Setting up another blog

Scintillus’ Neverending Encore Series presents The Blog, Part 7.

Wherein I build yet another blog shell and reconsider what I’m even doing here, and why.

I’m making another theme on another platform

This iteration involves, on the implementation level, leaving behind the expensive and uninspiring world of hosted websites and moving to a free, more hackerish model. I want to try Jekyll. It’s free, it’s got a learning curve that’s appealing–just the right steepness–and I dunno, I just want to try it. I want to make my own shell. So here I go.

First, a little about me.

I have an ongoing interest cycle that goes like this:

      DRAWING ............................... >  WRITING
      ^                                               .
      .                                               .
      .                                               .
      .                                               .
      .                                               .
      .                                               .
      .                                               .
      .                                               .
      .                                               .
      .                                               .
      .                                               .
      .                                               .
      .                                               V
      FUCK-IT-ALL < ............................... CODE

This new and broad website-refresh endeavor could easily push us into fuck-it-all (aka abandonment) phase. Which may be fine. It is just a process point to note.

More about the theme creation

It took a lot of Googling and puttering to get everything set up. It wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t simple. Once you have a framework in place, you’re all set to start writing content, but that’s about step 27 if you’re starting from scratch.

So, terminal things first.

Since Jekyll websites are hosted for free on Github, you gotta get the Github pages situation sorted first. Which means you jump into terminal and:

  • set up your repo on Github
  • SSH password? Umm, can’t remember. I’ll just set up a new one.
  • install Homebrew. Wait, I have Homebrew? Ok, uninstall then reinstall newest version of Homebrew.
  • then install the newer version of Ruby than what comes standard with my Mac.
  • And then Gems. I dunno, I’m just doing what I’m told. I should learn a little Ruby, I guess. But that’s for later.
  • And now finally the actual Jekyll part. Set up the directory structure as recommended.
  • Get a few tests posts created per the standards.

There’s good Jekyll documentation, so I puttered a while looking at the official site and other people’s themes to figure out what to do first. I had to bop around quite a bit.

  • And since I’m thinking of porting over the existing Scintillus blog content, maybe finding a way to automate that. If it’s worth the trouble.
  • Nope, not worth the trouble. Save all the old content as a long text file to be republished at some later date.
  • deploying the Jekyll site back up to github. (What? How am I ahead of the master branch? Ugh, what does that even mean?)
  • setting up custom URL (redirect?) for the github site

Cart before horse happening here? Shell without a robust content strategy? That’s usually a push into fuck-it-all territory, you know. But I think fuck-it-all could be good. Rejuvenating, maybe.

It’s the winter of the creative cycle, the rest, the recalibration. It also just happens to involve frustration and throwing-away-of-work. So what if we go in eyes open? That it’s just shell work, it’s the CODE phase of our cycle, no biggie, just roll with it.

What makes fuck-it-all so depressing in hindsight? I think it’s the fact that I’m surprised everytime by the scope of my ambition. I think I’m creating a simple project that will be greatly satisfying and when it turns out to be hard or more emotionally complex than I expected I will put it all down in frustration or shame.

Some might say that shell is content. Making website themes is something people do with vigor! Why do I see it as a distraction from real work? I’m satisfying my urge to putter in a technical, constructionist way. It’s equal parts magical and concrete. Creating a visible product that is part of the final parcel.

Another perspective is that the shell will morph with the project and that’s a good way to keep learning. I just have to learn to not throw everything away everytime I enter a new phase in the spiral.

Remember [that lady’s] approach: let things go, let it change, keep it ongoing. AND “forever is better than never”: doing something and fucking up and having the world see it is better than not doing anything at all.

Since I know I’ve felt pressure in the past to declare WHAT THIS IS, perhaps my declaration of intention this time be more vague. For example: “This is a way of supporting my writing > drawing > code > fuck-it-all cycle of interests.” See the about page. That’ll tell you where my mind is at now.

And also

  • I will be learning git, re-learning git, et cetera. Learning Jekyll, re-learning Jekyll, et cetera. Endlessly tweaking CSS.
  • So in my .gitignore file should go all the not-done stuff.
  • Seem to just be putting those theme folders into the source folder (drag and drop from zip file to pan…/ folder)
  • Then you get into the _layouts files and tweak the html to be custom
  • Put stuff in the _posts folder. Gotta name it like so:
  • Use _drafts for stuff you don’t want to share, and put _drafts in your .gitignore file.

And voila?

It’s really pretty easy, I guess. Takes github a half-minute or so to push out the changes to the site, but once the file structure is in place, you just run jekyll serve to look at your updates on your local machine. If you change the config file, you have stop running and re-run the serve command.

Oh, and here is me in the back room of the Scintillus blog headquarters. All those wires and instructions are what it takes to power this website!

Pantagrel with her archives