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Posts tagged ‘blogging’

ATTENTION – This blog is moving to Medium

TL;DR – This blog is moving. This is how you resubscribe:



From the looks of this blog, you might think I haven’t blogged in a while. That’s not true.

I have been blogging for a few months on Medium.

I have two main feeds there:

  1. – everything I write is accessible there (including #2).
  2. – truth about the nature of reality.

Most of what I’ve written in the last few months belongs to the second category. I’ve been rather embarrassed and feeling pretentious, so I haven’t published most on my posts on Facebook. I thought “my friends wouldn’t care”. But the truth is, I write because I want to reach a large audience, and Facebook is one of my primary distribution outlets. I’m going to publish my truth on Facebook and embrace it.

This blog,, is ending. It might mutate to something else in the future, like a personal website. Or it might stay rigid. (In the meantime I’m planning to move it off WordPress and into some static/free hosting like Github Pages).

Thanks for reading, I hoped you enjoyed this blog, and hope you follow me on Medium.


For those who care why I’m moving: There are ups and downs to using Medium. The main downside is: I don’t “control my content” (although I do retain the legal rights). Mainly, I don’t get the SEO.

The upside: Zero maintenance costs, it just works, no comment spam, and I believe I can get ultimately more exposure there.

Blog opinion survey – please help

Hello dear readers!

I would like to understand my audience a bit better, to help me produce content you will find more relevant. Can you take 60 seconds of your time and fill out this super short survey?

Thanks – your help is appreciated.

On the importance of using your own domain, as a blogger

TL;DR – who owns your content – you, or your platform?

Via Bogen

Migrating my blog to wp-engine

I setup this blog a long time ago. Back then, the best option I could find was the infamous GoDaddy … I registered a domain there, and installed their WordPress offering.

For the past five years, it worked rather reliably, but now I’ve come to want more from my blog host. I don’t want just a dumb PHP host, I want a managed platform. After hearing about WP Engine from Oren, I finally decided to migrate. While the migration process wasn’t 1-click-migrate, it was well documented and simple, and their support helped me make it a smooth one.

Some of the features that I’m getting on WP Engine, that make it worth switching to:

  1. Automatic updates. Core wordpress is managed by WP Engine, and not me, and they will update the core whenever a new version is released.
  2. CDN support – the blog’s content is automatically hosted on CDN servers. This feature costs extra, but it’s essential for anyone looking for a good pagerank.
  3. Support – I trust that gone will be the days when I install a plugin, accidentally break my blog, and then scramble to get it to work. WP Engine seem to have top notch support, and if and when stuff will break, I trust they will be there for me.

It’s also worth mentioning that wp-engine aren’t the cheapest option. You can host your blog at, without your custom domain, for $13.00 a year. I do think you’re more limited with the type of customizations you can do, so it might not be a good fit for everyone. As for me, I just prefered to pay for the higher quality WP Engine service and get my peace of mind.

One last thought I had before committing to the yearly plan (there are monthly plans as well) – I really want to host my blog on Quora instead of WordPress. Quora is such a great platform, and there is a very good reason to host your blog there, but ultimately it’s not worth losing control of your content.

OK, so how do I start blogging?

OK, so you’ve read my previous post about why you should start blogging today, and you want to give it a spin. What’s next?

Let me give you a very quick getting-started guide from my angle, along with a few tips for those of you not afraid to get their hands dirty.


You have two options – buy your own top-level domain (e.g., or use a “subdomain”, under some company (e.g. or I highly recommend going with the former option and buying your own domain from the start.

Even if you’re just experimenting with blogging, and not sure it will stick, the cost for using a custom TLD from the start is so small ($5-$11) that it’s not worth the trouble. The big win about using your own domain is that you own 100% of the content down to the URL structure, and you can start building good, long term SEO for your site (essentially, start accumulating good page rank in Google). If you start your blog on a on someone else’s domain, and two years afterward you want to switch to another provider, your links will have to change (e.g. to, and this might affect your Google ranking. There are workarounds for this, but it’s better to just do it right from the start.


