GoldWing Light Parade Website lives on

LP CaptureWhen the Federation of UK GoldWing Clubs closed down, so did it’s GoldWing Light Parade Website, which was by far the longest-running webiste of its kind, having started off when Blackpool Light Parade was still the only GoldWing event of this type.

The Website needed its usual annual updating, to reflect the new Season, but it had just had a substantial re-structuring, so it would have been a real pity to see it disappear.  Apart from anything else it provides the only place where Wingers (and other supporters) can get comprehensive information about GoldWing Light Parades.

So this interesting Website, which includes a large historical collection of photos and videos, is now being sponsored by this Blog.

It will be re-launched for the new Season on January 1st, when you will be able to read about two brand new Light Parade venues for 2014 – and find out which of the 2013 light parades will not be running during 2014.

There will still be a Comparative Table page providing at-a-glance information and links about all the Light Parades, to aid comparison and selection, and each event will have its own details page – or sometimes its own set of information pages – to provide in-depth coverage.

Organise may provide information for inclusion but they aren’t allowed to control what gets publsihed, so the information will be independently chosen – and no Light Parade will be favoured over another except on genuine merit.

GoldWingRiders Forum now at .co.uk
Not a Happy Easter Bunny

Not a Happy Easter Bunny

Those of you you who use this excellent British-based forum might have struggled to find it recently because its usual home on a dot com domain became dysfunctional recently.

David Williams, its geekish owner is flannelling wildly that some gremlins have done it to him but he probably did something human like forgot to renew the domain on time!

The Forum is however alive and well and can be found using its alternative url at:

www.goldwingriders.co.uk

WordPress for Wingers Part 1 – Making a Post
The WordPress "Dashboard", your operator's control panel

The WordPress “Dashboard”, your operator’s control panel – click on the image for an enlargement

Having encouraged Wingers not to be scared of WordPress, I thought it would be an interesting winter series to explain the basics of using it.  I’ll also comment on the jargon which you will encounter, which threw me a bit when I was starting off.

This article is a lot more basic and a lot less jargon-ridden than most basic introductions to WordPress you will encounter and that’s deliberate.  I’m aiming at the person in my mind’s eye who is a mature, non-geeky Winger, capable of using a computer to find and read this Blog and maybe also use EBay or Amazon, but not much more.

If you are more computer-capable that this and can cope with more jargon and geek-speak, you might learn faster and get less bored by using other introductions, which you will find very easily using a search engine.  Likewise if you are the sort of person who already knows enough to pick me up for writing things that aren’t quite true because WordPress can also do this or that differently, please go away – this article is Stage One for Wingers and follows the KISS principle, so I know I am missing stuff out.

I’ll also try to de-mistifying the jargon you’ll come across either within or about WordPress as we go, especially in the introductions and tutorials.  Unfortunately geeks simply can’t stop themselves using it and sometimes they don’t realise that their words mean nothing to normal people – so I’ll translate when necessary.

For example computer programs get categorised or labelled by type and WordPress is usually called a content management system, which means that it stores and presents information, via the internet, on a computer screen for all to see and makes it as easy as possible for the operator to place information into it, so that it can be presented.  That’s not very specific, so geeks have in vented the title content management system  for what WordPress-type programs do.  Happily, since you’re not a geek, you don’t need to know about the distinction and you can just get to know what WordPress does as you learn to use it.  You can forget most of the jargon you’ll come across, it’s not important to you.

In simple terms then, WordPress combines a database (to store your stuff) with the means to make your content viewable to others over the internet, which is why we’re interested in it using it.  Like many other powerful computer programs, you can use it for other things too if you wish, but we’ll stick to this for now.

WordPress lives, and stores your stuff, on someone else’s computer rather than on yours at home.  It lives somewhere on the internet, which is all you need to know.  You will use the internet to access your website as an operator, same as your viewers use the internet to view it – and you and they can do this at the same time, including lots of viewers viewing at the same time, which is clever.  There will be jargon for all those features too, but you don’t need to know it.

Part of WordPress’s special attraction (other that it works well and is reliable) is that it’s continues………

Club websites, blogs and forums for Wingers
A Federation Club Website - ready to be adapted to your use

A ready-use Federation Club Website – add your name and badge and it’s ready to go!

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGEMENT

With the Christmas decorations down and packed away, and of course the GoldWing also tucked away for the deep winter, there is perhaps opportunity to put your mind to something non-biking but connected to your biking hobby.  This article encourages Wingers not to be nervous – it’s a sort of an IT confidence builder for Winger Dummies if you like, with the emphasis on showing how websites, like this one and club websites, are really to operate these days.  Easy enough for almost anyone to operate if they wish.

