Still slowly chipping away at this project. A couple of pages needed some light tweaking after changing to “Twenty Twenty-One” for consistency, but that was mostly it.
I’ve re-built my Contact page to fit the theme, re-wrote copy to hopefully sound a bit more approachable and with more of an authentic voice. Getting it to work after several test-emails and getting the form to fit the page well took some behind-the-scenes finagling. The Contact Form that I’d been using was part of SightOrigin’s collection of modules and plugins that I removed so I needed to find a new one.
WP-Forms is commonly installed with most WordPress hosting. It’s basic and heavily spams with built-in ads for the other integrations they sell. Meh. I didn’t want to use Contact Form 7 as it tends to be a fairly heavy plug-in. The point of this project is to speed things up on the website, not slow them down. I also didn’t want to just use a clickable link to email with and open myself up to every email-scraping bot in existence.
Anyway, I think I found one that I like and it has some spam-protection so that should help with reducing the inevitable torrent of spam-via-contact-form emails. It also fits well with the “Twenty Twenty-One” theme.
Under the hood, I removed a couple of heavy plug-ins and either got rid of them completely or found lighter-weight versions to work with. For SEO related functionality, I looked over the following, and decided against them:
Yoast – Bloated and ad-heavy
Rank Math – Inconsistent
I’m using a somewhat lighter SEO framework, in keeping with the simplicity and efficiency I am aiming for. So far, so good.
Speaking of buggy plugins, I removed Pixel Caffeine as it was causing random crashes that led to heavy slow-downs when editing a blog-post. I don’t really know if it is worth using Facebook’s Pixel on this particular site anyway, as it doesn’t really use Facebook Re-targeting Ads. More important to me is that after making these changes on the back-end, editing and updating seem a lot snappier than it had been for a few months.
And now I’ve got a better Contact Page as a result!
Sooooooo, I had re-arranged some cables, and positioning, and the peripherals that were plugged into my Thunderbolt 3 dock the other day (to be faiiiiiiiiiiiir…), and noticed today that my MackBook Pro was not charging.
I have optimized battery management set up and know that it can hover around 80% charge before charging back up fully again. I rarely use it off the power adapter because I use the external hard drives very extensively to organize and back up my porn collection, er, my Lightroom catalog, as one does.
All day, I watched its charge slowly lowering past 80%. I reset NVRAM, and SMC, as normally suggested. Kept dropping over time to 60%.
Looked up how to force MacOS to charge the battery while connected to TB3. An existing option to force charge didn’t exist — it requires the Mac to be plugged into a power adapter.
The Mac was plugged into its TB3 cable as normal. Hard drives were fully accessible. Everything was fine.
At 32% charge I gave up and looked at the TB3 dock to make sure everything was plugged in tightly. Everything was fine, apparently, EXCEPT the TB3 cable. I had re-plugged it into the dock’s second TB3 port the other day — the data port and not the host port that is clearly labeled “Computer” which provides, among other things, 87 watts of power.
So, to conclude this episode of Adrian’s Technology Brain Farts, I plugged the cable into the correct port on the dock and my laptop is now charging normally.
So far, I am enjoying my photography website’s re-design project. I’ve removed about a dozen plugins and replaced them with smaller, leaner options; removed the Astra theme, deleted all the categories and tags for the blog, menus, widgets in the footer, deleted different pages (Contact, About, etc) and I deleted the SiteOrigin page-builder and it’s many modules.
Instead of using a different page-builder, I’m opting to stick with Gutenberg and it’s block-based system for both the blog and building various pages. Mostly for simplicity’s sake, partially for the challenge, and partially to remove page-builder bloat.
I also decided to go with the default 2021 WordPress theme as the baseline. Colors are pleasing, typography is gorgeous, content is big and bold, it all looks great on a big screen or smartphone, and it does not have a lost of bloat.
Sensing a theme here?
