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Couple of stupid tech questions re: blogging and Linux

DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy EaterRight behind you...Registered User regular
edited August 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
While I'm looking for a new job, I've decided to focus on my writing, which was I eventually want to do professionally, but I know it will take some time and effort before I can establish myself. So on the advice of a writing professor, I've started a blog on Blogspot/Blogger. According to him, blogging one of the best marketing tools available. The thing is that I'm not very good with keeping up with it, and I think my big problem is that I don't like the look of it (using a standard template right now). I got a camera finally, so I can start adding pictures if need be, but I really need to give it a customized look. So I my first question has a few parts to it:

1.a. Does anyone have experience with customizing Blogspot/Blogger pages, like getting rid of the stupid navbar up top? How easy is it?
b. I'm not afraid of a little coding but I'm not a programmer. I knew some basic HTML back in the day, but with XML/CSS/Web 2.0, that won't cut it anymore. Do I need to know this? Are there good resources for learning it, maybe a book?
c. Is there a program that will do this for me instead? Like something that I can just position things the way I want them in a drag and drop kind of way (and possibly set up a non-scrolling background image), then just hit a button to generate the code that I can then upload? I know Dreamweaver sort of did this back in the day. I know this is a lazy way of doing things, but if it exists, it may help to just get things started.

Now, a question of curiousity that may be answerable regarding Linux:
2. Is Linux really usable for the average person? It strikes me as being geared toward programmers and developers, which I'm not, and all my software is for Windows. I know there are options if need be (OpenOffice to replace MS Office and such), there are Linux version of stuff I use frequently (Firefox; I'm sure I can get Linux Usenet client; etc.) and Wine just released version 1.0, but is it really usable for the non-programmer? I'm tempted, but I don't want to dual-boot since I'm not a Dell Inspiron laptop, and I have an Nvidia Go 7900GS, which I hear Nvidia's Linux drivers stink.

These questions are probably obvious, and while I used to keep up with this stuff, I've been out of the loop for a while now and really need to catch up.

Dalboz on

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    AndorienAndorien Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Re: Linux
    Really, the best way is to just try it. I personally love using it, and it's not "just for developers" (though it certainly helps to be technically inclined). If you don't wanna dual boot, you do have an option. The Ubuntu disk contains a special installation option called "Wubi" that actually installs it like a normal program. It doesn't partition your hard drive or anything, it just installs into a special folder in an existing filesystem, adds an entry to the windows boot loader, and has a special file that is basically its own filesystem. If you try it and don't like it, just uninstall it like a normal windows program.

    To install it like this, just pop the disk in while in windows, and I think Wubi will autorun. If not, you should be able to find it on the disk in the root directory.

    http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download

    Andorien on
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    DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Hmmm, a Virtual PC type of installation. Wonder why that possibility slipped my mind. I'll look into it.

    Dalboz on
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    AndorienAndorien Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Sort of, but not exactly. It doesn't run inside windows or anything, it just shares the same space on the hard drive. You'll still have to restart the computer to play with the OS, and you'll suffer no performance penalty like you would with a virtual system or live CD (though supposedly the filesystem used for wubi isn't quite as fast as what would normally be used).

    Andorien on
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    SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited August 2008
    You can create your own templates for Blogger. It's pretty easy to do with Blogger compared to say, Wordpress, but the payoff is that it's less powerful.

    You will need to know XHTML and CSS to make a custom Blogger template. I'd recommend the book Web Designer's Reference: An Integrated Approach to Web Design with XHTML and CSS. It will pretty much teach you all you need to know about XHTML and CSS to be able to start modifying or creating your own blogger templates.

    There are WYSIWYG web editors such as Dreamweaver that will do a lot of the coding for you, but honestly - read that book and just do it in a text editor. A blog template isn't a big web project so you won't see any use for a lot of the project management features in an application like Dreamweaver and if you use a WYSIWYG editor then you just have to learn XHMTL, CSS and the editing software (because you honestly can't rely on any WYSIWYG to get the code perfect by itself). It'll be much quicker to just code it by hand from the outset than spending weeks learning the software and then having to debug unfamiliar code generated by that software.

