More Creative-Commons image goodness

When I create blog posts I always like to have an image on the page just to break up the text flow and make the place look that little bit more interesting.

Unfortunately, I’m not much of an artist (or an artist at all if the truth be told) so I’m dependent on other people’s work. I could just do what an unfortunate number of other online folk do and just copy-and-paste from wherever I find it. Instead, I make use of the Creative Commons Search engine. It searches for all sorts of media that have been clearly licenced with any of the Creative Commons licences. You can choose which site to focus on (I find flickr the most useful) and you might be surprised just how much “stuff” is out there to use.

I usually manage to find images that I like but which don’t always fit the purpose for which I am searching. I bookmark them or something with the aim of coming back to them but you know where those sorts of aims end up. So instead, like I have done once before I’ll just share some of my favourites here, some with intelligent comments and some without.

Most of these images are licenced under a Share-Alike Attribution licence and I have hyperlinked back to the image’s flickr page as my method of attribution. Thanks to all the talented artists and photographers who do such interesting work and like to share.

This image reminds me of going for walks with my children. They can’t manage to go anywhere in the bush without picking up a stick. At least this woman has managed not to turn it into a pretend light-sabre.

Wow! Real life mermaid.

I’ve never made it to any sort of SF or fantasy or gaming con. And definitely never dressed up for the occasion. But I want to.

Bob the Skull online!

No idea why I saved this one. Probably looking for gargoyles of some sort.

A black-winged angel. What else is there to say?

Is this a jester? A demon? What? Another one I could tag with a big bag of don’t know… Ok, it’s a jester, the flickr page says so!

j j j

Welcome back everyone!


It’s been a long time between drinks for those of us here at the Very little blogging, web-paging, linking, foruming or any other sort of internetings have been done for well over a year.

Much has happened, people have moved, changed (inside and out), left jobs and schools, started new jobs and schools (sometimes more than once) and all sorts of other interesting things.

In the interests of a clean slate and a the chance to get things going again without any excuses for procrastination (well, any more than normal), I have decided to archive my old blog: Can You Spell Cacophony and replace it with this site. Actually, this site will be for my standard and boring ramblings about life, work, family and any other chips on my shoulder. I have already created another blog: Out The Bladesage Gate, which will be for my gaming, writing and wordbuilding exercises (and related nerdery), but it has taken a little while to get going. Watch this space.

In case you are wondering, “What do you want?” is a tilt towards my late father with whom I would always have a race each time we spoke on the phone to ask (as rudely as possible): “What do you want?”. To which of course the correct response would have to be: “nothing from you”! Still miss you Dad, and all your stupid emails that started with FW:.

You might be looking at this terribly boring theme and wondering what I am doing, but there is method to my madness. It’s plain (as per the name), it’s simple and it has very few options. I have regularly said that one of my hobbies is “fiddling with my wordpress blog and very rarely writing anything for it” and that is what I am trying to deal with here. If I can leave off all the fancy options and pretty pictures and widgets and plugins, then I might actually get around to writing instead of fiddling… I’m not much of a writer really, but I’m a hell of a lot better at writing than I am at web developing. Let’s leave it there shall we.

So thanks to anyone who made it to the end of this post. Read it here: My goal is to write at least one post a week (even if it’s not much more than a couple of links) on either this site or on The Bladesage Gate every week. Eventually, I want that to be at one on each, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

j j j

10K last night

NaNoWriMo is going great guns so far.

I’ve kept ahead of my plan (as far as daily writing targets are concerned) so far. Last night I had a great run based mostly on a dare to include the Melbourne Cup in my story and managed about 3,500 words, which has taken me over the 10,000 mark for the first time in three goes.

I’ve been having a back-and-forth word war with my writing buddy Kamu in Port Hedland who keeps pulling ahead and making me stay up far too late. The bonus to that is that now both of us are doing really well, like this:

Naggers please note, I still expect lots of email, texts, facebook messages and the like to keep me honest.

I’ve been enjoying WriMoRadio and the pep talks that have been coming. Today we got one from author Jonathan Stroud which included this inspirational line:

Alchemists tried for centuries to turn base metals into gold. Every time we sit down and put words on paper, we succeed where they failed. We’re conjuring something out of nothing.

See. We’re not wasting an entire month. We’re making gold out of base metals!

j j j

Believers Resource

freely ye have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8 KJV)

For a number of years I have had an idea of setting up a web host for various free (free as in speech as well as free as in beer) Christian resources.

My thinking was influenced by the verse above. We have been given abilites, gifts and finances by God. I did (and still do) find it quite inappropriate the way Christian artists, ministers and organisations behave in much the same way as the world. My particular bugbear here is the copyright protection enforced on Bible translations. But the same things goes for music or original text… wouldn’t you be better off allowing copying and free use? What is the point of writing an amazing Praise and Worship song and then only allowing those fellowships that pay the appropriate licencing fees to even sing it?

But back to my point, it looks like someone actually did something instead of just having an idea.

The Believers Resource site is somewhat spartan at the moment, but I think it has heaps of potential. Like the site says, there is plenty of free stuff available on the net, but a lot of it is of less than ideal quality. A central repository for the good stuff is a great idea.

