Common Core Isn’t the Problem

Common Core Isn’t the Problem

R Campbell Sproul — Owed To Porches »

The problem is not what is being taught, or in which district it’s being taught. The problem is that the state is the one doing the teaching, and this must not be. It is not a legitimate function of any state to educate, no matter what they teach, how they teach, or how they acquire the funds to do the teaching. In America it just so happens that they choose the most asinine things to teach, in the most asinine ways, and acquire the necessary funds to do so in the most immoral way possible. It’s certainly fair to complain about that, but not at the expense of the larger problem.

Yep. The problem is I’m paying for education that I neither approve of, or have any control of whatsoever. It is an immoral system.

33 Years Ago

33 Years Ago

Thirty three years ago today, my mom and dad were married. Ten months and eight days later I was born. I now have seven brothers and sisters.

Over the course of their thirty two years of marriage, my mother and father showed me, and anyone who cared to look, what real love looks like. They loved each other, they loved their children, and they loved their friends. Their marriage and their life have literally shaped who I am today, and provided the role model for how I love my wife and what our marriage looks like. They provided the template and foundation, and Rachel and I reap the benefits. I learned to communicate and to love and care for my wife from my parents.

I do not pretend to know why God chose to take my mother from us last year. But I do know that he is sovereign in all things. I also know that I love my mother and I miss her very much.

Happy anniversary mom and dad!

I Burned Down the Old Site, Here’s The New One

I Burned Down the Old Site, Here’s The New One

No joke, this is an entirely new site, new installation of ExpressionEngine, new design, new everything. I did import all the old entries of course, dating all the way back to just a couple months before I married my beautiful wife. It feels so good to have a clean system, untainted from all my messing around and not knowing what I was doing with ExpressionEngine over the years.

Merge

The first thing to note is that I have merged by personal blog that has always resided on this website, with my tech blog from BuzzingPixel.com. The reason for this is having a movie blog, a tech blog, and a personal blog felt a bit disjointed. I wanted to consolidate and try to refresh my personal “brand” so to speak. So, all non-movie related items that I want to write about go here. That means you’re going to get all kinds of stuff on this blog and if you look back through the entries, you’ll find all the old entries from BuzzingPixel as well as the old entries from my personal blog. No more distinction.

Design

I think it’s important for me, as a professional web developer to have a slick, good looking website. When I rolled out design iteration four (the previous design) of this site a few years ago, I received a fair number of compliments. But since that time, mobile devices have become ubiquitous, retina screens have become more prolific — I got a retina MacBook Pro and boy did that old, non-retina design look hideous — and the design in general had become quite dated. I wanted a new design that was super clean, lent itself more to reading, was retina and mobile friendly, and in general would make me proud of my own website. In addition, there was not much of a focus on the site for telling the world about me or my family. For the redesign, I wanted to address all those issues.

So, for starters, go ahead and grab the edge of your browser (if you’re reading this on a Mac or PC), and squeeze that window down small. You’ll see that the site responds to the browser size (made possible by Wee!). If you’re already reading this on a mobile device, then you’ll see that the site looks great on your device. And I paired down the design to a few essential elements. It’s clean, it’s sharp (to me at least), and I like it.

Frequency

I really doubt this means that I’ll post much more often — most of my free time is consumed by MovieByte. But I’m going to try to write something here at least once every couple of weeks (go ahead and mark down my failure prediction).

Well, that’s pretty much it. It’s new, it’s shiny, and I like it. I worked hard on it with late nights and weekends and if you think it looks cool, feel free to let me know. If you don’t like it, well, remember how hard I worked on it and keep your opinions to yourself! (Kidding… kind of).

Pro-Choice, Pro-Pleasure, Pro-ME - ME ME ME!

Pro-Choice, Pro-Pleasure, Pro-ME - ME ME ME!

This started out as a Twitter post, but quickly grew too long to fit.

I admit that, as staunchly pro-life as I am, I have not kept up with the proceedings in Texas as much as I would like. But my Twitter stream is a pretty even split between the pro-choicers name-calling the pro-lifers, and vice versa and it keeps nagging at me to write something about it. There have certainly been mistakes on both sides in terms of appropriate behavior — we know that both sides can get rabid and passionate about where they stand. But my revulsion for the rabidity of the pro-choice side is pretty overwhelming. They are, after all, the ones that are insisting on murdering innocent, unborn children who have no voice with which to speak. I mean, sorry folks, I simply cannot get on board the train of murdering unborn children just because you had a few fleeting moments of sexual pleasure with indiscretion. Married sex or not, you had BETTER be prepared to take responsibility for your actions. Committing murder because you didn’t like the results of your pleasure is a far worse crime than sex outside of marriage. This applies even to married couples who want to get an abortion. It signifies one of the worst problems we’re faced with today — a people willing to perpetrate murder so they don’t have to deal with the fallout of their actions. It is the ultimate representation of this generation’s selfishness.

