Housekeeping Notice: WordPress and/or FireFox Blog Display Problems

I have been blogging, off and on, for twenty years now, and in that time I have used just about every kind of blogging software imaginable. In the 2000s, I tinkered a bit with Blogger and LiveJournal, and for a couple of years I maintained a personal blog using the Movable Type software, really getting into the customization of it. From June 2012 to February 2014, I wrote a Blogspot blog about a metaverse platform called Cloud Party, called the Cloud Party Bugle (sadly, Yahoo! acquihired the company making Cloud Party, and ended the project).

In 2017, when I started writing a new blog called the Sansar Newsblog, I decided to go with WordPress. There are actually two WordPress services. WordPress.com is a service that helps you build a website using the WordPress software with managed hosting, while WordPress.org is the source where you can download the software itself, which you can use to build and maintain a website on your own. I chose the managed hosting option and, by and large, I have been quite happy with my decision.

In February 2018, I renamed my blog to RyanSchultz.com, using a domain name I had purchased a decade earlier. One advantage of naming your blog after yourself is that, no matter what tangents I might head off in, I am always on brand! 😉

WordPress offers dozens of professionally-designed site templates, and I chose the clean and uncluttered look called Twenty Fifteen:

However yesterday, much to my dismay, I loaded up the RyanSchultz.com blog in my FireFox browser to see this monstrosity (see below). All of my serif fonts had been changed to sans serif, and even worse, my main blog text was rendered so small as to be almost unreadable! AAAAARGH!!!

In a panic, I rapidly checked how my blog looked on other devices and in other browsers. What is confounding me is that it only appears to be happening on my work computer; it displays correctly in the FireFox browser on my iPhone and iPad, and it also displays correctly when I use the Chrome browser on my work PC. Even weirder, when I go into edit mode on a particular blogpost, it displays properly, too!

This problem just popped up out of the blue, I have no idea what is going on, and I am NOT a happy camper. Yesterday afternoon, I did a quick text chat with WordPress.com tech support to see if they could troubleshoot the problem, but September is a very busy month for me and I had to log off and tend to more pressing matters than font display issues! They suggested updating FireFox to the latest version and I did—but it still didn’t fix my problem.

If all else fails, I might decide to drop the Twenty Fifteen theme and pick a different theme for my blog. After five years, this might be my sign from the universe to change things up a bit!

So I apologize if your view of my blog looks a bit wonky today. I am aware of the problem and I am trying to fix it! If you do see what I see in the second picture above, could you please drop me a line and let me know? Thanks!

UPDATE 8:44 a.m.: And, as mysteriously as the problem popped up, it now appears to be fixed! But please drop a comment or ping me on the RyanSchultz.com Discord if you should encounter it, thank you!

HOUSEKEEPING NOTICE: The RyanSchultz.com Blog Will Be on Hiatus During September 2022

Photo by GraceHues Photography on Unsplash

This is just a quick housekeeping note: my blogposts will be few and far between during the month of September! However, I will still be working with my co-producer and director, Carlos Austin, on the next couple of episodes of season two of the Metaverse Newscast (if you’re interested, you can watch episode 1 of season 2 here). Carlos and I have some exciting shows lined up for you!

The start of the Fall term is always a very busy period for me in my full-time paying job as a university science and agriculture librarian, and I hope you will understand that I can only do so much juggling at one time! Please rest assured that I will return to regular blogging once things are a little less hectic in my life. 😉

A Few More Thoughts on My Move from Twitter to Mastodon

HOUSEKEEPING NOTICE: My proposal (and budget!) for a virtual reality lab for my university library system is almost done, and soon I will be able to get back to blogging “news and views on social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse”, as the tagline of the RyanSchultz.com blog states. Thank you for your patience!

It’s been almost one month since I first decided to jump ship from Twitter after Elon Musk announced that he was buying the microblogging platform, and it seems like a good time to share with my readers my thoughts about the move.

In only 3-1/2 weeks, I have 150 followers on Mastodon, and I am already following 300 people!

The culture and ethos between Twitter and Mastodon are completely different, like night and day. There is a blessed absence of advertising and “influencers”, people are politer, there is a relative lack of trolls, and the lack of a quote feature means that people tend to talk to each other, instead of about each other. Partly, these differences are because Mastodon has a much, much smaller network of users than mighty Twitter. (Some stats: Mastodon has about 4.4 million users, while Twitter boasts over 396 million users.)

One thing I quite like in Mastodon is the ability to put a content warning (CW for short) on a post, so that the person reading it has to read the content warning and decide whether or not to click through to read and/or see the actual content. Here’s an example of a recent post I made with a content warning:

One person whom I am following on Mastodon, Rachel Sharp, wittily summed up the difference between Twitter and Mastodon as follows:

Tonight I spent a little time scrolling both Mastodon and Twitter, and I gotta say, the tone difference is just STAGGERING…

Mastodon: I put a content warning on my dinner in case anyone doesn’t feel like looking at food right now.

