Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Mild issues

The Blog seems to be suffering a couple of minor issues, nether is serious, but that doesn’t mean they’re not irritating, even if readers can’t really see them – I can.

They’re not only irritating, but for me, frustrating, as I can’t do anything about them.

The first seems to affect the tweeting of post as they are published. I’m not sure, but I think this occasionally fails.

I had noticed this in the past, if my finger slipped and I published an unfinished post (which I had to ‘unpublish’) – having generated the automated tweet, it did not generate a later tweet when the post was published again.

However, I’ve noticed one or two where I didn’t make this slip, but there was no tweet at the expected time, and I’ve had to jump in and do it manually. That’s fine, but it is a bit irritating as the manual tweet doesn’t show the full image if the post has one, just a thumbnail, which is a pity, and out of my hands to alter.

And then sometimes (rarely), like today, the tweets take an hour to appear! And I have to go delete my manual ones.

The second is, unfortunately, more insidious, and falls into the ‘Dirty Tricks’ category.

A filthy scammer, and I mean that literally as this person is selling fake medical crap that can kill people, is ‘Comment Spamming’ the Blog.

This means they have some sort of automated system that picks on a blog, and either post fake comments, or register as a ‘Follower’ of the blog. This trick means that they effectively bypass all spam filtering and similar safeguards, as these follows and comments don’t carry any spam.

The spam aspect come from having their dirty little web sites ‘hidden’ behind the icon that appears in the list of bloggers who ‘liked’ a post – if any visitor is curious, and clicks on their apparently genuine icon to see what that blogger is doing, they unwittingly get taken to the scum spammer’s web site, where they are pedalling their rubbish.

The worst aspect of this scam is that WordPress does nothing about, and won’t.

Having checked on how to ban or remove comment spammers or similar, they simply say something along the lines of this being public material, the idea of blogging (to attract comments/likes) and something they won’t be offering the option to delete/remove/ban.

Strange, since I see a fair number of other bloggers asking for the ability to remover commenters and likes that they don’t want associated with their blogs, or that are being a nuisance.

They really don’t seem to understand the frustration of having these people (or more likely their bots, since every one of their ‘follows’ is always double, in other words not one registration, but two within seconds of one another, and often seconds after a like) keep up their constant effort to follow our blog, and how frustrating it is to see them come back a few hours after removing them as followers.

Thanks, WordPress – that’s about as useful as the ‘Great’ new editors (like the utterly dire Gutenberg) you keep trying to get us to use instead of the ‘Classic’ editor. Ever hear of “If it ain’t broke, DON’T FIX IT”!

This one is particularly irritating to me personally.

He seems to time his ‘attacks’ just before lunchtime, which mean he gets follow confirmation just after registering as a ‘Follower’ because I like to do a lunchtime Blog post. If I don’t get warned about the new follower before I post, and can remove him, he gets notified.

So, I’m now either going to have give up my lunchtime post, or make it appear later, to avoid giving this piece of filth any gratification.

I would identify the individual concerned…

But that would just give the dirty little creep a free advert and more publicity at my ‘expense’.

Frustrated Cat

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Nov 30, 2018 Posted by | Site News | | Leave a comment

We’ve gained a friend for 2018 – The Daily Buckfast!

One of friends has been bubbling away on the back-burner for a while, but never had any reason to pull himself together and try to maintain the discipline of a daily post, despite having enough material.

The Daily Buckfast will hopefully be able to maintain an average of a post per day (maybe having to play catch-up if the ‘soup’ has been flowing a little to freely on some days) over the course of the year.

No idea if it will be witty or imaginative, or just dump pics, since it’s mainly meant to be a photo blog (and words can be too hard), but their might be days when extra effort is made to be coherent.

The Abbot’s been posting odd stuff from the media, and the old posts are worth a look, but the idea is to have fun with local finds.

The Daily Buckfast

The Daily Buckfast

 

Jan 3, 2018 Posted by | Blogroll, Civilian, Links, photography, Site News | | Leave a comment

2017’s PaD success

After a few years of utter failure, which even ended up leading to long period of NO posts at all, 2017 was the first time I actually managed to succeed in a PaD (post a day) attempt.

For anyone thinking of trying this, or who has also tried and failed in the past, I have a piece of advice.

IGNORE the usual advice given in blogs about how to keep a blog going in a PaD effort.

The ‘experts’ waffle on about studying other blogs, following other bloggers for inspiration, researching subjects, finding topical subjects, even making stuff up!

I tried these, and feel reasonably sure that (unless you want to put in a day’s effort for every post, as if you were doing a day’s work) you’ll fail miserably if expecting any of those methods to last the course of a year before you get fed up with them.

