I looked back at the previous entry and realised that it seems a bit ominous, being followed by no more posts. I am, however, in fine health.

I had a fantastic three-week holiday in Japan, visiting several sub-tropical islands in the Yaeyama archipelago, where the weather is hot, the sand is white, the local beverage (awamori) is strong (up to 60% alcohol!), and life is relaxed. We even hired a car and I did my first bit of driving for several years. Mind you, I couldn’t have had a better place to get back into practice than on an island (Iriomote-jima) with a population of a few thousand and one main road!

After my long vacation, though, I have felt an entirely self-inflicted pressure to actually do some work, and I’ve felt a bit guilty about doing anything on my own website. But I’ve achieved my latest task. (No thanks to Mr Gates and his monopolising pile of junk internet browser software. Not only is it buggy, it lacks a decent debugger to help the developer to work around said entomological nightmare.) As a result, I’ve decided to spend a bit of time on this website.

I’ve actually been planning to upgrade and reorganise this site for a year or more. However, all my plans to date have failed to get moving, due to the curse of the second system effect. The software that presently runs this site is very simple, consisisting of just one source file to handle almost everything. I wrote it in a few hours, as I recall, and haven’t changed it much since then.

However, I’ve decided to go for pragmatism over ideology and NIH. There is plenty of weblog/CMS software that is free, open, and good enough for thousands of other people. This time, I’m going to use it.

Of course, the other problem is that a new backend calls out for an updated design. It’s not technically necessary, but the psychological pressure is strong. Besides that, a new design signals to the visitor that things have changed and might not be exactly where they were before.

I know that it’s not the first time I’ve embarked on a graphical redesign, either, but I haven’t been satisfied with any of my previous layouts. So, tonight, I spent a happy evening working on a slick new graphical design in Inkscape, an open source drawing package which, unusually for an open source project, is being guided by people with a strong sense of usability and interface design. Inkscape is shaping up to be as good as my personal favourite drawing application, Xara X, and while it may not match up to Adobe’s insanely expensive Illustrator in feature count, it’s a lot simpler to use.

This time, I think I’ve come up with a winning design, but I’ll have to see what I think in the morning.