First post

So I've finally got around to writing a blog. I finally felt that I had some content that was worth sharing and I resolved to get that content posted up. Perhaps unsurprising to anyone who knows me there's a variety of different topics I want to write about, Mathematics education through to programming through to optimal fuel usage while driving. I might even talk about the book on game theory I spent a couple of years writing.

A few months ago I decided that I wanted to put up my own blog. So what took me so long? At the time I was spending a lot of time working on a startup project that required a web frontend. I also wanted to create a website to help people learn more about the techniques involved in the sport of footbag. At the time I happened to not know enough web frontends to make what I wanted. So I figured that I could use the opportunity to familiarize myself with web frameworks that were out there while making these personal project sites. In retrospect if the aim was just to set up a blog then I would have got it up and running a lot quicker with something like wordpress. However I knew that I had a lot to learn to get to a proficient enough level to make a polished web frontend. I also knew that the best way to learn these skills was to get stuck into a real project that required them. Being a Python coder I decided to have a look at the Python based web frameworks. The choice was eventually narrowed down to Pyramid and Django , both seemed to do a lot of the things I wanted for my website. Django seemed to have a slightly easier learning curve so I initially decided to go with that.

I didn't want to reinvent the wheel and write another crappy home made blogging engine I decided to look at what was already out there. After studying the blog options table at I settled on using Zinnia because I liked what I saw. However I then started running into a ton of problems installing it and getting it working. I suspect there is a bit of a language barrier involved as some of the documentation didn't immediately make sense to me. After studying the Zinnia source code I had every confidence that the project was good and that some better documentation would really help people out and make this great software more accessible. Things were going really slowly and sticking to my decision had every sign of being a massive sunken cost fallacy in action. If the objective was to get a site up and running as fast as possible I would have gone with something else much earlier on. But part of this was about trying to fill the gap in documentation/tutorials as I was sure other people would run into the same problems. The irony was that I was going to blog about my issues but these same issues were preventing me from getting the blog up and running to do so.

Eventually I just gave up on Zinnia because it was proving to be too much of a hassle, exacerbated by a mismatch at the time with creating a development environment that worked nicely with my web hosting provider [1]. I ended up using Pelican which couldn't have been much easier. Granted part of the ease is due to the fact it's a significantly less powerful platform but the process has been extremely smooth.

[1]It was difficult to create a private development environment because at the time they didn't have any access controls. You don't want to run Django on a public site with DEBUG=True. They have since fixed that after I brought it up.