I’ve already fallen waaaaay behind what I was planning in terms of publishing posts on the python robot simulator I was working on, so instead I’m going to make a much easier post so that I actually get something out there. It feels like half the battle of having a blog is getting in the habit of posting regularly, especially on days like today when scrambling to finish a huge post doesn’t sound too appealing.
So, for a the past five years, I’ve actively been avoiding making a personal webpage because I was able to use my lab’s page and because, even though I’d taken a pretty comprehensive (if only surface-level) course in web technologies, I found the task to be daunting. When I finally decided to bite the bullet (apparently this phrase dates from an 1891 novel, never stopped to think about it before) I was faced with the choice of either using my seriously-lapsed web development skills to build something from scratch, or stick with a nice WordPress theme - or so I thought.
Github Pages is also nice because you can draft new web pages by making local pages and using Jekyll, a Ruby-based static site generator. After setup, simply run
bundle exec jekyll serve from the root of your webpage repo and navigate to
http://localhost:4000/ in a browser to view the changes you’ve made locally! You can even connect to the Jekyll-generated site from a mobile device if you run
bundle exec jekyll serve --host=0.0.0.0 instead, allowing you to develop mobile-friendly webpages.
Speaking of mobile-friendly, you may have noticed that this site is barely so. Instead of sticking with a respondiv etheme based on Bootstrap, I chose to start from the minimalist Lagrange theme and try ton refresh my limited web dev knowledge by manually in more dynamic features (like the morphing top menu). I liked this theme in particular because it was blog-focused and felt less cluttered than some more “modern” themes. It was also easy to integrate Disqus for commenting. Speaking of blog posts, I’m writing these in Markdown which is a nifty little markup language which makes it easy to write without worrying about actually using HTML. It also has support via MathJAX which is essential for an academic/technical site (in fact, the Stack* sites use this for embedding math).