The Plan Moving Forward
Ultimately, I am looking to build this site into a photography-blog centered website but one that still has room for me to write about things as I will. I’m a photographer, but also I am a human being with a lot to say that doesn’t necessarily fit Facebook.
The blog will be the focus, the rest of the site will be built around it.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below and I hope you all enjoy this re-designing journey with me!
After taking some time to look closely at my website and evaluate what I want to accomplish with it, I decided it was time to give it a complete make over.
What started me on this process was that there’s a lot of talk about missing Livejournal among my friends and so I want to bring back that sense of conversation and community as much as possible. I think that for my website’s re-design, I am going to go for a much more radical simplification and will strip things down to the basics while putting the blog’s content front and center.
The pages it will contain will also be stripped down to the basics: About, Contact, Policies, and a basic Shop (it, too, will be simplified). It will also include re-working the back-end, reducing plugins and functionality down to the absolute minimum needed.
It will remain on a managed WordPress installation with Dreamhost (Affiliate link) rather than reducing it down to a shared-host account, mostly because of the attached WooCommerce shop and server-level caching and reverse-proxy that the DreamPress account provides.
If it means tearing out the page-builder and it’s myriad modules, so be it. If it means reducing the topics and categories, then that too. If it means removing or re-writing past posts, then I’ll do that, too. Switching themes to a default theme and working within it’s limitations is completely an option, too.
Donald Trump lost the election for the Office of the President of the United States of America to Joseph Biden.
It’s over, so we can relax now, right?
There is a lot of talk about “coming together,” and “reaching across the aisle,” and even speculating that Biden should pardon that rat.
On the one hand, pardoning requires acknowledgement of one’s crimes, and admitting one’s guilt; otherwise, there is nothing to pardon. Getting it on record may be an important step and faster than an actual courtroom trial and a federal pardon still does not, in any way, absolve one from state level prosecution for the same crimes. It also won’t be seen as heavily partisan as other options.
The rat couldn’t easily scream “witch hunt” if the Feds pardoned him and let him twist in the wind before state charges.
But it would not amount to a full public reckoning for and full rejection of that rat and his cult.
Allowing the judicial process to take place, on the other hand, will allow for digging deep and a very public exposure of one’s alleged crimes. A deeply damaging case can be laid out, in full, for the public to see. Just as entire towns and villages were made to walk into and through the various concentration camps in their jurisdictions and forced to confront the evil that many claimed having no knowledge of, forcing the United States to bear witness to the full rot committed by the MAGAt cult is an important and necessary step if we want the possibility of a complete repudiation and rejection of it.
But it carries an enormous risk.
A warning from history
On trial for treason after the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler was given a very public platform for his beliefs in the courts and he took full advantage of it. The unfortunate effect of the trial was his greatly increased celebrity, and the legitimacy his beliefs were granted, by allowing him such a public forum. His sentence was incredibly light, and he was given plenty of liberties that, again, he took full advantage of. During his time in prison, he dictated his manifesto and put his beliefs down in writing.
The MAGAt’s biggest liability and advantage is his own mouth, unfortunately. The rest of us will hear his dottering gibberish, incoherent rambling, nonsensical non-sequiturs, and insane conspiracy theories and will naturally recoil but his cult — his fanatics? They will hear him, loud and clear, as they always have and they will make a martyr out of him no matter which direction a trial may go.
Trump consolidated multiple groups with similar beliefs, created a platform, and legitimized all of them with his weaponized Twitter account and his coast to coast mini Nuremberg rallies, and birthed a fanatical anti-American movement. What he did was no different than what Dietrich Eckart and Alfred Rosenberg did in Wiemar Germany. They set the stage. Hitler took the spotlight and, eventually, Germany.
Another thing to consider is that if Trump ultimately faces federal prosecution for any crimes he may have committed before, and during, his time in office, remember how many friendly judges the GOP rubber-stamped into the federal judiciary?