My aim is to encourage those who currently wouldn’t dream of operating a website themselves to consider doing so, whether for their club’s use or personally, by explaining how easy it can be.  If you have got far enough exploring the internet to be able to visit this Blog, you probably already have the necessary skills, even though you don’t know it.

These days operating a websites for personal or club use is no more difficult than taking responsibility for a club notice board on a wall somewhere – you simply put the notices on to the website (like pining them up on a noticeboard) and the website does the rest for you automatically, to display it on the internet for all to see.  Or just for your members to see if you want it that way, using password protection of the information or logging on individually to get on.  It’s more or less as simple as that.

To create and run a big, fancy commercial website like those of Tesco and Amazon you need geeks by the bucket full but for websites like this one and for everything which any blog or continues………

This Blog’s Viewing Figures continue to build up – thank you Readers

Breakdown by hour of day for 1st - 20th November. Click on th image for an enlarged view.

When the Blog’s web hosting was migrated to a new web hosting service a while ago the viewing statistics I receive altered so that it has become difficult to compare apples with apples.

You might recall that the Blog was getting 5,000-7,000 “unique visits” per week.  I was never sure exactly what this meant and I got other statistics which reported different figures (against a different definition or description)  so that the best I felt I could do was report the same type of figures each time, which were the ones which have now been lost.

The new figures are reported on a monthly basis and I haven’t had a complete month yet because they started part way through October.

However it’s pretty clear from comparing the other figures, which I still get, that the numbers are keeping up well, indeed there has probably been a sustained increase, even allowing for the likelihood that the recent burst of controversial articles about GWOCGB have also pushed the viewing figures up temporarily. continues………

A change in the webhosting arrangements for this Blog

Demoted to mere Web Designer

This will be of limited interests to most readers but I have decided to change the web hosting arrangements for this Blog so that from now on my Webmaster/Designer (and generally useful geek) Nigel Mackintosh will no longer be acting as web hosting agent.

Not that he’s fallen short in any way but Nigel has been subjected to some unpleasant and threatening earache recently in an attempt to intimidate him into pulling an Article from this Blog which I wouldn’t want him to have to face again, so I’ve made direct arrangements for web hosting, instead of doing it via him.

Nigel is a valued friend and I often consult him and not just about geeky stuff, but he has no responsibility for the editorial content of this Blog at all and no authority to make any sort of alterations to any of its content.  I’m the owner/editor, he’s the helpful geek.

Some of you may be aware that under UK Law a web hosting supplier can be held responsible for content which is deemed to be defamatory along with the author/editor once they become aware of the defamation.  As a result of this some UK web hosting companies have developed a reputation for pulling the plug on a website  just to be on the safe side – as soon as any allegation of defamation is made and without even bothering to check whether there really has been any defamation. This makes UK-hosted websites potentially vulnerable to manipulative and/or intimidatory attack.

I was once threatened with this treatment by Chris Hinds, the Chairman of GWOCGB for something I’d written, which struck me as a bit heavy-handed because I’m always willing to correct any error which is pointed out, but there you go.  I wasn’t on GWOCGB’s official Christmas card list even then so maybe a threatening approach from the outset seemed to him to be the best one to take at the time.  Happily that’s never recurred, possibly because I was able to make him look a little foolish for doing it.

This Blog’s web hosting was therefore transferred out of UK some time ago to avoid the risk of knee-jerk closure by the web hosting company.  But Nigel was still acting as my UK agent and his name was on the Blog as web hosting arranger.  He didn’t actually own the server on which the Blog lives of course, that’s not how it works but he was the fixer-upper.

An unhappy reader of this Blog recently took it upon himself to give Nigel a very hard time, threatening that an array of unpleasant things would happen unless the Blog article to which he had taken exception was pulled by a deadline which he set.  Happily no bolts of lightning descended on Nigel and nothing else has happened either since that deadline expired but it continues………

Competition from Yorkshire – Dave Sharp has started his own Blog

Dave and sophisticated companions in Normandy, September 2011

Dave Sharp, Good Egg of this Blog, has started writing his own blog which you can visit by clicking here.

Dave developed his writing skills by doing the Appy Wanders reports on their website and now that he’s taking a break from that role, I suppose his typing fingers were still twinkling and he’s decided to have a go at writing on his own account.

It’s not all about bikes unfortunately and it turns out that our Dave is a bit of a soft touch on the subject of cats but he’s already written one article about his Tour to Normandy and that’s well worth reading.

If he keeps it up (and I find out how to do it) I’ll put one of those feed thingies on here so that you will be able to see at a glance what his latest stuff is about – now how’s that for being welcoming to some competition for my readership!

