Everything You Need to Know About Google+, Part 1


      Google+ is a social website, similar to Facebook and Twitter. It’s also available as a mobile application for most phones. Google+ was launched by Google about a half a year ago, which makes it fairly new.

      Before, Google+ required you to have an invitation to join, but now anybody ages 13 and up can sign up, without an invitation from Google. Google required this invitation because they wanted to gather insights and thoughts from its first adopters before making it available to everyone.

      Google+ can be confusing to people. It’s different in many ways from Facebook, which has been around for years and is what many people are used to.

      Because Google+ is my favorite social media site, I try to get people to join. (Google does not pay me for my endorsement.) But people don’t usually have time to wait for me to talk on and on about the benefits of joining Google+ so, today, I’ve decided to write a four-part series on how Google+ works.

      Once you’ve signed up at the Google+ homepage here, you’ll see lots of things. A stream of posts, circles, games, local, hangouts, everything. You most likely will be lost at first, but don’t worry. That’s what this series of blog posts is for.
      The first thing I’m going to cover is the stream. Think of the stream as the Facebook newsfeed. Here you’ll see posts of certain people. The stream is the first thing you’ll see when you log into Google+, like Facebook. Here’s what my stream looks like (with certain parts blurred to protect my privacy):



      On the sidebar of your stream are the main things you’ll be able to do with Google+. There you’ll see the icons for your profile, circles, games, photos, explore, local, hangouts, pages, and more. By dragging these icons around the sidebar, you can decide the order of them. For example, if you’d like the game icon to appear at the top of your sidebar instead of the bottom, you would just have to drag and drop it. This, however, along with other features may not be available with the Google+ mobile phone app. Some features, though, are still available for mobile. This is like Facebook’s mobile phone app. Lots of features on Facebook’s website are not available for mobile.

      The posts you see in your stream is determined by the certain people you add to your circles (think of adding to your circles as those who you’ve “friended,” as Facebook would say). You can see those in your circles by clicking on the circle icon on your sidebar. You will see something like this:


      For someone to be in your Google+ circle, you’ll have to select “add a new person.” Then, search for the name of the person you’d like to add, to see if they’re currently on Google+. If they’re not, you can write their email address in that box, and send them a Google+ invitation.
      After that, you’ll have to organize those people the way you want. You can add your family into a “family circle,” and friends to the “friends circle,” and so on. I’m going to explain how this will really help out in my next blog post. So work with your circles, and delete the ones you don’t want, and create the ones you’d like to add.
      And you’re done for today! You’ve learned an overview of Google+, you’ve learned about the stream, about the sidebars, and your circles. Check back soon for part two of Everything You Need to Know About Google+!

Creating A Custom Error 404 Page

      What happens when someone types your website’s URL? What happens if they were to write something like this: yourwebsite.com/abou when they’re supposed to write this: yourwebsite.com/about? What happens when they type in a page that doesn’t exist on your domain? They would see a error 404 page, which tells them that what they wrote is incorrect. You most likely have seen one yourself, if you’ve mistyped a URL.

      Your website builder sometimes might automatically create an error 404 page for you, like this:


      Here’s another example:

      In Google’s case, there’s a robot who is sad because he’s broken into several pieces. The point is clear: Something’s wrong. You should create a custom error 404 page so that your website’s logo appears like Google.
      And here’s another website’s custom error 404 page:


      “So how do you create a custom error 404 page?” You might ask. Read on, to find out how to do so! Note, though, that these instructions may only work with 000webhost.
      First, login to your account at 000webhost. Once logged in, visit your website’s control panel. As shown in How Kids Can Build A Website For Free | Part 2 of 4 enter your file manager. In your public_html folder, create a new file. Name it .htaccess. Then, write this in the html box:

ErrorDocument 404 http://yourwebistedomainnamehere.com/error.html

      Obviously, replace “yourwebsitedomainnamehere” with your own website’s domain. Then, when you’re done, save your work, like this:


      After that, press the arrow next to the save button. Now create a new file. Call it error.html. Below is an example of code I created which you can copy and paste in the html box:

<html>
<body>
<style type=”text/css”>
body {
font-family: Arial;
}
</style>
<center>
<img src=”http://www.yourwebsitehere.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/downtown
.jpg” width=”800px”>
<br>
<h1>Whoops! 404! That’s an error. </h1><br>
That page you’re looking for might’ve been deleted, moved, or perhaps you mistyped it. Why don’t you go back to the <a href=”http://www.yourwebsitehere.wordpress.com”>homepage?</a><br&gt;
</center><br>
</body>
</html>

      Be sure to edit that code, using the help of Lissa Explains It All. You want your own logo, and a link to your own website, right? When you’re done, save your work.

      It’s that easy! You’re done creating your custom error 404 page!

      If you’re still confused, the 000webhost forum might be able to help you.

The Landing Page Is The Most Important

      When visitors visit your website, they determine whether it’s worthwhile or not in a matter of seconds. That’s why your website’s landing page (home page) is so important. If it isn’t eye-catching and useful, hardly anyone will spend their time looking at the rest of your site. Because of this, I’ve written this post, The Landing Page Is The Most Important, to share with you what I learned building a homepage.

