Website update, Oct 2021

I’ve neglected this site for the past 3 years. The last post is from August 2018. During this time the tools and scripts for building and deploying this website have decayed until they eventually failed entirely. I couldn’t muster up the time and motivation to solve these issues.

For context, this site is statically generated with Hugo and uses a custom theme. The assets for the theme are built with Sass, PostCSS and Autoprefixer – no bundler or pipeline like Webpack, Gulp or Parcel (although I meant to add one eventually). The build and deploy pipeline runs on Github Actions (migrated from LambCI). The pages are hosted on AWS S3, delivered via CloudFront.

The decay is due to a combination of reasons: entangled dependencies and complexity, libraries introducing breaking changes (even in minor version updates), and me not having pinned down dependency versions thoroughly enough to guarantee reproducibility. I hope web technologies will evolve in a way to simplify maintenance work of this kind in the future. It should either be a routine task, or not required at all.

Anyways, I’m finally updating the tooling, and making all the necessary adjustments that come with it. I’m not fully done yet, but at least I can update pages again and deploy them to the live domain.

And I’m using this opportunity to make a couple of changes.

URLs no longer contain the post date

Previously, URLs contained the year and month of the post, as hierarchical path segments. I’m removing these because: a) This site isn’t a journal focused on chronological order; b) The post date therefore isn’t an indicator of the relevance of the content; c) Some posts are meant to be updated as things change, but URLs can’t be easily updated to reflect the newer content; d) Google ranks old content lower than newer content; e) URLs with dates are longer.

Some indication of time is helpful, therefore all pages clearly feature the date of last modification at the top of the post (which might be the same as post date if no updates were done since publication). If relevant, a page might also display the initial date of publication.

Example of URL change:

New post types notes and bookmarks

I find it hard to publish regularly due to the high bar I (needlessly) set myself regarding quality and relevance. Crafting quality content takes time; much more than I’m willing to pour into this personal site on a regular basis. It’s silly but I can’t bring myself to remove that mental blocker, despite it having been an obstacle to publishing more frequently.

Therefore I’m trying out something new. I’m adding two post types for lower-quality content: notes and bookmarks. Caring less about quality of these posts, and being up-front about it, means I’ll spend less time polishing the content, which will hopefully result in an increased frequency of posts. That at least is the plan, time will tell.

Notes are crude blips or brain dump posts on an issue I was solving or an idea I was having. The scope is really narrow, and I won’t pay much attention to the reader’s perspective. More a collection of useful learnings and references to future me than a proper article. But maybe / hopefully they’ll still be useful to others.

Bookmarks are just lists of interesting links about a particular topic. I’m not sure how many bookmarks I’ll actually publish. I don’t meant these posts to replace my browser bookmarks, nor any of the online bookmark aggregators. Still, maybe others find the bookmarks useful. And if the capturing + publishing process is lightweight enough, then that’s worth trying out.

Minor changes

I’ll make some small adjustments to titles (and URLs) of existing posts. Changed URLs will be properly 301-redirected, nothing should break.

More posts here.