Friday, July 18, 2014

WordPress Media Selector - Mobile

WordPress 4.0 is coming along quite nicely, with Beta 2 being due soon. One area I'm very excited about is a makeover of the mobile version of the Media Selector. This is the popup that lets users insert media (pictures, video, etc) into posts. On the phone is currently looks very broken, so there's a big push right now to give it an overhaul. This is what you'd see on a phone right now, with WordPress 3.9:



As you can see, everything is squished because of how narrow the screen on a phone is. To address the problem, two major changes have been made. If the sidebar is removed, and the options a the top are changed from text links to a dropdown menu, everything gets a lot nicer. Throw in some CSS to make sure all the images are in a nice looking grid, and suddenly you have this:



Two changes can make a huge difference in the usability. I'm very excited about this change, along with everything else that is coming down the pipeline regarding media. WP just keeps getting better.

Daft Punk

Over the past year, Daft Punk has exploded in popularity. Random Access Memories and Get Lucky both won awards, and in fact for a while I couldn't go more than a few days without hearing them on the radio. While I do get a flash of hipster-like jealousy every once in a while, I am overall very very happy that they have finally achieved this level of recognition.

One small thing that I have a problem with though, is that everyone loves Get Lucky and ignores the rest of the album. There are some incredible songs, including a couple I think are even better than Lucky. Case in point, Beyond. The words are moving, but the end just hits you like a wave of pure eargasm. Take a listen.

Friday, July 11, 2014

WordPress Plugin Update

A while back, I wrote about an idea for a plugin that I was going to try and write. It would add a folder system to WordPress's media capabilities. As I later explained, this was somewhat beyond my abilities at that point. I have since, however, written two separate plugins, which are currently up on the WordPress repository.

Admin Classic Borders


In WP 3.8, the admin backend of WordPress was completely redesigned. Taking queues from Windows 8, WP was made "cleaner", which means flatter and with less borders. Overall I think it looks good, but I like borders between items. I think borders make a site or app easier to use by cleanly dividing items.



To address what I perceive as shortcomings with the new design, I wrote some custom CSS to re-add borders, along with a few other things. Admin Classic Borders is simply a plugin wrapper for that CSS, along with a settings page to let users customize.



It's currently has a 5-star rating an almost 1000 downloads, which I think says quite a bit for my school of design thought. My second plugin, Featured Galleries, is a little more in-depth, so I'll discuss it in a separate post.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Great Sagas

Posted by George Takei today. Worth a read.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

To Be [Creepy] or Not To Be [Creepy]

One interesting thing that happened during my recent vacation made me question my definition of being creepy. I'll explain what happened first, and then what I did about it. The latter is what I'm wondering if is creepy. Story time:

During the airplane ride to Venice, I sat several seats away from girl who I'd never seen before. This isn't really significant because the entire plane was filled with guys and girls I'd never seen before. We both got off the plane and if I'd never seen her again then she would have been just another random person. But I did. The next day, in fact, as I was boarding the ship. I pointed her out to my wife and said, 'Hey look, she was on the airplane with us!'. Interesting coincidence, I wonder if we'll see her a third time.

Well, we did. Then a fourth. Then a fifth. Then a sixth. Seemed like every day we'd see airplane girl somewhere around the ship, or around town in the ports we visited. Which was kind of amazing because we were talking private tours with a private tour guide, not the ship-booked tours. Couple days before the end of the cruise, we had sighting 14. My wife and I were taking great amusement in watching this number grow, and I felt kind of odd that this person I'd never met, never talked to, and would never see again, had become such a major part of each day. Where will we see airplane girl today? So I decided to let her in on the game.

I walked up and said (paraphrasing) .... Hello! We've never met, but you were on the same airplane as me coming over. My wife and I keep seeing you around, over and over ... 14 times in fact. It's kind of become a game, where will we see airplane girl today. I felt kind of weird though, talking about you, with you having no idea, so I figured, what the heck, I'll never see you again, the cruise is almost over, I'll say hi. So hello!

