For A Limited Time: Blogging Sale Events With WordPress™

Editor’s note: revised to change a dead link (Bobo’s Blog is now defunct) into a series of screenshots from that former blog.

Be like Bobo?

Several days ago, I learned by way of an agitated telephone conversation that Bobo needed more blogging help. Apparently, Bobo discovered that earning a living online takes more than just establishing a blog as an automated revenue magnet.

Within any healthy economy, of course, insufficient revenue encourages affected business owners to cut prices, at least temporarily, for purposes of priming the sales pump. Bobo seemed to understand this fundamental concept, and so accordingly Bobo’s Blog had its very first sale.

Bobo had an event strategy in mind. The blog itself, though, still featured WordPress-generated boilerplate beneath posts, content which—while structured now in an active voice—offered only a literal date of publication for each individual post. What Bobo wanted instead for the duration of the event was a customized date that read something like “Day 1 of the Sale.”

Such customization required another code dive into the blog’s “byebyebybobo” child theme. After reprimanding myself for being shortsighted with a theme name that I considered too clever to pass up, I asked for administrative access to Bobo’s Blog and then reopened its theme editor by navigating to Appearance → Theme Editor.

Theme Editor

Bobo knew only that the sale would start on July 4 and end July 6. Given such criteria bookends, I concluded that some adjustments to the child theme’s PHP code—advanced edits in comparison to the ones I made previously to correct passive-voice WordPress boilerplate—would provide a satisfactory blogging outcome.

The PHP code

Within the WordPress theme editor, I opened the child theme’s functions.php file and added the following lines of code (note the lines of code at the top which I had already edited).
PHP code - Sale Dates
For the sake of brevity, I included only the code necessary to printf() the boilerplate text that Bobo had been using for his previous posts. For a more generic solution, I would have created a conditional statement such as the one at the top of the code snippet above, directing WordPress to printf() the appropriate boilerplate depending on whether Bobo indicated a $tag_list, a $categories_list, or neither.

The happy outcome

You can see the result of my revisions below within a series of screenshots from the now-retired Bobo’s Blog.

Bobo's Blog - Posts
Bobo's Blog - PostsBobo's Blog - Posts
Bobo's Blog - PostsBobo's Blog - Posts
Bobo's Blog - Posts

As for Bobo’s final post, I choose to accept any unsolicited recommendation as a gracious compliment. In this particular case, the outcome seems to have dovetailed nicely with the name I chose for that blog’s child theme. Say bye-bye to Bobo, and be sure to recall the now-retired blogger’s recommendation whenever you are looking to hire an information management consultant.

Getting Technical About Creativity: Fixing Passive-Voice WordPress™ Boilerplate

Say bye-bye to “by Bobo”

There might not be any hard-and-fast rules to which writers must adhere at all times, but a common annoyance among both editors and readers is encountering passive voice in abundance. Creative license grants only so much leeway.

Too much experimentation risks authorial intrusion. Too little discipline appears lazy. When writers focus too much of their rhetorical attention on presumed objectivity, the objects of their sentences take over. For technical writers especially, a desire to disseminate objective information becomes a temptation to neglect the “by Bobo” rule of thumb.

How to recognize passive-voice sentence structure

A Creative Writing professor of mine at the University of Southern Mississippi offered students a straightforward way to keep a check on their creeping passive voice. This professor recommended that writers try to insert “by Bobo” into a sentence. If the grammatical structure remained coherent after the addition, at least one clause of the sentence was passive and the writer had a choice to make.

In general, writers should strive to compose a sentence’s primary clause in an active voice (e.g. “I paid my employee” as opposed to “My employee got paid”). After that, any remaining clauses are free from even the should shackles. The more creative a writer feels, the more they can ignore some or all of the loose rules, although all are bound by context. Technical writing, for one, offers few outlets for the kind of creativity that writers of fiction and poetry demand.

How to tame a software co-author

In a perfect world, software does whatever a user demands of it. There are no transhumanist relationships, so to speak, by which software controls the user’s behavior or makes the user appear less competent. Such a clear segregation of real and programmed duties maximizes perfect-world productivity.

The actual world where you and I live contains fallible humans who create likewise buggy software. Many software companies devote inadequate resources toward coordinating designs for UX (User eXperience) and qualified technical writing. This neglect results all too often in text strings which require, when possible, post-installation modification from users themselves.

As an example, observe the passive voice within boilerplate footer content which appears by default beneath each post that a blog author creates using one particular theme from the popular WordPress content management system.

