Quote of the Day – Congratulations, Old People

Young British stand-up comedian Andrew Lawrence tackles a current touchy issue:

If there are any old people at home listening to this I want to say: Congratulations. You’ve done a wonderful job. You messed up the environment, you plunged us all into this global economic crisis, gave yourself cheap housing, full employment, free education. You had a wonderful time. You sold my generation down the river. Now you expect me to pick up the pieces of your broken world. Ha ha ha, you disgust me, old people!

These days when kids get out of university with their degree and their five-figure student loan debt, there’s no jobs for them ’cause you old people won’t retire. You just go on working year after year clogging up the job market. Then you do retire, but you don’t die! Why won’t you die?!

But thanks for tuning in.

Andrew Lawrence

Andrew Lawrence

[Andrew Lawrence (Wikipedia, co.uk), “What to do if you’re not like everybody else”, BBC Radio 4, 2010]

Did I mention that I’m on Facebook?

Flashback to the summer of 2007:

facebook-logo.gifThis week I got my first two invitations to join Facebook (Wikipedia). I don’t know how I’d avoided them for so long, but now it was time to put my reluctance into words. Here’s what I came up with:

Thanks, but no thanks. I’m not doing the Facebook thing.

I’ve decided to stick to LinkedIn (see my profile) for professional networking and Twitter (see my tweets) for casual/fun networking. You’re more than welcome to contact me on these networks.

And then of course I also use my blog to write for Google an open audience.

[“Facebook? Thanks, but no thanks“, me, June 17 2007]

I made some pretty good points in that post, too, if I do say so myself:

  • At the time, Facebook was pissing off its core users (youth) by expanding aggressively to cater to everybody
  • That wasn’t the first time it had done so
  • Facebook eats your time.

But curiosity and peer pressure are powerful motivators, so only five weeks later I signed on to Facebook anyway. And I’ve been using it just about daily in the three years since then.

I like Facebook’s quick and easy way to stay up-to-date on what everybody’s doing. It’s ideal for an introvert like me who will never (ever!) pick up the phone and call five old school buddies or colleagues to hear how things are going… or write them a letter. That’s way too pushy and aggressive.

On Facebook it’s up to the recipient, not the sender, how much information they want. If you happen to be connected to a fire hose who won’t shut up about their car or new baby, just click the little x and their chatter is gone from your Facebook and you haven’t had to tell them to zip it. Passive-aggressive? No, it’s passive-defensive: You turn down the volume of information without bothering the fire hose.

Facebook - you like this, write a commentEverything I wrote in the 2007 blog post is still true. For example that Facebook eats your time if you let it. All this darn contact and interaction with people tends to sap a person’s time and energy that I could’ve otherwise spent on, say, blogging.

Tomorrow (or, like, you know, whenever) I’ll write some tips on eliminating the more annoying aspects of Facebook, such as inane game requests, quiz results, etc.

Using WordPress child themes to fix theme bugs

Note: This is not a general introduction to WordPress child themes, merely a couple of observations about my initial experiences with the idea. For tutorials, please see for example How to make a child theme for WordPress: A pictorial introduction for beginners by Demetris at op111.net

Encouraged by Catherine Winters‘ presentation on the Twenty Ten theme customization (using child themes) at The Vancouver WordPress Meetup Group this week, I decided to experiment a little on my own. In the course of a couple of hours I learned two things: 1) Child themes are easy to implement, and 2) child themes aren’t a new feature.

Child themes aren’t a new feature in WordPress

Let’s take that last one first: Demetris’ tutorial that I link to above was written in August 2008! And here I thought that child themes was something brand new in WordPress 3.0.

I guess the feature is just getting more press and attention now.

Child themes are easy to implement

There’s very little magic going on here: You create a new directory in the theme catalog, create a new file style.css in the directory, copy-paste some standard jargon comments and an @import statement into the file, and you’re golden.

What surprised me the most: No changes are needed to the parent theme. Any existing theme can be a parent theme.

