Monday, July 30, 2012

Making Favicon Display in Blogger

I did it! I made the big, orange "B" go away. I made my Favicon display in Blogger. I'm not sure who to thank for this, because in clearing my cache and history, I ~ well, cleared my cache and history. The irritating thing is, I kept having to look this thing up over and over ~ there seemed to be a step to the "fix" that I couldn't remember. I had my Favicon showing in three different blogs, on my main website, and on a couple of less important sub-sites. Still, every time I opened a new Blogger blog, there came the orange "B," and it wouldn't go away. Nearly every site said, "Use Blogger-in-Draft Favicon tool!" Well, I did that, obviously. That's an easy one to catch. I also tried some of the more tech-y ones ~ going into my template and adding a line of code here, there ~ wherever the tech said to put it. Adding the favicon was the easy part. Getting it to display when I visited my site ~ THAT was the impossible thing. Here's the combo that worked for me: I cleared my cache, cookies, history, browsing history ~ everything Firefox allowed except for "site preferences." Then (without visiting blogger and letting that infuriating orange "B" back on my screen) I manually added my blog URL to my Firefox Bookmarks toolbar. I clicked on the bookmark, went to my site, and voila! "B"-less it was! Now my nice little fossil-fish Favicon is displayed nicely as a bookmark and on the browser tab. Now, I don't know if it'll go away should I delete the bookmark. I don't think so, because I have a couple of un-bookmarked blogs that display the Favicon quite nicely. There you go, and many thanks to the blogger ~ whoever she was ~ who told me to "favorite" my blog in I.E. (haven't tried it in I.E., but whatever I did worked in Firefox).

Yahoo Curves and FTP Woes

Yahoo just threw us a curve. Seems they are moving to FTPS. All current hosting accounts must buy, beg, or borrow a third-party tool for uploading files. They pointed us at Filezilla and others. I took a look at Filezilla. Shudder, shudder... another tech nightmare. I'll probably go with CuteFTP again. You know... "the devil you know," &c. It'll have to be CuteFTP Pro, because "Lite" and "Home" don't seem to offer FTPS. I did have a foolish, cheap-skate moment when I considered dragging out my old disk to see if I could save a penny by loading my old 2.x version and then upgrading. Actually, I did drag out my old disk, circa 1999. It sure was funny to see that old, old Yahoo email page. I was registered under a now-defunct email address, through a now-defunct company. Wasn't using Southern Muse's email yet because ~ well, duh! I didn't have it yet. That was Muse's starting point. That's why I bought the FTP. Turns out, the disk didn't include the actual program, just a registration number. On the other hand, Globalscape did have links on their site for downloading old versions ~ which was uptown of them, I think. I mused upon the idea of downloading 2.x and then upgrading ~ but decided that some cheap is too cheap. It might open me up for no telling what security risk. I did some research on forums. The gist of the advice (what I could understand of it) was that CuteFTP would probably only upgrade to about x? versions ago, then would go no further. I'd end up having to buy the new version anyhow. So, Yahoo, I'll have to lay out some cash. Ya-a-a-HOO! Ummm, I guess it'll be more secure. But why give us so little time to transition?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tumblr and Yahoo

Tumblr is turning out to be a good thing. I love it that I can blog on Tumblr and feed clean text updates to my Southern Muse pages. Wow, automatic updates to Southern Muse ~ something I've craved for years! I could've used Southern Muse Journal, my blog, but Blogger labels on post pages don't do as well as static pages with changing content. (With Tumblr, you can't even tell it's a feed!) Formatting is less than perfect, but it isn't horrible. I've done two blogs on Tumblr. One is a frivolous, fun site; the other is a genealogy blog, and I can see that it's going to get lots of wear. I'm going to kill two birds with one stone: clean out my computer and share lots of bits, pieces, photos, and scraps of genealogy that I've collected for 25 years. Yahoo (host for Southern Muse) may have a way to do clean feeds like Tumblr, but if so, it requires more knowledge and technical expertise than I have.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Weebly Hosting

