This website is, sadly, defunct. But! Ethan’s new website is here for you to use.

Unstoppable Robot Ninja

The site navigation:

On Nails, Lipstick, and Redesigns

So that took entirely too long. I blame the weather Sarah Palin your mom my nonexistent time-management skills the liberal media. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

If you’re seeing this, then the DNS gnomes have finished their little rain dance, and you’re seeing the new home of Unstoppable Robot Ninja. Once hosted on the mighty Segpub, I’ve moved Ye Olde Weblogge over to Slicehost—the thought of actually installing all sorts of server-y things via the command line scared the hell out of me, but their knowledgebase made the whole move pretty trivial.

Oh, and I did a little redesign, too. So, like, there’s that.

Right. So pretty pictures aside, what’s new?

  • 2008: The Year of Lipstick

    The last design is archived online, if you’re into that sort of thing. I so loved that version, but the three-columns thing felt incredibly forced. Novel, sure. User-friendly, less so.

    With the new look, I’ve got more room to customize—it’s not quite the framework that Jason set up, but I’ll at least be able to keep from getting bored. Which, if you know me, is the surest way for me to kill a site. Stay tuned.

  • Much respect.

    One thing I’d always meant to publish on the old site was the Respect section. You know, a place to link to my own little pantheon of friends, rockstars, and generally fine people. What’s up there at the moment isn’t finished, or even complete, but I had to get something pushed up. Otherwise, I’d somehow procrastinate my way to next year’s redesign, and nothing to show for that section.

    So, like, stay tuned. I guess.

  • ITSA LOLGRID!!!1!one!

    When discussing a new design, I’m usually of the mind that discussing the grid is a bit like raving about the nails used to hang the Mona Lisa: interesting, sure, but it sort of misses the bigger picture. So I suppose it’s my turn to be a bit nail-oriented.

    I’ve always been a staunch proponent of liquid or flexible-width layouts, but they’ve always felt at odds with everyone’s recent interest in grid-driven designs. So I got a bit tired of that; the first version of URN was an early attempt to stop thinking of layout in terms of pixels or ems, but rather as a series of interdependent proportions.

    After a few months of tinkering in my spare time, this culminated in building a production-ready, working “liquid grid” for Airbag’s work for the launching-at-some-point W3C redesign, which I discussed at An Event Apart Boston earlier this year. So this redesign's built on top of the ideas behind the W3C work, as you'll hopefully see as you browse through the site.

    Anyway. Nail talk’s over—for now. I’ll be writing more about this framework soon, in the hopes of generating more discussion about it. Because I think that’s half the reason we’re so leery about working with non-fixed layouts: we just don’t talk about them.

  • Conversation time.

    I finally have a feed for comments. I must say: this “twentieth century” of yours is shiny and wondrous, if cold.

    (Also, there’s now a proper page for all available RSS feeds. Huzzah, bitches.)

  • Simplicitude.

    While I loved the brevity of the old number-based URLs in the Journal, I got tired of watching my referrers and failing to remember exactly which entry corresponded with 740. Or why I thought 734 was so damned moving. So we’re done with that; it’s back to human-readable slugs. Still, any old links should redirect safely to the new system—but if that’s not the case, please do drop me a line.

Actually, on that last point: in the move to Slicehost, I decided to move all my email over to Google Apps—as a result, I’m having trouble getting outgoing mail working from this server. That is, I can send and receive email just fine from my desktop client, but I’m not yet getting emails from new comments or the contact form. They’re all logged in the database, but if my reply’s a bit slower than I’d like, please bear with me.

Thanks for being patient. There’s still work to do, but I’m excited about the new setup. I think this’ll be a hell of a year.

This is a blog entry posted on day 11422 in the Journal.

28 comments posted.


  1. Justin Dickinson says:

    Looks great. It got an audible “oooh” out of me when the page loaded. I like the cleanliness of it all (I’d been feeling the same way about three column sites.)

    I’m looking forward to more liquid layout discussions as well. They’re the “birds and the bees” talk I’ve been putting off having with the pubescent boy that is the designer inside me.

    Cheers Ethan! Great work. If I may ask, what are you running this piece on? EE?

