When I started this blog, it was 2004, and I was heading to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where bandwidth that didn’t go through the college’s proxy was charged by the megabyte. I started running WordPress on my laptop, but for efficiency I would scrape a static copy locally, rsync it to my home directory at MIT, and serve it statically there.
Since then I’ve gone through a number of hosting solutions: sometimes a box hidden somewhere in my parents’ house, sometimes a computer that was also serving as the DVD player and sound system for my roommates and me. For the past four years, it’s been an Atom-powered desktop wedged into some dusty corner, and doubling as my wifi router. A couple years ago the power supply fan died, and I fixed it with duct tape.
Amazingly, it’s still working, but part of maturity is recognizing when to put away childish things before they really become a problem. In its latest location, perched over the stove in the kitchen, sucking in oil vapors, this arrangement was likely to go up in flames, possibly literally. We already found ourselves needing two wifi networks due to Windows compatibility issues, and that was creating its own headaches. When living alone, this was an annoyance, but now that I’m responsible for two people’s internet access, sometimes for work purposes, it’s critical.
So starting today, this blog is hosted on an honest-to-goodness cloud server (on Google Compute Engine). In a way, this is the end of my campaign for a decentralized internet, and the beginning of grown-up-style website deployment. I still hope that We of the Internet will figure out how to decentralize the internet some day, but for now, for me, the overhead of hardware operation and the risk of data loss are too high. (It doesn’t hurt that Compute Engine has a free usage tier that is fine for this purpose.)
Of course, there have also been some major changes in my life over the past few years, with the result that I increasingly have better things to do with my time than maintain flaky hardware and write backup script cron jobs. So this change marks a wonderful turning point: a life too full of joy and excitement to make everything into a high-maintenance hobby project.