. I hope you find them entertaining!
Disclaimer: this is how it currently works; I offer no guarantees that this information is valid in your epoch!
The only constant is change.
Heraclitus (c.535 BC – c.474 BC)
Each WordPress post is allocated a permalink (short for ‘permanent link’), a URL (‘web address’) that needs to remain the same after publication. It has to be permanent, or the web would simply unravel.
Importantly, a permalink is generated when a post is scheduled for publication in advance — and this feature enables time travel. Well, hyperbolically, anyway (yep, my post title was clickbait; sorry about that 😅, hope you forgive me — and if not, thanks for coming and enjoy your day!).
Time travel into the past
That’s easy; we do it every time we follow a link to a published post.
Time travel into the future
This may seem like a bit of a digression, but bear with me, please; there is method in my madness. Well, I think there is.
Regular visitors to Wibble may have noticed that I’m a fan of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by the late, great Douglas Adams. As such, along with a great host of fellow-minded lunatics, I celebrate Towel Day each year on the 25th of May. For last year’s festivities, I composed a trivia quiz, one that was so well-received that I was encouraged to create another one for 2021. And another for 2022. And, yes, I got carried away, and made one for 2023, too.
Naturally enough, I wanted to ensure that I didn’t forget about these posts. It would be all too easy to lose them in the quagmire of my WordPress drafts. And so, even though the dates were far off in the future, I scheduled them for publication. They will go live on their respective dates, even if I get run over by a bus (assuming that WordPress is still around, naturally — hopefully that’s not an issue).
The point is that, when you schedule a post, WordPress offers the option to copy its permalink, enabling you to refer to it in advance. This is the link to the Towel Day 2021 quiz — if your ‘now’ is before 25May2021, don’t bother clicking that link as the post is not yet live; it will present you with a ‘404 error’§. I shared that link with the froods at towelday.org, and they were hoopy enough to put it on their website — and because of that, if I make any changes to that post, I have to be careful not to upset its permalink. Because, as it turns out, the ‘perma’ part isn’t so permanent after all….
The not-so-permanent permalink
The construction of a permalink is pretty standard. It’s composed of various parts:
[domain name] is, well, it’s the domain name, innit?
year, month and day (YYYY, MM, DD) are the publication date
[slug] is based on the post title (with spaces replaced by hyphens, and characters that aren’t legal in a URL removed)
The final permalink is allocated when the post is published. Although it is possible to change this, doing so would be unwise as you never know who, or what, may have linked to it. The WordPress Reader, for instance, is probably one of the first things to grab and use a link to a published post.
Before publication, a temporary permalink is generated while the post is being developed; and, importantly, this permalink can change.
While the post is in draft (and before it has been scheduled), the slug changes dynamically to reflect the current title.
When a post is scheduled, the slug part (only) of the permalink lives up to its name: it becomes fixed. It will no longer change dynamically, so if the title is altered it may be necessary to consider amending the slug (which then changes the permalink) to match. This is true even if you revert the post to draft. I believe this behaviour may be a bug (sorry, I mean ‘feature’), as the date portion of the permalink does still change to reflect alterations to the publication date, even on a draft that was previously scheduled.
When a draft is manually saved (by hitting the ‘Save draft’ link in the editor), any changes to the publication date (year, month, day) are reflected in the current permalink. Note that autosave doesn’t appear to do this every time (though I could be wrong about that).
It’s an unlikely scenario (one I haven’t tested), but I suspect that if the domain name were to change between scheduling and publication, the post’s URL wouldn’t reflect this change. For example, if I were to register the name ‘wibble.blog’ again, and set it as the main site address as I once did (I explained the reason why I reversed this in an earlier post), the permalink of this post would, I think, retain ‘pendantry.wordpress.com’ as the domain name.
§ A caveat: Usefully — but also confusingly if you’re not aware of it — WordPress provides the illusion of being able to actually ‘visit’ a post that’s scheduled for publication in the future; it doesn’t report a ‘404 error’ iff the post is on your account and you’re currently logged in. The Towel Day 2021 quiz post appears, for me, in my browser as though it’s live — even though there are still (currently) 91 days to go:
A couple of people (Sam “Goldie” Kirk and… someone else, whose comment I’m unfortunately unable to find) have asked me how I quote others’ words in WordPress comments, so I thought I’d pen a quick blogette about it.
