· 6 min read

To Static From Nothing

  1. Patrick Collins's Headshot
    Patrick Collins

    Educator | Web Developer

A Decorative Image

Who am I and what is this site for?

Hello, and welcome to my website! My name is Patrick Collins, though I’m sure you figured that out by now since its plastered everywhere. I am currently a Senior at Kennesaw State University studying Music Education. I’m drawn to music, education, technology, and all things Walt Disney (especially Walt Disney World), so you will find that much of the blog here will consist of content relating to these, in addition to some eclectic sprinklings throughout. This site will also house various things I create, including original or arranged music, drill designs, photography, and applications. My hope is that someone will find some value in something that gets posted here, and if not, then oh well.

If you are interested in more about me, check out the About page. If you are interested in contacting me for whatever reason, feel free to comment on the bottom of a post or check out the Contact page.

Why did I create this site?

This website is the product of many years with me wanting to buy a domain name and create a personal website. Since, at the time, I had no real purpose to own a domain name, I refrained from purchasing one. Now, as I enter my final year of undergrad, I felt it was time to get a more professional email address to use on job applications. Since I have used Gmail for a while, I prefer the platform, so decided to see if I could get an address that I deemed appropriate. After a decent amount of time inputting various *address*@gmail.com, I had no success. Every one of them was taken. I then began to toy with the idea of buying a domain name for myself, and then just creating an email address from there. My email address could be whatever I wanted it to be and would look more professional than having *address*@gmail.com. So I then began my search for domain name that would give a professional look to my email address.

How did I create this site?

Compare Domain Registrars

1&1 GoDaddy Google Domains Porkbun
New $0.99/yr $0.99/yr $12.00/yr $8.84/yr
Renewal $14.99/yr $14.99/yr $12.00/yr $8.84/yr
Transfer $0.99/$14.99 $7.99 $12.00 $8.84
DNS Yes Yes Yes Yes
Email 1 Free $2.99/mo $5.00/mo
Email Service 1&1 Office 365 GSuite Porkbun
Email Forwarding Yes No Yes Yes
WHOIS Privacy Free $9.99 Free Free
SSL Certificate No No No Yes

After searching the standard sites, such as GoDaddy, for pricing, I eventually came across 1&1 where I was able to register this domain, pacollins.com, for a year at a grand total cost of of $1.17! Included with the domain was a free email address via 1&1 Webmail and WHOIS Privacy. Honestly, I didn’t realize how cheap domain names are. To be fair, this was an introductory price and in the future it will cost $16/year from 1&1, but all things considered, it is pretty reasonable. I’m sure I will price it out again once I get to that point, but I am speculating that I will move over to Google Domains since it will be $12/year with Google integration. That being said, the next step was to set-up my email address.

Webmail Interface from 1&1
Webmail Interface from 1&1

I just want to say that I was pleasantly surprised with 1&1’s Webmail. The interface is sleek and intuitive - two things that are very important to me in a service, free or not. Honestly, if I wasn’t so attached to Gmail, I wouldn’t mind using it. Nevertheless, I was able to very easily forward my address to my personal address and then connect to use it as an alias. As for the email service itself, after sending and receiving a few messages through various platforms, I found that the service was quick with minimal delays receiving and sending emails. Now with my email established, I had accomplished what I had originally set out to do - acquire a more professional looking email address.

But, being a techie, I couldn’t stop there. This domain needed to be used, since I had it, for a personal website. The problem was:

  1. I didn’t want to pay for hosting. I bought the domain out of necessity, but I don’t need a website.
  2. I didn’t want advertisements on my website. I can’t have the slightest possibility of stray advertisements of questionable nature popping up on my site.
  3. I wanted to have autonomy with how the site is built, how it functions, and what it looks like. Easy manipulation of the source code is a must.
  4. I wanted to be able to easily work on my site offline. This includes being able to see new content and new features thought a fully functioning localhost site.
  5. Most importantly, I wanted something lightweight and simple. I knew if it was going to be cumbersome to edit the site, I wouldn’t do it and I would end up wasting a lot of my time establishing the site to just leave it unmaintained.

Hugo Logo
Hugo Logo

Since I knew I didn’t want advertisements or to pay for hosting, that knocked out the majority of services people typically use. It left mostly the blogging platforms left. Also, I knew that, with a need for autonomy, those sites, such as WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, would limit my ability to do so. Unfortunately, I do enjoy the ease of a Content Management System (CMS), so I was looking for something similar. So with most of the standard places to host my site not meeting the standards I needed, I eventually came across GitHub Pages. GitHub Pages gives free hosting with the only caveat being that the site must be static. For what I was planning on doing, this was no issue; it would be a little cumbersome, but not an issue. (As a side note, if you don’t own a domain, your URL will be username.github.io.) So in order to solve issue #5, I needed to find a CMS for static sites. I eventually came across Hugo, which is a static site generator. Hugo gives the basic functionality of a CMS (using the idea of templates), but compiles them into a static site. As an added bonus, Hugo comes with a lightweight server that can compile the site in real time for viewing. Hugo is lightweight as an 11MB executable that ties in with command line. It even is supported by a host of themes to make set-up even easier. I ended up going with “Future Imperfect,” a Hugo port, by jpescador, of an HTML5Up Theme. GitHub Pages was the solution to #1 and #2; Hugo was the solution to #3, #4, and #5.

With all of that done, in addition to some behind the scenes stuff with the theme, the majority of the site is up and ready to go. If you had no intention on personalizing the stylistic aspects of the theme, you could easily be up and ready with content in less than 24 hours.