I suggest finding something that interests you.

Forget about trying to get ‘likes’ or similar nonsense – such things are a dead-end.

Better still, find two or three things you can waffle about with little efforts, on the average that means only having to create around a hundred or so posts on each.

There are some other tricks I learned over the past year, and suspect I’ll end up PaDding 2018 with little effort… if I want to.

No pressure this time.

Last Year Behind Next Year Ahead

Last Year Behind Next Year Ahead

Jan 1, 2018 Posted by | Site News | | 1 Comment

Site News September 2017

Big S blogSeptember was nice and quiet, mainly because ‘circumstances outside my control’ obliged me to spend most of my time in the Blog. (That’s code for just wasn’t too well).

Maybe I’ll get back on track in October.

Oddly, no more diversions arising from the forthcoming changes to Firefox.

I’ve dropped the current Fx55 altogether now, it no longer restores my current sessions (windows/tabs) from the more advanced 56 or 57,  and it’s pointless restoring them manually.

The latter have stabilised, and strangely for me (as I still persist in using rather a lot of add-ons) are not suffering any of the failures being reported by other users, who are complaining about numerous failures of their favourite toys.

The cynic in me thinks they may be lying, and posting negative comments and reviews as they are not happy about the advance towards Fx57.

There was another major change within Firefox during the month, with further new code claimed to make it even faster.

I’ve actually leap-frogged Fx57 and have gone straight to Fx58 (released nightly for the brave or foolish). This has proven stable (I’ve tried the nightly option in the past, and it was terrible), and it is quick. I really have to wean myself off the ‘legacy’ extensions that no longer run in the new versions. But some outstanding aids have not been created, and as heavy tab user I (will) seriously miss tab groups and multi-row tabs. So far, the folk who wrote the original add-ons for these have declared no interest in revising them. Also, I didn’t realise how much I relied on one add-on that fetches and open web pages for me, to a preset schedule. Without it, I will  need to remember to do this every few hours every day.

I might not do much in the site itself for a while, and be trying to get out after being stuck indoors.

Hopefully collecting stuff for the Blog, so I can make the Post-a-Day target.

Oct 1, 2017 Posted by | Site News | | Leave a comment

Site news August 2017

Big S blog

Oops… About halfway through August, and hopelessly diverted.

Firefox users will know that November will see a horrendous amount of major changes arrive with Fx57, while Fx55 and Fx56 have been telegraphing warning for any disbelievers, although I had been sticking with Fx54 as it was stable.

However, I did start the month by wandering into Fx57 Nightly, to see what was coming (as I have come to rely on so many items that will cease to function/exist come November). This started OK as stuff I expected to expire did, but then a new Nightly version REALLY killed everything as it eliminated ALL legacy option, and I almost gave up.

I also found I had to stop using both Fx54 AND Fx55 as their configurations no longer seems to be compatible with Fx56 Beta or Developer Editions, and they will inevitably be superseded so persevering is pointless. However, having stuck with the Beta and Developer versions of 56 both seem to have stabilised. 57 Nightly has stabilised to – but is still a painful reminder that four addons I have come to rely on are dead, and just have to lie down. November will arrive all too soon. There are no equivalents for them, and the developers of three have stated they will not rework with WE (web extensions) to work with 57. The fourth was abandoned years ago, so no chance of update, and again no alternative.

It’s not all bad news.

Although Chrome developers have poured scorn on the architecture of 57 and dismissed its speed claims, as someone who has far too many tabs open (and commits other speed-sapping sins) I for one can dispel these as pure ‘sour grapes’. The speed of 57 is almost enough to make me move to the Nightly now, rather than wait for November – but I still have to find a way to live without tab groups and some other tab handling gems that are, so far, not available in 57. Other methods are available, but they just don’t flow as smoothly (for me) as the oldies but goodies.

Wiki and Photobucket treachery

I should ‘get over’ Photobucket’s dirty tricks, but I still like calling them out, so the name-calling will continue.

I did get around to formatting the new pic links needed to restore the images to our Wiki pages, but while this is fairly simple and quick, the real problem is that internally, the pics have to be uploaded to specific directories to match the existing structure, and that a manual process with each upload being individual – and therefore slow as there’s no pattern or rule that means it can be automated.

Not helped by a seeming bonus from conventional media sites that have found a number of gems that belong there too – I’ve bookmarked around 50 so far, yet have no time to write 50 pages!

At least the rats have given up ‘Alerting’ me that I have lost some options – and finally closed the empty accounts – so I am no longer getting emails from them asking for about $40  a month or $400 a year for the formerly free hosting service.

