WordPress and Medium

WordPress and Medium

If you blog you’re familiar with WordPress and most likely Medium. WordPress has been around for over 10 years and is a mature platform. Medium is younger and was launched by Ev Williams of Twitter and has become a publishing platform for both amateur and professional writers. There are, of course, other platforms like Wix, Weebly, Blogger, Drupal, Squarespace, and Joomla, which are different variations of basically the same thing.

I’ve been using WordPress for over 7 years and follow its development closely. I use it nearly exclusively for client’s websites and consider myself an expert at it. “WordPress” as an entity is sort of a mess, in my opinion, which I’ve written about in depth before. I’ve also talked about how, back when Medium was a different product, is WordPress’ main competitor, and not Drupal and Joomla as most people believed a few years ago. With the unveiling of WordPress’ new editor Gutenberg, it’s now evident that Matt Mullenweg et al. agree.

Ev Williams keeps changing the interface of Medium, and most users seem to applaud his efforts. That’s a play on words since the latest Medium update includes “claps” to show love and appreciation for writers’ work instead of thumbs-ups and downs. Basic gamification strategy.

Matt and WordPress do things a little differently. They make huge changes despite what the core users and customers think, and those are two very different and large groups of people. In my opinion, he’s not only risking having people defect but start up competing CMS/blogging platforms(WP can’t decide what it is). There’s a HUGE market out there which WordPress is trying to fully dominate, despite not ever putting forth a material plan for doing so. Iterate and pray seem to be the daily plan, and let other developers work on it for free as open-source software is the long-term plan. The profitable markets that have spun off in the form of plugin and theme shops, WordPress developers, and other niche businesses are what keep it propped up more than anything, and is what Medium and other competitors are missing. Medium has a payout scheme for popular writers, but that’s a small market comparatively. WordPress’ model isn’t unlike Apple’s app store, which is responsible for Apple’s astounding rise to financial and market dominance.

I have a feeling someone soon will create a platform that will take a large chunk of market share from Medium and WordPress. Ghost had the potential and still does to an extent, but it needs to become much more user-friendly and be marketed much more aggressively. I’m a big fan of Ghost and hope John and Hannah, the founders, succeed. Bootstrap could even come to be in the CMS/blogging space one day, although I don’t think that’s what Mark Otto and the Bootstrap community are aiming for, or is it the core competency. Bootstrap as a development framework is awesome and has a really big, and growing, development base. It’s the biggest repo on Github and has been for a long time. I’ve even published a lengthy book on developing with it, back when it was “Twitter Bootstrap.”

WordPress enjoys being a first-mover, although they weren’t really the “first” to offer an open-source blogging platform. They just emerged as the most popular back in the days of blogging infancy and took some bloggers and newbie developers along for the ride to make them pretty wealthy along the way. That’s given WordPress/Automattic/Matt a lot of wiggle-room and revenue to make mistakes without getting crushed, which is a good thing considering the noticeable lack of leadership at the top. There may be a vision but it isn’t made very clear to anyone, and the heaviest users of WP like to know what the roadmap contains beyond the next update or two because they come fast. And WP needs to be backward-compatible and is legacy software.

Gutenberg is all the WordPress world can talk about, which as I predicted years ago, is a response to Medium. Here’s a white paper by Human Made, and Medium is mentioned on the second page of the thing. It’s sort of a disingenuine piece. The author asks why did they decide to build Gutenberg, and then never answers the question. He calls it an “experiment” which of course it isn’t. It’s a strategy. You don’t experiment with something as crucial as the essence of the core product at this scale and Matt knows it. Ironically, the “blocks” direction which is the core concept of the new editor, keeps making me think of the Thesis theme, which very well may have just been ahead of its; time. The story of Thesis is rich. Not as Rich as Matt, unfortunately for Chris Pearson.

Human_Made_Gutenberg_Paper
How Is This Legal?

How Is This Legal?

Louisville, KY has scant options when it comes to ISPs, just as with most places in America. How this came to be is a long story (telecoms & politicians) but there’s just not much competition, so the service is government-grade.

Luckily, Google Fiber is coming to town soon, which Louisville is abuzz about. For good reason, mentioned above. They’ll be up and running fairly soon, and I’ve even sent them a resume to do some marketing for them. I’m switching first thing.

