Changes hinted at (or perhaps more accurately, quietly announced) in January have been ambling along slowly.
Good job I don’t have a boss looking over my shoulder.
Some interesting items sprang up, and I’ve found myself drawn in a little more than I’d like to be at the moment, and spent more time than intended. On the other hand, quite a lot of that was down to new info regarding the Measured Miles found on the Clyde, so I can’t really complain, or beat myself up for lack of discipline.
Poking around the code for the ‘new’ up to date forum showed that someone has written some integration for it, which links it with the same code used for our Wiki. While I have yet to look at the detail, this might prove useful, but I can’t tell until I’ve installed and run it, to see how it works, as the documentation is sparse to say the least. Maybe next month.
Quite a few new pages/subjects have been added (no, I didn’t count, deliberately), and let me clear out a lot of ‘pending’ tabs I have had open in Firefox for ages. Firefox’s ability to handle ridiculous numbers of tabs without hysterics unfortunately leads to bad habit, but I’ve managed to go from a daily total varying between 300 and 400 tabs, to a maximum of around 50. Maybe the headaches will stop as well, since I don’t have to remember up to 400 tab contents!
As per last month, I looked at some of the links that are automatically formed in the Wiki, based on the location of subjects and dependent on processing their lat/lon, or Grid Reference. Some still work, but others are broken, as the sites they point to have change the format of their search urls. It’s not a huge problem, but it can get a little bit complicated, and I need to brush up my dormant
More serious is the change to Google Maps and their API. The good news is that they kindly detect and convert out old API coding and serve a ‘new’ version which still places the map on out page. The bad news is that there’s no guarantee this will always be on offer. And since we have some really old version 1 code on a page, we know that is dead. The good news is that there is ‘new’ map option available to add to the Wiki, but so far I have not been able to look closely enough at it to see if installing it will kill the existing maps – a problem, since each page’s map is unique, and the point/lines are written for each page.
So far, I’ve been able to maintain my own discipline and keep the Blog fresh with at least one new daily post.
I’m not short of material, but sometimes finding the time to write the post is not easy.
I’ve also come across some issues (in the news) that I’d like to raise, but past experience shows these turn into so-called ‘Long Reads’ and I don’t think I can afford the time to do the research needed to do them justice. Maybe later.
And I have one other blog idea I’m trying to get underway, not suited for including here, which I still haven’t finalised.
Still interested in anything anyone who is reading or referring to any part of the site has to say or suggest.
The ‘Comments area’ below is not going away.
January has been interesting, as I deliberately avoided getting drawn into anything that developed in the Forum, and the temptation of adding to any existing subjects as I came across anything relevant.
While the idea is not to abandon this, I need to divert my time and use it better – I’d also hoped my lack of continued input might stimulate one or two others into activity, rather than just have most input raised by me
One of the sad things seen in the logs is that while many members keep visiting and reading Forum material, they seem unwilling to either contribute to the content, or start any new discussions or threads. Why?
Some years have passed since the writer of the Forum code gave up and abandoned the project. While I should have replaced it long ago it works, and I liked the apparent immunity it had to being hacked. Unfortunately, the same could not be said about its resistance to spam bot registrations. Things got so bad (over 1,000 bot registrations every week) registration had to be closed and made available only by email request.
Not a good idea, and the few who took up the option never become active.
A new Forum package has been trialled, and would have been installed earlier but for the lack of a reliable import routine for the old Forum. After wasting time looking into this option, it’s simply not an option, so now it’s just a case of actually installing and setting it up, then waiting to see if any interest is shown. Bearing in mind that while people will be able to register with little fuss… it will be empty!
Unfortunately, messing around with the old Forum has diverted time from the Wiki, leading to much material being accumulated but not incorporated, so the plan is to start adding new material whenever possible. This has already started, as noted recently when the content finally managed to pass the 1,000 page milestone.
