Archive for the 'Plugins' Category

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In no particular order...


  • The AKU Crodas are wearing-in nicely, they should be ready for a decent walk at the first opportunity. The soles are quite grippy now that the as-moulded shiny slip-on-yer-arse finish has worn off, and the uppers are now a fair fit to my feet.

  • The Trezeta Peaks are now past their best, the toe-rand having worn through down past the membrane. These superbly-comfortable boots never did make it on a proper hike, but they've served well as wear-dailys for all sorts of duties.

  • The Scarpa SLs, of course, are always on stand-by. Like dependable old friends, they're always there when you need them.

  • I've broken a long habit of not wearing any socks other than Thor-Los... I've been trying some cheapo Crane Trail walking socks from Aldi. Tactel-lined and with a light sprinkling of Lycra, they seem to be doing rather well considering the £2.99 price-tag. I doubt that they'll cover the same mileage as my standard KXLs, but that's to be expected when they cost about a tenner less. The STs have been stashed in the kitbox awaiting the next outing of the winter boots.

  • I'm still managing to resist the temptation of a pair of MSR Lightning Ascents in readiness for next winter. What's the betting that when the snow's back, I'm still snowshoeless?

  • Likewise, the acquisition of a Scarp 2 has been resisted, not least because I'm still waiting on the availability of a UK-version fly as per the Scarp 1 changes detailed by Martin. Now that Alpkit are on the subs' bench in the tentage game, I'll have to wait and see what their two-person and geo offerings are like.

  • Talking of outdoorsy stuff, we'll be off for our Annual Wildie together sometime in the next month, with the intention of bagging a few more Wainwrights. Expect details in due course.

  • Furthermore, two family-rooms have been booked at Buttermere YHA for an autumnal weekend. This worked out quite well, as we're paying with Tesco Clubcard Rewards Tokens, our stash having been boosted by 1218 due to the purchase of a new washing-machine from said emporium.

  • There's been much ado in the garden - the snowdrops and daffs have retired, giving way to bluebells and to the blossoms of the pear, the cherry and the plum. Remarkably, I've even got off my butt and done my bit - the lawns have been cut twice and even the hedge has been shorn. The old willow-tree is sending out new growth from where we had it hacked, so there's still hope for it.

  • House-wise I'm back to the hell that is known as plastering. Ella's room needed a revamp, but it seems that the only thing holding up the walls was the wallpaper. Oh well, at least it keeps me off the streets...

  • Blog-wise there are a few new things, not least the addition of a few user-options for comments. Feel free to test them.


All that and no mention of elections, volcanic ash or oil-slicks. Hardly news, is it?

Spam Reduction revisited

Posted by on June 6th 2009 in Plugins, Site update

Last month I went into some detail about the measures that I've taken to reduce the amount of comment-spam. Despite all of the protection in force, a few hardy YSMs have managed to get through the barricade. Not many, and not a lot to be worried about.

Nevertheless, there's no harm in strengthening the defences.

The upshot of this is that for the last week or so I've been trying out the WP-SpamFree plugin and I can confirm that it's caught every scrap of spam since installation. It's got a few nice bells and whistles such as logging options and the facility to set up safe contact form (I'm not using this yet), so it's worth a look-see.

Just how long it'll take for the malevolents to figure a way around it remains to be seen, so I'll keep you posted.

Spam Reduction

Posted by on May 5th 2009 in Plugins, Site update

I think it's fair to say that this blog is small change in the grand scheme of things, and as such doesn't attract too much attention from spammers, but I still like to maintain the defences to keep the yoghurt-sucking mutants at bay.

For a while I relied solely on the supplied-as-standard Akismet plugin, which does a fine job of preventing spam from appearing on post/page comments, but it didn't prevent further attempts by the same spammers.

The required prevention was added by the installation of the WP-Ban plugin, into which I put all of the IP addresses of the spams caught by Akismet. This meant that spammers no longer got a repeat chance, as WP-Ban prevented access and reduced the throughput into Akismet. The only hassle there is that the IP addresses have to be cut&pasted manually, which is a PITA. If only somebody could produce a bit of code that would allow these two plugins to talk to each other, life would be a tad easier. At about the same time, I installed the Simple Trackback Validation plugin, which is fairly self-explanatory.

That setup worked fine for many months, but just into the New Year I started to get a higher incidence of spam, so I looked at further lines of defence. As the majority of the spam was aimed at some older popular posts, the first thing that I did was to automatically close comments on posts that are over 150 days old, using the options in admin > settings > discussion > other comment settings. This cut down the spam even further, and I thought that I had installed enough protection. Spam-rates were down to about 15 a day, which was manageable.

