diamond geezer

 Thursday, July 30, 2020

This is an introspective meta post.

Every now and again Blogger updates its blogging interface. Someone decides that a change is needed, a gang of programmers rejig all the buttons, boxes and processes, and I invariably hate the outcome.

Rest assured you won't be seeing a difference at your end, but I now have to type all my posts into a new style of white box. It's not what I'm used to, nor what I'd have chosen.

The main dashboard has been embiggened to make it more mobile-friendly. My list of published posts is no longer paginated but scrolls endlessly down. The box I type everything into is narrower so I see less of the text on screen. Several of the formatting tweaks I've got used to no longer work, or work differently. And whereas I've been used to entering text in HTML mode for eighteen years, that's suddenly become nigglingly impractical. I'm not a fan.

But I've coped before. I will cope again.

Today's post is therefore my first attempt at writing in a new way, so I thought I'd provide a running commentary on how I'm getting on.

[Gosh, I'm at the bottom of my screen already - I used to be able to see a lot more than this]

I went out for a walk yesterday and saw lots of things. Sorry, I know a lot of my recent posts have started like this.

[Well that was different. I decided to add three different links and each time had to jump through more hoops than previously. Also the big box which popped up showed me very little of the web address I'd just pasted in. Also it's less easy to go back afterwards and check that the link is correct. Expect me to make more unintentional 'link' errors in the future, sorry]

As part of my walk I crossed the classic cylindrical footbridge at Poplar station.

Poplar footbridge[Well that was different too. Blogger uploaded my photo OK but positioned it centrally and made it too small. I had to go back and tweak things to make it 500 pixels wide on the left, not 320 in the middle]

[Also, I didn't ask for a link to the photo, how do I get rid of that?]

[Also, I now appear to be writing text down the side of my photo. This is not what I want to do. Why is this the default? Why is there no way to change it? Previously I would have added the HTML tag <br clear=all> and the next paragraph would have started underneath. But I can't edit HTML in Compose mode, and I can't add photos in HTML mode, so this is not ideal]

[I need to switch back to HTML mode by flicking the toggle in the corner, hang on...]
What a photogenic footbridge this is.

[That's better. But oh god, what on earth's been happening under the surface? While I've been typing text in the Compose window, Blogger has been adding all sorts of superfluous extra code to the HTML. In particular it's managed to add 34 <div></div> pairings, entirely unnecessarily, making it very hard to read back what I've been typing. I would never have written something so wildly inefficient but Blogger's splashed them around with grim abandon. There's even one occurrence of a "</div><div></div><div></div><div>" which is madness]

[It reminds me of the programs that used to create websites for us in the early 2000s, sleek to the reader but wilfully inefficient underneath the bonnet, like some kind of formatting sewage. I now feel the need to go back and delete all the divs because they're 100% unnecessary. I doubt I'll still be doing that in a year's time]

[Also, the HTML version of my post is now a string of text whereas previously it would have had line breaks in it because that was an option. Also the code is now full of <span>s, whereas I've spent the last 18 years using <font>s. Also my spellchecker has given up because the text is overflowing with code it doesn't understand. I'm not enjoying this. Blogger's HTML entry window has become pretty much unusable overnight, dammit]

The footbridge is currently undergoing 'pedestrian enhancement works'. At one end the staircase is closed so you have to walk up through the station. At the other end a temporary staircase and temporary lift shaft have been added.

But these enhancements are taking ages. It's been at least two years.

[Ah, New Blogger only adds a proper line break if the photo is centred, not if it's nudged over to one side. That's not great]

And yet the sign on the footbridge says "we anticipate that these works will be completed by the end of 2019". It's now the second half of 2020 and they are not.

[Sigh, that's another 20 superfluous <div>s since the last time I looked, plus a bundle of unnecessary <span>s. Battling against this redundant code is going to be a pointless task]

Why are we so bad at predicting completion dates for projects? Why do people always seem to underestimate, at least in public, how long building something will take? Is it an unwillingness to give bad news, is it unexpected delays or is it over-optimistic project management? Consider the opening date of the neighbouring Crossrail station, for example.

[That was OK because it was just plain text. Plain text is easy. It's the fiddly bits that mess things up]

dateWhen's Crossrail opening?
2014-2018December 2018
August 2018autumn 2019
December 2018later than autumn 2019
April 2019during the window October 2020 - March 2021
November 2019"as soon as practically possible in 2021"
January 2020summer 2021
July 2020later than summer 2021

[That was not fun. I wanted to copy a table I'd posted previously, but when I opened up the post my original code had been translated into what New Blogger thought it should have been. This was more technically correct, but also messier and therefore much harder to edit. I fear this means you're going to get a lot less 'clever' HTML in future posts and a lot more 'words and photos only']

Eventually Poplar's footbridge will be extended through a new development to link up with Canary Wharf Crossrail station. In the meantime I hope the current works will be completed soon.

[I have a steep learning curve ahead of me before writing posts comes as easily as it used to. It will, but forgive me if I can't bothered to add all the fun twiddly bits I used to. In the meantime I see Blogger has a button which allows me to postpone all these changes until August 24th so I'm pressing that and going back to the Legacy Version]

[Ah, that's better... for as long as it lasts. But there is one thing to rejoice about, which is that Google have invested time and effort into updating Blogger rather than just pulling the plug. A publishing site I first used in 2002 is somehow still going strong in 2020, and should be around for a few more years yet!]

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jack of diamonds
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