I'm back 3: Rise of Jekyll

Welcome to yet another sequel in this blogging franchise.

Terminator T-X endoskeleton

This movie isn't as bad as people remember.

And here we go again. My blog is back once more, after having taken it down in 2017. Its second revival (or third?).

I’ve had this blog since 2009, but I took it down for the first time in 2011 in order to focus on school. I restored it in 2013 and continued blogging for another year. Then in 2014 I got a new job, and my current perpetually busy life started, leaving the blog abandoned. For the next 3 years I kept it online despite not posting anything, as it was still receiving a fair amount of visits and comments; however, it eventually became obvious that I had no intentions of coming back to writing any time soon. My life had changed too much, and blogging was no longer a part of it. I found it pointless to continue giving it the occasional update/fix and paying for the hosting, so I took it down again, this time with no plans to restore it in the future.

Fast-forward other 3 years and here it is anew. The spark for blogging has returned, though not because I have such a long list of articles pending to publish. When everything changes so much (especially this year, which has turned the lives of everybody upside down), one looks for a constant, and it’s inevitable to think on the past and remember how things once were. And among the turbulence that the current times are, I realized I no longer had a place for myself (on the web at least).

When I retired from blogging in 2017 I also retired from everywhere, including the few social media I was still in (some sites I never returned to after my first leave), only keeping an account on Discord where I’m part of the administration of a server. But there’s no place I can truly call mine and only mine, where I can express myself freely and do whatever I want. That’s a place only my blog filled. I didn’t have any clear idea of what I wanted to do with it, I only knew I wanted that place, and so I got it back. And now I’m making a vow of never taking it down again.

It couldn’t be exactly the same it was though. Times aren’t the same and that can’t be denied, and my blog had to adapt itself in order to survive in the present. For starters, I wasn’t going to use my old domain manueldelafuente.com for it anymore. It’s too long and I wanted something simpler and shorter, and after exploring available domains on Namecheap I found manuel.life, which I liked because it’s only my second name (the one people know me by on the Internet), it’s short, and it fits the thematic of a blog.

Secondly, I wasn’t going to host it on WordPress as it used to either. I had already complained about its maintenance the first time I restored it, and ultimately it was one of the reasons that made me demolish it again. Although during its previous restoration I overcame the indisposition and did it anyway (spearheaded by my bad experience with WordPress.com), in this occasion that wasn’t the case. Whatever interest I once had in that is still dead and buried in the past, now I only wanted to write and maybe perform some customization to the theme; and after evaluating options I decided to host it on Jekyll, a static site generator, which is perfect for this purpose. I’ll talk about it in more detail in a later article. Update: here it is.

In short, this is the history of the different platforms my blog has been in:

  • March 2009 - September 2010: Blogger
  • September 2010 - March 2011: WordPress
  • March 2011 - May 2012: Dead
  • May 2012 (a few days): WordPress
  • May 2012 - April 2013: Dead
  • April 2013 - June 2013: WordPress.com
  • June 2013 - October 2017: WordPress
  • October 2017 - September 2020: Dead
  • September 2020 - Present: Jekyll

Setting up the blog was really easy and I quickly had this place online, but I still had to recover my old articles. Jekyll stores the posts as Markdown files rather than in a database like WordPress does (and I love that), so in order to extract the posts from my previous blog and import them here, I installed a default copy of the latest WordPress locally and imported the wp_posts table of my former blog’s database into it, then I exported the posts as Markdown files using the Jekyll Exporter plugin (which surprisingly still works very well despite not having been updated in 2 years and sporting an “outdated” flag).

All the articles are now saved on my computer, but I won’t republish them all. My current self and my younger self are practically two different people, and much of what he posted is not something I like or I’m okay with anymore, while other articles were decent in their day but now are hopelessly obsolete and useless and there’s no point in restoring them. As for the remaining posts, a review of them made me realize that a third major change was required.

This blog used to host not only elaborate articles, but a mixture of them with random shares and trivial stuff, as well as minor tips and code snippets. All of the latter isn’t exactly bad, but it created too much noise and it isn’t the type of content I’m looking to host on my blog from now on, so I decided to split it into 3 separate websites: the elaborate articles are staying here, while the random shares and trivial stuff are going into a miniblog, and the minor tips and code snippets will be hosted on a blog for tips. All three powered by Jekyll and merely using the magic of themes to give them radically different appearances in line with their purposes: this blog’s theme imitates Medium, the miniblog’s resembles Tumblr, and that of the tips’ blog has a hacker-like style.

At the time of writing this, the blogs have only a few posts each, but I’ll be restoring them gradually (all posts older than this one are from the former blog). Something really odd is that as I was restoring one of my first posts, “Paseo por las oficinas de Google en México” (“A walk through Google’s offices in Mexico”), posted only a few days after the original creation of the site, I found that the protagonist of the video it talks about, Javier Matuk, also has a new blog on a different domain, and just this last month he reposted precisely that same video, on a post where he talks about how much things have changed since then. All things are connected.

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