I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

This post from Eddie Hinkle was what promp­ted me to explore implment­ing Post Kinds on my blog. This is the first offi­cial like from my own site to anoth­er using Indie Web tech­no­lo­gies, it seemed fit­ting that I should give it a try with the post that promp­ted play­ing around with the technology.

About Me ›

For a while now I’ve owned the domain philbowell.me, I bought it while it was cheap and to make sure no one else got hold of it and thus cause con­fu­sion with the domain of this blog. I’ve wondered what to do with it for most of that time, briefly it acted as a micro-blog but I merged that with this site a few months back. This even­ing while doing a bit of intro­vert­ing I picked up my iPad (where I designed it and set the basic html struc­ture), then my Mac­Book (where I imple­men­ted the CSS) and ended up with a new web page. A small about me should any­one stumble upon it. The only thing I’ve yet to do is optim­ise it for an iPhone sized dis­play but it’s work­ing pretty well on an iPad sized screen and upwards.

Archives

Back in Octo­ber of 2014 I wiped this blog and star­ted all over again in an attempt at a fresh start and the begin­ning of more reg­u­lar post­ing. The lack of bag­gage was sup­posed to be the cata­lyst to help me post, to a degree it has worked and I’ve been post­ing here much more reg­u­larly since the turn of the year. The Week in Links has helped, and is approach­ing it’s six month anniversary.
On Monday even­ing I read a post by Paul Stam­a­tiou about his years of blog­ging. I was struck by a par­tic­u­lar sen­tence half way through:

The era of the per­son­al web­site is over. It’s now just a per­son­al land­ing page with a photo, bio and link to a Twit­ter profile.

I under­stand exactly where he is com­ing from, but I also dis­agree, to a cer­tain extent. It’s true a lot of web­sites have dis­ap­peared over the last few years, but over the last few months I’ve seen a resur­gence in the per­son­al site/blog. Some­thing that I want to be a part of. It got me think­ing about my own per­son­al site, and the changes it’s been through over the last dec­ade. I’ve nev­er binned it to replace it with a per­son­al site, but I did recently delete all my posts and before that I had anoth­er blog that has gone the way of the Dodo.
It struck me how wrong that is. I put a lot of time and effort into writ­ing those posts, and for them to be erased is just plain wrong. For­tu­nately I man­aged to loc­ate a backup of this site from just before I wiped it, and I’ve now added all the posts back into the archive. There’s still a bit of tidy­ing up to do but for the most part the archives now extend all the way back to Janu­ary 2011. I’m also hop­ing to be able to loc­ate an old backup of my very first blog, the one that exis­ted pri­or to this one. I’ve been writ­ing on the inter­net for nearly a dec­ade now, it should be pre­served and main­tained in some form or anoth­er not con­signed to oblivion.
All of this to say, I’ve added the archives back to this place. If you’re inter­ested and have the time, why not have a dig through and see what you can find.

With a new year about to dawn I’ve been mak­ing a few tweaks to this place. I’ve finally added a bit of an about page, there’s a new look to the place thanks to the new Twenty Fif­teen theme from the Word­Press folks and there will be a new post­ing sched­ule to kick off in the new year.

Site Updates

Any­one would think I’m a bit of a glut­ton for pun­ish­ment. Most people spend their week­ends relax­ing, I seem to spend mine think­ing about work, my blog and side pro­jects that I want to start. This week­end I finally fin­ished one of those little side pro­jects which I’ve worked on in my spare time. A little update to the design of this site to replace the last ver­sion which was only ever inten­ded as a bit of a stop gap, even though it was up for the best part of a year.
The design will be famil­i­ar to most of you, who’ve been before. It’s largely an update to the typo­graphy of the site, which now uses Adelle Sans for the head­lines and Adelle for the body copy. I’ve also finally added a prop­er about page, archives page and a site search which were lack­ing from the pre­vi­ous version.
Part of the desire to update the look of the site came from me want­ing to be able to share more ori­gin­al con­tent. I wanted to be able to post some pho­tos, and use that as a spring board to begin using my cam­era more regularly.
I also took the oppor­tun­ity to learn how to imple­ment some of the respons­ive design tech­niques I’ve been read­ing about and to see how it worked with images. I’m pretty pleased with the res­ult and the read­ing exper­i­ence on the iPhone and iPad.
There may be a few little tweaks here and there over the next couple of weeks, when is a bog own­er nev­er tweak­ing the design of the site? But for now, I’m pretty happy with it.