She actually took it quite well. She seemed surprised, but laughed and we talked for a few minutes about where we were from, and how much fun the cruise had been, etc. And then I took my leave. I did see her one more time, bring the total airplane girl sightings up to 15, but she didn't notice me (despite passing within 2ft), and so I know nothing more about her than that she too is from the USA.

So my question is, would it have been more creepy to continue to keep track of how many times we saw her, without telling her? Or was it more creepy to go up and talk to a random stranger and say, hi, I've been watching you. I'm not sure. But it doesn't really matter I guess, because I'm the type of person that will go up and say hi, 99% of the time. Also if by some cosmic coincidence you happen to read this, airplane girl, I'm sorry if I creeped you out, but thank you for making my vacation more enjoyable.

Image Sharing Online

How do you share your images with friends and family? If someone asked me years ago, I'd have said Photobucket. I was the only person I knew who used it, but that didn't bother me. Problem is that Photobucket got increasing slow/laggy. Way too much scripting and fancy animations, and the design wasn't anything special either. Plus it cost money to get the full capabilities. So where else to turn .... Flickr? Picasa? Truth is, I stopped using photo sharing sites entirely. Facebook happened. I can share images there, much more easily. I don't have to worry about who will see the images, and I can sort into albums. So that is where I ended up for a while.

As time has gone on though, I've become somewhat disillusioned with Facebook. The interface for viewing could be nicer, and I can't sort into sub-albums. Google+ Photos has a spectacular interface, and there's a program to bulk upload. But again, no sub-albums. However, there's a new (or shall I say reborn) player in town. Flickr.

I used to hate Flickr. The design, frankly, sucked. However, it got a complete makeover recently (thank you Marissa Mayer!):



More importantly, I can organize photos into albums AND sub-albums. This means that I can create a 2014 Cruise album, with photos organized into albums inside based on the day/location. One for Rome, one for Athens, one for Istanbul, etc etc.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Belated Honeymoon

Soooo I just got back from my belated honeymoon. My wife and I got married in April, but we made an unconventional choice to postpone our honeymoon. The reason was that some of her extended family had booked a Mediterranean cruise. Her grandma offered to pay for us to go, as her wedding present. So, a few days by ourselves in April, or 2 weeks in the Mediterranean? I think the choice was obvious.

Granted, that meant combining our honeymoon with a family trip. But we had our own room, and spent a lot of time by ourselves. We only really combined as a group for the offshore tours. The evenings were on the ship itself, and it was pretty amazing. People close to me will tell you that I've wanted to go on a cruise for a looonggg time. The problem has always been that A. My family couldn't afford it, and B. My brother has a phobia of boats/ships. I've also always been fascinated by Roman and Greek empires (love history). So it was kind of perfect.

In 2 weeks, we visited Venice, Athens, Istanbul (Constantinople), Mykonos, Naples, Rome, Florance, a beach town in France who's name I forget, and Barcelona. There is wayyyy too much to really discuss here, so I'll just hit a few highlights. Seeing the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul was incredible. It's a museum now, and you can go explore it. The Amalfi coast is utterly epic. Massive cliffs ... pictures don't do it justice. Leaning tower of Piza is way more impressive in person that pictures. And a lot more.

The ship was awesome, despite being old. I was disappointed a bit by the entertainment and food options, and several of our traveling companions who've been on more cruises confirmed that this wasn't the greatest ship in the world. But despite being 30 years old, it was in great condition, and it was really fun going to visit my grandmother-in-law's cabin to use her balcony (we had only a window, but she had the Presidential Suite) to watch the sunsets.

From my engineering perspective, besides the leaning tower I think the best part was Barcelona. The city is laid out on this angled grid, with very wide streets and very wide sidewalks. It's quite unique, and a great place for any transportation engineer to visit.

I feel like I'm leaving 90% out, but that's okay. I might make additional posts about specific things, but I just wanted to write up a little summary. I'll be putting up a few more pictures as well in the coming days. I've been super swamped at work the past 2 days, catching up from the past 2 weeks, so I haven't really had much time.