2x15: One Mouse in a Row


I’ve gone from Joomla to Drupal and finally settled on Wordpress, or rather my department has. As I’ve learned more and more using it I’ve come to detest the plugin and theme culture. It allows designers to slap together sites with plugins they know but it’s so often overkill or just hard to maintain after a few months. Fusion Builder is a nightmare for someone who just wants to read some simple html.

I have learned a lot however and if I can get in there and write something bespoke to replace the stack of dodgy plugins I do. Last year we set up a Science Journal site with a submission form, metadata on the published papers etc but most of it was entered by hand in multiple places. This year the plugins we used stopped working so I decided to write a plugin myself which would have a custom post type for the submitted paper and allow it to be the same post that gets published, drawing all the info it needs for the metadata and template from that post data. Seems to work ok and saves me a lot of time when it comes to publish.

Regarding language learning, I have been living in Croatia for nearly a decade and am still rubbish at the language. I can follow a conversation so long as I grasp the context but anything beyond one word responses or ordering coffee is tough for me. I’ve tried quite a few language tools and aside from flash cards for vocab (Anki is a great tool for that) I’ve not had much luck.
A big problem is that a) the pronunciation is so easy to get wrong that I get a lot of blank looks even when I have, to my ear, said the right thing and b) lots of people speak English anyway and can tell I am when I butcher their words so they’ll speak to me in English. Both of these cut down my confidence in the language.
In fact, my best language learning tool has been my bi-lingual daughter who is nearly 5. She switches effortlessly between the two languages and often speaks her simple sentences to both me and her mother in our respective languages in turn.


I could edit my last post but that seems unlikely to be noticed… I have read the memo a few more times since my last reply and talked to other people, and now I think I was wrong and what you said was fine. He does effectively say that women can’t code because they can’t handle stress.

It threw me off when you said that you hadn’t read the memo, and then I read it expecting to see something about women lacking the intellectual ability to code (the “can’t code” part of your statement) and glossed over his points about anxiety (maybe because I don’t find coding stressful). I at first took him as saying women preferred lower stress jobs but really he says they lack the ability to handle stress. If he had been making the other point, I would have disagreed with it but it would have been more of a point of debate rather than something negative toward women.


@sil Here’s the Progressive Death Metal band logo you asked for.


(See also: metal data.)

Execrable: The @sil Solo Death Metal Project

Hey @sil, I’ve been using Duolingo for about 4 years to learn some french.

I have been putting in near the minimum amount of effort so I’m certainly not fluent, and I haven’t had much chance to practice using it yet, but I can understand written french pretty well now. Today I have a streak of 1365 consecutive days (3.5+ years) which I’m quite motivated not to let die (I’m also helped by another automatic system that would charge me if I didn’t practice).

I’ve always had the speaking exercises turned off because I didn’t believe in the accuracy of their automatic rating - this was a big mistake, because now I am really really bad at speaking any of the french that I know. According to a language tutor I know it actually doesn’t matter as much about the accuracy of your speaking as much as it matters to practice speaking out loud at all.

The audio clips you mentioned are prerecorded, but using text to speech engines rather than real people.

To give a bit of background on the money situation, you don’t have to pay at any point, ie to get to any level, so don’t worry about that.

In terms of their business model I think they originally just burned through investor cash with a plan to make money through human-created paid translations like @basje said. As a result they never used to have ads or any kind of paid options. But since abandoning that they have in the last year or so added ads, a paid “pro” option that gets rid of ads and enables offline lessons, and those one-off payments that keep your “streak” alive even if you miss a lesson.

There’s a lot of debate about how effective Duolingo is for learning a language as an adult. As you say, it doesn’t bother teaching you much in the way of language “rules”, you learn in a more natural way (just like you didn’t need to explicitly learn any rules to speak your native language). However I think most people agree that it will take you a much longer time to learn in this way as an adult if you don’t learn some of the rules alongside it, because we lose much of our natural ability to “absorb” language as we get older.


While reflecting on what I’ve used for my websites in the past and what I use now, I realized something: My god, my 20-year history on the web has been all over the place. I used numerous free hosts: xoom.com, drumline.com, dyndns.org, hypermart.net, wordpress.com, tumblr.com. Sometimes I piggybacked on others’ accounts: my dad’s ISP account, a subdomain on my friend’s web hosting account. I’m probably missing a few.

Like @nshiell, I too wrote my own CMS, I think back in 2000 or so. It was one of my first web programming projects, and turned out to be a great way to learn PHP and MySQL. I found it fun, it raised my confidence in my abilities, gave me experience, and helped kickstart my career.

Eventually I bought http://greaterscope.net, and migrated my site yet again. In 2008 I decided to give blogging another go and started using wordpress.com. After roughly two years of that, I was lured over to Tumblr because of its simplicity. Just this year I moved to a self-hosted static Hugo site, served by Caddy on a Linode server I’ve had for years: https://blog.alanszlosek.com. I absolutely love Caddy, and hopefully Hugo and I will be friends for years. It took me way too long to find a theme that ticked enough boxes, but luckily I was able to fork the theme repo and fix some bugs with generation of tag pages. Version controlled site content published via rsync feels so good!

@parzzix mentioned Ghost and I concur that updates are a pain if you self-host. Markdown with an instant preview panel was awesome, but not being able to apply updates with a single command was a deal-breaker.


That’s definitely a really good point; I’m using a fairly old version of Pelican to run my site (because it works and upgrading’s a pain, especially since I’ve altered things) but that’s not a problem because its code is not exposed to the world. That’d be a disaster if the live code were on the website, as it is with WordPress and the like, and I hadn’t really considered just how important a factor that is!

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