Caerfai, Pembrokeshire

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Earlier this Summer we took a trip up to Pembrokeshire, the western-most tip of Wales and since the last time I went was when I was in my childhood, I just couldn’t wait to return, this time with my own family rather than my parents and brother.

On the first day we took a drive from Martletwy up via Haverfordwest, Solva, Caerfai and finishing in St Davids before returning to our base for the week.

I can remember Caerfai from those earlier holidays in my youth, when we used to stay in an old farm cottage that was close to, if not pretty much smack bang on top of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. It was one of the most fabulous locations I think we ever found. We liked it enough to return a number of times again over the years. So it was really exciting for me, as we drove down the road, I instantly spotted the old cottage and recalled the walks to the Farm Shop to collect bottles of milk. Yes bottles.

Now in 2017, it hasn’t changed in the slightest. However the most exciting moment occurred as we parked in the small but ample clifftop car park and took a peek over the top. Right below us was the splendour of Caerfai Bay with is’t distinctive light purple, almost pink rocks. The same rocks were used to build nearby St David’s Cathedral.

It was also the warmest day of our stay in Wales, t-shirts and shorts weather. We took a walk down the steep path to the beach where we explored the aforementioned rocks and boulders that are strewn across the sands. Watching dogs playing in the water. It felt a bit different, as when we were kids, I swear we had it to ourselves, a hidden gem that nobody else knew about. Now very popular!

Oh and I also swear that the walk back up that steep path, never seemed so tough on the legs when I was ten years old!

Our new car

I’ve worked stupidly hard and because I like sporty cars we have just collected our latest set of wheels. Yes it’s a Jaaaaaaag! The most sophisticated car we’ve owned to date.

It’s got some crazy tech which boggles my mind. My first car was a clapped out old Mini that fell apart often but was just like Humpty Dumpty, you could always put her back together again. Now here we have a car that I can control via my phone. My Grandad would have loved this and it probably would have boggled him too. It also has plenty of poke under the hood too and is a lovely drive. That’s what matters at the end of the day. Got to make the most of petrol before it’s banned in 2020! (Sorry politics)

We have this red beauty now for four years and I highly recommend leasing a car. We have done so for six years now and is a super cost effective way of “owning” a car. All we need to do is pay a fixed rental each month, fuel her, keep her clean and free of bumps and scratches. The lease company takes care of maintenance and taxes. No MOT for three years.

Stock photography

I’ve been a contributor to Alamy for some years and currently a very lapsed one at that! I am going to start submitting again just through a simple exploration of my county and its neighbours. I used to enjoy it because it’s different to my day job and it gets you out in the fresh air. Gets the photographic brain in gear as you go on the hunt for eye catching images. Thing is though quite often the simple “editorial” stuff is all that you need to make sales. I’ve done fairly well on sales some years and fairly badly other years. Some say it’s a numbers game, the more you have on offer the more likely you will make sales. Still that said, you’ve got to think like a buyer would think. This photo will work well in a gardening magazine because it shows a set of garden tools propped against a shed. It’s not necessarily the kind of thing you would frame and put in the wall. Think of those magazine pages and the sort of stuff you read on a frequent basis. Continue reading “Stock photography”

Has the blog had it’s day?

I enjoy blogging don’t get me wrong because it encourages me to write and that’s the reason – I love to write and many years ago, for awhile I wrote articles for a couple of magazines. I went for a job with Future Publishing (Technical Editor) back in the Commodore Amiga days. I had to write an article before going for the interview and that was their way of shortlisting candidates. I got through the first stage and was shown around their offices in the beautiful city of Bath. It was exciting and I was only in my early 20’s at the time. It was also the early days of the web, blogging hadn’t been invented, yet alone Facebook and the social media phenomomen. I can’t help but feel it could have ended up a little bit like the film “Sliding Doors” albeit without the romance and about a young geek who would later discover that whichever path he took he would end up….

Here!

The web has democratised writing, journalism, photography and many other industries. The 20 year old Nick wouldn’t have dreamt any of this stuff up back in the day. Yet I feel we are approaching another turning point again (if we haven’t already and I missed it). Blogging has reached maturity and I can’t help but feel that it needs something, more, not sure what exactly, in order to keep it alive. Read on and I shall share some industry inside info!

A whole industry has evolved around CMS systems which is what I ended up working with pretty much exclusively for a long time as a web developer and have worked with some big organisations. Now I am torn as once upon a time I enjoyed working with PHP and MySQL the essence of WordPress (upon which this site runs and many millions of others). The problem is my work has led me off on a tangent, a good one but a confusing one. I now specialise in Javascript and don’t panic this post is not going to get all geeky and techie for those readers of mine who aren’t Developers. We can do a great deal more in the browser now and the architecture of web applications has taken a seismic shift in a whole new direction. I feel like at times, I am sat on the top deck of a fast ferry whisking me away and I am watching one phase of my career rapidly vanish in the sea of technology….

If I had taken that job back in 1992, I would have been putting together a floppy disk for the cover of the issue each month with some tips on how to use your new shareware or public domain apps! Yes apps! We didn’t call them that then but that’s what they were. Ok, they took 5 minutes to load before you could use them and you couldn’t carry them around in your pocket either.

