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My 'Kilburnlad in Retirement' blog has closed

In 2008, when I retired, I started a blog on the Blogger platform. It was to be a record of what I got up to with my new-found freedom. At one point it became very eclectic but over time it ended up being almost entirely dedicated to film reviews. In October 2016 I decided to stop posting to it, and I migrated the film reviews to this site, where my fishing diary had moved previously, and where my more recent golf diary is based. Put simply, kilburnlad.net was to become my web presence.


I left the Blogger site frozen at October 2016 but did set up some feeds from this site, namely this blog, the fishing diary and the film reviews. I was reluctant to delete the Retirement blog as it contained some nostalgic posts, and so things have remained. But the time has now come to say goodbye to what is now a little-viewed blog. To ease my 'loss' I researched the possibility of archiving the content. Blogger allows you to download a backup in the form of an XML file, but in its raw form it's quite intractable. I looked to see if there was any way to open the file in a viewable form, but drew a blank. But there were other options.


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A tidy study with a new desk

Since moving here in 2004 my little study has slowly been accumulating more and more stuff. The time had arrived for a good sort out. At the same time I wanted to try to add another small desk. The main desk is dedicated to my iMac, a MacBook, a second screen and a scanner, leaving me no desk space upon which to do written work. The dining room table had thus become a second work station. In January I found an ideal small desk at Made.com, who quoted an extremely long delivery, namely March. This, however, wasn't an issue, as it gave me ample time to sort out the study, which wasn't a bad thing as it turned out.


Leonie Desk

The desk arrived this week and I must say that it was worth the wait. It's constructed from solid oak; not a bit of veneer or particle board to be seen. I could hardly lift the box when it arrived, resorting to 'walking it' from the hall into the kitchen/diner. Fortunately the removable drawer and desktop lightened the load somewhat when it came to fitting the four legs, the only self-assembly required; each requiring just two engineering screws.


I am now feeling very organised after having been in a state of literally falling over things before I started. It's a good feeling. Now I need only to keep things this way!



Site images now warehoused

Over the past few weeks I have been rather laboriously warehousing the images on this site. I use the RapidWeaver web building application that allows you to add images and format them. However, the result is that the RapidWeaver project file grows and grows. Warehousing resolves this issue by storing the images on the web server and using embedded links to call each image as required. There are an enormous number of third party add-ons for RapidWeaver and many include the option to warehouse any images. For example, my photography pages are built with the Nick Cates Photo Stack and use warehousing. However, the basic blog page in RapidWeaver cannot be significantly enhanced with third party add-ons, which leaves you with the need to format the image position on the page, requiring some code.


Image warehouse

My challenge, therefore, was to modify the three sections of this site that use the basic RapidWeaver blog page, namely my film reviews, the golf diary and the long-standing fishing diary that dates back to 2003. The film reviews weren't too bad to modify, as most have only one image, which is centred. Similarly with the golf diary. I only needed one piece of code to sort out most of the formatting in these cases. But the fishing diary was a different matter. Many entries have multiple images and even before I started, the layouts of the individual reports weren't that attractive, with images stacked one above another down the page. This was the time to improve things.


In the end, after browsing forums for tips, I put together code for placing images to the right of the page with wrapped text, which was a suitable solution for the majority of the entries. More of a challenge was placing images side by side with suitable spacing, but after a bit more research I achieved this as well. And I learnt some new things along the way, including the use of the new HTML5 <FIGURE> and <FIGCAPTION> tags. Modifying all the diary entries was a slow process but it's now all done and I think they look much better than before.


The fact that all images are warehoused shouldn't affect the viewing of the site, although in some cases there may be a slight delay as the image loads, during which the ALT TEXT should show. And my project file is now 16MB, down from 115MB.



New theme for Kilburnlad site - and more!

This site is built in Rapidweaver, an application that takes all the hard work out of web site creation. It comes with predesigned themes and there is also a burgeoning third party developer market that offers not only themes but add-ons for a wide range of specialised functions. I referred briefly to this in my previous blog post in which I described my efforts in adding a 'read more' function to some text-heavy pages. One feature of Rapidweaver is the ability easily to change the theme, while in theory everything else stays the same. But in my case I wanted to tidy up the file structure of the site so that I could implement cruftless links, and doing this led to a range of problems.


My previous theme was Navigator by Elixir Graphics. I have been using Elixir's themes for a long while and find the customer support superb. However, Navigator was a little unusual in that if you wanted a sub-menu structure, by design the parent page didn't display. This meant that in the breadcrumb trail, for example, the parent page was greyed-out, requiring you to go back to the main side menu to reach another of sub-menu options. The screen shot below explains it better than words:


Navigator menu structure


A little while ago I bought the BANX theme from Henk Vrieselaar (Tsooj Media) to build a site for my daughter, and I found it to be very flexible with the author providing a range of code customisations for additional features or tweaks to appearance. Henk has since dropped out of the Rapidweaver market and his catalogue is now managed by Will Woodgate at Stacks4Stacks. I decided to use the BANX theme for this site.



