Baby steps with Gutenberg

(thank you Wikipedia)

So I’ve just installed WordPress 5.0 on my multi-site installation.  No errors, no apparent problems so far.  I can soon delete my installation backup. I have a bit of time today so I thought I’d dip my toe into the wild new world of Gutenberg.

I’ve been used to, and enjoy working with a couple of different visual post/page builders (Vantage, Divi).  I’m also at home with the classic editor in both visual and text (HTML) modes.  But Gutenberg is the future, so I might as well get used to it – and maybe even embrace its workflow and strong points.

In general, I’m not a fan of interfaces that “hide” functionality to “unclutter” things or to make them more “elegant”. I’d prefer knowing that all my tools are there and I can see them.  Often I don’t trust an interface that “looks simple”.  My experience is that most interfaces that “look simple” are simple and even simplistic. It’s not always true and I truly appreciate an interface that is not intimidating to the neophyte but packs all the functionality that I need in ways that are easy to discover and access.  I have the impression that I (and other “functionality freaks”) are under-served by most interface designers.  It seems like a gap between designers and power users – an unfortunate gap.

First “bug” – As I’m typing this off the top of my head (you noticed?), I’m pausing to reflect.  While I pause, the auto-save functionality kicks in and moves my cursor to the beginning of my paragraph!  (Edit: fixed – see final thoughts below) This is exceedingly annoying.  I hope it’s not a feature.  At any rate, if I were a big-time content creator and ever stopped to pause and reflect on my work, I’d be seriously up in arms about this one.

That being said, I’m generally enjoying the experience in Gutenberg so far. I also want to try and move with the Gutenberg intent as opposed to simply bringing my understanding of another way of doing things to this experience and opposing change.  I want to push against the Luddite tendencies of my upper-middle-age!

Final thoughts:

  • The annoying “cursor jump” is seriously annoying
    • Edit 2019-01-19 – The annoying cursor jump was a function of a plugin conflict. I found some GitHub posts that mentioned different plugins that were the source of this behavior. In my case it was the Pods plugin. I wasn’t using it and when I disabled it, the problem went away. Here’s the thread:
  • The Gutenberg beard game is strong and enviable!

Goodbye Zoundry Raven…hello ???

It’s with great sadness…ummm…ok, frustration…that I say goodbye to our blogging client of the last few years: Zoundry Raven.  I’ve searched MANY times for free and paid blogging clients for Windows and never found a reason to replace it.  I only searched back then when I found something perhaps missing or not fully developed yet in Raven.  Now, however, I’ve had to resume the search and this time…I think it’s for keeps.


Well, it stopped working!  I’ve had Windows 7 Pro x64 for almost a year now and Raven was working fine for most of that time.  About 2 months ago, it started having a problem.  I don’t blog that often so I can be sure just what changed.  In recommencing my search for blog clients, I was very disappointed in what I found so I thought I’d take a look at perhaps trying “fix” Raven.  Raven went “open source” a little while ago and unfortunately, it’s not gathered a development community, so development basically stopped at the version that stopped working for me.  I’ve never coded in Python but it looked interesting (still does) and I’d love to learn it.  One must be realistic from time to time however, and diving into a complex piece of software like Raven and trying to find the “bug” when you don’t know the language at all…well, let’s just say that I had my tiny pen knife and I was out to kill the elephant and eat it in one big bite…not gonna happen!

Each month we write newsletters that we post on our site using WordPress and send out as emails using phplist.  So, even if I don’t blog that often, each month comes around and I fire up the blog client and write something.  Well, it’s that time again and I’ve got to figure out how to make something work.  I’ve got an old XP laptop on its last legs where Raven is still working, but for me, I concede defeat.  I’ve got to make a change now.  So, yesterday I went looking again and was both semi-encouraged and frustrated.

First of all, I was, for the first time, open to the idea of buying a piece of software.  For most things, I’m really a freeware/open source (can we say cheap!) kind of guy so this was somewhat of a departure!  Anyway, after having looked over the options out there, I think I can safely say that paid blog clients are NOT any better than free ones!  Freeware can often come with a “price”: you get what you pay for.  Not in this case.  What I think I can say is that each blog client caters to a different type of usage and the paid ones are no different.  That’s why I liked Raven so much…it catered to what I do when I write blog posts and newsletters…at least it did so more than other clients.  I’ll admit that I’m pretty particular and there are features that are important to me that simply are not to others.

I’m also a “feature-hound” in general.  I’d much rather have “too much” functionality than “not enough.”

So, I’m down to three choices now:

I may have to pick more than one depending on what I’m doing.  Obviously Windows Live Writer is getting more and more capable all the time, building a good user base and will probably not be let go any time soon.  Post2Blog is already declared “unsupported” by its creators.  It’s got good potential functionality but definite buggy-ness that, of course, is not going to go away with time.  BlogDesk look really promising, but looking at their forums, I wonder how much more will be put into it.

I’ll try the newsletter today and see how it works for me in these three clients.  I’ll post a follow-up to this to state my choice(s) and why.

Blogging Frontiers…

Well, I’ve been blogging now (very sporadically) for around 9 months. When I set out, I didn’t want to simply toss my hat in the myriad of hosted blogging rings (blogger, xanga, wordpress, typepad, etc.). We have a very nice web hosting package with POWWEB…that we pay for…and we’re nowhere near exhausting its limits. I’m not a big fan of multiplying the URLs with which I’m associated. I pay for a domain and a web hosting package, so I’d like to use it! ;c)

When I started, I didn’t really have any experience with the various blogging packages that could be installed on your web site (the plethora of PHP-based open-source offerings, etc.) So, I sought a client blogging tool (always looking for freeware/open source) that simply generated and uploaded static pages from the local database of blog entries that it manages. I don’t know how many of those software tools exist (very few) but I found Blog and began to use it.

