Philipp Geyer

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A New Start

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. - JRR Tolkien

I used to have an old site, which I hosted at (Edit: I let this domain lapse, and now it appears to have been snapped up by a Chinese video streaming site?). I had an ancient version of Wordpress which I pretty much abandoned. I kept the page around because I had my CV linking to various parts of it. I wanted to keep the domain name, because it was a handle I had used since I was a teenager, but the site itself didn't bother me. When the site just totally gave up, I had to decide what to do. Either I could try to put it onto life support for the purpose of just expanding on the information in my CV or, I could create something new.

I did procrastinate, trying to decide what was best to spend my time working on. I could install a brand new version of Wordpress on a site, I could write something from scratch, I could run a Wix site, I could use one of a million different solutions.

I am not a web developer. I have done a small amount of web development, enough to know that while I can write some backend tech for services I need in my projects, I do not want to be writing sites. So this ruled out my normal goto, write it from scratch. Using something like Wix wasn't "on brand" with my CV though, which is esoteric and awkward, solving a problem in an interesting way.

I also didn't know where I wanted to host it. I had been using a big CPanel based host system for the past 10+ years, but I think I'm probably overpaying, and I definitely don't feel comfortable in that system, it's both too complicated for what I actually use, but at the same time feels too simplified for me to get stuck in and use it.

Then I had an idea. I could, temporarily at least, host a page on AWS. Their t2.micro instances are free for 12 months. At the end of that time, I could decide what to do. If I was using such a minimal instance, I probably didn't want a big web server, database system etc. I don't need those. I have a small website with only pretty minimal data on it. I could create a static site, and host it using Picolisp as a web server. This would allow me a pretty slimline system that I could expand to do more dynamic content if I wanted to in future, but also the static site would mean that if I changed where I wanted to host it in future, I would just copy the data files onto the new host. Simple.

Edit: I was offered hosting by my friend at Open Sourcerers so this site is now hosted there. I'm not using Picolisp any more as I didn't feel it was fair for me to pester him to set up a specific server just for me. Otherwise the setup is the same.

What static site generator then? Most people would probably go for something that uses Markdown, and I did seriously consider that. The solutions are very good, and very well supported. I, however, had been using Emacs Org-Mode for almost 15 years for many things, including authoring documents. So I found Weblorg which seemed to tick all my boxes. I could have just used org-html-export-to-html but I wanted something a bit slicker really.

So, there we have my current setup, I have a repository, which I will shortly push to github, once I have a few more pages fleshed out, and maybe some minor customisation done on the site, it exports with Weblorg, and gets hosted on AWS with a picolisp webserver. Could I have had a site up and running much quicker than this? Of course. I chose this path though, because it was relatively quick, compared to trying to write myself a site from scratch, but at the same time, maintains some of the interest that keeps me invested in projects. I feel, for me, this is a better solution than an easier one.

I also decided to not use as a domain for my CV related stuff. Instead I'm going to be keeping my 'professional' things on here, I will at some point also revive and use that for less related personal projects. I am not trying to distance myself from that by switching domains, but rather just trying to keep things a bit more organised. I also won't make this particularly tight laced. As should be obvious by this post, I find more informal writing a lot easier, so I'll keep this laid back approach.

Edit: I have just set up for some more random computing musings and personal projects.

That's probably it for now.