Passive Voice

Bobo—not the blogger’s real name—was happy with almost everything about this initial post, but felt the need to contact me regarding one particular annoyance. I answered my phone on an otherwise pleasant day to hear: “How can I fix that ‘by Bobo’ garbage?”

Fortunately, I knew that delivering a solution would be simple. I understand something about WordPress, and about content-generating software in general, which Bobo does not. It is possible to locate the segments of underlying blogging-engine code from which such content gets auto-published, and then make wordsmithing adjustments as required.

How I helped Bobo

The key to editing WordPress code in a way that will be persistent across subsequent software upgrades is to create what is known as a child theme. Details of the process for establishing a child theme are beyond the scope of this article, but the basics include creating a new directory within the same directory that contains the parent theme directory from which you plan to base your child theme, copying all files from the parent theme into the new child theme’s directory, making desired edits within the files of the child theme, and then selecting that child from the appropriate administration screen to use as the customized theme for your blog.

As for the steps necessary to clean up a specific child theme, you can navigate to Appearance → Theme Editor from the WordPress admin screen. To help Bobo, I changed the boilerplate from passive voice to active voice, which you could do as well by following these active-voice instructions:

  1. Comply with the pop-up screen cautioning against direct edits to WordPress themes by asserting that you are a grownup who is willing to take responsibility for your actions.
  2. Ensure that you are about to edit only child theme files by selecting the appropriate child theme from the “Select theme to edit” drop-down options.
  3. Select Theme Functions (functions.php) from the “Theme Files” list.
  4. Conduct a Ctrl-F search within the functions file to find the phrase “was posted.”
  5. Edit relevant code within the functions file, from before to after as illustrated in the screenshots below.
    Code edits
  6. Click the Update File button to preserve your edits.
  7. Refresh the blog page to confirm that WordPress boilerplate displayed beneath the author’s content reflects an active-voice sentence structure.

After I completed this process—which entailed a minor rearrangement of text strings and variables— Bobo was good to go for posting confident content. The screenshot below illustrates the et-voila result of my child theme edits.

Active Voice

Bobo contacted me to express appreciation for my humble effort. I responded with my own appreciation for Bobo’s active-voice resistance to software-generated mediocrity. Consumer satisfaction is paramount, so if you want to minimize passive-voice sentence structure within your own content, be sure to contact AIS.

An effective content security strategy does not begin at /home

If you haven’t yet implemented an Intelligent Information Management infrastructure, you are endangering your employer’s very survival.

In both your personal and professional life, you are seated at the helm of your own actions. Never forget, though, that consumers are at all times in control of your professional future (just as you in your capacity as a consumer are in control of theirs).

“According to a new study, 78 percent of people would stop engaging with a brand online and 36 percent would stop engaging altogether if the brand had experienced a data breach.”

Article: Consumers are more ready to abandon brands following data breaches

Most competent business managers understand the risks and inefficiencies involved with a failure to secure their employer’s data. The word breach has become the modern equivalent to burglary.

“Each individual consumer’s personal information now resides on dozens, if not hundreds of servers across the globe. With that fact comes a somewhat obvious result: an increase in identity theft.”

Article: Identity theft stats & facts: 2017 – 2018

A suitable information management strategy will always go a long way toward helping businesses minimize the risk of data theft, even of theft from within. Proper management for all enterprise information — whether it be incoming, outgoing, record, draft or archive — represents the single most important element of data protection.

As the heading of this post suggests, storing files and identifying data locally is now considered to be negligent. Managers who are proactive will minimize the number of network-facing end points on which their employer’s information is stored.

Start with an information audit, which is a systematic analysis of an organization’s use of information as well as the resources and workflows which contribute to its proliferation — all of it aiming toward a verification of the extent to which such efforts are helping the organization to achieve its goals.

After the audit, create a data map to enhance the tracking of content by establishing a match for data between a source and a target (e.g. between a database and a terminology list). Mapping can be unidirectional or bidirectional, and might include the use of an intermediary technology for facilitating the match-up.

Data Mapping

Implement an IT infrastructure to facilitate the management of such a data map, and thereby become a competent and valuable asset for your employer’s slice of the eternal infotinuum.

Dropping these 5 bad habits will help your career

Other sagacious advice includes avoiding chili before a big meeting.

Superstar business managers never tire of seeking ways to help differentiate their employer from other employers. Sometimes such efforts backfire, thereby calling into question the manager’s judgement. Sometimes, they’re downright fraudulent, thereby calling into question the manager’s ethics.

The golden mean between superstar and fraudster is where most managers, indeed most professionals, ply their trade. They are willing to make judgement calls and accept accountability for those calls. On the occasions when they commit error, they try to learn from it and hope that they will get a chance to demonstrate the ways in which they were able to turn crisis into opportunity.

