The Love-Hate Relationship With Markdown

And how I ended up using an entire blogging platform based on it

I don’t post here nearly enough to just chat about the technology I mess around with and I think that’s something I need to remedy, because it’s awfully quiet around here when I’m not reflecting on the very exciting things that happen during my year. (Though we are nearly due to have a mid-year chat, aren’t we?)

At the time I originally set up my blog, I opted for a graphical CMS because I wanted something I could easily post, plug, and play. For whatever reason at the time, I had trouble setting up anything more complicated than that and did not have the time or patience to delve any further. I opted for a flatfile CMS called Bludit, which I do recommend. For a long time I was deadset, could not understand why anyone would go to all the hassle of manually writing all their posts in markdown only for it to have to be pushed up to the website and then they’d have to check it to make sure the thing looked right and all the bloody CMSes for it seemed over the top complicated and ughhhh…

Anyway, a few years ago I got overly enthusiastic about my own IT skills and decided to switch to Hugo, I wrote an entire post on it here which was very specific to my install and I’ve done basically nothing to improve it since, though I really should look more into things like the Git integrations, but it’s on the to-do list.

Actually, I didn’t write this post to ramble about my blogging software at all, though talking about it does give some context. I don’t even hate Markdown, actually. I think it’s very much fit for purpose in what it does, I just found these kinds of tools extremely hard to get my head around.

Cut to around 6 months ago when I decided to get a little more serious about studying for my Cisco DevNet Associate certification (Pssst, 2022 Recap Goal, yo). In all my previous certifications I’ve done the old school thing where I’ve grabbed a physical paper book and a pen and I’ve taken dead tree notes to try and retain as much as I can, then using brightly coloured highlighters of different colours, colour coding key terms, using sticky flags, and doing spaced review - all the good stuff to keep it in the brainmeat a bit longer. For some reason though, this time it was just not keeping it in my brain this time. It had worked for the CCENT, it’d worked for the CCNA, it’d even worked for the RHCSA but it was just not working for the DevAsc.

So if physical notes weren’t working and I knew that typing notes mindlessly wasn’t going to cut it because I did 2.5 years as a typist and I could (and did) frequently do that job with my eyes closed, what was the solution? Someone online put me onto a program called Obsidian. Well, more like they were showing off their super cool graph view in Obsidian and I went “Oooh, how do I get one of those” and I fell down the rabbit hole from there.

Above is the graph as my Obsidian stands today, there are a few other notes for the art stuff I’ve worked on but the majority is from my DevNet Associate study notes file. I think the interesting thing about Obsidian is that I could almost certainly load the entirety of my Hugo blog into it as a a Vault and it would natively understand it and possibly even make the connections between the posts automatically. Again, this could be an interesting thing for me to experiment with and I feel that this post is just as much for me to dump my thoughts and ideas as it is to talk about how I discovered all these similar tools.

Back to Obsidian though, this method of tagging each note and considering what merits its own notes and what notes can be linked or which ones could be merged kept me engaged with the learning process throughout and meant I didn’t switch to autopilot despite being able to switch off while typing. It was a super interesting experience and I’ve been deeply considering how to share my notes ever since as there aren’t a lot of great resources out there on the DevNet Associate exam. This too, could be an item for the to-do list, a list that at this point probably needs to go within my Obsidian vault so it doesn’t get lost!

I took my DevNet Associate exam in mid-April and managed to pass on the first attempt so despite taking a different approach with my note-taking, it did still seem to work. I think I’d probably take this approach again, because if I can figure out how to share these notes, then I can figure out how to share and share alike the knowledge that I gain from future studies and that helps everybody.

I think I’ve rambled enough here but I think I’ve got plenty to think about and work on with both my blog platform and my knowledge sharing, so I will be back. ✌️

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