Techno Fattie

Josh Carroll

TL;DR - Sometimes, climbing a mountain has more to do with the challenge inside of you, than the one in front of you.

A Long Journey

I finally got my new blog up and running. It took me a long time to get this done but it has been a great learning experience. I plan to write plenty about the technical side of migrating this blog from Blogger to using Jekyll with GitHub pages.

But first... I wanted to tell you a story about getting here.

When I sat down to write this blog post, it was going to be all about how awesome Jekyll and GitHub Pages were. However, something interesting happened while writing. I discovered that spending the past month hacking on this site during my nights and weekends had little to do with blogging, and everything to do with overcoming personal obstacles.

Techno Fattie? Seriously?

I started by blog on a whim 7 years ago because Leon Bambrick of SecretGeek, one of the first blogs I ever read, had posted a challenge for creating a mandelbrot using F#, and I wanted to respond, so I did. To my great surprise, Leon linked back to my blog the next day, and thus, Techno Fattie was set in stone.

Eventually I actually became more interested in blogging because I love to write, but...

Blogger Sucks!

But that isn't really the truth is it? I mean, there is a lot to complain about when it comes to blogger, but as a platform someone can be up and blogging in seconds. And... there are plenty of people out there who have amazing looking blogs that are powered by blogger.

Alas, mine was not one of them.

My blog looked exactly like the amount of effort I had put into it, which was zero. I wanted a great looking blog, but I did absolutely nothing to actually build a great blog. As a web developer, I have built dozens and dozens of sites, so deep down I knew how much effort really goes into creating and maintaining a decent web site, but for some reason I kept convincing myself that it shouldn't be the same for my site.

Blogger turned out just to be a convenient excuse to be lazy instead of do what I really wanted to do... build the thing myself.

Inventing Roadblocks

The mind is a very powerful thing. It can be our greatest adversary or our greatest foe. It's also quite deceptive, and nobody is better at fooling us, than us.

I have been meaning to blog more pretty much every day for the past 7 years. The conversation in my head would go something like this:

I need to start blogging more. But first... I really need to improve my blog, I mean look at it. Who cares what I write if people want to vomit when they see it.

Ok, let me see about customizing Blogger. Blah blah... custom templates ... blah blah... dude this looks terrible! Hey, I'm a developer I'll just write my own blog! If Rob Connery can do it then so can I!

My original intent was just to sit down and type out a few thoughts, but I invented reasons for not doing it disguised as "work." The reality is that I was just inventing roadblocks for myself in order to avoid doing the real work. I was chasing ridiculous pipe dreams instead of creating something valuable.

Getting Busy

I'm not sure what happened, or when, but I got sick and tired of just wanting to build my blog, and finally just got off my rear end and decided to do it. I also wasn't going to spend the next six months of my life writing a crappy custom blogging engine when there were already so many good ones out there. And besides, my goal was to start writing more... not coding more.

I had heard about Ghost, and it looked promising. I was almost convinced when I saw Elijah Manor blog about converting over to ghost. Still, I really wanted to have a lot of control over the site as a developer.

And then I found out about Jekyll.

The more I dug into it, the more it was love at first site. I knew Octopress was basically built on top of Jekyll, but I really wanted to learn this from the ground up before getting too fancy. So I dug in and started learning the ropes.

As a web developer, Jekyll gives me the control I want over my content, while automating enough things to make it an easy experience as well.

I use Bootstrap every day at work, so I was able to easily adapt a professionally done Bootstrap theme "von minimalist blog" that I paid $12 for over at Wrap Bootstrap. I am not a very good designer so that choice was a no-brainer for me. I also borrowed some heavy inspiration from various sites using Jekyll, most notably was Matias Niemelä's site: year of moo.

At the end of the day, I felt like a web developer working on my site, not just using somebody else's framework. Most importantly, there is no real infrastructure to have to maintain, or troubleshoot. There is no database; no admin page; no server application to setup and run; so I can just focus on what I really care about... the content.

Slaying The Dragons

When I finally got this thing published, I was pretty ecstatic. I know it may seem silly, but that is because you only see a simple little static web site. For me it was years of languish and self defeat that prevented me from moving forward with something I have always wanted to do.

Oh there are still a million things I want to do to this site, and a million ways I want to improve it, but I had to set an attainable goal and stop chasing mountain tops of my own creation.

Now it's time to get busy slaying the next dragon, and the next, and the next...

If you have any of your own dragons you have slain recently I would love to hear about it in the comments.

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