Gender-fair WordPress: Fixing translation inequality at the core

At WordCamp US 2017, I took the stage to argue that it’s time that WordPress enables translators to add gender-variable translations, and that we can do this in a way compatible with our existing translation ecosystem.

The slides:

A couple of days later, during contributor day, I was joined by several amazing WordPress (and GlotPress) contributors, and we firmed the proposal which is now up on trac.

Relevant links

Right To Left in WordPress – The Right Way

Here’s the short talk I gave about languages written from right-to-left at WordCamp Europe 2017. I’m visibly nervous — this was the largest crowd I’ve ever presented to.

The slides:

While the slides make it clear that I go from talking about rtl.css — the file, used in WordPress themes, to RTLCSS — the node module, I realize that it’s somewhat hard to understand when watching the video. Sorry about that!

Helpful links:

Some relevant academic research on the effects of reading direction:

  • Influence of reading habits on line bisection – PDF
  • Reading habits influence aesthetic preference – PDF
  • Scanning direction and line bisection: a study of normal subjects and unilateral neglect patients with opposite reading habits – PDF
  • Native reading direction influences lateral biases in the perception of shape from shading – HTML


Greg Lake, Epitaph

King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King is the album that made me fall in love with Prog Rock. Greg Lake‘s powerful vocals on the track Epitaph have much to do with this.

Written around 1969, the lyrics (by Pete Sinfield) are almost prophetic:

The wall on which the prophets wrote
Is cracking at the seams
Upon the instruments of death
The sunlight brightly gleams
When every man is torn apart
With nightmares and with dreams,
Will no one lay the laurel wreath
As silence drowns the screams


Knowledge is a deadly friend
If no one sets the rules
The fate of all mankind I see
Is in the hands of fools

Greg Lake passed away this week, at 69.

Tip: typing a long Google password into a new Android device

I use a password manager and create very long passwords where possible, including for my Google account. The problem? when setting up a new Android phone, I can’t download the password manager app until I’ve logged into my Google account, which is nearly impossible without the password manager app.

The workaround? Enable USB debugging on the phone, and use ADB to enter the password:

./adb shell input text "LONG COMPLICATED PASSWORD"

Is it safe enough? Probably not. Use at your own risk 🙂

A boy walking down the street

Today was Jonathan’s first day of Kindergarten. On the way home, as the radio played Eli Mohar and Yoni Rechter’s “As Long”, I burst into tears.

While it doesn’t do the original any justice, here’s my attempt to translate the lyrics to English:

A boy walking down the street
On a clear September morning
To the school the children go out again
A man walks behind him
Watches, sees – unseen
And only later he stands there, witnessing

How another year starts there
Like every year, in the fall,
How a son walks alone
With a father in his steps

A man sees, hiding
How his son enters the classroom
A man stands like a child left outside
And inside they sing already
An hymn for the new year
Oh how it all starts over again

Once more they sing of the rain
Once more they sing of the fall
And once more the letters are written on the board


A man midmorning
A man mid life
At the school gate he stands alone
He remembers his own dad
Once walked behind him
He tries to hear his steps

But the children still sing
A song of the first rain and autumn flowers
And the man lips are whispering too:
As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear not
Even if I suddenly fall
My heart will sing

As long as the morning comes
As long as the letters are written
As long as a son walks
With his father in his steps
As long as the children sing
Of the new year
As long as it all starts over again

As long as the sea awakes
As long as the wind rises
As long as on the blackboard
A word will be drawn