Recently I've been inspired in a number of areas by Mr. Troy Hunt. I have always followed security professionals and tried to stay on top of the landscape. I recently started following Troy Hunt after reading about his escapades with Ubiquiti and have enjoyed his Twitter stream, the updates from Have I Been Pwned?, and most recently his blog.
This post is introducing my new, old, blog. I haven't been as active writing as I was in the past, there are a bunch of reasons, but the most significant can be found here. However, before I start, I want to thank Troy:
Thank You Troy! - Rob Pickering
You see, Troy not only provided the inspiration to start writing again, he also provided me guidance on a new platform (Ghost Pro), and provided the Theme I'm using (yes, my site looks a LOT like his right now, but I'm iterating and it'll drift to something more "me" in the near future). So, thank you Troy.
I've been hosting my WordPress blog on an Amazon EC2 instance since 2010. That was before my son was born, before I had my new job at ServiceNow, and before I moved to California. This all started when I read Troy's article about Here's how I deal with managed platform outages. This sparked something in me...
I started my career as a Unix System Administrator at Miami University in Oxford, OH. This was my alma mater and I loved being the "Unix Guy" on campus (I was before I took the job, that's why they created it, the University was afraid I'd take a job in the private sector and disappear). Being the "Unix Guy" meant I always hosted my own platforms for email, web, monitoring, DNS, DHCP, etc. Hosting my own kept my skills sharp and led to a lot of success in my career. But, I have more important things to spend my time on now...
So, I've migrated my Blog from self-hosted WordPress on Amazon EC2 to Ghost Pro. I actually signed up for Ghost shortly after they came out of their Kickstarter campaign and before anyone could sign up (my welcome letter is from December 13, 2013). I tried it back then, but wasn't in the frame of mind to give up on self-hosting...I am now.
I'm also going to work on migrating my self-hosted email platform (Postfix) to something managed...I'm just not sure what it is yet, because I haven't found anything that meets my criteria (IMAP and Web access, personal domain for a family of at least 7 people, secure, robust, good Spam protection). I'm open to suggestions if you know of any (no, not G Suite).
One of the things I'm enjoying the most about Ghost Pro is the editor's use of Markdown. I know I'm late to the party, but I was still using a WYSIWYG editor on WordPress to edit all of my articles and it was actually doing the one thing you don't want an editing platform to do: hindering my writing. No bueno.
I was able to migrate just about everything on my Blog from self-hosted WordPress to managed hosted Ghost Pro in around 4 hours (thanks to Troy's kick-ass Theme). I'm going to write up the full process, just like when I moved from SquareSpace to WordPress back in 2010.
If you are writing online and haven't made the jump to Markdown, you really need to, I love just being able to write. I'm old enough to remember when HTML was first released by Tim Berners Lee at CERN in 1991 (I was a junior in college). I immediately started writing web sites in pure HTML...but I didn't keep up with everything and eventually the skills necessary to build good websites were beyond me. Writing in Markdown has that same feeling. I can be creative and tell my story without having to move between multiple views, files, and other artifacts. I just write. When I need some markup, I add it on the fly and it appears in the preview pane. It's awesome.
For now, I have a giant backlog of articles I want to write (most were Drafts in WordPress that got buried in time), some will see the light of day and are still relevant, many are not and I'll purge them or morph the idea. Looking forward to talking more here in the near future.
A Final Thought
I am going to borrow one other idea from Troy, a weekly blog update. I think it makes sense to create some discipline in your writing if you want to progress, so I'm going to do the same and start my Weekly Update next week! Excited!
Hopefully Troy Hunt sees all of my borrowing (and copying) in the way it's meant, as the "sincerest form of flattery". He's helped me shortcut a number of steps with the work he did, and I'm grateful to him. This article stands as my attribution to his efforts.