SNOW!

SnowSnow!  It is what we have had nearly too much of the last week and apparently going to get even more depending on whose forecast you want to pay attention too this weekend.  And it has been associated with plenty of cold.  Anyway, a few pictures from around the homestead… Continue reading “SNOW!”

WordPress & NextGen Gallery Plugin

NextGen GalleryI have been using NextGen Gallery Plugin for years on the various WordPress blogs I have set up, both for myself and for others. One thing I had not noticed, until recently, was just what a resource hog the NextGen Gallery (NGG for short) plugin is. Maybe I had noticed, because of the light traffic that my blogs typically have. One blog that I helped to set up and continue to help maintain on the back-end has a huge amount of traffic and recently suffered from some major slowdowns due to traffic.

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Getting There… Blog Perfection?

mephistos A long break once again… I know.  Oh well, all I can do at this point is get back on the horse and get going.  Last few post that I did happen to make I was talking about different themes and working some stuff up.  I have finally settled on the current look for the blog.  It is a responsive theme call Tetris.  I have created a child version of the theme of course to make it my own and so far, after having it up for a month or longer have been pleased with it.  I kept meaning to take down some notes about it and such and of course blog but I never seemed to get around to it all during the month of April.  Part of that has been work and partly the excitement of a new boat and spring fishing season (see more on that over at fishnstory.com), but some of it has been just getting motivated.  Anyway, the theme is the major part of the current updates but there are a few more things to do here on the old blog.

With the current theme, not only is it a responsive design (meaning it will generally look good on any device) but it has a very modern and uncluttered look to it in general.   You will note on the home page itself, if you have been there of course, that aside from the menu along the top, all the other functions and things that are displayed aside from content has been moved to the bottom.  Again, that was a choice and something of the nature of what I was looking for in current version of things.  Once you click on an individual post or page, you do get more of a classic look that includes a sidebar with a few options.  Those of course are pretty slim now and there is a possibility of that sidebar going away completely.  Needless to say there are still some minor things that need to be addressed and choices made in regards to the look of the theme overall.

The theme itself is just one of the changes going on with the blog.  Of the chief concern in the immediate future, aside from getting back to a more regular blogging schedule is the current endless list of both categories and tags.  Truth be told, both have gotten out of control and need to be cleaned up.  I have used categories more like I should have been using tags and tags, well I have just been crazy.  Look for some changes on both of those fronts in the very near future.  Along with that of course, will be an update to the menu that goes along with the categories.

Right now, I am still trying to decide of one menu or two would serve the site best.  I am open for opinions in that regard by the way.  I have not decided completely on how to handle categories – as I am having this constant debate within regarding should this be about 4 different really focused blogs or should I continue in the tradition I have always used here and let it me just where I talk about what I want to talk about regardless of topic?  I do know that some categories will collapse down and at least one new one will appear – DIY (Do It Yourself) – as I have so much to over in such a category and frankly, it is a very popular kind of blog topic to have these days anyway.  The debate of course really comes down to whether it should be one blog controlled by categories or one multi-site blog controlled by different sub-sites.  I have leaning toward the former by the way, but have seen advantages going either way.

The next big consideration is what to do with the posts over at two other blogs, which could fit in here and free up the domain cost and maybe drive a bit more traffic here.  One is my old medieval blog, which never fully developed the way I wanted it too anyway.  I would hate to just nix the posts and let them be forever gone, but the lack of posting on my part and having not developed as I had hoped has lead to a virtual dead space on the internet anyway.  If I went with the 2nd option in the above (concerning multi-site) the option is clear.  The same is somewhat true of the farm blog I have.  Really, most of my posting is about political stupid stuff going on in regards to farming.  Certainly the more direct farming and the political high-horse I get onto occasionally fit in fairly nicely.

Along those same lines, the one category that could be its on blog with ease (assuming I get back to posting regularly) would be the technology posts.  I am involved in that aspect up to my eyeballs and would have no problem posting in such a blog daily if I would only get busy.  It is then a bit easier to optimize specifically and perhaps attract enough funds to support it and my speak my mind blog, eh?  Such are things that I have to consider.

Another consideration is about archiving.  By that, I don’t mean the history of this blog as it is currently presented, though that too is open for consideration.  I mean, with this seemingly big set of changes I am looking toward, is it time to make a static copy of things to keep around for archive purposes and start anew going forward?  When you consider some of the technology that has been used and what is available now I wonder sometimes if that would not be a better option.  For instance, my first post, whether there was not anything else available or I was too hand coding concentric to realized it, have images and such linked by hand to a folder/file that are just coded into the post.  It works both then and now, but there is an extra folder I have to go grab anytime I make a big move in regards to hosting and such.  Similarly, I have used NextGen since shortly after that.  But it is kind of overkill and with the functions now built into the core of WordPress, I am not sure it is really needed.  Should I drop it?  If I want those old post to work, do I convert them to the built in media support?  Or do I just use the new stuff going forward and keep maintaining the NextGen plugins?  Any thoughts on this?

