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A Note in Haste

15th of September 2011

Oh dear! I found a page that explained all about the taskbar--in Windows 98--and I think it'd been revised up from 95! Lots of advice about dial-up: writing emails while off-line, not connecting through a browser, etc; and talking about the sys tray, which has been the notification area for yonks. Wish I did't have those computer advice pages at all. Ten years ago they were useful, but now, I'm so far behind!

Strange world, this. I have 200 year-old books that are as relevant as ever they were, but my ten year-old pages are useless. And why does everything have to change all the time? That wretched volume icon--I've chased it through four OSs and getting to it is different every time.

It took me a week to revise that taskbar page. Seemed such a waste of time, but hiding yet another page seemed like cowardice. Anyway, there's sunshine, and things waiting to be planted. I'll update my search and then get outside and back into real life.

9th of September 2011

Oh, so far from finished. Admiring a friend's new laptop, I went to my site with Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 9. Rude awakening. Text on my site map wasn't wrapping. Oh, yuck! What was meant to be a paragraph was one long line, going off to the right for ever; maybe the widest page on the entire web.

In the real world, brilliant sunshine this morning. Curtains open, heater off. Huh! Suddenly hail. So much and so quickly that the driveway was white in a minute. And Marmalade was out. Smart cat! He'd gone under the house and was dry as a bone—although not quite toasty warm.

The sun's come out again, but I'll not be fooled a second time.

Came across a wonderful book: Foundling, D. M. Cornish, The Monster Blood Tattoo.

It was on the bookshelves in the front hall. No-one knows where it came from. It isn't "like" Harry Potter, and it isn't "like" the Lord of the Rings, but I reckon it should be as renowned. Young Adult Fiction. Oh well, having turned 70, maybe I have no excuse for reading YAF. Just loved it anyway. All the proper ingredients: the person who doesn't quite fit with his peers, supportive adults who never take centre stage, the protagonist overcoming impossible odds, and, of course, evil monsters and lots of talk about food.

Got part two, The Lamplighter, from the Library. They have part three, Factotum, listed, but "not available". I put a hold on it anyway. Maybe they'll be moved to buy in a few more copies.

Oh well, back to the website. It's so much easier and nicer to add things than correct or polish the old, but needs must.

1st of September 2011

Finished! Finished? No such thing, but everything seems to be respectable and functional. Lots more could be done, but that's enough for now. More than enough.

Had a truly terrible time with the Making Pictures page. I saw—or thought I saw—that with the menu removed I could have four buttons across the page. That would let more links flow up into the first pane. It turned out, though, that the page was not quite wide enough. For one mad moment I considered remaking all the buttons, but that would've been just too hard. I widened the page until I did have four buttons across, then set about making a few extra to even out the blocks. Each button took a fair bit of time, and not once did I look at the page with IE. Rude awakening when I did!

For IE to show four across, the page has to be 840px wide and the viewport has to be 872. I'm a bit sad about that. I suppose it doesn't matter too much; the page collapses nicely, and who am I to predict the way my readers look at a page?

Anyway, the hardest is over and now I can do something physical. Bright spring day, a lovely garden, and even a sinkful of dishes. All a welcome change.

31st of August 2011

Mm. There were still a few files in serious need of repair. Final count: 441, apart from 90 tile files, which hardly need to be listed. In the end I did list all the redback pages and all the birds. Makes the site map look a wee bit crowded, but I think it's navigable.

Still a few old pages to put onto new style sheets, but I think that'll be easy enough. Shan't interfere with Jen's little page that she made herself. Persuaded her ages ago to get rid of the ticker; everything else she did is fine.

Have to change the "Making Pictures" page. Without the menu, I think I can fit four buttons across the page. Maybe I'll need to make more buttons.

I wonder if I'll ever get back into the garden. First day of spring tomorrow—although we've already had some lovely sunny days. It's really time to start putting things in. Trin bought a passionfruit yesterday, and it can't sit in a pot forever. There are two nice apple trees to go in, too, as well as all the humdrum things—carrots and beans and whatever. I do hope I'll have this all finished and out of the way by next week!

28th of August 2011

I think I've tidied the whole site. Some of the Fancy Headings pages were less than wonderful—well, pretty awful, in fact—and I've improved those and added some more to flesh out explanations.

Now to make a new site map. A bit scary! The url list from Zoom tells me 376 pages, but that includes pages of background tiles, many of which hardly need to go on a site map because the file names are meaningless. Probably some slide-show pages could be knocked out, too. There are nine pages showing different views of a redback spider; one would be enough on the list.


