It’s done. Finally.
Three weeks after making the move from Windows Live Spaces to WordPress, The Writings Of Dennis Earl is finally looking the way it should: like a professional website. It wasn’t easy. Numerous pieces had spacing issues which were an absolute bugger to correct. As I was trying to remove needless gaps between the paragraphs, the size and style of the font would change unexpectedly. It would either shrink, expand and/or darken in tone. Sometimes, small or large chunks of the text would simply disappear. On other occasions, certain paragraphs would be mysteriously repeated or relocated somewhere else on the page. As a newbie to WordPress blogging, it was very easy to get infuriated over the slightest frustration. I felt very depressed at the start.
But thankfully, the more time I spent figuring things out, the easier it became to focus on cleaning up and I began to feel a lot better. You have to understand that WordPress is more advanced that Windows Live. For one thing, you’re dealing with codes which tell the computer how your words are supposed to look once they’re published on the site. You see, when you want to work on a piece, there are two tabs to choose from: Visual and HTML. Right now, I’m typing on what’s called The Visual Editor. It’s pretty much the same as Windows Live only the window you type in is much smaller. (You can adjust the size but I haven’t tried to figure that out yet.) When you click HTML, you’ll see everything you’ve typed plus a whole bunch of other words bracketed with the greater than and lesser than signs. These are essentially commands that let the computer know when to bold something or underline it, when to make a page return or show what website you’re embedding in a certain word or phrase in the text.
A lot of the difficulty I had came from pieces that were originally written and saved in Microsoft Word then copied and pasted into the old Windows Live site. I learned the hard way that Word is not exactly WordPress-friendly. Once I figured out what to do, it was simply a matter of going into HTML, finding those pesky codes and deleting them, sometimes more than once. Perserverance, patience and constant previewing ultimately got the job done. I highly recommend that you make changes in HTML, not the Visual Editor, and that you preview your work before you publish. It is so much easier and I wish I knew that from the start.
While there are still some pieces that have an extra page return here and there, practically everything else is perfectly spaced out. I can always go back and cut out more page return codes if the mood strikes me, but I’m pretty happy with the way this website looks now, minor flaws notwithstanding. I have to learn that perfection is an impossibility.
This would be a good time to explain the new category policy. Back on Windows Live, you were restricted to using one category per piece. And you had a limit on the number of new categories you could create. I remember being really disappointed about that because I had a whole bunch of category ideas that I couldn’t use.
Thankfully, WordPress is a completely different story. You can add as many new categories as you want, whenever you want. As a result, those old ideas have been revived and successfully implemented into the new site. Since I’ve written quite a few pieces about The Beatles, U2, Seinfeld and The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, each of them has their own categories now. I could’ve done the same for Howard Stern and Iggy Pop, but for now, I’ve decided against that. (I’ve done enough cleaning up for now.) All of the old categories from Windows Live have safely made the transition to WordPress and I will continue to use them when appropriate. The complete list of active labels, including all the ones specifically created for WordPress, can be seen right under my search engine.
Here’s the other cool thing about WordPress categorization. You can use more than one per piece. In fact, you can use as many as you want. Although it was greatly time consuming and frustrating (because of those unwanted codes interfering with the layouts), I went through every piece to add more categories. With the exceptions of certain commentaries, personal history articles, most website announcements and the majority of entertainment reviews, everything else has at least two classifications. Since I’ve decided against using tags for now, these category labels will let readers know where these pieces, and other ones of a similiar nature, are filed.
Besides also correcting the occasional spelling mistake (I know there’s one I missed but I don’t remember where I saw it), I also made a series of deletions that were long overdue. In the fall of 2006, I acquired a new email address from Hotmail which has been the main contact for anyone wanting to get in touch with me. The earlier address is on the verge of extinction and I’ve eliminated all mentions of it on here. Sometimes I acknowledged the change in updates on certain pieces and sometimes I didn’t. Either way, it’s time to grow up. No more silly email addresses. It’s strictly firstname.lastname@example.org from now on.
Besides cleaning up a large number of pieces (thankfully not everything needed to be tweaked), I also went over all the posted comments which had unnecessary slashes inserted into various words. Without changing any of the sentiments, whether they were positive or negative, the direct feedback on this site now looks as it did on Windows Live.
So, with that huge job taken care of, what’s next for The Writings Of Dennis Earl? How about more writing and expanding my readership?
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, October 30, 2010