Hi, I'm Alex Pretzlav

I write apps for humans, love to cook, and tinker with electronics. I live in Oakland, CA.

A Blog Post About Setting Up A Blog

26 February 2015

I’ve never been much of a blogger. I’ve had aspirations to start blogging many times, but never properly followed through. I’ve decided this time is going to be different.

I’m taking control of my own blog, on my own site, and making it as easy as possible to write. That means markdown, dropbox 1, and one a line command to update. I’ve done a great job so far spending three weeks of sporadic free time messing with setup instead of writing anything.

Over the years I’ve used livejournal, tumblr, wordpress, facebook, and twitter as “blogging” outlets, but never felt satisfied with any of them.

My first personal programming project ever, in 2007, was an attempt to build a blogging engine in Ruby on Rails that imported posts from livejournal, links from del.icio.us, and photos from flickr. It never really worked, certainly not well enough for me to direct anyone to it. It was far too ambitious for someone who barely knew how to program2.

Since then I kept thinking I should blog on a “real” site like wordpress.com, but only one person ever found my handful of posts. It was also a monumental task to get images, code, and notes organized to put into wordpress’ formatting engine. It wasn’t fun, so I never did it.

I’ve got a handful of technical things I want to talk about now (Swift!), and realized I need a single clear place to go when I do want to write something.

Nerd Stuff:

I set up a skeleton of a blog ages ago using Jekyll Bootstrap3, but never touched it after the initial setup. I used it to stage two paltry posts I put on wordpress after taking a stab at a game jam with friend Lily Cheng.

I looked into a handful of static blog engines4, but finally decided Jekyll did enough, but was small enough, that I would stick with it. The first order of business was to convert to bootstrap 3. I write mobile apps, priority 1 is my blog needs to be responsive. After a couple days of fiddling with bootstrap overrides and updating jekyllbootstrap’s layouts for bootstrap 3, I’ve got something I’m happy with for now.

TODO: make a sample Jekyll config using Boostrap 3’s sass files for easy overriding, like this. Also, autoprefixer, which both bootstrap-sass and bigfoot require. Unfortunately this doesn’t work with github pages.

I should also mention the tiny Makefile I wrote to simplify serving and uploading with some small config tweaks.

  1. and footnotes 

  2. Let alone understood asynchronous web processes, multiple APIs, and the difference between rails Controllers and tasks. 

  3. now defunct 

  4. Pelican and Hugo mainly, although I also considered writing something myself. Then decided not to.