It may be me, or the way search engines are tuned these days, but the pool of interesting (‘secret’?) material seems to be diminishing. One sad sign of this is the number of links given as references in many of our Wiki pages – revisiting these returns a depressing number of ‘Dead Links’ when they are clicked, showing that the source is gone, or has moved.
On the other hand, the media has become so desperate to attract ‘clicks’, many sources now seem to have employed staff to provide articles of lesser known local historic interest (with absolutely nothing at all to do with ‘news’), which has become a handy source of material.
One demotivating aspect has been the loss of a number of ‘official’ links, by which I mean National/Government/Council online resources that provide historic records and data. While these were expected to remain reliable, many have changed url formats and ‘permalinks’, rendering such links useless, and defeating coding written into the wiki that was able to form these links automatically.
While this is not actually unexpected or uncommon, one would expect reference sites to be more considerate.
Like many others, I find this sort of rework irritating, and the motivation is low, as there is no guarantee that having revised the code, the source will not change again, and trash it.
Not a lot to say about this, other than offer thanks to those who take the time to share some of their pics with SeSco.
The range of material is intriguing, and continues to inspire.
Twitter is the only aspect of so-called ‘social media’ we touch (don’t expect any of the other creepy options to appear), largely because we joined up when it was new and unheard of, and because the posts are largely automated.
That will just carry on as before since it takes minimal effort.
Seeing a lot of irrelevant material online made me worry about this Blog, intended to allow non-core material to be raised, and I worried about similar mindless ‘belly-rumbling’ drivel appearing here, and stopped blogging.
I’d also begun to produce so-called ‘Long Reads’, which simply take too long to produce, especially as I like to (at least try) to do decent research and be accurate. Another reason I stopped, to try to win back some time for better things.
I tried to run under PaD (Post a Day) rules a few years back, and enjoyed it until circumstances forced me to abandon the attempt. The benefit of this is the discipline it takes, forcing the writer into shorter and more concise posts, and manage time better.
I hope to get back to this.
I also hope/intend to take more pics and use them for posts. I’ve spent some time working on low light photography now that a decent dSLR can allow this to be carried out handheld, minus the need for a tripod (or flash). Even with a slow zoom lens I can now get pics that would simply have been impossible in the days of film, and thanks to large sensor tech have no noise (worth speaking of) in all but the most extreme (darkest) situations, unlike the grain that plagued such pics with film, not to mention the colour failure of that medium too. And, unlike film (with days of processing), I get to do all my own, minutes after the pic is taken.
My one regret is knowing I will never be able to afford genuinely ‘fast’ glass – I made the mistake of looking, and found it would cost at least FOUR times the cost of my dSLR body alone.
Anything reasonable to suggest for adding to or changing SeSco?
There is a ‘Comment area’ waiting below…
While there are some technical issues regarding the way pages in the Wiki are counted, I noticed that it has finally passed through the 1,000 page ‘barrier’.
I had really expected this milestone to be passed years ago, but as always, Life, The Universe, and Everything seemed to decide they were going to get together and conspire to make sure I wasn’t going to reach it any time soon, despite having loads of material to add.
For those who have been ‘naughty’ and not looked at the Wiki, here it is:
Because of the aforementioned issue regarding how pages are counted, it’s hard to be accurate or definitive about the total, and I’m not really even sure if I should refer to ‘pages’ or ‘articles’. This is because pages can be cross-referenced to be served under different names (handy if a subject has more than one common name by which it is referred to), and because some pages contain pages, or page content, injected from other pages, if this is felt necessary to make them more complete. However, I have tended to avoid this tool as it may help the page, but make life and maintenance unnecessarily complex. These days, I tend to go with the rule of making one page belong to one subject, and deal only with it, making reference to other pages/articles only as needed.
Will the count ever reach 2,000?
It’s been an irritating week (or two, to be more accurate).
First, I found that my browser was ignoring clicks made anywhere near the left side of the screen.
Then, hampered by that limited access to navigating around the screen environment, I noticed that something was taking my web hosting down.
