Am I a coffee adict?

Ahhh – that sigh of well-being as I sluice a precious mouthful of my favourite deep black brew round my mouth and swallow, rejoicing in the slightly bitter after-taste and the caffeine high. My coffee is strong. I use two 15 gram scoops of beans finely ground for my morning brew – one of the scoops being de-caff. This is the equivalent of 2 double espressos. The mug by the way is from a business I have no qualms about plugging: https://www.hannahturner.co.uk/default/

My gadget of choice is the Aeropress https://www.aeropress.co.uk/. This is fiddly to use. There are six bits of it and several different ways of brewing. In the normal way you put a 50mm diameter paper filter into the filter holder and screw it on to the body. Having warmed your cup and loaded the body with your favourite grounds,  you then pour on no more than 200ml of hot but not boiling water, fit the plunger into the body and press down until you hit the now compressed grounds which can then be ejected in a “puck”.

Do I drink too much of it? Well, I have this quadruple dose for breakfast, a double after lunch and another after our early evening meal. For some obscure reason I prefer instant with milk at other times – mainly mid-morning. Too much? Probably, but what about alcohol?

Ahhh – that sigh of well-being as I sluice a precious mouthful of this tuff round my teeth and swallow, savouring its . . . No. I can’t do all that wine buff stuff. This is what it says on the bottle: “A riot of mouth-watering gooseberry, lime zest and vibrant passion fruit flavours..” Let’s just say that it adds enormously to the pleasure of eating a decent meal, and so does my more usual box red – a hefty Merlot or similar. I do sometimes have an alcohol-free day, but not enough of them. A caffeine free day? What’s that? For 6 of the week-days I will drink one or two normal-size glasses of wine or equivalent, and only before or during our evening meal. The latter part of the seventh evening is usually spent in the pub a short walk up the road.

Pleasure versus addiction – isn’t that the nub of the matter? The test for addiction is “can you do without it?” This is where it gets tricky. I am in no doubt that if I banished both these pleasures I would be healthier. The question is, would life be as enjoyable? If I could still hope for another 20 or 30 more years of good living then I might be worried, but I don’t expect, or even want, much more than 10 years now and I am determined to get as much enjoyment from those years as I can, consistent with helping my friends and caring for those I love. 

Posted in This Domestic Life | 2 Comments

Skokholm as in Stoke ’em (Part 3)

Thursday and Friday

Though still badly stressed by the necessity of interacting with so many strangers, the group are becoming less strange, and as I expected, my first impressions were way off the mark. Part of the problem for me is that some of them are already in groups. The two eldest are Norma and John, who are entering their ninth decade, and they, with Dorothea, and, I think Liz, form the committee of a walking group which has been active for many years. Here is the cheerful and charming Dorothea with the equally charming Richard in the Lighthouse. 

John seems quit frail and taciturn, but Norma, his partner, is very interesting to talk to, as is their friend Liz. We talked about Aldermaston where she lives, and the more secret bomb factory at Burghfield, both places I knew well when living in Reading in my university holidays.  The other woman who is not part of this group is “Jessica”, and we have become quite good friends despite my comparing her hairstyle to Grayson Perry! Here she is talking to Dave who has unfortunately sprouted an extra arm! I have yet to learn how to strike a balance between spontaneity and composition when photographing people.

Jessica and I  have much in common –  in particular a liking for being alone. She too is married, but whereas the absence of my wife Thelma is due to temperament, her husband has chronic pain from a hernia operation which went wrong. Below are two more of the ringing team –  Liz and Geoff.I got to know them over the out-door dinner table. Geoff is another camera nerd, so we happily swapped acronyms, and when I struggled to hear him, Liz told him in an engagingly bossy way to “Take your hand away from your mouth!” They live near Newark and have a daughter with wanderlust. She evidently had a go at marriage but decided it was not for her and is now living on her own in Berlin. 

