My 2019 January Update

I started this blog in November 2018 as an experiment for a project I was working on which needed an Amazon LightSail instance.  At that time, I did not realize how easy it was to setup a WordPress instance using LightSail.

Anyway, three months in, the experiment has turned into a blog site for me where I share information on what inspires me, what I am working on and other projects that I am affiliated with.

I already had a domain that was hosted in Route53 which I was using for my internal projects. I decided to go ahead and use that domain. I do admit that name based domains don’t do that well, but my goal was to launch a blog for sharing information and not to just make money off ads.

Having said that I do have ads and Affiliate links on my website and if any purchase is made off those links then I do receive a commission.

Site enhancements done this month

To make use of Cloudflare, I had to move my domain from Route53 to Cloudflare.

Performance related

In an effort to improve how this website renders and loads, I made a few changes.

#1 Expiration Headers

I modified my site web server configuration to add ‘Expiration Headers’. These headers tell a browser how long a previously downloaded file like a Javascript or an image can be reloaded from memory or disk cache. For returning users, this can speed up the site loading times. For a first time visitor the first page will always be slow compared to subsequent page visit. Read more about Expiration Headers in this post.

#2 Cloudflare Edge Caching

I also added Cloudflare ‘Page Rules’ so that I could cache assets served from my webserver origin on Cloudflare edge servers. Caching on the edge can be helpful if the edge server already has a copy of the asset and the user requesting it is close to an edge server.  Read more about caching static assets here.

For example, if my server is on the east coast and a user on the west coast requests an image from my site and if the nearest edge server already has that image, then the download time will probably be shorter as the edge will serve that image.

I liked the idea of caching so much, that I decided to go one step further and cache even the html for my website. With the entire site cached on Edge servers the delivery can be quite fast if the edge has a cached copy. Read more about this set up in this post. I do want to point out that, you may need additional Page Rules to accomplish this, which requires buying more rules.

Security Related

With my site on the Cloudflare free plan, I also have the ability to setup some ‘Firewall’ rules for my site. I am the only author on my site for now, so it made sense to protect my WordPress login page using Firewall rules. You can read more in this post how I protected my website login and admin pages using the Firewall rules.

With these firewall rules in place, I am the only author who can login to my WordPress website.

Projects I am working on this month

At my previous job, I used Puppet extensively for managing servers and configurations across a wide range of servers. I have also done some work with Ansible to do similar tasks. This month, I came across SaltStack and was very intrigued by it.

I wanted to learn something new that I could easily adapt in my current project so I decided to go with it. Hopefully you will hear more about it in a follow up post.

Books I am reading this month

Saw this book as a recommendation on Reddit and vouched for by many, so decided to read it and for someone who is just starting off with Python, this is a pretty good book.

Python Crash Course

A Hands-On, Project-Based Introduction to Programming by Eric Matthes.

Photo Credit

Photo by Sergi Kabrera on Unsplash

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