Busy, Busy, Busy …or, A Website Manager’s Work is Never Done

I’ve been so swamped with other Spheres Of Light website work lately I forgot to show off my latest creation here. I’ve finally made my first video clip …yay me! 😀

SOL’s YouTube page has been revived

SOL has a YouTube page which has been left languishing for a couple of years. There used to be 6 videos on it, all of which featured music written by Janine Donnellan — founder and esteemed leader of SOL 😉 — including her song “Hail Sophia” which was very popular and accrued hundreds (maybe thousands?) of hits as it was shared around the internet and linked to on many other websites. At the time (2007) there was only one member of SOL who knew how to make video clips (not me) and she had volunteered to set up and monitor the YouTube page, make the videos to showcase Janine’s music and promote SOL’s activities. But, when this person decided to leave the group she deleted all the videos she’d created on behalf of SOL, leaving the SOL YouTube page looking very empty, except for the one video called “Across the Universe” which one of my sons had made for us. 😦 Needless to say, we were not impressed!  No-one else in SOL knew how to make videos, my sons didn’t have time due to school and/or university, and I was already overwhelmed with heaps of website stuff (learning on-the-job I might add, as I’ve never had any formal training in anything to do with web design and building, html code, photo-editing etc — eldest son got the SOL website started for me and I went on from there). The idea of figuring out how to use the rather confusing video-making software on my computer and learning how to make a video just seemed too hard and too time-consuming for me to seriously contemplate. Meanwhile, I’d made sure “Hail Sophia” was available in various sections of the SOL website as a free mp3 download.

However, things change and one day Janine discovered someone else had recently put her “Hail Sophia” song on YouTube (with a rather boring “video” that contained only one image) so it was time for us (i.e. me) to create a video to get it back onto the SOL YouTube page. So, I did. 😀

Yes, it was time-consuming and challenging — my house turned into a shit-pile with dirty washing and dog hair “tumble weeds” all over the place (more so than usual, lol) and the family starved and had no clean clothes to wear for quite a few days — but in the end I triumphed and figured out how to use “iMovie”! Woohoo! Of course the process probably took longer than it should have because it was my first successful attempt to use the program, and being an anal retentive Aspie type I aimed for perfection in every detail so that the photos displayed suited the lyrics at any given moment and the changes between the photos coincided with appropriate phrasings in the rhythm and lyrics …stuff that people other than me and my Aspie movie-making 3rd son probably don’t even notice. I reckon it’s pretty good for a first attempt. There’s a few bits where the timing of the scenes is not quite right, which annoys the heck out of me, but they’re not worth the time and effort involved in changing them. Besides, if I re-upload it we lose all the hits counted so far, so I’ll leave it as is. I can see more video clips happening in the future …not just now though, as Janine is keeping me busy with more of her “great ideas”. Every time she has an idea it means more website work for me, lol 😉 …

…such as creating a zillion banners and flyers for all the workshops she’s running at ‘Embrace’ at Miranda and ‘Lotus’ in Wollongong.

Workshops, workshops and more workshops!

Each event requires a 180 pixel wide banner for the SOL website links menu,  a 250px banner for the SOL Workshops page, a 230 px wide banner for the Axis Mundi and a pdf flyer. Then there’s the html coding to display them all in the right places on the appropriate pages …and a couple of them get displayed on the SOuL Searchers Lectures and Workshops page as well. So, all up, there’s quite a bit of time and effort involved in advertising each workshop event. You can click on each of the little pretties below to see more info about each workshop should you be interested in attending any of them. 🙂

Spell Casting Workshop   Spell Casting Workshop   Space Clearing & Psychic Protection Workshop
Scrying Workshop   Scrying Workshop   Space Clearing & Psychic Protection Workshop
Wicca Workshop

Mailing list programs are evil and confusing!

