w3schools.com

Sunday, October 25, 2009
While looking for information on HTML coding, and also XML coding, — my interest has been renewed due to the CSS and XML coding in the new blog templates I'm using — I happened across w3schools.com. I've some knowledge of HTML and CSS coding, but my knowledge of CSS extremely limited. However, w3schools.com has tons of tutorials, covering (in addition to the previously mentioned items) XHTML, TCP/IP, JavaScript, PHP and ASP, SQL and Database, and more.

Their tutorials are free. I'm unemployed. I've got lots of time, and I could spare a little time each day to learn some of these things — perhaps an hour each day.

Also, w3schools.com has an online Certification Program. These are free, too. They say their "tutorials are recommended reading in over 100 Universities and High schools all over the world," and they provide a brief list of some of the schools along with links to pages showing the recommendation. For example, this page at the University of Alabama lists w3schools.com as one of their HMTL resources.

I've been having difficulty finding work in my own field of expertise — telecommunications — and over the years I've come to loathe telecom. I do have an interest in things Internet-related, so thoughts of changing careers have crept in. I don't know how easy it would be to make a change of this sort, but w3schools.com does offer a free and convenient way to get started. If their online courses are recognized by many universities, then perhaps their certification programs also carry some weight in the job market. Certainly the knowledge I would gain would carry weight in the eyes of an employer.

I think this is worth looking into.

Abatement

It would appear that my blog template frustration has been abated. I have found a template that is . . .

  • obedient to my every command,
  • appears to have no problems (miracle of miracles), and
  • is a template with which I can live (although there is one minor item I'd like to fix; I've got to figure out where the problem lies first, however).
Amazing, isn't it?

[EDIT: That one minor item? It's been fixed. Life is good. :P ]

Blog Template Frustration

I've found several templates that I like for my Townshende blog, and yet every single damned one of them has problems. Some of them have highly technical problems.

One, in fact, — a template that I like a lot . . . this one, called Black Splat — had several problems. The code was designed to work around several problems with Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser (very typical of Microsoft, actually), but it didn't have the code necessary for other browsers to display that template correctly. It took me about 10 minutes of experimentation, along with some very specific searches to figure out the problem.

Most people aren't interested in this crap, but indulge me. Here's the original code:

body {
   position: relative; /* Fixes browser resizing bug in IE6 */
   margin: 10px auto;
   width: 980px;

   font-family: 'trebuchet ms', arial, sans-serif;
   text-align: center; /* IE Centering Technique */
   background: #000;
   }


/* Header and wrapper */
#wrapper {
   width: 980px;
   text-align: left; /* IE Centering Technique */
   background: url(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_V-IXTBBt1Bg/SVPr5xX58aI/AAAAAAAAAjM/zM8cWJxooC0/s1600/topcurve.png) 40px 0 no-repeat;
   }


You'll notice that there are several comments within the code indicating which items are used to fix certain Internet Explorer problems. The original code also disabled the Blogger navigation bar at the top of the browser window. That's an easy fix. However, the text that I've bolded caused two problems with Blogger's navigation bar. The margin: 10px auto; code put an unsightly 10 pixel margin above the navigation bar. It looks very weird. The width: 980px; code set the width of the navigation bar to that of the template, so that the navigation bar was not stretched to the width of the browser window. Removing those pieces of code, or commenting them out, as I did (see below), got rid of the 10 pixel margin and allowed Blogger's navigation bar to expand to the width of the browser window.

Removing those, however, created a third problem. The body of the template was now aligned left, instead of being center aligned. To fix that, I had to add code to the "Header and Wrapper" container that told browsers other than Internet Explorer to center the body of the blog. That code was this: margin:0 auto;.

