Haven’t Forgotten

I haven’t forgotten about this site, I promise, it’s just that we’re working on badge designs now that we have a nice representation of badges up.  We want y’all to be able to display your rightly earned badges proudly.

It takes longer to come up with cool designs than it does to come up with the steps for cool badges.  Once we have a few badge icons up, we’ll start posting badge steps again.

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Web Design Badge

Step One: You’re getting emails from people who’ve seen your website and want to know more.  They like your ideas, your thoughts, and they want to know you better.  They have helpful suggestions, and some become friends over time.  When you click on the link to your web page, what you see fills you with quiet pride.  It is nicely done: the colors suit the subject, the graphics carry your intent forward, the content is useful, entertaining, and widely read.  Your site meter has a gratifyingly high visit count.  People who know you ask for your help in designing their websites.

Step Two: You have vital information you want to share and a website is a convenient way to reach the maximum number of people.  You love all things to do with one topic, and you have a comprehensive amount of information.  No sense in keeping all that goodness to yourself, so you put it out on the web for others to learn.  You have things to sell, and a web page is a great way to do this without he overhead expenses of having a store – say you wrote a book and want to publicize it, or you do custom knitting, or you’re a handyman who wants to get new business.  Or maybe, you have farflung family members and you want a place to showcase your family and keep in touch.  You teach classes, and a website lets you enhance what you teach in class.   There are many reasons to create a website, and you have a great one.

Step Three: Building a website can be a paralyzing event, there are so many decisions!  Even worse, other people will see it and judge you by it.  It’s like being in your Go-To-Court-Clothes all day every day – and all night, too.  People never stop looking and judging, oh my!  On the other hand, building a website is a very easy thing to do.  The simplest sites are often the best, and you don’t need to impress everyone, just yourself.

So find yourself a mentor, someone who has built websites you like, and ask them questions.  Ask them what they did, and why.  Ask what their challenges were and what they wish they’d known when they started.  Ask what their biggest triumphs were.  Ask what websites and books and tutorials they recommend.

One useful site is:  http://www.thesitewizard.com/

Step Four: Taking the information your mentor gave you, do some basic research.  Do you want a simple WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web building program that’s available for free?  Are you comfortable with CSS and HTML and want something which gives you greater control?  Read the websites, read the books.  Look at websites and mark what makes you take notice, what you hate, what you love.  Make a list of the things you want your website to have – and a list of the things you absolutely don’t want.  Pick the web tool you will use.  These are popular ones:  Microsoft Frontpage, Adobe GoLive, Macromedia Dreamweaver, and Allaire Homesite.

Step Five: Get a domain – if you intend to keep this website a long time, your next step is to pick a domain name and buy it.  If you’re not planning on keeping the website, you can skip this step.  There are domain registry sites that will let you know if your choice is already taken or if it’s still available.  The reason for getting a domain name is that you may change webhosting services several times, and each time you change, without a domain name, your website’s address will change.  That means each time you change webhosts, you will have to restart all your web searches, change any addresses that point to your website, and ask people to update their bookmarks to find you again.  You’ll lose rank in search engines, and you’ll probably lose visitors who can’t find you again.  With a domain name, you can change webhosts without losing your regular visitors, your search engine rankings, and bookmarks pointing to your website will stay working.

A domain name gives your website credibility. There are affiliate programs that require you to have your own domain name in order to use them, other people may be more willing to link to you and support you if you have invested in a domain name, and search engines rate sites with their own domain higher than sites without.  If these things appeal to you, then register a domain name.  What you put under it can change if you don’t like it.  And if you truly decide you dislike the domain name, you can abandon it and buy another one.

If you don’t want to buy a domain name because you think you also have to pay for webhosting, that’s not true.  Even the most expensive registration for a domain name is $35 a year – about $3 a month – and that’s pretty affordable for most people with a computer.  You don’t have to host your website at the site where you buy your domain name, a lot of free webhosting sites will let you direct to your domain name. You aren’t committed to a specific webhost if you don’t like them, and if you change webhosts, you keep your domain name and your visitors and search rank.

Many professional website owners say this is a step that should be taken before you even start to design your website because it helps you focus and shape what you want on the site.  It gives you a stable point to refer to when you get confused by all the decisions you will be making as you create your website.

Step Six: Pick colors.  Once you have an idea of what you want a website for, and you have chosen a domain name, the next step is to choose colors you want on your website.  These colors can tie the website together, each page may be different, but the color scheme ensures that your visitors know they’re still on your site.  Pick 2 or 3 complementary colors, and you can change up the pages within your site by placing one contrasting color to make the page different and memorable.  More than four colors makes the page too busy.  View the colors you choose in a lower resolution to make sure people with older computers can see what you offer and aren’t getting funky, unreadable color combinations.

