Mar 11, 2015

tl;dr

Time to get my website back online using a static site generator called Jekyll & a summary of my career history.

Intro Stuff, A Good Place To Start

Its a sad thing to pull up your own domain and see a blank white screen. I’ve been offline for about two years now (give or take). This is due largely to a significant career shift. I am currently working as a UX Developer, which means I spend most of my day writing JavaScript. I’ve been very focused on JS for roughly the past 4 years and two jobs. Prior, I was working as a 50/50 SEO & PHP dev in a small web shop. Prior to that, I was working as a project manager and front end developer, which mean lots of talking to clients, HTML & CSS. Prior to that, a designer weilding Photoshop as my main weapon figuring out how to turn a PSD into HTML & CSS.

I was in a very small web shop in those early days. We swapped hats often. While frustrating at times, I think it provided a good foundation in all kinds of disciplines. I taught myself a good bit of SEO when it landed on the scene. More I saw all the cool things my programmer coworkers could do, and my envy grew. One of them attempted to teach my Ruby on Rails.

Diving into a true programming language and a sophisticated framework like Rails brought back memories of my first experiences with a programming language. In high school I took a Visual Basic class and hated it. I decided programming was one of the most miserable things in the universe a human could possibly decide to do. It was tedious, boring, complicated, mathematical, ugly… about as enjoyable as enjoyable as banging your face against your desk. WHY ON EARTH WOULD ANYONE CHOOSE THIS HORROR STORY!?!?!?

And now I really enjoy writing code.

The short story of the transformation is that I view programming as an adult version of playing with Legos. And I really enjoyed (still do) playing with Legos. However, now my box of legos can actually perform real work, real tasks for people, really make their lives more interesting. Programming is fun (usually) and challenging (often) and rewarding (occasionally).

Defeating Imposter Syndrome With Blog Posts

For some reason I can never bring myself to think I’ve really accomplished anything terribly important. It may be bad memory (I’m sure this is a factor). It may also be the fact that you can always find someone who has done better. The programming world is riddled with people who work insane hours doing nothing but their craft. I’m not interested in that. I like what I do, but I have other interests and priorities as well. Having a LinkedIn profile to document my career overview has helped. I’m hoping blogging will help more. I want a more granular way to keep track of the things I accomplish. Blogging will hopefully be the key. Hopefully it will be a way to look back on all the neat things I’ve worked on over the years, creating a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction. Perhaps it will be that. Or perhaps it will be a published trail of all my horrible ideas. :)

So… Jekyll?

Jekyll not a modern take on a novel published in the late 1800’s. For non-techies, Jekyll is a static site generator. What that means is that it is a tool that generates a simple HTML page website with no fancy backend running during use. No database. No login. No security concerns. This is much easier to maintain than something like Wordpress which is basically a computer program that you have to babysit to ensure it doesn’t blow up. There are all kinds of fun and interesting things you can do with a fancy blog generator like that, but there is a price to pay. Hackers really like to pick systems like Wordpress. Plugins are often created by people pressed for time ~ Quantity over quality. Ultimately something goes wrong, your site gets hacked and you have a mess on your hands. Or you pay people to fuss and make sure that your site stays secure and working. Or, you just skip all the fancy and see if a tool like Jekyll will get the job done without the headaches. I intend to write a post about my experience with Jekyll soon.

Avoiding Overkill, Keeping It Simple As Possible As Long As Possible

I am going against the grain for my personality here. For this blog, I am going to try really hard to keep it as simple as possible. No database, no commenting, no login, no mobile support, not even a real theme. At least not right away. I’m just starting with a page that links to some posts. Once I write enough to justify putting more time into this, I will do so. If I get to one post and never write again, there is no point in adding any of those other features! This will be a really fun experiment if I stick with it. I’m going to attempt to document changes as they come.

Lance, I Beat You

Final portion is a shout out to a friend and coworker. Lance and I have been challenging each other to start a blog for… years probably. So, formally, I declare, Lance, I beat you.

Now, we will see who gets rolling on writing meaningful content first.

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