New blog, powered by Hugo

If you’re seeing this post, it means I have flipped the switch and started using Hugo as the engine for my blog. You may remember I almost turned off the blog, and I have indeed made the blog read-only in June, as Typo was misbehaving and I could not be bothered to fix it.

A few months ago I decided to make the blog read-only and disabled comments, it actually meant replacing the whole app with the output of the caching layer in Rails. Not great but it worked out for a while. In the meantime I have been thinking of what else I could do to make it easier to maintain the blog. At the moment, the best option I can think of is this: a static blog engine with Disqus for the commenting, which is not my favourite but could not find a better alternative.

Hugo works out fairly well, and I’ve settled on a modified version of the Strata theme. Some of the improvements I’ve made (and I’m making) I’ll send upstream, others might not so easily make it. I’m a bit surprised that Hugo does not, by default, try minimizing or merging the Javascript resources, so I might invest some time on that at some later point.

While I made sure that all the permalinks would match with what I had before, there are obvious things that changed place, such as the RSS feeds, and the monthly archives don’t exist anymore (did anybody ever use them?) plus I’m missing a CSE to search the blog. On the other hand I’m also missing ads, so your mileage may vary on whether this is an improvement or not.

As for comments, I think this is important to state outright, because I know someone will start complaining about the fact I settled on a closed, non-free service such as Disqus. I don’t like it either but it’s the best option I found in the short run. I do hope I’ll manage to get a better replacement at some point in the future, but the open-source alternatives I found appear to be the trend-du-jour.

Isso appears to be the most mature alternative, but it uses SQLite to store the comments, because «comments are not bigdata» completely ignoring the fact that SQLite is horrible for parallel accesses, which means the app is likely not going to keep up with a spam attack. The alternative from Hugo’s author relies instead on MongoDB and NodeJS, which is for a different reason horrible. I did see one written in PHP, but using XML files written directly, with the default instructions suggesting changing a directory to 777.

I particularly don’t like the fact that Disqus only allows getting a backup copy of the comments out up to a limit that they don’t disclose, with their instructions essentially suggesting that you should try requesting a backup, and if nothing mails you back twice, then you’re too big. Not a great trust I can put on that.

So anyway hopefully I’ll manage to write more interesting stuff soon, for now I hope I didn’t break too many links. There are also a few posts that likely have broken text due to having to convert all the two thousand posts written in Textile to Markdown with Pandoc and it not being completely accurate. If you see anything wrong, please just leave a comment and I’ll pick it up from there.

About the background picture: it might be worth noting, the picture I’m using is mine and I took it from my Air France flight to Shanghai, in September. Yes, the guy who was so afraid of flying is now traveling around the globe for work. Ironic?