My Original ‘about me‘ Page
I’d like to welcome you to my brand new website. I began this website in April of 2014. This was my original ‘about me‘ page. I added to it occasionally when I encountered ideas which had a major impact upon the way that vsatips was presented.
Overtime, this ‘about me‘ section has grown to be long and rambling. It might be useful for someone who is just starting out on a path that’s similar to mine when I began vsatips in 2014. My Dad might find it interesting too…maybe. Other than that, I can’t imagine anyone else who would want to read through this rather long treatise…except of course me :-) I keep it because it is a nice journal of the events which have molded and formed my website…so it’s a useful reference source for me…it’s become sort of a journal now of vsatips and it I changes as it evolves.
Testing all the Font Sizes used at vsatips
I discovered pretty quickly here at WordPress.com that learning a little about coding in HTML5 would be a big help to me in formatting my posts to look good visually.
vsatips journal…body font
Starting out on WordPress.com
April 2014…original about me
I’d like to welcome you to my brand new website, vsatips…tech tips. I began this website in April of 2014 because:
…i’ve always wanted to create my own website. One where I can write about anything I want to, whenever I want to.
…i wanted my new website to be easy to use, so that I could focus on the content, and not spend hours on just getting it all looking ok.
…i also wanted to be able to use an iPad exclusively for creating and maintaining the site.
…but most importantly I need to answer the question: why did I create this website?
…I created vsatips because I like, no actually I love, everything related to tech and design. I love to learn too. So naturally I love DIY (Do it Yourself) sites and I wanted to create one of my own. When I learn something new I want to share it with my friends, family, and the world…oftentimes because it’s so cool, that I just know they will like it too.
…that’s why I created this blog.
…continue reading here if you’re interested in finding out more about how my first year is going with my new website/blog, I’m updating this periodically when I feel I’ve reached some important milestone. So the most current entry is at the bottom of this page.
…update written on June 23, 2014
Should vsatips be a Website of a Blog?
When I began this site, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a blog or a website.
The kinds of topics that I write about are primarily ‘How To‘ guides for technology…especially mobile technology that I use a lot personally. This kind of information could really be presented using either option. But, in the end I chose to create a website instead of a blog for one important reason.
Blogs, by default, are organized chronologically. Most often blogs appear as one very long webpage, with the newest content at the top. I wanted my site to be really easy to navigate, and to have my content grouped by category or subject matter.
While that is possible to do using a blog format, it’s just not as straightforward for my readers. Since much of what I’m writing about focuses on productivity, and on using technology that fosters productivity, it seemed counter-intuitive to me to create a website that forces readers to spend lots of their valuable time hunting for things. So, in the end. I decided to create a website not a blog.
One of the first concepts I was introduced to upon beginning here at WordPress.com was that there are really only 2 ways to present new information..posts or pages. This distinction colored almost everything I wrote about in my first year…because I had to decide for each new topic I wrote which one it should be.
When I decided to go the website route I did keep one aspect of a blog…that was my Menu item entitled ‘Recent Blogs’. At first I was really behind with updating my menus so to read everything in true blog fashion, one needed to go to my main site vsatips, and just start reading from the top down. I quickly discovered that anything I added to my site as a post was put at the top of this page…and then everything else was pushed down…that’s how a blog works. I don’t know why, but I had a lot of problems grasping this one simple concept!
I used both formats…posts and pages initially. I had my own methodology for deciding which way to go whenever I wrote something new.
I chose the post format when a piece would primarily be oriented towards my opinion (rather than being more instructive in content.) The other instance that I’d use posts were when the piece would just be a brief one. One, that in my mind wouldn’t warrant a full-featured article.
Why I Evolved Towards Posts and the True Blog Form Overtime
As time went on and my site grew, I began gravitating more and more towards posts instead of pages. My primary reason for doing this is because people began to follow me. I discovered that my followers would only be notified of something new that I’d written if it was submitted as a post. So, anytime I wrote a new page, which unfortunately tended to be some of my better, longer, more in depth pieces at first, no one was ever notified that I’d even written something new!
