WordPress 5.1 Released

WordPress 5.1 has been released! This release introduces performance enhancements for the new block editor (formerly referred to as Gutenberg), along with a handy new feature that makes sure you aren’t running under an outdated version of PHP and that you won’t install any plugins which require a higher version of PHP than you currently have. This is a big deal, because while PHP is the programming language that powers WordPress, even finding out what version of PHP you’re running is often a mystery for many. Surfacing this in the Dashboard will go a long way to making more folks aware of their options.

561 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Matt Mullenweg and Gary Pendergast. At the time of writing this, WordPress 5.1 has been out for about 2 hours, and has already been downloaded 301,045 times!

All users can 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.

If you run into any problems, stop by the known issues first, and please let us know if it’s not covered there!

The Shadow in the Archive

I’m a fan of The Shadow. I have seen the movie, I have read the comics, I have an awesome Shadow figure, I tracked down some episodes on Spotify, and I loved Masks. You get the picture, I’m a fan of The Shadow. I just love his straight-forward-yet-somehow-mystical approach to fighting crime, it’s perfectly balanced.

I’m also a fan of The Internet Archive. I wrote a whole series on it, you should check it out, and then send them a donation.

I wanted to see what I could find for The Shadow in The Internet Archive, and I found days worth of content! If you’re interested in immersing yourself in The Shadow too, you’ll love this archive of almost half of the radio dramas! If you’re more of the reading type, enjoy The Five Chameleons, The Black Hush, and The Shadow Scrapbook. If you’re more of the watching type, enjoy The Shadow Strikes, Return of The Shadow, The Missing Lady, and The Invisible Avenger.

If you’re interested in learning more about The Shadow, all of that free content should be more than enough to keep you busy for a long time. If you just want a quick look into The Shadow’s world, and you prefer newer things, the latest movie is still too new to be in the Internet Archive, but it’s available to buy and rent on many platforms. It won’t be the greatest film you’ve ever seen, but I think you’ll enjoy it nonetheless.

Overall though, I hope you enjoy The Shadow as much as I do!

Masks

The weed of crime bears bitter fruit.

Masks is a very interesting mini series from writer Chris Roberson and artists Alex Ross and Dennis Calero. The premise is basically “The Avengers, but with pulp classic heroes.” New York has become shockingly totalitarian, and the only ones willing to put a stop to it are The Shadow, Green Hornet, Kato, The Spider, Zorro, The Green Lama, Miss Fury, Black Terror, and The Black Bat.

The covers and the entirety of issue 1 are done by one of my favorite comic book artists, Alex Ross, of Kingdom Come fame. It must take him a long time to produce this level of photo-realistic art, so I can kind of forgive the fact that Dennis Calero takes over after the first issue. It’s disappointing to lose that level of art so soon, but it’s not a bad follow-up either. I can’t really put to words how great Alex Ross’s art is, so all of the images in this review are from his covers and pages.

The story by Chris Roberson is a bit of an interesting case, I can see why the reviews overall on this mini series are mixed. I’m a fan of old pulp serials and radio dramas, especially The Shadow, and that is exactly what this mini series reads like. Those old dramas weren’t really known for their deep characters, complex worlds, or believable plots, and to be honest, Masks won’t be known for that either. It feels like I’ve picked up a pulp serial from the 1930s, and I love it! I suppose you just have to be the type of person that craves that level of nostalgia.

I love the characters in Mask, I love the art, and I love the style of story it’s telling. It’s the perfect miniseries for me. I’d also love for it to be adapted into a film or a TV series, but the story will definitely need some changes for that to work with the average audience. If you love old pulp serials and radio dramas, you’ll love Masks too!

Happy New Year! the 2019 edition

2019 begins today, so it’s a great time to start using some basic privacy toolsmake sure your browser is up to dateupdate all of your passwords, and setup two factor authentication wherever you can.

This site’s top five items last year were Cloudup: Free File Sharing from AutomatticModern Aircraft Accident Investigation Equipment and TechniquesFix for Stuck Health App (iOS 8), Custom Fonts Without Plugins for WordPress Themes, and Automattic Meetup 2018, so I guess those old items really do have some staying power. 🙂

We’ll need more people sharing their voices and experiences this year, so please considering launching your own site with WordPress (and Jetpack) or WordPress.com, or start posting again if you already have one!

Now, let’s all have a great 2019!

Hawaii in December

This is the first year that Mom has lived on the big island of Hawaii, so Sarah and I decided it would be good to spend some of the winter break down there this year, mostly around the Kona district. We had a great time, and you know I love to take photos, so here are some of my favorites.

Twenty Nineteen Tweaks

The Sorbet theme has served me well for a number of years, but it doesn’t have full support for everything that the new editor introduced in WordPress 5.0 offers, so I figured it was time to move on to the new Twenty Nineteen default theme.

Twenty Nineteen is a beautiful, simple, and clean theme, but there are a few things I didn’t like, so I figured I’d share how I handled them.

