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Behold! after nearly 18+ hours of work, the brand spanking new thejaymo.net!

Screenshot of thejaymo.net june 2023 with its new FSE Wordrpess theme
Thejaymo.net June 2023

The blog now has a new, clean and fresh, responsive design based on the Bjork theme.

The last time I did any major work to the blog was back in 2019 – when I celebrating 10 years at this web domain. At the time I had just completed a complicated server move/lift and shift and had applied a new theme etc. Unfortunately almost as soon as I started using my previous theme, it was abandoned by its creators. So like a slowly sinking ship the site passed its 14 birthday with an out of date theme. I has been creaking at the seems for about a year. But No Longer!

Thejaymo.net as it currently stands was fully built and designed in WordPress’ Full Site Editing paradigm. Which in my opinion will be fully ready for prime time with the release of WordPress 6.3 later this year.

I should note that the site was fully designed with ZERO CODE. Everything was done though the site editor. Just to repeat myself, the whole site was modified away from the base theme with zero code. This is an experienced that once had, I don’t think you can take a step back from. WordPress are absolutely changing how the web works with its new block/FSE design framework.

I like everyone else hated it when it first arrived in 2019, but in 2023 block layouts and FSE is robust and very mature. If you haven’t touched WordPress in a while It might be worth a revisit to see where the web publishing and design is going.

Rebuilding the Site With FSE

18hs of my life this week was a long time to spend on this I’ll admit. I had a few pain points along the way but that was mostly the result of 14 years worth of baggage and technical debt that needed sorting out – which is (nearly) all addressed. If I was starting a new blog in 2023, choosing a block-based FSE theme would be a total no brainer.

FSE is of course still a work in progress and the Gutenberg plugin is (sort of) a beta plugin for the next iteration of WordPress before it arrives. I can’t stress enough just how easy FSE is to use to design a website, but it wasn’t without some pain points. So I thought I would write up some of the challenges I ran into using the FSE paradigm as of early June 2023. Using php 8.2, WordPress 6.2 and Gutenberg 16.0.0 – as it might be useful feedback to the wider WordPress community

  • It was extremely unclear to me when to use a column block and when to use group / row. This was mostly solved by doing it one way. Testing the site on mobile and realising I needed to achieve the thing I wanted ‘the other way’
  • I came across a bug where I couldn’t save changes to global block styles. I had to toggle Gutenberg on and off and save them in stock 6.2 to save styles across the blog.
  • When you update the default style in the current version of Gutenberg is changes all the colours in the styles selector pane. However if you want to go back and make another change, clicking the default image/style in the left column in the editor re-sets it. You have to click the pencil icon – this is unclear. If you modify a preset style, IMO it should create a new style in this list.
  • I ended up using the ‘create block theme’ plugin as a sort of ‘as a ‘save point’. Essentially flattening all changes to the default theme. I’m not sure if this was a good idea or not long term.
  • There is no obvious way of renaming page templates once they are created – or at least I couldn’t find a way.
  • There appears to be no way of defining/setting the font size in the sub menu block.
  • The current search menu block is .. not great. It needs to get a lot better before I put search back in my menu.
  • I couldn’t find a way of making a sticky menu (my left hand column menu)- But I found a plugin called ‘sticky block’ and it works great.
  • No clear way of adding / setting selecting system fonts in the Create Block Theme.
    • My theme came with system sans-serif as a fall back font – but Iโ€™ve set it as my main font.
  • Updating page templates using the bulk edit tool in WordPress was a godsend
  • I used a plugin called ‘Find my blocks’ to find old blocks and stuff from plugins I no longer have installed.
    • I also used it to find a bunch of errant payment buttons that have now been updated with. are-usable block and/or links to Stripe.
  • The post category behaviour doesnโ€™t stack, it only behaves like a row block. This is annoying.
    • The post category block (outside of the query loop) has no separator setting. This inconstancy in design tools is weird.
  • The current ‘Table of contents’ block is … limited. But I’ve gone with it anyway as I wanted to remove the previous block plugin I was using and go back to ‘stock WordPress’ as much as possible.
  • I see now that custom HTML blocks should be wrapped in group blocks for design safety/future proofing reasons! Which I had known this.. 3 years ago.
  • I really need an easy tool to find and delete unused images and re-generating image/image sizes. I’ll look into this.

Other Things

There’s still lots on the to-do list. Small tweaks and endless noodling that comes after any major re-design. But I’m now in a position where, should I choose, I can just plonk a new theme on the site with very little work other than applying global styles to suit my taste.

I’ve removed a lot of baggage under the sites hood, old plugins that were no longer required. I’ve removed orphaned blocks and almost *everything* on the site is now powered by stock wordpress.

I’ve also removed blog comments – its 2023 social media doesn’t happen in blog comments anymore. In future I might put a ‘contact me’ spiel in bottom of the page footer as – its nicer to email people directly if you have something to say?

All the default sign up links to support my work, or subscribing to my zine are now Stripe checkout powered. No more WordPress account required!

I removed Google analytics completely. I just don’t care about views and/or numbers at all anymore. Plus its 2023. Tracking is very bad.

The site now only uses system fonts. I know that nice typography is great, but really does it really matter? No. My site looks like the rest of your computing environment – phone or laptop. Thats fine with me, it should make you feel at home.

The upside of the new theme and system fonts – is something I’m please about, and something that one person specially asked for when I mentioned the site rebuild – is that thejaymo.net now plays nice with the Kindle browser.

I still need to set up webmentions (Thanks for that email a while back Colin!) and may also self host an activity pub instance here for fediverse compatibility at some point. But I sort of feel I’m over web2.

a full page screenshot of the thejaymo.net home page june 2023

thejaymo.net working on a kindle
thejaymo.net looking good on kindle!

