Blogging From The AT

Sun 12 November 2023

As part of our AT planning and preparations, I have been wanting to find a way to post updates here on our progress on the trail. My initial thinking was that I'd find a cloud PC service and set up my development environment on it, so that I'd be able to log in from anywhere and create new posts. I eventually decided a few weeks ago that Amazon Web Services (AWS) looked like my best option. I created an account and started to dive in only to discover that the complexity of AWS was way beyond what I expected, and that the learning curve would be very steep. I reached out to Amazon tech support to see if there might be a faster track, and after about an hour online with live help, I started to see how it could work. But, it would still require a lot of learning - which means a lot of time - and I wasn't so sure that I really wanted to invest that much effort. I was frustrated.

After stewing on this for a few days after the tech support call, a much better solution appeared to me in a surprising flash of insight, the surprise being that I had really had the answer within me all along, and I just did't see it. The answer was to use Neocities itself, which already has, built into its web interface, simple yet adequate site management and manual content generation tools, with a basic file browser and text editor. All I would need to do would be to set up a template site, create cross-links between it and The Rambler, and I'd be fully set up! Magic!

So I have done exactly that and set up a basic site at The Rambler On The AT. I've created test pages to test the site's functionality and navigation, and I created the first page, all from within Neocities to ensure that it wouldn't be tons of work - and it isn't. I've also tested a couple online image compressors and found them suitable. Finally, I simplified the site headers for both sites and added the crosslinks to give them a unified look and feel while keeping them distinctly unique. With all this, I am now all set up to blog from the AT, sitting at any internet-connected computer anywhere. All for free. Super cool!

As a bonus, in setting up the new site I solved, using a couple simple lines of Javascript, a navigation problem I'd had with the "newest" link that required it to be updated in every page each time a new page was created. This had actually been a big deal with this site as well, causing site updates to take longer and longer; but not any more, as I've implemented this fix here too. Very nice!