It’s been four months since Apple Watch was released, but still it happens pretty often that someone sees me wearing an Apple Watch and ask me how I like it. I ended up having a short script of my answer in my mind and I repeat it every time. Then, I thought it’ll be good to write a blog post of a long version of the answer, and here it is.
What is your favorite thing about Apple Watch?
This is the first question most of the time. And here’re my answers.
That it reduced my screen time
An Apple Watch is another device with a screen, but how could it reduce my screen time? Well, you can accomplish that with a little bit of customization.
After the initial installation, Apple Watch is set to receive all of the notifications your iPhone gets. But you can customized it by going to Apple Watch app on your iPhone. I basically disabled all of the notifications except phone calls, emails and messengers. Only those were the things that need my immediate attention. Others, like Facebook notifications, don’t really matters and I can check them whenever I have some free time. And the key here is that I turned off my iPhone’s vibration. so once I set my phone as silent mode, those notifications that go to my phone don’t bother me as long as I keep them in my pocket or I just put my phone upside down. and I can’t miss important ones - things that I set to deliver to my Apple Watch - because the Watch is always on my wrist.
So it’s basically like filtering my notifications into three different levels.
- The most important and that need my immediate attention: phone calls, messages and emails - go to my Apple Watch
- Things that I can check occasionally: Twitter mentions, Facebook tagging, etc. - In my iPhone’s notification center
- Things that don’t matter but I want to check when I have some free time: someone replied to the post I’ve commented on Facebook - Just turn off the notification.
That I don’t need to carry my phone all the time
Before Apple Watch, I tend to be obsessive about holding my phone in my hand or pocket being afraid of missing any important notifications. But with Apple Watch, I don’t need to be so anymore. For example, I don’t need to keep my phone next to me while I’m charging it at home. And If I carry a back pack, I don’t need to carry my phone in my pocket, but just put it in the back pack and forget about it. Again, that also helps me reducing my screen time.
I thought it must be the best scenario for a woman who carries a purse all the time, to buy an Apple Watch and a iPhone 6 Plus, so that she can just keep the phone in the purse most of the time and enjoy the big screen when needed.
What are your favorite Apple Watch apps?
Apple Watch is a passive device. Which means, there are not many cases that I actively open an app from my Apple Watch to do some tasks. Most of the time I just get notifications and respond to them. And many Apple Watch apps are not in a usable condition yet because the watchOS 2 is not release officially. Nonetheless, there are some apps that I am using pretty often and pretty conveniently.
Workout is one of the Apple’s built-in apps. I use it every morning and evening because I bike to work. Before Apple Watch, I used to use Strava to track my bike riding. Strava also has an Apple Watch app, but it was not usable because it kept asking me to login on my phone every time I open the app on my watch. I hope this will be improved once the watchOS 2 is released.
When I bike I don’t want to put my iPhone in my pants pocket because it interrupts my pedaling. With Workout app on Apple Watch it is very convenient because I can just put my phone in the back pack and tap on the watch to start tracking. And the data goes to the Activity app on my iPhone, and also the Health app.
Apple Pay is technically not an app, but a built in feature of Apple Watch. You just double-click the side button and it shows the credit card you have entered, and you can just pay by waving your wrist to the NFC devices at the cashers. This is so convenient. I don’t even have to touch my pocket or wallet. I felt that this is really a future of payment system.
Yo seems not to be a popular Apple Watch app, but I found it pretty useful. The basic concept of the app itself already fits very well with a watch. You just tap a button, and it sends a message that says “Yo” to someone. In a certain context, this make a good sense.
I send Yo to my wife every evening when I leave office for home. I leave office at a different time every day, so my wife needs to know when I leave so that she can start cooking dinner. I used to send a same message everyday, but with Yo it became just a tap on my wrist.
PayByPhone is an app you can pay for parkings in San Francisco. There are certain tasks you want to glance often, and paying for parking is one of them. You don’t want to miss extending parking time and get a ticket or towed away. PayByPhone’s Apple Pay app lets you glance how much time you have until the expiration, and they send you a notification when the time is close. You can even extend the time on your watch. This app fits very well with the nature of Apple Watch.
