Current Interests - Q2 '20

It is a new thing that I am trying out. It is an attempt to define my middle-term goals and to keep my learning efforts focused.

This list contains the things that I am currently interested in. I will define these items at the beginning of each quarter and will try to learn as much as possible about them in the next 3 months. If there is still more to learn, or I am not satisfied with my efforts, I will push them to the next quarter.

I am focused on books more nowadays, but if there are any other resources on these items that might be useful, please let me know.

  • Operating Systems (continuing)
    • Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces
  • Linear Algebra (continuing)
    • Gilbert Strang’s video lectures
  • Basic concepts of Quantum Computing
  • Sketching on iPad

P.S. - Since one month has already passed in Q2, my efforts will be focused on achieving these goals before June 30.

Inspiration - Julian Lehr

Design Update – Tufte Css

I updated the theme of this blog again. That too, just within 20 days. I had been tracking the tufte-css project for quite some time. However, I could not find any suitable Hugo theme based on tufte-css. There are some great tufte-css based Jekyll themes. At one point, I even considered switching to Jekyll, just for this design! However, good senses prevailed, and I managed to stay with Hugo.

Later, I changed my blog’s theme also, but I was not happy. Although the previous theme was good, it was not to my liking. It was too close to the material-design look. Too many boxes, yuck!

But one thing worked in my favor. I had an HTML base on which I could work and develop a theme. So I decided to use tufte-css as the CSS base and worked upon that to reach this point. Boy, it looks beautiful, isn’t it?

It took me close to 20-25 hours to finish this work (I am no good at Web Development). I spent the entire weekend working on this theme. That means that in the second week of my paper-reading challenge, I failed to post a summary. Weekdays are somewhat tricky, but I will try to post a review. Otherwise, next week, it is a topmost priority. What is the point of content-centric blogging otherwise?

There are few hiccups, however, especially when rendering on my iPad.

Lately, I became utterly disillusioned with Goodreads. However, I am not ditching it entirely until I find a better method to track books and my reading-progress. I am trying to port my bookshelf to this domain. The /books page is the first step in that direction. Now I need to figure out how to update this blog automatically with my reading status, and new books added to my to-read and read shelves. I am thinking of a combination of Google Sheets and Go scripts to achieve this. I will post my experience once I finish the work.

Happy 4th Anniversary!!

Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of this blog. On 3rd April, in 2016, I posted first article on this blog. Since then, this blog and its design have gone through many changes. The latest iteration was just a few days back. I also experimented with a CMS (content management systems) like Wordpress and a variety of SSGs (static site generators) such as Jekyll, Pelican, and Hugo. For the majority of the last 3 years, I have stayed with Hugo, solely because of simplicity and incredibly fast build speeds.

On that day, I was randomly searching the web and found a software called Wordpress. Setting up a webpage was a very fascinating idea to me at that time (it still is!). Hostinger.in used to provide a basic hosting service for free. As I was in college, I was eligible to get Github Education pack and with that came a free .me domain on Namecheap. My first domain name was theyashagarwal.me.

Even though I was on the verge of getting a fail grade in the Algorithms course, I could not resist my self from setting up this blog. I regret that I didn’t take a screenshot of my previous themes. Those screenshots might have been an excellent addition to this post.

Website on 04-04-2020

Better late than never. Above is the screenshot of the website as it looks today.

I hope to keep saying this page my web home for years to come… 😄

About this blog's new design

I was thinking about updating this blog’s theme for quite some time. The only issue was that I was not willing to start working on a new theme from scratch. Frontend designing doesn’t work with me anymore. None of the themes on the Hugo Themes website suited my taste. I liked themes (especially those based on tufte-css) on some of the blogs that I follow, but either the themes were made for Jekyll, or their source was not public. In the meanwhile, I lost my interest in writing also. I believe that disinterest has some roots in this delay in changing the look of this blog. Weird, I know.

My requirements for a new theme were simplistic. The stylesheet should not be in SASS/SCSS, no NPM/Webpack/JS nonsense, the mobile version should be functioning with a hamburger icon for the menu, and the code should be open-source with a favorable license (I did not want to rewrite the theme completely).

Then the Coronavirus lockdown happened in India. Thankfully, I had anticipated this quite early and arrived at my home in Jaipur a couple of days before the announcement when everything was still under control. It gave me an ample amount of free time (outside of work hours) suddenly. By the way, today is the 11th day of my somewhat self-quarantine. Hopefully, I will be alright. 😌

I was looking for some themes, and then I found this website. This website fitted all my conditions with some extra goodies (the integration of Webmentions is one such feature). The only issue was that it came with its own share of problems. The author seems to have worked on this theme quite extensively, though I couldn’t appreciate the code structure of the theme. It took me a couple of days to restructure the code, modified some CSS to my liking, and hurrah, everything was setup. The only issue is that the theme is broken on the Safari browser. I do not intend to fix that right now. I’ll keep that for some future date.

You can see the original theme here, and my modified version here. It is still work in progress, and a lot can be improved in the structure of code. But for now, this is working for me. I will fix issues as and when they appear.

The Google page speed results are the best I have managed to get till now (although it is almost equivalent to the original website, so I haven’t contributed much to these scores).

Desktop score

Desktop score

Mobile score

Mobile score

I am trying to switch from Disqus to Commento, but the pricing is an issue here. Self-hosting Commento is an option, but I am not sure if I am ready to maintain my own servers. If I go with self-hosting, I have a lot of things to host. But the cost is a significant obstruction. But, it is also true that I will not get the convenience of privacy for free. I need to think about it carefully.

One another trick that I found out was to enable gzip compression on pages served by Gitlab. The simple idea is to just gzip every page on the website in the same directory where the original HTML page is present. Gitlab will automatically pick the gzipped version and serve it to the client. You can see that in my .gitlab-ci.yml file.

I was trying to create a staging environment (a Gitlab site, staging.yashagarwal.in, based on a branch of my Git repo, the master branch would serve the root domain) where I could test any changes to this website before pushing it to the actual site. But it does not seem possible with current Gitlab features. I do not want to move to Netlify or such third party services to achieve this, so for now, I will just keep myself limited to local testing.