Picasa and WordPress

PicasaIn the process of working up a couple of new blogs and going through some the plugins that I have on the old faithful blogs and decided what works and what needs to be replaced. NextGen Gallery is a really nice tool that I have used on my blogs, it would seem from the beginning and if not nearly so. It is a way overpowered tool for the options and limited galleries that I actually use it for, but it has served the purpose well all the same and without fail. The only issue I have is more of a recent one, where I have, as of last year started organizing all my pictures into web-based albums using Picasa as the engine. There are several reasons why I chose Picasa, some of which are listed below. The problem is with both Picasa and NextGen, for those pictures headed to a blog I now have to do double duty working them up.

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Gallery Hop

Blue Grass TrustA few days back I went with a few friends out to a gallery hop in Lexington. The idea of the gallery hop is that several different galleries in the and near the downtown area are open late, all have exhibits of some nature. And to encourage some social interaction most have the artist present along with some finger foods and beverages, including much cheese and wine. Continue reading “Gallery Hop”

NextGEN Gallery

Next GenerationYou all may recall that a couple of nights ago I sent out a plea to anyone that had done a photo gallery plugin on WordPress to let me know what they were using and how they liked it. I was not surprised to note that I got nothing in response, I think largely because most of you all do not have blogs and the ones that do are not near so geeky as I am about things like that. So yesterday eve fairly late, while in and out of some chatting with a friend or two, I decided I would do my own research and experimentation.

I spent a long amount of time going through the various gallery and picture management type of plugins that were available for WordPress. As I had noted in my original request, I was really looking to have something where the pictures were easily uploaded, included, and even manipulated on the WordPress interface into something like an album or gallery. But yet, I still wanted the actual pictures stored with in my own domain space, largely so I could stay in control of them, their format, and always know if the blog itself was up so were the pictures. That, I don’t have to get Flickr URL’s listed in there or if someone clicks on it, it does not show Flickr advertising this way either. So that easily eliminated half of the entries. Another easily third of the total were just a minor enhancement of the media support that was already included, but nothing like a full-fledged gallery type of presentation tool. After a little weeding through the ones that remained, it was clearly time to test the NextGEN Gallery plugin as the most probable best choice.

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Tobacco – Cutting

Tobacco CutI have new pictures from the morning of August 31 when they were starting to cut the field of tobacco that I have been doing a photo essay on for the last several weeks. It is nice that I actually got the hands doing the actual job, though I am not sure it truly shows enough. Again, a fond memory for me. I admit to having done a large amount of this kind of work as a teenager. Aside from putting in hay during the summer, actually cutting tobacco right before and even after school started was the best money-making time of my youth.

I admit that I was never super fast, cutting Continue reading “Tobacco – Cutting”

Tobacco: Revisited

Tobacco Topped, Barn in DistanceI liked the first ‘photo essay’ about tobacco so well, I have decided to follow through with an update with each major step in the tobacco process.  The change from exactly seven days is not much, as the only thing that has occurred is the blooms have been broken out in the lower 2/3 of the field.  This was actually done the day after I took the first photos and to help you blend locally, we would call that process topping.  Right after the tobacco was topped, it most likely sprayed with a chemical that retards new sprouts or buds from starting.  If not done, the tobacco would sucker out at the top leaf joints and spend all of its energy trying again to make seeds.  By application of the chemical spray the energy is instead spent on making the leaves that are present usually get larger, especially in width.  An effect of this application and the general turn toward the homestretch  is that bottom leaves Continue reading “Tobacco: Revisited”

Tobacco and Nostalgia

Pretty in Pink?I recall from a few years back reading a book, I think it was titled The Complete Agrarian Reader, matter of fact I have read certain parts of it a 2nd and 3rd time since then. Anyway, that is not the point – the introduction of that particular book was written by Barbara Kingsolver, of some amount of fame as an author. I have, strangely enough, not read anything else she has written – though I probably should. Anyway, in this introduction she speaks of being in college and having as fond memories the smells and sights of tobacco being harvested and being around the barns where it was curing with an unmistakable nostalgia – but yet a certain amount of shame over her own history and association with tobacco amongst her college friends.

I find a kindred spirit in what she has to say. Having grown up on a farm raising and working in tobacco, not to mention the countless hours that I spent working in tobacco for other farmers in the general area where I grew up. I find it funny that I spent 18 years Continue reading “Tobacco and Nostalgia”