On Coding, Website-Building, and Relationships with My Hobbies

Let’s just start this by saying that this post is awfully overdue. I’ve been meaning to write it since I sort-of finished building my personal homepage (pseudomon.github.io) last month, but somehow it’s just been side-lined. My interest in programming jumps around with time, it seems. When I’m into it, I will bury myself in it, but other times I just let it slip out of my mind completely.

It’s like having a relationship with someone who travels a lot, and you only get to see them when they’re unexpectedly in town.

So. Yes. I have a personal homepage now. pseudomon.github.io, which I’m hoping to turn into a portfolio-like place where I can put my more notable works, just so they won’t drown in the sea of other posts in this blog. So far I’ve listed some reviews and stories that I’ve made. I was hoping I could also put up my programming projects, but after poking through my folders, I realised that I don’t really have any that’s worth showing. Mostly they’re just, well, code doodles? Experiments? The only programming project I’ve actually gotten done is the website itself.

I’ve been meaning to build my own website for a long time now. I think I even made a blog post about it here in, what, 2014? I was trying out static site generator at the time. I remember creating a working offline one with Hugo, with my own design.

At the time, my main motive for building a site from scratch was load times. WordPress was a behemoth that ate up resource and bandwith (still is, really), and I was thinking about creating somewhere that’s lighter. But, as I’ve mentioned above, I had an odd relationship with programming, and I guess at the time it was in town. That odd desire to mess around codes again must’ve been fuel too.

I had an early interest in coding and programming, I suppose. I can’t remember when I started using a computer, but I remember my first was Windows 98. For reference, I was born in ’97. And then I distinctly remember joining online communities around when I was 9. I was active at this website, Neopets, and they have a web page for every pet that’s customizable with (sanitized) HTML and CSS. I somehow found places where fellow Neopets player were putting up tutorials and web design references, and things were just going from there.

I didn’t stay in Neopets long enough to make anything notable (I was 9. What’s to be expected?), but I suppose I learned enough of the basic to carry with me. I never made an effort to remember what I did; I only sometimes make small web pages for the heck of it, but it’s.. it’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to do it.


I dropped out of college this semester, but I’d been scrambling for anything, anything to distracts me from schoolwork since October. Programming was in town again, it asked me out, I said sure, why not. As it went, messing around with coding gave me a purpose in those (these)  uncertain months, so I’m grateful.

I learned Python when I was in middle school (so that was probably when I was 13 or 14), but never got too far beyond the basic. A browse (an obsessive dig, really) through a very nice programming-centric blog said to check out  Flask, if you want to get into web development with Python. So I did.

For weeks and weeks after that I buried myself in it. I read up documentations, tutorial, Stack Exchange answers.I used git for real. I found out how to deploy the website I made to Heroku (it took a bajillion commits just to deploy it, dangit). It was great.

The still-unfinished-but-working-enough result you can see here (loading might take a while because of how Heroku works), and the code for it you can see at my GitHub repository here. Unfortunately, I’ve pretty much lost interest in the project. It has gone out of town.

Afterwards, I started to focus more on designing the website instead of building it. Back to the same idea I had in 2014: creating a static website.

Functional visual design, typography, and web design specifically fascinates me, even though I could never come up with any that’s worth anything, nor do I have enough drive to actually make any that’s worth anything. My interest in visual design is a friend who’s very rarely in town, and its visits are curt and fleeting.

Still, I worked pretty deep into it:

siteproto1

The first design I made for it. I was aiming to do the layout first, typography and colour last. But looking at something so drab really does kill the mood for creating.

siteproto2

The second design, which I doodled up in an inspired night. The design was taken, err, inspired, by another free design on the web. I really like the colours here, but ultimately I think it’s too blog-sy for what I was aiming for.

siteproto3

I repurposed the colour and typography from the previous design into this one. The design is inspired by minimalistic style in some games’ UI. The buttons were dynamic. Each section shows up (with some nice animation)  when the button is clicked. I think at the end I thought it too bland

siteproto4

The design as it shows up now in pseudomon.github.io. I like the stylised look, personally. It suits me better than the futuro-minimalism I was aiming for in the previous designs, but I always feel there’s something off about it, especially in sections with a lot of text. Could be the colours, the fonts, I’m still not sure.

 

I wanted to make a portfolio-like site instead of a blog, this time. Partly because I was (am) having an identity crisis, and I’m grasping for things that I’m good at.

I’ve planned to have it hosted on GitHub Pages from the beginning. At first I wanted to hardcode everything with HTML, because figuring out how generators work is too much work. Except, except I realised if I want to have multiple pages for the site, it’ll be too messy to make them separately, considering there’s a lot of the layout that stays the same (the header, the links at the bottom, the general layout). Change on small parts, and you’ll have to change everything.

So I dived back to reading up static site generaor, which was, as I was expecting, really, way more work than it should have. Perhaps at the time I was already getting sick of reading so many different documentations. At the end I created my own Python script to generate the website.

At the end of the day, it was really too much work for what it ended up like. But, hey, it’s about the journey, not the end. I think I learned plenty through these trips. My biggest, most applicable takeaway from all these is just reinforcing how awfully big this world is. If one thing doesn’t work, there’s always just another place, another way to get it right.


So now. I’ve stopped being so obsessed with programming. My project on Heroku is left unfinished. My website still has “Under construction” notice for its Translation section, which I really should be getting back to. I’ve never done any professional translations, admittedly, but I did translations for a couple of stories in this blog, and I think I did a pretty fine job handling translations for Touhou games on Touhou Patch Center.

Translation, like programming, and web designing, and music (I play the guitar), comes and goes. I’m just learning to identify them when they come, and make good use of the moments when they do, and to let them go when it’s gone.

Writing, though. Writing stories, or essays, or just little ramblings like these, in English (not being as comfortable with my native tongue is one of my greatest shame), is always here. Like it’s already moved in, and I love seeing it being here everyday. There are times when I want to kick it out of the door, yeah, but even when I’m mad at it, I’m still holding on to it (don’t go).

Hey. Hey, thanks for reading. Have a good day.

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