For a while now I have been meaning to start a personal blog. Now, it is finally time to say
Introduction and Purpose
For as long as I can remember I’ve had the desire to express myself and have a creative outlet. I have dabbled in photography, digital art, writing and video. So far nothing really stuck, for one reason or another. I have written fiction stories (or at least attempted to) as well as non-fiction in various forms, such as journaling. Blogging is a logical next step, so here goes. While I am primarily writing for myself, publishing something on the internet challenges me to write differently compared to how I would write in a personal notebook or journal.
I want this blog to be a place where I can write about ideas and share things that interest me. I also want this website to serve as a place where I can showcase hobby projects that I’m working on; think software projects and photography to name a few. Writing for my eyes only provides a different context and through that, a different purpose. In a personal notebook, I have less incentive to rewrite and edit what I wrote. Through this process, I hope to become a better writer. That being said, I do hope that any projects showcased on this website can be of use to others.
About This Website
This website started out as a bare-bones homepage with hand-crafted HTML that was hosted using GitHub pages. Over the summer I began thinking more seriously about adding a blog to it and adding more pages to it. While looking into content management systems and blogging platforms I came across Jekyll, an open source static website generator. Jekyll immediately appealed to me because it offers a system that provides everything I need in terms of functionality (so far) while being very flexible, it is light-weight and plain-text based (another plus in my book).
This website is hosted on GitHub pages. I quite like this as a backend and it makes it easy to have project pages whenever they’re needed. It took me a while before I started actually looking into a platform suitable for blogging that could be (easily) coupled with my GitHub page. At first I only needed a basic homepage; meanwhile, I focused on other things such as my first full-time job.
Setting up Jekyll is pretty straightforward, however, there are some dependencies that you need to be aware of. Since I wasn’t aware of this at first I got a bit frustrated at some points in the process. In addition, I went through a bit of a learning curve regarding the documentation; most of it seems to be written for people who are already quite well-versed in using Ruby, command-line tools and reading this kind of documentation. For example, I believe that some of the documentation was written with assumptions to the state of the system being worked on, meaning that some necessary dependencies were omitted. The dependencies I ran into on the way were Ruby, RubyGems, nokogiri and Xcode. While OS X ships with Ruby there are a few reasons why it’s advisable not to use the system Ruby. I also made sure RubyGems was up to date. Then, following the Jekyll quick-start-guide I installed the Jekyll and bundler gems.
brew install ruby ruby -v gem update --system gem install jekyll gem install bundler
I didn’t know whether there was an easy way to transform the content I had (handcrafted HTML and CSS) to a Jekyll site. Since I wanted to start with a clean slate and toy around a bit, I decided to clear out the website folder and install Jekyll in it using the standard minima theme.
rm -rf * jekyll new . gem install minima jekyll serve --watch
At this point, I ran into an issue since nokogiri wasn’t installed on my system, so I installed it with the necessary dependencies (see: nokogiri). Since I updated RubyGems in one of the earlier steps I only needed to update Xcode before installing nokogiri. For good measure, I also installed the github-pages gem as well.
gem update --system xcode-select --install gem install nokogiri
All in all, this process turned out to be pretty straightforward even though I had to pull information from a number of different sources. Next up I toyed around with themes and layouts, for which Giraffe Academy’s tutorial proved very helpful. In the end, I decided to stick with the minima theme and to make changes as needed over time. Hence the tagline on my main page.
This personal website is in permanent beta, it adapts and evolves to reflect my personal growth.