For many years now, WordPress has allowed some HTML in comments — other systems often strip such code out to avoid abuse. To quote someone else’s words, one uses the blockquote HTML element. This is very simple to do: you start with the element’s ‘opening tag’ (‘<blockquote>’), and end the quote with the ‘ending tag’ (‘</blockquote>’), like this:
The more they overthink the plumbing,
the easier it is to stop up the drain.
The result would look something like this:
The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.
Note that the ‘ending tag’ begins with ‘</’. If you forget that forward slash symbol (as I often do!) the element isn’t closed, and everything from then on will be treated as a quote… and as site visitors can’t edit their own comments here in WordPress, it’s wise to double-check you’ve got everything right before hitting ‘send’.
If that’s interesting to you, you might also like these two posts of mine:
I spent three hours (!) this morning talking with ‘a’ WordPress Happiness Engineer, (to whom I shall refer as ‘HE’ and ‘they’, for reasons that will become apparent, should you actually make it that far; this is quite a long post — and the more I add to it, the slower editing it gets, sigh).
I learnt a lot during this live chat session.
But before I get started on that, I want to point out that I’ve had to delete yesterday’s post, which was a reblog of a post on Bear’s blog Scribblans. I don’t think that, in all the time I’ve been blogging on ‘Wibble’ (first post was in 2007, when the system was Microsoft’s ‘Live Spaces’), I’ve ever had to do that before. Link rot is the scourge of the Internet, and I try hard not to contribute to it. So to be fair to Bear, I’ll begin with the preamble I gave to that reblog, and here, up front, is a big link to it. Please visit his site: it’s well worth the trip.
I’ve been doing a lot of ranting lately (regular visitors may have noticed that).
In my defence, I’ve been uncomfortable all this year so far. I fell over on New Year’s Day (my own silly fault, I got legless) — and cracked some ribs. They hurt like hell for a month and a half. Just as the pain from that was starting to subside, I caught an ear infection. That was just as painful in its own way (and, so far, it’s not been responding to antibiotics… I’m hoping it won’t need surgery to clear it out, as happened last time, a few years ago).
So, anyway, that’s my excuse for being extra-special curmudgeonly recently.
I’ve been looking for ways to compensate for this grouchiness. And Bear, of Scribblans fame, gave me the perfect opportunity to do something more-or-less non-cantankerous — by gifting him a repost. Of a rant, naturally :) What gave me the idea was the spiel at the very end of his post:
Thank you for visiting Scribblans today. Sorry it probably wasn’t very good. This bit of text here used to be me wittering on and effectively begging you to share the post, but I have decided not to bother with all that for 2021. Most people ignore it anyway.
Actually, his script doesn’t include a link. I added that as an experiment in inline CSS; with luck and a steady wind it’ll come out orange. If you read Bear’s post, you’ll understand. (And if it doesn’t come out orange, I’ll have no option but to edit this preamble to curse appropriately….)
OK, so, that’s what I posted yesterday. I did make that threatened edit, to add:
Grrr… the link colours are fine: what’s not fine is all the white space between the paragraphs. O.0 I feel another block editor rant brewing….
… and here we go with that rant:
My previous post, the (now deleted) reblog of Bear’s post, showed huge gaps between the paragraphs. The formatting rendered correctly in the block editor itself — although that didn’t include the initial snippet from Bear’s post (which also featured these enormous breaks between paragraphs). My preamble to the reblog was initially presented as a ‘Classic block’, and, as I’ve been — grudgingly — using ‘blocks’ for a while now, I chose the option to ‘Convert to blocks’, thinking that this might cure the white space problem. It didn’t. And I couldn’t revert to the original version containing the ‘Classic block’, as that had mysteriously disappeared entirely.
There was also an issue with a ‘Quote block’ in that, while it was being rendered correctly in the editor, was appearing as an indented paragraph in the published post.
These problems were clearly bugs in the current iteration of the reblog process and/or the block editor (this klunky abomination that has been foisted on the entire WordPress community without sufficient testing having been done prior to that roll-out).
And so, as I mentioned up top, I appealed to WordPress support for assistance. The Happiness Engineers have often come up with solutions to problems in the past. Not so much, however, on this occasion.
