Mike's Autojournal 2011-08-21
30 second summary
I rebuilt Sly Flourish this week into a set of static HTML pages generated from articles written in Markdown processed by a small 100 line Python script. The site is complete HTML5 with semantic tags for articles, sections, asides, and what not. The biggest change isn't technical, but social. I decided to finally remove comments and focus exclusively on the article. Overall, the site is simpler, smaller, faster, and more flexible.
The problems with Wordpress
I used Wordpress for over two years to power Sly Flourish. It's a powerful program that builds pretty amazing websites. That said, it tries too much to be everything to everyone. You might not be running a photo gallery website, but you're executing the code to do so every time you run the site. There's a lot of code in Wordpress and it generates a lot of HTML and CSS that you don't need and clients don't need to download and render. There are programs you can add that speed things up, but now you have even more code.
Every few months you have to update the site. If you don't, you risk being hacked. Upgrading is far from simple and often results in having to hand-fix a lot of stuff. It's pretty messy.
So for two years I had hoped to get out of Wordpress and run Sly Flourish the same way I run this website, through processing static markdown files with a python script into a series of static HTML pages. Only one thing stood in the way — comments. But I'll get to that in a moment.
The benefits of static HTML
With my new setup, I write documents in Byword, upload them using FTP to the site, and my little Python script generates HTML, rebuilds the home page, the archive, and the RSS feed. The results are all static, and they are very very fast.
Unlike Wordpress output, I have control over every single character of text, markup, and style. There isn't a single element that I didn't want there. It meant I could generate a mobile version of the site that looks awesome on an iPhone in about an hour.
It's fast, small, and fully under my control. I love every single bit of it.
The biggest change in the site is a change I have thought about for some time. I wrote about it before, discussed it with my good friends the NewbieDM and Dave the Game. Removing comments is an unpopular choice, it seems antisocial, stuck up, and isolationist. I had some good reasons though:
- Dealing with spam is a pain in the ass.
- Comment software can be easily hacked.
- The vast majority of comments don't really add value.
- You're giving up screen real-estate you earned to promote views that aren't your own.
- You have to spend time moderating, removing asshats and keeping things smooth.
- You have to make painful choices about whether to delete borderline asshat comments.
- It's an extra inbox of incoming information you either ignore or spend your valuable attention on. Isn't that attention better spent on new content?
- The vast majority of readers never comment. It's important to focus on the silent majority.
- If people really want to talk about it, they can use Twitter or send me an email.
A simpler world
It took one such asshat comment to move me forward but I'm really glad I did. My site is fast, small, clean, focuses on what I want it to focus on. The simplicity of the site and the way I manage it lets me focus my attention where I want. I'm a lot happier now.
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Twitter / mshea
- mshea: Paul Krugman: save the economy by staging an alien invasion hoax Boing Boing http://t.co/6lGkBSj
- mshea: @newbiedm will be sad to hear how I brought up the Dow in yesterday's G+ Hangout with @michaelrobles, @SarahDarkmagic,@ThadeousC and others.
- mshea: Saturday morning: write #ddi article proposal; take 50 minute walk with dog, jam some Depesche Mode, and write in my journal.
- mshea: RT @daringfireball: What Theyre Protecting Us From: http://df4.us/i5v
- mshea: @thetwixt I'm stretching it across two 24" monitors and not seeing any issues. Shouldn't that all be held in the container?
- mshea: RT @THErealDVORAK: World's WORST timing for an article. http://t.co/lTsALR7 recommends WebOS device. "The device for YOU!"
- mshea: @newbiedm yeah, had an error. should work now. Click again =)
- mshea: @thetwixt Decided to give HTML5 a go. Give it a look and let me know what you think!
- mshea: @newbiedm What artice?
- mshea: Rebuilding Sly Flourish, No More Wordpress http://t.co/u8nnS8t
- mshea: RT @daringfireball: Number One Plus: http://df4.us/i5o
- mshea: I still think the best hope for a tablet able to keep up with the iPad is from Amazon. They have the entire infrastructure in place.
- mshea: Pretty major business flop. HP discontinues WebOS development. Touchpad discontinued in 49 days: http://t.co/NOQVCvJ
- mshea: RT @stevenf: July 1: TouchPad goes on sale. August 5: TouchPad discounted $100. August 18: Touchpad discontinued. 49 day lifespan.
