dalliard.net

Change

As you might have gathered, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks updating the site design. I was after something a bit more visually striking. Do you think I’ve achieved it?

If you’re interested in the technical stuff, then I’ll elaborate further. As you might have seen on my information page, I use a wonderful tool called Rapidweaver to create the site in conjunction with a design template called Boreal, courtesy of Nick Cates Design. I’ve hacked around with the template, using a selection of my own photography for the header images and some under-the-hood tweaks using a mixture of CSS and Javascript, although I’m not 100% finished yet.

The site’s responsive in nature - so regardless of whether you’re viewing this on a phone, tablet or computer, you should see it (more or less) the same.

There’s still a few bits I’d like to polish off. I want to completely remove any reliance on plugins by converting the image galleries to HTML5 (they use Flash at the moment), as well as using a local database for the search index (reliance on Google is never a good thing). As a consequence, don’t be surprised if you see a few more changes in the near future!

As always, I’m interested in your feedback - you can contact me using the links at the bottom of the page.
Comments

Tumblr

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve started a running log that details my efforts in getting fit for the Cardiff Half-Marathon. If you’re interested in following the story of a chap who most definitely wasn’t born to run, have a look here.
Comments

Updated search

The site’s search facility has been updated to V4 of Rapidsearch by Josh Lockhart. Many thanks to him for his valuable assistance in getting things up and running.
Comments

Catching up...

It would be fair to say that dalliard.net has had quite a significant time of outage - about six months, if you've been counting. The reasons why this happened are quite numerous, but if you've been reading my ramblings for the last few years it won't be that much of a surprise to you - so consider this some form of half-arsed explanation. At the same time, I can give you a potted summary of what's happened to date, because there's been a fair bit. Really, there has.

FIrst of all, in a move that may surprise you, I now have no internet connection at home. This is because it's reasonable to assume that internet access is prevalent enough in the rest of the world, so I dont actually need to pay for it any more. Hell, you can ever wardrive down the street these days. As an aside, the other thing that bugged me was that I had to pay for a phone-line that I never used just so I could have an internet connection. By killing both off, I've saved myself a good bit of money. Anyway, my cheap and cheerful USB dongle will give me access if I ever get stuck....

As I no longer had an internet service provider, I needed to find other means to host the site. My site is now hosted with a reliable company that only cost me a couple of quid per month and I've used them for years on other projects, so I knew they were a good choice. With the exception of a few minor setup niggles, the transition to the new sever has been relatively painless and everything appears to work. I was starting to lose confidence in my previous ISP anyway, so the decision to jump ship was long overdue.

Apart from all this, you'll obviously have seen from my last posting that I'm going to be a father - and that's all still going to plan. Ms Dalliard is doing nicely and feels like she's about to explode, but I'm looking forward to it all. Things are pretty much set-up and ready for the infamous call of the stork at my door. Expectations are that I'll be getting an early Christmas present - and I couldn't ask for anything more. Grumpy old man I may be, but I love Ms Dalliard and her bump.

Of course, that's not all. I've changed job three times, had a spot of surgery (the stitching of an epigastric hernia) and at the same time have managed to keep my ju-jitsu training going. I shall attempt my black-belt grading in approximately three weeks time.

It's fair to say that it's been a fairly action-packed six months.

Nonetheless, with the transition to a new server now complete and things a bit more settled, I'm hoping that my posts might get a bit more frequent again.

But the big question is - will you still be coming back to read them?

I hope so.
Comments

New Feed

Most people that know me know I have many pet-hates. One pet-hate near the top of my list (the list in my head, that is) is my dislike of social-networking sites. I’ve been virulently against the likes of MySpace (though that’s mostly a design aesthetics issue), Facebook and Bebo for quite a while now. I’ve seen many people take it way too far - to the detriment of their working and personal lives. Shame on you, you silly boys and girls. No supper and straight to bed for you.

