Behind the Scenes of ShawnBlanc.net



Nerds are suckers for information. And the really gargantuan nerds love to find out information about other nerd’s nerdery.

For example: One of my favorite set of posts on Glenn Wolsey’s site are his Famous Mac User Setups. Paul’s recent article on the behind the scenes info for PSTAM.com was a great read. Point being: I am a gargantuan nerd.

Therefore, for your own nerdery: Here are the ins and outs of how ShawnBlanc.net is maintained and published.

Mac Setup and Workspace

Having my home office and workspace set up in a way that helps me relax, think and work has taken a while to figure out. My office is my favorite room. It is so much more than just “where I work”. It’s my room. My wife gets the rest of the house – I get the office. And I am content with this arrangement.

Here is where I sit to code and publish ShawnBlanc.net –

ShawnBlanc.net Blogging HQ

My primary machine is a Mac Pro Quad-Core 3.0GHz with 4GB of RAM, 750GB of storage and a 23″ ACD. Since the above picture was taken I went sans-wireless with a thin Apple keyboard and my wired Mighty Mouse.

I never fully got on board with digital GTD apps. I use a Moleskine notebook for all my ToDo lists and notes. Basically I just want something I can write down a todo and the cross it off when it’s done.

The desk, lamp and wall shelves are from IKEA, and I think the desk and shelves totally make the room. I have that lamp on virtually all day long. Something about shining light onto my workspace helps me feel creative and motivated. And even though you don’t care: I just replaced the bulb today.

And yes, my desk is always that clean. When it’s not I have a hard time thinking.

When I’m not at home I have my 12″ G4 PowerBook with me. I plan to replace it with a 15″ MacBook Pro later this year. (Probably this spring when the new/refreshed MBPs announced next week at Macworld show up in Apple’s online refurbished store.)

(I wrote a full article on the elements of my office setup a while back.)

The Digital Skinny

WordPress

ShawnBlanc.net is powered by WordPress. I’ve never used another CMS, and I probably never will. I’m comfortable with WordPress, I’m familiar with how it’s built and I am extremely happy with how it performs.

As far as plugins go, I only have a few:

  • Clutter-Free: I use this do hide a few un-wanted portions of the Dashboard.
  • FeedBurner FeedSmith: I use this to redirect my site’s RSS feed (http://shawnblanc.net/feed) to a feedburner feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/shawnblanc). I could easily just post all RSS links to the feedburner feed, but I like the clean look of the native feed link.
  • FlickrRSS: Used to import my Flickr photo stream into my footer.
  • Mobile Admin: For logging into wp-admin via my iPhone. I’ve only logged in on my iPhone a few times, as there’s not much you can conveniently do. But how am I not going to have an iPhone plugin installed?
  • TwitterRSS: Used to import my Twitter status.
  • Database Backup: Backing up your WordPress database is vital. You never know when your host could lose your data, or something else horrible could happen. I have a schedule set-up and get an email every day from my WP install with the latest backup as an attachment.
  • WP-Mint: Automatically puts the Mint javascript into your WordPress header without the need to edit .htaccess or theme files.

(mt) Media Temple

My site is hosted on (mt) Media Temple’s (gs) Grid Server.

The (gs) Grid Server is the perfect solution for a website that gets a healthy amount of traffic with occasional heavy spikes. And the $20/month price of the (gs) is great for a guy like me who doesn’t make any revenue from his website. (I’ve thought about selling ad space in the sidebar, but haven’t pursued it at all.)

I won’t pretend that I have never had any hiccups with (mt) Media Temple’s service, but that is something you will get with any hosting provider. I feel confident that if a major traffic spike comes I won’t have any issues. In fact, my site’s performance often seems to improve when I’m linked to on TUAW or DF. Moreover, any time I’ve had to call (mt) to get some help with something they are fun, and treat me like their best friend.

Stats

I use Mint to keep track of all my site stats, and FeedBurner to publish my RSS feed and track subscription information.

I started publishing this blog on July 2nd, 2007. Currently, there are 193 posts and 0 comments. My site averages 500 unique visitors a day, 20,000 page views a month and has somewhere around 1,500 RSS subscribers.

Workflow and Publishing

When writing an article the first thing I do is get an outline for the post. My brain thinks best in 1, 2, 3…

Once I know the main points, and have an idea for the “feel” I want my article to have I start writing and try not to stop until I’m done. Then I edit a few times and publish.

Most writing used to be done with Ecto, but I have recently switched to MarsEdit.

I do all the coding for my site with Coda, and file uploads with Transmit. Additionally, all the graphics are created in Adobe Photoshop CS3.

Reading & Writing

For the most part, my online life consist of reading weblogs, publishing my ShawnBlanc.net and twittering.

I spend about 80% of my time reading, 20% of my time writing and 100% of my time twittering.

Right now I am subscribed to 70-ish websites, and that’s about my max. Most of them are weblogs with authors who produce great content and have great personalities.

I use NetNewsWire as my feed reader, but don’t read many articles in there. When I want to read someone’s article I’ll arrow-out to their website and read it there. Those words were written for their website, and there’s something about reading someone’s work in its native location.

(To see what blogs I’m reading, you can download my OPML file and import it into your feed reader.)

As you know, most of my articles are focused on design, Macintosh and the greatest invention of our time: the internet. When I am writing an article or an aside I aim to make it dynamic and narrative.