Fantastical, Outlook, and Dark Sky are also the apps I found very useful on my watch. I occasionally use CalcBot, Square Cash, and Authy as well. They are not every day apps, but they are very useful at a certain situation.
Everyone will have something like Apple Watch eventually
If someone ask you about Apple Watch, chances are that they want one too. They’re tempted to buy one but it’s so hard to justify it.
Is Apple Watch for everyone? The answer probably is no. I bought one because I could justify it with the fact that I’m an iOS developer. If you like Apple Watch as a fashion item and you can afford it, maybe it’s for you. It’s just another watch that has a lot of benefits if you have an iPhone.
However, even if you don’t get this particular generation of Apple Watch, I think everyone will(or must) get a smart watch eventually. Not only that it will be good for yourself, but it will be also good for the people around you. Let me explain it.
I don’t like when someone’s phone is vibrating on the desk when the person is not there. That bothers me so much. Same with hearing a phone rings in a public place. Imagine that everyone’s phone calls or notifications only go to their wrist. There will be no need for sound at all. it will be a peaceful world, won’t it?
A few days after Apple did the keynote last week to announce the new 12 inch Mac Book and Apple Watch, People started to purchase and receive the new updated MacBook Pro, which has the new Force Touch trackpad. I’ve seen pretty many posts that says those trackpads are amazing, So I would like to try myself.
So I went to Apple Store in Hillsdale mall today, and I could try the new trackpad. The Apple Store was not busy at all. I asked one of the crew whether they have the new MacBook Pro, and he leaded me to the MacBooks.
I tried the trackpad, and I thought I tried the old MacBook Pro by mistake.
I checked carefully again, and it WAS the new MacBook Pro with Force Touch trackpad. It felt exactly like I’m clicking and the trackpad and it’s actually moving down. I was completely deceived.
Up and Down
The “regular” click happened exactly same as the old trackpad. the haptic feedback happens not only once, but twice. Once when you click down, and one more time when you release your finger. So it perfectly mimic the old trackpad’s click. The Force Touch trackpad’s surface is sort of flexible(natural as a plastic plate) so you can actually push down a little bit, and I think that helps the “click” feeling.
And there’s one more “click” you can do. If you press the trackpad harder, the feedback happens twice, as it’s layered. And the second feedback is slightly stronger than the first one. So as you’re pressing down, the weaker feedback happens at the same level as the “regular” click and the second feedback happens if you go deeper. The feedback happens twice also when you release from a Force Touch. You just have to press a little bit harder than when you press the iPhone’s home button. With Force Touch, you can preview the link in the Safari Browser, and do things like rewinding and fast-forwarding a video faster. And Apple will open the SDK to third party developers too.
One more thing is, Force Touch works only when you click with one finger. If you use two or more fingers, only “regular” click will work.
Tap to Click
There’re two types on human on the earth. Ones who use physical click for trackpad, and ones who use “tap to click”. If you use tap to click, you just tap the trackpad as you tap on iPhone’s touch screen. You can use tap to click with the new Force Touch trackpad too. You just have to turn it on in the settings.
If you turn it on, it works along with regular and Force Touch. In other word, whether you tap or click, same thing will happen. Only Force Touch is different.
Tap with Three Fingers
You can turn off the “Force Touch” in the settings too.
If you turn it off, You can use “tap with three fingers” to do the things that Force Touch would do. That means you can do those things on the old MacBook’s trackpads as well with software update.
Adjusting the Force
You can adjust the level of force you have to give to click the trackpad in the settings as well. There’re three levels, but the differences aren’t significant. Medium and Firm level felt almost the same to me.
Apple did another magic with the new trackpad. The technology was so reliable and useful, I thought maybe Apple can use it on actual keyboards in the future. They might already have been working on prototypes of it.