Step Seven: Design an easy to use navigation system.  Most people are used to a navigation bar being place on the left or across the top so consider staying with that when you first create your website.  If your pages are long, put a simplified navigation bar at the bottom of the page – your site visitors will appreciate it.  If your website is more than 15 pages, it’s useful to offer a “Search” feature or a site map.

Step Eight: Make sure your visitors can read your website by choosing text colors that contrast with the background (no yellow on white or navy on black), and make sure the “before visit” link and “after visit” link colors are visible.  Leave plenty of white space and don’t have long blocks of dense text.  Break it up into smaller blocks with divider bars, white space, and the occasional appropriate graphic.

Step Nine: Content is King.  Spend some time developing the content you want on your site.  Content is what brings in visitors.  All the pretty flashing graphics and pop-ups and pop-unders, and autoplay music, spinning graphics and logos, flashing and pulsing banners, fancy hit counters, and mouse chasers may bring people once, but once they’ve seen it, there’s no reason to come back.  Work on what you want your website to say, and say it.

Step Ten: Graphics.  Even though content is King, an appealing website has interesting graphics to ease and delight the eye.  Adobe’s PhotoShop is by far the best graphic program, but it’s not easy to learn and it’s very expensive.  Microsoft’s Photodraw and Macromedia’s Fireworks are both easy to use.  There are other programs available, too.  Digital cameras and video cameras often come with decent programs.

Step Eleven:      Design each page one at a time.  Have a single focus for each page.  Make the graphics, colors, background, borders, and blocks of text balance.  Be sure you have your navigation bars on each page and that any links you put on it work.

Step Twelve: Now that you’ve designed your pages and everything looks good, it’s time to find a webhost.  Your domain name is like your on line name, a business name, or a nickname – it’s the name people know you by.  Your webhost is like your neighborhood or office building, where you live.  You can select a free webhost (most of them have limits and almost all of them will put advertising on your website – they have to pay for the power and computers that are hosting your information somehow), or you can pay for webhosting (usually only the advertising affiliates you choose and the revenue from those go to you, not the webhost).   Whichever webhost you choose will give you the information you need to upload your website to them.

Step Thirteen: Publish your website.  Up to this point, your website has resided on your computer.  You’ve been able to edit and tweak it any way you wanted.  But no one else could see it but you.  To present it to the internet, you need to put it where it can be seen.  Follow the directions your webhost has given you to upload your website to their servers, and voila!  You have a website!

Step Fourteen: Claim your badge!

Rat Pucky Badge


Jolly in the Hair 12

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: It’s an impossible shot. You know it. Your audience knows it. You look into your pucky bag: the willow “L” stick is short and flimsy, the maple “Y” is too thick, and still too short, but maybe that oak forked stick with the funny little stub on the side will do it. You pull it out of the bag to admiring gasps and a scattering of applause. You approach the dead rat, its seams are still intact, but it’s lost an ear and a beaded eye in this competition, and the tail will need restitching later. You survey the shot, looking to see how you’ll puck the rat through the “V” of the redbud tree without it landing in the pond and you think you see a way to do it. Instead of ceding the game, you position yourself and test the swing of your stick. More people gather to watch as you finally take your shot. The rat lofts high and clears the “V”, will it land safely? There’s a family of four with their back to the landing site, watching a juggler perform. The rat curves down, splats on the ground, causing three of the four people to jump and look around. One spots the rat and the cheering crowd as you walk up to claim it and tuck it in your belt with the other played-out stuffed rats you carry. You did it! You scored and rescored – through the “V” and you made people look. How cool is that?

Step Two: Rat Pucky may not on the same level as golf or Frisbee, but it’s a cracking good game to play, especially if you’re in a park. That’s pretty much it’s only redeeming feature, just how much fun a game can be.

Step Three: The only place you’re likely to encounter Rat Pucky is at a Renaissance Faire unless you know a Rennie (that’s the name for people who routinely attend Renaissance Faires or work at them) who plays it in their neighborhood park just to keep in practice. Some rules are listed at the following websites. Be aware there are rule variants depending upon the Faire.
http://www.radix.net/~glork/em/ratpucky.html
http://www.thewildhunt.com/thegreen/ratpuck.shtml
http://scarlettrat.com/emrys/ratmandu.html

Step Four: Once you’ve learned the rules of the game, you’ll need a stuffed rat and a stick, so gather your equipment. You may buy “certified” rats from Emrys, or make your own. If you play Rat Pucky (or Rat Puck) at a Renaissance Faire, you should use the types of rats they recommend and play by their rules.

