Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Breaking the Code

The Episcopal Parish of St Michael and All Angels, 602 North Wilmot Road, Tucson AZ 85711

I don't want you to think I've fallen off the face of the Earth, or that I'm off getting drunk or something. My sleep schedule has gotten upended in recent weeks, with me sleeping mostly at night - what a concept! That has resulted in me posting in the morning, which historically I almost never did except at the end of a long night of working on the entry. But last night I was up all night wrangling HTML for the St. Michael and All Angels web site, and I had to sleep before doing anything else.

This entry is a placeholder for the moment. I've got to go buy groceries, but I didn't want to delay posting any longer. Trust me; there's a long rant ahead about HTML and CSS, GoDaddy and SeaMonkey, and the problems in updating web pages first written over a decade ago. I'll also share the stuff that seems to be working, and the sage advice I've been getting from Julie and John, which I may act upon eventually. So stop back. It'll be fun.

Many hours later: am I having fun yet? I pretty much spent the day fussing with the St. Michael's site some more, with way more expert assistance from Julie B than anyone could reasonably expect. Every one of the main pages now has a cool individualized header similar to the one at the top of this entry, and color coordinated links at the bottom, and much less text that looks tiny because of a difference of opinion between GoDaddy (which likes span tags) and SeaMonkey (which likes font tags). Thanks to Julie, some of the pages are now linked to a style sheet that simplifies the formatting a bit, but I still have much work ahead of me streamlining everything. If being a geek is defined as technological competence, then today has been a blow to my geek standing. I really, really don't understand css well at all. But I'll learn. I will!

And look what I've gotten from all my efforts to solicit links, update pages and submit technical stuff to Google. As of yesterday, a search for the terms "St. Michael Church Tucson" did not have the church's home page on on first three screens. Only the schedule page showed up, and the old version of the site on, and some malcontent griping about St. Michael's on a blog one day. Google didn't even know about some incoming links that I knew existed, including from Episcopal Church USA and my blog sidebars. But look at the result I got a few hours ago for "St. Michael's Church Tucson," which previously had similar results:

We're third now on the first page, right behind two links for St. Michael's Parish Day School, which is in the same building complex as the church and shares close ties in many ways. Fair enough: they have a bunch of links to sites about schools, and have had a considerable web presence much longer than the church itself. I've been the church webmaster exactly five years, and frankly I coasted along on static pages (read: stale and unchanging) for much of that time.

But now the pages are bright and new, with nicer graphics and somewhat better coding. Some of them even have dynamic content, after a fashion. The Community page now has two slideshows, fed from the same Picasa albums that store graphics for the church's news and arts blogs. As I upload more photos, they'll be in the slideshows as well. The main Sermons page has a widget showing the most recent entries on the Sermons podcast blog, to which Father Smith will upload more sermons any year now. And the home page and schedule page both feature a widget for recent entries on the news blog. Next I'm hoping to find a widget for the Seasons page that can tell you which liturgical season it is right now, and maybe even how such things are calculated.

So the year ends on a slight up note. I don't have a job, but at least I managed to accomplish something as the parish webmaster.


1 comment:

barrettmanor said...

Glad to be of help. And you have one thing backwards: This is the kind of thing that raises your geek standing because you're learning something new!