The Gears of Geek Blog is now The Major Gear Blog

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Hello fellow Gears! The Gear of Geek blog has a new name, a new Web host, and a new underlying technology!

Why the Change?

Over time, Wordpress has evolved to become less user-friendly and higher maintenance.

The Wordpress Editor

The Gutenberg editor makes you format your content before you have even written it. Which is the exact opposite of how one should write. In Tech Writing 101, I leared the write the content first and format it later. When you write, you probably have an idea what you want to say, and you should get write it before the idea is lost. With Wordpress, you’ll spend time fiddling with choosing content block type, font styles, and other things before you even get your idea written down.

Also, months ago I started using markdown for documentation because of it’s simplicity and portability. Both the content and formatting are together now. Since markdown is supported across a wide variety of text editors, I can write the content almost anywhere. Gone are the days that I need to use the Wordpress mobile app or Wordress editor to write my posts.

Wordpress Maintenance

Keeping Wordpress and it’s plugins up to date became never-ending task for me. There was always a new version of something that I needed to update to fix a bug or security vulnerability. Time that I should have spent writing content instead went to installing updates. Not only that, the host OS also needed to be updated periodically for the same reasons.

I have a special gripe with Wordpress plugins. Many of them spam my Wordpress Admin console with advertisments, asking me to subscribe to a service or upgrade to a more expensive plan. I feel that the Admin console should do only one thing - manage my Wordpress blog. Plugins are not the only applications that do this, Apple Music and other apps I use do this, too. Hopefully the trend to put advertisements in applications goes away, but I’m not optimistic about that.

The Name

The old name didn’t seem to convey a strong identity. Originally, I was thinking of starting a company with various products and services using that name. The content of the site organically shifted to a blog about my personal adventures in technology. I still plan on releasing products, but more of an Overcast type of app rather than a Microsoft Office type of scale. I’ve adopted the name Major Gear in several technology platforms, and feel like using that name will help readers identify me with brand.

The Host

The blog has been on serveral hosts - Bluehost, Siteground, and most recently Digital Ocean droplet. Each one had a monthly fee and level of management overhead. Hosting my site there meant that backups and content management in general were difficult. I had an incident with Bluehost where my site was wiped, and I had to recover content from my mailing list and from copies of my blog on Archive.org (I appreciate their existence!). I don’t ever want to have to do that again.

The Technology

This reason for the technology change has the same reasons as stated above. I switched to Jekylly SSG since it has a great community, understands markdown, and can be hosted by Github pages for free. Even it if wasn’t free, the ease of use and low maintenance make it worth it to switch.

Here is bullet list of the advantages:

  • Easy to create content using markdown and YAML. No complicated editor like Gutenberg.
  • Free hosting.
  • No Server Support. Github does that.
  • No Plugin Maintenance. Also, no nagging from plugins to buy a subscription.
  • No Security Vulnerabilties. My site is static. There are no scripts, no database, no logins, nothing for hackers to “get at”.
  • Easy Backups. I’m in backup heaven now. I develop/test the site on my Macbook Pro. It’s backed up by Time Machine and Backblaze. I have a copy on my local Gitea git repository server. On top of that, I have a copy on my Github repository. This worlds better than anything I had previously, which ranged from no backups to period backups by the Updrafts Plugin.

What’s Next?

Old Stuff

I imported content from the old site into local copy of the new site. It mostly worked , but there are issues with formatting, broken links, links that point to the old domain that I need to fix. The imported content is in htlm and needs to be converted to markdown.

Images used to be hosted on the blog’s Web server, but I think that I’ll move them to a file hosting service like AWS S3 buckets. I could store images in the site git repository, but think something like S3 would be a better long-term solution. At around $ 0.02 /Gb month, the cost will be neglible give the size of my site.

I think Google Analytics and the mailing list “stuff” will be simple to setup on the new site. I’ll send an email to the old mailing list to let people know about the new domain/blog name.

As for the merchandise store, I’m not bring that over to the new site. It wasn’t a horrible idea, but I didn’t put in time to make it into something my blog readers were interested in. A replacement store is probably 6 months out. It would be anything like the previous store.

New Stuff

Comments will be handled by Disqus. I seen other Jekyll sites recommend it so it would work out fine.

Discussion forums** are on my roadmap for the new future. Admittedly, I’ve had a Discourse server running since January 2020, but I didn’t have time to develop it into usuable forum.

There will be **more code and more repositories links in my posts. I won’t commit to every post be a solution to a coding problem, but it will likely be 50% of the content. My Github link is on the site( currently in th footer). Feel free to browse the repositories there.

The look of the site will change periodically as I learn more about the tools and techniques available to static sites.

Final Words

I’m pretty excited about the new site. The old one was a management nightmare and too much of a time sink for a hobbyist blogger. I’m looking forward to focusing on content and features to bring value to my readers.

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