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Reinventing the Wheel, With Help

Ever since my junior year of high school, I promised myself I would “learn web stuff”. What that meant was part of my next {school/break/summer/year}’s resolutions. I’ve played around with plenty of forum aid, WordPress’s, Blogspot’s, web hosts, VPS’s, and everything in between. This has been the first website I’ve [mostly] committed to for thing long, and I just wanted to say how I got here. It’s pretty funny for me, since from my point of view, I’m the further-est I could be from web development. There’s those people that write software, and there’s me. But from the outside point of view, I’m just the next step over. Rather than do a resolution’s post, I figured I’d just sum up what I’ve learned so far, and give recommendations for everyone else.

Software is Easy

I don’t care what everyone else says, software is a joke. Sure, it took me like six years to get a website up and working, but those were really just a couple weeks a year when I got bored at home. I spent more time than I’d like to admit searching

  • Easiest website setup?
  • What is a VPS??
  • Github Tutorial???
  • Is Javascript a server???

But I always found answers. Even when I was trying to set up my own server for the first time, and I basically ended with a nuked, rusted-metal version of an OS that used to resemble Linux, it was salvageable. <Medium Highlight>Just like a gym, I paid for time, not for improvement </Medium Highlight>. I could just start over whenever I want, no extra charge, with all the extra knowledge. I did, numerous times, but I eventually got it working.

Obligatory XKCD

Obligatory XKCD

The/Your First Time

Right now I have this site running up Ghost, a “real professional” blogging service. It also happens to hold a couple other things on some subdomains (Jupyter Notebook, Flask Server), but those are tertiary and mostly side projects. I didn’t want to start there though, I just wanted to go all the way to the basics and build it back up. You can see what that resulted in over on my Github, and it’s something alright. I wouldn’t say it’s great, but it’s a functional website where I wrote quite a bit more than anyone else ever would/should. It had sections that weren’t hard-coded, with some error-checking and logging, and even a rudimentary database!

Obviously nowhere near the quality or reliability of a professional product, but now I understand what all of “the stack” actually means. Starting off with frameworks didn’t make anything sense until I learned what HTML tags are. Obviously I didn’t learn every step (what’s a socket()), but I learned enough that I’m now fairly comfortable going through a “stack” on my own. There’s way too many buzzwords out there to even begin to learn all of them, but the more you can make the better.

Cut Your Own Piece Out

This is more of a personal one, but I view my website as my own cut of the universe. Everything on this IP is here because of me, for better or for worse. This is where I get to try new things, write about stuff I like, tell the world who I am. There’s plenty of other people who’ve said this in fancier words, but I just wanted to re-iterate it.

It’s probably more difficult if you have a super common name, but googling your own name and finding yourself as the top result is simultaneously disconcerting and rewarding. I’m glad that people will know who I am, and even happier that they’ll see who I think I am through this website, but it also removes whatever ideas of a privacy I have on my digital fantasy island. I think the trade off is definitely worthwhile, so here I am to stay.

Get Smart or Get Out

Time for some resolutions. I didn’t really have any planned, and this one is kind of handed to me rather than decided by me, but it’ll do. I consider myself a pretty laidback person, but the one thing that is guaranteed to frustrate me is not taking advantage of the world we live in. Anything and everything is searchable, and has probably been answer by someone else somewhere. Now I’m not promising the quality of the answer (some random broken-English comment on an ancient forum is all you get on occasion), but you’ll get an answer.

Now that I’ve started graduate school, I feel like this effect is showing itself in an exponential manner. Everyone here is excellent at searching each and every resource, and if you can’t find an answer, discover it yourself and write about it. The entire burden of learning is on you. I don’t mean that in an accusatory way, just a factual one. It’s on me too, and I intend to prove it this year.

Repeated Results

Second and last resolution, I’m going to try and post here at least once a week. I think I’m going to skip over the introductory stuff I was playing around with before, and instead jump to the other goal of this blog: my online notebook for classes. I’m going to start putting up stuff from my last class (High Speed Serial Links), so if you’ve been following along assuming this is some kind of EE tutorial site, there will be a, uh, small jump in the difficulty curve. I almost averaged once every other week in the first year of me doing this (missed it by one post), but it was very burst-y (nothing, 5 posts, nothing for two more months). I think regularity will make it easier on me, and also easier to sort through material.

The nice thing about graduate school with respect to this matter is that I’ll only end up taking one class, or two at most, a semester, so after this summer I should be caught up, and then I can resume going through all the undergraduate circuits classes again.