Sunday, January 04, 2009

Ugly? Maybe.
Common? Yes.
Functional? DEFINITELY!

A few days ago I blogged about considering switching from Blogger to WordPress to publish my blog. It was prompted by some blog envy of my friend Sam Bradley, author of Communication and Cognition. Sam has really tutored himself on the craft of finding, creating, and keeping an audience in the online community. Sam switched to WordPress. Lots of the "serious bloggers" that I know use WordPress. I'm serious, right?

I was encouraged when I received more comments from that blog post teasing about a switch to WordPress than I have in a long time. Now, we're not talking tons of comments here...but lately any comment as proof that people are visiting this page is better than none. Most of the comments pushed me in the direction of using WordPress. "It tells the world you're serious about blogging," one person said. "Blogger is so boring and predictable in its design elements," another chimed in.

So, I tried WordPress. I installed WP 2.7 on my host and started reading the program's online documentation. Trouble was...that documentation seemed to apply to an earlier version of the the Dashboard I was staring at was quite different than what they described. No problem...I'm a fairly intelligent person so I figured that I could poke around until I figured it out.

I haven't been more frustrated with something in MONTHS.

I'm all for the open-source concept! I love the fact that people all over the world are trying to make the program better--more widgets, better graphically, etc.--and sharing their knowledge with dopes like me without any sort of profit motive. My understanding was that I just needed to find a template that I like and install it. No problem. First trouble...there are SO MANY to choose from! I spent several hours obsessively poking through beautiful templates of all types. Finally found one that I liked. It was this one:

WordPress Theme Notepad Second

How clean. How professional looking. My little picture could be there to the right, with a blurb about my research next to it...replacing the "Lorem ipsum dolor" stuff.
And Tag Clouds! I love Tag Clouds. That's the one, I thought. Downloaded it, transferred it to my host. Selected it and viola:

Rob's sloppy page.

Could I find how to upload my picture. No way! Could I figure out how to replace the "Lorem ipsum, et al.?" Must be in the About Me thing on the dashboard, right? I mean, it says "About" right there, doesn't it?

Nope. That resulted in another line appearing somewhere. (Honestly, I edited the statement in "about me" prior to publishing this blog...)

I wrestled with that darn page for an entire afternoon. No luck. Feeling clueless, I decided that it just wasn't the time for me to work on migrating to WordPress.

Cool heads prevailed the next morning, with a fresh set of eyes after a good night's sleep.
"Come on, you should be able to figure this out!" I gave myself a pep talk over a cup (or two) of coffee. "Maybe you just chose too complex of a template."

That's it, start slowly. Ease yourself into this open source stuff. Remember, open source, where the information about how to do it is all out the user!

So, I tried another template. Honestly, I think I've blocked out the actual name due to the trauma experienced after spending THREE HOURS just trying to figure out how to change the font color for the postings from orange (orange?!? I just don't get aesthetics I about a nice black color for my simple prose).

I did start learning stuff...thanks to the power of Google. [Google, who btw, provides me with the free...that free both monetarily AND host I've been using for 3 years]. I Googled and learned how to change the font size on the menu of my page. I learned what a "hover" was...and how to change that font size. Even learned where to change the font color on my menu. But, the fact that it was in hex didn't help me one all these people using WordPress know the hex color wheel by heart? Oh my gosh, I am outta touch.

But, after copying and pasting figures like #FFF062G (or whatever!) from one place to another, I did change the text of my menu text from one hue to another. You'd think that would at least help me approach the problem of changing the font color in my posting itself. I mean, this is a simple template. It doesn't even have a place for me to put a picture of myself for cripes sake!

Nope. Couldn't find it. After another 45 minutes...lots of grumbling...and having my family members leave the house...I finally gave up.

My blog is blue. It's blue because I clicked a button saying "make it blue."
It's two columns. That's all I can get. Too bad.
But, when I'm ready to's here for me.
Functionality. I'll take it.

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