I really like sites that do one thing really well. My site, for instance, doesn’t. I blog all over the place. It’s pretty eclectic — HR, government, movies, TV, astronomy, recipes. It reflects my life, and I could probably grow it a lot faster if I’d pick one little niche and do it well over time. On the other hand, it’s fun for me, which is a key ingredient.
However, I admire when other sites do something really well. Like http://www.responsinator.com/. What does it do? It tells you what your website will look like on various mobile devices (heavily geared to iPhones). Think of it as your own little beta tester for web design. As of time of writing, you put in your URL, press GO, and it will show you what that site (probably your own) looks like on:
- iPhone 5 portrait · width: 320px
- iPhone 5 landscape · width: 568px
- iPhone 6 portrait · width: 375px
- iPhone 6 landscape · width: 667px
- iPhone 6 Plump portrait · width: 414px
- iPhone 6 Plump landscape · width: 736px
- Android (Nexus 4) portrait · width: 384px
- Android (Nexus 4) landscape · width: 600px
- iPad portrait · width: 768px
- iPad landscape · width: 1024px
If you create an account and pay, you can choose which devices show up, you can host it on your own site, etc. I use WordPress and it’s new custom themes option gives you some ideas of that already too, but it was nice to see a different version. For me, it is more about tablets than phones, I think I’m too verbose for phones. 🙂
I mentioned earlier that I have a plan to build a Raspberry Pi project, and I’m often haunting sites with articles like What I’ve Learned From Tinkering With the Raspberry Pi for Five Years. I like LifeHacker as a site generally, although I can’t follow it completely — it’s like drinking from a firehose if I subscribe to its RSS feed. Back in March (14th, to be exact i.e. Pi Day — get it? 3.14?), they published the above linked article, and I loved it.
Before hobbyists latched onto the Raspberry Pi, it was a computer for learning how to code targeted mainly at kids. Since then, the appeal has broadened, but it’s still impossible for a project to “just work” out of the box. You will have to tweak something, dig into the command line, or spend a few hours buried in an obscure internet forum to find solutions to problems that only you seem to be having. You will slam your head against the wall, yell a little, and throw your Raspberry Pi at least once for every project you attempt to make.
In just about every other hobby, that would be a buzzkill for me from the word go. I feel that way every time I have to assemble Ikea furniture or build a shelving unit in my garage. It’s not something I have a knack for (home repair), but as a project for a hobby that lets me build my only little computer? I’m willing to give it a go.
I suspect I saved the article mostly because it talks about his experience building a retro game console, which is part of my desire. But it’s a good metaphor for why I want to do a project at all — troubleshooting, a little bit of gaming, and maybe some Linux. Following the path of those who have gone before.