Got some time off from work recently and followed up on something that has been spinning in the back of my mind for a while. Setting up a new blog. With the hopes that I would start to write again. There are many topics that I am interested in from team management, lean methodologies, software architecture, programming, writing stories, songwriting... to more deeper society issues related to healthcare, homelessness and mental health.
In looking for a place to write these random thoughts down I began to review past tools and current popular platforms. Wordpress is fine, well supported and have used it in the past but was looking for a change. Many tech articles that I am interested in have been showing up on Medium too. The more I think about using a platform, the more I want to host the blog myself and handle routing the traffic to a server that I can control. Also, the paywall aspect of Medium has been a growing problem. Me personally reaching my article limit per month and not willing to pay the Medium fee to continue reading. I imagine that others may begin reducing their usage of the platform in the future.
I already had an inexpensive DigitalOcean server to run random test code on and decided to invest the time in hosting my own content. I had acquired a personal domain name in the past and decided to use that to get this all going. A quick search on self hosting blog sites and I landed on Ghost. There were quite a few articles out there that made it really easy to set up ( and DigitalOcean really does have great tech articles ).
Once the backend server was up and running it was time to put a CDN with SSL termination in front of it to cache the content. I am currently using the smallest DO server at $5 per month and will be running other items on it. The final item that I set up was comments via Disqus because you always read the comments, right? My hope is that there will be actual valuable conversations that occur on future content.
For automation tasks, like sending out a tweet when a new article was published, Ghost makes it easy to put in some integrations and has a well documented API. I ended up using a simple Zapier hook to perform this simple automation. For simple monitoring of availability in case the server falls over, just ended up using a free service from UpTimeRobot. It just sends an SMS text via email if the server dies.
For many this may seem overly complicated for hosting a simple blog but it was something I was interested in and interesting enough to spawn a first post. My hope is that I will carve out the time and share more thoughts in the future. The selfish reasons for me doing a blog at all is to catalog these items publicly to be able to find them again and to share new technologies I am learning, in hopes that others that are interested can provide useful tips. If others find value in the posts too, that would be cool.
I welcome any encouragement and topic requests. A few have already asked for me to convert my talk at DevOpsDays Nashville into a series of blog posts and hope to be able to get that content created soon.
Thank you for reading this!