My Project

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The topic of my blog post was providing technical support and guidance. As a Trainee Technician, a big part of my role is to provide support to customers and staff. It’s a very complicated topic and there are so many different ways of providing support, so it makes an excellent topic to write about.

I used The Ghost blogging platform, based off of the node.js JavaScript environment, which is built on top of Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. The engine itself is super lightweight and lean, it’s written in C++ and provides excellent performance for JavaScript applications. The blogging platform itself is built for writers, and only includes basic functionality for simple use. The editor is excellent and provides excellent writing tools and options. You can write in HTML straight to the same editor or used their predefined tags.

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In regards to hosting, I used Openshift, which provided “Gears” which are essentially applications as a service in their free plan. I was provided 3 gears and used one to host the ghost platform, and the other to host the Jenkins server to maintain the Ghost blogs gear. Using their service was very straightforward and feature-rich, the SSH access was down to the host root so there were no restrictions on how the server was setup.

The most in-depth feature I used was the code injection, which was simply a code block within the head tags of the web pages it created. This allowed me to include custom JavaScript code for Googles Graph API’s and make small changes within the CSS to flow better with my content. The inline image uploading was very useful, although it was extremely simple. The image tool created a Html element which could be edited straight away, however it still provided a box to upload images. I did find the list tags rather frustrating, they were easily thrown out of whack and would cause problems if the text was added before or after. However, an alternative would’ve just been to create a list with basic Html.

I got my research from a few sources, but my main 2 sites I included were:

Smashing Magazine – A magazine for web developers and designers

AWebber – Provide web applications and tools

These sites were excellent, well written and whilst not particularly sticking to my topic, they provided excellent martial to base my research from. The content was clear and there were very little annoyances, or attempts to market products in a biased way. I trusted the sites, having spent time on both in the past, I understood their businesses and could trust content they produce.

The Aweber Blog was secured using TLS 1.2 a modern standard protocol with 128bit asymmetric encryption, the public key was verified by the browser and there were no trust issues. Smashing magazine wasn’t secured with modern standards or encrypted. However, the content was written by Rachel Andrews the creator of Perch, and a well-known writer and speaker in the web development world

To deal with copyright issues, I made sure my content was unique and that the images I provided were royalty free and from reliable sources. For example, I used www.pexels.com and my image had a CC0  license so no attribution was needed. I ensured the validity of the site through the certificate it provided, again everything was secured with a trusted SSL license.

All of the sites mentioned had a search functionality as well as search engine friendly page names. Finding the content, I required was done almost entirely within the Google search engine. Whilst the content on google maybe biased towards paying advertisers, by avoiding the promoted links I could find actual relevant search results. Not least forgetting the search tools that provide a powerful asset when looking for content published in a certain time frame or country.

Using the Ghost blogging software saved me a lot of time in setting up, and publishing content that looks good. The shortcuts were invaluable at saving time, unlike WordPress keyboard shortcuts in Ghost are almost second nature. Compressing images was done in Kraken.io, an amazing web based image compression system with a top-notch lossless and lossy compression algorithm.  I had a 97.52% reduction on my image at a 1000 hits a month the total reduction in used bandwidth with just that one image would be over 30GB. Not forgetting the thankful visitors on slower, capped connections.

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I like many others on this project used Diigo a fantastic tool for logging your searches and pages. However, it does have its flaws. For example, trying to find your search results when you have a page full of them on a white background, or trying to find your highlighted text. Like nearly all software on the internet, there are alternatives Evernote being one very popular one. I liked Evernote simplified usage, and the fact it could easily integrate into other applications and mobile devices.

I also used to google open source chart API’s to create an interactive bar chart to display the statics I had chosen. It doesn’t quite integrate into Ghost blogging platform (wasn’t meant to) however a simple way around is to use Ghosts Code injection and use the preconfigured script to run in the header. The reason I used Googles charts is because of the Cross-browser compatibility (adopting VML for older IE versions) and cross-platform portability to iOS and new Android releases. No plugins are needed and you can use real-time data with many different types of connection tools.

I wouldn’t say anything was difficult to use, Diigo could be quite frustrating having to find things you logged the few days before when it’s not fresh in your memory.  Whilst the Chart API was simple, it was almost impossible to get real-time data from Plusnet website due to having to inject code before the start of every page.

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My first draft wasn’t perfect, it had several spelling mistakes. And my main image wasn’t compressed. In some areas, I lacked basic grammar and punctuation and my sentences didn’t make sense. I was passed the notes for revising the work I had done which covered all the mistakes and lacking content issues. I used Grammarly to help check my grammar, however, it wasn’t perfect and couldn’t tell if a sentence made sense. I checked my work several times and revised the sentences and corrected basic mistakes. I rewrote some content and added new content to improve the readability and accuracy of my articles. I then as stated above used Kraken to compress images (well the only image) to make the page friendlier for low bandwidth viewers. The changes were important to make, they allowed my content to be more readable and trustworthy. It improved page loading speed and bandwidth costs on the server.

If I had more time to improve the project, I would make sure the real-time stats were available. Improve the servers’ response and deploy a CDN to help deliver content globally at the same speed. I would also spend more time going into my article and improving the content, linking multiple sources for the information. And having several pages going into much more depth.

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