Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Even houses have blogs now

Even houses have blogs now...

I stumbled onto this blog, or blog portal to be exact, during my perusal of today's Google Alerts in my Gmail inbox.

If you have Gmail and want to stay current on various topics of interest, set up some Google Alerts. This is one of my secrets for discovering news and issues related to blogs and blogology.

The blog: Houseblogs.net

I call it a "blog portal" because it collects and presents excerpts, with read mores and links, to other house, home repair, home improvement, and real estate-oriented blogs. Houseblogs [dot] net acts as a portal, doorway, entrance, guide, or starting page, to all these other relevant blogs.

It calls itself, in a graphic in the left side column, "A Home Improvement Community". I wish the graphic background were lighter, because it obscures the text a little, just enough to be slightly annoying to a perfectionist artist/writer like me.

I love the header graphic at the top of the blog, containing the name or title of this blog.

Overall, the blog has a clean, tidy, well organized appearance.

It contains such articles or regular departments as: "Recent Entries from Housebloggers", "House Blog Headlines", "Featured Houseblog", and, get this, "Bamboo Toilet Seats".

Posts include updates on home remodeling projects, great deals on tools at Sears, repair tips and advice, etc., plus links to blogs by people who are blogging their home improvement activities.

This is merely a quick, cursory overview of the blog.

I didn't spend a lot of time on it, since, although I'm buying a bungalow semi-fixer upper myself, I have tons to do today, and this is interrupting my schedule. A pleasant and relevant interruption however.


I told my real estate agent that there are real estate blogs, like Curbed and Hotel Chelsea. Now I can tell her about this one.

After I posted a comment, on the posted comment page of this blog, I saw a line of text that appeared just below the blog header, thus in a very visible and prominent position, that read:

"First time visitor? [etc.]"

I feel this should be on the main index page of the blog also. This is called User Orientation, and every blog and web site and wiki should include a direct and immediately visible guide to newbies and new visitors to a site.

In fact, I think my own User Orientation could be improved, perhaps by explaining not only what a "blog" is, but what my blog contains and its intended audience. I need to get on this, today. See how I burden myself? Blogging is hard work if you wish to do it effectively and professionally.

Houseblogs.net is an MT (Movable Type) 3.2 blog, recently upgraded, with some rendering problems in Firefox. I haven't checked it in IE or other browsers yet.

The rendering problems are in the graphic subheads:

Bungalow Sweet Bung
House in Prog
Party like it's
The Polom House
The Petch House
Steve and Juli
1912 Bungalow


These graphic subheads are getting chopped off at either the bottom or the far right. I posted a comment under the "Technical Difficulties" post, explaining the Firefox rendering problem.

There's a link in the left column called "Create a Site". Of course, this was the second function, after comment, that I selected to investigate. I will now quote the entire text of that page. I think I may follow their example and have a similar link and page in my blogs. Consider the same for your blog.

Why just entice readers to return to your blog? Why not also explain what a blog is and what your blog deals with (User Orientation)? And why not also help them to create their own blog?

[QUOTE--from Create a Site page of Houseblogs.net]

Become a Houseblogger

A weblog is like an online diary. And a HouseBlog is an online diary about your house!

It is a web application where you can publish your writing and/or your photographs on a periodic basis. Entries (or diary pages) are usually published in reverse chronological order.

Weblogs can usually be viewed by any internet user. (They are public.) They often allow readers to leave comments. They may link readers to other web pages through the use of hyperlinks.

Want a HouseBlog? Starting one can be simple...or complex! Free...or for a fee!

Top 5 Reasons You Should “Blog” Your House

1. If you stare at photos long enough, you can figure out where you left the electric drill.

2. Why keep all of this home improvement pain to yourselves? Share it with friends and family!

3. Keep a historical record to prove to others, “See! We really HAVE made progress!”

4. Keep stress low by laughing at disasters! (You know what an interesting blog entry that they will make!)

5. Record for future changes and maintenance. Never guess where you put the electrical conduit again! Photos let you see and remember where the “stuff” behind the walls ended up.

Here are some great resources
to check out if you are new to blogging:

This first link will give you a tour of blogging basics and walk you through creating a blog on Blogger.com. How Blogs Work

This is an overview of various blog tools, how to use Google to help others find your blog, how to attract new readers and more!

Newbie FAQ 101: How to Make a Blog


Needless to say, I'll be returning to this blog frequently, and darn it to heck, they may just twist my arm into "blogging my bungalow" as my wife and I upgrade it to Bungalow 3.0 (a previous owner added a dorky sunroom from a kit to it).

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate



Zafufilia said...


The "Community" graphic on the upper left could be improved with a simple black stroke around the letters. This is a frequent problem in setting type on background (e.g., subtitles in your favorite foreign movie).

I also saw the other problem you mention with the graphics. I use Safari. If you open the image files in separate windows they look truncated again. I suspect the graphics were batch processed in some image editor to fit certain dimensions and perhaps the person in charge of designing the page has not seem the error. Or... who knows. :-)


steven edward streight said...

Isn't this called "relative sizing" vs. "absolute sizing" of images? Those are not the correct terms, I just can't think of them offhand. I don't mean "relative" vs. "absolute" URLs, which refer to where the images are located.

A relative URL means the image is found in a centralized images directory.

I'm trying to recall the term for scalable vs. non-scaleable images. Isn't it a "fit the browser window via percentages" vs. "image is always x inches by x inches, no matter what browser or internet device is used to view it (PDA, PC, mobile phone screen, etc.)?

I just spotted a horrible error, or group of errors, on the blog connected with my mentor in web credibility, a blog operated by students associated with the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab.

There is no About, no Contact (though if you hunt around in posts, you'll find an email address), and the Comment function isn't working.

I was in IE, checking my MSN email inbox, got an email from them, clicked on the link to their Captology Notebook, and discovered these gruesome errors.

I mean, BJ Fogg, PhD, a leading expert on credibility, taught me that About, Contact, and correctly working functionalities are huge in cred impact...then I see this? Weird.

I'll put up a post on this in a few minutes. The blog content is great, but it has some serious problems functionally. BJ's going to hear about it via my email to him.

Oh well, that's why we usability, design, and programming folks are here for, right?