Reboot 2014: Cleaning Out the Cobwebs

post '/' do
  status is_this_thing_on?

Apparently my desire to write blog posts has a recurrence interval of 4 years.

While cleaning out one of my old servers, I came across this blog. It looked sad and lonely, so I decided to give it a new coat of paint. This website is sill generated by the Jekyll static site generator, but now the content is all dressed in a theme that is much better than the unfinished work I had applied to the last incarnation. The new theme is named Lanyon, created by Mark Otto, and I like the clean simplicity very much. For me the design evokes some of the typographical style of Edward Tufte or Mike Bostock which provides some fertile ground for experimentation if I ever return to graphic design.

For now, the blog sits like an empty suit that needs some content to dress up.

Reboot 2010: New Site

get '/' do
  puts "Hello, world! (again)"

I finally got around to my annual spring cleaning and decided to kick it off with a redesign of this website. The old site was managed using the Drupal content management system and I never really did much with it. I have come to the realization that the reason I never did much with Drupal may be that it was the wrong tool for the job. Drupal was designed to provide services such as blogging to a community of people-- and by myself I don't constitute a community by any definition. Simply put, Drupal was an overkill solution for managing a personal site.

I pondered other blogging platforms such as Wordpress and Posterous. Posterous is interesting in that it allows you to publish content simply by emailing a post to their website. However, in the end I decided that using some sort of blogging platform to manage my website was again overkill.

Blogging is not something I really expect to do with this site-- I can hardly keep a journal! What I do want to do with this site is record interesting tidbits of information or recipes for completing certain tasks for future reference by myself and others. I would also like a spot to publish some of my work so that others can find it.

In the end, this post by Tom Preston-Werner, one of the co-founders of GitHub, convinced me to try using Jekyll to manage my site. Jekyll is a little Ruby program, that compiles a set of folders containing content into a static website.

A blog compiler! Now someone is speaking my language.

The best part is that I don't have to learn any new tools. I don't have to spend my evenings figuring out what all the buttons on the WordPress or Posterous control panels do. I just fire up my text editor, write down the things I want to record, and then recompile my website. I can also track changes to posts using a version control system like git which fits more with my vision of this site as a place to store persistent documents like how-tos.

At some point I plan to write a piece describing how I set up Jekyll to run on my Webfaction hosted website such that it automatically refreshes every time I push new changes to my GitHub repository.

Stay tuned!