It’s here, at last. I recently completed seven years of writing my Terry’s Computer Tips weekly email newsletter. Last week’s (June 24, 2012) issue was Volume 8, Number 1.
I also wrote a separate online Terry’s Computer Tips weekly newsletter for many of those years. The email and online newsletters had different articles, too. On occasion, I wrote special mid-week issues because of important time-sensitive news.
Most of the articles from the email and online issues are available as posts in my current Terry’s Computer Tips web site. As I transitioned to the new WordPress + Genesis Framework-based site, I added the articles that weren’t time-sensitive. I still have an archive of the old online newsletters, and the earlier email newsletters, too.
My first weekly email newsletter was June 20, 2005. If I recall correctly, I had five or six subscribers for my first issue. My web site had been live for several years and had been renamed earlier that year to Terry’s Computer Tips. Main topics of the first newsletter were backing up your computer and backing up your data files — long-time readers will recognize that I’m a firm believer in backing up.
The format has changed over the years, both online and email. I stayed with Text-only emails for a long, long time. At first, I used a shareware software called DadaMail to send my email newsletter via my web host account.
That worked fine for a couple years, until the web host was sold and the rules changed (without any notice). All of a sudden, I couldn’t send my newsletter any more. I quickly converted over to the Aweber Communications email mailing service. I’ve been very happy with this service and haven’t even been tempted to go back to a run-it-yourself mailing list system.
My web site was hand-coded HTML initially, using the Apache web server’s "Server Side Includes" to incorporate standard header, menu bar, and footer. Then, I rewrote the site in hand-coded PHP, jumping in and out of HTML mode, to be able to generate the HTML for pages with variability.
The problem with the PHP-based site was the huge number of pages that I’d have to edit any time I wanted to make a big change. I used a lot of "include" statements to pull in standardized sections of the pages, which were stored as individual files, so I tried to keep my changes within those files I’d import into the web pages. But, sometimes they weren’t in the right place for the changes I wanted to make — so I would end up editing over a thousand web pages!
In September, 2010, I converted my Terry’s Computer Tips web site to use the popular WordPress content management software. Many people are familiar with WordPress because it’s most often used as blog software, but it has a lot more power. It’s free and open-source, so others create themes and plug-in’s to add different styles and functionality.
I had been using WordPress for a couple web sites already, so I had been toying with the idea for a while, but I knew it was going to be a lot of work to accomplish the changeover.
The final thing to convince me to do the site upgrade was when I found the Genesis Framework from StudioPress, which gave a huge amount of flexibility with themes, plug-ins, widgets, and more. They offer individual child themes that run on top of WordPress and the Genesis Framework, which is actually a theme itself. I’ve really enjoyed the changes enabled by WordPress and the Genesis Framework.
Sometimes I post new content to the web site and link to it from the newsletter. My new email newsletter articles get posted to the web site fairly quickly, except where they are time-sensitive or are articles that I only want to provide to my email subscribers.
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