Tag: wordpress

A Shoutout for WordPress

close up shot of a typewriter
Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

Back in June, I decided to migrate this blog from a self-managed installation of WordPress to WordPress.com. I’d done the self-manage thing for more than ten years, and I decided that I would rather spend my time writing instead of managing my site. I thought this would be a complicated move, something that would take a month or more to complete. As it turned out, it took less than an afternoon to do the whole thing. Since then, I have been incredibly happy with WordPress’s tools and services.

For level-setting:

  • I opted for WordPress’s Business Plan because it had everything I thought I would need. At the time I migrated my site, the Business Plan cost $300/year, which is well-worth it based on the time it has saved me.
  • I’d already subscribed to a WordPress backup service through JetPack, so the transfer was made much easier because of that–essentially, the process automatically did a full backup of my old site and then a restore to my new site.
  • I rerouted my domains to point to WordPress.com’s servers. My domains are still held separately through GoDaddy, but in 2022, I will likely transfer them permanently to my WordPress site.

Here are my thoughts on my first 6 months on WordPress.com after more than a decade on a self-managed WordPress site:

  1. The level of support and service from WordPress has far exceeded my expectations. Their Happiness Engineers made my migration far easier than I expected. They provided quick support in answering follow-up questions I had in the weeks after the migration. They even proactively reached out to me to help correct a problem I wasn’t even aware of with one of my domains. As someone who has worked in tech support, I know how difficult that job can be, but the folks at WordPress make it look easy. They provide concierge-level service, positive moments of truth, and they help keep things low-stress. I can’t say enough good things about them all.
  2. I noticed an immediate significant performance improvement over my self-managed installation. I’d gotten used to things being a certain speed, but once I started on WordPress.com, I was amazed by how fast everything works. Whether it is creating a new page, loading the site, running a search, they are all lightning fast.
  3. The set of tools provided to Business Plan includes everything I need for my site. I can manage my domains, and my domain email. I have access to custom plug-ins and themes. I have SFTP and database access to my site. (I used these quite a bit on my old self-managed installation, but have had no need for them, yet, on WordPress.com.)
  4. I can spend my time writing posts instead of tweaking my site to get better performance, or dealing with issues caused by my hosting service or being on a shared server. Seriously: I wrote about 105,000 words on the blog between January and June when I began to plan the transfer. From the time I transferred my site to WordPress.com to now, I’ve written 196,000 words–almost double–and yet both periods were about 6 months each. Clearly I am spending less time “managing” the site and more time writing. Much of that is due to WordPress.com’s fast, reliable infrastructure, auto-updates and general easy of use.
  5. My site stats are up significantly since the transfers. While I’d like to think this was due to more and more people enjoying what I write, I suspect much of it is due to items #2 and #4 above. The site is faster, and I’m able to write more so there is new stuff for people to read every day. It’s been a steady increase, but daily stats have basically double since I switched at the end of June.

Consider this my hearty recommendation for WordPress.com’s service. I’ve had no problems, excellent custom services, and a fast, reliable system that allows me to focus on writing. I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Did you enjoy this post?
If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for reading!

Follow Jamie Todd Rubin on WordPress.com

Small Efficiencies in Workflow

With my recent plan to focus on my writing and improve my overall well-being (a.k.a. Project Sunrise), I have been hunting for small efficiencies in workflow that can have an outsized impact on my day. My morning routine takes about two and a half hours to complete. While developing the routine, I teased out actions or tasks that I could eliminate or improve upon to maximize the use of my time. Two examples come to mind.

Writing in my journal: content versus medium

Since 2017, I have been writing my journal longhand in large Moleskine notebooks. I’ve written about the advantages and disadvantages of having a paper journal versus a digital one in a piece called The Paradox of Journaling. I like the feeling of writing longhand, and I understand and believe in the durability of paper. But there are two tradeoffs to consider when time is limited and my goals depend on data:

  1. The speed and clarity with which I can write.
  2. The speed an accuracy with which I can find what I wrote about.

With limited time, I had to consider what is more valuable to me now, the content of my journaling or the medium in which it is stored. Today it is the content. Since I can type much faster than I can write longhand, since my typing is more clear than my handwriting, and since I express thoughts more clearly through a keyboard than a pen, it seemed prudent to switch my journaling to a digital form instead of a paper one. This is why for the last week, I have been composing it as a text file using Obsidian, despite what I wrote in February when I initially rejected the idea. The reasons I rejected it were valid then, but circumstances have changed, and I think this little efficiency will have long-term benefits.

One of those benefits is the speed with which I can find what I wrote about. It is much easier to search a text file than volumes of journals, even when they are roughly indexed. And time is the key. I want to spend as much of my time as possible on creative tasks. That said, to improve, I need to look back at the data I’ve collected so that I can apply it going forward. I can do this much more quickly searching a text file than books. Practical considerations–speed of input, clarity, and speed of retrieval–have overridden my desire to continue writing my journal longhand, at least for the duration.

Composing in WordPress

For a long time, I composed my blog posts in an external editor. That editor has changed over the years. I’ve written drafts in Scrivener, in Word, and most recently, in Obsidian, my current editor of choice. With my recent migration to WordPress hosting, and conversion to a modern WordPress theme, I have found WordPress’s native Gutenberg editor to be comfortable and easy to compose in directly. This saves a good deal of time. Prior to composing directly in WordPress my process looked like this:

  1. Write the post in Obsidian (or other editor)
  2. Copy the text out of Obsidian
  3. Paste it into a blank WordPress post
  4. Fix any formatting issues
  5. Publish.