But in the meantime, I’m relegated to Spectrum. They used to Be Comcast. Who was Charter before that. Who was originally AOL/Time Warner. Who now owns Spectrum. I think another acquisition was in there somewhere as well. That was all just over the past 5 years or so I’ve been in Louisville.

Ever since Spectrum became the name on my bills I’ve had service problems with a few agonizing stories I won’t go into. This isn’t about how they stink like everyone else enjoys complaining about.

I had service set up last week and had a tech come out to install it, despite it already being installed. And Spectrum was nice enough to waive that fee. But while the tech was setting up the modem and checking signals, which weren’t there, we were able to talk. A lot.

Spectrum sells a few internet packages. One offers 60Mps d/l speed. Too slow for my needs, but he promises the 60MBps crowd gets every last meg. They also sell what they seem to think is a premium service which is 300MBps. Every time I mention I have that service, the rep or tech acts like I’m Elon Musk and no one has that installed.

But the tech told me they only guarantee up to 100MBps and are unable to even deliver much over that, on the best of days. Nowhere NEAR 300. Can’t even do it. So really what they’re selling is 100MBps at 300MBps rates. Is that legal? I don’t see how, but apparently so. I have a Mercedes I want to sell, but it’s really a Toyota. And I can legally hold you to pay Mercedes prices. Totally legit?

How to Speed up Your Computer

How to Speed up Your Computer

I’ve learned the hard way prevention is a better approach than allowing problems to appear on their own terms and reacting to them all under a code red emergency, usually. Always at the worst time, it seems. And I’ve managed a lot of websites and machines for others and tried a lot of the products out there over the years including the newer ones. Here’s what I use to keep my PC running fast and clean. I have a MacBook Pro too and use similar tools, like Clean My Mac instead of Clean my PC, but the same company: MacPaw. For Linux folks, you’re largely on your own here. You can run a bunch of line commands to clean things up, but that presumes you have access to your terminal. Like the Websites that tell you if your computer isn’t working, go to their website and download something, when you can’t even boot into safe mode. Uh…OK. How, exactly?

So, just not letting your machines get crazy is the best idea. And despite your best efforts to keep the bugs at bay, you will one day wish you had done this because something always goes wrong at some point. We’re dealing with some complicated machines. It takes a small amount of very well-spent time to initially set these tools up properly (an important step people like to skip) and run them, but after that, you can set them to run automatically if you have the paid versions, which I recommend in some cases. Also, if you’re buying any of these, you can usually find discounts online or by giving them your email.

These products’ free versions are fine and work well. But after using the free versions for a long time and being happy with them, I decided out of a feeling of charity more than anything, to upgrade. And for these products, I learned it’s, in fact, worth it. Not always the case with software. And you still have to be mindful of what exactly is being installed. Don’t just hit download and click your way through the install wizard screens without seeing what’s checked and reading the fine print on each screen. That’s how you get problems these tools are meant to fix in the first place and 15 browser toolbars.

Norton is infamous for their kidnapping of computers with their totally invasive and permanent software. Some people like it, for some reason. I hate it. I won’t even link to them here. But I’m not talking about that level of invasion. Updates, even, that will put another program on your computer that looks like part of what you came for. But it isn’t. And it uses memory, has to be maintained, is prone to viruses, and you never wanted it in the first place, period. I don’t understand why software companies are so deliberately sneaky with their installs – even Adobe does it. If it’s a good product then market it standing on its own feet, not slip it in under the guise of something else to boost installation numbers. It makes your users feel used and the company appear deceptive.

One of the products I recommend, CleanMyPC, has an uninstall feature I use a lot and over other uninstall tools like the ones with CCleaner. It is fast, which matters to me, and does a thorough job. Better than CCleaner and definitely better than the Windows uninstaller. It’s cleaned all sorts of software traces left behind by that, adding up to some significant memory. And speaking of which, going into the Clean my PC uninstall panel and seeing what you can get rid of is a great idea. You may be surprised what you can delete, adding up to many GB of memory. Click on the memory header to sort by largest programs to least, and start firing away. You can (usually) always install them again later if needed. Create a backup beforehand if you’re worried about what you’re doing. Don’t delete something if you don’t know what it is. Google it if you aren’t sure. Adobe products, for example, are huge. (They also use tons of RAM.) Same with browser extensions: clean them up judiciously. Only have what you need and you know works well. Extension conflicts cause all sorts of buggy behavior that’ll slow you down when browsing.

