WordPress to Sphinx?

It has been a little while since I last posted something. So this post is a little bit of a progress update. I am still investigating moving away from WordPress to a static site using Sphinx. It turns out there is quite a bit to research and learn about. Whilst the transition of this website into a static form might still be some way off I am finding Sphinx very useful for my own notes and research.

Using Sphinx for notes is leading me to discover more of the tools I need for the migration. At the same time however I am wondering about using the right tool for the right job.

To make Sphinx output HTML is very easy. It is also simple to create a hierarchy of documents linked together. What requires more effort however is turning it into a blog style site with dated posts, tags categories etc. There is an extenstion ABlog which adds the required features but at the expense (or so it appears) of taking over the rest of the Sphinx installation. Other options are available but the communities behind them do not appear as active as I would like when planning a big site migration.

This has had me wondering about Pelican again. It is another static site generator geared towards the blog style and allows the importing of WP sites. But again do I risk loosing what I like about Sphinx just to have a blog like tool. I already have a blog like tool, it's called WordPress.

I have also been considering comments. A static site by default does not allow comments. Comments need to be added using an external plugin/service. This might come at an additional cost or loss of control over such comments. Neither option is ideal.

But what is it that I don't like about WordPress at the moment? A few things. I am not a fan of the new editor. I grew up hand coding html and css files. WordPress is good if you don't want to have such fine grained control over the look and feel of the site. I want to have the control to format the content the way I want and to keep it that way. I have not always been able to do this as I have changed WordPress templates over the years to benefit from the additional features that keep being added. Each new template has tweaked the layout in various ways that it has broken the flow/style of my content. For text heavy posts this isn't a problem. But I have tried to write guides and this has posed a problem. Having to go back and ensure that it still looks right is a pain.

The next thing I am not a fan of is the Gutenberg editor. I am not a fan of it. Just trying to type a long post like this I am finding little things that I don't like. It's better than it was but it still isn't as seamless to me as the old editor when it comes to structuring content that might include images, tables etc.

My current thoughts at time of writing is this. Why not have the best of both worlds? I can easily create static content and host it alongside WordPress. The static content I am more interesting in managing offline with Git. As I make changes to it I can push the changes up to the site without affecting the WordPress install.

Such a set up would allow me to still announce new content using WordPress and simply link over to the static portion of the site. At the same time this allows the static site to refer back to the WordPress site as a point where comments can be made. It solves the problem of how to have comments on a static site and still allows me full control over the comments themselves.

There is another hidden bonus in that by not having to export the current post archive to another platform I can save myself a great deal of time. There is still plenty more thinking to be done on this matter but I think I am getting near to a solution.

I Still Dislike KiCAD

I made another attempt today to use KiCAD 5.0.2. There was a schematic for an 8-bit computer I wanted to investigate. In addition to looking at the actual circuit I wanted to see how KiCAD handled the separate schematic sheets that made up the project.

The KiCAD interface has once again left me frustrated. Zooming in an out with the mouse scroll is a pain as it zooms too much for the slightest movement. I have other issues with the way pan and zoom differs from other CAD packages but I don’t see this ever changing.

I did like the way I could enter the high level overview and then enter the individual hierarchical blocks. However moving between blocks required me to leave and renter the sheets. I went looking for something that would allow me to switch between the sheets that made up the whole schematic. I found box that would open up and allow me to select the sheet I wanted. It would then immediately close again. Not great if you want to switch back and forth between sheets quickly. When using DipTrace I have been able to have tabs for each sheet along the bottom of the screen and can easily switch between them. I cannot see anything in KiCAD that allows the same functionality.

I’m sure there is a lot to like about KiCAD but there is so much I dislike about it I can find a reason to persevere with it. I would submit a bug report or two but I have found existing reports to the issues which the developers don’t intend to fix.

Aims for 2019

It's that time of year again when I look back over the goals I set myself over the previous year and decide on some new ones for the year ahead.