Accent Color

This site has used the same shade of blue as its accent color for the past 14 years. Twenty Nineteen has a built-in color slider to choose your accent color, but no way to specify a particular shade. This is because Twenty Nineteen’s color slider only includes shades that are easily visible against the white background and black text. This is definitely a worthy reason to finally change, so I just used the slider to pick the shade of blue that most closely matched my logo.

Square Logo

Speaking of my logo, I love it, it was designed by José Marques, and keeping it contained in Twenty Nineteen’s circular crop was absolutely not what I wanted, so I added the following via Customize > Additional CSS to remove that circle effect:

.site-logo .custom-logo-link {
    border-radius: 0;
}

Props to Kathryn Presner for reminding me how to do that since my CSS has gotten a bit rusty lately!

Menu Separator

Twenty Nineteen’s menu simply includes space between items, and that just didn’t look right to me. Was “About Categories” an About page, a Category page, or was it a page about categories? This quick addition via Customize > Additional CSS adds a simple separator between the menu items:

#menu-name li:not(:last-child):after {
content: "|";
padding-right: 5px;
color: #000;
}

.site-header.featured-image #menu-name li:not(:last-child):after {
	color: #fff;
}

You’ll need replace “name” with the name that you gave the menu. For example, if you called the menu “Main,” you would use “#menu-main” in the code above.

Props to Pascal Cescato for improving on the code that was originally here!

That’s all I’ve done to Twenty Nineteen so far, but I never stop messing with the themes I’m using, so I’m sure there will be more tweaks to share later on. 🙂

For further help with Twenty Nineteen, please visit the Twenty Nineteen support forum.

WordPress 5.0 Released

WordPress 5.0 has been released! This release introduces an entirely new editor (commonly referred to as Gutenberg), along with the new Twenty Nineteen default theme!

423 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Matt Mullenweg. At the time of writing this, WordPress 5.0 has been out for about 5 hours, and has already been downloaded 1,054,064 times!

All users can 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.

If you run into any problems, stop by the known issues first, and please let us know if it’s not covered there!

Automattic Meetup 2018

This year, Automattic went to Orlando, Florida for our annual Grand Meetup. We had almost 800 employees spanning the globe, suddenly just spanning 1 hotel for the week. It’s great to build things in person with people you usually only communicate with via text. Sure, it’s a little bit overwhelming, but I always walk away with a few new friends.

We built and learned quite a bit this week, and though there are no specific announcements yet, please watch the the Jetpack Blog, the WordPress.com Blog, and the WooCommerce Blog for exciting news. As for myself, I have a few photos to share:

In case you’re wondering, those last few photos are of our very talented band of Automatticians.

For more photos, stop by the a8cgm tag on WordPress.com and on Instagram too.

If any of this looks interesting to you, we’re always hiring!

Star Wars: Thrawn

Chiss do not make idle boasts or promises. Once they set their minds to something, they succeed, or die in the attempt.

When Disney removed decades of Star Wars Expanded Universe content from canon, fan-favorite Grand Admiral Thrawn was on of the few characters who managed to stay onboard. He is the only non-human officer in the Galactic Empire, rising from nothing all the way to their highest rank, and considering how racist the Empire is generally portrayed as, that’s saying a lot already.

Thrawn fist appeared in the Star Wars universe in 1991’s Heir to the Empire, and to the relief of many fans, they took the opportunity of the canon reset to give Thrawn a far more fleshed out origin story in 2017’s Thrawn. A year later, it was adapted by Marvel Comics as Star Wars: Thrawn. I usually don’t review adaptations, but as anyone would, I’ll make and except for the Grand Admiral.

The story opens with an Imperial patrol finding the Chiss exiled on a barren planet. He claims to have vital information of the horrors that await the Empire in the Unknown Regions. He is quickly escorted back for an audience with the Emperor, who quickly takes a linking to Thrawn and has him put through the Imperial Academy.

Thrawn is not alone on his journey. Eli Vanto serves as his translator and quickly becomes his protégé, and Arihnda Pryce helps Thrawn navigate the Empire’s treacherous politics. Thrawn’s prowess and unique approach to strategy, illuminated by a fascination in his enemy’s culture and art, propels him through the ranks, shocking naysayers, and leading him towards his first appearance in TV’s Star Wars Rebels.

As with many adaptations, the art is no Kingdom Come. It can be flat at times, but the shadows really come through when it matters. The real highlight is Timothy Zahn’s story, which has far more layers than most comics on the market today.

The adaptation preserves almost the entirety of the Zahn’s story, and you’ll strongly feel all of Thawn’s frustrations and victories, arriving at perhaps the most satisfying understanding of a main villain you’ve ever had. Though, is Thrawn truly a villain in service of the Empire, or does he have an anterior motive? Time will tell. 

LA County Fair – 2018

Yesterday, Sarah and I went to the LA County Fair, a childhood tradition of mine that I hadn’t been to in around 18 years or so. It was great to see all of the familiar sights, mixed in amongst entirely new things, and I’m really glad to see that the contest winners are still displayed prominently throughout. I took a few photos, and look forward to taking a few more next year.