First Thoughts on the Gutenberg Editor Beta Plugin

The Gutenberg editor has been a much hyped enhancement to WordPress this year. A beta plugin for the experience is now available for download in the WordPress.org plugin directory. Don’t take the risk of installing a beta plugin on a production site, it will work just as well locally hosted.

testing-gutenberg-editor

As a first reaction, I have a hard time not comparing Gutenberg to the “Calypso” editor I’ve come to love on WordPress.com. Matt Mullenweg has made it clear that JavaScript is the future of WordPress, and Gutenberg drives that point home in case anyone hasn’t been listening.

That said, if one hasn’t tried a page-builder plugin like Site Origin, the functionality feels pretty bizarre. Calypso may seem like a close jump in aesthetics, but when it comes to the button pressing it’s not at all the same. Compared to the current editor that comes in WordPress core… it’s hard to compare at all. This is the kind of change that would be the spearhead of a whole product redesign if WordPress wasn’t released so incrementally.

The “Text” version of the editor still needs work: the buttons don’t really do anything at all. But from the looks of things, once it’s ironed out it will feel very familiar to the Text editor in the current editor.

testing-text-version-of-gutenberg

Who is excited for this new editor? Who is most leery? Who is this really a “big win” for?

Chess As Therapy

There’s an insidious habit that forms in a lot of my colleagues and I found it forming in myself the last year or so. I imagine there are those in your office or other communities that fall prey to it as well. It would be easy to confuse with workaholism, but I find it to be different. The most proper word I can find for it would be flow addiction.

Being a flow state is inherently positive. It’s worth striving for. What troubles me is I find myself putting so much effort into finding flow in the workplace that it becomes hard to be doing anything else.

Working in support, the primary way my performance at work is measured is in the number of interactions I have with our customers. Our company has lots of smart people in it, so we have a lot of ways of looking at that data, and that interaction count can feel like a scoreboard if you let it. Each live chat inching you higher and higher in worth. Each point giving you a splash of endorphins.

Much of life isn’t set up with such a quick feedback loop. This is part of the craze to gamify things: my fitbit gives me a badge for hitting so many steps in an effort to make me more excited about walking the dog. But these tricks aren’t nearly as effective as true flow state, and I can get that on a regular basis doing my work.

The trouble comes that on a day off, or at night after work, the nagging that there is still more work that could be done just never stops. Even a nominally fun activity may seem way less desirable than getting a few more points on that scoreboard.

What it’s come to is a need to find more intention in my recreation. I’ve been doing a lot of revisiting with younger versions of me, and I think my best shot of making myself happier right now is upping my chess game.

Chess has always been enjoyable, but there have only been two phases of my life where I really took it seriously: first when I was in primary school (1st-4th grade) and then again in college from 2008 to 2010. My USCF rating peaked in 2009 at 1436, I think that was after playing in the Kings Island Open . Even among amateurs that’s not an impressive standing a strong club player is typically above 1800. If I’d like to reach that level it will stick a lot of effort.

Getting better at chess doesn’t have the quick feedback loop. Truly becoming better is a result of hours of study, and not as much from the time playing games. But playing the game absolutely does have that feedback loop and is still part of the process. You can set longer term goals, particularly if you’re willing to attend bigger tournaments every so often and treat those as tentpoles of performance. And there is a very literal scoreboard available: your rating.

My hope is to turn this problem on its head. If I can get these little excitements from more places, I’ll feel more balanced and happier. If this goes well I may try to take a similar approach in some way with parenting, as dorky as that sounds.

To start I did a read-through of Attacking Chess by Josh Waitzkin, one of the first chess books that was truly my own. Now I’m nailing down the Class D and Class C sections in Silman’s Endgame Course a few times over.

If you’d like to play, please find me on chess.com: backrow1720 .

Daycare At Last

My wife went back to work the first of the month. For three weeks we were both working full time jobs and the baby was still spending her days here at home. “It takes a village” is so right: we would not have gotten by if not for many hours of baby sitting provided by family and friends. In particular, my father-in-law was spending 10-15 hours a week here each morning. In addition to any baby sitting hours folks could provide I’d work from 6am-7:30am and 5:30pm-9pm most weekdays then as much as possible on weekends.

On top of all that was all the wrangling of enrolling in a daycare. All the best facilities have long waitlists – “up to year” was  phrase I began to loathe. In the end we submitted application fees to three different places waitlists, and looked at doing a part-time schedule at less awesome facility that had no waitlist.

It was hard scrambling it all together, but thankfully my employer provided the flexibility of time that we were able to make it all happen. It’s really pushed me, but it’s all worked out. Grace started daycare today and it went as smooth as anyone could hope. A tiny bit of tears at the drop-off, but the rest of the day she was a champ.

I was glad to work a 9 to 5 for the first time in a while. I think I can finish this month out with a good amount of work completed and this stressful time behind me. Many thanks to everyone who’s helped us out this May.

Urge to Game Rising

For the last two years, I’ve been the DM for a Dungeons & Dragons game that nominally meets every other week. We’re currently going through the adventure path Out of the Abyss, but we’re over a year in and only just getting to the halfway point in the story. And the characters will need some grinding time before starting the next chunk at a higher level.

Using an adventure path has proven to be invaluable. It’s pretty rare that I can’t prepare the session day-of if I’m too irresponsible to give it more time during the week. But even with this amazing material, it’s a lot pull together mentally.

We’re going to take a little break and I’m super excited about it. Most of my players have expressed interest in DMing a one-shot or module. We’re going to let everyone have a turn behind the screen while I get my creative juices flowing again to do the latter portion of the adventure. I’m looking forward to playing and seeing what ideas our will-be-DMs have in mind.

So that got me feeling good. Then this week a freaking awesome episode of Tabletop was released: Fate Core.

I have seen the rulebook for Fate at my friendly local game shop before. But my roleplay experience has always been in fantasy worlds like D&D and Pathfinder. So I didn’t really see the need to learn a new system.

But this video has me itching. I want to play it so bad. Not sure this is an urge that can be stopped. Who’s in? I’ll have what Dr. Osgood was having!

Segments

Ber last ran the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon in 2015, right after we found out she was pregnant with Grace. Ever since she finished, she’s been excited to run it again. Today she finished the 2017 miniMarathon, after fourteen weeks of training.

I’m incredibly proud of her, and watching her complete such a big event really makes the last few months’ work and focus worthwhile.

Recently I’ve been thinking about life more and more in terms of segments.  The first segment of this year was Ber’s half-marathon. Our family’s #1 priority since the new year was Ber’s training for this event, and we were all on board with that. It’s not the only thing we did, but it was the most important thing.

At work I tend to think in segments book-ended by meetups. My team just went to Washington DC and I’m now looking at the work I’ll be doing between now and the Grand Meetup in September.

What seems appealing about this outlook is that it’s okay for big goals, because a segment is necessarily a large chunk of time. 14 weeks is a lot of time to get better at running. 5 months is a lot of time to get good work done. So even if every step forward is a small one, over the course of a segment you are certainly closer to your goal.

It’s a (mini) marathon, not a sprint.