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
I used to read science cartoons when I was little, like many others. Every time I read about black hole in those books, I remember reading that no one knows that black hole really exist and if it does, what would be beyond it. I haven’t really dived deep into it, but those kind of mysteries had been always excited me.
I knew Interstellar was a story about an astronaut travel into a black hole, because the trailer obviously showed it. So I was really curious how Chris Nolan would imagine the world beyond the black hole. That was the most exciting part when I saw this movie for the first time.
And I was totally blown away by the movie’s imagination. My 5 stars for this movie solely came from that.
Here’s Nolan’s own quote about how he has been dealing with those mysteries in his films.
“We can’t step outside our own heads,” he told me at Fotokem. “We just can’t. Now, a great film will reveal that the world is way fucking worse than you think it is and you missed it. It should be depressing but the reason it’s not is, we want the world to be more complicated than it is. We don’t want to know the limits of your world. You don’t want to be like Truman in the boat at the end, hitting the sky. What it’s really saying is, there’s more to this place than meets the eye. I make films that are huge endorsements of that idea.”
I think with Interstellar, Nolan showed the most enormous and ambitious imagination so far in his filmography.
Nolan’s movie always shows very deep analysis and a lot of foreshadows. And Nolan presents them very roughly, so it’s not easy to get them all as an audience. And he also leaves the audiences enough room to use their own imagination to understand his movie. Interstellar was not different.
Warning: Spoilers ahead. Including spoilers for ‘2001: Space Odyssey’.
2001: Space Odyssey
Interstellar’s overall plot line is very similar to Stanley Kubrick’s movie ‘2001: Space Odyssey (1968)’ in many different ways. I saw the 2001 after I’ve watched Interstellar, and I was amazed by it. Very abstract but powerful movie. I even felt that Interstellar is like a modern remake of 2001. The main character of both movies travels the universe, then warps beyond the event horizon. And both created a very attractive artificial intelligence character, HAL 9000 and TARS.
Of course Interstellar has more sub-plots and longer story, but you somehow feel the similar thing after you watch both movies. 2001’s wormhole(or a black hole) is near Jupiter, but in it’s original screenplay it was near Saturn, just like Interstellar. Kubrick was not satisfied by the visual effect of Saturn so he changed it to Jupiter later. However in Interstellar, Nolan portrayed Saturn so overwhelmingly and beautifully. To me, it was very interesting to see how Nolan took 2001’s backbone of the plot and interpreted it in his own way.
IMAX and Computer Graphics
Nolan’s obsession to IMAX film is quite well-known. He shot a major chunk of this movie in IMAX format, and it was really effective for a movie that portraits space. I’ve watched Interstellar twice - once in 70mm IMAX and the other time in normal screen - and the difference was even bigger than I expected. 70mm IMAX screen showed all the details in the film so crisply and brightly. It was like a difference between seeing a HDTV and a real-life action.
In this movie Nolan showed another obsession. He used very small number of computer-generated imagery in this movie. It’s amazing considering that it’s a Sci-Fi movie and half of the scenes are happening in space. Nolan has not used green screen at all, and even made close-to-real size of spaceships. He made the imagery of space and projected it to the outside of the spaceship set, so that the actors and the actresses can act in a feeling that they’re actually in space.
I think Nolan was trying his best to make this film look like real. Because the story and the scenes in the movie are something that audiences have never seen before, he might thought that they need to feel that it’s real. And that’s also a reason why he even worked with most-admired astrophysicist Kip Thorne and generated most scientifically-accurate image of black hole in film’s history.
I think Interstellar can be explained in four keywords which have used in the movie very importantly.
1. Gravity: the Bridge
In the movie, Nasa’s Lazarus mission had started because a wormhole appeared next to Saturn. The wormhole had been there for around 40 years, and earth was experiencing some gravitational abnormality because of the wormhole’s gravity. In the very first scene of the movie, Cooper dreams about his memory of an accident while he was working as an astronaut. That accident can be explained that it was caused by the gravitational abnormality.
