Monday, May 31, 2010

Thinking about websites and stuff

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

I made it a sort-of goal to work on my websites this summer. I started with my writing site, which I "improved" for my final project for my Internet Presence for the Small and Medium Business class. Unfortunately, while writing the content was no problem and actually quite fun, doing the layout was a pain. With having that to do on top of my even more frustrating Graphic Design project, I ended up scrapping my first layout attempt and starting from scratch, which meant I had only the day the thing was due to redo the whole layout, and I had to work that day. So I worked on it before work and then after work too, and didn't even finish on time (11pm). Since I primarily utilized elements from the CSS lesson layout my teacher gave us (since I'm not terribly skilled in CSS yet -- and they just released a new version too, which doesn't help matters), I shouldn't have had so much trouble, but I did.

Basically what the issue was was this: the teacher had managed to make a CSS layout with DIVs but without an iframe by basically making every page be a carbon copy of the home page except for the content, and I thought I would try this myself because I had been trying to figure out how to avoid having to use an iframe in a CSS/DIV layout. So before I could make the other pages, I had to get the home page layout figured out, because the rest of the pages were going to have essentially the same layout. I tweaked the teacher's thing by doing a horizontal navigation bar rather than a vertical sidebar like he had done, doing a full banner versus a logo and header, and not including a wrapper (since I couldn't figure out how to make it work). It took me a while to figure out how to make the non-navigation bar links be formatted differently (which I figured out by peeking at the CSS for Myu Corner). Then I had to adjust the dimensions of the main content DIV on the non-homepage pages so that all the content on them would fit. But, strangely, the "publications" and "unpublished work" pages would not format correctly, though they had the same background element coding and were linked to the same CSS. So I had to leave them out. I will add them back if I can figure out what went wrong with them before. Plus, I'm going to probably utilize some "store" software (like Cafepress) rather than the "product" and "order" pages on it. So, as I said, the layout was a PAIN. I hope I haven't bit off more than I chew with that. Learning more CSS -- and learning PHP -- will probably help a lot.

I got rid of the Sailor Stars Fandub site I made for nalyd1996 because it didn't seem to be going anywhere. I wrote to him on YouTube to ask if he wanted to keep the site up, but he never responded, so I figured it was up to me to decide. This leaves the LAR Productions site as my only subdomain of at the moment. I actually installed Joomla on that site to try to make it look a little nicer, but when I logged into my dashboard for it, I couldn't figure out how to use it. So I'm not sure what to do there. I want to keep it up, of course, but I also don't want it to look amateurish (as it does in its HTML version, or so it looks to me).

Then there is, my supposed personal site. Right now, it's basically in limbo. I turned it into a Wordpress site but wasn't pleased with the outcome. I think it will be basically a personal site/domain hub, which basically means it will have some personal info and links to my subdomains. I just need to work it out more.

I also have Myu Corner, my website about the SeraMyu musicals. I was encouraged regarding it by Lilly-chan of BSSMLA (who is now a member of the Miss Dream forums and who is working on a myu site herself), who told me that its existence was worthwhile, since there aren't many myu sites out there. Elly-san from Miss Dream said before that it would be a good site for myu newbies. The layout is ok, although I realized the reviews page is missing (oops). Actually, Myu Corner is the one fully-coded-by-me site that I can say I'm happy with, mainly because of the cool site name image I made and the adaptation I made of my Internet Presence teacher's logo/header bar combo. It does need content though, and I realized when posting about it on Miss Dream just how much content can be added. There are lots of omake guides I can add for omake segments I have seen, since I've seen more of those than musicals. I think the play-by-play format of the omake guides is ok after all; I wasn't sure about that at first, but it works. Also, even though that site has an iframe, most of the main pages are short enough not to scroll, so things look pretty seamless. The only ones that scroll are the subpages of the main pages, which is fine. The main thorn in my side with that site has been my battle getting FanUpdate, the PHP script I was going to use to have site updates (and which Miss Dream used to use for that purpose; they use Drupal now), to work. I tried getting help from a couple people at Miss Dream, but to no avail.

Oh look. They updated FanUpdate! Wonder if it will work now. Just downloaded version 3.

My last site is, my site about the PotterCast Acting Troupe. This is the one blog-style site I currently have up, and for the site's purpose, this works well. It's Wordpress, so I can update it from my iPod too, which is awesome. However, the banner needs work and content to add is hard to come by now that the first Acting Troupe production is over. Attempts to get answers from Leaky have only produced an e-mail from Chloe the Witchy Helper promising to look into my request. My request to affiliate with Leaky has also not been answered. One good thing is that I installed Akismet, an anti-spam Wordpress plugin, which should help cut down on the spam comments. However, I have some new info thanks to the live PotterCast with the Acting Troupe being released, and one of the cast members joined my Acting Troupe fan group on Facebook so maybe I can connect with her to get some info or even interviews of my own. I also can promote the site via my fan group and Leaky's own community MyLeaky and their forum The Leaky Lounge. So if I can do those things and fix the banner (the overall theme's ok, but I replaced the banner with my own banner made with GIMP, and the banner just doesn't look good).  Also, I would like to be able to remove the timestamps from my static pages, if that's possible.

As for future sites, I have two in the works. One is a PGSM site called Sparkle Moon. It will probably be the first site I agree to make mostly white, since that sounds right to me given the amount of content the site will contain. Lots of content suggests a clean layout to go with it. I want to learn more about layout before I do that one though.

