WordCamp talk: The WordPress Cartoonist

I’m very pleased to announce that I’m speaking at WordCamp London in March. WordCamp, for those not in the know, is a conference for people with an interest in WordPress, the software that runs this website.

My talk is entitled ‘The WordPress Cartoonist – a User’s Perspective’. Here is the official description:

WordPress has been an invaluable tool as I’ve made my living as a cartoonist for the last 12 years. In this talk I’ll share some handy hints for running a creative business using WordPress, including some of the themes and plugins I’ve found most useful, lessons learned, and mistakes made (and there have been a few of those). All illustrated with some cartoons, including one or two brand new ones created specially. Drawing experience not required.

I’d thoroughly recommend WordCamp if WordPress is something that interests you. Take a look at the schedule and see whether it appeals. I’ve been the last two years and thoroughly enjoyed it. Quite a few of the talks are rather technical and go right over my head, or are aimed at people who develop WordPress websites for a living, but I’ve always found plenty to keep me interested as a WordPress user and someone using WordPress to run a business. WordCamp tickets are incredibly good value, and include food during the day and a t-shirt. Details here.

My talk is on the Sunday, 19 March. For those who can’t make it, or for whom a whole weekend about websites would be too much excitement in one go: I’ll post a transcript / slides after the event.

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Great technological advancement

you-v-tech

Anyone who has followed me (digitally) over the last few years will know that my church cartoons site, CartoonChurch.com, has been having difficulties. A reoccurring problem that no one could fix, along with an incompetently-run web hosting company, a *different* moving-the-site problem that no one could fix, and my own incompetence, all combined to produce an unsatisfactory situation.

I’m pleased to say that I have, at last, found ways around all of these complications and have moved the domain name and hosting, and, at the time of writing, everything works. This should mean that at last I’ll be able to post more regular church cartoons without being halted by the site going down, which I’m pleased about. To a lot of people moving domains and websites are, I’m sure, fairly simple tasks, but it has been a bit of a hurdle for me and so I’m happy that I’ve learnt how to do it.

More changes are still to come. An entirely new and improved CartoonChurch.com is on it’s way, but stage one is complete at least.

Thanks in particular to all licence holders, who are the ones who make the site possible, for their patience. There should be a plenty of new material for you on its way.

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The mobile cartoonist

mobile cartoonist

Warning: technical post. Some may not find it of interest.

Yes, this is a picture of someone taking a picture of a cartoon. Don’t ask how many takes this took.

One of my aims in life (I haven’t set my sights that high) is to be able to post cartoons on this blog from anywhere. I am fortunate in having the technology that should enable such a feat to take place, but am continually blighted by technical problems and ineptitude. So any advice would be welcomed.

I have a mobile telephone and a tablet which can both ‘scan’ cartoons – ie take pictures and then turn them into reasonable black and white line drawings. The problem is getting the image onto this WordPress website. I use Flickr to store images, or I FTP them straight to the site, but have found the following problems:

  • On an Android phone I can post to Flickr, but it isn’t as easy to edit the cartoon on the phone.
  • On an iPad I can edit them scan very easily, but I can’t find any app that posts to Flickr and actually works. [Update: This might be a temporary problem – will try again soon.]
  • No mobile apps seem to post to WordPress effectively.
  • Ideally I want to have the image at 678 pixels, the width of my blog theme, but something like 640 is fine.

Can anyone think of a way that I can do this – perhaps a better method / app than I have been using.

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Website upgrades and downgrades

I’ve been continuing to work hard on this website. Since last week:

  1. I’ve changed the site to fixed width. If this means nothing to you then don’t worry, it isn’t that important.
  2. The tiny cartoon thumbnails have gone and been replaced by larger cartoons, meaning for the first time the cartoons don’t have to be viewed one by one.
  3. The lines on the cartoons have been made bolder and hopefully more readable. Possibly to do with my Aunty Aliasing (technical joke). However, this does now mean that the image sizes are larger.
  4. All manner of minor changes to all manner of pages, wording, menus, new images, this and that.

I think these changes are all a good thing, but please do tell me if not. If anyone had the time to click a few pages and tell me what they think it would be greatly appreciated. In particular it would be useful to know whether the larger file sizes are a problem, for instance for those browsing with 3g, 2g 1g or any portion of a g. Also any display issues to do with going to fixed width for those with small screens, mobile screens or no screens.

[Minor point. I’m in London and am approximately 45% busier than normal, so please forgive me if it takes a while for any comments to be moderated.]

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How social media connects us all

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I have had a month or two of blissful non-connectivity owing to breaking my ‘mobile’ telephone. As of 12 September 2011 I once again have a telephone I can use to browse online things whilst out and about. Is this a good thing? Probably not.