The coastal vegetation is perhaps the most important aspect of the ecology of the island. My knowledge of botany runs out after campion, thrift, pansy, pimpernel, sorrel and goldenrod, but there are dozens more species in abundance here, all protected from the incursion of bracken by their tolerance of salt spray.

There are one or two colonies of thrift which have formed big clumps, like miniature hobbit houses. One in particular reminded me of the Neolithic half- buried dwellings at Skara Brae in Orkney. https://www.visitorkney.com/things/history/skara-brae

All round the edge of the island are the massive rock formations which make up the cliffs. It’s difficult to imagine the forces which upended these huge slabs of what is  now red sandstone, the colour varying between the dark chocolate of the naked rock to sage, orange or grey depending on the type of lichens growing on it. 

The other members of  the ringing team are Adrian and Jackie. He is gruff voiced, rather dour looking and walks with a stick, which doesn’t do anything for his joie-de-vivre, but a wry smile reveals a good sense of humour and a kind disposition. He seems to be the boss ringer. Jackie was friendly at first, and we talked about our origins, she from Swansea and living in Hampshire, me from Wiltshire and living in Carmarthenshire. However, I must have said something to offend her because she avoided speaking to me after the second day. My gut mini-brain didn’t like this at all and cranked up the stomach acid. The picture I took of Adrian has unfortunately got lost, and Jackie preferred not to be photographed. 

Our departure is scheduled for Friday morning. The wind has moved round from North to North-West and brought cloud and some feeble rain. This should be better for getting out of the harbour, which is on the South-East side, but we may not know until the last minute. Richard tells of times when all the luggage had been unloaded at the jetty, but then had to be reloaded and carried back to wait another day – or two.

The Ringers are still complaining that there are so few migrants – brings to mind images of rare birds picking fruit, doing cleaning jobs and running the NHS. I pack waterproofs and a peanut butter and marmalade sandwich with a flask of coffee and some fruit and biscuits. The rain peters out but the wind is still strong. I keep hoping for a Peregrine or even a Kestrel, both resident species here, but no luck. After my lunch in the hide called “Howard’s End”, so called because Howard built it, the sun comes out and most of us meet up for a tour of the lighthouse, as shown in the pictures above. After that we raid the cunningly devised stone nest boxes set up for Storm Petrels, and Richard shows us one of the chicks:

I hurry back to do some macro (close-up) work before the light goes. The Canon 5DS full-frame camera with a Sigma 105 macro lens is rigged on the tripod. I spot some shiny green flies clustered on something nasty. Moving very slowly I position the lens about 100mm from them. The image stabilisation and auto-focus are turned off and the live view screen turned on. To achieve focus I must put my x2.5 glasses on, greatly magnify the image on the screen and very carefully tweak the focus ring until the target area is sharp. I then set a 10 second delay and fire the shutter. The setting is 1000/sec at f2.8, ISO 640. In the evening I give a short picture show with commentary and dish out cards. It seems to go down well, and since there is more left in my box of Chilean Merlot than I expected, I celebrate with an extra glass of wine. So to bed, telling my body clock to be sure to wake at 6am. 

It’s a fine morning and I’m on schedule for my bags to be ready for the dumper truck at 7:15, so I snatch a few minutes to get some more pictures:The truck arrives and is loaded up for the first trip down to the harbour, where we have a long wait until the boat arrives at 8:30. I have a brief chance to catch Kirsty, but missed her partner Steve. They are the two long-term volunteers working here. Kirsty is off to Mauritius on a placement next year so I told her about our stay there with Carl Jones many years ago.
Then the hard work begins. We form a human chain and unload the bags from the next group just arriving. Once they are disembarked we then lug all our bags on board and finally take our seats around the luggage mountain. I’m glad to see that at least something was caught in these box traps:

Posted in This Wild Life | Leave a comment

Skokholm as in Stoke ’em (Part 2)

Monday

Good light, horrible strong wind, gut ache all day.

