Scratching The Itch

15 June 2014

I don’t think there are many people that know that once, what seems like an age ago, I did a computer science degree. At that point in time I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get into music – my teenage band failing dismally to even get to the giging stage, the music website I ran faring similarly (un)successful – and so I focused instead on an industry that seemed to be more achievable: video games.

Video games you could study to get into, rather then the magic that seemed to be required to get into music. I knew about computers, I had a basic grasp of a smidgen of programming so I signed up to do a computer science degree with the idea that at the end of it I could get a job for a games company. Now, I didn’t actually want to program games, I really wanted to design them, but programming seemed like a good first step even if I didn’t really enjoy doing it.

Three years of C++, Java, SQL and other such thrilling and exciting topics later and I landed on my feet and lucked out with pretty much the perfect job doing programming for a games company that worked making games for Macs; it was an incredibly fortuitous combination of all the assorted odd skills I had at the time.

And then 6 months later I got made redundant, which was probably the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I hated it.

The career I had been working towards for the last 3 and a bit years just, plain and simple, wasn’t right. Programming, as it turns out, is really boring. Dammit. So, after spending several days weeping, howling at the moon and searching for answers at the bottom of a glass of whiskey (2 out of 3 of those are false), I spent the next few months retraining myself and focusing more on web design – less about the code, more about creativity and design. And then another 6 months after that I got a job in the music industry, doing exactly that. I ended up doing what I wanted, where I wanted, by a bit of an unexpected path.

Fast forward another 10 years or so and web design is (long) gone from my working day, but designing and creating still holds as much appeal now as it ever did. So, in snatches of time here and there I work on this site; scratching the itch.

So, welcome to the latest version.

This time round I wanted to focus on making the home page as representative as possible of all the things I’m up to, across assorted different sites, so it pulls in from Twitter for general updates, Instagram for photos and This Is My Jam for music. Rather then firehose all that content out, which would quickly get overwhelming, it uses an algorithm – not unlike what Facebook uses for the news feed – to show you the most interesting content, based on information like the number of RTs of a tweet, or the number of likes of a photo.

The other key aim was to simplify the article pages; to strip away anything superfluous and focus on the text, as it’s the only content I put directly on the site.

Oh, and I made the photos on the home page red; an aesthetic decision that, potentially quite ironically, took a whole load of coding to get working.

But they look nice, right?

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