Jekyll is Awesome

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Recently, I’ve had a handful of conversations with my colleagues about how awesome Jekyll is and how awesome Github is for letting you host your own website/blog for free. However, the usual responses from friends include:

  • "Jekyll sounds too difficult to setup and maintain."
  • "what is git?"
  • "Git-what??"
  • "why not Wordpress?"

Jekyll is a static page generator written in Ruby. In this post, we’ll be using Jekyll to generate our blog. Also, with a few commands in terminal, you’ll have a working blog up in less than a few minutes (depending on your connection speeds). Here is a link to the Jekyll website.

git is a open source version control system designed for small and large projects. Many developers/companies are using and supporting git everyday. I myself use git everyday for various small and large projects that I am working on. In this post, I will not get into the specifics of how to use git, however you can learn more about that by youtubing “git tutorials” or checking out this link.

Github is a website that allows you to contribute, share, and show off your git repositories to the world. Also, Github offers a free web hosting service called Github Pages, which is what you are going to use to get your Jekyll-based blog running on Github. Bonus: here is a link by Tom Preston-Werner called the Git Parable.

I’ll get to why I don’t recommend going the wordpress way at the conclusion of my post.

Don’t be afraid of what comes next. I’m going to try and explain everything as clearly as I can in this post!

Getting Started with Jekyll

  • Your machine is using a unix/linux operating system.
  • You are used to using a command line interface.
  • You have ruby installed on your machine.

Check to see that you have ruby gems installed on your machine. You can check by finding the verion number typing using the following command and pressing enter in Terminal.

gem -v

If you have ruby gems installed on your computer, please skip to Part three. If you don’t have ruby gems (no version number appeared) then, please read Part two.

Install ruby gems by going to their website and downloading the TGZ file. After downloading, change directory in terminal to designated download folder. Next, copy and paste these command into terminal and press enter:

tar xvzf rubygems-{ version_number }.tgz
cd rubygems-{ version_number }
sudo ruby setup.rb

Ruby gems should now be installed on your machine, check by entering the following command:

gem -v

You should now see a version number, which will prepare you for Part three.

Install Jekyll on your machine by entering this command in terminal (within a desired directory):

gem install jekyll

Next, change your directory to your documents (or where you please). Then type the following and press enter:

jekyll new my-site

This will create a jekyll folder called my-site. Next, change directory to my-site, then enter the following command:

jekyll serve -w

This will generate the static files from that directory into a working website folder called _site and will start a ruby webserver pointing to that folder.

Next, go to your web-browser and type “localhost:4000” and press enter.

You should be staring at what the above example displays. Congratulations! This might just be your first jekyll-based website!

If you have any problems setting up Jekyll, read the documentation page here!

Getting started with git

You’re going to need git on your machine. If you already have git on your machine then you should skip to the Important Git Commands section.

For OSX users, go to this link to download git directly from the git website.

For Linux users, in terminal enter:

sudo apt-get install git

First, make sure you update and upgrade your packages to get the latest version of git!

Git Commands

The three git commands you will primarily use for “publishing” your website/blog:

Again, I will not be going over how git works because that is a blog post in itself. Take some time learning git before getting started with Github (it won’t take long to understand how git works)!

Check out this link for more information on using git.

Conclusion

My biggest reason against using a wordpress as a blog platform for a software developer is that its just not modern platform anymore. Whereas with Jekyll, you learn alot about modern (important) technologies like git and github along the way (as well as a little Ruby). I highly recommend that you pursue learning more about web design and development regardless of your current title.

Feel free to send me an email if I have made any mistakes in this post! Thanks for reading!

Also, check out this link for more information on using the free website hosting service, Github Pages!

Sources

VHS Covers

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In my youth, going to Blockbuster was like being a kid in a candy store. This was non-“instant” time period. The only way you knew if a movie was available or not was by how many VHS tapes were on the walls or aisles (like a grocery store for entertainment). Oh and if you really wanted to get a movie you would go to the front counter and see if someone had just returned it. I’m very keen on certain smells and Blockbuster had the smell of an aged public library (even back in the 90’s). I may seem a bit old fashioned but I remember what the experience of being among the lucky few to see a newly released movie first was like. I remember knowing exactly where the new releases were, the average time of being in there (with my parents it wasn’t very long and with my aunt, to my luck, it would be awhile), and where each section would take me. Among all this talk about Blockbuster, what I truly want to remember is the VHS box covers that paralleled an art gallery.

The science fiction section had newer movies on the top shelf like alien:resurrection, dark city and pitch black. The bottom shelves had older movies like Kubrick’s 2001, Ridley Scott’s Alien, James Cameron’s Aliens, John Carpenter’s The Thing, A Clockwork Orange, Blade Runner, Robert Zemeckis’s Back to the Future, and many others. A couple of notable box covers include the minimalist 2001: A Space Odyssey with Keir Dullea in a space helmet, The Thing had piercing prism light coming from the face of some-“thing” in a parka, and Alien had green-goo emitting out of the cracks of a rather large egg. There are many reasons why these covers were just so damn good, but the fact that they didn’t reveal too much only made me want to see them more. There was so much mystery to green egg and made you question what the hell was going on in The Thing? I remember the fonts also playing a part on the anticipation I would have for a movie (the more creative, the better). Also, I don’t believe that I mentioned this but I did spend a lot of time reading the synopsis, or “definition”, of the movie on the back cover. This would reveal a little more for me, so the anticipation would elevate.

I knew that at this particular childhood store, the horror section was facing opposite of the science fiction section. I always faced my back against this section; early on my aunt traumatized me with a Chucky doll (from Child’s Play) that she got from Spencer’s Gifts. Looking back on it, I would actually get the “sweats” from walking down the aisle and I didn’t even look at a single box. Eventually I gained the courage to look down this mysterious and possibly dangerous “other side”, while wearing my light-up shoes (still skipping the sight of the Chucky movies though). I remember seeing The Funhouse, Hellraiser, Army of Darkness, Jack Frost (not the one with Michael Keaton but still in the same category of shit), Halloween, Scream (which was huge in the late nineties), and Jaws. Jaws was interesting because the shark was made to look huge and vicious as well as being very capable of swallowing a beautiful woman whole. Jack Frost was one the first covers that I saw with a hologram on it, where a happy snowman turned into an evil one. The Funhouse featured a clown, a lot like Pennywise from IT, with blood wrapped around it’s lips and a circus-esque theme to it. I wasn’t afraid of clowns, but this one happened to be very different, more raw, which makes sense because it was directed by Tobe Hooper.

For that matter, a lot of sounds in this particular time felt synthesized. I believe that I may have been too young to see these movies, but I knew that one day these would probably be my favorite.

I only hope to one day pay homage to these experiences because one day kids aren’t going know what a movie store was. Check out Beyond the Black Rainbow and VHS (all on Netflix), if you’re interested in seeing a director’s take on that same love for VHS art galleries. If you too remember looking at VHS box covers like an art gallery, please comment below and thank you for reading.