It wasn’t totally ruined though. The joy of capturing a good image banishes the wind and the belly ache for a while, and it’s hard not to love creatures which love each other:

With no birds to watch at the Orchid Bog hide, I got much pleasure from watching this rabbit washing itself – front paws licked and then stroked over head, face, ears, and back paws:
The swallows and sand martins are still passing over in small groups. These two however look like residents, since one of them is clearly a juvenile. They are flying in and out of a cave, unseen below, perhaps to test the youngster’s flying powers before they head south. 

A lull in the wind brought out the midges. Magnified like this they look like tiny flying ants, but these were no more than 2 mm in size:

 

Tuesday & Wednesday

Wake at 6 – good. Down to the harbour to catch the sunrise – and yes, the sky is clear. The harbour is a seal village. There are ten of them in sight, and one group is perched on top of a rocky outcrop a good 3 metres above the water. How do they get there? OK, the tide may be low at present – it’s difficult to tell with no beaches. One seal with a pale yellowish coat – a juvenile perhaps (must find out) is evidently intent on doing a climb so I take a series of pictures, which show that he or she (must find out) uses his or her flippers to help pull itself up. The main move though is what we might call a “larumph” – the kind of humping movement that caterpillars make.

What I don’t understand, and again must find out, is  why? Why would they want to make a grotesquely undignified climb onto jagged rocks when they are so much more at home in the water, or at least on a beach. Perhaps this one just wanted to greet the sun.

Later, I thought I had the answer – to sleep:

Later still I discovered that they can sleep in the water in a vertical position, nose up. I looked up the phenomenon in the Skokholm library and another possibility is to get rid of water-borne parasites, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. 

After my breakfast I set out, girded with gear, along one of the paths round the coast, and find one of the 8 hides. Skokholm seems to specialise in micro-hides, with barely enough space for two people – suits me. If anyone else turns up I will leave them in possession and move on. This one is an old glass-fibre hides, of a kind which you find on the older reserves. Nobody seems to make them now, which is perhaps a pity. In the tiny wooden hides, there are several types of hatch which I have never seen before. As well as the normal hinged above type, one slides down, another lifts out completely. 

There is nothing here to interest the true twitcher or ringer, but I spend a pleasant half hour catching images of pipits. Telling the difference between a Rock and a  Meadow doesn’t sound too hard, but when it comes to Pipits I need to do some work, so I take numerous pictures of what I think are Rock Pipits but later find are actually Meadows. Now I know – if it looks clean and bright it’s a Meadow (top), if it needs a good wash it’s a Rock. (bottom – both pictures are taken from the internet: mine didn’t show the difference well enough.)

 

 

 

 

The path gets steep and surprisingly hazardous, in one place needing great care and a degree of effort. The reward is a pair of Choughs, one of my favourite birds. I have several times witnessed touching displays of affection between members of Chough families. At least it looks like affection, but we have to remember that birds are not like us. Birdsong, for example, is usually either a way of getting laid or an aggressive warning.

Meanwhile, back at the farm the ringing team are getting frustrated at the lack of migrating birds to catch. They have spring traps, box traps, Heligoland traps and mist nets, but the number of victims is disappointing. Top is a Willow Warbler, bottom a Whitethroat. None of the birds caught are harmed at all.

The paths follow the coast, but not all the way round, so I divide it into North and South with the lighthouse in the middle. The wind is still from the north and relentlessly strafes the north and west sides, where hundreds of Fulmars, a pair of Ravens, numerous juvenile Great Black Backed Gulls and a family of Choughs quite literally hang out. The Fulmars in particular are masters of the dynamics of cliffs and wind. They circle out with wings locked straight like a toy glider, then back and into the wind where the wings flex, the feet dangle and with no effort they hang-glide along the edge – a very characteristic pose which I captured in Iceland, but have yet to catch here.

