Why Have Your Own Site?
To open this blog up, I'll answer a basic question about the whole premise: in this day and age, when there are plenty of alternatives I could use, why would I have a website for myself, and why would I bother to put a blog on it?
I made this site back in 2008, just when I was getting to the point in a few projects where I needed to host them somewhere. I found myself confronting 2 options: get a webhost, or using free file hosting. After evaluating the free options, I can confidently say that you get what you pay for.
Taking Control of "Me"
Despite the massive number of websites we can choose to use, there are very few which allow you to really take control of the image of "you" that you project. At best, social networks allow you to control whether or not your posts are viewable by everyone, or just friends. Say you've had a bad week, and someone who would have been interested in something you've done stumbles across your profile. They see 7 straight days of bitching, and they close the tab. As temporary as that may have been for you, they're likely never coming back.
In the age of employers searching for job candidates on social media, do you want that to be your first impression?
For people who have creative output, especially if it's in a wide variety of mediums, it can be very difficult to take control of what you've done. If you tend to dabble, you could easily end up with semi-active profiles on quite a few sites: DeviantArt, Flickr, SoundCloud, GitHub, the list goes on.
Having a website dedicated to you allows you to centralize everything. Anything you want can be right there, all in one spot, for the world to see, in the way you want them to see it.
In addition to the obvious functionality that you get with webhosting, like email accounts, there are quite a few things you can put on a webhost to make your own life easier.
You can make things available for download that you don't necessarily want the giants having their eyes on. You could be paranoid, concerned about privacy, or a badass who's a part of some resistance movement in China.
In addition, you can host a private homepage for yourself, and prepare your browser's opening screen with exactly the links that you find most relevant.
You can give yourself a scratchpad with some simple wiki software like docuwiki.
The sky is the limit.
Growing My Skills
Given the number of programmers employed by websites and tech companies that need to use the internet, if you're a programmer like me, it's helpful to have a background on how the web works. What better way to learn than to make your own site? To get a site like this running, you really don't need to do anything terribly complicated, and it's a good base to get you started with web development.
In the blogging arena, as a programmer, writing good documentation and being able to explain things efficiently are essential skills. It's true that technical writing has some specific places in which it differs from other types of writing; you often want to be as specific as possible, so as not to confusing the reader, but that would mean death if you're writing a novel. However, in most cases, I've found those caveats to be small details, and the wider skill of "good writing" is really the important one. Unfortunately, most programmers also suck at it. While I've received compliments on my ability to explain things, I do feel I have room to improve in this area, despite having days where I spend more time documenting or explaining than actually writing code.
In addition to the impact on the skills I use all the time, writing is a creative medium that I've barely touched, but I've always been fond of it. This blog will be a place where I can explore it.