NOTE: The blog header image has been replaced by Clifford attractors. A static archived wind map can be seen here
My earlier experience with Wordpress made me think there had to be a better way to do simple, reliable sites online. A blog is static, meaning everyone sees the same content. Yihui Xie from RStudio created what for my needs is a better way to host content - blogdown.
Yihui cautioned about the lure of fancy themes and how boredom will settle in, no matter what, in time. I agree. Nevertheless I chose, the beautifulhugo theme which I classify as minimally fancy. I added a semi-dynamic header image that updates every three hours with current wind conditions over the great lakes region. Finally, an answer is at hand to humanity’s age-old question, “Is it windy outside?”
The wind data is from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The beautiful watercolour maps are from Stamen Design in the Bay Area.
I also followed Yihui’s advice to use Github and Netlify to host this blog. Who can argue with a free, global content delivery network (CDN). CDNs are basically racks of computers distributed around the globe to store content closer to the end-user. And it is fast!
But wait you say, how do you get changing content on a static site? I needed a reliable server to fetch the wind data and build a new image every three hours. Unfortunately, my current host for lpphoto.me doesn’t allow shell access without a static IP address, which is cost prohibitive for what I require.
I decided to check out Google’s Compute Engine and soon had R running on a small virtual machine in the cloud. After the image is created it’s moved to a bucket in Google’s Cloud Storage which is where the blog finds it.
Google’s service is more than I require and I will probably migrate to Digital Ocean in the future. This explains why.