It took a week to find and resolve the cause of the browser problem, and that meant the best part of two weeks passed before any headway was made with our apparent hosting problem, and while we haven’t been able to fix it, we can at least keep the site up, and maintain the Wiki, which is really our main resource.
The Forum has run substantially without problems since 2008, although it started some years before that, I mention that date since that was the last time its code was updated, and development came to an end. Problems usually arise from changes and bugs introduced with them, so with no changes… we don’t expect problems to appear.
A couple of weeks ago, our whole domain went down, checks showed the cause appeared to be a fault with the Forum, which was starting processes that should have terminated moments later… but didn’t, meaning they consumed all our processing resources and brought everything to a halt until they were cleared.
Our host as helped as far as they can (with a problem that is not of their making) and while it was previously necessary for us to wait until they cleared this problem, they provided us with the tools to do this ourselves. This means we can put the Forum back online, and risk having it kill our processes (and take our whole domain down), since we can clear the problem ourselves, instead of waiting to have the host do it in response to a service request.
Shameless plug for these guys (they really are patient and helpful): Dream Hosting
(Incidentally, this is a UK host, NOT to be confused with US hosts having similar names. I feel I have to make the distinction since the American hosts seem to get poor reviews in the support area for my forum code.)
It’s not possible to determine the future of the Forum at this point.
If no reason for the stuck processes can be found and corrected, then the Forum cannot remain in use, since its failure takes down the whole SeSco domain and any sites hosted in the same web space.
However, with no queries from the membership regarding its disappearance along with the rest of the domain, there seems to be insufficient interest or concern to make it worth the effort of its maintenance, given the time spent not on its content, but of keeping it clear of spambots.
I will be working on the Forum, since it links to matching articles in the Wiki, and we have a fairly comprehensive section on Rudolf Hess’s flight to Scotland in May 1941, which has even been noticed by authors writing on the subject.
But I won’t be in any particular rush, as this problem has already put me the best part of two weeks behind with more important tasks, so they have to be tended to as well.
As always, comments can be left below.
One of my more irritating colleagues was prone to repeatedly spouting the same few euphemisms over and over again, but that didn’t necessarily reduce their relevance – although it increased his irritation rating.
He loved to bend over people’s work if they were having problems and say “You know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result!”
I reached a self-imposed limit for one such function today, as I reviewed the 1,000th automated spam registration in our Forum.
Thanks to Stop Forum Spam (SFS) this problem was reduced to one of manageable proportion a year or two back, leaving us with only 4 or 5 such registration to deal with in the course of a whole week.
Now, having noted that we were only about 40 spam registrations away from out 1,000th on Sunday night, we have already blown through that number, and are only at Tuesday lunchtime.
Since each successful spam registration really needs to be shared with SFS by entering the details into their database, each takes a few minutes to deal with.
While I don’t mind taking the time to do this if it is effective, and helps others, the spammers have just reached a steady attack level where the law of diminishing returns takes over, and there’s no benefit. I spend all my time checking notification and deleting data – on top of updating SFS. This is supposed to SAVE time being wasted, not add to it.
While they can’t post spam, they are still registering in the Forum until identified and logged as spammers, and they seem to have a near infinite pool of invented or hijacked identities and IP to fall back on, no matter how many are barred – and SFS reports 66,112,977 in its database. A big number, but tiny in terms of spammer numbers.
Manual registration by request only
So, sad to say that as of today, 3rd February 2014, Forum registration is only going to be possible by emailing the Admin, rather than filling in the registration form and merely waiting for approval (if you are a Good Guy, at least.)
Pleased to say that things have made it to the end of January 2013.
Various little niggling problems and irritations had been making things look as if things might be curtailed on the site, but such things have calmed down.
We mysteriously lost the Aerial view section of all our Wiki pages more than a year ago, with no apparent reason. Coincidentally, this appeared to tie in with a code update, so we thought this might fix itself, but no luck, even after a number of updates. We eventually appealed to the coder, a silly mistake was unearthed, and the views have now been restored.
