My Brief but Sweet Flirtation with Squarespace

You don’t become a blogger for years without testing different tools. It’s part of the process of establishing a blog. A few months ago, I hear about Squarespace, a service which provides website hosting + domain name + built-in templates. Eager to see what the fuss was all about, I took a look and was impressed right away with their available templates. Clean, uncluttered and yet polished and classy, Squarespace looked promising — to a visitor. But what if you are the site owner? Would you find the back-end, the interface, the features and options just as impressive? Being overly fond of trying out new stuff in the internet, I signed up for a 14-day trial (no need for credit card!) to get the feel of its admin site.

The moment I logged in to the back-end, I had to admit I hesitated for a bit. I have been using WordPress for years and years and years. It felt odd, like I was suddenly catapulted into a different reality. I needed to get on with the show and so I proceeded by choosing Forte as my template. It was beautiful. The visitor will no doubt feel nothing but good vibes radiating off your website with its light and airy, crisp and clean, modern template. I know I spent a good couple of seconds just staring at it in awe, I kid you not. But back to the admin site: It’s pretty efficient and intuitive. With it WYSIWYG approach, Squarespace’s back-end will definitely be easy to use for those who are not well-versed in coding. The ease and simplicity of applying the options in creating the layout you want will not be such a struggle.

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I Should Have Known: My First Computer = Drooling Over the Codes

It just hit me today: I was maybe 10 or 11 when I first held in my hands my very own computer. It was mid-90s and my family went to Hong Kong for a late summer trip. I was too young to care and be thrilled about going abroad for the first time. I was not excited about what the trip meant. However, I was thrilled with the following:

  • being in the airplane
  • airplane food
  • hotel room

That pretty much sums it up. I remember now, though… I remember the highlight of that first trip  (I’ve only been to Hong Kong twice) and looking back, I guess that should have clued me in on my future. Or at least, on what would become one of my passions.

I remember we went to Toys “R” Us — me, my three other siblings, my parents, my cousins, and my aunt. I was gawking and my jaw might as well have dropped to the floor. It was a kid’s dream come true. Aisles and aisles and aisles of toys that reached nearly the ceiling (or so it seemed to little, skinny me at that time). And then my mother said the magic words, “Go get anything you like.” And then as an afterthought, “Just one toy.” And I was off, racing to the aisles. There were dolls of every variety and I don’t know why but nothing appealed to me. I soon found myself in the section where I saw these… things stacked up neatly. Without even thinking, I snatched a gray and dark blue one and proceeded to my mother. I handed her my pick and she looked at me skeptically. “Do you really want this?” By this, she meant a computer (or a laptop). I wish I could say I picked it but in retrospect, considering how I randomly ended up standing in that particular section of the huge store, I’d like to think it found me.

Instead of dolls or accessories or trinkets or hoola hoops, I had a VTech computer in my tiny hands. This was many years ago and I forgot the exact model. However, thank goodness for Google because now I can give you an idea: It is called VTech  Precomputer Power Pad. The moment I opened the box in our hotel room and I got to playing it, I refused to let it go. There were games (quizzes) in it and I loved it. Later on, I discovered its BASIC tutorial. I was in awe and it sparked this curiosity and wonder. I remember trying out what seemed like gibberish to me. Little did I know that that language, with its syntax and strings, would be something that I would grow to love in the future.

Found: Shiny Toys

Working with websites for both hobby and profession is a good thing (or so says the geek in me). I remember, when I was well into my first year at work, a fellow employee replied to my email saying:

New toy? 🙂

Indeed! At that time, I had just installed a third party extension and was in the testing phase. And that, my friend, is something that sparks my interest. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: One of the reasons I love, love, love the internet is because it never fails to give me something new to discover and work on and utilize.

As I am running my own self-hosted WordPress blog over here, it is important that I keep everything there updated and secured (back-end) and fresh (content –> front-end). I love tweaking and testing things under the hood, so I keep my eyes peeled open for tools that I can use to help me with my blogging. I’m sure your list would be different from mine but that’s the fun of it all. Here’s where I list down what helps me in terms of the upkeep of a blog. And then it would be even better if you toss in your two cents and tell me what you use. What did  I tell you? Websites are fun!

Without further blathering and meandering, here’s my list:

  1. Firebug“Web development evolved.” And what would life be as a web developer without this very handy tool? Firebug inspects and takes apart coding of a website. From there, you can have an idea of what went wrong (if that’s the case) or where something needs to be changed. I love how this one can do so many things — debug, analyze, change something in the site real time, know where and what to change amidst all those codes swimming before your eyes.
  2. SublimeText 2“The text editor you’ll love.” And it’s hard not to. This one makes coding easier in so many ways. It also gives you options, like switching from one project to another. I like how when you open SublimeText, all the projects you have previously opened are still there. How’s that for really convenient?
  3. Adobe Photoshop – Okay. Enough said. Need I say more beyond the two words of this photo editing product? It’s an irrefutable fact: This is my number one go-to tool when it comes to web design and photo retouching/enhancing/editing.
  4. The Noun Project – Lots and lots of icons for any project. Personally, I go here to take a look around at some objects that I want to incorporate in my latest theme or even just as a part of an image I’m going to edit. You would want to make use of this if you haven’t already.
  5. DaFont – Every website needs great looking fonts that would align with their website theme. I know there are a lot of other font sites but I always find myself going back here. They have tons of great free fonts that I just can’t get enough of.
  6. Pocket – Okay, this is hands down one of the best tools that I swear by. When I come across an interesting article, I immediately hit the Pocket bookmarklet and I’m golden. You can access your Pocket account in any PC or phone or tablet. It’s synchronized. And it’s integrated in over 300 apps. To avoid confusion when you have saved way too many information and your Pocket account is teeming with saved information, there’s always the smart art of tagging. So the next time you search for something in your account, you could always find what you’re looking for.
  7. Icebergs – This is a pretty recent website and what an awesome tool it is. If you’re the visual type too, you will like this one. To quote from their site: “The perfect place in the cloud for your daily research, projects and online inspiration. Collect and organize websites, pictures, text, notes, files. Enjoy your research again!” I mainly use Iceber.gs for image inspirations I stumble upon. It works great, it’s fast and efficient. And yes, the tagging feature is also there. Collect, organize and share all your online finds.
  8. BlogLovin – I use this as my feed reader. (Oh, Google Reader, you broke my heart with your exit.) It’s pretty intuitive and the interface is pretty much straightforward. Want to subscribe to a blog? You simply hit their URL in the search bar and voila! Blog is there. Now feel free to subscribe. You also have the option to save your favorite posts and break down your subscriptions into different categories. (Shameless plugging: You can follow my non-niche blog over here.)

Quite a compact list. I figured it’s best to start out with the basics and give you an overview of what could be the first layer of your toolbox as someone who gets a kick out of blogging and creating websites. What’s on your toolbox? Honestly, I would love to hear what you use to keep you going with your projects.