    This is from personal experience as well. I spent a frustrating few weeks trying to fathom Dreamweaver before giving up in disgust. A year later I got that book, learned to code by hand and have never looked back.

    Szechuanosaurus on
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    LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    About blogging:
    I find Vox to be the easiest way to make a pretty blog. You trade Blogger's customisability for having lots and lots of pretty templates.

    Ubuntu (+ Wubi) is pretty good as far as it goes. I think there's this middle ground between "I can program" (which Linux serves) and "I just want to use the Internet and OpenOffice" (which Linux serves) that isn't very well catered for. You sound like you're in that bracket, so yeah, just give Wubi a shot.

    Lewisham on
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    CyvrosCyvros Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Dalboz wrote: »
    1.a. Does anyone have experience with customizing Blogspot/Blogger pages, like getting rid of the stupid navbar up top? How easy is it?

    As far as I know, it can't be removed because it's a function of Blogger. You can, however, customise it.
    Dalboz wrote: »
    b. I'm not afraid of a little coding but I'm not a programmer. I knew some basic HTML back in the day, but with XML/CSS/Web 2.0, that won't cut it anymore. Do I need to know this? Are there good resources for learning it, maybe a book?

    Basically, to customise it, all you need is some HTML and CSS knowledge. I would, however, recommend XHTML and CSS knowledge. There are books you can get which would probably help, but I learnt most of mine through examples (reading through HTML and CSS files for sites I liked the designs of).

    A good place to start would be W3Schools, since it's a comprehensive reference of almost everything you'd need for a usual website.
    Dalboz wrote: »
    c. Is there a program that will do this for me instead? Like something that I can just position things the way I want them in a drag and drop kind of way (and possibly set up a non-scrolling background image), then just hit a button to generate the code that I can then upload? I know Dreamweaver sort of did this back in the day. I know this is a lazy way of doing things, but if it exists, it may help to just get things started.

    You could, but I wouldn't myself - I'm one of those strange people who likes a lot of typing and a lot of tags. :D
    Dalboz wrote: »
    2. Is Linux really usable for the average person?

    Yes.
    Dalboz wrote: »
    It strikes me as being geared toward programmers and developers, which I'm not, and all my software is for Windows.

    I know what you mean.
    Dalboz wrote: »
    I know there are options if need be (OpenOffice to replace MS Office and such), there are Linux version of stuff I use frequently (Firefox; I'm sure I can get Linux Usenet client; etc.) and Wine just released version 1.0, but is it really usable for the non-programmer?

    Quite definitely. I haven't used Wine myself for a couple of years, so I'm not sure what 1.0 is like, but it was fairly easy to set up and get going. You may find the transition to OpenOffice a little difficult - then again, you may not.

    In fact, there are some Linux-only apps that I prefer to Windows-only or cross-platform apps - NoteEdit is one of them, but it's not exactly the type of software everyone uses.
    Dalboz wrote: »
    I'm tempted, but I don't want to dual-boot since I'm not a Dell Inspiron laptop, and I have an Nvidia Go 7900GS, which I hear Nvidia's Linux drivers stink.

    I second Andorien's suggestion regarding trying out Wubi - I've heard great things about it, but have never gotten around to trying it myself.

    Alternatively, you could download an ISO of Ubuntu or something like that and set up a virtual machine in VirtualBox. The main advantage of VirtualBox (apart from its lack of cost) is that it has a 'seamless' mode (essentially the same as Unity View in VMware Fusion) - this means that apps running in the virtual machine can be 'broken out' of the VM as it were (e.g. Vista seamless in Leopard and XP seamless in Ubuntu).

    Cyvros on
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    AndorienAndorien Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    If you're too cheap to buy a book to learn XHTML/CSS (I sure was), try HTML Dog. Simple, well written explanations and references about the subject, and it teaches you how to do it right. Really, HTML and CSS isn't very complicated at all, you should be able to pick it up in a couple nights.