Please, please understand I mean no disrespect to rape victims who have become pregnant. I cannot even begin to imagine or comprehend what you have been through. You were wronged and sinned against in an extremely humiliating and heinous way 1. But even in this case, I fail to see how further acts of violence make things right. By murdering the unborn child of this rape, is it not punishing the wrong party? Capital punishment at that.

Rape victims aside — and I am still against abortion in cases of rape, for it is still murder — this is perhaps the most selfish and short-sighted generation of humans to walk the face of the earth. That we would sacrifice our own young, not on the alter of external false gods, but upon the alter of the god of our pleasure is one of the most damning things I can think of for any people to do.


  1. And God forbid that someone should rape my wife or one of my daughters because I would probably commit a sinful crime of my own by hunting that person down and killing them but for the grace of God. My point is, I think rape is very, very bad. 

“Human Rights”

“Human Rights”

Kirsten Powers - The Daily Beast »

Keep in mind that this Kirsten is a liberal columnist. It gives me hope that not everyone on the left is insane.

“Get ready for pat-a-cake! Baby’s hands are now fully developed and he spends most of his awake time groping around in the darkness of your uterus. Brain and nerve endings are developed enough now so that your baby can feel the sensation of touch.” Let’s be clear: Davis has been called a hero for trying to block a bill that would make aborting this baby illegal.

How is it heroic to champion a so-called right of someone to kill another? And what’s more, that other person has no voice.

In addition to the limit on late-term abortions, the Texas legislature sought to pass regulations on abortion clinics similar to what was passed in Pennsylvania in 2011 after the Gosnell horror.

You know, the Gosnell horror the pro-choicers were trying to say did not represent them and what they believe.

So no, I don’t stand with Wendy. Nor do most women, as it turns out. According to a June National Journal poll, 50 percent of women support, and 43 percent oppose, a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, except in cases of rape and incest.

One can assume I am also not the only woman in America who is really tiring of the Wendys of the world claiming to represent “women’s rights” in their quest to mainstream a medical procedure—elective late-term abortion—that most of the civilized world finds barbaric and abhorrent. In many European countries, you can’t get an abortion past 12 weeks, except in narrow circumstances. Gallup reported in January that 80 percent of Americans think abortion should be illegal in the third trimester, and 64 percent think it should be illegal in the second trimester.

Human-rights movements have traditionally existed to help the voiceless and those without agency gain progressively more rights. Yet in the case of abortion, the voiceless have progressively lost rights at the hands of people who claim to be human-rights crusaders. Abortion-rights leaders have turned the world upside down. They want us to believe that a grown woman is voiceless, that she has less agency than the infant in her womb who relies on her for life.

Precisely! I could not agree more whole-heartedly with this.

Also recommended reading is her article titled, “Abortion Rights Community Has Become the NRA of the Left.”

Ethics, Communication, and EllisLab

Ethics, Communication, and EllisLab

I have awoken from my slumber to write a blog post. 1

You see, even though I do both web development, and film editing, and the last long term project I got was a film project which sort of took my out of the web development and #eecms community while I worked feverishly to complete it, I still like to check in on the community once in a while and stay active when I can.

Well yesterday, #eecms nearly blew up. The reason was because of a blog post Chief Maker Derek Jones wrote. 2

Competition, Ethics, and Add-ons »

It’s no secret that a prominent developer in the ExpressionEngine add-on community decided to release their own publishing system, intending to compete directly against ExpressionEngine. What surprised us about this was not that it happened, but the way that it happened. A formerly friendly developer unveiled a competing product behind closed doors at our own conference, and tried to convince the organizers to let him use the A/V equipment that we were paying for to do it.

Pixel & Tonic did not just set up shop across the street from us. We invited Pixel & Tonic to sell flavored syrups to our customers inside our own coffee shop. We left a few syrups off our menu because the friendly business in the corner was providing them. But then they began telling our customers that the coffee at their new shop was better - certainly their prerogative, but we would be irresponsible to ignore it.

