This post is about the tools and services used to build and publish this site plus some brief mentions of alternatives and why they weren’t selected. It’s a soup-to-nuts quickie of all of the services and tools used to create, store, and publish this website. Email me or your comments!

I’ll cover the following layers

  • Domain Registration: How you reserve you domain name. In this case
  • DNS service: This is how you associate your domain name with a specific IP (IP6?) address on the web.
  • Mail: This is how you manage mail to your domain. And yes, some people do still use email.
  • Framework: This is how you convert your content into a viewable website.
  • Hosting: These are the services which serve up that website.
  • Local tools: The programs I use on my local machine to test and build this website.
  • Cost:
  • Future: Some thoughts on changes and directions.

Domain name registration

I chose Gandi for the registry of domain name. I liked that their website wasn’t littered with upsell and they had technically oriented help pages. Obviously there’s a huge plethora of registrars from which to choose. If you’re happy with the price and their systems just choose one.


A long while back I switched most of my mail to FastMail. Their service is really reasonably priced and you don’t have the Big-G (or is it the Big-A) reading your mail over your shoulder. Their servers are fast and I’ve had a great experience with them so far. I actually have them serving as the primary DNS for, but you could just as easily have Gandi do that and direct the MX records to FastMail.


  • Jekyll: I had a few requirements for this:
    • I didn’t want to have to build out a server (or multiple servers).
    • Most of the content is simply content so I didn’t want a backend database with all the associated issues which happen with that.
    • I wanted to be able to test changes locally.
    • I wanted to be able to write my posts in Markdown format

Some options which I considered are rejected were:

  • WordPress: I wanted control over my content and files. I also didn’t like the idea of having to either host a full blown stack or cede fine-grained control over to some wordpress host.
  • SquareSpace: And similar services Wix, Weebly, etc. have nice WYSIWYG interfaces but ultimately they cost you money and control. They do offer really nice templates and a simple set up. More concretely, I wanted to be able to update my website using a git push and none of these offer this that I know of.
  • Ghost: A couple of companies I’ve seen are using them as their blog homes. They have a nice markdown based editing system and management system. I could see migrating my content to ghost if the Jekyll/GitHub-Pages system and I part ways.


I decided to use GitHub Pages because I already had a GitHub account and I liked the idea of a static website over which I had maximal control over the content.

I considered building and deploying an image to AWS with NGINX and running this website as a jekyll generated static website, deployed as a docker image and served by an nginx (docker) instance. But although it’d be interesting, I don’t think it would offer any real advantages over just using GitHub Pages. I’m already storing in GitHub, and I’d just be adding a half-a-dozen or more steps and things which I have to manage, update, and maintain to keep my website up.

That said, if I wanted to run some dynamic web apps, I would probably move these pages down to a sub-domain and put up a master page with links as needed.

Local Tools

These are the tools I use on my local machine, an aged but still remarkably sprightly MacBookPro (Retina).

  • Mac It works. I use the system wide clipboard and pbpaste/pbcopy widely and wildly.
  • bash: Because it’s universal and does most everything I need.
  • tmux: Because one shell isn’t enough.
  • git: to control and keep track of changes to the site.
  • Jekyll: has a nice built in server you can run after generating the site.
  • MacVim: To edit the files, because I’m both a mac head and an old *nix head. In one head.
  • Solarized: Because I like consistency. In fact, the basic theme for this website started out as a solarized jekyll theme which I desaturated.
  • Safari: this is probably sub-optimal as both Chrome and Firefox have really solid dev tools. But I only needed to be able to dive into basic elements and css definitions and this does the job.


Aside from the domain name registration, this website doesn’t cost me any money to serve. Even adding in CloudFlare for https support shouldn’t cost me anything.

Future Thoughts

As mentioned above, I could see migrating to Ghost in the future, but although it is open-source and all that, I’m leery about having to take on the whole stack of backend stuff to run my static blog. I like that I can test changes to this blog with one jekyll command.

One of the drawbacks of using github pages directly is that you can’t get https to your custom domain. CloudFlare has a solution for this which I will be testing out next week.