Before I learned programming, I like writing short form of prose and poetry in Chinese (especially write in the form of WenYan) on my physical diary. As computer became ubiquitous and the rise of internet. Everything goes digital. I started out by writing in Word (influenced by Sex and the City but I don’t have a Mac) or sending emails to myself, and making e-pals in the world (influenced by You’ve Got Mail. Hi there! I was the TW152). Eventually blogging was having a boom in Taiwan too. I used some local services from Taiwan and write on Facebook Notes and Google+.
As I started to learn programming and step my foot into the door of computer science. I soon found that almost all classic computer science books always come with LaTeX source. The best of the best form to convey writings and knowledges. Plus all the computer scientists or programmers I like either blog in plain HTML, Yahoo Store (he still does) or writing long form of blog posts (papers) in LaTeX.
As you browse articles about Computer Science online. You eventually will read about TAOCP1. The book Bill Gates said “If you think you’re a really good programmer. Read The Art of Computer Programming. You should definitely send me a résumé if you can read the whole thing”. Who does not get obsessed Donald Knuth (and his checks if you found typos) afterwards? I joined the train of learning LaTeX, the very tool he created just because he needs to write TAOCP, for a few months.
But my friend, LaTeX was so hard. It is obscure and not really friendly. I always thought because I didn’t get it. But if you look at Kpathsea, the library to find the right document and glue things together. I got so many moments to give up on programming by learning LaTeX. There is another big rock of getting LaTeX to work with CJK languages. In the end I finally can make simple document2. But the bar of writing anything just too high. I also don‘t have that much interesting writings to put together in a fancy LaTeX document.
All the cool people are blogging more and more. My secret plan to surprise everyone with LaTeX just went into ashes. I got to keep up. So I secured an amazing domain first (not this one...). I tried Octopress around 2012 after gave up on LaTeX. I wanted to blog like a Hacker. I am so ready! Then I had a rough start that I just could not install some gems. Few of people in high regards I followed during that time were all saying how Markdown is incompetent. So I switched to readthedocs and using reStructuredText. Eventually I felt readthedocs is more for hosting books and library documents. I went back with Octopress.
Everyone’s blogs look exactly the same during that time. Everytime I open my blog. I’m not writing. I’m tweaking the CSS and HTML here and there. Trying out plugins of Octopress that just released on GitHub. I only have 3 posts but already installed 15 plugins that I will probably never get to use. The CSS has so many tricks in the early days mainly because I thought we need to care about IE. Trying to stand out to be me.
I think everyone was like that. We’re more interested in the blogging system instead of blogging. After Octopress, I was on Jekyll with lots of plugins, Jekyll with less plugins. Moved to a Jekyll theme. Found another Jekyll theme. Migrating from one to another.
Then Medium arrived. I like Medium‘s reader experience on the web and mobile. I remembered I felt this could be my last platform to finally write something prolifically. But since Medium moved towards for members only. Saw some people account got suspended for no reason.It has become more painful for people to read on their platform. I want to have a little place of my own on the internet. So I moved back to Jekyll.3
All these years I spent on preparing for myself to write something and not really write anything at all. Now I learned my lessons and rebuilt my blog with Ruby on Rails. Because I want to have full control and keep the possbility if I want to experiment things. Now it‘s in a state that I can write something right away and push to the public in minutes. I took many inspirations from Brandur Leach’s blog. Thanks Brandur! Sadly I decided not to Open Source my blog. It hurts me hard for once. I don‘t want to be hurt like that ever again.
I am writing articles in English (blog and fragments), Chinese, and Japanese. I have many role models. If I ever have a goal for my writing that will be: Someone benefits from something I wrote here. That would make me so happy! I‘m now convinced and striving to write things that obvious to me, but could be amazing to others. It‘s also an high return activity.
I felt this is my first post, hope many more to come!