Posted in Computers on Wednesday 21st January 2015 at 12:01pm
It's fair to say that this website hasn't had much attention in recent times. The tailing off of regular travel here has meant I'm less often inclined to update things, which consequently meant that I'd really not thought much about how it looked over the past couple of years. It's worth pointing out here that Lost::MikeGTN isn't a Wordpress blog or based on some sort of hosted solution, it runs on my own webserver, using a site I wrote from scratch - mostly just for the experience of doing so. Back in 2004, there weren't any content management systems that did quite what I wanted as simply as I'd like, and I wrote Areopagitica in response. It was functional, if clunky at time, and allowed me to upload and edit content wherever I was in the world. I learned a lot about MySQL and PHP in the process too. Overall, things worked fairly well for the next ten years or so with just the odd tweak or minor irritation to work around. It's easy to get comfortable...
Having worked with a modern system on my other blog during 2011/12, I knew things had moved on a fair bit. Some experience of learning about newer technologies for other projects had also left me wondering about how easy it would be to build something around the database of stories and articles I'd amassed here since 1999. I set about the task with my usual lack of planning or foresight over the Christmas break, and have had a fair few stumbles along the way. However, what I've definitely noticed is how technologies like Bootstrap make it much easier to make a site look presentable quickly, freeing me to make it work how I want it to. As someone with very little eye for design, and even less talent at graphic arts, this is a huge relief. I was able to build around the original database in which the articles live with a minimum of fuss and get a new design working in a few hours. That encouraged me to take a far more radical approach to things, and I'm still exploring the possibilities.
So here it is, the second incarnation of Areopagitica. For you, the reader, it hopefully looks and feels a lot nicer - certainly it should behave far more sensibly on smaller screens now. For me, the fun was more about the back-end of the system. How I could really make editing and updating the blog easier, quicker and more enjoyable. It's been a fascinating project - with many tasks left to complete. But I'm already able to sit and compose this article feeling far more like a writer and a lot less like a programmer. I'd do neither profession justice I'm sure, but this is definitely progress!
I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.
I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.