    Re: Getting rid of the blogger nav bar.
    Yes, you can do it (I did it in mine, check the sig). Add the following to your template:
    #navbar-iframe {
       display: none !important;
    }
    

    Note that I'm not really sure if this breaks any EULAs or anything. I haven't ever heard of it causing problems.

    By the way, I really wouldn't recommend Dreamweaver-esque page building programs anyway. Not only is it weird when trying to use them to create templates for content management systems (which is what blogs are), but the code they generate is often not very good, which means your page is bigger, and loads slower.

    By the way, if you do a non-scrolling background, make sure to get it right. They can look good, but 99% of them are horrible affronts to nature and my retinas.

    Andorien on
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    SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited August 2008
    Cyvros wrote: »
    Dalboz wrote: »
    1.a. Does anyone have experience with customizing Blogspot/Blogger pages, like getting rid of the stupid navbar up top? How easy is it?

    As far as I know, it can't be removed because it's a function of Blogger. You can, however, customise it.

    If it's part of the blogger template, it can be removed. I'm not totally sure which thing he's talking about though, some blogger sites have that Blogger branded toolbar thing at the top. To get rid of that, you might have to host your blog on your own server. You can still use the blogger control panel to edit it and add posts, but it just posts it to your own host rather than on blogger's hosting.

    Szechuanosaurus on
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    CyvrosCyvros Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Andorien wrote: »
    Re: Getting rid of the blogger nav bar.
    Yes, you can do it (I did it in mine, check the sig). Add the following to your template:
    #navbar-iframe {
       display: none !important;
    }
    

    Note that I'm not really sure if this breaks any EULAs or anything. I haven't ever heard of it causing problems.

    Interesting - I never thought of doing it that way.

    Cyvros on
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    SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited August 2008
    That would work too. Is the #navbar-iframe div actually part of the template or something that blogger adds in retroactively when you publish? If the former, it'd be just as easy to delete it from the actual XHTML document.

    It's been so long, I forget how Blogger does it, especially when they are hosting. Can you even do external style sheets or does all your CSS have to be contained within the main template if you're hosting it with Blogger?

    Szechuanosaurus on
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    CyvrosCyvros Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    That would work too. Is the #navbar-iframe div actually part of the template or something that blogger adds in retroactively when you publish? If the former, it'd be just as easy to delete it from the actual XHTML document.

    It's been so long, I forget how Blogger does it, especially when they are hosting. Can you even do external style sheets or does all your CSS have to be contained within the main template if you're hosting it with Blogger?

    I seem to recall that the the Blogger navbar is something added afterwards, since I never saw it in my template (mind you, I haven't used it for more than half a year).

    You should be able to call external style sheets as well. I think I tried it once and it worked.

    Cyvros on
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    AndorienAndorien Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    All the styling is done in the HTML file in the header. I checked, and I can't find any actual code for the navbar. I guess they just slip it in after the fact. It also lacks any php or anything for displaying the content, so while it's an html file, and you can add non-css stuff as well, there's not much you can do to the actual content code it seems.

    I haven't tried it, but I imagine you could just add the code to link to an external css hosted elsewhere.

    Andorien on
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    SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited August 2008
    Cyvros wrote: »
    That would work too. Is the #navbar-iframe div actually part of the template or something that blogger adds in retroactively when you publish? If the former, it'd be just as easy to delete it from the actual XHTML document.

    It's been so long, I forget how Blogger does it, especially when they are hosting. Can you even do external style sheets or does all your CSS have to be contained within the main template if you're hosting it with Blogger?

    I seem to recall that the the Blogger navbar is something added afterwards, since I never saw it in my template (mind you, I haven't used it for more than half a year).

    You should be able to call external style sheets as well. I think I tried it once and it worked.

    I did it with the blog hosted on my own server, so obviously I could host my own CSS files as well, but I can't remember if the Blogger interface itself allows you to upload a separate CSS file. I guess you could just host the CSS on a complete separate host and have your template call it from whatever it's URL is, but that sort of defeats the purpose of having Blogger host your blog for you.