Then a friend called me and said that he thought that a lot of his spam was coming in from sites that were scraping his content and displaying it in frames, and he was wondering if I was experiencing the same. To be fair, I had no idea what he was on about, but I thought I'd see if a preventative measure would make any difference, so I installed the No More Frames plugin to see if it had any effect. That was back in mid-March.

Today I had a look at Akismet Stats to see what the score is. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the spam-count since mid-March was down to just one a day at the most, with many days being spam-free. I like that!

Here's the spam-graph (click the pic for a larger version):

Spam-stats screenshot from Akismet

Of course, there'e always a downside to these things. In this case, I now have precious little new material to add to my "Spam: choice cuts" page. Never mind, eh?

UMapper updated

Posted by on November 6th 2008 in Great Escapes, Maps, Plugins

UMapper's now got quite a few more features, the best one is the (beta) ability to import data in GPX, KML and geoRSS formats. Preliminary mucking-about has resulted in me importing a whole load of my Lake District walking routes from the Memory-Map installation on my lappy. Be warned - it takes a while to load. Later on, I'll get around to adding some notes/markers/lines etc., but for now, WYSIWYG.


Playing catch-up

The blog's now well out-of-date, so it's time to do a bit of catching up. Luckily for you lot, I'm not a stats-whore, so I'll keep things brief and cram everything into one or two posts so that there's not a pile of individual entries to wade through. Now, where to begin...?

  • After a weekend-long posting-restriction imposed by the SGL forum admin, on Monday July 14th I was banned. And yes, the ban is justified. After some unjustified comments made by some of the admin, I reacted, broke the rules and got what I deserved. My crime was to react by removing the content from some of my posts. Just mine. No posts by other members were edited by me. The official version is different, and sounds much more sinister - according to the ban screen, I am banned for "attempting to corrupt the SGL database", which is a bit like saying that I've attempted to eradicate all life from the planet just because I swatted an annoying fly in our kitchen. Luckily, there's no sign that I'll be extradited to spend the rest of my days confined to the Guantanamo Bay facility. Anyway, I deserved the ban, and I don't much care that it'll never be lifted, but at least I'll no longer be hassled by some admins who think themselves beyond reproach and who think that they never have to apologise for anything, even when they have been proved wrong. It's sad that they get the good admins (who are in the majority) a bad press.
  • Talking of things astronomical, I had a bit of a panic a while back when one of the scope mount's tracking-motors packed in. After an online chat with the retailer, arrangements were made for the defective items to be investigated and replaced. Everything's now fixed and working fine, thanks to the great customer service provided by Adam at Rother Valley Optics (retailer) and by Optical Vision Ltd. (importer).
  • There was a clear night here a week or so ago, so I set up the scope to test out the replacement motors and to let the kids have a good look at Jupiter. They were suitably impressed with the view, seeing clearly-defined cloud-bands on the planet and seeing all four of the largest moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto - the Galilean satellites, after Galileo Galilei who discovered them in 1610). After sending the kids to bed, I returned to the scope and had a reasonable visual observing session, finding M8, NGC 6530, M20, M22, Cr 399, NGC 6822 and a few others. The ISS passed over twice during the session, and there were a few meteors around. I didn't set up for imaging, so there are no pics. Since then, it's been cloudy almost every night.
  • Regarding other outdoors activities, there's precious little to report. I missed out on the Outdoors Bloggers' Dartmoor Meet because it was the weekend of my birthday and I didn't feel that it would have been right to bugger off for the weekend. Suffice to say that I got loads of nice pressies. :mrgreen:
  • I managed to fit in a drinking session with my friend Dave, who's a casualty of the recent round of redundancies at Thwaites Dumpers. He's taking it well, but there are a few folk I know from there who've been hit hard by the job cuts. I hope that they all get sorted out soon.
  • Gear-wise, I've been quite reserved about splashing the cash. I supplemented the money that I received as birthday presents in order to buy a SkyWatcher Auto Focuser from Steve at FLO, so that I don't have to faff about twiddling the knob by hand (go on, you make the puns). Even though it's not really auto (it's a motor with a control-box on a curly lead), it's a great bit of kit. Fed up with buying numerous adapters for allowing all sorts of electrical gadgets to be powered or charged in the car, we got a power-inverter so that we can just use the standard mains chargers/transformers instead. I should have bought one of these years ago - I must have spent a small fortune on car-adapters in the last few years. We had a day shopping at Go Outdoors and I didn't get any outdoors gear for myself - that must be some sort of record! Mind you, we spent a small fortune kitting out the other three for our summer holiday.
  • Blog-wise, there have been a few changes here. A few more plugins have been added, if you're interested they're listed at The blogrolls have been updated - quite a few additions, some moves and a few deletions - if you spot any cock-ups, please feel free to let me know. I've a few more changes in the pipe-line, but I'll tell you about them another time.

