Building the Blogzine - Acrux Fanzine

Acrux Fanzine

The first star of the Southern Cross


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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Building the Blogzine

Hah! "Adventures in Multimedia" indeed! Like most adventures the first thing you have to watch out for is not to trip and break something when when taking that first step out of the door! Before I start trying to distribute anything over the web, I need to have an efficiently working website / Blog site.

Now, although the Blog template I had originally - "Four Column Fire Template" by Mauriya - worked, there were a few problems with it ...
  • The colour scheme was very primal and blocky, whereas I see it being more dark and dangerous! I could start modifying it, but I decided to try other options instead ... I could always reload the template again afterwards if it didn't work.
  • Whilst I want to cultivate the idea of a "monthly release" of the content on the Blogsite as a fanzine, I also want to get a sense of immediacy about the posts as well. What i would like to do is have a front page that is changed on a monthly basis with certain regular articles that will be released at that time. No worries, That was what I was doing anyway. But I also want to have a regular content that is continually being updated so that my content is not too much out of date at the monthly publication date.

So ... Back to the drawing board!

First off I lodged a call for help on the Blogger help forum regading the ability to show the last ten posts in a specific Tag on a different Blog - no response to date. Moving that into the too hard basket for the nonce, I went in search of a different look. I shortcutted the process by searching in Google on "Blogger template" and viewing the images resulting. I ended up picking up a rather cool black blogger template by DanDyna of Jack Book called Dark Slined Mod 2.0

The template loaded easily enough but when I came back the next day to start modifying it, I found that it had lost all it's unique features and was just a single column text on white screen. Checking on Jack Book, I found that this was caused by him blowing his download limit. However He had obviously been through this before and had a workaround for this which entailed me copying and pasting his CSS file into the template on my Blog, which I assume made it so that the Blog no longer had to look at his website to get its instructions. Worked fine!

Next problem. I liked his header, it looked vaguely like a men at work sign, but I need to put my own header on it, so searching for what looked like a link to a graphics file in the header/centre column, I found it, copied and pasted the graphic in my graphics editor (PhotoImpact) so that I could get the right size (500x250) and made my own. It's a bit of a rushed job but it holds promise! I might change it monthly until I'm satisfied with it.

So how does it work?

Basically Acrux is actually two Blogs ...
  • Acruxfanzine - which is the front page: Editorial, comment, announcements ... basically a defacto webpage
  • Acruxcontent - which is [Duh!] the content: News items on the scope of the 'zine, mostly fan production news

Whenever I link to the Blogzine, I link to the front page which is four columns ...

  • The First column is the Contents column, at the moment showing links to the archive pages of the content Blog for a few Labels - eventually I'll include most of them - followed by the last 10 posts on the AcruxContent Blog using a script that shows them all from their RSS feed. The script is generated by Feed2JS although another similar service here. This is meant to look like the contents of a magazine.
  • The second column has header buttons, which I haven't decided what to do with yet, followed by my own header at the top of the acruxfanzine blog content section. This Comment, news about the 'zine itself, pdf monthly versions, podcasts and audio books that I do.
  • The third column is a Links column with buttons that link to the major Trek fan productions (I've done most of the Fan Film groups so far). I suppose I could use lists but I have a thing for buttons.
  • The fourth column is currently house-keeping: the editorial contents, subscriptions, stats etc.
Changed Acrux Content settings to redirect the site feeds to the Feedburner RSS as per the Help item.

  • Make the Editorial block so that it has a teaser of the full post using "How can I create expandable post summaries?". I've got the first two parts of it done but i can't get the "read more" link to appear - I must be putting it in the wrong part of the template.
  • Ideally, make the Contents so that it shows the posts for the current month grouped by Labels, "FanFilms", "FanAudioDrama" etc.

1 comment:

  1. I blush to admit that I found the answer to my problems on "Dummies Guide to Google Blogger Beta" ...

    The problem is that because I don't know anything about the principles of template construction, I have to rely on "step-by-step" instructions. And they've got to be reeeeelly simple!

    Hmmm, I wonder if I can change the font and size of the Blog titles as easily as I did the "read more ..."? If only I could find them!



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