Carol of the Bells has finally launched into version 7.0, the absolute most radical shift for it yet in its near-four year life. I’d like to go over some basic things about this new version in list form:
It’s on WordPress
Yes, I have finally moved off of Blogger. After sticking with it for three and a half years because I was a Google fanboy, I finally decided that it would be better for me in the end to jump ship. I still absolutely respect those who still choose to use Blogger, as it was a fantastic tool for me and served my purposes well (up until a specific point.) Unfortunately, I had switched Google accounts a year after making it, and that combined with Blogger’s niggling incompatibilities with Opera and the W3C caused me to finally leave after more than a year of hard thinking.
Thanks to WordPress, I can finally have true separate pages for non-entry content, such as About and Work. Both of these tie into the blog’s renewed and renovated focus, which I discuss more below. In addition, I finally have added inline comments again, and give you multiple ways to post your reaction to my entries.
It’s on my own server
I think this adds an air of seriousness and focus to my blog on looking and acting professional, which is becoming increasingly important to me as I move into adulthood. I’ve heard numerous horror stories of employers or potential employers looking online and finding some not-so-nice things about their employees. I want to be prepared, and securing my domain name on my own server was the first step. The next was finally securing my own named email, firstname.lastname@example.org. I have set up this account through Google Apps (Business Standard Edition) so that it sends mail to my main GMail account, and I can also send mail as that email from GMail as well. There is also a reason for this, as I explain below.
It’s finally valid
A small nitpick for some, a big nitpick for me. The new blog is XHTML 1.1 valid, as you can read in the About page. It was a lot of work (as it always is), but I really like that I’m becoming forced to be more aware of the correct way to do things.
It finally adheres to basic usability guidelines
Speaking of the correct way to do things, this design is the culmination of many, many years of observations both on my part and by others on what a blog should not look like. In particular I have paid specific attention to readability and navigation, keeping things as simple and streamlined as possible while highlighting what you came here for: the content. The entry and navigation text is big and has a high contrast with the black background, which I kept because I still believe dark backgrounds alleviate sore eyes after some time is spent reading. Originally, my navigation above was going to have one more page but I decided to simplify things further and give each link room to breath.
Its focus has changed
This is the major one. In the process of outlining and developing version 7.0, I had to confront many things that I had been hiding from. I am finally ready to merge all my real-life personalities into one and become more consistent in my dealings with people in real life, so that I can propagate this blog among my friends easily as a guidepost of keeping up with me now and after high school.
There is one exception to this, however: Andrex. I’m in the process of generalizing my internet personality and separating it from myself in the hope that if I realize the dream I’ve talked about, what I’ve said won’t be traced back to me. I’m watching what I say a lot more, and once again it’s helping me mature. Going back and covering my tracks won’t be easy, but I hope most of the incriminating stuff will be lost in the ether by the time I “hit the scene”, so to speak. While I don’t know for sure if this dream will happen, it’s always nice to have options and not have the decision made for you already.
So I am now two people, Andrew Rabon and Andrex. It’s contradictory to say I myself have become more streamlined and consolidated, but that’s what it feels like. I’m finally ready to show the world this place, and I think that’s a big step forward. There will hopefully be more “short” update and video entries in the coming months, while I’ll still probably post a long dissertation (like normal) once or twice a month as well. In addition, this website acts as a blog, bio, and portfolio all in one, which is why professionalism was such a major focus both in terms of the design and of the overall ideology this time around.
It’s not done yet
The blog design itself is done as far as I can tell, although with everything tech-related I’m sure a bug or two will be discovered soon. The search function of the Archive, while “functional” in the strictest sense, does not fit the aesthetic of the blog. Also, the previous entries and comments from Blogger have yet to be imported. Please note that those entries will be protected (again, to both conceal it from the lingering public while making it accessible for those I trust), however I will make available the previously-deleted 2005 entries from before I was even in high school; these have not seen the light of day for almost exactly three years. In addition, from now on, one year after an entry’s publish month I will make it protected until such a time that I have dissolved my ties to my old life. That means this entry will be unavailable without clearance starting in January 2010.
This is a massive leap forward for my blog and my identity, and I view it as an invaluable tool as I face the scariest times of my life.