so this is the new look

Blogger is rolling out new template design functionality. my site's been needing some attention for a long time (like actual posts!) and it's needed a makeover for a while too, so i figured i'd give it a shot. the new tools are pretty good- excellent compared to the previously provided options- but still a lot more limited than i'd like.

first impression is: big improvement. dissatisfaction with the available plug-and-play options previously available was one of the reasons i delved into writing so much of the code for my old template myself. (i also wanted to learn a little more about HTML, CSS and Adobe's Dreamweaver UltraDev, so that also didn't hurt.) there's something to be said for just jumping in over your head and trying to swim.

incidentally, there are a ton of resources online to learn about coding for the web. one of the most comprehensive i've found is a remarkably complete site of instructional pages published by W3schools.com, which include HTML, CSS, XML, javascript, ASP, PHP, SQL, and more. if you're interested in learning something from scratch about designing web pages, a blog is a pretty good place to start, and messing around with the code for your blog's template is a good next step.

back to the subject at hand. Blogger's definitely improved what's possible with their in-house template options. i still think, to get something truly outstanding, you'll have to resort to hunting through third-party sites or writing your own code, but for my purposes- a reasonably quick, non-permanent site makeover via the new options- the new design tools were adequate.  if you're a casual or aspiring blogger, they'll probably be plenty powerful enough for you, too.

some of the widgets they've included are pretty useful, such as a customizable blog roll widget which can include previews, and a slideshow widget that works with both Flickr and (less surprisingly, since it's another Google product) Picasa online image galleries. not the Holy Grail, but a nice touch.

i find it a little maddening that the overall blog widths are limited to 1000 pixels. these days, more than 76% of people are browsing the web at resolutions HIGHER than 1024 x 768. a lot of computer monitors and video cards / integrated video chipsets actually outclass HD TVs in terms of maximum resolution. my own setup runs at 1920 x 1200 (as opposed to Blu-ray 1080p resolution of 1920 x 1080) and displays 1080p content letterboxed, blacking out 60 pixels above and below. at similar dot pitches (size of pixels) any extra pixels make for more "real estate" (working area on the screen in which to display content), but most useful, on standard "landscape" display orientations, are increases in horizontal resolution.  (greatly increasing the resolution while greatly reducing the size of pixels makes for much sharper pictures, but doesn't necessarily give you more room to work with, since some content- like characters of text- can only be correspondingly reduced in size so far before they become unreadable.)

the real benefit- really a by-product rather than a design feature- of optimizing web page content for lower display resolutions is multitasking on higher resolution systems. if two sites are optimized for 800 x 600 resolution, that means they can be displayed in two open browser windows, full height, with a little room left over to provide easy access to something else, like an instant messaging window or music player.  but i'm getting off the subject again.

if you want to give blogging a shot, try it out!  it's a piece of cake to get started, and you can put as much or as little effort into it as you like- there aren't any rules.  you might check out Wordpress's open-source software, which i've been meaning to try out since i started my blog, and haven't gotten around to. people swear by it, in terms of powerful features and customization, but i definitely recommend giving Blogger a look as well. they've got pretty solid support (especially for a free service), and their new design tools, available here, are a step in the right direction.


  1. check your blog everyday and thought I had clicked on the wrong favorite tonight! like the new look and all the camp photos (except the horsey one of me that you SWORE would not show up on the internet so kindly delete that one, brother!!!!)


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