Welcome to TAPKAE.com

"I don't see how anyone would want to read it all for fun." —Robert Fripp

Entries in squarespace (5)

Tuesday
Apr242012

TAPKAE dot com at Ten

Ten years ago, sometime in the late winter/spring, the first complete incarnation of TAPKAE.com went up. Click the link there and you can see a fairly early version, courtesy of the Internet Wayback Machine. (Once at the view of the old TAPKAE.com you can click forward in time to see incremental captures of the site as it has evolved, though there are a few versions that don't appear.)

Picking a domain name was never a point of debate or hand-wringing. What else would have made sense for me in 2001-02 when I was thoroughly embracing my moniker, The Artist Presently Known As Ed? Of course, that is a bit of a drain on memory resources for people (and a bitch to type out), so the shorter form, TAPKAE, was a brilliant and available alternative in just six letters. In those days, the .com top level domain was still quite open, and even today, there aren't many TAPKAEs out there, at least in the English speaking world. Mike Thaxton ("Thax"), a major supporter of my movement into the web, reserved the domain name and got me a hosting plan (100 mb!) that lasted from mid 2001 until early 2004 when I really took the reins and tried new stuff.

I was drawn to all this web stuff because of the value it offered to a self produced recording artist such as I was then. As a guy who employed the studio space to capture various instruments and to record things from start to finish, the chance to craft a whole digital presence was alluring. The notion of standardizing what songs were presented in high quality audio was a major lure; this was the promise of not needing to have to dub a cassette or burn a CD and then shove it into a package. There was a cool distance from all that. Putting a bunch of material out for all to hear seemed a great equalizing device when talking up my tunes and asking people to hear them.

HTML Dark Ages

I went to the Art Institute of California during the year from April 2001—April 2002. TAPKAE.com was developed with the help of things I was learning there. It was actually my second HTML website, the first being a project that focused on the eccentric composer Erik Satie. TAPKAE.com was developed in nearly the same way with some additional bits: javascript menu, pop up windows for detailed pages, and a shopping cart system that cost me more than I ever made in sales. This TAPKAE 1.0 version was pretty complex for a first time out. Totally self indulgent. The menu structure was using drop menus with a couple levels to them. My bio was split over three pages—pretty crazy stuff, and it was only my music related profile. An attempt at an image gallery was arduous.

Without CSS, HTML had therefore not evolved into the rather lean language it is now. Without CSS, the thing was a bear to visually inspect and keep styled consistently. All those bolds? All those italics? One by one, page by page. Without the database-driven active pages we have now in most platforms, each page had to be copied to provide the basis for another, or I'd have to use a template (I never did). It was arduous trying to keep it all together. Deciding to change a header style would be an absurd amount of work, even in Dreamweaver—mainly because I didn't use the site caching for years to come.

In 2002, who really knew what social media was? Mp3.com was one site I used that was starting something a bit like Myspace became. Even the word blog seems to have not been on my ears then. Web 2.0? RSS? Podcast? The Cloud? Facebook? Wordpress? Stuff we take for granted now wasn't around then.

The first time I can think of when I knew I was looking at a blog was in late 2003 or early 2004. It provided me the clarity to know that the days of manually updating HTML and moving front page journal entries to "archive" pages was a hopelessly unnecessary act. Somehow I went in search of new hosting solutions and happened upon Startlogic, which I remained on from early 2004 until early 2011. And BAM! there was the B2 blogger platform ready to install. For a while in 2004-2006, the blog was a separate component that was not integrated into the site. And so it was that I had to essentially style the two separate entities so they looks enough alike.

But what the hell was this .php shit? And how in the world was I supposed to edit things when I could not see the whole page at once? Why were these blog sites so damned complex? I guess it took me a while to learn the part about how sites were leaving plain ol' HTML behind in favor of detailed and consistent styles with databases providing the content. My paltry education at Art Institute was made seemingly more so with the advent of all this new blogging technology. I was in over my head. But blogging was cool because it took care of the old entries.

