About

About Juan

I was born in the 1980s in Spain. As a teenager, I played D&D and video games, I learned how to program, and I channeled the energy that building software gave me into over-engineering a Spanish gaming community that over the years gathered over 70,000 users and had everything but the kitchen sink.

After high school, I rebelled against formal education and started working founding or co-founding a few startups. One thing led to another and a few years later I went to college, interned at CERN, studied in Japan and the US, and ended up joining Google to work on machine learning, spam and abuse fighting, and data visualization. After a few years I took a break, and recently I joined Journalytic on their effort to help investors make better decisions

I’ve been practicing yoga and Vipassana style meditation for a long time for the rewards they promise. I haven’t reached the end, but what I’m experiencing along the way feels so interesting and rewarding that this is the one thing I would do if I could only do one .

About this site

This site contains entries dating back to the early 2000s, when I started blogging. In these two decades, I’ve written about a wide variety of topics: travel, hiking, living around the world, books, movies & TV series, anime, video games, D&D adventure logs, doodles, self-experiments, yoga, learning, and expertise. As of August 2022, I’m in the process of cleaning up the site, removing useless entries, and improving the existing content before writing new one.

I write to understand things better, and I write mainly for myself in a public way, an approach called digital garden nowadays. I hope that people reaching this site finds value in what I write, of course, but right now that’s not my priority. I also revise my writing constantly as I revise my thinking, which may leave pages in an inconsistent state despite my efforts to maintain readability throughout revisions.

What you see on these pages is my best understanding of what I write about. If you think I’m wrong (factual errors, invalid or incomplete conclusions, etc.), please let me know; you will be helping me.

Spanish pages

I started blogging in 2001 in Spanish and only switched to English in 2010. Most of what I wrote back then had little value and I’ve deleted it, but I couldn’t get myself to delete what’s left. I apologize for those of you who don’t currently read Spanish.

Site technology

The first versions of the blog were entirely static HTML files made in Macromedia Dreamweaver. Later I found out how to create dynamic pages, converted the blog to PHP, and started using Vim. After that, I discovered Wordpress.org and used it self-hosted for many years. Eventually, I got tired of being hacked and moved to Hugo, a static site generator, and Vim. Nowadays I start writing drafts in Obsidian, usually after sketchnoting on a Moleskine or iPad. The drafts get exported to Hugo through a chain of Git post-commit hooks that ultimately triggers a Netlify deployment.

Image format

On Aug 24, 2022, I converted all site images from JPG and PNG to WebP because it seems like a widely supported format, and preliminary tests were promising: significant bandwidth savings with no discernible loss of quality. I used the following script which relies on Google’s WebP Converter.

# Create WebP files
$ find Public/ -depth -name "*.png" -exec sh -c 'cwebp -preset picture -q 95 -hint picture "$1" -o "${1%.png}.webp"' _ {} \;
$ find Public/ -depth -name "*.jpeg" -exec sh -c 'cwebp -preset picture -q 95 -hint picture "$1" -o "${1%.jpeg}.webp"' _ {} \;
$ find Public/ -depth -name "*.jpg" -exec sh -c 'cwebp -preset picture -q 95 -hint picture "$1" -o "${1%.jpg}.webp"' _ {} \;

# Update entries references to use WebP
find Public -type f -name '*.md' -exec sed -i '' s/\.jpg/\.webp/g {} +
find Public -type f -name '*.md' -exec sed -i '' s/\.png/\.webp/g {} +
find Public -type f -name '*.md' -exec sed -i '' s/\.jpeg/\.webp/g {} +

The sum of all images occupied 650Mb of space before the conversion; after the conversion, they occupy 412Mb, a 47% decrease. I manually inspected several images, and I couldn’t tell JPG from WebP apart. Not every day can you improve things by almost 50% with so little effort. Thanks Google!

Museum

Since the early 2000s, the blog has had quite a few different looks. Here are some snapshots in chronological order from 2001 to 2022:

juan.al (2022 - heavily inspired by gwern.net’s design)
juan.al (2022 - heavily inspired by gwern.net’s design)

juanalonso.net (2021 - Hugo’s mainroad theme with tweaks)
juanalonso.net (2021 - Hugo’s mainroad theme with tweaks)

juanalonso.net (2016)
juanalonso.net (2016)

juanalonso.net (2015)
juanalonso.net (2015)

juanalonso.net (2014)
juanalonso.net (2014)

slnc.me (2013)
slnc.me (2013)

slnc.me (2011)
slnc.me (2011)

slnc.me (2009)
slnc.me (2009)

dharana.net (2007)
dharana.net (2007)

dharana.net (2005)
dharana.net (2005)

dharana.net (2003)
dharana.net (2003)

dharana.net (2002)
dharana.net (2002)

dharana.net (2002)
dharana.net (2002)

dharana.net (2001)
dharana.net (2001)