I've tried several hosts now. So far, Weebly gets my prize for ease of use and quality of tools available. Now, if you've read any of my posts, you'll know that 'ease of use' is a biggie with me. Don't make me learn algebra, folks. I'm just sick of it. HTML basics are bearable, but anything beyond that... algebra! Now, Weebly has let me build two full-featured sites and put my own domain on them... FREE! So far, I'm sold. I do want another site, a Favicon, and a couple of other things I can't do without premium ~ so I'm all set to buy into their plan. It's pretty reasonable. They seem to have the hobbyist and small-business person in mind. I was able to use my own photos and graphics, which meant I could wipe out those generic templates (which, by the way, weren't so bad ~ not nearly as icky-slick as most). I was sorely tempted to use one of their template images. Yes, even as Graphics-Control-Freakish as I am, I liked that photo of the path leading into an autumn park. Nice! Now, the techies among you might not like Weebly. Neither will the HTML purists. (I tried to be one. I just failed miserably. Besides, W3C kept raising the bar, dangling that carrot, dropping that anvil on my head... ummm, well, you get the picture.) Granted, I have relaxed some of my rigid requirements for web pages. I want my own layouts, but... finally, I've accepted that perfect layouts are not requisite. They're iffy anyhow, since people will use different devices. Weebly has some nice, tight layouts to offer. I can't be sure they'll dish up right on every device; but then, neither does my old site. Weebly's WYSIWYG editor is so much better than the others I've tried. It's built around drag-and-drop widgets that fit nicely into place. It's a little sticky to use ~ but whose isn't? I had fewer problems than with any other. Their DNS tutorials actually make sense. Weebly's GoDaddy-specific tutorial did make better sense before GoDaddy went to such great lengths to hide their DNS Zone Editor; but if you ever do find GoDaddy's Zone Editor, it looks exactly like the screen shots that Weebly provides.

I did say that I might try GoDaddy as a host. I just can't bring myself to do it. Their hosting plan is more expensive than Weebly's, and the 'free' tools they have for site building are extremely limited. My biggest fear? What if I 'buy in,' and find that their paid site editor is as limited as their stinky free editor? I can see why GoDaddy wouldn't want to give you a fully functional site for free (though Weebly pretty much does give you that). GoDaddy's afraid they wouldn't sell any hosting plans. My advice to GD: you'll catch more flies with honey, folks. If you can't provide a real, fully functional free site, at least provide a site builder that lets me build one for testing. Well, maybe they did. Maybe that slick business card with no place to even put an 'Enter' button is all their editor is capable of. I shudder to think...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We Own the Web...

For non-techies, the WYSIWYG editors gave us a ray of hope. I found out right away that SiteBuilder and similar tools were sticky and complicated. They were easy to break. Once broken, they weren't always easy to fix. Yahoo used SiteBuilder (I think). Sometimes, what I saw wasn't what I got. There'd be big gaps between sections, maybe. (I was still hung up on the idea of designing a tight, but clean, "layout.") Not only was "what I saw" not what I got, but what I saw wasn't what other people got, either. My site still looked way different on different machines. This about drove me crazy. It wasn't that every little aspect of it had to be the same. Little tiny style differences wouldn't kill me. They might keep me awake at night, and thus shorten my life, but they wouldn't kill me. What bothered me was that my site varied a good bit from one machine to the other. Sometimes it just looked horrible. I went back to HTML right away, but it was never satisfactory. Tables were the only way I could control margins, and yet w3c and others were screaming, "Don't use tables! Tables are not meant for layout!" I didn't even understand what they meant, back then. I mean, everybody was using tables for layout. If they weren't for layout, what the heck were they for? (Oh, like scientific tables? Elemental tables? Geological tables? That kinda thing? Bor-r-r-ing!) Anyway, I couldn't understand how all these other sites managed nice, clean, brochure-or-book-like pages, but I couldn't do it. And meanwhile, all the tech gurus out there were warning me not to use WYSIWYG, not to try to control style, not to create any broken code. I mean, essentially, they were saying, "Shut up and go away. You don't belong on the Web, and you don't have a right to say or design anything. We are the techs and we own the Web!"

Easy? Or just another cPanel in Disguise?

