I don’t remember exactly when first I started blogging. From memory, it was sometime soon after 2002. I’d recently joined IBM Software Group, as an intern within IBM Tivoli; I’d started reading IBMers’ blogs (personal, non-work, predominantly tech-focussed posts).
As a novice, amateur, noob webdev (having completed a single, basic HTML course while at university in 2000), I was both fascinated with, and confused by, how they achieved post pagination. Okay, geeky, I know!
Some folk were hand-coding their blogs, blogging using text editors, and I found out others were using blogging platforms. I could write only (some, very basic) HTML and CSS but I wanted the (dynamic) functionality blogs gave, so I looked into one or two platforms.
The first platform I used was BlogHarbor (before it was called BlogHarbor, I think), but I didn’t stay on there for long, and they didn’t last too long, either.
Soon after leaving BlogHarbor I dabbled with Blogger, but at the time I found it very limited in terms of themes and customization. There were a few things about those particular factors which subsequently made me somewhat ambivalent towards blogging. Then, around 2005, I discovered WordPress.
Back then, specialist managed WordPress hosting wasn’t a thing, neither were (m)any versions of host-provided 1-click installs (or, at least, any I understood completely, and I remember reading advice(?) that ‘those things’ were bad). So I did what everyone else did; I found a host and bought a domain name, I figured out how to set up a LAMP server (very badly, initially, I’ll admit), and I followed the famous 5-minute install.
(BTW, it was a truly awful registrar/host, chosen completely at random, with zero research by me beforehand, and with whom I was soon completely Done and Done! regarding domain registration and hosting services).
In 2008 I joined a lil-new thing called Twitter. Over time, I blogged less and tweeted more. In the end my WordPress blog became so stale I nixed it. Also, I thought Twitter would be a panacea of positivity, collaboration, and all-round general niceness. I hadn’t realized how naive I could be.
Fast forward to 2015. After receiving several (at the time, possibly, seemingly credible) serious threats via DM on Twitter late one Friday night, from someone (via multiple, socket puppet Twitter accounts) claiming to be ex-US Special Forces (seriously, I am not joking; however, beyond the scope of this post, and soon afterwards proven to be complete BS – they worked in corporate HR, more ‘W9‘ than ‘Seal Team Six‘), I stood down from tweeting. I also purged nearly all of my tweets (as I really wanted to rid my mind of the disturbing event without actually deleting my Twitter account).
Silver lining; as a consequence of the circumstances leading up to the Twitter incident above, I learned a few things about myself that needed changing personally (done), and also, a bit more in general about OPSEC, SIGINT, and HUMINT (props to an unnamed, eminent expert for his/her/their assistance). But, I digress.
In 2017 Hurricane Harvey tempted me to raise my head above the Twitter parapet once again.
Having quit Twitter couple yrs ago partly re a really nasty, threatening troll, I couldn’t stay away when Harvey started. H-town is my city.— James Bliss (@JamesBliss) September 4, 2017
The severity and devastation of Hurricane Harvey compelled me to return to Twitter. I was perfectly okay; coincidently though, I moved apartments on Hurricane Harvey Friday itself! I moved in at about 2 pm. Harvey hit that evening as a Cat4 hurricane about 11pm, on its first time around.
I lost my car (along with thousands of others – folk, not my imaginary 1000s of cars) but it was insured. Back then I lived on the third floor (second floor, if you’re British) so my own apartment was unaffected but all first floors (ground floors in U.K. English) were 6-8 feet under water. Houston was hurting, badly.
I wanted to help and contribute in any possible way I could. Beyond a few other things I did (no hero stuff, but there were many others who were real heros), I ramped-up my tweeting, focussing on Harvey and Houston, not least taking over some of my clients’ social media accounts to disseminate messages on their behalf and tweeting other info from my own account.
Once Harvey’s immediate emergency was over (several weeks later) again I stepped back from Twitter. Recently though, I’ve been tweeting a little more.
It’s worth noting, I didn’t disable the automated tweets IBM World Community Grid sends out about my WCG contributions, during my Twitter hiatus.
However, notwithstanding the proposed functionality Twitter announced recently regarding limiting who can reply to your tweets, I still think Twitter is both amazing and worryingly dangerous, simultaneously. I know I’m not alone in thanking the lucky stars that social media wasn’t a thing when I was growing up.
I enjoy posting, contributing, discussing, and debating but still I don’t like Twitter enough for it for be my platform of choice. Also, I want to expand on subjects such as the following, beyond Twitter’s character limit.
Q for email experts & WordPress pros:— James Bliss (@JamesBliss) January 29, 2020
If an email is config’d DMARC inc. p=reject;pct=100,
& that address gets entered into a WP contact form,
& the WP form is configured to send from the sender’s address not from a site’s domain address,
Would you expect it to be delivered?
Postmark, whom I cannot recommend highly enough (I am a customer and have been for years), kindly replied:
Thanks Rian, much appreciated. As I expected. So generally, I wonder how many WordPress sites are not receiving form submissions from their more security-aware prospects. And maybe why some folk don’t understand why they don’t get a reply (if domain admins DMARC). Just a thought.— James Bliss (@JamesBliss) January 29, 2020
Therefore, I have decided to return to blogging (soooo ol’-skool, I know, but I am a Gen-X, by far the best demographic cohort, except for property ownership, retirement savings, moans from Boomers and complete ambivalence from Millennials, but we did have the best music). I have more control, greater flexibility, and I get to do the bits I really enjoy: for example, the infrastructure, integrations, set-up and backend stuff, and the responsibility regarding functionality, availability, performance, security, and privacy.
I have several posts in draft. Who knows if / when they will be finished, and published.
Until then, this is the first post after nearly a decade since I quit blogging.
Genuinely, I hope you enjoy.