‘Do you want to have a look at my new blog?’ I ask shyly. My partner, R, works with computers so is much harder to impress, technology-wise, than the cat.
‘Sure,’ he agrees.
I have an ulterior motive: I want his help changing the font on the title. I’ve tried myself but had no luck. At the moment it’s a boring blockish font in plain black. I want a deep russet colour and an antique-looking script, Garamond perhaps, the sort of thing you’d see in the window of a second-hand bookshop. And I want it much bigger. I open the blog for him.
‘’The Baker’s Daughter Writes’,’ he says first. ‘So you decided against ‘Read Wine’?’
‘Yes,’ I tell him, although this isn’t completely correct. I couldn’t get the name I wanted, but I’ll come to that later.
‘Nice header. I like what you’ve done with the picture of Fina.’ He looks impressed and surprised (I am not renowned for my photo-editing skills. To be strictly accurate, I have none.) ‘You’ve stretched it and done a sort of blurring on the tail.’
‘Yes,’ I lie, because I haven’t done either of these things. When you choose a photo for your header, the computer gives you a little rectangular box you can position over the part of the photo you want, and voila – a header is born. I haven’t done anything to the tail either: if it looks blurred, it’s probably because I unintentionally moved the camera. Fina does also have a very furry tail: furry, blurry – it could just be some sort of linguistic confusion on his part.
‘You’ve set up a menu too,’ he says, looking even more surprised – somewhat startled, even.
‘Yes,’ I say once more, although it was there already.
He starts to read my first posting, ‘Herding cats.’
‘Actually’, I say slyly, ‘I was wondering if you could help me with something. I want to make the title a bit bigger and maybe change the colour and font but I can’t figure out how to do it.’
‘Of course, little one,’ he replies, patting my head benignly. This is more the bumbling incompetent he recognises. The universe has returned to its natural order.
‘I’ve found a tab saying ‘Appearance’ there on the left,’ I say helpfully, ‘and that has a heading saying ‘Font Kits’. But then you seem to have to register with this other site and choose your fonts there. I thought it would be like with Word where you highlight the font and than just go to a little button up the top to change it.’ (I’m very up on Word. I can do anything with it – even insert page numbers.)
‘And they seem to want you to pay to be able to make changes, which doesn’t really make sense. I changed the background colour without paying anything so why would you have to pay to change the font?’ (This is actually a devious ploy to make him notice that I’ve altered the background to red without any assistance. I’m rather proud of myself for this and haven’t yet been praised.)
R finds the Appearance tab and starts fiddling around. I tell him a joke while he works to lighten the mood: a font walks into a bar, and the bartender says to him, ‘Sorry, we don’t serve your type here.’
‘Ok, so it looks like you have to register with this other site and choose your fonts from there,’ R says after a few minutes. ‘And you may have to pay.’
‘OK,’ I say and give him my login details. He plays around for a few more minutes, then gets to the section that eventually stumped me, where they seem to want you to communicate through a series of complicated alphanumerical sequences.
‘It looks as if they want you to actually use that code,’ I say uncertainly. ‘I don’t even understand it. I mean, ‘ h2 class = “widgettitle’>pagings</h2>’? Does that actually mean anything to anyone other than a Dalek? And this was meant to be the most user-friendly of all the blogging sites…’
‘Yeah, they do want you to use it,’ he says, visibly taken aback too. ‘It’s a bit complex for amateurs, which your average blogger is likely to be. But don’t worry, I use programming languages all the time at work. Just let me try something…’ R works with computers all day and studied pure mathematics at university. I’m no longer deluded enough to think that I will be able to change the font myself but am confident he’ll be able to. He begins entering a string of numbers and letters, punctuated by the odd bracket or ampersand. It looks hard.
Twenty minutes later he’s still in front of the computer clutching his forehead. He’s consulted various instruction manuals on programming. He’s liberated his old university textbooks from out of storage. He’s even rung 24 hour IT support at his work. My heading is still in small plain black font, however. ‘It shouldn’t be this hard,’ he murmurs, in the manner of someone bleakly contemplating the nature of life itself.
‘No, it shouldn’t be this hard,’ I agree cheerfully, in the manner of someone who encounters these types of technological hurdles every day, each time they try to indent a paragraph, save a file, or open the fridge door.
He tries for a few more minutes, then gives up. I have a friend who works for Google in the states. I’ll give him a call tomorrow, I decide. And if he can’t help, I can always ask the cat.