Scribbles and ditherings

Working it out

Building and Deploying the Blog

Using sr.ht's build system for my blog

I use sourcehut for version control and storing my code. That includes this blog.

My workflow until today was pretty simple. I make changes to the blog, commit and push those changes to the remote repo and then I would build the blog and use rsync to copy changes over to my host. I have everything set up to do this on the two main machines I use. It’s really pretty easy.

But I keep seeing articles about people who use github actions to make stuff happen and this made me think that I could do the same over at sourchut. I figured I’d need a combination of builds and dispatch. So I started with builds first.

I decided to use a Fedora image. I did so just because this is the environment running on my server and the system that I know best. But really, it isn’t necessary for it to match the server. My laptop runs MacOS and works fine for building the site. Any OS that can run hugo will work. But for a first run I figured I’d go with something I know.

The steps are simple, pull over the code, run hugo, rsync the public directory contents that get created. This took me a little time as I had to sort out what ssh key I needed, how to set up the commands properly, etc. I plan on doing a full write up of the whole process with code and what not.

I didn’t need to worry about dispatch. Builds will automatically run for commits to sourcehut git repos if there is a .build.yml file so I just put my config for the build there and it just works. Super nice.

This post will be my first where the blog is updated via the new method.

Boldog Kar√°csonyt

Merry Christmas

We are blessed to have our whole family back together this Christmas. Our girls were able to fly in from the states and we all have some special time to spend together. I hope this Christmas as wonderful and full of love for you as it is for us.

ipad

don't want to forget this quote

“Replacing a general purpose computer with a jacked-up surveillance sensor package is not my idea of solving the problem of mobile computing.” - Stanley Lieber on trying to use an ipad pro to replace his laptop.

Budapest

Budapest is such a great place.

I spent time last night and this afternoon in Budapest with family and friends. We don’t get downtown as much as we should. I think this every time I am there.

Winter weather has finally arrived and it feels cold out but the atmosphere this time of year is so great. We visited some of the Christmas markets and just had a fun time walking around. We helped some tourists find a place they were trying to get to, enjoyed the beautiful architecture and art of the city and just had a good time.

I feel so fortunate to get to live here. I have not been to a city yet that I think matches Budapest in terms of beauty and accessibility. For example Paris is great but it’s also so incredibly massive, congested, etc. Although I feel like over the 8 years we’ve been here, Budapest is less and less overlooked. And I’m sure before we were here it was even more chill.

For example at the Christmas market today, it’s become a lot “nicer” and busier and in some ways I miss when it didn’t feel quite so organized and intentional. But that’s how things change. Later this month we plan to visit some of the Christmas markets in Vienna. That’s also a lot of fun. That’s another pretty awesome city, though I think Budapest has it beet because of parliament and the way things are arranged around the Danube. But that’s just my opinion.

Movement

I moved to a new droplet in a new location.

For a long time I’ve done things the old way. I know how to work with a server, move files, set up Apache, etc. I’ve not been too current for sure.

I did move off shared hosting a while back to a VPS but then I’ve just basically treated it like the old shared hosting account, just without cpanel. I ssh in, set up my stuff, run my updates, etc. It’s Fedora, same as my desktop so pretty nice. The motivation was two fold. I save money using Digital Ocean over what I paid Blue Host. And I have more control so I can mess around with different things I want to try.

To be honest the saving money part did not turn out to be so significant. Resource constraints kept pressing me and adding resources pushed me much closer to what I paid before. It was great for learning. I learned some more tools for managing my system, I migrated to Hugo to relieve the pressure of running a bunch of Wordpress instances. But if I were to look at it purely from the money side, Blue Host was actually providing good value. I had a ton of Wordpress sites working really well. My droplet couldn’t handle it. Now if I had better skills maybe it could but I opted to go a different route.

That said, the more flexibilty and control is a hands down win so I’m sticking with what I have. Today I had fun moving my stuff to a new droplet. That was super easy. I made a snapshot, created a new droplet with the snapshot, moved my dns to point to the new one and then destroyed the old one. It just took a few minutes. Pretty cool.

From what I can tell the snapshots are not portable to other hosting providers. That’s too bad. I can move them around within Digital Ocean which is pretty sweet. I guess the solution to making my whole system more portable would probably be something like docker. I have started learning how to work with docker and podman so I guess that might be my next step.

Poetry

It's not good but it's mine.

I started writing poetry for myself in high school. Like many things that I had the time for back then, as I got older and life got busier, it dropped by the side for the most part. It’s been in my head, fragments of things, but not much put to paper.

I really enjoyed reading poetry in school and would write things to emulate the poetry I really liked. My junior year I wrote a pretty long poem about the crucifixion of Christ and I did a whole gloss with scriptural references, sort of like what I’d seen with “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. That was probably the longest and most disciplined poetry I’ve every written. A lot of the rest was typical teen angst written in a song lyric kind of format.

I’m starting to write some of it down again . I’ll be posting things here once I feel pieces are finished.

I’m not kidding about it not being good. I don’t have the background or the discipline. It’s more therapeutic just to get it out of my head and written down. It’s fun for me but probably not for anyone else unless they have really low standards when it comes to writing. Really. It’s an E. E. Cummings kind of free form thing without the genius.

Music and Books

A nice long weekend.

