So anyway, yes, I appear to have a new personal blog. Again. I haven’t launched a jmac-blog (versus a game blog since my last attempt, more than five years ago. After only a few months of that, I declared the experiment over and returned to Livejournal, which had been my blogging base since 2001.
But just a few months after that, I decded to give this Twitter thing I’d heard so much about a try, and before long became completely swept up. Twitter has been the center of my online public communication for years now. Though it’s lately been going through some growing pains that make developers grumble, I still love Twitter a great deal.
For me, though, that love came at a price: the fast and frictionless posts and conversations that Twitter lets me share with the world also takes much of the air out of my motivation to write anything longer than tweet-length, at least in public. And that’s kind of awful: I identify as a writer as much as I do a hacker, but even with all that twittering (12,362 tweets since April 2008, as I write this post) and the occasional longer essay on The Gameshelf, I still felt I was letting my writer-self grow flabby.
I have a handful of I-hope realistic goals for 2013, and at the front of the queue stands a desire to reÃ«xamine and refresh my online presence a bit. My homepage lies on a crufty foundation stretching back to the previous century, and as a result still smells more like a newcomer’s resume than the portfolio of someone with more than fifteen years’ worth of various post-graduate work to show off. And, yes, its “Journal” link points at my Livejournal, tumbleweeds and all. In the interest of getting myself fired up for the task faster, I decided to start the refresh blog-first, and spent all day yesterday learning my way around Octopress.
I discovered Octopress by way of Michael Schwern, a core Perl hacker who I don’t know personally but whose work I admire greatly, and whose Twitter feed I follow. He started publicly playing with Octopress last month, I followed the links and found myself sold quickly. While Octopress’s last homepage news item dates from two years ago, its Github repository and Twitter account show continual activity from a variety of contributors. As a firm believer that an open technology is only as good as its community, I found this quite interesting. The appearance last week of this tutorial article made my curiosity seem all the more auspicious.
So far, I like it. A long-time Movable Type fan, I don’t need any selling on the benefits of a blog made primarily of static HTML, published and refreshed as needed by an offline process. And I love Octopress’s focus and simplicity, something Movable Type can never hope to offer. One eminently readable config file with sensible defaults, and a templating system so simple that I was able to write a trivial add-on yesterday in minutes. The output looks gorgeous, and I’m tempted to just stick with the default theme even though it looks like nearly every other slate-gray Octopress-based blog I’ve encountered in my research.
I do have to give up using MarsEdit with this blog for now, but I don’t shy away from writing entries in BBEdit. This Python script purports to build a bridge between Octopress and MarsEdit, but at the loss of post metadata, which I find a hard sell; if I stick with Octopress, I’m likely to write up some Perl-and-BBEdit glue scripts for my own use. So, you know: oh, stop twisting my arm, you monster.
My sole real discomfort is the fact that the Octopress core is written in Ruby, a language I currently do not speak at all. That said, it’s not like I have any reason to poke at its guts at the moment, and I enjoyed the thing or two I learned about Ruby application deployment while following the directions in that tutorial article. So, we’ll see what happens.
And with that I shall stop wibbling about the woodgrain of my writing-desk and just write. Ahem. If this all works out perhaps I’ll import my two other personal blogs’ posts over here, but that can wait; they aren’t going anywhere.