Happy new year! As if living through a pandemic wasn’t bad enough, and Ireland is worse than ever with more than 7000 confirmed infections yesterday. Christmas and New Year celebrations really did a number on the country. Last night the US Capitol was stormed by Trump supporters. Check out Saul Loeb‘s photos of the event. I grabbed screenshots of the pages. Getty has more photos here.The contrast between politicians and rioters is striking.
The FBI is seeking information related to the rioting. There will be arrests, especially when they documented themselves so clearly!
I despair at what’s happening in the world. I don’t have anything insightful to say about what’s happening now except the obvious:
“Stay at home!”
On a brighter note, it snowed last night. Looks lovely.
While listening to a recent episode of Everything is Alive I heard an interview with Elinor Hamilton. She is a voice actor who can be heard in many train and underground stations in the UK. She told of the comfort she got hearing her late husband Phil announce arrivals and departures as she got off trains, but also her grief at finding out that a particular station had stopped using his voice.
It’s a lovely interview, and if you’ve ever taken public transport in London or possibly other cities in the UK I think you’ll like it too.
Thalamus was a game developer based in the UK in the mid 80s to early 90s. They had a reputation for flashy games and and pounding soundtracks. Most of their games were highly rated and their first compilation, The Hits, had some amazing games.
Sanxion and Armalyte were among my favourite shoot ’em ups while Hawkeye had great looking parallax scrolling. I thought the Delta theme music was great but the game didn’t grab me like Armalyte did. I’m going to get that game out again later..
Still have the receipt from Turbosoft in the box too!
WP Super Cache is a full page caching plugin for WordPress. When a page is cached almost all of WordPress is skipped and the page is sent to the browser with the minimum amount of code executed. This makes the page load much faster.
Unfortunately if you want to run code on every page load you’re out of luck as regular WordPress plugins are not loaded or executed. You’ll need to write a WP Super Cache plugin. This short introduction will not teach you how to write plugins but the example plugins that ship with WP Super Cache will get you a long way towards understanding how they work.
WP Super Cache ships with some example plugins in wp-super-cache/plugins/. Some of them even do useful tasks like help with domain mapping and Jetpack integration. There’s one called “awaitingmoderation.php” which removes the text “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” when someone writes a moderated comment. There’s also dynamic-cache-test.php which is a complicated beast but it’s heavily commented. It allows you to add template tags to your site that are replaced when the cached page is loaded.
Since WP Super Cache 1.6.3 you can use the “wpsc_add_plugin” action to activate a plugin. You must pass the full path and filename of the plugin to the action like this:
In a similar fashion you can use the “wpsc_delete_plugin” action to deactivate a plugin. You only need to add a plugin once but if run multiple times it will only be added once.
WP Super Cache plugins can be put anywhere that the web server can load them. If you’re writing a plugin or theme you can activate the plugin in your distribution directory.
These plugins run before most of WordPress has loaded. That means you can’t rely on some of the nice features of WordPress such as filters and actions. However, WP Super Cache has it’s own action/filter system that is similar to actions and filters in WordPress:
add_cacheaction( $action, $func )
do_cacheaction( $action, $value = ” )
A cacheaction is also a filter. If you hook on to a cache action that has a parameter, you must return that parameter at the end of the function like you would with a WordPress filter.
If you need to hook into a WordPress filter use the imaginatively named cache action “add_cacheaction”. That runs on “init” so the function that is executed can use add_action() or add_filter(). You can see this in action in the plugins/dynamic-cache-test.php or plugins/awaitingmoderation.php scripts.
Two very useful filters are the WordPress filter, “wpsupercache_buffer” (in wp-cache-phase2.php) that is used to modify the page before it is cached and the cache action “wpsc_cachedata” (in wp-cache-phase1.php) is used to modify the cached page just before it’s served.
WP Super Cache 1.6.3 added the wpsc_add_cookie action. This allows you to change the key used to identify a cache file.
Cookies are one part of the key that tells WP Super Cache what cache file to serve to a visitor. By adding a cookie to the internal cookie list the plugin will know that visitors will a certain cookie should be served a different cache file.
For example, a translation plugin may use the cookie “language” to identify visitors who opted to view a translated website. If that cookie has the value “ie” it will show an Irish translation, “fr” will serve a French translation and so on. If WP Super Cache knows about the “language” cookie it can cache each translated page correctly and then serve it to the appropriate visitor.
The plugin will use the name of the cookie and the value of the cookie to determine the cache file to be used.
do_action( 'wpsc_add_cookie', 'language' );
You can remove a cookie by using the “wpsc_delete_cookie” action with the same parameter.
Please note that cache files are not refreshed when cookies are added or deleted. You can use the function “wp_cache_clear_cache()” to clear the cache for a given blog. If on a multisite install pass the blog_id of the blog otherwise the contents of the cache directory will be deleted.
Hurricane Ophelia hit Ireland yesterday and while it was a baby compared to the monsters that ravaged the Caribbean and US it still did plenty of damage and left 3 people dead. Many areas were left without electricity or running water for most of the day. A day later and there are still areas without those basic amenities. Telecoms services were disrupted too as lines were cut and exchanges and mobile sites ran out of power. 30,000 people were without access to phone or Internet access. A red alert was declared nation-wide. Schools closed (for 2 days), public transport wasn’t running, shops and businesses didn’t open. There was a definite fear and expectation that this would be a big one. And it was. Gusts of 156kmh were recorded off Roches Point!
