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Column shift, inline-six

1954 station wagon Early in the New Year, I learnt that the software which had formed the basis for building Arborealis since June, 2014 was no longer supported. This went a long way to explaining why, for several months at least, merely inputting several phrases or switching windows between that software and other programs or webpages brought on the dreaded spinning colour wheel. In the computerscape that is the Mac OS, generally this wheel signifies that your system cannot handle the demands placed upon it by a myriad of tasks, all demanding diva/divo status, subito! Initially, the question then was, which new, bigger computer –both in terms of RAM and storage– was needed to solve the problem? The day, not to mention my bank account, was saved by finding out that the software itself was shedding its functionality by degrees.

Thereafter commenced a frantic search for a replacement web design package or platform. My search ran the gamut, including:

After deciding that the Immensely Prominent International Platform was out of the running, my analysis of the Popular Off-the-Shelf Product was proceeding merrily apace until suddenly, it wasn't. The sensation was exactly akin to pulling the emergency brake, and jolting to the proverbial screeching halt. In that moment, I had just realized that buying another canned software package might well land me in a situation very like that in which I find myself today. The owners might revamp the product and price it out of reach, cut it from their product line altogether, or sell the company to a third party with plans to capitalize on brand recognition but with no real intent to support the existing, loyal customer base. In any of these scenarios, the website having been held welded to the company's unibody framework, I would be faced with the same redesign decision all over again.

Perhaps ill advisedly, I opted to overhaul Arborealis myself, even though I'd gotten a sense in recent years that any such endeavour would entail vast swaths of css and internet standards for viewports and flexible or responsive design. At one point while driving (careering through?) a series of steep learning curves, I took a peek under the hood of my current web design software (the one about to be tossed out of the moving car). There, in the html and css folders, was the expected series of codes for content and style, including frames, though far more elaborately written than I'd anticipated. A javascript folder also begged a peek: several files, OK. What's in this one? Unintelligible code stuff. Many, many lines of it. And in this one? Ditto. And so on.

Slamming the hood on that level of programming code complexity inspired the analogy of today's computerized "black box" cars (only your mechanic knows for sure) with yesteryear's strictly mechanical automobiles—the ones we could change the oil, swap out a distributor cap, or tinker with the timing ourselves. Here, then is the result, or at least Version 1.0 of the 2020 model of Arborealis, composed in a humble, open source html editor with one css stylesheet. Undoubtedly, at least several tune-ups are in the offing to make the code work as hoped.

While a slow-burn-crash, reassess-and-rebuild was not how I'd planned to spend the past ten days, this turning point also presented an opportunity to consider and reorder my research priorites—a subject for another day and at least one or two blog articles!

Begging our readers' patience while the several hundred pages from the old site are tuned up and added to this one, I will close with warm greetings to all for the New Year.

(penned 12th January 2020.)

Source citation: Kilpatrick, Alison. "Column shift, Inline-six." Blog article published to Arborealis, 13th January 2020; online at www.arborealis.ca/blog/2020-01-12.html; accessed [insert date of access].
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