  2. Bryan Veloso says:

    But, where’d Mega Man go? D: I’ll just stare at the light.

    (Nice job, by the way. ;D)

  3. Andy Clarke says:

    You are, in the words of the ancient sages, the man.

  4. effika says:

    The stripes are very, very nice.

  5. Bridget Stewart says:

    I love the new look. It’s simply gorgeous. I wasn’t even tired of the old one yet…but, damn! This is niiiice.

  6. Dan Rubin says:

    Lovely Ethan, just lovely. Must talk with you about your fluid grid, it seems right up the alley of ideas I have for the next SB design. Perhaps. Maybe.

  7. Beth says:

    Looks great! Pretty but still simple and easy to read. Bonus points for cleanliness. Glad to see Boba Fett is monitoring your comments.

  8. The Robot says:

    Hmm. Gravatars seem to be a bit off. I’ll have to see if I can patch that without formatting my webs.

    To respond to a few things:

    • Justin, the site is in fact running on ExpressionEngine, and has been since the last version. I heart it. I heart it a lot.
    • Bryan, I wouldn’t hurt you like that. Just reload until he pops up in the footer; he’s in there with four or five other folks, so just stay the course.
    • Beth, I would never quit The Fett.

    Anyway. Thank you all very much. I do appreciate the kind words, and feedback’s always welcome (here, or via email). Thanks again.

  9. Luke Dorny says:

    Yeah, buddy. This is great!

    Would definitely like to read what people are doing with ems currently to make expanding layouts, there’s so many issues to cover on that topic sometimes.

    Oh, and Snake Eyes, definitely teh ninja.

  10. runa says:

    Wow, it looks good :)

  11. Jeff Croft says:

    Really, really nice work here, Ethan, both from a aesthetic perspective and the technical one. Love it.

  12. slicematt says:

    Beautiful site, glad to have you with us.

  13. Brendan says:


    The simpler layout is far easier on the eye. A joy to view, and a joy to read.

  14. Paul Kelley says:

    Loving the new look, really nice.

  15. Lachlan Hardy says:

    This is entirely awesome. I love it.

    I’m going to be playing around with your layout for quite a while, I think!

  16. Dan Donald says:

    Nice job! Always good to see some good usage of fluid/flexible layouts and I think you’re right about thinking of a fluid grid in terms of proportions instead of fixed measures. I’d be interested to hear more about your nails ;)

  17. Catherine says:

    Daaaaaaamn! Nicely done! I really like this layout.

  18. Grant says:

    Wonderful, wonderful. Great work!

  19. Kirk says:

    more than just a little wonderful.

  20. The Robot says:

    Eh. Still no luck getting email relaying from this server. If anyone out there is a closet Linux geek that knows a thing or two about msmtp, please do get in touch.

  21. Keith LaFerriere says:

    Sweet googly moogly. Nice work, man. I am loving the new brand treatment as well (upgraded wings).

  22. Scott says:

    If you get a reasonable or useful answer on the SMTP relay issue – I’ve love to know! I’ve got the same problem on my slice…

  23. The Robot says:

    Actually looks like the contact form’s working again, thanks in large part to Scott ’s pro hacker skillz. A tip of the hat to you, sir.

  24. Todd says:

    I actually gasped and said, “Dude!” The site looks great! Fantastic work!

  25. Simmy says:

    Not gonna lie — love this version much more than the last one. Good work, cowboy. You done make me proud.

  26. The Robot says:

    Thanks so much, hoss. I learn’d it by watchin’ you.

  27. Celes says:

    Lovely. I liked the old site a lot too, but yes, this is a bit easier to use. Sometimes less is more I guess (or that’s what they always told me at art school at least). I do miss seeing my familiar robot buddies, but Megaman is looking at me from the bottom while I type this comment, so I guess it’s okay. :)

  28. Scott says:

    Glad things are working – I likez to hax the unixes :) It helped me too since I had run into the exact same issue with my own site(s) on Slicehost. And now I will stop talking like an idiot.

This was Ethan Marcotte’s Unstoppable Robot Ninja.

You are welcome.

Design and content © 2020 Ethan Marcotte. All rights reserved.

Skip to the navigation, or skip to main content.