There are a lot of blogging platforms out there, but IMO there is one clear winner, popularity wise, which is wordpress (5 million wordpress sites, much more than the alternatives). WordPress has gotten to be real easy to use in the last few years, with one click updates, improvement on its editing and plugin mechanisms, and just overall richness of the ecosystem.

WordPress is open source, so even if you don’t know PHP, there are a lot of coders out there hacking away, fixing bugs, submitting new features (mostly in the form of plugins), and you can rest assured that whatever feature you need from your blog in the future, someone will add it sooner or later.

I migrated my blog from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress blog about four years ago, and never looked back.

Self-hosted vs “Hosted”

I recommend you start with opening a Hosted solution on, and register your own domain. This will cost you around $20 a year total, and you get all the advantages of a custom domain. You will not have the full customization/plugins options of a self-hosted blog, but when you start out, you won’t need it … there are plenty of customization options given free, out of the box (check under Appearances–>Widgets).

Sooner or later you might discover that you need your blog to do something that is not supported in the Hosted option, like automatically push your posts to Facebook/Twitter, connect your blog to Google Analytics to see powerful data about your visitors, post code snippets in Java, or have automatic backups of your blog sent to your email. For these, you’ll have to migrate off the comfort zone of, and into a more professional hosting. This might cost a bit more (you can get decent hosts from $5-$10 a month), and won’t be covered in depth in this post.

If you’re willing to pay extra for the comfort, you can get the best of both worlds – a fully customizable blog, with almost zero maintainence and setup time. Check out WPEngine … they’re rather expensive (starts at $30 a month, not including the domain name), but at least they have a 60 day free trial period.

Ask Questions!

If you have any question about WordPress blogging, go to and fire away, there’s a community of professional bloggers ready to assist you.

Why you should write a blog post today

Blogging was quite a trend a few years ago, but with the rise of Facebook & Twitter, it’s fallen out of favor with some. Well, I’m here to tell you that you should open your own blog today, and if you own a blog but haven’t posted in a while … you should come back to it and post some more.

There are several reasons for maintaining a blog, some of which I’m sure are relevant to you:

Reason 1 – A technical memento to your future self

I found out today how to do something cool. In a year, I won’t remember how to do it … but I might remember it enough to know what to look for. Once I’ve blogged about something, if I Google for it in the future I often find my own blog post, and save myself a considerable amount of time.

There are other venues for such mementos-to-self, but none as indexable and expressive as a blog post. Facebook content is poorly searchable … I searched for something I posted 2 days ago on Facebook and failed to find it except going over my stream/timeline. Twitter is very limiting … I guess it might be good for something, but not for keeping concrete knowledge about how to solve a problem, except that knowledge is just a link.

You could post a Stack Overflow or Quora question, and answer it, but that feels kind of akward. Actually, Quora has Boards which are rather similar to blogs for this purpose.

Reason 2 – Why not share the love?

An immediate followup to Reason#1 – if you worked hard and found out something, why not share it and save some time for other people who might run into the same problem? It’s just being a good citizen, and it doesn’t cost you more effort to share it rather than keep it in a private knowledge base e.g. Evernote / Google Docs. If you’ve ever Googled and found a blog post that solved your problem – now is your time to give something back.

Reason 3 – Professional Resume

Your blog tells the world about you. Whenever I interview for a job, the first thing on my resume is my blog. It shows that I am passionate about my profession. Even if your blog is just a collection of links, it shows what kind of technology stack you’re using or interested in, what your beliefs are, and what makes you tick. I’ll give a candidate with a personal blog a big +1 over a candidate without a blog any time. It takes courage to go out there and say “Even though I’m not worthy, I’m still out here, doing, writing, and sharing. I’m not the best software engineer / biologist / whatever in the world … but I’m trying my best, and I want to share it with you”.

Reason 4 – Alzheimer

This is an extension of reason 1. Reason 1 was about forgetting technical stuff … but as the years pass, you don’t just forget technical stuff, you forget who you were. Your life isn’t lived by a single personality, but is rather experienced by an endless series (or continuum) of personalities, each slightly different than the ones before it. I hardly remember what things we like twenty years ago … but I do know that 5 years ago, I felt the immense joy of leaving the army, didn’t like Google for a day, and had loads of fun playing Portal.

