Random spring cleaning

Today I spent some time on the support forums answering some questions and just trying to help some people out.

I also cleaned things up a little bit on this site. The one thing I did was clear out random tables from the database and just tinkered with other things along the way. I was able to fiddle around with a little Drupal as well so that was really nice.

The one thing I liked was looking at metrics. Part of the reason is I like looking at numbers. The first thing I noticed was the size of the overall database. It was just under 7mb which really isn’t much when you think about it. I ran a few commands on them and they sort of helped. A little bit but not like super, crazy, insane good.

One thing I liked doing was running two queries. The first one to get all the posts because I wanted to see how fast it would be and now many there were as well. I ran:

SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE post_type = 'post';
/* Affected rows: 0  Found rows: 166  Warnings: 0  Duration for 1 query: 0.172 sec. (+ 0.312 sec. network) */

I found it pretty cool that I do have 165 posts on here. The other cool part is that it was able to retrieve all of those in well under a second. Now granted that is how many databases are and function as well. Pretty quick when doing those directly.

The one part I was happy about was being able to reduce the size a little because I realized that there were a few tables from plugins I no longer used and some rows that were also removed that I know I won’t be using ever again. Many of those were just widget settings from random themes I had tested on here.

Did I need to do that? Not really. It was mostly because I wanted to practice things. It really has been way too long since I’ve even done anything like that. I’ve been enjoying that since that’s what I spent most of my day on.

The other thing was tinkering with JavaScript and some JSON responses. I was having some fun with the WordPress api and just getting some things to actually render properly on the page. Not using any external libraries as well so that was pretty fun to do.

I have a post right now in draft that actually does go a bit more into frameworks too. Or at least the ones I’ve read some documents of and have tried. This is the part where I just say if there were more hours in the day I would be able to explore all of them.

Hopefully I can look over more things next week.

Extended learning

I’m really bad at updating this site. I know. A lot of it being I just haven’t been able to really jot things down here.

Over the years I’ve posted several things. Many were to keep track of things I learned. There were some that were possibly random. Again, I learned from that. As this year start to come to an “end” I think about this site and the content I want to be posting.

For me, this site was a test. To get more and more familiar with WordPress and how things worked with code. I’ve learned quite a lot too along the way. The biggest one being how themes are loaded and function. There is a lot of magic that goes on. It’s super crazy and cool to see the code that runs so many sites on this crazy place we call the web.

I was also able to meet a lot of super amazingly talented people along the way. There are still a lot of people I will meet and I do look forward to meeting all of them too.

I keep getting a bit sidetracked on this too.

As the years went by, I wanted to keep learning new things. I looked at random online course that I could take on. Yes, there are quite a few out there some are really good. Some are just okay in that I would just copy the code, make a small edit, paste and not really learn much from it. Other than keyboard shortcuts are super nice for things like that.

The other day I was looking over some of the places I had enrolled in or rather had my name attached to. 3 sites that I found in my password manager. I’m sure there are a few I may have missed but still those were just free resources.

The real test now will be enrolling in courses simultaneously for an actual degree. Yes, I started the process and will be actually going for one shortly. This will be good. I know it will take a lot of effort and a lot of time but it will be amazing once it is all said and done.

So if you don’t hear from me that’s probably why.

I do want to keep posting here about WordPress things I do find and come across as well it just will be a bit longer now.

Brain farts and code

As some of you know I like to read and I like to read code. I also like to read about code. The other day it hit me that I haven’t done a full theme review in a long time. It made me a little sad.

I do miss that.

There is a partial reason why I haven’t. Okay there are a few.

  • Time
  • Rules may have changed a bit
  • Backlog of approved but not live
  • Life

The biggest one being time. My priorities have changed over the years. I went from helping out on the support forums and reviews after I would get off work or even before work to having to almost schedule times for that. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing but when I feel like I need to schedule that it almost becomes work. I don’t want that.

I love helping people.

However I can. I think this was also part of the reason I chose to be the lead organizer for this year.

Other things

The last couple of weeks I have been practicing classical guitar songs because that is how I first began to learn guitar. That later transpired to learning to play Flamenco style. It’s been awesome and a great side hobby.