So quite simply, we are putting those flavors back on our menu. Our customers do not have to worry whether or not Pixel & Tonic can develop and support something as complex as a publishing platform and still maintain the time and interest required to continue offering and supporting add-ons for a competitor’s product.

Framing

Let me start of by saying I understand why EllisLab did this. But I have to frame it for those who may not be in the know. I understand that many of you reading this will already know the backstory, but it would be bad writing if I did not frame it anyway.

Pixel & Tonic have made add-ons for ExpressionEngine for many years. It was kind of their business. The problem over the last couple of years is that there has been some shifting going on over at EllisLab, and a perception, right or wrong (I happen to think it’s somewhat right) that ExpressionEngine has been stagnating. Additionally, EllisLab has been very bad at communication and general support, bug fixes were nonexistent for a seemingly long time, and the community was growing frustrated. In the midst of all this, EllisLab decided to scale back their online presence, more or less abandoning Twitter and their active involvement in the community.

At the same time, while many of us love(d) ExpressionEngine for it’s great flexibility, and ability to create a website very easily from the ground up and write every single bit of code that appears on the front end, many were growing frustrated by the lack of new features and the apparent inability of EllisLab to keep ExpressionEngine relevant for today’s Internet. 3

During the midst of all this, Pixel & Tonic decided that maybe it was time for a new CMS that had the same spirit and heart as ExpressionEngine, but better foundation, development, support, and a more self aware team. Thus was born Craft.

There are a lot of messy details, including some of, what looks from where I am at, impropriety of when and where the idea of Craft was revealed, a questionable checklist on the Pixel & Tonic website that was meant to rub EllisLab the wrong way, and EllisLab beginning to optimize their site for the word “Craft” with regard to search results, a term heretofore unused by the EllisLab team in the marketing of ExpressionEngine.

Inept Communication and Lack of Self Awareness

One thing has become very apparent during this whole time period: EllisLab is extremely inept at communication, social media, and community building. Every. Single. Thing. they have done/said lately has only served to anger and upset the formerly loyal community and user-base further.

Upon the posting of that blog post by Derek Jones, the #eecms community erupted. There was the occasional yay or positive comment, but on the whole, the response was so overwhelmingly negative that one has to wonder how well considered that post was before it was posted? Not very well apparently.

I think this situation has arisen as a direct result of EllisLab’s lack of self awareness. I think that they collectively really have no clue about how they are perceived right now. They may think they do, but this blog post shows that they clearly do not. An old adage seems to apply here. When you are in a hole, stop digging. Unfortunately, EllisLab’s self dug grave just got several feet deeper, I’m afraid.

A Direct Attack

The problem is that instead of acknowledging the things that have directly led to the current situation and the creation of Craft, which I maintain was a direct result of the languishing development of ExpressionEngine, and acknowledging how poorly communication and community have been handled, they went into attack mode. 4 They went on the offensive and the problem with that strategy is that it’s probably not a good idea when your position is as weak as EllisLab’s is right now.

Whether their perspective on Pixel & Tonic is right or wrong, it is clear that they were way too harsh in their public statements made by Derek Jones, and the community which has been keenly keeping an eye on Craft, did not respond well.

Show, Don’t Tell

Had I been in charge of EllisLab’s communication, my response would have been, show, don’t tell. What I mean is, it would be far better to just do good work and let that speak for itself. I don’t mean that EllisLab should be silent, indeed, my first act, if I were newly placed as head of EllisLab communication, would be to start engaging in the community in a positive way. I would try to acknowledge failures, solicit feedback and respond graciously, and I would certainly stay away from direct attacks on anyone.

Above all, I would encourage the team to start doing really good work. And that means fixing bugs not duplicating currently available third party functionality. I understand that in the future, that might be necessary as competition from Craft heats up, but right now that should have been the furthest thing away on the to-do list. There are so many things about ExpressionEngine that need help right now. What was once the greatest CMS in my book is having a mid-life crisis. Why not get the thing back on track instead of fixing something that isn’t broken right now?

A Better Way

Still, I completely understand why this decision was made. Pixel & Tonic is now a direct competitor and they are making several of the best add-ons available for ExpressionEngine; add-ons that many in the community feel are vital to ExpressionEngine. Despite the fact that I think it’s one of the weakest hands to play, you can see why this decision was made. And in the long term, yes, I think EllisLab should have done this. Not right now, and not in this way, but yes, it was the right decision to do at some point.

