Tag Archives: Wordpress

Carry On Wordcamping

This weekend I will be at WordCamp Dublin 2019.

WordCamps are conferences of WordPress users held at various locations all over the world. Users, hobbyists, web developers, designers and business owners gather at these not-for-profit events to learn or teach more about WordPress. I got a notification about it a couple of months ago, in which they were looking for contributors, attendees and volunteers.

Neither of the first two were for me – sessions like Building a packing application using the WooCommerce REST API would not be in any way improved by my presence. To me, my posts are my musings and my WordPress blog is the copybook that I write them in. My sole technical skill is to occasionally change the theme of the blog, in other words the layout, colour scheme and font, from a variety of options offered by WordPress. This is the equivalent of putting new stickers on the cover of my copybook.

But I get that copybook for nothing. WordPress doesn’t charge me for using it, and if they weren’t there I would never have had a blog, so would never have written the stories I’ve written and never have had as much fun as I’ve had in doing it. I feel I owe them something back, so I am a volunteer. I will be at the registration desk (at 7am!!!), will be dispensing tea and coffee, will be lugging stuff around.

I hope it’s a great success – the organisers have put a huge amount of work into it, I’m looking forward to it.

The image at the top is our Wapuu – Wapuu is apparently the WordPress mascot, and for each event the organisers produce their own variation. Ours is evocative of the literary history of Dublin, so he is wearing clothes like James Joyce and is writing in a book.

I think he looks like Pikachu dressed as the Tom Baker Doctor Who, but that’s just because I’m shallow.


Prompt Departure

When writing regularly I often used WordPress’s website The Daily Post and its daily prompts to provide me with ideas. I looked it up this morning (see, struggling for stuff to write about already) and discovered that, although the site is still there, it stopped providing daily prompts on May 31st last ….


It  was June 1st, 2018.

Today, so, would be different. Today he would sit in front of his computer, watch illegally downloaded shows, catch up on celebrity gossip, and stare at YouTube videos.

Ok, so not that different, he admitted to himself. He had done all of those things every day since he had started working at WordPress (during August 2014, for instance, he had watched more than five thousand ice-bucket challenges), but only, and this was important, after he had first finished his work.

Since WordPress started in May 2003 his job had been to provide the daily prompt, a seed of inspiration to bloggers long on aspiration but short on ideas. The job might not seem that taxing, the only necessary qualifications being ownership of a dictionary and the ability to open it at random, but remember that on Fridays he had to work three times as hard, providing prompts for both Saturday and Sunday, and didn’t get paid extra.

Besides, he was a professional, proud of his craft, and put a lot of thought and effort into his selections. He would play word games of his own. One month he chose only words with no letter “e” in them. One month he used only words that derived originally from French. One month he used the last word from every line in Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (river, skies, slowly, eyes), and had had great fun reading the blogposts when he got to the word “pies”.

Because he did read all the posts, all of those that used “WordPress daily prompt” in their tags, and like a school teacher reading a classful of essays on the theme “what I did on my summer holidays” he would marvel at their sameness, but would occasionally be both astonished and gratified when, say, the word “branch” would produce a tirade about, say, the supersonic boom.

And over time the number of posts had grown.  Since nobody can think of something to write about every day, not even the owner of the blog My Cat Is My Life (there isn’t one, somewhat surprisingly), eventually all bloggers had ended up at his virtual door and he built up a huge following, of a size the bloggers themselves could only dream of.

Then he made his first mistake.

In November 2015 he used the word “panoply”, which he had already used in February 2006.

There was a time when such an error would have been ignored, but this is the digital age, when even the tiniest incongruity in a Star Wars plotline will be picked upon by people sitting in front of their computers, desperately looking for something to write feverishly about.

Which is unfortunate when your readership consists solely of people sitting in front of their computers, desperately looking for something to write feverishly about.

So the response was savage. People asked for his sacking, for a refund (of what wasn’t made clear), and, because not all bloggers know stuff, for WordPress to be thrown out of the EU. Things looked bad for him, for a while.

Well, for a day. The following morning he put up the word “moonlight”, and everyone wrote about that instead.

