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CGI, and Other Bad Words

16 October 2021 19:28

In my professional life, I make websites performant and reliable. It's in the job title -- Site Reliability Engineer. I do this using Content Delivery Networks, load balancers, stateless infrastructure, layers of caching, and container orchestration technology. I could think of a few other buzzwords to throw in there, and it probably sounds real impressive to a lay person.

Of course, all that is managed. I abstract myself from managing all of that stuff with just a few text files. Of course, it took significant professional experience to know what I'm doing with those text files, and to be able to arrange these components into a stable infrastructure. And I derive great satisfaction from being able to help create something awesome. And I'm pretty good at what I do, according to my boss and our uptime graphs. I'm not at liberty to share such data so broadly, but I can illustrate this roughly in a graph...

Lower is better.

So naturally, since my day to day is spent in the public cloud, using all these wonderful things that have enabled small-time companies with limited upfront budgets to build ultra-reliable, globally distributed websites and services with just a few text files, my personal infrastructure should be built the same way, right? I should be using the trendiest web frameworks, JAM stack, serverless, Cloudflare, all managed using the latest Hashicorp offerings.


You're getting this page from an old-fashioned Apache httpd instance (of course, a reasonably up-to-date one). I have one CGI script (in Perl). No CDN, because I don't think I need one. It's my personal website, so I want to be in control of how it's served. And no Javascript. In layperson's terms, I'm kicking it old-school.

I suppose this is my way of maintaining work-life balance, while still exercising some of my skills that I use in a professional setting. I find it relaxing to shift paradigms. I love my job and my work, but I can't really decompress if I just go from writing YAML files at work to writing YAML files at home.

Likewise, I'm never going to roll into work one morning and say "hey y'all, let's ditch this microservices thing and write a bunch of Perl CGI scripts!"

...I just thought of a really funny April Fools prank.

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Gratitude: Open Source Frontend

17 October 2021 09:32

Today, I want to express gratitude towards people who do my personal least favorite type of software development for free. I'm referring to open source frontend developers.

My career path keeps me a respectable distance from getting in the weeds with frontend code. I never have to do deal with HTML and CSS, and very rarely do I have to deal with Javascript code. If I do, it's usually in passing -- to understand enough of it that I can create a DevOps solution to remove blockers.

However, I am forced to deal with these things when I'm working on personal websites on projects, like this blog you're reading and my 8mm digitizing business. I have to be my own full-stack developer!

So, to Steve Kemp, who created the static blog generator I use here, I say, thank you! Simon Bengtsson, creator of the notrack theme I use for, thank you! And whoever spun out the HTML used for the website of the Dillo web browser, which I shamelessly ripped off for my personal landing page, thank you!

Each of these people created something that was 90% of what I wanted to accomplish. It's through their generosity and skill that I'm able to express myself in the way I see fit. And the icing on the cake is that their designs are fast, compatible with all browsers, and require no nasty Javascript to work!

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