With that said, even if it had to be done right now, it could have been done much, much better. First, I think that I would not have written the blog post at all. Just build the functionality, and make it really cool and compelling, and let the work speak for itself.

But, if the blog post had to be written, even that could be better. I am going to do something that I hope is not too cheeky. I would like to write a better blog post that I feel would in all likelihood be much better perceived by the community. This is how I think that post should have been written.


A proposed blog post EllisLab could have written



 

Competition is A Good Thing

EllisLab is committed to making ExpressionEngine the best content management platform available. One of the ways we do this is by making it a great platform for third party add-ons. Without the third party add-on community, ExpressionEngine simply wouldn’t be as great as it is today. We love our third party developers, and we want to encourage everyone in the building of great add-ons.

However, sometimes there are add-ons that extend the functionality of ExpressionEngine in such an obvious way that we really feel as if we have no choice but to add that core functionality and build it right into ExpressionEngine.

And sometimes this just makes good business sense on more than one level. It is no secret that Pixel & Tonic, makers of some of the finest add-ons available for ExpressionEngine, are also now our direct competitors in the CMS business. It seemed unwise to us to continue to leave the functionality of their most popular add-ons to them alone as this could become a conflict of interest for them in the future. We welcome them to continue making great add-ons as they always have, but we hope they will understand our position here.

That is why we are introducing a new field type into the core of ExpressionEngine called Grid, a field-type that allows authors to use grouped field-types to publish any number of rows of related content within an entry. It’s great for photo galleries, addresses, product details, baseball statistics and more.

We realize that some of our failures have directly led to this situation, and that is why we are renewing our commitment to the platform, to quality, and to the community. We hope in building this new field-type into the core of ExpressionEngine, that commitment will be apparent. Our first priority is our customers, and to serve our customers, we must have a great product.

Competition is vital in the marketplace and we really do look forward to competing with Pixel & Tonic in the CMS space. They’re doing fine work over there and we wish them the best. We really believe that there is room in the marketplace for all of us, and we believe as long as we make the best products we can make, we will be successful.

Onward we go!



 


See, is that so hard? That was the blog post that Derek Jones should have written.

The bottom line here is that all of this just makes me sad. I love what I’m seeing from Craft, but I still love ExpressionEngine and it makes me sad to see the continuing demise of what was once the greatest CMS and to see them devolve into petty squabbles. I think we inherently just want everyone to get along. There really is room for both CMSes.

A Plea to EllisLab

I love ExpressionEngine. Let’s not mess it up with politics, please. Please just focus on making great software. Then you won’t need to get all defensive. We’ll love you for it if you do.


  1. Actually, I have been writing a lot, you should check out my movie/film website where I do most of my writing now: MovieByte

  2. Basically, he is the CEO, they just wanted a more creative title. 

  3. I for one, have been extremely frustrated with the field group paradigm. It is very limiting when you want your Channels to share some common fields but have others that are not common. We should be able to assign fields to channels individually. 

  4. Certainly, that’s the way it was perceived by the community. 

The Hardest Question

The Hardest Question

One of the hardest questions I have to face is the now ubiquitous, “how are you doing?” or “how are you holding up?”

It’s not hard because it’s the wrong question, or that I wish people would quit asking it — well, I mean I have heard it a lot and I’m ready for people to quit asking it, but I understand why it’s being asked. And yet it’s hard because the honest answer is, I don’t know how I’m holding up. Sometimes I think I’m doing better because I’m not randomly breaking down anymore. But then I feel bad because I feel like I should be feeling worse, and then that problem is solved.

And then I might read my sister’s blog and start crying all over again. Or once in a while I’ll be looking at my children and tears will sting my eyes that grandma will not be present in their lives anymore, and the youngest of them — certainly Kaylee — will not remember or know my mom in this life.

Or maybe I think about the fact that I will certainly visit my mom’s grave at some point in the future, but that’s too painful to think about right now. Apparently some part of me is not ready to admit that her body, her shell, is in the ground, returning to the dust from whence it came.

I also remember from time to time that we have not talked about a headstone at all yet. I have not been able to bring it up with dad, and I don’t know if he’s thought about it yet. And then I am sad all over again.

So, about that hard question — I still don’t know, but it’s sort of looking like I’m not doing all that well.