Announcing Website 26

I’m proud to announce the launch of a new major revision to Off on a Tangent, bringing the site to version 26.0. This is the twenty-sixth major update to the website since its launch in 1995.

The outgoing twenty-fifth version was the most long-lived in the site’s history. It went live on July 11, 2016, and had one significant revision on August 26, 2017. Since then it has had only minor updates and bug-fixes. It was a good site, but it was starting to show its age.

This new version has been completely re-worked. It is still based on the open-source WordPress platform, but the Tangent theme has been rebuilt from scratch using the latest version of the Underscores (_s) starter theme and the Tangent plugin has been refactored, improved, and expanded. There are too many updates and improvements to describe in detail, but here are some key points:

  • New Design: As always, major updates come with big updates to the site’s “look and feel.” The new design is brighter and punchier. It also makes use of the latest version of the Bootstrap framework and icons from the Bootstrap Icons project.
  • Destruction of Cruft: I like things that are clean, efficient, and simple. For a long time, there were certain annoying web browsers (ahem, Microsoft Internet Explorer) that were widely used but stupid. So in previous versions of this website it wasn’t uncommon for a feature to have, say, ten lines of “real” code, and then another ten (or more) lines of code to deal with inconsistent behaviors in stupid browsers. This isn’t much of a problem anymore. A lot of “compatibility” crap has been sent to the great bitbucket in the sky. This means faster load times and better performance.
  • Features: You won’t see it much on the front-end, but there have been massive improvements to the Tangent WordPress plugin to make a lot of my custom features better, faster, and easier to use. The election system, the quotes system, the holidays system, and numerous other things have been cleaned up and improved.
  • Mirroring: I’m paranoid. I don’t trust the government or large businesses. And over the last ten years or so, I have watched governments and businesses censor all kinds of contrarian voices when they dare to say something unpopular. I worry that mine will be censored next. So Off on a Tangent is now accessible via three independent channels. It would be difficult for any single entity to take them all down simultaneously.
  • New Easter Egg: Every version of Off on a Tangent has some funny or weird hidden feature. Website 26.0 has a completely new one. Go find it. Let me know if you do. Here are three hints:
    • Uh oh, the boss is coming.
    • I learned on DOS.
    • Tuberculosis comes in threes.

Additionally, I am working on refining “non-release” parts of the site like the menus, about pages, quotes database, links, and so on. Some of that is still a work in progress and will continue over the coming days and weeks, so don’t be surprised if you notice things continuing to change.

As always, a big release like this means that there is as a risk of bugs and problems. I test pretty thoroughly, but things do get missed, especially since I’m the only person working on it. If you have any feedback or if you find something that isn’t working correctly, send me the details!

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.