Published

Sorting out WordPress error “Updating failed. Error message: The response is not a valid JSON response”

I moved a brand new WordPress site on to new hosting recently and was confronted by an “Updating failed. Error message: The response is not a valid JSON response” error. Seemed kind of inexplicable, not a lot of info in the console either. I’ve done the same thing a bajillion times with this and other hosting providers and have never run in to this error, so it seems kind of weird.

This issue on GitHub outlines a lot of the potential causes, but this comment specifically sorted out my problem. Turns out you just need to flush the permalinks? Another off-then-on-again type of fix.

I think the WordPress devs might eventually create a more helpful error message for this, but in the meantime this is worth keeping in mind.

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Rosemary’s memories of SF

I was in SF 1968–1975. This was when CA was the Golden State. I always lived around Union Street. The last address was on the corner of Buchanan and Green. It was an old 4-plex. I loved that place. By now it’s probably torn down and something else is built in its place. It was on the corner. My bedroom was huge and looked over Buchanan. There was a Chinese laundry across the street on Green. Gees I can’t remember how those streets went. One of them was parallel to Union St. Anyway, I took my laundry to the Chinese laundry every week. They washed and folded it for me.

Union St was a happening street when I was there. Weekends we would go out to Tiberon to… Gees! I think it was called Sam’s? We would sit on the dock and have brunch. I always had a Ramos Fizz. I don’t know if anyone drinks them anymore.

A text from my relative and dear friend Rosemary sharing some of her memories of living in San Francisco. Looks like Sam’s is still open, we’ll have to go. Until then, I’ll channel her by making myself a Ramos Gin Fizz at home. Have to wear red lipstick for the full effect.

I struggle with dairy so might try it with either coconut cream or a lactose-free “cream”. The goal is to create a ton of foam and a super creamy consistency. Shaking techniques seem to vary, so have a look online to see what you prefer.

Ramos Gin Fizz recipe

Makes 1 drink

In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 oz gin, 3 to 4 drops orange flower water, 1 large egg white, ½ oz cream, ½ oz fresh lemon juice, ½ oz fresh lime juice, and ½ oz simple syrup. Shake vigorously for about a minute, then add a lot of fresh ice and shake for at least another 30 seconds. Strain the drink in to a Collins glass. Pour 1–2 oz seltzer (soda water) down the inner edge of the shaker to loosen the froth, then pour the soda water and froth on to the drink. Garnish with a quarter of an orange wheel and mint if you’ve got it, then serve.

Published

WordPress “Upgrade database” process hangs on Laravel Valet

I’m working on a WordPress site for a client that involves importing a whole bunch of their legacy content. I decided to work with a copy of their old database for this. I set it up locally in Sequel Pro, accessed /wp-admin, and was met (as expected) with a “You must upgrade this database”-style screen. I clicked the button and… nothing. Eventually I had a 504 error.

I use Laravel Valet to develop PHP sites locally on my MacBook Pro, so I checked the NGINX error log ~/.config/valet/Log/nginx-error.log for hints about what was going on. I repeatedly saw an error along these lines (highlighted bits are altered by me to be more generic):

YYYY/MM/DD HH:SS:MM [error] 52486#0: *14 upstream timed out (60: Operation timed out) while reading response header from upstream, client: 127.0.0.1, server: , request: "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1", upstream: "fastcgi://unix:/Users/username/.config/valet/valet.sock", host: "hostname"

I searched online and found a bunch of suggestions, about checking the valet.sock file, about increasing the fastcgi settings in the NGINX config, etc. Nothing seemed to work.

I then came across this issue which sounds super similar, and they seemed to resolve it with a reboot.

Worked for me too. Turn it off and on to the rescue again. Wanted to mention it here in case anyone else is banging their head against the wall at some point.

Published

A lone cyclist on the highway

I had my head down working on Sunday afternoon, suddenly realised that I couldn’t hear the traffic as usual. And there were a lot of sirens, police cars driving the wrong way up the Fremont / Folsom off ramp. Protestors had blocked the westbound section of the Bay Bridge. The police blocked all the off ramps and put flares on the road. Interstate 80 was empty all the way up to the Fifth Street exit.

Maybe about an hour in to it, a lone cyclist came down the middle of the four-lane highway at a leisurely pace. He was wearing black jeans and a black sweatshirt, arms spread open wide, head back. They didn’t stop him, but I’m not sure where he could have exited. Hope he’s safe.

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NOW v2

Updated my Now page. Here’s the contents, for posterity.