Introducing PBcom

The last few months have been very quiet here at Elec­tric Week­end, there’s been lots going on behind the scenes which have made it hard to write here. I covered some of those in the last post, but now I’m begin­ning to feel the desire to write again.
Unfor­tu­nately I also feel as a per­son I’ve begun to out grow Elec­tric Week­end, par­tic­u­larly as I look to present myself to be avail­able for hire on a freel­ance basis. With that said, I’d like to intro­duce you to my new site philbowell.com or PBcom as it’s affec­tion­ally known by me. Phase one, the log, has just gone live and phase two, the port­fo­lio, will fol­low suit in the next couple of weeks.
What does this mean for Elec­tric Week­end? It means I’ll no longer be post­ing here, the site will remain as an archive but from now on I’ll be post­ing on the log at PBcom. Please head over there, change your feed read­er to point to the new RSS feed or give me a fol­low. Oh, and enjoy the new site.

Slight Realign

I’ve just put the fin­ish­ing touches to a slight realign here on the blog. It’s some­thing I’ve been mean­ing to do for some time but nev­er quite got around to it.

I’ve kept the same basic look and feel around the place but made some bet­ter use of space and added a few usab­il­ity alter­a­tions. The body copy is now slightly lar­ger so hope­fully a bit easi­er to read1. Gone is the left mar­gin which con­tained the meta data for the main posts mak­ing for a wider read­ing area and a less wonky look when a link post is at the top of the page.

I’ve revised the head­er sec­tion as well. Nav­ig­a­tion now finds itself at the very top of the page and the search box has moved from the foot­er to the top right. Hope­fully this will make the search more obvi­ous and use­ful to people. I’ve also fixed my Twit­ter stream, which seemed to have stopped work­ing, and it now finds a new pos­i­tion below my logo and just above the posts. There’s a bit of bor­der-radi­us action involved on the search and Twit­ter sec­tions so those of you with Safari 3 or FF3 will be able to enjoy some nice fin­ish­ing touches.

Everything has now lost the hor­rible back­ground hov­er. I’m not sure what came over me when I decided to add that, but links are now both more subtle and nat­ur­al to find.

Those of you with Hel­vetica Neue will notice some nice touches with the meta data on all the posts. I’ve employed a little Ultra Light and I think it adds a nice touch. I like to reward those of us on the Mac a little.

Dis­claim­er. I’ve not checked this in Inter­net Explorer, but aside from the bor­der-radi­us I can­’t think of much that won’t work prop­erly. Hav­ing said that please drop me an email if you see any­thing totally horrible.

  1. I’ve had a few com­ments about the light text on dark being hard to read on some mon­it­ors. I’m think­ing of work­ing up a light ver­sion of the site and provid­ing a theme switch­er. ?

Feedburner to Bird Feeder

As I men­tioned last week I’ve made a change to the way I track the sub­scrip­tion stats here on Elec­tric Week­end. That change seems to have gone well and I wanted to take this oppor­tun­ity to out­line the simple steps that made it possible.

My Feed­burn­er setup was prob­ably a pretty stand­ard setup for a lot of Word­Press (WP) powered blogs. I used the Feed­Smith1 WP plu­gin to redir­ect my WP feeds to the Feed­burn­er one I had set up. This enabled me to use a nice clean url, rather than the frankly messy url that comes from a Feed­burn­er feed. I also used a Pep­per in Mint to pull in the stats gen­er­ated by Feed­burn­er, no need to vis­it anoth­er site to view my stats.

Seems like a good set up right? Well yes, it was work­ing for me and I had nearly a years worth of stats. So why the change? Well recently I’d got­ten a little fed up of the delay from Feed­burn­er in pub­lish­ing my stats, but I also felt that there was­n’t enough vari­ation in the fig­ures I was receiv­ing. Days where I pos­ted received high­er fig­ures, but not sig­ni­fic­antly and this felt a little odd to me. I also felt I should be util­ising the stats pack­age I had bought a license to. Mint was work­ing very well at track­ing my vis­it­ors so why would it not work well with my feed subscribers?

The Move went very smoothly. The first step I took was to vis­it Feed­burn­er and delete the feed I had set up. I made sure to take advant­age of a very use­ful Feed­burn­er fea­ture. When delet­ing a feed Feed­burn­er offers you the chance to have a 30 day redir­ec­tion ser­vice, so any sub­scribers who got hold of the dir­ect Feed­burn­er feed have time to make the switch.

