Petestack Update History 2007


Another new photo for the Kinlochleven page, and the first taken with a new camera at 28mm equivalent focal length (as opposed to the 35mm equivalent of the older shots). So perhaps some things no longer line up perfectly with their former selves and I should try zooming in to the same focal length, but there’s also the possibility of exploiting the wider angle to show more (so we’ll see)...

July (big changes this month!)

It’s now 22 July and, four days after my ‘last thing (?) to report for a bit’, it’s raining (again) and I’ve been coding (again), but — thanks to Elizabeth Castro’s Bye Bye Embed and a little experimentation — I’ve finally got valid Scorch pages instead of the horrible <embed> stuff that Sibelius exports and I so nearly fixed years ago with <object> and the old Scorch plugin (at which point Sibelius told me it wasn’t possible). Tested, of course, in all my usual browsers and, believe me, a long-awaited and very significant development for both me and the site! :-D

Hopefully the last thing (?) to report for a bit, as sitting down for ‘an hour or so’ (yes, I should have known better!) on 18 July to review my recent changes led to considerable experimentation and a complete rewrite of my main stylesheet. So what I’ve come up with now starts as something of a cross between Eric Meyer’s reset stylesheet and a generic (reusable) master stylesheet, for which I’ve tried to match (and not necessarily eliminate) many of the browser defaults which my old style rules previously assumed. It’s not as exhaustive as Meyer’s stylesheet, but it’s more suited to my current requirements, has been tested (and can be again) by prefixing with the Meyer styles and can always be expanded if/when necessary. I’ve also fixed the two obvious new menu hover problems (missing dropped caption/white backgrounds in Safari and [un]hyperlinked icons in IE 5) at the slight cost of introducing a ‘shiver’ as you mouse between icon and caption in IE 5, 5.5 and 6. Perhaps a close call when I still get more visitors on IE 6 than any other browser but, since you don’t have to rest your mouse over the crucial join, I’ve got it working perfectly in Firefox 2, IE 7, Opera 9, Safari 3 (Windows), Epiphany and Firefox 1.5 (Linux) and it looks like we’re talking outdated IE bugs rather than faulty coding, I’ve decided to run with it!

Yet more changeable summer weather (17 July), and still the major site overhaul continues! So you could easily miss some of the minor additions (such as my belated summary of the 2005 sailing season), but today’s major one should be more obvious with the promotion of Web Design to the top menu and relegation of Photo Gallery (to a new root directory sub-menu) to make room for it. (Trying to keep the menu to nine items because even 10px captions in Verdana look crowded enough at 800px width, I’m not prepared to specify a narrower font or smaller size, and would actually have to drop to 8px as things stand to permit graceful text enlargement at that width!) Anyway, since I needed a more prominent Web Design section to discuss my design philosophy, show off my current sites and rescue some of my older designs from oblivion — and the old Photo Gallery has become increasingly ‘fossilised’ over the years — I’m seeing their trading places as a positive step and that’s that! (Something else I discovered three days ago is that Safari — or at least its Windows beta version — ignores my new white backgrounds and dropped captions on main menu hover, but I’m prepared to put up with that just now when functionality isn’t actually compromised for my c.3% Safari audience.)

Now, this was absolutely unplanned, but I was looking at the Site Map on another wet morning (14 July) and realised that its nested lists weren’t quite nested to reflect the site directory structure with 100% accuracy. So of course I had to fix that! ;-)

Three long-planned additions for 13 July, starting with Piracy on Lake Union (which was originally intended to be just a couple of photos of Pirate for the Gallery or Sailing Home Page, but spontaneously grew into another little gallery in its own right). Next up, another caption for the Kinlochleven page (to identify our new school, which is currently building on what used to be Riverside Park and showing for the first time in my latest photo). And, finally (to round off another day when ‘bright ideas’ just kept dragging me back to the computer!), a favicon (which might not have taken the two years the site was missing the larger Kinlochleven icon, but proved just as tricky with a mere 16px square available) combining the new menu style with the Revue ‘P’ from the Petestack masthead. :-)

Things still happening on 11 July! So I haven’t just been sitting in front of the computer (away to see my parents over the weekend, got myself running again and been out scrambling in Glencoe today with Noel Williams), but What’s New at Petestack? was never intended to be a blog page and perhaps I’d better start talking about the site now. On which subject, I’ve taken the chance to tidy and improve the Petestack Page Assistant template (eliminating an unnecessary layout table and restyling the page item numbers for greater clarity) while fixing the CSS problems introduced the other day, made some fairly significant changes to sections of the Web Design Page and continued to develop and implement the new sub-menu styling started in February.

Don’t know when I last did this much work on the site (which tends to progress in fits and starts), but I’ve taken an obvious opportunity to sort some stuff with some real time (start of my summer holiday) coinciding with good reasons for a temporary reduction in physical activity. So it’s now 6 July, which is coincidentally (but somewhat symbolically?) a year to the day since achieving the first summit of my 2006 American trip, and what better time to finally upload that long-planned (but newly written) piece on The Brothers, Mount Hood and Mount Rainier? (NB With nearly a fortnight of ‘recharging/recovery’ — aka eating, drinking and getting fat — now in the bag following the West Highland Way Race, I’m also just about fit for some real exercise again, but that’s another matter!)

Well, it’s the morning of 4 July, I was up most of the night, but I finally did it! (See struck-out comments below about re-coding menus.) But I’ve gone way beyond just (hidden) semantic tidying up and significantly improved both appearance and functionality of the main menu to boot. So it’s much cleaner now, the icons and captions combine to form larger clickable blocks and that displaced (drop-down) caption on mouseover might have started as happy chance but was kept and refined on purpose. Still some minor cross-browser problems to play with (Opera’s leaving gaps in the navy caption strip, IE 5.0 is hyperlinking everything bar the actual icons and my Petestack Page Assistant’s output has been slightly messed up by conflicting stylesheets), but everything’s still usable (yes, even in IE 5.0, although I’d find that one irritating if I still used such an antiquated browser!) and it’s so good to lose all that legacy code. Regular visitors might also notice that ‘Flypaper’ has gone from the main menu (no immediate plans to resurrect the forum, which has been ‘mothballed’ for long enough now!) but the question mark icon retained for What’s New? (which probably just about merits a place up there).

Took the Art and ‘Xart’ Gallery off the main menu (no longer appropriate since its ‘closure’ last year) and created a new section for Climbing/Mountaineering tales (so I’d better write up something about last summer’s ascents of The Brothers, Mount Hood and Mount Rainier now there’s a place for it!). But sometime I’ll simply have to re-code that menu and the Music/Sailing sub-menus to eliminate those (valid, but unsemantic) old layout tables because they’re bugging me more and more...

At long last, some sort of icon to link to the Kinlochleven page. So perhaps it’s not great (if it was easy to make something both recognisable and simple enough for a 60px square I’d have done it long ago), but at least it cost a good £400,000 less than the London Olympics logo! ;-)

First new photo in a while for the Kinlochleven page, but the boat’s still in the garden in every one of the summer shots. :-/

West Highland Way Race Report (uploaded as work in progress 29 June, and hopefully ‘finished’ 1 July), with corresponding tweaks to Running Home Page to reflect the past (instead of future) status of that great day! :-)


Some revisions to my Running Home Page, including starting to correct my table of training distances/ascents according to GPS measurements and reorganising/repositioning the sub-menus (first steps towards some much anticipated whole-site redesign?) as styled lists instead of the conventional, vertical, bulleted variety.

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