Forum etc

Having been diverted by Firefox, and some other issues, I haven’t been able to spend much time playing with anything else.

I had yet another issue with an odd web hosting failure, this time down to some obscure comparability setting in PHP as some code was rewritten for the Wiki system. Although I wasted time trying to find it, it was resolved almost as mysteriously as it appeared, and things started working normally. I hate ‘Backwards Compatibility’ (but it is also a near essential).

The main priority now is to actually manage a year of Post-a-Day in the Blog, which still seems possible.

There’s material for the Wiki, but time to shove it in and accompany with proper writing seems to be missing, but a few new pages are trickling in, and some existing pages are even getting updated with new info.

I still think those that take the time to share goodies in Flickr are worthy of a monthly ‘Thank You’, and have been a little pained recently, having had to delete images posted of places abroad, but they’re not Scotland, sorry. That said, I have allowed ONE exception, and there are a few rather nice images of dereliction (in France I think) which I’m leaving for purposes of comparison.

Forum? Well, something has to fall off the list when you’re short of time, so I’ll leave you guess what it is.

Odd observation confirmed

I don’t generally bother to look at the site’s stats, but do get a one page summary every month, which is kind of amusing to look at – the top ten pages visited are almost always the same (seriously folks, what’s so enthralling about Barry Buddon?), and the normal visitor number is about 2,000 per day.

But,

Overnight, as of the start of June, this dropped instantly to around 450 (this is from my hosting report, not a free counter, but it happens to agree).

That’s quite a drop.

I don’t recall changing anything (significant), but this new ‘norm’ has now been reported for two months.

We did have some outages due to some PHP code revision, but that was a month later, so can’t be related.

Guess I have some more head-scratching (and skelf-avoidance) upcoming, to find out why, or what I’ve done or broke, unless somebody I’ve upset has done something to target me with some sort of denial attack.

Sep 1, 2017 Posted by | Site News | , , , | 2 Comments

Site news July 2017

They say it never rains but it pours, and July 2017 could be a subtle hint that I should give up and walk away.

The Forum has proven/confirmed it is a dead, having no support from the few who were seen wandering around it (and the log showing its regular visitors are people who are very active on other forums, so can only be assumed to be visiting to poach material).

A single email enquiring about it, and its fate, would have been nice after hosting issues knocked it (and the whole domain) offline.

But for the fact that a number of Wiki pages link to threads within it, it would probably be gone this month, or replaced.

The Wiki was almost equally disappointing, taken offline by the same hosting issues, and despite an apparently healthy visitor/activity record, only ONE enquiry asked after its fate.

Probably not really a surprise though – it used to generate a steady drip of enquiries regarding its content, these died off recently.

However, the real issues of June 2017 arose from problems, caused by external services, ruining what had previously been an easily maintained web site that needed little intervention.

July 2017 issues

Two major issues affected the site, both outside our control.

First, hosting issues arose after a simple migration by our provider, not helped by a touch of unfortunate timing which meant that when we checked this was OK, we saw it was OK… only to learn later we had gone offline (thanks to a missing setting).

As we were busy elsewhere and not online for some time, that went on much longer than it should before we returned saw the problem, and corrected it.

Next, the shocking Photobucket debacle when they withdrew free image-hosting, at a stroke removing nearly all images in the Wiki, replacing them with a blackmail advert offering to restore them for a mere $400 per annum.

Although this Rupert Murdoch sales initiative had always been expected (by me at least, as Photobucket changed over the years since his business grabbed it), and we stopped using it for new images some time ago, it still robbed the Wiki of images hosted there in the early years, which will now have to be re-hosted. That job will take “More than 5-minutes”.

And finally, just to round the month of July off…

The Wiki, normally trouble-free and completely reliable (unless I am ‘tampering’), suddenly started generating a recurring error message about a deprecated function, generated a never-ending error log file, filled out web in a few seconds – and kept suspending our web hosting as it exceed our quota.

This ended up taking days to fix, as neither we nor our web host appeared to have changed anything (the usual source of such problems arising).

The cause is still not clear, although a new version of the relevant code was part of the fix.

Last straw but one?

But for the fact that this site is run for reasons not related to ‘Making My First Million’, or for the benefit of others, the problems of the past month or so would probably be sufficient reason to dump it. But that is not why it was created, or exists.

However, I have other reasons, so it’s safe, for the moment at least.

The Blog

Excluded from the above misery is this Blog, currently managing to survive 2017 as my best attempt at a PaD (Post a Day), and probably generating more interest than any other part of the site (other than the Flickr pic group, which even impresses me with its content).

If nothing else, the effort to get this to the end of the year will continue unaffected by events elsewhere.

