Prior to the most recent update to WordPress 3.3, I never had access to the rich-text editor when blogging on the iPad. Quite to my surprise this morning, when I went to write that last post, I discovered that the rich-text editor in WordPress now works on the iPad. This is a very big deal for me because I make a good deal of use of some plug-ins that use the rich-text editor and don’t work as well with the straight HTML editor. (They work, but I have to remember a bunch of complicated coding, which I don’t want to bother with.)
In any case, I don’t recall seeing this listed as a feature in 3.3, but I am very glad to have it.
One of the cool things about being a science fiction writer is the cool stuff you learn in the name of “research.” I’ve been doing a lot of reading up on black holes, in particular, “subatomic” black holes and it is a fascinating subject. Some of what I have been reading are academic papers, which can be mathematically dense at times, often going well beyond my meager abilities to differentiate and integrate, but by reading some secondary sources, I’m beginning to get the drift and some of this stuff is actually starting to make sense. What’s more, the story for which I am doing the research hinges in part on the properties of these special black holes, and some of what I learned today helps make for an interesting plot problem.
Related to this (as you will see in a moment) is that fact that one of the new features of WordPress 3.1 is that it supports LaTeX. Non-geek friends will most certainly make plenty of jokes about LaTex, but LaTex is actually a really cool markup language that evolved from TeX and allows for the rendering of arbitrarily complex mathematical formulas. Back in the day, I used to write up my calculus lecture notes in LaTex because I could render all the equations and their intermediary states. Combing this functionality with what I’ve been learning about black holes, I could tell you for instance, that for a black hole with a mass M, its effective radius, R is
Isn’t that just the coolest thing ever? I’m so impressed that WordPress now includes this capability. I could go on and tell you that the temperature T of a black hole with an effective radius R is
Of course, I can render any arbitrarily complex equation with relative ease using LaTeX’s markup language directly in WordPress, but you get the point. I’ve been taking lots of notes on these black holes, incidentally, and if I can validate my understanding of these properties with some friends with backgrounds in physics, then I think I’ll have the foundation for a pretty good hard SF story. Stay tuned.
For the first time since I started using a self-hosted version of WordPress well over a year ago, I had some trouble last night. Stats broke. Not permanently, you understand, and it had nothing to do with my installation. But I used the WordPress Stats plug-in which makes use of services on WordPress.com and apparently there were problems last night and running into today an a lot of people could not access their website stats.
Not a big deal really except for the fact that I AM OBSESSED WITH MY STATS. This seems to have crept up on me since early January when one of my goals was to increase the traffic that comes to my blog. I started keeping an eye on stats just to see if I was meeting my goal and, well, I got a little obsessive. I’m embarrassed to say this but I probably check a dozen times a day (a gross under-estimate) to see how things are doing, where people are being referred from, etc. And so when they were broken this morning, I had instant stat withdrawals.
But a little browsing told me about JetPack for WordPress which may have been released in conjunction with WordPress 3.1. It is essentially a collection of tools, including an alternate interface to WordPress stats. So early today I downloaded and installed it–and was incredibly relieved to have my stats once again. But I’ve also been pretty impressed with the features that JetPack provides to WordPress.
It is possible that the problem with the Stats for WordPress plugin has been fixed but I see no point in switching back now. JetPack does exactly what I need for stats–and actually does it a little better, adding in a few features that I didn’t have before. And though the old plugin was very reliable up until yesterday, my obsession with stats overrides brand loyalty. You can blame my day job for that: the last few years I’ve worked on numerous technical projects involving stats and metrics.
I’ve been completely brainwashed.
Okay, this is somewhat meta, but it cracked me up when I was starting to write a post this morning. I’m not sure why I never noticed it before:
Last night, I upgraded the site to the production release of WordPress 3.1 and there are some definite visible improvements. One of the most convenient is the improved ability at linking within the site. I haven’t fully investigated all of the other goodies packed into this release, but I must say that since I switched to a self-installed and managed WordPress site, I’ve been very impressed by the quality of the software and its ease-of-use.
WordPress 3.1 is supposed to also have some enhanced search capabilities. I’m eager to look into that as soon as I can find the time.
Also, yesterday, I finally redirected the RSS feed for the site to Feedburner in order to get more metrics. This appears to be a pretty cool tool, but I’ve temporarily stopped the redirect in order to test out a theory. It seems that once I did the redirect, the SFWAauthors twitter feed stopped picking up my site. That makes me think the feed is based on RSS and when I changed the RSS feed, SFWAauthors could no longer find my blog. If this post gets picked up by the SFWAauthors feed, I’ll know that is indeed the case and can have that updated accordingly.