Because by now he was effectively subliminally controlling people, suggesting the direction in which huge numbers of them should think, and that was how, exactly one year later, he made his next mistake.

He put up the word “orange”, and accidentally rigged the US Presidential election.

He realised immediately what he’d done, of course, and the following morning he put up “red” as the Weekly Photo Challenge and “menace” as the Daily Prompt, and a bewildered Russia found itself blamed instead.

But the entire incident scared him, and indeed WordPress, and it was decided to wind the whole thing down. He carried on for another eighteen months, suggesting only anodyne words (such as, well, anodyne) and on May 31st he put up his last prompt (“retrospective”, rather fittingly, he thought), closed his office computer and door for the last time, and headed off into retirement.

Now, as he sat at his screen (“Watch the judges BUZZ TOO EARLY on Britain’s Got Talent!!!”) he found himself hoping that perhaps, one day, his story might in itself be a prompt, might provide one last idea for a story for one last blogger.

It would make a fitting farewell.





I’m Pressed. Impressed?


This is a modest, self-effacing blog run by a modest, self-effacing man.

Today, though, I am allowing myself to be immodest, though I’m not exactly sure that’s the phrase I’m looking for.

Each day WordPress has a page called “Freshly Pressed” on which it lists what it reckons are the best of that day’s posts, or, as it puts it itself: “the best of  515,249 bloggers, 1,056,179 new posts, 1,397,545 comments & 229,044,509 words posted today on WordPress.com”.

It says that on this page below (image-capture courtesy of Tinson2, I wouldn’t have a clue how to do it): 

And there, right at the front, is the piece I wrote about the blues yesterday. Out of 229 million words that they could have chosen, they have picked my 374.

I only discovered this because I idly flicked to my blog just before I left the office this evening and discovered that I had 15 comments awaiting moderation. I went rather fearfully into them, wondering had I accidentally offended some entire group of people (the Blues Brothers and their extended family, perhaps) and one of the comments said “congrats on making Freshly Pressed”.

I went to the WordPress page and there I am. Since I spent most of last year making fun of the Daily Post prompts WordPress have proven themselves to be bigger people than me, though since I’m only five-foot-five most people are.

The results have been pretty startling. People (and you are all so welcome along, by the way) have been commenting not just on yesterday’s post, but on others. People have ticked “Like”. People have said they are now following my blog. People have offered me their hand in marriage. I may have made that last bit up.

My stats chart for this month now looks like the skyline of Skibbereen would if someone built the Trump Tower at the end of the Main Street.

Tomorrow is, of course, another day, and my fifteen minutes of Pressedness will be over. But before I revert to my old, humble self, could I direct your attention again to the phrase “the best of 515,249 bloggers, 1,056,179 new posts” just in case you missed it the first time.

I’m thinking of changing the blog’s title to that.

How Far?

One of the last Daily Posts, which I never got around to tackling, asked “what’s the longest you’ve ever walked in a single day?”

Already, even from the far side of the world, I can hear Laughykate saying “oh for f**k’s sake, Tinman, don’t”.

Well, the farthest I have ever walked in one day is twenty-five miles, which I did in a charity walk back when I was in the Boy Scouts (about forty-five years ago, back in the last century, in black-and-white).

There you go, LK, I didn’t mention “I will walk five hundred miles” at all.

Oops, sorry.

In Praise Of WordPress

I’ve slagged them off all year, but today, just for today, I’d like to be nice to WordPress.

I’ve slagged their SpellCheck (and am about to do so again, since it doesn’t recognise the word “slagged”). I’ve slagged them for their words of encouragement such as “Slick!” and “Bomb!” and then slagged them again when they took them away (by the way, I’ve found out how to get them back). Most of all, though, I’ve slagged their topics.

I’ve poked fun at “what would you like 200 more of”, “is it better to have the first word or the last” and “which is more important, electricity or the internet”. I’ve fought off the urge to answer their question about strength, chose not to answer the one about free will and cleverly avoided the one about stupidity.

I even posted a fake list of the type of suggestions they’d be reduced to by the end of the year, and realise now that it wasn’t half daft enough.

