Posted in May, 2014

Category Cloud

Tag clouds have been a pretty standard way of navigating blog archives for a while. WordPress does this with the wp_tag_cloud template tag, but it can actually do the same for categories. For the above category cloud, I used this code:

This format can be a great improvement over a traditional list-based presentation.

Andrew Nacin, lead developer of WordPress, wrote an interesting post about how they decide to give commit access:

A committer is a contributor with the ability to modify the main WordPress repository. If you’re used to a decentralized model, this would be those with push/write access. There have been around three dozen committers to WordPress over the last decade; almost twenty currently have access. But in 2009, there were just five.

I’ve always been proud to count myself as one of the people on that list. I still remember the incredible rush I felt when Ryan Boren pulled me aside in IRC and set me up with it. Unfortunately, my reign came to an end a few months later, but I still learned a lot from the experience. It continues to amaze me that I had direct access to the source code of such an important project, and I was only 14 at the time.

When I posted that I wasn’t going to be working on WordPress anymore, I never gave a reason or an explanation for why I left. Perhaps I felt bitter about the way they made the decision to revoke my access, but I didn’t want to air my dirty laundry. I’m glad I made that decision at the time.

The fact of the matter is that I was 14 years old at the time. I thought I knew everything, that my way was the best way, and that I didn’t have much more to learn. In the 8 years and counting since then, I’ve thought a lot about the experience. It has taken years of maturing and just growing up to realize this.

I used to argue with Matt about topics like converting WordPress to PHP 5 and write cheeky posts trying to call him out. I never thought to consider I may have been wrong. I wrote patches and pushed code into the trunk that I didn’t test or run by anyone else. I used to be a terrible developer, because I thought I was 14 and invincible.

I left for a summer in Italy in June of 2007. While I was there, I ended up using my host family’s computer and the urge to work on WordPress struck. I tried committing a patch to the repository, but I kept getting an error denying me access. I went onto IRC and tried to find out what was going on.

Ryan pulled me aside in a private message and let me know that Matt had decided to revoke my access. No one told me, though they were supposed to, and I found out this way in a country across the world. I took the hit, felt back stabbed, and declared my departure from WordPress.

In the following time, I harbored a secret grudge against Matt. This incident had taken the wind from my sails, and I ended up giving programming up for the most part. I blamed Matt for this, but after a few years I realized I only had myself to blame. I let myself give a passion up because I was too prideful to continue after what had happened. At the time, I even said that the decision “been floating around in my mind for a long time.”

I still don’t like the way they treated me in the end, but I’ve come to understand why I lost commit access. I wish I had only been a few years older for this experience, and I’m certain things would have worked out differently.

I’ve thought about writing this post many times in the past 8 years, and I always decided against it. Reading Andrew Nacin’s post about commit access brought back memories, and I finally felt ready to compose my thoughts about what happened so long ago. You live, make mistakes, and through reflection learn how to build a better future.

Apple buying Beats has launched a fierce debate about its motives behind the billion dollar deal. This piece by the Daily Dot puts some numbers behind it (emphasis mine):

Dr.Dre—the greatest hip hop producer of all time—has helped Beats headphones attain the prime spot in the black American hierarchy of gadgets, even above the iPhone. The fact is, Apple never had cachet with black people. Android is king in Black America. Some 71 percent of Black Americans own smartphones—the highest rate of any demographic—with 73 percent of black smartphone owners eschewing Apple’s iPhone for Google, according to Nielsen. And that has little to do with the price. The collective buying power of 43 million black Americans is forecasted to reach $1.3 trillion by 2017. With Dr. Dre on board, Apple may gain the support of black Americans and a portion of their buying power—and, more importantly, their cultural influence.

Just think about it: Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world, and have put decades of work behind their brand image. They are spending billions of dollars just for access to the wallets of black Americans.

Times have changed.

In light of yesterday’s news about Yahoo and Do Not Track, I’m trying some new search engines out. I have DuckDuckGo as the search engine in my Firefox, and I’ve installed the DuckDuckGo app on my iPhone. Unfortunately, there’s no way to add a search engine to Safari on iOS without jailbreaking, but I’ve switched to Bing temporarily to see how well it works.

So far I really like DuckDuckGo. Its results seem to be on point, and the results are fast and all over SSL. Bing is pretty… mediocre, both in results and in design.

From Ars Technica:

Yahoo yesterday announced that it will stop complying with Do Not Track signals that Web browsers send on behalf of users who wish to not be monitored for advertising purposes.

“As of today, web browser Do Not Track settings will no longer be enabled on Yahoo,” a company blog said. “As the first major tech company to implement Do Not Track, we’ve been at the heart of conversations surrounding how to develop the most user-friendly standard. However, we have yet to see a single standard emerge that is effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry.”

The Do Not Track initiative works by trying to get advertising companies to promise they won’t use use the data they have for advertising… which is exactly what their business model is. Yahoo’s move isn’t a surprise at all, and they’re just doing what Google has been doing.

The only way to try to protect your privacy online is to do it yourself. Install Adblock and Ghostery at the very least. NoScript is another way, but it’s a much more extreme one. The onus is on the user, more than ever, to take privacy into their own hands.