I’m Venkatram Harish Belvadi and I’ve been running this website in some form or other since 2004. It has had its own domain and dedicated server since 2007 and the current domain since 2011. Almost everything you need to know about me and my current work can be found on the homepage or under one of the menu options above. I’m always open to meaningful discourse. Please feel free to send me an e-mail anytime.
The colours used on this website come from the IBM Carbon Design System, with changes made to better align it with my vision. The accent colour used is a nod to the football club I support, FC Bayern München and incidentally also happens to be a shade of my favourite colour.
On devices that support universal dark schemes,
such as an iPhone or iPad running iOS 13 or later, a MacBook running macOS 10.14 or later, some Android devices which is most devices today, and most modern desktop browsers besides Internet Explorer (full compatibility list available from Mozilla), this website honours the reader’s choice of colour scheme.
This website is set in 14/20 pt IBM Plex Sans. It uses the variable font version and, as a result, a number of fluid weights across the site as necessary. The back-end also uses the same typeface for consistency in look and feel.
The development of IBM Plex was in many ways a passion project for the company and the history it draws from, in the typographic sense, is something that has always appealed to me—particularly the nods to the Selectric typewriter. Plex was developed by a large team headed by Mike Abbink and the foundry Bold Monday who also developed the foundational typeface used by iA Writer, my program of choice for typing (see below).
IBM describes the development as Plex thusly: ‘IBM has always served as a medium between mankind and machine ... The emotional and rational. The classic and the cutting-edge ... IBM Plex® brings these relationships to life through letterforms.’ While most typefaces making such claims rely on personal interpretations, I feel like with Plex you do see what IBM means.
Among other things, the proportions of letterforms and some personal tastes, like the two-storey ‘g’, are what made Plex my choice. If I could change anything, it would be getting rid of the hook on the lowercase ‘l’ and the slabs on the uppercase ‘I’ but that might then become the ship of Theseus. Plex has a fantastic website that you should see for yourself.
While nearly all content on this website is my own, I enjoy highlighting others’ works from time to time and when doing so is legally permissible—or I have permission. Most commonly in the journal, the cover images for nearly every essay showcase a related work that I like from other artists.
Due credit is provided in all places where others’ work is used. If your noticed that your work was used but not credited to your satisfaction please write to me and I will quickly set things in order.
This website currently runs on a bunch of text files powered by Kirby 3. As life got busy, I had to decide between my adoration for the JAMStack and the practicalities of running this website. As a result I moved from my Hugo-powered static set-up which was superior in many ways to Kirby, leaving behind any syncing concerns and because I got a great, reliable GUI. (Have you tried using Netlify CMS on mobile?)
I originally toyed with the idea of using Statamic for its back-end GUI to avoid spending my time on yaml files, and also because I had used Kirby before, but finally decided to return to Kirby for the same reasons as Marcus Obst. As a clarification since I previously complained about Kirby’s license fee, I was willing to move this time because Kirby has adjusted their pricing by PPP.
Some historic notes—
From 2019–mid-2022 this was a static site built on a Mac with Hugo. Content was hosted on Gitlab and Dropbox and served by Netlify.
For its first ten years this website ran on WordPress, the excellent, free open-source CMS. Between 2017 and 2019 it ran on the much slimmer, quicker, more straightforward (and database-free) system, Kirby. In an attempt to avoid Kirby’s license fee inflation and migration headaches from v2.0 to v3.0 I decided to move to a static website model powered by Hugo. This has proved to make writing, website design management all a pleasure once again while also giving me plenty of time to focus on my other interests. Plus, Hugo lets me edit this site completely offline which is great if I want to put in a few minutes of work while on the go. As of 2022 this set-up remains intact and I have no thoughts of changing things.
This website uses some icons from the IBM Carbon Design System which are open-source. Since I do not have any need for analytics, no user data is monitored. However the gross number of visits is calculated in terms of queries passed to and logged on the server. This does not contain any identifiable data, just the fact that someone visited.
Maintaining the site via code updates is restricted to my Mac in case of major changes that call for lots of testing. Updating, testing, designing and improving are all done using Terminal and Github’s wonderful Atom code editor. Part of the reason why Hugo-based development is restricted to my Mac is the fact that iPadOS does not support running a local server yet. That said, simple changes and minor stylistic improvements that do not require extensive testing are accomplished using the Kodex app on my iPad.
Compared to my past workflows I find this to be mature, streamlined, simple and straightforward, which makes maintenance and updating (including writing new stuff) easy and incredibly quick. That last part—a quick workflow—ensures I can care for this website without sacrificing too much time or putting in an unjustifiable lot of effort. To those of you who e-mail me asking how I manage all this, the answer is simple: find a workflow that is efficient for you.
Ever since I switched to a predominantly iPad-based workflow I have found writing for and updating information on this website to be incredibly simple. Since I use the JAM Stack with Hugo, Gitlab and Netlify (see below) the app I use to sync for git is the excellent Working Copy. This maintains repos locally on the iOS Files app.
I write almost exclusively on iA Writer on iPad which updates markdown files directly in the iOS Files app, which means it updates my local repo directly with no fuss. A combination of iA Writer and Working Copy means no duplication and perfect synchronisation.
Handling images and other assets used to be done first via Google Drive and then, briefly, via Amazon S3; but since April 2020 everything has been migrated to my Gitlab repo. The primary reason for this being the poor workflows afforded by both these storage services on mobile devices. A second reason is that it is easier to make Open Graph and Twitter Cards work with self-hosted images rather than ones sourced from other storage services. Between Working Copy, iOS Files and iA Writer I can run this website in a lightweight manner.