In the end, the fix looked like this:

body {
   position: relative; /* Fixes browser resizing bug in IE6 */
   /* margin: 10px auto; */
   /* width: 980px; */
   font-family: 'trebuchet ms', arial, sans-serif;
   text-align: center; /* IE Centering Technique */
   background: #000;
   }


/* Header and wrapper */
#wrapper {
   width: 980px;
   text-align: left; /* IE Centering Technique */
   margin:0 auto; /* to center the body for the rest */
   background: url(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_V-IXTBBt1Bg/SVPr5xX58aI/AAAAAAAAAjM/zM8cWJxooC0/s1600/topcurve.png) 40px 0 no-repeat;
   }


This is all fine and dandy, but when I tried to get rid of some of Blogger's quick editing tools, this template just wouldn't allow it. Entering this code, .quickedit{display:none;}, didn't do a damned thing (although it worked fabulously for the template you're looking at right now). When I tried to delete the code itself that placed the quick editing tools on the screen, Blogger spat error messages at me. So, as much as I like the template I'm referring to, it's got problems that I can't fix (or don't know how to fix).

I'm tired of dealing with templates that don't work the way they're supposed to. Then again, I've read that Google's code for their blogs isn't up to snuff with W3 standards. It's proprietary. Sounds damned Microsoft-like to me! Hmmph! And grrr, too!

Ultimately, it comes down to either finding another template that I like better, or . . . deciding to put up with those annoying quick edit icons with which Blogger likes to litter my screen.

Recent Posts

Friday, October 23, 2009
I've tried the "gadget" for Recent Posts found in Blogger's gallery of gadgets, but I didn't care for how it looked. For the list that it automatically generated, that gadget completely overrode the typography specifications embedded in this new template. I like my blogs to have a consistent appearance to them. This meant some customization if I was to have that list. It also means manual updates to keep that feature current. I'm willing to give it a shot, to see how well it works.

I added this feature because I want to limit the number of posts displayed on this front page to either one or three. My inclination at the moment, given the length of my posts, is to keep it to one; I definitely would be interested in my readers' opinions on this, however. Having a list of the recent posts available, which I'm thinking of limiting to five or ten — your opinion would be welcome on that point, too — allows you to see if you've missed anything and gives you a readily available link without having to scroll down to my blog archive. (For reference, the list of recent posts currently numbers seven.)

I believe I can use some features already contained in this template to create a custom "gadget" to do this task automatically, thus preventing my having to update the list manually each time a new post is written. A little research to learn how to do this will be necessary, obviously.

EDIT: I've edited the settings so that only the most recent blog post is displayed. I'm curious what readers of this blog think of this.

Perpetually Peregrine

Monday, October 19, 2009
Added links to more destinations in my ever-growing list of links deep down below at the bottom of this blog page. Added links to . . .

  • Belgium (not been there . . . yet)
  • Denmark (not been there . . . yet)
  • England (lived there for about 3½ years, when I was a teenager; lived in the village of Shenington, and later in Bloxham; this was during my high school years)
  • Guam (been there; was a stop-over when I moved to Okinawa and again when I moved to Thailand)
  • Japan (lived there for about 3½ years, when I was very young; lived on the island of Okinawa; went to kindergarten there, in fact)
  • Philippines (been there; was a stop-over on the return trip from Thailand)
  • Poland (not been there; have had several friends over the years from there; currently have one friend who lives there, in Bialystok; good reason to go visit, if you ask me)
  • Scotland (been there; visited when I lived in England)
  • Sweden (not been there; for some reason, though, I've liked Sweden and have wanted to go there, even to live, since I was about 16 or 17 years old)
  • Switzerland (not been there . . . yet)
  • Thailand (as with Japan, lived there for 3½ years, but this was four years after we had left Japan, so I was 11 years old when we moved there; my junior high school days were spent in Bangkok)
  • Turkey (been there; was a stop-over on my first trip to England, before I moved to England)
  • Vietnam (been there; was a stop-over on the way to Thailand; wasn't allowed to get off the plane, however, as this was at the height of the Vietnam War)
  • Wake Island (been there; a stop-over on the way to Japan)

I've been to a lot of places, and I'd like to go to even more. I'd like to change those "stop-overs" to actual visits. I am, as always, perpetually peregrine.
_____
FOOTNOTE: Did another bit of customization to the code for this blog. The default bullet for unordered lists was a disc. In fact, that's always the default, unless you change it. Wanting to be diff'ent, I changed it to a circle.