Well, that's all for now. There's more, but it'll have to wait for later.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

Posted by on June 10th 2008 in Plugins, Site update

Welcome to the new-look BG!

No doubt there'll be a few teething-troubles with this new theme, but I'll give it a shot and see how it fares.

I know that a few of the more useful plugins aren't functional yet, and at present there's no facility to view or create comments on pages, but hopefully it'll get sorted soon.

Please bear in mind that this blog's optimised for Firefox and a screen resolution of 1280x800 px, so if you're using a different browser or res, YMMV.

Ever wondered…

Posted by on May 21st 2008 in Blog on Blog, Plugins

... what the 3-way lovechild of a HAL 9000, Stephen Hawking's E Z Keys/VoiceText combi and Brian Cobby's UK Speaking Clock would sound like?


Me neither.

Well, not until I hopped over to LondonBackpacker's blog and hit one of the odiogo "listen now" buttons at the top of his blog posts.

Top stuff!

I might be tempted to install it on here, if they can come up with a different voice. Jack Dee, perhaps? Or maybe Homer Simpson? Definitely NOT Brian Blessed, though.

Getting sorted out

Posted by on May 20th 2008 in Plugins, Video (YouTube, Vimeo etc.), Wildcamping


Arrangements for the annual BG + SWMBO wildcamp continue apace. The date is set. A new batch of fish risotto has just been dehydrated and frozen, to make up the shortfall of this favourite dish in the dried food stash in the freezer in the attic. FWIW, the latest batch has added truffles, that should be interesting as I have a mushroom intolerance. The routes (prime and FWAs) are 99% sorted, and the objectives are set. Maps have yet to be printed, but that's a short job anyway. The only thing we haven't decided yet is which tent to take: Chris is keen for us to carry the "take whatever the world throws at us" mountain tent as per usual, I'm considering taking something a tad more seasonal, and half the weight. No matter, there's no rush, we'll decide closer to departure based on what the refurbished MWIS predicts. Other than that, we're ready apart from the packing.


The recently-installed plugin, Comment Info Tip, just had to go. It was a handy little utility, but it didn't play nicely with Wavatars, so it's been uninstalled. If any later version proves compatible, I'll consider bringing it back.

Domestic bliss

At long last we have a new bath. After much cursing, a new 170cm white-enamelled steel behemoth was shoe-horned into the void created by the removal of the old 167cm champagne fibreglass tub that everybody here loved to hate. Sounds like a simple operation - just out with the old and in with the new, but the room's only 168cm wide which meant that some judicious chiselling was required. What joy!

The back garden's had a bit of a facelift during the recent fine weather. One of our patches of wilderness garden has been dug out, levelled and turfed, which means that we'll have more room to set up the Gibbon slackline. There was a number of unavoidable casualties during the land-clearance - a 6ft self-set yew had to be dug out, a 20ft elder was pollarded, a fine dog-rose was moved and many raspberry canes and a host of other native and exotic plants were uprooted, some of which were transplanted to other areas of the garden. We saved all of the bulbs (bluebells, snowdrops, daffodils and some others as yet unidentified), later in the year we'll replant them in the newly-created borders. We've left alone the large area of wilderness garden at the far end, so our impact on the wildlife has been minimal.

All change: Avatars, Wavatars, Gravatars.

Posted by on February 4th 2008 in Just for fun, Plugins, Site update

Another nice new plugin, Wavatars (by Shamus Young) shows a Gravatar-style face next to your name when you leave a comment. Of course, if you've set up a proper Gravatar, that will be displayed by default.

Wavatars can generate 956,384 different shapes in 57,600 different color combinations for a total of 55,087,718,400 (55 billion) unique Wavatars. Here are a few examples:

See them in action here.

Sorry but you don't get to choose, that's all sorted by the plugin.


A cheap Christmas pressie for all you commentators

Posted by on December 21st 2007 in Plugins, Site update

Because you've all been behaving nicely, I've decided to cut you some slack and let you edit your own comments. The recently-installed plugin allows you to make edits during the first five minutes after submitting your comment, you should see a timer telling you how much time you have left to make your edit.

Abuse of this facility will lead to it being confisticated and put on a high shelf, visible but just out of reach, and I'll probably dock your pocket-money as well. :grin:

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