A mystery has been cleared up, and I'm pretty annoyed by "a person or persons unknown". About this time a year ago I was away for two weeks and came back to see the number of birds in the cage greatly depleted. Someone feeding them had left the door open, I thought, or maybe they hadn't had enough food and had perished. No bodies, but perhaps they'd been cleaned up by mice. Then, last autumn, one day there was one canary instead of twelve. Very odd. If there was a hole somewhere, why would it have been used by canaries, but not by zebra finches, which are smaller? Anyway, we spent an hour or so searching for a hole and found none. At that point I did begin to wonder, but thought I was probably being paranoid. Ha!

Yesterday morning Marmalade went out and came back in with a finch. The finch was OK, but when I went out to the cage I noticed that the side gate was open, and yep! Again, fewer finches, and those remaining were unsettled; didn't immediately fly down to the fresh seed. Very unusual. As luck would have it, I'd vaguely counted them the previous day. Twenty had been lined up on a branch, and about the same number were in odd places or flying. Yesterday, fourteen!

So! Some unspeakable rat has been replenishing his pet shop stock or his breeding stock from my bird cage! How mean can people be?

I hate locks, but it looks as though a lock is needed on the cage—and perhaps on the side gate as well. I'm so cross I could spit!

15th of August 2011

It's starting to get to me. Found a mistake this morning—in the second level template. The top links were going nowhere. I'd been so bamboozled by the error from the misplaced menu that I'd forgotten to check the top links. Happily I'd used it only four times. It's made me shaky though. I'll have to start putting the new stuff up so that I can check it properly. No harm in doing a Xenu link check first, either.

Phew! Another mistake in the second level template! Thanks, Xenu. But a thousand pages? Impossible! How did that happen?

Well, here goes nothing. I'm going to upload before I lose every vestige of courage. Still a lot of pages not yet updated, but I could be here forever. Fingers crossed!

Done that. Looks OK so far. Lots more pages to unravel, though. A curse on those subfolders. Opening one after the other to look for updated files. Not so bad when one's just changing or adding a file or two, but with hundreds?! Nerve-racking.

I wondered what effect all that uploading would've had on my data allowance, but it's hardly a whisker. Cheap—but labour intensive!

14th of August 2011

Blimey! Every day I think, "Just a ouple of things to fix and I'm finished". Famous last words. Didn't start until 7 today, and all day I've been wrestling with colour pages. I tried so hard to get the colour cube right, but no go. What the validator thinks and what works are not the same thing, so it has to stay in quirks mode and it has to have errors in the script. Ah, maybe one day I'll learn javascript—but how many "one days" am I likely to have for such an enterprise? It's nearly time for spring planting, after all.

Much swearing. I'd redone a page that was on the second level. My validator liked it, the on-line validator liked it, but IE kept saying, "Done, but with errors on page". I changed things, moved things, messed up the whole page so it didn't work properly. Fixed it. Messed around some more.

After much googling, the penny dropped. I was calling the menu, which I only use on top-level pages. It was making no difference to the functioning of the page, but it shouldn't've been there. IE had a legitimate complaint. These revisions are giving me lots of learning!

12th of August 2011

Still chugging along, but getting a little more confident. I forced myself to change the forget-me-not tile page. I so much didn't want to—it was so pretty—but it turns out not to have been calamitous. I did have to lose the background and the bordered table, but I put in a few divs with the tiles as background. It does look more business-like.

Only ten to go, now, at ten to twelve. I hope they'll mostly be easy and that I get finished by this evening.

11th of August 2011

"Attach to newer style sheets", I said innocently. It's hard going. A few pages—those that are just a simple story, for instance—took five minutes. Some though, with lots of pictures and stuff, took hours. Lots of the words needed editing, too, to bring things more or less up-to-date. I may have done six pages since 7:00 this morning. Fourteen to go!

10th of August 2011

Whew! I think I now have new links on the top of every page. How many? No idea. Just finished the tile folder, which I think is the last. Eighty-six files in that folder. Why did I make so many? I love making backgrounds, and it seems a shame to have dozens on my computer and have absolutely no purpose for them. An "all dressed up with nowhere to go" situation.

Anyway, here comes the scary part: putting the changed pages up. It'll take a while, and I'll have to be so careful to match folders. Mm. Maybe I'll just do one more check through.

Oh dear. I should've zoom-stopped each of those tile pages. As it is, Zoom will look for alt text and that will return things like "flw23". Maybe simpler just to tell it not to look for alt text.

One more problem. I thought I should put a proper doctype on the pages that are in quirks mode. Ha! That scrambles the top links. I'll have to either leave them alone or attach them to the newer style sheets, and I reckon that will mean that a lot of editing will be needed on each of those forty-seven pages. Would mean. Not today, and maybe never. The trouble is that those pages do display the menu in IE8/9. Very odd for those readers who see a menu on some little old antiquated page but none on others.

8th of August 2011

More than a month ago a friend told me that the menu I've been using since day one is not displayed by Internet Explorer 8. What a blow! The links from the top of each page were O.K. but not wonderful. Each page guide had too many links for a person to plough through comfortably; far too many pages to be found through five guide pages.