  • CleanmyPC – This came out after the CleanmyMac product was such a hit, and was why I bought this. And it’s great. Maybe there’s a better one out there, but if so I haven’t ever seen it. Their Gemini II duplicate file finder works really well too, but is for Mac only.
  • CCleaner – Been around for a long time, and works great. The free version is fine, but the paid version is great too. If you have to pay for one cleaning service, make it CleanMyPC though. Note: these don’t clean deep filth off your hard drives. If you have some seriously persistent muck on your computer, you need to kick it up a notch. These tools are for prevention and light/medium cleaning and maintenance. Use them regularly and you won’t have big problems. And if you’re going to sites you know you shouldn’t, use a Tor browser at least.
  • Kaspersky Anti-Virus – You really need to have an anti-virus program, and not some free job. Getting a virus will blow up your system and ruin your life. There was a time when you could skate without an anti-virus program. Not anymore.
  • Malwarebytes – Because it pays to get a second opinion. Use the free edition.
  • Webroot Toolkit – Most people probably don’t know what a Webroot is, but it’s something that should be looked after. This tool has some features that are worth the paid version as well, I found. I don’t use this one the most, but it is indispensable when needed.
  • Driver Booster 4 – Drivers are something else people don’t update on their own all that often I don’t think. But it’s not only important, it’s just a better experience when all your drivers are updated and working properly. And though Windows and OS’s can update them, I’ve found they don’t do a very good job. They’ll miss some, or skip updates, or something that disappoints. And there’s no reason to EVER pay for a driver updater. They basically just glom onto the updating system just mentioned and make it work properly. You can upgrade for some luxury features, but they aren’t necessary. The basic program does the job well. Just a little more clicking on the user’s part.
  • SUPER Anti-Spyware, free edition – I don’t use this much, but I would recommend it when you hit some bigger problems the others can’t fix. I know PC repair shops use it as well. That doesn’t mean it’s the killer app; just a good thing to run every now and then, especially if you think you may be infected.
  • Defraggler – Defragmenting is a drag. This takes care of it for you and does a great job. By the same folks at CCleaner. And free. Your OS, of course, has a basic defragger, but this is better. I’ll just leave it at that. It’s also faster.
  • IOBit Advanced System Care – This is a feature-rich piece of maintenance software and the free version is great. It’ll clean up your RAM and optimize your disks with one click. But has plenty of other options you can mess around with to help you keep your PC running fast. Some more helpful than others depending on your needs.

I realize there’s overlap in what these things check for. Hardly a worry. CleanmyPC will often find things CCleaner doesn’t and not the other way around I’ve found. They have different databases to compare against. Also I don’t use the browser protection because it slows me down and I don’t go to sites that worry me. Plus there are already other protections in place for that for me. If for some reason I have to visit some illicit site for a client, I’ll take appropriate measures, beginning with not using my own computer or at least an old fortified laptop on another IP address.

If you’re really having speed issues, you may want to evaluate your hard drive situation. If it’s getting full, it’s time to add memory, and the best way to do that is with an SSD. It isn’t the easiest which would be just plugging an external hard drive, into a USB port or the cheapest, which would be installing another HDD or an external drive. But SSDs are better for a few very good reasons. Speed, reliability, and silence being three of them. No moving parts so they don’t break down. But they have a more average limited life span which is the main downer. Even though the price is more, it isn’t significantly so.

Installing an SSD is if you have a normal computer and not one with an Apple logo on it, which are considerably more difficult and expensive to work on in every way imaginable. Put your OS on the new SSD and boot from that and use the Hard Drives for storage and you’re off to the races. SSDs are quiet, small and fast. and pretty inexpensive on NewEgg or Crucial Memory. Definitely shop around since for the most part memory is a commodity these days.

Adding more RAM would be my step 3 after cleaning and an SSD. It’s often more of a pain and sort of pricey. For example, my computer has 6 slots with 2 GB of RAM in each, expandable up to 24GB, with 4GB memory cards. So I can’t just buy 3 cards=12 more GB of RAM, in other words, to max it out. I have to buy the full 24, which is for diversity reasons I can understand, but the dividends still aren’t as great as with ROM. That would cost me about $180 at today’s prices for 24GB of RAM for my Dell XPS 9100 desktop. I’ve seriously gotten a computer to go from taking 42 minutes to boot to 42 seconds, fully loaded with programs, files and apps, with these tips.

