My biggest challenge yet

My biggest challenge yet

A few short updates regarding the website and personal goings-on. I'm in Japan right now, and next week I'll be climbing to the summit of Mt Fuji!

Published by Bryan McDowall on .

Hey there. Long time no blog, right? Time for some updates…

Website stuff

I've spent the last few months fixin’ up this here website. Having used Wordpress for the last several years, I’d gotten a little lazy when it comes to personal web development projects. It’s fairly easy to update a theme (or even build one from scratch), and load up a few plugins to enhance the functionality.

Unfortunately, this can quickly bloat a web project. Even worse, it’s possible to accrue bugs and conflicts from third-party plugins, and soon debugging your site can become a nightmare.

In my case, I just wanted to scale back based on my requirements. Because Wordpress uses a MySQL database and PHP to address content dynamically, there are delays between getting data and displaying it. At present, I’m paying a little extra for my hosting, in order to display content with a fairly quick response rate. But even with the server upgrades and optimised code, there are still a lot of moving parts and it takes a lot of time and effort to maintain.

So I figured I’d try something different - enter Jekyll.

Recommended by a friend, Jekyll is a static site generator. You create your content using markdown, and it runs through a command line build process into a fully formed website. Voila!

Of course, I'm pushing it a little beyond its native functionality and appearance in order to suit my needs. It’s been a really great experience, and I’ve learned some good new skills when putting this together.

At the moment, the site is fairly basic. I’ve cleared out a bunch of old posts, and as of yet don’t have an event calendar, but I’m working on that and other new features which I’ll roll out over the coming months.

I was also lucky enough to grab the domain, a few years after letting my registration expire. It’s largely a vanity URL, but I have something fun in mind for it.


It's been a while since I've recorded any new podcasts. It's been a busy time for me and the other hosts so we've been taking a break for the last few months. I'm sitting on a couple of unedited interviews with some cool industry folk in Edinburgh, so when I get back, I'll work on getting them online!

For now though, I've archived what I'm calling our 'first season' of The OZARIN Podcast - you can listen to all our old episodes on the Podcast page. EDIT: These have since been removed.

I'm slightly concerned by reports surrounding Soundcloud's imminent demise, having used it to host podcasts for the past year. It might not be the greatest business, but it's easy enough to use and affordable. I'll be on the lookout for a backup, just in case the worst happens. I'd appreciate recomendations from other podcasters/audiophiles also!

EDIT: There have since been rumours that SoundCloud is in talks to sell stakes in the company, in order to continue operations, so there may be hope yet.

I'm climbing Mt Fuji

I’m back in Japan - bet you didn’t see that one coming! I've been in Kyoto for a day or so at the time of posting, but mostly getting over jet lag right now. I've spent some time trying to get used to this heat also, but it's far beyond anything I've experienced previously, and very humid!

Gion statue of a Izumo no Okuni with a fan in one hand and sword in the other.
Statue of Izumi no Okuni in Gion. She is thought to be the inventor of Kabuki - a form of Japanese dance/drama.

In my 30th year on this earth, I’ve decided to take on my biggest (literal) challenge to date, and climb Mt Fuji. It’s been a few weeks since I climbed Ben Nevis for the first time, but Fujisan dwarfs our largest mountain by an additional 2,400 meters above sea level.

I’m taking sponsors in aid of SAMH - the Scottish Association for Mental Health, so please donate at my JustGiving page if you can in order to support people with mental illness. SAMH are also doing great work to raise the understanding of mental wellbeing, particularly with younger people. Taking care of your mental health is important, so it’s really great that they’re approaching people at a young age in order to share the ways which people can do this.

You can expect to hear more from my adventures whilst I'm here. I'll be posting on Twitter also.

My new toy

A young woman playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch
Ash enjoying Zelda: Breath of the Wild all over again

I picked up a Nintendo Switch recently - after trash talking Nintendo's latest console a few months back. But I'm really loving it so far! At this point, I've been playing Breath of the Wild, which continues to impress with its gorgeous vistas and the true freedom it affords the player. I've also spent a little time playing ARMS and Splatoon 2. Both are fun games with pretty simple game modes, but they have such a high level of polish, and feature great character design and really engaging environments.

It's a great console for travelling with too, making the long-haul flight a little more bearable for Ash and I.

Feel free to add me if you're playing too: SW-1609-7844-0883


  • japan
  • mt fuji
  • personal
  • adventure
  • travel
  • nintendo
  • blogging

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