In the meantime, I began to work on building in the open-source CMS called Limbo (lite-Mambo…now Joomla). I looked at using Limbo for the last re-write of our site but I felt like I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and I could also tell that I was not “getting it” with respect to the CMS nomenclature of how to structure the content. I finally threw in the towel on that. I also started to help my daughter with two sites:  (defunct) and that she was building. POWWEB began offering some auto-installers of some of these open-source applications and I thought I’d take advantage of that and try some out. I installed phpBB and, in searching for the ultimate mailing list tool, tried phplist and phpLedMailer (none of which I use currently on our site).

All that to say that I began to get familiar with PHP-based apps and, more importantly, comfortable with them.

I also saw that as I continued to blog and with how I wanted to arrange/archive my categories, that the Blog tool was going to get more and more cumbersome as time went on. It’s a good tool but its biggest drawback is that it’s not being aggressively developed. It’s last non-beta release is pretty old and so one follows the slowly-released beta builds that have varying degrees of bugginess and feature release in them.

So, I finally bit the bullet and decided that I would install an open-source blog application on my site (specifically for my personal blog…not to run the whole site…yet). I had several to choose from with the auto-installers at POWWEB and finally settled on WordPress.

I managed to get WordPress sufficiently customized to our site’s look and feel and my blog’s look and feel…which I like and am not ready to change.

In working with the other open-source applications, I’ve come to the conclusion that TEXTAREA WYSIWYG editors are a pain in the rear! They are a necessary evil and can be helpful for “update-your-site-from-Timbuktu” reasons, but otherwise, I desperately wanted to avoid one of those editors as my primary blog editor.

So, I went on a search for client-side blogging tools for the PC platform that would work with a privately-hosted WordPress installation. There are several out there, but after installing (or trying to) several of them, it became obvious to me that the only real choices at this stage are Qumana and Zoundry. At the moment, I’ve chosen Zoundry though I think the two apps will both evolve quickly and I’m open to changing if there becomes a great difference that interests me.

I used Zoundry to re-load my 22 blog entries from the Blog database into WordPress. If it had been more than that, it might have been pretty painful. As it was, it was a bit of work. Try as I might to do a database-to-database copy from the DBISAM database to MySQL, I never succeeded. I would have had to write too much code to actually make it worth the while for 22 posts.

So, this is the first entry to be actually done totally on my Zoundry/WordPress solution. There is more customization and exploitation of WordPress features to come I hope. I also hope that it will be easier to maintain and to blog…

…so hopefully you’ll see a few more posts in the future!

Hangin’ on for dear life

We’re in the midst of a 2-week vacation from school right at the moment and boy, I thought I’d have been able to “blog up” some major pontifications! It’s not for lack of swirling thoughts in my gray matter and my spirit. But to get them out and to get them out in a cogent and cohesive way seems to be just too much right now. Right now is for livin’ it and another day will be for writing about it. I pray that the revelations that are so necessary to continue to feed our forward progress will be even more solid and profound (and perhaps succinct?) for the waiting. ;c)

Tomorrow begins “Seminaire Mathurin Cordier” here in Guebwiller, France. Mathurin Cordier (whom I’d never heard of before coming here) was an instructor of John Calvin’s and Calvin later invited him to Geneva to head up a school there. ( They have named this seminar for Christian Educators in the French-speaking world after him. The school we’re helping with (Collège-Daniel) and the church we go to (Église Josué) are both hugely involved and, consequently, so are we. It’s both tiring and exciting.

That pretty much sums up we’re we are right now, “tired and excited”. God has us on a wild ride of faith and obedience and we’re just sort of hanging on right now.

More when I can breathe a bit…

Alas and alack…

…is that spelled right?

Never mind. It’s been too long since I blogged. Obviously, like any web site, once you give birth, the care and feeding is the worst. So let me join in welcoming my friend Stacey Jillson into the “blog-care” scene with her new blog. Happy care and feeding! (I think I’m just jealous ’cause someone actually reads her blog…or else she’s forged some wonderful comments!)

Seriously “alas and alack” are for the fact that “January 2006” will never appear in my Blog archives. It’s not that I had nothing to say, I was just too tired or busy to say it! In fact I was going to begin a multi-part diatribe on the problem of our “dualist” thinking in the Western Church and how we need to shake that off…but I didn’t strike while the iron of passion was hot and the motivation got buried.

Now I’m riding the “lesser of all evils” motivation for blogging…though my todo list is long, my desire to tackle much of it falls way short.

Today I visited a cardiologist and had a resting EKG which showed normal. I have two more kinds of tests and then a stress test in the coming months and then hopefully I can say that “all is well”. The blood test I took recently was normal and crossed off a number of possibilities from the “I wonder why I don’t feel tip-top these days?” response list. I’m fairly sure that there is a spiritual component at play here…if not even 100% spiritual. At any rate, it is a subject of personal prayer and proclamation (à la Ezekiel in chapter 37 prophesying to the “dry bones” to live!) and God has already begun to deal with inner fears and anxieties and basic thought patterns in me through this whole process. For that I’m truly thankful!

Ok, with my blogging conscience somewhat assuaged, I think I’ll try and tackle a bit of my todo list now.