The thing is, I came into this as a guy with some stories to tell, not as someone out to make money and to connect with other blogs. At various times, I disabled pingbacks, trackbacks, comments, and other things. I just wanted to put my stuff up, and all those extras just got in the way. Meanwhile, I heard about people blogging to make money. Journalists blogging to tell their version of the truth, sans editorial review. The rules had not solidified.

B2 & Wordpress: 2004-2010

After discovering B2, I tried out various other blogging platforms but remained on B2 for a while, and eventually in 2006 landed with Wordpress. And then I decided that Wordpress was mature enough in the late summer of 2006 that I found I could make my entire site within the Wordpress environment. But I always had my problems with Wordpress even though for a number of years it was the tidiest platform of all. While the Wordpress era was structurally more solid, the visual aspect was more limited since I didn't then know how to do a local testing server, so to change the graphic or other CSS related details, I painstakingly edited one thing at a time and resaved and uploaded. I got off Wordpress before I ever did a Dreamweaver local site to test and edit upon. The Wordpress years were a time when the major component was the blog itself, during a period of a lot of transformation.

In some way though, turning off all the social options at the blog gave me a needed period to let the TAPKAE online identity reform under new values. In the early days, I sabotaged things with certain newsgroups and music/recording related forums. The stuff is still out there for the looking, but there is now more stuff that bears my name and more of it is worthy material.

In 2010, after slipping away from publishing much to the web but for blog posts and pages, I found myself drawn toward helping Jubilee Economics Ministries, a small non profit that was in need of new methods to move their message. I had proposed podcasting, not even knowing much about the medium, and then to support that, I found it necessary to reacquaint myself with some things and to plunge into many others. What started as a podcast became a new website for JEM (using Squarespace, which I had just learned about as I was starting to actually learn Wordpress for JEM), and the typical social media accounts, and then organizational things like Google Apps and Mailchimp... It was all exasperating to me, and even more so to the others, who, being folks my parents' age, were blindsided by all the changeup, but grateful since they never would have unpacked it all.

Certainly I can't deny that several years of publishing to the web was handy, but as I have spent a couple years now with JEM and an ever-unfolding map of possibilities, I have read a lot of material about best practices for blogging, search engine optimization, social media, and all that. And sometimes it makes me feel pretty low. In some ways, I seem to have gotten it all wrong. I know that's a bit much to take on and that I'll never master the stuff.

The mind that generated this site probably does not connect with all but about four people out there in web land. My stats are shit at this site. Who but a few friends and curious onlookers are interested in this story? (Craig Z.?) Certainly this is just a labor of love, and a way to keep from seeing my own handwriting! My methods and approaches, a more-is-more kind of expression, is so counter to the prevailing winds of web publishing where blogging is supposed to be pithy and succinct. It's supposed to be nearly mathematically derived to squeeze every ounce of SEO value it can. No long paragraphs. Lists are always winners. Connect with readers and give them a reason to come back. Incentivize. Laser focus on a topic. In 2004, it was the wild west in blogging. I guess I wandered down one dirt road, maybe into a box canyon, while others built a freeway system.

The Squarespace Era: 2010-present

I pay for web hosting with Squarespace now that I moved this site over some months after finding I liked it for JEM. The rate was $240 for the first year, and thanks to a rate change, it's $180 now. It has allowed me a chance to be more visually creative than anything I did in the Wordpress years. I don't have to worry about that sick feeling associated with managing my own database at the MySql level. So I have been willing to pay for that. I've never run an ad here. This is just my channel to tell a story; a labor of love is all this is, a way to help untangle the spaghetti of life. Some people spend that kind of money on their booze or gambling in a few hours. Or in driving their car for fun. Or to go to Disneyland. None of that appeals to me. And, here, about a decade after my first foray into the web, the rate is perhaps twice what I used to pay, or less, but the potential to put up so much content makes all that a moot point.

