Posts about operational

New Comment System

Today I replaced this blog's comment system with Utterances, a new comment system built on GitHub issues.

Previously this website used Disqus. I got rid of it because I learned that it had privacy issues as well as a bunch of other problems that aren't worth elaborating on. I know it's a popular comment system in spite of its problems. Disqus has a bunch of user engagement features that I never even bothered to learn about, so I'm not going to miss it.

Utterances is a simple and lightweight comment system with no ads or tracking or other nonsense. The comment thread associated with any page is linked to an issue in a specific GitHub repo. You will need a GitHub account to leave a comment, which is fine, because most of the people I expect to engage with are already on GitHub. This is a better fit for me and for this website.

To see how it works, look at the comment(s) on bottom of this page and compare with this GitHub issue. I created a separate repo just for this website's comments because the repo for the actual website is not public. There's an utterances bot that manages the link between the comments on this page and the issues in that repo. That's all there is to it! Easy to setup and easy to maintain.

AWStats and CloudFront Logs

How does one use AWStats to analyze AWS CloudFront logs?

AWStats is a widely used tool to analyze website logs, but unfortunately there is not much information available on how to use it with AWS's (Standard) CloudFront logs. The AWStats documentation seems to assume that you are using AWStats on the actual web server generating the logs, or at least that you have access to normal web server logs. That isn't the case when using CloudFront. I was able to find a single blog post from 2011 documenting how to process CloudFront logs with AWStats, and although that post was helpful, I believe more needs to be said about how to shoehorn CloudFront logs into something AWStats can use. This blog post will document what I learned while getting this to work for me.

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Removing Google Analytics

I finally did it: I have removed Google Analytics from this website and all subdomain websites.

This task has been festering on my todo list for at least a year or two. I am so happy to have this done.

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New Theme

This weekend I updated my website's theme. As I've said before, I use Nikola, a static site generator written in Python. My new theme is a customization of the bootblog4 theme.

I'm quite happy with the new look. It is clean, functional, and it works well on mobile devices. It also fixed some cosmetic issues that I wasn't able to fix with the previous theme. In addition, I was finally able to get figure captions to work the way I wanted them to work.

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New Host

I haven't posted over here in a long time because all of my efforts have been going towards the ITP section of the website. School is demanding all of my time and attention. I love it, but now that the summer break is here I will put a few posts over here.

I'm happy to say that I finally changed the hosting of this website from GitHub pages to an AWS S3 bucket and AWS CloudFront. Also the domain registration is now through Route 53. The immediate problem I had to solve is that the size of this website and the git repository backing it started to exceed the maximum GitHub repo size (1 GB). Doing something was necessary. The new location will provide unlimited growth as well as solve some minor problems. In addition, by moving to AWS I will be able to easily utilize sub-domains for new projects that make use of various AWS services. I'm eager to try out AWS Lambda functions in particular. Stay tuned!

Ready for Visitors

After a few months of work, I now feel like this website is in good enough shape to share with other people.

I added more projects to the Projects page and wrote up descriptions for each. Ongoing projects will be written up in this blog, but complete or elaborate projects will get their own project page.

My priority right now is to improve the youtube videos. I bought a better microphone and will tune my piano soon.

The beginning

This is the first post of my new website. I want to use this to share my creative efforts.