What I intended to do in 2018:

  • Lose weight – Fail, I have put weight on.
  • Continue work on STM32 development – Pass. I didn’t get around to using the development board I had planned to use. Instead I continued working with the STM32F103 boards I had. I managed to make my own Christmas lights with an LED strip and conducted some experiments with stepper motors.
  • Experiment with CPLD – Fail. Whilst I have the board available I have not yet had a cause to use it.
  • Clear out Garage – Pass. I cleared out all of the large items in the garage. There is more room but it still needs a good sort out and perhaps a workbench and some shelves.
  • Go 4k – Pass. I have a 4k computer monitor, it has been very useful for programming as I can get more readable code on the screen. The 4k TV was delayed due to cost.
  • Finish Back Yard – Fail. I still need to put the last step in.
  • Eat more healthily – Fail. This is probably related to my weight gain.
  • Perform more data backups – Fail. Not done as many backups as I would have liked to.
  • Read more books – Fail. I am still reading but progress has been slow.
  • Plan Free time – Pass. I have made time to do a few things when I have wanted to do them. There is always room for improvement.
  • Reduce Netflix use – Fail. I blame Netflix for having too much good content to watch.
  • Tackle the Rodent Problem – Fail. They are still there. I fear this is a battle I cannot win.

2018 was an OK year. But there is much room for improvement in 2019.

What I intend to do in 2019:

  • Lose Weight & Eat Healthily - Yes, it’s back on the list as a combined goal but it needs to be.
  • Continue STM32 Development – There are more projects I want to work on and I may yet create something useful.
  • Buy A 4k TV – Hopefully the expensive TV from 2018 will have dropped to a price that is within my budget.
  • Watch Less TV – An odd choice if I am planning on getting a new TV but a goal that will hopefully have me doing other things.
  • Read More books – My reading list is growing and I need to make some progress.
  • Work Less Overtime – Whilst working some overtime brings in extra cash I have probably been doing too much. I would end up with more free time as a result.
  • More Website Updates – I have not been updating the website as much I should. I am thinking of project documentation as possible content.
  • Increase Savings – Buying a car this year put a dent in my savings and they need building back up.
  • Contribute To An Open Source Project – There are lots of projects I benefit from. There should be something I can give back, even if it is as simple as providing information for a bug report.
  • Write Something In Python – I have spend a lot of time writing C++ for the STM32 and have neglected Python. I should write something to keep myself up to date.

For 2019 there is one must achieve goal and that is to lose weight. All the other goals would be nice extras. At the time of writing I am around 93kg. The first step in the weight loss program is to get under 90kg and stay there. Any improvement on that will be a big success.

New Theme Experiment

I have had a little more time to play with the twentynineteen theme. I'm still not convinced by the new 'blocks' based layout at this stage.  Whilst I get the idea of being able to move the content blocks around when putting a page together the features I want are not yet there.

I have sections of content on this site that I have styled to look like a command line for use when posting command strings.  I would  like to be able to create a block with that style from within the editor and reuse it.  Currently I can only save a section of html and any changes to it will affect all of the other blocks of that type.

I can think of a way around the issue but it isn't that practical. After a little research I discover that I can probably create my own custom blocks or use a plug-in to do so.

This is inconvenient as I either have to trust a plugin going forward and hope that it is maintained or spend the time learning how to make my own blocks. Neither of these options are that desirable.

How long can ‘shrinkflation’ continue?

In a week where McVitie’s announced that a box of Jaffa Cakes would contain 10 rather than 12 cakes, I wonder how much longer ‘shrinkflation can continue?

Bottles of Coca-Cola have changed from 2l to 1.75l, Toblerone has bigger gaps between chunks, segments of a chocolate orange are now concave. Just put the prices up and leave the size/volume/shape alone.

There is going to be a point at which a product cannot be shrunk down. What then? Should we hand over some money for some empty packaging? Ultimately the customer will decide to either purchase the product in its smaller form or switch to another product.

I was at one point buying a premium brand of orange juice in a 1.5l bottle. This would just about last me a week and all was well. Currently the same product is 900ml, this does not last the week unless I consume less per serving. I don’t want to shrink the serving so I either buy a second 900ml bottle increasing my overall spend or switch brands. I switched to another brand and once again have 1.5l to drink.

Recipes are going to become a problem at some point. Look in a cookery book and it will tell you to add a tin of something or 500g of something else. The recipes were written with items being sold in quantities and sizes that have remained the same for many many years. If I have to open a second package to make up the shortfall I am likely to increase waste if I have no other use for the excess.

Only time will tell. I’ll be on the lookout for the next thing to shrink, but at the same time I’ll be on the look out for alternative brands to switch to.

Schedule Your Offers Properly

Like most people I receive various marketing offers via email. Mostly these get filtered out as spam. There are a few I tend to look at, one of which is for the supermarket offers. If I am doing a weekly shop it’s nice to know ahead of time if there is an offer I want to look out for.

