Here are some details of the workings behind the blog in case you want to know how to set one up yourself – posted 11/2019.
( Note – Internet Hosting Service provides storage space and hosts your domains, i.e. your website addresses – you only need this if you want your own website/s. The Internet Service Provider – ISP connects your computer to the internet and send requests to internet Hosts for the information that makes up the webpages you want and passes them to you. It also passes you email to and fro from whatever email Host you are using – i.e. Googlemail etc. You can’t get on the web without an ISP – you pay them for your line rental etc.)
I have an Internet Hosting Service that provides me with facilities to have have a number of different websites and to have an unlimited number of email addresses and mailboxes associated with each website. The service provides me with the storage space I need to build the websites, and allows those websites to be available to anyone on the web. (1&1.co.uk)
I used to build my websites in HTML, the language of the (old) web, but that is slow and laborious and difficult to change, so I use a proprietory package called WordPress that lets me work on the website as if it was just a simple word processor, and then put any changes and photos onto the visible website immediately and seamlessly.
My WordPress websites are built on my hosting service servers in my own ‘domains’ i.e. my own web addresses, but you can put your WordPress sites onto the WordPress server for free if you don’t mind the website name being www.wordpress.com/yoursite or whatever.
WordPress has all the tools for making your website, and a great many ‘themes’ you can use to give it all different appearances. I use just one – ‘Suffusion’
You can add any number of ‘plug ins’ to WordPress to let you do various things – I use a number including ‘Statistics’ that lets you see how many visits and visitors the site gets each day and in total, which pages and bits are most popular, how many referrals come from which search engine and more. It provides the numbers you see on the start page – It is free.
Another vital plug in is ‘Wordfence’ – it comes in two flavours, free and paid. I use the free one as the website isn’t earning anything. Wordfence guards your site for you and keeps out undesirables – it also let you see who is doing what, and if you see that your site is being attacked by a particular IP address or a group of addresses you can easily block their access. It tells you the location and IP address of all visits for security purposes. It is a very powerful tool, and I would not be without it, although tracking miscreants can become a bit addictive at times. One of the little known features of the internet is that all ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have to have an email address for reporting abuse from IP addresses they are hosting, and they are supposed to get after anyone who abuses the service they provide – I have used this on a number of occasions and the ISP will usually stop blatant abuse like excessive calls to your site for no apparent purpose. For instance I had one post (Hanover Pistol..) visited 26000 times by a Russian site at regular intervals – obviously programmed into a computer for the purposes of goodness knows what – but the Russian ISP has ( I hope) stopped it following an email to their abuse account. If you do see an IP address that is causing you problems you can put it into ‘Whois’ and find their ISP and the abuse email address. It has worked for me in the past including taking out a whole botnet that was attacking my site, although that was mostly down to a bit of detective work on my part and carelessness on the part of the botnet operator.
There are a number of other plug ins that are useful – a backup plugin stores regular ‘images’ of the website. A login diverter hides the login from view to add another level of security – that seems to work well. Anti spam plug ins guard you from (most) spurious comments to your posts.
For me an essential plugin is the ‘classic editor’ as I don’t like the new default editor, but if you haven’t known the old one you may prefer the new one with blocks, whatever they are!
While on the subject of backups – a very useful feature of the internet is a website called ‘the wayback machine’ that periodically stores images of the whole of every website on the entire web – sounds improbable, then try it! I was involved as a witness in an American legal patent case, and part of my evidence was something I put on my company website in 1999 – the wayback machine had a snapshot of my website from then, with the thing on it, and that was acceptable in a court of law in America as proof of the date it was put on the web. There are something like 40 versions of this website stored, going back to 2011 when I started it for rebuilding this house – then as a baker, then for the present purposes.
How does it all work? very well and not a lot of trouble but it pays to be a bit technically savvy, although once set up it is easy for anyone with basic word processing skills to use and edit!
What does it cost? To be honest I’m not sure – I have about 10 websites and use a professional Hosting package which costs about £200 a year, then there are the renewal fees on the domains that come to around £10 per year each, and then the ISP connection fee that is around £40 a month for a professional service – so maybe £800 a year total, or £80 a website equivalent, which given the service I get is reasonable – this website alone is pretty massive as you will see as you explore it. I pay nothing for Wordfence or WordPress or any of the plugins although I do occasionally donate to them.
Photographs; Photos are an essential part of this website – you’ll see in various places details of the setup I use – basically at the moment a Canon M50 camera with 18 to 150 lens, and crucially, PhotoScape as a free photo editor. There are so many photos on the site that I am careful always to edit them down to a width of 1200 pixels, unless they need extra detail, in which case I use a width of 1600 pixels. Computer screen get bigger all the time, but those sizes work at the moment.
To make the blog more interesting it is important to have good, detailed photographs to illustrate the work, and that means you need to be able to take technical photographs quickly and without a lot of setting up. I don’t have space to leave everything set up permenantly, but I have a 50W white LED panel on the ceiling above the big table in the library/office and a stand with a tripod head that gives a good coverage, so I can photograph anything from a screw to half a long gun in a couple of minutes, and edit in Photoscape quickly and get it on the web in around 5 minutes. The 18 to 150 Canon lens is perfect for the job – it doesn’t focus very close but as I’m putting photos of limited resolution on the blog ( 1200 or 1600 pixel width) I can get my ‘macro’ shots by cropping my 6000 pixel wide images, which effectively gives me x4 zoom.