And yet.. last year I wrote 197 posts, sometimes going five or six days at a time without writing anything. This post will be my 350th of this year. Even if it’s only to avoid the embarrassment of having a calendar with a load of blank days beneath a sign saying “I’m Part of Postaday 2011” I have done more writing. And I have to thank them for that.

I have to thank them for all of the new, genuine friends that I’ve made over the year (that’s you lot, in case I’m being too subtle).

And I have to thank them for their Weekly Photo Challenge, which I started taking part in as a joke and then found that I was really enjoying it, and was actually starting to think like a photographer.

We have two lovely photos of New York up in our office, and one day I took this picture:

It’s the Dublin skyline reflected in a photo of the New York one. I don’t know if it’s good or not, but I love it and I love the fact that I noticed the possibility in the first place.

So Happy New Year to Scott Berkun and all at WordPress.

And Happy New Year to all of you as well. I hope every one of you has a great 2012.

Tin x

It’s A Goal!

When I published Monday’s post WordPress did not tell me that I’m slick, or neat, or cool. Instead, in a rather ominously large font, it said “You have published (its boldness) your 969th post. Your next goal is 970 posts. Number of posts to go: 1”.

On Tuesday it told me that I had published my 970th post, and that I had achieved my goal. Last night it said that I had 4 posts to go to reach my next goal, which it tells me is 975.

WordPress is setting goals for me,

Not only that, but it’s setting silly ones. No-one throughout history has ever set themselves a goal of 970 of anything. Scheherazade did not decide to tell stories for 970 Arabian nights. Cities celebrate their Millennium, not their Nine-Hundred-And-Seventium. The Proclaimers (I’m sorry about this, Laughykate) did not boast that they would walk 970 miles.

The goals seem to be going up in sets of five, which is just laziness. If and when I reach 1000 will it tell me, without even a nod of congratulation, that my next goal is 1005?

Furthermore, goal-setting implies that you intend to stop when you‘ve achieved the goal. I have no target in mind, I intend to keep going till my interest is over or I‘m six-feet-under, whereupon WordPress probably will say “you have published 5,213 posts – you missed your next goal by 2 posts. Loser”.

I miss the old message. I miss being told that I am cowabunga, that 31 subscribers have been sent a copy of my post, and that I should try extra tags such as “wind-chill factor”, “Katie Perry “or “onomatopoeia” .

Instead it has been Stepford-wived into this colourless, emotionless, soulless automaton, reminding me of the voice near the end of Bond films that metallically intones “T-minus 40 seconds, and counting” as the villain’s impossibly expensive headquarters falls to pieces.

And what if it’s only doing it to me? Perhaps it’s got fed up with my relentless slagging of its topic suggestions (perhaps it knows that when it asked last week “Is there a cure for stupidity?” I was going to reply “the answer is in the question”) and while it’s still encouraging everyone else with whoops and exclamation marks it’s just grudgingly acknowledging my presence.

In which case it’s probably not talking to Tilly Bud at all.

Handbags and Sad Tags

The page that appears after you have published something in WordPress to tell you that you’re “far-out!“ (or “Boss!” as it told me yesterday) does more than just that. It lists the tags and categories you used in a post that you published just half-a-second earlier, implying that you have the memory of a goldfish, and then says “to get more traffic, why not add these tags:”

Some of their suggestions are quite bizarre. After my “Autumn” photo challenge, for example, it suggested that I add “bales of hay”.

And after my post a couple of days ago about the perfect sandwich its suggestions were “toasted cheese“, “lava lamp“, “French stick“, “film character“…. and “navel fluff“.

Do they really believe that they will get me more traffic? I mean, just who would be loser enough to Google “navel fluff”?

Anyway, I have Googled “navel fluff”.

There is a Wikipedia site, of course, a font of information for those of us who would not otherwise know what navel fluff is. It tells us that it is also known as navel lint, belly button lint, belly button fluff and pupik lint. While I might have guessed at the others I didn’t know the last one, though I can’t see myself using it in conversation, I’d have to explain what I was talking about and it would look as if I was showing off, and a man who has to show off about about knowing an esoteric word for navel fluff is a man in need of professional help.

