2017 Website Update

This was a project is decide to start at 9 pm one Saturday night. I realized I didn’t like the way my websites different websites looked or the workflow I used to manage/update them. I started just wanting to update my casestudies website and create a small light weight task management site, but it evolved into an update to all sites I run through the joshuakitchens.com domain. I’ve even created a few new ones along the way. After playing around, and then finally making myself think through what I really wanted to accomplish I arrived at one major goal. My goal with this project is to create a suite of sites that will help with research, dessimation of research, project management, and sharing of teaching/learning materials. A secondary goal that I decided on mid-way, was that the whole thing would run on static websites, which would decrease load on my server. All tools that were are open sources.

Main Site Tasks (joshuakitchens.com)

I’ve been running joshuakitchens.com, and before that Friendly Neighborhood Archivist since 2011. I’ve used every platform imaginable, but most recently I was using wordpress.org self hosted on a linode vps. I started having some weird server load issues two months ago, and it seems a few experiments gone awry and mysql were to blame. To fix this, I sought was to decrease the load, beyond destroying the wild experiments. The method I arrived at for doing this was to focus on using static sites instead of database driven sites. I’d previously used jekyll for my case studies site, and felt comfortable working with it. I decided to go with the neo-hypstr jekyll theme for all site except the presentation site to keep a consistent look and feel across the entirety of joshuakitchens.com. I had a few hiccups getting using it more fully through ruby gems, but I’m glad I settled on this product for most of my sites. I hope to discuss the workflow that I’ve created at a later date.

Research Site Task (research.joshuakitchens.com)

The new research.joshuakitchens.com grew out of my frustration with evernote and the workflows I’d created for it. I just felt like I wasn’t getting what I need from the evernote product any more, so I decided to mostly abandon it. This research site is what I came up with as sort of evernote replacement. Combining jekyll, my server, and google drive, my trusty moleskin notebook, and my iPhone, I think that I’ve create a workflow and site that will help me focus on researching and disseminating preliminary research efficiently and effectively. I will also be able to connect to resources that need to be restricted do to copyright or other issues by using google drive as a gate keeper of sorts.

Case Study Site Task (casestudies.joshuakitchens.com)

My case studies site was already using jekyll, but the design was ugly and there wasn’t a search functionality built into the old theme. This update allowed me to add search and a nicer design. The design also made me rethink how I categorized casestudies. I’m trying to use tags more liberally but assign only one category per case study.

Presentations Site (presentations.joshuakitchens.com)

I chose strapdown.js for this site because I can add slide decks extremely quickly. Eventually, I hope to do editing for this site away from my main development environment on a mobile device.

Projects Site (projects.joshuakitchen.com)

When I started this project, I originally wanted a small site to document and track projects and tasks. I’ve tried to install about every open source task/project management software that exist on my various servers and machines. This time I wanted to go simple so I created a small site containing markdown files and html files generated from those files. I created pages for daily and weekly tasks. I sorted out big projects and created entries for those, as well. It sort of worked, but I found that I wasn’t having time to create the daily task list. The workflow I create is roughly what follows:

writing markdown files -> convert to html -> upload to server -> Mark complete at the end of the day -> convert and upload

That workflow made sense at 2 am one night but by Monday morning it just didn’t work. As I was transitioning my main site, I needed to decide what to do with my old portfolio. The solution was to turn the task idea into a project/portfolio idea. This way I could document major projects, but also use this site as sort of . For daily/weekly tasks, I’ve opted to use google keep for now. Ask me in few days, I may be on to something else. This is another jekyll site.

I consider my main site and my various subdomains as my toolkit or application suite for my various research, teaching, and archival projects. I needed the sites to have a consistent navigation. Below is the sketch for the navigation. All sites are connected and linked, but essentially separate self contained sites. I did rework my virtual hosts a bit to clean things up and make my upload process easier.


Joshua Kitchens

Joshua Kitchens
Joshua Kitchens, on academic life, technology, video games, and every thing else.