My blog is back! 🎶 Back again 🎶
Whenever I restart my blog, I always get into the rabbit hole of comparing myself now vs my 20+year old self. How things have changed. I feel like I was an extrovert then, a Social Butterfly! During those times of separation overseas from my normal environment, I had so much to write about, even the embarrassing & the now-cringy ones! It was fun to read but no, I’m not sharing those with y’all! 😆
But one thing is the same, throughout all these years, I knew then that what attracted me to blogging (and eventually, those web platforms) were the technology and the infrastructure that run them. I am amazed by what it could do, even back in the Blogger years of 2004. I had always been wanting to get my hands on these shiny things. Never mind the content, I just want to set things up & use them!
So let’s dive for a bit of history shall we? Where have I been through the years.. Buckle up coz it’s a long post!
The Whinings & Mumblings in Blogger
It was my first year as a Java Developer when I learned about Blogger. It was a very tight environment. We were so young and fresh out of college so we didn’t mind spending overnights in our client’s office to finish this big project. It was one of those nights in that little room – it was late as usual and my colleagues start to sleep or take a break or go home. I remember I was stuck troubleshooting something. I think I was searching google for answers and just got frustrated so I switched myself to just trolling the internet (whatever sites available at the time). For some weird reason I found Blogger, I was probably looking at an “Online Diary” or something. And fortunately, it was not yet blocked by the network admins (it wasn’t known at the time yet), so I decided to setup my blogger account. And yes, all while using my work computer, sorry, it was a different time!
I had so much fun setting up my page, and the intuitiveness of the platform, back when I didn’t know the meaning of “Intuitive UX”. There I wrote about my frustrations as my first post – something like “Oh we’re here doing overtimes again I’m so sad” things like that. Note: But looking back, I did enjoy that project, and those nights were the best foundation I think, for my professional career. The rest was history. For about three years, I had been blogging mundane things about my life, or as my blog then was appropriately named, “Whinings & Mumblings”.
The Japan Adventures at i.ph
Then I discovered a new platform that provided cute looking designs and more customization options for layout. My close friends had also been using it so… I switched to i.ph. Pictures were also part of the package now, so my content is not just all about text. There are still mumblings but at least you get a break with pictures from my Palm Pilot (do you remember those things?!).
I was dispatched in Japan so I have a lot of content in my mind. I wrote about all these amazing things I see and experience in Tokyo – the police station, the sidewalks, all the conveniences provided by the country. Plus being overseas by myself, with a minimum level of social life just limited to my colleagues at the time, I find myself writing all the time.
The platform had to retire though, and I was not able to get my content timely and salvage the pictures. Though I might have the backups somewhere, I just need to dig through my archives.
iWeb and Apple’s “Mobile Me”
I moved to Okinawa for another work assignment. Okinawa is a group of small islands south of Japan, as in super South, like you have to ride a plane to get there from Tokyo. It’s near the Philippines, though no direct flights. I thought my social life would completely go down the drain but I met friends while stationed there. It’s still Japan, so everything is super interesting! Again, being alone in a different country and city, my mind was always bursting with things to think and write about.
Did you know that Apple formerly had a Blogging/Web Platform? It was called “iWeb” and the application came out of the box when you buy a Mac (same as how you get the Pages, Numbers, etc). My intention back then was to use Apple’s whole suite of tools. I went on full swing, migrated what I could migrate to iWeb. I signed up for Mobile Me, so I could have the “@me.com” email, and I use it to publish things. Trivia: “Mobile Me” is now iCloud.
I found myself having more free time again to set things up and write. In between studying for SCJP (which I wrote in detail for about 3 months), I wrote about my experiences in Naha, Okinawa. It included some notable experiences like that biking accident (it was very minor, but funny one), my laser hair treatments (that’s the only TMI you’ll get from now on), and a blow by blow detail of how I eat my food, including that big Pizza Margherita I eat by myself every weekend.
While the iWeb platform gave me lots more design options and a more intuitive user experience to blog and build web pages, the performance fell short. The whole platform is a blackbox for me so I’m unable to get in there and see where I can improve things (as if I knew how to! haha). My website is loading for almost a minute, so I had to think about other options.
Alright, here we are moving to the future! During my time in iWeb, WordPress’ popularity has been rising, so it had always been in my radar. I remembered holding off to migrate since I wanted to give iWeb more chances, but eventually I gave up.
I settled into something in the middle – a hosted WordPress solution, where you kinda ‘buy’ your infrastructure and “one-click” install WordPress, with a little bit of tweaking in the command lines and server files (I actually felt hardcore every time I do those lol). WordPress was great! I had so much fun changing themes from a thousand of options, and blogging felt so good and easy with a more advanced WYSIWYG UI, widgets and plugins.