 

Elite Wings launches a new “Federation” Website

Click on the image for an enlargement

One of the benefits for an existing GoldWing Club or Region which affiliates with the Federation of UK GoldWing Clubs is a free, ready to go club website and Elite Wings have just taken advantage of this and taken control of their new one.  It’s on the same domain name they’ve had for years, www.elite-wings.co.uk, but they are now benefitting from a new, high performance webhosting service and new, specially adapted website software has been installed.  And it hasn’t and won’t cost them a penny.  Even the webhosting charges are covered by the Federation.

The reason why it was worth Elite Wings going to the trouble of switching to a new website is that as well as being free of charge, the Federation’s club websites are user-controlled and easy to operate, so that the Wingers who run Elite Wings can add and modify stuff themselves, including adding pictures to a sophisticated (i.e. easy to load) photo gallery.

They will now be able to enter their own information about forthcoming or past events, add images if they wish and update the information any time they wish.  All their Members can also comment on anything which appears, for example to say “count us in for that one” and suchlike, so it works as well as having a club forum for most purposes, without having any of the risks or responsibilities of having a club forum.  Elite Wings like many clubs these days, also has a Facebook Page on which real-time chat can take place so the combination of the two works well.

If you visit the recently launched GoldWings North Midlands website, which the Federation provided from scratch in less than three weeks, you will notice similarities but also differences.  If you know what to look for you could also recognise that the GoldWings North West website has similarities too – and since that one is more established and has a lot more stuff on it, you will also see how much scope Elite Wings will now have to develop the content of their new website.

All this comes with a friendly support package of training and troubleshooting as the operators of these websites learn the ropes.  “Driving” one of these websites is a lot less complicated than operating the switches on an average GoldWing and it is completely unnecessary to be a geek to be the Club’s website operator.  Or one of the operators because there is no reason why several Club Members can’t have access to put stuff on the website if that’s the way Elite Wings wants it.  Parts of the website can be (and in this case already are) restricted access, for Elite Wings Members only, protected by a password which the Club itself can update anytime it wishes.

The Federation can provide this service to GoldWing clubs, free of charge, because the underlying development work to construct the website system is shared across all of them, so that although they look different and will look more different as their varying content builds up, they use the same website “engine and chassis”.  So there is economy of scale and there are advantages of commonality for purposes of training, troubleshooting and so on.

UK GoldWing Forums Update

New Look for the GWOCGB Forum - click on the image for an enlarged view

There have been some changes on the UK Forum scene recently, hence this brief update.

You may recall that the GWOCGB Forum was pulled altogether a few weeks ago and an announcement was made that it would not go live again until the moderators became available.  When it came back on line it was initially in “read only” mode, so no one could post anything at all.  Since then it has come back on line properly and there have been substantial changes.

The general discussion forum in the public  area has now gone and has been replaced by a new Technical forum, where any registered user can ask questions of make technical comment – but that’s it, any other sort of posting is strictly not allowed.  The GoldWings For Sale forum has survived the cull but that’s it for public consumption, only these two narrowly focused sub-forums are in the public area and everything else, including the other technical stuff, is in the private Members Only area.

The thinking behind the changes hasn’t been explained beyond a mention that a few Forum users had been spoiling things for everyone.  This probably referred to a Thread (in the private Members Only area) which included attacks on another GoldWing organisation and a lot of name-calling and eventually worse.  This Thread has now quietly disappeared and maybe this time there really will be an end to what this Forum became infamous for – so a very welcome fresh start!

 The value of closing the public discussion forum, which had been going smoothly, because of problems in the members-only area is a bit obscure because it has the effect of closing what had seemed to be serving as quite a useful shop window for the Club.  The new public Technical forum is clearly a positive step and could help to restore the Forum’s (and maybe even the Club’s) fortunes if it takes off.  Transferring the existing (i.e. still members only) technical stuff into the public area to decorate the shop window would have been an even more positive step but maybe they are still plucking up the courage to do anything quite as positive as that.  Sadly, as far as general discussion among UK Wingers is concerned, GWOCGB’s Forum is now a dead duck.

There are also lots of other places on the internet for Wingers to ask technical questions, including the Federation Website which has for some time been running a Technical continues………

New kids on the UK GoldWing Forum Block

A friendly and safe forum to visit

Regular visitors to this Blog may have seen an early version of this article  which was published recently.  It was withdrawn for re-writing after concerns arose about whether one of the new forums which were described in it could safely be recommended.

I wrote an Article about Forums for UK Wingers not all that long ago, at which time I was singing the praises of a new one (to me) the GoldWing Riders Forum which I was finding quite useful.  This was because it was non-aligned (so no club or other politics) and conspicuously friendly in its tone.  And I’ve also recently mentioned that the GWOCGB Forum is cleaning up its moderating act too, thereby becoming a friendlier, if somewhat quieter, place to browse.

In a surprising, and for me a very disappointing development, the owner of the GoldWing Riders Forum, David Williams, announced that he will be closing it down soon. He seems to have felt that it was continues………

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