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I'll admit that I've only very lightly dabbled in JavaScript before this.  I tried two books and got frustrated just skimming them.  I'm going to have to try another.  I spent yesterday trying to get better Search Engine hits for a very old animal care website I maintain.  Since I don't have Dream Weaver anymore, and this page uses templates I wasn't looking forward to it.  I have a spry menu and since I couldn't set it as a library item when I was using Dream Weaver I had kind of given up on being able to edit it once and have it dynamically change on all the pages.  So I've been opening every file and pasting the new menu in addition to fixing the page titles, changing my h3 headers to h1 and fixing page description and keyword issues.  I got all the CSS into one file and am using classes on the body tag to change colors.  I'm painfully proud about that as I redid this site last before learning advanced CSS.

This morning as I have 350 or so more files to open I thought what about googling java script menu load.  This  wonderful site popped up.  I did some programming in college (mostly crashed lab computers) so I really just need syntax and such.  It was painfully simple, and my new JavaScript menu file is also simple.  It is a set of 117 document.write commands with my spry menu list tags in them.  It took less then 20 minutes to work out the kinks and it freaking works.  I replaced the code on all the pages of the huge menu with 3 lines for the script call and a link in the header.  I think I'll make one for the footer as well, though I can change that with find/replace easily.  It was just the multi-line menu that notepad++ would not search through.  Using simple noscript tags I can just make them appear where the menu would if someone has JavaScript turned off.  This site is on a cheap shared server and I don't know enough programming to play with PHP outside WordPress yet, so I’m finding this an awesome solution.

Downside: I still have to open all those files, and now I have to reopen the ones I fixed yesterday.  It will probably also kill my XML sitemap as it will appear there are very few links on all the pages. 
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I fiddled with my portfolio contact page today.  I have some how avoided using forms in the last 10 years of web design.  I avoided forms for two reasons, number one had to do with a lack what to do with them (i.e. no databases running), and number 2 was validation.  I didn't want useless info, though I hadn't figured out what I wanted anyway.  When I worked at a small website the programmer did all the forms and database work, I jut had to leave space for them.  So far it turns out they aren't that hard. 

I mushed together 4 different script chunks with else statements, and spent a hour figuring out where the brackets went, but it does work now.  It is not pretty, but I'm not getting any errors and it is validating that there is text in each input, and that the phone number is all numbers and the e-mail address is at least the right format.  All in all I'm quite proud of myself for my first attempt. 

Tomorrow I'll see about limiting the length of the one textarea I used.  I also have to fiddle with my mother's business website and give it a contact form as well.  E-mail me links just don't look professional. 

I also finally decided that the wordpress I have been fiddling with is going to be my photography portfolio.  I'm a little too limited in using my design portfolio for photography.  WordPress would also be easier to update.  I'll probably be redesigning my mother's site as well with WordPress so she can change text as soon as it occurs to her, and post a blog as well. 

Now if only someone would come out of the woodwork and offer me a job doing this I'd be happy.  I really don't want to apply to that pet store chain again, but so far they are the only retail store that calls me back. 
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I finished up my little thing today in InDesign.  I didn't reopen it in Quark yet.  I think InDesign has a huge advantage with alignment.  It has snap center and edge lines.  You can drag boxes around and they will pause when centered or side aligned with other boxes.  This is mighty nifty.  I assume Quark has that somewhere as well, but since it wasn't turned on lining things up was a nightmare.

You can also fill boxes with whatever you want.  They aren't automatically set to text or image.  You can change it around without having to reset the box.  I didn't fiddle with running text around irregular images or anything but boxes yet.  I haven't found an easy to clean up photo yet.  I really miss shutter stock and being able to just download an already masked and clean image of exactly what I want.

I eventually caved and started making master pages and styles.  I'm not good at that until I have more of a basic outline in place.  Of course by the time I have an outline I have enough content that styling gets messy.  It mostly worked, though I'm having issues staying attached to the master pages for some reason.  I expect there is some box I'm not ticking off.

I was lazy on my blog this week and missed two days.  I've been stuck inside due to the 3 feet or so of crusty snow we have.  I could be hiking, but I don't really want to.  When the snow is this deep you only really see birds, and most of them are on feeders.  That leaves photos of my critters to post, and there are only so many of those I do in a week.


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February 2011

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