Professor Brand tells Cooper that he will solve the “gravity equation” before Cooper comes back from the wormhole trip, and he asks Cooper to believe in him. That gravity equation was to leverage the wormhole’s gravity to move the entire humanity through the wormhole. However that promise from professor Brand turned out to be a lie.
Gravity is something we feel everyday and very essential to our existence, but it’s also a very mysterious thing. According to the string theory, among the four fundamental forces in nature, only gravity cannot be explained physically. Randall–Sundrum model explains that our three-dimensional world might be only a brane of the five-dimensional space, and the gravity might be coming from the five-dimensional space.(Still following?) We all know that the earth has gravity, but if you think a little bit more, no one knows how the sphere objects in space called ‘planets’ could have a force that pulls everything.
Murph, Cooper’s daughter, keep seeing paranormal effect in her room like books falling from shelves. She thinks it’s a ghost. On the day there was a baseball game and a bad sand storm interrupted the game, Murph and Cooper see the weird barcode-like shape of sand in Murph’s room, and Cooper says “It’s not a ghost. It’s gravity.” Turns out, it was actually a gravitational force which Cooper has been sending from the Tesseract(will be explained) to Murph and Cooper in our three-dimensional reality. The movie is saying that the gravity might be the only communication channel that can work across our three-dimensional world and five-dimensional space out there. It’s like a bridge.
2. Time: the Key
Time in this movie is the key to mankind’s survival. In the scene where the grown-up Murph talks to professor Brand in front of the chalkboard which was full of the gravity equation, Brand says “I’m afraid of time” meaning that he’s afraid of being close to death. But then Murph looks at the chalkboard and figure out there’s something missing in the gravity equation. It was ‘time’. In the Tesseract, Cooper also mentions that ultimate solution to the gravity equation needs the ‘time’ as the one last element, and that was the knowledge that can only figured out in a five-dimensional space. Cooper sends the data to Murph, and Murph shouts “Eureka!“ and the mankind could be saved.
As the ‘time’ is the ‘key’ of this movie, Many metaphorical appearances of the time shows through out the whole movie. When Cooper leaves Murph for the Lazarus mission he gives a watch as a proof of promise. Later the watch is used as the communicational method between the Tesseract and our world. And if you see the spaceship Endurance, you’ll know that it just looks like a clock. It has 12 units in a circular shape and it rotates, just like a clock. Those were all Nolan’s foreshadowing saying that “Time is the key“.
3. Love: the Compass
Love is like a compass for the journey to the answer in this movie. In the spaceship Endurance, Dr. Amelia Brand claims to go to Edmund’s planet first and she tries to convince the crews that love can be an important element that leads scientific discoveries. Cooper is not convinced, but later in the Tesseract he admits that he could find the exact location in time where he could communicate with Murph, because of love. And turned out Dr. Brand was right, Edmund’s planet was the one that human can survive and settle down.
Many people don’t like this part of the movie because they think it’s too soft and emotional as a Sci-Fi movie. But the thing that people regrets the most in their dying bed is the fact that they haven’t love the people around them enough. Love is a really important thing in our life and the one you should follow when you make important decisions in life. No one would argue with that.
4. Resurrection: the Gift
Foreshadows about resurrection can be seen in many places in the movie as well. Lazarus, the name of the Nasa’s mission to save the mankind from extinction, is a name of a character from the Bible who had been raised up from the dead by Jesus. Professor Brand knew that existing mankind will not survive. He knew that the plan A cannot be succeeded, and he died confessing the truth to Murph. But thanks to Cooper and Murph, whole mankind could be raised up from the dead, just like Lazarus from the Bible.
When Cooper’s team landed on the ice planet and woke up Dr. Mann, he said to the team “You have literally raised me from the dead”.
If you think the five-dimensional space beyond the black hole as the world after death(More explanation to come about this), Cooper can also be considered that he has been raised up from the dead. He was found near Saturn after the Tesseract was destroyed and he wondered ‘What’s next?’
