Jamal Hansen


Watch me learn blogging, Gatsby, GraphQL, React, CSS and more

OMG! What have I done?

It all started.. well that was a long time ago. Much more recently I read Technical Blogging, Second Edition, because I wanted to get back into technical blogging. I also wanted to get back into continuous learning. When I find things to post about, I find things I'm interested in. When I find things I'm interested in, I go down the rabbit hole and learn things. Sometimes those things are even what I set out to learn in the first place. Sometimes they are completely unrelated. This is a story of one of those times.

Jekyll Blogs

I set out to create a single blog that I would use to write about technical things. I decided on CodingTruck.com as my url and Jekyll as my platform. I'm a big fan of static site generators and have dabbled with them before. I probably have a few git repos lying around with blogs that I've started and then fizzled out. While I was purchasing the domain, I found that JamalHansen.com was available. That was too good of an offer to pass up, so I got it.

In the past I challenged myself to an art challenge where I would make art on index cards everyday. I had my kids join me from time to time and it was fun. At one point these were online, but sadly they aren't anymore. I still make some of these from time to time and decided that since I'm getting the blogging thing started again I would get these online again. Then I purchased 3x5art.com for the site.

Thru Darkly

3x5art.com is a project where a lot of the work is scanning and editing scans for upload. I have old scans of a lot of the art, but new scans would make them look nicer. There are probably hundreds of these to scan and so some automation goes a long way to making this goal achievable.

I've done this once and having the description text in a reusable consumable format would be really nice. Also, being able to generate markdown pages from the scans and description text would really make me happy.

Setting up and automating this pipeline is where the Thru Darkly project came from. It is shaping up to be an npm package that will take some queues to generate a template that can be filled with a description. That template will then be used to create the markdown for the blog. I think it's pretty neat.

It is also adding complexity to what started out as a single technical blog, but I'm on a roll and this is how I learn. I'm going with it.

Query the world

I've got CodingTruck.com up and running and have started writing a series of posts on learning sql. It's going pretty well and I even have a couple weeks of buffer written. I have difficulty sorting out what goes in which blog. How do I keep each focused and interesting? How do I optimize for SEO keywords so that they will ever show up in a web search?

I don't really know the answers, but I'm moving forward with what I do have a vision for. Then, boom! I have a moment of clarity while writing Thru Darkly where I'm trying to write in a functional style. I realize that coding is simply data transformations. Querying a database is also data transformations. In fact most everything we do on a computer involved querying data and transforming it into another form.

Not long after that, I've purchased QueryTheWorld.com with a vision of how all 4 sites will fit together.


Oh, did I mention that I also discovered Gatsby along the way? I don't know React or Gatsby but I would love to learn them. So I've decided (also known as losing my mind or making bad decisions) that I will build all four blogs up from "hello world" to functional (and hopefully visited) blogs.

But this is Jekyll

If you are reading this in 2019, there is a chance that the blog you are reading is still a Jekyll blog. This is a big endeavor and I expect it to take a while for me to get everything going. I am making my best effort to make this happen though. I'm excited.

In for a ride

What can you expect from this blog in the future? I plan to write about this endeavor. Writing 4 blogs and my journey of learning Gatsby, React as well as improving my HTML, CSS and JS skills along the way.

  • Coding Truck will feature posts that center on getting started with things
  • 3x5 art will contain my artwork
  • Query the world will focus on finding and transforming data; including my ongoing efforts to improve my functional programming skills.


What do you think? Have I lost my mind? Are you interested in finding out where this ends up? Please let me know!

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels