Around six weeks ago I was chatting to Rachel about the "old days" of web development. At one point in the conversation I described the tradition of the May 1st Reboot.
It had been a long time since I'd thought about the reboot but when I first started learning web development it was an exciting occasion that I awaited eagerly each year.
I've taken part in the reboot twice previously, and on both occasions it had been a positive double whammy:
A teeny rush of nostalgia led me to look up the reboot to see if it was still a thing.
This version of Critical Zero has been lying around for almost two years and I've been talking about a new version for even longer. For old times' sake, I decided to knuckle down and finally get the site finished and online for May 1st. And, if you're reading this, everything went to plan!
When I launched the old design (shown below) it was easily the best version of the site that I had ever made. A really strict grid, striking colour scheme, strong typography and a dash of generative art.
Once I fell into my annual post pattern, each year I'd return to the site less fond of it than the year before. There's nothing wrong with the design, really. I guess I just grew out of it.
It was also built during the simpler times of 1024×768 so anyone reading it on a small screen device would be having a bad time.
In contrast, my main aim for the new site was to keep things simple and produce a lightweight design that was easy to read on any device. Then I got a bit obsessed with ASCII and all of a sudden I was using Inconsolata for body copy. You can't win 'em all.
I put together a logotype from an idea I had ages ago that mimicked the "one word bold, one word light" style but used "doubled-up" letters for one of the words.
I picked the sourest red I could find and then spaced things out until I was happy.
As is my tendency the site is heavily over engineered; a custom Rails CMS with no database. Posts are stored as TextBundles, a basically unused format that I stumbled across and really liked. I wrote a gem for reading and writing TextBundles called Trundle.
Stupidly, the server runs the Dropbox daemon. Any changes I make locally/on the server are synced to a shared Dropbox folder. It seemed like a cool idea at the time.
I figured it'd be interesting to see exactly how long it had been since my last reboot. Thankfully the Wayback Machine has a good archive of a lot of my personal projects so I didn't have to go digging through old hard drives.
To my surprise it's been ten years since my last reboot!
Here's what the site was looking like a decade ago:
My annual blog post is due in under two weeks, and then after that, who knows? I can't say I'm excited about writing, but I am excited to have finished such a long running project.