The danger has just begun
November 3, 2020 was only the beginning of the most dangerous period United States of America has faced in at least a century and a half.
Trump may have lost the election and been voted out of office but rumor is that he is already looking at a 2024 run. If not him, someone with his blessing will run. The next one, embracing that rat’s MAGAt platform will have far less of their predecessor’s mental liabilities and all of his cruelty.
Are America’s institutions stronger than the Wiemar Republic’s was? We are certainly much older, but they have never been tested quite like the last 4 years, and counting, have tested them nor have they faced the potential enduring threat that Trump’s MAGA cult will continue to be for a long time to come.
I went to Worcester, this past Saturday, to meet with Ashley for a photoshoot idea she had contacted me about. Not gonna lie, it was a cold day.
Massachusetts is under a COVID-19 stay-at-home advisory between 10pm-5am for most people, so the timing was a little challenging. We scheduled the shoot early enough to have day light available to set up equipment and have plenty of time available for photography, and late enough that we would not be fighting with bright sunlight or waiting too long for darkness to happen, in case we had some flow toys to incorporate.
Ashley did bring an LED light-whip; however, conditions were not conducive to effective long exposure photography.
In order to simulate darker conditions, I decided to work with lower ISO, a shutter speed around 1/200″ and f-stops between 4.0 and 5.6, while using a speedlight for keylighting. Also, taking into account some fan-art of Shego using a greenish outline to her hair against black backgrounds, I used the mobility and hands-free operation of the RTMS2000 with a second speedlight with a green gel to provide hair lighting. You can see the full effect of those settings in the photo gallery below.
Once we got started, the shoot went surprisingly quickly and we were able to maintain strict distance and shooting protocols with COVID-19 in mind. There were a couple of occasions where I had to lower my mask due to my camera’s eyepiece fogging up a little, but it was a temporary measure as needed. By the time we packed up, what felt like three to four hours of photography ended up being about two hours and I was able to maintain consistency across images due to simulating darkness through in-camera settings.
Cosplay photography is something I don’t do all that often, but I am glad for the opportunity to exercise some creative muscles after a fairly sizable drought, due to the every worsening COVID-19 pandemic, here in the United States. As always, I am happy to be around people who take precautions seriously, and are willing to take the extra little steps necessary to watch out for each other.
Thank you to Ashley and the RTMS2000, without whom this photoshoot could not have happened!
Halloween Photoshoot With a Demon and a Witch at Burrage Pond
This past Saturday, I met with some friends at Burrage Pond in Hanson, MA for some much needed photoshoot therapy together. It was the first time I picked up my camera since this past February, so I was a little nervous. Because COVID-19 rates are climbing again in the United States, I was considerably nervous. I have asthma and it places me into a higher risk group for serious complications because of SARS-CoV-2.
While organizing the shoot, it was important to be sure everyone present was on the same page in terms of what to expect, and that included outlining some procedures for everyone’s health and safety. I required a COVID-19 test to be taken two days prior to the shoot and if it was not possible due to timing, then strict social-distancing measures would be necessary. Thankfully, everyone involved understood and took precautions very seriously.
The day of the shoot itself went smoothly. The group of us walked into Burrage Pond in the late afternoon so we had plenty of light to work with, and so we had options on how to light and caught up with mutual banter and friendly roasting while I set up my lighting kit. It’d been so long that I was having momentary brain-farts, like “so how many batteries do I need for this flash again?..” Ugh.
We set up along a wooded pathway, isolated from everyone else, and very private. Perfect place for a photographer and his assistant to lure set up a shoot with two gorgeous models. The area included a large boulder off the walking path that was another perfect spot to use for the shoot.
The set up was a simple three point lighting kit. 1 speedlight and umbrella for the keylight, two gelled speedlights for the background and accent lighting, one red, one bluish-purple, all on basic manual radio-triggers. At the boulder, lighting was even simpler. The red and blue lights were set up for the background and accent lighting again while the key light was a handheld LED video light mounted on a voice-activated, remote-controlled, semi-autonomous, all-terrain capable mobile light-stand (my assistant).
