WordPress 6.3: Stepping backward

UPDATE, September 30, 2023: New deficiencies/regressions are being added to a list at the bottom of the post as I encounter them.

I try to avoid spending too much time complaining. Who wants to read some random dude’s complaints, after all? I mean, if they’re clever enough, sure. But this is not particularly clever, so I’ll be brief1In retrospect, this was a massive lie. Apologies for massively lying to you!.

WordPress 6.3 brought a few tweaks to the UI of the editor/block editor, resulting in inconsistency, adding extra steps to do the same tasks as before, and generally made the experience of doing stuff other than just basic text entry more cumbersome, with no discernible benefits that I can see as a trade-off.

There has been a lot of hate for the block editor, and rightly so2Not even a humble opinion, no sir.. It made it easy to drop in or move around blocks of “content”, but made it harder to actually just write, like in the olden days when blogs were all the rage.

I flirted with the classic editor plugin (5+ million installs) and have the classic editor block I can always use in a pinch, but my preference is to use software as intended, not install a bunch of hacks or workarounds to bend it to my will. The assumption is that the software will work the way I expect it to (mostly), and stay out of the way.

WordPress 6.3 does not stay out of the way. It blocks (ho ho) your way. It is anti-way.

None of what I’m about to detail is going to cause meteors to fall out of the sky or give someone a bad rash. These things don’t make WordPress unusable. But they make it clunkier, they add friction where there was no friction before, and they speak to a trend in design that suggests things may get worse still.

The three issues covered here:

  • Preview is now hidden behind a terrible, tiny, and meaningless icon.
  • If you want a caption on an image, you now have to specifically toggle captions on.
  • Setting a link to open in a new tab is now a multi-step, cumbersome process.
NOTE: I have added a pretty blue border around a lot of the shots below to make them stand out better. They are not this pretty in real life.

In order:

Preview’s new icon

Preview used to be a button that looked like this:

It is now this icon instead:

I believe it’s supposed to be an icon representing a laptop. Or maybe it’s an old-fashioned hand iron. Who knows? And if it’s a laptop, what does that have to do with Preview, anyway? And why is Preview now an icon, but Save draft and Publish aren’t? It’s not like there isn’t enough space. It’s inconsistent, vague and looks amateurish. And ugly.

Caption an image

Back in the olden times of WordPress pre version 6.3, you would add a caption to a photo by simply typing it into the caption space below the image. If you left the caption space blank, the space would not render. Simple!

Now when you want to caption an image, you must specifically choose the option from the toolbar while the image is highlighted, like so:

This puts the caption area below the image:

In some crazy parallel universe where everything is opposite, this makes sense. Here, it just adds busywork to a task that literally had no steps to it, you just started typing!

Making a link open in a new tab

In the previous version of WordPress, if you wanted to make a link open in a new tab, it was a checkbox item right there below the URL, like so:

Now, when you go to add a link, you get this (in the example below I have highlighted the word snoggle for the link):

You get a blank text box, and nothing else. So let’s type something in there:

Now we have a link, Hooray!

But how do we have the link open in a new tab?

Well, you click on the link (you naughty person) and get this:

The two icons above are, respectively, Edit and Unlink. So you click Edit and you get this:

Then you click on > Advanced and get this:

That’s right, the Advanced menu gives you one option: Open in new tab.

I don’t have the proper vocabulary to express how cosmically dumb this is. If there was a universe-wide contest for really, really bad UI, this would finish in the top three.

Now, go back and add up the number of images I’ve used to illustrate the new way of opening a link in a new tab vs. the old way. Explain this madness. You can’t. There is no explanation. Perhaps it’s meant as a joke, a cruel joke on us pathetic humans.

Theses are only three obnoxious things I’ve found in WordPress 6.3 so far. There may be more. And I haven’t even listed the remaining issues with the block editor (or other parts of the UI). But I have written enough on this, and now it is time for chocolate.


Additional 6.3 regressions

  • Previously when using the Preformatted block, if you copied the text from a Preformatted block, then pasted it elsewhere, it would remember the formatting (bold, etc.). It now strips this formatting.

Run 811: A quiet run along the river

Brunette River, pre-run

I opted to run on the river trail to condense the amount of walking and time needed. I think it was the right call.

Conditions were similar to Monday temperature and humidity-wise, but instead of rain, it was partly sunny, which was nice. There was a breeze, but no big gusts or anything.

The river trail was surprisingly quiet, especially given that the weather was not bad (the first few days of fall have been mostly bad). I set out with no particular goal in mind, other than maybe having a lower BPM than the last few runs. I achieved this with a BPM of 156 and overall pace of 5:43/km. A big aid in getting that pace was the first km, where I was not trying to run fast, yet ended up with a blistering (for me) pace of 5:28/km. At the high end, I got up to 5:56/km by the 3rd km, before picking the pace back up to finish.

The left hip was probably the quietest it’s been in a while, no doubt due to the smooth terrain of the river trail, while the right knee twinged briefly mid-run, and then was fine after.

Overall, a good run and I’m glad I didn’t have to face back-to-back runs in the rain. I can run in the rain, but I don’t like it.

