Making Headway with Headway WP Theme

After seeing  April Tara’s blog I was pretty sure I wanted to try Headway. Her blog has some of my favourite things which I was using with the Thesis theme. I spent a couple of hours looking at themes. Before choosing Thesis I spent years looking at free themes and patching together what I wanted for my own blog. So, I expect a lot from a premium (paid) theme.

I picked Headway’s WordPress theme as the one I would switch from Thesis for. I am not knocking Thesis, I still find it a great theme, the GPL debate was mostly a good time for me to try a new theme that also looked good. Matt Mullenweg bought Headway for me after his post about paying for a new theme for anyone using Thesis interested in trying a new theme.

I did have a rough start using Headway. I was frustrated. I’m not that frustrated now that I have made some progress. There are still some issues which I would like to change or fix. But, overall, Headway is working for me.

Headway:Visual Editor:

Visual Editor: Leafs:

The first thing you need to know is how to find the drag and drop to manhandle your layout. It is part of the Visual Editor. If you look at Leafs you will see you can enable Arrange and Resize. Be aware it is kind of backwards: if it says “enable” it means it is not going to work until you click the button. If it says “enable” it is actually disabled. When it says “disable” it is enabled. In a future Headway update they might add the “D” to make this clearer.

Leafs is mainly a way to move around your template with your mouse. You can set the dimensions of your columns but be careful, they still have to fit in the wrapper in order to appear side by side. Also, check your site in different sized monitors as it will need to shrink and contract to fit various screens. Keep things fluid so they can suit each screen size without you needing to having to stress out about it too much.

Other than the drag and drop feature Leafs are mainly widgets you can add to the site. They can replace some of the WordPress plugins you may already be using. I haven’t done much with Leafs so far. I did add the About one but may yet change my mind about it as I already have a whole About page which is linked in my header navigation bar.

Visual Editor: Templates:

You can ignore the Templates tab unless you buy another template or skin for Headway. You don’t have to. I think this tab on the Visual Editor should be moved to the bottom of the list. It is an optional thing versus the tabs for Design Editor, Site Configuration, Leafs and Navigation which you will each need.

Visual Editor: Design Editor:

Design Editor is where I spent most of my time. I think it has too many options. It would help to have something that lets you set the font and colours for the whole site/ blog instead of going through each and every littlest option for comments, footers, headers, widgets, etc. A main switch would be nice. Some people may like to have a rainbow of colours and use every font at least once, I prefer to stick to a couple of colours and a couple of fonts.

In the Design Editor go down the list on the Element Selector. This is the best way to make sure you don’t miss something. Once you choose an element you will see a button appear: Call this element out. This is very nice, it highlights which element you will be working on. It’s a guide through your functions so you know which part of your blog theme you are changing before you begin making selections. Almost everything you need is in the Design Editor, just keep working your way through. It is handy to open a Notepad file and paste in your code for the HTML colours you are using. Much easier to paste them in as you go if you remember which one is the main colour for headers and subheaders and which one is background or subtitles.

Visual Editor: Site Configuration:

Site Configuration is where you can make big changes to your header, footer, wrapper and body, basically push around your site width at the top, middle and bottom. After you do you may need to go back to Leafs and fiddle around to get your columns in place again. This is where having fluid elements comes in handy.

WordPress Admin: Headway:

Now, you could do this at the end or you could have started here but last on my list is configuring Headway back in your WordPress Admin. You will leave the Visual Editor and step back into the WordPress screen again.

Headway: General Options:

In General Options you can add Header and Footer stuff. I put in some extra meta tags. (You add your main meta tags for keywords and description to Search Engine Optimization below). I also added stuff to the footer but I have more work to do on that, it looks a mess right now as I want to make a horizontal bar for widgets to be in 3 columns there. So far I have not gotten it to work. General Option is pretty simple, just add your Favicon and feed as directed.

Headway: Posts/ Comments:

If you want short posts in a double row as I have in this blog you tick Enable Small Excerpts in Posts/ Comments. At the bottom of Posts/ Comments you can also change the “Read More” words you use in the excerted posts.

