This site is 8 years old now. It has gone through a lot during that time.

v0: A cautious start (2015)

Before I buying the domain and paying for hosting, I wanted to get familiar with Wordpress and what blogging would be like. I wanted to make sure that I won't be spending money on something I can't do. So I created a free site on wordpress.com and played around with it. That site is still online.

v1: Dumping emotions online (2015 - 2016)

In late 2015, I finally bought the bash.lk domain and wrote my first post. In it I came clean about the things that I have been keeping away from my friends about my family and my struggle with low self esteem. Writing and publishing it was really hard. But the response I got was incredibly heartwarming. Many of my friends left long and touching comments about how they could also relate. This gave me the courage to be open in my writing.

The main reason why I started the blog was to write about my AIESEC exchange to Malaysia and I did so for a while (Prologue, Day 1, Day 2) But I couldn't maintain a regular writing schedule and I felt guilty about it. Each post took me days to finish since I wanted to make it perfect. After going back and forth with a post for several weeks, I felt dispirited and when the time came to renew the domain and the web hosting a while later, I let it expire.

v2: Doom and gloom (2016 - 2017)

This was one of the hardest periods of my life as I went through the grueling visa process to move to CZ and struggled to acclimate to life in CZ, especially in terms of friendships and relationships. Writing helped me process emotions before so I brought the blog back and wrote some really depressing posts. It didn't really help. So I took the blog down yet again.

v3: The third coming (2018 - 2019)

Meanwhile, my travels continued and I kept collecting more photos and videos. I wanted to do something with them instead of letting them sit on my drive. So I decided to start the blog yet again with a series called "Story in a picture" where I planned to write a post every week with photos and videos from my travels.

Surprisingly, I was able to do this for almost a year. I spent most of the free time I had going through photos, touching them up and writing stories. Most of the posts on this site were written during this time. I posted links to these posts on Facebook and a few people checked it out every week.

But I wanted more people to see my posts and photos. Since I am a developer, I saw this as a technical problem. I kept experimenting with various technical features to get more people to the blog. But week after week I had the same number of people coming to the site and I felt like it was not enough. I felt like it was not worth writing or posting, if I couldn't get more people to see it.

When I resumed my studies in early 2019, I had little free time left. Reluctantly, I let go of the writing habit I had built.

v4: Going static (2019 - 2021)

Like most blogs on the web, this blog was also built using Wordpress and a free theme in the beginning. To improve the site, I switched to a premium theme that had a better design. But that made the site incredibly slow. This made me believe that Wordpress is slow, even though the real culprit was the premium theme and the cheap hosting provider I was using.

In 2019, static site generators were rising in popularity since they promised better performance than Wordpress. Providers like Netlify also started offering free hosting for static sites. As an overly frugal developer, I found this really appealing.

So later that year, in a Starbucks in New york with a brand new Macbook from the Apple store around the corner, I set up a new static blog using Gatsby on Netlify. Gatsby was quite new at the time so I had to use one of the few simple templates were that available. Since Gatsby used technology that I was very familiar with (React, GraphQL, Javascript), I figured that I could extend the template as I liked. This opened the flood gates of custom development.

In the months that followed, I added a bunch of new features to the template I used. Since static sites lacked commenting and e-mail notifications, I built my own systems to enable them (e.g. staticman-netlify-function). I even added image galleries and several ways to filter the posts on the site.

At the same time, I became obsessed with "owning my content" and "being independent". I resented how social media sites and free online platforms profited off of their users' content. So I strived to keep my content away from them. I stopped posting links to my blog on social media and built my own notification system. I figured out how to host videos on my own so that I can stop using Youtube. I even figured out how I can host maps on my own so that I didn't have to use Google maps.

By focusing on development, I didn't have much time left to write. Since I stopped posting on social media, I lost all the visitors I had. I kept occasionally writing and posting photos but with no visitors it didn't feel very rewarding.

During an argument my ex said that I wasn't living up to what I wrote on my blog. I knew she was exaggerating in the heat of moment but her words stuck with me. While I didn't admit it to myself, a big reason why I wrote the blog was to show off all the things I have done and the places that I had been to. I felt bad about this and I felt that I should strive to do better. So I took down the blog for the third time.

v5 : Split identity (2021 - 2022)

A few months later, I started to miss writing. I thought of starting again but I felt self conscious about writing about my life again. Another frustration I had was the range of topics I wanted to write about. I felt that people who were interested in one topic would not be interested in the others. The solution I came up with to these problems was to compartmentalize and create mini sites.

I created a separate site called reflections at reflections.bash.lk where I gave myself permission to write whatever I liked. To share my photos online, I created another site at photos.bash.lk using Lychee. To tie all of this together, I put up a simple page on bash.lk where the blog used to live. I wanted to get back to writing and posting photos regularly. But I couldn't.

v6: Back to Wordpress (2022)

I remembered how I used to write regularly when I used Wordpress in the past. Ever since I moved away from it, I had let the technicalities of the blog fill up my time instead of writing. So I decided to go back to Wordpress and unified the separate sites back together. But it didn't really help.

v7: bashlk-final (2022 - Present)

When I returned to Wordpress, I returned back to a free theme that showed only a few posts on the home page. I couldn't find a theme I liked that showed more. This bugged me, as did the clumsy new editor in Wordpress (Gutenberg). So I decided to remake the blog yet again. This time I built it entirely from scratch with my own design and my own code on top of a simpler static generator called Eleventy. Inspired by Julia Evan's blog, I made the home page a list of all posts on the site. I named the codebase "bashlk-final" to mark it as the last remake of the site. That name has stayed true so far.

Conclusion

I am amazed at the number of times I remade this site. Knowing what I know now, I really wish that I had spent that time writing and sharing more posts instead. But here we are.

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