LKL during lockdown

Everyone is having to get used to a new routine as we hunker down at home until the authorities tell us it’s safe to come out. The enforced time at home is a mixed blessing, with probably more pros than cons. On the plus side, I don’t have my daily commute. But on the minus side, I rely on my daily commute to do my Korea-related reading. The UK lockdown started just as I finished Kim Yideum’s Blood Sisters, and apart from a couple of the Yeoyu chapbooks I haven’t managed to read any fiction since then. I must try to be more disciplined: maybe set aside half an hour or so reading time in the morning before getting to my desk.

Because of the ability to start work earlier (I’m actually managing to make it to those early morning meetings I never got to when working in the office) and indeed work later (I often find myself checking my work emails just before going to bed, which I never used to do) I feel justified in flipping between office work and LKL work a little bit during office hours, giving me the chance to make a few coding changes to the website.

Sancheong archive page

Ever since moving off Thesis onto my home-made theme, I’ve missed the flexibility of Thesis that enables custom, static, introductory content to be inserted at the top of archive pages, before you get to the selection of posts that have been pulled by the archive query. So I’ve built similar functionality using the Advanced Custom Fields plugin. You can see the results, for example, on my Sancheong County page (snapshot above. This is the time of year that I would normally be visiting my friends in Sancheong: although I can’t be there in person right now at least I can be there in spirit). The introductory text and image were there back in 2018, but vanished when I migrated off Thesis in early 2019. I’ve also done something similar with the Books section, where I provide a few pointers and introductory links before getting to the usual timeline of articles.

While I was making these changes, I also tweaked the same archive template so that the featured content was restricted to the first page, instead of being duplicated on the second and subsequent pages.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve also spent a fair amount of time updating my Blogroll, and made it accessible from the main menu. It’s sad how so many of the sites I used to follow are now inactive, as people have retired from the world of blogging or moved from Korea on to other things. Still, I also keep coming over new sites and I add these to the link library when I do.

Finally, again using the Advanced Custom Fields plugin and some new coding on the archive template, I’ve enabled functionality to provide links to social media and other contact data relevant for the archive subject. Visual artists and indie musicians promote themselves through their various social media channels, so I’m gradually adding links to relevant Instagram / Spotify / YouTube etc accounts maintained by the artists I follow. See for example the Bongsu Park and Love X Stereo archive pages. In principle, I can do this for any of the clickable tags (of both categories and keywords) that you find at the bottom of each post in the section headed “Ideas for further reading”, but so far I’m focusing on artists, musicians and organisations (such as the KCC).

Next on the housekeeping list: make the 404 error page a bit more user-friendly, maybe copying across some of the content from my Navigation page [now done – 19 April], and maybe put links to LKL’s own Facebook and Twitter accounts in the footer rather than at the top of the sidebar where they are now [now done – 17 April]. I also need to write introductory content for many of the other subject areas, as I did with Books. In fact, that introductory content was how this site started over 14 years ago now. The tweaking will never be complete.

I’m still debating whether my next major upgrade should focus on providing systematic markup, as the Google searchbot recommended to me around 18 months ago, and whether I can be bothered with learning AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). More than 50% of my traffic is from mobile devices, but from what I’ve heard AMP sends traffic to Google rather than LKL, so I’m not sure of the advantages as my home-built theme is mobile-first and not too complicated.

On a separate note, if I have been spending more time at home, so have the hackers. It used to be extremely rare that I would have people trying to guess login IDs and passwords to get into the site’s backend, but it’s getting more common since the lockdown. Hopefully the extra security arrangements I have in place are sufficient.

Sometime soon I must actually get around to writing some proper content again, but with nothing much happening in London to report on, the bread and butter of this site is drying up a little bit. Still, plenty of films to watch, books to read, online lectures to attend, and ancient travel diaries to write up. In fact, a couple of days ago I dusted off and published a diary entry from four years ago – a memory jogged by a book review I’m currently trying to write [now written – 16 April].

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