I started blogging back in June, 2006, using the free wordpress.com blog-hosting service. I haven’t used the blog much in the last few years (my last post was in October!), and I’ve been wondering what to do with it. I’ve also been wanting a site with more flexibility than the free wordpress.com sites offer, something that I could easily hack to do any bits and bobs that I might want it to do. *cough* Assuming I’d ever get around to doing them! And so the seeds of this site were planted! And now I’ve got it up and running, which is a good start.

Travelling in Ethiopia

Working on this new blog has made me think of a road trip: starting at point A and working towards some distant point B. This picture was taken in Ethiopia by Chris Held, a good friend I worked with for a few years.

A fairly standard thing to do would have been to host a WordPress site of my own rather than use their free service. I would then have needed to set up WordPress on some server and database somewhere in the internet-‘o-sphere, and make sure that it stayed running 24×7. Instead, I’ve settled on using a static site generator called Jekyll. Static site generators are great: most of what you write in a blog doesn’t have to live in a database. Instead, I have a collection of markdown files (almost plain text, so easy to write) that Jekyll converts in to web pages. And that’s it! I copy those web pages to a file hosting service (I’m currently using the free tier of Amazon’s online storage service, S3), and now have a fairly robust site up and running, mostly at the cost of registering the domain name. And I can easily style / theme / modify / poke and prod the site as I like.

Some of the WordPress features I might have missed I’ve replaced with other services: I’ve pulled in Disqus for comments (and many WordPress-based blogs use it as well!), and added Google Analytics for the metric side of things: how many visitors the site gets (haha! all two of you! Thank you for visiting!).

While building the site I also got to fiddle a tiny amount with some things that I haven’t yet used much elsewhere, like SASS and flexbox for styling the site.

And that’s a brief rundown of the website! I’m hoping that, over the next few months, I’ll write about a range of stuff. Some of it may be much like the old blog: random things about my life. Some of it may be more technical, like sharing little graphics projects I’m fiddling with, or talking about data visualisation, and so on.

But reader, what’s next for you? If you use a feed reader and had my old blog on that, update that to point to this blog’s feed! The link is below in the footer. Also below is the comments section. You should be able to easily sign in using a social-media platform of your choice — go forth and comment!