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geek || nerd

I just had a great idea: why not make a game like Notpron, but use Git as the medium instead?

I haven’t given this that much thought and I don’t have any ideas for puzzles yet, but here’s what I’m thinking:

  • The master branch would be the entry point for the whole puzzle. It will contain a README file with instructions on how to play and a pointer to the first level.
  • Each level will be represented by a branch whose name is of the form xxxxxxx/master, where xxxxxxx is a random string so that it is not obvious which level the branch is when looking at the output of git branch. This random string is the “level code” for the level.
  • If a level requires multiple branches, the name of each branch should be of the form xxxxxxx/yyyyyyy, where yyyyyyy is the name assigned to the branch, which can be anything.
  • The goal of each level is to obtain the level code for the next level.
  • Each level will make some use of Git’s functionality. File contents, file diffs, commits, commit messages, and even commit authors are all fair game. This is not an exhaustive list.
    • Ideally, this game should be playable through the GitHub website, or through a local clone of the repository obtained using git clone, so that unfortunately precludes the use of multiple remotes (to keep the puzzle self-contained) or hiding things in the .git directory. I wonder how GitHub deals with multiple roots…
  • Each level will have a README file that outlines the level’s puzzle. The first thing the player should do when reaching a new level is to look at the README.
  • All levels should branch from the initial commit, which should be empty. This allows flexibility in adding, removing, or replacing levels as needed.
    • Initially, I had the idea of having a game branch, where the commit of a level is the parent for the commit of the next level. I realized that this was not flexible enough if maintenance was required.
  • Like Notpron is to HTML and other technologies, this game should be an opportunity to learn about Git and to get familiar with it.

I don’t know what to call this game, nor do I have any concrete ideas for puzzles, but there’s the idea, and I think it has potential. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment!

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v1.5.0 of the editor script is out! This version fixes an issue where the script does not redirect for private blogs and some Jetpack blogs. If you don’t have such a blog, then this update shouldn’t affect you. Thanks go to doc for reporting the issue.

As usual, your script should have updated itself, but if not, you can head over to Greasy Fork and install it manually.

This change also affects the bookmarklet, so if you use the bookmarklet method, please replace it with the new version (delete the old one and re-add the new one). You can get the updated code on the workarounds page.

For the technical details, you can go look at commit e41fe77. It seems that sometime in the last two years, WordPress.com changed the structure of the editor page, so the query used was incorrect. The change was simply changing the query selector to better target the element with the link.


As many of you know, Firefox 57 has been out for a couple of months now. In it, Mozilla dropped support for XUL add-ons, leading to many add-ons becoming incompatible with Firefox 57. Greasemonkey and Scriptish, two popular add-ons for Firefox that enable you to run user scripts like the editor redirect script, are both XUL add-ons and therefore incompatible with Firefox 57.

Some of you have brought your migration issues to my attention, so I figured I’d share the procedure here so the rest of you can spread the word. Apologies for taking so long to get this out.

Just to note, the scripts themselves don’t need any changes.

  1. Make sure Greasemonkey has been updated to the latest version. It should be at version 4 or higher.
  2. Reinstall the scripts you want (quick link to all my scripts).
  3. Try out the script. If it works, then stop here.
  4. Make sure that both Greasemonkey and the scripts are enabled. Restart your browser if you still have troubles.
  5. If Greasemonkey fails to work or is not complete enough for you, uninstall it and install your scripts with Tampermonkey or Violentmonkey instead.

Greasemonkey has worked when I tested it, but the reports I’ve heard say that it doesn’t, so you may want to consider skipping to the last step and using one of the alternatives.

I’ve also updated the relevant section in the workarounds page.

If you have any troubles, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help you troubleshoot.

I released v2.3.0 of the Classic Stats Redirect script on Sunday. Your copy should have automatically updated already. If you don’t already have the script or need to update manually, you can download your copy from Greasy Fork. Special thanks go to Dennis for helping me test out this version!

After the incident causing the release of v2.2.1 (I apparently neglected to announce v2.2.0 and v2.2.1; this release suppresses redirection for URLs containing from=wp-admin), I decided that I should write some automated tests to catch these kinds of errors before I end up releasing them. I will discuss the issue in the technical section that follows.

This update is purely a refactor and the behaviour should be the same. If anything has changed, please leave a comment or file an issue.

Technical details →

On April Fools’ Day this year, Reddit created /r/place and did a social experiment for 72 hours that involved a blank canvas. Members could colour one pixel of the canvas once every five minutes. By end of the experiment, multiple subreddits were working together to create a formidable work of art full of various cultural references. It’s amazing to see how it progressed and to see people on the Internet working together to create something, even with some conflict here and there. It also goes to show how even a small action like colouring a small pixel has a large impact if everyone does it.

