Hello. Welcome to secret suburban! I know I've been saying that I wanted to move to blogger for ages and early in the new year, rather than make yet another resolution about it, I decided to just crack the shits and get started. It's taken me a while but I'm here now. There's still some archive clean up to do (photos, links, spaces) but as you can see, I've been here a while and I thought it was time I told you about the move.

half moon bay in the evening

And the name change? Well, I was a bit sick of the name muppinstuff. Far too cutesy for a middle aged woman with a tendency towards the negative. And the "stuff" aspect, that was shitting me too, as "stuff" in all senses of the word is something I'm always trying to remove from my life. Anyway secret suburban grew on me during the changeover. When we were looking to buy our house, I used to dream of a secret suburb where the houses were cheap and close to nature, the people fabulous and the public transport super convenient. We initially ruled out this area due to the smallness of the houses and the public transport aspect, but I am really glad we're here now. Sometimes I feel so lucky that I really do think we found our secret suburb. And yeah, middle aged and suburban they do kind of go together don't they? As for secret, well, I do laugh a bit there, because it's just not all that secret at all, is it?

Anyway, I hope you decide to hang out with me here. You'll need to update your feed readers and bookmarks as I haven't worked out how to transfer the feed across (sorry). Please let me know if I have forgotten anything or if things don't work. That would be great. Thanks.

moving from typepad to blogger

Cost - Well, for a start Blogger is free. Obviously there is a cost for free. Blogger is part of the evil Google empire and then there is this. However I love the internet (especially blogworld) and believe on balance the world is a better place for it. But I didn't think that I was getting a superior product from Typepad. Or that it was any less evil for costing me money each month. Which could amount to a heap of money if I continue to blog for the long term. The account I had cost about $20 a month for unlimited blogs, group blogs and the ability to customise your design. All things I can have using Blogger. For free. Possibly the only thing you don't get with Blogger is personalised help. But that's what Google and the internet are for and it hasn't been an issue so far.

Features - Once Blogger introduced embedded comments, pages and the new template designer, Blogger as a platform moved so far ahead of typepad that it's not funny. The new template designer is super easy to use and I love how you can apply css and see how it will look before you apply it. I also like the way you can edit page elements directly from the blog itself. When you have lots of blogs that's far, far easier than managing Typepad's tedious typelists. There are also some nice gadgets like the blog list with an rss feed. Actually the way gadgets work is far easier than with Typepad's notelists. The edit posts page is easier to use. Blogger is also way faster, especially with Google chrome. Basically Blogger is now much more sophisticated and user friendly than Typepad. And it's free.

Look - These days I think Blogger blogs even look better than Typepad ones. Less cluttered, more spacious. You can have a nice wide fixed width template. Big enough for photos 640 px wide. And photos via flickr look far better than anything on Typepad. I don't know what Typepad does to photos, but even the ones hosted on flickr look crappy compared to Blogger.

Well, because Typepad and Blogger use a different format, you can't just create an export file from Typepad and upload it to Blogger. However, there is an app called the Google Blog converter that will take a Typepad (or Moveable Type) export file and convert to a Blogger friendly file which you can upload to a new or existing Blogger blog. Any images or other files hosted on Typepad need to be moved manually and obviously internal links  are gone. Also Blogger reads paragraph breaks differently so there will be big gaps between paragraphs. So there is a bit of clean up to do and images to re-insert. But all the posts, labels and comments came across perfectly.

The Google blog converter documentation says that it will only convert files of under 1MB and I did find that with the small blogs that the conversion was super easy. I downloaded a Typepad export file, saved it to my desktop, uploaded it to the Google blog converter and then uploaded the resulting file to the shell blog I had set up.

However when I went to convert the large blog (muppinstuff) which became this one, I broke it up into several smaller blogs. No matter how small I made the file, I couldn't get the conversion file to upload to Blogger without errors. In the end I created a Wordpress export file, uploaded it to a Wordpress blog, downloaded the wordpress file and then put the whole thing through the converter (even though it was apparently too big). It produced a file of at least 5MB which then imported into Blogger without a problem.

I've chosen not to look for a way of migrating all my images automatically. For the last year, I've been hosting them all on Flickr anyway. I'm also not worrying about post URLS, or even some of the old out of date links. Given that it's a personal blog, this issue is not that important for me and the google bots will find me soon enough. I'll be tidying up each post by hand (which also means I can make the labels more consistent) and uploading photos from before I started using Flickr to Blogger. Even if it takes a few month to finish, eventually I'll be able to delete the Typepad account.

Here are some useful links and accounts from others who have made the move away from Typepad
Classical Bookworm, How to move a Blog from Typepad to Blogger
Mashable, Blogger finally allows Imports and Exports and the link to the Blogger Help Page
Embracing Chaos, Escaping from Typepad to Wordpress
FolioVision, Moving from Typepad to Wordpress 


