Moving the Blog

My adventures in blogging began with a series of tests of different blogging platforms. I felt that I couldn’t advise people without at least trying them.

Part of the test was to see which platform would be picked up first by the search engines. Interestingly enough, WordPress was picked up before Blogger in my test. However, Blogger did seem to be well followed and documented.

My only real complaint with both platforms is more a complaint relating to Microsoft Word. Word inserts a lot of formatting tags in text. When folks copy from Word and paste into their blog, it transfers all of those tags. The WYSIWYG editor that I like to use on my Joomla sites has a "paste from Word" function that strips out those tags. Why do I care? The tags over-ride the style that the designer associates with the page.

Suppose I decide that my blog pages will all be displayed in Verdana font. I set up the style in the back end to control the size of the entries, the way the headers look, etc. If I copy and paste from Word, it will bring in the font that the Word document uses — whatever that may be…and it will over-ride my lovely page layout. OK, so it’s easy to change the font in the post, right? So I change it and all is well.

However, one of the beautiful things about a style is that I can change it. Suppose I decide to decorate for Christmas and re-design the site in red and green with a lovely Times font accent. THAT post won’t change! That post still has the over-rides. This is why I scream when I see those lovely Microsoft "Smart Tags" as they are called. They are so annoying that a command was created to turn them off for a given page, however that command has not been fully accepted. End result: that’ll fix it for some people, but not for all.

Anyway, I’ve moved my blog to my own site now. For anyone who is curious about the details:  I’m using the built-in Joomla content system with a comment component added on. I don’t need anything fancier than this, and I love the way it works together with the rest of my site.

In my newsletter, I related the analogy of a blog to the kitchen of a house. This ties in with something that happened while I was away at Surrey.

My husband decided to surprise me and paint the house! He got a group of friends to come over and they spent the day preparing a huge surprise for me. Our house is now a luscious chocolate cheesecake color with deep forest green trim. It is tasty looking — actually, it resembles the forest cabin we wish it was. Once upon a time, my mother lived with us. As a result, my house has two kitchens. My husband decided that Mom’s stove was better than the one I’ve been using and he moved it upstairs for me. My older son painted the kitchen while some others finished a painting project I’ve been working on for years in our entrance hall. My kitchen has been upgraded! I haven’t had the courage to try cooking on the fancy stove yet.

In a website, there are many things we can upgrade or change. Getting each room of your house just the way you want it can be a lifetime adventure…and a website really shouldn’t be any different. Your web home should become a place that reflects you — maybe even more clearly than your physical home does. This is where you should be most comfortable, most free, and also most adventurous. Re-decorate. Try new things, explore.

This is why I love Joomla. It allows me to give my customers something they can play with. True, they can always call me in to do the re-painting for them, but if they want, they can try it themselves as well.


Revenge of the Blog – Julie Weathers

I have been featured and mentioned a couple of times lately in the blog of my (hopefully still after this) dear friend Julie Weathers. I’ve known this wonderful lady through my on-line writers’ group for…a long time, and I’ve only ever found one thing wrong with her: she could use a bit more self-confidence. So, after she posted a chunk of Dominion with such glowing comments, I promised a revenge blog.

Then I started thinking — this was hard! What bit would I choose? Aside from being a wonderful writer, she’s also a delightful poet and a wit to boot. There is this one scene where some enchanted jars fly around and annoy the wizard’s wife while spouting poetry…I wanted to use that one. But then I thought, naaa…she’s using that as one of her Surrey entries and it would be just a shame if anyone read it on the internet first. So, I decided not.

Another one of my favorites is a scene where her heroine takes a wrong turn and winds up in a crypt. Now, that’s my kind of scene. I’m not sure she fully intended it to be that funny, but it brings to mind all of the times I’ve gotten lost. But then, I thought…taking that chunk out of context…no, it would lose something magical.

Hm. This was harder than I thought it would be. Not because I don’t love so many things she writes, but because I was going to take just a snippet, take it out of context and try to show the world what a fabulous writer this woman is…and then I found a piece she doesn’t feel is done. In fact, when I said I might snag bits of it, she seemed shocked and horrified and wanted more time to edit it. <evil grin> Perfect.

I am a big believer in copyrights, so I’m only going to give you a taste of this woman’s writing.

Excerpt from "Jeffrey" ©2008 Julie Weathers

"Mother, how was your trip?" she asked as she reverted her attention to the old woman. "You must be exhausted. Come up on the veranda and sit down."

"It was marvelous. You know how I love the mountains in the spring time. The does are just now introducing their bashful babies to the world. I watched one who was perched on a high ledge above the cut. He laid ever so quietly just watching the train pass as he pretended he was invisible to the world of mortals and I dare say he probably was to most of those ninnies. The air is so crisp and clean and the sunshine smells so good."

She helped the aging queen up the stairs just as the coachman followed Elizabeth through the front door.

"Granny," Elizabeth corrected in her most irritating proper manner, "no one can smell the sun." She turned to her mother, "We put Granny’s cases in her room."

"Thank you both," the queen nodded regally. "And you most certainly can smell the sun, my dear. In the spring it is a light pleasant smell with just a hint of sweetness and rain. In the summer the lightness turns to rich molten honey squeezing into every pore of the darkened earth."

"What does the sun smell like in the fall?" Jeffrey asked excitedly.

"Ah, I think autumn sunshine smells the best of all. It is the summer honey with just a hint of the deep winter sun. It’s spicy and pungent with just an occasional bite here and there to remind us of the approaching blue sun of winter."

Now, can’t you just taste the richness of her prose? After I read that, I went out back and lay on the lawn. The cats came and practiced stalking me. I lay there, smelling the sun and letting the warmth ooze into my pores. I forget that there is such richness in the world, but Julie never seems to. Her writing is filled with asides that remind me of the beauty and power of the world. My friend Veronica brought me a jar of honey from her bees yesterday. Reading this snippet again, I suddenly have an irresistible urge to open that jar.