One Year Later

Coming up at the end of April, it will have been one year since I relaunched my website and blog. I'm going to take this opportunity to reflect on this past year.

Writing

One of my main reasons for keeping this blog is to get myself to write more. I set a goal to post twice a month. Not counting April of 2015 (since I didn't launch until the 30th of that month) this post will be the 18th post of what should have been 22 posts. There were a few months (September, November, December) where I didn't post at all, and others (May, July, August, January) when I posted three entries. Here are some thoughts on writing one year later.

  • Wake up and write. There is plenty of evidence suggesting that, for many people, first thing in the morning is the most productive time of the day. This is absolutely true for my writing. Almost all of my posts were written on days where I was up early, before I needed to be up. In the evening, I just don't have what I need to write up a post.
  • A series of posts is much easier. Taking a topic and breaking it out into posts that can get into heavier detail is a great way to keep a backlog of posts to write and post.
  • Outline, outline, outline. Outlining a post first is the best way to get the post written.
  • Keep a list of ideas. It is just a brainstorm, and some things might sit on it for a while. A list of ideas sometimes spurs a new idea. This is helpful when it is time to write any a new post.
  • Write with support. A few of my coworkers and I formed a blog club where we meet once a month and discuss what we've written and what we want to write about next. This slight level of accountability to someone else is a great motivator. Having a group to bounce ideas around with is a helpful resource.
  • I still love Markdown. I've been writing my website with Markdown since June 2010. Markdown is still my favorite way for simple text writing with basic formatting. I'm enjoying doing the bulk of my writing in Focused.

Website Tech

A year later, I'm still really happy with my website tech choices, but do have some things I'd change.

The Happy

  • Ghost - The Ghost blogging platform is still great. It is easy to use and works well.
  • Docker - Using Docker for running the software of my site continues to be awesome. Managing the containers, the image versions, and performing upgrades to configuration or software has been easy.
  • Let's Encrypt - Trusted and well supported SSL for free? Yeah, I'm very happy that Let's Encrypt is a thing.
  • CoreOS - I created my server with CoreOS version 633.1.0. I don't even know how many stable releases of CoreOS there have been, but I know my server has kept itself up-to-date with no intervention and without any issues.
  • systemd - Using systemd has been awesome. It handles logging, log rotation, scheduled timer tasks, restarts, and more, and it does so extremely well.

The Room for Improvement

  • Using Docker Without a Registry - Yeah, this is on my for being cheap and not paying for Docker Hub or Quay.io. The workflow of building images on the webserver after cloning the code repository isn't great. Also my tiny cloud machine doesn't always have enough free RAM to do the build. I wish I could build the images on my development machine and then SSH them to the server or something, rather than need a registry.
  • ECR - I haven't written about it, but I started using Amazon's Docker registry is cumbersome to use, since authentication with Amazon AWS and Docker don't mix particularly well. It would be much easier to use Docker Hub or Quay.io, but ECR is much cheaper for my usage.
  • node - Ghost running in Node with npm is by far the highest memory user of my machine. Considering that Ghost mostly serves pages only occasionally to be cached and re-served by nginx, this is a bummer.
  • Scheduling Posts in Ghost - I'd really like to finish a post and set a date/time for release without having to log in and click publish. Thankfully this is in progress on Ghost's roadmap.

Podcast Listening

I just wrote about my latest in podcast listening, so I won't cover much now. I'm still really glad that so many great people are making so many great shows.

More to come

It has been a great year. I look forward to more posts, more learning, and more trial and error.