April books

Hidden Figures

by Margot Lee Shetterley
Narrated by Robin Miles

Started 29 March 2018
Finished 13 April 2018

This was, at times, at slightly plodding account, but all thoroughly fascinating. I have seen the film of the same name and really enjoyed it, so I figured that the book would contain more information, which it did.
Hidden Figures tells the story of the black workers at NACA, later NASA, and how they were instrumental in getting mankind into space and later on to the moon.
In the days before the computers we know today, there was an army of people, human "computers", whose job it was to perform calculations and find the solutions to engineers' equations. Most of these computers were female, and most of them black. This was at a time when the US had widespread segregation still. The book charts the journey of several women; their struggle to get a decent education and to carve out careers in the white male dominated space industry.

I enjoyed this book and, more importantly, learned a lot. Like most people, I suspect, I had no idea what the set-up had been at NACA/NASA - I've read about the achievements and seen films, of course, but I didn't know anything about what went on behind the scenes. I now have a few more women to look up to!

The Bat

by Jo Nesbo
Narrated by Sean Barrett

Started 14 April
Finished 20 April

I enjoyed this, the first in the series of novels about Harry Hole. I tried reading one, but I couldn't get into it, so thought I'd see if the audiobook captured my attention more. It was certainly an improvement and I enjoyed the book. A bit surprised to find it was set in Australia, but I believe a number of them are set outside Norway.
Will I read or listen to more? I don't know, I'm still undecided. They aren't completely to my taste, not in the way some of the other "Scandi" detective series have been.

The Disappeared (Joe Pickett 18).

by C J Box.

Started 21 April
Finished 29 April.

The latest in C J Box's Joe Pickett series, about a Wyoming game warden, this book sees a new governor send Joe away to investigate the disappearance of a British tourist This, of course becomes somewhat incidental to the story, which ends up involving all sorts of conspiracies. Joe's master falconer friend, Nate, turns up and things get complicated. A good read, as are all the other books in the series. For me, Box manages to depict the Wyoming scenery perfectly, so I get a real sense of the size and wildness of the country. Joe is always a likeable hero - now I'm waiting for the next book in the series…

A round-up of my adventures in web-land

This post is a (rather long) summary of my recent attempts to join the Indieweb movement, as viewed from the perspective of someone who, although far from stupid, doesn't have a great deal of experience with all things internet. The TL:DR version is "it wasn't easy, I had a lot of help, but I did it".

For a few years now I have been blogging from 10 Centuries, as it offered a very competitively priced and easy approach. Initially I made use of it by sending a private message from App.net, which was posted to my blog site. Then I subscribed and was able to use custom domains. Currently I have three blogs hosted on there: my main blog, my craft-related blog and one for the local choral society, for whom I am the accompanist. I don't intend on leaving the service, as it very much suits my needs. There's a really nice social side to the service, where I have made some good friends. Mostly we all "met" on the aforementioned App.net service. It was a good place to hang out and it piqued my interest in blogging and connecting with people on the internet. The owner of 10 Centuries, Jason Irwin, holds views very much in line with those of the Indieweb and is currently working on making his platform much more compatible with various indieweb components.

Over time, I became more aware of the "Indieweb". I followed conversations, picking up bits of information along the way - and also becoming more and more certain that this was all pretty meaningless to me. Talk of "APIs" and such like pretty much went straight over my head.

I heard about the Micro.Blog Kickstarter and decided to back it. Mostly because I was interested in the book; it's only recently that I have engaged with the blogging side of it - but I'm hooked!
I can't recall where I first came across it, most likely on either 10Centuries or Pnut. As might be expected, both of these sites comprise a fairly high number of what I would call "techy" people.

I wouldn't necessarily say that dissatisfaction with Twitter was the reason I joined App.net, as I'm not a particularly avid user, but I have always believed that, in life, you get what you pay for. I realised that I, like so many others, had been sucked in to the idea of the "free" internet, almost without noticing. So, I decided to pay for the services I enjoyed. I support a few podcasts that I listen to (not all of them, just the ones I value the most). I also support the writings of a few bloggers/authors. Granted, I'm in a position where I can afford to do so, which isn't the same for everyone. "Free" social interaction is very attractive for a lot of people. Who wants to pay for every place they use on the internet ? It becomes expensive after a while!

