My theme doesn’t provide any differentiation when I’m logged in between public posts and private posts so I’ve gone into the CSS and added the following snippet which then adds a simple light gray background to my private posts. It’s a simple visual way to indicate which posts are private or not.

.status-private{
        background-color: #​e7e7e7;
}

I’ve been going through a number of broken links on my website and slowly, but surely, bringing many of them back to life. Thanks Broken Link Checker! Apparently there were 429 broken links, but I’m able to quickly fix many of them because as I made my posts, I backed up the original links automatically using Post Archival in the Internet Archive. (Somehow this plugin has violated one of WordPress’ guidelines and can’t be downloaded, though I haven’t seen any details about why or been notified about it.)

I’ve only come across one or two which archive.org didn’t crawl or didn’t have. Many of the broken links I’m able to link directly to archive copies on the same day I made them and my archive snapshots were the only ones ever made.

I slept my way through most of IndieWebCamp Berlin2 this weekend (mostly due to the time zone differential), but in the spirit of the event, I did want to work on a few small hack projects.

I started some research and work into creating a plugin to effectuate making “vias” and “hat-tips” easier to create on my site since I often use them to credit some of my sources. I was a bit surprised not to see any prior art in the WordPress repository. Sadly, there’s nothing concrete to show off just yet. I think I’ve got a clear concept of how I want it to look and what will go into the first simple iteration. It will be my first “real” WordPress plugin, so there’s some interesting learning curve along the way. 

On a more concrete front, I made a handful of CSS tweaks and fixes to the site, and particularly to some of my annotation/highlighting related posts, that I’ve been meaning to take care of for a while.  Now on read posts where I’ve aggregated some annotations/highlights, the highlighted portions should appear in yellow to better differentiate them in portions of text and represent them as highlights. This prevents me from creating a read post for the content and one or dozens of related, but completely separate, follow-up annotation posts. Now they’re combined, and I think they provide a bit more contextualization for the original, but still include the timestamps for the annotations. I’m sure there’s some more I can do to tweak these, but I like the result a bit better than before. Today’s post about a research paper I read on food is a good example of to highlight (pun intended) some of the changes. Ideas for further improvements are most welcome.

I also slightly tweaked and then further experimented with some of the CSS for my reply contexts. I’ve been considering reformatting them a tad to try to highlight the fact that the content within them is context for my responses. In some sense I’m looking at making the context look more card-like or perhaps oEmbed-esque. I still haven’t gotten it the way I’d ultimately like it, but perhaps one day soon? I played around with changing the size of the context with respect to my content as well as adding some outlines and shadows to make the context look more like cards, but I haven’t gotten things just right. Perhaps some more research looking at others’ sites will help? Which sites do you think do reply contexts incredibly well?

I’m glad there’s a holiday coming up so I can spend a bit of time catching up on some of the sessionsand  notes and hopefully see some of the demos from the camp.

I spent some time cleaning out a huge amount of cruft amongst my website’s taxonomy today. There were lots of empty tags and too many close duplicates which have been concatenated and cleaned up. I haven’t gone through the entire thing because there were over 7,700 tags and are now just 6,991, but hopefully getting rid of some of the misspellings will make tagging easier in the future. I suspect there’s probably a plugin or something to make it easier, but there’s something nice about doing it manually.

I haven’t looked at my settings for it in a while, but apparently I’ve had JetPack’s “Like Buttons” turned on on my website. It seems rare that WordPress users are ever using that functionality and as a member of the IndieWeb, I’m accepting likes via Webmention anyway. As a result I’m choosing to drop the old “like” functionality. 

I thought I had done it ages ago, but gRegor Morrill’s post reminded me and upon checking I realized that I hadn’t made the update. So tonight I’ve added my pronouns to my profile card on my website.

I remember grabbing an identity button at a recent fundraiser for Planned Parenthood. That night I think I talked about 10 others into wearing them after emphasizing the importance of helping to normalize proper pronoun use.

Four people in cocktail attire pose for a photo in the lobby of the Langham Hotel.
Sonia Solin; Chris Aldrich; Kerry Ayazi; Spencer Kook at the Planned Parenthood Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley fundraiser in 2019. Sonia and Spencer are wearing their pronoun buttons; I haven’t gotten to Kerry before we took the photo.

Like gRegor said so well:

This removes any ambiguity and helps normalize the practice of sharing our pronouns. Not everyone uses pronouns that match the gender they present as and some people use non-gendered pronouns. If only those people shared their pronouns, it would make them feel “other.”

I’ve been looking at potentially switching themes again on my website,  but I’m still not sure I want to make the jump. If I do, I’m going to simplify things down a bit.

In the process, I’ve been looking at tweaking some of the CSS in the Post Kinds Plugin, particularly since I’m using it so heavily for a lot of my content. One of the small things I’ve wanted to do was to make what I can only call the pseudo-titles of the bookmarks, reads, etc. slightly larger to bring more attention to the titles and authors of those parts.

To do it, I’ve added the following couple of lines to my child theme’s style.css file:

/* Changes the font size on the titles of Kinds */
section.response > header {
  font-size: 20px;
}

For quite a while I’ve had an upcoming events widget in the sidebar of my website. It was a simple HTML widget that was maintained by hand, but I’d been getting tired of updating it. To keep things a bit more DRY (aka don’t repeat yourself), I’m using the JetPack Upcoming Events widget now that pulls in iCal feed data from a special shared Google Calendar where I put my public events. This way I can put things in my calendar and my website will automatically update within an hour or two. Hooray for the little wins.

