Ponderings on a hot summer day

At last, a hot day. We certainly aren’t setting any records for warmth this summer here in Toronto. On the contrary, it’s been down right damp and cold. A curious year all around. The upside to this is for a change, Toronto hasn’t been sweltering under a cover of humidity and smog, like past summers. I don’t do well in the humidity. Yesterday (and today) was the first heat alert of the summer, and summer is rapidly winding down.  It’s supposed to end tonight, with the temperatures dropping to close to 16c overnight. I knew, the moment I broke down bought new short sleeved work shirts, I doomed everyone to a cool summer. Apologies to everyone.

So, what’s up with the new design? If you’ve finally caught up with me, after such a long layoff, kudos to you! After blogging for nearly 10 years, I think I ran out of steam. Coupled with an increasing dissatisfaction with Word Press, I stopped writing. I went back to the design drawing board and plotted out exactly what I wanted my site to be. WordPress (WP) is a fine program, but it lacks flexibility and a certain level of sophistication behind the scenes.  I was constantly battling the software to make it do what I wanted and was doomed to fail. The last 2 months of writing on WP, I think I spent more time fussing with the backend then actually getting any work done.  I sat down with books and started teaching myself php (the nifty stuff that makes websites so flexible and dynamic) and SQL. I created and tore down more sites than I care to admit to, in an attempt to find the right formula.  While I learned a lot about how dynamic pages are put together, I don’t have the patience to sit and learn how to do the SQL properly.  I put everything on the backburner and mumbled to myself a lot about my quandary.

Then .. about a month ago, I had dinner with some people, and one of the fellows there suggested I try Joomla.  He said it would have all the flexibility I craved, but a well designed system to make it easy to keep the site up dated once I had my template completed. It moves beyond the simple blog format and allows the user to setup full websites, rather than plug and play WP.  I didn’t go to bed that night – I spent the entire night tinkering with Joomla and investigating templates.  Joomla is EXCELLENT. Has the complexity needed to control a site from the ground up, but the framework needed to make it easy to maintain. And … here I am … again …

If you’re curious, go wander over to Joomla. It’s easy to install, but check first. Your host may have it installed already, all you’ll have to do is set it up.  Once you’ve had fun with the backend, go find templates. There are more than you can shake a proverbial stick at – including some first rate free templates.  Once installed, you can poke through the code and customise them to suit your personal tastes.

When you’re done poking Joomla with a stick, nip over to Gantry Framework and see their work. Download and install Gantry and have fun. It’s takes the drudge out of module theme development. Right now, I’m using the basic Gantry template. Using a combination of Dreamweaver, WAMPP (for offline editing) and Gantry, I’ve managed to personalise the template a bit more. I didn’t like the basic colour scheme or fonts  so I experimented offline for a couple of days until I found the combination I like.

Well… it’ll take time, but slowly, I’ll populate each category and offer you more content. Don’t forget to click on the Daily News Round up at the top of the page. It’ll take you to a twice daily updated page on current news and trending twitter updates, videos of the day and more, culled from the vast interwebs. It updates in the wee hours of the morning and sometime late in the afternoon, so you can always find up to date news (even when I’m too lazy to sit down and type).