After a tumultuous few months, we’ve landed in San Francisco 🌉. It is both wonderful and strange to have ended up in the exact place that I left when I moved to the UK 🇬🇧 10 years ago. I’m more than a little melancholic—about the friends and family we’ve left, about the complicated state of the city, and more—but I’m also excited to reconnect with old faces and meet new people. As the virus 🦠 allows!

Work-wise 👩🏻‍💻 I’m currently: working with Bec Worth on the WIP 🚧 open-source WordPress theme that powers this website; developing a new website for Open School East designed by Sam Baldwin; chatting with folks about tech and other stuff in weekly digital coffee sessions 🤖☕️; and consulting with a few orgs in the US and UK.

I’m still settling in to SF, but I’m very open to new projects and particularly teaching / talking opportunities. Get in touch if you’d like to learn or work together.

Limited free time is currently taken up by: navigating what it means to be an adult in the US; working harder on how I confront obvious and not-so-obvious racism in myself and others; Animal Crossing 🐻; walking and foraging 🍄; catching up with friends on FaceTime or Whereby; cooking and baking; and remotely contributing to the choral collective Musarc 🎵.

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Anddddd here we go

Let’s see… since we arrived in the US late on Monday, I’ve signed up for Instacart, GrubHub, Postmates, 1stdibs, and Nextdoor with my “spam” email account. This is an account I only use for things that I suspect might get sketchy with my data. I am filled with regret.

I’m suddenly getting a lot more spam. Even though I’m now living in California under the CCPA, at least one of these platforms—let’s be real, probably a few of them—seems to be disclosing my email address to other unrelated service providers.

Shame on me for signing up, I guess? I haven’t identified the culprit, but I’m going to give it a go. Will also delete a few of these accounts.

I’ve just had a look at deleting my Nextdoor account and of course you have to contact them to do it. Unfortunately 1stdibs, Postmates, and GrubHub are all the same, you have to contact support to close your account. WHY? It absolutely doesn’t have to be like this! Scummy.

This is one of the bits about living in the US that I’ve been most dreading. Whelp, here we go.


Edit at 6:09pm:

I’ve sent CCPA requests to nearly all of them to find out more about the disclosure of my information. I can’t send one to Postmates since I only got through the very first step of signup, just gave them my email address and then never added my phone number since I don’t have a US mobile number yet. According to their privacy policy as of today:

We do not currently have a reasonable method of verifying the identity of non-registered users to a reasonable degree of certainty, as we do not maintain enough personal information to enable us to verify non-registered users with sufficient certainty. Thus, we cannot honor the access or deletion requests of non-registered users at this time.

Bull. Shit. In my humble opinion. Something as simple as a “forgot password”–style link would surely do. If it’s good enough for verifying identity for a password reset, it’s good enough for this purpose.

IDK why this makes my blood boil, but it does.

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Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu

Gem made Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu for Sam and I when we visited her place a while back. So, so good. I wanted something similar so tried making it the other day and omg. I now fully appreciate her making it for us, it took a while! Forgot that she said she used slightly less pepper than it called for, when I made it I used the full amount and it was borderline too hot to handle. 🔥 Still delicious though, will definitely make it again. The cornstarch method is super effective too, would be good with all sorts of sauces.

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Landed in SF

The sun setting over San Francisco in June

So.

After a lot of planning and quite a few delays, we’re now in the US. We’d considered NYC for a long while for a whole host of reasons, but we ended up in SF. Our first week has been overwhelmingly sunny so I’m thankful for that. It’s nice to be “home”, but it will be a while before it feels like it.

It was a weird journey. Very overwhelming, but in a way that makes your mind go blank and surrender rather than spin out. The trip itself was eerie, so empty. Wearing a mask for 32 hours wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Silver lining: a face mask makes the air on a plane feel much less dry.

I might go in to it a bit more at some point, but that’s enough for now. Slowly adjusting to feeling like an immigrant in my home state after 10 years in the UK.

Published

“Notes from No Man’s Land”

To read: Notes from No Man’s Land, a book of essays by Eula Biss. Published in the US by Graywolf Press and in the UK by Fitzcarraldo Editions.

A note by Rebecca Solnit:

Two of the qualities that make Eula Biss’s essays in Notes from No Man’s Land compelling and beautiful are precision and independence—independence from orthodoxies of the right and left and the conventions of literary essays and their displays of sensibility and sensitivity. And whatever topic she takes up she dissects and analyzes with startling insight that comes from deep reading and original thinking. She’s important to this moment, important to the opening up of what essays can be, important for setting a standard of integrity and insight, and she’s also a joy to read.

Thanks Bec for the ref!