A new blog setup for a new year

A new blog setup for a new year

Happy New Year everybody. As you are noticing if you are reading this post, I've changed things around here. I wanted to take a moment to explain what's going on and what you can find at this newly-refurbished website.

What's all this about?

If you're a reader of my blog, you probably noticed I didn't actually blog that much from around September 2016 onward. In fact, during the entirety of Fall semester, from August through the end of 2016, I only posted four times. The reason for that is that I was simply all "written out" thanks to several major writing projects that needed to be brought to completion throughout August-December 2016 (more below). I'd have these ideas for blog posts, like the GTD for Academics series, but when I'd sit down to write, I just couldn't bring myself to write one more word. So I told myself, and I tweeted back in December, that I was just going to take the rest of the year off and come back strong in 2017.

So, now it's 2017. Time to get started.

I have a lot going on this year that is completely different than the usual stuff I have going on in other years.

  • I have a book coming out in May.
  • With the book will probably come some speaking engagements to promote it and talk about what's in it.
  • I am also up for tenure at my institution right now. The portfolio is turned in (one of those major writing projects) and throughout January through March I'll be interrogated evaluated with a decision coming in the spring.
  • I have applied for a full-year sabbatical for the 2017---2018 academic year. I am very excited about this and I'll tell you all about it once the Provost gives it the go-ahead. For spoilers -- let's just say it's a serious departure from what I do with my current position.
  • I'm up for tenure now, and in the fall I'll be applying for promotion to the rank of Professor. Doing promotion to full professor right after tenure is unusual but that's the situation I'm in.

Plus I'm doing the usual stuff with teaching with technology like Jupyter notebooks, flipped learning environments, standards-based and specifications grading, and a bunch of other stuff I should be documenting but haven't because... writing.

This year I want to make a conscious effort to be more diligent in documenting all of this stuff, and that brings us to this site.

What hasn't changed

All of my older posts are still here. However, because of some technical issues with the change in blog theme that I have yet to resolve, some of those older posts will looked borked (but readable) and the images may be missing. It's a long and technical story[1]. If you really need to read older posts formatted properly and with images all of the old posts are still available at the former blog URL GHOST_URL/blog. So all the links you've seen before or may have saved will work, they'll just point to a different place. All new posts will go here, on the new place, instead.

Also, there's still a Speaker page on the site (properly updated), and of course the URL is the same.

What's changed

The main thing that's changed, is that I now no longer have a separate website and blog. I had a website, rtalbert.org, that was mainly a link to my Speaking page and another link to the blog. Then I had Casting Out Nines, my blog. I set up the URL to trick people into thinking that the blog (rtalbert.org/blog) was a subdomain of my website, but in reality, it wasn't; the blog and the website were two different places on the web. I can't even remember how this happened[2], but it wasn't optimal. It was too much disparate maintenance and it didn't serve the goal of having one place for people to look at all my work.

So now, I just have a site, and the blog and my speaker page and this new book page and everything else is all integrated into the same place with the same look and feel, and it's a lot less maintenance.

The blog posts are now on the front page of the website; they are the first thing you see when you come here. If you want to see other posts, just enter in the URL GHOST_URL/ or click the "Robert Talbert, Ph.D." link in the top left. If you ever want to get to my site by typing in a URL, use GHOST_URL/. Leave the subdomain part off. If you have the blog bookmarked, you'll need to update the bookmark.

I've also added a new About page, a page for my book, and a page for GVSU people.

And I've changed the theme to Minimal Mistakes, which is lovely and packed with features. One of those features is tagging which is something a lot of you have asked for. There is a list of tags at the end of every post, and clicking on a tag in the list takes you to a page where all the posts having that tag are listed. This lets you enter in a URL to see all my posts that have a certain tag. Older posts are not properly tagged yet, but in the coming weeks/months I will go back and fix that.

A final thing that's changed, is that I am retiring the Casting Out Nines brand from the blog. The blog itself lives on, hopefully more productive than in past years, but it will just be my blog or Talbert's blog rather than having a name unto itself. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons. One is that I simply couldn't find a way, technically, to put the "Casting Out Nines" name on the page. But more importantly, I'm trying to create an integrated presence for my work and more and more, it felt like having the "Casting Out Nines" name referred to something separate from everything else I am doing. But it isn't! So from now on, if you say Casting Out Nines I will still know what you mean, but this blog will just be "my website" and the connections to speaking, long-form writing, and other stuff will be more organic.

Thank you

And that's it. Hold me accountable for filling this space all throughout 2017, and I'll try to make it happen. As always your comments and suggestions are welcome. And, I appreciate your taking the time out to read this stuff.

  1. I switched themes to Minimal Mistakes, and the way this theme renders the layout of posts uses just slightly different syntax in the YAML headers for the posts from my former theme. To fix the posts requires that I sort through all of them (!) from the past and alter some lines of code. If those lines appeared in the same place all the time and said the same things, I could write a script to automate it, but they don't, so I need to do this by hand. I may get around to that someday. For now, it hasnt happened yet. ↩︎

  2. I think it was because I had the blog first then decided to make a website, and when the website came along I wanted the blog to be a subdomain but I couldn't figure out how. So I just hacked it. ↩︎

Robert Talbert

Robert Talbert

Mathematics professor who writes and speaks about math, research and practice on teaching and learning, technology, productivity, and higher education.