Friday, 30 November 2007

One week and counting...

One more working week...still lots to do to wrap up but things are systematically dropping off the to-do list. Sarah and I have both developed coughs and sore throats over the last couple of days. Hopefully these will resolve themselves before we go. Next week I will try and catch up with most of my clients to make sure they are all aware of what is going on before we head off. Oddly, the reality that we will be in South America in less than two weeks still hasn't hit home.

On an entirely unrelated matter, Dad sent through a link to a great blog by a Philosophy Lecturer at Corpus Christi Cambridge. On that blog I found a brilliant Monty Python Sketch from You Tube...

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Busy week...busier weekend

I have just come back from a couple of days up in Manchester seeing a client. That will probably be the last trip that I will be making to sunny Warrington before we head off. Tomorrow we will be heading up to London for a weekend of seeing our respective Godchildren and delivering Christmas presents. I have a couple of busy days at work updating people on the opportunities present at my client in Manchester and completing performance reviews for the people that have worked for me so that I can help them towards promotion.

I am particularly looking forward to seeing Edward when he gets his new bike. S

arah and I got him a fantastic Rothan bike from Isla Bikes last year but he has now grown out of it. So last week Sarah and I got the next bike up in the series the CNOC 14. Unlike the other kid's bikes we have bought, this one is more like a miniature adults bike. Sometimes they are ridiculously heavy but this one is nice and light and looks like it could be really quick...and I'm loving the back pedal brake.

Next week will be my last week at work. I still have a load of things to do but I think I will be in good shape when I need to be. We still have a few things that we need to get and jobs that we need to do around the house. In the meantime, back to work...

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Weekend of preparations

This weekend was the last weekend where we had an uninterrupted couple of days to sort out the main things remaining on the to-do list. This week and next weekend we will be up in London seeing various Godchildren before Christmas and the weekend after will be taken up with substitute Christmas dinners and our going away drinks. Given how much there still is to do, the one silver lining to emerge this week is that I will be stopping work at the end of the week after next. This will give us two and a half more days than we had planned to finish the remaining to-do's.

This weekend also saw the last of our trips to watch Bath at the Rec. Our season tickets will be going to Kathryn and Nick until we get back. I guess that it is Sod's law that the year we decide to spend the winter overseas is the year that Bath are making a fantastic run in the Premiership. We will certainly keep up with the rugby over the internet whilst we are away; hopefully we will catch Bath in the play-offs when we get back in May.

Today and yesterday have been taken up with various chores and final decision making on photography kit. Sarah is currently round at her folks washing the sleeping bags. I have been busy preparing my tax return and am about to head over to my folks to get the hard top put on the Mazda. There is still a series of jobs that need to be done in the garden to avoid chaos when we return but these will have to wait until the final week I suspect.

The last remaining decision in the photo kit saga is whether to go for a combination of the 50mm 1.8 lense and a 105mm 2.8 Macro or a 35mm 2.0 and 60mm Macro. Oooh...decisions...decisions. I suspect that it may be made for me by the cost!

Anyway, back to the grindstone. In addition to the preparation for the trip I have the small matter of an all day workshop to prepare for tomorrow.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Building out the content

The last few days I have fairly busy closing up a piece work but I am now able to make a little progress on the site. Sarah is definitely holding up the fort in terms of the practicalities of preparation for the trip (booking doctors appointments to get antibiotics, organising banking arrangements, etc.). This weekend we have deliberately not planned too much to make sure that we break the back of the big tasks before we enter the last couple of weeks. On task that I never look forward to is preparing my tax many documents and mind numbing form filling...still, it needs to be done before we go.

On the website front, I think that both Sarah and I are almost there. We have had a few teething troubles along the way but I think we are now almost there. The site is up and running and the content updates are almost complete. It will be good to have it in a state where all we have to do is make blog updates and upload photos.

I hope to close out the photographic equipment preparation soon as well. I am keen to make sure that I am able to take HDR ready images even if I have to wait until we get back to process them. The trouble is, it may require a more robust tripod and I am reluctant to traipse around South America with the
strapped to my rucksack. We have bought a vary cool
(sounds less practical than it is). I will try and take some test shots on it to see how well it works. I am also trying to work out which pst processing software package to go with. There are a number of options but it seems to be down to
. More on this later.

Back to work...

Friday, 9 November 2007

Trippermap as a navigation aid

I was wondering how best to structure my photo galleries and stumbled across Trippermap. Given that we will be using RapidFlickr to structure the country by country galleries with direct links to Flickr and nice little embedded Flash slideshows, I thought that it would be good to make the most of having the photos on Flickr. Trippermap allows you to take photos that are uploaded onto Flickr and render them on a map of the world using a Google Earth API and a series of Geotags. It seems pretty simple to do and it adds a nice little interactive navigation element to the site.

Things are starting to come together...

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Photo Update from Blogger

With a bit of luck this will work as well..but it looks like there may be a little bug in so far as it doesn't account for the size of the picture in the sizing of the post. The default must be to insert the next post when the text ends and not when the photo ends. I guess that i can work around this for the moment by making sure that there is enough text to wrap around the post. In reality, when we are on the road, the photos will be incidental to the text and therefore this won't be a concern. The secret is to make sure that the photo is large enough to displace the text...and don't end the post with a picture. Now to check that the comments work...