    Szechuanosaurus on
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    CyvrosCyvros Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Cyvros wrote: »
    That would work too. Is the #navbar-iframe div actually part of the template or something that blogger adds in retroactively when you publish? If the former, it'd be just as easy to delete it from the actual XHTML document.

    It's been so long, I forget how Blogger does it, especially when they are hosting. Can you even do external style sheets or does all your CSS have to be contained within the main template if you're hosting it with Blogger?

    I seem to recall that the the Blogger navbar is something added afterwards, since I never saw it in my template (mind you, I haven't used it for more than half a year).

    You should be able to call external style sheets as well. I think I tried it once and it worked.

    I did it with the blog hosted on my own server, so obviously I could host my own CSS files as well, but I can't remember if the Blogger interface itself allows you to upload a separate CSS file. I guess you could just host the CSS on a complete separate host and have your template call it from whatever it's URL is, but that sort of defeats the purpose of having Blogger host your blog for you.

    True, unless you can upload the CSS with the file uploader (I can't remember whether there are file type restrictions or not). I suppose that's why they use the 'all-in-one template' model.

    Cyvros on
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    SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited August 2008
    Cyvros wrote: »
    Cyvros wrote: »
    That would work too. Is the #navbar-iframe div actually part of the template or something that blogger adds in retroactively when you publish? If the former, it'd be just as easy to delete it from the actual XHTML document.

    It's been so long, I forget how Blogger does it, especially when they are hosting. Can you even do external style sheets or does all your CSS have to be contained within the main template if you're hosting it with Blogger?

    I seem to recall that the the Blogger navbar is something added afterwards, since I never saw it in my template (mind you, I haven't used it for more than half a year).

    You should be able to call external style sheets as well. I think I tried it once and it worked.

    I did it with the blog hosted on my own server, so obviously I could host my own CSS files as well, but I can't remember if the Blogger interface itself allows you to upload a separate CSS file. I guess you could just host the CSS on a complete separate host and have your template call it from whatever it's URL is, but that sort of defeats the purpose of having Blogger host your blog for you.

    True, unless you can upload the CSS with the file uploader (I can't remember whether there are file type restrictions or not). I suppose that's why they use the 'all-in-one template' model.

    Yeah. It's fair enough. Blogger is really geared up as the easy-to-use-but-doesn't-look-crap-like-myspace solution. You can rig it to do some things it wasn't really meant for, but there are limitations and after a certain point you're going to give yourself less headaches just using Wordpress.

    Szechuanosaurus on
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    CyvrosCyvros Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Yeah. It's fair enough. Blogger is really geared up as the easy-to-use-but-doesn't-look-crap-like-myspace solution. You can rig it to do some things it wasn't really meant for, but there are limitations and after a certain point you're going to give yourself less headaches just using Wordpress.
    I generally stick to WordPress.com myself for three reasons: free hosting, pages and really simple stats. Google Analytics was over the top for me, and FeedBurner's offering felt a tad... paltry.

    Cyvros on
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    DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    These are all good suggestions, folks. Thanks!

    To clarify, I probably won't host on my own server for a while anyway. It kind of defeats the purpose of Blogger, which is free. I might get a domain name that points to it at some point, but I'll have to let things play out and see how they go (can't afford it right now; as I mentioned, I'm doing all this while I look for a new job). But definitely some good suggestions that I'll look into further for the blog.

    As for Linux, how easy is it get Windows apps to run? Say, if I wanted to use MS Office (all my files are in Office 2003 right now, including my email being in Outlook 2003), or Photoshop (I know there's GIMP, but if I can use Photoshop...), or multimedia, being games or movies or Flash. I'm sure there's definitely viable solutions to movies and Flash in Linux, I just remember multimedia like film editing or animation was an Achilles heel of Linux the last time I checked it out, which was many, many years ago. And as for games, as I mentioned, I'm on a Dell laptop with an Nvidia GPU, which I understand has horrible Linux drivers, which might affect it. I also seem to remember there was a problem with peripheral support in Linux, like USB problems, but I can't remember clearly.