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Synchronising 'On My Mac' mail between computers

I have a large archive of old Mail messages filed in mailboxes 'On My Mac', as distinct from those messages that remain synchronised through the active IMAP accounts. For a long while now I've been rather laboriously keeping my MacBook up to date with the 'On My Mac' archive on my iMac. In earlier versions of Mail I was able occasionally to copy the entire Mail folder from one to the other but with the latest version of Mail this fails. I have, therefore, been flagging on my iMac the messages I copy into the archive and then occasionally moving these flagged messages from the live IMAP accounts into the equivalent archive on the MacBook. There had to be a better way.


Last weekend I took the plunge and created a copy of the iMac archive on iCloud, while at the same time doing some housekeeping to remove messages that were no longer worth keeping. This took quite a few hours as I moved the messages mailbox by mailbox. My archive has quite a number of mailboxes for different categories of message, as well as child mailboxes under some of these, further categorising the content.


On My Mac & iCloud archives


Having done this I can now copy a message to the relevant archive mailbox on my iMac and then immediately move the message into the corresponding mailbox on iCloud. The added bonus is that not only can I access these messages on my MacBook from iCloud, but I can now also access them from my iPad and iPhone. It was a bit of a chore to set it up but this should save me quite a lot of time going forward and also means that when I choose to take only my iPad on a trip, I can still get to my archived messages.


DDoS episode over? Let's hope so

Following my previous post the DDoS situation deteriorated. What started on Monday evening wasn't over for me until the early hours of this Friday morning. It seems that initial attempts by the hosting company to move data to another server didn't deter the DDoS. It decided, therefore, to bring forward a planned migration of the data to a new data store, which was originally due to happen later this month. While this was all going on this Kilburnlad site was effectively down, as were others I manage. If you tried to visit the site you probably received an error message, although there were brief periods when it was functioning in between the various attempts to resolve the issue.


Such a long interruption to web hosting services is very rare and I'm sorry if this caused any confusion when trying to follow links to me from other sites. We're now in a settling down period and let's hope that with the data now moved to an upgraded server things will be more robust going forward.


Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS) on host server

Apologies to anybody visiting kilburnlad.net or my old blog on Google Blogger yesterday evening, as you will undoubtedly either have been met with no response, or an error message. My hosting company suffered a DDoS attack on the server that hosts my sites. This is the first time that this has happened since I signed up with them in 2010 and, of course, it was hardly their fault if some miscreants decided to bring down the server. Fingers crossed that this won't happen again.


Adding a text search facility to a website page

Sometimes what you think is going to be the easiest of tasks proves to be much more complicated than you could have imagined. On my site I have film reviews and have created a separate page that lists all the reviews alphabetically. I thought it would be useful to include a search facility to assist visitors to find a specific film, something that will become more and more useful and the listing increases in size. We are told that computers are great at performing text searches so I expected to find a solution without too much of a problem. I was wrong.


The site is built with RapidWeaver, so the obvious first port of call was to look at add-on stacks for the Stacks page system. I soon found cleanSearch by 1LD (one little designer), advertised as 'Search bar for finding terms on a single page', which on the face of it seemed just what I wanted. Unfortunately I didn't take enough care reading the tutorial, and having bought the stack found that what it in fact does is search within each stack on the page, bringing any stack containing the search term to the top. This was no use to me as it would require each of what are already over 150 listings each to be placed in a separate stack. The effort of doing this and maintaining it as additional films were listed were not justified.



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Photo galleries updated

I've been at home for a few days because of a bit of gastric trouble, which has meant no golf and a bit of time to do other things. In between developing an update to my daughter's web site I've managed to finish the first phase of the photo galleries pages here at Kilburnlad. I had shown placeholders for some of the categories but these have now gone. There is one further task outstanding, which is to add photographs from our visits to France in 2012 and 2014, but for now I'm going to have a bit of respite from what is quite a laborious exercise.


Photography pages updated

I've been working quite hard on the photography galleries over the past week and have today published the latest updates. When I embarked on this exercise I didn't realise how long it would take to review my archives, or how difficult it would be to choose a representative selection for each gallery. Even deciding what galleries to create was quite a challenge. I think I have now formulated the final layout, although a number of the galleries are at this stage shown simply with place markers while I assimilate and process the content.


I've tried to make the presentation as flexible as possible. By using warehoused rather than embedded images I have been able to create a Gallery overview page with a thumbnail for each specific gallery, which launches a light box slide show. Below each of these thumbnails are links to either a thumbnail view of the complete gallery, or a narrative page that provides information about the gallery as well as a thumbnail to launch the light box.


This has taken up quite a bit of my time and I must now catch up with some other activities. But over the coming weeks I hope gradually to add more content.


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