One big problem arose with posts however (really there were 2, but I didn’t know about the 2nd one for a long time.) As the sheer volume of my posts grew, even I had problems finding things I knew I’d written! So I still had to solve a huge navigational issue to solve. I turned to an elaborate menu system that I created to solve that problem. The new menu appears in my sidebar.
How My ‘Busy’ Looking Sidebar Menu Came Into Being
You may notice that on most pages of my site there’s a long sidebar menu that is in my opinion, not very attractive! The sidebar menu makes my site look the complete opposite of what I’d envisioned it looking like.
I originally chosen WordPress because so many people had such visually appealing sites. I wanted the same. I wanted a clean, modern looking site. Sadly, mine ended up with a pretty amateurish look and way of presenting my material and an even worse way (visually) of finding it.
But, my readership continued to grow despite the ‘busy and amateurish’ look. I had so many things that I felt I needed to write about that I just sort of gave up on the appearance part and focused on my content instead…at least for the interim.
But rest assured, it’s not forever. I’ll be switching to my own domain soon, and once I’m certain that everything has made the transfer successfully, I intend on solving the visual clutter problem that I’ve created. In the meantime, I continue to play around with posts versus pages, and many other aspects of WordPress formatting trying to learn how to optimize everything in a truly automatic fashion.
…update written February 10, 2015
Font Surprises | My Website Looks Terrible on Computers
A couple of interesting things have occurred since I figured out the difference between pages and posts.
I’ve hated the fonts that all of my pages display since day 1.
I’m an extremely visual person. That’s one of the main reasons I picked WordPress for my new website. Almost all of the well-designed and visually great looking sites that I’ve seen have been created using WordPress. Consequently, one of the first things I did after setting up my new, free WordPress site, was to purchase an upgrade for customizing my theme. It allows me to use custom colors and fonts. I spent a really long time picking out fonts that I thought looked really great.
And they did look great…on an iPad, which, in case I haven’t mentioned it yet, is what I use 99% of the time.
But I realized about nine months into my new project that those carefully selected fonts, which looked really great on my iPad and iPhone, unfortunately look pretty awful on an actual computer.
I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself…really, it took you 9 months to notice this! So perhaps I should explain that I create almost all of my content using an iPad, and sometimes even an iPhone. That capability was also one of my top priorities for deciding on my new sites host. After I’d written quite a few long articles, I went to do some fine-tuning on them using my real computer, which is a Windows PC. Guess what I discovered? It turns out that I was mistaken in assuming I didn’t need to use a computer at all, because you really can’t do everything on an iPad yet.
I was really alarmed to see that the main font for the body text I was using…which is used basically everywhere except in my titles…was pretty awful looking on my PC monitor’s screen. It was so bad in fact, that much of my site was virtually unreadable…at least for me it was, but I’m eyesight challenged too…so maybe it wasn’t really that bad?
Unfortunately, I was afraid to change it! Here’s why:
- I’d already built up a fairly large database of articles.
- I’d helped a friend setup a similar site and we experienced a minor disaster changing some simple theme elements on his site.
This was driving me sort of crazy for a long time. I went through most articles one at a time trying to change the fonts or used bold typeface to make them appear darker and easier to read.
Finally, 2 days ago, I mustered up the courage needed to take a stab at changing the font site wide.
I’d read literally everything I could about changing fonts. All that I read seemed to indicate that changing fonts was NO BIG DEAL…but my earlier disaster told me otherwise. (The disaster was that I basically lost all of the content and had to re-upload everything, and in some cases even recreate things.)
I may have mentioned already that I spent hours reading up on it…I also tested out about 50 fonts, and then various combinations of body and title fonts, I even seriously thought about creating a brand new test site first, just to try it out. But in the end I decided that I knew enough to be able to recover if things didn’t work out as well as I hoped they would. So I changed it 2 days ago…and do you know what?
Changing fonts really is NO BIG DEAL!
I’m not really sure what this says about my skills as a web creator…that I considered changing fonts on my site to be one of my most significant milestones for my first year.
;-) Luckily, I’m easily impressed.
…update written September 28, 2015
I Began My 2nd Website Today Which I’m Calling…
vsatrends…trends for life
I have so much to write here, but I’m leaving on a long overdue vacation so it will have to wait for my return! But one thing I did want to share is the link to my 2nd new website vsatrends, where I write more about me, lifestyle topics and less about tech things!