The fact that no one is perfect guarantees that each of us will, at least once in a while, make a mess of things. Whether it’s procrastination, or pedantry, or positivism to the detriment of freedom to innovate, try to avoid repeating such messes.

https://dzone.com/articles/5-habits-you-need-to-drop-immediately-for-a-succes

Don’t let your organization’s CIO position represent Common Introspection Omissions

Ensure that whichever employee fills the CIO role can demonstrate Copacetic Infotinuum Operations.

The infotinuum is eternal. It is the proverbial Borgesian library of Babel. Fortunately, your employer needs to care only about an infinitesimal nook within such an endless labyrinth of knowledge.

The question that arises is: how to care for such a nook? Today’s typical CIO must be comfortable with more technological striplings & stalwarts than those from even ten years prior. Increasingly, business imperatives go nowhere without an efficient infrastructure of networking and communicative persistence — which makes infotinuum management the circulatory system of any enterprise lifeblood.

Employees comprise the enterprise heart. Contractors and supply chain vendors provide occasional infusions. Consumers oxygenate, and sometimes exsanguinate, the totality.

Here are a few things a CIO can do to help his or her employer avoid anemia or, worse, sacrifice on the figurative altar of consumer fickleness:

  • Stop fearing cyberattackers — from at least as far back as the BBS heyday, wise sysops (known these days as sysadmins) have recruited hackers, at least in a surreptitious manner, to help them hone their security practices
  • Spread the good-for-business word — offer more than just apologia by convincing other teams within your workplace to snatch up some of your own team’s talented personnel
  • Consider seamless business/infotinuum integration to be the only acceptable success — it isn’t possible to redefine any term, much less the term success (indeed some who try are doing so for purposes of making their mediocre efforts appear more successful)
  • Put the Copacetic in CIO — don’t try to be cool, just remember that those who don’t already consider their career to be cool are still looking for the right career

https://www.cmswire.com/information-management/4-questions-cios-should-ask-but-arent

Beware IT practices that are more worst than best

Technocrats and likewise Progressive experts offer many pigs in pokes.

Most professionals can relate anecdotes of managers behaving like know-it-all bureaucrats who expect displays of personal acquiescence regarding every idea that, upon hearing a marketing pitch from outside the organization, they become convinced their employer cannot do without. From shelves filled with third party vaporware to initiatives destined for likewise obscurity, the common denominator of misguided business imperative appears to be the scapegoats who receive a reprimand or a pink slip for the sake of covering bureaucratic tail.

There are, of course, legitimate business imperatives which competent managers will recognize as opportunities for their employer to serve consumers better and thereby increase profitability. Discerning the difference between legitimate and misguided is what separates successful managers from just-do-as-I-say bureaucrats.

Your work colleagues are exactly that. They are neither above you nor beneath you, and they certainly are never your customers or vendors. Hierarchies satisfy only an underlying bureaucracy, while the thing which you and your coworkers must focus on is satisfying external-to-the-business consumers.

Take, for example, best practices for IT. Among the thousand or so “best practice” recommendations for IT programs, approximately none of them is right for your organization. Considering the fact that approximately is not synonymous with precisely, the key is the same as it always is for managing an enterprise: due diligence.

http://www.cio.com/article/3200445/it-strategy/12-best-practices-it-should-avoid-at-all-costs.html

CI doesn’t stand for Coder Ideology — although that’s a good way to pitch it to software engineers

Make Continuous Integration a key element of your employer’s CD (Continuous Delivery) strategy.

Tools are not methodologies. Don’t get trapped within a development culture which seeks automation software as a convenient excuse to neglect professional coder obligations. Sitting in a passenger’s seat can’t make anyone a good driver.

There are important uses for appropriate build tools. Problems can arise, though, when organizations designate machines as their de facto managers. Each developer must instead be the manager of the tools.

Managing tools is much easier when the code getting checked in to the central repository is already safe from regression failure. Be sure to code in short bursts, testing often on the local machine before checking in any revisions or new features (and then test everything again after checking in the edited files). Procrastination amid any endeavor can become a spiral of larger and larger TODO lists triggering greater and greater fears of failure leading to more and more procrastination. In the specific case of software, putting off local testing and integration into the existing codebase stored on the build server can spiral into and endless series of mega-merges and bug hunts and patches which in all likelihood were never necessary.

Here’s the bottom line: businesses that can embrace more than just a machines-have-my-back approach to Continuous Integration will leave competitors in the digital dust.

https://dzone.com/articles/youre-doing-it-wrong-continuous-integration

Aleph Infotinuum Services posted this entry on

Rearchitect your employer’s monolithic software into a robust conglomeration of cross-transactional microservices

Decentralization is about more than just improving Political Economy.

