Blogging made logical, intuitive and seamless

Anybody hoping for a tutorial or a signpost to some Eureka! solution has already been lured in under false pretences, for which I apologise. The title is more by way of a plaintive cry from the wilderness… or maybe a wish list; unfulfilled but not entirely unreasonable as wish lists go.

At some point – a good few years back now – curiosity drew me into this hitherto unexplored habitat: the world of the outdoor blogger – inhabited although not exactly populous; but growing. And then, having stuck around for quite a while, I wandered off; partly in search of other things, but mostly because I’d grown exasperated with never quite being able to get things to work in the way that I’d hoped.

I’d cut my teeth on Blogger: the options back then seeming to be a straight choice between it and WordPress, with the consensus seemingly pointing towards Blogger as the more gentle of the two learning curves for a novice equipped with only the most rudimentary of IT skills. And so, on 29 November 2009, the first, uncertain fledgling steps were taken…

On the better days I got along okay with Blogger, but when okay is as good as it gets there’s inevitably a temptation to look at alternatives. And I did like the look of some of the things others had done, and were continuing to do, with WordPress. So I took a plunge, switched, and found that there was some truth in those warnings about the respective learning curves of the two systems. But, on balance, I felt more settled with WordPress and slowly began to acquire the relatively modest level of proficiency needed to improve the presentations. It was a kind of contentment – the temporary kind…

The first noticeable issue was a decline in the ease with which it was possible to comment on other peoples’ blogs. As both WordPress and Blogger evolved, access which had hitherto been seamless and straightforward would suddenly become problematic. Comments would be declined or – even more of an irritant – appear to be accepted but then disappear into… well, wherever it is that disembodied comments go to spend eternity. I’m guessing that the constantly changing security protocols were the primary cause for these breakdowns in communication; and messages from other bloggers confirmed that they equally were being driven to exasperation by my blog’s apparent unwillingness to cooperate. The shared frustration was that these are things which we would probably all expect to become easier as technology and connectivity evolve; a reasonable enough assumption considering the ease with which individuals and organisations we’ve never heard of seem able to access our inboxes and browsing histories. And of course blogs: nothing seems to be too much of an obstacle to the spammers when it comes to attaching some random comment to a blog post.

Over the last few months I’ve spent some of the freed-up time looking into creating basic Youtube slideshows and short videos (both relatively straightforward), and then enhancing the quality of the finished product (less straightforward). I’ve fished out the old mini-DV camcorder and shot some footage – birds fledging from garden nest boxes mostly – just for the practice and to remind myself of how the controls work.

And I’ve tried Instagram, about which I have no real complaints other than the square format. But it’s not for me; it’s not really intended for me: I don’t take that many still photographs, almost none with a phone, even fewer that I’d want to share. I think Instagram probably finds its real market in the prolific cameraphone user of a sociable disposition, so that’s all three boxes unticked. But I’ll leave the account open for now; I just don’t expect to be adding to it with any regularity.

Is there a point to any of this? Who knows? It’s taken a while to type and, so far, I haven’t thought of one…

Advertisements

Update

As at 8 February, 2019…

In the two and a half months since the previous entry the rate of progress has hovered somewhere on the scale between insignificant and negligible. Substitute ‘months’ with years and anybody speed-reading this might think it’s got something to do with Brexit and decide to read no further. Who could blame them?

Time – such time as has been available – has been divided between attempts to make better Youtube slideshows and acquire at least a rudimentary grasp of Instagram. How’s that gone? It’s gone exasperatingly; infuriatingly; maddeningly; all manner of ‘inglies’ plus profanely at times.

With Youtube I’d hoped to refine the small amount of knowledge I’d already gained and thereby learn how to generate a more polished finished article – a smoother flow  through the sequence, more seamless transitions between frames, that kind of thing…

I feel as though I’ve hit a wall with that and can only hope that the stasis is temporary; otherwise my quest to carve a niche as a producer of low budget, avant-garde slideshows, watched mostly only by myself may already have stalled.

The Instagram project is even more at the ’embryonic’ stage: I’ve learned how to move photos from computer to phone for uploading; it took me a while – let’s just say more than one session and leave it at that. I’m still struggling to understand why Instagram opted for a square display option when the vast majority of cameras produce a rectangular image, meaning that either everything needs to be cropped square before transferring, or alternatively you leave it to Instagram to crop the image as displayed.

