Spool Five

Three Years On

My website (spool-five.com) has now been online for three years. In the spirit of this anniversary, this is a quick look-back at some of the key points over that time.

First Months

Date December, 2020
Size 112M
Files 52
Posts 6
Generator Hand-written html

At some point in the summer of 2020, early in my linux journey, I watched some Luke Smith videos. He inspired me to start my own website. He had some useful guides on things like getting a domain, self-hosting and syncing your site with rsync. I still like his philosophy around it and the general guide I would have followed from his videos is now available on landchad.net. I also had set up a mail server for the domain, using Luke Smith’s tools. This probably ran for a year or so. In retrospect, I do miss this, I am completely tied to gmail now for everything.

Luke Smith’s guide to starting a website

At the beginning, I liked to think of the site as something for my future self. Some kind of window into my thinking at a certain point of my life. I had entered my 30s, and was starting to feel that a lot of my life had already passed me by and I didn’t have much to look back on. I always enjoyed discovering photos on old drives during the times when I actually did make some effort to take photos, and the feeling was always like “Oh yeah, I did do those things! I did actually exist back then and had a real life with events and people.” I think we are always doing more than we realise.

In the spirit of the above, the name I chose for my domain was ‘spool-five.com’, after the spool of tape that the protagonist of Krapp’s Last Tape listens to in that play about replaying earlier parts of your life.

Discovering Gemini

Date August, 2021
Size 95M
Files 230
Posts 36
Generator Blop

The first year of having my own website/blog was definitely the most active. In January 2021 I discovered gemini, and gemini://spool-five.com was born. At first, I kept the gemini part of the site more as ’loose’, journaling type space where I could post whatever I wanted, and kept the web portion for more ‘serious’, longform content. This only lasted a few months, however, and eventually I merged the two and they became mostly mirrors of one another. I also added in stories I had posted on cosmic voyage to the site.

I also switched from hand-written html to using ‘Blop’, a bash-script for static site generation. This meant I could now write posts in markdown, so much better! More importanly, it allowed for easy/smooth conversion of files between gemtext and markdown, making have both site be the same a breeze.

Learning git

Date November, 2021
Size 118M
Files 279
Posts 43
Generator Blop

In November 2021 I started using git to version control the files for my site. This is something I should have done from the beginning! I didn’t realise it until writing this post, but git makes it so easy to just checkout an old version, rebuild it, and see what it was like. All the data I have from before that is just from around 5 backups I had made over the previous years.

A more powerful static site generator

Date July, 2021
Size 119M
Files 331
Posts 51
Generator Hugo

In July 2022, I switched to using Hugo to generate the site. This solution was way better from a general workflow perspective. Now, I really don’t have to think about the workflow at all, I can just focus on writing things (it also helps that there is good integration between emacs/org-mode and Hugo with ox-hugo).

The downside, perhaps is that it is too easy now. There is often some debate online about people who spend so much time on their configs and never get around to actually doing anything. If the history of this site is anything to go by, the opposite seems to be true in my case! Back when I spent more time hand-piecing things together, I also wrote more posts. Of course, the correlation here is not necessarily causation. Back then, I probably just had more time to work on configs and the technical aspects (and by extension more time to write posts). This was the time of the pandemic, after all, when the whole world slowed down a little.


Date September, 2021
Size 212M
Files 420
Posts 61
Generator Hugo

The other major thing I have added to the site over the past year or so is a section called ‘Box 3’ (the name, again, from Krapp’s Last Tape), where I have tried to keep personal notes on various topics. Even though I have written much less blog ‘posts’, I have tried to update box3 from time to time.

I have also been doing a lot more ‘hobbyist’ coding over the past year, and at some point a switched from using the amazing bash script by Fixato to my own clojure-based solution.

Blog post on Fixato (April, 2021)

Over the history of the site, I also switched from cloud-based hosting to hosting via sourcehut, which I also really love.

From a ‘design’ perspective, looking back over past iterations of the site has been useful, and I actually prefer some of the past designs to what I have now. In general, I hate questions of visual design/css, so I try to avoid this work and to keep what is there as simple as possible. I’ll probably have to rework that side of the site at some point in the future though.

What’s Next?

I have no major plans for spool-five. Maybe some tweaks around the design, as mentioned above. I would love to write more posts for the site. Looking back over previous iterations and posts as part of this exercise has showed me that the site was indeed fulfilling its original purpose, acting as a kind of record of my existence and giving me some insight into how I was thinking at certain points. I also learned that half the joy of looking back over the site is derived from recognising the efforts taken to actually make it and keep it running. In this sense, the real lesson is just to do more projects, make more things.


Sat Sep 16, 2023 - 1087 Words