New website and blog

October 15, 2017 by Kevin Guay

It started with a book

I have always loved book stores. From local mom & pop’s to Barns & Noble. I am also a huge fan of Amazon. Quite the dichotomy, huh? On a recent trip to Boston, I visited a brick and mortar Amazon Book Store. Problem solved. This was, hands down, the best (and probably smallest) book store that I have ever been to. The size forced the inventory to be highly curated, typically an extremely subjective process. But we are not only talking about the largest book retailer worldwide, but the home of countless reviews, ratings, and best seller lists. Amazon made excellent use of their user-generated reviews to organize a relatively small selection of books and provide a shopping experience not unlike that of Amazon.com. For example, in one area, each horizontal shelf had one book on the left, then a sign “if you liked ____ you’ll love >“. To the right on the sign were 6-7 book recommendations similar to the book on the left. This is something that you often find online, but not in a store.

At the end of each shelf, there was a “Best Sellers” end cap (the store only had best sellers, but these were the best of the best). I looked through the Computer Science/Programming Best Sellers (no more than a dozen books), and wanted to read all of them. It was on this best sellers shelf that I found John Sonmez’s book Soft Skills: The Software Developers’s Life Manual. I spent a while opening to random pages and reading and was hooked. I’m about half way through the book, and the main message is clear: you need a blog.

New website

I have had a website since college, mainly to host my resume. Like all websites that I develop, it has gone through a series of iteration that reflect best practices and standards (e.g. responsive design) as well as my personal tastes. This first website was extremely clean and minimal. With this site I aimed to strike a balance between a clean, minimal look and functionality. This is the first time that I have addd a blog to my website and it required a bit more forethought.

I recently rewrote my employers website: Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, because it was using an old CMS that was no longer supported. We considered moving to a more modern CMS (e.g. Wordpress or Drupal), but ultimately decided to create a static website (for speed and security reasons). There are a lot of choices for static website generators (compilers) and I played with a few. I landed on HarpJS because of its simplicity and support for Jade/Pug (which is awesome!) I have used the same generator for other websites, and it was an obvious choice for my own website.

As usual, I started with a simple bootstrap website and wrote CSS until it looked right.

Blog

So, that’s it. I have a secure, static, and hopefully good looking website and a nice logo. Now, I just need some content. I have a few post ideas lined up and hope that you will follow along. There is an RSS feed link and email subscription signup at the bottom of the page. I have also included a Disqus comment module at the bottom of each post so that you can weigh in with your thoughts and questions..