Pelican screenshot

When I was setting up this blog, I initially started with Wordpress, but then I discovered that many (tech-savvy) people were using static site generators.

It took me some time to understand what that meant. Most of the common blogging platforms generate websites dynamically. Wordpress requires SQL to manage a database containing your blog content. When someone loads your blog URL, Wordpress generates the requested webpage. Wordpress must be installed on your webhost/server for this to work.

The idea behind static site generators is to have software on your local machine that creates webpages and then upload these pages to the webhost. The webpages have fixed content, hence the description "static site." You don't need to install anything on the webhost.

For a small personal blog, a static site makes a lot of sense because you

  • Avoid the security issues of having software (like Wordpress) installed on your webhost
  • Don't need to worry about upgrading and maintaining server-side software (like Wordpress)
  • Can write blog posts in some type of markdown, which is a lot more user friendly than composing posts in a browser GUI1
  • Can exercise version control on the static web content
  • Can easily move your website somewhere else because your website is just a bunch of static files

In practice, I wanted my blog to have the following features:

  • Ability to write posts in markdown
  • Footnotes
  • Syntax highlighting, especially for code
  • Ability to render \(\LaTeX\)

I can show that all of that is possible in Pelican, a static site generator written in Python. (Needless to say, I'm using Pelican2 for this blog.)



This is extremely important.


Some things I'd like to do someday

  • Skate the canals in the Netherlands
  • Build my own computer
  • Write my own software project
  • Finish Baldur's Gate
  • Publish an essay

Top 5 console games

  1. Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door (Gamecube)
  2. Prince of Persia trilogy (The Sands of Time, Warrior Within, The Two Thrones) (console/PC)
  3. Chrono Trigger (SNES/DS)
  4. Phoenix Wright series (GBA/DS)
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Gamecube/Wii)


Some quotes I like:


Having to read a footnote resembles having to go downstairs to answer the door while in the midst of making love.3


A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.4


Who can resist cute cats? (Yes, that is my photo and those are our cats.)

Cats cuddling at night

Horizontal rule

Syntax highlighting

Inline highlighting

Some Python keywords are lambda, import, and while.

Block of code

def factorial(n):
    if n == 0:
        return 1
        return n * factorial(n-1)

\(\LaTeX\) symbols

Inline LaTeX symbols

I always seem to run out of Greek letters like \(\alpha, \beta, \gamma\).

{equation} environment

$$ \begin{equation} i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial t}\Psi = \hat{H}\Psi \end{equation} $$

{eqnarray} environment

Do you know what these equations are?

$$ \begin{eqnarray} \nabla \cdot \vec{E} &=& 4\pi\rho \\\ \nabla \cdot \vec{B} &=& 0 \\\ \nabla \times \vec{E} &=& -\frac{1}{c}\frac{\partial \vec{B}}{\partial t} \\\ \nabla \times \vec{B} &=& \frac{1}{c}\left(4\pi\vec{J} + \frac{\partial \vec{E}}{\partial t}\right) \end{eqnarray} $$

The famous Maxwell's Equations5 describing electrodynamics in a vacuum!

For the eqnarray environment, I noticed that I had to use \\\ instead of \\ for the line breaks.


The Markdown file used to generate this post is available here. I had to change the .md extension to .txt to avoid confusing the Pelican compiler.

Technical details

If you liked this demonstration of Pelican, you can see another post where I explain how I setup Pelican with full technical details.

  1. I used to write my blog posts in HTML, in the blogging software's GUI. I constantly fought the software reformatting my edits and changing the whitespace. 

  2. Top image taken from Pelican documentation page 

  3. Attributed to Noel Coward 

  4. From Time Enough to Love by Robert Heinlein 

  5. In cgs units, of course!  


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