On Blogging Platforms

I have been looking into various ways to streamline my blogging problem so that I can focus on writing than worry about hosting or plugins.

One of the obvious choice is to go for either Blogger or WordPress.com. Blogger would be very convenient as I am heavily invested in Google services. One of the first things I do on any computer I use is to log into my Gmail account. Both Blogger and WordPress.com provide free blogging but can be very restrictive in what can be done and what can’t be done.

I am inclined to stick with self-hosted WordPress as it is popular and it would be nice to learn more about it. My list of things-to-learn is too long and it seems I am spending more time learning than using platform to get my work done. Self-hosted WordPress comes with its own baggage in form of money, plugins and regularly keeping up with updates. It requires you to buy a hosting plan which can cost anywhere from $50-$100. An open source project requires some a little prepping up. That means one has to find plugins and keep up with updates and security. While this is all fun but can take sometime out of your writing.

Total control over presentation and writing workflow are the two most important aspects of blogging for me. Anything I write and the way I present it, is an extension of me. I am putting myself out there in the open world. I have a strong opinion that world should me more text like and not picture like. I would not like to catch anyone’s attention. I would like to communicate with a few seekers and conversationalists who think alike. I would like users to read my website in any form them like which may or may not involve a terminal emulator. My search for a better blogging platform which satisfies above mentioned criteria brings me to static site generators.

Static site generators are programs that convert text file into webpages. That means I can use my deprecated terminal emulator to write and easily publish html pages using something like Github for free. The templates can be fully modified. It uses Git. The writing can be done in my own environment and I don’t have to spend ours learning about a complex content management system like WordPress.

There are a few static site generators out there. One of the most popular ones are Jekyll, Pelican, Octopress, Hyde, etc. I decided to go with Pelican. Pelican is written in Python which will help me learn little bit of Python and be easier to understand.

One of the disadvantages of Pelican or any other static site generators is lack of web editor. I am sure there are static site generators that can hook you up with web-editor but Pelican requires you to run it and than upload pages to Github. One can use VPS to run Pelican but than that will put you in cycle of yearly payments. It doesn’t make much sense for me to invest excessive amounts of money on a personal website.

Interesting Links September 21st

Cyanogenmod – Steve Kondik – A New Chapter.

Cyanogen Inc. is going big with its newly acquired VC funds. I was a big fan of Cyanogen during my HTC Evo days. I have since then moved on to pure Google experience and have had no need to hack my phone as I am living AOSP. Cyanogen team has much to offer specially what Google can’t do due to its business nature.

The New York Times – Eric Kendal – The New Science of Mind.

Eric Kendal makes a case for inseparable nature of brain and mind. Kendal quotes Helen Mayberg’s research to elucidate his points. According to Kendal, a better understanding of mind based on biological properties of brain could bring vital improvements in our current treatments of mental disorders.

The New Yorker – Gary Greenberg – The Psychiatric Drug Crisis.

Gary Greenberg has an interesting take on history and future of pharmacological side of psychiatry. It is amazing to see that more than twenty percent Americans take some version of mind-altering drugs. He also recounts several examples of serendipity leading to many of the most famous psychiatric drugs. And why pharma industry is shrinking as a result of lack of theories to explain mental disorders.

The Guardian – Sarah Boseley – Smoothies and fruit juices are a new risk to health, US scientists warn.

We, now, have more reasons to abandon manufactured and marketed products and go natural, as nature intended them to be. Folks can cut their chances of type 2 diabetes by 7% just by swapping juices for fruits three times a week.

World War Z

World War Z has an interesting take on zombies. World War Z began as a man trying to live his life with his small family to two daughter and his wife in  what looks like suburban town. The world changes when a deadly virus infection started converting people into angry zombie.

New is a very interesting part of speech. In a sense how can anything be new, it has to be old to identifiable. We try to give interestingly new look to anything that is foreign to us whether it be zombies or aliens. And equally interesting matter is to see our own behavior in a rapidly changing world.