I wouldn’t be able to do what I do were it not for the internet, and for this I am extremely grateful. Yet on a daily basis the internet is my worst enemy: I allow it to distract, to take away creative and looking-out-of-the-window-at-things time, and to stop me interacting with those around me. Generally (and there are of course exceptions) the less time I spend online the happier I am.

This marks me out as an idiot. Remind me when I next break my mobile telephone not to buy another one.

I’ll moderate any comments when I’m on the train.

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Before the invention of the computer

church computer cartoon

Click here for a readable version: Parish life before the invention of the computer

I think computers have, in general, make our lives less happy, but I don’t have time to discuss this as I have to go and do things on the computer.

Don’t get me wrong, lots of very good things would not have not been possible without the advance of technology (my cartooning career included) but we’ve lost a lot and I think a lot of the time we forget or don’t even realise that this is the case. Or perhaps that’s just me.

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I could do with some help assessing widths

Please note: This post may be temporary if it messes up the page for a lot of people.

A little interactive exercise. It would help me to know which of these arrows you can see in its entirety without it impinging on the sidebars of the blog. If you can see all of all of the arrows, write ‘width 4’. If you can see width 2, but not width 3, write ‘width 2’. It would also be interesting to know if it messes up the page. If it does it would be useful to know which browser you are using. In the event of many reports of messed-up pages this post will be short-lived.

All clear? Go!

width 1
width 2
width 3
width 4

P. S. Thank you. This is to help me work on the design of my site.

P. P. S. This is not a competition and there are no winners and no prizes. In the event of a tie the Judges’ decision is final.

Interesting supplementary fact: I have found that if you say the word ‘width’ repeatedly it (a) becomes nonsensical, and (b) you sound like an idiot.

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We need to sort out our navigational problems

In order to prepare ourselves for the expected onslaught of Christian Blog Award judges there are a few things that need to be sorted out. The first is the forward and back buttons on this website, which are currently in a state of disarray.

Take as an example this page and scroll down to the very bottom. The links say:

« Previous Page — « Previous Entries Next Entries » — Next Page »

This would be all very well, except that previous page leads you to the next entries, previous entries takes you to the next page, next entries takes you to the previous page, and next page takes you to the previous entries. It is a well known fact that 50% of all visitors are getting lost 50% of the times they click a link, and 50% of those have no idea whether they are the lost 50% or the other 50%. There are people who arrived on this site back in March who are still going backwards and forwards with little hope of respite.

The Judges (let’s capitalise, why not?) are going to be noting this kind of thing down in their noting-things-down books. Something needs to be done.

Worst of all, my arch-blogging-nemesis, the Church Mousse, has been taunting me.

If you are an expert in WordPress end-of-page links please scroll down to my technical plea. Everyone else: here are some proposals for replacement end-of-page links when this sorry saga can be sorted out.

navigational problems

Technical plea
Any advice from WordPress experts welcomed. I tried editing a page that contained one set of these end-of-page links, but doing so broke the blog. The duplication happened when I upgraded once. I use my own theme which is very outdated, but I like it. Anyone who can tell me which page I should edit would be profusely thanked.

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Computer cartoon

computer hammers

After yesterday’s highs come the lows of the big important project not going very well. To be honest the computer not functioning is not one of the reasons (though me not functioning is). In truth I’m just posting this cartoon because it was scanned and ready to go. It was originally to accompany an in-depth post on the pros and cons of Mac ownership, given that I bought mine a year ago. I shouldn’t be seen to be wasting time in such ways this week though, so I will desist.

Hope everyone is having a good week. See you here in the same place for more non-achievement tomorrow.

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Plea for technical help

*Warning: Dull post. Do not read if you came here to be interested or amused.*

I am aware that I ask for technical help (usually on Twitter) several times a day, but I am taking a liberty and doing so once more.

This time it is not for me and my blessed Mac, but for a family member’s PC computer which I am attempting to make work this weekend. If I can do so I will get superb numbers of brownie points and will generally be regarded as some kind of hero.

Here is a summary:

Problem: Can’t surf the internet / do e-mail.

Details:

  • Computer is a quite old Evesham one running Windows XP
  • Modem appears to connect to the internet, but no data is actually received.
  • On the modem (Voyager 105) Power and DSL lights are on, Data light isn’t.
  • ISP is Supanet if that is of any relevance. They say the connection should be working. They also cost 50p a minute to chat to.
  • It worked until a few weeks ago, then stopped. Unfortunately I wasn’t here at the time, so I don’t know whether anything odd was done to it.
  • AVG free is running, as is Windows Firewall. Disabling either or both makes no difference.

So, what I’m wondering is (a) any thoughts what the problem might be? (b) how would I go about making a diagnosis and, all being well, fixing it?

Normally I’d do copious Googling, but I’m connecting via a dongle on a netbook and too much internetting is a bit awkward.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

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