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John Kelly
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Kindle Books

Kindle book - My Lanzarote. 10 walks and a personal view

Kindle Book And A Pub For Lunch

5 Walks In The Yorkshire Dales

 

 Technical Stuff

This page results from enquiries I have had and is for anyone interested in the technicalities involved in setting up this website or who might perhaps want a website themselves.

I will begin by stressing that I was starting from a virtual zero knowledge base so everything had to be straightforward.

Why did I choose 1 & 1 to Host Happy Hiker

Anyone starting a website needs to register and "own" a domain - in my case happyhiker.co.uk. You also need someone to "host" your website i.e. to put the files you create on their server linked to the worldwide web. For simplicity, I wanted to have both functions with one provider but who to choose - there are so many?

So I started researching the web looking for reviews/comments about providers. I quickly came to the conclusion that they are all useless. Why; because I could not find one where all or even a significant majority of the reviews were positive. Obviously this cannot be so and I came to the conclusions a)  that I would have to disregard the reviews and b) I could spend the rest of my life researching. I reasoned that as I only wanted a simple website with no particularly clever bells and whistles that a basic package with virtually any of them would probably suffice.

I liked the idea of one powered by green energy, one that was a large well established company and where costs were reasonable. I had to "plump" for someone and to some extent seduced by a large advert in a computer magazine, chose 1&1.

So, how has it been for me? Well, it has all worked very smoothly. I had a problem when I first started which as it turned out was due to my ignorance rather than a problem with 1&1. I phoned their help desk and they quickly explained my mistake. I particularly liked that they did not treat me like an idiot - which given that the issue was due to my ignorance, they could have done. 1&1 give you a Control Panel through which you access various features such as statistics on visitors.

So would I recommend them? In a word, yes.

Web Design Software

Although 1&1 and other web hosts provide templates where you essentially just fill in the blanks, they usually limit the number of pages and in any case, I wanted a unique design with full control and therefore needed some web design software. I intended to start this site a few years ago and via Ebay bought a copy of Microsoft Front Page 2000. As a true Yorkshireman, I did not want to waste anything so decided to see if it would still work and as you can see, it does!

Being used to MS Word and Excel, I found it fairly intuitive but a manual "Front Page 2000 for Busy People" was a boon and explained everything in simple terms.

Some MS Front Page functions are no longer supported, a significant one being its statistics section but as 1 & 1 provide them anyway this was not an issue. I also use the free Google Analytics but only to a limited extent as this seems to have become very complicated.

I realise any web designer worth his/her salt will consider Front Page is stone-age but a) I understand it, b) it works and c) the website seems to respond quickly in browsers I have tried - so that is good enough for me!

Design of the Site

In choosing colours, text etc, I wanted a design which looked crisp, had no fancy graphics, music etc which might delay responses and which would have good contrast and so be best visible to anyone with sight problems.

Black on a white background seemed best for this for the bulk of the text. Where I wanted to have text over background  colours, I have used pale shades for the background and emboldened text. The text itself is Arial which is clear and crisp. The RNIB advise between 8 and 10 point size for the general reader and I have used 10 on the web pages although how this appears to the reader will depend on the size of their monitor and browser settings.

It is probable that if anyone wanted to print out the directions for my walks to take with them, they would not want to print the photos as well if only to save ink! I therefore decided to provide PDF versions of the text only, to give people an easy option. Knowing how annoying it is when people have to keep switching glasses or putting on reading glasses, the PDF versions are in 12 point in the hope of keeping this to a minimum. Note anything printed on an ink jet printer is unlikely to be waterproof so use of a map case is advised.

Alternatively, there is waterproof paper.

I have tried to put myself in the mind of a visitor and put considerable effort into making the site operate logically and ensuring links work. If you find any do not, please email me at:

 

Camera

All the photos are taken by me and all have been taken with either of two digital cameras. The first one was a Nikon Coolpix 995. This has 4 x optical zoom, 38 - 152 mm equivalent and 3.34-megapixels. I found I especially liked the swivel facility which made overhead or low shots easier by enabling the screen to swivel independently from the lens.  This camera gave very acceptable results.

However things move on and I decided to upgrade. My original intention was to go back to a SLR type which I used when I used film (remember film?). However when researching, I discovered a new breed of "bridge cameras" which are almost like an SLR but smaller and lighter because they use an electronic viewfinder, so doing away with the mirrors and prisms in SLRs. A SLR would also have required carrying different lenses (as would the equally new "System cameras") and I already carry enough. And lets face it, I am only a "snapper"! So I opted for a Panasonic Lumix FZ100. It has a Leica-branded f/2.8 f/5.2 24x zoom lens (equivalent to 25-600mm) which is truly amazing and 14.1 megapixels. It has all sorts of clever features including image stabilisation which magically obliterates camera shake even at 24x zoom. It has a swiveling screen which gives the same functionality as the Nikon.

As far as I can see, this camera will be the only camera I could ever need - although I said that last time!

All photos are taken as JPEGs at best resolution.

Image Manipulation

To manipulate the photo sizes, add titles and draw my sketch maps, I usually use Paint.Net which a free download. For stitching photos together for the panoramic shots, I use Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Computer

I use a PC rather than a laptop/notebook, a Compaq with 2 GB RAM. I run Windows 7 and Norton 360 for protection. Mapping software is Memory Map.

In the Field

I use a Garmin Geko GPS receiver which I have had for some time now. Basic but it works. This has now been replaced by the Garmin eTrex.

One issue with these basic models is that because they do not contain OS maps, sometimes, you get to a point where the precise onward route may not be clear. A good example would be which side of a wall to walk, if the path was not clear on the ground. However, I always carry a 1:25000 OS map, so such problems can be easily resolved.

Many people are now using smartphones with appropriate apps to follow GPS (GPX) routes. I have not tried this myself but given the relatively limited battery life, I think I would prefer the dedicated machine and even then, backed up by map and compass. Unless OS maps are accessed on the phone, the issue about precision above still apply.

For making notes on the walks, I decided that it would be unfair on companions to be forever stopping to write notes so I use the dictaphone facility on my mobile phone. I can therefore make copious notes very easily on the move, without slowing down. I also sometimes photograph signs with interesting/useful information.

I therefore have no excuse for any mistakes although Sod's Law means there must be an odd one - but I do try.

Google Maps

I have used Google Maps to pinpoint the start point of my walks and to identify the towns/villages in which advertisers of accommodation are located. I was asked how this was done by someone wanting to draw routes on Google Maps. It was easier to explain this visually rather than try to verbally describe it and I produced a Guide to using Google Maps which I make available here In case this is of use to anyone else. The principle of creating lines/markers is the same. I have also set out a way of transferring GPX routes to Google Maps.
NB: Google have changed the way their maps worked and the guide I produced may now have limited use. I have not had chance to look into this yet.

All information on this site is given in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of any damage, loss or injury which might result from acting on it.