Happy Valentine's Day to our beloved Newsletter Leaf Journal subscribers. Today I will lead off with some news about the newsletter before diving into our articles from the week that was and brief site update news and concluding with news about site additions and improvements.
A Newsletter Update
I am considering switching our newsletter service from Tiny Letter to a provider called Buttondown. The earliest I would send from Buttondown would be February 28. In the interim, I will test Buttondown on my own to ensure that it will work. I am considering the switch because it appears to have a superior editor to Tiny Letter and also has good privacy practices and values. If I switch, you will continue receiving the newsletter without interruption. I will provide an update next week if I am going ahead with the change for February 28.
Article Updates From the Week That Was
I published one article every day since the last newsletter. Because the last two articles were Valentine's themed, let us work backwards since it is Valentine's Day.
I published an article this morning about my greatest (or sole great) photo-journalistic accomplishment - an article with three pictures leading up to a touching squirrel kiss. I had taken these pictures in 2015, but decided last year to sit on them for the proper occasion. What better time could there be to publish the squirrel romance story than Valentine's Day? In the post, you will also learn how the pictures almost fell victim to a corrupted SD card.
Yesterday, I published an article comparing and combining two old English-language summaries of the classic Noh drama, Takasago. Takasago is a traditional Japanese play about two lovers who met under an evergreen pine tree, and spent their blissful evenings laughing together on a couch of pine needles. They died in old age after a long life together, but they were allowed to return to that pine tree every full moon in recognition of a life together lived well.
I published one other love-themed article this week, the first covering a new Chinese visual novel video game, LoveChoice. I found that LoveChoice has very charming and aesthetic art, and its story shines through its somewhat clunky English localization. LoveChoice is not without its flaws, but its merits and low price of $1.99 - earned it my recommendation.
It would not have been a week at The New Leaf Journal without bird content. On Wednesday, I continued by review of the birds from the January 1897 issue of Birds: Illustrated By Color Photography, with an article on the Red Bird of Paradise. The next day, I posted a piece about a very resourceful pigeon reaching for a natural snack, despite the pigeon's being a bit too heavy for his or her plant-perch.
I conclude with my first article of the week - a piece about public fish art that I photographed in August 2008. With all the winter around us, I thought it would be good for a brief summer respite.
A New Site Addition? The New Leaf Microblog
Astute readers may notice that I reorganized our site's sidebar area - this should appear beneath the content for mobile readers. We now have a microblog. Why a microblog? (For reference - think of something like a Twitter, but on your own website.)
Mr. Sanger noted that the one dedicated microblogging plugin in the WordPress repository has not been updated for a decade - meaning that it is effectively dead. Furthermore, try as he may, he could not find a good modern solution. I looked too, and I agree with Mr. Sanger.
I am following Mr. Sanger's project to create a new microblogging plugin, and I look forward to seeing if it may fit in The New Leaf Journal. However, that project does not seem imminently close to completion, so I decided to see if there is any way to implement a test microblog on our site. I did discover that there is a way to publish short posts to the sidebar by using something called "Asides," but I quickly concluded that implementing that was beyond the scope of my ability, and I do not have time to learn how to do it.
On a whim, I decided to try the ancient microblogging plugin in the WordPress repository. You can now see the result. It works exactly as it was described more than a decade ago and it formats well in our theme. Furthermore, I have detected no negative effects on our site performance.
The microblog is in testing, and I am still evaluating whether it is compatible enough with our current version of WordPress for all normal purposes. I will keep it for the time being while studying the issue.
Improving the Site: Guestbook Access
The New Leaf Journal does not have article comments enabled. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I don't want comments attached to the articles. Secondly, if you saw the amount of spam we receive in the Guestbook, you would immediately know why I don't want to sift through spam on 200+ articles.
The Guestbook provides an elegant comment solution. Instead of having comments on every article, all the comments go to one place. Furthermore, people can use the Guestbook for comments that are not related to a specific article.
When I visited another site that also had a Guestbook, I saw that the admin had posted a field under his article explaining that his site does not use comments, but visitors could submit their comments in his Guestbook instead. I felt rather dumb for not having done that myself. Accordingly, you will now find a link to the Guestbook under every article.
In related news, we received a comment in our Guestbook with new theories about the Blob Dylan sign that I wrote about last week. This user saw my article on Minds, a social media platform where I promote the site, and decided to republish his or her comment from Minds in our Guestbook. How did he or she know that this was an option? Because I said so under the article. Again, why didn't I think of that before? Better late than never, I suppose.
Final aside - the Minds user experienced some difficulty accessing our Guestbook due to what appears to be our firewall. If any of you ever have difficulty accessing the Guestbook for any reason, you may post a comment in our Contact Form with information about the issue, and I will look into the matter.
Thank you, as always, for subscribing to The Newsletter Leaf Journal and following The New Leaf Journal. I look forward to reporting to you again next week, and will have updates on the possible switch to Buttondown for managing this newsletter.
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