    Dalboz on
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    CyvrosCyvros Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Dalboz wrote: »
    As for Linux, how easy is it get Windows apps to run? Say, if I wanted to use MS Office (all my files are in Office 2003 right now, including my email being in Outlook 2003), or Photoshop (I know there's GIMP, but if I can use Photoshop...), or multimedia, being games or movies or Flash.

    For this, you'd have two options. There's Wine, which isn't too hard to set up, and then there's VirtualBox in seamless mode. There are some apps that just won't work in Wine for one reason or another, but I have been told that Office 2003 and Photoshop (as well as a few other Adobe apps) work fine in Wine.

    If you do come across problems with Wine (such as those listed in the Wine application database), then I'd recommend trying VirtualBox, because the only problems you'd get are the ones you'd get if you were running Windows natively. Of course, if you do this regularly, you'd need to keep the VM open and so having more than a gig of RAM would be a good idea.
    Dalboz wrote: »
    I also seem to remember there was a problem with peripheral support in Linux, like USB problems, but I can't remember clearly.

    Most peripherals tend to work out-of-the-box these days, but you may come across some exceptions.

    Cyvros on
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    AndorienAndorien Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    USB support has improved drastically, as well as the nvidia gpu drivers (though I hear the ATI ones still suck, but I think they're about to open source them, so things may get better on that front). Flash can be a little screwy, which is entirely Adobe's fault.

    Now, windows apps. Installing and running a program with Wine can either be stupidly simple, or a giant pain in the ass. Before installing any app, I suggest looking here:
    http://appdb.winehq.org/
    and see what it has to say about the program. Read the comments, as they'll often talk about installation details and any specific bugs.

    EDIT: BEATEN LIKE A FRENCH WHORE

    Andorien on
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    RBachRBach Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Multimedia is still Linux' Achilles' Heel. WINE can supposedly run older versions of Photoshop, but I've never tried. I haven't had luck with Office in WINE, either, but I haven't tried in quite some time.

    I personally prefer making a virtual machine and installing the Windows programs I need in that. I prefer VMware's offerings (VMware Server is free and works just fine as a replacement for VMware Workstation), but there are other virtualization products available that you might try such as VirtualBox. This of course comes with a rather lot of overhead (you're running a full Windows install on top of Linux) and I don't think I'd recommend it for someone new to Linux.

    If WINE can't run the programs you need there's a commercial version of WINE called Crossover Office that you can try out. There's a free trial you can get through their site. Another commercial WINE spinoff is Cedega, but it's geared toward getting Windows games to run in Linux and probably won't be terribly useful to you.


    ..and I have also been beaten. Twice. :(
    ..and by quite a big margin at that...

    RBach on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    CyvrosCyvros Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Andorien wrote: »
    Flash can be a little screwy, which is entirely Adobe's fault.
    I just feel the need to ensure that statements like this are never missed.

    Damn you, Adobe.

    Cyvros on
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    LewiePLewieP Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Also worth doing with blogger:

    Change your favicon

    Pretty much completely removes the blogger branding from your homepage when coupled with removing the navbar (see my blog, click sig)

    Edit: Although I use a template that is instantly recognisable as a blogger one... I have a complete site overhaul on the way

    LewieP on
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    theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Dalboz wrote: »
    These are all good suggestions, folks. Thanks!

    To clarify, I probably won't host on my own server for a while anyway. It kind of defeats the purpose of Blogger, which is free. I might get a domain name that points to it at some point, but I'll have to let things play out and see how they go (can't afford it right now; as I mentioned, I'm doing all this while I look for a new job). But definitely some good suggestions that I'll look into further for the blog.

