Thursday, 30 June 2011

A "proper" website then...

Last night's post was something of a low point. Bren was really upset. The harsh realities of our situation hit her and through her, me. Unless we manage to get this off the ground, we could end up having to sell our house, which is in need of considerable work, as we've had no money to spend on it for so long. So we'd get sod all for it. Would not have enough to buy another house, even if we downsized, and would end up renting. Meanwhile since we'd have the money in the bank from the sale of the house, we wouldn't get housing benefit and the money would disappear as rent in about 4 years, leaving us with nothing.

So there is a need for urgency. I've got some proper hosting. less than £30 for 2 years is a good deal, yet I'm worried about spending such a sum. It's a drop in the ocean of course, but I can do stuff properly, and that may ultimately save me money if my site gets hits without spending money on advertising.

Funny what misconceptions you can have.

Last time I did this, I had all sorts of problems because I thought the root directory was the one at the top, rather than an obscure one right at the bottom of some chain of folders. The clue is in the name of course, but I saw "root" as "Where it all stems from" rather than "The thing at the bottom"

I've sorted my ftp software out. I paid for a license for that 4 years ago, and it still applies, so I was able to just reinstall it from the website. Ipswitch WS_FTP. I've found it to be comprehensible, although I will have to relearn how to do all this to some extent.

It's going to be another late night!

On the other hand...

I could stop being an instructor.

Probably not the best time to be looking for a job, but my teaching qualification is roughly equivalent to a degree qualification. Technically, I have letters after my name.

Paul Sharp A.D.I.

To do the job you need a clear idea of what you want your charge to achieve, and you need to find ways of making that happen. That's a transferrable skill, that is. I could be a manager or a teacher. You'd think teaching would be the way forward, but I think I'd find it very difficult to cope with a 4 year university course. I don't have the attention span or self motivation to do it easily. Last time I tried was about 10 years ago. I quickly got bogged down.

Then there are driving jobs. Definately don't want to do taxis though.

There are intelligent and well informed people who's view is that we're hitting the buffers. Now.

This article, for example, attempted to put numbers to the question of how much prices would rise if the global oil supply fell by 1% per year. The number is comes out with is 53%. If that were to translate directly into how much I pay for a litre of diesel...

  • by this time next year, I'd be paying £2.14 a litre this time next year, or about £105 a week. 
  • In two years, I'd be paying £3.27 per litre/£160 a week. 
  • In three years it would cost £5/litre, or £244 a week.
  • 4 years from now it would cost £7.65. That's £373 a week.
  • After 5 years, a litre of diesel would cost £11.70. £570.69p per week, just on diesel.
Seems like we're all fucked, no matter what we do.

I keep trying to write a big long blogpost about how we're the luckiest people who ever lived. To be here, in a position of  priviledge (if you're reading this, you have access to a computer and the internet and electricity and you're literate because you got an education), and now, in these days of everyday miracles. I'm not just talking about technology or material goods here either. I think many of our Western liberal standards and ideas have ridden on the crest of the resource wave too.

But having been there, at that apogee, we also get to experience the terrifying slide down the opposite slope too. And it is scary. I can understand why we're in collective denial about it. So far, having always been pretty poor, Bren and I have been sort of struggling on. Always trying to find a way to get ahead of the game. Not trying to be rich or anything. Just so we don't have to worry about the next bill. Yet that's never happened. Things have always been getting slightly worse. We're running out of options.

Us and the whole damn world.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Meta tags and meta titles...

Having got the basic site up, and while awaiting the DNS thing, I decided to add metadata to the head of the site(s)

Unfortunately, blogger vets the code as I send it, and strips all that stuff out.

The best laid plans of mice and men go aft astray :(

So what to do?
  1. Carry on regardless. Since I intend to pay for advertising to get my site seen, it might not matter too much, easpecially given that meta tags don't necessarily help that much anyway.
  2. Carry on regardless but put the keywords in some other way, like way down at the bottom after a whole load of empty lines
  3. See if wordpress does it any better.
  4. Get some proper webspace instead of trying to do something to which a blog is not well suited.
  5. Embrace the blogginess! If all I need is a place to sell my services, why shouldn't a blog work as well as a more conventional site? I would still have issues with promotion of the site though.
If I do choose to put it somewhere else, a lot of the work has already been done. Just a matter of grabbing the code and putting it somewhere else. I have some FTP software on a disk somewhere from last time I had my own school, so I wouldn't have to shell out for that this time around.

    Tuesday, 28 June 2011

    Phase one complete!

