How did this get made, October 2014 edition

Orcas Island Dock

So I've had this blog for awhile but it laid dormant for a few months. Now I've decided to tweak the theme slightly and make it feel a little more like home. I thought I'd document my current blog set-up for anyone else who is considering setting up their own blog, as well as to be able to compare in the future to see how my site has evolved.

  • Hosting: Currently using A Small Orange, which has so far been pretty easy to use. They've also responded to my support ticket requests very quickly, a big point in their favor. The hosting has been cheap for what is their smallest plan, but still adequate for me as I got things going.
  • Installation: Softaculous (included with ASO). This has made life so much easier for getting new blogs up and running quickly, and also notifying me when new versions are available. I can't imagine how many moving parts they have to manage for each software package, but so far it's worked flawlessly.
  • Blog software: Ghost. I saw as Ghost was successfully Kickstarted and then became the hot new thing to replace Wordpress, and for me the choice was clear. Wordpress has become the endlessly extensible do-everything web publishing platform, but that's way overkill for what I want. Ghost concentrates on making the writing experience as simple as possible.
  • Domain name registar: Hover. My GoDaddy days are thankfully behind me, and I'm really glad I don't have to use their eyesore of a website anymore. (I'm sure it's improved in recent years, but I still got tired being repeatedly asked if I want to use their webmail/hosting package/whatever)
  • File transfer: Transmit, a Mac FTP client. Even though there are many ways I could transfer files to my hosting server, including secure FTP via the terminal or mounting a webdisk, it's harder to imagine an easier way than Transmit. I even rarely have to be in the program itself: for uploading images, I created a droplet in the dock onto which I can drag and drop files that are then uploaded to my designated folder with the correct permissions in a matter of seconds. For editing template files I can open them within Transmit and then whenever I save, the updated files are automatically uploaded. Neat!

I've been tweaking my own custom copy of the default Ghost theme, so far adding an "About" button and shrinking the size of the header image. It's been a learning process, largely about how web fonts and the Ghost template system work. Ghost for Beginners has been a tremdously helpful resource as I get going.

Luckily so far I haven't hit any walls. Often when playing around with personal projects I hit a point where I get an inscrutable error that hours of Googling do little to clarify. So far messing around with the theme has been fun and rewarding as the little changes make it closer to how I envision this site.