We were without power from just after 11am, then the mobile phone network, Eir, went down, except my wife’s phone was able to go online for minutes at a time throughout the day. Winds really picked up around 10am, and lasted until after 2pm with driving rain almost horizontal in the wind. Later in the day I walked around Blarney village and from the far corner of the square got a weak signal from a remote antenna and had just enough connectivity to get a few text messages.
Trees behind our home were knocked down by the wind, blocking most of the main Waterloo Road. Luckily the very tallest trees survived as they’re within reach of some of the houses!
Even this stop sign was twisted around by the wind, and mushrooms flattened too..
Two trees were knocked down in the village square, and someone had attempted to drive a car and caravan up that narrow road before getting stuck and abandoning their vehicle!
Power came back late yesterday evening, as did mobile data, but friends are still without power even now so it’s going to take some time before things are back to normal. Our satellite dish is broken, and it’ll be early November before someone can come out to replace it. Parts of my garden fence blew over too, but that was on it’s last legs anyway! A TV antenna ended up in our front garden, but I have no idea who owned it.
This morning there was a lovely sunrise, and the sky was a gorgeous mix of blue and soft orange. 🙂
Next weekend we can look forward to #StormBrian apparently. Hopefully it won’t be as bad as Ophelia.
I’ve had some sort of online presence for twenty years, and that presence has been this blog for most of that time. When I started posting stuff online, PHP was still a toddler and I used a simple Perl script to merge html files with a content file before it was squirted up to an FTP server for publication. I’ve always put the newest news at the top, pushing older entries down, just like it is now. Ah, the glorious days of editing the file in Vim, copying and pasting posts from the “main” page to my “archive” page. I don’t miss it, WordPress makes that much easier now!
In those early days this site would have been called an “online diary” or journal. Apparently the term “weblog” was coined at the end of 1997 but I didn’t hear about that until a few years later. Blogs have been so very important to me in my personal and professional life so I’m really excited that this blog now lives on a .blog domain at odd.blog!
Automattic is rolling out the .blog domain, and as Matt says,
The namespace is wide open, and if you’re interested in reserving or bidding on your favorite name you can go to get.blog.
I’d never heard of Stephanie Shirley until I heard this BBC interview with her. As a five year old she escaped the Nazis in Germany, escaping to Britian in a Kindertransport. She founded a software company in 1962 that only hired women. It allowed employees to work from home, a practise that is much more common now than it was then. At the time women were not always welcome in the workplace, especially after they married or had kids, so this was an exceptional change. Ironically, equality legislation years later forced them to hire men!
In her personal life, her son Giles was autistic. Caring for him caused her to have a nervous breakdown as she tried to run her business too but she has poured huge sums of money into autism research and in her retirement has given away most of her £150m wealth.
To help Giles and others like him, she first established the Kingwood Trust to support young adults with autism, and more recently started the Prior’s Court School in Berkshire. “It is actually the biggest single project,” she says. “It took five years of my life. That’s the one I dreamed about.” It aims to help autistic children into mainstream education or some form of employment by using innovative techniques in art, music and sport.
The Shirley Foundation has spent or allocated around £50m in recent years – putting it among Britain’s top grant-giving foundations – with 70% going to autism-related work, from the first online conference on autism to yet another start-up, the Welsh support network Autism Cymru.
The last time I tried standing at my desk was a bit of a makeshift affair. I piled up books on either side of a plank of wood for my keyboard and mouse to rest on, with another pile of books for the monitor. It worked, but it wasn’t pretty, it was a bit unstable, and it wasn’t flexible. When I got tired later in the day or evening I couldn’t sit down and type without lugging around a bunch of graphic novels and copies of National Geographic.
So, last December I bought a Varidesk Pro Plus. There aren’t many sellers in Ireland but I bought mine here. Prices are expensive compared to the US but they’re imported from there I think so there’s VAT, import duty and all the associated costs of bringing things across the Atlantic.
The desk can be raised and lowered easily, that’s the best thing about it. It also rests on your existing desk so you don’t have to get rid of that. I can fit my office chair under the desk when I’m standing, which is great because my office is a tiny home-office. I was worried about the space for my keyboard and mouse because I use a split Microsoft keyboard but I shouldn’t have. It fits comfortably. The mouse has plenty of room too. The area for that is about 24x19cm, or large enough to rest a 9″ iPad. I’ve never had a problem with my mouse bumping against the keyboard for want of more space.
The only negative I can think of is that you need to take care of cables when lowering or raising the desk. Sometimes my monitor cable will get caught between the desk and a raised portion of my original desk at the back, and I have an old USB2 hub for my keyboard and mouse that occasionally gets caught under the desk. Those are very minor issues. I also use foldback clips to secure cables on to the desk which really helps too.
It does show the dust badly sometimes, especially when caught in sunlight like the photo above. In reality the dust is a lot easier to ignore, especially when you have a load of documents or stuff sitting on top of it. 🙂
There are a few video reviews of the desk out there, here’s a good one. It’s well worth buying if you’re sitting at a desk all day!
It’s odd how this picture has gone viral. I saw it on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and even on a blog, which just goes to show. Blogs are still hip.
Anyway, I see blue and black, but some people see white and gold. My son looked at the exact same screen I was looking at, but at an angle and said he saw brown and white. When he moved around he said he saw some blue but it was still mostly white. Odd.
Steven Novella has written a good post on this and explains why our brains see this difference. Wired have a good article too. It’s an optical illusion. Just like these:
At least we can all agree on one thing: The people who see the dress as white are utterly, completely wrong.
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