The sun was setting, and shooting at night isn’t an issue more than trying to put away gear in pitch black darkness would be, so rather than shoot from the afternoon until around 9pm, it was better to call it a day around 7pm instead.
It was good to get back into a creative head-space again, after 8 months of self-isolating due to COVID-19. It was even better, more importantly, to be among people who were willing to be responsible for each other’s health and safety and who, clearly, value each other’s friendship. This pandemic has revealed a lot about people, who can be trusted, who is responsible, and who is worth making an effort for. I’m looking forward to another creative session with good friends soon!
Do you remember when a Presidential speech didn’t insult your intelligence?
Or didn’t whine about how unfair/fake/complicated/difficult things ere?
Or didn’t complain/brag about water pressure/washers/faucets/toilets?
Do you remember when a Presidential speech left you feeling energized not exhausted, inspired not dejected, filled with hope not dread, valued not anxious, and proud of America not ashamed?
Do you remember when a President could undeniably reject white supremacists and dictators, while giving no relevance to crackpot conspiracy theories, infomercial hucksters, insane medical advice, or a stupid baseball cap?
That criminally incompetent buffoon, his cronies, his enablers, his sycophants, his family, his ideals, his values, his legacy, and his grossly un-American platform must be rejected — rejected loudly, rejected unquestionably, rejected totally.
Get out there and vote for an America that we can all be proud of, again.
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Thank you, as always, for your support!
I’ll get right to the point. Shopify has lost my trust. Here’s how.
This week, Shopify had a data breech. Though it is currently small in scope it looks like this may be the final factor to really take into account while I consider the benefits and issues I can face if I decide to migrate American Bogan™ away from Shopify onto a WordPress site.
This website is built with WordPress and hosted on Dreamhost (Affiliate Link). Originally, it was under a different domain existing on Squarespace. Migrating away from Squarespace onto WordPress was a project that was more complicated than it needed to be, and highlights the risks involved in subscribing to a full website building platform instead of a building a site on a real webhost’s infrastructure.
Fact is, I have been mulling it over for a bit, now, based on little things that have been popping up. Shopify’s data breech will most likely the final factor.
Beyond the data breech, which all providers are at risk for from multiple attack vectors, I am noticing how much each Shopify based store is used to promote Shopify, without necessarily informing their users about it. Some people are fine with this. I am not.
ConsentMatters and #PrivacyMatters
You can see “Powered by Shopify” links in the footers of Shopify based websites, for example. Some users leave it because they do not know how to change it. Other users can remove “Powered by Shopify” (Google Search) through Shopify’s backend to read “Powered by Clown Farts and Dick Blisters,” but it does not change the actual hyperlink. The average user won’t necessarily know how to change the hyperlink through editing the theme’s code, but they can look up how to change it on the backend.
Problem is that any text you change it to, using Shopify’s backend, will still link back to a campaign-tracked back link to Shopify. Back links remain a classic SEO component. Nearly every Shopify store is coded with, what amounts to be, a hidden back link that isn’t easy to get rid of for most users.
One can argue that isn’t an issue BeCaUsE iTz ShOpiFy’s SeRviCe aNd PLatForm, and that is an absolutely correct and valid argument to make. In the end, it IS Shopify’s platform. Not yours.
I’d be lying if I said that I don’t care about Shopify’s willingness to platform MAGAt oriented shops. Trump’s campaign, and Breitbart’s webshop come to mind right away. To be fair, Shopify also hosts shops whose values are much more in line with mine; however, by using hidden backlinks in the footers of websites, Shopify is giving their subtle endorsement of that particular web-shop’s policies and politics, as far as I am concerned.
Beyond the monthly hosting fees and transaction fees (depending on your payment processor), Shopify’s SEO is benefiting from those sites by using them for their SERP-enhancing backlinks.
