I haven't been all that active on here lately because reality has been kicking my arse. I really ought to try and publish something every week at least from hence forth and since I may very well be changing careers shortly I expect I'll end up having some more useful material to do that with.
Anyway in the mean time, I did a routine update of the software this site runs on and changed the theme, hopefully I won't be the only person to think XenoDyne now looks a bit better and fresher. I've even got rid of that smelly header image and replaced it with a snap I took from Cyberpunk 2077. If that wasn't a big enough hint then I'll just outright say it: I'm going to be posting a relatively long-winded thought-piece on said game soon, so watch this space.
Beyond that, the only differences here are the fact that by updating the software (Ghost if you didn't already know), I've inadvertently enabled a couple of features, namely email subscriptions. There's now a big fuck-off subscribe button almost everywhere and I can't figure out how to turn it off, so it looks like we're stuck with it. Don't subscribe if you don't want to of course, I'm not one of those nobs you get on YouTube and such that'll constantly be harking on at you to subscribe to everything.
As it happens the subscription functionality is part of a wider membership system, so by subscribing you're actually becoming a member of the site. It currently doesn't do anything besides sending you an email telling you that you've subscribed though and I haven't bothered making any account management options publicly visible because of how pointless it is at the moment. That will likely change in the future, it just depends on how lazy I am.
Ghost now allows me to turn off the subscription/membership system, so I have. Ultimately I gained exactly zero members in the last two months since being forced to enable it with the updated software and I knew back then it was a fruitless endeavour for such a small blog with practically no audience. That's the harsher reality of it, but the more technical aspect is because Ghost Foundation coded the software to require Mailgun for bulk email sending, which as of March no longer offers a free plan.
They instead provide a pay as you go plan as an alternative which still allows you to send a certain number of emails each month for free, as they supposedly won't bill you for less than 50 cents a month of usage (and with their 80 cents per 1000 emails sent pricing, that apparently means you can send 625 emails without getting charged). However given it's PAYG, on the off chance you do end up getting billed for more than 625 emails, they want to be able to charge you and so require a credit card on file in order for you to even create an account.
Again, with XenoDyne being practically invisible on the Internet, I see little point in allowing an overseas company to hang onto my credit card details just in case in the future I suddenly start needing to send more than 625 emails a month. Meanwhile, Ghost Foundation apparently refuse to budge on their stance of requiring Mailgun and are seemingly uninterested in offering any possible alternatives, yet.