Unfinished Thoughts

by William Flake

Unfinished Thoughts 2.0

It’s been a big week for this website. Almost everything is new. The server is new. The design is new. Heck, there’s even a new blog post! Let’s dive in and I’ll show you around.

The Invisible Stuff

For the past year, I’ve hosted my website with A2 Hosting. A2 has been a great host for me. It gave great performance, unlimited storage and bandwidth, and lots of extras that make web hosting a little easier.

About a week ago, I was browsing through Twitter and stumbled across a link to NearlyFreeSpeech.net. As I read through the documentation on their services, I realized some important things:

  1. As little traffic as I get, I really don’t need unlimited bandwidth.
  2. I only used one of the many extras offered, and it has been spitting back errors at me for weeks.
  3. Given these things, I was paying far too much.

Being a bit of a tightwad, I switched over to Near Free Speech’s pay-as-you-go model rather than the all-you-can-eat model I used before. So far I have been nothing but impressed with the new service, and the 3-4¢ per day is much more attractive.

The Visible

What good is it to replace the entire backend and not have much to really show for it? I decided that the time was right to give the old place a fresh coat of paint.

When I first designed version 1.0 of this site last April, I was focused on getting an online identity established. I wanted it to feel simple, yet somewhat sophisticated. Whether I hit that target or not is up to your judgement.

Over the past year, the code behind the site has undergone a lot of transformations. I’ve redesigned little pieces of the site at different times. I began with the blog. Then I overhauled the About Me section in a similar, but not completely consistent way. Then I redesigned the ePortfolio in a third, vaguely similar but not quite the same fashion. These styles got changed again and again as I repeatedly changed the backend code; it always looked similar, but not exactly the same as before.

The time had come for a spring cleaning.

The new design required me to touch nearly every box on the page, subtly tweaking it and drawing it in line with other similar elements. My goal was to make the site more polished and less “heavy” feeling. I know that such very subjective criteria are not the best descriptors, but they are the ideas which governed every change. Gone is the dark gray and black page header, replaced by a less heavy white and a small red navigation bar. Elements that were placed arbitrarily on the page (such as the blog navigation boxes on the right) are now shifted into more deliberately placed and aligned locations.

The ePortfolio saw the biggest changes, with the entire page layout being flipped horizontally to reflect the layout of the blog. The incongruence of these two pages had really irked my in the old design. Now, nearly all similar elements have matching styles, and the entire site feels more unified.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the results of both the hosting transfer and redesign. I think I have a good foundation for future features, enhancements, and über-enlightening blog posts.

Take some time, browse around, reminisce my great posts of yore. If you find any problems, or have any suggestions or comments, let me know in the comments.


John Minner

Your page is pulling a facebook: I was annoyed at the change at first, but it’s already starting to grow on me, mostly because I can’t actually remember what it previously looked like. Maybe we should put some non-blogging content up here. We could record a song, or you could post your arty things. I guess you could keep it pure; that would be pretty good too. Still, good job with the redesign.