With my Feed­burn­er feed deleted I had no going back so I went about installing the Mint side of things first. The Bird Feed­er pep­per comes in two parts. The first part is the Pep­per itself which installs into the shaun­in­man folder in the Pep­pers dir­ect­ory of your Mint install­a­tion. The second part is titled Feed­er and resides in the base level of your site. After upload­ing these two folders I vis­ited the Mint pref­er­ences to install the pep­per. After you’ve done this make sure you vis­it yoursite.com/feeder to make sure your Bird Feed­er is active.

How­ever that’s only half of the story. There are some steps that need to be taken on the Word­Press side. As with an install of Mint you need to add some code to the head­er of your site in order for Bird Feed­er to do it’s stuff. For­tu­nately, just like when you are installing Mint, there is no need to go adding code to your themes files, everything can be accom­plished with a plu­gin. I used a plu­gin called WPBird­Feed­er. Installed like any oth­er WP plu­gin I then activ­ated it in the WP-Admin pan­el after I had deac­tiv­ated the Feed­Smith plugin.

That’s pretty much it. Now all you have to do is sit back and let Mint do it’s stuff for you feeds, just as it does it for your hits and searches. I’ve now been using Bird Feed­er for about week and I’ve found more day to day change, includ­ing a high­er fig­ure than I’ve ever received through Feed­burn­er, but the weekly aver­age is very close to the daily fig­ures from Feed­burn­er2.

  1. Ori­gin­ally cre­ated by Steve Smith of Ordered List it was then handed over to Feed­burn­er when Steve moved away from Word­Press and just before Google bought Feed­burn­er.?
  2. As oth­ers have noted when they made the switch.?

Switching to Birdfeeder

My feed is mov­ing. Well actu­ally the way I mon­it­or my feed is chan­ging. The last few weeks has seen a very slow response time from Feed­burn­er in deliv­er­ing stat­ist­ics about my feed. As a res­ult I’ve decided to use the Bird­feed­er Pep­per for Mint to do the mon­it­or­ing. It makes more sense to have all my stats mon­itored by the one piece of soft­ware1.

My feed can now be found at http://phil.electricweekend.com/feed so please check your feedread­ers are cor­rect. It should be ok, due to the way I was divert­ing my feeds any­way, but please do check to make sure. I’ve activ­ated the Feed­burn­er 30-day redir­ect, so you have that long to make sure you are sub­scribed tot he right feed.

I hope this does­n’t cause you too much trouble, but I think it’s a worth­while change, not to men­tion a neat­er look­ing feed url.

  1. And an excel­lent piece of soft­ware it is!?

New Design

Well guys, thanks to a little hic­cough when I was upgrad­ing my Word­Press install (which I think failed!) I’ve been forced to activ­ate my newly designed theme slightly early. The prob­lem was most likely my fault, the update was the first time I had used Trans­mit to upgrade and for whatever reas­on it decided to delete my plu­gins and theme dir­ect­or­ies. I’ve quickly fixed the issue and we seem to be up and run­ning again.
The focus of this post is to intro­duce you guys to my new look for Elec­tric Week­end. After brief flir­ta­tions with this site try­ing to be my blog, my port­fo­lio, and then a test with Tumblr the last few months have helped me to focus the pur­pose of EW. So for the first time, I think, I have a design that is not try­ing to be a port­fo­lio site, not try­ing to be a gen­er­al web­site for me, but is just being what it’s meant to be. A blog. It’s also a first for this place in that the theme is a dark one. I’ve always kinda wanted to give one a try, but nev­er found one which I liked and nev­er really felt the dir­ec­tion designs went. But this one actu­ally feels like it could have some life in it. I like the ini­tial appear­ance and I hope I have the tone of the text on the dark back­ground right. As with pre­vi­ous designs, you will notice two dis­tinct types of post. One for my “links” and one for my main posts. They are defined not only in format, but also with col­our. The bor­der­ing line above each post will indic­ate which type of post is com­ing next, so that you can decide to read on!
I feel for the first time I have a theme on the blog which actu­ally feels fairly refined and to a cer­tain extent, pol­ished. This has been helped by some­thing which I’ve been try­ing to cre­ate for a long while. Elec­tric Week­end now has, what I feel to be a strong iden­tity. As I hin­ted earli­er I now feel like I know a little more of what this place is to be and wanted to reflect this in a clear iden­tity in the form of a logo. It’s taken me a while to arrive at this, and the logo went through a lot of revi­sions before arriv­ing at the form you now see. Some of you may have seen the early ver­sion I pos­ted on Flickr some­time before Christ­mas, so you can see where early things began.
So if you’ve read this in your feed read­er, come and have a look.
Dis­claim­er: Due to the error in the upgrade, and the early launch, there might be a few funky bits that have yet to be cor­rec­ted but rest assured these will be done in the next day or two.