You can help

With the issues we seem to be suffering at the moment, I can understand why there’s little contact these days, the site being deserted, and why even those who do get in touch seem to disappear.

On the other hand, there are (apparently) quite a few visitors to the site, and many are repeat visitors.

It would be nice to hear the odd word, instead of seeing everyone just look in and then immediately run away.

Aug 1, 2017 Posted by | Site News | , , | 5 Comments

Site news – outage 28 July 2017

Big SeSco S

Nice start to the morning – a message that I have exceeded the disk space on my web host.

Ridiculous of course, I keep it at around 50% by design and cull anything that might be taking it over that.

I’ve raised an issue with the techs, and see what they come up with.

As far as I can see, I have gained a 400+ MB file that is not of my making, and it’s too big for me to easily handle via my (now) rather slow and archaic broadband connection.

No, I haven’t been doing anything new, so I know it’s not mine, so guess it’s a REAL problem, or something existing has had a slight nervous breakdown.

Uh-oh…

Maybe it’s another quirk of the server migration that put us offline at the start of the month.

Update

Apparently it’s a legit error file that’s not limited in size or entries.

Unfortunately, although it’s full of error reports, well, just five – but the last one has just been repeated thousands of times, all it seem to record is the error, and nothing about the source.

Hope all I need to do is deal with the item mentioned in the error report, which is a PHP error so not actually down to me, but there’s no obvious reason for to have appeared as I have not altered anything recently. It may be a change in PHP that has become active on the host.

 

Jul 28, 2017 Posted by | Site News | , , | Leave a comment

Site News June 2017

The news for June 2017 is…

There is no Site News (just kidding).

But there are some unexpected and unplanned changes – probably all but a few might be described as ‘good’.

Main Site (or Wiki)

A planned server migration at out host took place at the end of the first week of June.

A misunderstanding led to our domain disappearing. In fact, I checked the migration before it had actually been fully completed and thought it had gone through with no further action needed by me. I only discovered this a week later (so, I do other things too) when I tried to edit a page, and learned I had some reconfiguration to complete.

Since I hadn’t had any enquiries (which usually come from interested visitors who wonder why the site has disappeared), I thought I’d leave it alone until I was asked.

Since I haven’t had a single enquiry, I guess there is no longer anyone interested, so will be having a look at how the site is operated in future.

While I have no intention of bringing its existence to an end, there’s too much info collected there, often from sources that no longer exist, it if nobody’s interested, then I have to change how I spend my time playing with it.

Forum

Not much to say here.

I thought it was dead, now I know it is.

I will eventually replace it with one that can be left to ‘Run Itself’, soon(ish), but I don’t know when.

Blog

This continues to be where I like to spend my time, now I have more.

For the time being, this will continue to try to be a PaD project, and maintain a Post-a-Day.

Flickr Group

This, at least, continues to be attractive to some.

While I never had any plans for it, other than a place for interested people to share pics of finds or interests, it looks as if it will soon hit 10,000 contributed pics.

I guess I’ll have to mark that milestone, and say ‘Thank You’.

July 2017?

I’ll have to get the Wiki back online within the next few days.

As for anything else (apart from the new project I’ve hinted at)…

Who know?

Jul 1, 2017 Posted by | Site News | , , , | Leave a comment

Site News May 2017

Big SeSco S

May’s news, probably going to be short and glum (in part).

Wiki

This has become a little less frustrating as I’ve given up trying to constantly find the sort of ‘secret’ info I used to (military, Cold War etc). Various reasons apply, but in no particular order… sharing has dried up, nobody’s talking (or writing) these days, and if you look at some of our older/original pages on this theme – well, most of the links to source material and reference are DEAD! Social media (let’s be blunt, Facecrook) has stolen much source material as it entices people into its creepy world, and often locks it away behind a ‘Please Login to view this page’ type of screen. The material cannot be seen unless you Login, and that is a way of blackmailing more people to join.

Sorry, not happening (ever) with SeSco – we do have SOME standards.

As it is, the Wiki is growing with a few pages every month, whenever we spot something remotely interesting.

Blog

This has become my favourite outlet this year, now I have worked out the ‘secret’ to making at least one PaD (Post a Day) and can waffle away and do a little bit of ‘photoblogging’.

I’m generally managing to stay away from ‘Current Affairs’, although I do seem to get riled with legal and illegal abuse of photographers. By this I mean anyone with a decent camera, who seem to be considered ‘Fair Game’ for various thugs and courts – yet intrusive people taking pics I believe are not legal seem to have some sort of magical immunity since they are using cameras hidden in phones. If I tool the same pics with my dSLR out in view and obvious, I’m reasonably sure if someone tool exception I’d be talking to some nice police officers soon after, and be in court a little later.

