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title date author tags slug comments github_slug
Brand New Blog
2014-12-04
Danny Hermes (dhermes@bossylobster.com)
Pelican, Octopress, GitHub Pages, Blogger, Presentation
brand-new-blog
true
content/2014-12-04-brand-new-blog.md

After a happy 3-year run with Blogger, I've decided to revamp my blog with viewers in mind.

Why?

When I started my blog, I was still learning the ropes as a programmer. I was happy to have a place to share the things I learned, but didn't have much context for the things I was writing. However, as I started to develop a voice, I became acutely aware that the look and feel of my blog was bad.

After a good friend of mine asked me something along the lines of "Danny, are you blind?", it was clear I needed to make a change. He solidified what I had known for some time:

In order to have a voice, I needed more than just content.

I needed to respect my viewers' tastes by providing a quality visual experience. This was not clear to me as a freshly minted math nerd from the University of Michigan.

However, after spending two and a half years at Google building plenty of slide decks, I knew better. By not writing with viewers in mind, I was weakening my work by increasing the effort required to consume it.

I hope you're enjoying a more visually pleasing blog experience and welcome any feedback you may have.

Feel free to continue on if you are a nerd like me.

How?

I am now hand-crafting HTML for my posts and using a static site generator for my content. It feels so 90's, but I wasn't using the internet then, so what do I know?

Inspired by my old buddy Brian and by the insanely productive Jake Vanderplas, I decided to port my old content by hand.

The current blog you see here is due to a few main ingredients:

  • The Pelican static site generator, for the Python hacker in me.
  • The octopress theme for Pelican. This is arguably the most important part. Big thanks to the original theme, I love it!
  • Static content hosting via GitHub Pages. Luckily it's a breeze to set up a custom domain.
  • HTTPS always on and other perks from CloudFlare. They claim they only need five minutes and it is not an exaggeration!

Beyond that, I enhanced the Pelican dev experience by adding a way to broadcast within my local network for local testing on mobile devices. In addition, via Travis, my blog has a build stage just like real software. This allows the new static content to be built every time I make a new commit to GitHub.

There were plenty of other fun hacks in the 150+ commits it took me to make the switch, but I'll save that for another post.