The Magic of Spending 22 Minutes On a Problem

I have a post-it note on the inside of my journal that just says "22".

It's a reminder for me to persevere. I can't actually remember where I got the data point, but I believe I was listening to a podcast that discussed a research study.

What they did was give people a test consisting of a series of problems they had never solved before and tested how they tried to solve them.

What they found was that the people that spent at least 22 minutes trying to solve it and talked themselves through it out loud, were like 5x more likely to actually succeed and get the correct solution to the problem than those who spent less time.

And this came to light recently when I was trying to update this blog to a new theme.

Now, for a developer / software engineer, this task is not that big of a deal like at all (literally, minutes to figure out I'm sure)...

But needless to say, this task has been sitting on my plate for a while.

Since May 3, 2016, to be exact.

You see, ghost as a CMS is not like Wordpress or Squarespace at all. You can't edit the theme or pages directly through the admin. It's not a "WYSIWYG".

You have to download the theme from the ghost marketplace and make changes in a text editor.

No plugins

No widgets

No preview pane

Ghost aint yo momma's wordpress

So after a healthy dose of frustration back in May, I wasn't even going to try and do it myself.

But yesterday, it popped up in my Todoist action items and I decided to give it a second shot.

It started small: I figured out how to replace the favicon on the browser.

insert img

Then I carefully read the theme creator's documentation, the folks at Just Good Themes put together a good overview that's relatively straight forward once you get the hang of where stuff is and how it's structured.

What I did next was read over some notes I took in May, when I unsuccessfully tried to make edits to my blog.

What I did do well in May, was use the Developer Tools in Chrome to get the html and css tags of the sections I wanted to update and then also looked up a hex code for some of the elements I wanted to change from the default yellow.

That ended up being really helpful as I could just command+f in my brackets text editor for the tags to update and then modify the hex codes to get the colors I wanted.

All in all, I made some pretty minor changes. The point of the Curious theme was that out of the box it was pretty much exactly what I wanted:

  • Mobile responsive
  • Tagging displayed (ghost doesn't support tag clouds yet, so this blog had a workaround)
  • Nice visual layout
  • Commenting (via Disqus)
  • Avg Read time feature for each post
  • Top nav with menu items (default ghost theme doesn't do this)

If you're interested in a blogging platform, I love ghost - mainly because of its ease of use and support of markdown. Also, the support community on their slack group is great.

I ended up having to comment out a good swath of features because the integrations didn't work for some reason (couldn't get the mailchimp newsletter thing setup, and I didn't even try to look at the blog subscribe rss feed).

One of the things I'm most proud of is the instagram feed on the bottom of each page just above the footer.

In order to integrate the feed from my instagram, I had to setup an instagram developer account and go through a series of steps to approve my blog as an "app" and connect with the instagram api.

instagram

At first, I wasn't even going to try and do it, but it ended up going pretty fast. Thanks in part to the documentation notes from Just Good Themes and Instagram's pretty easy to sign up for and use API.

Funny story, at first it didn't work (it was pulling up the test ig account from the developer), but then I realized I hadn't saved out my changes in the document before zipping the file and uploading it to ghost.

silly me

So, hope you like the new theme, I'll be adding some pages and design elements over time (like site search!) but for now, I'm pretty pleased with the result!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or anywhere across the social interwebs.

And remember - next time you're faced with a challenging problem - dedicate at least 22 minutes to try and solve it - you might just surprise yourself.

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