Forum

This is just not working.

I’ve dropped hints, but the members simply won’t talk to one another – and that’s what a forum is for.

It wasn’t to bad when they talked to me, but that’s effectively dried up too.

And I’m now no longer amused to see the many who still visit, but do nothing but look and leave without so much as a nod.

It’s down to one participant, who I don’t want to ‘upset’, but even his input has become less, and focussed mainly on one subject.

And that can only be discussed so far.

‘New’ Forum

While the existing, old, creaky, obsolete, forum is guaranteed a place – it is linked to a number of Wiki articles – it is a dead-end as a forum since, although it seems safe from hackers, it can’t be defended from content spammers and spam registrations. The latter amounts to thousands per month now. Even if they can’t post, they create a huge member list – I estimate we’d have at least quarter of a million+ members by now if I’d allowed it to continue.

I have new forum software, so may drop out for a while to play with it.

Trouble is, is it worth the effort if nobody is going to register/join nowadays, as Facecrook has taken everyone away?

Jun 1, 2017 Posted by | Site News | , , | Leave a comment

SeSco went offline 5 May 2017 – back after 3 hours

Big SeSco S

Our provider’s provider appears to have gone belly up…

And with no clues as to when Normal Service will be Resumed:

Our network transit provider had an outage, which started at 11:45.  Connetivity (sic) restored briefly but has gone down again.

We’ll update this once we know more.

Our apologies for any inconvenience in the meanwhile.

Update 13:15: Outage is still being worked on, we don’t have an ETA from our provider at this moment in time, but know it’s being remedied as quickly as possible.

No official notification (until later) but found to be RESTORED at 15:00 check.

Later found it had come back just before 14:00.

Not all bad…

Although clearly not our host’s fault, they have added a week’s credit (free hosting) to our account.

Thanks guys.

I haven’t needed support for ages, but when I was having issues (not my fault or theirs) their support team was actually pretty good, helpful, and patient.

Worth a mention as they are UK, and I see so many BAD reports about so many others…

HostPresto

May 4, 2017 Posted by | Site News | , , | Leave a comment

Site News April 2017

Big S blog

Quiet month as other activities divert attention, and what laughingly passes for warm weather here arrives, and start the weeds growing again.

I had to look twice when I saw an old guy in a sleeveless t-shirt pass me while walking his dog – I’d seen the gritters out late the night before, and when I checked my outdoor thermometer confirmed it was indeed showing 0°C. And I thought I was crazy one for having grabbed an extra jacket that morning!

But, it is getting warmer, so time to play in here is going to be truncated, and activity will lessen.

Flickr

While I’m not really counting (and grateful that anyone takes the time to share), I was intrigued to see that our little group has made it to the heady level of being just 500 pics short of the 10,000 mark.

And there is still the odd gem and surprise to be seen appearing there too, so let’s hope that continues.

I don’t know why some kind folk from overseas add pics to a Scotland specific group, as their material is usually very good, and it does cause me ‘pain’ to hit the delete option on their offering, but it does contravene the rules.

Blog

Surprisingly, given the failures of previous years, I still seem to be making PaDs (Post a Day) and for the moment at least, don’t really see any reason why this should falter as it has before. Perhaps my approach is better this years, and material better chosen. Previous effort had followed advice to be interesting and meaningful, and write lots to keep readers interested.

Largely tossed that, and now tend to go with what I like, and tough if anyone doesn’t (like it). Also trying to be shorter and less waffly (that doesn’t always work though).

Forum

As always, the awkward one.

While I’m letting it run and don’t want to disappoint the few faithful, I can’t ignore the fact that while they ‘talk’ to me, this lacks the one thing a forum can thrive on – having members that ‘speak’ to each other.

While it’s nice to have thoughts shared with me, it actually makes it hard to keep up, as the discussions become very much ‘One on One’ and are either sessions of ‘Patting on the Back’ if we agree, or risk becoming disputes or arguments if we don’t, and in print as opposed to face-to-face, that can quickly deteriorate if a badly chosen reply is made.

I really have to fire up the ‘new’ forum as this will (I hope) allow automated registration to be restored (remember, the old one is so old it has no effective screening or barring) and perhaps the folk who enquire about membership will actually follow-up, as the barrier of manual registration is raised.

Wiki

Still managing to slip in the odd page or two, but also missing out on some subjects that have been highlighted and demand longer and more time-consuming research to check the material, or provide supporting references.

Still, as long it grows, even slowly now that I have no help, I can’t really complain, and just plod on.

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Site News | , , , | Leave a comment

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