Seeing that everybody and their mother seems to have a website, I figured it must have gotten easier after all these years. Silly me. I've discovered that all these sites are built the same way: Glossy, slick, classic, or downright ugly front page, with cPanel under the hood. When Amateurs like myself got into the site-building game, companies had to make it look easier to make a web page (not that they actually did make it easier). Back in the day, I wondered how webmasters built sites that let other users share space, or even buy in. I was both envious and hopeful. For awhile there, I thought it just couldn't be done unless a person could write copious amounts of code, all on their own. I began to suspect otherwise. I've read enough now to know that lots of cheap hosts are just resellers who put their own spin on a webpage, while utilizing their papa host's cPanel. I don't know if you'd call them SpinOffs or Para-Sites. What I mean is, they buy a hosting plan with, say, ComplexHost, set up a home page entitled "EasyHost," and give you links to a fraction of the tools that ComplexHost offers. This could be an okay thing. As a beginner, you may not need, or know how to use, all that stuff that ComplexHost has to offer. The downside is that you're paying about as much for EasyHost as you would for the other, yet getting half the tools. Even worse, you may just be paying to look at EasyHost's front page. Once hooked, you might find yourself right back under the hood, in cPanel, wondering which monkey wrench to use.

GoDaddy's Instant Page Changed My IP?

It strikes me as ironic that I made the same mistake again, after all these years. I did just what I said I'd never do: bought names from one provider, and bought hosting from another. I did it because that's what everybody said to do. Of course, most of the people saying that are these SEO-minded, get-rich-quick schemers who want to park a bunch of ads. Buy lots of domains! they say. Buy them on GoDaddy and host them elsewhere! Nothing wrong with that, if you know what you're doing. Obviously, I'm one of those people who don't; and there are many, many like me, for I found literally hundreds of me, my Doppelgangers, crying like week-old noobs on numerous forums: Wah! GoDaddy hijacked my domain. I can't move my site. Wah, wah, wah! It's not that simple. GoDaddy gives you that old, familiar, ugly cPanel, all defaulted to workable IPs. They leave it entirely up to you to mess with their default IPs at your own risk. They provide lots of tutorials. And other hosts (Weebly, Google) give you tutorials telling you how to redirect from GoDaddy. But since GoDaddy's whole site seems to be in the process of redesigning itself to suit people like me (tech illiterates) half of the instructions in their tutorials (and in everyone else's tutorials) tell you to click on .... some button that doesn't exist. I've spent a lot of time on their site trying to find the Google Webmasters Tools icon, the Webhosting button, the Whatever thingy. Those things have migrated. GoDaddy's entire site is now devoted to selling cheap hosting plans along with cheap domain names. I *think* that might be why it's so hard to find the button you're looking for ~ they're not going to make it easy for you to click on "Somebody Else" as a host.

For the record (and it could change tomorrow, so do some massive searching before you plug in any IP from Clueless, here) these were the IP numbers that were used for my A Record on GoDaddy:

Default (GoDaddy Shared Servers): 64.202.189.170
InstantPage Server: 97.74.42.79

I haven't a clue as to whether those are good, bad, or indifferent. I still don't know whether the problem had to do with shared servers, or just my redirecting after the fact. I suspect it was the latter. I probably just did things in the wrong order. If I had it to do over again, and if I were going to have one registrar and another host, I wouldn't do it with the same domain. I'd use something like "mydomain.org" for my static page and I'd build my site on a different, but slightly similar name (not a sub-domain): say, "mydomain.com" or "my2nddomain.org." Yep, that's what I'd do. Hindsight ~ what a concept!

InstantPage Server vs GoDaddy Server

InstantPage is on its own server, you see. At least, it's on a different server than the shared server on GoDaddy. I think that many people on many different forums broached this subject: some of them ranting, some of them whining, and some sounding resigned. The problem is, I just didn't "get" what they were saying. I do now. (Nothing like experience...) That's probably of very little importance if you go that route from the beginning: build your site on GoDaddy using InstantPage. That has its own drawbacks, I'm sure, and it would be just as much a problem if you did that and tried to change later. Anyhow, GoDaddy kind of lures you into buying multiple domain names. "Lure" has negative connotations. I mean, they are giving you a bargain, and you do get what you pay for: domain names. It's like buying a handful of sticky file labels with your file names on them. Now you've got to find a place to put them. That's gonna cost ya. It will cost in time, money, and heartache. You have a handful of labels. You don't have a file folder to put them on. You don't even know where the file cabinet is.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

