I’m Cem Unalan. I blog about things that I build, things that I consume and things that happen to me.

Stuff I Have Consumed

4 October 2020

Well, this blog has a new title and it goes like “I blog about things that I build, things that I consume and things that happen to me.” It’s a period of life where I consume a lot of stuff. So here is round up with links and all that.

Sapiens

I am late to the party with this book. It is a great read and provides an amazing perspective to human history. Lately, I realized you simply should not jump the bandwagon about these kinds books (Notable other examples being Guns, Germs and Steel and all of Malcolm Gladwell books). They fall into the same trap as documentaries: it feels like the creator wants you to convince to his arguments.

Whenever I feel that, I try to be careful. Doing a deeper dive and reading the counter arguments about the book becomes almost as important as reading the book itself. It’s not always easy to find those discussions online. Wikipedia have some great critiques about the Sapiens book which I’ll link it here.

A Reductionist History of Humankind

The Guardian Review

Washington Post Review

Fraidycat and YouTube problems

This is probably the best find of the last couple of months. Fraidycat is a browser extension (or a desktop app) that allows you to follow people over the internet. Following people on the internet is a large claim. It tries to fullfill that by allowing you to add Twitter accounts, blogs, YouTube channel to your Fraidycat installation. You can basically melt those sources into one place. You can also sort them depending on how frequently you want Fraidycat to check and update on them.

So it’s powered by RSS but it doesn’t look and feel like your regular old RSS reader.

I am filled with joy when I find web products like this. The website, the video, the sentiment. It’s amazing.

I was also having a “YouTube problem”. I recently created a fresh new account. Mass subscribed to the channels that I follow and bought a new YouTube Prime subscription. After that, things went haywire. I believe YouTube started to think that I’m a bot since I subscribed to bunch of different channels in a very short amount of time. Also being on a trial for the YouTube Premium didn’t help, but that’s just my guess. As a result I could not use the “Subscriptions” page of YouTube. It kept getting errored out. Youtube Android TV app also didn’t work.

So with no way seeing the latest videos from my subscriptions, I have Fraidycat a go. Added couple of my favorite YouTube channels there and started using it.

It works like a treat. That was my go-to way of keeping up to date with YouTube.

I did have a sync problem though. For Firefox, it never worked. On Chrome/Chromium there seems to be some discrepancies. So it was never reliable unfortunately. If I add a new source on my desktop, sometimes it never shows up on my laptop.

Technology Connections

This YouTube channel was also a great find. It’s hard to describe what the content is actually. Sometimes, it’s just some fascinating random facts about our everyday tech such as RGB, sprinklers and freezers. But the other times, it’s really bizarro tech such as this record and CD player combo.

This feels like one of the channels that just “do their thing” and not care about YouTube algorithms. No clickbait, no thumbnails with extreme facial expressions, no “just 10-12 minute videos” etc. I appreciate that. I would suggest anyone to subscribe to this channel.

WordPress Development

I have been into WordPress lately… because professional reasons.

It’s always very exciting to getting into one gigantic tool and learn it. Like learning PHP, React and Laravel. WordPress also feels that way with its long history and huge ecosystem. I find it exciting because I find my thinking about how I learn things and explore a bit about myself.

What do you do when you want to learn a tool? The most simple answer that you’ll come across is to go ahead and read its documentation. It may be more than enough for most of the tools out there.

But with big tools such as WordPress, I don’t think reading the documentation is enough. The docs alone will lack the historical context and how people use that tool to create stuff. To use “the Tool” properly, there are many other things to consider such as:

  • What is the idiomatic way of doing some certain stuff?
  • How the tool is evolving and where it’s headed?
  • What are common and accepted workarounds?
  • What are the limitations?

Lately, I have come to believe that with big tools like this, learning the tool’s ecosystem is almost as important as learning the tool itself. By ecosystem, I generally mean things such as:

  • Famous tools around the Tool (plugins, extensions and similar)
  • Good books about the Tool and its authors
  • Creators of famous tools around the Tool
  • Companies that work with the Tool
  • Famous online personas about the Tool (Twitter and Reddit profiles etc)
  • Good blogs around the Tool

These are the things I generally try to find whenever I try to get into an ecosystem as large as WordPress.

I’m still on the early phases of learning WordPress, but I have some stuff that helped me out big time.

Building Web Apps with WordPress, 2nd Edition. A really good introduction to WordPress. It’s up-to-date with some great historical background. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to get into WordPress development. It goes into a weird spin about “web apps” and WordPress but early chapters are great.

Delicious Brains Blog. This is from a company that builds bunch of different WordPress products and their blog is top notch.

SpinupWP Blog. This is actually one of the products of Delicious Brains but it has a separate blog. I have always referred to the amazing PHP, Nginx, MySQL server setup tutorial in the past. It’s worth a regular visit about specific WordPress content as well.

WordPress Tavern. Great news site for WordPress ecosystem news. It contains not just news about releases and features but some discussion around development as well.