Step Five: Play a game.

Step Six: Claim your badge!

Blacksmith Badge


Blacksmith

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: You tighten the last screw in the hinge you forged yourself on the jewelry box you made for your mother with a screwdriver you made yourself, too. The candles on the mantelpiece flicker brightly in the candleholders you made yourself of raw iron and fire. On a camping trip, you supply the toasting forks that you made yourself, and you cut the strips of steaks you grill on them with a knife you forged yourself. Friends welcome the gifts of your forge and often ask you to make some things for them to buy and gift. And your friends are always up for a game of Stretch with the Stretch Sticks you hammered out on your anvil.

Step Two: Sure you can buy screwdrivers, hinges, candleholders, toasting forks, camp grills, pothooks, coat hooks, fire strikers, tent stakes, and knives from a store, but when you make them yourself, you can make them as plain or pretty as you want. It’s satisfying to take a raw lump of metal and with just a fire and a hammer, make something beautiful and useful from it.

Step Three: Blacksmithing is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. It’s not just horse-shoeing anymore. Your best bet for finding a mentor is to visit historical re-enactment places like Colonial Williamsburg or Branson, Missouri, or attend a Renaissance Faire. Most performing blacksmiths are more than willing to talk to you and tell you all about how they got into smithing and show you all the pretties they can make. New books are being written about modern blacksmithing and there’s a magazine devoted to blacksmiths. Find a smith and ask your questions. Examine their set-up and ask who their suppliers are. Ask what they would recommend as a first project.

Step Four: Some blacksmiths offer classes in smithing. This is an excellent way to find out if you really like smithing before you invest in the equipment and build a forge to house it all. You can earn your badge by completing the class and making something yourself.

Step Five: Complete a class on blacksmithing and make something yourself. Display it with pride.

Step Six: Claim your badge.

You can go on to get an advanced blacksmithing badge by setting up your own forge and stocking it and making things in it.

Geocaching Badge


The Bilgemunkee

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: You take two steps to your left, one step forward and look around. There! Under the carpet juniper is a flash of white. You look closer and yes! It’s a Tupperware box. You pause for a deep breath and look at your GPS device. It’s right on the number. This is the treasure you’ve spent 2 weekends searching for. You reach under the juniper and pull out the box. You sit down and cradle it in your lap for just a moment before you pop the top off. The box is filled with small things but the most important thing is on top – a notebook and pencil. You left those out and flip through it, reading the entries. Some are funny, all are informative. Now you know who left the batman action figurine, or the pocket level, or the strawberry erasers you see on the top of all the small objects. You make your own entry in the logbook, and as you do so, you recognize names from other ‘Cachers, so you leave a note to pass along to them. Future finders of this treasure may post your comment in other logbooks and your friends may see it. What a fun and fulfilling day you’ve had!

Step Two: Geocaching may seem a frivolous sport, but you learn a lot from it: how to read a GPS device, how to read maps, how to conduct online research, and how to persevere to find the treasure. In the process, you will make friends, make new discoveries, and spend exciting times outdoors. It’s a sport you can play on the spur of the moment, and the most expensive thing about it woud be a GPS device – and the price of those has come down do far almost anyone who wants one can afford it.

Step Three: The best way to learn about geocaching is to go out with someone who already does it. Go to http://www.geocaching.com and see who’s in your area. There are discussion boards that may offer regional sections. Sometimes, you can find other geocachers through meet-up groups or posted on college bulletin boards or in sporting goods stores. When you fond a mentor, either on line or in person, ask them questions about the sport, their biggest challenges, greatest triumphs, and best times they had. Ask for tips and be sure to ask which GPS device they prefer. Ask what other equipment they wished they brought along the first time they went geocaching.

Step Four: Armed with the advice of your mentor and research you’ve conducted on line and elsewhere, go to a sporting goods store and ask about their GPS device offerings. You may choose to purchase from them or from an online source. The primary piece of equipment you will need is the GPS device so spend a little time finding and getting one you will like. Spend some more time getting familiar with your GPS device.

Step Five: Plan your first geocaching adventure, then go. Bring small items to put into the treasure box, and dress and pack for the trip.

Step Six: Find your first treasure and claim you badge!