Another Silly Test Post

A test of the various headers, h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, and h6. Here you go (isn't this as boring as hell? :P) —

H1

Header 1

Lorem ipsum la la-la la-la.

H2

Header 2

Lorem ipsum toodle doodle doo.

H3

Header 3

Lorem ipsum tweedle deedle dee.

H4

Header 4

Lorem ipsum twiddle iddle poo.

H5
Header 5
Lorem ipsum cock-a-poodle who?

H6
Header 6
Lorem ipsum any silly man will do. :P

Well, well, well. Isn't that nifty?

Dashboard

In the code for this template, the three columns of links at the bottom part of this blog are called the "dashboard." The left column is "dashboard1," the middle column is "dashboard2," and the right column is "dashboard3."

One problem I've had with this template from the start is that the title for each set of links butted up against the last link in the set above it. So, I've been pouring over the code trying to figure out how to fix this. I noticed that this problem did not exist in the sidebar to the right, that there was plenty of space between the small block of text with my photo and brief description and the "Writer-Speak . . ." quote. With that as my guide, I tried to find the code that spaced them apart. I found some code that read:

.sidebar .widget{margin-bottom:1.5em;}

I know a little about CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), so I know that a dot preceding a name defines a "class." "Classes" are used in conjunction with HTML code to give a blog's contents a uniform appearance. In the following code, for example, . . .

<p class="name_of_class">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.</p>

The class name is inserted within the paragraph tag (<p class="name_of_class"> insert_text_here </p>), and the class name tells the browser to refer to the class defined in a blog or web site's cascading style sheet. Style sheets are sometimes embedded within an HTML page, but more often they are separate, thus saving on the file size for each page of HTML code: one page of CSS describing all the layout and text attributes and more for a blog or web site (instead of having all that CSS code embedded on each separate page of HTML code) and then separate pages of HTML code for each page in a web site. It makes not only for less file space, but also for easier blog/site management.

The point of all this detail is to say that ".sidebar" and ".widget" are classes. The information in the code following ".widget" — namely, {margin-bottom:1.5em;} — tells the browser how much space is be placed below each widget. That's what each block of text in the sidebar and each list of links in the dashboard are: widgets.

(In "1.5em," "em" is a typographical term. It is, in fact, used in the proper name of the long dash (—), known as the "em-dash." The "em" refers to the letter "M"; an em-dash is the width of the upper-case "M" in any typeface. There are three distinct dashes in a typeface and most folk don't call them correctly. There's the hyphen "-"; the en-dash "–"; and the em-dash "—". When put side-by-side, the difference between them is obvious: - – —. Hyphens are used to hyphenate words and to break up a word between syllables when it breaks at the end of a line. En-dashes are used in numbers, typically between dates: 19 Mar 2001 – 31 Mar 2001. Em-dashes are used, per Strunk and White, "to set off an abrupt break or interruption, and to announce a long appositive or summary." They explain, "A dash is a mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than parentheses." It is used "only when a more common mark of punctuation seems inadequate.")

So, taking the code mentioned above as my cue, I searched for the code for the widgets at the bottom of this blog, and that's how I discovered those three columns are called the "dashboard." I took the code and changed it — .dashboard .widget{margin_bottom:1.5em} — placed it along with the other "dashboard" code, saved the template, refreshed the blog page, and . . . it didn't work. Something was wrong. I knew it had to be the class name. After more searching through the code, I found what I believed was the correct class name, ".col3_content," which is an abbreviation for "column 3 content." I replaced ".sidebar" with ".col3_content," saved the template, reloaded the blog, and . . . violà! . . . it worked!

I enjoy messing with code like this, but I don't know if I could do it for a living or not. For one thing, it would require some training that I don't have.

My next goal is to figure out how to do the same thing to place space between the end of a blog post and the comment and label links below it. With this post, you can see just how little space there is. I hate it. It must be changed. [EDIT: This is now fixed.]

