Hey, I’m not old

Seems like no one wants to grow up these days. Up With Grups takes a look at a new breed of thirty-somethings that hate the man. That’s cool, we’re glad you old farts like our music. But if you guys come to our rocks shows, please stay in the back, so we don’t trip over your canes.

Skinny Corp

For some reason, I had never seen the Skinny Corp site until tonight. They have some awesome cut-n-paste style collage action going on. It’s kind of similar to my original idea for the Olympia theme, glad I didn’t roll with it.

This is Olympia pt i

Olympia first look

It’s about a week into the redesign of Eightface and things seem to be going okay. It’s taking a bit longer than usual — the home page and post pages are coming together nicely, but the rest of the site is lagging pretty far behind. For now we’ll stick to the impetus for the change and some thoughts about structure, while saving the methodology for a later post.

Dude, where’s the grunge?

Grunge is easy for me, it’s very forgiving. I needed something different, something cleaner and a bit more challenging. So far it’s very clean, there are almost no graphics in the css file other than the odd icon. I’m also making an effort to do a decent job in terms of accessibility, but I need to do more reading. Also, it probably looks like ass in IE right now.

If you like the dirty stuff, don’t despair. I’m currently in the process of releasing my last three layouts as theme packs. There should be more desktop wallpaper in the future too.

Bye-bye single column

A couple months ago, I thought that integrating the posts and quickposts would induce me to write more often. It had the opposite effect, the quickposts became more like long posts, the links ended up in my delicious stream and I had trouble finishing any of the templates. After most of the content on the front-page drops below the fold, you forget about it — out of sight, out of mind.

I’m not saying that the one-column structure can’t work, but it was having a negative impact on my posting style. If you’re looking for one-column inspiration: Michael did a good job with invader and Justin’s minimalist look is awesome. As for me, it’s off to the greener pastures of a one-glance tabloid style homepage.

The single column integrated structure won’t disappear completely, it’ll be put to use for the monthly archive view, as well as a log view for those that like their integrated feed style reading. Although that main central column will have two outliers to display date and comment count.

Hello sexy grid

Olympia mockup

Hopefully, the print influences in the design are obvious — you never know. I’ve always had a hard-on for black and white. Back in grade eight, I organized a team of five people and co-opted the school newsletter from the Vice-Principal. The first issue was a cut-and-paste nightmare, after that Microsoft Publisher 2.0 was my bitch.

Over the last week, I’ve spent a good chunk of time with my site open and copy of the Globe and Mail in front of me. The print edition has nice red accents, and thick black bars over allcaps in some sub-sections. Beyond that, Subtraction and Coudal have been the primary web influences for visual style and structure.

In terms of creating a proper grid structure, I don’t profess to know anything, so I’ll leave it to others. Mark Boulton’s simple steps to designing grids is a good place to start. Khoi offers up a nice technique to display a grid under your content. (you may have seen mine appear over the last few days). Adhering to the structure is a bit of a pain, but it works well visually.

The plan

We could call this a live redesign, or a live realign, but it probably sits somewhere in between. So, please bear with the ugliness while I get things sorted. A lot of the work I’ll be doing is actualizing things I wanted to have done with the last theme. The nitpicky bits: local searches, posting all my artwork again, going back through old posts to redo them, better subpages (links, archives), etc.

My priorities have been getting the home page and single post views in functional condition (some stuff is still missing). Next up are the search, page and monthly archive views (which should all be relatively similar). After that comes a few new additions, including a help/faq page and a more box on individual posts (to drive those ariving via deep link further into the site) and a forum of sorts, so I can provide better support for the various WordPress plugins and themes. And updates to the plugins of course. A lot of the subpages need work before I make the links to them obvious. All in all, the current implementation of the site is far from finished but the most trafficked portions are in decent shape.

That’s it for now. I’ll spend more time exploring the method behind the madness at a later juncture. To find out what’s going on with the site, check the changelog. If you’ve got ideas or suggestions, let me know.

The Bastard Pack

Theme Screenshot

One of the first things that the pedagogical overlords try to pound into our tiny brains is the concept of sharing. We start in pre-school or kindergarten, after that it’s mostly downhill. Over the last few years, there’s been a resurgence of that playground ethos as we gleefully steal music and movies from the entertainment gods.

After harpooning copyright spokemen and lamenting the evils of digital rights management, we jealously guard our precious stylesheets and provide aloof answers to the secrets of our ways. Not everyone is a bastard though. There are lots of great people out there producing themes, pretty pictures and contributing their time to open-source projects. Now, as they say, is the time to put up or shut up.

A Bastard’s Story

Last September, I modelled a theme around the famous portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower and called it Bastard. That look made it onto a number of CSS gallery sites, and helped me to get my name out there. So it’s only fitting that the look is the first one I give away.

This isn’t a theme release, it’s just some WordPress templates and Photoshop files. It probably won’t work out of the box, but it should give you some insight into the method and the madness. The theme never really existed as one template, it just kind of evolved and got picked up by the gallery crowds before it was fully formed. At this point, the theme is six months old and I can’t attest to the condition of the code, but it’s probably a mess.

The Goods

For the cautious type that won’t get in a car without a map, I present to you the contents of the pack:

  • 1 screenshot
  • 15 jpg images
  • 4 psd images
  • 22 php templates
  • 1 css document
  • 3 rare dinosaur bones
  • 2 orbital weapons platforms

Download the Bastard Pack 2.3mb

The Fine Print

Just so we’re clear… there is no support for this package, take it or leave it. There is also no license per se, but that doesn’t mean you can use it for anything. I haven’t made any money off the pack, it wouldn’t be fair if you did. Use it for your personal sites… if you need something professionally, you can do better.


There should be at least two more packs coming out in the near future, but don’t lose sleep waiting for them. I’d like to thank recent SXSW award winner Bryan Veloso for inspiring me to dump a .zip file full of crap on the unsuspecting public. That and answering five questions for Seal Club.