Zachary Berry

Designer & Developer

What's New?

What's New?

Well, it’s been a 5 year hiatus. Where is this blog going?

I haven’t updated this site since June 2016. A lot has happened since then (some of these events will likely be turned into blog posts later)…

Me sitting at a desk during a livestream
July 2020: Performing a livestream as Zap Danger using the app I built and demoed at US JSConf
Me sitting at a desk during a livestream
June 2020: Me talking about Steely Dan for two hours for all the dads out there on the internet
Volvo 240 being towed
November 2019: Me at Maker Faire Orlando demoing the Arduino MIDI mapper I worked on with my friend Jacob (to the left of me - he did most of the work)
Volvo 240 being towed
November 2019: My Volvo 240 shown here being towed away from Maker Faire for what ended up being just a rusted out exhaust
Me playing a live set outside
Feburary 2018: Playing an outside set at Blackstar in Orlando
Me at JSConf 2018
August 2018: Presenting on my web visualizer vidkid at JSConf US 2018

The Blog

Something was bothering me about my blog. I was publishing words that represented only one side of me - I intentionally kept the blog development focused only. But increasingly that felt more and more limiting. I also intentionally kept my writing and the design restrained and professional, but that was feeling limiting too. So around 2019 I started playing around with a redesign and rethink of what this blog was, and tinkered with it off and on. You’re seeing the end result.

Going forward, I want this blog to be a platform where I can talk about any subject, not just development. (There will still be plenty of that, it’s what I do 40 hours a week after all.)

The Design

Image of my blog before the redesign
A screenshot of my older design

The design was inspired after a trip to the Living Computer Museum in 2017 with my friend Liz. (Unfortunately, the LCM is now closed due to COVID. Hopefully they’ll be back one day because it’s amazing!)

It’s simple - you touch the screen to make more rain drop type circles, all of which produce a nice chime. (This art installation actually rooted itself deep in my brain, it was also partially the inspiration for vidkid. Perhaps I’ll talk about that in another post.)

So, circles and randomness play a large role in the design of the site. Each blog post contains a set of random circles and plus graphics, generated based on the name of the blog post. That’s created via a hacky node script I built to output an SVG with randomly placed graphics in a restricted color set. In addition, there’s a smaller version of the graphic on the main blog page, which is a variant of the original graphic but with shapes restricted to one of four quadrants.

The SVG generated for this post used in the header image. It was fed the alphanumeric title of this post "WhatsNew" as the seed value
The small version - Note that the circles are forced into one of four quadrants and transformed to be the same size
Want to see it in action? Type something, will ya?:

Of course it’s pointless, but this blog didn’t have enough pointlessness in it before and that was a problem.

I kept Jekyll as the static-site generator. I spend 99% of my time coding in javascript so I was interested in looking at a newer JS-based static-site generator, but decided that I already know how to work Jekyll and moving to something else would just give me more work to complete before I could get this redesign finished.

My other inspriation for the site was a new interest of mine - tracking down whatever I could get my hands on from the ECM record label. Stay with me.

Randomly one day the YouTube algorithm pointed me to some music by Eberhard Weber.

I was transfixed by his music for a while, which eventually prompted me to look into what similar stuff was out there. That lead me to the record label his stuff was on - ECM. ECM has tons of fantastic jazz and other types of introspective music, and I’d recommend if that sounds enticing to you that you check it out. In addition to the music, the record labels have a unified and strong visual identity, much like the work of Touch or Kasper Ledet’s drink labels for To Øl.

A 2 by 2 grid of ECM Album covers
A small sample of some ECM album covers

These covers usually depict nature, water, usually with a type of stillness or introspection. Most of them also use the font Univers. Thus started my obsession with Univers. So much so that it was the tipping point for re-designing the blog. In a nutshell - I wanted an excuse to use Univers for something. Univers.

The Content

With this new design featuring pointless elements and a hellbent desire to somehow shove Univers into it, the new is born. I now no longer feel restricted by the design because I’ve given up on the idea that this should be a professional please-like-me-I’m-a-real-smart-developer blog, and instead can be whatever the hell I want it to be, with random circles littered around for no reason at all. I now feel free to write about the other topics important to my life. If I’m lucky Google will pick up on a few dev-oriented posts and that will help out a few developers out there, and perhaps a few people might stumble across the other posts. I’d be okay with that.

Where else you can find me

You can also follow me at a few other locations on the internet. I have a personal instagram with day-to-day stuff, a music instagram for my music, a tumblr where I post various visual or music things I stumble upon that I like, and of course my github.

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