Fresh Lick Of Paint

14 January 2015

Quick note for the RSS crew: I’ve overhauled the design of the tiniest bit. I think everything works Well Enough™.

Why? Primarily, because every time I look at it, I realise my eyesight is tired of 12px typefaces, and it was all a bit cluttered. So: something simple, a bit more spread out, none of that two-column nonsense, and a face I find readable. All of which was a good excuse to practice my Sass and learn a few new tricks.

And now, back to your regular schedule of endless Pinboard links and the odd post about something or other.

Spring Clean

20 April 2012

I’ve had a new version of my site template kicking around for years now; today, I finally bit the bullet and pushed it love. The main additions are a slightly different talks page, which tries to catalogue everything in some for or other. Some talks have the full text available; others are there as video or PDF. I’m going to keep working on this over time, and try and get some of the more recent ones up.

Similarly, the projects page collates things I’d call projects: stuff I’ve made, with links to code or relevant blogposts where appropriate.

I’ve also moved to a slightly more responsive layout, because I end up using this site for reference from my mobile phone. The whole thing is deployed – and has been for a while now – using my Capistrano for WordPress configuration. It’s 2012, and you shouldn’t be drag-and-dropping in an FTP client if you can help it.

And, finally, I’ve turned comments off. I’m really not convinced of the value of them any more; I enjoyed the days when everybody wrote responses on their own sites. I might re-enable them, but for now, there are no comments. I’m still displaying old comments, and trackbacks and pingbacks will still show up.

That’s it for now, but the whole thing is in a better shape for the future: there’s finer-grained modelling of top-level objects going on, which makes my domain-driven brain much happier. And it’s a bit wider, and the text can breathe some more.

Better write some things to go on here, then.

Lack of “Momentum”

07 November 2008

It’s been a long while since I’ve pulled a post from this site. If you missed the post in question don’t worry. If you did see it and can’t find it… sorry about that. I’ve decided I’m not happy joining thoughts from an incomplete experience with phrases that can only be hypothetical; it’s cheap and lazy. Better to wait for a full product – only a week away – to pass judgment. So in 10-14 days, I imagine I’ll be talking about Momentum again. And I think I’ll be happier with the results. The thinking won’t go away – it’ll just be constructed a bit better in future.

Sorry about that.

A few small changes

09 September 2008

A small tweak to the blog’s design – updating the way comments looked. Ever since this design premiered, I’d been meaning to tidy them up, but never got around to it until today. No idea why it took so long – 10 minutes of sketching and 20 minutes of code was all it took to get there. Anyhow, they now look like this, with gravatars and slightly-better-spacing and all. Feels a little more finished, for the time being.

New lick of paint

30 September 2007

So, if you occasionally drop by the website, you might notice there’s a new lick of paint around the place. Nothing too drastic on the surface – under the hood was more drastic. is now running on WordPress 2.3, after a long hiatus on 2.0.x (due to the way the site worked). I’m now relying way less on hacks and custom plugins, and way more on the core codebase. Tagging, for starters, is now native. That’s nice.

I’m also using categories a bit more effectively – you’ll notice some main ones on the right, there, and I’m looking to focus my writing around these topics, I think. It’s a long job to go back and recategorise four years of posts… but I’m going to do it, somehow! In the meantime, if you fancy re-orientating yourself around the site, the new-look archives might hint at what’s going on better.

There’s been all manner of WordPress jigerring, too – mainly around the way the breadcrumb-header works, and how each category colour-codes a lot of its posts.

I’m pleased with the new look. I’m afraid I’ve not tested it in IE6/7, yet, and I’m sure there will be a few rough edges around the place. Let me know if you find any. I think the only one I found was, in my tag migration, everything got tagged as “holiday”. Oops.

New lick of paint

20 November 2006

You might notice a new design and layout for this site flickering on and off for the next few days. I’m just bringing some final tweaks to bear, you see, and ironing out some wretched IE bugs. It’s all part of a way to encourage me to write a bit more. Again.

