Why I write a blog

Why I write a blog

There's been a few podcasts / Tweets / comments that I've noticed recently where people have talked about why they write a blog.  This is why I blog (apparently it's a verb).

I started blogging about 14 years ago, when it was becoming cool, and services like Live Journal had been around a while.  Being a developer I decided I wanted to write my own content management system for my blog to run on, so I put together the first version of the Jonsdocs web site, running on a web server in my bedroom.  The site design was very minimal, hosting some CD reviews, my blog and some information on my computers at the time.  The Wayback machine has it archived so I've put a screenshot below (although the images are broken).  It's fair to say I'm not a graphic designer!

Initially my blog was just a place to vent and a diary of sorts, and looking back over some of my old posts that shows.  I recall getting into some trouble at my first job (although they just asked me not to name the company) and then also when I worked at the school (I'd definitely overstepped the mark, and deserved that rap on the knuckles).  Hopefully those experiences, and time, has taught me to be a bit more diplomatic and tactful, although those still aren't skills I'm wonderfully blessed with.

While working at the school I realised I used a lot of tools as part of my job, and although that wasn't unique to my role I did have a platform to share some of those tools with other people.  I started a second blog called utility of the week and mentioned a number of tools including Procmon and Process Explorer, both by Sysinternals, but that blog fell by the wayside.  Having revived my blog I'll be mentioning tools and tips on the same blog (like this post about using Procmon and Wireshark), rather than maintaining multiple blog sites.  For a short period I did some creative writing on a third blog, styled "BlogStory".  I'm not likely to bring that back any time soon though.

My blog took a hiatus as I worked on my Masters degree[1] and didn't resume for some time.  I also stopped updating my wiki, essentially a digital technician's notebook that had useful information and fixes from my time working at the school, and later as a service support engineer.

Why I blog now

I tried to restart and replace my site a few times, again writing my own blogging platform so I had complete control.  Other projects kept taking priority so nothing happened until Troy Hunt announced he'd moved to the Ghost blogging platform.  After a quick nose around it appeared Ghost had all the features I wanted, and frankly it looked better than anything that I could put together (I'm still not a designer) so that seemed a logical choice.  I put my own website code permanently on ice.

That then left the question "is it actually worth blogging again?".  Following yet another post by Troy (I have a lot of respect for him), I realised there was a significant benefit to having some form of identity online so future employers could validate my worth.  I'm also hopeful that my posts are useful to other people, so my blog serves two purposes.  Speaking to some of my readers (yes, more than one) they find my posts interesting and that's an amazing compliment.

Sometimes it can take hours to find solutions to problems online, often buried in a Microsoft Technet forum or Stack Overflow question.  I've started using my blog as a technician's notebook again under the fix and how-to tags.  I've had to look up fixes in my own blog posts, and directed colleagues to them, so it's certainly aiding my memory on that front.

How long does each post take?

It can easily take me an hour to write a post of around a thousand words, although that depends if I'm writing directly from memory or if I'm researching things as I go.  Some of my "fix" posts take less time as they're generally shorter and have more screenshots.

I don't necessarily write posts in one sitting either.  This post was written across about three days and I've got about fifteen posts in draft at the moment.  Some are just titles, perhaps with a few bullet points, while others have a few hundred words each.  Most of them will be finished at some point, but I tend to direct my writing to what I'm interested in at any given moment.

Curiously, if I'm writing a letter (perhaps four A5 pages) to someone, by hand,  that takes about an hour too.

What's to come?

I'm still aiming to post about once a week, on various topics.  Sometimes I'll fall behind that schedule but I'm keen to not force myself to write - that'll probably lead to dross.  Some more ethics posts are planned along with some more how-to guides.  I've got a post on "next generation" firewalls to finish too.  Having used my WASD keyboard for a bit there'll be a review of that coming.

Some things of my old site didn't make the cut: gallery, podcast, profiles on my computers.  Stuff that's not overly useful and potentially a security risk.

Get in touch

If you find my blog useful or interesting I'd love to hear from you.  I can be found on Twitter as @joncojonathan or you can email me via [email protected] (the address is already in my security.txt, so reproducing it here is hardly the end of the world).

Banner image is a screenshot from my blog.

[1] You can read my Masters dissertation here.