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? []