Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Grandma.app

Let me elaborate
I finally updated my website so I could integrate my blog into it. Now I can just tell people to go to 'themacmommy.com' and I don't have to worry about whether or not they'll remember the dot blogspot dot com part. The only thing I'll have to worry about is if they remember the 'the' part of the address.
(PITA, but macmommy.com is already registered so I had to put 'the' in front. Just in case you thought I was really that conceited.)

I've tried to lay out my home page as a sort of one-stop virtual business card. (Inspired by Dave Taylor, thank you Darling.) I'm still tweaking the rest of the site and pages, but the bulk of it is done. I'm pretty happy with the layout despite the fact that I barely know anything about building websites and that I made the whole thing in iWeb. On the blog I just kept tweaking numbers and code and previewing it till I figured out what changed what. My OCD must have kicked into overdrive and this probably explains why my eyes are so dry lately. I still wonder sometimes what would have happened had I studied web design in college instead of print graphics and advertising. Oh well. I'm having fun now and that's all that matters, right? There are lots of cool things I'd like my site to do, but this will suffice for now until I learn more. Baby steps. Goo goo ga ga.
(What baby ever says that anyhow? Just wondering.)

<--- You can use the page links on the left hand side of the page to explore other pages on my external website and social network.

It's always a work in progress because I love to tweak. It keeps my mind off of my allergies and gives me something to do (instead of cleaning the house) while potty training my son. (not that it hasn't been just so much fun hanging out stuck in my living room with a nekked kid running around who isn't me) Eventually I want to create a better page on my site to display some of my artwork and creative photography. I just have stupid links there for now. Don't click them. It's more of a reminder or placeholder for myself as to what I'd like to put there. I have all of my older photography all backed up on archive and I just have to dig it out and arrange it better. (An OCD attack for another time perhaps.)

I could never be a good scrapbooker. Thinking about it just makes me twitch.
And it's not like I don't have all the supplies sitting in my closet either just in case all the computers in our house ever break down and I have a nervous breakdown along with it.

I've also added some enhancements to my blog here. I hope you like them. You'll notice there are little icons after outgoing links. If you roll your cursor over those tiny icons, you'll get a preview of what the website looks like without even having to click over and leave the spot where you're currently reading. I find this helpful for those times when I may add a link that points to an image to illustrate some vague concept inside my head. Like this one.

I've also added a new commenting system called Disqus. Now you can leave me text comments as well as video. (go ahead, I double, dog dare ya!) If you don't have a Disqus account, you can still leave comments, but Disqus is pretty cool and free to sign up. So is seesmic. Just sayin. Sometimes it's a bit funky to be able to read everyone else's comments to each other — kinda like you're spying on them and reading their mail — but I suppose you could be all ninja about it and leave yourself annonymous or "unclaimed" somehow so no one would know it was you who talked about your mother-in-law out in the open. I'm looking forward to seeing comments using this new feature. I hope someone leaves me a video comment sometime. That would be a lot of fun. If I could get my friends and family on board with these free services, it would be a really great way to keep in touch through my blog. Ahh, the power of web 2.0 — if only I could get people to use it now! (Hint: the more people who participate with me on my blog, the more examples I'd have to show them.)

Thanks to help from friends on twitter, I FINALLY got the favicon thingee working on everything including my spot on the Alltop Moms page. (Tip: there are lots of awesome blogs on that page, so if you are looking for someone specifically, just press command-F and type in parts of their blog name and Firefox or Safari will highlight the link for you. If you want to search for me, for example, type 'the' 'mac' 'mommy' with spaces and it will take you right to it.) w00t! Thanks for all your help guys! You rawk! (and contribute to my OCD, thankyouverymuch)

The only time the favicon doesn't load is if you type the url into the browser. For example, if you type 'themacmommy.com' and load the pages, then the favicon doesn't load and the url locations don't change either. This has to do with the fact that I'm cheap/poor, take your pick a stubborn frugalista and trying to stretch the outer limits of free content hosting wherever I can. My blog is hosted for free here on Blogger. My website is hosted for free with Cox, my ISP. All of my photo and movie sharing needs are hosted for free with services like Picasa, YouTube and Vimeo. I've taken all of these free services and stitched them all together using a combination of embedded code and links on my blog and website; you know, "internet glue." Google is my favorite type of "internet glue."

So, to professional web designers, I'm sorry if all the under-stitching looks like crap, but the fact is, my 80-year old Nana who lives 3000 miles away — doesn't care. She just likes to click on stuff and I like to imagine the smile that melts across her face when she sees her great grandson in movies and pictures that she doesn't have to fumble with in her mail program. (So long as her Windows box loads the correct plugins - I keep my fingers crossed or walk her through it over the phone.)

I guess you could say that my grandmothers are my driving force when it comes to doing what I do online and how I create content using my Mac. My paternal grandmother, Nana, has a computer and is pretty savvy when it comes to being organized. She knows how to check her email and forward virus hoaxes, because she cares about me, ya know and respond to messages. She can navigate the web. She finds joy in simple things and that really inspires me. My maternal grandmother does not have a computer and is a traditional artist. (She would rather put ink to paper and I don't think she's ever even touched a mouse. She only knows of the mammal kind and would keep it as a pet if she could.) I respect her unwillingness to embrace technology and it challenges me that much more to find simple tools she might possibly consider. I get the creative influence from her. Both grandmothers are in their eighties so anything I create online or offline has to be easy to use.

My sole motivation for learning how to use iMovie is so I can someday create a collection of videos and make a DVD using iDVD to send to my grandmothers so she they watch it on their TVs. Now I just need to get my optical drive fixed and I can move forward with that project.

Every time I sign up for a new social networking service, I have my Nana and other family members in mind. I always wonder if it would be something they could use or would like. Most of the time, sadly, the answer is no for several complex reasons. I continue to look for ways in which families and friends can network and keep in touch using the web. Just a few days ago I walked my Dad through the installation and setup of a Skype account and the result was awesome and we had so much fun. (iChat is fun too, but has been having some quality issues lately.)

Most of my friends and family live on the other side of the country. The distance always keeps me reaching out to them in new ways.

So far, the best way I have found is to try it all out, use it for a while and then incorporate the best parts of it somehow into my online space in such a way that I can just email one simple link to a friend or family member. That's what I'm hoping to achieve with my website and blog and I hope it will inspire others.

Thanks for supporting my site!