Professor Brand, Mr. Mann, and Cooper, they all prepared for death. They didn’t expect that they could be resurrected. So for them, the resurrection is a gift. Whether the consequences were good or bad, they all have got one more chance.
In physics, a tesseract stands for a 4-dimensional cube which cannot be exist in the three-dimetional world. But in Interstellar it’s the name of a three-dimensional structure in five-dimensional space, build for Cooper by unknown existence who have been quoted as “Them”.
Dr. Brand once mentioned about the idea of the Tesseract in Miller’s planet, after Cooper and she survived from the huge wave. She says the time can be fast-forwarded or slowed down by the gravity but we cannot go back in time. But maybe in five-dimensional space, time can be just a location on a land, so we can move back and forth like we climb up the mountain. The Tesseract is a realization of the idea. In the Tesseract, Cooper could move back and forth in time just by changing his three-dimetional location in it. And he was able to find his daughter Murph in it using the power of ‘love’ as a compass.
In Nolan’s recent article he wrote in Wired as a guest editor, he mentioned a very interesting metaphor.
Film’s relationship with dimensionality has always fascinated me: two-dimensional representations of three dimensions printed onto a strip whose length adds the dimension of time. Time is strikingly represented by the rapidly unspooling rolls of celluloid on a projector.
The reason why Nolan has encouraged people to watch Interstellar in film format - Not only the IMAX 70mm, he even asked to screen them in 35mm format as well. - was not only the high resolution of IMAX, but also because of the relationship between film and dimensionality.
If I borrow Nolan’s metaphor, We are living in a world of a rolling film, and ‘They’ are the editor of the film. We cannot stop or rewind the film, but ‘They’ can jump back and forth in the film and even trim or fold it. the Tesseract can be compared to something ‘They’ made for Cooper from pieces of the film.
I was so impressed by the idea of Tesseract. I have imagined many possible scenarios about the world beyond the black hole before I see this movie, but the Tesseract was not close to anything I could imagine.
Time Travel Paradox
The most critisized plot hole in this movie would be the time travel paradox. In the Tesseract Cooper mentions that “They” are actually future humanity. Humans in the future could get a higher intelligence so that they could understand the five-dimensional space and control the time and space, and they saved the mankind in the past using Cooper and Murph. But if Cooper and Murph didn’t save the mankind, the future humanity could not exist in the future. It’s like a chicken-and-egg problem.
There’s a scene where Murph complains to Cooper why he made her name out of Murphy’s Law, which is known as meaning bad luck. Cooper told her that Murphy’s Law actually means “what ever can happen, will happen”. I was pretty sure that this dialogue has a hidden meaning, but I couldn’t figure out what it means.
Then I found a Quora answer about that topic, and I think I finally got an idea about it.
In five-dimensional space, if you can move across time and space, it will be really easy to mess up the whole universe. Because if you change something in the past that will change the future as well. So I guess ‘Murphy’s law’ can be considered a very important law of nature and something you cannot break in five-dimensional space.
If I borrow Nolan’s film metaphor again, If you cut the film into many pieces and edit them however you want, the whole movie will be messed up. The movie has to have a story. Causes and effects. “what ever can happen, will happen”.
Now let’s go back to the time travel paradox. Cooper could send a very small gravitational force to the past in the Tesseract, but he actually didn’t change anything. He sent a message saying that Cooper had to stay, but he just left Murph. Cooper didn’t change the past. All he did was just sending the ultimate equation from five-dimentional space to three-dimensional world. That’s something that supposed to happen from the first place. Mankind meant to survive. There was no time travel paradox.
Who are “They”?
Through out the movie, “They” have done some significant things. They created the wormhole, they created the black hole ‘Gargantua’, and they created the Tesseract for Cooper. Cooper speculated that they are future humanity, but we can try to guess more specifically.
What we know about “Them” is that they exist in five-dimensional space and understand nature’s laws what current human being could not understand. So we could imagine “Them” as extra-terrestrials. But if “They” have been only living in the five-dimensional space, how could they understand the three-dimensional space we’re living in and build the Tesseract for Cooper? I don’t think it’s possible like we don’t understand the life of bacterias.
