Friday
Jan212011

« Off the Digital Deep End. Again. »

On the 7th, I was dismissed from my job of nearly three years. This post is not about that. However, usually I have the feeling that doing full time work is a major distraction from what I feel I should be doing. While my last job did have some moments of revelation and at times I did feel that it was closer than other jobs had come.

Years ago when left to my devices, I recorded music and lost myself for hours, days, weeks, and months on projects. Not so now, for a range of reasons, but the imperative to tweak on the minutiae of one digital medium or another is upon me. 2011 is technically the anniversary year of my acquiring my domain at tapkae.com, and loosely speaking, the first appearance of any content here (dabblings by Mike Thaxton and me). 2002 was when the site got its first real complete incarnation, 2004 when I started using B2 blogger for my first proper blog platform, and 2006 when I hand copied most of the stuff over to Wordpress, which I have been using since. By the time you see this post, that will be a thing of history.

Earlier in the summer of 2010, Wordpress came out with version 3 and I liked it a lot better right away. But still it nagged at me that it was such a kit to assemble, and sometimes I just wasn't into that. The v3 was the thing that would have delighted me in 2005-6 when WP first came on the scene for me. But over the years, I have a number of dreadful nights wondering if I screwed something up in the database or lost years of work altogether. It seems that there should be some easy user interface to manage all that safely instead of having to actually go under the hood. Anyhow, the frustrations sometimes spoiled the fun. And that wasn't even the business of being creative yet. Most of my time using WP was in the period when Dreamweaver wasn't quite aware of WP, and was often playing catch up. So Dreamweaver was an editor for my content, but never the interface to manage the whole site, though once I upgraded computer, got a demo of the most recent DW version, got the new WP, it all seemed exciting to be able to edit the themes on my machine, and not live on the server. Sometimes that too was dreadful. As a result, my understanding of CSS is kind of weak, and often I am bewildered at how things relate from html to css, and how all that interacts with the database.

I heard about Squarespace just about the time I was trying to get the JEM site on to the v3 Wordpress. I looked into it and found it was just the thing for what JEM wanted. And when, after months of not being able to get our podcast listed at iTunes, and when the new Squarespace account came on and we got a nice functional site up and running, complete with iTunes approved podcast feed, I was excited.

Squarespace is an all in one host and CMS that does about the same stuff as I could do in Wordpress, but finally, the ability to edit the visual style and layout without guessing my way through CSS has made things far more fun and with a dose more individuality and a lot more ability to try things and not get burnt. Squarespace is generous with their specs, and caters to the folks who want a real system. They price themselves out of most hobbyists' range, and nearly out of mine since the decision to jump over to their service coincided with my job loss. But it had to be so; my old host, Startlogic, was set to renew in March, and I couldn't justify that since I'd be abandoning the WP platform that was the core of all my site activity. A Squarespace plan like I have is $240/year which is more than double what I have paid for the Startlogic plans (which climbed nearly imperceptibly over the nearly seven years I was there). Since Squarespace is like a Mac to the Wordpress/Startlogic PC, I reasonably expect that I won't be caught in the Bermuda Triangle of a host that doesn't support me when I am in over my head with Wordpress, and a version of Dreamweaver that couldn't edit a whole site at once, and all the other components that were bound together with gum and twine.

I still have things to figure out about how to fine tune CSS on the new Squarespace platform, but the business of having a full CMS to do galleries and a whole range of prescribed page types is quite exciting. On reflection, I found that most of the pages I had on the WP era site were essentially galleries that I had painstakingly edited in Dreamweaver and copied into Wordpress. All the notes and stuff got copied over here as captions—a job to be sure, but one that won't be prone to odd code wandering and shit not being spaced just so. Structuring the site is a joy too; all the sections are basically drag and drop items. Interestingly, WP has that in v3. But chasing down plugins and extensions for WP is not my cup of tea anymore. And by far, the major WP version upgrades were nightmare times.

So this 2011 version of tapkae.com is also a time when, perhaps with the help of my jobless state now, I can try to comb the site and clean it up. I have about 560 posts now from the earliest days of the first complete site in 2002. I have no idea how many text encoding problems I have from various content coming from a few blogging systems, Word documents, and who knows what. I have an eye to doing methodical work to strip all that stuff out and to standardize things that have annoyed me for years—automatically when possible, but almost certainly down in the trenches. Big project. And I guess I don't even know who sees this stuff anyway. You?

The one thing I had to contend with when getting Squarespace is that they don't do email hosting. So I found myself cozying up to Google for their free Google Apps package, the leading feature of which is the email hosting. I botched it the first time and had to drop it for a few days till their hold period expired. But it works great now. And it is free. But it took me into a few previously uncharted waters.

And if that isn't enough, I spent some good time finally putting some good effort into styling the JEM site. I wanted to get out of the box on at least one of these sites. I'm quite happy to have it where it is now. I am just completing the 10th podcast episode. We record them here in the living room and my office space. We have had a few guests on different shows. It keeps me at the business of recording something.

If that isn't enough, I was talking to still two more different non profit organizations about their web presence. Both want new stuff to happen. One is willing to throw some money at something, and the other is running close to the bone and wants to support their thrift store outlet so it can support them. Oddly enough, I find myself pitching Wordpress.com (the free version that WP hosts and manages) for the one with the thrift store. The first might entertain the Squarespace option, and I now know that I can get that happening pretty decently.

And still more! I've been nudging Kelli toward getting a site for her topics of concern in disability minstry, or her perspective on being a woman in ministry. To go with the latter for a moment, I pitched the idea to Kelli and a couple others of her friends who are in similar situations. The idea is to have a group blog called Women Who Speak In Church. Just tonight we signed on with the free Wordpress site. It would be excellent podcast material. The group of them have a great rapport as it is, and there are enough to support a group effort and keep something interesting coming at all times.

Another "we'll see" is that I have made rumblings about doing a site for my church, seeing how this is the 100th anniversary year and I know they have plans to address this. But this is one of those situations that one must walk on eggshells. I already have had one disastrous time making a church site and perhaps cutting in where I didn't belong.

Facebook is a love-hate thing for me. I just never know where to find stuff I already visited. I never know what sort of odd glitch it will throw me. It is from another planet. I hate it. But in order to administer JEM's FB page, I need to keep it on.

Oh... is that all? Good enough for now. Like in 2002, it is back to the computer for the 16-18 hour shifts. Well, maybe not, but it seems like it.

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Reader Comments (2)

I read this.

February 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJD Bomar

Whoa hoa, hoa! JD still blogs the earth?

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