Sunday, 28 February 2010

Garden Birds

Bryony has already blogged about the huge numbers of birds we had in the garden last weekend, when it snowed, so I won't go into lots of details. What was so odd though was that I don't think I've ever seen so many of the same species in the garden at once. There was around twenty fieldfares at one point, although as they often move in a flock that wasn't too surprising. The weird thing was we had three song thrushes at the same time, something we have never had before. We also had three robins but they were just as likely to be attacking each other as they were to be found eating the food -- some of the photos show blood on the snow!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Wildlife Near You

In a comment to yesterdays Bittern spotting post, Rob pointed out that I should add the details to the Wildlife Near You website. The idea behind the website is that people record their trips out and the wildlife they have seen. As more trips get entered into the website then it becomes useful for planning days out as well. Say you are living in Penistone and fancy a day out to see a Lion, then you can search the site for lion near penistone and find that the nearest one is at Chester Zoo, 56 miles away.

So now I've added our trip to Potteric Carr, so if you live in Penistone and want to know the nearest place anyone has seen a Bittern then a simple search will tell you to visit Potteric Carr rather than going all the way to Leighton Moss.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Spot The Bittern Competition

We spent Saturday at Potteric Carr Nature Reserve. Whilst you are quite likely to see lots of interesting wildlife the one bird everyone goes to see at this time of year is the Bittern. We did manage to see one (two in fact) although always at something of a distance. Just to show you how difficult they can be to spot try playing spot the Bittern in this photograph.
If you don't know what a Bittern looks like then the RSPB has some useful drawings. If you still can't see it then I'll give you a hint, it's looking right and has it's head down. When you give up just click the image and you'll get a version where I've ringed the Bittern to make it more obvious.

This was the best view we got of the Bittern, other than a quick glimpse of it flying. A friend of mine actually went and sat in the same hide on Sunday and spent about 45 minutes watching it walk right across the front of the hide just 12 feet in front of him. I guess he was just in the right place at the right time. It would have been nice to get such a good view but we had a great day and would have enjoyed the trip even if we hadn't seen the Bittern at all.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Opening Up The Source

Over the last few years I've released a number of bits of software via this blog; Convert4Frame, TagME, RSSThumbs, SitemapGenerator and PhotoGrid just to name those that I can remember! Some of these have been released with source code and some without, but there has been no consistent policy. In an attempt to make my life easier and to allow the possibility of other people contributing to these projects I've employed a butler, called Hudson, to help me out.

Hudson keeps on eye on the source code for all these projects and makes sure that bugs don't creep in by continuously building the application and telling me if anything breaks.

You can see what Hudson is doing by going to the website he is running for me. From there you can not only track the latest developments (and see if I screw up and introduce a bug) but you can also browse the source code which is now hosted in a publicly accessible SVN repository.

Of course if you aren't interested in the development of these applications then you can just continue to use them exactly as you were before. Hopefully though this will allow other people to get interested and help develop some of these programs and will at least ensure that I don't accidentally release buggy versions.

Be Sure To Backup Your Templates

Yesterday Blogger decided to muck about with the template for my book blog. I posted a blurb for Along The Penistone Line and then re-freashed the page so I could see the new post. Bizarrely while the main layout was fine the layout of each post had changed dramatically. On that blog I've always had the number of comments below the post and floated to the right, and the post title has had a background image, but for some reason these and a whole bunch of other things had changed.

I tried editing the template but each time I clicked save it reverted back to the previous version and lost my edits. I tried it from a number of different web browsers (Firefox, Chrome and Opera) so it was definately an issue with Blogger and not caching or cookies on my machine. In the end I renamed the post section from Blog1 to Blog2 which had the effect of deleting the post widget from the template and adding a new default one. This finally allowed me to edit the layout again.

I still don't know quite what the issue was, and even having spent a few hours I'm still not convinced that the layout is exactly as it was before. So the moral of this story, as with any story relating to computers, is to take backups. If you go to the Edit HTML tab of the layout editor Blogger will allow you to download a copy of your layout as an XML file. Everytime you change the layout save a new copy of this file so that if things go pear shaped you have a solid place to start from when repairing the damage.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

All Change!

Well that wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be. Hopefully you won't actually noticed that anything is different but if you look in the address bar you will see that the URL for this blog has now changed to

It would probably be a good idea to update any bookmarks or feed subscriptions to use the new URL but I have setup redirects so any old links to any page of the blog should continue to work. Please feel free to have a poke around and see if anything is broken. I know that the search isn't currently working as I'm waiting on Google to catch up and index the new URL. If you spot anything else that doesn't seem right please leave me a comment.

Now the blog is being hosted by Blogger I'll probably upgrade the template to the modern widget based layout so there may be a few more tweaks over the next week or so but hopefully there shouldn't be any major disruption.

Turbulent Times

Well this is my 400th post and possibly the last before Google enforces some changes to this blog. Ever since I started this blog I've used the "Publish via FTP" feature of blogger which means I could host the blog on any URL and have full access to all the files. Apparently maintaining this feature is too much like hard work and so as of the 26th of March I'll no longer be able to post in the way I have for the last 400 posts.

I'm not going to wait until the last moment to figure out what to do about this so I will be experimenting with numerous ways of moving the blog somewhere else. This means that there is likely to be some upheaval while I get things sorted. So if the blog disappears for a few days don't worry too much.

I don't think this change affects any other bloggers I know but if you do publish your blog via FTP then you need to start getting ready for this change. Google have started a blog of their own to collect all the relevant info and I'll keep you updated with how things go and where to look for future posts as soon as I know myself.