Initial Commit

December 12, 2019 #markdown

A Brief Introduction

I’ve considered starting a blog more than once over the past few years. I think the main issue I’ve encountered is settling on a cohesive theme and subject matter for my posts, whether that’s more personal comments, tutorials, project notes, or discussions of interesting articles I’ve read. That being said, there is no single theme to this site’s content. To remove any barriers that might keep me from writing, I’ve decided to approach this blog without a single focus. Hopefully that results in a interesting and diverse array of articles and content.

So Why Use Gatsby and Github Pages Netlify?

I’m building this blog with Gatsby and hosting it via Github Pages Netlify1 with a custom domain. There are two reasons for this. First, it’s (virtually) free. Other than renewing my domain, I have no overhead. Using Gatsby is dead simple. With one of the starter projects, I just need to tweak the React components and start dropping in markdown posts, and BOOM, I’ve got a blog.

Also, Markdown is the Best

Speaking of markdown, this text-based format is my favorite document writing tool because of its simplicity and lack of dependency on external tools. Sure, looking at this

# My Document Title
by Matthew Russell

## Some Math
Here are some math equations:
$$
\dot \text{x} =
\begin{bmatrix}
1 & 0 \\
0 & 2
\end{bmatrix}
\text{x}
$$

doesn’t quite compare to a WYSIWYG editor, but I can take that same .md file and compile it to an HTML or PDF with varying styling. I guess I could also use LaTeX since it has a similar “document coding” concept, but it seems overkill for most of what I need — quick notetaking with rich text, math, and code block support in a portable format. Pair that with a clean editor with a live preview and syntax highlight like VS Code, and then throw in diagram support via MermaidJS, and I’m hardpressed to find a better option.

What’s Next

I’ve got a few things on a todo list to finish bringing this blog online.

  • Add MathJax support so I can use equations in these posts
  • Add syntax highlighting for code blocks
  • Change up the theming/typography
  • Figure out how to add static pages, and create one as an About Me

  1. I quickly switched to Netlify and am using Github to host my Gatsby project. The main factor was that although Github could host my static page, deploying would be a two-step process with two repos — one for the source and one for the generated static site.


Written by Matthew Russell who lives in Lexington, KY, studies machine learning at the University of Kentucky, and interns at NASA. Get to know him or check out his projects on GitHub.