So for now, please bear with me. The links are now on the righthand side; if you’re really, really interested in them, it’s probably easiest to be subscribed to my feed, where you’ll get everything.

Impending upgrade

10 November 2006

The comment-spam on this site is really getting out of control; it’s never seeing the world outside, but I’ve got about 700 comments in moderation to deal with. Looks like it’s time to upgrade to WordPress 2.0.5 (from 1.5.2).

Of course, that requires fixing plugins that are crucial to this site but no longer in development. And it requires altering the theme. And writing scary scripts to migrate my post_meta table. Which have all now been done.

And, hey, when you’re having to do that much messing around in PHP, you may as well redesign, right?

Upshot of this is: I’m going to upgrade this site at the weekend, so a few things might end up changing a little, and if you notice said changes, you should shout. The old design will probably stick around for a bit, whilst I polish the new (very simple) one off. And then I’ll ram that live too.

At some point after that, my post about “wrestling with wordpress”, written when I started looking into this process a few months back, will see the light of day. I really don’t want to have to mess with it again. It’s very unpleasant…

Where I’ve been

19 June 2006

It appears that I’ve been AWOL for a little while. For that, and many other things: apologies.

It appears to have taken a while to decompress from Reboot and get things back on track. The to-do list floating above my desktop has not really got much shorter for a few weeks now. Even though I’m making my way through it, there always seems to be new stuff that needs adding. Also, the stuffy heat is contributing to a lack of both sleep and energy, so maybe that’s why I’ve been posting here less.

Still, I have been doing a few things behind the scenes. My Flickr stream has seen a lot of updates recently, and you’ll probably have noticed the string of links filling the blog up. As ever, they provide rough hints to where my brain currently is.

One thing I’ve been working on is… redeveloping this blog. Boring, I know. But the last time I redesigned, the purpose was to get me writing again. It kind-of worked, but it was also an experiment at developing a truly generic WordPress theme (which almost succeeded). Now I want to make something just for me (although, it turns out that it shares some aesthetic sensibilities). At the same time, it seems like a good enough resaon to upgrade to WordPress 2.0. That’s a story in itself, I tell you. I’ll write more about the technicalities of redeveloping it once it’s launched; there’s a post in the works on patching tagging plugins, the ups and downs of upgrading and the hell that is wp_rewrite, and also another on faking “offset” with the WordPress Loop. Until then, expect to see this place updated soon.

Other things I’ve been working on: a moderately-sized Rails project, on which I’m sole developer and designer. It’s going quite slowly, due to the concentration it’s now demanding – I’m at the “complicated” part of the development, when things go beyond CRUD, and also start demanding the final templates – so there’s been a big diversion into XHTML work. Still, this is also the stage where it gets *really* satisfying. I’m not going to be able to opensource the project as it stands, but there’s at least one plugin to be released from it, not to mention some useful experience. I’ve currently been adding fragment cacheing, which has been most satisfying – both (relatively) simple and elegant in its implementation.

We’ve also been busy at work, having finally launched Nature Network Boston in beta. There’s still some work that needs to be done there – on my part, fixing the microformats (again, more in the future) and tidying the HTML output – but it’s great to see it in “the wild”, as it were. Out of that, I’ve got an article I’d like to write for this site on “Rails from a design team perspective” – there’s an existing “Rails for Designers” piece on the web doesn’t quite cover the ground I’d like it to, or in enough details, so, you know, rather than whinging, I thought I’d write my own. Expect to see that in a week or two.

So, in short: expect to see more, longer content here. I need to get back into writing, and it seems sensible to start by writing up the stuff I’ve been doing that others might find interesting – or at least want to correct me on. In short: this place is going to be revitalised. I’m looking forward to the challenge I’ve set myself.

Rearranging the furniture

01 August 2005

If things look a little odd around these parts, it’s because I’m in the middle of a live re-design. I’ll be going back and forth between the old template and the new whilst I iron things out. So don’t be alarmed…