…update written on October 22, 2015
A Little More Information About vsatrends &
I Participated in My First WordPress Class
Well, I’m finally back from an awesome vacation to Las Vegas, Yosemite, Napa Valley and Portland OR, where we were able to visit the Roloff pumpkin farm. My visit to the farm was really great and it reminded me about why I’d started my new site, vsatrends.
Sometimes, I really love something and I want to write about it here, but the topic is so far removed from the tech focus of this site that I feel like I really shouldn’t.
I participated in my first WordPress online class recently (unfortunately half of it was during my vacation so I really didn’t get to participate all that much!) The major takeaway for me was that I need to work harder to create an identity for my site, and then to try to maintain consistency with that identity. Because I’m severely ADHD ‘consistent focus’ doesn’t come easy for me! But I do get the rationale behind it and I think that’s why I felt it was the perfect time for me to create my new site vsatrends.
Two other things I learned in my Blogging 101 class were that WordPress does have a thriving community for bloggers too (similar to the one I began in Squidoo.) I’d previously been unaware of this. Also, I began to appreciate the importance of growing more involved in an online community like the one that formed for our class. It was an awesome experience which led me to write 2 posts about me learning to blog on WordPress.com experience.
Hopefully by doing so, I’ll be better able to keep each site consistent with its’ own brand of content. My one big fear (as you may have already guessed) is that I’m spreading myself a little too thin. I fear that I won’t be able to deliver quality new material on a frequent enough basis for each site. But then the only way to really know this for sure is to just give it a go and see what happens.
So, what types of content will vsatrends include?
My original intent was to focus exclusively on topics I love which require a strong sense of design. Those topics include fashion and everything related to it, interior design, architecture, landscape design, jewelry design and silversmith concepts…you get the main idea right?
But, of course, in practice I’m much to practical for that idealized approach. So far at least, my posts have taken on much of the same tone that they do at vsatips…namely I’ve written a few ‘How to’ articles which have much less to do with asthethics and much more to do with the mechanics of accomplishing tasks within those realms. But in watching how this unfolds, I guess I feel that if my type of ‘how to’ approach brings value to readers, then I’m OK with that approach.
…update written January 24, 2016
My Website is Really a Blog After All
Hi! I’ve not written an update for a really long time because I discovered trying to write things for 2 websites is pretty time consuming…what was I thinking? So I’ll just mention a couple of highlights which after rereading this whole section I realize probably might not make a whole lot of sense, but I’ll take a stab at it anyway.
Its sort of ironic I think that after my long debate about ‘posts versus pages’ and ‘blogs versus websites’ that it seems pretty arbitrary now. This ‘about me’ section is essentially becoming my blog. The ironic part is that it is in essence a blog about my blog. Because that’s what my site really is by the standard definition.
I write posts almost exclusively now because the sharing options are so automatic. If I write a page I have to share it manually…and not really to my followers because I don’t really know how, or even if there is a way to do that. I suppose I could write a post with a link to my page…but that seems really dumb…why not just write a post in the first place?
So I write posts and then add them to different menus when I remember to. It’s a blog with menus I guess :-)
I bought 2 domains and after obsessively researching every aspect of how to do it correctly finally changed vsatrends over to my own domain. So from that standpoint I was glad I started it because I don’t have much content there and it would have been easier to reconstruct if need be…but it all worked out OK and there was only one real glitch. I start a lot of posts that I try to go back and finish….and oftentimes actually do. But there are still a lot more sitting waiting to be finished…I never run out of ideas to write about…my problem is I have too many ideas. I like to start them before I forget them (because my other option, writing a lot of notes takes just as long so I may as well just start actually writing the posts) but then when it comes to doing the screen shots they take a lot of time. So I get them mostly written but still have to create all of the screenshots…then the day ends and I haven’t finished.
The next day begins and I’m struck with some other pressing idea that I feel I need to begin too…before I forget it. And the whole cycle starts over again. It’s sort of a viscous cycle too! I think maybe that’s typical of ADHD personalities but since I really don’t know anyone else who has it I’m not entirely sure. I was only diagnosed as an adult…about 6 years ago…and I don’t think it’s super common yet amongst adults. But for me, being diagnosed and starting on Ritalin has been life changing…it’s like I’m normal now!