    As for Linux, how easy is it get Windows apps to run? Say, if I wanted to use MS Office (all my files are in Office 2003 right now, including my email being in Outlook 2003), or Photoshop (I know there's GIMP, but if I can use Photoshop...), or multimedia, being games or movies or Flash. I'm sure there's definitely viable solutions to movies and Flash in Linux, I just remember multimedia like film editing or animation was an Achilles heel of Linux the last time I checked it out, which was many, many years ago. And as for games, as I mentioned, I'm on a Dell laptop with an Nvidia GPU, which I understand has horrible Linux drivers, which might affect it. I also seem to remember there was a problem with peripheral support in Linux, like USB problems, but I can't remember clearly.

    The intention of Wine 1.0 was to have 100% compatibility with Office 2003 and some other important Windows apps (or was it Office 2007? I doubt it) Anyway, you're supposed to be covered for that. Also, Photoshop CS2 is supposed to have a Platinum rating. Really, just check this site: http://appdb.winehq.org

    I don't know much about multimedia editing, but what others have said so far sounds about right.

    nVidia isn't too bad with Linux. People say their drivers are horrible because of two reasons: they don't exactly put the effort into optimising them that they do with Windows drivers, and typical Linux nut "ITS NOT OPEN SOURCE SO ITS EVIL" bullshit. Either way, there's an awesome program made by one of the Canonical crew called "Envy" that automatically sets up your drivers for you. ATI was the company that didn't give a shit about Linux in this area.

    Hardware compatibility can all be checked using a LiveCD or Wubi.

    theSquid on
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    DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Hey, so a little update, and needing some information:

    1. I've been looking for a copy of Web Designer's Reference in book and computer stores with no luck. Yes, I can order from Amazon, but I would prefer to look inside the book first to see if it's really right for me. So, how is the book written? Is it just a bunch facts about loosely strung together, or does it provide projects that can be worked on to give full examples and hands on experience that it will walk you through? I think this was a great advantage with Adobe's Classroom in a Book series, which I used for Photoshop 7. It gave examples, said what you were going to do, then walk you through it, explaining what you were doing letting you observe the results along the way. I felt that really helped. Is this book like this? I may grab it anyway, but is there another book like this if it isn't?

    2. Is there a book like what I described above for Linux (Ubuntu flavor at the moment)? I tried Wubi, and was thoroughly impressed with it enough to do a full Ubuntu install, then realizing that not every worked completely and I managed to crash it when trying to unmount an external hard drive (something I noticed in my google searches seems happen quite a bit with more recent versions). Plus, I was getting the annoying "black flash," where my screen periodically flashed black, or the bottom would flash black, and googling turned up a lot of people with the same problem, with several different explanations for what was going on. I detailed all this on my blog. So I've reinstalled XP (at least I get a cleaned and refreshed drive out of this), but I will reinstall Wubi again because I still want to learn how to use Linux with the hope of eventually becoming a full convert. But I need help, and I'm hoping for a nice solid and possibly project-oriented book. I've seen several from the Ubuntu Linux Bible to others. I saw A Practial Guide to Ubuntu Linux in the store and it looked like it could be good (although there seems to be a new edition on the horizon), but didn't know if anyone had some opinions of it or better books.

    3. That being said, I'm debating learning some more programming for the hell of it in Linux (a more developer-friendly platform, it seems) and was wondering if there's an area I should focus on for maximum benefit. I have a book on C that I never finished, but I don't know if C is even practical anymore, or if I should continue it just to try to get more basics down. I keep seeing Python popping up everywhere, and it's aroused my curiosity. Of others if anyone has a recommendation. I'm probably biting off more than I can chew, but I tend to do that. Again, project-oriented books to accompany any suggestions would be nice. I know this is not specific at all, and I'm not sure what I want to accomplish with this point other than enlightenment. Ask questions if that would help to narrow it down.

    Dalboz on
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    theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Dalboz wrote: »
    Hey, so a little update, and needing some information:

    1. I've been looking for a copy of Web Designer's Reference in book and computer stores with no luck. Yes, I can order from Amazon, but I would prefer to look inside the book first to see if it's really right for me. So, how is the book written? Is it just a bunch facts about loosely strung together, or does it provide projects that can be worked on to give full examples and hands on experience that it will walk you through? I think this was a great advantage with Adobe's Classroom in a Book series, which I used for Photoshop 7. It gave examples, said what you were going to do, then walk you through it, explaining what you were doing letting you observe the results along the way. I felt that really helped. Is this book like this? I may grab it anyway, but is there another book like this if it isn't?

