Mainly kayaking photographs taken on the Isle of Man and beyond.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Why?!

I regularly consider terminating this blog? Certainly Isle of Man Kayakblog has caused me a great many headaches and life would be so much more simple without it. The current reasons for continuing with the Blog as part of are overwhelmingly technical. The Blog is incorporated into’s homepage. This serves to keep the homepage rich and fresh with new photographs and text appearing every few days. In addition, the Blog, and especially the archive, help to keep the main web site optimised so that search engines like Google can find it more easily (I won’t go into the technical details of how that works here). And so a blog, as opposed to simply renewing photographs and text directly on the homepage, is necessary. is held on a server based near Castletown on the Isle of Man. I pay about £70 per year for 25 mega bytes of server space. The Blog on the other hand, with it’s huge but important archive, runs into many hundreds of mega bytes and is hosted for me free of charge by Google’s servers in America or somewhere. Either way if I had to pay for all those mega bytes to be hosted on my own server the costs of having the site would rise by many hundreds of pounds per year! I am very grateful to Google for providing this service, but it did mean that I had to find a way of marrying together two pages, held on different servers, into the combined home page you see today. This is done by loading the main page held here on the Isle of Man, and then loading the Blog from within an iframe. This would normally be very simple to do, but, due to the "transparent" nature of my main web site template design it did throw up a few technical difficulties.
The templates incorporate full PNG transparency which allows the background image to be seen through the transparent text boxes. By simply changing the background image I can completely change the look, colour and feel of the whole web site. This in itself led to problems as PNG transparency is not supported by earlier versions of Internet Explorer (IE) which are still widely used e.g. by the Isle of Man Government. To rectify this a JavaScript program runs in the background to convert the images to GIF format which IE 5.5 and 6 can read. However, this program will not make the Blog appear transparent. To do this I had to rewrite some of the code in the Google template. Unfortunately, this fix would only work in modern browsers such as FireFox and Chrome. In Internet Explorer the background will not default to transparent but to white instead, giving different visitors a completely different web experience depending on which browser they are using. This explains why, unlike all other pages on, the home page does not achieve full transparency. Instead a compromise Blog background colour was used which blends seamlessly with the graduated colour on every tailored web page background, at least giving the impression of some continuity between the two pages.
Unfortunately, technical difficulties are not only headaches I have experienced due to this Isle of Man Kayakblog. Many have been due to it's content and I will discuss this in my next Blog posting.

1 comment:

derrick said...

ah, the web. . . so much fun. . at least on days when it's too nasty outside to paddle.