Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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A Whole New WordPress

I logged into my blog tonight to write a posting and learned that there is a brand new version of WordPress, which is the open source software that I use to publish my blog. And it’s not just a usual little update with a few bug fixes – it’s a big change to how the WordPress editor works. Instead of just writing stuff in one big textbook like I used to, it’s now all down in different types of “blocks”.

So now instead of writing what I was going to write about1, I’m writing a post to play around with the new features2.

Like in this paragraph, I used a “drop cap” to create the giant “L” at the start of the paragraph, like one might see in a fancy book. Unfortunately, it looks totally ridiculous with the font my blog theme uses.

There’s also a new way to insert photos, so I’ve inserted this random photo of Watson & Crick exploring the inside of the dishwasher:

Kitties in the dishwasher
Although it’s a new way to insert a photo, it doesn’t seem like it will look any different when I post it on the blog.


Now I’m using a “quotation” block, just to see what that looks like. (When I preview the post, I can see it’s in italics, which isn’t how it looks in the editor. I think that’s because my theme has itaclics for quotations. But it looks better without the italics, to be honest).

-Dr. Beth Snow

This is a pull quote. I kind of like the look of this in the editor, but again when I preview, it’s in italics. Perhaps it’s time to change my theme?

It was really easy to change the colour on this though!

DR. BETH SNOW

There is also an option called a “cover”, which is a photo with writing on top of it. But it only seems to let  you choose a photo that you’ve uploaded to the same place where you store your blog, whereas I prefer to store all my photos in Flickr and use them from there. So here’s an example of a cover from one of the very few photos that I’ve actually stored with my blog rather than on Flickr:

This is a cover

There’s also a “gallery” where you can add a bunch of photos, but again, I have to store all the photos on the server where I store my blog, but I don’t want to pay to store a bunch of photos there when I already pay to store all my photos on Flickr. 

That button just takes you to my homepage, so it’s not very exciting. And it looks terrible, because the text is picking up the link colour (blue if you haven’t been to my homepage and purple if you have) from my theme – whereas on the editing screen it looks much nicer.3

But think of all the exciting places I could direct you to go, now that I have button creating powers!

There’s a whole bunch of other stuff that I can do with this (including changing the background and text colour in a block, apparently), but it’s getting late so I think I’ll leave that all to another day. Now to click “Publish” and see how this all really looks on the other side (though WP tells  me that it should look very similar to what I’m seeing in the editor screen, but when I previewed it did not!)

  1. I don’t even remember what I was going to write about, to be honest! []
  2.  Basically, what I’m saying is that this post will probably be of interest to no one, so you can save yourself the boredom and stop reading now. Assuming that you read the footnotes. Assuming that my footnotes plugin still works with this brave new WordPress…. oh wait, I just previewed the post and the footnotes do, in fact, appear to work. Hooray! []
  3. Perhaps I need to update my theme? []

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Bunch of Random Stuff

Here’s a bunch of random stuff that each aren’t long enough to make a blog posting on their own, but collectively make up a bunch of random stuff.

  • Some very cool people are getting honourary doctorates at UBC1 this year, including satirist Rick Mercer, author Douglas Coupland, and astronaut Julie Payette. Also getting a UBC HonDoc is the person with the worst French language skills on the planet, John Furlong2.  One name on the list that really caught my eye was Dr. Nora Volkow – she’s the Director of the US National Institute of Drug Addiction3. You can see her in this HBO documentary on addiction, where she does an amazing job explaining the science of addiction. Her work as a neuroscientist has gone a long way to show that addiction involves a pathophysiology of the brain – so addiction isn’t about strength of will or moral character, it’s a disease.
  • Here’s some interesting information about how larger plates are making us fatter.  I’ve read quite a few studies recently on how portion sizes have increased over the years – both at restaurants and at homes.  Further, studies show that bigger portion size actually results in people taking bigger bites of food.
  • I have a date for the Polar Bear Swim on January 1, 2011.  My friend Krista has agreed to join me!  And, as she says, we’ve said it on the intertubes, so now we *have* to do it!
  • For some unknown reason, WordPress has stopped emailing me comments that are made on my blog. I have it set up to do so, as seen here, but I don’t get emails.  So if I’m slower at replying to comments than I used to be, blame WordPress.  I’m innocent.
  • Today, my friend Dr. Jen officially became Dr. Jen.  Technically, you aren’t allowed to use the PhD behind your name, or call yourself “Dr.,” until after your convocation4. Even though once you’ve handed the final copy of your thesis into the Faculty of Graduate Studies, you’ve done all you need to do. But until the degree is actually granted on convocation day, you technically don’t have it.  Not like that stops anyone from calling themselves “Dr.” right from the moment the committee at the defence says “I’m pleased to inform you…” though. Congratulations, Dr. Jen!!
  1. I hope to get an HonDoc some day. Because I have a fascination with collecting letters to put behind my name. []
  2. seriously, I have better French than that guys AND I DON’T EVEN SPEAK FRENCH []
  3. an aside: I was just perusing Dr. Volkow’s Wikipedia page and apparently she’s the great granddaughter of Trotsky! []
  4. same is technically true of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, but since you don’t change your honorific with those degrees, it’s not such a big deal []

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#41 – Plugins, My Plugins

One of the big things that prompted me to switch from a WordPress.com blog to a self-hosted WordPress.org blog was that I kept hearing people talk about all the awesome plugins they used and you could only get those plugins if you were self-hosted.  Plugins that optimize your blog for search engines, plugings that allow people to subscribe to comments from individual posts, plugins that perform open heart surgery for you.

Here I give you the list of all the plugins that I currently have on my blog:

  • AddQuicktag – Allows me to quickly insert code into my blog. I use it to quickly add my many, many1 footnotes and, today, for adding the Blogathon banner, which is linked to my Blogathon donation page2 at the bottom of each blog posting today.
  • Advertising Manager – Although I haven’t actually set it up, I could totally put Google Adsense ads on my blog. Totally.
  • AJAX Comment Preview allows you to preview your comments before you post them. Unforutunately, it does work with the Disqus plugin, but I’ve left it in place ‘cuz I haven’t decided if I like Disqus enough to keep it.  Ditto for Subscribe To Comments, which, as the name suggests, allows you to subscribe to comments.
  • Akismet – an absolute must, this plugin keeps the spam comments at bay.
  • All in One SEO Pack is the one that optimizes your blog for search engines. Because I’d hate it if someone couldn’t find my list of hockey hotties merely because my blog was optimized for their search.
  • Contact Form 7 creates a contact form so peeps can email me.
  • DISQUS Comment System – I installed this one because it allows you to have threaded comments.  But it wants people to join Disqus and login and such. Haven’t decided if I’ll keep this one.
  • Google Analytics for WordPress – because I need to know when someone lands on my blog by Googling “ripped fingers” or “cute aunty body.”  Ditto for WordPress.com Stats – I have both of them because they tend to give you slightly different info.
  • WordPress Database Backup – because if the whole Internet implodes, I need to know that my ingenious writings have been preserved.

1And I do mean “many.”
2Speaking of which, did you donate yet?

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