I learnt a lot during that live chat….
The terms of the WordPress ‘Personal Plan’ have changed
pendantry Sat, Feb 20, 6:16 AM Good morneve! I have another problem that I’d appreciate your help with. It’s to do with reblogs… [description of problem elided: see above]
WP.com Sat, Feb 20, 6:19 AM Hi there.
pendantry Sat, Feb 20, 6:20 AM Hi! :)
WP.com Sat, Feb 20, 6:20 AM It looks like your site is on Personal plan. We currently don’t provide a live chat support for Personal plan users. However, I’m happy to take a look today and provide you some support here as an exception. Please give me a moment.
Wait, what? “… provide some support as an exception”? That’s very gracious of you in the circumstances: to wit, that my contract with you currently includes live chat support.
WP.com Sat, Feb 20, 6:21 AM I’m wondering if this has something to do with the theme on your site as Twenty Ten is a retired theme. Let me quickly do some test on my end.
(Note: 6:21am, HE suggests it’s a theme issue. That time gets important later.)
WP.com Sat, Feb 20, 6:24 AM Oh ok. It looks like you purchased the plan before the change. So you still have access to the chat support :)
So, it transpires that the terms of the WordPress ‘Personal Plan’ have changed (and I do not recall ever having been notified that this was happening). When I signed up for the two year plan, it included live chat support; something I have found to be very useful (well, most of the time). But, as it turns out, when the plan renews, I’m now going to be denied that facility unless I ‘upgrade’ to a Premium Plan.
Reblog is broken — and not just in my ‘retired’ theme§
WP.com Sat, Feb 20, 6:35 AM […] as for the issue about Reblog, I have just tried to reblog the same post on my test site with our current theme. And I got almost the same gaps like this: https://d.pr/i/dnnf9s
So it looks like the issue is not on your theme. I’m having a further look now. Thanks for your patience.
(Note: 6:35am, HE agrees the problem is not due to my theme.)
WP.com Sat, Feb 20, 6:51 AM FYI. I just tried to add some paragraphs with Paragraph Blocks to my test reblogged post. And I could reproduce the issue where each paragraph creates some unnecessary gaps in between. So it looks like the issue is specific to reblogged posts. Thank you so much for reporting this. I’ll be reporting this to our relevant team. I hope it will be addressed and fixed soon.
The next hour, while I was thinking HE still had the original problem in mind, was spent examining various issues, including:
editor ‘visual’ view differed from the ‘preview’
quote block being incorrectly rendered in ‘preview’
disappearance of the original version of the post (after ‘Convert to blocks’)
inline CSS (link colour style) not being transferred on copy-paste
discussion about whether inline CSS should actually work on a Personal Plan
a digression because I somehow inadvertently opened the Firefox ‘browser inspector’
confirmation that Classic block made no difference
… and at the end of that HE was still working the problem:
pendantry Sat, Feb 20, 8:06 AM Time for more coffee, I think! brb
WP.com Sat, Feb 20, 8:06 AM Sure, I might take couple more mins :-)
WP.com Sat, Feb 20, 8:17 AM Still with me?
pendantry Sat, Feb 20, 8:17 AM Yep, I’m here :)
When is a HE not a HE? When it’s another HE :/
I think the most revealing thing I discovered in the course of this live chat session was that Happiness Engineers change their spots. I thought I was having a continuing conversation with a single individual, one who was trying hard to find a resolution to the original excessive white space problem on a reblog. They tried various things. Time passed; and a number of side-tracks occurred during the discussion — my fault, I guess: I do have a tendency to digress, although part of my reason for waffling was to reassure them that I was still there, patiently waiting to see if they could fix the problem.
Almost an hour after the ‘other HE’ had indicated he would need ‘a couple more mins’, there was this exchange:
WP.com Sat, Feb 20, 9:00 AM I see that you are using an old theme on the site. I’m checking if this is an issue with the theme.
Clearly ‘they’ had… suffered a memory lapse. Or something? My guess is that the other HE had ended their shift, or whatever, and had handed me over to a new HE. Now, that, I can understand. But to pretend that the change hasn’t happened is, shall we say, a tad impolite.
pendantry Sat, Feb 20, 9:01 AM Uh. So you’re not the same Happiness Engineer I was talking to earlier? You may want to scroll up, we’ve already covered that it’s an old theme.
pendantry Sat, Feb 20, 9:03 AM [Another aside: if you do swap out Happiness Engineers, some might consider it polite to announce that fact, rather than leading me to believe that I’m having a conversation with the same person.]
