So Long WordPress, and Thanks for All the Fish

I finally decided to move from WordPress to Github pages at https://www.kuniga.me/blog/.

I’ve been using WordPress since 2009 when I realized it suited my needs much better than Blogger. Over the years I’ve grew unsatisfied with some of the limitations:

  • More flexible control of the layout – unless you’re using the self-hosted version of WordPress you’re limited on what you can do. Examples include changing the font-size of headers, font-family, or the quotation style.
  • Code snippet – I’m assuming most people don’t include code snippets in WordPress, which makes support subpar. I’ve been using GitHub gists to work around some of the limitations but it brings its own set of drawbacks including a distracting frame and that it sometimes does not load on mobile web.
  • Code formatting / monospace – WordPress has a very nice UI for formatting text. One of the major formatting missing is for code. it’s possible to achieve that by switching to raw mode and including <code> tags, but it is inconvenient. Looks like the new UI fixed it.
  • WordPress show ads, which is understandable from their business point of view but are an extra inconvenience anyway.

  • Being able to inject custom HTML with JavaScript is something I’d like to do.
  • As WordPress improves and tailors the experience to a less technical audience, power-user features such as editing raw text becomes harder. I must admit the new image insertion is really good though!

At some point I tried hosting my own version of WordPress on Dreamhost but ran into several problems with spam and to use WordPress’s anti-spam service I would need to pay for the service. Moreover it was running on a single host so it was subject to spike traffic or DDoS.

Future

I  decided to go with GitHub Pages using Jekyll. It’s free but limits the content to be static, which is fine for my case.

It uses a framework called Liquid which has good support for Markdown. While I’ll still be limited by what the framework supports, because it’s all open source, I theory I could write plugins or fork my own version.

I’m going to miss the text editor and the ease of including images but so far the pros are worth it.

I’m going to write a post on the other blog about how I replaced features like comments with alternatives.

This should be the last post and this blog. I will work on migrating  all the listing posts (but not the comments :/) and see if there is a way to redirect them.

I’ll always be very grateful to WordPress for the option to host and publicize my thoughts and notes for free to the outer world but now it’s time to move on.

2016 in Review

This is a meta-post to review what happened in 2016.

This year I improved my knowledge on Web Development, learning more about HTTPS, JavaScript development, Web workers. I read a book about human-computer interaction, The Design of Everyday Things.

From my last year’s resolutions, I finished reading Code Complete. I’ve started learning about OCaml and started reading Purely Functional Data Structures by Okasaki, while implementing the data structures introduced in this book in OCaml. I’m still only 1/4 of the way in, so I’ll keep it in my 2017 goals.

I’ve only managed to try out one data visualization project, the hex map, and I’ll continue exploring this area next year.

I missed enrolling in any Coursera classes and learning about either Scala or Spark, unfortunately.

Personal

The end of the year is a good time to look back and remember all the things I’ve done besides work and the technical blog.

Trips

In 2016 I was lucky to have travelled a lot. In the beginning of the year, I did a road trip around Arizona, where I visited some beautiful National Parks and monuments, and a Biosphere, which inspired a blog post!

Arizona: Saguaro NP, Chiricahua Monument and Blue Mesas at Petrified Forest NP

1. Arizona: Saguaro NP; 2. Chiricahua Monument; 3. Blue Mesas at Petrified Forest NP

I’ve also been back to Brazil, which included a short trip to Caldas Novas in Goiás, where many resorts and hot springs are located.

Then I had an opportunity to work for a month in Tel Aviv, Israel. During my free time I visited Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Masada National Park, and Eilat. I also visited the magnificent Petra, the ancient city carved on stone, in Jordan. This was the most fantastic and memorable trip of the year.

1. Yehuda Market in Jerusalem; 2. ruins in Petra, Jordan; 3. a beach in Tel Aviv, Israel

1. Yehuda Market in Jerusalem; 2. ruins in Petra, Jordan; 3. a beach in Tel Aviv, Israel

Later in the year I’ve been to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and also stopped by some museums in Salt Lake City in the way.

1. Prismatic springs; 2. Yellowstone falls; 3. Grand Teton NP

1. Prismatic springs; 2. Yellowstone falls; 3. Grand Teton NP

Shorter trips included Austin TX, Seattle WA, Mammoth Lakes CA and Las Vegas NV. It was a pretty intense year in terms of travelling, including 2 new countries and 5 new US states. I’m very grateful for being able to see these places and I hope 2017 will also be plenty in exploring.

Books

I read some really good books in 2016. Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene were my favorite science books. Empires of Indus is a great book on the history of civilization around the Indus river.

Farewell to Manzanar is a touching biography of Jeanne Wakatsuki focusing on internment camps Japanese Americans were sent to, in particular Manzanar, during the Second World War. I had a chance to visit the historical site that exists there today.

I haven’t read much fiction but Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Morgenstern’s The Night Circus were entertaining.

As for biographies, my favorite is Einstein‘s by Walter Isaacson. I had enjoyed his work on Steve Jobs and he didn’t disappoint here. Einstein is one of the few scientists I also admire as a person.