Headway: Search Engine Optimization:

We now come to Search Engine Optimization. Skip down past the navigation title section. (I only changed Posts Page Title so it doesn’t show “Blog | Word Grrls” at the top of my blog). The important section is for your basic meta tags: description and keywords. Write a good description but don’t make it a book and don’t let it be spammy. Describe your site as you would to someone who asked you what your site is about. Make it clear and keep it simple. Don’t go into overkill on keywords. Try to find search terms someone might use to actually find your site. You can use phrases, not just single words.

Thats about it. Once you have gotten this far you have covered the basics of working with the Headway theme. I still have a list of things I am working on. One nice thing I discovered in Headway is that you can use the new WordPress 3 Menu feature which is not yet configured with the Thesis theme. The Menu (which is on WordPress, not part of the Headway theme itself) will let you set up the header menu bar with links to your pages, categories or outside (custom) links you want to add.

I am coming to like Headway. But, it does need to build more community support in order to get the extra tutorials, plugins, features, widgets and such which you can find when you use the Thesis theme. Headway needs to grow and I see every chance that it will. I wouldn’t say Headway is a full package yet. If you read my list of things I am working on (below) you may notice a couple of things Headway could add in another upgrade. I’m glad to see a strong community around Headway because this is how things like new features and extras come about.

Other resources:

Headway Beginner

Headway Tips

Headway Demo

Headway Hub

Headway Support – For premium members who have bought the theme.

Headway WP – Headway, as mentioned on Twitter.

Just for fun and human interest, these are the things I have worked on, have fixed or am still working on with this blog and the Headway theme. Some of them are not Headway related but still relevant to the outer workings, the things you can see when you land here. Right now the footer thing is the biggest project. I have tried the Headway Hub plan but it did not work for me. Looking at WordPress options, but no luck on getting this working yet.

  • Footer- need 3 columns for widgets, gadgets, etc. – Would like one long horizontal sidebar or 3 widget columns, whichever is workable.
  • Fluid main content div to fit the page rather than be fixed or float and throw off the alignment. (This seems to be ok, so far).
  • Add header graphic, under the header text and link. (Not able to do this with Headway it seems).
  • About page is missing and navbar seems to be uncoordinated. (Turned out to be user error which I fixed).
  • Background, something new. (Still high on my to-do list).
  • Sidebars, look untidy still. (Done, changed my font, personal taste).
  • Set up e-cards – WordPress thing. (This has been on my to-do list awhile. I keep putting off getting into figuring it all out).
  • Headway saves and then returns to previous settings. Why? (Still a mystery but… it only did it the first day I was working with it).
  • Set standard for all pages. (I am still missing sidebars when you click into a post etc).
  • Lifestream feed and RSS. (Done).
  • Big, gaping space appears at bottom of content, above footer. (This was an odd thing. My div columns were re-setting themselves, one kept becoming very long. Seems to be ok now.)
  • If possible… have a ticker type thing announcing posts which I would like to highlight or feature, running right under the header and navbar. (Have not started this project but expect I can find some kind of WP plugin that will work for my idea).

Great Science Fiction Quotations

Peter Grant has a page of Great Science Fiction Quotes in his blog. I can’t pick just one as a favourite. Here are some:

“There’s no real objection to escapism, in the right places… We all want to escape occasionally. But science fiction is often very far from escapism, in fact you might say that science fiction is escape into reality… It’s a fiction which does concern itself with real issues: the origin of man; our future. In fact I can’t think of any form of literature which is more concerned with real issues, reality.” – Arthur C Clarke

“Isn’t it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?”

“Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.” – Isaac Asimov

“Experience comes from doing, not from being told. Experiment and discover. Seek and find. It is not machinations of others that compel us to do so; it is our need to know. It is, in the end, the way we learn.” – Terry Brooks, The Talismans of Shannara

“A neat and orderly living space is the sign of a dangerously sick mind.” – Mercedes Lackey, The Black Gryphon

“Reality is the part that refuses to go away when I stop believing in it.” – Phillip K. Dick

I found a few others in my own searching:

“For me science fiction is a way of thinking, a way of logic that bypasses a lot of nonsense. It allows people to look directly at important subjects”. – Gene Roddenberry

“Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science fiction is the improbable made possible.” – Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone

“The mind is a strange and wonderful thing. I’m not sure it’ll ever be able to figure itself out. Everything else maybe, from the atom to the universe, everything except itself.” – “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956)

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow…

“There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.” – Orison Marden

A better tomorrow. So much of our culture is based on a better tomorrow, having hope and a future to look forward to. It’s eerie that our tomorrow could be just tomorrow and no days after it. We look to the future for good things, hoping things will be better and yet we live every moment with the fact that all our tomorrows may never come.

What do you want for tomorrow, your day tomorrow, the morning after tonight? What do you want for tomorrows far into the future, for future generations even? Are the two tomorrows very different?

Project Shut Up and Write

From Rebecca at Project Shut Up and Write:

So, at this point, it seems hopeless right? Throw down the pencil, toss the papers in the trash and move on.

NO, STUPID.

Do not put down the pencil (and definitly don’t throw it- that’s all you need right now is to get sued for blinding someone in the left eye.) Do not toss the papers in the trash. Do not just give up and move on.  There will not be other opportunities–a better time will not come. You need to stop waiting for the future to come and take charge now.

So hopefully you were inspired by my uplifting tangent. Moving on…

Who doesn’t need a push to get to work, even when it’s something you love doing most days? I have a lot of projects that I am not keeping up with as well as I could, especially recently when I’ve been letting outside influences get me down. (Like a lack of employment).

But, no matter what advice, sympathy and support others may give you, we all just need our own version of Project Shut Up and Do It!

Write the Future for The Gilmore Girls

I’m watching an old Gilmore Girls show. I wish they could have kept Gilmore Girls on forever, or at least until I’m too old to know my own name any more. I have seen the final episode of The Gilmore Girls just once, so far. I bawled when they closed the show with Rory and Lorelai sitting at the table in Luke’s, having coffee. There is so much left in limbo. In my version of the future Rory and Dean get together again when both are a little older and wiser. I’d like Lorelai to find someone who she really wanted, someone who didn’t start as a friend or become one along the way.

How would you write the future for The Gilmore Girls?

Need Ideas for Writing about Climate Change for Blog Action Day?

Do you need ideas for writing about climate change for Blog Action Day tomorrow? (Blog Action Day on Twitter).

Everyone isn’t perfectly politically minded or caught up on all the environmental issues. Also, you may think about the idea of climate change personally versus globally.

That’s how I intend to write about it. So, here are some ideas that have come to my mind. I hope they help inspire you if you’ve been feeling stuck for just the right idea.

  • The seasons, what do you appreciate about having 4 seasons in the year?
  • What are your favourite winter and summer activities?
  • What do you think of those wind farms popping up?
  • What do you know about other alternative sources of energy?
  • Could you (or have you) chosen not to drive your car for the day?
  • Do you love the rain? What is your favourite memory from a rainy day?
  • How are winters different now than they were when you were a kid? Do you remember more snow or does it seem about the same?
  • Have you done things to reduce your carbon footprint?
  • Have you experienced any extreme weather, like tornadoes?
  • Do you use solar power for anything?
  • Do you think climate change could lead to an ice age in the far future?
  • Have you ever seen an iceberg?
  • Have you head about polar bears drowning due to habitat changes when the ice melts sooner than it used to?
  • Write about a day far in the future, when climate change and global warming are a reality.
  • Write about a day in the future when the south is cold and the north is warm as the climate changes.
  • Do you still think about the ozone hole now and then?
  • Have you ever traveled to a place where there is an extreme climate like the Arctic, the Sahara Desert or the Rain Forest?
  • What’s your favourite natural disaster movie?
  • Have you ever been stuck in the snow somewhere?
  • Have you ever seen a flood, even if it was just a ditch outside your home?
  • Do you conserve water?
  • Have you tried a water garden (like a pond), terrarium or xeriscaping (a garden designed to need little water)?
  • Do you ride a bike, could you ride instead of driving to work?
  • Have you gotten into the local food trend, shopping for food grown within 100 miles of your home?
  • Have you tried a hybrid car or any kind of alternative fuels?
  • What kind of weather do you most look forward to each year?
  • Which season costs the most when it comes to buying new clothes for yourself and your family?
  • Which season has the most family holidays and why do you think that is?
  • Are your home appliances energy savers? Do you like them?
  • Are ebooks energy savers versus reading old fashioned paperback books?
  • If you ruled the world what would you change to help the climate?

