Blog theme update

Happy New Year, everyone.

I am sure you have already noticed the site’s new theme. Today, I finally made up my mind to bid the old Twenty-fifteen theme I have been using for more than two years farewell. For those who are still unsure which blog they are looking at, here’s a copy of the old theme provided by Wayback machine to refresh your memory.

This new theme you are looking at is based on Libre 2 from WordPress’s library. Quite a bit of design work there but it’s all worth the effort in the end. The elegant and modern feel comes out nicely, don’t you agree?

New features

Unlike Twenty-fifteen, Libre 2 has a built-in top menu bar. I’ll miss the make-shift menu content with picture thumbnails but, eh, it can’t be helped, life moves on. Below are the descriptions of the menu’s items:

  • Art – external artwork archive (onedrive).
  • Engineering – technical memos and lecture notes for system engineers.
  • Writing – short stories, writing prompts and novel chapters.
  • Journal – blog updates, my real life events, and ramblings.
  • Anime – seasonal anime reviews.

The front page now serves only excerpts instead of full blog posts. This should make navigation a hell lot easier on mobile phones and save some network bandwidth.

Speaking of mobile phones, I’m phasing out high definition .png headers in favor of compressed .jpg headers in order to cut down the tedious load time on mobile using data connection. According to pingdom.com‘s speed test, this change halved the page size and decreased load time by 0.2-0.4s depending on the test server. Servers from NA and EU can now load the page under 2s, which is within the acceptable limit for websites.

Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do about servers in Oceania and SEA region. From the look of it, WordPress.com does not CDNs in these regions. It takes half a second for the DNS to figure out where WordPress’s server is! Even plain text takes 5s to load for Melbourne server!

Other changes

Not all are welcoming changes, however. There is no widget area near the header and the sidebar is only available in single-post view. As such, the search bar is now located at the bottom of the page. The usual followers wall, category and follow button are now hidden from the front page. These are less than ideal arrangements but they at least won’t hinder your reading pleasure.

What will hinder your reading pleasure is the ad on the front page. It’s right under the featured post and, dear God, it’s a pain in the neck on mobile. My apology, I’m using WordPress Free so there’s nothing I can do about the ads.

In addition, I have to remove the countdown timer for new releases as I cannot see a suitable location for it. I’m looking for a way to “hack” an external counter into a post and stick that post up top so that it may act as an improvised counter in the header but no promises there.

Finally, some of the headings in old posts have their font size out of whack due to the theme change. I’ll be fixing them in the upcoming week. It’ll take a while so please bear with me.

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