InstantPage and Redirect Error

InstantPage wasn't quite instant, mainly due to browser interference, as I said. In the end, I did manage a quite pretty, simple site, with a big photo background, a widget showing the title, and a navigation menu. It seems to be a requirement that the only text on the front page is the title and description. I don't think there's anyway to put a link or blurb right there on the front page. Fine! I was as tired of those one-button pages that say "Enter" as GoDaddy must be. Still, that was my original intent, though I had planned on something more creative than "Enter Site." My workaround was to include a motto or blurb in my photo, though I will be at the mercy of browsers which resize the window and maybe smash the widget on top of my "text." Those were the problems with the wash and wax. It was the mayhem going on under the hood that caused my next problem. I didn't know it, but when I clicked on the InstantPage link, it changed an A record. I didn't know this until I went back to the "main" page I'd built at Blogger. Now, this might have been obvious to someone in the know, that you can't have a static page at GoDaddy and link subdomains of the same site to a hosted page at, say, Blogger. I didn't think so either, but their phone tech had assured me that building a front page with InstantPage would not affect the site I'd already built at Blogger and planned to link to it. My thinking was that I could get rid of the ad-covered landing page that GoDaddy placed as the parking page of my second-level domain (mydomain.com) when I'd registered my domain name. I had already redirected my "www" sub-domain to Blogger. I thought perhaps I could use GoDaddy's starter page to put an entry page at http://mydomain.com. Well, the tech said I could [*mystified*]. (Do I sound like Tom Hank's mama in Apollo 13? Was that movie before you were born?) Now maybe this would have worked if I had not already redirected my subdomain to Google Blogger, pointing the 'www' at my blog.

GoDaddy's InstantPage Thingy

So much for praising GoDaddy. It looked easy there, for a second. Silly me. GoDaddy has a starter page for each domain that they sell. It's all part of the trend of making registrar and host sites look simple and navigable to newbies and tech-impaired, while serving up adequate complexity under the hood to the techies among us. (It think we all know where I belong in that mix). The starter page can barely be said to "start" your site. It's a business card. The background is customizable and can be a photo background. The site does allow for several pages, so that's good. The page editor on that InstantPage® tool is pretty limited, but it could work. It was a problematic to use, with interference from the browser. One browser (Firefox) blocked access to the FTP, I guess. I couldn't upload a photo. The error was generic ~ unknown or unspecified. Thinking it was something I'd done, I spent several hours tweaking and re-editing photos, trying different formats, getting rid of transparency, compressing and checking file size, and changing the dimensions. Finally I opened a support ticket. (I'm not a support-ticket kind of girl, I usually avoid those things). Meanwhile, it did occur to me to try a new browser. I tried Internet Explorer. IE! Oh, groan, groan. The next few hours were dismal, dismal. IE did let me upload a photo, but it returned an ugly security error on every page, growling at me with each one. Och! That horrible growl. I continued in IE ~ I don't know why. A better course of action would have been to save the photo in IE, close the browser, and go back to Firefox. (Well, I'm sure you techies would say, a better course of action would be to install Linux!) I finally got the page saved, but then came the next horror: a DNS redirect error. It's tied to that InstantPage® thingy, so don't go away...

Friday, July 13, 2012

GoDaddy, Weebly, Blogger, Tumblr (Comparing)

I had a good post planned, but due to an exasperating number of petty pet peeves that happened to me yesterday and today, it went straight out of my head. Since I'm here, I'll give the latest update to my right-brain attack on the left-brain, algebraic world of creating a web page. Everybody said, go to Tumblr, kids are lovin' it, yah, yah, yah. So, I set up a silly little fun blog at Tumblr. I'm likin' it okay and thinking it does have possibilities. But Tumblr leaves it up to you to figure out how to edit those standard templates. No help there. Naturally, they want to sell their $50 premium templates, but I'd still be in the same boat, not knowing how to tweak the code without breaking it. Gotta tweak that code, mercy! 'Cuz if I can't make it "my" website, why bother? But, I'm having fun with the Tumblr blog (Vesta Higginbottom, in case you're just dying for it; no link, I'm not overtly plugging). Meanwhile, I've got a simple site up on Weebly, and certainly am not unhappy with it. It's limited, yes... but easy as pie. Now, I'm looking into GoDaddy, to which everyone says, "No! No! No!" Here's what I've learned so far. Phone-tech support was actually quick, polite and helpful ~ quite unlike what all the forums had warned. I also found that, contrary to the warnings being shouted by megaphonish bloggers, GoDaddy's DNS zone editor is not really a bear-trap. It just feels like it at times. My skeletal site, registered at GoDaddy but hosted elsewhere, is not chained to a block wall in some bleak dungeon, but is proudly displayed to the world at large. Yes, their ad-covered parking page, or landing page, was hard to get rid of; but that's because I didn't really know how to get rid of it. I had to be stepped through the process. Here's the deal: there are so many, many things to do and places to navigate on GoDaddy (and on every registrar, it seems), it is just confusing. Can't be otherwise, I guess. Sometimes I get maddening glimpses of a GoDaddy interface or intro page with "Launch" buttons, that looks easy and straightforward. But then I never can find it again. Dang their navigation! Ah well, what else is new? I did manage to set up email (MX-whatever); change my A-name and C-name records; set up a quick entry page with Website Tonight/Instant Page (albeit with a couple of glitches). True, I had to read a blue-million tutorials to get that done. I understand that GoDaddy's home page has to be navigable to geeks and newbies alike, but maybe they could stick a big, red "Easy" button up there for newbs, let them skip the GoDaddy Encyclopedia. I'm still open to the idea of GD hosting. I will say this. Once you identify and find the right GoDaddy tutorial for your needs, it is pretty easy to read. I have not yet tried their paid hosting. If I do, I'll start by sticking my little toe in the water... just some itty, bitty, not-too-important domain. Maybe buy in for six months or a year. Hard to say. Of all the hosts so far, Weebly has been the easiest. I'm still loving Blogger ~ just wish they'd give me a static page to go with it. Between the three (GoDaddy, Weebly, and Blogger), I've managed some fairly complex-looking sites. But I still haven't found that magic bullet...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Devil and the DNS

