Floating Like a Cloud!

At extraordinarily long last, for those of you who’ve heard me talking about this for a month or two, I’ve completed the migration of my homesite away from the venerable Linode and over to this thing oddly known as “the cloud.”

First of all, I should note that since “the cloud” is so poorly defined anyway, what I’m actually meaning by this is that I’ve removed the single point of failure for the http://ussjoin.com universe, by moving it away from Linode (which was a virtualized server– which can also be called a cloud, depending on who you ask) and to, depending on what part one’s looking at, one of two hot new places for sites: Google App Engine for http://ussjoin.com, and GitHub Pages for http://blog.ussjoin.com.

So why do this? For one thing, speed. Since Google is now using speed to alter PageRank, it’s a good thing to have my site served by the fastest, most distributed clouds available. App Engine is, of course, Google’s own, and it runs in all of their datacenters for nice geographic locality; GitHub is hosted in one datacenter, but it’s a doozy– RackSpace’s Dulles datacenter, where GitHub itself lives. If that goes down, then there’s going to be an awful lot of angry nerds.

Another reason, for me, is removing the bloat of my fairly aged Movable Type installation. Now, far be it from me to attack Movable Type– I was an MT partisan even before I worked for Six Apart– but it has a huge number of features that I just don’t need for my one-man blog. The main reason I stayed with it this long was for Action Streams, Byrne Reese’s incredible contribution to the Open Web.

Recreating Action Streams, then, is why not all of this site is on GitHub. I spent quite a lot of time playing with getting an Action Streams-like construct (that pulls all my activities from every website and collates them) to work under Jekyll, and indeed it did actually work. It did, however, require another computer just to run that (fairly large) cron job to create all the new posts every 15 minutes– and ultimately I decided that was a waste. Running the new site in App Engine lets everything– the datastore, the cron, the server, the works– sit in the nice App Engine stack, and results in far less complexity– which hopefully will also translate to less breakage.

Since I moved away from Movable Type, I naturally also left behind their MT Professional site design– which gave me the opportunity to play with lots of different site design ideas. I’ve currently settled on this fairly minimalist design, but I’ll be tweaking it over the next few weeks, and might well end up replacing it altogether.

So then: welcome to the new place. I’ve got lots of things to share in the next couple of days, so I’ll be posting fairly frequently for a while (after my longest-ever hiatus, due partially to all the things that have been going on, and partially to an unwillingness to post new content to a site I was replacing). Good things are afoot!