Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

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their configurations no longer seems to be compatible with Fx56 Beta or Developer Editions, and they will inevitably be superseded so persevering is pointless.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.

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September 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.

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

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?

July 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?

June 1, 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

Site News March 2017

working_lateMarch was interesting, with Forum activity recalling a level of activity once enjoyed in ‘The Good Old Days’ as interest spiked thanks to questions about the Largs Mystery Object.

The fun there didn’t leave much spare time to play with the ‘old’ Forum’s replacement, since I really need to spend some quality time poking around the code that could integrate it with the Wiki. I’ll have to try for that during the coming month.

The Wiki as also eaten more ‘spare’ time too, as one or two interesting items were noted online, and added to it. The problem there is always getting sidetracked as one small article inevitably leads to two or three others as previously unknown facts turn up. For example, adding new info discovered about Measured Miles on the Clyde led to yet more new info regarding the development of a new type of hovercraft by Denny, and additional info regarding the hovercraft services that operated on the Clyde during the 1960s. So far, I’ve only added a little of the new info found.

Probably the only thing that has gone to plan in any way has been this Blog – probably because there is no real plan for it other than to try to stay with the discipline of making one post per day (or maybe more).

The logic of that is to force the posts to be small, so they don’t become too long or involved, but that’s tending to fail to, as item which don’t fall under the criteria for a Wiki page can still be interesting, and end up eating time as they are checked/researched, and their content grows too.

I don’t know where the time goes, and now I have a ‘tidy’ (my name for a garden since I don’t really grow anything BUT have managed to exterminate the weeds AND don’t want them back again – seriously, I used to have to address the 5-foot+ thistles and ask them for permission to pass at one stage). Plus I need to avoid becoming a couch potato, so also have to find time for a little walking, running, and cycling.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Change is a slow process

Big SeSco S

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.

Forum

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.

Wiki

laptop work

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

skills.

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.

This Blog

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.

Suggestions?

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.

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

Time for a few changes

Big SeSco S

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.

Forum

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.

So…

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!

Wiki

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.

Flickr

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

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.

This Blog

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.

Suggestions?

Anything reasonable to suggest for adding to or changing SeSco?

There is a ‘Comment area’ waiting below…

February 1, 2017 Posted by | Site News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

January 2013 – still going and some changes

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.

Wiki

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.

Forum

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.

Blog

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.

January 31, 2014 Posted by | Site News | , , | 2 Comments

Site News June 2013

bigsblog01.pngThere’s not really much to add to what I noted in May, so this will be short.

I seem to have managed to maintain the effort to meet the WordPress PaD (post a day) challenge, although it can be surprisingly difficult to maintain. Not, strangely, because of a lack of material, but a surfeit. While I’ve been surprised at the number of items I’ve found to post the odd pic and story about, the reality is that this has just about exhausted most of my local content. Most of the material actually came from only a couple of long walk I took during February, when the weather and material seen were both better than I have seen in recent weeks. The weather has been rotten, wet and windy, and the incidence of fresh material has been nil to none (and I meant to say that). Even looking for obscure pics hasn’t worked recently, and my camera has remained almost unused. As for the media and local stories… while this is fine for events or historically related items of interest, the current situation of campaigning as regards Independence makes most items unusable, as almost everything is twisted by political activists to become an outlet for their spite. Many good stories are ruined of they have an open comments section, and those with a pro or anti point to make take over the subject for their own ends. So I often start on posts that may have some sort of council or government factor (eg funding or backing) only to drop it after realising I am raising points that others will interpret as political rather than personal, and I’ll have to start watching comments closely, and delete nonsense. Something I don’t have much occasion to do, and can’t be bothered with either.

Forum

No changes in the Forum, but activity continues to fall with the same few faithful seen wandering its deserted boards.

I have to say the obvious: A Forum is a place for discussion. If everyone merely comes to read it then it’s a Blog. If members don’t create discussions and exchange comments, then it will not survive.

Wiki

The Wiki (or Main Site) is coming back into order, and most of the outstanding items that led to a big heap of ToDo actions have been dealt with, leaving only a handful of more involved or longer pages to be tidied up. At the same time, new material has been added to some existing pages, and even new pages/articles added. We have started hosting our own images thanks to a change in our hosting terms, which means we can prevent any attempts at hot-linking – which was happening with our publicly hosted images and could not be stopped.

As usual, the biggest problem with the Wiki is that once we start adding pages, the related research for content on the original subject nearly always generates an exponentially growing number of new pages, as we find further items we had never heard of before!

Wiki bug that won’t die

Introduced some time ago, after an upgrade, a small but irritating bug refuses to die and go away.

Almost every page includes an Aerial views heading, which provides a set of links offering a number of alternative views to the map shown at the bottom of the page, centred on the site being described.

This has been noted to be blank on a number of pages, yet appears normally on others.

Since this ‘paragraph’ is included automatically by the same piece of code in every page, there’s no obvious difference between pages where it does and does not appear.

That makes it hard to work out why it fails to appear in some cases. We’ve tried rewriting the code so the content is delivered in a different way, but this seems to have made no difference.

We seem to be stuck with this for the moment, as even reloading the page, or flushing the browser cache, has no effect either.

New outlet

I hinted at a new outlet in the last Site News, and this should be properly announced around the middle of June – assuming all goes well.

