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TIL Technology


First, a disclaimer: While I was a developer (many years ago), I worked mainly on back-end database applications (first with Oracle Pro*C, then later with PL/SQL), with lots of time spent on SQL. In the years since, I have written scripts for data analysis and the odd Office macro, but have never worked as a web-developer. (I did write one “site”, though – purely as a desktop exercise to learn a bit about HTML – and I actually still have a copy of it somewhere... VERY basic stuff, but useful as a learning tool. The most important thing I learned was that the content drives the site, not the other way around. No content, no real point for the site.)

The problem (then, as now) was to decide what I wanted to do and what I wanted it to look like. I’ve never been a fan of gaudy pages, though I just found this gem: https://www.theworldsworstwebsiteever.com/

I also want to be concise and clear, so https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Cube is a fantastic example of what not to do... Latest archive on the “Wayback Machine”: https://web.archive.org/web/20160102065528/http://www.timecube.com/.

I may eventually decide to build my own page from scratch as an exercise in bottom-up site design / development, but that would be a major project which could take months, and I’d still need to know what I want. Also, I suspect I’d be in near-constant conflict with the hosting platform (ie, trying to do clever things they don’t want me to do), leaving little time to actually write, which is the point of this whole exercise.

Wix provides a number of templates, and I selected one that I liked best, then stripped it down to the basics. My intent was to start with a minimal page, then add on features as I want or need them. In Agile project management terms, this could be considered be a “Minimum Viable Product” (https://www.agilealliance.org/glossary/mvp/), and is a useful way to start small and prioritize additions/updates.

I began by converting everything to a single-column layout, removing external links for social media (not interested at this point – one thing at a time), and stripping out or replacing the default content. While doing this, I was constantly checking the site until I had something that came up to my (minimal) standards. I knew that if I waited for it to be “right” or “perfect”, it would never get done, and quickly realized that I needed some “real” content as raw material for testing / understanding the blogging platform.

Adding content helped me understand more about how everything worked, and helped me refine the layout, select tags, understand a bit about how Wix handles styles, post/edit dates, and so on. Along the way, I discovered that Wix had automatically added a certificate (https://www.til-technology.com/post/i-have-a-certificate) and started learning a bit about the site builder.

Next step was to start adding some of the content I originally had in mind, so I added My Playlist (https://www.til-technology.com/my-playlist), which currently consists of Information Security podcasts only, and then started writing about what I’ve been doing the past few months.

#TIL more about how “featured” posts are handled. Earlier on, I flagged a post as “featured”, but it didn’t show on the main page. It worked once I had set all of the categories, and concluded that I needed to set the “Featured” category as well. Just did a bit of research and realized that the “featured” feed I was using had a filter on the category. Oops. So now, (I think) I understand how the “featured” flag works, and have now removed the “Featured” category.

(This is part of the whole perfectionist thing – I’ll learn about and refine these things that bother me, but will probably not even be noticed by others. Of course I’ll also probably not notice things which bother others, but that’s par for the course. It’s also useful to do things as a “beginner” - it reminds you that things which are obvious to someone with experience are a discovery or realization to a beginner.)

This brings us (almost) to the current day, where I hope to write about what I am doing more or less in real time and then start branching out. My target is to post weekly, and I’m trying to build up a list of ideas, in-progress posts, and a workflow which works for me. (For example, I am finding it helpful to write a post in several passes, separated by at least a few days.)

I’m also trying to gather ideas for future posts. My goal is to discuss things I am learning about, or things that I’d like to explain or comment on. I hope this will help me learn to write more efficiently and clearly, learn more about the topics, and maybe even help people understand some technical topics a little better. And if, in however small a way, I can make this vast world a bit more understandable, I think that’s a worthy goal.

Cheers!

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