Twitter: THE WORLD IS BURNING AND SO TOO SHOULD EVERYONE ON THIS HELLBIRD SITE, AAAAAH!!!

After kicking the tires on a number of iOS apps, I have settled on a paid one, called Toot!, which I quite like (I tend to use it on my iPad while I am relaxing on the sofa in the evenings, before I go to bed). In addition to my main account on the mastodon.social instance, I also have an account on the scholar.social academic-themed instance (an “instance” is the term for a Mastodon server). I have discovered, much to my dismay, that for some reason, my employer blocks the former site, but not the latter. I also can use Toot! to monitor the local/community timeline on scholar.social, choosing to follow people from my main account on mastodon.social.

One of the things that I really like about Mastodon is that it is possible—and, in some cases, even encouraged!—to switch instances. For example, I could decide that I prefer the local, more focused community over on scholar.social, and move my main account over there. While your “toots” (what Mastodon calls tweets) do not follow you over to your new instance, the social network of people you follow can be carried over! So you’re not starting off from scratch every time you move, like you do on Twitter. I quite like the flexibility this offers!

All is not perfect, however. One thing I do miss is the ability to following certain Twitter accounts that are essentially feeds of tech news (e.g. Ars Technica). While Ars Technica does offer many RSS feeds, it looks as though I will have to learn a bit of Unix (or pony up for a premium IFTTT account) in order to set up a bot to automatically post Ars Technica news items, which I can then follow on Mastodon. (The good news is, that once I set this up, anybody can then follow it! Or, I could just bug Ars Technica to set up a Mastodon feed…) I am already keeping abreast of news sources like WIRED, the Guardian, and The New York Times via Mastodon, using bots that either the publications themselves or other users have set up.

And, let’s face it, every change does take a bit of adjustment. I have discovered that, while I have severely curtailed the amount of time I now spend on Twitter, I now find myself checking my Mastodon timeline several times a day! I seem to be just as addicted to the dopamine rush of getting my toots favourited, boosted (i.e. retooted), and commented on! I’m just glad that I am conscious of this, which is, of course, the first step towards addressing the problem of how I use social media in general.

I have retained my Twitter account, to (automatically) cross-post new items posted to the RyanSchultz.com blog, as well as any public toots I make over on Mastodon. And, of course, I will still use Twitter Spaces social audio, as it seems to be taking market share away from the Clubhouse app, which appears to be slowly circling the drain as it bleeds users, even as it adds new features. So, you might still find me on Twitter from time to time, even as I try to wean myself off reliance on the service.

This picture still makes me laugh whenever I see it!

If you are intrigued by Mastodon and want to try it out for yourself, please go to joinmastodon.org, pick an instance/server, and create an account. It’s easy and free, and then you can follow me at @ryanschultz@mastodon.social—follow me and I’ll follow you back! Please note: If you follow me from an account with zero information (no icon, no banner, no profile, no posts, no comments), I will most likely block you instead of following you back.

UPDATED! HOUSEKEEPING NOTICE: Testing Patreon-Exclusive Blogposts on the RyanSchultz.com Blog

Over the past month, I have been testing out Patreon-exclusive, paywalled blogposts on my blog. For example, if you are not a Patreon patron (more info here), you would only see a paywall message when you click on the link below. (By the way, this post is, by far, the most popular blogpost on my blog, mainly because it is the first result when people do a Google search for “vrchat adult”.)

The Dirty Little Secret of VRChat—Hidden Adult Content

UPDATE May 9th, 2022: After watching BrandonFM’s documentary (more details here), I have made the decision to un-paywall that particular blogpost.

I set it so that you would have to sign up to be a patron of my Patreon, and have paid me at least US$1, to be able to access and read this blogpost (which, by the way, is quite safe for work AND DOES NOT PROVIDE ANY LINKS TO NSFW VRCHAT WORLDS, talking about the topic in a very general way only). I just got so tired of having a page with so much traffic, and so I put a paywall on it! It doesn’t seem to have dented the traffic one bit.

And, as I have discovered, people are indeed willing to pay me a dollar just to read that particular blogpost (or one of the other two I set up in this way). So, moving forward, I reserve the right to begin imposing such a paywall on some of my content.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

As I have said before on this blog a couple of years ago, I need become a little more business-minded about how I operate the RyanSchultz.com blog. Selling advertising and offering sponsored blogposts at US$50 a pop is part of that, and this will become an additional tool in my mercantile arsenal. I do hope that you will understand.

P.S. If you do want to make a one-time financial donation and don’t want to use Patreon to do it, you can buy me a coffee using Ko-Fi or Buy Me a Coffee. Thanks!