The idea of a website refresh struck me, quite literally, while walking down the sidewalk one pleasant afternoon. An oblivious smartphone user — their attention focused intently on their handheld device — slammed into me with such force that I nearly dropped my own device — a decidedly less-fashionable, early-1960s Olympus PEN-EE half-frame film camera.
Were it not for my deftly executed evasion effort, the collision would have been head-on, rather than the shoulder-to-shoulder impact that resulted.
“Umph,” I said involuntarily, as the air rushed from my lungs.
“Sorry,” grunted the iperson, never once lifting their eyes from the device. It was the sort of unapologetic apology that could only come from someone who repeats it several times a day.
Over the past few years, collisions with distracted smartphone users have risen to second place on my personal list of ‘bruises, contusions and their causes.’ Annoying? Certainly. But many years on earth have taught me the futility of my attempts to change the course of human behavior. So these days, instead of rebelling, I seek to adapt. And I realized that, amongst these millions of isolated and preoccupied souls, not a single one of them was being distracted by the ULTRAsomething site — because the ULTRAsomething site was fundamentally unreadable on a smartphone.
If social mores now dictate that people plow into one another on the street, then shouldn’t I get a piece of that action? Shouldn’t I, in some small way, contribute to the new spirit of heedlessness that’s sweeping the world? Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of muttering “sorry” after ramming into someone, people could say, “sorry, I was totally absorbed and enthralled by the latest ULTRAsomething post.” Now that’s worth a bruise or two.
Since the dawn of the world wide web, I’ve changed my site once every five years. It’s a rate far too infrequent to keep pace with the ever-shifting technological landscape. But it’s always such a laborious ordeal, that I tend to put it off as long as possible.
When I last modified the ULTRAsomething site, the iPhone was still an infant — its sleek, glass touchscreen merely a prophesy of a utopian future filled with internet-enabled, portable handheld devices. Obviously, as one can tell from my assortment of multi-colored contusions, that future is now.
So for the last three weeks, I’ve been re-coding the ULTRAsomething site from scratch. I completely ditched my old fixed-width website, and have adopted a responsive web design that automatically reconfigures itself depending upon the device used to view it. For many of you, these changes will manifest mostly as cosmetic (though I did also implement a multi-tiered navigational menu, which eliminates the use of drop-down lists for the phone & tablet crowd). The biggest changes will be seen by anyone who once tried to read this site on a smartphone. No longer must one pinch, tap and scroll awkwardly to read a few lines of text — instead, the site will reformat itself to be read and navigated quite easily.
I apologize to anyone who has visited the ULTRAsomething site this past week, and endured some weird or ugly formatting. While I did make the bulk of these changes offline before uploading the new site, I’ve continued to “tweak” the live, online version directly. It’s a technique known as “cowboy coding,” and truth be told, I’m not a fer’ real cowboy.
Aside from the fact that the site is now mobile-friendly, there are also a number of underlying changes that will allow me to expand ULTRAsomething in new and exciting ways in the coming months. There are, of course, still some bugs to squash, and I’ll eventually get around to fixing most of them sometime during the next five years.
Also, all you readers who once complained about the old site’s dark background will rejoice in the new, inverted layout. Meanwhile, all you readers who dislike sites with a light background can commence complaining.
So for anyone who can’t possibly wait until they get home to read the latest photo-related yarn on the ULTRAsomething site, now you don’t have to. You can read it on the bus, in the mall, or even while playing human pinball on the street. But please have the good sense to not read it while driving — ULTRAsomething may have adapted to modern imprudence, but we still need to draw a line somewhere.
©2014 grEGORy simpson
ABOUT THESE PHOTOS:All four photos were taken at various times in the last couple of months with my Ricoh GR digital camera. They were selected for publication for the most obvious of reasons. Note that the fortuitous lens flare in “Spotlight on Mobility” is actually the result of serendipity, and not subterfuge.
If you find these photos enjoyable or the articles beneficial, please consider making a DONATION to this site’s continuing evolution. As you’ve likely realized, ULTRAsomething is not an aggregator site — serious time and effort go into developing the original content contained within these virtual walls.