This blog was started in March of 2009 during a pivotal moment of my life. I had recently been fired from Michigan Tech, my first post-college job, and was using my free time to create a website to allow me to both market and develop myself professional. With the new site's blog I hoped to discuss web development, hiking, and personal stories in a manner that was both professional and helpful for other people.
Since its creation in March the blog has already had several major looks. I first planned for it to be part of my major website, with similar layout and designs used in the blog pages as my portfolio. After working with this for several months, I soon realized that this was restricted both the opportunities for the blog's development and affecting my search engine ranking. Starting in mid-July I broke my main site into subdomains, which eventually helped the page rank for each section and allowed me to expand both the front and back end of the blog. The current look for my blog was rolled out several weeks ago, and though I already have a more object-orientated view for the backend already, I've grown quite fond of the layout.
Since the latest blog design has been rolled out I've been able to develop a few different tools more customized for a blog then my full site. A custom search engine has been built into the left navigation bar, completely free of any third-party service that quickly and safely pulls results from all of the blog posts. The ability to easily post my blog entries on Facebook, Twitter, and Digg has been added to all of the posts. Hiking articles include links to my hiking map and a raw KML of the route, and some even include static Google images with routes or markers to better explain the journey.
In what I hope will be the largest step forward for reader interactivity with this blog, I recently rolled out an advanced commenting system. Readers can easily post comments on any of my posts without a login system or email verification. Nested comments are supported, enabling a limited discussion to start about each post. Also, to make it easier for readers to keep informed, an option for email notification on new comments is allowed on each post. If the reader wants to know when someone replies to their comment they can choose to receive an email instead of constantly revisiting my site.
I still have more plans for the blog, both for the backend and frontend. Programming demos, code downloads, photo gallery links, and a time lining option are just a few of the more obvious future changes. I'm sure that I'll end up doing a complete design refresh within the next few months first, though. One day I hope to offer the source code up as a lightweight option to Wordpress, but there's a lot of code I'd like to be object-based first. Until then, I still have plenty of web programming tips, hiking adventures, and personal stories to share, so stay tuned!