Brunette River, post run (looking east)
Run 811
Average pace: 5:43/km
Training status: Maintaining
Location: Brunette River Trail
Start: 12:28 p.m.
Distance: 5.03 km
Time: 28:47
Weather: Partly sunny
Temp: 15ºC
Humidity: 81-82%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 156
Weight: 166.7
Total distance to date: 5935 km
Devices: Garmin Forerunner 255 Music, iPhone 12, AirPods (3rd generation)
Shoes: HOKA Speedgoat 5 (70/138/208 km)

I already like macOS Sonoma!

As always, I am a big dumdum and upgraded to the latest version of macOS, Sonoma (version 14) right away, because I love living on the edge, baby.

This is a relatively modest update, so I wasn’t too concerned about breaking things. And so far that has been the case. But the best thing is it allowed me to replace an entire app with a desktop widget (if you’re going to have widgets, let people place them on the desktop where they will actually see and use them. Looking at you, Windows 11). Previously I had used an app called Desktop Clock that, well, you can probably guess what it did. It placed a clock on the desktop, which I kept in the bottom-right corner of the right monitor, making it easy to see the time without having to look a hundred miles up to the menu bar.

In Sonoma, I just dragged the standard clock widget into the same spot and voilà, it does the exact same thing!

Did I mention how Sonoma is a pretty minor update?

But I now have a built-in clock widget on the desktop, and I am pleased.

The widget that please me

I added the weather widget, too, but I am not certain it’s actually updating, or maybe only updating intermittently. If it’s not working properly, there’s about a 50/50 chance it will be fixed by macOS 15.

Apparently voice dictation is better now, thanks to MACHINE LEARNING™ (don’t call it AI, buddy). I may hook up my Yeti mic and try it out later for a laugh. I will update this post if I do.

I’ll also update if I encounter anything else neat/weird/vexing about Sonoma.


Yesterday I found myself with a headache of unknown origin. Ruling out things like alien probes and exotic diseases, I was left to ponder more mundane sources and it occurred to me that one thing had changed over the last few days: I had not had any cola to drink. I only drink sugar-free soda, but I do imbibe on a pretty much daily basis. Our supply was low, so I’d switched to flavoured water or (gasp) just plain water.

And then the headache. Because while the soda is sugar-free, it is not caffeine-free. My body was probably reacting to minor caffeine withdrawal in one of the most common ways–a headache.

I’ve had soda since and no more headaches. This is good and bad. Good, because headaches suck. Bad, because I obviously have a caffeine problem. I will take corrective action soon™.

Run 810: First run of Fall 2023 with Rain++

View from Cariboo Dam, pre-run. A soggy start to Fall!

I ended up only doing one run last week because my Friday run got replaced by spontaneous birding. That was a good call for the last day of summer, because so far fall weather has sucked corn dogs.

With high winds a possibility, I set out this morning, only to find it unusually calm. It wasn’t even raining. After about 20 minutes of walking, the rain did arrive and it rained from that point forward, so the run was rather soggy. The wind didn’t start to pick up until I was almost back from the run, so that was nice.

I wore my long-sleeved t-shirt and at first it felt a bit warm, but overall it wasn’t bad. It got thoroughly drenched, however.

Despite the rain, conditions on the trail were actually decent, and it was busier than expected, with people determined to go for a walk regardless of the weather. Several had those absurd giant beach umbrellas. I’m not sure the massive size really makes much difference.

I started with a good pace and thought of just cruising along, but ended up pushing a bit–I think the clamminess of the rain made it feel like I was putting in a little more effort, and ended with a decent 5:46/km pace and a slightly higher BPM of 158. Maybe next time I’ll try to stick to 150 and see what results I get.

The left knee twinged once late in the run, but that was it, and the left hip flared bright right around the 2K mark before going mostly quiet again. The hip is probably the most annoying part of the runs right now.

Overall, a pretty good start to the week, considering I had five days off. Here’s hoping Wednesday is a little drier (forecast suggests it may be!)

Still Creek, pretty and pretty wet.
Run 810
Average pace: 5:46/km
Training status: Maintaining
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 10:29 a.m.
Distance: 5.03 km
Time: 28:59
Weather: Showers
Temp: 15ºC
Humidity: 88%
Wind: light
BPM: 158
Weight: 166.6
Total distance to date: 5930 km
Devices: Garmin Forerunner 255 Music, iPhone 12, AirPods (3rd generation)
Shoes: HOKA Speedgoat 5 (65/134/199 km)

Should we talk about the weather?

Today is the second day of Fall 2023. Tomorrow, as logic dictates, is the third.

We have a “special weather statement” for the third day:

I’m supposed to be running tomorrow. On the plus side, I won’t need to worry about getting a sunburn. On the negative side, getting clubbed by a laden tree branch would probably hurt a fair bit. I guess I’ll see how things look in the morning!

It’s the first day of fall, 2023 edition

Unlike the start of last fall, which turned out to really be the beginning of a one-month extension of a hot and humid summer, Fall 2023 has started out gray, with threats of showers in the afternoon, and a high temperature in the teens (17C).