The biggest factor, however, comes down to trust in the platform and control over my own content. In a nutshell, if I lose trust in one service provider, how easily can I migrate to a new one? As a corporation, my trust in Shopify has always been tolerant at best, and nearly non-existent at worst. This data breech, how they’ve responded to it, their use of un-disclosed backlinks, and their willingness to give a platform to (and use those backlinks to gain additional benefit from) the MAGAt cult, and multiple other minor limitations and factors, which I will get into below, have really started to pile up on top of each other.
I’ve already seen how complicated of a process it was for migrating my website away from Squarespace when it was primarily a blog and portfolio based site. I am now looking at rebuilding a fully functional e-commerce shop because the products, themselves, won’t easily migrate away. Printful, the main print-on-demand vendor I am using, cannot re-connect one shop to another and push all product data back to the new platform.
Once the migration and rebuild is done, several things become possible:
I can have daily, weekly, and monthly backups of the entire website and can restore them at anytime. Shopify does not have backup functionality available for users. This is an enormous risk.
WordPress has more than a few free themes that include backlinks in their footers. No big deal. If I decide not to dig into PHP and CSS code snippets to change it, I can always install a different theme that doesn’t include backlinks in their footers.
Not that any product I create needs more than three options and 100 variations, but they’d be unlimited under WordPress.
I can create multiple pages and blog posts to look pretty much how I want. With Shopify, the homepage is where most of the ability to alter the design is, at least for the free themes. Separate pages and blog posts are rudimentary, at best, and are very basic in design.
If Dreamhost ever lost my trust, migrating to another WordPress installation on a different host will take, at most, a day if I am feeling lazy. Two if I am feeling exceptionally lazy.
I can add on a support forum or other social features, up to and including a full blown social media site, if I really feel up to the challenge.
Speaking of social features, both platforms allow for guest-checkouts. You can order a product without creating an account. With WordPress, I can help increase the overall security of my customers by requiring a social media account to checkout. That way, no user password is ever stored on my servers.
Product reviews are already built into a WordPress based shop
All of this for about $30 less per month.
Things that I will be giving up are minor, to me:
If I want live shipping rates, I can only use one fulfillment vendor. With WordPress and WooCommerce, I cannot have products from Printful and Printify in my shop and use live-rates from both vendors. I’d have to stick with complicated shipping tables, or just use flat rates and price accordingly. I do, however, have to pay Shopify an extra $20/month just to turn on live-shipping if I don’t want the full $80/month plan.
Shopify does have multiple channels available to sell through, integrated nicely by default, and you can add more. If I want to create Facebook ads, I can do it from within Shopify but they are limited in scope, and not always very efficient. I’d have to do them by hand, through Facebook.
That’s not really an issue, since half of my stuff gets hilariously auto-rejected by Facebook’s algorithms, anyway.
Shopify has integrated a rudimentary abandoned-cart email function. I’d have to find an effective one under WordPress (Adrianfeliciano.com uses a free one that is already more functional than Shopify’s),
What I’ll be giving up, realistically, is only the convenience of a well integrated e-commerce backend and a highly competent front end, for the ability to fully own and control all of my website’s content on a webhost that I trust (Affiliate Link) where I can build it to be whatever I want, to help better protect the privacy and security of my customers by having backups and the ability to improve on our security posture, and to reject a platform that tacitly endorses and benefits from dangerous, anti-American, ideologies.
What do you think?
Given the line of thinking in the post above, would you still consider Shopify for your e-commerce shop? Please me know in the comments below. You can leave comment after securely logging in using your Social Media account. It helps to greatly reduce spam on this website.
It irritates me to no end to see the United States Flag used as a patriotic virtue-signaling fetish object by multiple photographers. Meanwhile, kneeling during the National Anthem is still seen as disrespectful.