Sparklines of recent activity on my website

Inspired a bit by the work of Jeremy Keith and others, I’ve recently been playing around with some sparklines on my website. While tinkering around with things, mostly on the back end of my site, I’ve tried out several WordPress-specific plugins, both to see how they’re built and the user interfaces they provide. 

There are several simple plugins for adding sparklines to WordPress websites including:

  • Activity Sparks plugin by Greg Jackson which adds some configurable functionality for adding sparklines to WordPress sites including for posts and comments as well as for tracking categories/tags.
  • Sparkplug by Beau Lebens has similarity to the Activity Sparks plugin (above), but with a slightly older looking and somewhat less refined output.

At present, I’m using the Activity Sparks plugin in my sidebar to display the recent activity on my site in terms of my posting frequency and the comment frequency. One chart provides the daily activity on my site over the past 3 months while the other provides the monthly activity over the past 5 years.

When on particular category pages, you can see the posting velocity for those particular categories in these respective time periods. While on the homepage and other miscellaneous pages, you can see the aggregate numbers for the website.

Generally I don’t care very much about the statistics, but in aggregate they can sometimes be fun to look at. As quick examples, I can tell roughly by looking at the 5 year time span when I added certain posting features to my website or that time my site got taken down by HackerNews.


hat tip to Khürt Williams who reminded me I needed to circle back around and finish of a small piece of this project and document it.

Modifying some of the taxonomies on my digital commonplace book

Spent a few minutes today cleaning up the various categories and tags within my digital commonplace book (aka website). Some of the automated methods I use as well as my general carelessness and fat fingers on mobile introduce spelling errors in some of these taxonomies. I also find that sometimes when choosing them from the pre-populated lists my website’s back end makes it more difficult to choose the canonical one when there are several there by error.

These issues tend to flatten these taxonomies out and make them much more difficult to search (or for others to be able to subscribe to reliably).

As an example, having tags “Domain of One’s Own” and “Domain of Ones Own” (with and without the apostrophe) as well as the acronym “DoOO” can be difficult or frustrating to use. Things get even more complicated when I hold the mental model that these concepts are just a sub-set of the broader idea of the “IndieWeb” or what I sometimes tag things as “IndieWeb for Education”. This is all much easier for me, but may be more difficult for newcomers to the site who know what one shorthand means, but are unaware of the others and thus miss details, references, or content that may have a lot of value for them.

I’ve cleaned up and concatenated many of these troublesome tags (roughly A-D alphabetically and other sections at random), but there’s still a lot of distance to go. There are 66 categories–some are hidden or used for programmatic purposes–and nearly 7,000 tags! The top 100 tags are used 30 or more times on the site and the second century of tags are used between 20 and 30 times each. At the long end of the tail there are about 4,000 tags with either 1 or no uses.

I’m promoting the economics tag to that of a category since it’s a topic in which I have a lot of interest and content. I also have a number of other tags related to sub-areas of economics. (If you were subscribed to this individual tag, you may want to fix your feed.) Other potential considerations for promotion included the topics of history, physics, and web development. I also noticed that there’s a tag for mathematics with 70 instances despite the fact that there’s already a category for it with 315 posts already–I’ll have to figure out how that happened and clean it up another day. And look, there’s somehow a tag for “math” too. Ugh!

I also put both the Quotes and Events categories under the parent category of Social Stream, though I plan on leaving them showing in the hierarchy–unlike some post kinds–as there are many legacy posts and likely future posts that aren’t just events I’m hosting, but events that are of interest to me in general. Naturally the more important events (to me) will appear in my RSVP posts. With any good luck courtesy of WordPress, links to the old versions should still work or redirect to the new hierarchy.

The manual or even automated effort of fixing or tweaking some of these things feels problematic, and I’m just looking at just my own website. I’m curious to delve into some research on taxonomies and folksonomies to see how something like this may be better systematized and/or automated. Of course categorizing things is somethings humans really love doing, but I’m not sure how deep down the rabbit hole it’s worth going for my own work. Besides, someone far smarter than I will likely crack the discovery nut from an IndieWeb perspective. Fortunately I can use the site search queries for several search engines to more quickly find the things I’m looking for without needing these taxonomies. So perhaps I’ll put some of the exercise off to another day by filing this in my tag.

It dawns on me that I haven’t used JetPack’s Publicize or social sharing functionalities in ages (particularly with the coming death of Google+), so I’ve gone in and finally turned them off. I’m still surprised they don’t return the URLs of where the content got shared for showing on the page with plugins like Syndication Links.

A Followers Page on My Personal Website using Webmention

I’ve had a following page (aka blogroll on acid) where I list all the websites I’m following in my feed reader (along with OPML files for those who’d like to quickly follow them as well), but last night I quickly mocked up a followers page as well. It lists people who have either added me to their blogrolls or who have sent my site notifications (trackbacks, pingbacks, or webmentions) that they’re following me.

This is another in a long line of social media functionalities that I’m now able to relatively easily support on my own website.

To my knowledge, I may be the first person to be displaying “following” webmentions anywhere. The nice part is that this following webmention functionality is built into the Post Kinds plugin by default, so that if people begin creating follow posts on a more regular basis, then several hundred WordPress sites that have Post Kinds will automatically be able to display them.