Put your OS on the SSD and boot from that and use the Hard Drives for storage. They’re quiet, small and fast. and pretty inexpensive on NewEgg or Crucial Memory. Adding more RAM would be my step 3 after cleaning and an SSD. It’s often more of a pain and sort of pricey. For example, my computer has 6 slots with 2 GB of RAM in each, expandable up to 24GB. So I can’t just buy 12 more GB of RAM, in other words, to max it out. I have to buy the full 24, which is for reasons I can understand, but the dividends aren’t as great as with ROM. If you aren’t sure how to install an SSD and aren’t technical, just take it to a good shop. They shouldn’t charge much and it’s worth it to not have to deal with mishaps, which always happen. Moving all your files and OS around is the trickiest part I’ve found. Macrium is another good piece of software to be aware of if you do such things.

A lot of people don’t seem to know what they’re looking at when they look at computer specs. There are only a few things to be concerned with, on a basic level. The Ghz is what you’d pay attention to for speed capability. The higher the number, the faster the processor can go. It seems relatively marginal to me though and definitely pay more attention to RAM and ROM and how they’re configured(SSD vs HDD) and just try to get the fastest processor you can afford. If it isn’t the fastest, don’t worry; even if it’s a 500000GhZ Cray Supercomputer, it’ll still be limited by it’s RAM and ROM and a few other factors. But don’t buy the base model, for Pete’s sake. Of anything. Rarely worth it and you’ll be yearning for the better model the whole time. Unless it’s just a bunch of features that’ll never be used, but that should go without saying.

Run these things at least once a week or so and your computer should speed up dramatically.

Vectr WordPress Vector Editor Plugin

Vectr WordPress Vector Editor Plugin

This is a WordPress plugin for editing and creating vectors right within the WordPress post page I’m trying out and it seems pretty powerful, if it works as imagined. And so far it’s delivering. It’s a vector editor that I can pull up right in my posts/pages. They have a desktop app available for OS/PC/Linux, as well as a browser-based editor, and this plugin, and by looking at their roadmap seem to really be on the ball. The editor seems to have most everything you need. It’s no-frills for sure, but I’m comparing it to Adobe Illustrator, which I consider the standard for vector illustration and graphics. I haven’t checked out the SVG capabilities yet, but for a free vector editor it’s fast and full featured. And easy to use.

Some limitations I’ve hit: no way to align objects on the page easily, and no way to edit gradients. If I want to make a linear gradient that’s -96 degrees, I have to come up with a tricky solution.  I have a feeling these are basic features that the people at Vectr are working on though. I’m sure they know what people use. Also a bug I’ve found is it sometimes posts the extra images WordPress generates when you upload an image. By default, when you upload a photo, you immediately get weighed down with 3 other copies, so it’s a great idea to optimize your images as much as possible.

EDIT: I was contacted by the astute folks at Vectr who set me straight on gradients and a few other things(I’ll elaborate as time allows, which isn’t right now). Here’s a video explaining how to work with gradients in Vectr:

Incidentally, that is John Paul Jones in the featured photo. He hasn’t slowed down one bit since those days and can play any instrument in the galaxy.

 

Book

Book

Back when Bootstrap was Twitter Bootstrap and it had been downloaded a grand total of about 5,000 times, I wrote and published a book on how to develop using the Twitter Bootstrap framework. I sold a few copies and learned about using Bootstrap pretty well. Well enough to write around a 200-page book on it, at least.
 
Time went on and Twitter Bootstrap became Bootstrap and Mark Otto left Twitter, and took his framework with him and rebranded. I think he works at Github these days, but he and his partner still update and work on it a lot.
 
After a while, my book became slightly outdated, and keeping a sizeable technical book up to date wasn’t a priority. So I posted it on my old website, michaelmusgrove.com, for free. Which a popular move on my part. Then like a dummy, I took the whole site down.
Long, boring story short: I’m re-posting the Bootstrap Book here. I’m going to go back through and try to clean up what’s outdated and it should be a pretty good resource for people that are beginners through intermediate. It has a TON of great Bootstrap resources too, for the advanced crowd.
People send me things to include all the time, which I think is awesome and welcome it. If you’d like to contribute, just send me a message.
Here it is in .pdf form, unedited since final draft:
I’ll be updating & uploading as quickly as possible beyond this.