In a zombie ridden world, a man finds himself in a unique position to help his family by putting himself in a danger of finding origin and solution of virus outbreak. He fails to reach any conclusion but discovers that animal, even in zombies, refuses to attach diseased folks. And that saves the world.

The film obviously portrays a very simplistic version of novel.

Oktoberfest 2013

The small, relatively unknown and quite state in the mid-west Utah is a heaven for nature lovers. The relatively lesser known feature of Utah is its cultural richness reflected in the Indian festival of Colors at the Spanish Fork to the SLCJazz Jazz music concerts to beer’s paradise the Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest is a festival in to celebrate fall harvest and its most famous product, beer.

This weekend September 15th on a misty Saturday I decided to go to mountains in Snowbird resort to enjoy beer on tap. Utah has been experiencing more rain than it usually does. This Saturday afternoon also brought some rain. Warm Sun, misty atmosphere, beer’s aroma vitalized my senses at the Oktoberfest.

My first preference was a dark beer named Black Bier. Black Bier is very flavorful beer with a hint of chocolate and coffee in it. I really enjoyed the flavor and color the beer has. My second choice was a lager from Moab brewery. I have to say that drinking a stein of dark ale affected my affinity to drink a lager later. Nonetheless, drinking beer at 50C on mountains in a sunny day is a great experience.

Irrespective of if you are a beer fan, Oktoberfest is a great outdoor activity to do around this year in Salt Lake.

WordPress as Social Network

I have always seen blogging as strong medium of self-expression, vox populi and  journalism. It is a lot more tedious and has its own niche. Matt Mullenweg’s, founder of WordPress, use of blogging as social platform is quite interesting. He posts what would seem like better for social networks on his blog ma.tt. Maybe I should give it a go as my newfound social network.

The Hunger Games

I finally watched the Hunger Games this Friday. And I have also started reading the book. I wanted to read novel before I watched the film. Oh Well! The Hunger Games is a film about an Utopian country that rose from ashes of the North America. It originally comprised of thirteen states that were ruled by a far located center known as the Capitol. This new world of thirteen states, that had only numbers and no names.

The story of the Hunger Games is set in a post apocalyptic world in which the state has decided to maintain peace for all states at any cost. The new world was formed when all thirteen states revolted. Rebel in twelve states were crushed and the thirteenth state we destroyed. The Hunger Games is celebrated by the Capitol to remind and make all rebel states remember the cost of rebellion. The Hunger Games is a fight unto death among 24 kids aged 12-18 years old two from each surviving district.

Katniss Everdeen is the main protagonist of the Hunger Games. She lives with her sister and mother. Her father was killed in a mine accident. She keeps it to herself. On the day of reaping, her sister is selected for the games but she volunteers to save her. She and another boy go to the capital city of Panem.

There are a few things to note about the Capitol. It is a city that lets kids, from poor districts, murder each other which warrants certain serious sociopathic coping skills. These skills come in form of cynicism and acceptance of a greater goal. As long as you have accepted that there is a higher organization one doesn’t need much to come to reality on its own term. But to begin we do need approval of a greater plan and goal something which is beyond control of common man to fight.

No review of the Hunger Games can be completed without talking about fashion and style of people of the Capitol. The first character is Effie Trinket who comes to the district 12. She has a characteristic evil smile. Television doesn’t do justice to sensations but I can get she prefers a very strong perfume. It was surprising that for strong sociopathic tendencies the people of the Capitol were very colorful and fancy. For any fantasy novel, there has to be a few characters that live in ambivalence of golden cage and a sense of responsibility. Such a character is Haymitch Abernathy. His job is to train the young fighters of district 12. He lives a seemingly of riches and pleasure but busting his guts with liquor. The Capitol is ruled by an old and cautious President Snow. He has a look of grave person. The Capitol city also has socialites and television personalities that seem to have mass followings.