Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thing 24: Refresh Your Blog

I reviewed with interest the Slideshare presentation The 25 Basic Styles of Blogging...and When to Use Each One. I think at one time or another I have done almost every one of those styles of blogging. I can see that to have a single focus for your blog might be more effective if you have a specific thing you wish to accomplish. However, since my blog was begun to experiment with various things as part of the 23 Things on a Stick program, I don't feel obligated to have that single focus. I've blogged regularly since the 23 Things program ended, mostly on things that have caught my fancy or I've found interesting usually two or three times a week.

I spent lots of time looking for another template with which to refresh my blog, but it took looking at the templates in the For the Curious portion of this Thing 24 at Pyzam before I found one that I liked as much as the template I was already using.

My old template was a soft yellow with blue type, a two column look that I liked. The graphics and photos stood out on it and I liked the look overall very much, finding it hard to see anything I liked as well. I found an image from the old template on a social media aggregator that I tried out called Plaxo since I hadn't thought to save a sample image before making the template change.

In order to change my template I read up on how to do so. I found that any elements or gadgets in the sidebar need to be saved separately or they would be lost so I painstakingly saved each and every one of the forty plus gadgets in my sidebar so I could restore them later.It really didn't take as long as I thought it might. I saved them using Windows Wordpad by number so I could replace them in the same order. I backed up my blog according to the instructions in Blogger help and the installed the new template according to the instructions at the Pyzam site. It worked without a hitch. I found that I wanted the area used to be wider than the template allowed as it was, so tinkered with expanding the columns and header and footer until I was satisfied with them. I didn't like the bright orange strip advertising Pyzam at the top of my blog so changed the color to blend with my blog, but left the text so Pyzam still gets the credit for the template. After I was satisfied with the look, I added back the gadgets, and added a weather gadget as well. The only gadget I didn't put back was the countdown to Christmas which I will re-install closer to Christmas when I might want to know that information.

I had a Yahoo avatar with a black cat that I elected to keep, but changed my clothes. I did look at many of the other possibilities, but found none I liked any better. I added some interests to my profile which was already fairly complete.Anyone checking my profile should easily find who I am; I made no attempt to hide my identity.

My blog is registered for the More on a Stick program and listed in the blog roll. I'm late getting to doing the actual blogging about Thing 24, but I did all this in January after helping my assistant do the same thing. It was fun working with someone else when you didn't know what to do or how to do it. Combining experiences allowed us both to accomplish what we wanted to do to change the look of our blogs. Since neither of us knew much about style sheets or html we considered this a real learning experience, not just change for the sake of change.

I do like blogging. It's great for reflection. I also like that I can include in my content things I might wish to refer to again so I can find them easily. It allows me to practice writing and keep those skills I learned to teach to others from getting too rusty, although I do break all kinds of rules. Hey! At least I know I'm breaking them.

I try to read and comment on at least the blogs in my own region since feedback is important to keep them interested. I enjoy finding out more about the people in my region and try to make thoughtful comments and suggestions. I've also found some other blogs in the program that I try to read to get the sense of the program all over the state. Everyone has something to learn and to contribute and I'd like to think that reading and commmenting helps them know that their contributions are noted and appreciated.

Once I found a template that I thought I might enjoy seeing regularly and adjusted it to my liking, I found just one little thing I don't exactly understand about it. Placement of images in the main blog area is not always centered despite that being my default choice when importing images. Since I'm generally otherwise satisfied, I can live with the image placement as it occurs. But one of these days I'm going to spend enough time to figure out why the inconsistent placement of images. I spent probably a couple of hours on researching possible reasons and making fixes suggested, but none of them actually had much effect on the problem. I need to closely examine the template code to see what might be causing it. But it isn't bothersome enough to take any more time to do it at present.