The goal I have after that is to increase the leading in my blog posts. "Leading" is another typographical term. It refers to the space between lines of text. In this blog, the lines are too close together for my tastes. I hate it. It must be changed, too. (Sometimes, I wonder what the hell some of these designers are thinking. :P) [EDIT: This is now fixed, too.]

[EDIT: It would appear that a lot has changed since I last did any major muckin' about with Cascading Style Sheets! o.o I've been able to slowly, but surely, decipher the mess, but while I recognize a lot of the code, there's a lot of new shit swimming around in that pool that I don't recognize. It's made me understandably cautious, lest my muckin' about should bite me in the arse by way of screwin' up this blog.]

Lists

Sunday, October 18, 2009
I've renamed most of the various lists of links found at the bottom of this blog page.

  • Garrulus' Travels — A half-assed attempt at a play on Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

    For those who know of my penchant for grammatical correctness (or at least my attempts to be grammatically correct), I use Garrulus' instead of Garrulus's because: 1) Garrulus is Latin, and 2) it's ancient. In fact, it is the Latin form of "garrulous," but I don't use it in the sense of that word's definition (excessively or tiresomely talkative). It's meant to be a play on my first name. Saith Strunk and White:

    1. Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's.
    Exceptions are the possessives of ancient proper names [ending] in -es and -is, the possessive Jesus', and such forms as for conscience' sake, for righteousness' sake.
    Garrulus may not end in -es or -is, but since it is ancient and since it is deliberately being misused as a noun, instead of being properly used as an adjective, I've chosen to form this possessive singular by adding only an apostrophe and omitting the s. Besides, omitting that final s preserves the admittedly stretched alliteration between Gulliver's Travels and Garrulus' Travels.

  • Perpetually Peregrine — The original title of this list was For Itinerant Souls. That was far too drab and cliché, and I longed for something better. Perpetually Peregrine is not only better, it, too, has some lovely alliteration. It's also rather descriptive of my life. Peregrine, if you didn't know, is Latin, coming from peregrinus, meaning "foreign," and peregre, meaning "abroad." In English, peregrine means "wandering," "travelling," "migratory." I've lived a perpetually peregrine existence, thus the title for this list of links.

  • Colloquiare Colloquially — Originally titled For the Colloquial of Heart, then renamed For Colloquial Hearts, I wanted something less romantic (as well as to avoid the cliché "colloquially speaking") and, after a little research, settled on Colloquiare Colloquially. Colloquiare is Italian, meaning "to talk" or "to converse." Thus, the new name is not only alliterative, it also means, quite literally, "to converse/speak colloquially." The links found in this list bear that out. You could say that I still ended up with "colloquially speaking" as the title for this list, but it's absolutely not cliché.

  • MultilingualityTwisted of Tongue was the original name for this list. The problem, however, was that it was too close to being cliché ("tongue twister"), and it was also too prosaic. I played around with several ideas using different versions of lingua, the Latin for "language" or "tongue." And then, in the process of my research, I came across the word "multilinguality" in the Wikipedia article First language. Plus, it's thoroughly Latin, as even the multi- prefix has a Latin root. It fit, it was unusual, so it stays.

  • Ars GratiaArts & Artists was the name I first used for this list. Sticking with the Latin theme that had developed, I settled on Ars Gratia. Ar is the Latin for "art" and ars the Latin for "arts." Ars Gratia is a phrase actually used in English, meaning "art for art's sake" or "for the sake of art."

  • News-SpeakNewspeak (unhyphenated, and the original title for this list) is actually a word invented by George Orwell, used in his book 1984. It is the fictional language of his imagined future. There is even a Wikipedia article on the subject. Given that modern news is sometimes little more than propaganda, depending on the source, News-Speak only seemed a fitting title for this list of news sources. It's a play on Orwell's word. You'll even see another play on this in the title for the quotes from writers, which has changed from Writers Speak . . . to Writer-Speak . . . . Thus, it's only fitting that the first quote posted in this new template should be from George Orwell.
If you're new here and are curious about this blog's title, here's a brief explanation:

Garrulus is simply a play on my first name, Gary. The original title for this blog was Garrulous Grumbling, but then it went through a name change and became Garrulus Grommeler. Why grommeler? Grommeler is Middle French for "to grumble."

