Bloviating on Blogginating

If you haven’t been following my constant complaining on Mastodon you might be wondering why your RSS feed reset the read count on all the posts. I recently undertook a lot of technical work on this site that I had been putting off, the side effect being whatever happened to the RSS. It’s fine now, I think? Probably?

This blog was set up when I had a lot of free time on my hands between jobs, as the film VFX work in Los Angeles really dried up, and before the push for film-quality VFX work in TV. While I was doing all that TV VFX work, the technical underpinnings of this site just kind of sat there. I never could figure out how to configure certificates to get https working, but I excused it as unimportant because it’s not like people were doing banking on this site.

For the past nine years I would just write when I had time, and if the site needed maintenance then I couldn’t write. It just needed to keep barely being sufficient so it wouldn’t be in my way.

The site was also written in Python 2.7, which I was familiar with from it’s use as a scripting language in VFX software packages. Migrating to Python 3 hasn’t been easy for anyone, and the rewards for migrating are … well. Someone can let me know what they are later. The biggest issue was that all the third-party modules I relied on to generate this static site required different arguments and produced different results than they did in the 2.7 branch of the same software.

Lastly, the virtual server this site is/was hosted on, used a 32-bit install of Ubuntu, which Ubuntu stopped updating, and there is no migration path from a 32-bit install of Ubuntu to a 64-bit install. It would be unsafe to continue running and hosting stuff connected to the internet, especially as time went on.

That’s why I started up a new server instance last week, configured Caddy (which wouldn’t even install on the old 32-bit server) to serve https:// crap, and then proceeded to rewrite the static blogging script until it produced almost identical output (if you diff the html pages there are some formatting anomalies, like html entities vs unicode entities, but the rendered result is the same). I also tweaked some CSS stuff. I’m a fan of solarized, which gave that yellowish background color to the site, but my friend Dan whined about it so it’s white now. Happy, Dan? Of course you aren’t.

I’ve also added template logic for Open Graph images, so if I provide a path to an image, in the multimarkdown metadata on a post, it will display the image when shared with anything that uses Open Graph to render previews. Old posts will still show that shrug thing.

I’m hopeful that I’ve reduced the friction to post on the site, and friction for people to read the site (I know the scary security warnings in the web browser title bar certainly alarmed people visiting the old server, even though it was harmless). If you do experience a problem after today, please let me know, as I might not be aware of how your particular feed reader has parsed my site. I am deeply uninterested in moving anything for another nine years.

2023-10-12 12:00:00

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