Categories
Web Technology

Emulating Featured Blocks in WordPress

Over the last day or so, I heavily modified my current Twenty Twenty WordPress theme to see if I could emulate Featured Block functionality that I’d like to see added to WordPress in a future update (probably as a “Make Featured Block” checkbox in compatible blocks).

This arose out of my thoughts the other day where I believed WordPress needed to go beyond Featured Images and shift to Featured Blocks, especially if it wants to be able to emulate old Post Format features that are comparable to features on other platforms.

Basically the first part of emulating this was easy by defining a specific block as Featured Block by just adding a class within the Advanced area of the block and calling it “featured”.

It got trickier though because you need to allow the Featured Block to be displayed on the blog list view but without the rest of the post content. Thus to achieve this, every post that you create has to have a “More” Block within it that the Featured Block has to be above, thus allowing it to be shown on the blog list view, with the rest of the post content below it, so it remains hidden in the blog list view.

After achieving these two things, the hardest part of all is then getting the Featured Block to be shown and stylized in the right way utilizing a Grid Card style (which I was easily able to activate using the Twentig plugin for the Twenty Twenty WordPress theme). Trying to get the Featured Block to move to the top of each card post was way too difficult to do using CSS alone, so I decided to use jQuery to move it there.

And last but not least, a butt load of CSS was finally done to stylize each specific Featured Block type I decided to use (i.e. Pullquote, Cover, etc).

All said and done, I’m pretty amazed I achieved this in such a short amount of time. Going forward, I’ll see if I can stylize and optimize it further.

Best of all though, this new theme layout finally allows me to feel comfortable writing in both short form and long form because the blog list view of the theme emulates Twitter’s card format. So if I want to write a short thought of a sentence or two, it looks great on the blog list view. Although I need some small simple visual indicator icon on the card that indicates if there is more to read, so that the reader knows if there is more content inside the card or not.

Categories
Books

Indirect Work

by Carol Sanford

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Currently rereading this amazing book, as it’s pretty deep. If you think you understand it, you probably not “reading” it. If you’re having a hard time reading it, you’re probably actually reading it.

Categories
Quotes

Life At Its Best

Categories
Movies

Black Adam

I never said I was a hero.

Categories
Music

Touch Me (Original 12″)

by Rui Da Silva

We can only understand what we are shown
How was I supposed to know our love would grow?
You touch my mind in special places
My heart races with you

One of my favourite songs that I stumble across in the last year. Considering that it came out so many years ago, I’m surprised I’ve never heard until now.

Categories
Web Technology

Featured Image As Featured Block

The other day while fooling around with WordPress, I started realizing that while it was getting better and better in some areas, other areas still need to be radically reinvented, such as the concept of a Featured Image for posts.

How I came to this conclusion, was that I was remembering people in the past indicating how when Gutenberg and Blocks become mainstream, there would no longer be a need for Post Formats at all. However, when I started browsing some masonry grid themes over on Tumblr and pondered how I could replicate them on WordPress, even if I just used a non-Masonry layout, I realized I couldn’t.

Why? Because WordPress only allows for Featured Images, which are the only visual object to be displayed in the blog list view. Post Formats previously allowed you to have different visual objects in in the blog list view but they’ve been pretty much phased out now in WordPress 6. So the only way to emulate these Post Formats in WordPress currently is if they added functionality that made it possible to “feature” any block, not just an “image”.

In doing some searching, I found one person suggesting just such a thing on the WordPress forums but they got little to no feedback. Digging deeper, I then found a GitHub WordPress Gutenberg thread entitled Rethink “Featured Image” In The Context of Blocks which touched upon it more so but without really any visual action, other than to possibly see about switching the Feature Image option to an Image/Cover Block.

Hopefully if the do decide to do that, it’ll become self-evident in developing it to make many different other blocks have the option of being “featured” in the blog list view as well. Let’s hope! Maybe by next year, we could see at least a few blocks beside an image block have this capability.

Categories
Web Technology

Upcoming Changes to WordPress 6.1

While skimming through the latest WordPress 6.1 Product Walk-Through Recap, I noticed some really amazing features finally being added to WordPress.

I actually remember manually coding some of these features myself on Movable Type many, many years ago when that web platform used to be all the rage. Specifically the ability to customize the template for a specific category (8:55) or even a specific post (8:35) is pretty amazing.

I was also highly interested in hearing what Nicholas Diego (37:00) had to say as the Editor Triage Lead for WordPress 6.1. The reason for this is that I find the usability experience for Editor user interface to be severely lacking still, with the key issue being they are overloading the non-techie end user (but even the techie designers & developers as well) with too much functionality at once in the same place. Instead they should be creating different focused context modes that the end user can switch to (similar to Squarespace Version 5 over a decade ago), so they don’t get confused and overwhelmed.

At the very least, if they don’t do this, they should make specific areas of the interface context specific, similar to how they are almost doing it now. For example, the Structure mode area is primarily on the left side of the interface, showing the nested layout of the blocks, whereas the Style mode area is on the right hand side of the interface.

But they need to go beyond this and make the interface function much more consistently within the different modes. For example, right now when you’re using the left hand Structure area and you press a block on the page, the corresponding block within the left nested layout of blocks gets highlighted as well which is nice.

