Friday, 18 November 2016

Unicoms (Again)

On 4th to 6th November 2016 I stayed at The Nightingale Centre at Great Hucklow for what was still existing of the Unicoms Conference. I have now completed all the reports to make of the time there.

My own presentation on using Audio CDs in services was cancelled. There are plans to have it next year. The lengthy comprehensive guide is available now.

At Hucklow I (among six others) participated in James Barry's explanation of moving to a multisite version of Wordpress for a denomination-wide arrangement of websites.

Whilst I quizzed him on preferring directly designed and relevant websites for congregations, highlighting what is important, he said that even as a longstanding programmer (PHP and all that) he can no longer compete with the standard provided by such as Wordpress. (This rather questions going to these firms that offer bespoke websites!) Wordpress detects varieties of devices and browsers and appears to look the same everywhere via up to 40 selected stylesheets from which the detection makes choices.

Then I participated in Louise Reeve's presentation on specific church publicity, continued because it was being filmed for UK Unitarian TV. I took extensive notes, and wrote my webpage from these, the handouts and a glance at a sent set of resources of the original presentation made into one .PDF file.

Some ten or eleven attended that. I have put my piece as a webpage in the Learning Area Business and Organisation Section (because it relates to marketing).


Hucklow also included a walk out for filming towards a Paganism element in Unitarian video, but I did not go to that. I did check out an attempt to photograph a changing sky of stars with a body sat in front. It was on a hilltop at Bretton in the wind-making freezing cold, with the additional benefit of fireworks going off. So we went in the close-by pub.Three of four of us remaining for lunch on Sunday made ourselves useful by designing a questionnaire, which I have put in the Learning Area Business and Organisation Section (because it relates to marketing).

If I have any critique of this, it is tentatively to compare doing marketing with the success that is cathedrals and to suggest only that marketing alone is limited. Cathedrals clearly do marketing, and such thinking does not negate marketing, but what cathedrals have consistently is a management core that allows others to be anonymous by choice, usually within a large number or large distance from the core. You can still volunteer if you want. Cathedrals also produce a reliable worship quality. The theology is also fairly standard, if tending towards the more liberal, and a little high. It usually encourages some reflection and treats people like adults. Can these be reproduced in this somewhat different context? How to test for relevance of these characteristics as well?

Whilst it is right to target the most likely participant types, and to become known, there is much to be said for laying the produce on the stall and attending to: quality and consistency, theological explanation, and a system of greeting and letting be for newcomers with information and contact detailing that gives the new person (or indeed any person) space. Information on the walls is such a good idea, beyond a range of leaflets, simply because it involves least activity for the individual who may not want to read leaflets and booklets. Websites are fantastic for that leisurely, DIY, investigation, and thus so important to get them to be good.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Unicoms (Having Been)

Four of us at the end, six of us most of the time, ten at peak, and a conference of sorts: a very useful presentation and discussion on changes to the Unitarian denomination websites arrangement, a presentation on publicity (link soon), and a questionnaire from marketing principles regarding why existing people started to attend. Much will be repeated and updated next year at a properly advertised conference (whereas the talk had been that these had had a good run and would cease). This would mean me doing the audio CD in services presentation next year, although my pessimism about my continued participation in the Unitarian movement was evident.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Unicoms

I am going to the residual Unicoms gathering for 2016. Effectively the Conference (and my presentation as well) has collapsed and it won't be revived in the future. My ow
n presentation has been superseded by a comprehensive webpage http://www.pluralist.co.uk/learning/ict/cdsforservices.html on using audio CDs in services - the preparation long term, preparation weekly and actually doing the activity on the day. There is much involved.

The collapse is indicative, of course, of the perilous winter state of the Unitarian movement, but comes at a time when publicity is all the more important. Unicoms is communication and comes with a technical edge, and the point about audio CDs is when there is no keyboard player.

About half a dozen to ten people will still be going, and some presentations will still be considered. One of these is using Wordpress for church websites. I am interested in this. My own view is that these enhanced blogs are too restrictive for websites and do not allow for the most direct, relevant, design. Pages have to be 'highlighted relevance' and this is only really achieved by coding to order. Menus and choices are vital presentations to give service times, location, and vital ideological information.

You should have a website for all news and information of interest, use a blog for described announcements regarding the website and then advertise on social media with opportunities for further comment.