    2. Is there a book like what I described above for Linux (Ubuntu flavor at the moment)? I tried Wubi, and was thoroughly impressed with it enough to do a full Ubuntu install, then realizing that not every worked completely and I managed to crash it when trying to unmount an external hard drive (something I noticed in my google searches seems happen quite a bit with more recent versions). Plus, I was getting the annoying "black flash," where my screen periodically flashed black, or the bottom would flash black, and googling turned up a lot of people with the same problem, with several different explanations for what was going on. I detailed all this on my blog. So I've reinstalled XP (at least I get a cleaned and refreshed drive out of this), but I will reinstall Wubi again because I still want to learn how to use Linux with the hope of eventually becoming a full convert. But I need help, and I'm hoping for a nice solid and possibly project-oriented book. I've seen several from the Ubuntu Linux Bible to others. I saw A Practial Guide to Ubuntu Linux in the store and it looked like it could be good (although there seems to be a new edition on the horizon), but didn't know if anyone had some opinions of it or better books.

    3. That being said, I'm debating learning some more programming for the hell of it in Linux (a more developer-friendly platform, it seems) and was wondering if there's an area I should focus on for maximum benefit. I have a book on C that I never finished, but I don't know if C is even practical anymore, or if I should continue it just to try to get more basics down. I keep seeing Python popping up everywhere, and it's aroused my curiosity. Of others if anyone has a recommendation. I'm probably biting off more than I can chew, but I tend to do that. Again, project-oriented books to accompany any suggestions would be nice. I know this is not specific at all, and I'm not sure what I want to accomplish with this point other than enlightenment. Ask questions if that would help to narrow it down.

    I will only answer questions 2 and 3, because those are my specialty.

    2) Learning Ubuntu isn't really about reading a book and then using it. Pretty much asking questions at Ubuntu Forums and reading articles on the net is what generally helps you grok the OS as a whole. If I had known you had done a full switch over, and then a full switch back to Windows XP with Wubi again I would have strongly advised dual booting, since then if you reinstall Windows you don't have to reinstall Ubuntu etc. blah blah
    The black flashes AFAIK are very much most likely from your graphics card drivers in Linux... have you checked out Envy?

    3) C is still used to code device drivers, anything for the simpler architectures (I'm talking ones like ARM and AVR here) and even games. Furthermore it is the precursor to C++ and Java which are very much relevant and practical languages. Of course you will have a fuckton of people here to tell you to start high level with something like Python and work your way down, but my personal preference is to start with C and slowly work your way up. It's entirely up to you, of course, but I don't really like it when people consider manual memory management to be archaic - kinda like automatic drivers who shun manuals. For programming languages, the key is to buy the book from the author of the language. For C, this means buying The C Programming Language, by Kernighan and Ritchie. Geeks often refer to it as "The Bible" or "K&R" - it's a pretty important book.

    theSquid on
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    Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Dalboz wrote: »
    3. That being said, I'm debating learning some more programming for the hell of it in Linux (a more developer-friendly platform, it seems) and was wondering if there's an area I should focus on for maximum benefit. I have a book on C that I never finished, but I don't know if C is even practical anymore, or if I should continue it just to try to get more basics down. I keep seeing Python popping up everywhere, and it's aroused my curiosity. Of others if anyone has a recommendation. I'm probably biting off more than I can chew, but I tend to do that. Again, project-oriented books to accompany any suggestions would be nice. I know this is not specific at all, and I'm not sure what I want to accomplish with this point other than enlightenment. Ask questions if that would help to narrow it down.
    I forgot to post this when I wrote it several hours ago. Hopefully someone else hasn't already said the same stuff now.

