carter swartout

github linkedin posts notes resume

How my website and blog works!

I’ve always a little piece of the internet that’s mine - and if I’m going to write more here, I’d love for it to be on something I created. Until recently, my website has been a Jekyll template hosted on GitHub Pages. The old blog has worked well, but I still wanted something I could customize more and feel more personal.

The source code is at this repo and the mentioned scripts are linked.

What I want with the new website

Point 1. The Jekyll template allowed me to make posts using markdown, something I enjoyed. It’s quite easy to write and has the advantage of being able to support fancy-looking LaTeX commands I use for my notes: \(\pi^2 = 10\)

Point 2. The site should be able to host my old posts as well as my class notes (old location), which are also written in markdown. (Aside: if you type out your class notes, I highly recommend posting them online. It’s always easy to access and others can see it, which is great motivation!) The GitHub Pages site automatically updated whenever I pushed a commit - this should be equally easy!

Point 3. It should be simple enough for me to understand and quickly try out changes. I don’t want to spend 30 minutes trying to get why some template is configured the way it is.

Finally, it should feel like something I made!

My solution

I discovered Pandoc while taking a class and wanted to use it for this. I took one of my old blog posts and ran it through pandoc to convert it to html, and it worked pretty well! I made some modifications to the default template used, mainly including a header, supporting LaTeX, and adding some CSS. Now, I could write pages in markdown and quickly convert it to html!

To create the all of the html files on each update, I wrote a simple bash script ( to iterate and convert all files in specified directories, and voila! I’ve got a working build process!

To host this site, I’ve got a AWS Lightsail server which costs ~$5/month. I have another simple script ( which pulls all updates from GitHub, then builds the site. Whenever I want to add something, I just need to push it to GitHub, then update the site on the server via ssh: ssh lightsail-server /var/www/site/

I’m looking forward to writing more (substantial) posts on here :) Carter