London Rapid Transit Suggestions

I am not a supporter of an extra runway at Heathrow Airport. I do think the surrounding airports for London can be developed including London Biggin Hill. Goods need moving from Heathrow. What is needed is flexibility and capacity shifts in public transport. I have been interested in this for years, and is why people are surprised at my knowledge of London locations. I've developed maps and routes to enhance the London Overground as an alternative flexible system around the London Underground, with its own distinct colour-marked routes rather than orange everywhere. There is a single line going through Poyle and Stanwell Moor. The latter is hundreds of yards from Heathrow Terminal 5 and could be connected by a travelator. Buses could link the terminals to Wraybury on the line coming south from Windsor.

The maps are in the Localities Area of the Pluralist Website. The updated webpage of routes and now achieved is at http://www.pluralist.co.uk/localities/clitlilovlun.html and links go to all maps from there. The maps are standard, then with Crossrail 2 in original and updated forms, one set more geographical and one more diagrammatic.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Why I stopped Writing the Magazine

This entry is no longer appropriate and has been replaced by a Webpage on Unitarianism and Me in 2016.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Thursday, 29 September 2016

New Hosting Location for Website

My website dates from 1998. It started on Freeserve, went also to FreeUK (in the days when it used Lenin as its motif) and then some years on I dropped Freeserve and stayed with FreeUK.

Before 2012 (an important date), and in fact around 2009, I had my website across six FreeUK accounts each one needing a dial-up once a month. There was FreeUK Pluralist (was the Freeserve), FreeUK Plural, FreeUK Change, FreeUK Differ, FreeUK Enk, FreeUK Renew. I purchased pluralist.co.uk domain via Easily.co.uk and ghosted it to FreeUK Pluralist. Dial up was the only way I could upload. I was viewing via Broadband at last, starting with Tiscali (living in New Holland).

Not only was Dropbox a broadband solution, it did not even need File Transfer Protocol, because a set of specified folders and all subfolders were synchronised with the Dropbox cloud. So all I had to do (really?) was put the website combined into a folder and subfolders and it would be uploaded for me. So the domain pluralist.co.uk was ghosted across to Dropbox Pluralist folder in its public folder.

It was not quite as easy as that. Absolute links existed across FreeUK sites. Some of the Learning Area subfolders were split across different FreeUK accounts. So I had to go through page after page putting in relative links.

All was then fine and has been for years. And then less than a month back Dropbox sent notice that from October 3rd it would no longer show HTML web pages as web pages. This would render my website useless. It turned out further that as an older user I had public folder use denied to later non-paying customers.

The first thing I did was look for other file sharing services. And I discovered that some, like Jumpshare, and indeed the Microsoft OneDrive, needing installing for Windows before version 10, display the HTML code and others, like Yandex Disk, display a blank. I learnt that file sharing meant something other than web hosting. Indeed I note that website host X10 hosting specifically rejects file sharing use despite reference to the cloud.

So to web site hosting. I had to find a suitable FTP program and the best/ easiest I think is FTP Rush. I've not bothered further with Filezilla. The first website hosting service one I tried was relatively straighforward, X10hosting, except that not everything being uploaded went completely. Some .PDF files ended up incomplete, and not always the biggest, and some files were skipped. It also erases above 10 mb files. Few of mine are that size, but one or two are. The solution is, bizarrely, to link to a file share. In fact, thinking about it, it might be possible to upload one webpage, the index webpage and all else display in it via file share links. I have not tried this, and I rather wonder if going to a webpage link produces their webpage container (for blank or code) and therefore renders that approach useless.

On the other hand, X10 provided a website name and it could be tested in the process of uploading. So I also tried Hostinger, based in the UK and Cyprus, and noticed the uploading far more fluid and smooth. It does disconnect and reconnect, but what goes up does go up and I've watched good long sessions of uploading.

But I was stumped as to how to activate it. In fact it was a near fluke that I got the FTP to work using my pluralist.co.uk name. I did once I got the right identifying bits in the right places. But no way of viewing the files: how on earth does pluralist.co.uk itself go there for HTML web pages viewing?

It took ages to suss it out, and I did send an email for help and received no reply. The DNS number and server names are actually done at Easily. It has the facility, different from the ghosting one. But give that this was the only reality, the website had to be up in full according to the FTP before I could direct the domain name. Well, today I discovered it has worked, and even individual own pages carry the pluralist name. If there was a _blank link to an individual page, that separate web browser page would show the Dropbox name. If I ghosted pluralist.co.uk to X10 it would show the X10 name. But this one does not, and indeed individual directions to pages are also with the pluralist.co.uk domain name.

So this is good. I also 'carry' a couple of other websites for other folk, so these now need releasing as also they will not show on Dropbox. I need to get an account and do the ghosting, in one case.

In effect I have two website locations (for now). One is http://pluralist.x10.mx/ as it happens.

A steep learning curve.