Recently there have been offers relating to my loyalty card. To get certain offers I need to click a link in my email to activate them. Fine, it proves to the supermarket that I have read their email and seen the offers. It also increases the likelihood that I will visit the store and spend money with them.

The supermarket should know when I activate the email offers and should also know by use of my loyalty card when I do my shopping. So why on earth do they send an offer though in the early hours of the morning on the day I do my shop when I only activate email offers later in the evening?
I have missed out on an offer due to a badly timed email. Knowing I have missed out creates a bad feeling between me and the supermarket. Supermarkets should be building a loyal customer base and not irritating them.

A New Computer

This month I gave up on waiting and ordered the remaining parts for a new PC. The build process was as easy as expected. Having learnt my lesson of having to maintain a system over many years; I took my time when routing the cables around the case. The result is one of the tidiest case layouts I’ve ever put together. Less obstacles means cleaner airflow inside the case and less noise.

PWM fans are a must have item. This new pc has 9 fans in total all connected up. It is quieter than my old system with 5 fans. The difference is having fan headers on the motherboard to support additional fans with a PWM signal to control the fan speed. Slower fans means less noise. When they spin up under load I can hear them more but at idle I hardly know the system is on.

Now the negative. Why must everything be covered in LED’s? My motherboard can put on a light show in all the colours of the rainbow, why? I intend to be looking at the screen not inside the case. I’ve not colour matched my components, I chose the best specifications instead. The obsession people now have with the look of their pc internals is staggering. Manufacturers are now adding features just to make them look better. I don’t need my RAM slots to be illuminated. How much additional cost is this adding to my motherboard? LED’s don’t cost a lot but the time and effort that must go into routing the traces around the PCB won’t be insignificant. Luckily I can turn the main lighting off in the BIOS. I just have to contend with the remaining illuminated buttons and status indicators scattered about the board. I wish it had a stealth mode with them all off until it actually had the need to display an error message.

There still needs to be some tweaking done to the system to get it settled in but it’s an upgrade that should last me 5+ years all being well.

A Cat Sitting Service

Today a flyer arrived in my letter box offering a cat sitting service. A helpful service to some and I can understand the need for it. Then I saw the price. £8.50 per day for a single visit, £15 for 2 visits. Quite a lot for opening a door and putting food in a dish.

A week of visits (discounted) is still £100. If that wasn’t enough there was an option to get a daily video call at an extra cost.

At those prices no wonder people ask friends and family to look after their pets.

Bookmarks

I use Firefox as my web browser. I’ve been using it for years. During that time I have accumulated a huge amount of bookmarks. In being able to migrate my Firefox profile by copying it between machines and between installs my bookmarks have migrated too.
Some I can’t remember why I even bookmarked them in the first place.

I took the step over the past few days of exporting all my bookmarks and deleting all the ones stored in my browser. I now have a new starting point for which to accumulate some more.

My bad idea has been to start trying to organise my old bookmarks into some sort of list. What struck me is what utter rubbish is stored along with the original bookmark. The useful bit is the URL, in most cases this is accompanied by the title to the article or the site I wanted to bookmark. The less useful entries have information about the author looking for job opportunities, great long strings of text about other subject matter the site covered or generally unhelpful titles that don’t actually tell you what you bookmarked.

I should have taken the time to edit the bookmark entries at the time of saving them. It is never something I want to do at the time as it breaks my train of thought. It a habit that I am unlikely to change.

Trying to sort the bookmarks by subject area I notice that quite a few span multiple areas. Looking through the bookmarks I find that I have often researched topics. I’m thinking that in future it would be easier to gather stored bookmarks around these topics. In this way I can dispense with certain collections of bookmarks once I no longer have need of the topic.

I am regretting starting this process as progress has been slow. I am working through the list, checking that the links still work, seeing if they are still relevant, renaming and finally storing under a suitable category. Once completed I should be left with a nice list of topics that I can easily refer back to.

So far I am not missing the historical bookmarks in the browser.

Where is winter?

As the year draws to a close I am left wondering when winter is going to begin. A few cold days here and there and the odd light frost is all we have received. Where is the snow lying on the ground? Where are the slippery pavements coated in ice? I am going to need to source Christmas cards for next year without the winter scene, if this is they way things are going.