Rambling Polymath

The musings of a man with too many hobbies

Rambling Polymath

Rambling Polymath is a blog about multimedia storytelling. The site was initially launched in 2019 as an outlet for my interests after a two year hiatus from blogging.

Today Rambling Polymath focuses on digital and analog photography, writing, journalism and the technology that enable each.

The name Rambling Polymath itself was something of a joke. A polymath is someone with vast knowledge of a great number of subjects, while a rambler is rather self explanatory.

Over the past five years I've written about everything from small-town politics, education, and criminal justice to semiconductors, wide area networking, and fiber optics.

As such, I've often found myself in close proximity to people of different walks of life, and through telling their stories, I've learned a little bit from each. Add in the fact that I usually have to be told to stop talking, I felt Rambling Polymath was appropriate, if humorous, title for a blog.

Posting schedule and membership

Rambling Polymath is currently maintained as of November, 2020, and publishes between four and six times a month.

Content is released first to paying subscribers, and then to free subscribers a week later. Finally, posts are released to the public after a month (28 days).

Many features, including comments, are disabled or hidden from anonymous readers in order to provide additional incentives for subscribing.

A newsletter — produced in Mail Chimp — is sent to members on the first Friday of each month.

Additionally, paid members get access to premium content, such as high-resolution sample galleries, and will have new posts sent directly to their email.

Technical Details

Rambling Polymath is built on the Ghost content management system running as a Docker container in a virtual machine on Google Cloud Platform.

Comments for the blog are powered by the open source forum platform Discourse, while analytics data is collected by Matomo, a free self-hosted alternative to Google Analytics. Both of which are also running as Docker containers in GCP.

Standing between the open internet and each container is an Nginx reverse proxy, which acts as the gatekeeper, handles SSL encryption, Gzip compression, and caching.

Finally all internet traffic is routed to through Cloudflare's data centers, which provide additional security and enhance performance by caching content close to readers.

Services employed:

  • Ghost - CMS
  • Matomo - Analytics
  • Discourse - Comments / Community Forum
  • Nginx Web Server - Reverse Proxy, Gzip Compression, Caching
  • Zapier - API level integrations*
  • Mail Chimp - Monthly Newsletter*
  • MailGun - Transactional email*
  • Formspree - Contact Form*
  • Cloudflare - DNS, CDN, web security
* Third-party service