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Changes to the blog and website

I used to run this site on two different platforms. There was a static landing page hosted on my server, and a blog hosted on Blogger.

While the landing page was reasonably nice-looking (screenshot here), the blog looked terrible. Free Blogger templates are generally not the nicest-looking things to look at and the one I used was no exception.

More importantly though, the Blogger composer made really hard to generate nice-looking articles. For just writing text posts, it wasn't bad (aside from the crazy HTML it generated), but for inserting code snippits or doing any kind of advanced formatting it was incredibly frustrating.

A few weeks ago I finally decided to deal with the situation. My general plan was to find a static site generator that allowed for writing posts in Markdown syntax and use it to create a website that would host some static content as well as the blog.

Static sites are exactly what they sound like. Just some static HTML files for a webserver to serve to clients. No fancy frameworks, databases, or server-side processing involved. This is advantageous primarily because it makes site blazing fast and very light on server resources.

After looking at a few static site generators, I decided to go with Pelican. Pelican is a Python-based static site generator that uses the awesome Jinja2 templating library and understands content written in a number of formats, including Markdown. It's extremely easy to set up and requires only a single command to regenerate the entire site.

Transferring content from the old blog into the *.md files that Pelican reads was also really simple. Pelican includes a tool called pelican-import that allows for reading in data from a variety of sources. I used this tool to pull all my previous posts down from the RSS feed of the old blog.

After fixing up the imported data (the import tool is good, but not perfect), I started looking into templates.

Like with Blogger themes, I was having a hard time finding anything I liked, until I came across a template called svbhack. It had a nice page layout and the general aesthetic was good, but needed a fair bit of tweaking. I forked the repository (+1 for open-source) and over the next few weeks used my limited HTML and CSS knowledge to transform it into the one you see today.

There are still a bunch of things I want to change/fix/add, but at this point I feel that the site is ready to be released. The code for the template and the site is all freely availible on GitHub.

If you have any comments or suggestions I'd love to hear them!


Making Steam for Linux close to the system tray

Steam for Linux is a little odd in how it handles a user clicking the close button. Instead of exiting the program or mimimizing the application to the system tray, it just minimizes it to the taskbar. The developers have said that this is temporary and that it will be changed in the future, but for now, there is a workaround.

To make Steam always minimize to the system tray, just add STEAM_FRAME_FORCE_CLOSE=1 to your environment.

For more information see the original GitHub issue.


Github: Convert an issue to a pull request

Github currently doesn't provide a way to convert an issue to a pull request in their interface. However, the capability exists in their Pull Request API.

Update

I've built a webapp to make this easier. Check it out at https://i2p.cmetcalfe.ca.

To call the API using a simple curl command, run the command:

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curl --user "[github username]" \
     --request POST \
     --data '{"issue": "[issue num]", "head": "[branch to merge from]", "base": "[branch to merge into]"}' \
     https://api.github.com/repos/[user]/[repo]/pulls

For example, to make user1 change issue 13 into a pull request to merge branch test_branch into master in the testing_repo repository belonging to user2, the command would be:

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curl --user 'user1' \
     --request POST \
     --data '{"issue": "13", "head": "test_branch", "base": "master"}' \
     https://api.github.com/repos/user2/testing_repo/pulls

To specify a fork of a reposity to merge from, put the username followed by a semicolon in front of the branch name like so: "username:branch_name"

After running the command, you will be prompted for your Github password. Enter it and curl should output the JSON response from the API. Make sure to check this response for errors!

© Carey Metcalfe. Built using Pelican. Theme is subtle by Carey Metcalfe. Based on svbhack by Giulio Fidente.