WP.com Sat, Feb 20, 9:04 AM Without switching themes, the only possible way to get rid of this problem is by adding custom CSS codes. For that you would need to upgrade to Premium plan or higher.
Two hours and twenty-five minutes after agreeing that the problem was not my theme, suddenly the ‘old theme’ raises its ugly head. Again.
The conversation went rapidly downhill from there, and ended at 9:15am. Three hours of my life I’ll never get back.
And now: it is 14:12hrs; 2:12pm. I’ve spent the last five hours composing this post.
I’m getting too old for this shit.
§ The ‘Twenty Ten’ theme, which I’ve been using happily now for the last decade — it’s like an old friend to me — is now ‘retired’. I actually knew this already, from previous discussions with HEs; various issues have arisen in recent months (since the advent of the block editor, unsurprisingly), and although some have been fixed by the HEs, they have on a couple of occasions fallen back on ‘this theme is retired’ as their reason for not being able to deal with the more intractable issues.
I’ve been looking for a theme that might serve to replace ‘Twenty Ten’, and I may have found a candidate (it’s called ‘Colinear’). But I am somewhat reluctant to make the switch, as there’s no going back — and no guarantee that the bugs are actually theme-dependent in the first place (at this point I’m pretty much convinced they’re not).
D’oh. Silly me… I unpublished this reblog post and replaced it with another due to the fact that WordPress’s reblog facility is currently broken (you need not go far for proof of that; there’s far too much white space between paragraphs here, and there’s nothing I can do about it).
It’s true that this here is an ugly post. But the fault lies with WordPress, not me, and perhaps its existence will serve to shame WordPress into fixing the flaws in the reblog feature sooner, rather than later.
Of course, the purpose of the original post was, being a reblog, to add visibility to Bear’s post on Scribblans, so here’s a link to that:
§ Postscript, FAO WordPress: Here’s another bug in the reblog function: the <em> element, while it is rendered in the editor, is not honoured in the published post (my ‘epiphany’ text above should be in italics, and it’s not).
Visitors to this blog yesterday would have seen the site using a new look. It’s something I had been playing with for a week or so, on and off, and I had finally decided that this was my preferred style.
In the end, I went for this Premium theme ‘Opti’, which cost £71.00. Plus points for me were that it had a clean but ‘newspaper’ type feel and gave me the opportunity to show some extra featured content on the home page without it being too overwhelmed in huge irrelevant pictures.
After all, this site is about the nonsense that I write, I have another one that is about the images I take.
So far, so good.
The theme cost me the money to purchase because I had only chosen to use the ‘Personal’ plan for my blog. That allows me to remove the adverts and use the scribblans,com domain…
[Addendum 27Feb2021: The Juice Media’s latest video adds further context. It looks more and more like my first knee-jerk response to the news was ill-informed. That still doesn’t affect my decision to leave faecesbook; two evils don’t make a good.]
[Addendum 19Feb2021: Counterpoint: a friend of mine (hi, Bonzaiiii!) pointed out that although FB is arguably pretty evil, it could be argued that the Aussie government itself is not exactly without its flaws. I’m reminded of The Juice Media, whose ‘Honest Government Ads’ have often had me in stitches. She pointed me to an opinion piece in Nikkei Asia which, while it agrees that “Tech giants for too long have been exploiting users by monetizing their data for the purposes of selling advertising“, also points out that the Rupert Murdoch influence in the media is pervasive, and says that “If we are worried about tech platforms making too much money, we should find ways to make them pay their fair share of tax. If we are worried about the exploitation of personal information for profit, we need to implement better privacy laws.” I find myself unable to disagree — but I’m not going to be resurrecting my faecesbook account, either.]
I’ve just heard the news about facebook -v- Australia — and I’m siding with the antipodeans. Mark Zuckerberg &co have become far, far too big for their britches, and badly need to be taught the meaning of the word ‘humility’. Who the f*** do they think they are?