Which is to say: Boo. I was prepared for a few more weeks of sun. I am not prepared for The Rains. Admittedly, lousy weather may help me be more productive at my various creative pursuits, though, because I won’t want to go outside.

Also, it’s time to revisit my evergreen post on the three seasons of fall.

What writers secretly want: Typewriters

I read a newsletter from self-publishing guru David Gaughran the other day, in which he waxed rhapsodic over a Remarkable 2 with a type folio (keyboard attachment). The Remarkable 2 is an e-ink tablet that allows you to use an (optional) stylus to write notes, which can later be translated into text, or you can attach the keyboard and type away in case your handwritten scrawls defy translation.

The thing Gaughran emphasized repeatedly was how the Remarkable only does this one thing–it lets you enter text, by hand or by keyboard, and that’s pretty much it (you can also doodle, if you’re so inclined). There are no other apps, no social media, not even a clock to show the time. Just you and the words you’re producing.

There’s another (expensive) device that works on a similar principle: the Freewrite1The price certainly ain’t free. Hope you have something other than your writing dreams to pay for one of these, because they are freaking expensive. It basically fuses a computer keyboard to an e-ink screen and does the same thing: allows you to write, and nothing else. Their website offers this unattributed quote: “Studies show it takes 25 minutes to refocus on a task after an interruption.”

Humans have generally been shown to be terrible at multitasking and yet I see people distracting themselves in more ways now than ever before. They don’t just surf the web, they listen to a podcast while doing so, but also scroll through TikTok while also maybe preparing food in the kitchen, superficially absorbing everything, but with most of this being ephemeral, little dopamine hits to keep their minds occupied until the next distraction, all in service of what, exactly?

For a writer, it’s in service of not writing. Distractions kill the writing process. When I started writing as a wee one, my parents got me a nifty birthday present–a portable Smith Corona typewriter. I still remember walking downtown to The Letterbox, the local stationery store, to buy fresh ribbons for it. I loved typing, though I was terrible at it (and remain so to this day. If I could go back in time, I’d force myself to learn how to touch type). But the thing with that typewriter is it just did that: typing. It was just me and the words. And the only way to revise on the go was to xxxx over your mistakes and act like they never happened. It was great.

The other day I was using iA Writer, a minimalist writing app, and I switched it to typewriter mode, where it keeps everything centred on the page. As you type, the rest of the interface fades away, so it’s just you and the words. It almost feels the same–except I still see the system clock, the dock, chat programs, all kinds of other stuff on screen and around me. I am pretty good at shutting out distractions most of the time, but I get it. They pull you away from your writing. They destroy your writing flow.

And that’s why writers secretly want typewriters.

Birding, September 22, 2023: Farewell to summer, with bonus raptors

Where: Piper Spit (Burnaby) and Tlahutum Regional Park (Coquitlam)
Weather: Sunny, 21-23C

The Outing

Today was an unplanned outing, but the weather was nice, it’s the last official day of summer and the 10-day forecast starting tomorrow looks like poo in the form of clouds and showers pretty much every day.

And so off we went for an abbreviated tour of Piper Spit and Tlahutum’s community gardens.

Piper Spit featured an increase in the coot count, as the croaking critters are cavorting in copious quantities now. The mallards are catching up to the wood ducks with their breeding plumage, and shorebirds are still present in decent numbers.

The highlights were a pair of killdeer that were bobbing and bathing and hopping and looking forlorn, as they do, plus a rare sighting–a merlin, just like the bird app, but instead an actual bird. These are small raptors and this one would perch atop nearby trees, then dive across the spit, spooking the shorebirds, before finding another spot to perch, sometimes high, and sometimes right down on a log in the water. At one point it took a bath, because you should wash your, uh, appendages, before eating.

Interestingly, the shorebirds (mainly yellowlegs, from what I saw) were indifferent to the merlin when it was grounded. In fact, a large gang/flock of them all seemed to saunter en masse quite close to it, as if they were trying to show they weren’t afraid of no raptor. Until it took to the air again.

After Piper Spit, we took a quick tour around the community gardens at Tlahutum. Initially there was a lot of birb activity, but in the end we didn’t actually shoot too many, mainly some white-crowned sparrows, an Anna’s hummingbird (too fast for me) and a goldfinch. Also, much like at Piper Spit, squirrels were everywhere, like they had all been instructed to start gathering food for the winter RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

It was a gorgeous last day of summer, and I am sad that I now have to wait eight months for summer to come around again. But for now, we have the coots.

The Shots


The Birds (and other critters)

Sparrows and sparrow-adjacent:

  • American blackbird
  • American robin
  • Anna’s hummingbird
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Goldfinch
  • Song sparrow
  • Spotted Towhee
  • White-crowned sparrow


  • American coot
  • Canada goose
  • Great blue heron
  • Greater yellowlegs
  • Mallard
  • Wood duck


  • American crow
  • Rock pigeon


  • Merlin (rare–for me, anyway)


  • Douglas, black and gray squirrels
  • Bees ‘n dragonflies