A lot of the time the conversations I watch are very much above my head and I spent some time just feeling that all this was completely beyond me, which irritated me, but also spurred me on - I don't like to be defeated! Then I realised I was trying to understand people who had been involved with all this for years, whose experience levels far outstripped my own. It also crossed my mind that we all start somewhere, and that, although I'm no concert pianist, I have never, ever, considered not playing the piano. So I thought maybe I should have a go. I also thought that this might prove a point, one way or another. If I could get somewhere, then that meant the whole Indieweb thing wasn't only for the geeks. I also hoped that, just perhaps, my experiences might help someone else.

In order to play around, I needed a site that I had full control of. Whilst 10Centuries genuinely promotes the view that I still own my data, the hosting itself is closed off - or was - in that I couldn't add any code to my site, for example. I knew this was something I would have to be able to do so it became necessary to look for hosting elsewhere.

Domain

I already had a domain I wanted to use, so that was ok. The first step into Indieweb is having a domain that is yours (ok, effectively you rent it from a registrar). The content on your domain is under your control. if you fail to renew, it goes, but that's under your control, not someone else's. In Indieweb terms your domain represents you on the web. Most hosting companies will offer a free domain, for at least the first year. I did, in fact, pick up a new domain with my hosting, but haven't used it yet. Getting your domain from your hosting provider does make things more simple. I didn't, and I didn't transfer mine from its current registrar either, as it's a .uk domain, which requires some additional steps (apparently).

Hosting and blogging platform

There are a lot of hosting companies out there to choose from, and people's requirements vary considerably. In my own research I came up with a few things that I required (or didn't require).

Options range from fully-hosted WordPress services, something I didn't really want, to a VPS set-up, which is completely DIY - also something I didn't want.

WordPress.org was an obvious contender for blogging platform I had read that it was reasonably well supported in the Indieweb community. Basically, it had to be something pretty user-friendly. I knew I had no intention of running my own servers and I knew I didn't want to have to configure anything much myself: way beyond my skill-set. There are a myriad of blogging platforms and WordPress isn't for everyone, but it seemed to me to be a decent starting point. It's not the only blogging software, not by a long chalk, but it's probably a relatively easy one to start with. Most of the large hosting companies offer some form of shared hosting, with what is termed a "1-click" installation of WordPress, at the very least. I had previously used WordPress.com, so I was a little familiar with the setup.

I discounted a VPS, partly on the grounds of cost, but also because I really didn't want to be responsible for all aspects of the software I had on there - way beyond my current skill-set.

I wanted someone who provided WhoIs privacy, simply so that I didn't have to add that to the cost, or potentially forget to renew it. When making comparison lists, it's very easy to find that some things just aren't mentioned and you have to dig down into some detail to find what you want.

Does email come with the package - and do you even want it? I didn't, as I have email for my domain with Fastmail. Some companies include it, some charge extra for it; something to factor into calculations.

SSL isn't a great concern any more, as most hosting comes with a LetsEncrypt certificate, which is free. You'll have to pay for something with e-commerce, but baby steps…!

Do you have any geographical preferences for your hosting - and whether you do or not, does the company you choose have their servers in one location, or around the world? Privacy laws differ and, if that's important to you, then give it a lot of thought. I would have preferred to have UK/ROI hosting, but couldn't find something suitable (which isn't to say it doesn't exist, just that I either couldn't find it, or it didn't suit my requirements).

Look at what you are actually getting for the price - there are offers a-plenty, but what is the year 2 cost? Also, the cheap price may turn out to be too limiting for what you might want. There may be restrictions on the number of sites you can have, or the bandwidth you can use.

in the end I opted for Dreamhost - it had been recommended by a few people, it offered pretty much what I wanted and wasn't excessively expensive. Over $100 a year, though, although there are 2 & 3-year options which reduce the cost. As said earlier, I picked up a domain with them, which I hope to use. I thought it suited me, being a craft-obsessed, piano-playing person (it's crotchetcrochet.com). I do have some plans for it, in time… Yes, because I can't help myself, it's highly likely that I will try to get some kind of non-WordPress installation up and running, so I can play with it on that site. Glutton for punishment, me…

Configure domain with new provider

If you registered a domain with your host, then this will likely be done for you. I had to point my domain to Dreamhost's nameservers. Fortunately, both my registrar and Dreamhost have excellent how-to sites. A bit of reading and things were (relatively) fine.

