Paying off some Technical Debt on PMags.com

In the field I have for my day job there is a term called technical debt.

The term in the original sense meant that using a simple way to fix an issue makes for larger problems at a later date.

But the term now also has a connotation meaning not  fixing an issue right away means you will have to fix it later. And all these small problems add up over time.

Resources must be used. Be it time or money.

Pay now. Or pay later.

from Developers Club

This site was last overhauled about four years ago when I transitioned from an older theme.

And this site has been functioning just fine on a high level.  And when I have funds in the time bank, I’d rather use them to be creative than to perform work that is a bit too reminiscent of my day job.

But it was time for the little bits of debt that added up to be paid.  So in bits and pieces over the past month, I revamped, tweaked, and took care of the various issues.  I stole from my sleep bank more than a few nights to add to my time bank.  Coffee does wonders…

What happens when you cut back on sleep? You make lots of coffee in the morning! An admittedly unsustainable way to increase time bank funds. 🙂

 

The summary? 

I like the simple design of my website, but I needed to spruce it up a bit. And some technical changes under the hood absolutely had to be done.

So what’s been done?

From the end user functionality perspective there will be a few noticeable changes:

  • The logo has been revamped from the circa 2006 one to something a little cleaner. Amazing what free tools are available now for this type of work. I kept the three peaks theme. Overall, I am pleased with this new logo.
  • Paul Mags is me. PMags is the site and an email address I’ve had in one form or another for about twenty years now. The short bald guy, the website, and the email address(es), are related but different entities. 🙂  There is now information on this site itself, how it started, and the overall gist of why, how, and what, this site is all about.
  • I added an Amazon Store with some of the various items that I regularly use over the years consolidated into one place. Of course, Amazon just announced they are phasing out the Amazon Store by October! So I better pay off that new debt soon. Scheduled to be done before the cutoff of Aug 11th when Amazon will not let you add any items.  Edit: Quiet day and completed before I headed out of town! 

The boring, under the hood, stuff:

  • The site is now HTTPS compliant due to some not-so-gentle nudging by Google and WordPress. Any HTTP calls also automagically redirect to HTTPS. I am not an e-commerce site, so HTTPS compliance has never been a priority for me. Until this month. This change was the most important and absolutely had to be done in a timely manner.
  • The legacy Gallery software from 2005 with my pre-2012 photos was acting wonky. Nearly 13,000 photos are now hosted on Flickr. :O This task was relatively painless. Thankfully!  The old photos were in folders easily accessed by FTP.  Flickr has a tool where I could upload the photos overnight, and the albums were automatically re-created based on the folder structure. No captions are with these newly uploaded photos, however. But I more or less use Flickr as a photo mule only. I’ve been wanting, and dreading, to do this task for a while and glad it is complete in what was in an overall easy manner.
  • The Instagram social icon is now in color.
  • The Featured Image Thumbnails list view no longer shows up cropped in an odd fashion.
  • I adjusted the fonts a bit to something a bit cleaner looking.
  • The categories in the menu view are broken down a bit more. Any location I’ve been to multiple times, such as New Mexico, now has their specific menu item. Likewise for my Gear Reviews and  Budget Items.  I do not do enough gear reviews to break the reviews down more in the menu. Probably never will. As an aside, I noticed I tend to have a spate of reviews as the seasons change then I am quiet for a couple of months. Makes sense…
  • Slight background change. The background is now textured.
  • The side bars were updated or moved around a little bit.
  • A decent chunk of photos was noticeably pixilated esp. in older articles. This noticeable pixelation is corrected in the articles.

***

With the exception of the Amazon Store issue (All done. See above!), the technical debt has been paid.

The site is a little spruced up, functions better under the hood, and is compliant with 2017 mandates. I am not a web designer, but overall I am happy with the overall look and functionality of the website. 

The site should now be in a good place where any technical or related issues will not require much time or effort on my part to address. I can write and keep the more technical type of work for my day job. Which has been spilling over to 12+ hour days lately, but that’s another story. 🙂

Until 2021?????

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8 Replies to “Paying off some Technical Debt on PMags.com”

  1. “The term in the original sense meant that using a simple way to fix an issue makes for larger problems at a later date.”

    How true. My trade was auto mechanics, not web design. My biggest mistake with WordPress was not using a Child Theme. WP updates played havoc with my own code tweaks, and I kept walking down the road of simple fixes, which became larger problems. I finally went to a newer theme, created a child, and am avoiding quick fixes, and doing a much better job with comment statements to document “what and why.” Fortunately the theme switch didn’t lose any content.

    I like the newer look of pmags.

    • Thanks. I wanted to keep the simple and clean look, but spruce things up a bit..and take care of the technical issues.

      Ah yes! Comment all code well! My career in tech is more on the operations end (software help desk initially, desktop support, SysAdmin, and now my current role maintaining environments for software deployments). Which means I am a “jack of all trades/master of none ” techie. I know just enough to be dangerous in most areas. 🙂

    • Heh.yeah, when the PMAGS debate was in the news, I received lots of traffic from gun and ammo sites! Oddly enough (Or not so oddly really), the hunting focused websites link to my site and make good use of the info vs the gun (gear) collectors. 😀

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