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Scott's Column
Site Redesign and the Deck Returns

April 1, 2004
By Scott Lewis

This month I have had little extra time beyond getting this month's Car Corner ready and building up the archive section of this site due to the redesign. But my deck is progressing... after a bit of a hiatus.

The New Look

Everyone hates change. Myself, I sometime hate it and sometimes love it. With this web site I used to like changing it around. However, over the years I became complacent and did not want to change it. But the time had come, and I needed to do something about it.

The changes were spurred by the amount of disc space I get from my hosting service. They provide 60 MB of space. About 10 MB (from my basic estimation) is really not available to me. So I actually have about 50 MB of space. They will conveniently charge me when I exceed that amount. I don't mind since the cost is nominal, however I don't like the way they use up the space. My host is using some form of Linux or UNIX with the FrontPage extensions. Linux (or UNIX, I will only say Linux from here on) uses the equivalent of a cluster size of 4K... as best I can figure. On my machine at home Windows with NTFS uses a cluster size of 512 bytes. What that means is that every file must take up some multiple of that cluster size. A 1 byte file takes up 4K under Linux, while only 512 bytes under Windows 2000. FrontPage uses a LOT of little files to keep track of itself. Plus I was using FrontPage's themes to get the basic look I was after. That increased the number of files, even for repetitive graphics.

Once I started using FrontPage's themes the number of these little files grew astronomically. As a result my disc space was eaten up on my server. Remember, every little file eats up 4 K of disc space. FrontPage's theme was killing my disc space on my hosting service.

For the redesign (which should be subtle, and you may not notice) I eliminated themes. I used a couple of graphics I created when I was advertising my 67 Camaro for sale to provide nice looking bullets and such. You can see these on every page in the navigation. This was similar to what FrontPage did automatically. I did changed the colors so you can try and tell. Since every page now points to the same few graphics, I don't have images all over the place. This saves me a lot of disc space on my host's server.

Giving up on themes means giving up on using fancy bullets. I can use the bullets that work with HTML, or I have to manually create sentences with the graphics. Creating sentences with the graphics is easy enough when the sentences are shorter than a single line, but when the sentence wraps it becomes a huge pain. I am currently leaving the graphics in the navigation only for the time being. I may go back later and add fancy bullets to the content of the pages, but I doubt it.

One of the more important items part of the redesign was to have a fixed width for the main body of text. This makes it easier to have content look the way I want. Though not perfect, it is close enough.

By eliminating all the overhead of FrontPage themes I was able to recover a lot of disc space. I regret removing pictures on this site for the sake of disc space. Now I can put those pictures back. My "pet" project was my January 2000 edition of Car Corner. I did a comprehensive search of the Internet looking for classic cars as potential purchases. I loved spending the time building that article, and loved having all those pictures online in the archive. Now they are back. That's right, you can see all the images (both regular and thumbnails) if you look back to that article.

Converting The Site

It is a painstaking process to take a site like mine and change its looks so drastically (drastically because I stop using FrontPage themes). Normally you should be able to change the theme, and the look changes. But I was elminating the theme and the theme provided a lot to the content of the site, such as the headings on every page.

I decided to start all over and manually moved all the content into a new site. So I have been spending most of March getting as much of the archive into the new structure. I started with my passion for cars and have been painstakingly adding pages to the Car Corner archive until my fingers are numb. At press time I have put all the pages for Scott's Column in the archive, though I may not have time to update the archive page itself to point to them. By next month I should have all the old Feature Articles back on the site.

If you go into the Archive section you will see that the pages seem to be there, but they are not. Just be patient for another month. When done the archive will go all the way back to 1997.

The Deck

When I last talked about my deck I had not yet finished the deck surface fro when we plan to put a table and chairs. Well, that is finally done. The next step it to put up railing. I should be working on the railing as you read this. Hopefully it will be finished my next month and I will have a picture or two of the finished deck.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoy the new look. It is not dramatic, but it gives me a little freedom to have a complete archive. I hope you spend a few minutes reading (or re-reading if you are a long time subscriber) my January 2000 Car Corner. I enjoyed prepping it for being online in all it original glory. After you finish you can take a look at this month's Car Corner and see how some things change, yet others stay the same. I have once again searched the Internet for possible classic cars. This time I have even more cars than the last time, but I think the caliber of cars and their pictures are better. That's saying something for the cars considering I used a lower budget this time.

I spent a few minutes actually looking at some of those cars from 2000 and said to myself, "What was I thinking?" Some of those cars were way off base. And the prices were as bad as ever. I wish I had a CPI guide from 2000 to see how those asking prices back then compared to the prices today.

Let me know what you think of the new look, and the old vs. new car searches. In a couple of months or so I am going to take the best of all my previous car searches and pick the best of the best for an article on "the ones that got away." Stay tuned.
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