    First off, it all depends on what you want to do. C is definitely practical and relevant in the Linux world. The kernel is developed in C. Many of the apps are in C. You may also be interested in Perl, Python, or even Java, though, depending on what it is you want to do.

    Perl used to be THE language to use for shell scripts, sys admin tools, and CGI stuff for web sites. It has died off, but is still relevant (mostly in terms of a "and perl experience is a plus" on dev and sys admin jobs), and depending on where you live, it can be a rather lucrative skill to have. Much of what used to be done in Perl is being done in Python these days.

    If you are interested in web backend stuff, Java is used a lot in the corporate world for website back ends, basically in place of asp.net. In my area I'd say 90% of the dev jobs posted places like monster.com that aren't .net are Java.

    Jimmy King on
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    dlpwillywonkadlpwillywonka Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I recommend the O'Reilly books when learning to code anything (html, C, C#, perl, ruby on rails)
    And specifically this one when learnin Xhtml and CSS.

    http://www.amazon.com/Head-First-HTML-CSS-XHTML/dp/059610197X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219005586&sr=1-1

    And as stated before the W3schools are an invaluable resource. Great digital reference guide. I personally enjoy being able to Ctrl+F stuff instead of skimming through a book.

    dlpwillywonka on
    Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
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    DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    There just seems to be something comforting about having a book available to walk me through things or to look things up. That's why I'm looking for books on programming, setting up my blog, and Linux. The book I have for C is C By Discovery (I have the second edition, not fourth).

    In terms of Linux, I wasn't intending a full transfer over at first, but was significantly impress by Wubi that I took the plunge, then realized I was an idiot and switched back. I decided that I needed more lessons in how to use it effectively, preferably with some sort of project-oriented book. Again, the book is a comfort thing. I'm not sure if Envy will really help much. I setup the X Nvidia Settings (or whatever the hell they were called) and manually changed the refresh rate and resolution manually through that (it automatically set the resolution the at 1900X1200, which was nice to have lots of stuff on screen but was a little small; setting it to 1440X900 made everything seem huge, even though it's what I have my Windows settings at). It seemed to help for a bit then started coming back. I'm on a 17" widescreen LCD (Dell laptop). I'm going to stick with Wubi for the time being so I can maximize the space I'm using on the hard drive, since I see myself playing with Linux mostly or using it to learn programming and development, until I feel more comfortable to make a full switch-over, including finding viable solution for the issues I have with it. But again, a project-oriented book would be helpful, even as a reference.

    Dalboz on
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    SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited August 2008
    Dalboz wrote: »
    Hey, so a little update, and needing some information:

    1. I've been looking for a copy of Web Designer's Reference in book and computer stores with no luck. Yes, I can order from Amazon, but I would prefer to look inside the book first to see if it's really right for me. So, how is the book written? Is it just a bunch facts about loosely strung together, or does it provide projects that can be worked on to give full examples and hands on experience that it will walk you through? I think this was a great advantage with Adobe's Classroom in a Book series, which I used for Photoshop 7. It gave examples, said what you were going to do, then walk you through it, explaining what you were doing letting you observe the results along the way. I felt that really helped. Is this book like this? I may grab it anyway, but is there another book like this if it isn't?

    It's a little bit of both. Most of the book is tutorial-style examples that basically work you through the steps to creating a website. But it also has a decent sized appendix that acts as a alphabetical reference for HTML and CSS. So it teaches you how to think like a web builder, separate content from style, create navigation menus, create flexible and fixed layouts with or without columns etc. and then also provides you with all the reference materials to make your own sites.

    I really like the way Friends of Ed break down their tutorials. They aren't afraid to repeat stuff to make sure it's gone in and they'll break down code into individual lines and explain exactly what it's doing as they're taking you through a tutorial. They explain why they're doing something a certain way and how it works. They are the sorts of books that you can actually read and understand what's happening in the tutorial even if you aren't repeating the steps yourself in front of a computer.

    Edit: Their website has a download for a sample chapter on the book's page. Might give you an idea what the book is like.

    Szechuanosaurus on
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