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My own domain: a gift to myself May 3, 2009

Posted by laelene in Uncategorized.
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I have, for a long time, wanted to claim my own domain name and have my blog hosted on there.  However, seeing as there aren’t really many people out there who would ever want to take my name from me, it didn’t feel justified to do so.  I became more and more interested lately, as I found that my dedication to my blog has not wavered and I got more involved in the online community.  Then I came across green hosting websites and that sealed the deal for me.  Cheap webhosting from energy efficient servers?  I’m in!  I chose Super Green Hosting for its great deal (it certainly helped that they were listed first on the list that I was reading and their website looks the nicest to me) and decided I’d wait until this month to sign up.

Why now?  I don’t really know.  And why do I need a website of my own?  Maybe I don’t.  In trying to justify this to anyone who doesn’t understand, I probably won’t come up with any answers.  All I know is that this is one of my deep heart desires.  One of those things that nags at you again and again, reminding you that you should do it.  There may not be a logical reason as to why I should get a website.  It’s not like I’m someone famous and well-followed or I’m trying to make money from the internet.  No, what I will say (and really the only thing I can say) is that it feels right, it makes me happy, and I’ll be darned if I don’t do that for myself at a mere $3.95 a month.  It’s a bit of peace of mind too, in knowing that this domain will belong to me and always be mine, whatever I may choose to do with it.  And hopefully one day I will be someone that people want to find and follow, so they will look for my domain.

Well, May 1st came along, the day I promised myself I would do this, and I spent the day out.  When I got back, I set out to order the service and begin building my new website.  Due to some snags, I wasn’t able to complete the order (and being out of the country only complicates things), so I had to wait.  After calling, “live chatting,” and e-mailing, I finally got too frustrated and needed a break from the process.  I spent all of today away from my e-mail and when I decided to check it, I found an e-mail confirming my order!  Apparently they’d been working as I put it aside, so everything was ready for me now.  I happily began the lengthy process to get used to their system, learn more about what having my own space means, and figuring out how to put a nice pretty blog there for people to find.

My CSS skills are sorely lacking, so much of my editing is done on a trial and error basis.  I was able to make all the edits I wanted except for one crucial one: allowing the header image to be bigger.  So, though I was able to lengthen the height and width of the area where the header is, the image just would not stretch to fit, no matter what I did.  Some of the tiling was quite visible on two of the sides, so I had to forfeit that idea and stick with a narrow look until I can find out how to fix that problem.  It certainly isn’t the image I’m using, since I cropped it to fit the dimensions I wanted.  There are also a couple of other issues that I am having with coding, so it has taken me a much longer time than usual to set this up.  I got spoiled with Weebly’s drag and drop method that required no technical skills of me.  Nonetheless, I am happy to have this now and I’m going to eventually look into having a professional help me out with a layout that I like.

So in the mean time, please excuse any and all errors that you find at maryqin.com.  It is still very much under construction.  Once that’s set up though, I anticipate only blogging through there, so do bookmark it and look for futher updates!  🙂

The pains of programming yield benefits of customization February 20, 2009

Posted by laelene in Uncategorized.
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I’ve spent a lot of time in the past week fiddling around with sites of mine that allow personalization (including this one).  It’s a tedious thing to do for a self-taught beginner like me, since I have almost no foundation knowledge in CSS and only know basic HTML.  Yet, I still pounded away at it obsessively, working on getting just the right colors, font, layout, etc.  It’s rewarding when things finally look a little more the way you would prefer!

I’ve finally settled on something that I am satisfied enough with.  My main gripe with the layouts offered for this site was that they are all so narrow!  It seems a lot of blogs are that way, taking up just barely over half the width of my screen.  Perhaps this is because I have a wide screen, but I just didn’t like it.  What’s the point in having all that extraneous space?  Certainly no computer screen is that skinny!  I was also thrilled to be able to upload my own image for the background in the banner up top.  Most themes have a very generic image uploaded or just a solid color background, so it’s nice to personalize with one of my own photos.  However, finding a decent image and cropping it to fit took me ages to get right.

So I am pleased enough with what I have now, which may not exactly reflect the title or content of my blog, but it is an extension of my Bruin pride.  I’m hoping to eventually get my own domain name and get a professional to help me with a design.  I just don’t have the artistic knack for creating something that fits a theme or color scheme.  Look at how cool my best friend’s blog looks (and how well it fits the theme).  She got a free makeover for her blog recently and it really does add to the feel of the site.  You immediately get a sense for what she talks about in her entries (nobody would expect posts on makeup or shoe shopping, for instance).  Additionally, it sets a tone – this is no boring site lacking any sort of flavor, but it’s also not a Valley Girl’s personal diary, complete with pink bubblegum images.

When you have a blog title like mine, which doesn’t exactly explain what kind of topics I’ll be writing about, a visual clue from the theme may help.  A clean-cut look to the page, bright and easy on the eyes, with soothing colors and perhaps a photograph of college students or businesspeople.  Now that would set things off on the right footing.  Or, if you can create enough intrigue to draw readers in, perhaps they will read just to find out why you chose the title you did.  I have this image of a black and white photo of someone (maybe even me) sitting at a little cafe, with a cup of tea and said "little fat notebook," with pen poised over paper and pursed lips.  A pensive shot.  After all, most of the ideas I come up with for entries are recorded in that notebook and crossed off as I get to them.

For now, this is what I’ve got and it shall suffice.  Learning these "web languages" is like learning any other language; you can only be proficient if you learn the general grammar or syntax, basic vocabulary terms, and keep practicing.  Have you ever tried to teach yourself a foreign language?  I did in middle school and that was a disaster.  I think I came out knowing a few colors and numbers.  So, if you truly want to learn how to use markup languages, pick up a manual and build a strong foundation.  Currently I am only proficient enough to fiddle around with what other people have already created.  I envy those who are so fluent in these languages that they can whip up a website in no time!  They will be the ones earning my money in the years to come… unless I find the time to reteach myself, starting from the top.

To check out my other customization, go to laelene.tumblr.com!