I recently started maintaining, in addition to this blog and social media accounts, a personal record of how each day worked out for me. My setup is simple – I setup a Google Calendar event to send me a daily reminder at 7 PM each day. I forward this reminder to Evernote, and prefix it with a number between 1 and 5 of “how much I enjoyed this day”, plus a one liner of key events that happened. I have a grand plan to one day go over these notes, chart out my happiness graph, and note any specific events … but for the time being I’m recording.

A blog can serve to record part of your history – the part you’re willing to be public about, of course. I picture my kids, ten or twenty years from now, reading through my blog (yeah right, all hundreds of entries :), to learn who their father was back on 2012, when we didn’t have hovercrafts and teleportation. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t, but I know that I would have been happy if my parents had kept such a diary.

Reason 5 – Helping semi-distant friends keep in touch

I have 267 friends on Facebook … guess with how many I actually keep in touch in real life? I guess maybe ten-fifteen max, and the real number is probably more close to five. But, thanks to Facebook, I get to not lose my other friends completely. Even though I don’t spend enough time with them, I get occasional glimpses of their lives.

The problem with social networks is you can’t possibly keep up with everything … I even miss cool posts like this one because they’re swallowed up in a huge stream of noise.

A part of the fix is blogging. When you have a blog, I’ll follow it with my trusty Google Reader, and it won’t get swallowed up, because I do read or glance everything in my reader stream. So please, if you’re a friend of mine, do me a personal favor and blog – I want to keep in touch with you!


Please, don’t give me bullshit like “You don’t have anything worth writing about” or “You’re not a good enough writer”. Perfect is the enemy of good … just start by writing something, it’s better by any definition than not writing anything. If you care about it, work on your writing and save up interesting bits to write later (I was saving the idea for this post for a couple of months now, until I got the time and energy to write it). Stuff happens in your life, both personal & professional. Save up the good parts, and write … your future self + children will thank you later.

Speed up your blog with three easy steps

Recently my blog started behaving really slowly, and I finally got down to do an optimization session. There are a ton of wordpress optimization guides out there, and I see no reason to write another full guide. Still, I think it’s worth it to share  how I cut a good deal of my blog’s load time using three simple steps:

Step one – measure it. I used Website Optimization for the comprehensive measurements (there are a lot of other options out there!), plus a local “timethis wget” to get a subjective feel.

Step two – reduce clutter. In the report I got from Website Optimization, I noticed I had a lot of objects. Nowadays with Facebook Like button, rating widgets, and other gizmos, a lot of pages are loaded with baggage. However, I didn’t find anything specific I’d like to remove, so I went for another easy solution – simply reducing the number of posts on my main page from 10 to 8 – this cuts down a lot of the load time. The exact timing varies by connection speed and other parameters, so let me just say that the total size of objects on my main page went down from a whopping 1,032,328 bytes to 742,197 – almost a 30% improvement! (obviously, this depends on post size distribution, but I imagine it will be significant in most cases). Let’s face it, your readers won’t really miss those last two posts that you dropped from your main page.

Step three – start actually using a cache plugin! I did have WP Super Cache installed a while back, but I never got down to tuning it. When I checked out the advanced tab I noticed that my blog wasn’t compressing pages (off by default). This alone shaved off another 25% of the total objects size, now down to 557,199 bytes.

Overall, Website Optimization claims about 40% improvement in page load time over a theoretical T1, I believe that the actual improvement in page load time in reality is larger, especially for users behind crappy Israeli ISPs.

I know there are a lot of other optimization techniques and measurement tools out there. Still, remember that the purpose of this post wasn’t to be a complete optimization guide, but rather to focus on the “easy and dumb optimizations” that have greatest ROI.

Hello Worldpress 2.7

I was waiting for such a post to upgrade. Took 6 minutes, including this post, using WordPress Auto-Upgrade plugin. Still need to explore the new version though. And I still need to tweak Simple Tags plugins.

Update – Things I like:

  1. I finally found where to manage spam comments. I accidentally marked a bunch of legitimate comments as spam the other week, and for the life of me, just couldn’t find how to undo it. In 2.7, you can access all comments from the dashboard.
  2. Finally, built in Ajax