      I have found that the most important thing you’ll need to do is get the purpose of your website across in a clear manner. You need something to summarize what your website’s content is. For example, if you’re a graphic design company, you might want to add a eye-catching image that says “graphic design” on your homepage:

      When doing this, visitors will also know right away if your site is or isn’t what they’re looking for. Images might also be best on your homepage, especially if your site is a photography website. A huge slideshow might also be a good idea, depending on the site and your audience.
      I also noticed that about three columns on your site, with a header on each, and a paragraph might also make a for a simple, clean design (see below):


      Don’t clutter your website with too many menu items. Include an “About” tab where you explain the purpose of your website.
      Also, include social media buttons on your homepage. With this, for example, readers can see how many people liked your site, whether it be via Facebook, or maybe Twitter. A “Contact” header lets visitors easily know how to contact you.
      Colors, of course, also impact your homepage and the whole rest of your site a great deal. Here’s what I mean:


      Green obviously makes sense for a landscaping site. This, plus the stone photo, and the obviously noticed headers lets the audience know without a doubt what they’re looking at. Color is indeed a major impact on what your visitors think your site is about. Sites like Pinterest and The Logo Company have great sources for color information.

      Some more homepage layout ideas can be found here:
http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_layout.asp

GIF vs. JPG


      Did you ever post a photo online only to get frustrated because it was blurry? Maybe your problem was the file type.
      Knowing what file type to save your photo or web graphic as is very important.
      Who wants to see a pixelated, not very colorful, or maybe even blurry photo? It would make your website or social media site look cheap. And if you’re selling something, nobody’s going to want to buy from you if they can’t even see your product. So that’s why this post should be very important to you.

      Recently, I wrote PNG vs JPG, a post about the two most-used photo files on the web. Today, I’m writing about GIF vs JPG.

      A GIF is the third most-used file type I’ve seen on the web.

      As shown above, GIFs are primarily known for animated images. So whenever you see a moving animated image on a website that’s not a video, it’s a GIF. Animated images cannot be saved as anything else other than as a GIF.

      When you see a GIF, you’re actually seeing more than one image (or more than one layer) saved as one. Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and some other graphic design softwares let you create GIFs, and have more information on animated GIFs. For some reason, animated GIFs can’t be uploaded onto certain websites, or added to your document in Google Docs. JPGs cannot turn into animated images like GIFS at all.

      JPGs also don’t have the feature of a transparent background. Similar to PNGs, however, GIFS do have the transparent background feature. By reading this earlier blog post, you can learn more about a transparent background.

      GIFs are made up of a small amount of 256 colors, but JPGs are made up of millions. JPGs also look clearer than GIFs, which look slightly pixelated sometimes.

      Here’s the difference between a GIF photo and a JPG photo:


      Due to the color and pixel GIF problem as shown above, many people use GIFs for small cartoon web graphics. JPGs are better for most things, like photos and web graphics. This is why GIFs aren’t used as much as JPGs.

      Here’s what happens when you save a large web graphic as a JPG, and when you save it as a GIF:


      Notice how the GIF seems to have missing colors in it. Some people still use GIFs for photos and even large web graphics, because they really do save lots of storage. The above GIF is 324 KB, whereas the JPG is 652 KB.

      You can learn more about GIFs and JPGs here:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/419584/what-is-the-difference-between-jpg-jpeg-png-bmp-gif-tiff-i

http://community.adobe.com/help/search.html?q=jpg%20vs%20gif&lr=en_us&hl=en_us&l=0

PNG vs JPG

      There are many different types of files you can save your image as. The two most popular, JPG and PNG, are sometimes confusing to choose from. Today, I’ll explain the difference between a JPG and a PNG.

      The first major difference is the quality. As seen above, you can tell that when saved as a PNG, the photo looks clear, but when saved as a JPG, the photo is slightly fuzzy. The blurry fuzziness is particularly noticeable once words are added to a photo on a JPG. PNG’s are usually known to make photos look clearer than a JPG.

      PNG’s do take up more storage, and can take slightly longer to load on a web page. The JPG above is 24.2 KB, whereas the PNG is 270 KB. For some people, like me, I say a slight amount more of storage isn’t a big deal and is usually worth it. I also think it’s worth a few extra seconds waiting for a PNG to load.

      If you still think there’s a problem with the storage and web page speed, there are software programs such as Adobe Photoshop that let you change the size of a PNG. If you’re using Adobe Photoshop Elements 10, you can resize your PNG using this tutorial.

      For some people, photo quality isn’t a big deal. Those people might be thinking, “What’s the big deal with all of this? I can’t even tell the difference! If a JPG is slightly blurred, who cares?” If you’re one of those people who doesn’t care about this at all (but you’re still reading this somehow), there’s still another great feature to my favorite file type, the PNG.

