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September 22, 2011

Confusion at the Scotch Odyssey Blog

I offer first a belated Hello from the Scotch Odyssey Blog, followed by an apology. Succeeded by an explanation which I will try and supply as concisely as possible.

Nearly three weeks. Nearly three weeks of silence as far as you, my readers are concerned, although I have been screaming into pillows at the top of my lungs for the last two. Having told you all about the fourth release of single casks from GlenDronach I took my twenty-year-old self up to Carron, Speyside, in order to undertake the transition to 21 in the most comfortable and Scotch whisky-saturated surroundings that I know of. My seven days in the north were expected to yield relaxation, fine company, outdoor pursuits and, of course, blog posts. True to form and forecast, they did.

However, well aware that my return to St Andrews for University Year 2 snapped at the heels of my holiday with only a couple of days of transition, I did my best to compile drafts detailing some of my distillery tours and shop tastings thus mitigating the panicked chaos of last year when time and attention post Freshers’ Week derailed the blog for some time. The plan was that until I secured internet access in my new flat, I would find some elsewhere around the town and simply ‘Publish’ that which I had sensibly prepared earlier. My WordPress platform has had other ideas, however, and it wasn’t until yesterday and the joyous advent of home broadband that I could work out why my best laid plans had been so scuppered. For whatever reason, posts containing images (if I could upload them into the post at all), thoroughly upset whatever permalink-generating or content transfiguring mechanism it is that enables what I write to be read by you. Cue further screaming.

Updates haven’t worked, permission changes haven’t worked, scouring the WordPress support forums hasn’t worked. Until I can sort this out – or, more likely, track down someone in possession of the technological logic nodule which I so patently lack – the Scotch Odyssey Blog will be back to its ‘good old days’ when I was pedalling around Scotland at the mercy of truculent hostel PCs: a thousand words will have to take the place of one glossy picture.

My apologies again, therefore, but I still intend to bring you tales of Speyside, and other whisky news from Scotland when I get it.

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January 21, 2010

Computer: 5; James: 1

It could be argued that the greatest achievement of the past week was not the brace of two-mile runs I’ve completed, the forty-minute turbo trainer session I endured or my first tasting since my wisdom tooth extraction, but replacing the image at the head of my blog.

Back in time I vowed to myself that computers would never provoke me to red-faced, stammering apoplexy, but creating this blog has witnessed me attaining this state of rage on an every-other-day frequency. I am not computer literate, but I am a perfectionist and I like to achieve things independently. The two days I wasted trying to install the software succeeded only in raising my core temperature and temporarily collapsing certain mental pathways. So I got the nice people who provide my hosting to do it for me. Whilst I loathed not having done it myself, and still more not knowing where I had gone wrong, all of which meant I didn’t feel the blog was truly mine because I didn’t have a mastery over its basic mechanics, I did have my space on the web. I’ve added pages, personalised my Blogroll and generally come to see the bigger picture. But that picture was a pencil. And even I was struggling to invent an explanation as to how it was in any way relevant to my blog.

I asked a very computer literate friend of mine how I might replace it with an image of my own and regrettably her instructions contained the same type of acronyms and allusions to mysterious file locations that had so defeated me in the intial set-up. However, I dabbled. Despite not knowing any CSS (cascading style script, darlings), I managed to isolate, having found where all of the images my theme uses are saved, the piece of code controlling the questionably significant pencil. I was told I needed to swap the URL of this image with that of my own. After re-sizes, re-savings, re-uploadings and reactionary violence, I entered the correct address into the style script, clicked ‘Update File’, did a hard refresh and there was my image. Much yelling and jumping up and down followed until I had to stop, so acute was the oxygen debt.

I dropped by at a friend’s house that afternoon and proudly entered my web address into the browser of her computer. There was my blog. There wasn’t my picture. This upset me. Greek style.

In the following days I had two conversations with those nice people whose hosting services I’ve purchased but still that image remained invisible to all but us. Last night I had a chat with a local web designer who suggested I experiment with another image from somewhere completely different. I duly logged on again but thought I’d try one more URL for the image I wanted. And that is why you can now see a bike frame with a Tormore and a Glencadam in its bottle cages. Of course, it isn’t that big a deal, but because it would not work and against all computer logic which, and this has been the only benefit I have gained from being repeatedly defied, has wormed its way into my understanding, it became one. But thanks to a few alterations which I made, it was all sorted out in the end. I’ll take that consolation goal.

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