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WordPress 5.3

After, what seemed like a long wait, WordPress 5.3 is finally here. Right on time. Congratulations to the WordPress team. I just finished upgrading my blog to the latest version of WordPress. I’ve been waiting to try out the final version of the brand new TwentyTwenty theme that ships with the latest version of WordPress.

My blog is currently running the TwentyTwenty theme. There are a few noticeable UI glitches, but, I’m OK with them. I definitely don’t want to switch back to the old theme because of these bugs. I’m sure these will be fixed soon. I haven’t investigated these bugs yet. These could even be caused by any of the plugins I’m using.

Besides the new theme, there are a few UI changes to the Admin side of the site. I’m excited to try out the new features of the updated Block Editor that ships with WordPress 5.3.

If I find anything more interesting about this release, I’ll definitely update this post. Until then, here’s the official release notes for this release https://wordpress.org/news/2019/11/kirk/

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Goodbye, Google Analytics

Google Analytics

I decided to switch back to using WordPress as my blogging platform this May. At the same time, I also took the decision of removing Google Analytics (GA) from my blog. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. So, I thought I’d remove GA for a few months and see if I miss its value.

I used GA primarily to identify which posts attracted the most readers and calculate the bounce rates. After a while, I felt like I didn’t really need this information, since, I wasn’t really doing anything with it. I just wrote about things that I thought were interesting. I was never motivated by my blog’s user engagement, to write about topics I wasn’t interested in.

As it turned out, I only needed some basic analytics on how my posts were performing. For instance, the number of views on a particular post is information that I find interesting. Using GA to track this information is unnecessary. GA is way more complicated. Using it to just track page views didn’t make sense.

Don’t get me wrong, I love data. I find graphs and statistics around data very interesting. I like extracting patterns out of data. But, I didn’t really want to do it with my blog. WordPress ships with a basic analytics dashboard that displays information such as number of views per post, number of comments, the day that recorded the highest number of views etc. These data points are enough for me with respect to my blog.

Hence, as of today, I’ve decided to get rid of GA on my blog for good.

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The Reverse Switch

After 7 years, I’m back on WordPress. Lot of things have changed in 7 years. For starters, the prices have significantly gone down for hosting your server. Also, the UX of the WP mobile app is now so much better. The new blocks based text editor is very interesting.

One of the primary reasons for me to switch back to WP from Jekyll is to be able to compose blog posts even from my phone.

Lately, my workflow for blogging has been something like the following:

  1. Compose an initial draft in the Notes.app
  2. Once the draft is 80-90% done, convert it to Markdown and iterate over the draft until I find the content satisfactory
  3. Push to GitHub to publish the post

As you can see, steps 2 and 3 require me to be on the computer. Those steps can’t really be done from my phone in a simple way. As a result, I’ve seen myself slacking away from finalizing posts more often.

This switch back to WP should make it more easier for me to post more often. I already notice the difference, since, I’m composing this post on my phone. Now, I can focus on writing more.

Indeed, I did.

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10 years

Being busy with travel, work and some other personal things, I totally forgot that on March 20th 2019, my blog completed its 10 years of existence. Personally, that’s a huge milestone for me.

It feels good to have had my blog for 10 years. A lot has changed in the past 10 years and my blog helps me see and understand how I’ve evolved over the past decade. I started my blog as a personal project. It started off as an outlet for my interest in writing about things happening in my life. As I grew older, my interests changed and so did the things I was blogging about. Right now, most of my blog posts I write are technical at some level, which seems obvious given my love for technology.

This isn’t my first blog though. I used to have another blog around 2005, named “Stealth Factory” (cut me some slack, I was a kid ), where I’d blog about “tips & tricks” to improve Windows Operating System. I had the blog till 2008. At some point, I wanted to write about things that were more personal to me and that’s how I started my current blog.

The frequency at which I blog has definitely improved over the years.

I’m planning on revamping my blog to make it more simpler and yet, functional. I plan on redesigning my blog with a huge emphasis on typography this time around.

I have a few ideas that I’d like to implement. I have some topics that I want to write about this year. I have a lot of unorganized writing that I need to organize into proper blog posts. Overall, I’m excited about the future of my blog.

If you’ve been a follower of my blog, then, thanks for being a reader. I hope to write more interesting content in the future.

Here’s to another 10 years!

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Geotagging Blog Posts

I was checking out some photos on my iPhone the other day and I really liked how the Photos app organized my photos by location. It really adds a lot of context to my photos. In the past, I’ve used the map view to see where a particular photo was taken a ton of times, but, I never really appreciated the value of Geotagging the photos.

Context is quite important when you’re trying to express an opinion or trying to state something. I think location adds a little bit of context, if not a lot, to a blog post. I don’t see it being done on any of the personal blogs I follow. I think it’s an interesting piece of information to add to the metadata of a blog post.

I’ve spent some time to retroactively add the location tag to all of my previous blog posts too. I will probably add a filter in the archive page later to filter posts by location. I may even add a map view similar to the one found in the Photos app.

Update: Now that I’ve moved to WordPress, I am yet to figure out how to set this up with WordPress Mobile App, since, it doesn’t seem to be possible to location tag from the Web UI.

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IAM.MT

After waiting for 3 long years, I’ve finally acquired the domain 🎉 https://iam.mt 🎉. This is going to be my new blog URL moving forward. Thank you Malta!

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Blog Changes

This year, I’ve decided to make a few changes to my blog and following are the changes –

SSL enabled site-wide

As you might’ve already noticed, my blog is now served over SSL. I’ve enabled SSL site wide here (mt.cx) & on my mohni.sh domain. You can too, if you’re using GitHub to host your blog. The whole setup is very simple, quick and free.

