Hello world!

If you are reading this it means either you are trying to understand who I am (are you a recruiter by any chance?) or you are simply bored. In any way, this is the very first blog post, and it means you have come to the end of the road (since this is the beginning). I always loved to have a place where I can write down my thoughts about a new technology, a framework or what I did in order to achieve a goal in a hobby project. That is not all though: I was searching for a place where I was also able to express my ideas regarding modern dilemmas like privacy issues and decentralization. I am not the kind of guy who likes social networks, so I never had the chance to express them. Until now.

How this blog is built

The website

This blog is a very simple Hugo website. If you do not know what it is, its basically a static website generator. It takes Markdown documents and converts them in HTML pages. If you applied a specific theme then it builds the page according to that theme. Hugo has a huge selection of themes in its dedicated themes page, so basically picking up one and starting from there is very simple. If you are curious about how I made it, you can check out the source at my personal git server instance, where I started hosting my code when Microsoft bought Github (you can find a copy of the repository on Github too, visiting my profile). I have simply picked up the simpler and cleanest blog theme out there, following Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s idea:

less is more

It will be a success if more than two people actually starts reading what I write here, at least I want them to read this blog without having their eyes bleeding with an extravagant color combination.

Last but not least, the website icon is literally the Team Fortress 2 dispenser (one of the games I love and one of the first game I started playing online as a kid when a decent connection at home was finally available), taken from the RED team and generated via a favicon generator. The name of the website partially came out from that, and from the fact that basically every website is a dispenser of bits, and it is only thanks to our beloved browsers we are able to actually “consume” what is distributed in the first place.

Engineer with
his dispenser

Engineer class with a dispenser. Thanks to Team Fortress wiki for providing the image I shamelessly downloaded from them

I hope Valve will not sue me for taking that asset as my website favicon. I swear I will change it, a day. Pinky promise.


The real problem of hosting a website now day is not how to build it (as you can see) but where you can host it. There are plenty of cloud provides: AWS, Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, Scaleway, etc… every day there is a new one popping up. They all offers the possibility to host your website pretty easily, especially if the website is a static one like this (e.g. using a S3 bucket). Since I like challenges and I also like to learn new stuff, I though that hosting the website in this way was boring. At the same time, I wanted to have a good uptime and to not meddle too much under the hood. My (dream) requirements were:

  • always up
  • good response time
  • possibility to host as much data as I want
  • using a hosting free as in beer and (possibly) that could use free as in freedom technologies

Now, reading this I imagine you are thinking I am going crazy, and maybe I am, but that is not the case. In fact, multiple weeks prior to writing this article, while trying to kill the boredom caused by COVID-19 lockdown, I discovered IPFS. I already heard of it at University, but I never bothered too much to understand what was about. I though “well, it surely is some sort of filesystem”. I was somewhat right, but not the way I thought.

IPFS acts like a peer-to-peer network, where nodes hash the content they want to share to let other nodes grab it. You can grab this content using your local node or using one of the many available gateways. Nodes can “pin” a file too, in order to keep it locally and to serve it to other nodes. If a file gets pinned by different nodes and gains traction it basically can not be deleted from the web.

Choosing the right tools

Surely, as the IPFS documentation describes, I could have done it by myself. But there is a but. Holding all the infrastructure manually means sacrifice the “always up” and “good response time” thingy for two simple motives:

  1. the server where I host my drafts & codebase is hosted on a very small machine (2GB of RAM and 2vCPU), very easy to kill with the slightest of loads
  2. in order to achieve a good response time, a CDN or some sort of caching is necessary (even if the application is stored in a distributed file system)
The fleek website

Fleek website, that I used to automate my deployment on IPFS and my DNS update

Finally, in order to achieve full automation with DNS updates, I would have needed to implement and use NameCheap APIs (currently it is the DNS provider I use for most of my websites). “What’s the difficulty?” one would ask. Here is the official documentation, and even if the APIs look promising, while studying them my will to live decreased a little bit, and so I decided that if I wanted to get up and running with less maintenance as possible, with a good uptime while having the maximum automation possible I needed to rely on a dedicated service. Luckily fleek.co was what I was searching for. They currently provide the possibility to buy a domain from their website, giving them all the hassle of updating the new website on IPFS, distributing it, refreshing a very possible CDN and finally to update the DNS records accordingly. This, as you can imagine, provides multiple benefits:

  • I do not have to care about my very little dev machine getting hugged to death by request in the remote case any of my posts get any attention
  • I do not have to focus on automating the process someone else has already done for me
  • I can focus on writing posts after dinner instead of scratching my head trying to understand why the website does not load/the DNS is not properly updated

The only downside to this approach is that Fleek provides limitations on how much data and bandwidth you can host. At the time of writing, you can only host up to 3GB (enough for this website) and have a 50GB bandwidth (that is fine for now) for the free version. Upgrading you account to one of the available plans give you extra space and bandwidth.

Future improvements

For sure, this is only the beginning. Having an automatic workflow of spell check, deployment and release would be the first milestone. Future features for this website could be an automatic posting of every new article on a dedicated Mastodon bot, so that people can possibly discuss about my thoughts on the fediverse, a decentralized network.

To conclude, the frequency of this blog will be…whenever I have time to post 😁 Of course I need content before posting something, and this require some time for myself for experimenting with new technologies and learning new stuff, so I do not expect very much posting, but only time will tell!