< stdout >

RFC 000 -> initial

2023-04-20T06:42:35Z 🎶 welcome to the world of pokemon composed by junichi masuda, for pokemon diamond, pearl, & platinum

# abstract

A nice, simple starter post. Why I started this blog, simple tech decisions, and the reason behind the name. Don't forget to put on the soundtrack I picked out at the top.

# why i started this blog

I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while now, but always end up stopping myself because my thoughts go to one of the following: "what if I overshare, why do people need to hear what I'm thinking, what will the point be anyway?". But, as I find myself between gigs and looking to enrich the foundations of my day-to-day life, I'm happy to explore writing for the sake of writing.

I've decided to start now, because of a life philosophy I've developed while at one of my recent jobs (athelas). Simple & functional is good. I want to follow through on creating a simple blog where I discuss engineering and maybe other things, in simple, straightforward terms. Of course, I might mix that in with long, ramble-y thoughts about life as well. But, hoping to demonstrate some contrast nonetheless. As a small side note, I am a fairly young developer, so if my understandings appear wrong and incense you, feel free to mail me@akilesh.xyz. I will respond. :]

I also spent some time in an internet rabbit hole, reading the blog of another founding eng who I found to be incredibly cool. I enjoyed his blog so much that it pushed me to finally pull the trigger on this. Thanks, Pablo!

# simple tech decisions

As someone who grew up learning how to code, and starting on HTML, CSS, and JS, I had the unique delight of watching web programming evolve into a behemoth of a field, these days powered by full-blown stacks of technology, usually backed by a hefty corporate sponsor (react, angular, and even typescript itself are all backed by large corporate entities).

But web dev used to be something simpler. First, I considered using a brand new stack I hadn't used before to make and run this blog, just as an engineering exercise, but then I took a step back. Why not just run the thing in plain html + css (and js, if need be)? I don't have to worry about search engines failing to grab data from my SPA, and don't need to go through an hour of setup just to get my app deployed. It's simple, elegant, and a throwback to my first few programming projects.

Overall, I'd say this decision is 30% nostalgia, 30% laziness, and 40% my nice little proposal that a great, responsive, fast-loading, SEO ready website can be cooked up with minimal use of the 'new hotness' in web dev these days. I was honestly motivated by The Market For Lemons, a nice (fairly hot) take on modern web frameworks and their prominence. (Highlight: a tweet that claims "SPAs were a Zero Interest Rate phenomenon"!!)

So, overall, this is about as simple as a web app these days can be- if you can even call it that :]. It's hosted on github pages, and only imports a tiny little CSS library called picocss to take care of some of the basic styling. (+1 for this framework, btw, loving the minimalist nature of it)

# the name, and stuff

I was flitting back and forth between a few names- I tried to start a blog in high school (long deleted) that I called "math.random()", which I thought was pretty clever, but I left that name behind since 1) I had already used it, and 2) my interest in math sort of waned after I discovered the deeply theoretical and conjecture-y nature of advanced math in college. I'm a huge fan of the practical- it's why I enjoy working in straightforward environments unburdened by bureaucracy, and it's why I am now shying away from a name that suggest any affiliation with something so theoretical.

I was also thinking of naming it 'start me up', in reference to the startup-related material I'd inevitably end up posting, and also as an homage to one of my favorite classic rock songs. But then I realized- maybe I shouldn't box myself in to just posting about startups. Maybe one day I'll get tired of startups, and maybe that day is sooner than I think. Though it definitely isn't now, I also threw that one in the bin- too restrictive!

That brings us to "stdout". For the uninitiated, stdout is the default output stream of a computer program, which is the basis of a lovely analogy in my mind. I'd love for this blog to be my default output stream, and although I've been worried about sharing my thoughts in the past, I'm excited to take a bit of a leap and try it now. "Stdout" is a concept that I feel most students of the computery arts become intimately familiar with when they take a course called 'computer systems', or something similar. I loved that class when I was in college- it was the first semester where computer science really clicked for me. I ended up working as a TA for the class for two semesters, and "stdout" brings back memories of a time I look back upon fondly. Truthfully, one push-factor that kept me from immediately going with this as soon as it came to mind was the fact that people (especially non-technical) might see that it starts with 'std' and ends with 'out' and make incorrect assumptions about the subject matter. :] But, given the other significance, that's something I'm willing to overlook. So, that brings us to the current name, stdout. You'll notice that I set the theme to be quite minimal as well, to evoke images of the simple elegance of terminal output.

One last little thing- in going with the whole retro, terminal thing, I wanted to do post naming in a quirky way as well. I'm calling each of my posts RFCs, because I like the implication: "a request for comments". Really, this blog is a multicast to everyone who cares to read it, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topics I discuss. So, if you're reading this, please feel free to reach out to me@akilesh.xyz!