I had some complications because of who my registrar is (Gandi) and because I didn't want to move my domain. I had to unhook my DNS from Cloudflare and then move them to Dreamhost. I then re-enabled Cloudflare under Dreamhost and had all sorts of problems. Possibly because I had redirects on my domains which route the bare domain to www, so that I can use a URL rather than a static IP. I think I ended up going round in circles thanks to some choices I made with my WordPress setup. But that's my problem at times - what seems quite obvious to some people isn't always to me.

Install blogging software

Most hosting providers offer a 1-click install of WordPress, which sets everything up for you pretty quickly. I didn't have to know about PHP or MySql as all that was set up for me. Otherwise I'd probably still be writing with crayons on paper (ok, with fountain pens on very nice paper, but still…).
When I said I wanted an SSL certificate, my hosting provider applied a certificate to the root domain. Currently, wildcard certificates don't seem to be available for free; I believe this has something to do with the auto-renewal process not working properly, but I'm not entirely sure. I did wonder if I would need to have a certificate for the www subdomain, too, but that wasn't an available option. Within the WordPress software some changes had to be made, as WordPress assumes that the page you will want to use is the "www" one. So I had to tell WordPress that my site is on the bare domain, but that just entailed putting the url in a couple of boxes in the Admin panel.

Configuring the blog

Choice of theme is important, obviously. It defines how your site will look, but also some themes will play more nicely with Indieweb principles than others. Generally the recommended WordPress ones are Independent Publisher, or SemPress. I opted for SemPress. Changed the page layout, altered some colours - all these things are easy enough to do. I only wanted a simple blog to contain my posts, which is why I set up WordPress on a the blog subdomain, leaving the main domain free for whatever I might choose to use it for.

Once I got to this point, I had a site up and running, but of course, it doesn't end there…

One thing I learned after I had made some changes is that when using a theme, it is good practice straight away to create a "child theme" to which you can make changes without having them overwritten by any theme updates. After a bit of encouragement from online friends, I consulted the relevant WordPress codex pages and seem to have succeeded. Yes, to do this, I needed to be able to SFTP into my site, and for that I use Filezilla, which is very easy to use. You will be allocated an SFTP username for your site when setting it up. It's just a secure way to download files, change them and upload them back. Not much more complicated than opening a document from a network drive really.

Enhancements

I wanted to make my site Indieweb-compliant, so I had more work to do. There is an Indieweb plugin for WordPress which handles a lot of the things needed. I installed that and set to work. The plugin makes it easy to set things up so that you can be "verified". The instructions are clear and once I had added my domain to my Twitter bio (oh the irony of having to use a silo'd site to verify my identity), that was done. I could also use my Github account, which I created in an over-optimistic moment of madness once. There's no code on there, nor is there likely to be any time soon!! I was mildly confused by the fact that very few sites seem to be able to be used for this verification process, to be honest.

I next enabled the following plugins:

Webmentions
Semantic-linkbacks
Post kinds
Micropub
Bridgy

I admit I don't really know what they all do, but that's something I will work on. I certainly don't understand how they do what they do and I don't know that I want to!

I have purchased a backup solution for my site, Updraft, which was very easy to set up and runs in the background. That cost around £50, but I have the option of running it unsupported in the future, or a reduced-cost renewal. I know it's only a diddy little WordPress site, but I'll likely renew - after all, most of my other data is backed up to a removable drive, two cloud sites and I also run an Arq backup from my main Windows box, as well as Time Machine backups on my Macbook. I do like a good backup.

Issues

Pesky post titles

I added the rss feed for my site to my Micro.blog account, as I wanted my posts to show up there - after all, that was the whole point of the exercise, really.

