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Website is under a major overhaul and reconstruction right now. Thank you so much for your patience. Getting this new stuff setup as quickly as I can.

Christina
August 29, 2015

Sunday, August 30, 2015

New format for Bent Realm site

What the homepage of the old format looked like in an edit preview vs. the new format in early build on homepage.

Just changed the format of the root site portion of bentrealm.com and some of the smaller sub-domains. For many reasons. Yes I loved and will miss much of the old homepage and what I was able to do, when I had the time, to the other regular pages. Rarely had the time and energy to truly put into it the way it was set up though. After having done this transfer, I'm feeling a great deal more uninhibited, more free and less blocked and held back. Which is exciting.

Figured I'd get into a few details of this change, including why I left the old format in the dust, why I picked this new format in particular, and some plans for the main blog. Bear with me I know this is more of an explanation / informational post on some boring format stuff, but it's pretty much here for anyone who loved the old format and is curious why it went away. Tried to be as brief as I could below while still being comprehensive.

Why I left the old format in the dust:

  • The old format was a clunky, chaotic mess in too many areas.
  • The old format was built using an entirely different system (some of the subdomain are routed in from the same places as before though). That setup cost a few dollars more a month than the new setup costs per year.
  • The host I was using sent me an "exciting" announcement email recently. I was NOT excited. Rather, I was gut-punched. It filled me with dread and had me looking for the nearest viable exit. The provider I was using was breaking off into its own company and the host was being rebranded. While it means they were going to start dumping more money and resource development into it, it also sounded like they were intending on changing or removing the features that had been the biggest draw for me to even choose that host, let alone bother with full on webhosting rather than just domain hosting. 
Some of the impending changes that I could not stay for were:
  • The new ToS - I freaking despised it! Many items in there went on at length about all the different ways they would far too easily usurp your domain and probably even sell it off, for a variety of reasons and circumstances. Many of which were ridiculously easy to accidentally do by the sound of it. This one alone was enough reason to skedaddle. Included in that was the caveat that you could no longer have your domain hosted anywhere but through them. So if you didn't like that they could so easily usurp your domain your only alternative was to leave entirely.
  • It sounded as though a some point monthly payment plans would become annual payment plans. Also no guarantee they would not soon raise the price on me. A risk my budget does not allow for. Dropping over $100 in one payment each year up front? #@*% that! It's not how I'd want to run my website's webhosting even if I were ridiculously wealthy. Paying for a year's worth of service without even knowing if you'd want to stick with the service for any real length - hate that setup. 
  • Odds are that the proprietary site builder desktop app I used to build my pages is fairly likely to stop being supported. It was the only intermediate website building option they had. I like to drop in some code & widgets and have more than basic control over layout and formatting when actually paying for the webhosting itself. Since that program is very proprietary for building pages it was problematic on it's own even if there was no impending changes of risky proportions. The pages I had spent so much time building and updating would have been impossible to port over to any other webhost should I suddenly need to change hosts.
  • The site builder desktop app was very clunky and clumsy to look at and use which truly slowed me down every time I managed to have time to do website maintenance from my desktop. Plus, there were other things I already did not like about using the app and host.
  • I was only using that webhost to build a few of the pages and route the subdomains into my domain that were on free hosts. Basically I was overpaying for that and it was not worth how much money time and effort I had to put in just for those extra custom pages. 
  • Many of the pages remained unfinished simply because I did not have the time and energy to complete and update them the way that webhost & site builder desktop app etc. Which meant I was hemorrhaging enough money every month to buy a whole domain just to basically have some very unfinished custom pages and a homepage so busy and overkill that I had people tell me that they really didn't know where to go from the homepage. Believe me I need some more domains for specific projects. To have room for owning and maintaining 12 at a good $24 less per year than I paid for just the one is more than awesome! It means several projects that were on severe hold until I got the domain name for them can start progressing again. When I have projects on hold in that way it creatively blocks me up all over and makes me feel drained at best.
  • The site was very much in need of a major overhaul.
  • The old webhost wanted an extra $10 a month to allow me to build and have a mobile version of the site.

There are more reasons but that is the gist of it.

