Over the last couple of days Facebook has been rolling out a new look for its newsfeed. The new look was announced with much fanfare just over a year ago, but it seems a year of constant testing has resulted in something which isn’t quite what we were used to but isn’t quite the bold vision they set out either.
And that’s fine; that’s good, even — they tested the new look and the data said people didn’t like it. Presumably this hybrid has been tested too and the data says people like it more.
The “old” Facebook looked dated and just wasn’t really a pleasant experience to use; the newsfeed defnitely needed a refresh. A radical change was needed to stop ficle teenagers like me from getting bored with the whole platform.
Yet, Facebook’s changed and I don’t really like it.
Maybe it’s cause I’m a member of a thousand groups so have an uber-cluttered sidebar, or maybe it’s cause I’m colourblind so I’m not quite picking up on the colour subtleties, but it… it just looks like a bit of a cluttered mess. When the site first showed the new look I hit refresh again thinking only half of the stylesheet had loaded.
The seemingly random juxtaposition of sans-serif with serif, the way at least on my 13″ laptop everything feels a bit cramped, especially the way the sidebar’s background-blending has the result of creating a sense of incoherence; I really want to like the new look, but it feels slightly half-hearted and completely lacking of any subtleties. Facebook’s been putting out some actually-really well designed products of late; the experimental iPhone release Paper is something I actually really want to be able to use and the original concept for the newsfeed redesign looked really interesting. But this feels like a compromise to far.
Hey, maybe it’ll grow on me — I’ve no doubt I’ll grow to like or at least tolerate it. I’m just quite disappointed. As my friend Raf so beautifully sang, Facebook’s changed. My life is over.
Just a quick note that the talk I gave at WordCamp London back in November is now available for your viewing pleasure on WordPress.tv. Watching it back I definitely need to look at my notes a lot less, but as a first time doing something like this it wasn’t too bad of an attempt.
If you’re interested, I wrote about my lessons learned speaking at my first WordCamp which, well, tells you what I learned. The video’s embeded below:
If you’ve tried to visit this blog over the last couple of weeks, you’ll have noticed that hasn’t actually been possible; the site returned a white screen and left you hanging. I’m not actually entirely sure why that happened, but something went wrong somewhere and that was the end result. My attempts at fixing the site were futile, so I took the opportunity to ditch my really shitty shared host, sign up for A Small Orange (I went for them after they came top in last year’s WPShout Hosting Review) and completely reboot the site, new design and all.
I’d never really nailed down the custom-rolled design on v2.0 of sevenironcows — the responsive bits never actually really worked properly, the sidebar was more or less perma-broken etc etc — so here I wanted something much more out-of-the-boxey that was simple, looked good with lots of different types of content but was still super content friendly and readable. The answer was Automattic’s really nice theme Writr. With a wider content area and a different font setup, it makes for a really nice “personal” blogging theme (and I must admit, I took fairly heavy inspiration from Joey Kudish’s usage of Writr). This is the first time I’ve used a pre-built theme in a very long time, and I’m actually quite excited about having everything actually working.
I’d toyed with either running the site on Ghost or WordPress.com, but in the end whilst I’m constantly craving blogging simplicity, I’m not quite ready to give up the flexibility my own WordPress installation gives me. At least not yet, anyway. I’d like to be able to write posts in Markdown from the WordPress editor, but I’ve not yet found an elegant solution for that; I’d love to hear any particularly good options I might’ve missed.
As always with this blog the plan is if it’s stress-free and simple for me to publish content, I’ll do that, and that plan remains in place. I’ve been writing a lot recently, just not blogging, and I’m looking forward to getting into that groove again — and I hope you’ll follow along with me.
I very rarely write here about the creative endeavours I involve myself in, but I wanted to take a minute to publish a note linking up to the new record my band put out at the end of last month.
Our self-titled album, ellipsis, celebrates the three years we’ve been writing, making and recording music by bringing together the best material we’ve created to date — six new tracks and new mixes to five previously-released ones — in a single collection.
For the first time in Ellipsis’ history, I can wholeheartedly say absolutely everything on the album sounds actually quite good. I’m really proud of it. It’s to listen/download, so if you’ve got a minute to check it out, please do.
the place for calm
reflection in the mirror resting
on the side,
by the bed that offers little
support for those who need it
of the time; of the place;
the place for calm.
As the end of the year approaches, it’s a convenient time to sit down and evaluate how the last year has gone; what’s been good; what got done; what kinda sucked and what can be done better in the next year.
For me 2013 was a year of changes and rapidly growing up. I spent the first half of the year interning and then working at Miniclip where I learned a ton about pretty much everything. That whole experience was great fun and a wonderful opportunity; my decision to have a gap year was definitely the right one.
After finishing up at Miniclip I had two months off to enjoy my summer and then started university at Warwick at the end of September. Uni has pretty much dominated my life since, and as I wrote about a couple of weeks after arriving it’s been pretty fun and — once again — another big learning experience.
That’s the uber-simplistic view of the last twelve months. There have been other changes, too, though: in September I parted ways with the site that pretty much taught me everything about blogging and the web, WPShout, the site I’d set up when I was fifteen. That was a big decision, but Fred and David doing an awesome job with the site has really vindicated the move to sell. I was essentially neglecting the site, and it’s brilliant to see the kind of content I should have been writing showing up on the site.
I’ve also been blogging “once a week” here on sevenironcows. The end of 2013 brings about the first anniversary of this site, and I’m pretty pleased with how things are going here. I don’t really give a crap about readership numbers, which is fortunate as they’re pretty abysmal, but it’s nice just having a corner of the interwebs to just write without having to think too much about it. This post is number 101, which slightly misleadingly implies I’ve published something twice a week. The majority of those posts are either haikus (I failed at writing 100 haikus in 2013, in case you were wondering) or pics, but it’s still a decidedly Not Bad content-count for the year.
Pretty much everybody I know will be able to tell you that I am more or less inseparable from my phone. I take it everywhere, will look the second I have a notification and I even carry around a portable battery just to make sure I never ever run out of charge.
It very much fits the stereotype of young people who can’t go anywhere without their phones; I’m that guy. I’ve always dismissed comments about being attached to my phone under the guise of oh, everyone does it yeah whatever, but it’s probably not actually really that healthy after all.
I don’t really want to be that guy who’s always checking his notifications; I’ve got stuff to do, and checking my phone every couple of minutes just represents an unprecedented distraction. Heck, it doesn’t just represent an unprecedented distraction, it is an unprecedented distraction.
I’ve toyed with the idea of switching to a “dumbphone” for the last couple of weeks, and whilst I’m not quite prepared to go that far, in an effort to restore some productive independence to my everyday being I’ve turned off and/or restricted notifications for all but a handful of apps. I’m also going to attempt to just straight-up ignore my phone more. Put it in aeroplane mode more. Leave it behind(!). Let it run out of battery. Y’know. Just use it less.
And then, so say Radiohead, I’ll be fitter, happier and more productive. We’ll see how that goes.