It would therefore strike you as odd that I should decide to join one, because yesterday I started twittering. My argument would be that it’s not really so much a social-networking site, more of a micro-blogging tool - but I understand completely if you think I’ve sold-out and broken one of my taboos. Hey - what am I going to do to convince you otherwise? Come and give you a good kicking? I think not. Anyway, you look like you could have me in a fight and your wife looks quite hard too, so I’ll just distract you by changing the subject as to why I quite like doing it.

The joy of twitter is that it forces you to think long and hard about what you write. You’ve only got 140 characters to get your message across, after all. Add that to my ingrained laziness, which coerces me into blogging with as little effort as possible and you get the idea. I can tweet to my heart’s content with text-messages whilst out and about. The subject matter will be random and won’t just be a breakdown of what I had for lunch that day. Irrelevant and sporadic are the words to consider here, along with the words gusset and philtrum, although I might be using those a bit less.

So, should you wish to follow my twitterings, feel free. I’m listed under dalliard_dotnet. There’s also a local twitter page should you prefer the alternative presentation.

But if you think the whole thing is shite, good for you - at least you’re sticking by your principles.
Comments

Fiddle.

Happy Christmas. If you're reading this and you can hear the Queen's speech in the background, then you really need to get out more - or get back to your sprouts. If you've not got any sprouts, I'm sorry - you've obviously missed out on the true meaning of Christmas. Perhaps you should hunt down another vegetable?

This will be my last posting for the 2007, so you'll not get any new stuff to read for a week or so... I'm sure you'll cope.

As I drove across the moors to meet my other-half for Christmas dinner, I pondered about the future shape of the site. I've done approximately 330 posts this year. I'm not entirely sure if this is a good thing. It certainly shows madness dedication and is credit-worthy, but I think in the coming year I'll be going for a lesser amount of posts - probably two or three a week. They might just be a little more meaty than what you've had recently. Quality over quantity, or something like that.

I was also thinking on how people stumble across this site. Perhaps I shouldn't ponder on that one too much, because after looking at some of the search criteria people use, there's some weird people out there. That said, I'd like to be able to help people better find what they're after. For this reason I'll be introducing tagging (along with some sort of inevitable tag-cloud) into the blog. It's unlikely I'll be tagging old posts (there are over 500 - that would be a huge job),

But that's that until the New Year. I'm now off to get my passport and phrase-book ready as I don't plan on spending New Year in Britain. Have a good one.
Comments

Tweak

As you may have noticed, the site is going through a few minor changes:

  • The site is now guarded by a wobbly, clumsy ninja. (He's a YTS trainee - finances were tight.)
  • All galleries will be available under one button. There will be a swanky flash menu popping up shortly.
Comments

Freaky Queries

Every so often, I'll have a look at the webstats for the site. I couldn't help but notice that over the last twelve months, hits to the site have quadrupled to over 8,000 for last month.

Possibly more interesting, though, are the search criteria that people use to get to the site. Here's the results for July:



Why you would want to Google for dead flies, car-crash clip-art or find out about reading whilst snowboarding is beyond me - anyone care to tell me why?
Comments

Scrapbook V1.00

As promised, you can start to see a bit of my family history. I haven't spell checked it yet and it needs a tweak or two, but you can see the first version of my online scrapbook....

Here. (Oh, and on the button at the top of the page)
Comments

Site Stuff

Apologies if you've noticed my updates have been sporadic in nature recently. This has been down to my friendly ISP being a load of old arse. As a consequence, it's taken me about six or seven attempts each time to publish my daily update. Then I get e-mailed this...

Dear (name removed),

It recently came to our attention that a potential security problem existed on our website discussion forums (
http://portal.plus.net/central/forums/). It could have been possible to exploit the forum software, and retrieve an encrypted copy of the password details we hold for your account.

As a user of our forums, we are now emailing you to advise you of this, and of the next steps you should take. Although we have no evidence that a malicious attack has occurred, we can confirm that one of our customers proved this vulnerability, and subsequently contacted us. We would like to publicly thank that individual, and we have had assurances that any data obtained has now been destroyed.

