Site Improvements

After a long, harsh estrangement, I’ve reunited with this website. In addition to finally posting again, I’ve also overhauled it under the hood and made it more readable. The theme here?

I should have known better and did know better

  • Speed—I’ve been paying for a VPS for over a year now, but never had anything running on the server. I finally got around to installing CentOS + nginx + PHP-FPM with APC + MySQL on it: a standard, stable but modern setup. With a few tweaks to get WordPress caching working and several nail-biting hours of DNS fiddling1, this site is officially off of shared hosting and waaay faster.
  • Fonts—I had previously used a self-hosted embedded version of Lucida Grande, but this caused a lot of problems. For example, I didn’t include a true italic version2, so browsers would skew my <em> text at an angle instead—a symptom that typographers are calling “faux italic.” I’ve now switched to Lato hosted at Google Web Fonts. It’s an open-source Grotesque typeface with tall geometric line figures that make years and figures pop out:

    As of 2012, geeks have feelings uses four (4) variants of Lato.

    Consistent line widths and classical proportions, such as a low x-height, keep it classy yet readable. Also, I’ve added Inconsolata as an @font-face to display my monospace text, in case you don’t have the more preferred Consolas.

  • Readability—I’ve upped the text size to 14px, from 11px. Having used very high-DPI displays—Thinkpad W500 15.4″ 1920×1200 and ExtremePro AirBook 15″ 2880×1800—I myself have had no shortage of complaints about this site, in terms of eyestrain. In addition, I’ve made the paragraphs justified, aided by a script to do hyphenation.
  • Spam/Security—turns out my site had been compromised, plus I had deleted my CAPTCHA plugin when I upgraded WordPress some time ago. So I found my comment queue full of spam, not to mention my server a probable source of additional outgoing spam. I’m working hard to prevent this from happening again.
  • Backups—still not as good as I’d like my system to be. I’m thinking of backing up the database and media to Amazon S3 while keeping a Git repo somewhere of the site code.

Hopefully I won’t stop updating my site again once I’m back to school/work.

  1. Friggin’ Google DNS cache is sooo slow at updating. []
  2. Because none existed; Lucida Grande was licensed by Apple for its UI, except for the italic style. Presumably Apple didn’t need any? []

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