      This is the feature of a transparent background. Let’s say for example, your website had something like a dark gray background. And let’s say you wanted to add text to that website with a dark gray background, except you wanted the text saved as an image. Here’s what will happen:

      With a PNG, you can have a transparent, invisible background if you wanted to, but with a JPG, you’re forced to stick with a non-transparent background.

      Think of these two images shown above with a gray background like a layered cake. A PNG with words only will only save that layer of words, but a JPG will save the layer with words, and it’ll also add one annoying white background. This can get really annoying sometimes.

      Here’s how Adobe displays it. This is a JPG:


      Notice the two “layers of cake,” the text and the forced-on-you background.
      Now look at the PNG:

      The PNG has only one transparent layer of text!

      So now you know about PNG vs. JPG, and that my favorite of the two is the PNG file type.

      Tomorrow I’ll write GIF vs. JPG. A GIF is the third most-used file type I’ve seen on the web.

How to Install A Blogger Theme


      It’s very important to have a nice theme for your blog. You can have the greatest content in the world, but this is still important. Who wants to see a horrible-looking blog? I know I wouldn’t.

      This is why I’ve written this post: How to Install A Blogger Theme. These instructions are for Google’s Blogger, and will not work for installing a theme on other website builders, such as WordPress.

      Although Google has a selection of free, pre-made themes to choose from for your blog hosted by Blogger, these instructions will not teach how to install those. I don’t think it’s the greatest idea to use one of those themes. SO many people across the web have already used them for their blog hosted on Blogger. These instructions will only work for certain websites that provide Blogger themes.

    Log in to your blog
    Make sure you’re viewing your dashboard using the new Blogger interface. If you’re using the old interface, you might be confused about installing your theme. So switch to the new one. You can always go back to the old Blogger interface when you’re done installing your theme.
    Select Template, as shown below:

    In the top right corner of your computer screen, you should see a button that says
    backup/restore. Click on it, as shown below:

    Select Download full template, as circled in red below:


You’re downloading your template, because if anything should go wrong with installing your new theme, you would never be able to get your old one back again. You don’t want that, now do you? That’s why it’s important to have a backup of your current template (template is another word for saying theme, both have the same meanings).
Now that you’ve downloaded your template, close that box. Now select Edit HTML, as shown below:


You’re going to get this message:

Because the code you’re going to put was written by someone who’s an advanced user, select Proceed. Besides, you already have a backup of your current template, so what’s the big deal if something should go wrong?

    Highlight all that code, and then delete it. Now highlight, copy, and paste the code from your provider in that box. If your provider is using old code, it will not work with the new Blogger interface. The old Blogger interface isn’t going to be available starting sometime in May, however, so it’s important to make sure your theme provider is using the new code.
    Now you’re done! Here’s an example of a theme with a pre-made blog theme made by Google on the left, and then with a unique blog theme on the right. It’s a major difference!

How Kids Can Build A Website For Free | Part 4 of 4

      This post is the last installment of my four-part series, How Kids Can Build A Website For Free. To read part one, click here. To read part two, click here. To read part three, click here.

      Yesterday, you built your website, learned about site maps, created your website’s CSS, etc. Those are the hard things to do, so today you’re going to be doing easier tasks.

      The first thing you’re going to do is validate your website. When you validate your website, you are checking the code, to make sure you didn’t forget a bracket or anything like that. You can try it out here. An easier version to understand can be found here. The easier one doesn’t have confusing things like, “which encoding would you like?”

      If your website isn’t validated, you should read the previous blog posts I wrote, and revisit Lissa Explains It All. There might be something missing there that you didn’t understand. Another great thing to try are the forums of Lissa Explains It All. 000webhost also offers a help center if you’re confused about your website’s code.

      You also are going to need to make your website search engine optimized. There’s really no point in having a website when it’s not indexed by the major search engines — Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Making your website search engine optimized is very simple to do. All you have to do is add a description like this in the head section of your webpage:

      <meta name=”description” content=”Write in a paragraph or less what your website is about here.” />

      This description shows up when someone Googles your site. You’re also going to need keywords, which are also words people “google.” For example, if someone were to “google” landscaping, they would find your website, because you added “landscaping” as a tag. You wouldn’t be indexed on the first few pages though, unless you’re website that has been around for a long time, and lots of other websites have linked back to you. That’s why, for example, if you were to do a website design for someone, it would be smart if you told them to write that you designed the website, and include a link back to your site. Here’s the code to add keywords to your website:

      <meta name=”KEYWORDS” id=”mKeywords” content=”landscaping, snow, removal, landscape, installation, maintenance”>

      That should also be included in the head section of your webpage.

      You should also double-check everything else on your website. Make sure there are no broken links. This is neccesary, if, for example, you added a link to http://www.oogle.com but meant to write google.com. You should also make sure you didn’t misspell anything, or have incorrect grammar.

      The last thing to do is optional. You can purchase a domain, but it isn’t fully necessary, depending on what type of website you have. A domain can make your website look more professional. Nobody can remember google.hostedby000webhost.com as easily as google.com. So when you purchase a domain, you basically have a shorter URL, that’s easy to remember.

      Tomorrow you’ll learn how to create a blog!