The other is tentatively titled WindKnightFuu's Anime and Manga Guides. It's a continuation of my seemingly endless pursuit to make a site containing all my fujoshi (the female version of an otaku) madness, which started about ten years ago when I got interested both in anime and web design. Basically, this site would consist of guides for various anime and manga series. I decided to start with the ones I have seen/read then go from there. I made a list of which ones would be included, excluding ones where I've only seen one or two episodes. The anime part would consist of episode guides, concise enough to communicate plot but not spoil the episodes. I have already started a few of these guides -- one for xxxHolic, one for Cardcaptor Sakura (which I'm in the midst of watching), and one for Prétear (which I watched not too long ago). My notes also say that info on movies for the series and seiyuu would also be included. For the manga side my notes say "guides, writers" which means they would have guides and info on the writers. I don't know if I was thinking of chapter guides or just guides to the mangas themselves. I might just do little one-page guides to the mangas themselves, kind of like what they do at the manga publisher sites like Tokyopop, and then writer bios. It would be kinda hard to do guides on chapters of manga without giving too much away. Episodes of anime you can be more concise on. Each anime main page will feature a brief overview of the series, however, with as few spoilers as possible, like this one I wrote for Prétear (the Prétear guide was the first one I wrote after deciding to do the site):

"Prétear tells the story of Himeno Awayuki, a sixteen-year-old girl whose father, a washed-up romance author, has just married the wealthiest woman in town. Because she comes from a lower status than her new stepfamily, she is alienated both by her stepmother and stepsisters and by people at school. At the height of this, she is approached by the seven Leafe Knights, whose job it is to protect Leafe, the lifeforce of everything, which is being threatened by Fenrir, the Princess of Disaster, and her demon larvae. While each of the Knights can somewhat combat this using his respective elemental power, their power alone is not enough. They need the help of a girl called the Prétear, who fuses souls with the Knights to become various elemental forms that can defeat the larvae. Himeno is the one they’re looking for. She’s reluctant to join them at first, but eventually agrees and spends the rest of the 13-episode series fighting alongside the Knights against Fenrir."

Again, I'd like to learn more about layout before I do this site. I'd also like to figure out how to make both sites more community-oriented, through forums or chatrooms or some other options. The anime/manga guide one would be well suited for user-generated content. I've never even been a forum moderator, though, so I don't know how well I'd do being a forum admin. A forum might be better than a chatroom because chatrooms are harder to control. (I know this from being in a few). If I go the forum route, I will probably go either with phpBB (the most popular forum software) or Proboards (which I think allows self-hosting, which would save me from having to pay the extra hosting cost of phpBB).

I also am considering resurrecting three of my older sites that were good while they lasted - Ayeka's Palace, Liquid Mercury, and Generator Power. Ayeka's Palace was one of my first sites - back when I was using Angelfire for hosting - and was devoted to Ayeka, my favorite character from Tenchi Muyo! Back then (and still, by the looks of it), the only other Ayeka fansite was The Ayeka Fan Club. Ayeka's Palace was pretty simple; it contained info, some pictures, and a couple AyekaxTenchi fanfics of mine titled "Ayeka's Choice" and "Ayeka's Choice II," which, in retrospect, were a lot better than the other fanfiction I was writing back then. I wish I still had them.

Liquid Mercury was a Sailor Mercury shrine I once had. It was the first (and I think only) site I hosted on GeoCities (a popular service once but which is now sadly defunct). It had a blue color scheme and a really cool logo which Amy made for me using Photoshop, where the letters looked like water and had different pictures of Mercury inside them. I also thought the name was pretty clever (since Sailor Mercury is the senshi of water and also because the element mercury is one of only two liquid-form elements on the periodic table). The site had info on Sailor Mercury as well as info on Mercury the planet, the god, and the element. I liked doing the research for it. While I probably can't recreate the logo, maybe I can recreate the site, even though I originally created it during the heyday of "character shrines" (as sites dedicated to a single character in a series are called), which has LONG since past.

Generator Power is a site I had up devoted to Generator Gawl, a really obscure anime. When I started it back in 2000, it was one of only four Generator Gawl sites on the web (that I knew of). Now, there are none; a Google search for "Generator Gawl" only brings up links to reviews, sites like Amazon and imdB, and so on. Even the community for it on LiveJournal (which I stumbled upon one day) has had no major activity since 2007 (though I just checked and there was a post from this month, so maybe it will see some activity). I had it up for eight years, though I really didn't do much with it in that time period. People do seem to be showing some interest in the series on YouTube though so maybe I can use that to spark an interest in my site, if I resurrect it. Really the only good thing about it was that it was up for so long.

Aside from those, I did have some fanlistings for a short time and I may resurrect those once I learn how to use Enthusiast or some similar fanlisting script. I'm not sure about resurrecting the PGSM-related ones I had -- one about Kusaka Hina and another about Hina and Mamoru's relationship -- especially because I can just as easily incorporate that info into Sparkle Moon. But the one I had to another obscure anime, Fancy Lala, I enjoyed doing. I probably won't resurrect the Generator Gawl one I had since I might resurrect Generator Power.

Ok I'm going to eat a late lunch (I had a late breakfast, and we had our BBQ yesterday) and try to keep watching the Redbox movies I have piled up -- probably a shorter one like Astro Boy or The Princess and the Frog, since with my typical late-afternoon lethargy I probably wouldn't last through the supposedly 3-hour-long Avatar. Then I'll probably resume my fight to make iTunes recognize the presence of my iPod. It's been an annoying process - first QuickTime stopped working, then upgrading iTunes wouldn't work (big surprise there, since it never really worked when I tried it). So I downgraded and had to spend about a week re-importing my CD's because iTunes 8 couldn't open my library file. Now iTunes will open but won't recognize my iPod touch when I plug it in, though the computer does, but it thinks my iPod is a digital camera. I know it's not my iPod that's the problem because I tried plugging my iPod into my mom's computer and it worked fine (though I stopped it from syncing to my mom's computer so as not to get her library on my iPod). It's quite a bother.

Well goodbye for now!

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