Personal Log - June 2009

Welcome to yet another of my extremely boring, excessively fragmented personal log posts. I'm seriously thinking of dropping the whole series in favor of more frequent (and shorter) blog posts, starting from next year. This means you'll probably have to read another six of these priceless gems, until december 2009.
As usual, feel free to skim through as each of the following sections is almost completely unrelated to the others.

H3RALD Web Site v8.0

It's the time of the year, again. It doesn't happen every year but it's definitely a trend (hence the high version number): I'm going to redesign & redevelop my web site.

This time is not the usual “Let's pick another language and another framework and start from scratch”, but a rather more radical shift, and yet at the same time less painful. The idea is to transform into a 100% static web site, without losing anything in functionality (gaining, if anything!).

Tom Preston-Werner is definitely not the first person to blog like a hacker, and his very own Jekyll is definitely not the first static web site generator our there, nevertheless, he inspired me to embrace what seems to be one of the latest trend in developer's blogs.

The idea is simple: turn all the blog posts and pages into static content, and rely on third party web services for things like comments, search etc. For a rather extreme by very interesting example, see Tagaholic.

The advantages of this approach are many:

  • Free yourself from a database.
  • Free yourself from a resource-hungry, server-side app (Typo, in this case).
  • Increase speed and reliability, without using caching or similar artifacts.
  • Keep everything under version control.
  • Don't worry about breaking things when upgrading (even if the static content generator changes, it shouldn't really break things).
  • Unleash the power of client-side scripting (namely, JQuery).

For now, I'm just brainstorming a little bit on GitHub, feel free to participate. The first step is obviously choosing a static content generator, and atm Jekyll seems to be slightly ahead of Webby. Opinions?


Did you ever want to write a short manual or a book, or even a long article? If so, chances are you gave LaTeX a shot and either fully embraced its philosophy or totally refused it. Sadly, I belong to the second category: I believe sequential documents like manuals or books should be easier to create simply by using HTML.

Whever I have a chance to actually start working on it, Glyph will become a document authoring framework, i.e. a way to create visually appealing documents in a simple way. All the ingredients are there, it's only necessary to glue them together in a pretty form:

  • Textile (and RedCloth) to produce clean HTML code from a human-readable markup
  • CSS3 to specify page rules
  • A few rake scripts to produce a standalone HTML file, TOC, Index etc.
  • An internal DSL for the document structure and metadata
  • Liquid for control flow, snippets and filters
  • PrinceXML to generate a PDF from HTML

This project is still in planning stage, feel free to have a look at the issues/features page on GitHub. Feedback is appreciated, as usual.

Vim files & the Stash

If you read the previous two sections of this post, you may have noticed that I'm growing more and more fond of git (and GitHub). Besides the repositories I already mentioned earlier on, I also created a personal stash, which I'm using mainly to store some of my Linux dotfiles, article drafts and …Vim customizations.

If you're looking for a color scheme for Vim, check out my very own herald.vim, and tell me what you think.

Getting ready for the Big Step

This will probably be my last post as a free man, as I'm getting married (civilly) on July 2nd and (religiously) on July 11th.
Luckily the photographer agreed to give us a CD with all the pictures taken on the big day, with no copyright restrictions attached to it (believe it or not, some photographers don't allow you to republish your own photos unless you ask them first), so I'll probably write a long post with pictures when we come back from our (half) honeymoon.

Everything is pretty much organized. We had troubles with the waistcoats we got from eBay: they were cut almost randomly to resamble waistcoats, but they weren't so we had to re-order another lot of 7 sets (waistcoat, cravat and shirt this time) from another seller, this time UK-based. I seriously hope to get them in time.

On the 24th we're having a party at our house. If you were invited, feel free to drop by, otherwise be prepared to be thrown out of the window (4th floor) by one of our ushers (Roxanne's big brother). It's probalby going to be about 30-40 people in the end, mainly because most of my office can't come due to holidays they booked in advance.

What's left to do now? Well:

  • Send the bomboniere over to Ireland
  • Make sure my dad actually ships the 96 specially-bottled bottles of our own wine to uncle John, in Ireland.
  • Make sure uncle John doesn't drink all the 96 bottles of wine before the wedding reception.
  • Make sure my best man understood that the speech he has do make must be in English, at least 3 minutes long and not too offensive to the groom.
  • Pay a huge, colossal heap of money for the whole thing. It's going to cost us (and my dad) quite a bit, in the end. But it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, after all (getting totally trashed in a fancy hotel with all your family, including 2nd and 3rd grade cousins).