So the glitch I alluded to is this. Everything worked great switching to my new domain except when I began to finish older posts that I’d begun prior to the switch. Those posts, for some reason, can’t be commented on. I’m not sure why. So I have this huge backlog of older posts at vsatips to finish…which is why I haven’t switched to my new domain yet. But now at least I know that I can!
I still want to figure out a better option for menus too because the top menus don’t work well on mobile devices…and the side menus look awful and are a pain to keep up! And I keep starting new posts because there’s timely things that I think are important that I need to let friends and family know about like my most recent post on the ios 9.2.1 update which fixes a serious security hole.
Also, somewhat ironically, I mostly write things like that for family and friends and I think very few of them actually even read them. The vast majority of my readers are either followers from WordPress or they just find my things by using Google. Which tells me I must have pretty high Google ranks because probably 50-75 people a day arrive here from Google searches. Whereas maybe 2-4 friends and/or family members arrive here daily from what I can tell.
Coding | Learning HTML Has Made My Life Easier
One cool thing I’ve managed to learn that’s making my writing go faster is HTML5 coding. I figured out that it’s much faster to learn the proper coding for formatting text than to try and use an iPad with the dashboard text editor…which sort of jumps around a lot. I could only make a few changes before it would get completely uncontrollable and I’d have to publish what I’d done so far and then begin again. So using WordPress’es ios app and jumping between the Visual editor and the HTML Editor is really saving me a lot of time! And now I can add titles and things like the one above very easily. This gives me lots more time to work on screenshots!
…update mid 2016
Don’t think by my lack of updates here that I’m loafing…because nothing could be further from the truth! Sometime around the mid-year point of 2016 I decided that this about me section, which seems to have more visits than seems possible (based upon my Stats,) was too long and rambling for it to represent me well in typical ‘about me‘ fashion. So I wrote an entirely new one (really I modified an existing one called ‘Welcome to vsatips’ which I think I added back when I was learning to setup menus and I thought I needed an actual page or post for each menu item.)
Also, in preparation for making the change over to my own domain I’ve begun work on a new Sitemap. It’s not finished yet…and in fact never will be since I’ll need to update just like I need to update my regular menu system anytime that I add new content. But you can see what it’s like so far here. I’m really hoping this will solve my ‘busy’ appearance problems!
…update written February 17, 2017
vsatips | Enters a New Chapter
At least I think it is. Why do I say this? There are 2 main reasons…
I know it’s taken forever…well, 2 1/2 years at least…but I’m finally going to move to my own domain very soon! I need to finish one or two very long, but in my mind very important posts first. Because when I ran my ‘switching to my own domain’ test on vsatrends, I discovered that all my drafts were messed up afterwards. Currently I have 57 drafts or works-in-progress for vsatips. I know, you can see the ADHD in all it’s glory from that one sentence alone!
Most of those 56 drafts aren’t all that important…and I know how to copy them over into an entirely new post now. But there are one or two that are long and good ;-) and I want to get them done first. Then I’m switching…which will hopefully be in one o two days time!
There are 2 reasons I need to do this. The first is so people can easily find my website just using vsatips in a Google search. The 2nd is that I would like to move into phase 2 and begin monetizing my website with a very few carefully curated, well placed ads.
WordPress.com has a program for that…it’s called WordAds. I don’t know a lot about it, and frankly, what I’ve read so far hasn’t been promising, but I still want to give a try anyway. It’s a learning experience and an opportunity to show people that anyone with a simple idea can turn that idea into a career if they are dedicated and willing o put on the time.
Actually I sort of covered much of this above. But my main motivation for the change is that I feel like vsatips is making significant progress in getting recognized by Google and in growing a readership. While it’s not necessarily the community that I just wrote about in my most recent blog post…it’s a good start towards making this a real business.
One last thing
Because this page is so long and I recently learned about a mechanism WordPress has for just such an event, I’m going to try it out here. I don’t remember exactly what it’s called. But it’s designed to break up really long Pages into 2 or more shorter ones. So I’ll leave what appears above here and above as Page 1 and I’ll try out this new dashboard tool right here to break of new things onto a new page.