I like that for once, I've managed to create an online album that reflects a mix of experiences, good and bad, and a mix of media to tell the story. Keeping busy with JEM such as I have, trying to find new things to move that message, I sometimes have to make a conscious effort to take some "me time" here at this site. Never mind there are just a few subscribers (thanks!). Never mind there are no casual users stumbling upon this site and bringing it to Facebook. Certainly there is more that I want to put up. More pictures, more scans, more audio. More video. There is only one of me though, and it happens that I allocate more time to JEM, sensing that promoting or even building this self-indulgent site is not as responsible a thing to do as developing the JEM platform. Last summer, I did plug in a good deal of content here that was never on any previous version of the site. Were it not for the bottleneck of the scanning process, I might have done more. The other bottleneck is that I am a loquacious, captioning freak, and it takes time to narrate things, particularly when a new photo gallery is put up! And since I got this site (and a new camera at about the same time), I've had a lot more photographic material to process. It's easy to get distracted.

Netizenship & Transparency

The web has changed a lot since 2002. I've changed a lot too. When I first got into it and didn't know about netiquette I went overboard and offended people, some of which were in-person relationships too. But overall, I've put that away and tried to become a better netizen. Blogging at least gives me the chance to soapbox in my own space rather than on other sites. And even that has sort of waned for me. The futility of trying to argue a point online is pretty clear. I feel this site got more interesting when I went inside and unpacked this person I've had to deal with all this time. Maybe no one else gives a shit. A few cheer on the sidelines, saying I'm doing something that takes guts. Others cringe. Others slip away nearly unnoticed. And then there are about seven billion others who don't even know this site is here. Sure, it might be a self-indulgent site, but it doesn't mean I am important. But who else will tell the story?

And that brings me to the matter of my approach to sharing information here. Presently I am looking for work, same as I've been doing for a year and more. (Unless I am applying to a web job that might call on certain aspects or technology or aesthetics that demonstrated at this site, I don't usually give away TAPKAE.com or social media links. I use a personal Gmail address.) I know no HR person is going to write me a courtesy note saying that they read a handful of posts on TAPKAE.com and decided to pass me over because they didn't think my family situation was going to lead me to be a good employee. Or that a post said I have struggled with depression. Or Wordpress. (There is some overlap at times.) The fact is, I don't really know how thoroughly I am disqualifying myself from jobs. And I sort of don't care. The places that won't have me won't have me. This site is a tool to help me feel that I know myself. And in the process, I might find that truck driving is not really my calling, and that while it could be an entry into an industry, I don't awaken each day, licking my lips at the prospect of piloting a few tons of steel down streets and alleys. Somewhere along the line, I embraced transparency in the hopes that it would win me more than it lost. Shutting doors to paths that I have no business on should be a better thing than not. I can say I've applied to jobs that I know I'm not interested in, and then it should be no surprise, website or not, that I don't get them.

Nothing is stopping me from making a go at a commercial site, doing things by formula and metrics, and leaving out the personal stuff for the most part. I don't exactly feel I have anything to share that warrants that, but I would like to develop community around JEM and when possible, other orgs or groups that have shared interest. I may or may not ever get that right. It may or may not ever be my thing. Lurking at the edges is TAPKAE.com, where it's okay to get it wrong, to experiment, to be transparent and unpretentious.

Saturday
Aug132011

TAPKAE.com at Ten

I registered the domain name TAPKAE.com on this day ten years ago. 

Maybe I need to give credit to where credit is due. Actually, Mike Thaxton signed me up for TAPKAE.com this day ten years ago, having the kind of enthusiasm and knowledge that finally got me into the digital realm. He started the project of digitizing my life in early 2000 actually. Early on he got me a Hotmail address: tapkae@hotmail.com. (It has lapsed for a few years but I was able to get it back recently just in case anyone sent anything to it.) Not long after that we got into mp3.com the first go around and got really ridiculous with that. I was exposed to Photoshop with Mike's help. He's credited on Receiving as doing some digital audio editing. He got me into Keneally's news group just about this time ten years ago right after I got the G4. Thax definitely paved the way for me to get into all things digital. Brandon helped too in how he shared his machine, letting me use it for hours after he went to bed as long as I promised to lock up on the way out at 5 am! But Thax made it compelling enough to finally want to use a computer.

