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Technology Friday


The Secret Life of Animals

Last week we traveled down to the Boston area so Lita could tape an interview on The Secret Life of Animals with Vicki Croke. The show will be airing on Sunday August 2nd on NECN (New England Cable News) at 11:30am and 6:30pm. Vicki has a couple of Irish Wolfhounds that roam the set, and last week a 3rd Wolfhound joined, along with a Dachshund and one other dog. What fun!

With Vicki Croke and Large Friend

They talked about Pennies for Elephants and introduced Yellowstone Moran. It was chaos when the taping was over -- they cut it close -- 2 minutes before the live news at noon was to start, in the same studio we were in! The news anchor lady and a bunch of the crew came storming in and we all grabbed dogs and dog treats and kids and food bowls and whatever we could carry and quickly got out of the studio as the anchor lady sat down in her pink pants suit. And the crew were screaming about chroma screens, and the TV cameras on robotic stands were whizzing around with minds of their own. When we got out in the hallway there was a big TV set up and suddenly the anchor lady was on and she was cool as could be. And we thought we could see some dog hair floating in the background, behind her. Vicki is the author of several books including The Lady and the Panda (I think this is an older cover):

The Lady and the Panda

Also (in other news), there was a nice feature about Lita, Pennies for Elephants and Yellowstone Moran on the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog this Sunday. And last week we saw a wonderful Pennies for Elephants review from Pam Coughlan (aka Mother Reader) on PBS Booklights.


New Look for the Web Site

To get ready for Lita's new book, Pennies for Elephants (out in a June'09), we just put the finishing touches on our new website design and uploaded it last night. We hope you'll take a look.

Lita Judge's new web site

There are lot's of new images of illustrations and sketches, information about books, school visits, and upcoming appearances. Lita and I had lots of fun designing new banners for all the pages. (I think they look fantastic!) -- What'snew page -- Activities

We're already planning lots of new things to put on the site including activities for Pennies for Elephants, video trailers for Pennies and for Yellowstone Moran (out in September'09), and some images from the current work in progress. Anyway, please check out the site!


Web Site Design

Web sites can be expensive if you don't design and maintain them yourself. One of our local arts organizations just went through the process of hiring a graphic designer and a web designer. They put up a simple but nicely designed site. There are about 6 static pages and one group page where artist members can post a thumbnail which then links to an artist page with 6 images and a bio, artist statement, etc. The cost for this type of site—designed, hosted and maintained by a local company—is in the range of $3000 to $5000. Then there are yearly hosting and maintenance costs. I decided to do it myself for Lita's web site. I built Lita's main web site——a few years ago with Adobe GoLive CS2. Adobe later acquired Dreamweaver (DW) and all indications are that this is the software they'll continue to invest in. When we wanted a second website, specifically devoted to the book One Thousand Tracings, I used DW. I was psyched when Chris Barton mentioned the Tracings site as one he admires. I actually noticed a spike in visitors at that time. DW is more widely used and thus easier to search/google for solutions to common problems. I've tried to convert the first site from GoLive to DW but a few things have not looked maintainable (the underlying HTML looks confusing) so I still maintain in the CS2 version of GoLive. I have great intentions of correctly doing the conversion some weekend. The main difference in the two sites is that I learned about style sheets (CSS) for the Tracings website. Maybe everyone else already knew about style sheets, but I just discovered them last year. This site is much easier to maintain and the look is more consistent. I worked with Lita on the structure of both websites - she drew pictures of all the pages on paper and then I tried to make the thing somewhat similar to the plan. Lita usually does all the final layout tweaking, most of the image selection, and most of the writing. The third site—this blog—uses WordPress. I wanted a self hosted blog so I went with WordPress. But I like LiveJournal and the whole friend/community thing so I set up an account there also. I use a WordPress plug-in that automatically cross-posts to LiveJournal. A lot of people are just using blog software like WordPress to do their whole web site and I think this is not a bad idea. So that's where I am now with the web site development. Any questions?

Technology Friday

I try to do a decent amount of research before inflicting technology onto Lita. She's been using an iMac since early 2006 and we both love it, but she has an older Dell laptop that she uses for travel and presentations and we're looking to replace it with a MacBook Pro. The dilemma is that Apple is probably about to introduce updated models soon and I'd like to wait until that happens. The other problem is that they are expensive! The Dell isn't that bad - but it's probably about 3-4 years old and it's starting to feel very slow. It seems like it takes 5 minutes when booting up to actually get some program - like word or email - to start up. The other issue is that Lita's gotten used to everything on the iMac so whenever she switches to the laptop, everything is different, and sometimes things go wrong at inopportune times, like in front of class of 5 year old kids. I guess I should also admit, it's really me that wants the MacBook Pro. And that new wireless time capsule thing looks nice too...