“They” could be future mankind as Cooper speculated. I think we can solve the time travel paradox I mentioned earlier with a story like this: In the original parallel universe, the plan A failed so mankind went extinct with earth but Cooper and Brand executed the plan B on Edmund’s planet so the new mankind prospered. But Cooper felt so bad that he left his daughter Murph dying so his left a testament says that if the mankind’s intelligence evolves as they can travel back in time, he would like to complete the plan A save Murph and the whole mankind on earth. Cooper and Brand would be Adam and Eve for the new mankind, so I think the future mankind would execute the testament.
But in hindsight, I think the Murphy’s Law’s analysis I mentioned earlier makes more sense.
I’ve read the review of Interstellar from Jay’s Anaysis, and I thought his point makes a lot of sense. He says “They” might be computer/human hybrid. In other words, the future mankind Cooper mentioned in Tesseract might be the artificial intelligential existence created by human in fact.
There are a lot of foreshadows about that in the movie. The Indian Air Force Drone and Cooper’s tractors show mysterious malfunction and gather towards Coopers house, where the gravitational message was being sent from the Tesseract, through the bookshelves in Murph’s room. They could have been reacting to signal from the world of their descendants.
The Monoliths in the movie ‘2001: Space Odyssey’ are objects built by the transcendental existence, and TARS and CASE in Interstellar look just like them. That might be a hint that those robots are the future human who created the Tesseract. Actually the names of TARS and CASE are the anagram of Tesseract(TESSERACT -> TARS ET CASE: ‘et’ in latin means ‘and’).
In the Tesseract, TARS talks to Cooper and helps him but we could not see his figure. We can guess that the voice was actually from the future A.I.s, borrowing the one that would be familiar to Cooper. In the scene at the Cooper Station, TARS looks like it’s broken during the fall into Gargantua(the black hole). TARS didn’t answer to Cooper’s radio when he was falling towards Gargantua, so it might be broken by the gravitational force earlier than that. Which means he wouldn’t be able to talk to Cooper in the Tesseract.
Stanley Kubrick once had an interview with Rolling Stones magazine about the movie ‘2001: Space Odyssey’ and said:
“On the deepest psychological level the film’s plot symbolizes the search for God, and it finally postulates what is little less than a scientific definition of God.”
A transcendental existence in the higher dimension. The best word to describe it would be ‘God’. The ‘God’ here wouldn’t necessarily mean the God in religion.
If ‘They’ stands for God, this movie’s conception might be explain like this. The space beyond the black hole is actually the world after death. As mentioned earlier, Cooper might be dead in the black hole and resurrected. The world after death is the five-demensional space, the world outside of our world. It’s the place where you can exist across space and time, like God does. It might be somewhere we call heaven. God occasionally creates a place where we can control a small gravitational force to the three-dimensional world, like the Tesseract. That’s why we sometimes see ghosts and paranormal activities.
Interstellar also contains a lot of religious references. It starts from the name of the mission Lazarus. The twelve astronauts who traveled earlier than Cooper to the other side of the wormhole refer to the twelve disciples of Jesus. Cooper Station refers to Noah’s Ark.
I think Nolan put all of these references to make the audiences imagine in many different ways about the movie.
Kubrick also said in the same interview:
“The film revolves around this metaphysical conception and the realistic hardware and the documentary feelings about everything were necessary in order to undermine your built-in resistance to the poetical concept.”
I think Nolan tried the same thing in Interstellar. he made the most poetical movie in the most realistic figure, to help audiences’ immersion and imagination. Neither of Kubrick and Nolan would have their own answer to all the questions for their movies. They just created a playground for our intellectual play, like I did in this article.
Update: I have added “Murphy’s Law” section, written something I have figured out after I published this review.
Why Ditch WordPress?