Around the time of the late summer of 2001, I was wrapping up the CD, and even though the cover has always stuck in my craw as rather lame and removed from my original idea, I just wanted to get it done, since the music was basically in the can for one full year before I sent the materials off to Canada for pressing, and received them back in late October. Mike and I were hatching ways to promote it, and a website was already an unavoidable necessity.

Mike had come out of a hand coding background since editors like Dreamweaver were not yet proven and were rather much the joke to guys like him. So he had me submit text content and ideas for page flow. We never really got a functional site up and running, but he knew he had to get me online. I still have the files of the early sites, but they are rather lame looking by comparison to this brilliant incarnation you see here at the time of this posting (the desert road motif over dark wood, hosted on Squarespace). Mike was what we'd call now a developer, not a designer. I was neither, really. For some time, he scoffed at Dreamweaver, but maybe around 2004, he was using it more. He also was writing Flash scripts and got real work doing such things. I never learned hard core HTML work, but I can edit it. I positively hate Flash and have never done anything using that program that I remained proud of.

Mike got me my first hosting company then too. I think it was called MavWeb. It had a whopping 100mb of space to work with, so I put samples of my tunes up, and during the winter-spring of 2002 while I was Art Institute of CA, I made the first live draft of my site, all HTML and a borrowed javascript menu that was really picky to get right, but that contained my stuff nicely. It was the first of many boxy looking sites that I have to confess I rarely got away from. It was the basic site that served me for about two years until I made the first big jump out of the Thax setup into something new—hosted with Startlogic (lasted until early this year), including, B2 blogging, and started a rather restless attempt at designs variously using frames, iframes, minimal design, and a radically cut back amount of content as my life was in a period of reinvention. Then in 2006, I embraced Wordpress for a little more than four years, basing the entire site on WP's blog and fixed pages. The Wordpress years though were rather light on design adventure since I never really had an easy time understanding PHP and Dreamweaver had not yet embraced Wordpress theme editing like it does now in CS5.

I really have no idea on exactly how many versions of the site have been posted, but let's make a list for fun.