I know what I think they are: parasites. Leeches on global society. Disrespecting decency in order to make an ‘honest’ (few billion) bucks. And all the while, behind closed doors, giving the rest of humanity the finger for being such suckers, no doubt.
I’ve finally done something I should have done long, long ago: I’ve deleted my faecesbook account. It was entertaining, incidentally, finding out how to do that. No prizes for guessing what faecesbook offered me as the top link on a search on its site for the phrase “delete account”: it was “How do I create a facebook account?”. I scrolled and scrolled, and the word ‘delete’ didn’t appear anywhere in the ‘search’ results.
Now I can look forward to a future free of email spam from faecesbook encouraging me to log in to check what someone has posted — those emails always irritated me, because whereas they could have included the information my friends had posted, they never did: I always had to log in to faecesbook to discover it.
“Bringing the world closer together”, is the legend on Mark Zuckerberg’s faecesbook page. Don’t make me laugh. If he were being honest instead of disingenuous, what that message would say would be: “Thank you, sheep, for making me one of the richest people on the planet.”
tl;dr: Here are the links to the petitions by Positive Money, 350.org and SumOfUs; please pick just one and add your name before 24Feb2021. These three organisations are running the same petition; current signature counts as I write this are in mouseover tooltips on the three links above.
Yes, that video is pretty crap. The muzak sucks, for one thing. But Positive Money, unlike those who pull the strings for the Bank of England, isn’t exactly flush with cash; I, for one, forgive them.
Here’s the petition message:
To: Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England Cc: Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer From: [Your Name]
Bank of England: – Stop funding the climate crisis and regulate the banks that do. – Stop pumping new money into the dirtiest sectors of the economy. – Stop billion pound bailouts for big polluters with no strings attached. Invest in a green recovery instead. – Make new rules to stop other banks from financing climate chaos. – Work with the Treasury to ensure livelihoods are safe and new jobs created in the transition to a greener economy.
The advert featured in the video appeared on the front page of Rishi Sunak’s local paper this week. Four hundred and ninety-three§ Positive Money supporters (oh, and little me, too) made that happen by contributing to the cost of the advert. It’s a little thing, yes, and it may be that it’s too late to actually make the Bank of England change direction, especially when the power of the vested interests that lobby behind the scenes to continue ‘business as usual’ is so great.
[…] the Bank of England is supposed to work for you and me, not Barclays and Shell.
This heart-rending masterpiece of a video is a mash-up featuring the music of Queen (‘Who Wants to Live Forever?’). It was uploaded to YouTube over a decade ago (21May2010), yet in all that time it has garnered fewer than 50k views — and a paltry couple of hundred ‘thumbs-up’!
I posted this video on Wibble once before, three days after it was uploaded to YouTube. I gave it no introduction as I thought (and still think) that its message is loud enough on its own.
That post received no likes, no comments, no reblogs.
When trivial memes go viral but important matters such as highlighting the evils of toxic plastic stuff are sidelined and ignored, it really makes me ashamed to be a member of the human race.
‘Sixty-one’ is special to me today: no prizes for guessing why that might be! There are also no prizes for winning the quiz below§, which I am proud to present in 61’s honour.
In my opinion, 61 is almost perfect. It contains the number 6, which is itself a perfect number. Six plus one is seven, a number that’s considered by some to be magical. I’ve always liked seven because that’s the sum of all the opposite sides of a die (I’m talking about the standard cube-shaped die, not those peculiar dice I used back in the days when I played D&D). The number 61 also contains the number 1, which is, a priori¹, the first of all natural numbers (well, unless you include zero, which some weird folk do). One is, however, somewhat sad, since it’s all alone…
And now, here’s that quiz I promised you. I hope you find it entertaining!
§ That is, assuming that the ‘Crowdsignal’ embedded quiz still appears — and still works — on the day you happen to visit this page. Over the years I have become increasingly convinced that the longevity of software thingummies is inversely proportional to the length of time since the inception of computers themselves. Those Who Make Changes Just Because They Can (no names) will, I believe, never learn.
¹ I’ve used that term incorrectly, haven’t I? I never was any good at Latin. It might have helped if I’d actually paid attention in skool when Ubi Lane was trying to learn it to me. (Flashback: Ubi smacking me upside the head in class one day when he caught me reading a book² during class. I was so engrossed in it that I hadn’t noticed him sneaking up on me!)