A new year, and a new incarnation of noisybox.net.
I've been wanting to do a rewrite for quite some time...probably over a year. The maintenance on the pyramid site was just crufty and I let it stagnate. I was also never happy with the custom css junk I hacked togehter, and the site was never very mobile friendly. Well, frankly, I think it looked terrible on mobile...and I wanted to change that.
After a couple of weeks of evaluating several popular static site generators, including jekyll, hexo, and hugo, I decided that none of them would work well for my needs. Granted, they are all fine projects and people have done and continue to do a stellar job of supporting and enhancing them...but in most cases they quickly began to feel limiting. In some cases, they feel frameworky and require the user to learn their internals in order to get nonstandard things accomplished. In other cases, the tools assume (or mandate) a specific way of working, likely based on assumptions.
In the case of jekyll, I think I added a paging blogs plugin and performance just absolutely cratered. Like by a factor of 10x or something. I dunno about you, but waiting 20+ seconds to verify a small content change sure isn't fun -- it's debilitating.
I had some high hopes for hugo. It was enjoyable to get started with and the performance definitely has that Go wow factor! I was a very bummed at how difficult it was to make small layout/theme changes...they have a ways to go there!
I really should have done a better job of documenting the pros and cons of each one, since I really did do a pretty in-depth evaluation of them...but alas, weeks have passed now and I didn't write things down and it's no longer fresh...and I no longer feel like revisiting them. So many other things to do.
As a result, I decided to write my own static site generator: prepply.
Maybe it's stupid to do such a thing, and perhaps nobody else will ever see value in it, since there are thriving communities around the existing tools. And I'm fine with that! But I also host it on github in case somebody else can learn from it or help to improve it or whatever.
Like so many personal projects, it's merely a first effort and is hacky and without tests. Shameful, I know. But I'm still pretty happy with how it turned out and remain excited about the idea of static site generation. You know...because everything old is new again. Or something. Maybe we didn't learn from the past. :)
Wed Dec 31 2008 22:27:17 GMT-0800 (PST)
Year-end recaps are all the rage this time of year, and since I've never really done one I figured what the hell. I hope that by rehashing some of the happenings this year and reflecting on successes/failures that I can gear up for a rock solid 2009. I should point out up front that a massively important part of 2008 included spending time with and caring for my family. I won't emphasize it here, though, because I've decided to mostly stop publishing personal information that involves my family. Recapturing privacy and retaining control of one's personal, private life while still maintaining an online presence/persona is a newish goal for me. It's a real challenge at times, and I have no idea how it's all going to work out...but I know that I'm just not that comfortable anymore posting pictures or stories about family details. It's too much of a liability, and for now the risk outweighs the rewards. It's probably already obvious, but the main focus is to make noisybox.net a project site where I can share my technical experiences and clever hacks. Sure, it will sometimes still get interrupted by the occasional rant or personal anecdote or political standpoint. Wait, that's nothing new right? So what happened with me in 2008? In January I organized and hosting a circuit bending workshop called Haywire with Dorkbot PDX. About 40 geeks and noise hackers showed up and had a great time stirring up some junk toy cacophony. There's been talk of doing another bending workshop, but I'm not sure when it'll be (ideally after I finish a small run of kolpxnty boards). In the months after the workshop, I worked on polishing up some software and configuration for my audiopint. The audiopint became a main tool used in a 1 hr live performance I did on KBOO on Jennifer Robin's NOTLT on May 1st. There's HD video of the performance, but I haven't yet managed to stitch it together in a way that I'm comfortable releasing. All in all, playing KBOO was a great experience and I'm happy to have been part of Jennifer's now sadly defunct radio show. In the spring I learned of Michael Waisz's passing and was asked by an avant garde composer to build a cracklebox. I used one of the dorkbotpdx open workshops to etch a small run of 3 new cracklebox boards, one of which was fully populated and sent to the east coast. The remaining two boards are built but are still waiting for enclosures to be built. I started tinkering with image manipulation from Perl with ImageMagick and then started generating video. I created two short abstract video works and submitted them to the 2 mile QUADRUPLEX (video bending and noise films) for consideration...but was really too far past the deadline to be considered seriously. I'm rather proud of these pieces and hope to make them available online soon. Later in the summer, I was asked to host a circuit bending table/outdoor workshop as part of the first St. John's No.Fest organized by Ong and KBOO on the summer solstice. We had a table with circuit bent keyboards and toys and spent a full day explaining to people what circuit bending is and showing them first-hand just how satisfying it can be. I did a short live radio interview thing and encouraged people to come by and experiment. The Kelso Noise BBQ raged up at the BrizShack in Vancouver, and I dragged a few friends up for the brutal experience. Like the other past noise BBQ events, this was so much fun, filled with amazing and inspiring performers and a collection of friendly, approachable ragers in a sea of raw power, On top of it all, David introduced me to the BBQ glory of the New Seasons curry lamb sausage. During the summer I ended up bike commuting to work on a more regular basis, and I participated in the Portland Bike Commute Challenge during the month of September. 200+ miles were conquered in that month, and I continued to commute on the bike very frequently. I rediscovered my love of cycling! Dorkbot continued to inspire me in the fall, and Jared introduced me to the 4066 CMOS switch (yeah, I'm dense). I designed a small circuit board that can trigger 16 individual switch points (buttons) and I built a 2-sided prototype with SMT parts (not a light undertaking for me). The working name for the board is the unpronounceable "kolpxnty", and the prototype is able to control/sequence the guts of a Barbie telephone quite well. My intention is to cascade several boards together in order to control a fairly large number of circuit bent devices at the same time. I am hoping to finish up a revised design before having a small number of boards professionally fabricated. Speaking of "professional", I should give some recognition to my "professional" life and acknowledge the fact that we've had a pretty fun and crazy year. My full-time work with Ensequence on their powerful Blu-ray offerings has been both an enjoyable experience and a stressful ride. It's exciting for me to see our software shipping on more than 50 commercial discs (yes, major titles you've heard of). "Millions of users" is probably the largest audience my software has ever seen. As the year was drawing to an end I started learning Python, rewriting the noisybox photo album, and got snowed in for a few days before xmas. And that's really just about it. "Time for reflection." the little voice nagged. What went well? Well...I'm proud of finishing some projects, and I really enjoy being part of and supporting local communities (like KBOO and DorkbotPDX). I keep finding that branching into unfamiliar territories (like performance or teaching or new technologies) is very rewarding, and I hope to continue that effort in 2009. What sucked? I'm still terrible at time management and wonderful at procrastination. In 2009 I will carve out more free time for family and projects, and I will be more responsible in how I manage that time to yield productive results. I am disappointed that Infiltration Lab didn't have a single audio release this year, so 2009 should see several. I really want to collaborate with people I admire and respect, whether it be in performance, recording, or on great tech hacks. I will complete at least one significant collaboration project in 2009. I will perform live more than once. I will start a side business and plant the seeds of corporate independence. I should never do one of these posts ever again. :) My friend Chelsea did a very nice 12-month-12-resolutions format list. I should have done one of those instead.