It’s been a while since I wrote anything on here. It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to write something on here, and largely that’s been due to not being able to upload files in my previous site setup. There’s technical things underneath, but basically I was using a free developer environment on Pantheon and doing a thing that you’re technically not able to do in that environment (running a multisite), which meant that my uploads folder was kind of wack.
You’d be surprised how much of a blocker it is to want to write a blog post when you know you can’t upload images or files or anything to it, and you need to think about ways to get around that (Instagram? Imgr? Some other image hosting service?) and knowing that, no matter what you do, you won’t be able to use featured images, or header images, or…any of that.
I finally gave up trying. My last post came bleeding out of me because of the context and because I wanted to have those thoughts/emotions saved somewhere. But even then, I was super frustrated by the process.
I decided a while ago that I wanted to try to move my site off that environment and onto something else, and since my gifs site and URL shortener (s3q.us) run on Digital Ocean, that made the most sense. I’ve also had a bit of a role change at Human Made — I’ve moved to the product team to develop on our Altis DXP full-time. This meant that, of course, I wanted to see if I could run my “new” site on Altis. (Since our infrastructure relies on a lot of AWS services, it turns out that, spoiler alert, this was more complicated than it seemed, and I ended up scrapping some of those plans, but I am using parts of Altis.)
Building the new infrastructure
After a number of failed attempts where I tried to emulate our hosting environment as much as possible and realized I’m not as skilled at DevOps as maybe I thought I was, I ended up finding a WordPress Litespeed Dropplet image that I decided to go with. Man, did that make the process easier. Sure, I know how to install WordPress, but all of the other configuration stuff was still being a pain, and that Litespeed image, in particular, includes a wizard that walks you through much of the setup process including creating an SSL cert with Let’s Encrypt. It even came with WP-CLI built-in — all I needed to do was import my database and, bang, I was in business.
(Okay, that’s not entirely true — I still needed to do a bit of work updating the virtual host configuration in Litespeed to work with my subdomains and alternate domains. But it built all that stuff in, as well. And I still needed to upload my files, which also wasn’t a huge blocker.)
So, here we are, new version of WordPress (5.6) with a brand new theme, a new hosting infrastructure that gets deployments from GitHub through DeployHQ (which is free for a single project ?) and I can actually upload files and play around with some of the features that are typically built into Altis (notably altis-cms and altis-workflow, but all of Altis is open source and on Packagist).
There’s stuff I want to write about. I have thoughts about Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) — which I’ve been DMing for almost 2 years now, and for which I published an actual adventure on DMsGuild — and tabletop RPGs (TTRPGs), in general, but I have been blocked (more psychologically than actually) by feeling like my site was “broken”. (To be fair, in trying to fix things, it was actually broken for the last several weeks. I even broke my email for a couple days right before Thanksgiving which meant far fewer Black Friday emails and a couple places prompting me to update my email address the next time I logged in. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) I hope to actually use this thing a lot more now that things are working again. (It seems a lot faster, too, now, which is also a win.)
The big thing is knowing that my content is safe again. I have 18 years of content stored on this thing. (For real. The first post is from 2002.) Back from before they were called “blogs” and were still called “web logs” and imported, by hand, from HTML when I moved my site to WordPress. That’s a lot of history. And even if I don’t export all that stuff to a book or ever look at it or anything, it still makes you feel anxious when all of that content is just…stranded. Like, I know it’s there, but like a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear, if you have digital content but you can’t access it…does it really exist?
Anyway, I’m checking out this new Twenty Twenty-One theme, which is all based around the block editor and we’ll see how it goes. So far it seems fine, and it’s nice for something a little different. Who knows, maybe I’ll even go crazy and use some actual Gutenberg blocks. ?