It all started because the blogroll had gotten out of hand. It was too long--it dangled down like a monkey tail and made the page look all wonky and out of sorts. I tried fixing it. I tried to compress the blogroll by just listing the names and not the title snippets from posts, but that didn't work because if I took away those snippets, then how would I know when something new was up?
I tried including more of my own posts on the page to balance the look of things, but that didn't work either because it made the page go on, and on, and on. Visually, blog posts are kind of like sandwiches made from leftover Christmas ham: The first three are fine. After that you start to lose interest.
I even (briefly, mind you) thought about editing out some of the blogs. But I just couldn't do it. They are on the blogroll to begin with because they are my favorites. Worse, I even added a few here and there because I couldn't help myself as I kept finding new ones worth reading. The list got longer. The blog got more unwieldy.
So finally, I decided the only thing left to do was to create a new, separate page, just for the blogs. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I could have a whole page devoted to my favorites, and I could even highlight links to posts I liked. After all, if I get some enjoyment out of reading a post, why shouldn't I point others in that direction?
And as long as I was going to do that...
My friends, what we see here is the result of this kind of misguided, runaway thinking. Two weeks of frantic scrambling and some hastily learned HTML/CSS coding later, and the new Bike Garden blog is open for business.
Some of you have asked for a report on how I created the tabs, so if you want to read the excruciating details, keep on reading. If not, you should skip the next four paragraphs.
I wanted to keep the same web address, so that meant keeping a Blogger platform. However, the templates provided by Blogger just wouldn't support what I wanted to do, so I found a different, free one (they are called "skins"--did you know that? I didn't; sounds a bit gruesome) from a website called Our Blogger Templates, and that was very satisfactory approach. They have dozens and dozens from which to choose, of all make and styles, so if you're looking to update your own Blogger site, it's worth a look. They have FAQ section that explains how to download and transfer the code to your Blogger account, making the switch fairly painless.
I wanted a template with three columns and some tabs, and found one I liked. From there, I was able to customize it without too much trouble for my own look. There were a few things that didn't fit quite right, though, and some that I wanted to subtract and add, and that's where the coding came into play. There is more that I'd like to tweak (such as how to make an extra large image fit in the post box), but I haven't been able to figure out the coding. My brother is coming for a visit over Christmas, however, and I believe he might know a thing or two about HTML. So Jack, if you're reading this, be forewarned. There are some chocolate oatmeal cookies in it for you.
There are some limitations to the new template, most aggravating of which is that you can't move widgets up and down to position them--which means you have to know exactly what you want on the sidebars and in what order before you start. Worse, if you want to add something in the middle later, you have to start all over. And then there was creating all those sub-pages (which all are new blog pages themselves, and which serve the same function as "labels" did on the old format) and the links to the sub-pages, and moving all the widgets and posts...
Oh, and when you first transfer the template coding to Blogger, you may lose some of your existing widgets, such as labels, blogrolls, lists, etc. So I created a dummy page first on an old blog page I no longer use, and stored everything there that I wanted to keep. Then when I lost widgets in the transfer, I was able to re-create them from the dummy. Also, be sure to make a copies of your template from time to as you work with it--saving it in a word file works fine--that way, if you mess up some coding in your tweaking, you don't have to start over from scratch.
It took about two weeks of very late evenings and very early mornings. I had a lot of fun, but I'd rather not do it again any time soon.
Anyway, welcome to the "open house" for the new and improved Bike Garden. Take a look around and tell me what you think. Regular posting will occur here on the home page and be sent off to relevant sub-pages for filing. I'll also probably post other stuff on those pages from time to time, such as interesting news articles I run across that are relevant to the subjects. And certainly, there is the new, sparkly, now-expanded blogroll.
On the "About" page, you'll find a guided tour to each of the subpages, so I'd start there if I were you.
If you do or don't like something, or if something is not working (page too wide, tabs not showing at the top, page jump not working, etc.), please let me know. Everything looks fine on my computer, but for all I know, things could be all cattywampus on your end.
Oh, and the photo at the top of the post? That's my next project: It's time to order seeds, y'all.