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StaffPenguin Flight LogThe Excitement of Blogging

The Excitement of Blogging

I’ll admit it now and deny it later; blogs are boring. Blogging has lost the art form and is mostly mechanical. The writers of sites I read are using “SEO” keywords rather than choosing a word which best describes and emphasizes the author’s point. Rumors are tagged as news. Hyperlinks have turned inward instead of outward.

There is no denying that, in my view, modern blogs are awful. And blog designs are worse. Strike that — news website designs are worse. Site designs are cluttered, and void of anything important. I’m even disappointed in this site’s design.

Most blogs are now tutorial sites or rumor sites. Blogs don’t actually exist.

Maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew the early blogs. In 1996, my sister and I would write a few lines a day and that was that. Loren’s blog was similar. He might write a paragraph or two. It was a diary and not a fluff article absent of content.

I miss blogs, real blogs.

Why not blog again?

Here is the truth regarding my obvious bitterness. I stopped blogging in 2010. Any attempt at looking at a computer was painful. My eyes would well up and buckets of tears would flow. Nothing I wrote had any meaning because relative to Loren’s death, nothing was important. I published nothing of importance.

I had nothing to say – let alone write.

Every once and awhile I’d get excited about something. Eventually the sourness would take over. I’d start a redesign, import in old blog entries (over 7000 on this site), and have grandiose ideas. Time would catch up and my attention would turn to other “more exciting” things in life.

Blogging had no taste, except bitterness, until this week.

Why not blog about XenWord?

I released XenWord in the middle of January 2014. It was a simple plugin that took me six months to clean up enough and gain enough courage to release. Within six months of the release I’d accepted a job 100 miles from work.

Yes, three years ago I started driving 200 plus miles a day. I was commuting through rough traffic and rough mountain roads. I spent five hours a day in the car, as a minimum. There were days I left school at 3 pm and arrived home at 10 pm.

It’s wild to think over 50 releases of XenWord happened during that time period.

I was glad to buy a home closer to work. Now work is an 8 minute drive, if there is heavy traffic.

And during all my bitterness and anger over losing my brother, learning to program in PHP has been a real joy and distraction. It’s nice when some code does as expected.

The challenges of only focusing on XenWord

I haven’t always felt the joy of coding. There were gaps and voids where a programming problem consumed my spirits. Those time periods, though, were usually parallel to personal health issues or tied to a rude knucklehead sending me pieces of their own bitterness.

I started XenWord because WordPress and XenForo are two separate pieces of software, completely engineered differently, and I thought it would be great to integrate the two divergent systems. In other words, XenWord was born out of purely selfish reasons and ego. I want XenForo and WordPress integrated.

Three years after the initial release, hundreds of sites use XenWord. Not everyone sticks with it. Some sites start to use it then abandon it. Sometimes the blog is abandoned or the forums are removed. Bringing two software packages together can be challenging.

Integration is tricky. Navigation must be consistent, headers matched, and sidebars used for tying pieces together. Even the PHP styles are different. XenForo code is Object Oriented without developer documentation. WordPress is spaghetti code with tons of incomplete and inaccurate documentation due to its moving development target.

Worse, as one person told me, XenWord is so complex that the web team they hired couldn’t install it.

Stop right there because I just wrote something I’ve heard dozens of times this past year; that is, XenWord is too complex for a web designer. For two years, there were maybe two refunds. In the past year, there was a period of two or more refunds a month. Most requests were just ridiculous, but understandable.

Please understand, people using WordPress are not the same target audience as XenForo. Having to deal with both types can lead to a psychological thriller- in which I’d wonder which excuse I’d be given for why XenWord was too complex. Yet these same people would then ask for more options.


What’s Next?

And with that off my chest, it’s pretty obvious that this piece is an unedited and unfiltered diatribe. Fortunately, there is a happy ending. Only I’m not quite ready to let out the secret. My hope is that December 1 is going to be a good day for me to show my renewed excitement.

I finally have things to say, to write, to discuss openly. And above all, I realize that it’s meant in a positive spirit. And for those who scanned, let me be clear. Not all blogging is bad.


Layne Heinyhttp://www.layneheiny.com
LPH is a high school physics teacher interested in the Apple iPad and iPhone, Microsoft Surface, Tablet PCs, and other mobile devices. He resides with one large dog who begs for pizza, hamburgers, French fries, and anything else on the dinner table.


  1. A duplicate thread was created by XenWord 3.3.0 due to the new fallback forum feature. I've rewritten sections of the thread creation file and everything should be working properly now.

  2. [quote]a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.[/quote]

    I agree with your sentiment. Too many corporations bought up blogs. The consolidation drove people into group think.

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