I have recorded myself playing here and there and even setup a Git repo because I felt like it. Also so others could use them however they wanted.

There are a few which don’t reside on there as well. A good example is some of the songs I’m trying to learn like Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tarrega.

Recuerdos de la Alhambra progress

My fingers are still trying to get familiar with a lot of the chords and fingerings used throughout the song. In time I’ll get it though.

One more song

The other day I finally managed to learn how to play Moonlight Sonata on the guitar. On my Flamenco guitar really. This was one song I wanted to learn years ago, I did and over time I plain forgot a lot – and by a lot I mean about ninety percent of the song. I could only really remember the first few lines and that was it.

The last couple of weeks I’ve made it a personal goal to relearn the song. A few days ago I finally managed to do so and I was happy about it. This morning I felt like recording it. Part of that reason is because when I first learned to play it I would play for my grandma. She would always tell me to record it so I can track my progress.

There are times I still do and of course a lot of those I keep to myself. Today I felt really more like sharing it because why not?

I know not the greatest playing in the world but it is mine and I will get better at it. The cool part is that it has also helped with the Flamenco playing.

Random music playing

There are two reasons I’m posting it here. The first one is because on the random blog I don’t really share audio or video and second is because I am more than happy to share those files if asked and having it here just makes it easier for me

With that being said, today I was a little bored and decided to practice the guitar. I’ve been practicing how to play Moonlight Sonata. It’s cool. I had learned it years ago but because I focused on other things my brain forgot a lot of it.

Today I decided to record a part that I really like from the song. It is a small clip and I’m still learning the song. I just have a few more bars and I can practice the entire song.

The next thing I recorded was me playing a flamenco rhumba. I’ve played it many times and I still struggle with a few things. A lot of that is because I still haven’t fully learned to slow down and so my fingers want to get ahead when they shouldn’t.

Anyway, here is the song:

The quality is a little better than most of my previous recordings too so I’m very happy about that.

In need of reading things

I love to read random programing books and articles. The other day I read a tweet that recommended some nine books if you were into programming and I felt like I had seen two of those books mentioned when it comes to learning about code.

One of which was Clean Code. I’ve been wanting to read this for the longest time too. One of these days I’ll actually go ahead and purchase it so I can read it. Not sure when that will be but I know I will.

The biggest reason I love reading those is because a lot of the things I have learned I learned on my own. I took it upon myself to not only research but to experiment with it. A great example would be Illustrator. I wanted to learn more about how to use the pen tool so I made a small challenge to myself and drew out the alphabet. I sketched it all out and then used only the pen tool to convert it to digital. 

I learned a lot from that.

It was fun and it was different for me. Part of that reason was I wasn’t fully tied to a deadline but I also was because I did it in my spare time. Once I got that motivation I kept going with it. This is how it has been with reading lately too. I think my personal goal before this year ends is to have purchased one or two of those listed books

If memory serves me right a few of those were:

  • Clean Code
  • Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of programming
  • Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction
  • The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

I am determined to get at least one of those books before the end of the year, even if it means a digital copy that could only be read on my phone. Yes, I am willing to go that far to get some knowledge.

There is one other thing I have been doing and it’s helped is that I picked out a few other books that I’m going to be finishing for fun. I am definitely looking forward to finishing these up.

My WordCamp experience

This year I helped organize WordCamp Sacramento as the Volunteer Wrangler. It was fun and a little stressful. A little stressful only because there was one track I had forgotten about. In total we had three tracks and the second day I had forgotten to set up one of the tracks with somebody to record or introduce.

You could imagine what that was like.

Throughout the entire event I made an attempt to go to every room and make sure all the volunteers were doing good. If they needed something to eat, something to drink, or just needed a break.

There is a reason for that. I wanted to take care of them because they were taking time out of their lives to not only help me but help with the event as well. 

Now, the fun part was getting to see all those people learning and sharing their stories and experiences.

Before the event I had been contemplating on whether or not I wanted to be the lead organizer for next year. The more time went on and the closer we got to the event, the more certain I became I wanted to be the lead for the next year.

