• Home
  • Blog
  • Contact
  • Projects
  • Content Mirror
  • Matrix Guide

  • To Start A Blog

    March 19, 2022

    Edit 2023-11-16: This post is severely outdated. My blog is no longer plain text, but it is maintained in Markdown. This post is preserved for completeness. See my later post on my current website situation.

    I think this is my third attempt to start a blog. Every one of my previous attempts has failed for one of the following reasons:

    1. I run out of time. I usually get the idea to write blog posts over prolonged school breaks. Then, when school starts up again, I simply don't have time to keep up.
    2. I run out of things to write about.
    3. I think my old posts become irrelevent or outdated too quickly.

    So what makes me think that this blog will work out? Quite simply, I have absolutely no idea. I really like the idea of blogging, and more than one person has told me that I should do it, so I'm going to try to get back into it. This first post is just intended to answer the following questions:

    1. What will this blog be about?
    2. How will it be formatted?
    3. Why is it formatted the way it is?
    4. How often will new content be added?

    First of all, I want to talk about the format. As you will notice, this blog is comprised entirely of plain-text documents with no front-page beyond an index page generated by my web server. To most people, this has got to seem like an odd format, but it is fully intentional. All my other blogs have required complex software such as Wordpress or Drupal to automate all the hard work so I could just write. Or, I've written my own website for blog posts, but that required a lot of manual work, which is another reason I gave up on it. It was so lightweight, that it was hardly functional because I had to manually update the index page and copy all the headers and footers into each new post.

    So this time, I'm trying something different. I want this blog to be simple, because I am a minimalist when it comes to technology. But I also don't want this blog to be a lot of work. My previous experience has been that generally, when it comes to computers, there is a tradeoff: something is either incredibly complicated so as to automate as much as possible for the user, or something is incredibily simple, so as to require a lot of manual intervention for the user. There isn't much that can be done about this tradeoff, but I think I have found an adequate compromise by writing in plain-text files and dumping them into my web directory. It allows me to focus just on writing, without any distractions, and then when I'm done writing, all I have to do is copy the post over to my server. My web server will automatically generate a directory index, so users can find my posts relatively easily, and I don't have to go through all the work of setting up a content management system and maintaining it.

    Furthermore, plain-text doesn't require any special software to read or write. WordPress updates constantly, and requires a hefty database for storing content. Drupal is the same way. I have nothing against the people that use these systems, but I have found that, even though they make things really convenient on the user, it is extremely inconvenient for the server administrator. I am both a user in the typical sense that I am writing content for a blog, and a server administrator, because I am running it on my own server. Thus, plain text suites me because it is both easy to read and write, while being extremely easy to maintain.

    The OpenBSD base system contains all the tools necessary for this blog. I don't have to install anything, because it is all built in. All I need is a text editor and a web server. I use the vi(1) editor, and then scp(1) files up to a directory served by httpd(8). I also use fmt(1) to format my posts, and spell(1) to spell-check them before publishing, but that's it. Everything is done with standard OpenBSD tooling, and that's the way I like it.

    So what will this blog be about, and how often will I post content to it? The answer to the former question is quite simply anything and everything that comes to my mind. I don't want to restrict myself to one topic or another like my last blogs. My first blog was as tech blog, but nobody read it because nobody in my immediate circle of friends and family could understand any of it. So my second blog was a philosophy blog. I wrote about theology, metaphysics, and other existential topics. That caught on a little with my now-girlfriend, but eventually it became too difficult to come up with new topic ideas. So this blog is going to be a combination of technology and philosophy, and my plan is to integrate any other topics that come to my mind as well, such as politics and lifestyle. The blog posts you see here may range from existential, universal human experiences, down to what I ate for breakfast yesterday, and everything in between. I want to write about life, and that means writing about a broad range of topic because life covers a broad range of disciplines.

    I plan on writing one post per week. I want to set a schedule for myself because otherwise, I'll write for multiple days in a row, and then go months without posting anything before abandoning my blog altogether. But if I force myself on a schedule, then maybe I can keep it up for a little while longer.

    I'm optimistic about this blog, because I feel like I've finally reached a new phase in my life. I'm done experimenting with complex server software, and have moved on to keeping things as simple as possible. My email server is the OpenBSD built-in smtpd(8), and I read my emails from a 1990s-esque terminal, for example. Over the past few months, I've radically simplified my digital life, but I think I should save the details on that for a future blog post.

    If you happen to stumble across this post, and want to comment on it, do contact me! 1 I'll be more than happy to read and respond to any comments or suggestions. If there's something you want me to write about and share my opinion on, I'm always open to suggestions. I'm not expecting much of a following right now, but given that I've been prompted a few times to write a blog, maybe more people will find this one compared to my previous ones. If the relatively obscure format doesn't scare them away.

    1. See my home page for contact instructions. It changes periodically. 

    © 2019-2024 Jordan Bancino.