Tag Archives: WordPress

Upgraded at long last

I’ve finally upgraded to WordPress 2.7 after much procrastination. This means that my blog is finally on a somewhat customised template and with many more features working, so it finally feels more personal.

I heart snow Naturally, upgrading I had originally planned as a brief post Sunday lunch (well, late breakfast porridge) activity has now bled right through the afternoon and only just completed. I must say that my enthusiasm for finally upgrading was entirely down to loving the rather fine Fast Moving theme on the site Prosaic Paradise. A site which I incidentally visited thanks to inviting a photo into my recently created flickr pool of Heart Shaped Tyre Tracks, of which more in a later post.

The upgrade itself was as easy as usual, with more time spent carefully backing up files than putting the new ones into the right place, with all that done it was just a single click to upgrade. Then I realised how much more I’d have to do, I tracked down my chosen theme and then got it setup, which was a doddle, until I screwed up the permissions in various directories and had to change them three times. At that point I did swear loudly. CHMOD, how I hate thee.

My next struggle was the realisation that I had everything on the blog setup using categories when in fact tags would be far more useful. I then spent a good ten minutes doing it manually before I found the categories –> tags converter option in the admin interface. *Facepalm*

Once that was complete it was time to start looking for interesting plugins, having upgraded all my current ones, with the main priority being to integrate as much content and activity I have elsewhere on the web into my blog. I was very glad to find newer versions of Akismet (spam protection), Flickr Photo Album and the Livejournal Cross-Poster as I had come to rely on them.

Of the new plugins I have, none impresses me more than the XML Sitemap generator. Almost as impressive, though sadly not all I want it to be is Lifestream which let me integrate a series of feeds from YouTube, last.fm, flickr, delicous, google reader and twitter into a single list on a page. Not necessarily useful, but certainly kind of nifty when I try to remember something I’ve done recently.

Now to blog about other stuff and look for a meme to post as well… oh and fix my tagging, as the import didn’t get it exactly right!

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What Difference Does It Make?

Seeing as I posted the first comment on Tom Harris’s blog post that made the front page of the Daily Mail and have had a streaming torrent of (ooh) eight visitors here’s some comment on his points on my own blog.

I agree with Tom that it is sad that optimism is rare. In my own comment I pointed to three issues I myself find (slow rail links home, the poor quality of rental property and the long term effects of student debt), and others have pointed to some more interesting ones, my favourite of which notes that in an economic environment where the government is demanding below inflation pay rises those with student debts face interest rates rising high above the same inflation cap. So we have a government policy to squeeze the take home pay of graduates (and drop outs like myself). Not good.

I’ve come to the understanding that the optimism of the immediate post war period was there because society believed that utopia might still be possible and with hope of electricity too cheap to meter, an end to disease and poverty and education for all for example it was thought that the issues of society were possible to solve completely. Sadly now, we know all too well that we live in a world of scarcity not abundance, and that our choices have led and are leading us down a road to a world which we don’t like the look of. Knowing you need to turn back and think again isn’t nice.

Much is hysteria, we’re hardly drowning from global warming if the jet stream deflects a little and Glastonbury turns into a mud bath, and children are safer now than ever despite however many knives or paedos you see in the media. However, naturally, some fear is justified. We only get the one planet, and if we waste resources needlessly we don’t get them back. There’s a resources crunch behind the credit crunch at some level and talk of peak oil has gone from far fetched future to near term planning. Rail Minister Tom Harris (for it is also he) openly talks of a programme of electrification. That tells you all you need to know about the future direction of the oil price. He also dismisses a High Speed Line on spurious environmental and economic grounds, ironic considering he’d probably find a good north/south link rather handy in getting from his Glasgow constituency to Westminster and back.

We’ve had eleven years of Labour government, something I dreamed of in my teenage years. However, I have only voted Labour on a single occasion, as a second preference for Ken at the mayoral election this year. I have to remember sometimes that we have seen a Scottish Parliament, human rights legislation and a minimum wage introduced (which is itself going up by more than inflation anyway) because 14/28/42 days, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, Identity Cards, DNA Databases and other similar daftness weigh heavier on the mind. Lots of law has been created, and money spent (even without the wars) and it is hard to see what improvements have been achieved. Little in the way of great projects have been accomplished so it’s hard to feel much love. There’s no Open University or NHS that this government leaves behind. Nothing huge. More of a series of pet projects, some of which, like devolution are now overdue for renewal and improvement due to the half hearted implementation they were initially given.

What many have also noted, and rightly so, is that what you could read as the symptoms of a happy society – lots of large televisions, bigger and better cars, more books, people eating out more often – may well just be the activities of a society which deep down is depressed and having to occupy itself to cope.

I’m reminded of one of my favourite books, David Boyle’s The Tyranny Of Numbers (subtitled Why Counting Can’t Make Us Happy) which works well at explaining why it can be so hard to achieve happiness by focussing on the numbers. I like to look on it as an earlier and more insightful Freakonomics and it’s well worth a read.