The site asks for suggestions, and here are a couple which I will be sending on:

  1. Add links to other sites where they can’t or won’t allow hosting by Believers Resource. You will still have had a look at the product and approved it. People coming to Believers Resource can still use it. It just doesn’t get downloaded locally.
  2. Add a software section. I’m thinking particularly of the Sword Project.
  3. The English Standard Version bible has some a module available for the Sword Project for no charge as well as being able to be read online.
  4. Perhaps add a “what’s new” section, or perhaps even add a blog-like section to allow news and comments.
j j j

Alternate stylesheets

I am currently running three sites.
Not being one to reinvent the wheel, I am running them all with WordPress, Sandbox and Unsleepable for Sandbox, a combination I find manageable and appealing.
Unfortunately, when everything is much the same, the same problems will appear as well! Check out the following screen shots of CastletownChemist.Com under firefox and IE7 for windows:
As you can see, while similar, they do not look the same. The net seems awash with bloggers having problems with IE (firstly IE6 and even now IE7) messing with their look-and-feel. My problem (the nav menu being below the title rather than next to it) seems to be minor in comparison to some.
I found two posts from last year that have addressed the problem (both were focussed on IE6, but the problem remains): Sam Devol’s “WordPress Troubleshooting: My blog looks horrible in IE!” and Nektros’ “7 step guide to fixing your WordPress sidebar in Internet (bloody) Explorer”.
Neither of these related directly to my setup, calling for an addition to header.php in the theme file. Because Sandbox then calls another function within header.php, I needed to dig a bit further.
Now please understand, I do not know php and I only know basic programming principles, but I can look at what others have done and try to steal their ideas.
This is what I did:

  1. Create an iestyle.css file in the unsleepable directory (/wp-content/themes/sandbox/skins/unsleepable)
  2. Found functions.php in /wp-content/themes/sandbox
  3. Edited the function sandbox_stylesheets() by adding the following code under the existing stylesheet link:

    <!–[if IE]>
    <link rel=”stylesheet” href=”<?php echo get_template_directory_uri() . “/skins/$skin/iestyle.css” ?>” media=”screen” />

In English, this checks if the browser is Internet Explorer, and if it is, calls another stylesheet (in the directory of the current skin) and uses it in addition to the regular stylesheet (and with priority over it).
I have done this and confirmed that it does in fact give styles to the page. Now I just need to go through Nektros’ article to see what I can actually do to the CSS to improve my problem.

j j j

In a music mood

Apologies to Jeff Rients for the title. More apologies for all the links in the following text…
In a recent post Jeff commented on the relationship between (heavy metal) music and gaming.

In many ways heavy metal and D&D go together like peas and mashed potatoes. Some people keep them separate on their plate but the awesomest folks mix ’em together with wild abandon.

Not trying to cash in on the Gameblog’s topic, but it made me think about what music I have always liked to game to. I made a comment after Jeff’s post, carelessly posted AC, with my suggestion of Deep Purple along with the existing entries of Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep. But as much as I agree with Jeff’s post above, I have plenty of other musics I would put into the same category.
So here, for posterity’s sake is a short list of significant (for me only) gaming music:

  • The Revenge album by Eurythmics. There is nothing gamist about this album at all. I just loved it, and was listening to it a lot at the time we were holidaying in Broome and I was make up a pair of 50th level Paladin-Rangers (AD&D1). I never played them (strangely enough), but I made up wonderful backstories and even wrote them up in cool little notebooks. Also see this post regarding the fun of just making up characters for no good reason.
  • 5150 by Van Halen. Another not-very-gamy album, but my brother Jason and I listened to it a lot around the same time as the above and forever after. Played many rounds of B1-9 In Search of the Unknown to this music.
  • Faith No More. Any and all albums. Just favourites of my late-high school gaming group (in our post-HS years).
  • Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell II also made a great soundtrack.
  • Having already mentioned Black Sabbath, I would draw particular mention to the album Tyr, which is full of references to Nordic mythology, much like Tolkien. One of my favourite albums of all time, and games especially well with GAZ7 The Northern Reaches

There are plenty of gaming soundtracks available out there. A few game bloggers posted recently about the death of the composer of the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack. Not having listened to it, I can’t comment, but I have put some tracks on my itunes wishlist. Also stratos, a co-member of the Christian Gamers Guild, creates official gaming music here.

Anyone else out there got some great game-memory triggering music (of any variety)?

j j j

Osteoporosis article at Castletown Chemist

OK, admittedly, this is just an excuse to test pingbacks in wordpress…
Earlier today, I posted the latest Pharmacy Self Care article at my pharmacy’s news page, this time on Osteoporosis, which is a significant topic in this house.
Good news on that front too, Linda had her Bone Mineral Density test recently, and while her bones are still osteoporotic, they have improved heaps, and the risk of further fracture in the future has dropped markedly.

j j j

What am I doing here?

Never having blogged before, I thought I might give it a try. Anyone out there reading might expect to see a post every seven or eight months (if you are lucky).

If you are interested, I followed up blogging after seeing that Eric S Raymond had one… Some very interesting political views that man has which I did not realise. Would get on well with my good libertarian friend Adam.

j j j