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New Life, New Blog, New ...

written on February 14, 2010

Reasons, Questions and Answers

If you are a regular visitor here then you imediatelly noticed the changes. Brand new layout and no more WordPress. sigh??!! . What does this mean?

Q. Do I really need a shared hosting plan?

A. No, I don't, because I'm using only a fraction of the provided services which means that I'm wasting money on stuff I don't really make use of. Bad bad!

Q. Why I didn't go with GitHub Pages?

A. First of all I'm using my own fork of Jekyll, with enhanced tag support and a few other small convenience changes, on the other hand I want to have at least a minimal server side control for dynamic pages, otherwise GitHub pages would be the perfect solution for blogging with Jekyll; I will re-evaluate this once I get my 7$ GitHub subscription.

Q. Why I didn't go with SliceHost?

A. I bought a 256MB slice (which I recently canceled, 20$ / month), setup a Git remote repo with a hook to re-generate the static html via Jekyll and served the pages via Nginx. This worked very very well, but I realized that I don't need full VPS just to host this simple blog and possibly a Trac (Edgewall) instance.

Q. Why I didn't go with Posterous, Thumblr or some other blogging platform?

A. I want full control over my text (I did that before) plus I want it versioned using Git and hosted GitHub. Even though Posterous and Thumlr can be fully customized, they are still not there for me.

Q. Heroku? Why?

A. I'm most definitely not a big Ruby fan, BUT the free plan on Heroku really did catch my attention! They have a read-only file-system, so I can generate my static pages locally with my own Jekyll fork, commit and push them to Heroku, plus push the raw source material to GitHub for easier access to the masses.

(Dr.) Jekyll

Jekyll is an awesome piece of software written in Ruby, unfortunately I had to hack it a little bit in order to enable generating nice Tag Clouds and Tag Pages. You can check out the Archives page to see what I mean. You can find my Jekyll fork right here .

Like I said, I also had to modify the WordPress importer in order to fetch tags and fix the image paths so I could just move out my "uploads" directory into Jekyll's "images" directory.

I'm still learning Markdown as of typing up these words in VI.

Heroku, Text and Images

Heroku limits the "Slug Size" to 20MB, which is HUGE if you want to server static HTML or other dynamically generated stuff, but it's barely enough if you are planning to use images, they even recommend to go for Amazon S3 if you want to store media files.

I rarely write up posts which contain images so I moved them into my DropBox, roughly 49MB (after the import from WordPress); with this my slug size is around 380KB including 130 blog posts, the archives, rss feeds and about pages. Maybe in 20 years I will fill up the 20MB. ha! :)

I'm using Sinatra to serve off the static HTML and stuff.

The great thing about Sinatra is that I can easily silenty re-route my old URLs in the format /year/month/day/title to /year/month/day/title.html as you can see above.

Heroku is definitely a game changer compared to other platforms like Google's App Engine, primarily because of the tight integration with Git making development and deployment piece of cake.

In less then 5 minutes I had my very first "Hello World" app up and running.


I'm very pleased with this setup, from now on I will blog a lot more, so stay tuned! (amazing stuff will follow). Be sure to checkout my GitHub repos to get the latest code for all the stuff I've been discussing about here .