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Back to fishing & golf

After a very fallow period I've managed a few fishing trips lately and I've also managed to get back to some golf, my long-suffering back having eased somewhat over the last month or so.

So, if you're interested, check out the fishing and golf diaries.

Fishing diary lovingly modernised

My fishing diary is one of the longest standing parts of my website and has not really changed in format since I first started it. I use RapidWeaver to build my sites and while the main application has been updated a number of times over the years, the blog page that facilitated my diary has not been treated to any major changes. These days most serious Weavers don't rely on the base application but enhance it using an add-on named Stacks. This add-on has spawned a cottage industry of different stacks, these also being add-ons that are usually aimed at specific enhancements to the base application. This has brought with it alternative options for blog pages and I have used a stack named Poster to rebuild my diary.

The main advantage is that whereas with the original blog page one could only enter text and embed images or videos, with the Poster stack one can add other special purpose stacks to the page. In my case I have used a gallery stack to present images in a light box. So whereas my original diary had small embedded images, the reworked diary now allows the reader to view larger images by selecting thumbnails.

To get to this point I had to create a totally new server repository of the images, requiring me to go back to the original photographs to create suitably sized versions along with accompanying thumbnails, a labour of love. I then had to build the new blog one post at a time, transferring the text over and configuring links to every photograph and its accompanying thumbnail. Truly a labour of love. But now it's done, so if you want to have a look, feel free.


Redesigned Film Search page

I've redesigned the alphabetical listing for my film reviews using modal pop-ups to replace the previous show/reveal arrangement.

There is now a full alphabetical selection rather than groups of letters, each letter linking to a pop-up window displaying associated film titles.

The film titles themselves are not linked to the associated reviews, but it is straightforward to find a review by entering a relevant word from the film title into the search facility.

Film Search

I hope everybody finds this to be an improvement.

After Mojave I've given my site a dark theme

Among the new features that come with Mojave, the dark theme has perhaps been the most publicised. For years I avoided 'dark' layouts, preferring a clean white-space look. But fashions change.

The new theme compliments the original monochrome banner image and I must say that I'm quite pleased with the result. In particular, the photographs in the galleries seem to stand out more. I needed to modify some of the miscellaneous images that originally had white backgrounds. I also wanted to keep the little fisherman gif on the fishing diary page, it having been a feature from the earliest days of my site. Changing the background involved splitting the four separate images, editing them in Photoshop Elements, and then reassembling them as a new animated gif. All quite fiddly but the Picasion (http://picasion.com) site was a great help in achieving this.

I also had to rearrange this Blog and the Film Search page as the original layouts didn't work well with the new theme.


Promoting a Facebook page

I recently self-published my book French at 60, which was an education in both the effort of writing it and the complexity of then publishing. The next stage was to sell it, which I now realise is going to perhaps be the hardest part of the process.

As a first step I created a business page on my Facebook account and decided to take a ten-day promotion, which cost me £20, equivalent to selling about ten books based on my royalty payments. I wasn't overly hopeful but it seemed quite an easy thing to set up. I chose an audience based on the subject, language learning, adding France as another key word and targeting an older demographic, which again fitted with the intended audience. The promise was audience reach and 'Likes', which was no doubt achieved judging by the summary of the promotion. But viewing and liking is easy, whereas meaningful engagement is not so easily achieved. From the summary below you will see that engagement was minimal. I shouldn't be surprised since Facebook is, at the end of the day, a network of fleeting engagements without real depth. It's all about 'Likes'.

And as for book sales, well you won't be surprised to learn that it appears to have driven a nice round zero!


Facebook promo



Secure the web - My sites are go!

We are being encouraged to ensure that sites have an SSL Certificate, designated by the https:// web address. Most browsers now show if a site is secure and one imagines that the time will come when non secure sites become unacceptable. Fortunately, my web hosting company, justhostme.co.uk, provides basic SSL certification for all registered domains.

I manage a site for my daughter, which I've just completely updated, while at the same time making sure it was secure, and I have a relatively new site that I created to accompany a book I'm writing, which I again built with security in mind. The main issues arose in respect of this site, kilburnlad.net, which was built a while ago, without considering the security issue.


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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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