Vincent Ritter

Writing

All my blog posts for your viewing pleasure.

A few tweaks to the site

The last few weeks I started two new client projects, one short term (Website & CMS integration) and the other long term (React Native App - and I’m really super excited about this one). However, last night I was a bit burned out from not being able to do any of my own stuff.

Quickly remedied that problem by making a few minor cosmetic and wording changes to this very site. I thought I’ll write about it so I can look back at it one day and just think to myself: “What was I thinking??? That’s so ‘19s!”. Also, as I like writing about stuff like this, I think it’s important for me to express my motivations behind my decisions (more like a thought exercise).

Better dark and light modes

I used to set a default theme of “midnight” on my site when you first loaded it. However, now I’ve decided that I first check what mode you prefer for your UI. I’m a huge fan of the OS (macOS, iOS, iPadOS) switching themes automatically and I think content should also switch to what you prefer. However, there was one thing that bugged me. What if you like a dark interface but like to read on a light background. Or, perhaps you just want to see what it could look like with a light theme.

Whilst I already had a theme switcher in the sidebar, I took it to the next level… well, I guess only for me - because no one will probably use it. Now, if you come to the site and toggle the theme it will remain on that as long as you are on the website (I don’t set a cookie!) - if your OS changes the UI colour at the same time, it will keep the theme you manually selected. I guess it’s just a bit of a toy for me.

The code was pretty much the same as I had it with a few extra checks for dark/light mode changes.

Nicer sidebar, with a splash of colour

The sidebar really bugged me. It was drawing a lot of attention to itself with all the extra background colour and borders. It really separated the site from navigation to main content. However I really wanted to make it way more subtle whilst also drawing a bit more attention to the navigation (“Hey, there is more”). In my eyes, the sidebar was visual clutter and didn’t sit well with my “simple” ideals.

So, I removed the background colour, border and shadow on it. It's now is part of the page and I think it really looks great. Certainly better than before. It’s cleaner. It’s less of a mess even though the content is the same.

It really looks great with a light theme:

You can see the extra bit of colour I’m using in the navigation items now. I’m still undecided on the actual colours, but this is something I wanted to try and I really love it. I’m basically taking the main navigation colour and adding opacity to it.

Also looks good with dark mode:

I'm still undecided if the colours look correct here, but I think it’s better than not having any. Also in dark mode you will have the usual star scape to the left. I made that way subtler though as it didn’t look so great any other way. Just a little detail that probably not a lot of people notice, but it’s there anyway (for me). A bit of movement on the site is nice. Something I want to practice a bit more for other projects.

The sidebar also has a nice hover effect for the navigation items. It’s always been there but, I think, with the background colours it really makes it pop even more. On hover, all the other sub items fade out a little and the item you're over comes out at you. I’m also applying a bit of shadow as you do that.

General other tweaks

There’s a lot I changed in many subtle ways. My consulting page has been reworded somewhat and I also tweaked the “services” I offer. They now pop out a little bit, which is much nicer than before.

Other pages have changed a tiny bit too like my Apps page, I have a main app and also some “other” apps. This section will need a major rewrite anyway as I’m going to included all my other things I’ve worked on and launched, like Simple Schedule. Just going to make it my showcase for my personal stuff. The idea here is to consolidate the “Ventures” and “Sites” pages into one.

There is going to be a “Showcase” page at some stage where I’ll show off some of the client work - but that will probably come next year because I don’t have time just yet. No rush. At least I know who my clients are, and they are happy with what I do!

I’m also planning to launch a “Tools” page. That will list all the services I use for my freelance/independent lifestyle. I’ll probably throw in referral links here. Every little helps.

I’d love to have time to re-do everything, but that’s not going to happen any time soon.

Random stats and thoughts on the Disneyland trip

We came back last Sunday from a week away to Disneyland Paris. I thought I’ll share some quick thoughts and stats on the trip part.

We drove roughly 1050 miles, one way. That’s 2100 miles in total. We were in the car for much of 34 hours. We didn’t push it too much and took regular breaks (every 3 - 4 hours). The first leg was hard; 10 hours on the sat nav doesn’t seem too much… but it was!

The hotels we stayed at on the journey to Disneyland:

  • Hilton (Hampton) - Frankfurt am Main Airport - Germany (10 hours drive, without breaks)
  • Newport Bay (our main hotel for the week) - Disneyland (~ 4 - 5 hour drive from Frankfurt)

The hotels we stayed at on the return journey:

  • Radisson Blu (one night before our big journey back) - Disneyland Paris - we opted to stay the day in Disneyland and wouldn’t tempt the journey back until the next day. Gave us an extra full day at the parks. (5 - 10 minute drive from Newport - if you include the turn left traffic light… 20 minutes).
  • Hilton - Dresden - Germany. Hotel was OK, dirty city (everything is black). (~ 9 hours drive from Disneyland) - this was a last minute decision as I wasn’t up to drive all day and night back home.

