Week 05, 2024 - First!

Week 05, 2024 - First!
Unkept viewpoint in Budapest, off the beaten path

I'm starting a weekly log to establish a regular rhythm of updates, make myself accountable for my goals, and share things that I otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to.

Spring is slowly coming to Budapest, it only goes below 0ºC at night now. The sun is still low and weak, but it starts to feel warm.

What I learnt this week

My goal for this week was simply to start this blog: have a site with some Hello World content. I only managed to achieve this because at 11PM Thursday night I pulled myself out of the rabbit hole of deploying various versions of Ghost to Heroku instances. I realized that for now, the limited flexibility is OK to sacrifice in order to have something that’s ready and working out of the box, so here I am, hosted on ghost.io.

The last blog I personally set up was using Movable Type, on my actual I-can-go-there-and-kick-it server in a hosting center, no virtualization, cloud or whatsoever. It was a while ago. The next 15 years or so I spent working at various media companies, leading teams working on in-house proprietary blog engines and Content Management Systems, so I lost track of what’s in fashion nowadays.

I remember back in the early 2000s Movable Type by default generated static HTML pages, and the new feature in town was that you could configure it to publish dynamically, rendering every page live at the time of request. It was an art to balance which types of pages to render statically and how long to cache dynamic ones not to kill your server when traffic ramps up. Until it wasn’t: just setting everything to dynamic and having index pages rebuilt in the background was good enough for most use cases. Then Wordpress came and everyone moved on. Today, it seems like we made a full circle: static site generators have not just survived these years, but with free hosting options like GitHub pages, are still pretty popular.

I spent a day or so considering the idea of a Hugo site hosted on GitHub, but after trying it with a simple blog I realized I would spend more time tinkering with the setup and templates than producing content. Which, while it sounds fun, was not my goal. The conclusion was more or less the same with the self-hosted version of Ghost, though I left that option open for the future.

What I want to try next week

I want to start writing the “Engineering Manager problems” series that’s in my head since weeks. The premise would be simple: an EM comes with a problem and I help them find various approaches to understand and address the situation. I had so many interesting cases, it’s going to be great to distill these to simple articles.

I also want to clean up the site a bit before starting to show people.

Something cool: Notion AI

Each week, I plan to share something not closely related to my profession. I'm easily excited about various topics, and writing about these helps me organize my thoughts on them.

This week it’s Notion AI. I had some good experience with ChatGPT and more specialized solutions like Type and the new AI functionalities in Confluence, but I haven’t used Notion AI yet. With this new blog, it seemed like a good opportunity to try it out. (I write in a maximized Notion window — I like the lack of distractions.)

I recorded my experiment that resulted in the short description of this site:

Notion AI test video

It’s a fairly boring 11-minute brainstorming session with an interesting… partner? The way I use generative AI for written content is similar to having an assistant that’s extremely capable, but sometimes surprisingly dumb and stubborn.

When this process is working, it gives me the feeling of effortless flow, bouncing ideas back and forth with a creative partner, each version getting better and better because of the collaboration itself: I add something that inspires them, they change something that makes me think of another aspect, and so on.When it’s not working, the illusion falls apart, and the emperor is naked: it’s all just glorified autocomplete. Still, it’s working better and better more and more often, helping to unblock creativity.

That’s it for this week, take care of yourselves,


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