software: May 2009 Archives

Back when I investigated how to create a webpage template, a couple weeks ago, I really had in mind the notion of using a template as the basis for a new Rad guide .. not one on Dreamweaver Templates however, but rather one for » Drive Imaging & Disk Cloning. Today I created that template, and began a new Rad guide.

Hard disk drive internals Definitely takes longer to get up-n-running when using a template, cuz you first must determine exactly how the guide will be structured .. and what items to include in the template, and what parts need to be editable.

Can't just start cranking out pages of text and entertaining new ideas (.. like I used to) .. leaving the details of page structure to deal with later.

Templates force you to pre-think everything up front, before you begin generating content-one. They even force you to anticipate changes .. which is new for me .. especially since I've grown accustomed to the ready-fire-aim approach, which leaves the details of page structure for later .. but by then it's difficult to make changes .. cuz each page must be edited individually (.. hence the need for templates).

I was so eager to get started on the guide that I actually had to start over (several times) .. due to major template modifications. (Arrgh!) Kept getting new ideas .. things I wanted to add/tweak.

You can always modify a template, as that's what they are designed for. But when a template requires many edits, it seems easier to just start over and create a new one. (Something I'm getting good at .. from all the practice.)

If I knew then what I know now. Ever uttered those words? Looking back on my progression of web skills, one omission stands out » incorporating the use of templates to help develop & maintain the pages of my web site.

Templates are both powerful & flexible for two reasons:

  1. They speed up site development, by allowing the rapid creation of web pages based on a preformed (uniform) structure .. so all your pages have the same look & feel.

  2. They facilitate site maintenance, by enabling structural changes site-wide via the editing of a single-file .. similar to how CSS works. This aspect of templates is considerably more significant than item #1.

Dreamweaver TemplatesIf your web site grows bigger than expected (as they usually do), and you want to make structural changes (non CSS-based changes) to your web pages, you'll have to edit each page individually (.. which suks giant goose eggs). Tedious maximus.

When CSS came along, website designers could transfer all style controls into a single file, so that the look of an entire site could be modified by editing a single file (provided, of course, the entire site was based off of the same style sheet). Very cool development.

But what about structural changes? That's where templates come in. To be honest, I'm not sure if web design programs (such as Dreamweaver and Expression) had the ability to generate templates back when I launched the site. But they do now.

With world-economies teetering somewhere between a nasty recession and full-on depression, more folks are turning to open source (free) software to meet their home computing needs.

If you've been Radified any length of time, you know that cloning programs are our specialty, especially when used as a tool to backup your system partition (where Windows resides) by creating an image file.

ClonezillaSo the question naturally becomes » What's the best free cloning program?

I've tried many options, such as Macrium and O&O DiskImage Express, but never quite found what I was looking for .. until today, that is.

Perhaps I should interject by saying that, regarding the NOT-free solutions, I've found that Ghost, along with Image-for-Windows to be the best for-co$t disk-cloning tools. (By 'best' I mean » most reliable.) Ghost is also way faster than any other cloning product I've demo'ed .. if speed is important to you.

Lots of people also like True Image, but I had problems with it. (Errors I couldn't resolve.)

But what if you can't afford those apps? Then what? We still need an industrial-strength (nuclear-grade) backup tool. Enter Clonezilla. (Standing ovation.)

First, I'm not crazy about the name .. nor the website's design, especially the tiny menu on the left-side that I can barely read. (Update - looks like they fixed the tiny-menu problem after I posted this.)

Heck, I don't even like their logo (white Linux penguin inside orange penguin). But I *am* impressed with the tool itself .. now that I've had a chance to try it.

Yes, it's significantly more complicated to use than either Ghost or Image-for-Windows, but I don't feel this complexity is a barrier to those with a moderate degree of computer sophistication. (Such as the folks who frequent Radified.)

Note that .. a cloning program can (if used inadvertantly) trash your entire system and wipe out every every file on your hard drive .. with a single click. So you can't experiment like you can with other programs (.. such Photoshop Elements or Sound Forge, for example). In other words, you need to know wtf you're doing.

Perhaps I should begin by defining some terms.

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This page is a archive of entries in the software category from May 2009.

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