Typing a caption and the hashtag links on an iPhone’s touchscreen is an unpredictable process for this ‘man of a certain age’ and as often as not, regardless of how careful I might have been, there’ll be an annoying error that I’ll only spot once the images have been ‘shared’ (uploaded). The options then are either to live with it – knowing it will remain an irritant (like a poorly joined piece of wallpaper) – or delete the whole thing and try again. First world problems, eh?

To avoid falling foul of intellectual property laws – unlikely given the low volume of traffic, but better to be cautious – I’ve also been browsing libraries of copyright free music to find tracks suitable for use as background to the Youtube slideshows and videos. There’s a huge amount of royalty-free stuff available, but finding what you’re looking for isn’t a quick process; there seems to be a particular fondness for a genre described as ‘ambient’, or “that whiny whale song shite” as Jo is inclined to call it. What can I say – she’s from Tipton!

The first slideshow uploaded onto Youtube since the handful which were embedded in earlier blog posts, consisted of a selection of shots taken in and around Elan Valley in late 2017. As a learning experience it has been useful, but already there’s much about it that I don’t like…

Elan Valley – Autumn 2017

The Instagram site – only a handful of posts so far – can be found here…

Will I stick at it? Not sure right now… time will tell.

 

Moving on…

I’ve decided to abandon the blog: the intention is to leave it online for a while but, after this post, there will only be one further entry which will be – rather neatly – the 150th. There are a number of reasons – the wish to avoid repetition being one – but primary among them is the irritation of dealing with spammers, including the odd ones seeming to emanate from some pretty strange places; ‘odd’ in every sense of the word.

According to the stats captured by WordPress, the filters have eliminated 1,850 spam comments: that’s 1,850 I never even got to see – a number which needs to be added to the many hundreds I’ve had to delete at the point of moderation. I have no idea why I seem to attract so many fruitcakes to a site with relatively low traffic and generally innocuous subject matter, but there it is…

The pattern seems to be that a particular post becomes a focal point for random comments – some in languages which I don’t speak; others offering ‘opportunities’ for which I am neither young enough, nor sufficiently flexible. Closing that post to comments merely seems to have the effect of diverting the traffic to another target; and so it goes on…

As a last aside regarding outdoor matters, we were out on The Long Mynd at the weekend, in the best of autumn weather: the watercourses are slowly replenishing following the dry summer and, for the first time in many months, I elected to wear boots. It turned out to be the right decision but still not one I enjoyed.

Oh, and the golden plover had returned, as they often do about now. But they don’t seem to stay for the whole winter and I have no idea where the next part of their journey takes them.

The plan is to give Instagram a try – more pictures/fewer words. That is what the 150th post will be about. I’ll leave the blog out there, if only as a gateway to the many and excellent other outdoor sites.

A belated in memoriam…

Just returned from a couple of weeks based in Kingussie: tired from the M6; body back in the English midlands, head still somewhere meandering one of the endless trails; intending to make a start on a series of posts about selected days and escapades. But, before any of that, an oversight needed to be rectified…

We travelled north on Friday August 4th and there was something about the date that nagged at me; a couple of days later I would remember what it was. A year ago to the day, the blogging community sadly lost one of its finest: he went by the online name of Oldmortality and his blog – witty, erudite, original, thought-provoking, never dull – can be found among the links to the right, under the name One Small Step; OM’s final post was dated 27th July, 2016 and among the comments is one from his daughter confirming that he had passed away. If you’re not already familiar with the blog then I’d urge you to read through the backlog of posts while they still remain available; I still do, and I know I’m not alone. They are unique reflections on a life well lived.

This was where I was when I remembered why August 4th was significant…

It’s the Cairngorm Club footbridge across the Am Beanaidh, which flows north from Loch Einich, and the reason it’s significant is because it’s the spot where Oldmortality once met up with fellow blogger Mike Knipe (whose also excellent blog can be found here: northern pies); their rendezvous is also remembered in the comments attaching to OM’s final blog entry.

Memory jogged, I took a contemplative moment and resolved to do the same every time I’m fortunate enough to pass this way in the future.

Oldmortality loved his music and would often sign off with a link to a tune of his choice. I’m not sure this would have been on his playlist, but it somehow seemed appropriate…

Released into the wild…

I don’t know if there’s ever an ideal time to allow a blog to simply venture out and take its chances; particularly after an extended captivity.

It’s been almost a year since the process began: the upping of sticks, relocating, transferring the stuff to be retained, jettisoning what was to be discarded and, although there’s more to be done, it felt like time to get back to the point of having a blog – actually posting stuff!

So, somewhere in the settings, private has been amended to public; which is pretty much all there is to it.

Is there anybody out there?