But of course there’s a downfall. I saved on things by going for a “free” option. I signed up for a free hosting solution. And all I had to do was set things up. I made all the hard work of setting things up, and putting content in without paying for anything. It was up for about 5ish months until it wasn’t – no notices, no explanations, it just went poof! Gone! Fortunately I have backups, but that’s a big lesson learned. Time and stability is money.
I had to do everything again and this time I went to a more stable one, used one of the popular hosting solutions and this time I paid 😅 . It was a great year of stability but content was lacking. My blog posts during this time were err, so-so. Social Media was booming, blogging was dying a bit. However, while evaluating what I wanted to do with my online life, something glared at my eyes, and it’s this shiny new-ish thing called AWS.
I’ve been in the States for a while by this time, and I have credit cards! So you can imagine my impulsiveness with paying for infrastructure and all these other things to setup my site. I used Lightsail to setup WordPress, and again migrated things. I’ve been traveling in the US so I got content and pictures most of all, to make things interesting! I followed my process with the pictures, I even was able to edit myself by removing my cringy posts. It is the best version of WordPress website I could ever have. I got no driver’s license then (due to VISA restrictions at the time), so I found myself killing time at the mall or Barnes & Noble working on these things after work.
I even offered freelance services to build websites using WordPress. I almost made it a business, along my makeup ventures. I did not have a wealthy portfolio, but I expanded my web enterprises by adding new personal websites to design and fill with content.
For a time, I had a complicated relationship with WordPress. And I even attempted to just build my own thing, as in build web pages from scratch! I was probably thinking of storing my thoughts in GitHub instead of a normal CMS.
My love affair with WordPress eventually ended when my main website got hacked! It’s a ransom-ware, they held my WordPress database hostage, my website was inaccessible. I didn’t bother to resolve it out, I have backups at least. It hurts for a Software professional to admit being hacked, but hey we live and learn. This time I gotta add Security as a requirement, among other things.
I was getting a bit “richer” so I had now considered paying premium to blog and create websites in a more secured environment. Apart from the security that the infrastructure of Squarespace provides, I was hooked with the minimalist appeal that it offers.
By this time I got tired of setting things up and just wanna focus on design and content. I slowly learned about graphic design and digital art, how pictures can draw your audience in, and that you can get the look you need just through creative editing of pictures. And that I don’t have to code everything. I migrated all my personal websites into Squarespace and not looked back to WordPress. I was really hurt by that hacking incident 😀
It all works perfectly, until I got tired of the whole brouhaha of preparing pictures for web consumption. All that editing, resizing and optimizing were too time-consuming for one person. I had been toggling back and forth in Lightroom and Squarespace, only to find that my edit is not as good, so I had to replace and do the whole thing again to upload things. I realized that I’m not blogging so much anyway, all I do was just edit pictures and upload them.
Squarespace unfortunately fell short for me since it hasn’t done anything or any effort at all to integrate Lightroom. I wonder if there’s an automatic way to just edit, publish and forget.
Adobe Portfolio + WordPress
And here we are finally. I changed my perspective on things and just refocused my attention to just publishing pictures instead of blogging. I’ve been fiddling around photography for a while now, and I got a DSLR for Christmas, so hey I have to take things seriously. Of course we start with a photography website! 😀
Portfolio, being an Adobe product, ties in beautifully with Lightroom and all the other applications that showcases my Art and creative ventures. I realized that something’s missing though. I just couldn’t take out blogging entirely, it’s part of me now. I tried creating blog posts through Portfolio pages, but it just doesn’t jive. So, okey, I gotta use a platform that’s made for blogging. But, if I am bringing my blogging thingy back, it has to pass all those infrastructure requirements that failed in the past. It has to be secure, reliable, performant and an additional requirement – it needs to integrate with all my other tools seamlessly.
I looked around voraciously for options to integrate Lightroom with a blogging platform. I found a Lightroom to Format integration, but it missed the mark when it said that it doesn’t post directly to the blog posts. And after a bunch of looking, it all went back to… WordPress. I know I know I said I’m not going back to WordPress. But the lack of blogging capabilities of Adobe Portfolio drew me back in. Though at least today, someone finally figured out a way to easily integrate Lightroom. And I’m using a more secure (hopefully) infrastructure for WordPress.
I spent a whole morning to setup a new WordPress site from scratch, all to try the Lightroom plugin. And it was all worth the time and effort. It worked like a charm, the publishing workflow is so easy. Going back to WordPress made the investments I had back then worth it, plus of course the knowledge. I am still in the process of migrating some of my old Content from Squarespace and other platforms.
And here we are, I am keeping both WordPress and Adobe Portfolio to showcase specific functions, like Art, Travel Photography and Photography in general. I feel so good with the separation of concerns. I don’t really know if I’ll be able to write like I used to during my younger years, we’ll see. But anyway, welcome to my next generation Blog! 😀