The gulls drift along the cliff in an easterly direction, and there is a steady trickle of swallows and sand martins heading straight across the island towards the mainland. They begin to arrive around 9:00 which fits my theory (later confirmed by Richard) that they are on migration from Ireland and heading across Wales and then south. 

In the bright sunlight I can see a large group of gannets circling at the western end of Skomer. Against the sea they blend in and are hard to see, but when they circle upwards and turn they show up in brilliant white.

Watching the pair of adult choughs on the north side, I am intrigued to see one bird performing a deeply looping flight as if on a roller-coaster, while the other bird flies straight. Why is this one pretending to be a woodpecker?  Some sort of display perhaps.

By 11:30 I have reached the light house.


There is another micro-hide here but with plastic chairs instead of a bench. This means  you can’t get close enough or sit high enough for taking photographs so I have to adopt an uncomfortable crouch. However, as if on command, I had no sooner settled in for an uncomfortable sea-watch than black shapes started to appear in the waves. Two black, sickle shaped fins loop in and out of the water. Porpoises?
I hadn’t been paying attention when Richard explained the difference between them and dolphins. These two swim quickly eastwards and are followed by 3 more. I am thrilled to have reasonable pictures of these intelligent and charismatic mammals, and sit back with a big grin on my face. Suddenly they are back, now swimming northwards and – Oh Joy – they are reaching higher, showing pale undersides, and even more joy, one of them is a calf!

This I have never seen before, and “Common Dolphin” seems a poor name for such a sublime animal.

To go from the sublime to the fabulous, several of us got good imates of this Hummingbird Hawk Moth on the patch of Golden Rod by the farm:

Posted in This Wild Life | 1 Comment

Skokholm as in Stoke ’em (Part 1)

 Skokholm is the smallest of the three islands off the coast of Pembrokeshire. There is another further out – Grassholm – which has no landing place, and is home to 40,000 Gannets.  I spent a few days on Skokholm 2 years  ago, so I know it’s not for the faint hearted, or for the internet dependent. It’s difficult to get to, the rooms are unheated, power is only available when there has been some sun – and this is Wales we are talking about. Worst of all we men have to sit down to have a pee – on a composting toilet which separates the urine from the crap! 

Actually it’s magic,  but with only an intermittent phone signal, keeping a daily blog is too difficult, so now that I am back I will post my thoughts and pictures in roughly chronological order and in three episodes. Here’s the first:

1 Sunday 2 Sept

We are an odd looking bunch. I know full well that my first impressions will change – almost certainly for the better, but as I look round the boat, heaving and swaying in the moderate wind as it lurches towards the island, my heart sinks. For one thing there are too many of us for comfort, and I’m always uncomfortable in groups of people who are like me, especially when the common factor is age. I feel I don’t belong with these old people, even though I am one, and I suspect many of us feel the same. We become invisible as we age, no longer relevant to the young, and so ignored. Life’s great paradox: we all want to become old but nobody wants to be old.

Unusually, there are more women than men, and all seem to look a bit like retired academics! From the left they are Liz, Dorothea, John and Norma. There is a younger couple: Dave who is friendly and chatty and Mo who looks cross and says little. Here they are later searching for an elusive Wryneck:

Howard, the second one I met as we worked together hauling luggage up and down the path to the boat, is grizzled and tough looking and at first I thought he was one of the boat crew. This is him with Jessica (not her real name) of whom more later.

Before we embarked I caught this blissed-out seal pup in the harbour at Martin’s Haven. (for the word freaks I apologise for the tautology.)Once all the huge pile of luggage is on shore and transported up to the farm buildings by dumper truck, we gather at the outside table sheltered by the group of old buildings. There we are given cups of tea and wait for Richard, the warden, to give his welcome talk. I am opposite him, but it’s a big table and I miss most of what he said. Slowly but surely I feel my gut reacting. It’s my old enemy, the malign mini-brain in my gut, also known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which tells me when it thinks I should be stressed. Once set in, the ache in my belly is hard to shift. I take a tablet which is supposed to calm it down but it’s there with me for the rest of the day. I won’t let it spoil my afternoon though, and get some nice pictures of a water rail from one of the micro-hides placed round the island. The sun comes out and there are lots of Red Admiral and Painted Lady butterflies patrolling the paths.

