How to get a notification when your site appears on HackerNews

A few weeks ago, somebody listed this article about GNU parallel to HackerNews, and I got a small wave of new visitors trawling my blog.

I don’t actively monitor referrers to this site, so I was oblivious to this until a few days afterward. Aware of the Slashdot Effect, I thought I should set up some free tools to remind me to log in and check the site’s health if it happens again:

Hacker News RSS feeds

Hacker news does not publish it’s own RSS feeds, so I had to use a third-party service. I found a URL that would feed me the feed to the latest articles off this site, by searching the “url” attribute:

This URL gives an RSS feed, as you might expect:


To save me installing and checking a local reader, I set up IFTTT to send me an email when new articles are published to this feed.

The “RSS feed to email” applet is perfect for this kind of consumer-grade automation.

I set it up with the URL, and well, nothing interesting happens. Only new articles are emailed, so this is expected.

Example email

Since I also use this IFTTT applet to get notifications for other RSS feeds, I do know that it works. Within an hour or two of a new article appearing in the feed, the applet gives you an email from RSS Feed via IFTTT <>:

It’s not exactly a real-time notification, but it’s a good start. At this point, I know when my posts are being linked from a specific high-traffic site, which is a good start.

For any site bigger than a personal blog, you might be interested in handling extra traffic rather than just be vaguely aware of it, but I’ll save that for a future post.

New WordPress theme (2018 edition)

This week I replaced the previous wordpress theme on this blog with the current one.

I used Bootstrap to place widgets in my blog content, and Prism.js to do syntax highlighting on code snippets.

This is a heavily modified version of the default twentyseventeen theme. I chose this as as a base because of it’s good use of white-space for typesetting. The updated bootstrap-based layout is also a big improvement for mobile users, who now makes up the majority of web traffic:

New WordPress theme

Since the last major revision of my site setup, I’ve been including more technical content, which would be easier to read with syntax highlighting and tabs.

The most visible part of the transition is now complete:

The old theme was Skittlish, but I decided to move to a new theme which was based on Bootstrap, so that I could use its components. The new theme is a modified version of the default twentyfourteen theme, using the visual style of morphic, with Prism.js added for code highlighting.