Posted on Tue, Dec 6 2022 in Site News

It's not quite Hyperwidgets, but I've added comments to the site via Disqus. So, if you feel one of these articles would not be complete without your feedback, feel free to click on the article title. I think it's set up to automatically show new comments, and, failing that, hopefully it will at least tell me when a comment is being held.

Why Change the Site?

Posted on Fri, Nov 18 2022 in Site News

Nearly a year ago I got locked out of my WordPress site due to a malfunctioning plugin. I hadn't been especially prolific for years before that happened, so I let it go. I certainly could have updated the plugin and carried on, but having an active WordPress blog inside my household network was beginning to feel like a dangerous security vulnerability, so I left it alone, figuring if I couldn't log in, at least no one else could either.

A random bot attempted to log into my blog every day, slowly shifting later and later. Every morning I got the crash notification from WordPress, letting me know that my site was still alive, if broken. (Let's ignore when the database ran out of space and everything was down for a month.)

Eventually, though, I began to wonder what it might take to move my website outside my home network to somewhere where a security breach would be less devastating. While WordPress certainly has much to recommend it, it is by no means a lightweight tool, and for what I use this blog for (blatant self-promotion) it seemed unnecessary. I'd heard about static site generators for a while. In fact, the very first Bobland, nearly two decades ago, was built using a static-site generator I wrote myself in C++. I had heard good things about Hugo and decided I'd give that a try. I even went so far as investigating hosting, but somehow I ended up choosing a service that didn't allow customers from the United State. So I gave up.

Several weeks ago I saw something (I don't remember what) that inspired me to check out hosting again. I selected a hosting package signed up for an account, and found out that I didn't have my credit card information saved on my workstation. No problem. My wallet was just down the hall. It only took me a few weeks to get it.

It had been a while since I'd looked at Hugo, and I was curious if it was still the recommended engine. I compared it to Jekyll, and found that the reviews were mixed, so I instead searched for the top static site generators of 2022. On the list I found Pelican, a static site generator written in Python that supported theming with Jinja2. It also supported directly importing from a WordPress export. Those all sounded good to me, so I altered my plan and installed Pelican instead of Hugo. I also set up my server with Nginx, and got my SSL certificate.

My initial import of the old site had some issues, but since the "database" is just files in a directory, I was able to move them around and even clean up the text using Perl. Then it was a simple matter of generating the HTML and copying it to my server, which is nicely handled by a simple command. And now we have the site as it exists today (see the date at the top of the article). As a static site, I don't have comments right now. I guess that's what hyperwidgets are for.


Posted on Thu, Nov 17 2022 in Site News

Does this site look different? Yes. That's because I've just recently made the move to Pelican. We'll see how that goes.

Secure By Default

Posted on Thu, Dec 3 2015 in Site News

Thanks to the excellent Let's Encrypt project, this website is now being delivered over a secure connection. You probably won't notice anything at all from that change, except for the little green lock icon, but I thought it was worth noting for posterity's sake.

The Festival of the Bestowment of the Head Node

Posted on Thu, Apr 23 2015 in Site News • Tagged with Nate Month

And lo, it was on that day that the son of eagles did consider of his openMosix cluster, and took from it the best, the head node, and did present it as a sacrifice unto lord Bob. For, in that dark time, the lord Bob had but one device of computing, yet for the troubleshooting of the network Pong program he did require another. With no thought to his own recompense, the faithful Nate did offer up his head node and his offering was pleasing unto Bob. And thus, with the head node in his right hand, the lord Bob slew therewith the requirements of his graduation. Let all celebrate on this day that Nate has performed a worthy service to the realm. It shall forever live in our memories. Let it be so.

Week of Bestowment Announcement

Posted on Fri, Apr 17 2015 in Site News • Tagged with Nate Month

Citizens, I know you are all quite anxious to begin your enjoyment of this most holy and blessed week of Nate month, but I feel that the events of last year must be addressed. While the idea to dress a manatee in a cape and fly him around the city using a construction crane was certainly in the spirit of Nate month, the clean-up costs were quite substantial. Also, there has been a suggestion that parts of the activity may have violated workplace safety regulations. While I would never urge restraint during such a festive occasion, I must ask you to consider whether any parts of your celebration could violate local ordinances, and, if so, to delay those activities until the last day of Nate month to avoid interfering with official proceedings. Thank you for your attention.

Life Saver

Posted on Tue, Dec 16 2014 in Site News

I have a tendency, when writing, of taking many days to complete something. I will start it one day, and come back several times over the next week, usually with lots of time between editing sessions. Even worse, I don't make a habit of saving my changes.

My computer is on a battery backup, so I don't have to worry about unexpected power outages, and my programs generally have some sort of automatic backup anyhow. However, the internet has not yet reached the sophistication of native applications.

Of particular interest in this scenario is Wordpress's insistence on using "nonces" for security. These are codes that must be submitted with every request. They prevent cross-site request forgery and additionally expire after a short period of time. This expiration can prove troublesome for someone like me, who may not save his changes for periods exceeding twenty-four hours.

Whenever you try to save a post with an expired nonce, you get a message that says "Are you sure you want to do this?" Even if you are, your changes are tossed out, and you are sent back to the post editor with the previous save loaded, and no sign of your recent work. As you can imagine, this is a bit frustrating.

Then, a miracle happens. After a couple of seconds, a box appears above the post title. "The backup in your browser is different than the version below. Would you like to load it?" I'm not sure what sort of black magic is involved here, but I appreciate it. Good job, Wordpress.

All Systems Go

Posted on Fri, Sep 19 2014 in Site News

Without further ado, I announce the launch of this website. Please enjoy it, but if it becomes addictive seek help. Do your best not to break anything, and if that doesn't work, let someone know so we can clean it up before anyone else notices.

Thanks for your attention.