Site Improvements

After a long, harsh estrange­ment, I’ve reunit­ed with this web­site. In addi­tion to final­ly post­ing again, I’ve also over­hauled it under the hood and made it more read­able. The the­me here?

I should have known better and did know better

  • Speed—I’ve been pay­ing for a VPS for over a year now, but nev­er had any­thing run­ning on the server. I final­ly got around to installing Cen­tOS + nginx + PHP-FPM with APC + MySQL on it: a stan­dard, sta­ble but mod­ern setup. With a few tweaks to get Word­Press caching work­ing and sev­er­al nail-bit­ing hours of DNS fid­dling1, this site is offi­cial­ly off of shared host­ing and waaay faster.
  • Fonts—I had pre­vi­ous­ly used a self-host­ed embed­ded ver­sion of Luci­da Grande, but this caused a lot of prob­lems. For exam­ple, I didn’t include a true ital­ic ver­sion2, so browsers would skew my <em> text at an angle instead—a symp­tom that typog­ra­phers are call­ing “faux ital­ic.” I’ve now switched to Lato host­ed at Google Web Fonts. It’s an open-source Grotesque type­face with tall geo­met­ric line fig­ures that make years and fig­ures pop out:

    As of 2012, geeks have feel­ings uses four (4) vari­ants of Lato.

    Con­sis­tent line widths and clas­si­cal pro­por­tions, such as a low x-height, keep it classy yet read­able. Also, I’ve added Incon­so­lata as an @font-face to dis­play my mono­space text, in case you don’t have the more pre­ferred Con­so­las.

  • Read­abil­i­ty—I’ve upped the text size to 14px, from 11px. Hav­ing used very high-DPI displays—Thinkpad W500 15.4″ 1920×1200 and Extreme­Pro Air­Book 15″ 2880×1800—I myself have had no short­age of com­plaints about this site, in terms of eye­strain. In addi­tion, I’ve made the para­graphs jus­ti­fied, aid­ed by a script to do hyphen­ation.
  • Spam/Security—turns out my site had been com­pro­mised, plus I had delet­ed my CAPTCHA plug­in when I upgrad­ed Word­Press some time ago. So I found my com­ment queue full of spam, not to men­tion my server a prob­a­ble source of addi­tion­al out­go­ing spam. I’m work­ing hard to pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing again.
  • Back­ups—still not as good as I’d like my sys­tem to be. I’m think­ing of back­ing up the data­base and media to Ama­zon S3 while keep­ing a Git repo some­where of the site code.

Hope­ful­ly I won’t stop updat­ing my site again once I’m back to school/work.

  1. Frig­gin’ Google DNS cache is sooo slow at updat­ing. []
  2. Because none exist­ed; Luci­da Grande was licensed by Apple for its UI, except for the ital­ic style. Pre­sum­ably Apple didn’t need any? []