Last week was dominated by the news of the Queensland floods and there has been flooding in Northern New South Wales and Victoria too. Much of the news has been heartbreaking, particularly from the Lockyer valley which was described as an inland tsunami. Imagine being in one room of your house and then without any warning, a wall of water rips the next room away. With members of your family in it. Or being trapped in a car. Or your baby being washed from your arms. Awful. Just absolutely awful. Three quarters of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone. Around the state, many people have been evacuated, their homes underwater or cut off by floodwaters.
suburban Brisbane
Brisbane houses under water 
It is sobering to think that Brisbane, a capital city has been so severely affected. The CBD has been flooded and power and services cut to many homes. There have been ripple affects as crucial businesses such as the fresh food markets are flooded. Power went out as substations flooded and in many flooded homes the power cannot be reconnected until an electrician certifies that it is safe. In my work, many offices and call centres were closed. The list of affected post codes is stunningly long. Our office has been even busier and the queues during the day have been even longer as people can't get through on the usual online or call centre services. Last week we started  helping process disaster payments after work. The rain was pounding on the roof and although I knew it wouldn't flood here, it added a poignancy to the little snippets of personal information in the claims. It felt good to be paying the money out. I know that some my colleagues will be going to work in the affected areas, just like they did after the bush fires. Hopefully every little bit helps.
Wimmera region

Now Victoria is facing a flood event that has been described as one of the worst in history. Melbourne hasn't been affected directly, indeed mostly the weather has been fine here. But given the intensity of the current La Nina event, who knows what will happen. It's certainly the wettest summer I can remember for over a decade. We're well into January and the grass shows no sign of browning off.  But although all the green is pretty, agriculture has been badly hit and I think we can expect increases in the cost of food. Not to mention all the infrastructure that will need to be rebuilt. And homes too. Coming two years after the fires, seems like the natural disasters are flying thick and fast.  

To help out  donate to the: 
Make it Perfect - crafty bloggers auctioning items for the Queensland flood appeal,

in which I learn my first css

Oh I know, the thrill. I wanted to have my sidebar align right. It's been bugging me for a couple of days and you wouldn't think that it would matter but it does to me. This pattern of words coming out from a spine reminds me of a quilt I'd like to make one day. Indeed just the other night I was lying bed thinking blog, quilt, blog, quilt and slowly drifting into sleep.

tony on the table

At first I thought that you would need to add html code to the blog directly but the new template designer allows you to add css over the top, which is a far less risky business because you can see what it will look like before you commit to it.

To add the code, you go to >template designer  >advanced  >add css - it's the last option after changing the font colours etc.   This is the code I added:
.sidebar ul

It took me a couple of nights of searching through the blogger help and getting the idea of what things might be called. And a little bit of trial and error. And if I don't like it later, it's very easy to take out. Hee, hee. I quite enjoyed learning that.

blog design update, or I'm going to bore you senseless with the details

It's hot in the study and I'm somewhat sticky and recovering from the after effects of a very pleasant evening last night. Grace also had a sleepover after a latish dinner in the park and is collapsed in front of the television. She won't nap and I've had it with the whinging. So I'm in here fussing and fiddling with the new blog design. I've just undone a couple of nights of work but I'm ever so pleased with myself. I love the new blogger template designs because you can have a nice wide, fixed width blog page and customize the design. I dislike fluid width designs, as I think they look like crap on a big screen and one has to enjoy reading their own blog, right? But the problem with the link bars on the new blogger templates is that you can only link to the pages you generate, not to say pages and external sites. Which is annoying if you want to use it to link to your ravelry profile etc. So I downloaded and applied this template - deleted all my widgets, the flickr html badge, the blog list etc. But I don't like this template as much as I used to - the post column isn't quite wide enough for a picture 640px wide and links in the posts are underlined (which I know is good for accessibility reasons but I prefer to have them bolded and a pixel larger). So I decided that I could live without the links bar. But much to my delight, once I applied the new blogger template over the top, the link bar stayed. Yay! It was worth it after all.


rainy streets

The other issue I have with the new blogger design templates is that you can't have a different link colour in the sidebar and in the post. Or specify that the links in the posts are bold or underlined. Which makes them hard to pick. So I have been mucking about with the febooti color picker to find a shade that I like. In the end I went with a very dark version of the red in the header. The text is actually a very, very dark brown. Although black works for me too. Oh decisions, decisions. I have also been wondering whether I should migrate all my blogs to a different account, to completely let go of the muppinstuff identity. But I think I won't. I can't change my flickr url anyway. Although I will change my username I think. Oooh still so much to do.

happy new year!

I'm writing this in secret, from my new blog location rather than updating the old typepad blog and then having to move it across. I'm liking this new blog space, all the pictures look sparkly and new somehow. Moving from typepad to blogger is something that I've been meaning to do for ages and rather than make yet another resolution, I decided to crack the shits and do it. And as it might be a while before the new blog is open for business and I have things to record, well I thought I'd just keep going here. Not there. Which may well be gone by the time you read this.

on the train

the big bunny

Today I went back to work after a short break and the cousins went home. As always it was fabulous to see them but what is it with these visits? Someone always seems to get sick. Last visit I ended up in hospital overnight with my gallbladder and  this visit both Betty and Ruby-lee had awful  feverish colds. Poor things. Ruby-lee in particular who moopled out in the pusher on a daytrip to the city. She seemed OK on the way in but by the middle of the day she was spent.


moonlight cinema for the kids

We spent new years's eve at Mim's again and it was truly lovely. Again I think Ruby-lee would have loved it too if she'd been her usual bouncy self. There was lots of jumping on the trampoline, a kid cinema, sparklers, glow sticks and fireworks all around the neighbourhood. Indeed, I think our court might put on a bigger show than docklands. We watched from afar but the new neighbours said it was quite something. Maybe we should have a party next year. I came home with Grace shortly after midnight and there was cars and people and more doof doof than earthcore. But then an hour later, most of the carloads of youngsters had gone, the music was at a reasonable level and the boom boom boys were sweeping the court clean of all the paper from the fireworks.