The sidebar of this blog is getting quite full. But it adds a bit of interest (I hope) to those stalwart souls who read right my long-winded ramblings, right the way down the page. For those who wonder what it all means (the side-bar, not the ramblings), here's a quick guided tour.
Under the standard blogger 'About me' description, is the current weather in Larnaka from Weather Underground. It's not actually the site use for my daily weather report, but it's the only one I could find with a link for blogs. I've and chosen a 'dynamic' link, which turns grey when it's cloudy and blue when it's sunny. It only updates about once an hour, but it gives an idea of what time it is here, and what the temperature is like. I even set it to show Fahrenheit temperatures as well as Celcius, since I know there are some who read this from the USA.
Directly underneath is my search box from Atomz, which is now known as Websidestory. I'm glad I used this facility on other sites when it was still Atomz, as I would never have guessed from the new front page of the site that it provided such a useful utility. The free edition only searches up to 500 pages, and this blog is over 250 already, but perhaps in another year or so Blogger's own search-this-blog facility (currently located in the top left of the screen) will work a bit faster and better.
Links to the last three family Christmas newsletters are self-explanatory, as are the links to my other blogs, and other family sites.
Under those is one of my new favourite features - a link to our book collection, courtesy of Bibliophil. I discovered this wonderful site via Methodius's blog. I still haven't finished entering our books, but enjoy putting a few more in each day. There are one or two bugs in the site but things seem to get fixed when they're reported, and I like the simple, plain interface. Bibliophil allows me to find out which other users share similar collections, read brief reviews, and even add Google-style 'labels' to each of my books, so I can quickly find - say - all the recipe books, or all the Christian books. I can enter the dates when I read books, write reviews, and allocate rates. I can also have 'buddies' although I'm not quite sure what value this has. Best of all, it's entirely free with no limits.
Under my book collection link, is the newest feature - random photos from Flickr. This is a site where I can upload my digital photos into an album for others to see. I actually use Directfoto for uploading photos when I want to order prints (they're so much cheaper and better quality from the UK than in Cyprus) but it takes ages to get photos there, and they don't have a facility to put random ones on a blog. I'd seen Flickr in action on Sarah's blog, and then recently read on Leonid's blog that after trying all the options, he too was opting for Flickr. I decided to try it out. Unfortunately I didn't read the instructions, which would have told me that there was only a limited amount of upload space per month, and my first ten pictures used up my limit rather quickly. . Next month I'll reduce the size of my pictures considerably, since I shan't be using them for prints. But I thought I'd try the random photos in the side anyway even though they won't change much in the first few weeks!
Under the photos are links to the books I'm currently reading - usually about four or five. I catalogue those at the Allconsuming site since it's another that allow for links to blog sidebars.
Then comes a fairly long list of other blogs I read, roughly categorised. They're not the only ones I read, but I have all these linked in Bloglines, a very useful site which I can leave open in my browser, and see at a glance what's been updated. If I turn my speakers on, I can even hear a ping when a new blog entry is added to one the ones I've subscribed to.
The previous entries in the blog are simply links to the other posts on the main page - I'm not sure how useful this is, since by the time anyone has scrolled down that far they'll have seen about half of them anyway. But it's a standard Blogger feature, as is the archive list - where you can (if you're REALLY keen) read entries from previous months.
Then comes the Google Adsense links. I'm not generally a fan of advertising, but on the whole I think Google does a good job - they're not intrusive, and they're usually applicable to the sites in question. I was, of course, attracted by the idea of my blog actually making money, although I was cynical enough to imagine it might come to about a penny a month, if that. I'm pleasantly surprised to learn that in the last three-and-a-half months my blog has actually earned a grant total of $3.85. Ahem. They pay out when the total reaches $100, but at this rate I could get there in another eight years or so...
Then there's a counter link from Blogpatrol (which I thought wonderful at first - I barely look at it now I've been blogging for over a year), a link to Blogarama, a blog directory (though I'm not sure how much it's used), a link to another counter at the Sitemeter site, installed later than the Blogpatrol one, but with publicly available interesting graphs and reports showing where readers of this blog come from around the world. And finally, after Blogger's own link, one to 'Whozontop' - and I don't even remember why I put that one in, or what it's for.
If anyone's read this far, I'd appreciate comments. Is there too much in the sidebar? Does it make the blog look messy, or does it add interest? Should I abandon Adsense? Are there other useful places to link to? All opinions welcome...