wondering terminal mail github linkedin

Nifty Origins

How NiftyHedgehog was conceived.

by Hieu Minh Nguyen on December 27, 2014 | Comment Count


Once upon a time…

The “NiftyHedgehog” domain name originates from a childhood fascination with Sonic the Hedgehog. In my younger years, I spent a lot of time reading his comic books and playing the video games; running fast and collecting gold rings became my priorities… and in some ways, remnants of those priorities are instilled today. The words “nifty” and “hedgehog” are a play on my real name’s initials. Take the reverse initialism of the domain and you get “HN”, the initials for Hieu Nguyen. Yes, it’s obscure and extremely nonsensical, but that’s how it truly happened.

Building Nifty

Before building this website, I was motivated by two main philosophies:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Keep it cheap.

I had created static web pages before, but never at this scale. I took this as an opportunity to learn about modern web programming and design. It wasn’t as simple as I intended, but the knowledge obtained was extremely interesting and useful.

The only cost incurred during the construction of this website was for the domain. Through Namecheap, I acquired niftyhedgehog.com for $8.06/year. I know $8 may not seem cheap to some people, but in my financial situation, it was very affordable.




The content of NiftyHedgehog is aimed at increasing my web-presence by documenting personal projects, thoughts, and experiences. I am planning to release a collection of my open source Projects, complete with documentation, design files, and software sources.

There will also be a Blog. Admittedly, I am not a great speaker or one who can quickly translate thoughts into clear, concise verbiage. Writing things down allows me to visualize ideas and construct them in cohesive ways to convey my perspective. I’m a slow writer, but that extra time allows me to develop a more effective, poetic composition.


Several components were utilized to create this static website.

GitHub Pages

Without GitHub Pages, this website would not exist. All content his hosted through GitHub’s servers (which could be problematic in the future). The main site is hosted in the master branch of cheehieu.github.io, and each project page is hosted in its own repository through the gh-pages branch.

And because it’s through GitHub, version control is built-in to make development super easy. Also, the user interface is spectacular.


The Bootstrap framework simplified the layout and formatting of HTML elements. The grid system is heavily utilized, along with the image carousels and collapsible menus. Bootstrap keeps everything nice and neat, on screens of all sizes.


Jekyll is deeply integrated with GitHub Pages. It is a blog-aware static site generator that uses templates for rendering. It’s a great tool for a static blog and portfolio, where dynamic user interaction is minimal. I’ve created templates for the blog posts and project pages, which greatly simplify content creation.


Disqus is a free blog comment hosting service, allowing community and discussion among online communities. Anyone is welcome to leave a question or comment my blog and project pages.

I’m still figuring this one out. I don’t get many visitors to the website yet, so I have been the only one experimenting with leaving comments…


Some of my projects involve 3D models, but can be difficult to visualize in a 2D image. Sketchfab utilizes WebGL technology that allows 3D models to be displayed on any mobile or desktop webpage. With their service, I’m able to publish, share, and embed interactive 3D files in my project pages. My designs are usually much less than 50MB, so the free Basic tier works for me.


ChangeTip is the “love button for the Internet”, allowing content monetization with Bitcoin. I’ve since removed my ChangeTip tip button because I am not looking to profit from this website. But I still think it’s a cool idea and will help Bitcoin and other decentralized digital currencies to gain widespread acceptance.