Announcing: my netsec blog

06 Nov 2018, by Pang Yan Han

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer(s), past or present.

It’s been almost 9 months since I last posted here and 8 months since my last blog post on dev.to. Let’s just say that life happens and despite having a lot of ideas, nothing in particular made me feel like penning it down and publishing as a blog post.

In recent months, I have been picking up new skills in the domain of Computer Security, which is something I have been interested in for quite a while. Despite having a software development background and some time being a DevOps engineer / sysadmin, a lot of things I’ve picked up in Computer Security were quite mind blowing and pushed me out of my comfort zone. So I thought, why not blog about it?

And I finally took action over the last weekend. The result is the birth of a new blog:

https://yanhan.github.io/netsec-blog

which will be exclusively dedicated to Computer Security. That is very much unlike this blog, which is an amalgamation of a diverse number of technical topics. I have written a piece there which announces its birth; click here to read it.

So if you are interested in Computer Security, head over to https://yanhan.github.io/netsec-blog now! Currently, there’s not a whole lot of content but there will be more in time to come, so stay tuned. As always, I highly appreciate any comments and advice you have for my posts.

So far, what we’ve been discussing in this post is pretty similar to the first post on my netsec blog. From here on, the content will be somewhat similar, yet diverge. After all, what is the point of repeating the same things here? And what better way to spend a public holiday than to share some of my thoughts here?

Why a separate blog?

Focus.

That’s right. If I had to use one word to answer the question, it will be focus.

Despite the saying that a magician does not reveal his tricks, today I will lift up the veil just a little bit.

I started this blog to show some of the interesting things that I have encountered as I progress in my journey as a Software Engineer, especially things that I had a difficult time finding out solutions for. Typically, this involves either (a) having to piece together a few different sources to get the full picture or (b) some insight which I stumbled into while solving a problem. Perhaps it’s my googling skills, but sometimes I just can’t seem to find an all-in-one source of solutions for some problems. And having spent a non-trivial amount of time and effort solving them, I do not want to waste time solving them again (or forgetting how to). Hence, I will write a post about it.

Which is why you will see that a large portion of my blog posts are how-tos.

In some ways, it is my way of giving back to the community.

It also had the unintentional but good side effect of boosting my writing skills. There is no way I can prove this because it’s all proprietary code, but a number of my ex-colleagues have pointed out that I write good documentation. It also inspired some of them to spend more effort to write better documentation. The closest thing I have to prove it is for you to have a glance at the README of a project I spent some time doing this year, hroamer.

But people change. Or perhaps I should say, I got greedy.

I want more than just a blog where I can write down my thoughts and insights. I want more readership. I want to gain more fame and recognition for my skills.

And I noticed something. Something in common among some of the Twitter accounts I was following:

That’s right: focus.

Of course, there are a lot of other factors leading to their success, but focus is a big part of the recipe. There are also exceptions such as Julia Evans who blogs about a diverse number of topics as well, but I have a feeling that that is more of the exception than the norm. There is also a certain appeal about a platform which covers a single topic in depth.

This is not to say that focus alone will get me what I want. There are a lot of things that these people did correctly which I didn’t. For instance:

  • Having deep mastery of a domain that a lot of people care about.
  • Posting good content regularly to stay on the radar.
  • Marketing their platform, whether through social media, posting on multiple platforms, engaging other content producers, etc.
  • Speaking at conferences to increase their exposure.
  • Working at a company / location with a strong engineering ecosystem.

These are things that I will have to work on.

Another very important reason why I decided to spin off a separate netsec blog: you wouldn’t guess which posts on this blog are the ones with the highest view count and time spent on them. I was very surprised by what I saw on Google Analytics. I shall say that I do not want to be remembered / known just for writing those posts, because there is so much more that I can bring to the table.

I also don’t like the results of searching myself on Google. There is a book which I have read this year, I cannot be sure but I believe it’s Ryan Holiday’s “Perennial Seller” (which is a fantastic book by the way). Regardless of which book it is, there is one thing it mentioned that left an impact on me: If you don’t like your Google Search results, change it. That is exactly what I am going to do.

To everyone who is reading this, not just software engineers: if you have similar thoughts as myself, it is likely that you have the skills to do what you want to do. This is a rallying cry for all of us to take action to get to where we want to be. We all have to start somewhere.

What happens to this blog?

Phew. That was quite a handful. Since focus is a pretty big deal to me now and I have a new netsec blog which will take away some time and attention, what happens to this blog?

In the short term, I do not foresee any major changes. But I have the following plans:

  1. Convert to Bootstrap from Foundation, as I did with my netsec blog.
  2. Update all the JavaScript libraries.
  3. Perhaps a design update.

In the long run, I see 3 possible outcomes:

  1. This blog will be left as it is and I will continue to write posts on an array of topics.
  2. If I like what I see with my netsec blog, I may be revamping this blog so it also focuses on a single domain. Existing content will be shifted to another blog. But it is too early to tell.
  3. I will ignore this blog to focus on my netsec blog or other efforts. Which eventually leads to #2.
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