Colophon

Colophon ˈkäləfən, ˈkäləˌfän
noun.

  1. An inscription at the end of a book or manuscript usually with facts about its production
  2. An identifying mark used by a printer or a publisher
  3. This page

This site launched on July 31, 2002. Let me tell you a little bit about what makes it go.

History

In the beginning, there was Movable Type, and it was good.

The original blog, which was first hosted on illtron.com (RIP) would have been run on Movable Type 2.21.

In the summer of 2003, I beta tested TypePad, which is when things started to go downhill. After two pretty solid months there, I quit after the beta. By the time I got around to publishing anything new at my own site, I lost the domain to a squatter.

I started fresh in 2004 at illtron.net, never bothering to locate and move my old content. New posts were sporadic after the domain fiasco, but continued more or less through 2005, when things really died down and other projects took most of my time. I never stopped publishing and writing, I just stopped publishing and writing here.

Eventually, moved to WordPress (again, not migrating anything), and I published a few techy posts, mainly aimed at the LinkedIn crowd. I got tired of worrying about updates, databases, and paying for things, so I eventually built an extremely simple stupid static site generator. It scratched the itch I had at the time — to put something up quickly — but wasn’t suited for regular, date-based blog publishing.

These days, this site is powered by the hottest tool around: static HTML.

Content

Remember how I never bothered to migrate my own content when I’d blow my site up? Well, I fixed that. It took some serious digital forensics, but I’ve recovered just about everything, even the regrettable stuff. These days, the content is all safely version controlled in completely portable Markdown on GitHub. It’s not going anywhere this time.

Tech specs

My stupid static site generated did its job for the time, but now I’m using Eleventy. It’s a really nice Node.js-based, up-and-coming static site generator. If you’re looking for something Jekyll-like, but you want to stick to a Javascript stack, this is a great choice.

The site is hosted on Netlify, which costs me zero dollars per month to host there.

I use NetlifyCMS, to help with posting, and to enforce structure. It’s bare-bones, but it stays out of the way.

NetlifyCMS helpful, but I do most of my writing locally using Typora, an excellent Markdown editor.

I made Supertrain Conductor to power this site. It’s a fork of Eleventy Netlify Boilerplate, with a few nice additions such as Gulp to process Sass and Javascript. You can’t go wrong with either one if you’re looking to experiment with Eleventy, Netlify, and NetlifyCMS.

My goal is to make this site scream, and as such, it uses no large Javascript frameworks. You can do some really cool stuff with React and Vue these days, including complicating the hell out of a simple static blog. I’m not opposed to adding these if future needs call for them, but I have no need today.

I call Prism.js as needed to format code on posts that require it.

Design

I’ve put my content through a lot of designs over the years, but I’m particularly proud of this one.

Blog templates have always suffered from serious feature bloat. Things like archives, sidebars, tags lists, and even — shudder — comments, have caused people to expect a simple personal site to be loaded up with sidebars, navigation schemes, and other features.

I’ve done this work long enough professionally to know that nobody cares at all about anything in a sidebar. People are after one thing, and one thing only: content. With that in mind, my goal was to create a nice reading experience.

The styles here are from scratch. Similarly to how I’m not using any Javascript frameworks, there’s no Bootstrap, Foundation, or anything like that. Those tools helpful if you don’t have time to reinvent the wheel every week, but I spend more time trying to strip them down to meet my basic needs.

The layout is built with CSS grid and a sprinkling of flexbox. I should probably add some fallbacks for non-grid browsers, but the likelihood of anybody showing up here with IE 11 is pretty slim. I’m comfortable taking my chances for now.

I’m using three fonts served from Google Fonts:

  • Knewave, a beautiful handwriting display typeface by Tyler Finck for the League of Movable Type. I don’t know how this one never ended up on my radar before, but when used sparingly, it really brings a site to life.

  • Rubik is a sans serif family with slightly rounded corners designed by Philipp Hubert and Sebastian Fischer for Google. Its heavier weights work really well as a fun display typeface, and its lighter weights are distinctive but unobtrusive. This typeface is popping up everywhere on the web these days.

  • Roboto gets a rap as Google’s Helvetica knockoff, but I find it’s much more readable for long stretches of text. Designed by Christian Robertson at Google, it’s easy on the eyes and unpretentious.

Personal tech

  • Since 1985, virtually every digital content I’ve ever created was on a Mac. These days, I use a 2018 13" MacBook with the TouchBar. It may be the greatest computer I’ve ever owned.

  • I do most of my writing with Typora, though I’m always on the lookout for the next great Markdown editor.

  • My camera is a Canon EOS Rebel T6. It’s about as basic as you can get with an SLR, but it gets the job done.