New Uses for Old BlogsPublished on Sunday, December 15, 2019
As you might have surmised from the time elapsed since my most recent post, I have not been keeping up with my goal to write more regularly. I believe this is because I set content goals that were both too specific to be easily met and too vague to make coming up with posts and pages any easier. Neither “short tutorials related to personal projects” nor “reviews of technical books I’ve read and reacted strongly to” inspires much enthusiasm in me as a writer from week to week, so this site has mostly languished, barren and unread.
I’m going to tack a different approach and – instead of trying to build up writing habits ex nihilio – I will be trying to use this site to add more writing opportunities to internet habits I currently have. To wit, I will be using this site as a reading tracker and as a way to track and record recipes and baking projects.
Although I’ve retreated almost entirely from social media, I’m still an avid user of GoodReads. It’s integrated with my Kindle and provides an easy way to track what and how much I’m reading, but the platform does not feel like it’s thriving. The site does not appear to have changed or made many improvements in the last few years, and I’m not sure how long Amazon will keep investing in the platform. I suspect (based on nothing but a hunch) that the platform’s primary value is just a way to get a clean, connected graph of reading habits into ML projects run by Amazon’s ad tech teams.
I had initially planned to use the GoodReads API to sync shelves and ratings into the site at build time, but I didn’t really want to keep feeding data into the platform just because it my Kindle could automatically tell the service what book I had just finished. I had found myself (at least on one occasion) avoiding printed books because I didn’t want to have to track my reading manually, and that is not a habit I wanted to see solidify. So in the end, I decided to move my data off of GoodReads and into a custom reading tracker here. For now, I’m just capturing what I’ve read and a few quick thoughts, but I’ll be adding pages for tracking annual reading challenges as the year comes to a close.
For now, I’m using Amazon affiliate links on book reviews, but that may change if it ever starts to feel creepy.
Baking and recipes
I have recently started using baking as a creative outlet and have been relying on notebooks and sticky notes in cookbooks for tracking what I’ve tried and what I’d like to tweak next time I work trough a recipe. I’m going to start doing that here for better categorization and cross-referencing and to give myself a better way to leave notes for my future self.
Apologies in advance for the truly terrible photography that will accompany posts in this section. I have no plans to purchase any camera other than my cell phone or to learn any photo editing software beyond GIMP.
Landing page redesign
The root page of my site is currently a bit messy, as it was built to be a listing of recent posts. This now includes a weird mixture of recipes, brief book reviews, and posts like this one, so in the next month or so I’ll have to take a look at other personal blogs with mixed content to see how they handle their landing pages. I suspect many use the landing page as a resume or bio and not as a listing of content.
Migration from Zola to Hugo
As part of the refocus, I became frustrated with the limitations of Zola (particularly around URL management) and ended up switching to Hugo. I could not find a way to get Zola to create permalinks based on something other than the repository’s layout on disk, and that ended up being a dealbreaker for me. Hugo overall feels like a much more mature project in terms of theming and configurability, and I really like the
hugo new command as a way to build new drafts from templates.