The answer, obviously, was to update those pages—but how?

After many cries of, "It's just too hard!" I realised that I simply have to have more guide pages, and glue them to the top of every page, no matter how long it takes.

Suddenly it came to me that this was the ideal opportunity to hide some of the oldest pages—pages with no relevance to current operating systems and sometimes with information that's now just plain incorrect. Leave them on the site map, but ignore them in category listings, thus shortening guide pages and sending people only to reasonably up-to-date pages.

So. I have my nine guide pages, and I've linked them all from the home page. Today I'll try to paste those links onto every top level page. I have no idea how long that will take. I'm not sure that I have the courage to use "Search and Replace". Maybe. Maybe not. Then go back through those pages and delete the javascript menu from each of them. O.K. Enough ruminating. Best I get started. When it's done, I can think about pages in folders—on which, at least, there's no javascript menu, so it'll be a tiny bit faster.

12th of July 2011

Just turned 70! My birthday present was a visit to the Tutankhamun exhibition. Easy to understand Carter's exclamation of "Wonderful things!" So much beautiful work, with no electrically powered modern tools. Tiny, tiny detailing, often on particularly hard materials; just amazing. One chair-bottom had the same sort of cane weaving as chairs in my grandmother's house—obviously a really good solution if it's persisted for thousands of years.

We were fascinated to see stone jars with big bellies and narrow necks, labelled "made in one piece". How? We spent hours trying to think up possible ways of doing that, but gave up and searched the Internet. Found the answer on this very informative and interesting page.

There's a little niggle of guilt in viewing these things. People buried them in good faith, expecting them to remain buried forever. Do we really have the right to be looking at them? But oh! I wouldn't've missed it for quids!

Home to more mundane things. A friend told me that my menu—which has served me well for eight years or more—isn't displayed in IE9. Worse, the background is displayed—a big fat beige block of nothing. It looks so bad, and I have not the slightest idea of how to fix it. I've posted a plea for help on a forum that seems to have lots of knowledgable people, so here's hoping.

12 March 2010

I'm in the middle of updating site maps, page lists, what have you. It seems that every now and then I pop up a new page, but forget to link it in. Writing something new is just so much more fun than proof-reading, editing, and listing pages, but I mean to mend my ways. Linking them one at a time would be much less cumbersome than trying to work out which ones I've missed.

The best of the new pages are those explaining how to make shapes—like wheels, stars and octagons, using just Paint. Some of those were in response to requests, but some just came to me as a thought—"Well, how do you draw x if you have no other program to call on?"

Some readers have told me that the person in charge of their computer—parent, partner or employer—forbids their downloading anything at all. Understandable, because there are plenty of dodgy things offered as free downloads—"helpers", toolbars carrying various degrees of mischief, numberless nasties—and all much easier to install than to get rid of. Still it's a shame, because there are so many useful little things available out there—and I just don't know how anybody manages without IrfanView!

19 October 2009

Gosh! How many pages do I have in here? Too many—but they have so many cross links that trying to remove the oldest ones would cause all sorts of mixups. OK. I'll just leave the old naive pages as they are and hope that people will see that they're out of date. It probably doesn't matter too much, because judging by emails the things of interest are just the paint tutorials, stationery and Outlook Express, and the herbs page.

18 Feb 2009

Arrr! That forget-me-not background page seems impossible to fix. I can't think where to even begin! OK. Those "special" pages with fancy backgrounds will have to be left until last. They must be made narrower, but I want to keep the backgrounds. Looks like a new set of css for those!

A couple of years have gone. Ridiculous! Seems at my age you just have to turn around twice and children have become teenagers, teenagers have become responsible parents, and the technology has leapt out of reach yet again.

There's no point in my trying to keep up with operating systems; I've just come to terms with XP and now all the machines in the shops have Vista, while Windows 7 is about to appear. I guess I'll stick with XP!

Therefore, some things I write—or have written—may be of little use to you. Do have a read, though; some things change hardly at all; Outlook Express, for instance. I've just had a thorough poke around in OE6 and find little difference between that and the old 5.5.

My old version of Word serves me well. I really don't want all those advanced features which make it harder—for me, at any rate—to find the commands I want to use. If people send me documents in the latest version of Word, Open Office reads them for me.

Where pages have been written concerning XP, please don't be confused by the square-cornered grey dialogues. Yours will probably be bright blue and rounded. The tabs and functions will be the same.

I'm trying to smarten up the look of this website. Pages written at different times, with different-looking backgrounds; a bit of a mess! Hopefully I can pull it all together to look more uniform. It may take more than a few weeks, though. I may have to modify the overall style for the graphics pages. I'm not ready to throw those all away.

Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you. My email address is here.

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