Harumph. My Nextcloud server has stopped working. I have had a poke around, and it looks like it may be something to do with the SSL certificate auto-renewing. I get an error message telling me one of the key files is missing. Except it is quite clearly there. This is where my lack of knowledge shows up. When something goes wrong.

I guess this is the challenge for a non-tech person trying to DIY their blog/website. It is OK following good instructions and tutorials and picking up knowledge as you go along. But there is always a limit, and sooner or later you are going to bump up against that.

For now, I am going to use my Dropbox storage instead of Nextcloud, and see if I can diagnose the problem as and when. In the longer term, I am not sure if I would retain the Nextcloud server anyway as I would prefer to use Syncthing – it’s just that Syncthing is not available for the iPhone so Nextcloud is a bit of a work around.

I have now created a basic website for the blog using Hugo. I’ve gone the GitHub/Netlify route so have the a local repository on the Raspberry pi which I can then push to GitHub. Netlify then automatically deploys the site. I’ve yet to redirect my domain there and will hold off from doing so while I do further tinkering.

I had wondered how I would go about posting to the site, so I spent some time last weekend fiddling around. I’m happy with what I’ve come up with.

I do the majority of writing for the blog on my phone, using Drafts. So that had to be the starting point. Drafts does not have an SSH option to save files to but it does have WebDAV. This means I can save a file to my Nextcloud server on the pi, so I’ve created an action in Drafts that adds front matter to the post and then saves it with a date based file name to Nextcloud. So far so good.

My Nextcloud files are saved on a USB stick on the pi, and so the next thing is to pull the post file from there into the content folder in the local git repo on the pi. With me so far?

I did this by using rclone to sync the Nextcloud folder where blog posts are saved to the content folder on the pi. I’ve set this up as a cron job which runs every 15mins.

Finally, I wrote a bash script that runs a git pull/add/commit/push action that again, is saved as a cron job and runs at similar intervals to the other one.

As mentioned at the beginning, Netlify does the rest.

Sounds convoluted, but in practice, all I now have to do when I’ve written a post is to run the Drafts action. The rest is automated. So from my end, it’s very low friction, which is what I was aiming for.

So that’s the end of the cold snap. It is so different out there this morning – calm, misty and a positively balmy 9C.

Over the last couple of days the cold weather has emboldened the birds again and this time a song thrush came to the bird table. They do come into the garden frequently but I’ve never seen one come this close to the house.

It was very cautious initially, spending a lot of time looking around before dipping its head to take some food. It was also pretty shy of other birds so would fly off if others came to the table. Over time it appeared to become more confident spending less time looking around and more time feeding. They have beautiful markings and it’s a real treat to see one so close.

Eng v Ind. 🏏 Having seen how much turn there was on Day 1 you know it’s going to be hard for England batting 2nd. And is it just. India are having their day – Ashwin’s bowling of Stokes was superb.

While out for a walk with my son this morning we noticed a small flock over lapwings passing overhead. Just a dozen or so.

We rarely see them around here despite the Somerset Levels, about half an hour away, being an important winter site for them. The last time I saw them here was February 2018 when we had the so-called Beast from the East.

I recall watching flocks of lapwings heading south west, never large in number, along with golden plover, redwings and fieldfares. Rather than the blue sky and broken cloud of today, it was a dark heavy sky, thick with snow. I remember checking on Twitter and saw report after report of birds reaching the coast, desperately seeking shelter and perhaps more importantly, food in the unfrozen edges of estuaries and shorelines. Photos of lapwings in residential streets, or huddled around the hulls and buildings of a boatyard stick in my mind. All the places you’d never normally see them.

And then over the following days, after the thaw, stories of dead birds strewn along hedgerows and the edges of fields. The ones that didn’t make it.

I presume the flock I saw today were heading away from the east where the weather has been much colder than here. Unlike the birds in 2018, unfrozen ground will be much easier to find.

My current thinking on where to host my blog when the hosting comes up for renewal is to use Hugo, GitHub and Netlify.

My plan had been to host directly on the raspberry pi, and I may well eventually do that. However, I feel I should get a better handle on the security issues before doing that so in the meantime the Netlify option seems good. I have made improvements to the security of the pi anyway, but I need time to understand them better.

Having the site as a repo on the pi which I can then push to GitHub still means having the site effectively hosted locally, but I don’t then need to open up a port to the internet. This is all new to me – I kind of understand what’s going on but still have to run through the processes each time I tinker around. All good fun!

What does remain to be seen is how frictionless will posting to the blog be? There are various way I can do it so will be experimenting.