Internet Mania

11 May

The website needs updating. Not in a big way, just phone numbers and stuff, but I can’t do it myself. I’d like to. It bugs me that the changes are so small and I have no idea how to go about it. It was originally created by someone in a dark corner of Asia, and while I don’t have a problem with giving them more work, I hate admitting there’s anything I can’t do!

I surf the net. 4.6m hits. Hmm. A bit too broad maybe.

I search the shelves in the library, 2 books. A ten year old copy of Build Your Own Website and a five year old copy of The Idiots’ Guide to the Internet. I opt for the idiots, fits how I feel. I skim through the first ten chapters, blasé about What is the Internet? How to Surf and other questions that a three year old can answer, and pass directly to Creating Your Own Site. The first paragraph may as well be in Japanese, for all I can understand, so I shamefacedly accept my true status as an idiot and revert sheepishly to Chapter One.

Three weeks later, I reach chapter ten for the second time. The offending first paragraph now makes perfect sense and I learn that all I need can be downloaded from the Internet for free, and it’s so simple, the same three year old could do it.

I’m elated. My mind is spinning from all the possibilities that lie before me. This is going to be the best web site ever, I’m sure of it. I download the software, and using the very simple instructions in the book, I access the website. This is so easy, why does everyone make such a big deal of it, I’m wondering? Why the need for all these guys in India or wherever it is they are in their little tin huts with mud floors. I can do this. No problem.

I save the changes and the page disappears. What? I breathe deeply, practice Zen-like calm and start again.

I must have done something wrong, typed a wrong letter or number somewhere along the line. I carefully retrace my steps. I make the changes, so far so good. The green wall of death appears on the screen – no text, no pictures, nothing except green.

Disgusted, I throw the computer aside and break open a bottle of wine.

The following day, I’m visiting with my sister on the barge she shares with my brother and their spouses. We had planned to move to Robertstown along with several other boats, heading south in convoy. Four hours after I arrive, we’re still sitting on the quay in Sallins. The battery is flat and the engine won’t start. My brother, on his way to a wedding, is issuing instructions over the phone, my sister is in the engine room, and I’m acting as go between, there being no signal in the hold. We have connected and disconnected every wire, every fuse, every main and spare battery there is, but no joy.

“I have to go,” says my brother, “we’re going into the church now. I’ll ring later.” A kind samaritan takes pity on the stranded women folk, and offers to jump start us with a battery pack. First we have to re-connect all the wires, in the right order, and the right place. No mean feat for a pair of mere females with no male supervision. As we finally get the engine started, a car drives up the tow path, and to the surprise of all, it’s a cousin of ours, J. He comes aboard with his boys to say hello, and stays for a while.

They say when you are ready for the lesson the teacher appears, and as I moaned about my adventures in websites, he proffers his recent experience at establishing one for his wife’s business. Like the book, he holds out the hope of an easy and cheap route to success. I’m hooked. We arrange to parlay later in the week, and I hug myself in the renewed vision of the BEST WEBSITE EVER, and all made by me!!

An evening spent with J fuels my enthusiasm even more. As I watch him glide from screen to screen with the greatest of ease, I can smell the sweetness of success. I can do this. The steps seem so easy, so effortless, so graceful. He installs the relevant software onto our site and I go home armed with a notebook full of ideas for how I’m going to create the BEST WEBSITE EVER.

At home, my husband has gone to bed, unwilling to wait up any longer for my return. I fire up my laptop, too excited to wait till the following day. I flex my fingers, pause to honour the momentous nature of the moment and click. I hold my breath.

Error 404. F$%&!

I decide to leave it for the night, and resolutely push it from my mind, but as I lie in bed I find myself retracing the steps I took. Eventually, I have to get out of bed and try again. I see I have new email, and there, God Bless his little cotton socks, J has thoughtfully emailed to say that until the Internet Service Provider has updated their files, I won’t be able to access the site. The elation I feel on finding that it’s not me can’t be expressed. .

For the next week, I live and breathe Joomla. My husband and children stand at the sitting room door looking pale, hungry, unwashed and unfed; the plants are drooping; the curtains haven’t been opened or the dishes washed. I am going to get this if it kills me. Which it probably will, if my family don’t kill me and eat me for breakfast first.

I have pages and pages of notes. I read miles of helpsheets and tips. I become an expert on templates and extensions. I am on fire. I have lists of subjects for articles. I look at other sites and I am scathing in my dismissal of their puny little efforts. Wait until they see mine, then I’ll be laughing. I have visions of my colleagues flocking to me for my help, my opinions, my magnificence. I imagine having so many clients that I won’t have space to fit them in, and see myself passing them on to others, the picture of beneficence. I am living the dream.

It takes me three days to re-set our logo so that it fits into the template. I know I can get it to work if only the computer wasn’t so slow, if only the system would work as I want it to, if only…I can have it stretched left to right, up to down, I can have it in a white box, or with a frame, but I can’t get it just as I want it, just right.

There are several templates that come with Joomla but I don’t much like them. They bear no relationship to the look of our site as it is right now, and I like the way it is. I find a program for building your own template. It lets you choose the look, the colour, and lots of variations. It’s not going to replicate what we have, but in my view it’s going to come close. I spend hours working on possibilities, loading them up and seeing what it would look like. I’m really proud of what I’ve done. I write a few mock articles, I make some choices about what we might put in, I play around with it. I’m amazed at my creation.

My partner hates it. F$%k.

We do things by consensus so I’m not going to override her, but I’m really disappointed.

I revert to my first plan, and revisit the books on how to edit your website pages. In desperation, I post my problem on the forum. I’m surprised that so many people out there are so interested in my little problem. And I’m relieved to see that I amn’t being a total idiot, the nerds are having the same problem. I am overwhelmed with advice, and have to go and sit in a quiet place to digest it. One wit phrases his response in the language of our website. Suck it up girl, don’t take it personally.

Finally,  I get it to work. I change the address, not a big change, but for where I’ve come from it’s been a long journey. I change a couple of other small things, and then, taking a deep breath, I add a page. My God, I’m actually doing it. I’ve changed the website! Go Becky!!

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