Putting the Soul in Console

Playdate, the upcoming indie handheld gaming console from venerable software publisher Panic, is really important. But if you don't know the history of where the little company behind this little device comes from, it might be hard to understand why this isn't just another random gadget like you might see on a crowdfunding site.

Anil Dash goes on to describe the tech indie scene to setup where Panic is coming from to launching their first hardware product, the Playdate. This is the type of thing that inspires me in the tech world: the small-ish, independent company that has succeed outside the culture of Silicon Valley.

Panic started as an indie Mac development company making products like Audion, Transmit, and Coda. The later has been my code editor of choice up until recently (mostly on VS Code now, I'll get back to that in a second). Panic has a culture and perspective on design that I can't quite put my finger on, but it is immediately recognizable and refreshing. FTP and code editing apps are incredibly useful tools, but their approach brings a great deal of personality to an otherwise utilitarian category of software.

The Playdate is their first hardware product and I am really looking forward to see what they can bring to designing a handheld gaming system. I am also really looking forward to the upcoming overhaul of Coda (or whatever they are going to call it).

Into the Personal-Website-Verse

There is one alternative to social media sites and publishing platforms that has been around since the early, innocent days of the web. It is an alternative that provides immense freedom and control: The personal website. It’s a place to write, create, and share whatever you like, without the need to ask for anyone’s permission.

Source: Into the Personal-Website-Verse · Matthias Ott – User Experience Designer

Using WordPress as a Headless CMS

For the past few years in the web development world, there has been this growing trend of a headless content management system. Traditionally a CMS would provide the database, a content management backend, as well as the templating code. WordPress falls in this category as an all encompassing system. A few versions back, the REST API was added to the core release. This allows a query to be made over HTTP and returned with neatly formatted JSON. Now, developers can use this JSON with any kind of templating system or static site generator that they choose. It makes it really easy to develop a React or Vue driven front-end with your data managed by a familiar system like WordPress.

I have begun rolling out a Headless WordPress setup at Cal Lutheran to replace our aging, homegrown internal database system. This old system was used to drive all sorts of data types like the Homecoming events schedule, program testimonial quotes, and lot of other public facing information that doesn’t live in our main CMS (OUCampus). WordPress was a clear choice in replacing the old system as it was something our institution was already familiar with.

We have WordPress set up as a multi-site network. Each department that will be accessing their data here will have their own site with their own user permissions. In the WP Admin area, each data type is set up as a different custom post type. Advanced Custom Fields is used to create a set of extra fields needed beyond the basic post editor. Custom taxonomies are created for each post type if a category system is needed. The headless theme I developed sets up the Admin area to only show their custom post types. This greatly simplifies the admin area for our users.

On the OUCampus side, there is a PHP script that includes a variety of functions used to call up the WordPress site for that department using the REST API. OUCampus Components (which is a fairly new feature in v10.10) are used to place the PHP function call on the public facing pages. What’s great about this too is that OU Components also you to pass in the parameters you want for the query. This then inserts the HTML needed to display the data.

This solution will work out great as more departments move over to this new system over time. The only piece of this I haven’t decided yet is what to do about Gutenberg. So far, I have decided to stay away from that yet and have enabled the Classic Editor plugin for the foreseeable future.

WordPress Plugins Used

The Apple Watch Turns Four: Some Thoughts

So, I dug out my old Boccia that I haven’t worn much since I got my first Apple Watch. It doesn’t have the same fit and finish as my Apple Watch; its band is not as easily swapped. It does not display the weather. It does not tell me when I should get some exercise. But it feels nice.
Source: The Apple Watch Turns Four: Some Thoughts — Pixel Envy

I am going to write about the Apple Watch at some point in the future, as I have had a lot of mixed thoughts about it. In the mean time, Nick Heer has really got close to a lot of similar feeling's I've had.

Microsoft Provides Sneak Peek of Edge on Mac, 16 Years After Safari Replaced Internet Explorer

Source: Microsoft Provides Sneak Peek of Edge on Mac, 16 Years After Safari Replaced Internet Explorer - MacRumors

Microsoft moving Edge over to Chromium has been such a big story this year in the web development world and now we have a preview of the upcoming Mac version.

In the very early days when I was first learning about web design, I remember when Internet Explorer 5 on the Mac was released with a big splash. It was ahead of it's Windows cousin in terms of page rendering and offered a theme selection to match your candy colored iMac.

Today, I see this about Edge coming to the Mac and have to wonder who is this for? Other than web developers who are going to test their site while using a Mac, what is the selling point for non-developers?