Movies

I’m not a big movie watcher, but this year I made a point of watching well known classic movies and it was rewarding. I’ve seen: A Clockwork Orange, Empire of the Sun, The Godfather, Schindler’s List, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Seven Samurai, Akira, My Neighbor Totoro and Gandhi.

The Blog in 2016

The most popular post was the Introduction to the Parsec Library, with 2k visits. No post from this year got popular, all of them below 50 visits :( Overall it had 7.5k visitors.

I kept the resolution to post once a month. I missed April, but I made up for it in November, so I wrote a total of 12 posts (excluding the meta post). The blog completed 4 years with 51 posts.

And we now have a new domain, kunigami.blog :)

Resolutions for 2017

I missed many resolutions from last year, so I’ll carry some over, which includes finishing Okasaki’s Purely Functional Data Structures and learning about Scala and Spark. I’d like to write an iPhone app next year too and continue exploring ideas around data visualization.

2015 in Review

Another year is over! This is a meta-post to review what happened in 2015. I’ve been in the US for over 3 years now. 🇺🇸

This year I revisited a programming language that I already knew a little, Python (here, here and here). I’ve also written about JavaScript and Haskell. Unfortunately I didn’t learn any new language this year.

From my last year’s resolution, I finally managed to finish reading the Real World Haskell, which I started reading back in 2011 (see this first post). I’m 1/3 through Code Complete, but I haven’t started the Purely Functional Data Structures (I bought the book at least, so I’ll stick it into my 2016 resolutions!)

I haven’t fulfilled the goal to read more code. It’s not as exciting as writing code, so I had trouble sticking to this resolution.

I’ve completed a short class from a Coursera, Data Manipulation at Scale: Systems and Algorithms, and I ended up not concluding the WebGL Programming class.

I had really memorable times on trips to California’s parks and forests, especially the world’s tallest trees from the Redwood National Park, the unique desert flora from Joshua Tree National Park, the cinder cones from Lassen National Park and the great Mount Shasta.

Sceneries in California

Landscapes in California

I’ve done a business trip to New York and Seattle. In New York I visited a few museums.

Museum of Math in NYC

Museum of Math in NYC

The Blog in 2015

The most popular post was the Introduction to the Parsec Library, with 2.2k visits. No post I wrote this year got a lot of traction, React.js introduction being the top with 250 visitors.

The blog was visited by 7k people over the year, up from 5k last year.

I’ve tried to post once a month, but missed September and December. I did post more than once in some months though, for a total of 14 posts. The blog completed 3 years with 38 posts.

Resolutions for 2016

I want to learn 2 new languages. One is Scala a functional programming language on top of the JVM, and it’s the language Apache Spark, the distributed data processing framework I want to learn more about, is written on.

The other language is OCaml. I’ve studied Haskell for a while, so I think it’s time to move on to other. I’m still interested in Functional Programming, and I’m planning to read Okasaki’s Purely Functional Data Structures, which used Standard ML. Looks like OCaml is based on Standard ML, so I hope to kill two birds with one stone.

I’m also interested in the application of computer science in other sciences, such as in Biology and Physics. I’ll look for Coursera classes to get started on subjects like genetics.

If those are not enough resolutions, I also wish to do more experimental/creative work regarding data visualization. I’ve started a github repository a while back, but ended up creating only one experiment, to visualize Earthquakes in California over time, using proportional symbol maps.

Earthquake Visualization

Earthquake Visualization

2014 in Review

I’d like to share a little of what happened during 2014. I’ve been living in the US for two years now. Time flies!

Photo from http://sf.funcheap.com/san-francisco-new-years-eve-fireworks/

Happy New Year! (source)

This year I learned about two programming languages, R and Emacs Lisp. I’m still focusing on learning Haskell and functional programming as a long term goal. I still didn’t finish the Real World Haskell book.

mmd

I’ve completed three Coursera classes: Machine Learning, Mining Massive Data Sets and R Programming. Mining Massive Data Sets was by far the hardest and the most interesting. I learned a lot of new algorithms and paradigms. I blogged about one of those, the Page Rank Algorithm, but I also plan to study others like bloom filters in more depth. I also wrote about R Programming and Machine Learning classes.

I’ve started studying distributed programming, with the Paxos algorithm.

I finished reading Gödel, Escher and Bach from Douglas Hofstadter, which I thought was fantastic. It got me interested in Biology and Music Theory and I hope one day start studying them.

Blog

The most popular post of 2014 is still Skip Lists in Python from 2012 (1.5k views). From this year, it was An Introduction to the Parsec library (900 views).

I tried to keep the frequency of monthly posts, but I missed March and September. The blog has 2 years and 24 posts.

Ideas for 2015

Books: I want to read Code Complete, which is supposed to be a light read. For more technical books, I want to finish the Real World Haskell book and start Purely Functional Data Structures. If time allows it, I will try reading a book about distributed programming.

I will still try to keep posting once a month.

Things I wish to do is writing more code – I want to start more projects and contribute to open source – and also read more code: I often read books and blog posts, but rarely read open source code. My idea is to also post about code that I read.