I finally spared some time to tinker with the back-end infrastructure of this quiet blog.

For the time being, I am still using WordPress. I decided to start from scratch in creating a new database and make everything overly security. I have imported all the important content including the posts, images and comments. I am retaining the ‘Flat Bootstrap’ theme, as I appreciate the minimalist look. The single featured image and embodied text appeals to me.

Last week, I had a staging environment of Blog 1.5 which I hosted on DigitalOcean (a popular VPS platform for web developers). I was using CentminMod which auto-configures and installs all the back-end components of a typical LEMP server (Linux, Nginx, MySQL and PHP), which left me a clear path to focus on building websites.

I was pretty chuffed to have everything on CentOS, which is my favourite Linux operating system for the web. However, I was struggling to activate JetPack, which is a necessary plugin for WordPress that combines several useful components. Because I was using CentminMod to generate the server stack, I may have closed myself in the root permissions that I could not change in the directories, even though I created a secondary account that shared the same root permissions. Last weekends effort was pretty much wasted.

This weekend however, I decided to stage Blog 1.5 with my current web host down in Newquay, England. The reason for using DigitalOcean was to host the blog in Amsterdam due to privacy laws – more on that in another post. I also wanted to rekindle my interest in learning the technical details of modern day web hosting outside the shared web hosting environment.

Secure Protocol

The main significant change you will see is that the blog now utilises HTTPS. I am using the Let’s Encrypt to generate the SSL certification, which thankfully automatically renews itself and costs next to nothing. HTTPS is essentially a secure protocol that allows users to connect to modern websites. You will now see a padlock along the address bar when you visit this blog. How thoughtful of me to keep my readers safe and secure. Actually, it’s the new standard and Google will now prioritise websites that use HTTPS over HTTP.

As the HTTPS is functioning correctly, the website should receive more exposure in Google’s PageRank. At the time of writing, I am sitting in Page 6 when one queries ‘indescribable love’ into Google. Previously, this was somewhere after Page 12.

Please note: I don’t advertise to other websites, as I deliberately want to see how organic this blog can grow. I know the Facebook page has countless fake profiles subscribed to the page, which I can only imagine how my blog fester its growth – going by the title of the blog.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

I have decided to pause my account on CloudFlare and not bother with external caching of the blog. If the website goes down, the website goes down. My web host is pretty robust and very efficient, despite me paying their lowest web tier. The team are also very knowledgeable and they are a good bunch of gals and guys.

I may consider hosting the images on a CDN platform. The main resource hog are the CSS files and JavaScript libraries, which I may experiment to host on a CDN platform.

Fortunately, my website loads up pretty fast due to the minimalist theme. To be precise, it takes 2.6 seconds to load the home page. According to GTmetrix, my websites scores 96% – Grade A (PageSpeed Score) and 84% (Grade B) YSlow Score.

Modern Languages

I have decided to switch to PHP7 due to its efficiency and speed to process more queries in a given second, which is useful with the likes of WordPress (as it is a database-driven content management system).

Ideally, I want to pull away from databases, as I have no dynamic data on my blog. I have been looking at Jekyll which is a popular static website generator.

I have toyed with Publii, which is a static website generator application that works on Windows and Mac OS. I managed to connect Publii with my Amazon S3 account with ease, but the current themes are lacking and I don’t have the spare time to create one myself. However, Publii is super easy to setup and works very well.

I would rather use Jekyll, as I want the complete flexibility to add components and experiment with different frameworks, but more importantly to develop a fast-loading static website. Performance is everything.

You may have heard of the expression ‘time is money’ and there is a grain of wisdom in the saying. For me, I still want to rekindle my web development skills and branch to app development for iOS. I appreciate the necessity to develop a customer-focused service that caters to impatient people.

Backup

I have also decided to enable the automation of weekly backups of this blog. I typically backup the content manually on a monthly basis. However, as I want to publish a few more reflections within a given month, I may as well play safe and be proactive to periodically save often. I too have learned the hard way in not saving my data on a regular basis.

Conclusion

On the surface, there is no real change to this blog other than a subtle speed boost. When I have time to develop Indescribable Love 2.0 then I will likely use Jekyll to generate a static website from scratch. I will likely be hosting Blog 2.0 using DigitalOcean due to the flexibility to host outside the UK. So far, I am using DigitalOcean to host a side project (an alternative portfolio page), which is a single HTML page with clean CSS code. A bit of wasted space, but as I said, I am keen to rekindle my web skillset and catch up with the new web technologies.

Although this post is outside the norm of my typical (and non-technical) reflections, I am happy to share what powers this blog behind the scenes. I am also amazed at how far we have come to host and design websites. Literally everything can be achieved at the touch of a button. I do wonder if we will be made redundant due to the advancement of artificial intelligence. Sadly, when you look outside in this sin-driven world, I wonder if artificial intelligence will actually humanise us to seek God in our earnest hour.

~Richard