Monday, May 26, 2014

Why "Now"? Why "Blogger"?

I mentioned a few posts back that I had a 'rumbling' in my head of posting about why I have returned "now" (as opposed to 'before' or even 'later') to 'game' blogging.  I suppose this is as good a time as any to actually put something down "on paper" (so to speak).

I think it was in my "farewell" post on my old MyDDO blog on the now defunct website that I mentioned that Geoff Hanna had opened his site up for any displaced MyDDO bloggers to have a home, if they wished.  I considered taking him up on his offer, but ultimately chose to create my own blog space through Blogger.  Some may ask, "Why not WordPress?".  A fair question - after all, the old MyDDO used that popular blogging tool, so it would be somewhat familiar.  However, I also have a personal blog that I set-up years ago through Blogger, so Blogger is also somewhat familiar*.  While both WordPress and Blogger have good and bad (just about like anything else), ultimately I found WordPress to be too...confusing.

You see, there is, the makers of the actual blogging tool used by many, and there is, which is a hosting site.  But the free web-hosting on can be quite limiting - their "free" access requires you to use a "stripped-down" version of WordPress (along with other restrictions).  Yes, there are other WordPress web-hosting sites (quite a few, actually), but when I looked into them, many of them required a monthly fee (and I'm not about to go pay for a blogging service) or their free versions required 3rd party ads, limited bandwidth/access and/or limited space, or other such restrictions I didn't want to deal with (even though most of the limitations would probably not be encountered.

Blogger, on the other hand, was acquired by Google some time back, so if you have a Google account, you automatically have a Blogger account.  I (currently) have (4) Google accounts (don't ask).  Unlike WordPress, Blogger is both the blogging tool AND web (blog) hosting site (though I understand you can use the Blogger tool with other web sites, too).  Blogger has always been free, and I do not believe there have ever been any restrictions on traffic/bandwidth and their storage space is quite generous.  Also - Google acquired "Picasa" some time back as well, so with a Google account, you also have a Picasa account.  Picasa also recently (I'm assuming - I haven't kept up with it) came up with "Picasa Web Albums" which allows one to post pictures in Blogger (probably other sites, too) without having to find another picture hosting site (like Photo Bucket and Image Shack) on the web.  There are some size limitations on it, but I'm not going to worry about that until I need to - which will probably be a while (if ever).

There are some things that WordPress does that Blogger does not.  Automatically converting "smileys" is one; I have to post an image every time (but that not difficult, so - meh).  WordPress also allows editing of comments.  This could be a very useful tool and it is one Blogger should allow blog administers to do, but don't (at least, not yet).  And WordPress does have a nice, 'advanced' formatting capabilities editor, and you can put images in comments (Blogger does not natively, though there are ways around that).  But it is also said that Blogger is a good "beginners" web site, so if you don't know anything about blogging, Blogger could be a good choice.

Now, some people think that Blogger is very limiting.  That's not true.  While they do have a limited selection of templates, you can create your own and/or modify any template they have - IF you know how.  But a lot of their templates are just as good as some of WordPress'.  So even if you start with Blogger but want to do more, you can - you just need to know more about HTML.

I mentioned that the Blogger template I'm currently using is "close" but not quite what I want.  The layout template I'd actually like to use is much more like Unstoppable Robot Ninja uses (which is his own layout coding, BTW).  I asked him if he had a template, but he did not; though he said I could "poke around under the hood".  But most of his CSS stuff is in a reference file, which makes making changes easier (one place to edit, as opposed to possible multiple places), but makes viewing source code more difficult (because all the "good stuff" is somewhere else, though may still be possible to find - if you can figure out how).  Still, poking around didn't really help that much - I should probably buy his book.

I first stumbled across URN's site while looking for a 3-column template.  One of my stops was at Matthew James Taylor's website, after doing a Google search for "HTML 3 column layout" and found his "Holy Grail" template.  It's very close to what I was looking for, but still not quite.  Poking around MJT's site, I found some HTML code for a "fixed" outer-framed, fluid, 3-column layout (ah - MUCH closer) and then a reference to URN's website in an paragraph about fluid pictures.