- mshea: @thetwixt is there a typical "container" tag?
- mshea: @thetwixt Thank you for the advice!
- mshea: @thetwixt and then I need a js to ensure it's backward compatible. I think I'll wait a little bit.
- mshea: @thetwixt would my sidebar there be a "nav" or an "aside"?
- mshea: @thetwixt I guess that stuff makes it more semantically pure, but it doesn't seem to add a lot of value. I can replace some divs I guess.
- mshea: @ksonney I use markdown as the core file and a python script that converts it to HTML, builds the index, and builds the RSS. Very simple.
- mshea: @thetwixt Yeah, I'm going to look into that. I wasn't sure what html5 features I really needed.
- mshea: Very likely to break away from Wordpress for Sly Flourish and build it with the same Python script that builds Mikeshea.net. Nice and simple
- mshea: @gamefiend @davethegame @newbiedm Let's all rebel together! It will be like a website suicide pact! No more hits for us!!!
- mshea: @newbiedm You can always post here on the twitter!
- mshea: @newbiedm @davethegame Yep. I've already posted a lot of "letters to the editor". I just pulled comments from SF, btw.
- mshea: @DaveTheGame It's actually something I'd love to talk to you more about. I'm very conflicted.
- mshea: @newbiedm /banned
- mshea: @hutchback I think Twitter is a fine place to discuss things. We're all on even ground here.
- mshea: I think Sly Flourish is my last website with comments. It isn't my responsibility to give others a voice for potentially bad advice.
- mshea: @DaveTheGame Don't worry, I'll wait until I read it =)
- mshea: RT @daringfireball: Stop Coddling the Super-Rich: http://df4.us/i4p
- mshea: @Bartoneus Nope. No cable here. I'll wait for the Netflix.
- mshea: RT @jaycrossler: Nice! HTML5 Rocks - Case Study: HTML5 MathBoard: http://t.co/HnMaq9O
- mshea: Finishing off my weekend with an hour walk, the season 3 finale of True Blood, and an apple turnover from my beautiful and wonderful wife.
Twitter / SlyFlourish
- SlyFlourish: #dnd tip: If you don't have it, invest in a good set of hero miniatures. While you can get away with monster tokens, PCs need minis.
- SlyFlourish: RT @newbiedm: #dnd #rpg New Post "NewbieDM Review: Neverwinter Campaign Setting": http://t.co/LsBNC0C
- SlyFlourish: I take back all my ranting about immunities for solos. Sorry for the thousand tweets about it.
- SlyFlourish: ok, I'm combing through all the solos in the Mon Vault and MV2 and they all seem to have good ways to handle daze, stun, and dominate #dnd
- SlyFlourish: RT @TheIdDM: Shadows Out of Time from ToH, p.26. Cut down on wraiths to speed up play. #dnd #rpg http://t.co/ANpGUQw
- SlyFlourish: @insanitygawd Crits themselves are fine. It's the insanity that triggers off of crits that causes problems.
- SlyFlourish: RT @SithLordYoda: @theangrydm: Did you know that everytime a PC dies, an imp gets its wings
- SlyFlourish: @Trevor_WotC indeed. Replacing status effects for damage is a great choice. Lolth + Balors did this to great effect in my last game. #dnd
- SlyFlourish: RT @Trevor_WotC: ..is an awesome solution that doesn't take away anything from the game (so thanks to everybody who came up with that idea)
- SlyFlourish: RT @Trevor_WotC: So in the end of the stun thing - I think it's a problem, but I think having an option to negate it for damage on the p ...
- SlyFlourish: RT @cjthrasher: @SlyFlourish I have a paladin that could probably ignore anything that Orcus can do to him too, so it's only fair. #dnd
- SlyFlourish: @Age_Past These immunities would be known to the players well before the battle begins.
- SlyFlourish: RT @Alphastream: @SlyFlourish @SarahDarkmagic @trevor_wotc I use solos all the time by themselves in adventures. Rule of take dmg to end ...
- SlyFlourish: RT @KatoKatonian: @SlyFlourish Orcus bellows "How dare attempt such a thing on the Prince of Undeath!" and then let's loose a devestatin ...
- SlyFlourish: RT @KatoKatonian: @SlyFlourish I think you should go one step further: When PC attack would stun an Epic solo, it should trigger an imme ...
