I had a conversation with Mary the other week which I used as the inspiration to begin blogging again. The topic which we discussed was mostly my lack of blogging lately and my attempts to justify it. She was quick to point out, however, that my tweets had not decreased in size. I countered that they were easy and quick to pound out at only 140 characters a piece to which she suggested that I simply make my blog posts that long.
I couldn’t justify such short blog posts; what’s the point? Then they might as well be Tweets. So what if I made them 140 words? It seemed to be a great idea; I’d write succinct posts and the word limit would be beneficial to my momentum.
As it turns out, that was a silly idea. For one, the limitation led me to feel like i hadn’t hashed out my thoughts thoroughly enough. (That was 143 words…I still feel unfinished) I do ramble, and, though it has no place in professional writing, this is my blog. I feel that rambling is my way of casually communicating my thoughts in a (hopefully) entertaining fashion. So I won’t win any writing awards and I probably wouldn’t even get an A were this graded. It’s mine. My self-imposed limit was an exercise in restraint. I have none.
Second, even with such a short requirement given to myself, I haven’t been writing every day. I can’t promise that to myself or to anyone. It’s fun and I enjoy my ranting and raving, but I don’t always have the time make the time. Other things take precedence. Sleep is one of those. Studies have shown that sleep makes one less tired. That, in turn, means I am able to be less cranky at work. Who’d’ve thought?! Crazy…
So I may to another 140 word blog post. I may not. I hated ending things mid sentence. I also didn’t like the brevity. Tweets are fun because staying within 140 characters can be an interesting challenge, but it’s always doable. This 140 word garbage was just that. Shit.
I don’t think mine is. I could go to the bother of having a personal and a professional one, one for fun and one for my portfolio, but they fit together pretty well for the moment, I think. And as I’m not currently in the midst of any huge projects worth blogging about (in my mind), I continue in my set path.
A long time coming, this post should be seen as my way of “celebrating” nicolauswitchger.com. True, not a major overhaul of my wordpress. I could install it natively now, the ease of use is great as is. So, props to the WordPress.com team for making those of us who don’t know CSS comfortable!
In its various iterations, my website has taken MANY turns. This is where I currently am. I realized recently that, in order to have a good, searchable, user-friendly, speedy website, I will probably have to learn XHTML and CSS at the very least. Seeing as how designers are often expected to do web stuff as well, I believe it would be beneficial to my budding career. However, the web, as of late, is something I’ve only looked at, not coded for.
The first (and really last) time I hand coded was back in late Middle School/early High School. I don’t even know if the Web was 1.0 back then. All I had was MS FrontPage (1997?) and Notepad and I preferred Notepad. I took great pride in being able to do by hand what most people needed a WYSIWYG editor to accomplish. And mine looked just as good; bear in mind, this was in the days when websites were TERRIBLE by today’s standards.
I learned coding on my own, by “borrowing” code from websites utilizing the effects I wanted to achieve and modifying said code to suit my desires. I have a feeling this is the way I should try to learn CSS, though there are so many great tutorials out there.
Later on, when my father was taking Dale Carnegie and web design courses (two separate entities, not Dale + Internet), he’d bring home books on using MS FrontPage. After the “Beatles Imagemap” and the attempt at my “corporate” (nickorp logo featured to the left…yeah) website, I utilized this for such brilliant sites as “A Tour Of My Room!” Armed with an old Sony Mavica (which saved images to a 3.5″ floppy disk) and FrontPage, this was created. Not brilliant, or even mildly groundberaking, but it kept me entertained and probably helped me to become the troubleshooting whiz I am today (working with Microsoft Software will do that to one). Post 2005, I gave web design a rest for a good ten years or so. Ok, so it was only three, but in WWW years, that is probably about ten, no?
It wasn’t until I graduated from College that the benefits of such knowledge could be an asset. Unfortunately, I was already ten years behind the standard. This, however, escaped my knowledge, and I went ahead with it anyway.
My first attempt at creating a portfolio website was a huge joke.
I attempted it shortly after taking Dynamic Digital Design at SVSU which was basically a Flash class. Our final project for this class was to create a flash-based website for a start-up company in Saginaw. The goal of the website was strictly informational and meant to get the customer to contact the firm personally so they could give them the pitch in person (or at least over the phone) but they wanted to be “timely” and have a web presence, too. After research into what other anti-slip companies were doing with their sites, I came up with this. I was (and still am) pretty happy with it.
Taking from this experience the idea that flash was the web of the future (hell, Homestar Runner had been doing it successfully for years), I set about making my first personal website in years in Adobe Flash CS3.
Let’s just say, the phrase EPIC FAIL comes to mind almost every time I recall this monstrosity. I don’t know where I got the idea for the layout, but wow. W0W. It wasn’t pretty. And it was SLOW. Flash, man. It can be done well, but I learned from the spiteful rantings of one Gizmodo blog that Flash sites are unsearchable and that is a pain in the ass. SEO or something like that. That, and the fact that even with high-speed internet, a 20MB home page takes quite a while to load.
(Here is a “link” to the home page and portfolio page. I could not find a free web host that allowed 20MB uploads, so I was stuck using MediaFire again. Warning again, they’re unnecessarily large.)
The site was live for a while on the SVSU web server until I delved a bit deeper. Actually, I found the web portfolio (I am reluctant to link to a competitor, to be honest) of a high school classmate who graduated from MSU the same semester the same semester as I and with the same degree to boot. It was simple and nowhere near as flashy (pun intended) as mine. The beauty of its simplicity irked me. So, to stay fresh and competitive, I picked up Dreamweaver again and made this. To be honest, I still don’t hate this. Though I borrowed heavily from my classmate’s idea (with the simple 4 links and horizontal layout), it’s kind of visually appealing to me still. It’s not nearly as informative as it should be, but I suppose it probably would’ve gotten the job done.
I still wasn’t satisfied though. So I set about teaching myself Dreamweaver.
It wasn’t great, as you can see. I set it up to work ideally on a 1024×768 monitor with complete disregard for (or rather lack of knowledge of) CSS. I used div tags not knowing what they actually did. I essentially tried to set it up as I would have a flash site, but in Dreamweaver.
After cross-platform testing revealed it only looked good on Firefox and SVSU took away my web privileges, I scrapped the idea.
I don’t know where I got the idea for WordPress, likely one of the numerous design blogs in my RSS feed, but here I am. As of now, it does what I need it to do and I am quite happy with the limited amount of flexibility I am given. Maybe some day I will actually learn to hand code again. Perhaps once I do not spend my non-working hours catching up on blogs and being frustrated with myself that I have not made sufficient to look for a real job. Still trying though.
In short: I’ve tried to have a web presence for quite a while. I did a lot of “research” trying to find on- or off-line copies of lots of my old web work, but only found the above. It should be said that since I couldn’t find a lot of it, it was not mentioned. This was intentional, since I could never remember everything I did and in what chronological order. So here, you have my best attempt to collect it. For my posterity and yours.
Hit the link if you want to join me in making fun of myself 8 (yes, eight) years ago. My sixteen year old self spent too much time on AOL Instant Messenger and reading and filling out e-mail “self-survey” forwards. This one I found when I decided to plug in an old hard drive in the name of research. You can learn a bit about yourself by “seeing where you came from” even if it is in the form of brief, often sarcastic answers to inane questions made up by a (likely) bored sixteen year old.