Unfortunately, a number of the optional views have changed coding, and are now broken, so this will have to be looked at.
More serious was the potential loss of the embedded map on our Wiki pages. Google closed down the old V1 and V2 APIs behind this as V3 was adopted, which could have killed the map. Fortunately, Google saw fit to add a conversion layer which allows V2 code to carry on working under V3I. So far, our maps appear to be working fine under this option – actually even better than before thanks to the additional facilities that come with the latest API, but it is a fudge, and we will have to try to get around to reworking this code into proper V3.
Various problem put the forum at risk – and an amnesty on some problem members ended. They’re banned from returning, so closing an unfortunate and unnecessary chapter.
The Forum has been configured so that most of its content can be read without having to register/join, a step only needed if readers wish to post something.
The increasingly sneaky ways spammers, and spambots aided by humans, are now able to get into forums means that the option to join automatically will no longer be offered. In order to join, a real person will have to send an email request to the Admin. While we had been having success with an option known as Stop Forum Spam, spammers altered their attack method slightly and were still able to register false memberships, although SFS still blocked the vast majority. While these can never post spam as they are never approved, they still fill the Forum’s member database with false accounts.
We’re about to delete the 1,oooth spam registration, at which point we’ll be turning off automatic registration. Spending only 1 minute (and in reality longer) on each means 1,000 minutes or 16 hours wasted, and it’s just silly to keep on doing this. Each successful spam registration has to manually deleted from the membership database, the registration database, and also entered into the SFS database to prevent its return. SFS prevents hundreds of these entries every weeks, but while we were down to two or three beating the system every few days, the sheer volume of attacks has seen this rise to ten or more a day, and that could mean dealing with up to 4,000 unwanted registrations over a year. It’s too much time wasted for nothing.
Notably, when automated registration was turned off for a few weeks (for a Christmas holiday) I suddenly found I had more time to spare, and was able to tackle things I had not managed to get around to previously.
The blog will hopefully revert to being the Admin’s prerogative to write about anything, not restricted to the core activity of the site in the same way as the Wiki, or the public side of the Forum. Things went a little awry with the Blog for various reasons about halfway through 2013, and just never recovered.
It would be nice if the odd wander around the east end of Glasgow (or Glasgow city when I can make it) continued to produce sufficient material to photograph and write about, but I worry about recent moves to “tidy” the area and the city, leading to much of the less well-known subjects being razed and shovelled into skips simply because they are not seen as being sufficiently up-market and attractive to tourists – and their wallets.
The trouble with all this tidying in order to make things squeaky clean is that all the old artefacts are considered down-market now, and not good enough to be seen, so the chance of good historic photo-opportunities are becoming less and less, unless you are prepared to point your camera at the rubbish being created as a ‘Lasting Legacy’ in the east end, and that’s something I am not prepared to buy into.
Maybe in 10 0r 20 years I will, when it all lies derelict and abandoned – then it will be worth the effort, and a few words describing the folly of 2014.
Looks as if we have been screwed by Photobucket and their “Free” account.
Two months ago, we exceeded our bandwidth, and our account was frozen for the last few days of our monthly accounting period, but as expected, when we passed the day in the month which marked our account’s monthly period, our account was unfrozen.
This month, we are on the 14th of the month, two days past our ‘anniversary’ of the 12th… and out pictures are have still not been restored.
I’ve checked our account report and usage, and it says we have exceeded our bandwidth, yet the accounting period was barely a day old when I checked.
As I noted last month, although I say “we” exceeded out bandwidth, it would be more accurate to say out account’s bandwidth was exceeded thank to some unidentified bandwidth thieves who have stolen images from our Photobucket account.
Our own use has been a fraction of the allowed amount each month, and always well within the allocation.
We’ve had images stolen in this way before, but since Photobucket no longer allows free account users to see any image statistics, we can no longer identify the images concerned and deny them to the thieves.
