What is this place?
6 minute read
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Find out why I decided to build this little corner on the internet and what you can expect to find here in the future.
Just as for the title of the previous article, I again let myself be inspired by something I'd seen before. Only this time, I didn't really remember the title of the movie. So I did what anyone would these days. I went on the internet and searched. To my ignorant surprise I came to realize that "What is this place?" is quite a common phrase in movies. So if you thought of a movie reading the title, you are correct! That's exactly the reference I was trying to make. And maybe it's even featured in the little cut-up of people saying "What is this place?" in movies that I added here for your leisure. Just in case.
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And that brings us to the question. What actually is this place? First of all, I think it's better if we rephrase that question. It's served its purpose after all. The actual question I can say something about is "Why did I build this place?"
Well, there's actually several reasons. So, instead of trying to list them up let me take you through my thought process of how this place came to be.
Not so long ago I started freelancing. Or, as one could also say, I started a business. This business needed a name and I decided to go with 'd17e.dev'. Where the d17e part comes from you can read about in another article I wrote, but for those who haven't, it's basically a short representation of my full name. I had owned the .com domain for a while already, so when I started this new venture there were all these new funky top level domains, among which the '.dev' and that just seemed perfect. I wasn't sure if the local bureaucracy would accept a name with the dot in it, but they did. And so, d17e.dev was born.
These days, a business needs some kind of online presence, maybe one or more social accounts, or maybe even an own site. But if you choose the company name to be something that looks like a web URL, or something that looks like something you'd type in a browser address bar, people are going to type that in a browser address bar. I mean, I would. So long story short, I needed a website.
Luckily I'm in the software business. This 'software business' is pretty broad though and building websites like these hasn't exactly been a real part of my day to day job description. As in ever. However, I like what I do and 'web development' is one of the areas I've been keeping an eye on over the last decade or so. I had also already built a small portfolio site when I was changing jobs last, so I was confident enough that I'd pull it off. In fact, this was and is the perfect opportunity to expand and explore my skills.
Which brings us nicely to one of the big reasons I built this. To learn hands-on how it is to run an actual website. I approached this whole endeavor as if I was my own client. That really just means I wasn't allowing myself to cut corners. Aside from ending up with a website, I also saw this as an opportunity to explore infrastructure, hosting, CMS,... options that are out there today and at the end of the road having something set up in a way that I could easily reproduce this and possibly offer it as a service. And I wasn't the easiest client one could get, believe me. But I've learned a ton. And at that, it was even fun too.
Fun. That's a big driver for the choices I've been making in my life. I believe one should strive to have as much fun as possible, as long as that's not at someone else's expense of course. But I digress. I built this website, because it was fun. In fact, it still is fun. In the future you can expect this place to keep changing now and then. If you want to stay in the loop when I do, make sure to leave your email!
One of the elements that make this fun is the fact that I'm the only one working on this, so I've pretty much got free reign. I choose what technologies I use or features I implement. In a real-life work situation, this is generally not the case. In fact many times there's things you'd rather be working on. Just as with this project, there were things that weren't exactly fun. But that's part of the gig. The difference this time though, was that I was doing the less fun stuff because I chose to do it. And if I wanted to change my mind on something, I could do so.
A bit earlier in this write-up I mentioned socials. With this new adventure I'm on, I feel like I can't escape the social platforms. Not that I'd try to escape them, I just want to be mindful of the time I spend across them. And I also wouldn't want any of those platforms be the root of my online identity. Instead, this place now also plays the role of this root. Its home base. I can manage and organize my content here, on my own server and have little robots do my social media bidding.
Lastly I want to point out that even though I'm talking about 'building my own website', I didn't exactly build all of this from scratch. I don't think there's a lot of software that's really written from scratch these days. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants. Some of the giants that are the core of this place are projects like ChakraUI and NextJS, which both actually build on top of ©Meta's React. It's been an incredible time to see the development world evolve over my career that now almost spans two decades. Open source software was only an obscure idea that floated somewhere between academia and ideologists back when I started out. These days, if you don't share your code on GitHub, you're not cool. Kind of. I may have taken some liberties with that statement, but my point is that a lot has changed. And right now, it's a pretty amazing time to be in the 'software business'.
Of course, I want to be cool. So you can find the source code for this website on GitHub. Not because I think this how I think each website should be built, no. Not at all. Just because sharing is caring. And maybe someday it will be useful to somebody. For example, when a large language model reproduces the obscure hack I implemented for the blurhash algorithm. Or not. Which is also ok. I did my best.
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