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Playing around with words, images & themes…

(Note: This was first written on April 15, 2010 based on that day’s blog template. I intend to keep updating this post as and when I make changes to my template, to trace the journey of my blog design!)

As people who visit this part of the virtual world would have noticed, this blog has seen a fair bit of tinkering over the last few days.

I would say my attempt at developing a good blog site, is going more or less according to a loose plan I had in mind last year, and here are some points beyond what I covered in an earlier post:

  1. Read a lot of blogs to get a sense of discussions in the blogosphere and develop my point of view. My first experiences of the blogosphere led me to believe that the most popular blogs are run by any combination of cute / hot girls, people who ultra aggressively promoted their blogs, people who wrote about topics designed to get greatest hits, people who poured their heart out with poems of love or wrote extensively about every guy / girl they met. (I read some very popular blogs by some girls that described their multitude of emotions with so many men, that I lost track, and wondered how they kept track so well as to record it!). Since I could did not fit into, or did not want to fit into, any of the above, I was fairly skeptical about blogging, but thankfully probing further revealed that there are some extremely impressive bloggers whom I could seek to emulate
  2. Get the content in – a good bunch of entries on a variety of topics. This is the most critical phase for an old-fashioned, “content is king” guy like me. This would probably explain why some of my posts are so long…it’s my obsession to look at a topic from all different angles and in-depth (which I don’t want to change), plus my writing style in general (which is evolving & improving constantly).
  3. Look at forums where I can promote my blog and read more blogs, and
  4. Play around with the layout, themes, widgets and tools to make it more interactive, attractive and for lack of a better word, jazzy

The next steps are to keep building on what I did well above and at some later stage think of having my custom website / domain. (I’ll stick to the free to use wordpress.com version without any ads for now).

It is step 4 above that’s been on my mind in the last few days, and I would say that’s the most challenging task for me. That’s primarily because I am not too artistically inclined. (I used to use terrible colors and fonts in my early days of work, before consulting helped me settle down to making professional content, but it’s never been jazzy or stylish). It’s also because I am a bit technologically challenged. Trust me, I took a long time understanding how to use widgets, create a web feed and all that. I used some type kit fonts on this blog and still don’t know if they are active or not :)

 So playing with a custom style sheet (CSS), or experimenting with a web template is a scary thought for me! At the same time I was really impressed with the templates used by a fellow blogger, Shruti. Check her blog template and the story behind that at: http://songofsacredeastwind.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-aeshu.html

And I do have a sense of imagery and a liking for photography. My Flickr page is lousy, but I have taken some pretty decent pictures over the years in so many places, that helped me appreciate the power of visuals.

So, I have tried to get a few images on my header, that blend well with the blog title (Journeys across a pathless land), and the nature of topics. Some random  keywords I had in my mind while looking through my pictures and that of others on FlickR were Journey / Travel, Climb, Rough terrain, Adventure, Beauty, Lonely  man / animal / vehicle, Nature, Unchartered or remote places, Fun, Learning, Movement, Mountains, Color / vividness

The previous picture I used, was taken by me during my trek in the Himalayas, and the full picture is below:

Himalayan sheep

I liked it for many reasons including the sheer effort I spent that tiring afternoon stalking this massive flock of sheep to get some pictures in.

The picture I have put up now, is titled “Shepherd in Morey Plains”, and attributed to Koshyk, who has been kind enough to authorize me to use it. It turns out that he his also a blogger and runs a very interesting blog! Do, pay him a visit at: http://scretlover.blogspot.com/

The full picture is reproduced here:

Shepherd in Morey Plains

It can also be found in his photo stream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kkoshy/2260639712/

It captures a shepherd and his sheep in the barren landscape of Ladakh. Ladakh has always been a dream destination, and if I make it there one day, I’ll probably end up dedicating a full day for pictures (to be shamelessly publicized on FlickR, Facebook and on my blog!)

I see myself experimenting a fair bit with a variety of images, colors, themes, and possibly some art (If I have the right friends for the job!). It also gives me the chance to use so many wonderful things others have done to their blogs / photo sites on the internet and leave a dedication each time. I know how nice it feels when someone visits your site and appreciates any words / images / videos that you have created!

So, please do leave any tips on how I can JAZZ UP my blog, and please give a feedback on the image I have used now. (I’ll also try to create a poll for that some time)

I pride myself in being well-connected with so many people who have special talent each, but I don’t have a single friend who can claim to be good at art! So till I can take that master piece of a picture myself, I will be hounding Suman, who is an awesome photographer, to take some pictures with my blog in mind. His photo stream is: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vrsuman/

If he does take that perfect picture for my blog, the advantage is that I won’t have to pay him. After all, what are friends for?  :)

Cheers!

Vasu

Update 1: April 19, 2010

New picture titled “Insuperable barrier of Nature – Lonely truck in the Himalaya”.

 

Many thanks to alles-schlumpf for allowing me to use a brilliant picture she took at Leh, Ladakh, in 2006. Danke :)

Update 2: May 6, 2010

I have adopted a newly launched theme called Bueno, which gives me new features such as Custom background, Featured posts. The picture that seems to look best on this background, is something I took during my Himalayan trek in 2007. It was the end of a long day of uphill climb, and some time in the afternoon I saw very interesting jagged rock formations, juxtaposed against the vast sky above. It was just me, the earth, the sky, and nothing in between.  It was a very spell binding, almost primal feeling.

So, till the next update, this would be my theme background:

Touching the skies!

