Rebooting the blog
So once again I’ve come back to my own blog to “revamp” it. This has been a long time coming, and there are a few threads of thought that have been going on in my mind about this:
- My homepage needs attention.
- My blog needs attention.
- It’s been a long time since I did anything “cool” in my personal time that I have spoken about or shared.
I would like to use this post to reflect on each of these topics and see why things are the way they are, and see if I can come to terms with it, and work on it.
My homepage needs attention
Caffinc needs a fresh coat of paint. Well, actually it needs to be torn down and built again. When I started Caffinc all those years ago during my college years, I wanted to do a few things:
- Create an umbrella organization for all my personal projects This would be a source of branding and the name of my company going forward. I picked Caffinc because I wanted a small name, I wanted it to be a portmanteau that was clever, and it should be something I’d be proud of in the years to come. I only succeeded in the first objective. Caffinc is a 7 letter name, slightly larger than Google or Amazon, but smaller than Facebook and Microsoft. 7 was a good number. I marginally succeeded in the second objective. Caffinc was Caffeine induced code. Put together, it ended with inc, like “Incorporated”. I had no idea why some companies said Blah Blah Blah Inc. but it just sounded cool and official, and I felt good that my company’s name ended with Inc. Funnily enough, if I had actually incorporated, it would be Caffinc Inc. I failed at the third. Though I still keep pushing code with “caffinc” as the organization name, I now find myself also pushing things as sriramkeerthi or sriramkunjathur. My original idea for a company name was IDIC. It was supposed to stand for “I’m Death Immune Corporation”. I grew out of it in college. I suppose if Caffinc took off in any shape or form I would have been proud enough of the name. But it didn’t due to various reasons, least of which was actually the name. Now I’ve come to look at it as a placeholder, a feeling that I carried even back in college.
- Make utilities, tools, products for everyone I wanted to create things that would help everyone and make the world a better place. It was an ambitious task and quite lacking in direction. That never quite changed for me. I am still ambitious and lacking direction in some aspects :) I did succeed in creating a few different small utilities that gained quite some traction, but I never pursued any of them seriously. I even made my first “real” money from some applications that I wrote for Windows Phone back in college but I never pushed for those projects because the success there pushed me to make something bigger. As my ambitions grew, the monetization lacked behind because “why create something that I can sell for $1, when I could make this amazing thing that might sell for $100… or more!” More than helping anyone else, I think these projects helped me. I learnt a lot of things about technology through these projects, and used it to somewhat successfully navigate a career as a software developer.
- Feel like I’ve created my own company I still don’t know what it takes to make your own company. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve helped several companies turn their ideas into success. In my current role I assist companies in mergers & acquisitions, build a business plan, make products that will scale, etc. but having not done that from scratch hands-on, and gone through it all myself is eating at me. I am not sure why I still want to do this though. My job pays the bills and some, I get to work on things I enjoy, and I have no real reason to go through all the pain and suffering I see other people go through in their pursuit of building a company. But I want to.
So now that I’ve realigned my motivations a little more, I think I might start again from scratch. This time I would like to use all the experience, knowledge, and connections I’ve made over the years to come up with something that makes sense. Any small project that I do while I pursue my larger goal will be a way for me to learn and build my personal knowledge a bit more.
Company names can come and go, and Caffinc is going to be a placeholder while I figure things out. I’ve come to realize that enjoying the experience is more important than probably actually finishing all the projects that I start out on. Because if everything is a struggle while I make it, it will probably be a struggle after I make it.
My blog needs attention
While rebooting the blog again, I realized a few things. The thought at the back of my mind that kept telling me “You need to write a few blog posts” was always pushed back with another thought “It’s not so bad, you recently wrote something didn’t you?” I realized that I can push these thoughts for quite some time… nearly 4 years in fact. The last time I posted something on my personal blog was in April of 2018. I counted twice to make sure it was actually 4 years… How time flies. The reason it was easy to push this thought was because I had written an article for my then employer’s blog, and also participated in a Hashnode “hackathon” and published an article there as well. The last post on this blog was about Key Check Values, and that was something that I was working on for my then employer, and the whole thing with HSMs lasted for a couple of years more so it always felt like there was nothing new to write about.
