AMP: What’s The Point?

Editor’s Note: I changed the original Twitter post to a more privacy-friendly URL. I also had to change the HTML encoded AMP-\&AMP: joke.

Google’s AMP is a new set of psuedo-html that is supposedly more performant than regular HTML. Designed, nominally, for accelerating page load times on mobile devices (because desktops or larger devices are so last year). They’re also fast because when you find one via Google, you get served up a page from Google. The address bar reflects the actual URL, but that’s just vanity.

Honestly, this is such a thinly veiled farce, that it’s hard to believe that developers are actually eating this shit up. Probably because it pushes a whole class of problems off onto Google. Now you can tell your client that they can’t have 1000 widgets on their mobile page because AMP doesn’t let you. Sigh.

Google wants to keep their users on Google. Damned be the open Internet. It was convenient when they had to compete with more well established giants like Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. Now it’s a liability. While they can’t force companies to implement their sites on Google run systems (yet), they can incentivize them to make AMP pages that they can cache and serve them.

New(ish) to AMP is the ability to build a card-based “story” that is more image-heavy than a regular page, but is more visually engaging for users. WordPress’ official plugin, coupled with the Gutenberg testing plugin enables this feature for site owners.

Glad they included ads…

As you can see, ads (more specifically, Google ads) are available to be integrated with Stories, now. That way you can still generate revenue, trying to sell people stuff they don’t need. Basically, stories is a glossy advertising vehicle disguised as “content”.

At least, not everyone is smitten with Google’s naked greed and anti-competitive behavior:

“I certainly don’t think this is a good look for Google given the debacle of AMP’s ‘my way or the highway’ rollout,” Keith said. “I know that’s a completely different team, but the external perception of Google amongst developers has been damaged by the AMP project’s anti-competitive abuse of Google’s power in search.”

Jeremy Keith (Link)

Google Web Advocate Das Surma lent credibility to Keith’s take on the matter, saying:

“[it is] a pretty accurate representation of our intentions, but also of the problems and mistakes we made.”

Google Web Advocate Das Surma

Naked. Greed.

The problem is, most people don’t think like me, that Google Won. It’s also astonishing that Google has gotten away with their behavior without at least pinging US Anti-Trust laws, but I guess that’s what you get when you can grease the wheels of the political machine so liberally.

I, for one, will not be building AMP-enabled pages. The idea should be that a web page is a web page and speed is important regardless of form factor you view it on.

Interesting WordPress Performance Tweaks

Over the course of a couple of days, the speed of loading a new post form (like the one I’m typing in right now) has been kind of sluggish. Multiple second load times and kind of sluggish responsiveness was bugging me, but I’m not in the new post that often.

While reading up on some good WordPress habits, like Core Functionality Plugins. I noticed a bug posted that hasn’t really been fixed in several years. Basically: WordPress, on the new post page, makes a really slow query for these old Custom Fields that aren’t used in many new posts. The queries run can take make the new post page take several seconds (15+!) on large sites.

The fix is surprisingly easy:

/**
 * Remove Ancient Custom Fields metabox from post editor
 * because it uses a very slow query meta_key sort query
 * so on sites with large postmeta tables it is super slow
 * and is rarely useful anymore on any site
 */
function s9_remove_post_custom_fields_metabox() {
     foreach ( get_post_types( '', 'names' ) as $post_type ) {
         remove_meta_box( 'postcustom' , $post_type , 'normal' );   
     }
}
add_action( 'admin_menu' , 's9_remove_post_custom_fields_metabox' ); 

Add that to a custom plugin, or Code Snippets and boom, much faster loading times for new posts.

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Independence Day!

Emerging Information Technology

When you think of “emerging information technology” as a classroom subject, you think of things like AI, “Deep Learning”, Rust, embedded tech, robotics or speech recognition. You probably weren’t thinking packet inspection. Especially not a class from what looks like the early ’00’s.

A picture of a Windows XP (yes, XP) open file dialog box for Wireshark.
This is an actual slide from the slide deck posted in my class.

Unbelievable. In addition to this ancient material that we covered in CISCO 1/2 and a myriad of earlier courses, this professor is one I have experience with. Bad experiences. He is habitually either late or misses entire classes without notification.

Sigh.

Customization

Because WordPress themes are often imperfect, depending on the use, you often have to customize them in various ways. Sometimes it’s adding a logo or featured/header/hero image. Sometimes it’s tweaking the sidebar or widget layout. Sometimes you just need to add or adjust some of the CSS.

Normally, I would recommend customizing more than a few things as a child theme. That way when the base theme gets updated, if you modified your files, they’ll be safe. You can also customize things through the Customize tool. This allows you to set various settings, as well as add CSS. Couple this with Custom Snippets, and you can do quite a bit without having to crack open an editor and SFTP your files back and forth.

To that end, I’ve started saving and documenting some of these tweaks that I use for DeGruchy.org. Everything stored in git on SourceHut. I’m planning on adding more documentation, like plugin usage and some innocuous configuration settings.

Check it out!

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