gallery, cafe & apartment

Archive for the tag “technology”

All change please…

[belated] Happy New Year, and welcome to the new look blog/website.

We really needed to a proper website up for the first full year of business for the gallery/cafe.  Unfortunately the old WordPress ‘theme’ [PianoBlack] although very nice for the blog didn’t work for a website, as when you added extra pages the navigation was hidden away up the top right, almost invisible.  So we’re trying a completely different theme – Bold Life – as none of the other [free] black themes worked either.

As you can see, we now have a static home page, and specific pages for the blog, as well as linking to the online gallery and accommodation, and a proper contact form.  There is still quite a lot of tweaking to do, and it’s not entirely impossible that the whole theme may change again before the end of the month as we either get used to it, or not…

Currently listening to: The Time Has Come – Christy Moore [who I saw live in Baltimore, Co Cork, in 1986, as you do…]


One year on – adventures in blogging

This week marked the first anniversary of the OldByreSkye blog*, which means we’re not far off our first anniversary on Skye, but that anniversary can wait for its own post.

The graphic below comes from the WordPress webstats and shows in crude terms the overall and relative reach of this blog in its first year.

A year of blogging

A year of blogging – lies, damn lies and webstats…

It shows that there have been nearly 3000 views in the year, although says nothing of the number of visitors, as WordPress didn’t start recording this until week 49 of 2012.  It’s not a huge number, but at least there have been no dead days where absolutely no-one (except me!) has looked at the blog (thanks mom!). It also reveals that there have been visitors from all continents excluding Antarctica, which isn’t represented on the map anyway…

A few notes of caution and elucidation.   Webstats always need to be viewed with caution as they invariably miss things or mislead.  In WordPress’s case they seems to ignore those logged into the WordPress system.  I say this because there have been regular instances of people ‘liking’ or commenting on posts who are fellow WordPress bloggers, but whose country of origin does not show on the day’s stats.  Sometimes you also get a lot of views (or ‘hits’) in a day, but the advent of visitor stats reveals that these are often multiple views by the same visitor.

As regards the geographic distribution, nearly 90 per cent of views were from the UK, which is to be expected.  The rest of the top five are United States (US), South Africa, Australia, Finland, closely followed by Sri Lanka.  Can I explain this?  The US is probably the ‘top’ blogging nation; South Africa is a total mystery and came in a few concentrated bursts; for Australia I have a cousin who reads the blog, and a follower; Finland is again a total mystery, and Sri Lanka is most likely a former work colleague (hi Chamira!).

I didn’t manage a post a week, but 36 isn’t too bad, and is better than once a fortnight.  So I’ll be aiming to bore you more often and more rigidly in the coming year than last!

*Blog is, of course, a portmanteau word derived from ‘web’ and ‘log’.  According to today’s WordPress stats there are currently over 61 million WordPress blogs alone, although this doesn’t mean they are all active or that anybody reads them.  Technology has brought us to a place where it is likely that more people are writing for recreation than at any time in history, but we are constantly told that fewer people than ever are reading for pleasure.  Something doesn’t add up and it’s probably shallow research not revealing or accepting that people read on-line……

Currently listening toLonesome Dreams – Lord Huron [think Fleet Foxes lite.  Not the only thing that was ‘lite’.  iTunes couldn’t download the album artwork, until I noticed that the CD’s own metadata had the title spelled incorrectly and I corrected it!  Good album though…]

Strange visitors

Skye had some unusual visitors from opposite ends of the technological spectrum last week.

On Thursday we went down to Portree to see the PS Waverley, the last seagoing paddlesteamer in the world (although she was only built in 1947).  She (why are ships always feminine, by the way?) was sailing in the area most of last week, but mainly from Armadale in the south which is a much longer drive.  She was built on the Clyde for the LNER (just before nationalisation) to operate as a ferry on the Clyde up to Loch Long*.  Paddle steamers are suited to river/inshore work as they can have very shallow draughts and were still in service on the Humber estuary crossing up to the opening of the bridge in 1981.  The last Royal Navy paddle tugs were built as late as 1957 and were, topically, still in service for the Silver Jubilee Spithead Review in 1977.

