Are there any good blogging engines?

I’ve spent the last few days evaluating various self-hosted blogging engines from three different points of view: as an author, a designer, and a developer/maintainer. And I haven’t been able to find anything that doesn’t have a significant issue in at least one of those areas.

Of course, you might be wondering why I’m bothering at all. Why not just host your blog(s) at Blogger or WordPress.com or Tumblr or Posterous? The main reason is that I think it’s a good idea to own your data, and self-hosted anything is one way to do that.

The next question is why I just don’t stick with WordPress and call it a day? It turns out that the popularity of this platform makes it a target for hackers and other miscreants. It’s the Windows malware problem all over again. Vulnerability through lack of obscurity.

One option is to install WP and then lock it down as much as possible. And that may very well be what I end up doing, because I’m at a loss for anything that sucks less.

First commercial PCB layout using libre tools

I recently delivered my first printed circuit board layout project using libre software. It’s an actively regulated, high current power supply for an audio equipment manufacturer, and it should be on the shelves in a month or so. The software used was KiCad (GPL2), though I did use FreeRouting (gratisware) to help route the board. I am quite happy with the results and the process. The work was done completely in Linux (Debian Wheezy, if you’re curious), proving that libre EDA–including the OS–is entirely possible.

Except for autorouting, the overall experience was comparable to working with my previous go-to package: the now-defunct WinQCad. While FreeRouting’s autorouter seems comparable to the best that other high-value EDA tools can presently offer, WinQCad’s was in a class of its own. FreeRouting still gets the job done, but it needs more hand-holding and prodding.

In addition to using it for PC layout, I am also using KiCad as a front-end schematic capture tool for SPICE simulations. Now that I’m over the worst of the learning curve, I’m really looking forward to doing more work in KiCad.