I want WordCamp Sacramento to continue for our community.

One of the things about WordCamps is that they are affordable. At $20 per day, you can’t really beat that. Depending on which one you attend, it will vary. Some offer shirts, some offer lunch on both days, some will offer some amazing dance after party. I’m sure all those organizer also had lofty goals in mind when they planned their event; the main thing is that they all offer opportunities for the attendees.

Opportunities to learn, share, and network. I’ve been trying to keep an eye on posts which attendees have written to get a better idea of how to plan for the next year. So if you have a post about WordCamp Sacramento, please do share it with me. I’d love to hear about it.

I’m sort of looking for things that can be addressed and things that can’t.

The cool part is that we have some of the pre-planning already started:

  • We have a theme in mind
  • We have possible slogans
  • We have a possible location
  • We have ideas to make next year’s better

I’m not going to lie when I say that I’m scared to be the lead for next year. When I told a few of this, they were more than ecstatic for me and said I would be a good lead. It really caught me off-guard. A lot of that is because I still don’t see myself in a lead role.

There are a few things I’m looking forward to though. The first being the experience. I’ve never really organized something like this. The closest would probably have to be our local Meetup group or my son’s birthday party but those are much, much smaller. It is a bit out of my comfort zone so that’s the biggest reason I’m looking forward to it too.

This will be a lot of fun for me and very scary. I can’t wait.

Contact forms are odd

On my site I have two forms. One is just a random one I created and the other is a contact form used for – you guessed it – contacting me. Over time I’ve gotten a few random ones that make me laugh only because of the content they contained.

The ones that really made me laugh were those which mentioned sleep deprivation. I don’t know why those really made me laugh but they did. I think a lot of that was because for a few years I was working two jobs that required me to be sleeping for a few hours at a time.

They were, of course, quickly disregarded. There was one who wanted to write a post on my site about it and that really took the cake. It really was like they don’t read my posts or the form in general because they used WordPress Support as the reason for contacting me.

Life related

On a bit of a side note and I guess very much WordPress related, I will be at WordCamp Sacramento this year as the Volunteer Organizer. Some already knew that and some didn’t. What I haven’t really said to others is that I’m looking to be the lead organizer for next year.

I’m a little nervous and very much scared to take that leap but I think this is something I need to do. Not so much for myself but for our local community.

The other, possibly, random thing is that I began working on a small quilt for my kiddo. I still have to cut up the fabrics and make sure I’ll have enough because I can’t for the life of me decide what pattern to make. I just know I will be using some fabrics he liked the patterns to.

Code related

This week I did a bit of an exercise for WP Rocket and it challenged me a little because I used Vim to edit everything. Yes, I really want to get more comfortable using that. I mainly use Sublime Text but when I can, I use Vim to make changes. A lot of that is because I like using the command line a lot more lately.

The fun part was looking at the code and getting familiar on how all the things worked. What I don’t understand is how I managed to get it all to work without having read any of the documentation. I looked at three files and began to look over the filters and hooks.

I know last week I mentioned reading things on JavaScript and using it to make a quick script. This week it wasn’t so much. I also need to be a little heads down since I want to finish the pull request I began for the Health Check plugin. It reads the .htaccess file and outputs some information for the user. It will only do it if the file is readable because it needs to get the contents and check for WordPress rules.

Trial and plenty of errors

I know last week I mentioned I was going to be trying out some applications for desktop blogging.

Indirectly, I guess.

But yeah, I will be doing that. Those posts will be on my random blog because this experiment is not really for me. I’m super comfortable on the browser and like having a bit more control over things. Even more so when trying to do a random tutorial, or resource, or just a code snippet I found worth sharing.

Anyway.

The week is of course filled with those little errors and a few trials. A lot of focus on getting my resume updated. I created a page on this site to make things easier for me in the long run. You can ask me about it if you’re really interested. No reason to really share it this way.

Other things

The thing that has been really driving me crazy for the better part of the week is that I really want to create something.