The scary thing is that it is not the first site on the list. It is topped by Graham Barker’s Navel Fluff Collection, which is “the incredible world of navel fluff (lint), featuring the world’s biggest and longest-term collection of an individual’s navel fluff, with photos”.

I have not clicked into the site. There are some dark places where a man just should not go.

Anyway, I have added the suggested tags, and if I find that people really are coming here after typing “navel fluff” then future posts will also include the tags “earwax” and “toenail clippings”.

After all, even if all I all I attract are nutters, traffic is traffic.

First Word Or Last

A quick look back at the suggested topics that WordPress have come up with during the time I’ve been engaged in studying is an exercise in disappointment. “Do you prefer to have the first word or the last” for example. As a answer I need only go back to all our childhoods and to the following exchange:

“My dad’s bigger than your dad.”
“Yeah, well you smell of wee.”

Which of these two little gits (and future political debaters) do you reckon felt best after that conversation?

Like It Or Leave It

WordPress are continually faffing about with their layout, adding new little features such as a list of your top commenters and offering applause vibes (“this is your 906th Post. Super!”) whenever you publish anything. (“Super!” is just one word they use – others include “Tight!”, “Cowabunga!”, “Fab!” “Cool!”, “Far Out!” “Wow!” “Impressive!“ and “F**k Me!”, though I may have made the last one up).

It’s less than a year since they added the “Like” button. By clicking this button readers can show their appreciation for the wonderful post they have just read (it’s on the dashboard above, I’m just saying). What used to happen was that when you clicked this button the word “Like” changed to “You Liked This”, presumably in case you weren’t sure whether you had clicked it or not, so that you didn’t keep doing it, thus coming across as less fan and more stalker.

But press the “Like” button now (you don’t have to, I’m going to tell you what happens anyway, but you might like to see for yourself, again I‘m just saying) and the word changes to “Unlike”.

Why would you want to do that? Why would you click “Like” on, say, Tilly’s Joke No 196 and then decide, almost instantly, “actually, I don’t like that joke at all” and go back and Unlike it? And by the way, doesn‘t “unlike“ actually mean something else?

(You won’t believe this – I wrote the paragraph above on the bus, far from the internet and having no idea what joke number Tilly was up to. I’ve just been to her blog and her most recent joke is number 196).

I use the phrase “almost instantly” above because that is surely the only circumstance in which it could happen. Once you’ve left the post you’re hardly going to back to it a couple of days later just to unlike it. Even if she has made some smart-alecky remark on your own blog (perhaps about you referring to her in the third person throughout an entire post), going back and Unliking all of her posts in revenge is the blog equivalent of cutting up a man’s suits, or spraying his car as in the famous picture below.

I wonder have they a list in which you can read which of your posts were “Unliked” and who did so, so that you can go back and do the same to vast swathes of theirs, setting in train a truly vicious circle in which everyone in every group of blogmates unlikes everyone else and our comments get cattier and cattier.

The only possible reason I can see for having the Unlike facility is so you can correct the error where you accidentally click “Like” on one of your own posts. Even in such an unlikely scenario the chances are that no-one will notice and you won’t be branded as a narcissist. I base this belief upon the fact that none of you noticed the time I accidentally did it.

The Unlike option was not available then, but even if it was I’m not sure that I would have used it. There’s just something very sad about unliking one of your own posts.

Adversity, In Versity

I haven’t used the WordPress daily prompt for quite a while now, but last night’s was “Write a haiku about something that drives you nuts”.

So here is the story of yesterday, re-told through the medium of bonsai poetry:

HR give us forms –
We rate how well we’re working.
Thought that was their job.
Watering a cup
Then leaving it in the sink
Does not make it clean.
Raving about cups
To friends who didn’t do it
Makes lunchtime quite tense.
Stress can make you dizzy
Which is not good for your heart.
I should know that best.
Now I’ll say sorry
To my best friend at work
She’ll back me – again.
The haiku just above
Has six bits in the middle
It’s just a crock of
All that drove me nuts?
No, that’s just the whole problem.
I’m already nuts.
You lot really help
When you are so supportive
Hope you all know that.
Today’s another day
I feel a whole lot better –
Told you I would win.