To begin with, I do not mean anything US Flag styled, an embroidered flag, a lapel pin, or any representation of the flag itself. For example:
Flag-pattered bikini? I’ve no issue. It’s not the flag, itself.
Got a shirt with red, white, and blue and stars? Same. It’s fine.
Repeating flag patterned leggings? Bogan, but still acceptable.
I do mean an actual honest-to-God, Stars and Stripes Forever, Iwo Jima planted, Star Spangled Banner, I bleed red, white, and blue from my asshole United States Flag.
Are you conducting a beachside implied nude-shoot only the flag for “modesty?” You’re tasteless.
Did you wrap your teeny-bopper kid with an actual flag in a high-school senior portrait photo session and love how people simp and fawn over how beautiful the photo of Becky is? You’re indulging in gross fetishism on several levels.
Did you just beat the shit out of a Russian machine that destroys anything it touches, and use the Flag as a towel over your shoulders while preaching to those godless Commie bastards about how we can all change? You’re obviously a palooka from Philly.
Speaking of Disrespecting the Flag and Russians
Are you wearing a tiny flag lapel-pin for the cameras because it makes you a patriot in the eyes of your cult of morons while, you know, simultaneously sniveling as Vladmir Putun’s lap-dog Russian puppet? You’re definitely this guy:
Are you screaming orgasmically in a bizarre attempt to suck up to your boyfriend’s is-he-or-isn’t-he incestuous father while gesticulating loudly to an empty room in front of a wall of flags, there to serve as a simplistic visual aid for the Cult of Morons’ benefit? You’re Kimberly Guilfoyle, and I’ve got nothing else for you. Get help.
BuT AdRiAn wHaTaBoUt bUrNiNg tHe fLaG????????
In 1989, The United States Supreme Court upheld that burning the flag is protected speech under the 1st Amendment. I may not always agree with it, and it sometimes makes me uncomfortable to see as a Veteran; however, that’s the point and it’s exactly why the 1st Amendment exists.
On paper, no one is at risk of life, limb, liberty, and property by the Government for exercising free speech. It’s a power left to The People, as it should be.
One could argue that wrapping your sister with a flag for a quick portrait shoot is an exercise of artistic free speech, (which it is) but free speech is not an absolute right. Depending on circumstance, and context, your expression could be subject to laws concerning commercial activity, defamation, false advertising, copyright infringement, privacy, pornography, and more.
If You Disrespect The Flag, Are You Actually A Traitor or Treasonous?
I really am not sure what the point of all this is, as there are much more immediate and pressing issues. Black lives still matter, Trump is an incompetently malignant cancer, COVID-19 is still rampaging across the United States, and children are still in ICE custody.
No component of the US Flag Code is enforceable, and thankfully it cannot be. No statutory penalties exist for violating any of the strongly-worded suggestions contained with in because if they did exist, the Flag Code would be unconstitutional.
The United States Constitution left it, again, as a Power for the People to decide for themselves about how the Flag, or any other National symbol, may ultimately be used, as it must be. No soldier or politician or “peace” officer ever swears an oath of loyalty to any piece cloth, book, or impeached president. They swear to support, defend, and bear true faith and allegiance to the document guarantees that their own government will never call free-expression, journalism, art, photography, Satanism, and saying that “Donald Trump is a munted cunt who absolutely must be removed from office,” an illegal act. It is also absolutely not treason; however, constantly betraying your oath to bear true faith and allegiance, and to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, for Russia’s benefit is, according to the letter of the law.
Also, Be Grateful This Song Exists
Conclusion and Stance on Flags
My stance is simple. I won’t ever support arresting people for burning a flag, or fining them for wearing a flag as a diaper in an adult-baby photo shoot, or blowing their nose in Made In China flag-tissues, but at the same time, I will I never call any of them traitors and scream about treason.
I will, however, absolutely base my judgement of you, good and bad, on what you choose to do in that grand old Flag’s name.