Well, I want to fix something. I just don’t know what project. I am really liking the way Gutenberg is slowly starting to take shape but there are, and will be, some issues here and there. I may look into this more since I know it will be a huge win for me personally.

I know that I need to draw more too so this needs to happen at least once a week.

Code related

I’ve been a little discouraged this week when it comes to reading about code. A lot of that is because I like solving issues. During the week I tweeted out something that I think I want to work on:

I like using GitHub until it comes to seeing notifications.

it would be sort of nice to filter out some of those— Jose Castaneda (@joemcasta) August 23, 2018

What I was thinking of doing was create a small Tampermonkey script that has two buttons. One that toggles the issue notifications and the other toggles the pull request notifications. Only reason is when I go and check to see what kind they get mixed in together. 

I may get a little fancier by choosing to filter between open and closed issue notifications though. I had to look at the DOM markup that is on a page and this helped me out. First I just have to get a decent looking UI for it.

Trying applications

This week I wanted to change things up a little bit. The week consisted of maybe one or two forum replies, one post read on code, and some Lego City on the Switch.

Part of that reason is because I wanted to try using an editor. An app editor. First one on the list was QTM. The second one being BlogJet. Followed by Open Live Writer. Then BlogDesk. Finally, using the WordPress.com app. These are options currently available. They may not be available in all platforms though. Will get into more detail later on.

QTM

qtm-windows-beta

The cool thing I liked about QTM was that it is open source. I’m trying QTM on my Windows machine. At the time I’m writing this the application is in beta so they may add things, remove things, or even fix other things.

Another thing I really enjoyed was that it does support some of the APIs WordPress offers. Now, I only say that because I’m trying it out on my personal, self-hosted site, and for posts only. I’m not going to try on pages or other post types. There is a reason I wanted to only try posts. This application does seem to be more on the higher end of power user because it sort of removes a lot of things and only seems to have support for publishing posts. I haven’t yet found how to retrieve posts so I can edit prior posts just in case.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it yet, but I have a feeling I may not use it for long and I think a lot of that comes from the lack of being able to edit previous posts. This is a feature that I know a lot people need to have. It’s a basic necessity for blogging and maintaining your blog.

BlogJet

blogjet

BlogJet does seem to be a little more polished in that it offers almost the same interface WordPress has. The categories, tags, status, comments, trackbacks, and even timestamps are editable. It also provides the ability to edit other posts from the site. The image on the right sort of shows what that interface looks like. I can really see myself using this. I think the only downside is that it is not free. For me, that is a down only because let’s face it, I don’t like to pay for some things. The perk on this is that it also has support for other platforms as well even, if you don’t have a WordPress site.

Open Live Writer

open-live-writer

Another that I am trying out is Open Live Writer. It works very much like the editor I’m used to on my personal site. I may try this on my other random site that I haven’t blogged on in a long time. It does feel good to write. The interface is very Windows. It really does remind me a little bit of Word. That’s a good thing. I think it makes it a little easier for people who may be making the transition over. I may end up using this one more often only because it does feel more familiar. I think the only downside might be that it is only for Windows; that is because it is a fork of Windows Live Writer.

BlogDesk

There are two more I will be trying out as well. BlogDesk and the WordPress.com desktop app. BlogDesk does appear to be somewhat outdated. When I took a look at the changelog, the last entry was nearly 10 years ago. I’m not sure what, if any, support it will have down the line but it still works. I’m not sure I will be able to find support for headings, only if I manually add them. This isn’t a good option since many may not know how to do that.

It works great if you are doing simple posts and by simple I mean just writing. You’re not creating an outline, or syllabus, but just writing. There are options for simple formatting like underline, italics, strikethrough, and bold. You can insert, edit, and remove links with a few button clicks; same applies to images. The nice part is that all of these applications handle the uploading for you.

WordPress.com app

The WordPress.com app I’ll have to dedicate a post for and hopefully will get that for next week or maybe I’ll dedicate a post for each one. I may just do that. Dedicate one week for each one and share my experiences on here. The good, the bad, and the amazingly ugly things I encounter.

Final thoughts

I swear there really is a reason why I did this too. I know there will be benefit down the road not just for me but for other people as well.