Thursday, August 30, 2012

Red Ball ~ Up and Running!


Now that I had mastered the art of the little red ball, you'd better believe I had Bugbones covered in 'em. (Bugbones, remember? That was my first site. Well, second, if you count that short-lived 'forum' I tried). I had links, and I had red balls up and running. I was up there with the best of them. Here and there in Bugbones, and sometimes on Southern Muse, I still find vestiges of that redball gif.

Placing the Red Ball Gif

Oh, Lord. If making the red ball gif took six months off of my life, I hate to think what placing the red ball gif did to me. Cracking the "img" code was like deciphering the Rosetta Stone, or so I thought. (I hadn't got to tables, yet). "Img align left," "img align center," "img align middle" "text align left"... the answer had to be in there somewhere. Was it image placement and text alignment that forced me to finally give in and order one of those "dummy" books? I don't recall. I did learn that if I didn't want my red balls floating a good two or three inches away from my centered text line, I had to master the art of tables. Tables, just so I could place my little red balls. And mentally butting heads with left brainers who wanted Internet to go back to being just plain text. I sometimes wonder if they weren't right.

Red Ball Gif

Asides aside (why do I feel like Tristram Shandy?) I am trying to get back to my original purpose, which is a history of my interaction with this thing called Internet. I left off about a year ago, in August 2011, just about the time I had documented my long-ago creation of the Southern Muse blue-banner logo. But even before the logo, I left off bemoaning my trials and travails as I begot my red-ball gif. How many hours of my life did I give over to the creation of that redball gif? Two shareware art programs, in addition to the standard Paintbrush that came with Windows... Call me nothing, if not determined. In the end, I had my red ball gif. It wasn't bright, it wasn't garish, it wasn't swiped from another web page. It was a nice, soft red, of my own making. Now came my comical attempts to place the red ball gif. I mean, it wasn't enough to have a red ball. I didn't want them floating around arbitrarily. Red balls had to be out beside the links. That was a law of the 1990s. I think I read that somewhere. Okay, maybe it wasn't a law, per se. But I do recall an article that said that the red ball was to the '90s as the smiley face was to the '70s. All my hard work for a cliché.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oh no, Google...

Didn't take long to see what the downside of Google would be, after CEO changes. An ugly pop-up ad on that nice, beautiful, clean, white Google Search screen...  :-(

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Distractions, Diversions, and the State of Being Sidetracked

Somewhere along the line, I got side-tracked from my original purpose of starting this blog. Well, I had dual purposes, but one of them really was to create and maintain a history of my adventures in computing. It was to be a personal history of the Internet, from an amateur user's perspective; not technical, not particularly useful to the world at large. Just a place for me to puzzle and vent and ferret out the whats, whys, and whens of my own entry into web publishing and my experiences and challenges in learning about the Internet. In a way, it's the only real 'blog' among my blogs, as it is intended to be a web 'log.' I made a pretty good effort, there at the beginning, to backtrack and figure out exactly when I got my first email address, when I created my first free site, when I bought my domain name, and when I started Southern Muse. It wasn't all that easy, but it was doable. Following the paper and ion trail was kinda fun, really. It did get complicated. I'd write a post and then recall, 'now wait a minute ~ before I did this, I must have done that.' And 'that' would turn out to be a doozie of a side track, a veritable book to be written. Procrastination is my byword, so... at some point, I just started writing history on the fly, keeping a log of what's going on now. That doesn't mean I'm not going back to finish what I started. I still have to tell about the forum. I still have to tell about the big betrayal ~ the day that About.com dumped our forum. That was the whole point. It's therapy.

Southern Muse: the Prospect of Moving a Site

Now it might seem, in my posting about Marissa Mayer and Yahoo, that I had some driving interest in keeping up with the CEOs of Silicon Valley. Although I sometimes recognize their names when I hear them, I couldn't tell you which is which, usually. I have to do a quick look-up to make sure that Steve Jobs and Apple are practically synonymous and that there was another Steve, too (Wozniak). Bill Gates/Microsoft ~ that one, I can remember (though often with distaste). Don't get me wrong ~ it's interesting. I just don't keep up. My only reason for searching Mayer was the most selfish motive of all: Will Yahoo, as we know it, continue to exist? Will they keep Y! webhosting alive, or will it go the way of GeoCities? Will I have to move Southern Muse? See, I told you it was selfish. Now, I probably don't have three faithful readers at Southern Muse. Even my old friends and family sometimes say, "Oh, you have a website?!" (This after ten-plus years). Well, maybe I exaggerate. Most of my family are familiar with my site. But I try not to SPAM people about it. Sure, I have a few readers ~ or, at least a handful of people who hit the surface and bounce off like a flat rock skipping across a pond. So, why I insist upon keeping the site, and worry about maybe having to move it ~ go figure. I've invested some years and some dollars in creating it and maintaining it. In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say. It's the hobby (or vice) that took over my life, to the detriment of all other hobbies and passions. Ever a challenge, it still needs work. But, for what it's worth, I am proud of it, and I do want to keep it. With luck and prayer, I can keep it at Yahoo. I'd sure hate to have to move it. The idea of it makes me shudder...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Of Marissa Mayer and Yahoo and Google