My other blog sites are also fed across to my Micro.blog account. These appear as the title of the post, with a link back to the full article. Micro.blog treats posts without a title as status updates and this was what I wanted to send from my new WordPress blog. Assuming anything I wrote was shorter than the 280 character-limit and had no title, it would appear in Micro.blog in full, rather as a Tweet does in Twitter. Accordingly, I decided to use the post type "status" and not add a title. Unfortunately, the SemPress theme I chose forces a title - I have since found the code that does this. As a result, my posts were "Post number…" followed by a link back to the "post", which was mainly a short status update. Not what I wanted. Nobody is going to take the time to click on a link every time! I don't know how to override that bit of code in my theme, so a very kind soul (one of many in the wider Indieweb community) gave me a piece of code that I could use to remove the post title from the rss feed for any posts of the type "status". Now my WordPress default post type is set to "status" so that this just works. If want to write a long-form post, I will change that, either in MarsEdit, or in the admin panel, depending where I am writing from.

Comment approval

I enabled the Webmentions plugin and, I have to say, it just worked. Now when i post on my site, that post goes to Micro.blog and any replies appear on my site (as well as in the Micro.blog timeline). It's great to see conversations showing up on my blog! Initially I had to approve every single comment - although WordPress implies that it will verify subsequent comments, it doesn't work, at least not in the way I needed it to. After consultation with the Indieweb gurus in the Slack room, I had a couple of options: auto-approve all comments made via webmentions, as the risk of spam is almost negligible, or auto-approve comments for a person, after I have manually approved their first one. I elected for this option and added a piece of code that another kind Indieweb soul had written and shared.

Cross-posting

I have used Bridgy to post to Facebook, but I have yet to figure out how to get it to post a photo as well. I tried some suggestions, but they didn't work. This goes on my to-do list. No doubt a simple solution, but I haven't found it yet. Partly because cross-posting hasn't really bothered me, but it is nice to have the option to post the odd photo to a couple of places in one go.

Conclusion

My set-up is very simple but, even so, it hasn't been without its issues. That said, I do have a site up and running. I'm not a coder, I'm borderline techy at best and yet, albeit with a lot of help, I have made it. I don't think it's any secret that the Indieweb isn't for everyone, yet. It requires some patience, a lot of learning and not a little determination. A far cry from the "create your account now" of the usual social media silos. I do think the bar to entry is getting lower though. There are some great people putting in significant amounts of effort so that us mere mortals have a chance of being in control of our content on the internet. All I can say is: have a go, it can be done. Have the courage to stick your hand up and ask for help, there are people who will gladly assist.

There is a cost barrier to the Indieweb, however, as it does rather require that you put your money where your mouth is!

Micro.blog does a good job of pulling together people's various existences on the web into a social stream where people can interact. It also provides a relatively low-cost, frictionless entry into owning your own content, in that it will provide hosting for you, as well as cross-posting to the dreaded duo of Facebook and Twitter.

Of course, the overarching issue with any of these social spaces is simply critical mass. Twitter and Facebook have that: most people are there so that's where most people go. It will take a lot for that to change, particularly for it to change in favour of one or two other social networking sites, so they in turn reach that critical mass. I don't really see it happening, to be honest. Most people really don't care enough. Which is fine, it's their choice. I doubt I will leave Facebook, as I can keep in touch with friends easily on there. I don't use it a great deal, however, other than to post the occasional amusing anecdote. I certainly don't live my life in public on there. For me, I'm quite happy for none of my Facebook friends to know about my other life, out here on the wider internet. I doubt many, if any, know that I have several blogs and have done any of the things I've been up to recently. And you know what, I'm quite happy with that.

At this point, I feel the need to acknowledge and thank some of the people who have helped me and encouraged me in my venture:-

  • Jeremy Cherfas who is largely reponsible for encouraging me to attempt all this and has been a great moral support.
  • Jason Irwin for running 10 Centuries, my favourite little corner of the internet, hosting three of my blog sites and thus affording me my first steps out into the Inter-world, being ever-patient and helpful, and for sharing photos of his gorgeous puppy, Nozomi.
  • Colin Walker for the ability to remove pesky post titles, for a handy plugin which opens comments on my blog, as posting via XML-RPC doesn't.
  • Chris Aldrich for advice in Micro.blog and Slack.
  • Gregor Morrill for the wonderful comment-approval piece of code.
  • Manton Reece, for creating Micro.blog.

No doubt I've forgotten people, but these are the main ones who have helped and encouraged me over the last 7 weeks - has it really only been 7 weeks?!

Oh, and I have pondered at length over where this post belongs. I should post it on the WordPress site, my new home. But my main blog is on 10C and I have decided that's where my longer posts will live.

