I’m so Fancy…for Now

As with my brain, I use a fraction of the full capability of the technology at my fingertips. My smartphone and Macbook Air mock my ignorance, and think they know more about my needs than I do. Both are forever doing me little favors, like importing contacts from Jobs only knows where into a huge, useless directory with dozens of duplicates and unwanted entries. Same with pictures I snap from my phone. Thanks a lot.

When FAX machines were new to the workplace, I was one of the more tech-savvy folks around. After the department store where I was employed in the late 1970s switched from cash registers to computer terminals, I taught the other employees how to use them. A few years later, I was the computer whisperer at the office — able to coax even the most stubborn hardware into working with the software and peripherals.

I lost my technological edge when Windows came out. For a while, I read software manuals and “for Dummies” books in a desperate but futile attempt to keep up. Then I just gave up. Rapid change and my increasing ignorance forced me to rely on the sarcastic, patronizing, and often dehumanizing assistance from various help desk geeks. A tech-savvy secretary keeps me from having to call them anymore.

Starting my blog in 2008 didn’t stretch my tech know-how all that much. Nothing to it. Pick from the free templates and then fill in the blanks with text. Later, I figured out how to upload pictures from my digital camera into posts. Eventually I upgraded to nicer templates and tinkered with the settings to fancy things up a bit. Though not the nicest site on the Internet, it worked for me.

My needs changed when I became an author. Instead of a single page with just the blog, I needed a a web site with a static home page and pages for my blog, books, and biographical information. I still don’t really know what she did, but a friend went in and set everything up for me. She also taught me about widgets and showed me enough HTML coding for anything I’d need to do.

I was quite proud of my web site. Visitors — especially other writers — often remarked on the professional-looking layout. Nice as it was, the site still wasn’t quite what I needed. So I hired a professional designer to take my site to the next level.

Did she ever! The custom design, launched in August, stemmed entirely from a desire to “strengthen my brand.” I love the graphics, and will use the images in promotional items for years to come. AngstyG.com did a great job. I can’t praise her enough for the design and everything she did to get me from where I was with the old site to where I am with the new.

The coolest part of the new design and the biggest surprise, however, is the way things work behind the scenes. Since AngstyG waved her magic wand, maintaining my web site is a lot easier and takes much less time. Features I once had to set up manually now happen automatically. Except for my blog posts, everything uses fill-in-the-blank templates.

For my books, she created a template with every field I could every need for a more consistent look. When I have a new release coming out, I fill out the template and the new addition automatically gets its own page and appears in the scrolling gallery at the top. Amazeballs!

In the past, my guests sent files — sometimes as many as eight — for me to upload for guest posts. Some of the posts were easier to set up than others. Most required me to upload several files, play around with image placement and sizing, and fix links so they work when you click on them.

Once everything was set up, I sent the guest a preview link to make sure everything was okay, and if it wasn’t, I went back in to make the changes. Then I had to remember to add the cover to the gallery of covers and the author’s web site to my links — each a multi-step process involving different menus and widgets that I often put off for weeks.

Not anymore. I send the guest a username and password. They logon and find a template with fields for anything and everything a guest might want to include in a post, let me know when they’ve finished filling in the blanks, and I approve the post to go live on the scheduled date. The cover appears in the gallery and the author’s web site is added to my links, automatically. How cool is that?

But that’s not all, folks. I take great pride in the “coming soon” feature on my blog. In the past, I had to use HTML code to create the list of upcoming posts every month, deleting each post from the list as they went live. That I think so far ahead impresses people (planning is not optional when you have two careers), and I’m always thrilled when the HTML coding works right.

I write first drafts of my posts months ahead of time. The time savings from all the newly automated features has enabled me to work even farther ahead. AngstyG created a widget to pull the information for the “coming soon” list from scheduled posts, automatically. All I do is set the number of posts to show. Now with guests doing their own, my posts are totally separate, so there is a “coming soon” widget for guest posts too.

Does my super fancy web site make me a better writer? Nope. Not one bit. But I’m enjoying having the newest and fanciest technology around — while I can. Sooner rather than later, my new look will be tired and old too. Just like…

The Crotchety Old Man