I’ve been moving around my blog to many different places. I’ve used Posterous before it closes, Tumblr, WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress. Moving a blog is not easy. I have to backup all the posts and assets, and formating doesn’t migrate perfectly every time. But to me it’s also fun at the same time. Specially when new tools come out, I enjoy to try them.
However, the main reason I moved from self-hosted WordPress to Jekyll this time was because my hosting service was close to expire, and the price I had to pay to extend was too high. Most of the hosting service(e.g. GoDaddy) provide a discount price at the first contract, but when you extend it the price goes up so high. Just like cable services in U.S.
Why Jekyll? And what is it?
Then I stumbled upon GitHub Pages, and I found out that I could use a open source tool called Jekyll with the GitHub Pages. First of all, it was free! It was not easy as WordPress to setup, but I was challenged as a developer. I couldn’t use PHP nor MySQL on GitHub Pages, but Jekyll supports all the blog features without them. Jekyll uses many of the new technologies such as SASS, Markdown and Mustache, and I was willing to try them.
I used WordPress.com import method instead of Self-Hosted WordPress. Because after a few research, it seemed to use Self-Hosted method you need a full access to your hosting server. I was not sure if that’ll work for me, so I just went with more certain way. I exported my blog data using export tool in the WordPress dashboard, and imported them to Jekyll. All images were import to the asset folder, but post files were not perfect. Meta data in each post didn’t look pretty on the default Jekyll theme, so I had to modify each post. I changed all of them from HTML to Mardown format. I didn’t have a lot of posts, so it didn’t take that long.
I had my own WordPress theme design, but I create a new design for the Jekyll. I modified the default theme of Jekyll, and made it as simple as I could. SASS made it so easy to work with CSS.
These days making a website responsive so that it can look fine on the mobile devices is a must. Fortunately the default Jekyll theme had all the option for responsiveness so I just had to modify a few things.
I have my own domain(seanchoe.com), and I would like to use it for my new blog for sure. However, I couldn’t use a URL like seanchoe.com/blog because Jekyll only works on the root URL on GitHub Pages. There are two ways to make a GitHub Page. One is “user or organization site” which you can only make one per an account, and the other is “project site”. my user site URL for GitHub Page is seanchoe.github.io, and I could connect it to seanchoe.com. However, I couldn’t make a subdirectory on the user page for Jekyll blog because like I said, Jekyll only works on the root directory. So I made a new project site by creating a new project on GitHub called “blog” and created a branch named “gh-pages”.
To connect a custom domain to a GitHub Page, you have to create a file named “CNAME” on the root directory of GitHub Page and add one line with the URL you want to use. In my case it was “blog.seanchoe.com”. Then I went to the domain management service’s website(I use hover.com), and added a A record pointing to seanchoe.github.io. And it just worked. I didn’t have any content on seanchoe.com yet, so I just added a domain forwarding from seanchoe.com to blog.seanchoe.com.
You can add commenting feature to Jekyll using Disqus easily, but I just didn’t want to add comments to my blog. I’d like to keep it simple.
Search and Sitemap
You need a special treatment to add a search feature on Jekyll blog. We can use plugins like Jekyll + indextank or Jekyll + lunr.js, or you can add a embed custom search. I added a Google Custom Search snippet. You can even customize the style of the search box. To let Google to search all the posts in your blog, you need to submit a sitemap to Google Webmaster Tool. You can easily generate a sitemap file using this trick. One more benefit of doing this is that people can also search your blog contents on Google.
Update: I changed Google Custom Search to Jekyll + lunr.js. Because the sitemap.xml was not reflected in real-time, so the search didn’t work as expected. However, there was a problem. You cannot use Jekyll plugin on GitHub Pages. To solve the problem, you have to install the plugin when you test on the local server, then copy the search.json file from “_site” folder to the root folder before you sync to GitHub.
WordPress has it’s own mobile app which let you write posts even when you’re not with your laptop. But with Jekyll, as far as I know, the only way you can write a post so far is to create a file and push it to GitHub using a laptop.
All of this process took me approximately 3 days. It was not bad at all. I also learned many things. And after all, I saved a lot of money.