The same thing should happen with the right hand Style area as well though (when it’s open) in that when you press on a block on the page, the corresponding style editing settings for that block should automatically be shown, so you can adjust it immediately. Again because there are no focused contextual modes but rather just these panels, it can become overwhelming for the end user to figure out where to look, especially when playing with the Editor for the first time.

But as it stands right now, the specific block style areas are buried under a couple of submenus which is just crazy. Instead all block styles options should be shown by default when you open the Style panel, yet the default Body and Heading settings for the entire site should be listed at the top of the entire Style list. Then below that, each specific block type should be linked by default to either the Body or Heading style setting but with the option to specifically customize it further if the end user so wishes. This would make the Style area far more user friendly for the new user, creating a cascading style logic that they can understand.

All said and done, I’m still excited and interested in trying out WordPress 6.1 when it’s released. Oh and for those who want to see more of Nicholas Diego’s work on the Editor (aka Full Site Editing), he has a bunch of videos on WordPress.TV you can check out as well.

Categories
Computer Technology

Augment: An AI Productivity Assistant

I’ve previously indicated that Mark Zuckerberg has everything backwards. Instead of mining people’s data and using it against them, he should be charging people to mine their own social media data to help them understand themselves better.

It looks like a company called Augment AI Corp is kind of taking a step towards this in creating an AI assistant called Augment that “learns your needs” and “supports” you with your productivity.

Augment is a first-of-its-kind context-aware AI, dedicated to helping you excel through your hectic work day, freeing up time for you to do the things you love. It learns your needs and provides you with the type of support that we used to only dream about.

No more being caught off guard by another calendar alert because of back-to-back meetings, wasting time trying to dig for context, or struggling to take notes. Your Augment tells you everything you need to know about the meeting, including what led up to it; takes notes; captures the presentation materials, and summarizes it all for you afterward. It’s AI that actually works for you as a true ear-whispering, task-doing assistant.

In my opinion, the real potential of AI technology will be when it can analyze what your interests are in terms of the personal knowledge management flows that you’re aggregating (i.e. reading, watching, etc) and then analyze the patterns and relationships within it to provide insights on understanding who you are on a deeper level.

In effect, there’s a lot of hype these days about understanding your passion and purpose, with a lot of people misunderstanding what that actually means. It’s not surface things (i.e. job, interests, etc) but rather the patterns and relationships between everything you do that’s often hidden below the surface of your life but which unifies your life as a whole. I honestly believe the right AI technology that’s optimized for this, could actually help a person to reflectively become aware and “know thyself” on a deeper level.

Categories
Pets

Prince Samuel IV of The Flying Monkey Brigade

Watching the Queen’s funeral procession a bit the other day, I was reminded that our own “royalty” is nearing his time of passing soon.

Considering his age, Sam actually looks amazingly well for a cat of 18 years. While he has lost a lot of weight the last six months or so, he’s still eating and drinking ferociously, not to mention he’s as vocal as he’s ever been.

“Prince” Samuel IV (aka “Monkey Boy”)

More than anything lately though, it’s his vocal need for fresh food and water at all times of the day and night that is becoming exhausting. Because of this, we’re lucky if we can get an entire nights sleep in without being woken up before 7 AM in the morning. Usually if he does wake us up, I try to get up and close the door to the bedroom so my wife can continue sleeping, while I attend to his needs and then crash on the sofa.

Once his food and water needs are met, he usually joins me on the sofa and starts snoozing while cuddling on my chest. While he’s always been one for being physically affectionate, he’s definitely seems more so lately. All said and done though, he’s had a pretty amazing life, considering one of our other previous cats had his life cut short due to a tumour.

Always looking handsome and regal, we started calling him “Prince” because of his vocal demands beginning at an early age. His more common affectionate nickname though is “Monkey Boy” which is of Buckaroo Bonzai origins. He got that name because he literally races around the house like a monkey boy, leaping from furniture to furniture, almost flying at times like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz.

Categories
Smart Home Technology

Sonos Working On “More New Categories Than Ever Before”

My conventional work from the past used to focus on simplifying technology for people, which included everything from computer hardware and software, home electronics, to everything related to Web development.

Today while I still somewhat stay on top of all of these things, I’m primarily just interested in mobile computing technologies (i.e. iPhone, iPad), smart home technology (including voice assistants), and Web platform technologies (i.e. WordPress).

One company that I love using their products at home and have been tracking them for some time is Sonos. The main reason for this is that I typically dislike the hard-coded functionality in most products today (and hard-coded behaviours in companies) but Sonos products actually allow for a lot of decently flexibility in terms of the different music services and different voice assistants you can use with them but also third party services like IFTTT that can be connected with them for more advanced home automation.

Recently with many companies preparing to transition their products to the Matter smart home protocol, allowing their products to interconnect and interoperate with other company’s products, I’ve been wondering if Sonos was going to make a larger move in the smart home space due to previous technologies they’ve acquired over the last couple of years, specifically their voice assistant technologies which were released this year.

In a recent interview on Yahoo Finance (shown above), it seems as though the CEO of Sonos specifically stated that they are “working on more new categories than ever before”, so it will be interesting to see if anything new is released by Christmas of this year. Strongly rumoured is the introduction of wireless headphones with the ability to listen to music at extremely high quality levels, thus far superior to typical Bluetooth connections. I also hope they figure out some way of integrating Apple Siri voice assistant support in their products without requiring an Apple HomePod Mini device (which is ludicrous that Apple would require that for the integration).