Inspired by /r/place, I created potential-octo-potato. As I like to describe it, it’s like /r/place but with code on GitHub. The idea is that through very many minimal transformations, a working piece of software will be created. I have no idea what the program will do, what it’s supposed to be like, or even what language it will be written in; that’s all decided by you, the contributors. Even the name isn’t mine; it was the name suggested by GitHub when I created the repo. The only things I provide are the repo and the rules.

Like /r/place, there are rules in place to ensure that everyone gets a chance to contribute. The details are in the README, but in summary, each user is limited to one active pull request at any given time. Each pull request can only contain one commit, which must contain only a “minimal” change, whose definition is under the discretion of the project maintainers. The limit on the number of pull requests gives a temporal restriction, much like the five-minute restriction on /r/place; the “minimal” change requirement gives a scope restriction, much like the single pixel restriction on /r/place. I’m the only one who can approve pull requests right now, so I hope it won’t become too overwhelming.

A project like this requires lots of communication, so full use of GitHub’s issue tracker and wiki is highly recommended. If this project picks up, I might even consider creating an IRC channel.

Even if you can’t code, there are still ways to contribute. Want to see a feature in the project? Add an issue! Think something should be documented better? Write the documentation! Think this needs a logo? Go make one! You can also tell your friends about it and give the project more exposure.

I’m excited to see how this will turn out. Will it fail? Will it be unexpectedly popular? What will it do? That’s all up to you. So go ahead, make a pull request today and tell all your friends!

tpenguinltg/potential-octo-potato on GitHub.

I don’t have a Facebook account, and as much as people try to convince me to get one, I invariably refuse for a number of reasons. Among those reasons, there is one that stands out. Yes, privacy is a concern, but this reason is even deeper, more fundamental, than that.

You won't find me on Facebook

Image credit: FSF

I always say that getting a Facebook account would compromise my principles, but nobody asks how. Let’s start with a superficial reason for not getting an account: I don’t want to provide my real personal info. This, of course, stems from the privacy concern mentioned earlier. “Alright,” you might say, “but lots of people create accounts with fake names. What’s the issue?”

Everyone doing something doesn’t make it right. Everyone lies, but lying isn’t right.

If you actually take the time to read Facebook’s Terms of Service, you will encounter Section 4:

Read More

My stats sparkline script has been updated to v1.1.0! This version adds support for custom domains.

If you have auto-update enabled for the script, you should receive the update soon. Otherwise, you can force an update check for the script in your extension or head over to Greasy Fork and install it manually.

If you own a custom domain, you have an extra step to do, again because of technical limitations. By default, the script won’t run on your custom domain because it doesn’t know about it. To fix that, find the script in your user scripts extension (Greasemonkey, Tampermonkey, etc.), go to the script’s options and add the following as a user include, where example.com is your custom domain:

https://example.com/*

If your extension doesn’t support user includes, you will have to edit the script manually, although doing this means you won’t get automatic updates and you will have to do this every time you update. If you need to this, add the following line after the existing @include line:

// @include https://example.com/*

A big shout-out goes to Dennis for alerting me of the bug and helping me test! This release couldn’t have happened without him.

If you’d like to read about the technical details of the update, continue reading. Otherwise, if you have any questions or experience any issues, please leave a comment. Happy blogging!

Technical details →

The staff at WordPress.com are at it again, removing useful features for the sake of consistency with the “unified experience” vision. This time, it’s the stats sparkline in the admin bar that was introduced in 2011. It still lives on hidden in the sidebar that appears when you click “My Sites” in the admin bar, but its usefulness is greatly reduced because it’s hidden in the sidebar and not immediately visible in the admin bar.

This was unacceptable, of course, so I wrote a script to bring it back. Unfortunately, because of certain technical limitations, this script can only run on URLs that have wordpress.com in the domain part. If you want to add support for your custom domain, you will have to extend the script’s include directives. You can add one in the script’s options in your extension. If your extension doesn’t support adding custom includes, you can add it yourself by adding a custom @include line to the script, but you won’t be able to receive automatic updates.

The sparkline restored to the admin bar

The sparkline is restored

If you’ve already installed one of my previous scripts, you’ll know how easy it is to install this one. If installing user scripts is new to you, don’t worry; it’s very simple. If you don’t already have one, install a browser extension that allows you to run user scripts. Then, install the script from Greasy Fork.

If you have any questions or experience any issues, please leave a comment.

You don’t need to know how the script works to use it, but if you’d like to know the technical details, read on. The source code is available on GitHub.

Happy blogging!

Technical details →