I was looking forward to the evening meeting where we all report what we have seen during the day. The common room is in the cottage where my bedroom is. Come nine o’clock, the wood stove is lit and, in what must seem like a weird ritual to normal people, we all sit round on sofas and chairs waiting for the boss. Richard and Giselle are joint Wardens, but it’s Richard who keeps the records and writes the Skokholm Blog. He goes through a list of the main species of birds seen plus a short list of anything else that moves –  animals, insects, seals, slow worms.  I keep records,  and try to join in, but it’s torment. I feel like an alien trying to understand what is being talked about. The gut gets worse.

22:00 The meeting is over, but it now it seems most of them are going out in the dark to look for storm petrels – a charming little bird seldom seen on land or in daylight. The group of ringers are bustling about; some carrying chairs, another pushing a wheel-barrow with what looks like a guitar amplifier amongst other bits of kit. We set off like a group of miners each with our head-torch, until we get to some sort of stone shelter and are told to sit there and wait.  The birds will be brought to us. Sit! Scrambling helplessly around are a few of the thousands of Manx Shearwaters to fledge on the island. They have to shed some weight and gain some muscle before they can fly to their real home – the open sea.

We are asked to turn our torches off and the darkness wraps itself round us, with only the faint glow from the mainland showing the paler sea. The only sound is the eerie calls of young “Manxies” on their first flights, passing like waifs above us, showing briefly in the torchlight and then being lost in the blackness. 

It’s wonderful, magical – and so it was until the noise started. It’s hard to describe the recorded sounds made by storm petrels when looped and amplified to the volume of a rail station announcement https://sounds.bl.uk/Environment/British-wildlife-recordings/022M-W1CDR0001409-0600V0 – grinding, screeching, wailing, croaking, barking, over and over again. At first it was fun in an outlandish way, but it went on and on, while we waited patiently in the dark. Forty-five minutes later I’d had enough and set off back, gut rumbling.

At least I thought I had set off back, but quite soon my torch showed unfamiliar rock formations. I was lost. I looked all round – nothing but darkness. Stop. Don’t panic. There’s a faint glow from the mainland. That’s east, and I need to move northwards to find the farm. I can see another light moving around, but it’s not in the right direction – I think. After 5 minutes I find another track going in what seems like the right direction, and five minutes later I see the outline of a building. I’m back, gut still bad but glad to be in bed, safe.

Posted in This Wild Life | 2 Comments

Justified Image Grid – an astonishing correspondence

This is the story of what can happen when an Oldie like me – fairly internet savvy, but no tech wizard – meets one of the true back-room-boys online. It’s a bizarre unfolding of what seemed to be a simple matter – buying a piece of software to make my website look better and load faster. The software is a Plugin for WordPress called “Justified Image Grid”. “NextGen” is a gallery plugin. 

If WordPress and Plugin have lost you already then jump ship quickly – this is not for the technically faint hearted! to make things easier to follow, my comments are in bold, my emails in normal type and the replies are in italics.

I’ve put a lot of time in lately to getting my website to look right and load quickly, all the time struggling with the mysteries of WordPress. This JIG (not the kind we woodworkers are familiar with) seemed just right for the job. It meant shelling out $27 but that didn’t seem too bad if it did what it claims, and the reviews were excellent. So I clicked the “buy now” but got a nasty surprise. This is what I wrote to the developers:

I intended to buy Justified Image Grid, but decided not to for these reasons: 1 You ask for too much information about me. 2 Your password request is the most complicated I have ever come across. 3 You express the price in dollars. 4 You ask for VAT in dollars.

