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

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Making it fit.

It's been quiet on this blog recently. Everything is kind of in limbo. All my spare time is take up with developing the new web site. I don't know about other people but it takes me so long. I've only just finished designing the template. That's the static element of each page into which the content is pasted. When you see it you'll think it doesn't look that much different from the old one! I'd agree, but it does use space much more efficiently - visitors to web sites hate to scroll! Spinning that little mouse wheel can be exhausting you know. Anyway, writing the code doesn't take that long but as it usually takes me about 10 different designs before I like the results, and so its taken a week or so.
Now follows the laborious task of copying and pasting the old content into the new site. It's not that simple as the layouts have changed and so the "style sheets" have to be adjusted to make the content fill a new space with different dimensions. This will take another week or so. Once that's done I can look at putting in some new content. New content really takes time and is the reason it will be several more months before it sees the general WWW. Finally, there's the process of trying to make it look right. I could just put all the old header photos up, but what would be the point of that? I'm still waiting for some inspiration in this area.
In fact the new site, or at least some of it, is up on the web. I tend to test my sites in hidden subfolders on my server. Alternatively, I could post the site on a server set up in my own computer. The reason I don't is that I like to test the new pages on as many browsers and screen resolutions as possible. You'd be amazed how if you are not careful, your beautiful site can completely fall to pieces on someone else's screen. For example, the Isle of Man Government still uses the now decrepit and prehistoric Internet Explorer 6, which is a web designers nightmare.
Speaking of decrepit and prehistoric, I was looking through my old photographs and found the picture of the car above. This was the hire car we rented last Summer in Lofoten in Norway. It seemed a bit prone to punctures, as we suffered two. When I came to apply the spare wheel there was a slight size difference as you can see! It still fitted however, although it rendered the car a bit lob sided. This, added to the smoke which poured out from the engine compartment, made this rental a very different driving experience. Thank you Hertz.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Manx Queenie!

For those readers who are not from the Isle of Man, a Manx Queenie is not what you think! Instead it's the Queen Scallop for which the Island's fisheries are World famous. The Isle of Man is renowned for the way it has managed it's scallop beds ensuring the conservation of this delicacy. So, what's all this got to do with kayaking I hear you thinking? Well, the Manx Queenie festival runs from the 29th of June to the 5th of July 2009. You can find out more here, but there is to be a kayak racing event. Steve Watt of Manx Paddle Sports explains "I'm trying to organise the sea kayak race/tour for the Queenie Festival based on the Shore Hotel at Gansey on Tuesday 30th June. I really need a good turn out to promote the sport ! There will be a junior, senior and ladies race with 3 trophies to give back for the following year. Just turn up at 7pm and expect to spend all evening there eating burgers, listening to live music and having a drink.....I'll get 15 sea kayaks to the start but bring your own if you can please. Pass the word (if not into racing a lot of people will be touring...about 20 minutes per race). Ideally there will be 20 to 30 paddlers on each start line and some might even get round the 20 minute course before the swimmers and dinghies !!It will be an evening to remember so please put it in your diary now."

Monday, 20 April 2009

Kayaking Isle of Man - Douglas.

I've never paddled out of Douglas before. Perhaps it has been the stories of roof racked kayaks overhanging the pavement which earned threats of parking tickets for their owners, which put me off! It may be my imagination but the 2 hour traffic zones do seem to have grown recently. Despite all this, Ian and myself decided to risk the wrath of the Douglas parking attendants, and paddled from Douglas around to the Groudle. The brisk winds slowed us down on the outward trip, but propelled us homeward at breakneck speed. There was even time for a pint in the Queens pub and no parking tickets were earned, although "lifting and handling" guidelines may have been compromised!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - New Kayaking Directory.

I've been messing around with databases and directories. It's been part of my attempt to teach myself PHP and SQL. To help me learn how to do this I've created a kayaking directory and then added some basic search options. These new found skills are designed to be used on a bigger, better which will arrive in a few months time. But in the meantime I've added the simple directory to the current site. On the new site the search facilities will be somewhat more sophisticated but at present you can just search the database by country. There are 101 commercial kayaking outlets in there, although some of the details I have entered may not be quite up to scratch, especially when they are not in English! I've emailed all those entered to let them know I will make any changes they may want, or to delete them if they wish. You can find the directory here, and if you want to input your kayaking operation, then you can do it here.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Sinking Feeling.

Just a few pictures from this weekends paddles around the Calf and in the Sound. But yes, Ian is still in his kayak!?

Friday, 10 April 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Cluttered!

My mind is as cluttered as my garage at the moment. The car was long ago expelled outside to make way for my 5 kayaks and multiple sets of gear. It's been a combination of work issues and web development that's responsible for my mental turmoil. The former is always negative but the latter offers "green shoots" of hope. You may have noticed the "login" which has appeared on KAYAK. Behind this are a series of forms feeding, working and extracting from a couple of databases. And it all seems to be working now. The last few days were spent sorting out the security. I really don't want to get my site hacked, or to be inundated by offers of instant, fabulous wealth if I would only send my credit card details to Nigeria! The former issue has been partly solved by separating the servers. If when the data input forms go live I do acquire a nasty little virus most of the site will remain immune, as the two servers are now 5000 miles apart.
So what's all this in aid of. Well, KAYAK will change a bit soon. There's a new design on the way which is a progression of the current design, but which utilizes precious web real estate more efficiently. The site will maintain and in fact increase it's Manx content, but in addition there will be more general kayaking pages. I hope to make it a source of more general kayaking and equipment knowledge. Of course the latter takes time and there will be some opportunity for readers to add comments or reviews, hence the databases. There will also be up to date kayaking news with live feeds to the home page. This will take time however, and in the meantime the current site will have to do.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - White Emulsion.

Don't get me wrong, I love my new Mega surf boat. It's as lite as a feather. It surfs like a dream. I really like the visible Kevlar. The red cockpit rim sets off the awesome marbled body beautifully. All I'm saying is that it's amazing what you can achieve with an old paint brush and a tin of white emulsion! (lower photograph of black and white marble effect)

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - 200!

I guess this is a milestone. It's the 200th posting on Isle of Man Kayakblog!
Sarah, Jess, Ian and myself headed out of Port St Mary on Saturday. It really wasn't easy to know where to set off from. You could choose your own weather, as few of the meteorological web sites agreed. As it was we had an awkward Southerly wind at force 5 creating some quite large rollers and breakers as we headed down to the Sound. Wet work followed, not all of it intentional it has to be said. Boy is that water cold. It was also great to catch up with Jan, Terry and Jenny.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - MySQL!

My brain is full of MySQL, php, asp, xml, APACHE and more. I'm trying to figure out data bases and dynamic web sites! So far it's going well, but it does make your brain hurt! I've achieved every thing I've tried to so far but at the same time I've achieved nothing. It's a bit like building your own car from scratch. You may well construct the engine, wheels and body but if you can't make the steering wheel then it's useless. Building dynamic web sites certainly involves many hurdles, and all have to be achieved for these "clever" web pages to work properly. Still, if my car analogy is anything to go by I would guess that if I can build the engine, then making a steering wheel should be a cinch! Only a few more things to figure out .......