Yesterday. Sigh. Where shall I begin? True to type, I waited till the last minute to check into the verity of the DNS-Changer virus (2012's equivalent of the Y2K thingy). I'd had the fear tucked away, a faint glimmer at the back of my mind, waiting for its chance to wend its way into the actively working part of my brain. But it had a long line of more pressing thoughts in front of it, so it patiently waited, passive thing that it was. Now, I know what you're thinking: "You got hit by DNS, neener, neener, neen-er!" But you're wrong. I assumed I would, and the DNS is the devil if it's not working properly. By the time I came around to trusting that the DNS-ok site wasn't, itself, a scam, and went there ~ the site had already shut down. But it didn't matter, for if the DNS devil had struck, it'd be too late for me, and I'd just be fried. Time for a new PC anyhow.

Now, also true to type, my main brain was focused on bigger things. Me and my tunnel vision (my TV and I) were focused on site building. I typed on till midnight. I was hard at work building a blog, organizing its pages, linking my sub-domains, structuring the links, and, yes, writing the posts; for I am known as a multi-tasker. It won't do for me to go about a thing the simple way. Gotta be complicated. Now, with half-a-dozen open web pages, including Blogger's builder, several files, and Notepad (three unsaved bits of a post, well-written, I thought) ~ the last thing I needed was an old-fashioned power outage. But, there you go. Right in the middle of my intense concentration and type-o-rama (my fingers were flying) ~ CLAP! The screen went black. While I was page building, a storm had been building outside, and our nearby power line was the recipient of its wrath. (Dang the dang pine beetles, there's hardly a tree left standing on the mountain. The only thing holding them up is our power lines). I find it highly ironic that I was by-passed by the DNS devil, only to be humbled by an old-timey, Huckleberry Finn, wrath-of-God thunderstorm. So, I felt my way downstairs in the dark. One consolation: I found it rather gratifying, in a hot-chocolate-and-midnight-feast kind of way, to tuck myself up in a cotton blanket, point a flashlight at a paper page, and proceed to indulge in an old-fashioned, tea-and-crumpets, Miss Marple mystery. Some things never change.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hold That Thought

Ummmm, hold that thought.

http://www.wikihow.com/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Nerds-and-Geeks

http://southernmuse.com/temppages/permalink-amaya-example.html

Okay, the parallel between these two pages (above) should be self-explanatory. But it probably won't be (since my thinking seems to be unique); so...

That first article just tickled my funny bone ~ but it was also unexpected. The author of it did seem to consider the question with some seriousness. The second page (which I'd finished just a couple of seconds before finding the first) was the working scratchpad of my attempt to design a page using Amaya, as well as my attempt to explain the experience of using Amaya to design a page. I found the first while searching for more information about the subject of the second (how to use Amaya).

The very sad thing is that, when I uploaded my page on Amaya, I discovered that I had, indeed, already completed another page using that page editor ~ and only two weeks ago. What does that say about my memory? Well, I knew I'd played with the editor. I just didn't recall making a finished page.

It's nearly 4 a.m., and this won't make sense to anybody but me.


C'est la vie.