Why I picked this new format

  • Had many choices to choose from. Went with the domain hosting because it's less expensive and allows me to gradually acquire new domains. Plus most paid webhosting plans require you to buy your webhosting for an entire year (an extreme price difference between just domain hosting and full on webhosting) at once in advance usually without knowing if you're even going to like the website management interfaces etc. Plus with domain hosting I can always have the domain hosted where I now host it and later "upgrade" to using webhosting to craft more advanced pages and such I can snag that later and not really worry about having to go through a domain transfer just because of that.
  • I was already using Blogger for a few sections of the bentrealm site, tumblr for one subdomain and Deviant Art portfolios for another, so I was very familiar and comfortable with that. Using Blogger for the root area of the site that used to be pages was a very natural transition.
Blogger being used for the root of the site means that:
  • This part of the site now has an automatic mobile site built that does not cost me any extra time money or effort all I do is have it set to enabled. This is very important for a lot of reasons but basically it fixes the main issues of not having this part of the site mobile enabled.
  • It allows me to have the home page regularly updated with new content since it's a blog now
  • It allows me to have one catchall blog for all that I'm doing. This allows a well rounded all inclusive feed as the root of the site where I can put all content releasing without overburdening this main blog, since I'm not trying to make it the full home for all the topics and content. While it will be fully inclusive, many parts can be addressed with things like a topically based weekly round-up entry that links out to the deeper big topical content. So yay a more cohesive presence! Bonus = me being less blocked by chaos and random indecision of where to put things like general announcements and so on .
  • This allows me to have one area, with blog content that I try to update daily without neglecting the rest, as some entries will contain round-ups of activity from elsewhere in the realm.
  • This one is major. Using this means I am no longer tied solely to my desktop for such large areas that need to be updated. Much of the functionality of this new format is accessible on my smartphone. So not only can I update on the fly and update in a more timely manner, but I can still get much of the website maintenance work done even when I'm, for whatever reason, not able to be at the computer at great length on a given day. Sure some bits are just plain going to need to be dealt with on the computer for the sake of my sanity. Like placing in pictures, setting up the formatting and links etc, where it just is too obnoxious trying to do those parts on my phone.
  • Guess I ought to mention why I did not choose WordPress since so many people insist it's the more professional blog host, and weirdly insist it's easy to use. First, WordPress gives me more headaches than aspartame does. It requires a paid webhosting whether one opts to pay for routing it to a domain in the dot com section or they download the dot org version and have to have a webhost hold your files for it. The help section for working with your dot org version is just horrible, the spacing of every help article is so bad and poorly done it makes my brain want to blow stuff up it hurts my eyes, stresses me out and makes it so hard to concentrate that it's incomprehensible. Some sections of instructions have parts that are poorly worded and unclear, where it's telling you the next step but the words used make my brain come up with multiple different interpretations of what it's telling me to do next. And it generally makes stuff I'm trying to do way more complicated than I have the capacity to deal with when I could just be working on other areas of Bent Realm, project work time and content creation time (and energy) gets eaten like a mofo by every attempt to use WordPress.


Some plans for this main blog

  • As I mentioned above, I am going to have this be my main blog and it will have a catchall function for all I'm working on and posting online having anything to do with Bent Realm in someway.
  • I aim to post topical round up posts about what I've been doing in my other blogs, on my YouTube channels, in my shops and so on.
  • More work in progress (WIP) posts will go on here. Updates about all kinds of projects
  • Whatever random creative or practical thing about Bent Realm and it's projects I feel like putting in here.
Enough about this format change. It should result in better output overall, among other things. I know that the pages and sidebar gadget and so on are still incomplete at the time of posting. They will be filled out and setup as quickly as I can. The majority of August was utterly consumed by this transfer project, from researching my options and deciding on a new host, to dealing with the ridiculous amount of emails I'd foolishly allowed to accumulate in both my inbox and the sorted folders I'd made within the old host, to trying get as much of the new setup done before the transfer, and so on. So glad that part is done! 

There are still lots of niggling issues to sort out that are and will drive me nuts. For example my old host used an email system that I absolutely love with many actions being seamless and quick, the new one uses one that clunky, clumsy, unnecessarily over-complicated (seriously why does it send me directly back to the inbox after I delete an email instead of to the next email in the inbox, this wastes so much time making checking the emails a much more time consuming and irritating process and man oh man do I miss having a preview pane right next to a vertical inbox list for quick email sorting) and has extra setup steps that make me nuts figuring out how to get my domain emails to send out as emails from my domain is just ridiculous and help topics never seem to cover my exact issue when it comes to this sort of thing. Will have to contact customer service to get that sorted. The email provider on the new host is through the same company and should be integrated a hell of a lot more seamlessly, I don't care that it does the domain emails as aliases it still needs to have seamless integration for outgoing emails to be sent as the domain. So there will be things I miss about the old host, but it sounds like it's just going to change in too many ways that negatively affect me and my peace of mind.

Is anyone missing the old format? Who else sometimes let's their emails pile up on them? (it's those ever so useful venue host newsletters that are the worst culprits in my emails, there's never time to deal with all of them properly and I can't unsee the useful bits that were in them).



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