Thinking About Moving from WordPress to a Static Site Generator Like Jekyll

Posted by on Mar 17, 2013 in Blog, Geek | 3 Comments

I’m thinking about moving ruten.ca off WordPress, and instead use a static site generator like jekyll.

Why?

  • Markdown! I already have a Markdown plugin for WordPress, which is great. But I still have to type it in the WordPress admin. Which means if I write a post on my phone or tablet, there’s always an extra step of copy/pasting to get it into WordPress. Then if I make an edit, I have to either make it in two places and/or copy-paste again. Sounds trivial, but these small things add up and add friction to the process.
  • WordPress is overkill, I think. I hardly use any of the built-in features, and don’t use many plugins.
  • Text files. If i store the Jekyll repo in a Dropbox folder locally, then I can add/edit posts from any app or device that syncs with Dropbox.
  • Speed. Static sites are fast, and even though you can setup caching on WordPress, it’s too much trouble for little benefit. A static site is more resilient to sudden traffic spikes.
  • Dynamic features can be added with Javascript. I already use a Wufoo form on the site, and Disqus for comments, so there’s not any dynamic content on the site, other than posts and pages.
  • Git! I love the idea of using Git to version control my site content.
  • New design. I could update the design and still use WordPress, but if I’m going to change the design, might as well change the framework too. I like the “Projects” section of my website, but I am not happy with the styling of the Blog section. I’d like to make it easier to read, with better formatting, and make it easy to add code samples with nice highlighting. Static site generators are generally used by the geekier crowd, so support for code samples is a given.
  • The general idea is to make it easier to blog. The easier it is, the more likely I am to do it.

So that’s that. In a way, the above list is just a way for me to justify a decision I’ve basically already made. I’m kinda excited to be able to add features to my blog in Ruby, without having to use PHP in WordPress templates.

Next steps:

  • Try setting up a Jekyll blog and import my posts.
  • Look for a static theme on ThemeForest.net or somewhere to use as a base for my site.
  • Decide whether to use Octopress
  • Setup 301′s for all current links to preserve SEO, and make sure Jekyll can do sitemap.xml and similar SEO stuff.

(I’m hoping that I won’t miss WordPress after using Jekyll. It would be a pity to have to switch back!)

Relevant Links

Mexican 7 Layer Dip Recipe (With Healthy Options!)

Posted by on Mar 15, 2013 in Blog, Food | No Comments

Recipe

Carefully add each layer to a flat glass pan. Or, use several smaller square containers. For quantities, use what feels right.

  1. Can of refried beans. (heat up first, and optionally mix in some taco/tex-mex spice, and/or can of chopped green chilis, and/or hot sauce)

  2. Sour Cream (optionally mix with some cream cheese and/or taco seasoning)

  3. Shredded/grated Cheese (cheddar, montary jack, or nacho/texmex cheese blend)

  4. Guacamole (or mash 2-3 avocados with salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic powder)

  5. Salsa

  6. Green Onions

  7. Chopped tomatoes

Finish by topping with some more cheese, and add olives if desired.

Ideas for making it healthier

  • Make a healthier homemade version of refried beans. Google it for different options, but one possibility is mashing up black or pinto beans and then frying with some olive oil and spices.
  • Use lower fat sour cream.
  • Add more fresh veggies (maybe try green peppers)
  • Try doing a 50/50 mix with sour cream & greek yogurt.

Google Reader is shutting down. These are the best Reader alternatives.

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Blog, Geek | No Comments

Google announced today that they will be shutting down (“retiring”) Google Reader as of July 1, 2013. I’ve used Reader for years, so I’m a bit panicked to find a replacement, and fast!

Reeder suite of apps are awesome

I use the Reeder apps on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and the developer tweeted some potentially good news:

So, I’m hoping that Reeder will support syncing with another service, and I can spend some time moving everything over, and then be done with it.

(As a side note, I wonder how many people actually use Google Reader?)

Download Your Data

You can download your Google Reader data using Google Takeout.

The export includes:

  • your followers & people you’re following
  • liked items
  • item notes
  • items shared by followers
  • items shared by you
  • starred items
  • list of feed subscriptions

It’s a thorough data dump, which is nice. It’s all JSON (except for the subscriptions list, which is XML), and includes post content where applicable.

Alternative 1: NewsBlur

The demo on the NewsBlur site is great. Click the “Try out NewsBlur” link, and it just slides out from the side. Impressive–always love it when you can demo a product before filling out a sign-up form.

There’s a free account, and a $1/month premium account (so, basically free). Also, it’s open sourced which is nice to see.

Summary: My favourite option so far.

Alternative 2: Feedly (Web, iOS, Android)

Feedly has a nice design. The interface is a bit different than Google Reader by default, but it looks like they have a list view that is somewhat Reader-like.

They are prepared for the Google Reader shut down, with a project that clones the Google Reader API (Reeder app, are you listening?).

Summary: Will take a look when their site is actually up.

Alternative 3: The Old Reader

The Old Reader stands out as it has a much simpler and cleaner design than most other options.

Summary: Worth a look.

Alternative 4: Netvibes

Netvibes is apparently a feed reader, but also has a bunch of “brand monitoring” tools, and seems cater to the enterprise crowd. There’s a free “personal” account, so that might be worth checking out.

Summary: I’m a bit turned off by the enterprise feel.

Alternative 5: Fever (Self-hosted, $30 one-time fee)

Fever gives your feeds a temperature rating, which is an interesting premise. It also functions as a regular feed reader.

Fever is made by Shaun Inman, who’s made a bunch of cool games/apps, so it’s likely to at least have a good design and be usable.

Summary: Self-hosted, but not open

Make Your Own Clone?! Or not.

When a major web product shut down, it’s a great opportunity for anyone with a competing product to jump in and gain a bunch of users.

As soon as I heard that Google Reader was shutting down, I started thinking about how to take advantage of this. Being a developer, I thought about creating my own clone of Google Reader. (For anyone interested in doing RSS stuff with Ruby, the Feedzirra gem is pretty popular, and apparently fast.)

But then I researched what other options are out there, and there are a few contenders. One of them is likely to be Good Enoughâ„¢. Really, at this point I’ll probably just wait to see what the Reeder developer does, and go along with that.

Closing Notes

Options that didn’t make the cut:

  • NetNewsWire – Has Mac/iPad/iPhone apps, but seems to rely on Google Reader sync. Based on Twitter account activity & messages, the app doesn’t seem to have much development activity.

It sucks that Google is shutting down Reader, but such is life. Hopefully one of the options above will be a sufficient replacement.

Most of the services above seem to be having issues with the amount of traffic fueled by the Google Reader closure. I’m sure this will only be temporary, but it prevented me from actually trying out some of the sites.