helloserve.com Update

Posted on 2015-04-28
Simpler, quicker, better layout and easier navigation. Those were the four challenges I wanted to address and take-on with this site update and redesign.

In fact, it was a complete rewrite, not just a restyle. The new platform is super efficient, simple and much easier to extend. After the Global Kinetic/Zapper calamities, I was left with some off-pressure time within which I redesigned this site and code base, give or take about two weeks in total.

The biggest challenge for me was the UI layout and navigation. Building a site based on a design, as opposed to building a design based on what you know how to do, was a bit of paradigm shift for me. Specifically with regards to web and mobile compatibility. So, I set out with an empty project and started building my own CSS from scratch. And now I hear all of you shouting "Why not use stuff like bootstrap?" Well, I looked at it, and I didn't like it. I suspect that initially bootstrap was pretty cool, but by now it's fallen into the same "popular trap" as any of the other usual "solutions" out there: it's simply become too complicated and bloated for it's own good. This site uses 30 CSS classes and two @media overrides. It's simple, well named and easy to consume in one take. Bootstrap is none of this. The second reason is that I need to learn CSS. I still don't know it after a small project like this obviously, but using bootstrap instead of building it from first principles is not conducive to learning it. This is the same argument I had when I did Stringray on the question "Why don't you use Unity?!" Because writing your own 3D and game engine is fun, an intellectual challenge and I also learnt a lot of very interesting and useful stuff. Loading assets and dragging relationships in Unity is... first base, boring, and doesn't further you as a programmer at all. If you are one of those that asked either of those questions, I urge you to read this blog post about "Never invent here" mentality. Programming is a science, and if the science of it doesn't excite you, I don't consider you a programmer, but rather an operator. That is, you are simply operating your IDE (probably through extensions like Re-sharper) and you don't understand half of what is going on inside LINQ, Roslyn or what-ever tech is specific to the platform you're using.

So now that I've got you completely riled up, let's move on. The other thing I wanted to do was to list projects that are not necessarily IT related. So far there's only one, The Blue Car, and it's related to my other interest, motoring. This project for me is a very special one, and of course very subjective, as is the way with motoring enthusiasts. Now, I'm not the sort of guy that runs the numbers. I don't remember or care to know all the stats of the latest Ferrari, I don't even know which one was released last, or which one is fastest around the Nordschleife. I do however care about owning the car, what it's like to live with, to maintain, to experience and to road-trip with. Your car and seeing your country goes hand-in-hand, unless you do a fly-drive holiday, which isn't a holiday at all (as advocated by the late Top Gear). So, as I've owned the car since 2009, I've retrospectively posted blog entries because a lot has happened that forms the backbone and context of this project. It's a lot to read, but might be well worth it.

My son turned 9 months old last week and I'm currently playing either Elite: Dangerous or Skyrim, so I don't expect to be updating projects and writing a lot of new blogs, but there will be more activity here now that the site is no longer specifically game-dev focused.

Recently on helloserve
So there was the whole thing between Zapper and Global Kinetic, and now, three months since the announcement, and after the dust have settled, we're all busy at GK's official offices, the Lighthouse on Esplanade.
So while I'm waiting for a petrol filter for the little blue car, I took delivery of our new family car, the Mazda CX-5.
It's now on GitHub.