Web Design

2015 In Pictures – It’s All About Blackbird

Around this time of year, I usually post a selection of photos either taken or received by me, to sum up what kind of year I’ve had. However, this year has ultimately been defined for me by one thing and one thing only. Blackbird, and it being featured in the Waitrose Good Food Guide 2016.

When I initially opened the letter and gave it a cursory glance, I presumed it was an advertising mailshot, and was too busy doing the washing up at Blackbird, since the kitchen porter had failed to show up for work that day. So, I just left the letter on top of the dishwasher and carried on getting through all the dirty dishes. Three days later, the kitchen porter had again failed to show up for work and I found myself up to my elbows in dirty crockery and pans again. During a break, I wondered whether the letter was still on top of the dishwasher. It sure was, and when I gave it a more thorough read, it completely blew my mind.

There are few achievements in my life which can match the surprise, elation and satisfaction which finding Blackbird listed in the Good Food Guide elicited. And with tongue firmly in cheek, I still occasionally joke with customers that Blackbird even achieved a higher cooking score than the illustrious Ivy in London.

So anyway, here it is. My 2015 In Pictures. Well, just one really. Sorry to disappoint!

Blackbird in the Good Food Guide 2016

Visit the website of Blackbird in Todmorden

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2014 In Pictures

Typically rushed and random selection of pictures either taken or sent to me over 2014. I thought I’d had a fairly quiet year, seems like the exact opposite is true according to the pics. Apologies for the overkill on Sorcha photos, but she is a bit cute..

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Roma… Ti Amo!

I just can’t get enough of Rome.

Every time I visit, I fall in love with the place a little more. It’s just, right, as a city for me. It vibrates like a city should, it is stunningly beautiful to look at from almost any angle, and goddam I’ve never eaten so amazingly well in any other city including New York, Paris or London, and many other well-renowned foody cities. Rome is just a fantastic place, to be.

So anyhoo here’s a few shoddy snaps from what is easily becoming my favourite city-break and holiday destination, Rome.

PS – Excuse the black splodges on the photos. Think my phone must’ve acquired some sand back at Macarelleta Beach, Menorca earlier this year in May.

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“You are not a number, and don’t fucking forget it!”

The above quote, paraphrasing ‘The Prisoner’, is from the musical genius Steve Mason (previously of The Beta Band) as he finished his incredible set at Festival No. 6 in Portmeirion, Wales this weekend.

Steve’s fantastic gig was one of a number of highlights over this spectacular three day music festival in the picturesque faux-Mediterranean coastal town of Portmeirion in North Wales, previously used as the setting for the slightly bizarre 60’s televison series ‘The Prisoner’ starring Patrick McGoohan.

For me the other great performances over the weekend were Beck, Kelis, Candelas, tUnE-yArDs, and a rare glimpse of the Motown legend Martha Reeves performing classics like “Nowhwere To Run’ and ‘Dancing In The Street’. Beck set the main stage and the whole festival alight on the Saturday night, with a set full of energy, musical brilliance, and humour.

I’d highly recommend booking up early for Festival No.6 in 2015. After this year’s blazing success, it is shaping up to be the best music festival in the UK, in a setting which is definitely second to none.

Anyhoo, here’s a handful of snaps (and a video snippet of Beck) from my awesome weekend at Festival No.6 2014.

 

 

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2013 In Pictures – Streetcars Named Desire

Quickly throwing up this handful of photos from the past year which are roughly in chronological order I think. There are one or two that I especially treasure as memories from 2013, but mostly just snaps either taken or sent to me. The Streetcars title is a reference to the Todmorden taxi firm that I used extremely frequently over the Summer, so much so that I eventually didn’t have to give my name or destination when I called them.

It is definitely, definitely not in any way at all a reference to the Tennessee Williams play, or the character of Blanche DuBois, which was so cleverly portrayed in the excellent Blackshaw Head Players performance of the play this year.

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Andy Kershaw – No Off Switch

I’ve recently been lucky enough to have had the privilege of maintaining and developing broadcasting legend (and newly resident in Todmorden) Andy Kershaw’s website. Andy is someone whom I admire and respect a great deal, and he is also a bizarre one-degree of separation from so many of my musical heroes such as Bob Dylan, Joe Strummer, and Neil Young to name only a few.

