Comments are now back up and running. They were interesting to put together; as a concept they don't play well with a static site, as they are by their very nature dynamic.
I was considering using Disqus, but I do want to try to
keep my data to myself with this blog. I wound up putting together a separate
comments.gilesthomas.com, which is non-static, and handles all of the
Akismet -- the one external dependency I feel I can allow myself -- to filter
Should be interesting to see how it works! I'll give the new system a few days to bed in, and for a spot of code-tidying, then I'll post on the design of the new blog as a whole. I feel that I have Things To Say.
If you're reading this, you're seeing my new and shiny blog :-)
Blogging has been quite light here over the last few years; as PythonAnywhere has taken off, life has become ever-busier, so, less time to post.
But I also feel like one of the reasons that I've not been posting has been that I was using a Wordpress blog. Not that there's anything wrong with Wordpress, mind, but every time I logged on to it there were a pile of security updates to download and install, which was very demotivating. So often I'd think, "oh, I should post about that" but just never get round to it.
(There's also the faint embarrassment factor of running one of the most popular Python hosting platforms, and having a blog based on PHP...)
For a long time I'd been vaguely planning to switch over to some kind of static site generator like Hugo or Sphinx. They are both well-regarded, but our experience in porting the PythonAnywhere blog over to the former gave me some pause; while Hugo was really configurable, it always seemed to be really hard to configure it the specific way we wanted.
And then I thought, wait a minute. I'm meant to be a programmer. How hard can it be to write a simple static site generator?
That's the kind of sentence that feels like it should be followed by, "it was actually really hard". But it wasn't, because all of the pieces have been coded by generous people already and it was just a case of plugging them together.
With the help of wpparser to parse an export of my old blog (which I fed into a little script that spat out the articles in a Hugo-like format) and then markdown2 to format markdown-based posts, Pygments to highlight my code blocks, and then Jinja2 to let me bung the results in some templates, and feedgen to write out an RSS file, it was pretty easy to put together something that replicated the URL structure of the old blog.
To be honest, I've spent significantly more time fiddling with the CSS to make it all look pretty. I doubt that bit shows.
Anyway, now I have something where I can knock together a quick post in markdown, run a command, and have it published. Welcome to my new blog!
I'll be scanning through the old posts over the coming days and fixing any formatting issues I find.
The next step will be to work out some way of bringing the comments
over, as they (of course) don't really fit in with the whole "static site" side of
things. I have some ideas, though... But if you'd like to leave a comment in the meantime, @ me on Twitter.
(Update 2021-02-22: comments are back!)
While I was at it, I figured that this blog was looking ridiculously dated. So I've fixed that with the Iconic One Wordpress theme, with a few tweaks that I think make it look a bit cleaner.
I'm sure everyone has encountered the kind of spam blog where they're scraping posts from someone reasonably well-known -- presumably via RSS -- and presenting the results as their own, normally with a million Google ads on the sidebar.
Here's a new (to me) twist on that. I spotted two new incoming links to my WebGL blog. One was a (very brief) mention in a roundup from Dion Almaer on Ajaxian, an Ajax community site. The other was on "tutorials4html.com".
Let's compare Dion's introductory sentences:
A lot of great news is coming in via Twitter. I make a lot of Ajax comments under @dalmaer and wanted to give you a roundup on the month of October via Tweets. Always interesting to take a glance at the month. What do you think?
...with that of the intriguingly-named "admin" on tutorials4html.com:
A aggregation of enthusiastic programme is reaching in via Twitter. I attain a aggregation of Ajax comments low @dalmaer and desired to provide you a roundup on the period of Oct via Tweets. Always engrossing to verify a spring at the month. What do you think?
Well, yes. It certainly is always engrossing to verify a spring at the month. Couldn't agree more.
What impresses me, though, is that they've clearly automated this. There's no way a paraphrase that bad could have been written by hand (or if there is, I never want to meet its author) so presumably they have some kind of program doing it. Maybe they run it through Google translate a few times?
Shortly after writing about the correlation between music copyright and composers in England, I read one of Mike Masnick's thought-provoking anti-copyright posts over at Techdirt, and thought he might be interested in the book review that had prompted my post. I dropped him a line, and last Thursday he wrote an article which mentioned it.
He was kind enough to include a "hat-tip" link to my post as well, so I prepared for a spike in visitors here. After all, Google Reader says that Techdirt has 750,000 subscribers to its RSS feed; allowing for other aggregators, that means that maybe 800,000 people would have read Mike's article, and although there was no particular reason for them to click on the link to this site, I figured idle interest would probably lead to a few. The question was, how many?
Resolver Systems' banner ads tend to get three or four click-throughs per thousand impressions, and Google Adwords one or two per thousand. I figured that a hat-tip would be less effective than either of these, and might get one click-through in every two or three thousand, leading to maybe 300 visitors. On Friday I asked the people I know on Twitter what they thought I might expect, and their guesses ranged from 200 to 10,000.
The actual number was two. Not two hundred, but two visitors. When I mentioned this on Twitter, I discovered that they were both people who knew me anyway (presumably wondering if the "Giles Thomas" in question was the one they knew).
That's really quite a surprising data point.
(BTW, if you were interested in the music-related posts here, and were wondering when the next one was coming, I've moved that side of my blogging over to a new site: the Baroque Project.)