But 4 years is a long time. While I cleaned up my old posts, I saw that quite a few of them had missing images, bad formatting, outdated or “technically incorrect” information, highly opinionated text, and several other issues. I also found text that was meant to be inclusive or self-derogatory in a funny way (“I hope this helps someone” or “What did you learn today?”) but came off as pompous or arrogant reading it back all these years later. I fixed what broken things could be fixed, corrected what text could be easily corrected without taking away from the post or requiring a lot of effort, and overall went through (a surprising) 46 entries and made them ready for their current iteration.
The last times I noticed a large gap in my posts, I usually said “I will write back more often from now on, at least a few a month” or something similar. I now (finally) realize that I don’t have the dedication, time or motivation for keeping up this cadence. I even had a series I called “distributed thinking” that I abandoned 5 posts in because when I started I wanted to make a 2 part post but it got to be nearly 6 and going and the information was already starting to seem a little outdated and looking at it annoyed me.
So this time I will try again, but change my strategy a little more. I haven’t figured everything out yet, but this is what I want to achieve:
- Give my blog a better structure I want space for personal thoughts, professional thoughts, reviews, examples and showcases. Things need to be organized to fit this better. For example, I don’t want people who may be interested in posts like this (I can’t imagine anyone but myself) to not have to read articles about bugs I found in tech and how I fixed them. I make a lot of physical things now, and I want to talk about 3D printers, laser cutters, electronics, etc. and those posts need to be elegantly handled.
- Increase quality Following up on giving things a better structure, I want the posts that I make to have a higher quality. I want to write good, well thought out content, and not just throw up snippets of bad code and half-baked information.
- Better resilience I want to keep using Jekyll and Github. This is one way to ensure that the blog stays up and keep staying up. I noticed that most of the content that I wrote more recently has survived in content and structure. The older posts written in Wordpress is a mess. When my VPS went down, I lost all my data and blog posts, and could only recover a partial amount. With Github, I can just use Github pages. If I decide to self-host, VPS outages can be fixed in a matter of minutes because all my data will be backed up in Git.
- Archival One way to tackle old posts that have no meaning anymore is to archive them. I will spend some time figuring out the best way to archive old posts so they can still be found and read if people want to, but no longer clutter the main page. I believe the template I’ve chosen this time allows me to do this, but Jekyll is pretty easy to configure and extend and I’m sure someone else with more time than me has figured this out already.
It’s been a long time since I did anything “cool” in my personal time that I have spoken about or shared.
There’s really two things to talk about here. The first is “It’s been a long time since I did anything cool”, and the other is “I haven’t spoke about it”.
The reason why I feel like I haven’t done anything cool in my personal time is that when I get really involved in my day job, I spend all my free time on it as well. The few hours that I do take for myself I spend in front of the TV. Between TV, reading about things related to work, or finishing spillover work because I couldn’t focus on it during working hours, I don’t do anything that feels personally fulfilling. This is a terrible habit but I want to lean in and handle this better. With my current role this should be a bit easier, but possibly infinitely dangerous. We shall see.
It is also not completely true that I didn’t do anything cool in my personal time during the last four years. I just haven’t contributed to Open Source projects or written good blog posts about it and that feels very unsatisfactory. I have posts talking about Tensorflow and Docker almost 7 years ago, it’s a shame I didn’t pursue it more.
However, in the last 4 years I’ve picked up 3D printing, building my own electronics and doing things that I’ve wanted to do as a kid but couldn’t afford. Hopefully with the current role I can do all the cool things, talk about it too, and satisfy that fulfillment itch.
So with all that out of the way, I have noted down a few topics I want to talk about and I’m excited about this again. I look forward to writing them all.