The website http://www.andykershaw.co.uk has been evolving from the previous incarnation built by publishing giants Random House to promote No Off Switch, Andy’s incredible autobiography, and I’m extremely pleased with the way it’s heading. It is most definitely a massive improvement on that first website built by Random House, in terms of both presentation and ease of managing content.

Recently, I’ve added the ability for users to  buy and download Audio Book and E-book versions of the No Off Switch book, using a plugin which handles both the payment transaction and the fulfillment of downloads extremely well. Not that other content delivery channels are any less well suited, such as iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon, but the simplicity with which the book can be sold directly in either format, is definitely empowering for any artist or author.

If you’ve not read Andy’s autobiography yet, I’d highly recommend it. As would the hundreds of 5 star reviewers on Amazon. Andy’s experiences as a broadcaster and journalist make compelling reading/listening, and his journey is both fascinating and inspiring.

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2012 In Pictures

This is a fairly random selection of photographs taken by me plus a handful received from friends over the course of 2012. They’re in chronological order from my January trip to Alpandeire, through to New Year’s Eve at The 3 Wise Monkeys in Todmorden, stopping off at various holidays and events on the way.

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The Media, Security, Hindsight & JFK

It is indeed true that hindsight is always 20-20. And it was amongst the various posts and articles concerning the recent controversy about the world’s news media, phone-hacking, and also the activities of Anonymous and LulzSec etc, that I discovered this Youtube video of President John F. Kennedy. A montage of images, soundtracked by a speech he made in 1961 before the American Newspaper Publishers Association at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.

The points he raises and boldly addresses would appear alien to current political leaders at all levels, yet these are probably even more important now in this internet era, than they were when this courageous statement of intent was made back in the early 60’s.

…For we are opposed around the world, by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy, that relies primarily on covert means, for expanding its sphere of influence. On infiltration, instead of invasion. On subversion, instead of elections. On intimidation, instead of free choice…

…This administration intends to be candid about its errors, for as a wise man once said “An error doesn’t become a mistake, until you refuse to correct it”. We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors. And we expect you to point them out when we miss them…

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All work and no play…

It’s been an extremely busy start to 2011 on the work front, and so little time for blogging. Several exciting new web development projects are underway, including a new constituency website for a well-known ex-cabinet minister, a fairly large website covering the environment and heritage of the South Pennines area, which will be built in Concrete5 and make extensive use of the Google Maps API. There’s also a few Magento based e-commerce projects in the offing, and a handful of smaller makeovers for existing web clients.

On the personal side of things, am looking forward to tidying up the plans for the new house, and getting the planning application done and dusted at last. More importantly though, I’m desperate for some free time to get up to Dumfries and visit my baby niece, Alba. She is totally gorgeous, no?

Alba Dunne

Alba Dunne

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Big Up Zen Internet!

Myself and several of the clients that I work with use the web hosting services of Zen Internet, based nearby in sunny Rochdale.

I’ve been a Zen customer for around two years now, and cannot fault them on either reliability, customer service, or technical support. PC Pro magazine agrees, awarding them Best ISP for 2010, the seventh consecutive time Zen have won this award. And perhaps this would be a good example of why…

I was recently asked to help migrate several client websites from another hosting company’s dedicated server, over to a new Zen shared hosting account. More often than not, this would be fairly straightforward. However, one of the websites included an application for agents and franchisees to manage projects, and the database for this particular application included a MySQL Trigger. Problem was that the insertion of MySQL Triggers apparently requires the user to have Super privileges, which would be no problem on a dedicated server but understandably Zen could not allow individual users to have Super privileges on a shared hosting environment.

Following a bit of time learning more about MySQL Trigger problems, and considering alternative solutions, I decided to email Zen and ask if they could insert the Trigger into the database on my behalf, also defining Trigger (but not Super) privileges for a specific database user. I didn’t hold out much hope, and their initial response wasn’t too promising but they said they would look into it. Amazingly, after another couple of emails back and forth, Zen say the jobs a goodun!

I’ve had dealings with dozens of hosting providers over the years, and reckon I can safely say that very few if any would have taken this on, or would have resolved it so quickly. Most likely I’d have spent hours on hold or in a queue for technical support, and then ended up trying to explain the issue to someone who knew even less about it than I initially did.

Nice one Zen!

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