So back to the theme of this article, what next for blogging? What next for this individual site?

Well I am a web developer after all and as Director/Founder/CEO/Etc of HeadForCode.com it is time to give you an insight into my vision for what could come next. My mind is full of ideas, visions and other junk (added that to see if my Wife is reading this).

Let’s bear in mind some other people have in the past challenged WordPress, Drupal etc with new ideas. I think some of the best alternatives out there are Medium, Tumblr and a few others. Now there are some other new ways of building sites, that I’d like to introduce you to and to share some actual examples of such.

Static Site Generators and the JamStack

Just now I hinted at one of our other websites, our company site http://www.headforcode.com and it is a good example of a whole new way of building sites that in some ways aren’t actually new. Ok, a big contradiction I know! The HeadForCode site has no database, it is based entirely on Markdown files. Markdown being a file format that is easy to write and is later “compiled” to HTML, there are plenty of examples out there to explain it in more depth, should it be of interest.

We then “deploy” the site once it is “built” to a server that features a fast CDN network, so that visitors get to see a very fast site indeed. It is also less prone to hacks because it is based on static files and no database at all. Just like back in 1991, see another link back to the start of my story.

Some people call this the JAMStack which stands for Javascript, APIs and MarkUp. This is significant as I hope to explain this better in some future articles that I am going to write which explain the benefits of this to both developers and non-developers. We still need to maintain the well established relationship of Developer/Consultant with that of the customer who will be given control of their content. In the future that content could be pulled in from a variety of sources. The aim being to create far more spontaneous web content for the consumer.

I have often thought about Photographers (being one myself) and how WordPress works as a solution. It can get very messy when implementing your site, you end up adding tonnes of plugins and if you get involved with template design and editing, that too can become a mess. Well at least that is my experience with WordPress when I’ve worked with clients.

Some people may use external services for dealing with their photography, such as Instagram and here is another example of something I created… https://nickogram.netlify.com/ which is another one of these new SSG things. I just re-build it to import the latest photos already hosted on Instagram. Ok this is all very well for me being a developer and if you are not, it’s not much cop. However what if a company took this idea and built something they could offer Joe Public, where you sign up, pay your money and voila.

Just some ideas guys, the marketplace is set to become busier and I’d like to see less of Facebook and the big companies trying to muddy the waters of what was originally Sir Tim Berners-Lee great idea.

Tales from the Island – The Salt Farmers

Tim Lewis

The Cini family of Zebbug in northern Gozo traditionally harvest salt on salt pans which have been in continuous use since Phoenician times. The pans have been owned by the family for hundreds of years. Now a new generation are taking over responsibility for salt production and as they look to the future they explore the challenges, such as climate change, and the new possibilities, such as renewed interest in old traditional techniques and tourism.

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ViewPoints

I am starting a new series of drone videos this Summer that I am calling “ViewPoints” which I began a couple of weeks ago, with one new video to share right now, right here and a queue of two others to bring to you as soon as they are ready. I am chipping away at them bit by bit, you know how long these things take at times.

The series of videos will depict some of my favourite places in the UK and occasionally beyond too, after all I have got archives sat on Lacie drives going back a couple of years now. Each video will be pretty short about 3 to 5 minutes long and all of them will be published on YouTube. So if you are on YouTube, please subscribe and like the original videos as well as this post….. ok shameless plug over!

The music in today’s video is really nice and I sourced it from Kevin MacLeod’s archives. Kevin is a prominant name online for providing royalty free music and you can find all the details, attributions etc against the YouTube video.

I have recently upgraded my Mac to the latest OS update and along with it Final Cut, my favourite editing package for Video. It took a bit of getting used to but I think I shall get along with it just fine.

The filming was great fun because we had just shot an earlier video down by Petersfield (which is the next one to come here) where the temperatures were in the high 20s and there was not a breath of wind at all. So we decided to head for the South Downs and up to Harting Down which offers the finest views of the area. To be honest there are views aplenty in the area and I plan to exploit it more in the years to come. I have been there many times before and quite often you can practically be blown off your feet in the Winter months!

Anyway, here is the video, please like it on YT and subscribe (if you don’t mind). Let me know in the comments what you think right here.

Flying over Farnham Park

The above video was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro, as I am editing this on a Surface Pro 4. I do also have a Mac which I use with Final Cut. I am kind of exploring both systems and both applications to see which is the most convenient. I shall form an opinion at some point for sure but I am quite amazed with the Surface Pro 4 and how fast it is. I am editing 4K video and unless I start adding various manipulations the video, it handles it all with aplomb.

I am a fan of Lightroom too….. Ok a little bit of an advert for Adobe tonight!

It’s video editing capabilities are limited but in  a way that makes sense because you can very easily jump across to your favourite video editor from within Lightroom. It works well for cataloguing video and for taking screen grabs from an original MP4 or MOV source file.

So here is a little explanation of all of this 🙂

Capture

Frame number 24 above is the original video and following on under 25-35 are a bunch of grabs that I took. I have created a little gallery below for you to enjoy 🙂

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