Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Hi, and welcome to my blog! 

To introduce myself, I'm Bill Lavell.  I live in Central New Jersey with my wife of 5 years.  I have a job that doesn't involve creative writing, but even though it doesn't pay as well, I like writing much better.  You see, when I'm not "on the job," I write science fiction.  I don't think that I'm terribly interesting, but every once in a while, things happen that you just can't make up.  And don't worry.  I'll be writing about them here.

I've written two novels now, so a friend of mine suggested that I should start a website to get my name out there and show the books of a bit.  That was a great idea of his, and the writing of book 3 has slowed down a bit, so I figured "what the hell?  I'll try and set this up myself."

Now before you laugh at me too hard, I'm not completely unfamiliar with HTML.  I had a website a few years back, Denimguy.net, which I built and maintained myself (and if you remember that site, you get the gold star for today).  I was just learning coding, and how to use Dreamweaver 4 (I loved that program).  Anyway, I didn't do too badly if I do say so myself.  I ran the site for a year, and then real life got in the way, so I let it go.  But that was a few YEARS ago.  I managed to get my hands on a copy of Dreamweaver CS5, and I'll tell you, I don't like it AT ALL (just my opinion, though).  It seems that coding websites has changed a lot since I was toying with "DenimGuy's Tiny Little Piece of Cyberspace," as I called my site.  At least the programs you build sites with have. 

I was on vacation this week, so I had time to psych myself up for the job.  Finally on Sunday night I was feeling brave, so I opened Dreamweaver and started trying to build a site.  I don't know what made me start with a contact page, but that's where I started.  I generated an email form on foxyforms.com, which is a great site.  "Just copy this code onto your site, and you're all set," it said.  "Great," said I.

So I copied and pasted, saved the file, and tested it out.  It was fantastic!  I put in a bogus name and email address, typed in a test message, and it went straight to my inbox.  The only issue I had was that the form was left justified on the page, and I wanted it centered.  No big deal, I'll just highlight it on the design screen, hit the 'centering' button, save the file, and all will be right with the world.  So I went through all of my steps, and saved the file with a satisfied grin on my face, and tried the updated file. 

It wasn't centered.

Okay, I thought.  No biggie.  I'll just do it again.

I made the change, saved the file, and opened it.  The form hadn't moved one iota.
"Once more," I told myself.  "It'll work this time."

"Not a chance," the saved file seemed to say back.

So I opened up a second program, KomPoser, that I had on a USB drive.  I went through all of the steps, saved the file, and grinned.  "This time, it's got to work," I said.
When I opened the saved file, my laptop may as well have been laughing at me.  The damned form was still in the same spot.

So long story short, I lost count of the number of times I altered and saved, in both programs, just to center a form on a webpage (a normal person probably would have given this up a long time ago, I know.  But not me, lol), but after about an hour and a half, and a few chants of "OCD!  OCD!  OCD!" from the wrestling crowd in my head, the form finally took pity on me and centered itself on the page.  So after I pumped my fist triumphantly in the air, I closed the file as fast as I could and went to work on the next page.  The funnier/sadder/more pathetic thing about it was that it only took me more time to get that first page right than the whole rest of the site combined.

So I learned three things that night: 

First, I really miss Dreamweaver 4.  Second, I know just enough about HTML to be dangerous.  Finally, and maybe most importantly, I need to get out more.

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