Waverley paddle steamer

Going for a paddle?  The owners claim the Waverley is “probably the most photographed ship in the world” – so here’s another one to add to the total…

At the other end of the technological spectrum, on the same day, internet and telephone connections on Skye were hit by an attempted cable theft.  I don’t know if we were affected – we were out most of the day, although we did have some issues with paying by plastic.  As the link points out, if we assume it was the usual type of cable theft, with the thieves after copper wire to sell, then they were at the lower end of the intellectual spectrum.  It was a fibre optic cable – no copper there folks…

It does show, yet again, how fragile modernity can be, especially in remote rural settings.  We are constantly being told that the future involves more working from home (we’re doing our bit!).  If we were still in London we would be being told ‘to avoid unnecessary travel during the Olympics and to work flexibly’.  But without a reliable infrastructure, be it ferries or broadband, which means multiple redundancy, so a single connection going down doesn’t take half an island offline, and thus greater expenditure it just won’t work.  [By the way George, that’s part of plan B when you need it – like yesterday].  I’ve been thinking: we get a lot of pigeons in the garden – I wonder if I could train them…

*Loch Long isn’t so named because, at 20 miles, it is long, but from the Gaelic for ‘ship’.

Currently listening toTravels [live] – Pat Metheny Group.  First jazz record I ever bought, back in 1983, when as a double on the German ECM label it cost a small fortune which, as an undergrad, I hadn’t really got!

Wot, no home service?*

Up here on the west of Skye we don’t have very good radio reception.  I like having the radio on in the background when I’m working, especially cricket when it’s on, which these days usually means Radio 5 extra, which I’ve previously listened to on DAB.  DAB is a complete no go; VHF is variable; medium wave is generally very poor.

So, as we have wireless broadband, the answer is internet radio, which means I can listen to anything from Albanian folk radio to Zim Net Radio Zimbabwe, should I suddenly be at a (very) loose end.  There are quite a few models on the market, though not the plethora of analogue radios, or even DAB that are available, so choosing should have been reasonably straight forwards, especially as I want to be able to move it around the house easily and use it in the bathroom (no plug sockets), which means being able to use batteries or a recharging pack.

So, I made my choice via the Amazon market place.  The model I really wanted was discontinued, but there was a vendor who had a few in stock  (I didn’t want the more expensive,  fully featured replacement with DAB as the whole point of the exercise is that we can’t get DAB, so why pay for it!).  So: put in basket, proceed to checkout, put in delivery address, and… “Sorry, supplier will not deliver to address specified.  Please remove from basket or select new address”.  The supplier of another item in the basket wouldn’t deliver either…

I presume the reason for this was not that Scotland had suddenly been placed on some technology transfer blacklist (like North Korea, or Cuba if Amazon is feeling particularly craven) but that the carrier the vendor uses charges a premium for deliveries to the Isle of Skye.  Even though Skye is not an island for road traffic purposes as there has been a bridge since 1995, which has been toll-free since 2004.  But try telling that to some of the ‘national’ delivery companies and suppliers who still talk about ‘delivering items to the nearest mainland port’, or who charge a premium for driving across the bridge, but not for driving another 100 miles up the road on the mainland!  I was aware of these issues before we moved, but being here brings home the grasping nature of it all (you’re a small market, you don’t have much option, so pay up or shut up: or walk away and find another supplier…).

So, I chose a different radio that was available directly from Amazon itself, and it arrived without any major hitch (just a day later than estimated).  And very nice it is too.  It’s a Pure Oasis Flow, which looks like a Tonka toy as it is rather large and robust, being water-resistant and having an external aluminium frame. The irony is that the original radio I tried to order was designed and manufactured by Revo, a Scottish company!

Internet radio, and free advertising for companies that don't need it...

*For younger readers, or those who enjoy being patronised, the ‘home service’ or ‘The BBC Home Service’ to be precise is what became Radio 4 in 1967.  Radio Three was ‘The Third Network’ (previously ‘The Third Programme’), and Radios One and Two originated from ‘The Light Programme’.  No I don’t know why they were called ‘programme’ rather than ‘network’.  This was all when god was in short trousers and I can barely remember it.  I was using it as a clever play on words, that is becoming less clever by the moment…

Currently listening to: The Six O’clock News – on internet radio of course!

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