It’s not any sort of secret, rather I have been made wary by the Flickr fiasco as they changed their software and appearance, and it did not go well.

Since the software and operation of our new outlet was already known to be changing, I have merely decided to play safe and delay mentioning it or handing out the url until this happens. I see little point in saying “Look at this folks”, and then having its operation and appearance change almost immediately.

Then again, there’s my natural apathy, as I haven’t really played with it properly myself, although that’s also due in part to the coming changes – no point in learning something new, only to have to dump it and start over as soon as you come to terms with its nuances.

June 1, 2013 Posted by | Site News | , , , | Leave a comment

Site News May 2013

Big S blog

I was considering running off a summary of what was going on around the SeSco site after the first quarter of 2013, but as with my former company reports, I reckoned that was one to avoid, since that drops the publication date on April 1, and every comedian and his dog jumps on that coincidence with so many cheap shots that anything relevant gets trashed. So this note deferred to a ‘third’ instead of a ‘quarter’. Not that it mattered, since I was too busy through the start of April anyway.

Blog

The Blog (what you are reading now) is the easiest, since it has managed to amble along reasonably well since the start of 2013, and still does what is expected of it. This year, I decided to take up one of the suggestions from WordPress (which hosts the Blog) and try running 2013 as a PaD year, which mean a Post a Day. It’s a bit of discipline, and means that even if you don’t have something core to write about, then you go find something.

Most of the time there isn’t a problem, and if there’s nothing local, or of more general interest, then the news often has something to offer. Although there’s not much of photographic interest around my area (seriously dull unless you want pics of houses), most interesting historic stuff has been demolished and built on as it was old industry which is long gone, and it takes some digging to find something. So, the fact that the Blog (unlike the Wiki) is free to wander, means odd stuff might appear. Over the past few months I’ve come to find the local news can be good source, but also a distraction, as the danger of becoming locked into themes or crusades can creep up on you, and you suddenly find all your posts are drifting towards one subject. You can see this in sites that get hung up on things like wind power, local transport, or anything political – and lose their way from their original concept. Once you start on any of those, you can find that almost every post relates to that subject, and you don’t realise it until it has taken over. I have avoided such things deliberately, but even so have found that I accumulates over 600 news stories that I noted for reference, and might have used as post subjects.

So far, I have managed to keep up the Post a Day rate (and a little more), and hope the better weather, should it arrive, might provide a chance for a bit more photography – while we are still free to use cameras without a licence, overseer, and bodyguard.

Wiki

The Wiki has been subject to some extensive tidying during this period, with much redundant material cleaned out, and a substantial number of updates made to existing material. A Wiki page is never “finished”, and can expect to be revised or updated at any time, but a number of pages were started and never even made it to first draft. These have been brought up to date, and only a handful are left that need outstanding content inserted.

Most of the page errors and broken content have been found and fixed, although some of the maps may need to be checked. Changes to the operation of the map API mean that assumptions made in some settings result in no map appearing unless the map is zoomed out. These will be tracked down and corrected over time.

Somewhere between 200 and 300 pages were revised (no, I didn’t think it was worth the effort of counting) which means we no longer generate any errors on our server, which can only be a good thing. Once the last few pages have been fettled, a different method of watching for pages that merit a change will be used, and this should mean that we won’t see the same sort of backlog appear regarding changes, checks, or revisions.

Depending on what we find, or are pointed at, it’s likely that the Wiki will pass through the 1,000 page (or should that be article?) count soon, but there’s no hurry.

I also have a small clutch of modifications to be installed, as time permits, aimed at closing the door to spam commenters. The open nature of a wiki means they can abuse the privilege of being able to edit pages and make comments easily, and since the Captcha barrier was broken recently, the SeSco Wiki has had a public password added since it was deluged with such rubbish shortly after the Captcha breaking services went live. This, unfortunately, happened just days after a commenting option was added to the Wiki, and had just started to attract input from readers, but had to be shut down within days of the Captcha breakers becoming active, and the comments became repetitive nonsense.

Funny, one minute you think there isn’t much that needs doing. The next, feeling of overload seem to be looming.

Forum

Not much to say.

This is more of a problem than it is worth, and may be ditched – in part at least, since it forms part of the Wiki, and provides the Discussion Page element, which would be kept.

Activity is so low, I spend more time dealing with spambots or comment spammers  than  I do communing with any of the remaining members.

While everyone still seems to be visiting and reading, no-one is posting anything of note.

The idea of a Forum is discussion, and that is sadly lacking.

I’m advised by those who move in “social networking” circles that these have replaced Forums, some even say it has killed them.

If that really is the case, then things are not going to improve, ever, since I simply don’t do “social networking”, and won’t be.

New outlet

There’s also a new venture which promises to provide additional visibility for the site within the Scottish community, and see the Forum and its various hassles burn.

I’m not ready to publicise it at the moment, simply because it arrived unexpectedly. Without going into detail, I acquired a site that had been plagiarising my material – kind of stupid really, since it is all offered for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK: Scotland licence. But if you don’t acknowledge or credit the source, then you break the terms of that licences and I will hassle your host and ISP until you are taken off line.

I don’t know when I will get around to looking at this properly, as the updates and revisions to the Wiki are taking up most of my time, but I will be prodding it and customising it a little, just to see how it works, and post a link when I’m at least reasonably happy with it.

May 1, 2013 Posted by | Site News | , , | Leave a comment

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