Surprisingly I had a reply. Before I’d even got past the pre-amble there were the names of no less than 3 companies or groups I had never heard of. Apparently I have an “Envato Market Profile”. News to me.

From: Belcovio support

Sent: 09 August 2018 08:56

To: twynog [at] gmail [dot] com

Subject: Re: [CodeCanyon] Message sent via your Envato Market profile fromtwynog 

It’s not us that ask you for that, it’s the whole marketplace, it’ll be same for anything purchased here. We have nothing to do with these rules. If you want you can pay via bitcoin directly so you can remain anonymous.

BITCOIN? Me? I wrote back:

On Thu, Aug 9, 2018, 11:20 Richard Turner <twynog [at] gmail [dot] com> wrote:

Thanks for the reply 

I’m not sure what you mean by the “whole marketplace”. Who will use the data you demand? Are you saying that once I have an account with you, you will never send me an email? I have frequently bought stuff online on a “guest customer” basis. You don’t need my postal address to sell me a piece of software, and I don’t see why “the marketplace” needs a password, let alone the longest and most complicated I have ever been asked for. Why make  your customer angry before the point of sale? All I want is to be able to show a grid of pictures on my WordPress home page. Your JIG does this with NextGen galleries which I have already set up. I’m ready to pay $27 which is the price you quote. This is a retail price so should have any taxes included. It is dishonest to quote one price and then ask for more at the checkout, and especially a figure in US dollars which would not apply in the US.  

To repeat, I would very much like the opportunity to buy your software for the price you quote, but and not willing to set up an account which I do not need. 

Richard Turner

Wales, UK

The next reply was even more surprising:

From: Belcovio support

Sent: 10 August 2018 17:03

To: Richard Turner

Subject: Re: [CodeCanyon] Message sent via your Envato Market profilefromtwynog 

Hi, 

When you buy JIG or any similar product that is sold on CodeCanyon, you buy like this. It’s not our system, we don’t control it or set the rules. Think of it as you were buying an app on Google Play or Apple Play store. It’s just that they are way smarter and include the VAT in a reverse-way in all their prices. We don’t like how Envato (the owner of CodeCanyon) handles this and there is generally an uproar about this in the author forums. They don’t wish to earn less in case of an EU buyer (the VAT itself is added due to regulatory requirements). There is no rule that states we/they couldn’t just absorb the loss in the net sale due to reverse applying the VAT to EU buyers. What’s more concerning is that they don’t do this with other countries, we have no way of invoicing properly to Canada for example where there is GST/HST similarly to VAT in EU. If you go to any store in the US, every price is without tax, and they only apply it to your basket at the counter, as every state has different %. So this is customary to US buyers. Same is true if you order from non-UK Amazon, at the end of the checkout you’ll see a price difference that reflects the tax % difference in the Amazon locality vs UK tax %. We guess you could open an Envato account in a relative’s name that is not from the EU, so no VAT will be added to the invoice.

On Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 6:40 PM Richard Turner <twynog [at] gmail [dot] com> wrote:

Hello again 

Thanks very much for a considered reply. I seem to have hit a sore place! Perhaps one day you will change your marketplace. It’s hard sometimes to accept that we have to follow whatever is the custom in the US when using the web. It’s a form of cultural imperialism which they seem completely oblivious to. WordPress for example greets me with “howdy”, and shops are always stores. How about a rebellious gesture: cut out the middle man. Send me your bank details and I will send you £20 for the software! 

Good luck anyway.

RT

I really didn’t expect to hear from them again, but they don’t give up easily this lot. The next message was from PayPal asking for £20 from “Bálványos Péter” . This could only be the software. It seemed a bit risky sending £20 to someone I knew nothing about, but I paid and then got a message from Dropbox:

Hi Richard,

Firsh (firshee [at] gmail [dot] com) invited you to view the file “justified-image-grid-premium-wordpress-gallery.zip” on Dropbox.