For the last week I have been composing directly in WordPress which allows me to eliminate the administrative steps I was doing before. This shaves a little time spent on each post, which I get back for creative work, like writing the posts themselves.

These are small efficiencies. They don’t save huge chunks of time each, but the affect is cumulative. I journal in the morning and evening, so I am saving a little time each journaling session. I tend to write in the mornings, sometimes one post, sometimes more than one, and I save a little time with each draft. In a cumulative sense, over the long haul, I think small efficiencies like these have outsized results.

I am always looking for small efficiencies like these because of their magnified results over time. Do you have small efficiencies that you have discovered? If you feel like it, share them in the comments.

Did you enjoy this post?
If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for reading!

Follow Jamie Todd Rubin on WordPress.com

Rich-text blogging on the iPad

Prior to the most recent update to WordPress 3.3, I never had access to the rich-text editor when blogging on the iPad. Quite to my surprise this morning, when I went to write that last post, I discovered that the rich-text editor in WordPress now works on the iPad. This is a very big deal for me because I make a good deal of use of some plug-ins that use the rich-text editor and don’t work as well with the straight HTML editor. (They work, but I have to remember a bunch of complicated coding, which I don’t want to bother with.)

In any case, I don’t recall seeing this listed as a feature in 3.3, but I am very glad to have it.

On black holes and WordPress

One of the cool things about being a science fiction writer is the cool stuff you learn in the name of “research.” I’ve been doing a lot of reading up on black holes, in particular, “subatomic” black holes and it is a fascinating subject. Some of what I have been reading are academic papers, which can be mathematically dense at times, often going well beyond my meager abilities to differentiate and integrate, but by reading some secondary sources, I’m beginning to get the drift and some of this stuff is actually starting to make sense. What’s more, the story for which I am doing the research hinges in part on the properties of these special black holes, and some of what I learned today helps make for an interesting plot problem.

Related to this (as you will see in a moment) is that fact that one of the new features of WordPress 3.1 is that it supports LaTeX. Non-geek friends will most certainly make plenty of jokes about LaTex, but LaTex is actually a really cool markup language that evolved from TeX and allows for the rendering of arbitrarily complex mathematical formulas. Back in the day, I used to write up my calculus lecture notes in LaTex because I could render all the equations and their intermediary states. Combing this functionality with what I’ve been learning about black holes, I could tell you for instance, that for a black hole with a mass M, its effective radius, R is

R = \frac{2GM}{c^2}

Isn’t that just the coolest thing ever? I’m so impressed that WordPress now includes this capability. I could go on and tell you that the temperature T of a black hole with an effective radius R is

T = \frac{hc}{4\pi kR'}

Of course, I can render any arbitrarily complex equation with relative ease using LaTeX’s markup language directly in WordPress, but you get the point. I’ve been taking lots of notes on these black holes, incidentally, and if I can validate my understanding of these properties with some friends with backgrounds in physics, then I think I’ll have the foundation for a pretty good hard SF story. Stay tuned.

WordPress woes and JetPack to the rescue

For the first time since I started using a self-hosted version of WordPress well over a year ago, I had some trouble last night. Stats broke. Not permanently, you understand, and it had nothing to do with my installation. But I used the WordPress Stats plug-in which makes use of services on WordPress.com and apparently there were problems last night and running into today an a lot of people could not access their website stats.

Not a big deal really except for the fact that I AM OBSESSED WITH MY STATS. This seems to have crept up on me since early January when one of my goals was to increase the traffic that comes to my blog. I started keeping an eye on stats just to see if I was meeting my goal and, well, I got a little obsessive. I’m embarrassed to say this but I probably check a dozen times a day (a gross under-estimate) to see how things are doing, where people are being referred from, etc. And so when they were broken this morning, I had instant stat withdrawals.

But a little browsing told me about JetPack for WordPress which may have been released in conjunction with WordPress 3.1. It is essentially a collection of tools, including an alternate interface to WordPress stats. So early today I downloaded and installed it–and was incredibly relieved to have my stats once again. But I’ve also been pretty impressed with the features that JetPack provides to WordPress.

It is possible that the problem with the Stats for WordPress plugin has been fixed but I see no point in switching back now. JetPack does exactly what I need for stats–and actually does it a little better, adding in a few features that I didn’t have before. And though the old plugin was very reliable up until yesterday, my obsession with stats overrides brand loyalty. You can blame my day job for that: the last few years I’ve worked on numerous technical projects involving stats and metrics.

I’ve been completely brainwashed.

Upgrade to WordPress 3.1 and Feedburner

Last night, I upgraded the site to the production release of WordPress 3.1 and there are some definite visible improvements. One of the most convenient is the improved ability at linking within the site. I haven’t fully investigated all of the other goodies packed into this release, but I must say that since I switched to a self-installed and managed WordPress site, I’ve been very impressed by the quality of the software and its ease-of-use.

WordPress 3.1 is supposed to also have some enhanced search capabilities. I’m eager to look into that as soon as I can find the time.

Also, yesterday, I finally redirected the RSS feed for the site to Feedburner in order to get more metrics. This appears to be a pretty cool tool, but I’ve temporarily stopped the redirect in order to test out a theory. It seems that once I did the redirect, the SFWAauthors twitter feed stopped picking up my site. That makes me think the feed is based on RSS and when I changed the RSS feed, SFWAauthors could no longer find my blog. If this post gets picked up by the SFWAauthors feed, I’ll know that is indeed the case and can have that updated accordingly.