Friday was All Saints day and that meant a 3 day weekend. I was reasonably productive in terms of some projects around the house. But some of the best parts were spent with the new Jimmy Eat World album and the Foreigner Saga by C.J. Cherryh.

I really enjoy the new album. The books I had started back in the 90s when the series was new. I had dropped off after the second book I think. I don’t remember for sure. But I started over a while back and I’ve been enjoying it very much. I just started “Conspirator” the 10th book. I’ve always enjoyed Cherryh’s writing. I don’t remember what I read of his first. I want to say it was the Chanur books. But it could been Union Alliance or some other work of hers.

Sometimes I need breaks because she tends to keep the tension ratcheted up constantly but I’m always pulled back in. I think she is a gifted story teller.

Anyway it was a very nice weekend, having that luxury of two wonderful things in this world, music and books.

Friends

Friends are a real blessing

I really like this picture. I think it looks pretty cool but more importantly it reminds me of a pretty special evening.

St Stephens Basilica in Budapest

It was a time of saying goodbye which is something we do a lot in our line of work. I don’t know if it’s more or less than more traditional careers or ways of living, but being expats and missionaries it feels like people come and go at a more rapid pace than when we lived in the US with “normal” jobs.

Regardless, we do it a lot and it can get old but this night was rather special. It was saying goodbye done rather well. Or at least better than I had seen it done in my experience so far. I think it had a lot to do with the quality of the people present, the depth of their character, their walk with God and their experience. When I look at this photo it reminds me of how when we got up to the rooftop where we met I was in awe of just the size and depth of the Basilica. I’d never been so close to the top before without being far below on the ground. And now when I see the image it reminds of the depth of my friends and what a special evening that was.

Back at it

I'm getting back into blogging one way or another

I’m going to try to be more regular here. I just need to build a habit.

I spent the last couple days working on getting my Hugo setup working again. There have been big changes in the software and the theme changed a lot - but I had customized some things. Only the new versions took more work to fix.

With wordpress I’d do a child theme. In this case I’m not sure what is the best way to go about it. I really want the changes I make but I also want the updates that come from the regular development of the theme. We’ll see what happens.

I also tackled fixing up Atom so that it would create the front matter for new posts with no fuss. It just makes things easier. I’m using markdown-writer and slowly learning how to configure it to be the way I want.

And I did get one more wordpress blog converted to a static site. I wont be using it as it was any more. I may look into converting the old content so that I could repost it here. We’ll see.

All of this is a lot of fun. I just need to keep coming back and learning more. - JR

Going Static

I'm moving most of my sites to a static workflow.

For years I used shared hosting for my sites. But I hit a point where I wanted to do a lot of things that were difficult to do in shared hosting. (Running my own code on different platforms, Let’s Encrypt, etc.) At the same time I realized that there were a ton of new, low cost options out there that would let me run my own “box” and do all those things while saving money at the same time.

I ended up going with Digital Ocean and I’ve been happy with them so far. I feel like they have very good service and I get good value for what I pay. My cost dropped to half. But I did run into an issue.

Essentially I just moved all my main sites over which were all running on Wordpress. This went fine for a long time but then I started to have issues. My mariadb server was getting shut down because of memory constraints. I’m not an expert on this stuff, just a hobbyist but looking through my logs it look like the biggest change was machines in China constantly trying to log into my sites and do other things at a high volume and I was essiantly getting DOS’ed. I took a few steps to deal with it and they were mostly successful but as I looked over what I had, I realized that a lot of my sites were not super active. I post infrequently, commenting/discussion was never a big part of any of them and there was really no need for them to be dynamic.

Combine with this with the stretch where my sites were being compromised on a somewhat regular basis, and it seemed like a god move to go static. Eliminate the resource issues, mitigate most of the security issues, etc.

So I started researching, trying out different software to generate sites and ended up with Hugo as my choice. That’s how I built and am using this blog. The only issue left is that I have a lot of content sitting in those wordpress sites and I wanted to keep it. There are plugins for exporting Wordpress to Hugo but to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about what I was seeing in terms of the work it would take. And as I am learning more about Hugo I realize that for some of those sites, Wordpress gives me some really convenient tools for authoring posts that I’m going to miss. Then I ran across a thread on HN that really opened my eyes.

The thread was a question about recommendations for static site generators and it was this answer - ‘use wordpress’ was a revelation. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it on my own - but for the sites where I’d really miss how Wordpress handles things, I could just use a plugin that would generate static files from the site.

I’m working on the first site I will switch right now. It’s an old blog of mine for posting book reviews. It’s a very simple site and the posts follow a simple format. It is actually one that wouldn’t be too hard to convert over to Hugo - but it’s also a really good test case for this approach to generating sites.

My plan right now is to run the site in a way that only I can access it on the server. This should take care of the issues of load being generated by people who are not me. Then I’ll put the static files into the publicly served location. That flow is still a little foggy in my brain. I may make the WP site local, do all that work on my machine and then have rsync push changes up to the server.

We’ll see how it goes.

I do have at least one sight that I update more often, I embed lots of video and pictures, use widgets for the sidebar, etc. and that will just stay straight Wordpress. I’m using some different security plugins and cacheing to manage that and keep resource demands low.

May respond to comment lower that says there is no reason to do static.