Template fiddling

Since rolling out the new template, I've gotten a lot of comments, with essentially a mixed verdict leaning more negative than positive. I've also noticed things that I liked at first about the template but now don't like as much, and I am starting to appreciate that the circuit board background may be too overpowering. So, if you see the template looking different seemingly at random over the next couple of days, don't worry. It's just me experimenting (and, more importantly, trying to avoid working on my PowerPoint slides for a talk that I have to give on Tuesday, not to mention a paper that desperately needs to be finished and submitted). You may even see a different background popping up soon, or maybe even just a solid background. Hopefully, this process will result in the--shall we say?--the evolution of the present template into a--shall we say?--fitter and more well-adapted template. (I would call it intelligent design, but obviously the intelligence of this particular designer, at least when it comes to web design, is debatable.) In any case, a reader has already helped produce a spiffy new logo to replace the admittedly rather ugly text in the header; so that problem at least should be taken care of very soon.

A couple of layout issues I've noticed. People have told me that the "Webrings" box that should be at the bottom is showing up at the top right for some reason in Firefox. I was able to replicate this on my wife's old computer. As far as I can tell, on the Mac at least, it turns out that it has something to do with Firefox 1.0. Upgrading to Firefox 1.5 eliminated the page rendering problem. The second issue is that, on Internet Explorer at work, I noticed that the text in both the sidebars is center-justified. That was not my intent, and I agree that it doesn't look good that way. My original intent was that the text in the sidebars should be left-justified, and that's the way it shows up in Firefox, Mozilla, Camino, and Safari. I have no idea why this is so. I guess I know just enough HTML to be dangerous but not enough to do serious troubleshooting of browser-specific differences in display. Any help in resolving this issue would be appreciated.

Finally, for those of you who really, really don't like the new format, remember that it could be worse. I could be using the same template this blog uses (found via Pharyngula). In any case, I'm not going back to the old generic template. I'm determined to keep experimenting until I find one that works and is way cool. Basically, it's an excuse for me to learn some HTML and how to use Dreamweaver. Hopefully, I won't cause too much confusion and/or pain in my readership during my learning curve and the evolution of this blog template. Just try to stop me when I finally hit on one that works. I'm an incessant tinkerer and might not be able to recognize it when I've finally gotten it right, leading me to keep working on it and thus screw it up.

ADDENDUM: I decided to apply the new logo and the alterations to the header. (Thanks to C., who wishes not to be given too prominent credit for all her help to me in crafting the header images, lest others ask her to do stuff for their blogs too.) Also, I may have found the cause of the center-justification of the text in the sidebars: A stray "text-align:center" tag in the CSS list for "main." (I can only guess that IE was "listening to" that tag instead of the tag specified for the two sidebars.) I can't determine whether deleting it worked, though, until I get access to a PC. Finally, I widened the center panel and decreased the space between the center panel and the two sidebars. Hopefully this incremental step helps make the background less distracting until I do a more permanent redesign...


  1. Try opacity settings to tone down the circuitboard intensity. Put the following in your CSS declarations after your "background-image:" tag:

    opacity: 0.5;

    You can also specify a background color, behind the image, which will give you a bit more flexibility in coping with the color.

    Fair warning, though--the three lines are meant to work for IE/Opera/Mozilla respectively. I know the -moz-opacity works. Not sure about the others.

    Only other thing I would change is to move the left sidebar off the edge of the page by a bit, but that's more about my personal preferences than it is about usability.

  2. I'm on a PC, W2000, IE6, 1024x768 resolution.

    Your sidebars no longer have centre justified text, however, the right sidebar now displays _below_ the main article...

  3. Interesting. It looks fine on Firefox and Safari. In fact, no matter how much I narrow the window, I can't get the right sidebar to drop below the center panel.

  4. Hi, Orac. Yeah, I was wondering where the right sidebar had vanished off to in IE. The circuit board didn't bother me, but the way IE would mess with the items in the right and left sidebars (dropping and moving text as I scroll down) is driving me nuts and I think I'll have to figure out how to get firefox. Lots of people seem to like it, and hints on how to obtain it, or info, would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Never mind. Found Firefox...if I could type correctly I wouldn't have had a problem before. Your page looks good on Firefox; I think I'll keep using it instead of IE, so far I like how it works much better.

  6. (heaves a sigh... ahhh...) much better, already.

    I'd think about shrinking the main logo part so that the "A statement of fact is not insolent" doesn't overlap the starburst thing. Now the circle looks a bit oval to me, but that's not really a bad thing.


  7. "Finally, I widened the center panel and decreased the space between the center panel and the two sidebars. Hopefully this incremental step helps make the background less distracting"

    Much better. Now the text is visually more important than the background.

    LOVE the pictures from the Blakes 7 series! That was one of my favorite cheesy SF series years ago. Servilan was my favorite Eeevil baddy for years.

    --Judy Wyatt

  8. Hmmm. How could I have forgotten to put a picture of Servalan somewhere? I'll have to rectify that...


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