View file

Enjoy!

The Dropbox team

Success! I’d bought the fabulous Justified Image Grid for a good price. Now all I had to do was install it and get editing. Little knowing what I was letting myself in for I wrote back:

On Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 8:06 PM Richard Turner <twynog [at] gmail [dot] com> wrote:

Excellent!  

I’ve not loaded a preset from a file before, but I see there is a pdf with instructions so I should be OK.  

Ironically I had found a way to get a grid of sorts on my home page, but this will be better, and it feels good to bypass the system! 

Not sure what you say in NZ, but we say 

Cheers 

RT

Ominously my next 2 mails were downbeat:

Hello Firsh 

I’ve spent hours trying to upload the zip file but, even after installing the dropbox app I can’t get it to work. This is what I get when I unzip the original folder: (screenshot) 

Can you help?

Hello 

I have the zip file for JIG online, but can’t figure out how to upload it. When I try to download the file to the dropbox app it won’t open as a zip file. How do I get the file from dropbox online to a place where I can upload it to WordPress? 

Richard Turner

I had this reply:

You just need the zip next to the documentation and upload that. If you try to upload the whole thing along with the documentation to WP it won’t work.

Cordially,

Belcovio support

Clear as mud; I was still stuck, and wrote this: 

Using MS Edge browser, this is what I see when I open the file you sent to dropbox. I simply can’t access the zip file. I’ve also tried Internet Explorer with the same result.

RT

OK – I’ve finally got it, but not from any of your suggestions. I managed to transfer  just the .zip file from dropbox online to my dropbox account. Previously I had saved the  folder and got nowhere. From my dropbox account I was able to download it in a form which could, at last, be uploaded to wordpress.  

Despite all the hassle I wish you well – perhaps a simpler method might be better?  

RT

On Sun, Aug 12, 2018 at 9:45 AM Richard Turner <twynog [at] gmail [dot] com> wrote:

Hello again Belcovio 

“Not that man again!” Well, the good news is I’ve achieved most of what I wanted to achieve e with JIG: all my galleries now look great. There is one more thing I need, a JIG gallery or album on my home page with each picture linked to one of the galleries in the galleries page. Easy? 

Thanks for you patience 

Richard Turner

 

From: Belcovio support

Sent: 12 August 2018 11:13

To: Richard Turner

Subject: Re: home page

Yes there are numerous ways, but it depends on the content source and your setup.

Approach 1 is:

You have a featured image on each gallery page/post.

Use index JIG in recent posts mode to capture those pages/posts by featured image and JIG automatically links to them.

Approach 2:

You already have an index gallery of various images that correspond to some galleries.

You can manually add links to such gallery pages/posts on the shown images using custom links feature.

Disregard custom links everywhere, except on the index JIG. General settings > Custom link’s target.

This is so that once you see the linker image among its related pics in the gallery, that linker image doesn’t link to the page it’s on again.

Cordially,

Belcovio support

On Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 8:35 AM Richard Turner <twynog [at] gmail [dot] com> wrote:

It’s no good – I’ve tried for hours yesterday and this morning to understand what your email refers to but I can’t figure it out. Have you any idea what this stuff is like to a non-specialist? It’s like trying to decode some ancient manuscript written in an unknown language.

This is what I have:

Various NextGen galleries of different categories of wildlife, each with a featured image.

This is what I want:

A home page displaying the featured image  for each of the galleries, which when clicked takes you to the gallery. That, for now, is all I want.  

How complicated is that?  

RT

From: Belcovio support

Sent: 13 August 2018 12:47

To: Richard Turner

Subject: Re: home page 

Hi, 

Now that you mention you are using the NextGEN source, that uses different approaches. My previous email was for normal WP media library. 

Here is a video. I don’t show approach #3 as it has a prerequisite and is too advanced. One of the 2 approaches in the video should work for you. 

https://www.screencast.com/t/xalYVAZ5 

Cordially,

Belcovio support

On Tue, Aug 14, 2018, 11:16 Richard Turner <twynog [at] gmail [dot] com> wrote:

Are you Firsh?

