Mainroad Woes

Gabe Weatherhead, the MacDrifter himself, switched his blog over to Hugo. He was a victim of the Webfaction shutdown himself, and like me, looked for a different blogging engine (he was previously using Pelican).

He launched the new site today, hosted on Opalstack, using the Mainroad theme on top of Hugo. And like me, he seems to have the same problem with the post excerpts on the main page, in that all the formatting is stripped. From the look of things, he has been unable to fix it either. However, unlike me, he persisted, instead of bailing out like me.

It’s interesting that we both settled on the same minimalistic theme, though in hindsight, it was probably his blog that inspired the minimalist in me. (You do not want to see my old Geocities site).

Anyway, I’m glad to see he’s back blogging. The Internet was a worse place without him.

Adventures in CMS

For almost 6 years, I have been hosting this site at Webfaction, but late last year we were warned that they had been purchased by GoDaddy and they would be transitioning their hosting over to another GoDaddy company (tsoHost) this month. They were supposed to transfer our accounts over to the new host, unless they’ve weren’t able to, presumably due to a technical limitation of what we host on our sites.

Surprisingly, a month ago, I received an email saying that they were unsuccessful in migrating my account, and as a result, on September 15th, my site would go down, unless I transferred it manually myself. No further explanation was given why. Maybe, as Gabe Weatherhead stated, and I quote:

they don’t know how to host anymore. Maybe they lost the one person that had the keys. Maybe they outsourced their infrastructure to interns.

That left me in a difficult spot, as I now had to find another host.

Well, maybe not so difficult. I already had another VPS at a different provider that I use to host, as well as being a playground for various self-hosted projects. I figured the easiest thing to do would be to just move everything over there. While I was at it, I thought maybe I could try a different engine/CMS for this site. This site has been running on WordPress from its inception.

For a while now, I have been looking at static site generators, especially the flat-file ones. A system that avoids databases like MySQL was quite alluring, as it avoids that layer of complexity, leaving everything to just a hierarchical folder based structure. Now, I know not all SSGs use flat files, so I excluded those that used databases. After narrowing the list down, I settled on Hugo and Kirby. After a little more experimenting, I settled on Hugo. It seemed interesting enough, and I like the fact that the posts would be in Markdown, and that the whole backend could be hosted on my Mac, with just the final compiled version pushed to the VPS.

As far as themes go, I’m not a designer, not by a long shot. However, I can read CSS to an extent, and I have had my fair share of experience modifying themes to my liking. Thus, I set about looking for themes for Hugo. What I was looking for was a relatively minimalistic theme, just like what you’re seeing on this blog. Too many elements all over the screen can be quite distracting, and does not fit the volume nor content of this site.

I quickly realised that it was going to be a challenge. Firstly, there were not many minimalistic themes to my liking, and the ones that were minimalist enough, had too much on the backend and was not as easy to set up as I thought. If I had more time to dedicate to this project, I probably would have persevered, but I don’t. I spent the better part of Saturday evening and night, until around 2am, learning how to set up Hugo, and to customise it to my liking. I had settled on a theme, Mainroad, that fit my needs. Things were looking up. Then I found an annoying flaw. Small, but annoying.

The Mainroad theme, on the main page, only shows an excerpt of the entire post, which is not a problem at all. What is a problem, however, is that the excerpt ignores all formatting, and lumps everything as a single block of text. So lists and paragraphs all appear as a single block. Like I said, small, but it annoyed me. Initially I thought maybe it was something I had done while I was modifying the theme, but when I went back to the theme’s own demo site, I saw it did the same thing to the posts there.

By this time it was 2am, and I had been working on it for hours. I had almost completed everything I wanted to do with it, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Not willing to go hunting through the code to try to fix something the developers themselves had not been able to, nor to embark on a further hunt for a theme, I decided to use ol’ trusty: WordPress.

Within 10 minutes, I had the entire site set up (sans domain redirection). All my posts were imported, and I had even chosen a new theme for the site (this one). I liked the previous one, especially since it allowed me to use the photo I took of the Natural Bridge Falls in Queensland, but I wanted to try something different.

(By the way, the Twenty Twenty-One theme relies too much on WordPress’ new block editor, which while interesting, is definitely not to my taste, and may be considered ugly even, at least right out of the box.)

This site is not complete yet, however. A few small things still need to be touched up, including the implementation of SSL (Update: Implemented on the 1st of September 2021).

PS: Some of you may wonder why the heck I even bother with this site, considering I rarely post anything, and you make a good point. However, this site is just a front of sorts. Behind this site, under other subdomains, run a number of services, including a YOURLS instance, and a few services from that I set up years ago, amongst other self hosted apps (nothing remotely illegal though). Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not here. 😉

Until next time.

The Case of the Stolen Source Code

Panic Blog » The Case of the Stolen Source Code:

“…no matter how experienced you might be with computers, you’re human, and mistakes are easily made.”

Steven Frank from Panic (publishers of some of my favourite Mac and iOS apps) had his work Mac compromised during the Handbrake malware hack (not made by Panic), and as a result some source code was stolen. Here’s his story.

Good news is, no customer data appears to have been compromised.

(Via Six Colors ).

The iPod-based interface that lost out to iOS for the iPhone

The iPod-based interface that lost out to iOS for the iPhone:

Instead of the modern touch-driven interface we now call iOS, it featured an operating system dubbed “Acorn OS” (this was an internal code name, and it unclear if it would have kept that name if it had been released), which is derived from the acorn shown on boot. It presents an on-screen click wheel, which took up the bottom portion of the screen, and on the other half of the screen, a UI identical to the one found on the beloved iPod, with options such as “Dial”, “SMS”, “Music”, “Contacts” and “Recents”, however lacking a browser option. The interface is interacted with in the same way an iPod would be operated.

Thank goodness Apple did not go with that option. The iPhone shook up the entire phone industry and, in my opinion, is single-handedly responsible for the interface of all the smartphones we use today. I had other touchscreen phones and PDAs before the iPhone came out (namely Palms and Windows Phone 5), and while they were usable, they just never worked as well as they could.

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Apps for New Docs

So a few weeks ago, the hashtag #TipsForNewDocs was trending on Twitter. A portion of those tips were recommending apps for new medical interns who were due to start their orientation and “Buddy Week” (in NSW). Next week, at the beginning of February, they’ll be starting work proper, at least in New South Wales.

A lot of the apps that were recommended then, were, in my opinion, irrelevant and totally useless for interns. No intern needs to know the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, as they will be calling their registrar for any and all strokes. Similarly, the Oxford Handbook of Anaesthesia, while useful for anaesthetists and anaesthetic/critical care registrars/SRMOS, would be overkill for the brand new intern.

Those apps are useful. Extremely useful. But not for an intern in their first term. They will trying to find their legs in the brave new world that they’ve entered. They have the stems of knowledge, but not the experience of how to use all that they have learned in university. As any doctor can tell you, it’s one thing to read about it, it’s a whole different ball game when it’s in front of you. They have the lives of people in their hands and they will be afraid of making a mistake that could end up severely injuring or killing a person. I know. I was an intern once.

The apps I recommended are, in my opinion, the most useful that any intern can have available at the beginning of their career. In fact, these apps would be useful for the rest of their careers too. They’re simple, but extremely useful apps. Of course, there may be someone out there scoffing at my choice of apps. I would be happy to hear their point of view.

The following apps are available on iOS, and may be available on other mobile operating systems too.

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