  • Thax attempt with the spin-the-arrow menu with goofy icons that roughly indicated where you'd go. I later learned that was called "mystery meat."
  • Another Thax idea with a blue field and white icons that amounted to more mystery meat. All the more so because one icon was a piggy.
  • Brief, late 2001/early 2002 shift to a promo site done in Dreamweaver. Deep red and black primarily with a blurb for Receiving.
  • A light blue site done for school that was about Erik Satie, showing a bit more graphic adventure, and the first of the basic, five page HTML sites I'd do more of.
  • TAPKAE.com's first "real" site, the parchment colored one with the purple ribbed tile pattern and always a shifting header image of me and some instrument, or my face or something abstract. Constantly evolving within that theme for about two years. Was quite large and unwieldy with lots of popup windows for song lyrics and individual pictures. Included a shopping cart for Receiving that I think cost me more to start up and maintain than I got in sales. Poo! My blog, such as it was, was a monthly entry on the front page that I manually copied and pasted to another page when the time came to update. Was intrigued by this thing called a blog that did that work automatically. Hmm?
  • The big jump to Startlogic and B2 Blogger in 2004 brought a dual identity for a while. A blog was distinctly different than an HTML site for me, so they were linked and attempts made at color coordinating but otherwise not related. I don't seem to have a record of what the 2004 site looked like early on.
  • Ditched the 2002-4 version and tried a far simpler olive colored, four page site based on frames, mainly for experimentation's sake but also because I was finding it time to reinvent myself, and the big self indulgent site was a dinosaur to me.
  • Late 2004 had an iframe site that was mainly black and white with a gray-blue content window and minimal content on about six pages. Was a nice idea but would have been nicer if all the content fit in the window and didn't scroll out of view.
  • Early 2005 I went to all black and gold text. It looked rather royal. Styled the blog and main site in similar fashion. Content slowly reappearing in a more concise form. Blogging outrageously much. You can still see that 2004-2005 are the biggest tags in my tag cloud even now!
  • Then I swung from black to white and stripped it bare again, this time to a quite narrow text area and just a few pages of pix and tunes and not much else. Most of my attention was on the blog and during the body of 2005, launching EONSNOW.org which itself was a rather charming piece of visual material, at least for me.
  • The narrow, white site lingered into 2006 and eventually provided the basis of the Wordpress site. I came at whatever version they had in summer 2006, and it was still in the dark ages, really. But it gave me fixed pages, so I got with it and put all my site into the Wordpress basket and therein ditched the parallel blog/HTML approach that had defined the last two years' presentation.
  • The Wordpress era lasted until early 2011, and didn't vary much from their default template which I did slowly adapt in what seemed to be an agonizingly painful way because I didn't know how to see the entire site at once in an editor. But I did figure out how to edit the masthead and text styling, and that was adequate since I was losing my patience for digital life and was just interested in writing. The site was essentially a white site with a very minimal blue and gray and black features with occasional exceptions of colorful material. I found that updating Wordpress and maintaining the database was an exercise in self torture and digital slaughter (or so it seemed). My host, Startlogic, was not accountable for Wordpress, and Wordpress community did not answer to me for the matters concerning Startlogic. So sometimes I felt really sick to my stomach. I don't know why WP can't just do one button backups instead of making people go to their MySql backend. I dreaded update time. I lost categories along the way, and did not get them back until I manually created them on Squarespace and visually inspected EVERY post—all 550 of them, tagging and categorizing them all one by one.
  • Then in January 2011, I got on Squarespace after a few months of managing JEM's site there. It's a paid service and one that lets me worry only about adding and editing content and less so about managing the database. I pay for that to be taken care of now! I have finally found a great platform that can take all the content I can throw at it and arrange it sensibly in galleries with a lightbox view, blog, social media and RSS feed widgets, HTML pages, and more. And the ability to spontaneously style it has freed me to experiment and backtrack, and to revamp the entire site a couple times as I sought a style that actually echoed my sensibility and experience in life. Also, since Squarespace could handle anything I can throw at it, I decided to plunge ahead with filling it up with previously unreleased writings that I mainly inserted into the appropriate space in the blog chronology. Pictures from childhood and from trips with Kelli, scans of documents, and whole CD projects that were otherwise languishing in my closet and archive bins have had their chance to be seen and heard. The ability to caption all those documents is rather like my earliest experiments with photo albums where I did essentially the same thing on paper which was inserted into plastic sleeves. This desert motif is made of original images from my desert travels to New Mexico and Death Valley. This theme is easily the most visually exciting of all that I have done, and the best one to get me out of the box that always seemed to define my layouts.

Over a decade I have loved and hated this site. When faced with frightening brushes with MySql database issues, I was ready to just delete it all and go off and cry a while before doing I don't know what with my fist or a blunt object. But somehow nearly ten years of writing has survived and this year I did a job of proofreading it at least to fix the woefully bad stuff and some punctuation that I never seemed to get right in the early days. I straightened out some lumpy knots in sentences and did the work of tagging and categorizing and adding pictures to add some extra depth to posts. The whole thing is meant to convey a story now, as I have also been honing my human side in parallel to the digital work, and since I am paying a pretty penny for hosting that lets me make a cool site, it makes sense to get something out of it, particularly since 2011 has been a very unemployed year. I really see TAPKAE.com now as a complete thing that puts in digital form a sampling of what my life has looked like across a wider swath of time and space. There are things up here that I have in some ways been of mixed mind about, but decided, rather like the Jews who compiled their bible, what we call the Old Testament, to leave in the thorny and complicated parts in the interest of completeness. I have made some changes, but not to redact the embarassing parts out of existence. A few dumb posts got dropped, but the ones that chart my thoughts and feelings, charitable and otherwise, are left standing.

