Saturday, January 15, 2011

CARING FOR YOUR EQUIPMENT

Lately I've had a real pain in my neck. No, I'm not talking about family, pets or clients...it's me. I've been working long hours on websites, with my laptop too low, while sitting on a regular chair and (gasp), I haven't been taking regular breaks. I know. I know. What a slacker. It seems I do this every few months. I'm feeling great, I kick my usual Balance Ball seat to the side, grab a regular chair and work hours on end without taking a break. A few weeks of this and my body can't fight the bad positions anymore.

It would be one thing if I didn't know better, but I do. Lucky me. I was set straight with neck pain and headaches. That's what our bodies do. That's what pain is for. Amazingly, I was trying to blame the pain on something else. Maybe I slept wrong or was coming down with something. This continued apathy can lead to missed work and all kinds of long term problems with posture, muscle loss, carpal tunnel, sciatica, and arthritis to name a few.

So I think I've finally found what I need to help me remember to take regular breaks while I'm working. It's StretchClock - a browser gadget that's easy to install on your computer and it's FREE. Don't worry. It's not a massive system of workouts. It's a reminder to stop and stretch or move around and if you want, you can set it up so you're given a short video stretch to do. The stretches are super easy and very effective. I could feel the difference immediately. It's nothing new. They don't even last a full minute. The trick is doing them regularly. I know a ton of stretches. I even know the ones they do on the videos, but if I don't do them because I feel fine, it isn't going to work.

The thing I like about the stretch videos is that the guy in the videos isn't at a gym. He looks like he stepped out from behind his computer, put on his sunglasses and went outside for a quick stretch. I can relate to him. No stretchy outfits and impossible yogi feats...just a quick stretch so you can get back to work.

There are also suggestions for proper work position in the sidebar. It's really well done and customizable to come up in many different time increments and as a prompt to do your own stretches, as a reminder that you click to show you their video or to show the video automatically. In other words, it's totally doable. No excuses.

Here's one of my favorites:

Regular exercise is also helpful for keeping those excess stress chemicals from getting the best of you. Or maybe a regular massage as a sanity break? The beauty of it is - it doesn't take much, so take a break and get back to work!

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P.S. If you want to set up your own system of stretches for specific areas, here are a couple books I've found helpful over the years for preventive info and for getting back on track: 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

GOT CUSTOM 404 ERROR PAGE?

Often times 404 error pages are neglected when setting up a website. The design and organization of the website is the focus and the error page is a detail that is neglected. But let's face it. Errors happen. All the time. The last thing you want to happen is for someone to exit the realm of your website because of an error and the unhelpful generic page that appears.

Custom Error Page for FaeryMedicine.com
Custom 404 error pages are really easy to set up. Sometimes webhosts even offer a template for those who need some help. Whenever possible, it's great to create your own page that matches the rest of your site in design and personality. I enjoy creating clever and/or humorous error pages the most, but this isn't always appropriate for the rest of the site.

Not sure if you have an error page already? If someone else designed and set up your site, you may not know, so type in your URL, put a forward slash after it and a random word that does not pertain to your site. The more ridiculous the better. For most sites, I find "vampires" works pretty well, but if your site has a page called vampires on it, you'll have to pick another word. Armadillo perhaps?

Custom Error Page for KristenSchwartz.com
Probably the trickiest part of creating a custom error page is the .htaccess file that goes with it. This is a very simple text document with an often troublesome file name that gives the server directions on what to do for any scenarios that are contained in the file. I say it's troublesome because this file may become invisible after you create it, depending on your system.  You can get around this by setting up your computer differently, but an easier solution, if your webhost allows it, is to name the file something like htaccess.txt and rename it on your server after you upload it.

There are thousands of webhosts out there with many different ways of handling error pages. For instance, Yahoo allows custom 404 error pages in the form they specify, but they don't allow users to upload .htaccess files to their directories. I have been able to upload both error pages and .htaccess pages and change the name once uploaded with webhosting on 1and1.com. If you're doing this yourself, contact your webhost or consult their FAQ pages for the best information on how to proceed.

(As always, I am available for consulting or design of your custom 404 error pages.)

Have fun!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

HAPPY 2011!

My new website has gone up quicker than I thought. It was supposed to take 48 hours to transfer. Instead, it took 10 minutes! This site will now serve as a blog rather than a portfolio. It is way too late at night to make all the changes I need to make to have this looking like a blog again. I will be back tomorrow to finish what I started. In the meantime, check out my new site...KristenSchwartz.com and Happy New Year!