Thanks for the “improved” service when you were bought over Photobucket!
I knew I should have started getting out then, as I am sure a Murdoch organisation was involved in the deal.
Again, we can only apologise for something outwith our control.
As noted previously, we have hosted thousands of images over the past years using Photobucket, so there is no “Quick Fix”.
While we have been given the space and bandwidth to do all our own image hosting on our own servers, where we can kill hotlinking and image theft, we can’t move thousands of images there overnight, and it will take years to do, a few at a time.
We can only wait and see of someone at Photobucket gets generous, or wakes up, and turns out images back on.
Until then, get used to seeing a lot more of this instead of the images we spent many hours making available for you:
And here’s how the monthly account reset has failed to be applied, two days after it should have kicked in, and the bandwidth is just growing.
Yes, it is rather odd and alarming that it should be almost 3 Gb past the 10 Gb allowance, and that it did click up from 12.8 Gb to 12.9 Gb while I was looking at it.
Rather suggests a fault to me – maybe ties in with the failed reset?
3 days late, but after I had a polite word via their ‘Contact’ option, the pics eventually re-appeared almost 24 hours later.
I have to be fair, and add that I later received an apology from one of the Photobucket techs, so they don’t just ignore you when you squeak, which is nice given the comments some other services get.
He admitted they had suffered a glitch with their bandwidth management, now fixed.
I’m leaving this post in place though, since I do still have an issue I cannot solve, and that is down to Photobucket, since they withdrew the stats option from the free hosting option.
It’s been a while since I referred to a Recommendation that Scottish families get access to road death reports.
Briefly, there is currently no guarantee that families get access to such reports, and although rectified, there have been cases of them being charged for such reports, rather than just supplied with them as a matter of procedure. This is done abroad.
A public consultation on a members’ bill which aims to radically overhaul Scotland’s Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) system has now been announced
The MP behind this said the current system for investigating sudden and accidental deaths was “not fit for purpose”.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the consultation on her Inquiries into Deaths (Scotland) Bill, Patricia Ferguson said:
“Unfortunately I have witnessed first-hand the devastation caused to families following the death of a loved one by the woeful system we have in place to carry out a fatal accident inquiry.
“After suffering the trauma and heartache of losing a family member in sudden or unexplained circumstances it surely should not be too much to ask that the process for investigating this death does not cause further agony and grief.
“As my consultation highlights, there are many families who have had to fight the system – sometimes for many years – just to be granted the right for an FAI to be heard.
“I hope that through this consultation, we will create the foundations for a new system which will address these serious issues and provide a mechanism which allows families to understand what happened, why it happened and feel reassured that provisions are being made to prevent it happening again to someone else.”
The consultation will run until November 22, 2013.
The Scottish government said it was committed to bringing forward its own bill to implement the recommendations of Lord Cullen’s Review of the Fatal Accident Inquiry Legislation “within the lifetime of this Parliament“. A spokeswoman said: “Some of these recommendations were addressed to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and have already been implemented, including the establishment of a Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit.”
The proposal can be seen here:
For the second month in a row, bandwidth thieves stealing images from SeSco have led to the temporary closure of our (free) Photobucket image hosting account.
While this is not Photobucket’s fault, and I can’t complain or hold it responsible of the actions of thieving scum, I still can’t let Photobucket off without criticism.
Although sold on by one of Rupert Murdoch’s tainted acquisitions (I should have bailed as soon as his talons dig into the good old original), it has lost a lot of its original simplicity and usefulness.
As noted when we got booted last month: Flickr anguish matched by Photobucket apathy – and our pics are offline for now « Secret Scotland the service has long since lost its image statistics from its free hosting option. While we were able to identify stolen images a few years ago, and could remove them from the account, ‘new’ Photobucket has deleted stats from free accounts, making it impossible for images which have unusually high traffic to be identified and removed to break the thieves’ link.
So, with no way of identifying the offending pic, we can only wait until the account resets, and the pics return.