What If… Paper Were Priceless?

The bank machines and computers have been hacked. No one can use credit or debit cards. Everyone has had to go to the bank and use cash again. Oh horrors! To have to make change again. To have to carry a change purse along. To have to actually think about what you are spending versus cash on hand.

Will they ever catch the fiends who did this? But… worst of all… the trees! Now that there are only cash sales money has to be printed, far more than has been printed in many years. Trees are being cut down in their prime. The squirrels are protesting. They start by disabling cars, buses and trucks. Without the population check of squirrel road kill there are huge swarms of squirrels in every big city, medium town and tiny hamlet (and all in between). Squirrels are rampant!

Someone builds a better squirrel trap. No live captures, none of that. Squirrels are caught by the thousands and disposed of in landfill where they fertilize the new tree crops planted on the new tree farms.

Everyone has a new respect for trees. Paper becomes scarce as it takes a long time for trees to grow into new paper. Paper becomes worth more than the money value printed on it. People begin collecting paper plates as if they were bone china. Suddenly no one is printing anything on paper any more.

Of course, this is about the time they finally catch the culprit who hacked the bank machines and computers. Computers can be used again for banking which is great cause now everyone is ready for online banking, online shopping and no one has to hand out cash at all.

In generations to come, far far down the time line, people still wonder whatever happened to the squirrels and why it couldn’t have happened to the pigeons too. In the future pigeons are flying rats, worse than the land rats because they have used their homing instinct to dive bomb people. In the future, no one goes outside without a hat, if not an umbrella for real pigeon protection.

Just think, none of this would have happened if… ???

The Rogue Taxidermist

Some things are just creepy. Seeing taxidermy (taxidermied?) animals which have been sitting somewhere forgotten for years is quite creepy to me. I don’t know why exactly, I’m really sure they are long and well dead after all. Just… ick!

Taxidermy.net – For the odd person who may come here and want to know more about hunting and stuffing. In some way it is interesting, as any process for doing something is interesting. Just not on my list of things-to-do, due to gruesomeness.

As I wandered looking up more information, just cause I like learning about things, I found rogue taxidermy. First it was on Wikipedia as part of the taxidermy post. If I was going to have an interest in taxidermy this would be where I’d start. Build you own mythological animal, though I still think I’d rather just draw it.

I’m not suggesting you go out and hunt down a few rodents to start reassembling them… but wouldn’t someone into rogue taxidermy be quite the interesting character to write about? So many odd elements to someone who would be involved in this as a hobby, or maybe an obsession. Create this person as a character with a past, present and a future. It could become a short story all on it’s own.

Here is a woman taxidermist to get you started: Sarina Brewer, her site is Custom Creature: Taxidermy Arts.

I like this quote from the article because it has the feeling of my own adventures as a rural explorer, only without the roadkill.

Some people never leave home without their phone or wallet. Minneapolis artist Sarina Brewer never leaves home without a cooler, a hacksaw, and rubber gloves. That’s because she’s always at the ready to find road kill and other “pet casualties” to use as art subjects for her special brand of “rogue taxidermy,” which includes winged monkeys, conjoined squirrels and rabbits, and even a chicken-carp-lamb combo, Bust magazine reports.

A post about rogue taxidermy from The Disillusioned Taxonomist. He isn’t a subhuman freak but he really does have an interesting career choice. Hope he doesn’t bring a lot of work home with him.

“Hi, I’m Mo, I’m 23 and studying taxonomy for my Masters degree in London at the great Natural History Museum.”

When you think of working at the Natural History Museum doesn’t it sound like a really cool job? Puts a whole different spin on it versus a guy in his basement surrounded by shotguns and jars of animal parts.