    Well that's done. For now I'm happy. It's a friendly looking easy to navigate site. It will of course be fine tuned over the next few days. Small beer. Changes to wording and to the position and prominance of phone numbers and what have you.

    Next thing to do is to make one or both of my domain names point to it.

    Now what did I do with that tutorial?

    The other thing I want to do is turn the header image into an animated gif - overlaying testimonials eulogising my abilities.


    And now I wait.

    I changed the DNS settings at my host, but blogger reckons things are not right yet. I have to give it a day before I can find out if I've done things correctly. I made the changes yesterday evening, so if it's still not right tomorrow, I've probably done things wrongly.

    More on Posts and Pages...

    Thank you to Jim for his wise words. Apologies for not immediately taking up his suggestions. I want to concentrate on blogger for now, and get something really nice going on.

    The way I've arranged things has both strengths and weaknesses.

    The html gives me a lot of control over how things look, but I'm limited by the structure of blogger itself.

    Essentially, I wanted tabs within the main page that would take the visitor to another page that had the same theme. Last time I did this sort of thing, I used a frameset. I suppose there might have been a way of doing that here. One for the future maybe, if doing things this way has a negative effect, as has been suggested to me privately.

    Posts and pages get buried beneath the html stuff. They also sit upon a semi opaque background, in contrast to how the html stuff looks.

    But there is a way around it!

    Create other blogs, and put the required information into the html, just as it is on the main page. Then simply point the links to the right places and bob's yet bleedin uncle, innit?

    The fail blog will have to stay page based, but that's OK. It cuts down on the work I have to do changing links and creating blogs. I will change it's appearence though to more or less match the rest. It's a bit dark as it is anyway.

    Y'know? I'm really pleased with the way this is going. I think it looks nothing like a blog and with a bit more work, I will have something I can start promoting.

    Posts and pages

    In blogger, you can add pages as well as posts, but you can only use the main original page to do multiple posts. At least that's the way it seems. This is a shame, because if I could post to the pages, I could move the fail your test thing directly over. Perhaps Wordpress offers this function.

    Hmmmm. It doesn't appear to.

    Alternatively, being able to get the page link just below the title to point to something other than a page - Like a fail your test blog for example. I'm sure that's not directly possible, but I could easily make some buttons in gimp, and attach hyperlinks to them. There might be a way of copying the html into the site.

    I'd have to upload the buttons to  somewhere.

    This is all coming together quite nicely. It's not finished by any means, but I have a method. - Use the wysiwyg html I'm familiar with, and paste it in to a html box. I don't need any actual posts. A page was useful for uploading the button images to. Clicking them gave me their url.

    So I can work on fine tuning style and content, but I can get my head around this way of doing things.

    Right now, I have a big long letterbox format picture at the top of my page. Plenty of room there to display testimonials.

    I've looked at how it's possible to create a random quote generator on blogger, and there are ways of doing it.

    What I can do though is turn that header image into an animated gif. I know it works in wordpress because that's how I did the header for damnthewholeworld I'm pretty confident that it will work in blogger too, especially since it's using the html box.

    Simply overlay testimonial text onto background image and turn them into an animated gif, setting appropriate time delay between frames.


    Blogger Vs Wordpress

    I keep trying with Wordpress. I really do. I can see that it has real potential. Yet doing simple things like removing or adding page elements, or getting it to put line breaks between paragraphs seem only possible through an esoteric and convoluted process. I'm sure there are ways of doing what I want to do, but it's a whole lot of work.

    Also, worpress wants to charge me for using my own domain name. It seems that blogger allows me to do this for free. I'm not making any firm commitment to any platform yet, but I've made a lot more progress using the blogger site than I have with the wordpress one.

    In case anyone's interested, here are the two sites.



    Blogger loads up faster than wordpress, at least on my computer at this moment.

    Still trying stuff. What you see there at the moment is probably not what it will end up looking like.

    And I will continue to try with wordpress. Even if I can't do things conventionally, I might find workarounds using more creative methods.

    Monday, 27 June 2011

    master of my own domain.

    I'm now the proud owner of two shiny new domain names. and

    I've also started a blog using wordpress, and a blog using blogger.

    They're not intended to be blogs. Just free webspace. Somewhere to point the advertising to. The intention is that I use the stuff I've picked up over the last few years, as this blog has developed to make a website that's easy to navigate, and pleasing to the eye. They will link to and from the how to fail blog I've been doing, and to each other. I could make one the .com one and the other the one. Maybe.

    I get the sense that wordpress is more powerful and versatile than blogger, but I find blogger much easier to use.

