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their configurations no longer seems to be compatible with Fx56 Beta or Developer Editions, and they will inevitably be superseded so persevering is pointless.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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01/09/2017 Posted by | Site News | , , , | 2 Comments

Our Flickr pool just passed 10,000 pics contributed (but not with this one)

A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has been kind enough to take the time to contribute pics to the Secret Scotland pool in Flickr.

I honestly have no idea if making it to 10,000 is good or bad, and had no preconceived ideas or targets when I set it up – it was just something groups had, so I created it, and to be honest, neglected it.

To be a bit fairer and accurate, I left it alone to see what happened with it, and what might need tweaked, but with a steady trickle of fascinating pics from around the country dripping in all on their own, I never really saw any need to do anything, on the basis of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

I thought it might bomb after a while, since I used to get around lots of interesting places, but this perk came to an end just as the group was established and I shifted up from toy digital cameras to proper digital cameras (great timing – NOT!) and left film behind. With nothing worthwhile, I almost gave up on the pool almost as soon as I created it.

But I guess I didn’t realise how things worked, and now see that provided there’s a half decent reason for a pool, interested contributors will support it.

So, once again, thanks to all.

I’m pretty sure the pic below is the 10.000th, but I’ve notice that uploaded pics can appear inconsistently, so I could be wrong. However, it was the 10,000th at the moment I looked and counted.

William Cordiner –  Peterhead Harbour – The boatlift at Peterhead, early on a calm spring morning

Sad to say, this image has full copyright and has had sharing disabled when I checked the source, so I’m not free to re-use (not quickly at least, as needed for this post).

But I’m not going to be thwarted…

So here is a shared pic of the harbour which shows the same boatlift:

Peterhead Harbour with boatlift

Peterhead Harbour with boatlift – © stu smith via flickr CC

Funny thing, despite being in Peterhead many times over the years for work, I really can’t even remember seeing the boatlift.

Then again, my work was usually in the former Crosse & Blackwell factory on the opposite side.

Although…

I did do one job on a DSV (diving support vessel).

It was so urgent it started on the dockside in Greenock, then when the vessel had to move, I had to drive up to Peterhead and rejoin it once it had berthed.

There was some fun then too, as they gave me cabin to stay in for the duration of the job, and the galley still ran 24/7, so the various shifts were always fed – very well, and so was I since I was told just to ‘Help myself anytime’.

The fun came when the haar settled one day – when I woke up in the morning and felt the ship moving, and couldn’t see a thing when I looked outside!

Thankfully they hadn’t forgotten about me being on board, merely been ordered move to a new berth.

But I can assure you, I woke up REAL FAST that morning.

18/07/2017 Posted by | photography | , , , | 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?

01/07/2017 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.

01/05/2017 Posted by | Site News | , , , | 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.

01/03/2017 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…

01/02/2017 Posted by | Site News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Glasgow: Scotland with Style flickrd

I happen to be born and bred Glaswegian, and the first thing I did when I saw the announcement of the Glasgow: Scotland with Style campaign was burst out laughing, then burst into tears when I saw it was serious:

Glasgow City Marketing Bureau is the official destination marketing agency for Glasgow with responsibility for positioning the city across its national and international markets and is custodian of the Glasgow: Scotland with Style brand.
It also operates the Convention Bureau, which is responsible for attracting conferences, meetings, exhibitions and events to Glasgow.
Glasgow City Marketing Bureau has a team of 40 staff engaged in Public Relations, Conventions Sales, Brand Marketing, Events, Events Marketing and Information Technology.
It is a not-for-profit body – funded by Glasgow City Council with contributions from the private sector.

Let me be immediately clear that I don’t have any problem with the aims of the organisation involved (does it take 40 to work through council funds though?), and the problem comes with the name/slogan/logo.

Does it imply that the only part of Scotland that has ‘Style’ is Glasgow?

Does it imply imply that everywhere else in Scotland has no ‘Style’? (And insults them as a consequence?)

The whole concept stinks, and is akin to someone declaring that they are the “World’s Greatest Genius”, or me declaring that “Secret Scotland” was the “Best Internet Site”. You’d laugh, and rightly so.

The only such titles that have any possible credibility are awarded by others, you may disagree with them, but they are at least not be self-awarded. Take for example 1990, when Glasgow was declared the European Capital of Culture. Some eyebrows may have been raised, but by and large, the year went well, didn’t insult anyone else, and didn’t smack of self-glorification.

It seems I was not alone in this thought, as I have just discovered a picture pool on flickr, dedicated to showing the city without the hypocritical slogan, the one they’d rather keep secret from the visitors they’re trying to attract.

Glasgow: Scotland with Style® on flickr

About Glasgow: Scotland with Style®

All photos that are SARCASTIC to the “Glasgow: Scotland with Style®” slogan.

Photos unrelated to the above will be deleted without notice; sorry, but that’s Glasgow.

When Glasgow reinvented itself as Scotland with Style we were amazed that no one was laughing apart from us. Glasgow isn’t populated by architects called Malcom; Saskia and Portia don’t sip lattes in pavement cafes and we don’t know anyone who works in fashion.

The city we know tends to be filled with brickies called Tam; Senga and Kylie drinking buckie behind the off license and we know lots of people who work in Fish and Chip shops.

We want photos of what Glasgow style really means.

To be frank, and with no prejudice to the flickr group, which I think is great, I would usually think twice about including anything which was particularly negative in its outlook, but the Scotland with Style campaign/logo just gets right up my nose, and I think the opportunity to promote Scotland with Sarcasm outweighs the potentially negative aspect of the subject.

31/03/2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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