New Year, New Blog
And a new space for my Endless Brain Drivel
It’s 2022. In other words: the historic year I finally took back my sovereign right to blogging.
The Electric Sands of Time
Generally speaking, I’m not very interested in waxing on with rose-colored nostalgia trips through my digital history. That said, it’s satisfying (and somewhat unnerving) to revisit nearly a decade of posting my thoughts and creations online. So how does one cap off their first more-than-decade on the Internet?
As a “digital native”, I’ve been using computers for about as long as I’ve been able to read and press keys, which was pretty early on. My first computer was an iBook G4 12". I used it to voraciously consume any and all computing-related information I could get my hands on, surf the Internet, and play entirely too much RuneScape. In that order.
For laughs, here are the specs of that machine:
The iBook G4/1.0 12-Inch (Early 2004 - Opaque White), features a 1.0 GHz PowerPC 7447a (G4) processor with a 512k “on chip” level 2 cache, 256 MB of RAM (PC2100 DDR SDRAM), a 40 GB (4200 RPM) Ultra ATA/100 hard drive, a slot-loading DVD-ROM/CD-RW “Combo” drive, 4X AGP ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 graphics with 32 MB of DDR SDRAM, and optional AirPort Extreme (802.11g) and Bluetooth 1.1 packed into a compact opaque white case with a 12.1" TFT XGA active matrix display (1024x768 native resolution). (everymac.com)
Over time, my collection of computers grew. I had secondhand computers, computers from flea markets, computers saved from electronics recycling plants. None of them were particularly new, or fast, yet they were like clay in my hands: full of infinite complexity, like endless clockwork that I could tinker with and restore fresh no matter how poorly my experimentation ended (which was often).
On the Internet
My first website launched sometime around 2012 and was hosted at
catdaddy.no-ip.org. The sole purpose of it was to host a looping ShockWave Flash joke video of my principal “dancing” absurdly, which I spent hours perfecting in iMovie 6.
This site was hosted on my original webserver, the first generation Raspberry Pi. It was my first server of any kind, and first dedicated Linux machine (i.e. that wasn’t my personal laptop and/or dual-, tri-, or quad- booting multiple OSes).
The genesis of Charlton’s Blog occurred sometime around 2013, on Blogger. The earliest post preserved from that era concerns the launch of the “Positive Wednesday” compliments page on my (classic) website.
Later on, my friends and I started tackling more ambitious projects. We built a website to display moves and stats an RPG David had developed. We developed this in PHP, and at the time I even set up a pipeline to continuously deploy changes from our Git branches into production and staging environments.
Around the same time, I wrote and deployed a custom bulletin board system, complete with user registration, electronic mail, and chatrooms, in pure DOS batchfile.
I also released a pair of Chrome extensions:
SecuReddit, which enabled and enforced site-wide HTTPS connections to reddit.com prior to its official implementation and rollout.
Reddit CSS Disabler, which disabled custom stylesheets site-wide.
I left my mark on other parts of the web, too: I developed the EliteShell theme for /r/itsaunixsystem, which I had moderated for a time.
I also did some freelance web development for friends and such. I created the original version of the Plant High Film Club website, along with another site for a musical instrument donation drive my friend organized.
The Evolution of Racks
Long before a bunch of Reddit people coined the term “homelab”, I was a child running Linux on trash-picked computers in my closet for the purpose of Internet mad science.
Eventually, I lucked out and got ahold of an actual rack that was destined for the garbage heap. I switched to a Cisco RV130W from the AirPort Extreme. I remember that router in particular due to a unique firmware bug that caused it to periodically drop all inbound port-forwarding rules at random. Like most SMB-tier Cisco equipment, it lives on fondly in my memory as an “utter piece of shit garbage”.
The New Blog
After migrating my original Wordpress blog to Blogger, I set up shop on Medium.
At one time, Medium was cool. This is no longer the case, neither is it particularly usable: Medium is now widely regarded as a Bad Website, no matter how special Evan Williams might look in his hipster v-neck shirts.
After the state of affairs on Medium had deteriorated beyond what I was able to tolerate, I finally went back to the drawing board. I wanted something unique and esoteric, something that would evoke the simplicity of the early ’00s’ Internet I had grown up using. That something was Werc.
Werc describes itself as a “minimalist web anti-framework built following the Unix and Plan 9 tool philosophy of software design”. The project’s creator and contributors were/are skilled programmers with exacting taste and aesthetic sensibilities.
I originally built a new version of this blog atop a functional Werc installation, but ultimately decided I would prefer static sites to running a server. Progress on my new blog languished for some time.
Luckily, I stumbled across Dennis Lee’s port of the base Werc template and styles into Hugo’s templating system. From this I was able to port my own revisions and achieve a pleasing result, finally combining Werc’s aesthetic simplicity with my desire for a static site.
This blog is statically generated by Hugo. It’s compiled and hosted by Cloudflare Pages, using GitHub for version control. Image files and other large assets are stored in BackBlaze B2 and served via Cloudflare.
Want to learn more about how this site works? Check out the the manual. And while you’re here, be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed and stay tuned for more great posts.
Here are the titles of a few early drafts in the works for 2022/2023 (in no particular order). Stay tuned!
- Yubikeys & PKI: What Are They Really For?
- Bossware Bypass: Patching QEMU For Fun And (Non)profit
- Rock Your Own Landline in the Current Year
- Building an $80,000 Compute Cluster
- NCGC: The National Cyber Gauntlet Challenge