WordPress 4.2 Released

pressthisWordPress 4.2 has been released! This release introduces a fully redesigned Press This, easier theme switching in the Customizer, support for new embeds from Tumblr and Kickstarter, expanded support for native Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters, musical and mathematical symbols, hieroglyphs, and Emoji. Of course, those are just the highlights. There’s much more to WordPress 4.2.

283 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Drew Jaynes. At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.2 has been out for less than 4 hours and has already been downloaded 452,492 times!

All users can now safely update from Dashboard -> Updates or download and update manually, though you should probably backup first just in case, unless you’re already using VaultPress, which you really should be.

😄

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Earth Day, 2015

Earth Day is upon us, as it is every April 22nd, which means it’s a great time to at least start saving the environment for free and to donate to The Conservation Fund, my favorite environmental charity for many important reasons.

Want to do more? Is the environment more important to you than a few clicks and a few dollars? Then start doing more at home with this list of fifty ways to help the planet.

Now, get out of your home or office and spend some time outdoors! Or, if it’s not too hospitable outside today, at least watch this video.

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Star Wars Anime

Have you ever wanted to see a Star Wars anime? We’ll probably never see an official one now that Disney owns the franchise, but this short film fills the void quite well, and all I want now is more. For more info, see the coverage at The Verge and the short film’s companion PDF.

My Dad’s Jazz Music, Everywhere

technicolourFor many years, the only way to hear Polyhedra outside of a performance was to attend anyway and leave with a physical album. Almost thirty years after the release of their first album, my Dad’s Jazz group can now be heard and/or purchased through your favorite online music venues!

Polyhedra’s albums are now available for purchase on CD Baby (MP3 and FLAC available), iTunes, Amazon (Iridescence and Technicolor because Amazon doesn’t do artist listings), and Google Play. If you’re a fan of streaming, you can listen to Polyhedra’s albums now on Spotify and Rdio. They’re also available at ninety other online music venues I won’t even bother to list here. If your favorite one isn’t listed here, I’m sure you can find them by searching.

We used CD Baby’s distribution service to bring Polyhedra into the modern era of digital distribution. If you’re looking to do something similar with your recorded music, I highly recommend them. The process was quick, simple, and inexpensive.

We hope you enjoy listening to Polyhedra’s albums wherever you are as much as this group of wild musical animals enjoyed recording them!

Edit: Bill Huff, my Dad, is on the saxophones.

Likes and Self-Censorship

likeA friend recently asked me about transferring Likes between platforms, which got me thinking about what Likes mean to me. Upon applying a little more thought than my typical “Yay, someone liked my post!” I came to the conclusion that they were useless to me, perhaps even detrimental to my writing.

Likes are an artificial construct we rely on as proof that an audience exists and is happy with the content we shared. I don’t need Likes to prove I have an audience, I have Stats for that, and Likes do little to prove that the audience is happy with the shared content. The simple action of pushing a button hardly qualifies as reader engagement, completely reading the post isn’t even required. The Like button is also only present on the site itself, it’s not present in subscription emails or RSS feeds. There is no proof that those who pushed the button actually liked the content or that there aren’t more out there who just didn’t bother to push the button.

Likes as an artificial construct of an audience are also seen as an artificial construct of self-worth, leading to self-censorship. I have always believed that the writer should write what the writer wants to, and let the audience grow around it. Likes are the antithesis of that. Once you begin to believe Likes are your only proof of audience satisfaction, you have lost the battle over your own creativity. Self-censorship sets in, and you begin to force yourself to adapt to please an audience which probably doesn’t exist in the form you understand it.

I have removed the Like buttons here after this little revelation of mine. I’ll continue to write what I feel like writing without being misguided by the Like button. I’m interested to see how this little experiment goes, and I’ll always have my Stats if I need proof that people read what I write. As for you kind folks, if you like what I write, please feel free to share it, Like/Favorite/+1 it on your social network of choice, or let me know in the comments. I may no longer have a Like button here, but I do appreciate a kind word from time to time.

The Revisionaries of Wikipedia

wikiquestionWikipedia has been with us for fourteen years, and I’m willing to bet that everyone has made use of it at least once. Perhaps some of you have even contributed content or editorial help to Wikipedia. It is, after all, the encyclopedia editable by everyone, right?

Over the past eleven years, a group of core editors has been working behind the scenes, choosing which edits live or die while handing out lifetime bans for edits they consider to be not factual (regardless of evidence). Recently, they choose to ban editors defending articles from vandalism, rather than ban the vandals themselves. Is this a reaction to the impossibility of policing an encyclopedia which is editable by the entire world? Of course, but then why advertise it as such?

The whole situation reminds me of The Revisionaries, a documentary detailing how a small group with clear biases has commanding control over exactly what and how history is portrayed in our textbooks. If you have not seen it yet, I recommend it, as it may also speak towards a grim future for Wikipedia, given recent events.

An encyclopedia editable by the entire world needs to be policed somehow, but when deciding the knowledge which is passed down, how do we trust the right choices are being made? After all, they even discard corrections from scholars accompanied by published evidence. Does this mean that established yet incorrect “facts” may never be corrected in the eyes of Wikipedia? Perhaps the problem is that too many people think of facts as a matter of opinion, not as a result of evidence.

Where do we go from here? I believe The Internet Archive is the answer. The Internet Archive does not strive to make history editable by the masses, nor does it make rulings on fact vs. fiction. The Internet Archive simply exists to preserve as much history as it can for as long as it can. If you see a book written by one man preserved in The Internet Archive, you can trust that it is the opinion of that one man. If the evidence in that book holds up, you known that opinion is indeed a fact. How much of a Wikipedia article is fact? We may never know. Everyone has their hands in Wikipedia, with one possibly biased group holding the power of final judgement.

I guess I see it as a choice between what’s more important for the future of history itself. Should it be the ability to preserve history forever, or the ability to edit history whenever we want to?

Fix for Stuck Health App (iOS 8)

applehealth400I honestly don’t know how it happened, but one day I opened Apple’s Health app on my iPhone and it wouldn’t load anything. Graphs were empty, attempts to show specific data points just hung forever, attempts to clear all data points under specific categories only appeared to work until the app was relaunched, and even deleting the Jawbone Up app left its data in place. I tried to backup and restore my phone several times, until I finally stumbled on the solution.

The solution for me was to backup the phone with a not-encrypted backup via iTunes (iCloud backups must be encrypted), then restore from that. Probably for privacy/security reasons, the unencrypted backup does not save Health information (along with stored passwords, and I think a few other things). This means that I was able to restore my iPhone without any Health data and start fresh. Ever since, the Health app has been working properly.

Your mileage may very, but best of luck to you in curing your stuck Health app woes!