After the video and workshop banners were done, the next Axis Mundi was due out soon afterwards. As well as many hours (days actually) involved in html coding, proofreading and tweaking the layout to look better, Axis Mundi production also involves sending out emails via our mailing list system to notify subscribers that the next issue is available. That wouldn’t have been a problem except the mailing list program had a few issues that needed addressing so as there was a new version available I decided to upgrade it. Well, that went well didn’t it …NOT! I used a web application called “Fantastico Deluxe” which is a commercial script library that automates the installation of other web applications. This means that all I had to do to upgrade the “PHPlist” mailing list was to click on the link that said “Upgrade” …much easier than trying to upgrade manually (which I don’t understand enough about to be able to do anyway!). So, I clicked on the link (as I’ve done for past upgrades), waited for it to do its thing and display the various messages as each part of the process was successfully completed, then went to our mailing list page expecting to see it all shiny and new, but was horrified to see a blank white page displaying, Internal Server Error. The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.” Aaaaaaaargh!!! I sent a ticket to the Support Centre and waited anxiously for a reply and hopefully a simple and quick resolution of the problem. With no other way of easily sending over 500 emails to notify subscribers that the new edition of Axis Mundi was now available, why oh why couldn’t I have just sent the damned emails before attempting the upgrade?! I’m sure they would still have limped out to their destinations on the earlier version of PHPlist. 😦 Oh well, the damage was done. ‘Support’ eventually got back to me. They’d fixed the internal server error, given me instructions on how to stop it happening again (which I didn’t understand because I’m not a “real” website designer/builder/whatever) but now the mailing list was even more broken than it was before! BUGGER! I eventually got the emails sent, although I’m not sure how many people got theirs twice due to a stuff up mid-send. I did some serious Googling and eventually found a solution to fix my broken mailing list. ::::sigh of relief:::

SOuL Searchers Paranormal Magazine

This is the latest exciting development for our paranormal investigation team …and of course it involves more website improvements and additions. Click on the image at the left to take a look at the sexy new page I created. 😀

Yes, I know the page looks pretty simple, but you’d be surprised at the number of hours involved in creating the images and the pdf for the ad sizes, the html coding to get everything positioned correctly, and all the checking, uploading, editing, re-uploading, re-checking, tweaking (trying out ideas that failed and didn’t look as good as I’d hoped), re-re-uploading etc that goes into making a page look nice. Janine will be creating the actual magazine as a pdf document so it looks more “magaziney” and less “websitey”, so I’ll mostly just be uploading it to the website and creating links for people to download it …and maybe I’ll also be proofreading it. Overall I’ll have less involvement in its production than if I was coding it from scratch like I do with the Axis Mundi (which might also change some time in the future).

Of course, a new FREE online magazine has to have its very own mailing list …which brings me back to that evil PHPlist beast I discussed earlier! Feeling very pleased with myself for finding a solution to fix the broken mailing list I decided to delve headlong into its configuration settings in an attempt to understand how to set up a separate list for the paranormal mag (actually quite easy to do) as well as set up different subscriber pages for the individual lists (somewhat more challenging!). This also involved more Photoshopping to create new images for the headers of each subscribe page — all very fiddly-diddly to get it looking juuuuuuust right — again, something that most people wouldn’t give a rat’s arse about when they click on the link to sign up :::sigh::: but at least it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing I’d tamed the PHPlist beast yet again, and made more pretty things. So, here are the links to the 3 different subscribe pages. (You can click each one to have a look, without actually signing up if you don’t want to. :))

Click to subscribe to Axis Mundi and/or SOuL Searchers Paranormal Magazine.
Click here to subscribe to Axis Mundi.
Click here to subscribe to SOuL Searchers Paranormal Magazine.

It’s never ending…

This website maintenance thing is a never ending job. These last few tasks are finished for now, but tomorrow night our Dark Moon Circle meets, so any study notes and/or rituals from that will have to be added to our private website for the members of the Inner Realm of Ynys Witrin. I also add the Full Moon rituals each month to the SOL website. Every so often somebody wants the details of their group or their Pagan or Pagan-friendly business added to the National Pagan Directory so that is an ongoing job as well, which also includes replying to people’s emails. After circles, meditations in the park or other workshops and events are held, the dates for the upcoming events have to be changed …so many little bits and pieces need doing all over the website

I don’t know how many people ever read even half the stuff on the different SOL websites, but I take great pride in making all the SOL websites (see the linked banners in the menu above right) well organised and looking as good as possible using my rather limited website building, html coding and digital artwork (PhotoShop) abilities. I became SOL’s website manager purely by default — no-one else was interested or able, but more importantly, no-one else had geeky sons who could show them how to do this stuff, lol. My eldest son (credited as ‘PackRat’ in the footer on the website pages) got the main SOL website started, created the first subdomain for the private Dark Moon website and taught me enough to set me on my way to expanding the site to what it is today. I’ve never had any formal training or done any courses in website design or html coding etc so it’s been a long slow process of trial and error and learning-on-the-job. I have to admit, although it gets annoyingly tedious at times, I do quite enjoy it (well, I don’t get paid so I must enjoy it, right?) and creating websites/blogs has become a bit of an obsession. My excuse is that it keeps me sane and ‘mentally active and alert’ …anything’s better than boring old housework! 😀

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