 Update 3: February 2011

I set up this theme called Coraline. The custom picture I have used for the header, is that of a Tram approaching the picturesque Schützenhaus stop in Basel:

Tram 8 at Basel, Schuetzenhaus

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks Hitesh!
    I love reading blogs as well..I have left such long comments on some people’s blogs that they have been figuring out how to ban me :)
    Basel is one of the least picturesque places in Switzerland, relatively speaking, except for a lovely river. But the good part is that all the places I love in Switzerland are an hour or two away by train. I guess Kashmir is a good comparison in terms of look and feel, but Ladakh probably not. Ladakh’s landscape is very unique, and I am glad it’s a part of India :)
    I’ll check why the pictures don’t show up. Thanks for the feedback.
    Cheers!
    Vasu

    April 30, 2010
  2. man u write really really long posts…….. :)

    as a blogger one can always learn many things……for me reading blogs ….gives me information….experience…..let me tell you….i can’t read a book….i hate them….but i can read blog’s post…..as many as you throw at me………there’s many things…..to reading blogs…..i get to know and understand many people………i usually prefer personal blogs……..

    then i don’t like tech blogs….that much ….but i can always related to them….cause i’m a CSE…..i know the technicallities ………..but reading about them….again on blog make…is not wat i like……….

    but i’m one of those ppl….who has a opinion for everything……….and reading newspaper and blogs…….contribute a lot of it……………..

    anyways…..i thought you’re from Basel……is it as beautiful as kashmir or Ladakh…..??????

    one more things….the first two pics of the three….never actually came up…….i mean can’t see them……but the last…….one seems like an advert for one of those long lasting truck Engine oil….. :)

    \,,/

    April 30, 2010
  3. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts guys!

    @Neelima: I started off my career with something to do with techie stuff, so I can understand if I want to. Point is, I am too lazy and dis inclined to do so, but one fine day I would spend a few hours figuring out how to tweak my blog template. Till such time I would stay content with appreciative feedback like yours :)

    @Pravin: Thanks so much for your feedback! I have added my name to your blog followers, so no worries, I will read your posts one by one, and read follow up comments to what I left. I don’t mean to advertise myself with one fancy comment on your blog and never land up there again :)

    April 22, 2010
  4. And oh yes.sorry for spamming :) But i also write poems!I have been shamelessly promoting my blogs now :0

    pls do visit when u have the time n inclination n patience ;)

    the link:

    http://www.assorted-platter.blogspot.com

    Ur opinion wld be invaluable!tx.

    April 22, 2010
  5. Hi vasu!

    at the outset, let me thank you for visiting my blog and those wonderful comments..I cld have replied there itself, but thought U might not read them..i thank you for the very encouraging and inspirational comments..for a newbie like me, matters a lot! ur so called’two cents’ are gold buddy!

    I also agree with all the points mentioned here..

    Hot girls promoting blogs..guaranteed comments and visits..n they call themselves the weaker sex ;-) at least not in the blogspace :)But I guess its us lecherous males who form a chunk of their followers so can’t really blame them. :)

    content is king..i know what u mean when u say u tend to keep ur posts long..It happens…blogging is a form of shorthand really…U can’t really expect to find most bloggers writing content really( not that i do myself or have any calibre to comment, but just an observation)
    A few good bloggers do write good content n deserve what they get..

    and oh, did I tell u u are definitely one of them?

    I loved the pics, the easy interface of ur blog, the rich descriptions..a really neat, terrific blog..and guess the travel spirit is so well embodied by the blog title & picture..Nice!keep writing!

    April 22, 2010
  6. Even though i do not claim to be a Techie, I work in IT..so i guess that makes me a techie at some level.. :-|
    But, where I am going with this is, I started blogging with a very clear idea in my head that it would be a travel blog. But even before I started posting regularly I was working on my layout. I used to see so many awesome layouts and was higly inspired to create a good one that suited my needs well. Learnt html and javascript from scratch from online tutorials/blogs and till date i keep tweaking my template. I must say, at times i feel more happy looking at my template than content.. ;)

    Sometimes all it takes is a good header for a blog to look good. Yours does!

    April 22, 2010
  7. Thanks Lakshmi…changed it now, and will settle for this till I find a better alternative. My sense of color combinations is not the best in the world, so this feedback helps :)

    Cheers!
    Vasu

    April 20, 2010
  8. Best thing about blogging is even a non-techie learns a lot by tinkering with his blog ! I am a sucker for white background and love your this theme. About the header, I think you should change the red color of the header title. The red color is not syncing with the background image.

    April 20, 2010
  9. Thanks a lotttt folks! Feels good I must say :)

    @Sacredeastwind; I still don’t know how to take the date off the picture; leave alone put a copyright symmbol like you have! I will use my charm to get some friend to do these things for me :)

    @Rajesh: lovely message…I so agree with you!

    @Bikaram: While my focus will always be writing what I think & feel, I think every once in a while its nice to get feedback. For me it’s crucial as I don’t want to live in my own warped imaginary world of thoughts and ideas. I would love to have people challenging my views on anything and tearing my theories apart one day! By the way your blog appears pretty interesting, so I am sure the readers are not bored :)

    Cheers!
    Vasu

    April 16, 2010
  10. Nice blog, and yeah i have the same dilema about point 4.. I ahve got bored watching my own blog, am sure the reader on my blog too getting bored…

    I liked this post, I am not into too much of advertising my blog.. i write what i think and for myself…

    great article…

    April 16, 2010
  11. Very nice post. A blog is definitely not one time setup and then forget activity. There is a continuous changes to the blog for the life time to improve it in every aspect. The shots are beautiful.

    April 16, 2010
  12. Nice one Vasu, thank you for the sweet credit :) Really like the new look, very today! Enjoyed the post, nice mix of info and personal touch.

    And hey, you’ve got some good pictures there :)

    April 16, 2010

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