No more @import for me

Well, at least not for current WordPress child themes.

I like child themes and always recommend that people use them instead of modifying any WordPress theme directly. Using a child theme makes your changes belong to you and they won’t get erased when the original theme gets updated.

I’ve told people to use something like this in their child theme’s style.css file.

/*
Theme Name: Sorbet Child theme for Mostly Harmless
Theme URI: https://blog.dembowski.net/
Description: Child theme for the Sorbet theme
Version: 0.1
Author: Jan Dembowski
Author URI: https://blog.dembowski.net/
Template: sorbet
*/

@import url("../sorbet/style.css");

/* Start your custom CSS after this line */

See that @import line? That had previously been required if you wanted to inherit the parent theme’s CSS. At the moment my child theme does not have that @import anymore and instead I’ve created a functions.php file with these lines in it.

<?php

function mh_sorbet_child_style() {
        wp_enqueue_style( 'sorbet-parent-style', get_template_directory_uri() . '/style.css' );
        // wp_enqueue_style( 'sorbet-child-style', get_stylesheet_uri() );
}

add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'mh_sorbet_child_style' , 5 );

Which really is a more WordPress way to do it. I added a function mh_sorbet_child_style() where I first queue up the parent theme’s style.css and then queue up the child theme.

Notice how I commented out the second line? The parent theme already queues up the current theme’s style.css file and in my case that is sorbet-child/style.css. In my child theme I do not need to queue it a second time as it’s not necessary.

But I do want to ensure that the parent theme is queued up earlier than the child theme CSS. That’s why I add the wp_enqueue_scripts with a priority of 5 instead of the default 10. That should always load the parent CSS first. If the theme does not queue up it’s style.css that way then I would un-comment out that line.

Just as before, any new CSS will go into my child theme’s style.css file.

 

OK, no more Xmarks for me

I like the idea behind Xmarks but there seems to be something I am doing that’s just not working.

Here’s what I’ve done.

  1. Installed Xmarks on all of my browsers. For Internet Explorer this meant a small system tray app.
  2. Made one set of bookmarks the Master To Rule all of My Bookmarks™. I did that once and confirmed that Xmarks has those bookmarks via the My Xmarks page. Neat page BTW.
  3. Synchronized all of my browsers. The first time I selected “the download and erase bookmarks on this browser” option.
  4. Bookmarks are synchronized! Sweet.

A few days later I started losing whole sections of my bookmarks. Not so sweet. Fortunately Xmarks has a great revision system and I was able to roll back to the set I wanted. Repeatedly. Sometimes more than once an hour.

I think the culprit is Chrome but I just couldn’t get the darn thing to behave. I’m sure Xmarks is not at fault, It’s just that one of my browsers never attended kindergarten and doesn’t know how to share with the other kids.

I’m back to manually synchronizing my bookmarks which isn’t a big deal as I don’t add to them that frequently. For Firefox I’m using Mozilla Sync which has developed into a nice option from years ago. For that browser it just works and also synchronized my add-ons, preferences, etc. For Chrome the bookmarks are shared using the Great Google Data Collection Experiment™.

This may have been why I stopped using this software in the first place. Meh, back to sorta syncing my bookmarks at least in Firefox and Chrome.

What if everyone felt this way and talked about it?

This past week hasn’t been an easy one. The world lost a charming, well-loved and talented man. This has inspired people to talk about depression and how it affects all of our lives.

Why don’t people talk about it? Because it’s personal and when it happens to you it sucks and hurts. But what many people are not aware of is that they’re not alone. It happens to a lot of folks and everyone shouldn’t feel like help is not available. It is and you can get support.

Years ago I was catching up with a friend on the phone and somehow I had said this:

I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be afraid.

I meant it too. I had a great job, my family was doing well, my commute was easy (work was a 10 minute drive away). At that moment on the phone I could not remember the tenseness, the dread, the fear of doing everything wrong at work and in my personal life.

I remembered those times but I could not remember at that moment what it felt like. It was gone and I was finally relaxed and at peace. It made me nervous but that was OK.

Less than a year later I called Lily on a Friday just before noon and said how sorry I was but I needed to quit my job immediately. It was not working out for me and without getting myself into trouble I can say that some people do not deserve the label “human being”.