Reading of Yahoo and the potential acquisitions that new CEO Marissa Mayer may make, I begin to hope that Yahoo may perk up and yodel again. Yahoo is one of my old favorites, and besides, I'd probably let my long-held Y-hosted site die an agonizing death instead of trying to move it, if Yahoo's hosting crumbled. Selfish of me, I know. But here's another thing or two that occurred to me, while reading all this stuff. Google didn't promote Mayer, said several articles. 'Why, why?' they asked. It took several more articles for a glimmer of an idea to seep into my brain. One article called Mayer the user-friendliest component of Google. Now, there's the crux of it, I'll bet. 'Don't be evil' was Google's old motto, but it seems to me, of late, that 'Do evil, but on the sly' might me their newest, truest. There was Google Buzz, Ad tracking, and Google Plus. And there was that accusation that Google was putting it's own product results closer to the top than competitors. Maybe Mayer objected to Google's new kick, of putting Google interests over user interests? Maybe Google wants Mayer elsewhere. Dunno, could be... If so, that's a plus for Yahoo.

Ghosts, Phantasms, Customer Service...

So, Yahoo customer service does exist. Heretofore, I had thought that this was a figment of Yahoo's own imagination. I just spoke to a tech. Like the M&M in the Santa Claus commercial, I may just faint. Perhaps the problem was that I was using the wrong help screens. I was searching for help using the Yahoo Mail tutorials, rather than the Yahoo Business Mail tutorials. Apparently it makes a difference. Either that, or the new kid on the block (Marissa Mayer) made them reinstate customer service. Whatever the case, after hours of searching through that interlocking maze of tutorials, I found myself within the business-mail pages and there, upon my screen, appeared that elusive phone number. I called, and voila! Immediate assistance. The Yahoo tech was polite, knowledgeable, and helpful. She fixed a problem (partially of my own making) that had caused me much frustration. I really do hope that Yahoo regains their standing in the world. I've used their hosting plan for a long time now. It works for me! It's three a.m. on the east coast. I go to bed now...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Jegsworks, Edgecast, and Flux

What do these have in common? Very little except they belong to the world of tech. Of the three, Jegsworks is about my speed. The others, I just visited out of curiosity. Don't get me wrong, I was highly impressed. But they're wa-a-a-y out of the realm of anything-I-might-conceivably-ever-need. Highly corporate, I guess. Edgecast.com is interesting enough to make me want to know more. Don't ask me how I found it. Well, okay, here's how. I had just let LastPass log me into Tumblr. As I connected to Tumblr, I noticed the URL of an Edgecast page flash by in Firefox's status bar (where I usually see ads and re-directs). Curious, I popped over to Edgecast to have a look. The page is slick, commercial, and professional. They offer a patented technology that lets you feed your pages up fast without changing a line of code. It looks expensive, and there are no prices given (you know, if you have to ask...) There's very little info on the site ~ just links to PDF downloads. You'd have to fill out a contact form, so I passed on that. Interesting, though. They say they 'integrate Google Pagespeed at the edge' using Google's front-end optimization (FEO). I have no idea what that means. Perhaps the company uses server-side includes or something like. Edgeworks offers hosting, among other things. Is the speed-up service only available for hosted clients? Dunno. Anyway, I suspect this site was meant for someone else's eyes ~ maybe Donald Trump's. Speeding up your site without changing a word of code! Man, the idea sure makes me salivate! My guess is that Tumblr is hosted there. Quirk: Visiting that page must have made me look like a pro and a corporate wallah. The next ad I saw on my blog was for 'Flux.ly.' [Ah, 'This is what makes time travel possible: the flux capacitor!' Beam me up, Scotty.] I went there ~ Flux site ~ not by clicking, just by noting the URL. It was a site for streamlining and automating tasks for corporations. Once again, way beyond my means or needs. The upside of all this is that while I was trying to remember how to describe that URL that flashed by at the bottom of my browser, I searched enough dumb-butt terms that I found 'Jegsworks.' Finally, a site that understands what I need: really, really basic technical info. Jegsworks: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101. Yeah, I like it!

Rel.: Build your own Flux Capacitor: http://www.instructables.com/id/Flux-Capacitor/

And a nod... thanks for the quote! Source: http://backtothefuture.wikia.com/wiki/Quote:Back_to_the_Future

Backups and Power Outages

How come every time I sink my teeth into a computer project, the power goes out? Sigh. Twice tonight. Our power has been rather unstable since a big, freak windstorm that knocked the power out over much of the county a few weeks ago. They got the power back on pretty quickly, then, but it must have done some peripheral damage. Now every time there's a little thunderstorm, out goes the power. It takes me back to the olden days, between 1970 and 2000 or so. There was only a single transformer that served our road, then, apparently, and the power blinked off at least once a day, I'd say; and way more during a storm. (Three blinks and it was out for the duration). Some years back, they put in a second transformer, I presume. After that, the power was pretty darn stable for a few years, only going out during wrath-of-God style thunderstorms. Sometimes, not even then. I guess we're back to the way it was, at least for awhile. This is thrice in as many days that we've lost power, albeit briefly. I was transferring files to a flash drive and to SkyDrive, and planned on blogging any interesting genealogy tidbit that I ran across during the project. This, as a clearing of my hard drive in advance of another much-needed website overhaul. Life as we know it, since the Internet came along...