Always backup your stuff, they say.
I've said it myself countless times. Smugly, I should add, to friends and colleagues and family members. 'Computers go wrong! Backup your stuff! I have a degree in computing science and I know about things!' Boy did it feel good – the righteous knowledge that I would never suffer from a drive failure or other data-loss event, because I had an elaborate and arcane backup strategy that could withstand a nuclear attack.
Cool. Except there was a hole in my strategy: my website. And at some point in late 2021 a fault developed on my website – unknown to me at the time – which would result in major headaches a few months later. I had been using an automated backup system on WordPress coupled with periodic (ok, infrequent) manual server dumps to local disks. I won't bore you with the details, but the result was a total loss of all new material I'd posted to my site for several months. Essentially, the site reverted to the state it had been in September 2021, and that's how it stayed until I found the time to sort things out. (It's been a busy, busy year – I'll be writing about it all soon enough.)
People often think that websites are magic or somehow eternal, but the truth is that they're nothing but a bunch of files stored on a computer somewhere. Computers go wrong. Backup your stuff. This is a lesson I don't need to learn twice.
Welcome to Ghost
The new website does not run on WordPress like most of the web. WP is powerful but it's also monumental and clunky and incredibly frustrating if your needs are simple. I decided to use Ghost for the new site, and began the process of migrating over a few months ago.
Migration is now complete. As of this evening, the old WordPress site has been shut down and alexroddie.com now points to the new, shiny, simpler website.
I hope you'll enjoy it. I'll certainly enjoy things a lot more from my side of the screen, let me tell you.
I have not chosen to reinvent the wheel with the migration, but I have tweaked a few things. The homepage is now a lot simpler. The portfolio, about and speaking pages have been brought up to date. The outdoors page (an old index of pertinent posts) hasn't quite been finished yet, but most of the old links are there.
The design isn't necessarily set in stone. If you have any feedback regarding readability or layout, I'd love to hear from you.
Back to blogging
I have really missed blogging over the last few months. I've had plenty to write about elsewhere, of course, but this is my space where I can communicate directly with my readers, and with far fewer constraints. I hope to return to the kind of blogging I used to enjoy a decade and more ago – less curated, perhaps, and more open. Social media has made us all so wary about what we say, about whether what we're communicating is on brand enough. People have diverse interests, though, and I'd like to write more widely about mine again. Being a professional writer and editor has turned me into a bit of a perfectionist, too. I'd like to break free from all that in this space.
I won't impose a structure or timeline on myself for new posts – I've tried it before and it didn't work (or at least not for long). I'll post when I want to, but I'll aim to post more frequently than before. If I feel that I'm able to spin back up to one post a week, I might decide to do that in future, but for now I'll keep things informal and see how it goes.
The future of my newsletter
For several years now I have been maintaining a completely separate email newsletter, which currently resides on Substack. I've enjoyed this tremendously, and it's helped me to find a slightly different audience to my regular blog readers, but I have struggled with the distinction between newsletter and blog right from the start. For about a year now I've been convinced that the best way forward is to merge the two platforms.
So here's what's going to happen. If you subscribe to my newsletter (and thank you from the bottom of my heart for subscribing!) then you'll receive a message asking you to subscribe to the new site. In future, the kind of content I used to post to my email subscribers will now simply be posted on here instead. I hope to return to commentary about interesting things I've read on the web as well as discussions on photography, the outdoors, and more (plus announcements about my own work, of course).
If you don't yet subscribe to my newsletter, then now is an excellent opportunity to subscribe to the new blog! All you need to do is scroll down to where it says 'Alex Roddie Newsletter' and add your email address. You can also click on 'Membership' in the navigation bar.
Thank you for continuing to support me and read my stuff. It's greatly appreciated, and I apologise for the disruption as I undergo this website migration. See you again soon!
Alex Roddie Newsletter
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