March 2018 books

I've had a bit of a 1980's-referencing kick in March, to judge by most of my listening.

Tonight You're Dead

By Viveca Sten
Narrated by Angela Dawe

Started 9 March
Finished 12 March

A further book in the series of murder mysteries set in the Stockholm archipelago, primarily on Sandhamm. I enjoy these, as they are gentle books (for ones containing murder). I don't think this was the best one I've read/listened to, but enjoyable.

We Are Legion (We are Bob) (audiobook)
For We Are Many
All These Worlds

by Dennis E Taylor
Narrated by Ray Porter

Started 12 March
Finished 23 March

Having read all three of these books in succession it made sense to lump them together, not least because I loved them all equally. Thoroughly entertaining science fiction, full of attitude and snarky humour. I shall miss the Bobs.

In short, a guy is killed, having signed up to have his head frozen after death. Then he wakes, to find he is now a disembodied mind who is in line to be put in charge of a spaceship. Off he goes, clones himself, and gets involved in colonisation of other planets, battles in space, romance, saving alien species, to list just a few of his adventures. There is plenty of humour, some scary parts and some beautifully touching bits. I loved the humour, plus the frequent references to popular culture during the time Bob was alive. Clones and new worlds named after astronauts, tv Sci Fi characters and locations, Sci Fi novels (or not quite, as in book 3 when a planet is mis-named by the omission of a letter).

I'm sure the books are good, but the audiobooks are brilliant. The narration is superb; each "Bob" is identifiable, without becoming comical. Some of the most entertaining readings I've listened to. Unless you loathe Sci Fi and/or have no sense of humour, I would highly recommend these books.

Ready Player One

by Ernest Cline
Narrated by Wil Wheaton

Started 26 March
Finished 29 March

I enjoyed this, particularly the narration by Wil Wheaton. A few times I felt the writing was a little repetitive and occasionally a tad boring. For the most part, though, it was an entertaining listen. The references to the 1980s was fun, much as it was in the previous three book I listened to. I don't know that this is a particularly memorable book, but certainly enjoyable enough to keep me listening rather than watching tv.

A purple patch

It's not a secret that I'm rather partial to the colour purple, although I am fussy about my purples. Not too pink, thank you. This week I was alerted to a new purple ink, Flower of Scotland, from Pure Pens so I just had to buy it. I have my eye of some more of the inks in their range, too, although Celtic Sea was the only one of them in stock at the time.

The inks arrived the day after I ordered them and I am rather pleased with them both. Flower of Scotland sits in between my Diamine Imperial Purple (a bit pink for me) and my Monteverde Charoite (I love this ink, as I do the other five Monteverde inks I have). I like it. It is nice and rich. Possibly not as office-friendly as Diamine Bilberry, but hey. It's coming a very close second to my beloved Charoite.

Oh, I also have J Herbin Larmes de Cassis and Poussière de Lune, but didn't feel that they really belonged in this, admittedly brief, comparison.

Traditional writing sample below, utilising some of my favourite quotes.

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Adventures in web-land (6)

Sadly not a great deal of progress this weekend. I had planned to work on adding the webmentions and semantic linkback plugins, but illness has forced a day in bed today.

As ever, help has been forthcoming from those further down the Indieweb road.

After adding my various internet presences to my WordPress blog, and vice versa, I ran my site through Indiewebify.me to see how I was doing. Only my GitHub and Twitter accounts tracked back and got me a tick in the box, as it were. I checked my syntax, but nothing changed. Oh, I got "verified" on micro.blog but that doesn't track back, either. I left things, there, feeling a little discouraged. It turns out that pretty much only Twitter and GitHub do actually return the favour. So if you don't have an account on one of those two services you fail step 1? I couldn't find anything in the Indieweb documentation that explained this. The answer came from the Indiewebcamp Slack. Still, at least that exists!

I set the iOS Microblog app to post to my WordPress site rather than to my Microblog hosted site. It posted perfectly: a status post with no title. Unfortunately, when the RSS feed got sent back to Micro.blog it arrived as a post number and a link. Not what I intended at all. It would appear that the indieweb-compatible SemPress theme inserts the post number: it's visible in the WordPress admin panel. It doesn't display on the published site, but somehow it's there.