Test run with a picture


So here we go with a local picture update..

Comments almost sorted but now a pubishing issue

I managed to solve the comments issue with an upgrade of the RapidBlog Plug-in to version 1.25 to make it Leopard compliant. But now I seem to have a problem with publishing as it cannot connect to my ftp server. The username and password are definitely correct...will need to chase this down. In the meantime I will try and make sure that I can embed pictures in the blog (locally and remotely using blogger).

No comments or content in the side bar

Todays problem to fix is the absence of comments. I have signed up to Haloscan to manage all the comments but the HTML for the blog page does not seem to include a link to Haloscan to offer the ability to leave a comment. I think that I have ticked the right boxes within the setup area of the editing section in Rapidweaver but no joy. I will investigate later. I am also lacking content in the sidebar such as an archive and category list. Let's see what can be done...

Monday, 5 November 2007

We are up and running...with a few niggles to iron out

Well...the publishing issue was down to version 3.6.4 not being fully Leopard compliant. I think that there are still a few problems for Realmac to sort out before it is truly Leopard ready...especially with the blogging and photoposting functionality. These should come through with version 3.6.5. It also looks like Version 4 will be coming before the new year.

Anyway, after working through some setting questions on the FTP side (I needed it to operate through a 'public_html' sitepath) we are now up and live on the web.

Given that noone knows the address, there isn't a problem with the content being undercooked. However, the next few weeks will be about pulling together a good suite of content and making sure that we have full blogging, comments and photoposting solutions in place.

I appear to have solved the remote blogging to solve the comments issue.

Having problems publishing

The blog seems to be coming along nicely in RapidWeaver but now I have found that there appears to be a problem with publishing the new site to my host. I hope that it is just an issue with settings and not something more fundamental. I have contacted the 'support ninjas' at RapidWeaver for help. Love the title...I need a job title like that...

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Please work...

So this is the first test message for the RapidBlog plug-in in Rapidweaver. In order to be able to update the website whilst on the road I needed to find a way of updating the content from a remote location. Rapidblog transposes content, as entered in a Blogger blog into the RapidWeaver website. If this does indeed work (with comments) then that is one to-do off the long list.

Now how many still to do 25...26...27...


So...6 weeks and counting but no website.

Unbelievably it's now only six weeks until we leave for South America and there are still dozens of things that need to be done. The last couple of days I have been looking into the website options and have settled on RapidWeaver. A couple of months ago I started looking and took the option to ask Sarah to buy a copy of Dreamweaver whilst she was eligible for an educational license. However, I severely underestimated the level of HTML, PSP and ASP coding knowledge that was required. I certainly won't rule out using it in the future, but given how much there still is to do I needed to look for a more user friendly and accessible tool that would provide the right balance between simplicity in the user interface and workflow and a good look and feel. One other pre-requisite was the ability to update content remotely and have a dedicated URL (without the accompanying Wordpress or Blogspot addition).

The simplest option would have been to continue to use my randomride blog at Blogger. You certainly can't fault Blogger for it simplicity and Workflow. It also has the benefit of accessibility pretty much anywhere. However, on the downside, you can't host it on your own URL and webserver and there is little flexibility over structure and look and feel. So the next port of call was Wordpress. I downloaded the most recent version of Wordpress and purchased a URL and hosting package with Heart Internet. With a little help from the Wordpress support group I got the Wordpress package installed on the website. This should have been a doddle, however, the content management system that allows for remote updates required an upload to a mySQL server...this one was beyond me.

With Wordpress up and running I began to play with the look and feel but ended up frustrated by the relative complexity of the updates that were required to get the right look and feel. None of the the themes that were supplied or available from third parties really did it for me and I wanted to update elements of the template. Unfortunately that next step required another level of coding and HTML & CSS knowledge. Even something as simple as changing the header picture became a battle with the syntax. It felt like 1985 all over again...tapping at the Acorn Electron...10 go to 20...

So the next option had to be something more powerful and flexible than Wordpress but more user friendly than Dreamweaver. That was when I came across RapidWeaver. This software bears remarkable similarity to iWeb but is more powerful and flexible. There are multiple themes to choose from and plug-ins that allow increased functionality. Over the last couple of evenings I have just started to get the hang of the workflow after watching a series of Screencasts from Screencasts Online. These give a great introduction to the how to and will give most of the information that is needed to build a basic site. I now have a great looking theme and can begin bulding something that is fit for purpose for the trip. The one concern that remains is the ability, or otherwise, to update content and manage content remotely. I am hoping that a plug-in called RapidBlog is going to save the day but I still have a little way to go before I can say categorically that it will work. Still, luckily I have six weeks to figure it out.

This weekend, Sarah and I are heading up to Tunbridge Wells to visit my Godaughter. It's been a few weeks since I last saw her...can't wait.

More on the blogging complexities later...and hopefully some more content on the website front.