Scribbles and ditherings

Working it out

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 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.

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.

Site Theme

How'd you make it look so good?

I’ve been thinking about setting up a new blog that didn’t depend on an RDBMS for a while. I tried out a number of options and struggled with Hugo, my choice for a bit. One of my big issues was getting something that looked the way I wanted.

There are lots of Hugo themes available. The problem was a combination of two things.

First Hugo is being developed and improved at a rapid pace. This is awesome. But it means that some themes that caught my eye didn’t really work well because they were a little old. Someone who really knows what they are doing could probably fix those issues quickly but that’s issue number two.

I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m slowly learning, but Hugo and static site generation was really new for me. I totally get the idea, but I had no experience with how it’s implemented. It’s a little confusing at first and I’m not the kind of person that can just sit and read through all the documentation first. I like to dig in, mess around, break stuff and so on. The problem was I had some difficulty finding a suitable starting point.

Well the Blackburn theme finally got me fixed up. It worked well out of the box, and the tweaks I’ve made to it so far have really helped me to learn how the whole system works. I am pretty stoked to finally have something I feel ok with publishing.

At the same time I worked out how to properly set up Atom to help me manage the site. That will be a post of its own - but for now I’m really liking where things are at.