In a lot of ways this site became something so vastly unlike anything I ever imagined. Nothing like Thax and I were dreaming up a decade ago. But the same is true of my own self.

 

Friday
Feb042011

TAPKAE.com Mk lll

I have been in a feverish spell of working on this site this last month or so. The previous post was a good introduction to what is going on here. At the time of this writing I have manually combed all but two years' worth of my posts, with an overall tally of about 555 posts over nearly nine years. It has been almost round-the-clock work to copy and paste into a program called TextWrangler, and to eradicate all types of nasties that have been partly my "style" and partly the work of translations from one blog platform to another. It is mind boggling how many elipsis points I used all these years. Oy! Lots of replacing double line breaks with paragraph tags. Oh, what fun. Not!

Today I spent some time away from the database part of things, and styled the page all over again. I also finally pointed the domain to this content, now I am done with Startlogic and Wordpress and exclusively on Squarespace. Since Squarespace allows for us restless tinkerers to restlessly tinker, I fully expect things to change around, but I do enjoy the freedom to explore and swap things out in a way that I didn't really do with Wordpress. Part of what I want to do is make it a more visually rich place. I am tired of the white page I had for years, and finally have a system that makes it fun to experiment.

I still have to sit with the thought that maybe no one reads this or no one gives a damn. For a while there I was writing some real personal stuff and I actually changed the settings so the site wasn't searchable by robots. That was also a time that I found all my music grabbed by countless free podcasting music sites. At first it was quite shocking. Now, for whatever reason, I plan to open it up again to such readers so that it isn't a $240/year money sink with little chance of being encountered outside of my circle of buddies.The last year has been a time of reconsidering my life on the web, and for better or for worse, I dare put more of it up.

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.

Friday
Sep242010

Facing the Book

Dammit, I am getting drawn into the world of Facebook. Oy! Between JEM and the young adults group at church, I've had to face the business of FB being the de facto tool for making things known today. I find it rather confusing, really. I mean, the wall, the profile, the additional page for JEM, or groups, etc. I prefer to know when I am clearly in "my" space, or in JEM's or in the YA world, but I swear, the lines are rather blurred in how things interact with my own account.

I have found it a bit more suitable for the short form stuff that comes to mind, but as you know, I don't do short form much. Not here anyway. Not on TAPKAE.com! I do reckon more people will stumble past the FB site than this site. Kind of a bummer because this has been the center of my work for a long time now—nine years on TAPKAE.com. Now that I got the JEM site happening on the SquareSpace platform, I am getting really restless with TAPKAE.com, notably so with the sluggishness that must be a problem of web hosting. I don't know for sure, but on the JEM site, the thing is pretty quick both as user and as author (all the site editing work is done in browser interfaces). I am entertaining jumping ship from my host that I have had for over six years now. But SS is rather expensive and don't have email hosting, maybe necessitating Google Apps or some other hosting. So...

My main task as a web author at any level, at this time in life, is to try not to be subsumed into the technology. I still prefer the in-person contacts that have been a defining element of relationships at church. My own history with digital communication has been a rocky one, so it is timidly that I embrace using it for keeping connected with people who I have been close to in person. Part of it is the usual stuff like the lack of body language and such nuanced expression, but frankly, FB is more convenient than getting dressed and riding off to see someone in person. But I noticed immediately that FB also made me feel like a voyeur as I looked at the lives of people who I knew in person, but apparently in a limited way! The surprise at that is something you can bargain for with people from your party/school/rock band past, but it does feel odd when they're people from church! Also, the real clipped form of FB communication is handy for planning or collaborating, but not for saying anything of any real worth. So I still long for in-person contact, even as it takes more time and effort. But I have to admit to being drawn in to the whole digital scene this summer. I shall strive for some more balance now that that hot few months of new computer/new JEM site (in two main builds)/Kunstler site/podcasting/new audio setup has all subsided into something manageable.