Example of use: Fixing a bug in an existing theme

As of September 2010, I’m using the theme Typebased (version 2.3.1) by WooThemes. I like it because it’s simple and clean. But I was annoyed by a small bug in the theme: Pictures get a dark gray background and some extra spacing around them (which is usually attractive); the problem is that no exception is made for WordPress’ auto-converted smiley’s. A smiley in a paragraph of text looks like this in Typebased:

I wanted to get rid of the background color and the vertical spacing, so I looked at the HTML source and identified the CSS classes. WordPress tags the (auto-converted) smileys with class=”wp-smiley”, and Typebased tags the surrounding blog post with class=”post-content”. Given that, here’s the entire content of style.css for the child theme (again, see the article above for where to put the file, etc.):

Theme Name: Jan’s customizations to Typebased
Description: Fixing a CSS bug in WOO Themes’ theme Typebased
Author: Jan Karlsbjerg
Template: typebased
Version: 0.1

@import url(../typebased/style.css);

.post-content .wp-smiley {
background:none  #fff;
padding:0; }

Done! Now smileys blend in nicely. And because I made the changes in a child theme, I didn’t have to make any changes in the main theme’s files.

Quote of the Day

Jeremy Hardy
Jeremy Hardy

English broadcaster Jeremy Hardy:

In order to be actually young, one needs to have been born or cloned some time within the last 41 years; a figure that I revise upward on an annual basis.

[From Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation Season 5, Episode 4 “How to be Young”]

Vancouver Blogger Meetup August 2010 Recap

Another month, another Vancouver Bloggers Meetup. This time we met at 2nd Beach close to the pool.

The location was given as “the hill just west of the 2nd Beach Pool”. As it turns out, that was too vague a description and in the end only three of us found each other at a bench between the pool and the huge playground grass area south of the pool.

The people

Some of the topics that came up

  • Everybody and their dog calling themselves a “social media consultant”, often with scant regard to their qualifications and experience. As Raul put it, there seems to be one social media consultant per potential social media customer. For example, a DSLR and an eye for framing a good shot does not a social media expert make.
  • Is LinkedIn a good marketing tool? Not for social media consultants, I think. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten any career boost from LinkedIn, maybe mainly because I have worked in several different positions in one company since I came to Canada in 2003 (which was also the year LinkedIn was launched). For me, the social networks that are best suited to promoting my career are the internal networks and communication tools we use at work.
  • Raul informed us there are at least two academic-only social networks out there.
  • I told Raul and Erika the story of Mrs. K and me (we started out as email penpals, then fell in love, then met, and eventually married). Erika shared another story about an international relationship that worked out. And thus we (allegedly) restored Raul’s belief in love(!)
  • Once again at a VBM we discussed the legal and (mostly) bureaucratic part of international life: Residence permits, citizenship, etc.
    • Canada’s ridiculous 5-year “permanent” residence permits
    • Some countries accommodate dual citizenships while others don’t.
    • Raul is considering becoming dual (Mexico + Canada)
    • Erika is considering Canadian + Finnish.
    • I have to choose between Danish and Canadian because Denmark still doesn’t allow dual citizenship despite a couple of grass root political campaigns to get that reversed (the best organized one is statsborger.dk).
  • The gorgeous summer evening brought a lot of people to the beach and the Seawall beside us, including many young men with bare chests. This proved a mighty distraction to at least one third of our little crowd.

The venue

The area around 2nd Beach was gorgeous tonight, but it could also easily have been a big letdown as there doesn’t appear to be any cover nearby in case of rain. Supremely accessible by bike, not so much by car or bus.

For any future meetups in open-air venues like this I strongly encourage the organizer(s) to use online map services and other relevant modern technologies to pinpoint the location in advance and communicate the location to the rest of us in a precise, unambiguous and graphical manner. 🙂

If you’d like to join our little (though usually much bigger that tonight) group of locals in Vancouver Blogger Meetup, join our group on Meetup.com (it’s free).

Quote of the Day

The best bit of satire I’ve seen so far about Apple’s handling of “antenna-gate 2010”:


Apple now for the first time admits that there are problems with the company’s new iPhone product:

“A number of customers have complained that when they hold the phone in a certain way, others can’t see that they’ve got the new iPhone 4,” says an Apple spokesperson.

“But the problem can be solved very easily. You simply make sure to shove your iPhone right into the face of the person standing nearest to you, before you climb up into a tree so you can get a connection and make a call.”

[The satire column ATS in the newspaper Politiken, August 1, 2010 (my translation from Danish)]

Vancouver Blogger Meetup June 2010 Recap

Another month, another Vancouver Bloggers Meetup. This time we were at St. Augustine’s at 2360 Commercial Drive (close to 7th Ave).

The people


Vancouver Blogger Meetup May 2010 Recap

Thursday night was the first Vancouver Bloggers Meetup after Northern Voice 2010. This time we were at Our Town Cafe at 245 East Broadway (close to Main St).

The people