Lastly, back in February, musing about this rebuild project I said I wanted this site to have a ‘webzine’ vibe:

Thinking about a redesign means thinking about what should thejaymo.net could or should be.

Ultimately, Iโ€™m a child of Geocities and this site is my homepage on the Internet. But given the diversity of topics, my interest and types of things I post here โ€ฆ perhaps I should start thinking of my blog not as a digital garden, or a newsletter with missives but as a kind magazine? A web zine?

Maybe Iโ€™m a one person media node โ€“ as the greatest TV show character of all time once said.

This *I think* is I think something that I’ve achieved!

The big question is .. how does this all look when jetpack send this post out as a newsletter. I haven’t tested it.


Photo 365

207/365

The Ministry Of My Own Labour

I have had a few calls, but this week was completely reserved work wise for website rebuild as i’m between projects so thats what I’ve been doing.

  • Made a few notes toward my New Centre lecture
  • Made a few notes toward a workshop I (may) need to give in Berlin in July.
  • Read and provided feedback on a grants proposal

Next week is ALL WRITING

Terminal Access

I’m afraid that today I nuked a whole weeks worth of unread feeds in my feedly. If you are my friend/acquaintance and you’ve done something cool this week DM! let me know!

Instead I will use this oppertunity to mention that worldrunning.guide was featured prominently this week in one of the best link log newsletters on the new – Web Curios.

Matt has some very nice things to say – in his classic house style – about the essay collection and my work. Thanks Matt!

World Running: We kick off this week with something thatโ€™s more โ€˜Massive Thesisโ€™ than it is โ€˜interesting article to read over coffeeโ€™ โ€“ if, though, youโ€™ve read any of the pieces over the past year or so about lore and worldbuilding and their increasing importance as lenses through which to think about building a business or brand (and yes, I know exactly how joyless that sentence sounds, and I am sorry, but, well, we all have to pay the rent/mortgage/ransom, right?) then this is very much worth a (slow, considered) read. This is Jay Springettโ€™s work-in-progress bible about their approach to building and running a โ€˜worldโ€™ โ€“ to quote directly, โ€œWorld Running, akin to show running in television, is an emerging discipline concerned with the practice of guiding and overseeing the development, maintenance, and evolution of worlds.  This collection is currently organised around the five big questions I believe we should be asking of a World Runner: What Is a World? Who Loves the World? What Is at the Worldโ€™s Edge and Outside of It? Why Run a World? and How Does a World End? As of the current version, I begin by investigating what constitutes a world and examining the Metaverse as a medium through which we can navigate and create. I discuss code space and user experience, and the power dynamics inside of Fandoms that drive passions and shape virtual lives. Venturing to the disciplinesโ€™ edges, I discuss the shared interface of interactive fiction and AI art, as well as the early spatial thinking embedded in digital code spaces.โ€ Obviously this has huge applications and relevance to those of you working on fiction, games, theatre and the like โ€“ but, equally, I am very much of the opinion that itโ€™s a helpful way to think about brand and community development in general. This is really, really interesting, and if you do a stupid, made-up job with the word โ€˜strategyโ€™ or โ€˜planningโ€™ in the title then you should probably give this a go.

Dipping the Stacks

Meta Rediscovers the Cubicle – Cal Newport

โ€œDevelopers need to concentrate,โ€ explained an amused Joel Spolsky at a conference that year, before going on to add that Facebook was paying a 40 โ€“ 50% premium for talent because people didnโ€™t want to work under those conditions. A commentator on my essay pointed to a podcast episode where Facebook insiders claim that the open office was never more than 30% occupied.

Autonomous Worlds Aim to Free Online Games From Corporate Control

Multiplayer titles like Minecraft encourage creativity but prototype games built on the blockchain claim to give players more meaningful independence.

When Right-Wing Extremists Crashed the French Drone Festival | Pitchfork

On Saturday night, as the crowd made its way to the 17th-century church of Saint-Cornรฉly for a performance by the avant-garde organist and composer Kali Malone, roughly 15 far-right Catholic protestors blocked the entrance to the church. They chanted prayers and held signs: โ€œELECTRO CONCERT IN A CHURCHโ€”WHAT ARE OUR BISHOPS DOING,โ€ and โ€œMY HOUSE IS A HOUSE OF PRAYER.

Weโ€™re Gonna Need a Bigger Moat. Everyone making SaaS on LLMs, includingโ€ฆ | by Steve Yegge | May, 2023 | Medium

Google hasnโ€™t said anything, but we do know that Sundar Pichai, whoโ€™s been close to this since its inception, started comparing AI to the invention of Fire in 2018, the year after the Transformer was released, and Sundar has continued that comparison to this day.

History of Spielgaben

In the late 1700s, a young man named Friedrich Frรถbel grew up wandering the dense forests of Thuringia Prussia. He naturally got into a forestry apprenticeship and worked for a time as a land surveyor. He was skilled at drafting and geometry, so he spent a great deal of time tutoring children. Eventually, he worked for a school based on Johann Pestalozziโ€™s principles. There, Frรถbel evolved his own ideas about the way children should be taught.

Reading

It’s been a really busy week. I’ve made a little progress with Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication by Oren Jay Sofer but my spare time that I would usually read in has been completely consumed by Zelda. lol

Music

thejaymo.net Spotify Playlist

Mun Sing –
Inflatable Gravestone

This weeks recommendation comes by way of Paul, the singer in my band after band practice.“Deconstructed hyperpop out on Planet Mu” he tells me as I’m loading his amp into the back of his car.

And that… is exactly what it is – It’s all a bit Berlin. That said, this album is bursting with ideas. I think it would sound great in a club.

Remember Kids:

My life sucks. You made assumptions bro meme

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