I’m grateful to you for sticking with this, but brace yourself – it’s getting worse!

I have a severe hearing loss, which makes videos difficult. Normally there are subtitles of a sort, and your previous videos had the usual computer generated subtitles, but not this one. Sometimes I can understand what is being said from the audio, but in your case it is very quiet, even with all the sound parameters at maximum. Trying to follow the video with no sound, I’m getting even more confused. Is there no way you could write instructions that I can follow? OS is Windows 10, browser is Edge, website as below. 

RT

From: Belcovio support

Sent: 14 August 2018 11:18

To: Richard Turner

Subject: Re: home page 

Hi, 

Oh no 🙂 Yes I’m Firsh the developer. Belcovio is the publisher. 

The old videos were created over a span of days. I wrote the captioning by hand. That quality level is unsustainable on the long run if I were to create a video series without this being my main job. 

I even installed OBS the software game steamers use, as that accepts microphone volume at maximum, in comparison to the old software I was using. 

Just send or create me a temporary WordPress admin user to your site and I’ll set it up.

 

From: Belcovio support

Sent: 14 August 2018 13:09

To: Richard Turner

Subject: Re: home page

I have not received the admin account yet.

I was quite proud that I had managed to send him a user account, but I wasn’t surprised it had not worked. I tried something simpler: 

User Name Firsh

Password    z)0mr4gg5rch!DMLomgsyLz^ 

Hope that works

 

From: Belcovio support

Sent: 15 August 2018 11:02

To: Richard Turner

Subject: Re: home page PS

The login works, I’m getting there but it’s not finished yet.

Cordially,

Belcovio support

 

A day went past; then another day. I was getting impatient:

On Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 6:53 PM Richard Turner <twynog [at] gmail [dot] com> wrote:

I’ll wait until tomorrow, but I’m not comfortable with this situation so will remove you as admin tomorrow (UK time) if I haven’t heard back from you. If you can still help I can always put you back again.  

RT

Was he too busy? He’d managed to put my home page into a nice grid but the links weren’t working. He must have hit a snag and given up.

Hi,

The site has some problems I haven’t been able to find and resolve. Tried disabling all plugins, and there is no conflict that would explain this. For some reason, the gallery links don’t work the standard way. Could be something related to NextGEN since JIG relies on it handling these links. The same NG+JIG version combo works fine on my server.

So I solved it with JIG Recent Posts mode that links to Pages, in the manually specified order, using their IDs. Each page linked has a featured image now. This is not the most automatic way but it will do until you have dozens of galleries.

While I did some of it I again recorded a video, but no sound this time. Decided might as well just record it, maybe you can learn something from it.

http://www.screencast.com/users/firshee/folders/Snagit/media/788d198c-aad2-4d44-8d03-0e6477e3c6ed

I set some good slugs on the pages as they had something like years as their URL /2017-1/ or similar.

A big problem is that some of the images are the original resolution, which prevents them from working with many things. They are too large to be inserted as featured image, you can see it struggles in the video while a normal size image works well. When switching the lightbox the 28MP image is jagged to zoom and loads slowly, compared to the rest of the site which is fast. I recommend uploading images (after batch processing) in JPG 65% quality and no larger than 1920 px on the longer side (like I do on the JIG site)…

My timezone is GMT+2. Sorry it took so long, I thought it was a JIG issue, but it seems more like a NextGEN weirdness.

Cordially,

Belcovio support

It is just so heartening to know that these anonymous tech geeks really do care. It must have taken Firsh hours of working time, first to enable me to buy on my terms,  and then to use the software. I can’t help wondering though if more women were software developers would things be less complicated? People like Firsh (and they all seem to be male) seem to thrive on arcane jargon and massively convoluted methods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in This Wild Life | 4 Comments