Lily’s response was exactly as I had hoped.

It’s fine, it’s going to be alright. Don’t worry just do what you have to do. It’s OK.

Support is important and it counts. I resigned and was granted the next 2 weeks off paid. Some of the people I dealt with were raised by a family after all.

I had to quit. Normally being depressed makes a situation worse but for many months at work I was feeling trapped. I became short-tempered, I was eventually talking to myself in front of Lily (thankfully just her I think). I began to respond to everyone either defensively or with outright hostility. I came down with shingles.

Walking away was the start of my dealing with my problem. After a short 30 day break I found new work. While it’s not always flowers and sunshine, it’s good and I’m lucky to be in that environment where I can contribute positively.

That’s how depression is for me

It’s that unreasonable fear and sadness about everything I do. Sometimes it’s from a bad day or it comes for no reason at all. It’s being angry at myself and eventually others. It’s being frightened all the time and it feeds itself in a sick loop. Sometimes it stops me cold. It’s not always there thankfully, and usually it’s delivered in small doses and I cope with it. When it really hits hard I can’t get a thing done.

I deal with it by relying on my family and friends especially Lily. I do reality checks all the time. I have to as sometimes someone will say a word to me and I’ll need to step back and realize that they didn’t mean to upset me.

When I don’t deal with it I lash out at those near me. I treat others badly and I become ashamed.

Help when you can even if you don’t understand

People who are dealing with this aren’t bad, or weak, or anything. They need help and support. My support is my family and it works for me. I hate using this phrase, but for me this is not that bad.

Some aren’t that lucky and hurt themselves or others. If you suspect someone is dealing with this try to be supportive. Even an “Are you OK?” can help turn it around and your support means the world to people. It’s a dialog and if that doesn’t work then just being around can make it better.

If you are going through this then it’s OK. You might not know it but you are not alone. Others are coping and getting support and that can happen for you too. It’s hard but talk to someone about this, write about it, put it down on paper. Consider seeing a doctor. It just may help you cope and you can begin to feel better.

Feeling better even in degrees is a great relief and no one should deal with this alone.

Wash, rinse, repeat kitchen faucet edition

A week or so ago my kitchen Delta faucet slipped on its mount and refused to go back. The faucet was held in position by 2 wimpy 8th of an inch plastic tabs. I have 2 kids and you know what happened. At least it lasted 3 years.

Last Saturday I got a new Kohler replacement as I like to give new companies a chance. The faucet mounted fine but it sprayed everywhere and washing dishes as like washing them in the rain. It’s not adjustable enough and I’m returning it.

I’ve just installed a new Delta faucet and it gets the Dembowski Household Seal of Approval™. It also has the same wimpy plastic tabs to hold it into position so in less that 3 years I expect to do this all over again. Delta has a lifetime warranty and I plan to speak with them about the last faucet.

I am so keeping the box and all the parts for the new one.

I may have broken my Feedburner feed

After I converted my WordPress install to 100% SSL I noticed that my own feeds in Tiny Tiny RSS were not updating. Years ago I forwarded my RSS feeds to Feedburner and 301 redirects from https://blog.dembowski.net/feed/ https wasn’t working.

I can’t even remember why I used Feedburner. I’m pretty sure I turned it on in a moment of “What’s that button do? *Monkey pushes button*”.

I’ll keep testing but eventually I’ll disengage Feedburner and just use https://blog.dembowski.net/feed/ instead.

Edit: This work around seems to fix it.

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} blog.dembowski.net [NC]
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/feed/$
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/index.php$
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} !^feed=rss2$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://blog.dembowski.net/$1 [R=301,L]
</IfModule>

The part starting at line 5 is where I added conditions so that the SSL 301 redirect will be ignored.

Why not use SSL and be done with it?

On the Internet there has been talk about Google and SSL based web sites. Apparently you may get a small boost if you switch to https. I myself doubt that (I’m jaded that way) and the additional SSL math will slow down busy sites a little. But I don’t get enough traffic to care really and I do like to play. This seems easy enough to do.

