Ahhhh, Learning New Computer Things
May 30, 2005

So, I hopped onto the internets back in 1993 or so. Played a character named Vanyel on a MUD called MUDdog. Loved it-interactive D&D gaming with folks ages and ages away from me. Yes, I'm a major geek, it's okay, you don't have to pretend you weren't thinking it. I don't mind.

Anyhow, I learned email on a VAX Pine system and all I can say about that is the first time I saw Eudora, I was beyond ecstatic. In 1996, I thought I would put some of my first-year composition syllabus on that new-fangled web thing -- students can't lose a syllabus if they can get to it from any computer. I was easily one of the first in the department to do it and I loved it. My students seemed to like it and as the years went on, I realized I was simply a computer geek. I'd taught myself HTML (probably back at v.1) and was a little disdainful of WYSIWYG website builders. HTML wasn't hard and the code was a bit cleaner if you did it yourself - at least most of the time.

I got on the newsgroups, particularly rec.toys.misc and then watched as people I "chatted" with electronically built up the Raving Toy Maniac site. Infoseek was the best search engine at the time . . . and of course, the web never stays still. Like a spider's web, it's re-built frequently, creating new patterns of information, new people to meet, new HTML tags to learn and so on.

My web coding skills eroded a bit with the explosion of Dreamweaver 3.x onto our campus as I finally was building sites too complicated to do absolutely all of the code by hand. I had someone tell me that you "have to know Calculus to learn how to code in real programming languages," so I thought that java and javascript would be out of my league. I bluffed my way through CSS, using it only to define fontstyles and sizes. I blew off blogging at first as a craze that would pass.

I know, I know. But you gotta understand that the first person I knew who blogged was an ex-boyfriend from high school who used it as a really personal diary. In which I showed up once or twice. It was embarassing. It's one thing to share your thoughts with the world, it's another completely to talk about your high school flings in amazing technicolored details! And, it didn't help the matter when the second person I knew who blogged was a colleague that regularly didn't understand how the web worked. I don't understand the paradox of how this man could possibly work a blog - no matter how user-friendly Blogger or TypePad or any of the other ready-hosting sites are. We're talking about a man who regularly felt the entire internets should be in black and white and all buttons should be text and he also often couldn't even FIND a button on a page even when it was plainly marked!

But I digress. (Have I mentioned that red monkey?)

So, recently I discovered the incredibly real website of a favorite actor, Wil Wheaton. Now, yes, I used to read newsgroups. Yes, I know of the existence of the various die.die.die newsgroups that hated his Start Trek:tNG character. And I didn't care then or now. I think Wil is an awesome actor. I absolutely adore the story, "The Body" and the movie version, Stand by Me. Wil as Gordie was incredible. They could have picked a better adult actor for him to grow into, but that's a quibble. I actually watched ST:tNG for Wesley, Data and Geordie. Picard was certainly an improvement over William Fucking Shatner, but Wes was my favorite. The character had LOTS of potential and the writers just freakin' wasted it. I stopped watching when Wil left the show.

So, Wil has an incredible blog. And the more I read of his blog, the more I began to see the real potential of this genre of websites. As a writer, this is right up my alley. As a computer geek, this should be right up my alley.

So, since I no longer teach and have my own webspace instead of the university free webspace, I decided to stretch everything and get blogging. CGI doesn't scare me nearly as much as it did a few weeks ago. I am still having some issues trying to figure out CSS and how these Moveable Type templates work, but I'm getting there.

I may not be stretching the minds of Notre Dame freshmen any more, but I am stretching mine again. It's a nice feeling.

Anyhow, I'm sure there will be more template changes and some tweaks here and there as I learn more just how all of this works. If you've got comments on the design and readability issues, let me know. I won't guarantee that I'll get around to it any time soon, but I will at least look into it.

And now, I've got to get back to Season Five of Buffy and "Listening to Fear." And working on turning a Fisher Price Little People train engine into the Purdue Boilermaker train engine as a gift.

Posted by Red Monkey at May 30, 2005 3:58 PM | Blog | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

Free Pixel Advertisement for your blog