We are now asking all customers in receipt of this email to change their account password as soon as possible, purely as a precaution. This can be done on-line, at the Account details section of our website -
http://portal.plus.net

[..snip..]


So, on top of the mediocre service, we now rely on customers to bring up security issues?

Hmmmm, might be time to get my MAC code and change ISP, I think.
Comments

Linkage

I've signed myself up for del.icio.us, meaning:

- All my external links (which were on the right) have now been removed, apart from the del.icio.us one. If you want to see what I link to, you now know where to go.

- On some days, I'll just add links. When that happens, I'll put them on my daily entry, along with the tags I've chosen to classify them by.

- Over a good amount of time this will amount to a large link database that hopefully contains lots of interesting random stuff.

This is called "social bookmarking" - and if you don't know what that is, have a look here...
Comments

Site Update

As you might have gathered, the test was successful, resulting in a significant update. It's taken me quite a bit of time to transfer across 270 entries. There's also a few things I need to mention:

- Comments on old postings have been lost.
- Some of the layout may have slightly changed but the content is pretty much still the same.
- Minor posts (i.e. one liners) over a year old have been deleted. That's about 40 inconsequential postings.

Anyway, I'm pleased to leave iBlog behind, as it was getting quite large and unwieldy to use. It also had a habit of not keeping links updated properly, meaning that I had to do lots of other maintenance (usually recreation of the site and republishing) to correct the errors. Combine this with Rapidweaver's theme support and it means that the site can get more frequent make-overs when I get bored! I'll also be making use of summaries for long articles, which should mean that you find what you want a lot quicker.

Hopefully, you think it's an improvement too.
Comments

Testing Times

For the 18+ months that I've been maintaining this blog, I've been doing it with the help of iBlog, which in it's day did a rather good job at things.

The problem is, it hasn't moved on. It's now getting rather slow and clunky to administer.

So, I'm going to set up a replica blog site soon - and I'll be using RapidWeaver to build it. If it works, I shall be using it all the time. This means that if you see any strange things going on, then don't be remotely surprised. I'm sure I'll have it all finished (or destroyed) by the end of the month!
Comments

Random Linkage

Hopefully you can now see a few new links on the right-hand side.

1) No2ID is quite simply me saying that I don't agree with the introduction of a national identity card database.

2) Spam-Poison is my attempt to confuse the bots that crawl over my page, in an effort to reduce spam e-mail. The e-mail address on this page is getting about 60 servings of spam per day - mildly annoying, as I'm sure you can imagine and certainly more than the government recommended daily average of 5 portions of spam per day. Whether it actually works, of course, is another thing. I won't hold my breath.

On the plus side, this blog is now (scarily) getting over 100 hits per day. My webstats indicate that I'll have had about ~3,200 hits by the end of the month.
Comments

RSS Feed (Eventually)

I'm attempting (somewhat unsuccessfully at the moment) to implement an RSS feed for those that read their blogs with news-reader software (feed-link is on the right). If you encounter problems with it, you can probably be sure that I'm already aware that it's knackered in some way. In the meantime, this shouldn't affect the usual site functionality. I should get it ironed out in a couple days. Thanks for your patience.
Comments

Webstats / Visitors

Every day, the webstats for this site are updated - and they make interesting reading (for me, at least). Apart from English visitors, many come from other countries. Less surprising readers from further afield are Canadian, American and Japanese. However, without fail, I get Swiss visitors. (Hello, readers from Switzerland). I've no idea why. I've never mentioned the country.

Anyway, in a bingo-stlyee, I've decided to gradually cross off the countries from the big long list, until there are no more - care to wager which country will be last?

The list so far: (This will continue to be updated - last updated 20th January '08)

Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Christmas Island, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, US, UK, Venezuela, Yugoslavia.
Comments

Site Acknowledgements

This site was put together with:

Photoshop,
A lot of photos, (All those top row photos were taken by me, over many years)
RapidWeaver

Thanks to all who have helped.
Comments