I Like Server Based Solutions and I Cannot Lie

I use WordPress multisite and on my web server I have a valid SSL certificate installed. I’m already using Apache’s mod_substitute to modify https://blog.dembowski.net/ to https: before it get’s sent to the browser for my SSL site.

Why not switch to SSL and be done with it? I could have used a tool to change all the WordPress database references to https but I’m running multisite and I wanted to be a little more site specific so I added this to my .htaccess file above the WordPress part but below the “Get Lost, I don’t like you” part.


<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} blog.dembowski.net [NC]
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://blog.dembowski.net/$1 [R=301,L]
</IfModule>

So far it hasn’t broken anything and is limited to my this one and not the other sites. I’ll keep an eye on it but there’s no reason for me not to leave it that way. I like server based solutions but for other people a HTTPS plugin may be an easier way to go.

The only downside is that I will need to maintain my SSL certificate but I plan to do that anyway.

So this means I wear a tin foil hat?

Not really but it does mean in most cases people visiting my site will get the traffic encrypted between my site and their browsers.

*Adjusts Tin Foil Hat™ and skips conversation about  SSL transactions and man in the middle interception*

It’s more a concern that someone will have some key logger or other hack installed on their machine.

Sniffing unencrypted data on the Internet is easy. Doing so for encrypted SSL traffic is more difficult. It would require the Bad Guy or Spook to have access to the private certificate issued by the certificate authority. Or exploit a server bug and harvest the SSL private certificate from the web server. That would never happen right…?

If your interested in how it all works then start with this Wikipedia article on TLS. This Digicert article is good too and may be easier reading. In the meanwhile anyone coming to my site will get redirected to the SSL based version.

That was a short walk and I installed Xmarks

When I switched the laptop back to Firefox I bemoaned the lack of being able to synchronize my browser’s bookmarks with each of my other devices. That was on the list for why I used Chrome in the first place:

  1. Shared passwords
  2. Shared history
  3. Shared bookmarks
  4. Participating in the massive data collection experiment known as The Great Google™ BOW BEFORE THE DATA COLLECTION MONSTER!

That last one always made me tighten my tin foil hat just a little.

Shared passwords are easy with 1Password. I set it up to synchronize with Dropbox, picked a reasonably complex password that I can remember and just go. I have my passwords on Windows, Mac, my Android phone and the iPad. It doesn’t work with Linux as far as I know but I always have my phone with me and it’s all good.

Using Xmarks covers the other items and it works well.

I use it to synchronize my bookmarks and history but I turned off the other add-on items like site info. This shouldn’t surprise me as I’d used this tool before and I still can’t recall why I stopped using it (though it might have been because it shutdown for a while).

It works in the background and with those other features disabled it’s really transparent and unobtrusive. That’s good software design: it performs it’s job and gets out of your way. Cool.

I could setup my own server to sync with but I don’t think my bookmarks are really that telling. That doesn’t mean there is not a lot of good social engineering potential in my bookmark data: it’s just that I’m already tracked one way or another by the Great Google Monster™ so Xmarks isn’t high on my list to be concerned about.

Featured image photo by B Rosen

Cross platform browser bookmarks?

Chrome on my laptop drains the battery dry so I’ve installed the current Firefox and went through some quick installations and all is right in the world. I installed the following:

  1. Firefox – Duh.
  2. 1Password4 extension
  3. Greasemonkey

It struck me that my favorite tools have cross platform equivalents.

  1. Chrome
  2. 1Password4 extension
  3. Tampermonkey

But what I am lacking is a tool to easily sync my browser bookmarks. Yes, I can easily export and import them but I’m lazy and would prefer a tool that works across all browsers.

I may need to give Xmarks another look. I forgot why but there was something about it years ago that turned me off.

I prefer using apps that work the same between platforms. I use Postbox for that reason (it’s also a cool mail app) even though it doesn’t have any data sync exactly. I’m using the same mailbox in both so the experience is the same even when I accidentally send a private email to a mail distribution list. I make the same mistakes on both versions.

The same goes with the 1Password application and I was thrilled when the Windows version was updated. The 1Password app is a great example of cross platform utility. The experience between Windows and Mac just works and it works consistently.

I’ll need to do some digging for a bookmark solution that I like.

Featured image Photo by Titanas