Markdown Comes To WordPress


markdown-example-w-preview (Photo credit: ChrisL_AK)

I have a confession to make. I’m a total nerd when it comes to text and text to HTML conversion systems. You see plain text is just so easy to type and plain text files never cause problems years later when save formats change. Then you just need a way of encoding format in the plain text files.

If you work in a good command line environment there are also a large number of tools that work on plain text files. Unix was actually developed as a document management system – that was how Thompson and Ritchie got the funding to do it from their bosses at Bell.

It was a Unix system, man and mm files, that was my first introduction to specifying formatting in a text file. The drawback of systems such as those that we used under Unix was that they were hard to read – here’s an example of a man file:

\&\fIperldoc\fR looks up a piece of documentation in .pod format that is embedded
in the perl installation tree or in a perl script, and displays it via
\&\f(CW*(Cpod2man | nroff \-man | $PAGER\*(C'\fR. (In addition, if running under HP-UX,
col -x*(C’\fR will be used.) This is primarily used for the documentation for
the perl library modules.

This is a particularly convoluted example but you get the idea – not easy to read.

When web pages came along several projects struggled with a way of making it easier to write web pages with systems that allowed the user to write in simpler syntaxes that were easily translated into HTML. BBCode, from the Universal BBS, was one of the first.

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Déjà vu

English: WordPress Logo

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I guess it has to happen. Coming up with a Daily Prompt seven days (or is it six?) a week must be a hard thing to do and a constant strain. I don’t envy “michelle w” the task.

Today’s Daily Prompt is “If you had the opportunity to live a nomadic life, traveling from place to place, would you do it? Do you need a home base? What makes a place “home” to you?”

Back on the 7th, just two weeks ago, the Daily Prompt was “If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?”

Not identical but quite similar.

While we are looking at prompts lets go to the site ‘Plinky’ which also offers a prompt every day. Scroll down and have a look at the prompt for July 14. Look familiar? Yes, there it is, our Daily Prompt for today with exactly the same words.

I’ve also seen this happen in the opposite direction where Plinky “borrows” a prompt, sometimes changing a word or two, from our Daily Prompt.

I’ve seen the similarity on a few other occasions, though this is one of the few times I’ve had a look at the date stamps to attempt to sort out exactly what happened.

I wonder if what has happened here is that after the first Daily Prompt about the nomadic life Plinky borrowed the idea, changing the words a little, and then Michelle saw it and thought “That’s a great idea” and in her hurried state didn’t recognise her own handiwork?

What do you think? Is it OK for this borrowing to be done, particularly without credit? Did you notice the similarity? Do you think my theory might be right?

Oh, and by the way, I answered the first nomadic Daily Prompt here.

Kicking Goals

WordPress dashboard interface

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt asks “When you started your blog, did you set any goals? Have you achieved them? Have they changed at all?”

What a question? I’ve had a blog for many years.

If you go back to my first blog then it was really just a pace on the ‘net I could call my own. It had some non-fiction, some fiction and a couple of tech articles.

My second blog was built when I bought my domain name,, which I decided I needed since the name Tony Williams is far too common and I needed an alias less common. It was both a place for me to collect all my book reviews, and back then I was writing a lot of reviews of technical books, and a place for me to play with blogging software.

After several different blogging systems I spent a lot of time hacking on blosxom as at that time I was really enjoying Perl but at about the same time the rate at which I was writing book reviews was slipping I was becoming tired of Perl and switched to a self-hosted WordPress blog.

After that the aim of my blog was to develop an audience for some more technical posts and it wasn’t really successful. Developing an audience for a tech blog is hard and slow. That incarnation of my blog slowly died through inattention and a lack of an audience.

About two years ago my anxiety and depression started to develop some strength. I’ve suffered from both to some degree for many years and back then they started gaining strength again. My work and my relationship suffered. Then a little over a year ago my relationship collapsed and I went through some extremely hard times with my ex-partner. Severe major depression was one result.

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Pain Is Pain – Why Make It Noble?

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 (Photo credit: M-J Milloy)

Lorelle VanFossen of “Lorrelle on WordPress” (an excellent blog on blogging and WordPress) is currently running a series of blog exercises.

The one from earlier today starts:

You know, the number one thing we want to avoid in life is pain. But at the same time, it’s the number one thing that forces us to grow as human beings. It deepens our ability to feel empathy, turns knowledge into wisdom. And there was enough pain in this situation that I think in a lot of ways it can turn you into a better person.

This is a quote from Damien Echols, one of the West Memphis Three. Now he had a bunch of terrible stuff happen and he suffered for many years. I’m not surprised he has tried hard to find some good out of all that pain, it may have been the only thing that kept him sane.

She continues:

Today’s Blog Exercise is to explore what that quote means to you.

It is the truth. We want to avoid pain, but it is the pain that makes us grow, as human beings as well as compassionate members of society. It turns knowledge into wisdom. We must learn from our mistakes in order to grow.

It is through pain and suffering that we find courage, motivation, and inspiration to move forward in our lives. Pain, and the avoidance of pain, directs our path.

Publish a post on how pain in your life, the struggles, the challenges, have made you a better person and impacted who you are and how you blog.

Well I’m sorry Lorelle, I call b#llsh#t. I just totally disagree with the premise. It’s not truth. Pain is pain, it doesn’t necessarily make you grow and you can grow without pain. It’s perfectly possible to direct your path without pain or the avoidance of pain. Experience of all types creates wisdom and knowledge has nothing to do with wisdom. We can learn from our successes and even grow from them.

Do you want an example? I’m a loving and devoted father and I have learnt so much from the experience. Being a father is one of the major things that has directed my path for the last twenty years. The mutual love of my daughter and myself has given me more courage, motivation and inspiration than any of the pain and suffering I have experienced.

Here’s another from the other side of the ledger. I suffer from chronic asthma, I can have attacks that last for days of pain. I have done so for fifty years, any possible learning or wisdom (and I don’t think there has been any) would have been many, many years ago. Asthma may have directed my path a little, it had a physical effect on my body when I was young keeping me thin and scrawny but I may have been a little thin and scrawny anyway, my mother was always thin without any asthma.

I wonder where we get this ennobling of pain and suffering? Is it part of the baggage of our Christian culture? The ethos of you can suffer in this world because the next is paradise. Or is it that humanity wants a reason for everything. If we have to suffer and feel pain there must be a reason for it, there must be something on the good side of the ledger. Then we have the concept of reincarnation, that we suffer in this life to make up for the sins of a previous one and to make us better for a better life next time.

Well folks, I have to tell you that the universe isn’t built that way. A lot of things happen without that sort of reason. A lot of bad things just happen without any benefit at the time or in the future, they just happen.

What do you think?

Why the Changes


WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

So now bloggers have two different top bars. The old one you see when you first go to your blog or another blog and a new one when you go to almost any administration task.

How do I like the new top bar? To say that I don’t like it at all would be an understatement. It adds the ability to quickly get to the blog reader and Freshly Pressed and takes away the ability to quickly get to the two most important parts of the Dashboard, managing comments and the best New Post editor.

The simplified New Post editor, the only one accessible from the new top bar, lacks three extremely important features, the ability to set a category for your blog post, the ability to edit the ‘Publicize’ slug and where it will be publicised (I like to be able to turn off LinkedIn for my more personal posts) and finally it doesn’t support ‘Text’ mode which I use constantly since I type most of my posts into a text editor using MarkDown for format (which isn’t supported by and then use “Export to clipboard in HTML” and paste the result into Text mode.

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