Tools of the (Blogging) Trade
Tagged with blogging, computers, google, linux, software, tools, web hosting on December 2, 2023
Whether blogging is your profession, or just your hobby, you need the proper tools. The tools for one person aren’t necessarily the same tools for the next.
My Blogging Tools
The primary tool is my computer, and it doesn’t matter which computer since I automatically sync the data on Google Drive. I have three computers: A laptop computer I bought in 2023, a Raspberry Pi 400 keyboard computer I bought in 2021 with a 14-inch monitor attached, and a smartphone. I have a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse combination that I can connect to the smartphone. The smartphone connects to the same monitor I use for the Raspberry Pi 400. Samsung DeX on the smartphone works very well, but it’s the last resort should the other two fail me.
Since I’m not using a blogging platform designed by someone else, I have to manually complete every step alone. I’m on Linux, so the software I use has to run natively. Switching from operating system to operating system while in the process of completing a task is something I’ll never do.
I use Geany as a plain text editor for writing and when I’m done, I use the find and replace function to place most of the HTML tags. Of course, I cheat a little. I have a local web page with a textarea input box set up. I place the text in the box and let my web browser’s “LanguageTool” extension have a go at it.
I use the Vivaldi web browser because it works and syncs to all of my devices. For resizing and cropping images, I use XnView MP. I compress the images with Curtail. I only use two image sizes: 125 pixel width for thumbnail images and 1000 pixel width (or height, depending on which is larger) for full-sized images.
Development Domain Names and Web Hosting
I have Nginx and PHP installed on my laptop computer. I add fake domain names in my /etc/hosts file and I use those domain names in the Nginx virtual site configurations. A single PHP script, that I run from the terminal, compiles the pages I’ve set up and creates a directory ready for deployment. Since this is a homegrown platform, I have to create new deployments every time I tweak something or correct some stupid mistake, along with every time I publish a new article.
I originally had a Virtualbox virtual machine running another Linux instance to do all my development on, but that got tedious. Besides, all the software I use takes up very little memory. Testing with the web browser takes up more memory than all the rest combined.
Real Domain Names and Web Hosting
I’ve been using Name.com as my domain name registrar for years. There are many registrars to choose from, so it’s just a matter of preference. I’ve hosted websites on more web hosting providers than I can remember. The last two that I had to pay for (at less than $6.00 a month) were DigitalOcean and Linode. The only free provider I ever used was Blogger, but not for very long.
I’m currently using Cloudflare Pages. It’s free for small static websites. Unlike GitHub and other git-type services, I can upload a directory (or a zip file of that directory) and then deploy. I haven’t checked how many, but they let me save multiple deployments. If I make a mistake, I can roll back to a previous deployment. There’s quite a bit to go through to get it all set up, but it didn’t take me more than three hours, even with interruptions.
Updated 31 January 2024
Since my static website doesn’t support commenting, I added Disqus to the article pages. The only comments I get for my article pages are on external sites, like Facebook, so I don’t support them here. Since I don’t have anything that can produce a real contact page, I have a simple “mailto” address available on my “About Me” page.
I no longer use Name.com as my domain name registrar. I transferred my domain name to Cloudflare because Cloudflare is less expensive. If I could transfer it to a place where it wouldn’t cost me anything at all, that’s where it would be.
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