Friday, September 16th, 2022

Downloads, kobe sports park and a solar powered website

Color photograph of men working on a street in Japan, while in the background a man in a blue boiler suit waits to direct traffic

Hello. Hope you’ve had a good couple of weeks.

It’s been busy since the last missive. Aside from client work, I’ve rebuilt my website. It was supposed to be a simple tweak to the look-and-feel, but developed into a full blown rewrite.

The new look is one I’ve been tinkering with for a while. My trusty “kobe6” framework has been in service for 5 years and it was time to move away from it. The new framework is grid based and degrades a little better. It also borrows a few cues from my brutalist experiments, albeit with a softer look.

Under the hood I’ve done some major work to WordPress.  Once the dust has settled, I’ll share some of the lessons from digging around in configurations, plugins and working with Gutenberg to make the site run faster. 

The bottom line of all this work is a substantial improvement in page loading times and a better experience for visitors.

Next week is a short one with both a bank holiday and a typhoon to look forward to. Maybe I’ll get a chance to finish off the photobook I’ve been working on.

Whatever you’re doing in the week ahead, I hope you have a productive one.


Updates from the blog

Icons to download for your projects

Over the past couple of years I’ve created a fair few icons for various personal projects. They’ve all come together, been touched up and you can download them from the site

Kobe Sports Park

Black and white photograph of a childrens slide coming down a hill side with another slide curving over the top

Home to a major baseball team, Kobe Sports Park is more than stadia with gift shops and fast food stands. Here’s a few shots from a walk around the expansive surrounding parkland – and the children’s playground.

The “autistic kid sorts Walmart bin” meme

Graphic showing squares moving from left to right, forming various images of a young man sorting bins in Walmart

It’s been doing the rounds again. A kid with autism organises a bin in Walmart and onlookers go wild. Only it’s fake.

This is the story behind the meme, why the kid’s mum was surprised by the internet’s diagnosis and whether sharing it is just hopeless virtue signalling.

From around the web

It wouldn’t be right just to share my own work. These are a few things that caught my eye this past week.

Bring your own

While we in Japan dutifully separate our plastics and put them out to recycle, the reality is a lot of it gets burned in waste-to-energy plants. Fukuoka wants to change this by encouraging a different kind of recycling. “Bring your own container” shopping is coming and I can’t wait for it to hit Kobe

Self-hosted email marketing (a Twitter thread)

If you’re running an email list and it’s not delivering the results you expected, maybe the messages aren’t getting through. Carlos Fenollosa spent more than a decade hosting his own list, only to see the returns drop away. This thread on Twitter is both interesting in its own right, and for the comments, fact checks and links it generated.

PurplePort bans artificial art

There’s been a lot of chatter about whether “machine generated images” are the death of art. These are the ones where you type a phrase into a text box and software creates something for you. In what looks like the early stages of a growing trend, photography site “PurplePort” has banned them.

Yellow packaging

A UK supermarket redesigned it’s budget range with bright yellow packaging that makes it stand out on the shelf. Naturally it prompted a backlash (what doesn’t these days) with allegations of “Poor Shaming”. Here’s a look from Design Week at Asda’s decision, and why the Twitter storm isn’t a worry.

Chris Pine, Harry Styles and Cleopatra

PR for “Don’t Worry Darling”, a psychological thriller directed by Olivia Wilde, didn’t go according to plan. There was visible tension between Wilde and co-star Florence Pugh, Chris Pine pretty much dialled out and there were false allegations Harry Styles spat on him.

All of this is but a storm in a teacup compared to the disaster that was Cleopatra, recounted in glorious long form by David Kamp.

The solar powered website

And finally, when I was rebuilding the website I wanted to reduce its power demands on both server and client. Along the way I stumbled across this article from Lotech Magazine about the design philosophy behind their self-hosted, solar powered website. It’s a fascinating dive into how to serve quality content to a niche audience without breaking the planet.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction. Find out more.