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New Yet Old & Still quite Comfy Random Mutterings

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Welcome back to another Random Mutterings newsletter.

You might notice if you are a keen-eyed, header watching type that the email came not via TinyLetter platform but via MailChimp (which is TinyLetter’s parent). TinyLetter was becoming more and more problematic so I switched over to using MailChimp temporarily before, in the autumn, moving it all in house, I think. 

Now on with the newsletter.

What happened to May? 

In addition to platform changes you might also have noticed it’s been over a month since the last Random Mutterings. Sorry about that, needless to say April was another weird pandemic and life-induced month. I have a few quick announcements before we kick-off the newsletter properly.

WP User Sentry is a thing!
So I launched a new plugin called WP User Sentry which provides simple notification of SUCCESSFUL login to your site. You can read more about why and it’s features in Introducing WP User Sentry.

In other article news, I continued the Productivity Fridays posts with my Bashing My BashRC post. I have taken a bit of a break with these, they really haven’t been as well-received as I sort of expected, so I am thinking both the timing of releasing on a Friday, but also the format, might not be working.  

Indeed, articles have generally been a bit light recently not because I haven’t been writing but I have been doing a little bit of soul searching and a lot more research. You can read a bit more about the state of my site in The State of Tim

What have I been reading?

Hopefully a bit of light reading, and some not so light reading, for all. Note, I have played with the categories this month to be slightly less deep tech focused.

System Administration and System Productivity

WordPress & Web Development


Writing and content production

Human Productivity and Well being

Actual Books VIDEOS!

Ok, so before we do videos I just wanted to highlight a book I did read which is The Developer’s Guide to Book Publishing by Stephanie Morillo. If the name sounds familiar I recommended her other book a few months ago, The Developer’s Guide to Content Creation. She also has a great blog talking about content creation.

So, like last time, my reading/listening to books have been limited so instead I want to highlight a couple of great YouTube channels, and not necessarily tech ones.

Life of a Writer – I follow quite a lot of writing YouTubers and really like Stefanie Newell’s channel. It’s very newbie friendly but I have actually learnt a fair amount about Google docs through the channel.

Rich Rebuilds – I have followed Rich since before the name change and expansion of the channel and the general toning down of content. If you are into cars and mechanics you will like this channel.

Humble Penny – there are LOTS of finance YouTubers but not that many in the UK, thankfully Humble Penny couple tick the boxes of being UK-focused and really good. Just as always with finance stuff, everyone’s circumstances are different. 

Ali Abdaal – A junior doctor who also talks a lot about productivity and studying; I dip in and out of his channel a lot. It covers such a wide range of topics. However he was one of the primary drives at looking into Notion at the start of this year.

The Come Up – Lifestyle & Programming, I will be honest I skip a lot of the lifestyle ones, though I love how it combines brilliantly with a video on automating clothing selection. While US-focused there is also some great content about job prospects in Software Development.

Amazing Tool

This month’s tool is the Wayback Machine Downloader, a Ruby app that if you give it a domain, it will go and download every file present for that domain on Wayback Machine. There are some other clever things but it does what it says on the tin. For a recent project where I needed to access content long since gone and recreate it, this tool was super handy.

News and Opinions

EFF Updates Tool Guide

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has a pretty good Surveillance Self Defence site which I strongly recommend everyone takes the time to read. It covers both physical and online for example if your phone is seized. The tool section has been updated. I have seen lots of advice on Twitter about not taking phones to protests, this is terrible advice, take your phone, have it charged but before you set out give the site a read.

WordPress turns 17

Happy Birthday! It’s 17 years since Matt went “I want to make B2 better” and Mike Little said “let’s do it”. I wonder how many people know WordPress is actually a fork? The rest is history so let’s raise a toast to Mike, Matt and Michel (who wrote B2).

Old Attacks are on the rise

Maybe global pandemics mean bad actors are too busy with phishing attacks but the last month has seen a number of old attacks rear their heads, with a particularly large attack targeting older XSS flaws in out-of-date plugins. A WordFence report claims to have stopped over 130 Million such attacks. 

As always the advice is update, and update as soon as you can. I wrote a rather long and comprehensive article on building robust update strategies.  

Big Orange Heart Needs You

WP&UP finished it’s rebrand to Big Orange Heart but it might be short lived like many charities it has been hit hard by the global pandemic, just as people are desperate for its services. It’s currently costing around £10k a month to provide the current service and donations are not close to covering it. They need you, once more, to step up.

As always, something positive to finish with. Every so often a thread gets passed around at work about old school game development with 4 or 5 of us really interested in how they optimised. The most recent passed around is this great set of “hacks” by game developers https://www.cracked.com/pictofacts-1711-weird-workarounds-behind-magic-your-favorite-games/

Thank you, and you are awesome, stay safe.

Tim