URL

My blog URL has also changed. I’ve decided to use https://mt.cx for my blog and https://mohni.sh for my profile page. I’ve used mt.cx as my custom url shortener for the past couple of years.

Update: I’ve updated my blog URL to use https://iam.mt

Redesign

After I moved away from Tumblr, I started using GitHub Pages to host my blog. I found a script online to convert my Tumblr blogs into Jekyll supported markdown files. Once I had my markdown files, it was just a matter of pushing them to my homepage repository on GitHub. Ever since the move, my blog has had the same design. It’s time for a change. Over the coming 3-4 months, I will be updating my blog design in increments. These are some of the changes I’m planning on making to my blog this year.

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5 years

Today marks the 5th year of my blog’s existence! 😎

My first post was about how I setup the first version
of my blog using WordPress. Since then, my blog underwent a few changes. For instance, I moved away from WordPress to Tumblr and then to Jekyll. This basically meant moving my blog over from my own personal web server to Tumblr’s servers and finally to GitHub’s servers. Even my blog URL underwent the following changes:

http://mohnish.net –> http://mohnish.in –> http://blog.mohnish.in –>
http://blog.mohni.sh –> http://mohni.sh/blog/ —> http://mohni.sh/

Although I don’t blog much, I’ve always liked the idea of having a blog to express myself, describe my experiences and showcase my projects. I also like posting random stuff.

Following is a graph I made, showing the number of posts per year (2 so far, in 2014):

It’s funny how I wrote 15 posts in 2012 and 2 posts, the following year. This year, however, I plan on posting photos on my blog. It’d either be that or have a separate custom app to showcase my photography (I’m still a noob photog). But for sure, this year I’ll be blogging more than twice 😜.

Here’s to more years of blogging…

/me raises a glass of champagne

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MT.CX

Not sure what to do with this but I might end up using this as my custom URL shortener. Thank you Christmas Island.

https://mt.cx

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The Switch

If you’re reading this blog, then you must have noticed that I’ve changed the theme and the URL of my Blog. Well, those are just the superficial changes. I even changed my blogging platform. I used to use WordPress to blog (Of course, occasionally). But now, I switched to a much more comfortable platform, Tumblr.

Till now, I haven’t had any problems with Tumblr. In fact I like the service.

So, here is a little comparison of the two awesome blogging platforms.

WordPress: In a word, terrific. It has almost all features a blogger desires. It’s very easy to setup and use. It has a very neat admin interface. Nothing complex. You have a ton of plugins to customize your blog. There’re good themes, not great, good (the free ones). I’ve used WordPress for over two years. I have always loved it.

Then what made me shift? Well,

  • You cannot have your customized URL for free. You need to pay some amount for that.
  • Even if you pay the amount for the customized URL, you cannot install any plugins because WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to do that.
  • You’ve to purchase the upgrade (which by the way costs you around $99/year if I am not wrong) for customizing your blog with the plugins you desire.
  • A better way to use the powerful WordPress blogging platform is to install a copy of it from WordPress.org on your own server and you’re free to customize it to your needs. That might sound like a great option. But it is not if you’re not planning on shelling out your hard earned money to merely host your personal blog on a server. If you’re willing to pay for your server, then go nuts. WordPress is an amazing platform to blog on. Although it has a few drawbacks.

The main drawback with WordPress is friction. The platform has a certain amount of friction which makes the usability a bit less pleasing. I know this statement might piss off the WordPress fan-boys reading this blog, but it’s a fact.

WordPress doesn’t make me feel like blogging often. I tend to postpone blogging. If I feel like sharing something, it doesn’t provide me that frictionlessness (wow, that’s a big word). This is because of the options you have to post content. Yeah, they do have different post types, but still, they’re not up to the mark.

WordPress’s iPhone app is not that great. I have had it installed on my phone for more than a year and I haven’t used it even once. That is definitely a deal breaker.

This is the exact point where Tumblr kicks in.Tumblr excels where WordPress fails. Frictionlessness.

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First off, the Tumblr iPhone app is very good. I love it. It is so easy to use and it makes you feel like sharing more stuff. There’re many post types such as Image, Audio, Video, Chat, Quotes and Text. I have used all these post types (except audio) on my blog. WordPress has failed to handle such types well. So this is the point where the friction to share kicks in when using WordPress. When you feel like sharing an image, you think twice and opt for some other image sharing service like Instagram.

Secondly, the free themes offered by Tumblr are lovely. It’s ultra easy to customize your theme to make it look the way you want it to.

The other good thing about Tumblr that I loved is that it doesn’t charge you for using a customized domain name and the service itself is free.

These were the exact things that I was looking for to get rid of my Rackspace server. I was literally paying $132/year for a WordPress blog that I use occasionally. There’re other services which offer free WordPress hosting, but they’re very slow. That is obvious because their services are free and you really can’t expect more from them.

Before I actually made the switch to Tumblr, I even considered Posterous. Posterous was good but not as good as Tumblr. Tumblr has features that really impressed me to make the switch.

And that my friends, is the story of The Switch.

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Numero Uno

Hello! My first blog post.
At last I have successfully set up my blog after a lot of hard work. I had to tweak the template a lot to get the blog look like what I wanted it to look like. Thanks to WampServer, I could test it almost thoroughly. If you have anything to say about any post, then don’t hesitate to leave a comment. There are some minor changes that I need to make to the blog. So, I need to work a bit more on the blog. Right now I’m not gifted with such an amount of time. Maybe I will find time in the near future. Anyways come back if you like my blog.