Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Look for a New Year

This year marks the beginning of the fifth year for my Whispering Jesse blog. Over the years, I have made little tweaks and adjustments to the layout, but one thing has never changed: Dots! When I first set up my blog, Blogger's Dots template looked fun and was somewhat in keeping with my nautical theme if you thought of the dots as looking like bubbles. But it started to get tiresome after a couple of years and I started looking for alternatives. I checked periodically to see if Blogger had introduced any interesting new template choices, but nothing ever caught my eye enough to justify changing from my old one. So Dots it has been but Dots it is no more!

I was standing in the shower yesterday, thinking about my blog. Don't laugh! Like many people, I do most of my best thinking in the shower. I wondered why my blog's content was compressed into a narrow 700-pixel band down the middle of the screen when most people now have computer monitors with much greater resolution than the old 800x600 standard. Why couldn't I widen it a couple of hundred pixels or add a third column to the existing sidebar and main columns? When I was toweled off, I went to the computer to check Blogger's template offerings yet again. Nothing new. So I went to Google and typed in "3 column blogger templates". I quickly discovered that I was not alone in my frustration. There are all kinds of third-party developers out there putting their creativity into designing three-column blog templates. My great fear was that they would not be completely compatible with what I already had going, so I kept looking.

I finally found an excellent blog post by a guy who calls himself Nitecruzr and is the brains behind The Real Blogger Status: "Making A 3 Column Template". Using the simplest of the existing Blogger templates, Minima, he explains how to edit the template to make it display three columns instead of the standard two. I set up a new test blog in order not to screw up my existing blog and tried it out. It worked perfectly on the very first try. The main column was a little squished but I experimented with the settings until I had a serviceable-looking 900-pixel blog with a 450-pixel main column and two 200-pixel sidebars. Then it was decision time. Was I ready to give up on Dots for this new look? You bet I was!

As you can see, the new look is a huge improvement. The endless collection of stuff that was in the left sidebar is now distributed between the two sidebars, with the text, photos and widgets on the left and all the advertising on the right. Hey, can you blame me for trying to get a little more out of blogging than simply the joy and satisfaction of sharing my life with my readers? If you were wondering, the photo in the banner at the top is one I took during our 2004 sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands. It shows the mooring field at Cane Garden Bay on the north side of Tortola. The sun is setting behind Jost Van Dyke, the small island to the northwest of Tortola.

I welcome your questions and comments and will reply as best I can. Happy New Year!

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