The best driving was in Germany, people just know how to drive there. France was second place, although I don’t get the way they drive there (relaxed and lazy it seems). Poland… worst place in the world to date. I don’t like driving here. It’s the wild west and they disregard any safety (with or without kids). Enough said before I get angry and depressed.

Europe is incredibly beautiful!

Except most of Poland, the fresh air smelled like freshly fertilised fields for most parts of west Germany and east of France.

As expected, we filled the car full of stuff from Disneyland - which would have made flying difficult on this occasion. Driving and staying at the hotels was cheaper than flying 5 fold.

I missed the quality of Polish food whilst away. Best food we had was on the way back during one of our stops… in Poland.

On the first day when leaving to Disneyland, it was 36 degrees Celsius… pretty hot. Even hotter when we stopped for a break. Concrete gets hot!

We refuelled the car twice each way. Happy with that.

Speaking German was funny for me. Good to practice again I guess. I understand everything though. If only I could speak Polish at the same capacity (I’ll never learn - I gave up for this year to learn).

Overall it was a great little trip, although very tiring.

I miss it already. Many childhood memories surfacing! I had to hide my teary eyes as we left Disneyland… even just writing this makes me all teary.

We’ll certainly go back.

Going on holiday

It’s been a long time coming, but after nearly 9 years of “life just throws random stuff at you” we’re finally going on a proper holiday.

Yes, true, we obviously had a few days here and there, but we never really been away far from where we were.

To put it into perspective, this is the first real proper holiday since my wife and I got engaged in 2010.

This will be our honeymoon and first trip with our daughter beyond the confines of the local area. When I say holiday, I mean a proper holiday. We obviously moved to Poland when our daughter was young… but that was certainly no holiday!

So, next week, for a week, we’re gonna be in Disneyland Paris.

It’s gonna be a journey in the car of about 1,400km (870 miles). We’re stopping off in Germany for the night and then the next day through to Disney. I’m the only driver in the family, so it’s gonna be great to travel… I love journeys, so this is right up my alley. Also gives me time to think!

We’re setting off Monday morning. Hopefully there will be some nice travel pictures when we’re back.

See you all on the other side.

Final stretch before releasing Gluon. Feedback wanted.

It’s time to wrap up the development for Gluon. It’s especially important for me as I’m also going to share my new way forward in the coming weeks. But before I go ahead and share that, I want to complete the app (or at least write this post).

There are a few things I want to tackle before launch, namely:

  • Posting and reply screens to be re-written and make them way more awesome, that will also include image uploads and… “insert secret feature here”.
  • Posting to include MicroPub love - I promised this for launch, so I’m gonna do it.

There are many more little things that need to happen and be fixed, but they’re too boring for you to know about.

I’m also going to make progress on the Android version after the iOS release. It’s at 90% with feature parity so I’ll need a bit more time to work around some limitations that I’m hitting.

Saying that, there isn’t too much interest on yet another third-party Android app for Micro.blog (from what I gather). From what I see, and feel, everyone wants a first-party solution. I’m hoping this happens soon and also hope that Gluon showed that it can be done.

Use the email below to get an invite to Gluon for Android.

I don’t have a release date yet for iOS but will announce it as soon as I know more myself.

Feedback time

As I work on the specific tasks at hand, I’m looking at collecting the last round of feedback. So if you use it, please do let me know if something doesn’t work as expected or if you have any suggestions. You can reach me here: gluon@vincentritter.com.

I do try and reply to everyone that emails me. If I missed someone… sorry!

Anyway, thanks so much for using the app and your feedback to date.

33

Today I turn 33. It’s strange. When I was a teenager everyone around me seemed to be 33. I remember this fondly. And here, today, it’s my turn.

I’m finally at a turning point in my life, after years of trial and error which path to take, I believe that I’ve come up with a plan for the next 33 years (and more). Although it’s a plan, I deeply feel it’s the right thing to do.

I wasted a lot of time in my youth, although aiming for other life goals, which ultimately brought me to this point. I feel I’m late to the party, however I’m happy where I am now. Now I just need to nurture it and really live it, breathe it and most importantly stick to it.

This week had me thinking a lot about the future, especially that I have a family to take care of too (that’s not something you think about when you’re a kid). It’s not easy doing everything solo, it does put a tremendous weight on your shoulders and in a world where everything seems to be free it’s hard to make a living where you want to.

I’ve got a few updates and plans to share with you on what that means going forward. But, for today I want to thank everyone, especially my family and friends and my readers/followers, for all your support, your emails and feedback. It keeps me going, it really does, and you have no idea how happy that makes me.

Here is to many more years and if today is your birthday too: Happy Birthday!

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