Ryan P. Randall bio photo

Ryan P. Randall

Instruction Coordinator & Faculty Outreach Librarian at the College of Western Idaho ∴ Literary, media & cultural studies ∴ Web Editor at In the Library with the Lead Pipe ∴ Sous les pavés, la plage ∴ We are, as always, stubborn, stoked, and petrified - GY!BE

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historical A statement at the end of a book, typically with a printer’s emblem, giving information about its authorship and printing. OED

Should you ever ask yourself, “how does one make such a thing?,” start looking for a colophon. If you make something mentionable, try to let others know how it was done.

This Very Site

This page is built with Jekyll, hosted on GitHub Pages, and looks like this under the hood. It uses the older 2.2 version of Michael Rose’s Minimal Mistakes theme, with some slight modifications.1 I might update to the fancy 4.0+ version once it either jibes with Github Pages or I decide to pay for my own hosting.

Jekyll and GitHub Pages make for a great alternative to WordPress if you’re looking for a bit more control, want to learn a little more about what is going on behind the magic, or just plain don’t want to pay for hosting while you’re a student or emerging scholar/professional. If those things resonate, I suggest you check out Trevor Jones’s series of posts on setting up a Jekyll/GitHub Pages blog and/or Mike Greiling’s post “Jekyll from Scratch”.2

Bigfoot.js provides the fancy pop-up footnotes, Staticman heroically brings comments to static sites, Reveal.js serves as a splendid presentation alternative to PowerPoint or Keynote, FontAwesome delivers some of the icons throughout the site, and James Walsh’s Academicons supplements Font Awesome with the Open Access lock, Academia-dot-edu, and Zotero icons.

The favicon (currently the little ellipsis in a speech bubble) is by Scott Lewis, available with a CC BY-3.0 license from the Noun Project. I chopped and screwed cropped and shrank it into the favicon format.

Whenever possible, I link to WorldCat records for books. Why not work to make library access a default practice?

Writing Formats

I’ve been using Fletcher Penney’s MultiMarkdown so long, it’s committed to muscle memory. In other words, it’s part of my way of interfacing with the world, just like other languages and syntaxes. If you plan to use any variant of Markdown, I recommend this one.

For keeping my mental lines of flight somewhat directed, I’ve developed something that’s an awful lot like Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal. Even if you’re not prone to distraction, that well-designed website deserves a visit.

Notekeeping & Text Editor Programs

Atom excels at code editing and general note-taking. It’s free, plus there are many extensions and themes. Since I rely a lot on Github-Flavored Markdown for both website making and bullet-journal style notes, I’ve swapped out the stock Markdown package for David van Gemeren’s language-markdown and minimal-syntax-dark. If you’re not that into the whole Markdown thing and just want a code editor that can make the pretty, Jan T. Sott has crafted a spate of lovely themes. I particularly enjoy his Paraíso Dark for Atom.

I use different Dropbox accounts for my personal and work files. Since I move between two campuses and a few different computers at each library location, I access these to-do files through CodeAnywhere. It’s not quite as favorite as Atom, but it’s the best cloud-based editor I’ve found that integrates easily with Dropbox. If you’re like me and save your Markdown files as .txt ‘cause they’re just text files, you might encounter an error where CodeAnywhere doesn’t want to render them as markdown. I’ve found that if you just save a single file as .md in your directory, that’s enough to convince their interface to render Markdown appropriately.

Dillinger.io can’t be beat as a ubiquitously available Markdown playground, whether you’re just wanting to learn Markdown or if you need to quickly turn your thoughts into various formats and export or save them elsewhere.

Brett Terpstra’s nvALT combines plain text files, Dropbox sync, and a variety of well-thought features to make it the writing equivalent of the maximal-minimalist, delight-is-in-the-details visual aesthetic that The Designers Republic™ often use for Warp Records. For those unfamiliar, that means it’s ace.

  1. Michael Rose has a page about his various free, open source Jekyll themes in case you’d like to see others. 

  2. I’m probably going to make a separate post about all this before long, but until I do, here’s a bunch of other useful links for Jekyll things. Michael Rose’s “Going Static”, Mike Greiling’s “Jekyll From Scratch”, & Barry Clark’s “Build a Blog with Jekyll and GitHub Pages” all do the job of introducing Jekyll admirably. Carl Boettinger’s “Learning Jekyll” and W. Caleb McDaniel’s “Open Notebook History” each show how Jekyll- or Git-based sites work well for scholarly notebooks.