Brewing Soft Drinks Badge


Chamomile

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: It’s a hot day at the lake, and even in the shade of the trees you and your friends are roasting. You reach into your ice chest and pull out bottles of the most delicious rootbeer anyone’s ever had – your secret blend of juices and herbs that you made and bottled yourself. Your children bring friends home from school because your house is the only place they can get ginger lemonade sodas. It’s the winter holidays and your guests can’t stop raving about the mulled cider you served – the special recipe you make and bottle each fall.

Step Two: Making your own sodas, ciders, and other soft drinks is far less expensive than buying them. You get to have unique flavors that suit you in your pantry just waiting for you to drink or share. Making sodas is fast, too, so you can make up a recipe for a special event almost faster than you can drive to the store to buy them. You know exactly what’s in your bottles of soda, too – no high fructose corn syrup, no weird flavoring additives. You control how sweet it is. And if you want spearmint strawberry lemonade, you can have it!
Step Three: Finding a mentor for brewing your own soft drinks is harder than finding someone who brews beer or wine because fewer people do it. Start at your local brew shop, because soda makers need to buy bottle caps, bottle cappers, and bottles and the brew shops are the cheapest places to get those. S/he may know of one or two other soda makers in your area. Connect with other soda and cider makers in your area and ask questions. Take notes. Ask them about websites, recommendations, and further resources.

If you can’t find a local mentor, there are online sources for getting information on how to make your own soft drinks.
http://www.ebrew.com/primarynews/soft_drink_instructions.htm
http://www.westonaprice.org/foodfeatures/Realthing.html

Books:
http://www.amazon.com/Making-Your-Gourmet-Soft-Drinks/dp/0517708310
http://www.bellthorpebooks.com/soft-drink-recipes.html
http://www.amazon.com/Cider-Making-Using-Enjoying-Sweet/dp/1580175201

Supplies:
http://www.sodaclubusa.com/prodinfo.htm

Step Four: Follow up on the research in Step Three. Gather your equipment and ingredients. Set up a place to make and store your home made soft drinks.

Step Five: Make a soft drink and sample it.

Step Six: Claim your badge!

Wine Making Badge


Holy Ail Side

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: None of the wines at the local liquor store go well with your TexMex/Asian fusion dinner, but the wine you made of sand plums and cactus pears sets it off beautifully, and the clear lavenderish hue is echoed in the Asian fermented plum enchilada sauce. The full bodied red wine you made is perfect for sipping with your favorite dark chocolate as you and your friends make sure you get your daily antioxidants as you unwind together watching a chick flick and talking about your day. The compliments on the wine make you giddier than any amount of wine ever could.
Step Two: It’s so simple and so rewarding to craft a fine wine to match your culinary style. Making your own wines gives you a finer appreciation of the wines you buy. You can make country wines and exotic wines that aren’t available in stores. Home made wines make personal, special gifts.
Step Three: While beer and wine making both involve fermentation and share using much of the same equipment, the process and ingredients and end result are very different. Beer is made from grains, wine is made from fruit. The exception is mead, which is made from honey and can be made using either the beer process or the wine process. The people who make home wines are often a different group of people from the ones who make beer, so even though some of the places you look will be similar (the brew store, for example), the resources and information will be different. Your local brew store brewmeister may be able to put you in touch with wine making groups. Check out local vinyards, too, because even though they commercially make wines, they’ll know a few enthusiasts who buy juice from them to make their own wines. The vineyard profits either way and encouraging people to drink wine (their or made from their juices) is a Good Thing in their eyes. Tour the vintard and ask questions. Sample their wines and bring a few bottles home to use for comparison. Connect with an oenologist (someone who makes wine) and ask them questions about the wine making process. Ask about resources for home wine making.
Step Four: Follow up on the research and answers to your questions. Research fail-proof recipes and start a collection of flavors you like and would like to re-create yourself. Some starting on line places:
http://www.winemaking.jackkeller.net
http://www.grapestompers.com
http://www.joyofwine.net
http://winemakermag.com/
And some books:
http://www.amazon.com/Way-Make-Wine-Craft-Superb/dp/0520247191
http://www.amazon.com/Home-Winemaking-Step-Step-Iverson/dp/096579363X
http://www.amazon.com/Making-Wild-Wines-Meads-Unusual/dp/1580171826
http://www.amazon.com/Wine-Makers-Answer-Book-Storey/dp/1580176569
http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Wines-Creating-Organic-Natures/dp/0757002927
And one DVD:
http://www.amazon.com/Home-Wine-Making-Seven-Steps/dp/B000Y9X28E

Step Five: Gather your equipment. Select your recipe and gather your ingredients. Make your first batch of wine.
Step Six: Let your wine age, then decant it and sample. You should have a delicious wine you made yourself, a product of pride.

Step Seven: Claim your badge!