Test — Yes, Another Test

Why? Why not? Actually, it's to see how this page will look with a second post added. So, let's take a peek, shall we?

New Template

Saturday, October 17, 2009
Well, this is a start, isn't it? Not a whole lot going on quite yet, but I've got a new template uploaded. I created a new blog and then exported the old blog to the new address, so everything is still intact. It was a bit of a mess at first, getting it all to do what I wanted it to do: creating a new blog, exporting the old to the new, updating the old to the new format, then importing the non-Blogger template I wanted to use. And now comes the long process of getting everything set up the way I want. It'll mean lots of editing, especially to get all the links and everything else I want transferred (that's the most laborious part of importing a new template, as those things get lost in the process — unless you take care to save them first).

I originally wanted to go with a template called Reckoning, but I experienced too many problems with the damned thing. The original template, which you can see here, was not designed for Blogger. It's a CSS template (CSS = Cascading Style Sheets) and it had to be converted to a format compatible with Blogger. It seems that almost all of the new templates you can find are designed for blog hosts like WordPress, and they get converted to Blogger format more as an afterthought. Makes one think that Blogger has become the ghetto of the blogging world.

So, why the change? Just wanted a change of pace, that's all. A new look. A retirement of an old design, but you can still access the old posts, as I've decided to provide a link to them in my blogroll which you can see at the right.

I've already discovered one little quirk about this template. I don't like how the box below each post nudges up against the last line of each post. So, to correct that, it means making sure that each post has the following code at the end: <br />&nbsp;. This — <br /> — tells Blogger to insert a line break, and this — &nbsp; — tells Blogger to follow it with a non-breaking space. Without the non-breaking space, a web browser acts as if the line break is non-existent.

I don't know why, but the templates I've chosen do not display Blogger's navigation bar at the top. It may display for others, but it does not display for me. Probably the most annoying bit about this is that I can't just click on a link to create a new post. There are, however, ways around this, and I plan to fix that. The web site where I got the new template, btemplates.com, says this about that little anomaly:

How do I log in to my blog without the navbar?
The navigation bar of Blogger is just a plug-in and provides a shortcut to enter your blog, but you can always log in from Blogger.com.
This is fine and dandy, but, as I noted above, it doesn't address the issue of the missing "new post" link and, I just noticed, it also doesn't address the issue of athe missing "sign out" link. These are relatively easy fixes.

Garrulus' Travels

Canada ::: England ::: France ::: Germany ::: Greece ::: Guam* ::: Ireland ::: Italy ::: Japan ::: Philippines* ::: Portugal ::: Scotland ::: South Vietnam* ::: Spain ::: Thailand ::: Turkey* ::: Wake Island* ::: Wales :::

LEGEND
Greece — countries where I've lived
Portugal — countries I've visited
* — airport layovers

Goals 2010

  • Find a Job
    date hired: —

  • Lose Weight
    GOAL: 150-159 lbs (68,0 – 72,1 kgs)
    current weight: 192 lbs (87,0 kgs)

  • Write 250,000 words
    53,177 | 21.27% compl.

  • Mythology Course
    date started: Mar 31
    date completed: —

  • Read 30-40 books
    — 20-27 must be fiction —
    11 — fiction
    7 — non-fiction
    18 — TOTAL READ

  • Learn Portuguese
    Complete Hugo Portuguese course
    date started: —
    date completed: —
    vocabulary words: —
    verbs: —

  • Life Goals
    goal achieved: —

  • Folding Bicycle
    Dahon JetStream P8
    date purchased: —

  • MacBook Pro
    13" 2.26GHz MacBook Pro
    date purchased: —

  • Manual Typewriter
    Corona Sterling/Silent of 1940s
    date purchased: —

  • 4 x 6 Index Card Cabinet
    date purchased: —

  • Metal Bulletin Board
    8 Umbra 12" x 12" Tiles
    date purchased: —

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