Learning to love Automation

I’ve started taking a hard look at automating my web development setup. Right now, frankly, it’s kinda sad. Here’s how it works:

I use MAMP as my local php environment. When I want to create a new project I simply create a new subfolder and throw the files in there. If it’s a WordPress project I (manually) grab the latest zip file, extract it all, and set it up.

There is no “staging” or “test” or any other environment before prod. There’s local and prod and I move files using ftp. It works but I know it’s not “correct” and it has caused me problems in the past.

I use source control but it’s definitely more of a backup at the moment than a real source control solution.

Blech, I know this isn’t right. I’ll be taking some steps this year to fix this. First step – learning how to use vagrant to set up my environment properly. After that, getting a really good handle on using mercurial. Finally, I want to set up a really solid deployment process complete with rollbacks and database migrations.

All the tools are out there, and they’re awesome – just got to learn how to use them. :S

Burn it all down, Build it back up

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Sometime in 2005 I created my first blog. It wasn’t great but I started it during a freelance venture I like to refer to as “Hasty Unemployment.” I’d build websites for clients (the somewhat gaudy flash kind when full page flash sites were all the rage) and at night I’d build the blog. It was usually full of drawings and other assorted bits of stuff that really didn’t form any cohesive vision or theme. It was just fun.

After a while, I started to neglect it. It became a huge link spam farm and google classified it as spam and basically black-listed the whole site forcing me to shut the whole thing down. I started this site in December of 2008 and the blog limped along for quite a while. A post here, a drawing there, just a random smattering of…well…stuff that really didn’t form any cohesive vision or theme. Except, it wasn’t fun, it was work. I felt obligated to keep it updated even though I received no traffic at all. I didn’t keep it updated and it just flatlined into a boring rote site.

So, here I am again. Fresh theme, a satchel of drawings and images to use and a somewhat cohesive vision. We’ll see what’s to become of this one. I think blogs have tremendous value – I really don’t think I would have gotten my last few jobs if I didn’t have some sort of web presence. I wonder what would happen if I really put some effort into it though. Not in the online marketing sense where I build a bunch of niche sites and start trying to game google ad traffic but what if I just put a lot of interesting stories out there?

It could be fun. The old blog is gone. This is one is new. Except for the image, that one is kinda old. Sue me.