Goodbye Kubrick, hello twenty ten

The old kubrick website of Ruth Stalker-Firth

Today I updated WordPress. Wow! I have blogged in the past about how much I love WordPress, but where have I been? The WordPress community have been busy making everything smart and sexy. The new dashboard and themes make me desperate to write cool blogs (Dream on – I will).

Before my discovery today, I was a little upset to change my Kubrick theme, I read somewhere that it is no longer supported but after I installed my upgrade it worked as beautifully as ever. However, as much as I love its calm blue smartness, I have always secretly hankered for something more without ever wanting to commit to doing anything. Apart from the ‘if it ‘ain’t broke don’t fix it’ adage, scripting is a means to an end with me. If I really need to do something in a scripting language, I hack away blindly and never get it right the first few goes. Sometimes catastrophically.

When I was an industrial placement student, I edited a whole live database system under the tuition of the resident systems security ‘expert’ (who was one creepy guy). I guess he would have told me not to do that but I was 20 years old and didn’t have a very long attention span. Seriously, who does at that age? Anyway, one embarrassing mess later I was highly amused to find out that he hadn’t a single backup of the database in his Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu tricks . It just goes to show you that everyone needs to think carefully about who is going to carry out the essential but boring jobs (university departmental intranets are a total case in point). And if you must also bore your poor students whilst instructing them, make sure you practice what you preach, and it is probably best to get it down in an email so they have clear instructions.

Apart from my hacktastic tendencies, the other reason I hesitated about tinkering with the Kubrick theme was that I liked its simplicity and its clear lines and from a usability point of view, it is easy to read and to process (Where am I? Where have I been? Where am I going?). I have chosen a similar layout on this one and it looks great, but reading it I tire more easily because the text is too wide and hence, more tiring to read. I need a smaller text column. I feel more tinkering coming on.

Luckily that will be easy to do as I have used the child theme approach (great tutorial here : http://www.throwingabrick.com/wordpress/customizing-the-wordpress-twenty-ten-theme.html ). The child theme approach to editing themes is perfect. It lets me overload my code changes in a separate directory without ever messing up the real theme’s code. Fantastic. And then, when tired of scripting, I can use the Appearance Editor in the Dashboard to change colours and had a tinker about. The sidebar is taken care of by the Widgets drag and drop. This mixture of a bit of typing and mouse manipulation is exactly me. I love it. I want to start thinking of cool things to say, up my game, have cool blogs, but I might just have to fiddle with this new theme a bit more first.

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