Turn and Face the Strange

In addition to getting my creative engine revved up, Song-A-Day has been driving a lot of overhaul work that I’ve long needed to do on this website. I shifted the home page to being an actual static page, and moved the blog into its own area. I’m still thinking about the right level of categorization, but it will depend on how much writing I do in “topic” areas like business as opposed to these journal entries.

I’m also building pages for other areas of interest, starting with Music. Song-A-Day is creating most of the content so far, but I have other things in the works.

Old Man Yells At Cloud Meme
Ray Yells at Gutenberg

At first, I fought the new Gutenberg editor. Well, fought isn’t the right word. It’s more accurate to say that I poked around for 15 minutes, didn’t like change, and disabled it to go back to the old editor.

As so often happens, I rethought my knee-jerkitude over the next few days and gave it another shot – I like it. It is very different, but like so many things, as you start learning where the hidden tricks and workflow optimizations are, it’s pretty nice.

While I have no interest in hand-coding things any more, I do like thing to be just-so. The age of responsive design has destroyed any hope for that, though, and I’m now relying on people who have a passion for coding and design. I’m eager for the fine folks at GeneratePress to do more integration with Gutenberg.

After initially purchasing Royal Audio Player for audio streaming because it could encrypt/obfuscate links, it wasn’t really what I wanted. I struggled with a sunk-cost exercise (so easy to learn, so hard to do), but was able to overcome emotion and am now using the visually lovely Cue Player from AudioTheme along with rewrite rules to prevent direct downloads. I’ll never stop someone who really wants to get a copy from finding a way, but I can make it less trivial.

The irony is, I’d probably give a copy of almost anything to someone who contacted me and asked. There’s not much money in trying to sell music these days, though I continue to try and find a way to make it a significant source of income. B2B is the obvious path, but I’m also researching things like Patreon.

Interestingly, I got an email from Dreamhost letting me know that I’d hit a memory limit with the site. This has been happening more and more over the last few years, despite me having almost no traffic and not serving any media prior to this month. I suspect the first audio player was a big culprit this time – it was pretty piggy about resources and took a long time to load.

As I started looking for other optimizations, I decided that JetPack really didn’t have anything I wanted, especially after watching my DNS traffic and seeing how many calls were being directed to WordPress servers. Sadly, I also got rid of my tagline rotator. It hadn’t been updated in years and, while it still worked, I worry about it being a potential security issue. I wish I could enable something like it on the blog area only – the humor would make a lot more sense in context.

So I’m running pretty lean with the site now. I’ve got my theme, the random quotes, a comment spam filter, the audio player, Stackable’s Gutenberg Blocks for some extra design mojo, and two behind-the-scenes utilities to make my life easier.

I’m pleased with the noticeably zippier performance and significantly fewer calls to external sites. It’s also starting to look a lot cleaner, and I’m letting go of the need to see my traffic numbers. I might try messing with analytics again in the future, but for now, I’m focusing on content.

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