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(parent to child) We're worried about you, honey. You've fallen in with a bad crowd, you're picking up bad habits, and you're using beta plugins on a production WordPress site.

Parents: do you recognize these warning signs? (beta edition)

Parents: do you recognize these warning signs? (beta edition) published on

Is your child more moody than usual — especially toward their devices? Are they displaying more impatience, for example by complaining about sluggish performance, buggy interfaces and frequent crashes? Do they respond to civil requests to come down for dinner with “Just a {expletive} moment! Everything’s {expletive} broken and I’m about to lose all my {expletive} work!”?

Then they may be in the early stages Compulsive Early Adopter Syndrome, or CEAS. This disorder, which tragically does not have an intuitively-pronounced acronym, compels the sufferer to install the latest beta version of any software they use, regardless of warnings about bugs, missing features or incompatibilities.

Let’s look at a typical adult sufferer. We’ll call him “Ned,” although his actual name is Rob and he’s me. Ned installed the iOS 11 beta on his iPhone 6 purely on the strength of “a mildly more interesting Siri”, and immediately lost access to several apps he relied on. Even after the developers released updated versions of those apps, and Apple issued the public release version of the operating system, Rob’s— er, Ned’s phone has been almost unusably slow.

Has Ned learned anything? Not judging from the fact that he recently installed the beta Gutenberg editor (and, soon, way of life) on his blog. That’s despite the fact it gives Ned no new functionality he actually uses, and despite WordPress’s official warning to “treat this as a radioactive biohazard and under no circumstances should you install it on a site producing content that is ever to be seen by human eyes.”

Ned, sadly, has fallen victim to peers who tout Gutenberg as “cool” and “hip” and “the most amazing content editing experience since sex, and that’s recognizing that sex isn’t actually a content-editing experience.” If an adult like Ned is vulnerable to such alluring promises, imagine the impact on younger minds when they read a page like this on WordPress’s own site — a page freely available to teens and even children.

There is, sadly, no cure for CEAS — apparently not even bitter, bitter, bitter experience. But until science develops a way to keep young minds from succumbing to the temptation of pre-release software, our only hope is vigilance.

That, and this new app I picked up that monitors your kids’ use of beta software. It’s still in preview release, and it’s buggy as hell, but I’m using it right now and I can tell you it 6wQFAFLe@ynt4xMgPst(n3r.Lj;mZzdAusgNBVtxDxdCMy

I’m cleaning my oven… while I sleep!

I’m cleaning my oven… while I sleep! published on No Comments on I’m cleaning my oven… while I sleep!

Open Community is a terrific new book from Lindy Dreyer and Maddie Grant for associations that want to dive into the world of online community – and it includes cartoons from yours truly. To celebrate its launch, I’m running a new cartoon from the book every day this week.

There are times when I feel kind of like the Geordi La Forge of blogging: “I’ll reroute the RSS feed through the main sensor array — that ought to buy us enough time to depolarize the warp couplings with a Flickr badge!”

How about you? How Rube-Goldberg-esque is your blog setup?

Saturday extra: Just…one… more… tweak

Saturday extra: Just…one… more… tweak published on 4 Comments on Saturday extra: Just…one… more… tweak

Here’s one I dashed off in the wee hours as both Alex and I were consumed with making absolutely critical adjustments to our respective blog themes. (Which is why there’s a better-than-even chance you’re reading this in 15.5-point InfraZombie Ultracondensed Pukeybold.)

For some of us, blog themes are what flower gardens were to our parents, hot rods were to our grandparents and folk cures for Spanish flu were to our great-grandparents: things we could tinker with indefinitely. And Alex has just installed a WordPress theme called Thesis, which is currently pretty hot among certain heavy-hitting bloggers and benefits from a startling degree of customizability.

(Oddly enough, I’m a lot less inclined to frak with the Social Signal site template, because it was built by people whose skills vastly outstrip mine – Aaron snatched the pebbles from my hand ages ago. One misplaced semi-colon, and I could burn down the server building. Or worse, install Farmville on the Facebook profiles of everyone who visits the site.)

I’m pretty sure a lot of Noise to Signal’s readers are cut from the same cloth. Are you?

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