Hello! I’m Jashank Jeremy, a UNSW undergraduate student of computer science. I also tutor first-year courses at UNSW Computing. Elsewhere, I’m a software engineer and system administrator. I ran CSESoc βeta in 2015.

In a past life, I helped launch, and ran, a student magazine at high school (The Turtalian), and was an occasional stage hand. I also tried my hand as an actor and won eisteddfodau.

These days, I torture version control systems, build systems, and typesetting engines, mostly for fun, usually while cackling madly.

## What?

I’ve had classes with two open education pioneers at UNSW, Dr Chris Tisdell and Richard Buckland, and had many enlightening discussions with Richard on teaching computer science.

My position, illuminated by both philosophies, is that by keeping education open to all, you can form learning communities, which are more effective as a whole at engaging with content taught. This is why Dr Tisdell has a huge base of fans, any why Richard started OpenLearning.

But that’s only half the story: for skills-based, not content-based education, synthesising evidence of learning is key to reinforcing concepts, which partially informs the reflective-blogging and “résumé” philosophy that Richard’s courses tend to have.

I was also inspired by Curtis Millar, who integrates his course notes as a lightweight website, more as a proof that such a thing is technically possible than anything else.

So, over the next semester, I’m planning to try this as a strategy: opening up my notebooks, and blogging and reflecting on all my coursework.

## How?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about presentation of content on the Web. It started with a request for feedback about a website which I’ve heavily used in 16s1, but which got me thinking about lightweight websites.

I decided to do a little experiment, to see how light I could get a content-rich website that looked good, rendered well on my wide range of strange devices, and used cutting-edge web standards. Surprise: it’s very easy to do, even in spite of all evidence of the opposite (as presented by Maciej Cegłowski in the fantastic talk “The Website Obesity Crisis”).

The goal is minimal amounts of JavaScript and CSS, the worst offenders in page bloat. At the time of writing, there’s a little over 10 kB (4.5 kB minified) of compiled CSS, and nearly no added JavaScript. The page template is also extremely minimal, and uses HTML’s plethora of semantic elements: an empty page is a little over 1.8 kB, or 1.6 kB deblanked. I’ve also selectively added MathJax, which bloated everything up. Curtis and I are experimenting with build- or server-side rendering of LaTeX.

I’m testing this with several browsers, too: I’m using Chromium with the assumption that WebKit and Blink still render similarly, Firefox (and Firefox Aurora and Firefox Mobile), and Servo; the latter helps me keep everything well trimmed.

Of course, it’s backed by a static site generator. Which one, you ask? None of the usual suspects: I rolled my own using GNU Make, with M4 and Pandoc to mangle and transform text. No, I’m not planning to open source it yet, because it’s currently a huge mess.

## The Colophon

This site is valid XHTML and XHTML 5.1. Proudly using Plain Old Semantic HTML and no CSS or JavaScript “frameworks”. Microformats2 enabled; look out for embedded content in h-card, h-entry, h-event, and h-resume formats.

This site lives in Git, and gets pushed around with rsync. It’s compiles with GNU Make; text transforms with GNU M4 and Pandoc, and styles are in SCSS, including Normalize.css. Colours are Solarized; fonts are Roboto and Source Code Pro. Written with GNU Emacs. Keep the Web awesome!