My new blog (again)

Welcome to my new blog, again. I don’t know what iteration of “my blog” this is, but I do know that I have tried more times than I dare to admit creating a space for myself on the wide web. This time I am back using WordPress and thought I should explain what led me here.

First, there is no right way of doing this, the only thing that matters is if you actually get stuff out there. I have failed with this every time I have tried to start blogging. What did I try and why did I fail?

I have owned my domain for about two years and was in the beginning planning to use it as a landing page for people who were googling for my handle. What ended up happening is that I have mainly used it as a playground for random POC and HTML test pages. Every time I have thought about starting that “page” or “blog” that I initially intended I just ended up in a giant spiral of config and code. When asking people from the community “how to start a blog” you always get the (great and well-intended) advice to just use GitHub/GitLab pages. Let these websites host your blog, using a static site generator like Jekyll, and having a pipeline job build and publish the content!

Easy right? Well, I work as a full-time web developer and I am quite familiar with all of these steps. There is nothing hard about this process for me. But for some reason this process of “blog as code” makes me think about each post as some form of side project. Whenever I have gotten into the mode of writing something up I have opened my code editor and realized that I have forgotten how I actually use my static generator of choice. I need Git, I need an editor, I need to push and pull code and wait for a build step, I can use a local dev server to preview the posts (if I set it up), I need to store images somewhere, write templates to handle SEO, configure the generator and configure it again, google two hours after a new theme as all themes are ugly. And so forth.

After failing to remember HOW to even write a post in my generator of choice I have already lost the time and energy I had to actually write something. This is mostly a problem of me not taking the time to set up a great environment at the get-go and then just adding posts to the /post directory, but still, I feel like there is something there in the process that acts like a blocker on me. I spend my whole day configuring these tools to write actual code at my day job, I don’t feel like doing it for my brain-dumps adds anything to my quality of life. “Well the blog is static and super fast”, sure but also it’s a blog post, I can wait 2 seconds for it to load it’s fine.

A couple of days ago I saw this tweet from LiveOverflow

And it hit me hard. I have announced a dozen times that I will write a blog about that, a writeup of this, and that I will share content. It just never happened. I felt that I had to do something about it. And here we are.

When taking a step back and thinking about what kept me from actually writing those posts that I intended to write I came to the conclusion that the workflow described above was not cutting it. I had a list of things that I wanted to do easily on my “page on the web”.

  1. Share writeups of interesting bug findings
  2. Have a page with some information about myself
  3. Be able to also share quick unpolished notes (such as this)
  4. Be able to add static pages that are not writeups
  5. Keep all of this in one place but still be able to divide what is shown and where
  6. Be able to easily do the things I want to do like adding images, embedding links, add SEO

What are people using that can fulfill these needs? Well, people use WordPress. This uncool, old, PHP-based internet backbone. And as it happens I already pay for a web-hosting service to keep my domain, and it has everything in place to just kick-start a WordPress instance. It took me about 10 min to set it up, and it is amazing! I do everything I want it to do and with none of the hustle from the “CI pipeline build a blog as a code” solutions. It just works, I can log in and just type.

It is of course way too early to declare victory and claim that this tool switch made me into a blogger. But I have managed to scratch down this mess of an intro post, and I did it BEFORE sharing the blog this might actually work.

And look at this, I already have a “news note” on an interview with me posted by BBRE. Just like that.