I have been given some code to insert which will strip out titles on status posts from the RSS feed - when I'm at a computer that will be something I try next. This needs to be a toggle in the theme, if it's going to be easy to understand for the average person.

From my recent experience it seems there is a need for a fully compatible WordPress theme. Or maybe I shouldn't have opted to go with WordPress. I really felt that this was a happy halfway house, though. I'm not about to run my own server, nor do I have the skills required to run other blogging software on my Dreamhost space.

Onwards and upwards.

Adventures in web-land (5)

They do say time flies when you're having fun. That'll be where the last four hours have gone then.

I updated some settings in the site I was having problems with and they seemed to work. I changed the .htaccess file and the wp-config file and things stopped working. There must have been an issue with the .htaccess file so I renamed it and generated a new one. I have to say, the various help pages on the Internet have been suitably useful. Now everything seems to load, although not as https, which was the aim of the exercise. Hmm.

On the other site, the one I most want to use, I installed the SemPress theme, messed around with various parts of it to get it looking halfway reasonable, then moved on to Indiewebbing it. I have managed to get some of my sites to link back successfully, now I've realised how picky it all is - just putting x-dot-com is no good if it's https:// as that seems to need to be specified. At the point my desire for food overcame my desire to continue, micro.blog had verified me based on this rel=me stuff, but allegedly there was no track back, according to indiewebify.me. I might try again later. In theory, though, I'm verified. And hungry…

Adventures in web-land (4)

A summary of things learnt this week.

• Don't use Cloudflare if you want SSL.
• If you want SSL the certificate will sit at the root of your domain, so it makes sense to point www there.

When you add a domain in Dreamhost as fully hosted (without which you seem to be limited as to what you can do) it creates some zone file records (some, not many), one of which is the www subdomain. That makes sense, as people tend to see them as being the same thing. However, one of the first questions asked is about keeping root and www separate, forwarding root to www, or forwarding www to root. Please excuse any inaccurate terms. Dreamhost refers to it as "replacing", my registrar talks of permanent forwarding and browser errors talk of "redirects".

I wanted SSL - it's the main reason some of my other sites go through Cloudflare. It's an option on the main screen here. Dreamhost installs a Lets Encrypt SSL certificate on the bare domain, no choice is given. Fair enough, makes sense. No wildcards are supported and the certificates are free, so they can be installed on each/any subdomain. How to put one on www? Not a clue. I couldn't find a way. So if you forward the bare domain to www it shows up as non-secure. This doesn't appear to be explained at all.

Cloudflare - apparently it and Dreamhost are partners. So, if you opt to run through Cloudflare, Dreamhost handles it all for you. On my other sites my registrar's control panel pretty much says "nope, you're using Cloudflare's nameservers, up yours, deal with stuff there". Which is fine, any changes you want can be made in your Cloudflare account. I changed my mx settings, added a load of CNAME entries (as instructed by Fastmail) and all was fine. Setting up Fastmail had been one of the easiest things I've done for some time. With Dreamhost you have to make any changes through their interface. Probably nice and straightforward, but less so for me. Not least because Dreamhost refused to let me add more than one CNAME record. My email works though. Big relief.

Dreamhost will tell you that Cloudflare requires you to forward to www. So you have to select that at the start. Did you want SSL? See earlier. It's on the bare domain, but you will be displaying www. At one point I couldn't even load my site because I got "too many redirects". Cloudflare is no longer enabled.

I don't mean this to sound as if I'm not happy with my hosting; far from it. This is just intended to show the issues I have had. Maybe I was overthinking things. I'm no web designer, just a user with a little knowledge (I know - a dangerous thing).

Of course, I could well be wrong about all of this, but at least I can log in to my (as yet unused) WordPress sites.

February 2018 books

With all the excitement (?) of playing with t'internet and things webby this week, I almost forgot to bore the world (or, more likely, nobody) with the list of books consumed in the last month.

Heretic (audiobook)

By Bernard Cornwell
Read by Andrew Cullum

Started 1 February
Finished 5 February

The final volume in the grail trilogy. Eventually the main plot got resolved, right at the very end of the story. I felt this book was centered on battles even more than the first two; maybe that was the cumulative effect though. Definitely time for a break from Cornwell, though I have enjoyed the books and the narration has been excellent.