- SlyFlourish: @lamentation Spend that investment on one of the normals or elites you come across instead of waiting for the solo all the time.
- SlyFlourish: No one ever gets mad in World of Warcraft when a boss resists Concussion Shot. Why should they care if Orcus resists Stun in #dnd?
- SlyFlourish: @ThadeousC Sometimes I want a group to just fight a dragon without all the handcuffed, bucket-on-the-head, cow-tipping of most solo battles.
- SlyFlourish: Time to fix this problem with a hard-hitting Sly Flourish article...
- SlyFlourish: The problem with stun/daze/dom on solos is that the DM spends most of his or her effort counteracting it instead of doing cool things. #dnd
- SlyFlourish: RT @Veredium: @SlyFlourish @trevor_wotc In mid paragon plus I find that I'm focusing on my ability to shake stun/daze effects as much a ...
- SlyFlourish: @mjbrenner @sarahdarkmagic They're better but can still get pinned down with a series of Dazed until end of next turns.
- SlyFlourish: @Veredium @trevor_wotc No. I want to stop monsters stunning PCs as well. Dazes for PCs aren't as debilitating as solo monsters.
- SlyFlourish: I like how the Robe of the Archmage maximizes dice damage without making it a crit! http://t.co/UYSiFih #dnd #ihatebonuscrits
- SlyFlourish: @SarahDarkmagic I think they should change how solos work fundamentally. Starting with immunities. They're simple and could be well known.
- SlyFlourish: @JaredvonHindman @trevor_wotc @dreadgazeebo Adding powers complicates monsters. I shouldn't need four powers to deal with status effects.
- SlyFlourish: @SarahDarkmagic @trevor_wotc I don't think people assuming a Solo should be alone is wrong, I think it's wrong that they really can't be.
- SlyFlourish: @Trevor_WotC @sarahdarkmagic So Chris Perkins's solos aren't ever solo? Something's broken.
- SlyFlourish: RT @JaredvonHindman: @SarahDarkmagic My favorite interpretation I've seen was @rjschwalb's which converted status effects to damage. #AF ...
- SlyFlourish: @Trevor_WotC @dreadgazeebo @jaredvonhindman You can always add encounter options to daze, stun, or dominate a creature.
- SlyFlourish: @Trevor_WotC @dreadgazeebo @jaredvonhindman Chain-stunning Orcus isn't a character option, it's sacrilege.
- SlyFlourish: RT @JaredvonHindman: @SlyFlourish @trevor_wotc Shush your DM Propaganda for your Status Effect Cold War. #NextSolosWillBeImmuneToDailies ...
- SlyFlourish: @JaredvonHindman @trevor_wotc MV isn't enough. Solos should be immune to daze, stun, and dominate.
- SlyFlourish: @JaredvonHindman @trevor_wotc What do you mean monsters auto-save from stunned??
- SlyFlourish: #dnd tip: The newer the monster book, the better the monster design. When selecting monsters, pick from newer books first.
- SlyFlourish: RT @FaustoReluctant: Really like what @slyflourish has done with his blog redesign. #dnd #cornify http://t.co/IUA2RZR
- SlyFlourish: RT @chattydm: Have you looked at today's RPG meme #dungeonstory. A ton of tweet-length Dungeon backgrounds. Dig in!
- SlyFlourish: RT @mrkelseyroth: Looks good on Android too RT @SlyFlourish http://t.co/EPjcjVK now looks good on an iPhone. Check it out!
- SlyFlourish: http://t.co/rFzMudx now looks good on an iPhone. Check it out!
- SlyFlourish: #dnd tip: Give bored players a chance to roll a skill check to learn something interesting about an environment or monster.
- SlyFlourish: @thetwixt Got it. Thank you! What did you use to convert it?
- SlyFlourish: @thetwixt yes please! send it to email@example.com.
- SlyFlourish: The site, http://t.co/H5KKOVK should be lightning fast now. It's all static HTML generated by a Python script. No more Wordpress updates!
- SlyFlourish: @SarahDarkmagic Thank you. I fixed the twitter link.
- SlyFlourish: RT @DaveTheGame: @SlyFlourish Your "Animated Dancing Dragons" gif is broken.