    Anyway, if I cross link them all, It will help in the search placings, or so I understand. Also, using metatags -invisible words embedded in the code that show up when google sends it's spiders out looking - is supposed to help with this. It used to anyway.

    I can insert html either into blog posts, or into the structure of the entire blog, and I can use my web design software to generate that code, using the wysiwyg side of things to make up for my shortcomings on the coding side of things.

    This bit was done using dreamweaver.

    I don't know how to go past a certain point. Beyond these simple design things, coding baffles me.

    I get by well enough though.

    Friday, 24 June 2011

    I found an old disk...

    ...with music software on it. Hopelessly outdated now I guess. These are decade old versions of Cubase and Cakewalk. Still, I'm familiar with how to use them - particularly cakewalk, and if I install it onto my laptop, and connect the audio out from my laptop to my effects machine, I might be able to do something interesting with midi, which usually sounds shit.

    Thursday, 23 June 2011

    And jumping off...

    Sort of, anyway.

    I give Chris Kelly my franchise fee for the next 4 weeks. In return he does no work for me at all, but graciously allows me to keep the pupils he's given me.

    Thanks Chris.

    I can use that time to sort out my own school and it's associated advertising/web presence.

    My other main overhead is the hire of a car. I want to end the contract on that (It's supposed to run until August 2012) and try to get a second hand car at a bargain price.

    Tippytoeing up to the edge of the high board

    Another crap week has made my mind up. Carrying on regardless is a death by a thousand cuts.

    I'm really not looking forward to this, but I'm going to hand in my notice.

    Tuesday, 21 June 2011

    paulmakesmusic rides again!

    This is what I do. Repetitive loops. Musical navel gazing. I enjoy doing it. I don't expect anyone else to like it. I'm not doing it for you.

    Monday, 20 June 2011

    A man walks into a bar...

    With a great big piece of tarmac under his arm.

    He says to the barman,

    "I'd like a pint of bitter please."...

    ...And one for the road.

    Friday, 3 June 2011

    How to fail your driving test....

    You, the eagle eyed reader, will no doubt be aware that one of the tags/labels/subjects of this blog relates to driving, and specifically, how people have failed their driving tests.

    Being loosely based around google earth, and it's associated features, I've tended to provide images of how and where things went wrong.

    So far, I've only done three posts on this subject, but today, while driving today's abject failure home from his test, I had the idea of really expanding the concept. I had visions of an all-singing, all dancing site, with it's own domain name, where people could post their own experiences, but then I realised that all I needed to do was set up another blog.

    This one is a semi-commercial venture - one that would direct people living locally to me for driving lessons, as well as providing useful information on how not to do something, and by negation, how to do something.

    So it will probably carry advertising too, unlike this blog, which proudly doesn't.

    So far all that's there is a name. No real formatting or anything. And no posts as yet. But if it turns out to be a popular resource for learner drivers, it might become fairly frequently visited.

    Update: 5th June...

    Well, it's underway, and I've got it off to a good start, with 10 posts that establish a format and will provide an ever growing body of information. The tag cloud will become a useful way for anyone who's failed their test to look up any marked faults, and get advice on why they were marked this way, and how to do it better next time.

    It's a way of promoting myself as a knowledgeable instructor, and provides contact details.

    Later, if I sort out my own school, It can be linked into any web presence I have, as well as directing people to my website.

    When the content is a little more comprehensive, I will start to promote the site much more. For now, I don't really want to "stumbleupon" it or pay for advertising, but it does make me stand out from the usual slew of driving instructor websites.

    Wednesday, 1 June 2011

    Just a childish play on placenames.

    The picture above is of a place on Wirral called Upton.  There are quite a few Uptons dotted around the country, but this is the only one to have a driving test centre. I was there today as it happens, and will be there again on Friday.

    I used to think the "ton" bit of the name derived from "Town". There are many places nearby that have this suffix. Neston, Burton, Puddington, Upton, Bebington, New Brighton, Thurstaston etc.

    But I've also heard an alternative explanation.

    You see, the country used to be divided up into "hundreds", which were groups of around a hundred homes.

    A slang word for "A hundred" is of course, a "Ton".

    How true this explanation is I don't know, but when you spell it backwards, you get the word "Not".

    So Upton spelled backwards is Not Pu.

    See? I said it was just a childish play on placenames.

    In the picture below, you can see part of the East End of London. The football stadium you can see is the home of West Ham United, and is called The Boleyn Ground.

    It's also known as Upton Park, because it's situated close to a small park called Upton Park.

    Upton Park spelled backwards is...

    Krap Not Pu.

    Just saying is all...