A gathering storm (audiobook)

By Rachel Hore
Read by Geri Halligan

Started 5 February
Finished 8 February

Rather underwhelmed by this, so I doubt I'll read any more by this author. The story was pleasant enough, a young woman listening to the tale of an old lady's history, which turned out (not exactly a great surprise) to be entwined with that of the younger woman's family. I didn't particularly warm to any of the characters, which meant the book didn't really good my attention all that well. The narration was fine, though, very well done.

Bryant and May and the Invisible Code (audiobook)

By Christopher Fowler
Read by Tim Goodman

Started 8 February
Finished 15 February

Full of fun as usual, along with detailed knowledge of London and main characters of whom most readers are very fond. This story started with a murder (don't they all), wandered through the troubles of being a "Government wife", laid out a number of misdirects and, for me, ended up somewhere rather unexpected. One of the more enjoyable stories, including sub-plots about biological weapons.

Bryant and May and the Bleeding Heart (audiobook)

By Christopher Fowler
Read by Tim Goodman

Started 16 February
Finished 22 February

An intriguing tale, this one. A little gruesome, starting as it did with what appeared to be a risen corpse. This is Bryant and May though… As ever, Bryant goes off on his own tangent, delving into some rather dark magic/mysticism. In the end the puzzle is solved, winning over an influential person, and the Peculiar Crimes Unit lives on.

Pompeii (audiobook)

By Robert Harris
Read by Steven Pacey

Started 23 February
Finished 26 February

Immediately on starting this book I thought the narration seemed rather fast. A shame, as I generally like Steven Pacey's voice. After while, though, I adjusted and thoroughly enjoyed the story. As is often the way with Harris, I start and, for a while, wonder if I will continue. Soon enough, though, I'm thoroughly engrossed in the story. This covers a fairly short period just before Vesuvius erupted. It follows a newly-appointed engineer, who is in charge of the aqueduct serving the area. The previous post-holder (the Aquarius) has disappeared. The new man faces resentment and resistance from his staff. Pretty soon he realises something is wrong and starts to investigate. We all know the outcome, but the story was still enjoyable.

Adventures in web-land (3)

Thanks to a suggestion from a friend on social media, both the WordPress sites I installed are accessible, showing as secure and I can log in to the admin panels. The solution? Disabling Cloudflare. I could then redirect www to the bare domain, where the SSL certificate lives and all the redirect issues went away. The only reason I opted to use Cloudflare was habit: I run some other sites through it purely to pick up the free SSL certificate they provide, nothing else.

Step 1 of many seems to be complete. I now have a lot of reading to do - and a blog theme to select!

Adventures in web-land (2)

It's the morning after the night before and certain things appear to have settled down. My bare domain (and it's allegedly mandatory www redirect) now seem to load and bring up https displaying the www address.

Email is still working - go Fastmail, I'm pretty pleased with them.

My "blog." subdomain still seems to be a bit random. I'm pretty sure I didn't forward to www on this, whilst still opting for Cloudflare - which rather contradicts what I was forced to do with the main domain. Mind you, as it's a subdomain, I don't see why it should have a www sub-subdomain, that doesn't seem logical. However, in order to get hosting for it I had to add it to Dreamhost separately from the main site. The options panel was exactly the same as for the bare domain, when I don't think it should be.

I did originally add a CNAME entry pointing to the Microblog hosted site it is set up for. When I tried to verify the WordPress installation last night I got a 404 error, so I deleted the CNAME entry, as it seems to require me to verify the WordPress installation at a published site, which strikes me as a bit odd. I would have thought I could work on it offline, without pointing it to the world. I suspect I need to read more about how to do that, and the default is for Dreamhost to publish you as quickly as possible.

This morning blog.vanessahamshere.uk comes up with the WordPress landing page, so the removal of the pointer to my Microblog page has worked. However, it doesn't have https, so perhaps I'm still waiting for that to happen. When I go to the link to verify the WordPress installation I no longer get a 404 error, instead I get a message saying the browser can't open the page because too many redirects occurred. Something to leave for later, I guess - the day job calls! It mildly amuses me that the site that has nothing redirected comes up with a "too many redirects" error.

Watch this space…