Mulling the approach of WordPress 5 & Gutenberg

While the pace has definitely slowed, this blog is rolling into its 11th year. That’s a long time running WordPress. Around 1,250 posts. I revisit this as WordPress 5 is about to ship, along with the new Gutenberg editor.

The Gutenberg editor is a major change and one not to be taken lightly. Or is it? I’ve been using the Gutenberg plug-in in WP 4.9.x for the past few months, just to get a sense of it’s significance. It’s ok.

It reminds me a lot of Squarespace, which I also use to run the Woodland Heights Civic Association web site. That site was built by someone else. I assumed the admin role when I joined the WHCA board in late 2016.

After years of using WordPress it took me a while to get used to Squarespace. It seems very constraining. I was accustomed to having a fine grained control of presentation. The block-based editing of Squarespace and Gutenberg are more Apple-like. Easy to layout pages and posts. High-level control. Want to do something niggly and specific? It may be that you simply can’t. There was a little learning to just let it go.

As ever, I am anomalous. I still like to write offline. Where I once used Windows Live Writer, I now use Open Live Writer. The fact is that Gutenberg does not interfere with this. OLW posts appear to Gutenberg as “Classic” format posts, which can be converted to the new block-based format.

From my cursory experimentation, it also appears that Gutenberg posts can be read back into OLW. At least simple things don’t fall apart right away. So far, so good.

The combination of OLW and Gutenberg are interesting. OLW is about writing. It’s simple. Productive. It doesn’t create a mess of HTML like MS Word. I especially like the ability to automatically add links based upon a library of common word or phrases.

Gutenberg seems to me more about manipulating page layout and using rich media. It’s especially easy to add and manipulate media. Move things around. Craft the presentation you want.

If you’re the sort (like me) who was accustomed to spending time creating media in support of posts, it’s not all that big a deal. However, if you did not have access to tools like Adobe Creative Cloud, the improved media handling could be transformational.

I would hate to write something feature length in Gutenberg. I’ve read that some people are upset at how Gutenberg behaves as a long-form editor. I can see that. I really don’t enjoy the web-based writing/editing experience. Its just not as responsive as a native application. And it can be troublesome if you fall offline.

I see that the release is imminent. Release the Kraken Gutenberg!

SOHO Tech: Power-Over-Ethernet is Awesome!

Over the years I’ve come to admire 802.3af standard power-over-Ethernet (aka P.O.E.), even for small- or home-office applications. What follows is an introduction to the topic, and some novel ideas about its use in possibly unexpected applications.

IEEE 802.3af Power-over-Ethernet is the industry standard approach to delivering DC power to network attached devices. Given a P.O.E.-capable switch, or a P.O.E. inserter, DC power is delivered over the same Ethernet connection that provides connectivity. Thus one wire is all that’s required to a distant device on the network.
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Revisiting The Merits Of Battery Backup

According to a FierceTelecom article by Sean Buckley, “Verizon says fewer customers are purchasing battery backup for fiber home voice services.” The article describes how Verizon’s FiOS FTTH customers are tending to rely upon their mobile phones to stay on touch during a power outage.

This assertion comes right as the FCC is concerned about CPE remaining powered during an outage, something that cannot be done over fiber as it was over copper. Since customers were not buying traditional battery backup units Verizon has come up with its own solution called PowerReserve.

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Marking The 20th Internet Independence Day: April 30, 2015

An email from Daniel Berninger recently pointed out that Thursday, April 30th 2015 is the 20th anniversary of Internet Independence. According to Dan;

The decommissioning of the NSFNET backbone on April 30, 1995 was the final step in the process of privatizing the Internet set in motion by the High Performance Computing Act of 1991.

This event is being marked by a reception at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. Dan further offers;

The speakers address the 20 year accomplishment horizon and 20 year opportunity horizon to 2035.

  • James Lewis, Director, Strategic Technologies Program, CSIS
  • David Allison, Associate Director, Smithsonian Museum of American History
  • Karen Rose, Sr Director Strategy & Research, Internet Society
  • Gary Shapiro, CEO, CEA – Innovation Movement
  • Reed Hundt, former FCC Chairman & author In China’s Shadow, The Crisis of American Entrepreneurship
  • Ira Magaziner, former Sr Advisor Policy Development, President Clinton -> Creating the Framework for Global E-Commerce in 1997

The formal program will take about 45 – 60 minutes and lead into an informal agenda with tech elders and others sharing
anecdotes/remembrances of the Internet journey and ideas going forward.

Link for Internet Society livestream – http://livestream.com/internetsociety/InternetIndependenceDay

The tech elders convened as a group of friends to work on a roadmap for the gigabit age continues to grow (see below).

Tech elders so far:

  • John Perry Barlow, lyricist and activist
  • Mark Cuban, founder, AXS TV
  • Tim Draper, founder, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
  • Tom Evslin, founder & former, CEO ITXC
  • Dave Farber, Professor Emeritus, CMU and Board Member ISOC
  • Charlie Giancarlo, Sr Advisor, Silver Lake
  • George Gilder, author
  • John Gilmore, activist
  • Brett Glass, founder of first Wireless ISP
  • Doug Humphrey, co-founder Digex, Cidera
  • Bryan Martin, Chairman and CTO, 8×8
  • Joe McMillen, founder, Complex Drive
  • Scott McNealy, co-founder, SUN Microsystems
  • Bob Metcalfe, Professor, University of Texas and inventor of Ethernet
  • Ray Ozzie, founder, Talko and Lotus Notes
  • Jeff Pulver, co-founder, Zula and Vonage
  • Michael Robertson, founder, CEO, MP3.com
  • Les Vadasz, former EVP, Intel

It’s most likely that you, like myself, can’t just fly to DC for such events, no matter how interesting the gathering. However, the fact that this event is being streamed by the Internet Society makes it considerably more accessible. Thus it’s an invitation well worth sharing.

Manuel Kasper Announces The End Of m0n0wall Project

This morning’s email included a message from Manuel Kasper, leader of the m0n0wall project. On the very day that is the 12th anniversary of the project he has announced that he’s bringing it to an end.

I’ve used m0n0wall for at least a decade. For several years I’ve intended to migrate to pfsense, a project that was initially forked from m0n0wall. m0n0wall’s NAT implementation is just so very SIP friendly that making the change always felt like a lot of effort. I suppose now there’s an additional reason to follow through on that plan.

Manuel didn’t elaborate on his reasons, but I certainly understand the possibilities. Twelve years is along time to do anything, most especially anything that involves leading a community project.

m0n0wall has been a treat to use. It’s positively inspirational in it’s combination of carefully defined functionality and simplicity. Manuel was masterful in his ability to sustain the project focus, avoiding the mistake of trying to be all things to all people.

Our Two UPS Have Gone Down

Belkin UPSsWe have a pair of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) on the property. Both are somewhat vintage models from Belkin. A 1000 VA model (F6C1000) in my office rack powers our network core. A smaller, 900 VA model (F6C900) in a central closet, powers those network components that live in the house. Both of them have been misbehaved in recent weeks. At this very moment they are basically non-functional.

I’ve long believed that the network core should survive minor power line irregularities. This belief stemmed in part from our migration to IP-based telephones for home & office. Our phone service should survive a power line bump. With both UPS in their fault-riddled state a loss of line power, even just a power line switching bump, caused our entire network to go down. This situation eventually had to be addressed.

The sealed batteries is consumer UPS such as ours have a fixed lifespan. At a certain point they simply cannot retain a charge, and the device throws an error. From that point onward they become nothing more than an overweight outlet strip.

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