Fun with text walls

I have been spending some time going through my content pages (here so called for lack of another term. While I question just how much “content” there is on them I don’t know of a more applicable term) in an effort to make them more uniform and clean up the coding a bit. Most of the pages that I set up before blogger were all set up before I knew a great deal about html, and while I knew how to set up tables and use most of the tags I needed, I didn’t know about the simple “—include virtual—” html command (which, of course, needs the greater-than/less-than symbols to make it work). So that rather than having a file that held my link bar, which I could then just insert into pages using the virtual command, I had been coding the links directly into the html. So if I added a link, as I recently did in the case of the Music Lost to History Archive, I would have to go through every html page one at a time and add that line. Needless to say, many of the pages just never got updated.

I was downloading some of the html files through my ftp client yesterday so that I could change the table layout on them and get the banner into the right half (matching the layout you see here), but when I opened the source on many of them for editing, I saw roughly what you see here:

That is a pretty incredible wall of text! I have only two ways to view that: I can bring it up just like you see there, or I can turn word wrap off and see the same thing with a combined total of about 4 lines -each stretching on for near eternity. I know I didn’t write the pages that way. In fact I can clearly remember the cut-and-paste fashion that went into creating all the pages, and I don’t really know why they are displaying like that for me now. I have intentionally always done all my HTML programming in notepad, theorizing that I then wouldn’t have to worry about the stuff not displaying correctly for me if I set them up in Word or Frontpage and later upgraded to a newer version.

The good news is that it hasn’t been as bad as it may look. There are really only about four distinct sections of each page, so with 4 clicks of my return key I am able to break them up into workable sections for what I need to do. I suppose if I cared a little bit more I would go back and change the META tags to something a little bit more useful and search-able, but I can’t imagine that anyone is ever really going to enter a keyword or string of text into the google window that would result in one of my poetry pages, or one of my 2004 archive pages coming up anyway.

But it seems with each bit of html/layout I get cleaned up, there is more to do. The big question I am facing now is if I should go back and change the formatting on every page of the pre-blogger archives, or leave them as is for historical purposes (read:lazy). I have already changed the first navigation page of that directory, and I will probably get as far as fixing the monthly listing pages, but not the day to day pages. I actually find some amusement in clicking back through the old archives from time to time to look at how the site has evolved from trying to emulate the really bad 90’s homepage look to the more tame setup it has changed into.

If you are at all curious as to why I have decided to clean the site up a bit, it is because I went ahead and registered my name and pointed it here. A google search for my name now brings up pages of hits, of which only a few are me. Better to grab the name myself in case I should ever be rich and famous. Of course it is no secret who runs this site, as I have always had my name displayed on the bottom of each post and content page, but for those who may happen across this site looking for a different Donnie Burgess, I’m hoping to at least give the impression that it is not written by a monkey flinging feces at the keyboard and posting whatever text strings appear (My level of success at that being debatable). Also giving the entire site a uniform look will make it clear when you are navigating away from it, not to mention it gives me the excuse to edit the content of some of the pages that have really just been there as placeholders for these last 5 years.

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