DayMindXPression

Thoughts Collected, Essays Expressed

Articles by Daniel Shin

    Restarting my path to essay writing

    For many years, PHP was my go-to programming language. When I first delved into PHP, I was overwhelmed by the ubiquity of the programming language on various major and minor websites. PHP was flexible and efficient, especially the way the programming language handled variables declarations. Unlike Java, you did not have to write long pieces of code to initialize a variable.

    PHP did not even require declaring the type of variable in the first place! Furthermore, PHP's ability to handle MySQL databases brought in a new possibility of developing dynamic websites with ease. Because PHP and MySQL were free, I was able to play with various web applications--including blogs and content management systems--with my heart's content.

    Eventually, I had several websites up that were mostly blog-like. I used the online platform powered by PHP and MySQL to publish my writings. My writings back then were not spectacular, but I was driven by two goals to run my online writing repository. First, I wanted to improve my writing skills through regular writing exercises. Second, I wanted to publish my writing to participate in the ongoing civil discourse that various blogging websites were involving in online. Using my PHP/MySQL skills, I was able to publish my essays online and interact with other independent blogs.

    Times have changed

    After Facebook became mainstream, networks of independent blogs began to disappear as people migrated to existing social media platforms to publish their thoughts. Most active blogs are no longer maintained by independent individuals. Instead, today's popular blogs are run by a group of professional writers working for a company. The professionalism of blog writing contributes to the increase in the writing standards of blog posts at the expense of the independent thought and spirit behind the writings.

    From the technical front, security vulnerabilities of PHP/MySQL applications and PHP codebase itself made it costly, in the medium term, to self-host dynamic websites. It was not within best practices to leave your PHP website online without regularly checking and applying the latest security patches. The independent blogosphere is quieter while the chatter within the social media networks is getting louder.

    Restarting the writing path

    As we pass through the middle of 2019, I want to try something. I want to restart my online writing practice to improve my writing and to enjoy the collected state of mind that is brought in from preparing and publishing short essays. Using this renewed writing exercise, I am trying to take time away from my consumption of the short, ephemeral content hosted on major social media networks. I think the prolonged exposure to click-bait contents have negatively affected my short-attention-span.

    From the programming standpoint, I am going to manage my online essay publishing by using a static website powered by Pelican. Pelican is a python program that generates a full static (i.e. html) website based on the text content I provide. Unlike a dynamic website, a static website (such as the ones generated by Pelican) does not require continuous security maintence on the website's code, because there are only static files on the webserver for the world to view. The low maintenance required by Pelican promises a platform where I can focus mostly on the writing and less on technical maintenance.

    There is a lot of thought I want to write about, and I look forward to publishing them here on DayMindXPression. I will be focusing on setting up Pelican (e.g., preparing the template system) and transferring my old writings to the new online platform in the next coming days. Later on, expect new essays on a variety of topics that have been quietly interesting to me.

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