This will not happen until the 12th of the month. Until then, you’ll just have to enjoy these:
Much as I’d like to say I can fix this soon, that’s not the case.
There are thousands of pics in out Photobucket account, and the problem could be with any one, or more, of them.
Without stats, it’s impossible to find out which have been stolen, so it can/will be months before we hit the right one as we remove all out pics from Photobucket.
While I am pleased to confirm that our pics as hosted on Photobucket (for free, as per our available budget run the Secret Scotland web site), it remains to be seen how long they stay for.
As noted in the update about the disappearance of most of our pics, since Photobucket no longer provide individual stats showing which pics are being served, and out own use of the account’s limited bandwidth has always been well within the allowed limit, this means there’s no way to identify which image(s) may be eating the bandwidth, and has clearly been stolen since we’re not using it.
Although a new hosting deal means I can now host and serve all our images from our own web space, this is not a lot of help as Photobucket already has thousands of our pics online, so moving them to our own host – and changing all the image urls – is a major job. And not one I can undertake in a hurry, if ever.
While all new imagery uploaded this year is on our servers, and should not disappear, I’m afraid any hiccups with Photobucket will just have to be endured.
While I gripe at Photobucket for removing the stats service, it’s not their fault that out bandwidth is exceeded and the account gets suspended. Assuming it is not actually down to a surge in our popularity, then it is down to some dirty little thieving scumbag who is using our images from out account, and not re-hosting them – which is allowed, given our general site licence.
Guess we’ll find out in 3-4 weeks, if the pics get cut off again.
While I don’t use Flickr myself, I do provide a pool for images of Scotland to be shared, so the recent pain that regular users suffered when Flickr’s masters decided it was going to change, and that they weren’t going to listen to the views of its members, did not escape me.
I happen to agree with the users who were up in arms at the changes enforced on them, and that the new Flickr is rubbish compared to that which went before. In fact, when discussing management now, I use Flickr as an example of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” I’m sad to see a number of former users have actually left, justifiably aggrieved at being snubbed when they tried to contact Flickr
I mention this because I use Photobucket, and have thousands of images there, used to support the pages in Secret Scotland. I chose Photobucket as it is built to share images on web pages, unlike Flickr, which is/was a different product.
Photobucket has worked well over the years, and even when it was bought over and began to change, and changed, the changes made no real difference to the basic free hosting I use, so I didn’t bother too much. Notably, I don’t recall any mass hysteria, or even mild moaning, when these changes took place.
However… It seems there was one I missed.
While I’m not generally interested how many views a pic gets,old Photobucket did offer statistics which showed pic views, and I did use this to find stolen or hotlinked pics taken from my account. This is bandwidth theft, since it uses my limited bandwidth on a free account. Using the stats, I could break the thieves’ links.
But Photobucket quietly lost its statistics – so I can’t identify stolen hotlinked pics. Statistics are not even mentioned in Photobucket’s Help system.
So, since I can no longer identify which pics have been stolen, I can’t deal with this, which is all you see until the next accounting period starts:
I’d hate think this is not genuine, and was not some sort of ploy to make free account holders upgrade to a paid Plus account, but with not stats to refer to, I have no way of telling.
I know my own web site’s stats in terms of numbers of visitors and page views, so I know these have not increased to the extent that the pic views would have hit the Photobucket bandwidth limit. I’ve uploaded few new pics to Photobucket over the past year or so. That means I haven’t increased my demands and bandwidth significantly in the past year or two. So, it must be theft by hotlinking… or something else.
In fact, thank to changes at my own host regarding web space and bandwidth, I have not been uploading new site images to Photobucket at all, and am hosting them in my own space.
This means I have been able to make the images impossible to hotlink, and also difficult to download, steal, or do other things.
I hadn’t planned to move away from Photobucket, it work(ed) fine, but the lack of stats and inability to deal with bandwidth suspension means this will have to be added to my growing “ToDo” list.
Pics should return on or after the 12th of the month.