Sunday morning is rapidly vanishing in a storm of washing up, clothes washing, tidying up, and avoiding block-printing mayhem in the lounge (our youngest daughter has something of a cottage industry going). It’s already half eleven. The washing machine is already on it’s third load – the kitchen looks like a laundromat because OF COURSE it’s raining.
In the middle of all of this I’ve been tinkering with the blog.
I’ve finally pulled the plug on the stock images that have decorated my posts in the past. This is partly to do with the various free stock image sites slowly being acquired and ruined by the likes of Getty, and partly because stock images are becoming so generic and well known, they almost detract from any story you might wish to share. I’ve even noticed news outlets starting to use them to accompany articles.
I’ve also moved the “source of all things” away from Substack. One false move last week delivered a personal blog post to more than 500 subscribers of completely unrelated publication I write for. Whoops. I figured it was too easy a mistake to make, so started looking around at alternatives – not that you might realise if you’re reading my words at WordPress, Tumblr or Medium – because they get automagically cross-posted by Zapier.
About a year ago I looked at Hugo as an alternative blog publishing mechanism. I looked at it in response to the first rumblings of Elon buying Twitter – and a re-evaluation of how easy it is to become dependent on “the cloud” when you don’t really own any of it.
Hugo is a “static site generator”. You put an appropriate collection of layout and markdown files in a directory structure, tell Hugo to have a look at it, and it spits out a website for you. In and of itself, that’s pretty cool – but it requires a fair amount of technical know-how to use – and that’s where the story gets interesting. There’s an online service called “Netlify” that will set Hugo up for you, and wire it up to Github for you. All you then need to do is save a markdown file into Github whenever you want to post to the blog.
If you’ve been reading my idiocy for a while, you’ll know I’ve almost always written in text editors – away from the web. This plays into my hands – all I have to do is save a text file in the appropriate folder, “check it in”, and a minute later it appears by magic at the top of my blog (and at the various other places my writing exists around the web).
The kicker? Because Hugo websites are “static”, their response time is almost instantaneous. There is no programming – no processing – to build each page.
Something else that I’ve been turning over in my head is the “archive”. At the moment I’m only throwing this year’s posts at Hugo – mostly because I can’t believe anybody might be interested enough in my words to scroll backwards through the last twenty years of my life (although saying that, I know some people have). I’m wondering if I should actually clear down the Hugo blog each new year, and start with no posts on January 1st. It won’t affect any of the places it gets cross-posted to – just the “source”. I can then hive off the old stuff to a private repository to take out when I’m feeling sentimental.
TLDR – the source of this blog now flows from https://jonbeckett.blog 🙂