Templates and Tools

This looks like the most comprehensive list of Blogger template sources I’ve ever seen. I’d heard of some of them, but there are a whole lot I hadn’t, so I’ll want to check them out. Do I need a new template? Well, I don’t think so, but that doesn’t mean I can’t look!

If you’re looking for a new template, I’d say this is the place to start.

Web Page Analysis

My poor brother mentioned yesterday that it takes forever for my blog to load. He is still using dial-up. Who knew there were people still doing that?

Anyway, I thought I’d check to see how long it takes for the page to load. I found this free Web Page Analyzer, typed my url in and got these results:

Connection Rate Download Time
14.4K 1118.46 seconds
28.8K 568.23 seconds
33.6K 489.62 seconds
56K 300.97 seconds
ISDN 128K 104.66 seconds
T1 1.44Mbps 25.52 seconds

I’m hoping no one is actually still connecting to the Internet at 14.4K!

Anyway, besides giving me the overall download times, it also listed everything on my page and what size it was. Some of the scripts could supposedly be compressed to save bytes, but I really have no control over those, besides evaluating whether I really need them and perhaps removing them. For now, I’m keeping most of them. What I did notice was that images were the biggest source of the problem. I’m not going to stop adding pictures to my posts, but I did limit the posts on the main page, and I removed some images from the sidebar and some extra unnecessary stuff from the bottom of the page. Now my results look better:

Connection Rate Download Time
14.4K 517.48 seconds
28.8K 265.84 seconds
33.6K 229.89 seconds
56K 143.61 seconds
ISDN 128K 53.83 seconds
T1 1.44Mbps 17.64 seconds

Hopefully that will help a little. If you’d like to know how long your page takes to load, give the free Web Page Analyzer a try.

All My Faves

I just learned about this website today in an email. It’s called All My Faves, and I think it links to everything on the Internet. Email? They’ve got it. Travel sites? Those too. Video, music, dating, chat, and games. If it’s not here, I don’t think it’s on the web.

The blog gives more information about a lot of the sites. It looks like a good place to find all kinds of fun and useful sites.

It Only Works if You Use It

A Master Lock brand padlock.Image via WikipediaCory found a combination lock in his saxophone case this weekend. He hasn’t used it for a while, and he forgot the combination. That’s when I remembered Master Lock’s Combo Locker.

Create an account and store your combinations online. Then, if you ever forget, you can just look them up again. So, I logged in to see if I could get the combination. I have two locks registered with their combinations, but not this one.

The Combo Locker is a great idea, but it only works if you use it. Register your locks while you know the combinations.

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Print What You Like

Just read about this on Cariboo Ponderer – Vic Grace always finds the neatest things.

Print What You LikeIt’s called Print What You Like, and it lets you do exactly that. Well, it’s supposed to, only it’s new and it’s neat, and everyone is trying it, so right now it is ‘ temporarily over its serving quota’. That means I’ll have to go back and try it later. It looks like it is going to be a really handy tool. All you have to do it enter the url of the page you wish to print, edit out anything you don’t want to print – like ads, images, extra stuff you’re not interested in, whatever. No more copying and pasting into Word or Open Office just so you can print the parts you want. You can even combine multiple pages and print them as one, save your changes so you can print again, and even use other people’s changes.

I’m looking forward to trying this out.

Bird Songs

Blue Jay ( Cyanocitta cristata ), Ontario, Canada.Image via Wikipedia In his Sky Watch Friday post today, Abe Lincoln posted a great photo of a Blue Jay. Along with his photo, he also posted a link to a site so we could hear a blue jay. What a great site! It’s called Learn Bird Songs, and it has recordings of the sounds and songs of several common North American birds. You can find birds by habitat: city birds, countryside birds, forest birds, and wetlands birds, or, if you know what bird you want to hear, you can go directly to that bird. It looks like a very useful site for bird lovers, bird watchers, and people like me who don’t know one bird from another. (I did recognize Abe’s Blue Jay, though)

A side benefit of this site is that it’s a good way to drive your cat crazy. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t even think of it, but I clicked the link to listen to the Blue Jay. As I was listening, our cat came down the hall with a very intent expression on her face. She heard a bird, and she was going to find that bird. It was too cute. I played another bird, and she eventually figured out it was coming from the computer, but she couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on.

This could be really fun.

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How’d They Do That?

I haven’t checked out this entire list of 50 Amazing Blogger Tricks and Hacks, but it looks like there are some very useful links here. If you’ve ever seen something on a blog and wondered, “How’d they do that?” you just might find the answer somewhere on this list. I love it when people know how to do something, and they share with the rest of us.

So far I started with #51 (on a list of 50, I know) – make your blog dofollow.

Free Blogger Templates

Once again I am talking about free blog templates. I can’t help myself – when I see a blog layout I like, I want to know who designed it, where they found that layout. So, I click. This time I found Our Blogger Templates. They have over 100 free templates available and the instructions for installing them on your blog and adding your own header image. There is even a tutorial for designing your own template. With all these great, easy to customize templates available, I don’t know that I will ever need to design my own, but I would love to learn how.

I installed one of the free templates from Our Blogger Templates, created and added my own header image, and customized all my colors. I actually found another template I thought would go with my new header better than the one I originally installed, but I was having some troubles getting Blogger to cooperate with me, so I just changed the colors of the one I had already installed. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the ‘New’ Blogger, but it does make changing colors easy. Most of these free templates say that 99% of the colors can easily be changed, and I have to believe them, because I changed an awful lot of the colors.

I grabbed my header image from Pixdaus. I hadn’t heard of it before, but Our Blogger Templates used some images from there for their blog headers, so I clicked and found all kinds of interesting images. I liked the frogs, 1) because I like frogs, and 2) because they look like they’re so excited about something that they just can’t keep their mouths shut and they ‘just gotta share this’ – or am I stretching things a bit? Anyway, lots of images on Pixdaus.

When you click template installation guides and instructions on the Our Blogger Templates site, there’s a link to more sources for header images. I figure, with enough sources, you’re bound to find the right image or template, right?

Counting Words

Since I write paid posts on a couple of my blogs, I like being able to count the number of words in my posts. If I have to write a minimum of 200 words, I need to know when I get to 200 words. I usually end up rambling on and writing more, but that’s beside the point.

I did have a tool in Firefox that counted the words for me, but since I installed Firefox 3, I haven’t been able to use it. Probably I should look for a new extension that will do it for me, but until then, this Word Count Tool works really well. Just paste the post into the box and hit ‘Submit’ to find out how many words you have. It also explains what is counted and what isn’t, and it’s free.