The past week had some good and some bad for The New Leaf Journal.  For the good, we have transitioned to our new and improved theme – BunnyPress.  For the bad, I spent much of the week dealing with technical difficulties and did not have much time to actually work on content.  Worse yet, a last minute assignment at my day job that I must complete today may prevent me from publishing a long post this evening.  As usual, I will lead with our articles from the week, provide some status updates on what has been happening at The New Leaf Journal, and then list some things that you can look forward to as things settle down.

We all have our struggles. Book cover retrieved from Project Gutenberg.

Articles from the Week

Sadly, due to issues that I will discuss in the next section, I was only able to publish two articles this week.  Because the second article relates to the issues, I will only discuss the first article in this section.

Some President U.S. Birthday Facts

Last Sunday marked President Donald Trump’s 74th birthday.  In recognition of the occasion, I published an article full of facts about presidential birthdays.  While I do think you will enjoy the president birthday facts, I am perhaps most proud of the Microsoft Paint artistic masterpiece that I created to accompany the post.

The Good and Bad From the Week

After working on setting up our new BunnyPress theme, I made the transition on the live site late last Saturday night. All seemed well.  I posted my president birthday facts article last Sunday to usher in our new theme.

On Monday and Tuesday, I worked on looking at adding new functionality to the site.  Sometime on Tuesday, I opened the site in an incognito window to check something.  To my horror, what greeted me was the site homepage with our previous template.  What’s more, the homepage was missing the president birthday facts article.

I scoured the internet for answers about why some site visitors were receiving a cached version of the homepage from June 12 (all other pages worked fine, so it is possible that some visitors from social media never noticed the issue).  No solution I tried bore results.  I also tried using the forums to find out if it had to do with a caching plugin I had installed, but that too did not answer the question.

I stayed up until about 3:00 AM on Tuesday trying to figure out what happened.  On Wednesday, I procured more assistance and worked on the issue all night again.  At about 2:00 AM, I finished restoring a slightly earlier backup of the site to cure a redirection experiment gone sideways. 

I aimlessly opened up a version of the homepage site in an incognito window in my main browser, Vivaldi.  To my surprise, the correct version of the homepage appeared.  Before I celebrated, I decided to try the website in four additional browsers – Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, and Avast.  The correct version of the homepage appeared in each browser.  I celebrated over text with The New Leaf Journal’s resident insomniac – Victor.  I then posted my second and final article of the week detailing my caching troubles.  (For the record, I am still not entirely sure what happened.)

Once I finish implementing all the new design elements for our theme, I will tell the story of my purchasing and formatting our new theme and the caching saga in more detail.  For now, I am just glad that visitors can see the correct version of each page on site.

In Better News – New Features Implemented

While I spent much of the week after installing the new theme dealing with technical troubles, I did have to implement two tangible improvements for the site in addition to installing the improved theme.

First, I installed new author boxes under our articles.  Each author box has two tabs.  The first tab includes the author’s profile information.  The second tab includes the author’s most recent posts.  I think that the new author boxes are quite aesthetic and add some personality and useful features to the site.  We are in the process of revising Victor’s profile information to make it fit more neatly in his author box.

Second you will see a new “You may also enjoy…” field below our articles.  This functionality is built into our new theme. It selects three articles from our site that you may find interesting in light of the article you just read.  I am not entirely sure how it chooses the related articles, but for the most part the choices seem to make sense. To make room, I eliminated the “next” and “previous” articles that were part of our previous set-up.

Things To Look Forward To

I am close to implementing a guestbook page for The New Leaf Journal.  This will allow readers to post comments and feedback and receive responses from The New Leaf Journal.  I am working on finalizing the guestbook feature and that will almost definitely be live by our next week in review.

New Articles

I will start with new content.

I have a couple of posts in the pipeline for the next week.  First, I will publish one article about a charming and heartwarming moment from one of my favorite video games, Persona 4 Golden.  I had actually drafted the post in 2018, but I did not think it would ever be timely.  Now, Persona 4 Golden has been re-released on Steam, so it seems like as good a time as ever for my first article on the subject.  I also have a post slated for Monday to celebrate phase two of New York City’s reopening.

We will work to post Victor’s review of three sets of boutique guitar strings this week.  Furthermore, some of you may have heard that Bob Dylan’s newest album came out this week.  Victor has confirmed that his review of the album is favorable.  While we wait to read some of his in-depth analysis about Mr. Dylan’s new songs, you can learn a bit about why he studies Mr. Dylan and thinks that you should too in his earlier article.

Ways to Stay in Touch

I am close to implementing a guestbook page for The New Leaf Journal.  This will allow readers to post comments and feedback and receive responses from The New Leaf Journal.  I am working on finalizing the guestbook feature and that will almost definitely be live by our next week in review.

In addition to the guestbook, I am working on two additional features.

First, I am still working on setting up The New Leaf Journal newsletter.  Although I do have a newsletter service ready to go, I am studying the best way to implement the sign-up into the website and evaluating some additional options that I had not previously considered.  While it is possible that the newsletter may be ready for you by next Saturday, it may also take an additional week for me to finalize all of the details.

Second, I am considering in-site chat functionality.  To that effect, I found the program that we will use if we implement that.  The chat function will definitely not be implemented this week, but I may add it to the site in the future after the guestbook and newsletter are up and running.

New Homepage Features

Our new theme for the website has in-built slider functionality.  We are working on creating images for the slider.  I expect that the slider will be up and running for the homepage this week.

New Types of Articles

I have implemented new features to create book review articles and to incorporate recipes into posts.  In addition, I am considering adding the ability to create reviews for The New Leaf Journal.  We will gradually begin expanding the range of our content as we go forward.

Behind the Scenes

I relieved the site of some caching features after the incident of the last week.  While the site does score a bit lower on speed tests at the moment, I find that the content loads about as fast as it did before for all normal purposes.  Nevertheless, I am doing research to safely re-implement full browser caching to create a better user experience while also ensuring that we do not repeat the technical difficulties of the last week.

Parting Shots

The last week was full of both good and bad news for The New Leaf Journal.  I hope that the next week will feature more articles and less fighting with unseen forces that I do not really understand.

Thank you as always for reading, and I hope to provide you with more to read over the coming week.