So what's so great about URN's website?  At first glance, it looks pretty plain; no fancy background and a dark, but neutral, color scheme.  If you have a standard 3:4 monitor, you can see that it's a nicely proportioned, 3-column layout with a header and a footer.  First of all, 3-column layout are (for whatever reason) "rare" - especially ones done "properly".  But more than that - if you have a 16:9 (or other widescreen format) monitor, you will see that the 3-column layout is centered and maintains it's nice proportions, with blank sides outside the flanking columns.

But even more than that - if your browser is maximized, put it into a windowed mode, then grab either side and collapse it (that is, grab the left side and drag it to the right).  Do that on this blog - see how the right side disappears?  That's because the Blogger template is a "fixed" column size, like most templates are.  Now, do it with URN's web page.  See the difference?  URN has a "fluid" column size.  And did you notice what his logo in the header did?  No?  Try it again, then.  It got proportionally smaller as the window was collapsed.

THAT'S what I want - a fluid, 3-column layout, with header and footer, and fluid pics (when used).

But I still want to keep all the inherit Blogger links in the correct places.  There used to be a list of all the "perma-links" way back before Google acquired Blogger, but I can't find them anymore.  That and my attempts to replicate what URN has using the code that MJT provides on his site still have some glitches.  And CSS/HTML coding is not the most exciting thing to be playing with in one's free time that would much rather be spent playing games like DDO (and others).  Add it all up and you get - use the Blogger template that's "close" until you take the time to figure out a nice template code 'blanket' to use instead.

But if you're observant (and have been here before the week of 5/23/14), you might have noticed a subtle change.  I'll let you guess what, though (hehehe).

As far as "why now" goes:  "why not".  Actually the reason is primarily due to the 1-year anniversary of MyDDO's demise.  I was thinking about jumping right back into the gaming blogging world shortly after getting "Chez Comic Relief" initially setup, but I wanted to play around with the formatting a bit, first.  After finally locating the 3-column layout mods to the template, a few months had gone by, so I decided to wait.  In the mean time, I was also playing around trying to get my own template somewhat up and running and that took several weekends as well.  Then I finally upgraded to Windows 7 and all of my testing pages were...misplaced.  Yes, I backed-up my system before upgrading (and by "upgrading", I mean starting over from scratch, installing Windows 7 on a brand new, SSD).  And since Microsoft is full of idiots, they did not put in a way to read Windows XP backup files (among other, similar "brilliant" [that's sarcasm, if you couldn't tell] changes).  And other IRL things going on.  So we're back to "Why not" (which, contrary to popular belief is an answer - just maybe not the one you like or were expecting).

TL/DR:  "Because", "It seemed like a good idea (at the time)", or "Why not?" - your choice.

*'Somewhat' because it has gone through some changes and I have not used my personal blog in quite some time now, for reasons I shall not go in to.  And, no, you may not have the address for my personal blog - I referred to it a few times back on the old MyDDO blog, but I have purposefully kept my 'gaming' and 'personal' blogs separate and never the twain shall meet (except once).  However, if you really, really insist, you might be able to do a Google search and find it on your own, if you know what to look for.  One hint:  my personal blog nick is not "Comic Relief" or anything close to it.  That's all you get.


  1. The only comment I have about site and format is that it can sometimes be difficult to leave a comment here. There have been times that I mis-used the Publish As thingie - or it didn;t work right, I can't tell - and my comment was deleted instead of published.

    I would have commented on more posts if I could have. Everything else seems quite nice :)

    1. Yeah, I've read about and experienced that issue myself. In my case, it's because I block all cookies. With IE, I allow "per session" cookies, and I don't have a problem with commenting. Surprisingly, with Chrome, I *do* have a problem with comments, even though I allow their version of "per session" cookies. Guess Chrome still has some tweaking to do.

  2. *mizzaroo nods her head and pretends to understand* I see! Yes! It all makes sense now! *goes back to playing Fable II(though technically it's the third Fable)*

  3. Yeah, I've read about and experienced that issue myself. In my case, it's because I block all cookies. With IE, I allow "per session" cookies, and I don't have a problem with commenting. Surprisingly, with Chrome, I *do* have a problem with comments, even though I allow their version of "per session" cookies. Guess Chrome still has some tweaking to do.