Glenn's Personal Tools

April 14, 2017 // Tagged in: Tools

I hesitate to go into what I use since probably no student in the class will make these same choices. Still, if I'm teaching the class, you ought to have access to info on how I work. So for anyone interested, here's what I use:

Web Hosting

I buy web server space from a company called WiredTree. They just got bought by an even bigger hosting company called LiquidWeb.

When you make a site with a free platform like Blogger, Tumblr, or WordPress.com, you have 1 website. You could make more sites on those platforms at the same no cost. When you make a site on a pay service like Squarespace or Cargo Collective, you rent 1 website from them. If you wanted another website, you'd pay them again.

When you use Open Source, or Free Software, like WordPress.org, Ghost, or MediaWiki, you can install as many instances as you like, but you need a web server to install them on. One of my students bought a $35 Raspberry Pi computer, taped it under his desk, and ran his WordPress website from there. Most peeps however rent space on one of a zillion hosts like WiredTree.

With a host like WiredTree you aren't renting "a website" like you are at Squarespace, you're renting server space, where you can install / upload whatever you want, as much as you want, within the limits of your plan. I'm running many dozens of WordPress, Ghost & MediaWiki sites in my 50gb of storage and 2.5gb of RAM. I like WiredTree a lot. I've used many other hosts over the years. I liked most of them less.

Why does anyone need more than 1 website? To me the web is not just a tool, it is a medium. It is a site for art. A painter might say, photography is great, it lets me show my paintings and advance my career. I think I'll buy a nice camera to show my paintings well. That's great! That's photography as a tool to document your paintings. Awesome. But as you know, photography can also be art itself. Not just documentation of other art. Similarly, you're taking this class to show your work in fiber, metal, wood, ceramics, etc, on the web. Awesome. But the web is not just a place to document work in other media, it can be a medium for art itself.

For a portfolio you probably only need 1 website. But you wouldn't ask a poet why they ever need to write more than 1 book of poetry? Or ask a musician why they ever need to make more than 1 album? Websites are paintings. I make a lot of them.

Platforms

Things I Don't Use

Storage

There are many storage choices: Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive. As far as I know, they're all good. I use Google Drive but not really for "storage", more for "Google Docs" (spreadsheets, slide shows, and so on)

I've been mainly using Dropbox and it works well. I think you can still get 2gb free from Dropbox. A while back they said, Hey Glenn, you're such a nice guy, we're giving you an extra 50gb for free for 2 years. Obvious marketing ploy! Nonetheless, I'm now using more than 2gb, so when the 2 years is up and they ask me to pay up, I'll go to their 1tb plan for $8.25 / month. (marketing ploy succeeded) (1kb = 1 thousand bytes, 1mb = 1 million bytes, 1gb = 1 billion bytes, 1tb = 1 trillion bytes)

Flickr & YouTube aren't bulk storage like the others, but they're still useful. Flickr gives everyone 1tb for free, which is pretty amazing. That's 500x the 2gb you get free from Dropbox, and 67x more than the 15gb you get free from Google Drive. I'm on the Flickr "Pro" plan for $25/year which gives you unlimited storage, although I'm no where near the 1tb. If you're any kind of artist other than a photographer, 1tb will last you a long, long time. Even with a high end camera you can still upload a huge number of full rez images. It's a shame that parent company Yahoo has done such a terrible job handling and marketing Flickr. In a just world, Flickr would be mopping the floor with pathetic Instagram. But here in Kardashian-Trump world, crappy Instagram has all the juice, and nobody cares about the power of Flickr & Flickr mobile.

Storing even large images isn't that big a deal today. But video is another matter. For a large, or complex project, I'd be saving source video. But for the many interviews, vlogs to the class, and other things I create, I've made the decision not to store source video. Once I upload it to YouTube or Vimeo, I delete my source files. So my only storage for most video is those services and whatever resolution I can get out of them. Again, not for a big project, but for everyday usage.

Writing

Most of you will prefer Visual Editing over Text Editing. With Visual Editing, you see something close to what you will get. It's the best for most students. I personally find it a little imprecise and don't use it. With Text Editing you just type HTML tags yourself. I find this more precise and powerful, but seeing HTML tags creeps out most students.

Even though I prefer a Text Editor over a Visual Editor, as the tags pile up it gets a little bit hard to read.

HTML is Hyper-Text Markup Language, it's the original idea of the web. It's a simple language that lets you Markup Text to display as a web page.

Along the way a format called Markdown was created. It's a simple way of writing HTML and it eventually gets converted to HTML.

This is a <em>sample</em> line of <strong>HTML</strong>.  
This is a *sample* line of **Markdown**.  

Both of the above lines produce the same results:
This is a sample line of HTML.
This is a sample line of Markdown.

Platforms like Tumblr have native support for Markdown. WordPress does not, but I use a WordPress plugin to write in Markdown. The Ghost Blogging platform is natively in Markdown. Ghost also has a dual view editor for writing: Markdown on the left and Preview on the right. Ghost isn't as powerful and flexible as WordPress, but it is the most elegant and enjoyable way of writing I've ever experienced. For example, here's a picture of this page as I'm typing it:

Screen capture of writing with Markdown in Ghost Writing this page! (click to enlarge)

Editing

Domain Names

I've bought domain names from a bunch of registrars. I'm slowly trying to consolidate them all at Hover.

Hardware

Desktop

Laptop

Phone

Tablet

Camera

Facebook's Oregon Data Center Facebook's Oregon Data Center / image: c|net