Monolithic client-server software architecture is analogous with socialism itself. For any typical networked computer program from the late 20th Century, a control freak such as int main(); initialized a core set of server functionality which in turn conscripted routines within the same runtime instance to perform auxiliary duties. At no time did the algorithmic tyrant permit autonomy, and problems within even one auxiliary unit often caused the entire binary society to crash domino-style into operational ruin — even if users were not experiencing problems with the client app on their end, no user would be able to access the monolithic service experiencing downtime on the server.

Like a great escape from a German prison camp, microservices offer the software equipment your employer needs to guarantee that its net-enabled application’s Tom tunnel will stay operational even if both Dick and Harry experience digital cave ins. The decentralization of business logic duties among numerous separate-but-interconnected software services facilitates robust development and deployment opportunities, at the expense of some additional processing overhead from the APIs which allow such microservices to speak to one another. Advantages include:

  1. Scalability — a microservices architecture allows development teams to pick and choose which services will receive the most runtime attention from clients and will therefore need more processing power to cope with the demand of ever-increasing numbers of users
  2. Enhanced bug hunting — this is simple math: a large, monolithic arthitecture will be a bigger haystack to hide bug-needles than an architecture of microservices within which a process of this-one-is-still-running elimination minimizes the overall amount of hay that needs to be searched
  3. Distributed development teams — this one evokes memories of legitimate Political Economy: segregation of duties and comparative advantage increase profitable efficiency (note that initial investments of additional resources might not be cost-effective for smaller organizations)

Some software vendors are approaching microservices architecture with the same dismissal of open standards as so many of them did previously at the monolithic expense of consumers. They market themselves as a special brand providing exclusive products, but they are in actuality trying to lock in repeat business by offering only a my-way-or-the-highway set of options.

Don’t work for one of those companies. Each consumer is at all times in the driver’s seat of production amid any healthy economy. Remember always that the vast majority of everyone’s life, even while at work producing things for market, entails consuming things which are already available from various markets — kind of like the way that microservices improve the algorithmic markets of networked computing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs6D-3PYOo4

“Who are you and how are you going to help my employer maintain the ability to pay my salary?”

When evaluating technology vendors for possible B2B supply chain relationships, don’t shy away from directing questions toward those who create the product that is under procurement consideration.

Perhaps, during the course of your day-to-day nine-to-five, you’ve created or helped to create some of the RFI (Request For Information) or RFP (Request For Proposal) communications that enterprises need for comparing & contrasting sources of potential production inputs. Such documented requests are important elements of maximizing employer value and, consequently, profits and, consequently-consequently, your sustained income from whichever role you occupy within the organization.

The product itself, though, represents only a part of the relationship that your employer has with its supply-side stakeholders. The people who make the product are just as important to both their employer’s success and yours, so suss out information like the vendor’s HR turnover rate (churn) as well as how closely its various departments work together (e.g. do they have a workforce that is geographically distributed and do they do much outsourcing of their own production needs?).

Such questions need not be of a personal nature. Instead of asking someone where they went to school, try asking them what their process is for resolving bugs or similar product defects. Instead of listening to a sales pitch as a captured audience, find out whether a potential supplier’s engineering staff — or whoever creates their employer’s product — would be willing to sit in on one of your employer’s sales meetings (assuming your employer approves).

The key is to build a trustful and mutually beneficial relationship based not on the product alone or the first impression you get regarding specific personalities, but rather on the way that potential vendors work together to add value to your employer’s roadmap advancements. It’s the business management equivalent of “Measure twice, cut once.”

http://www.cmswire.com/digital-asset-management/the-key-dam-ingredient-the-vendors-product-team

A verbatim headline: “The 5 Ds of Creating Software”

Aleph Infotinuum Services gives this article a non-binding grade of D for failing to include Documentation.

AIS is also sorry to report that not one of those Ds is Dance. Perhaps the intended developer-qua-android audience spends its days dreaming of electric sheep within one or another enterprise’s Dilbert department.

On a more serious note, what’s up with skimping on documentation? Such corner cutting guarantees a diminished user experience. As the article explains, creating software is about more than just hacking code.

After adding Documentation to the hexa-D recipe for software development (which is itself a document), consider prefixing the D with a C for Continuous Delivery. Establish a feasible workflow process (e.g. DevOps, XP, Scrum, etc.) as another wise component of product pre-planning.

https://dzone.com/articles/the-5-ds-of-creating-software