- SlyFlourish: Brand new version of http://t.co/HPzM5bw just went online. Let me know what's broken! #dnd
- SlyFlourish: Pretty cool ideas to spice up an encounter: http://t.co/8nZka7v - thanks @plaztkeyes #dnd
- SlyFlourish: In case you missed it, Essential Conversations with @KatoKatonian: http://t.co/D9CIKeh #dnd
- SlyFlourish: RT @newbiedm: @Squach @sarahdarkmagic @slyflourish i think he actually reviewed carrots in his personal blog once. Google sent me there.
- SlyFlourish: @Alphastream Yeah, I have a hard time with the FLGS. Neverwinter is $14 cheaper with no tax and free shipping.
- SlyFlourish: RT @TheAngryDM: #dnd Tip: You can use themes, backgrounds, skills, and feat choices to give your character a strong backstory and I stil ...
- SlyFlourish: RT @newbiedm: .@SlyFlourish Old article: http://t.co/zcUczA6
- SlyFlourish: @Alphastream Or were you mocking my Neverwinter link?
- SlyFlourish: @Alphastream Amazon doesn't pay per click, it pays per sale. My guess; Amazon will carry Mordenkainen's even if it's third party.
- SlyFlourish: #dnd tip: You don't need dwarven forge to have a 3d map. Use thread spools or toilet paper rolls to boost up dungeon tiles.
- SlyFlourish: I haven't used it at the table yet, but after reading through it, the Neverwinter campaign book looks fantastic: http://t.co/eujKzAe #dnd
- SlyFlourish: RT @Wizards_DnD: #dnd #Neverwinter Campaign Setting releases today. Will you restore or plunder the Jewel of the North? http://ow.ly/65AjC
- SlyFlourish: #dnd tip: Give your players a chance to shine with a lower difficulty encounter. Run only three monsters instead of five or six.
- SlyFlourish: Check out @davethegame's first #dnd #ddi adventure, Rumble in the Valley: http://t.co/BctDow0 Congratulations Dave!
- SlyFlourish: @TheIdDM it makes me want to build characters in monster stat blocks. I think monsters need to be simple since DMs run many many of them.
- SlyFlourish: @Squach what time?
- SlyFlourish: I seriously think a game-wide house rule that dazes, stuns, and dominates don't work against solos would solve a ton of problems. #DnD
- SlyFlourish: .@Nullzone42 Yep. It's End of Turn too so it breaks solos with multiple turns per round. "Hey look, Lolth is dazed again." #DnD
- SlyFlourish: Why would @wizards_dnd give Knights three potential rounds of daze attacks? Have we not learned? See hammer strike http://t.co/943s0Tw #dnd
- SlyFlourish: For the record, I never recommend using a #dnd monster pre MM3 without major customizations.
- SlyFlourish: I'd love to see the monster stat block as a #dnd Character Builder optional character sheet.
- SlyFlourish: Our friend @TheIdDM has another excellent #dnd 4e analysis. This time on Player Character options and choices: http://t.co/Cfp4nQW
- SlyFlourish: @KatoKatonian I keep asking myself why I don't just shut them down. @newbiedm and I talked about it.
- SlyFlourish: @newbiedm Not anymore =)
- SlyFlourish: @newbiedm Which one, CrowOfPykes?
- SlyFlourish: In case you missed it, Essential Conversations with @KatoKatonian: http://t.co/nbA35cW #dnd
- SlyFlourish: RT @KatoKatonian: "D&D Essential Conversations", in which I ask @SlyFlourish some questions about class balance and limiting choice http ...
- SlyFlourish: #dnd tip: Keep traps, terrain effects, and hazards simple. You have enough to worry about.
- SlyFlourish: @erikscottdebie Nice to know character optimization is alive and well in the post-Essentials world =)
- SlyFlourish: @erikscottdebie You boosting up the damage and have a couple of hours to kill?
- SlyFlourish: @TedsBlog legos
- SlyFlourish: #dnd tip: think of creative ways to build 3D sets out of Dungeon Tiles: http://t.co/fxRkrc7
- SlyFlourish: RT @DanielTharp: @SlyFlourish Dunno if this is useful but I made a Gamma World cheatsheet for novice DMs like me, with some house rules: ...
- SlyFlourish: Hmm, problem. Can a single PC be both members of the veiled alliance and the Crimson Sashes?
- SlyFlourish: Doing a fiasco-like relationship list for my Gloomwrought campaign. One roll for each relationship between PCs. #dnd http://t.co/cZBZlRx
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