Preserving Photographs

A task in the OU/RPS Photography Course TG089 asks, “Will your great-grandchildren see your photographs? How will they have been preserved?”. This is my response.

Since 2006, I have uploaded over 30,000 photos to online repositories, mostly Flickr. Only a very few of my images have ever been printed, mostly because they are of only transient or marginal interest to anyone except me. I don’t curate much of my work and think that a new image is only of passing interest: photos I post online gather a few “likes” over a day or so then fade into internet oblivion. I do carefully back up RAW files and some of the JPGs I create to a USB disk, “just in case”. Of what, I don’t think I really know.

Ultimately, all memory will be lost: it is futile to deny that.

He picked up a pebble
and threw it into the sea.

And another, and another.
He couldn’t stop.

He wasn’t trying to fill the sea.
He wasn’t trying to empty the beach.

He was just throwing away,
nothing else but.

Like a kitten playing
he was practicing for the future

when there’ll be so many things
he’ll want to throw away

if only his fingers will unclench
and let them go.

“Small Boy” – Norman MacCaig

Message in a bottle

A task in week 1 of the OU/RPS online course TG089 is to take three photos of a bottle in different ways, each shot trying to focus on colour, light or viewpoint. Here are my three, taken on an iPhone 6.

Interesting Images

A task in the online OU/RPS course TG089 is to browse Flickr Explore and find five images that “catch your eye”. These are the images (click through for the gallery):

Interesting Images

The F-16 is just a beautiful aircraft and the photo of it is well-executed from a great vantage point. I might want to see a little narrower depth of field or a slightly longer shutter speed to add more of a sense of motion in the picture by softening the background even more.

I liked the orange metal panels for its abstract but ordered pattern. I’m not normally keen on orange things (no idea why) but this appealed to me because of the variety of shades. If I had taken the photo, I might be tempted to adjust the aspect ratio so as to have the central diagonal go from corner to corner.

Roger Fry’s Tornado flypast is a brilliant capture of these amazing aircraft against the rays of sunlight from a gap in the clouds. The planes are positioned perfectly in the frame. I might have cropped the lower part of the image just enough to remove the light band of cloud along the lower right edge.

The greenwashing image is just funky. The anthropomorphic boiler set in the wall, with his fern hair, made me laugh out loud. Urban decay meets Star Wars. If it were my photo, I would want to adjust out the lens distortion visible at the edges of the frame.

“Do I wanna know” is dark and moody and brings focus to the roofline set in a threatening sky. It would have been tempting to make this monochrome (especially as it’s taken on a Fuji – the Acros film simulations are stunning) but Leopold has kept the colour and I think this works really well. I might have tried to brighten the building façade a little more, but I might have then put it back.

A Problem Occurred. The web page couldn’t be loaded.

This message appears in the pop-up dialog when trying to connect to new (mostly public) wifi routers using MacOS Mojave 10.14. I’ve been resorting to using my phone’s personal hotspot but this is no good when there is a poor mobile signal.

The fix is to cancel the dialog, open a browser and navigate to This forces the browser to open the captive login/service page (perhaps after a refresh), allowing a connection to the local wifi.

Don’t forget to connect to your VPN.

WordPress editor stuck in code

The new WordPress editor, Gutenberg, has had a mixed reception. For users that are only occasional editors on a site, it can be a pain to get to grips with, especially as the implementation is still quite buggy.

One of my clients tried to add a post to a site he hadn’t contributed to for some time and ran straight into a difficulty: the visual editor wasn’t working for him at all. His view should have been this:

…but what he got instead was this:

In other words, his interface was stuck in the code editor. Unfortunately, he had no way of changing this (and neither did I as admin) in the UI. We changed a lot of variables, suspecting first his browser choice (Edge) and then OS choice (Windows). Long story short, the fix is to add an entry into the user’s meta table setting the rich_editing variable true.

INSERT INTO `wp_usermeta` (`umeta_id`, `user_id`, `meta_key`, `meta_value`) VALUES (NULL, '999', 'rich_editing', 'true')

What do you want to know about…?

There’s often a difference of opinion about engaging children in science (or indeed, any topic) by asking them what they’d like to know. I have a view on this based upon reflection on explicit use of things like KWL grids and other “what do you want to find out about” approaches. This view is that the stimulus or experience that is used to engage learners should generate questions for them: something much more subtle than “what do you want to know about blast furnaces?”. for example. It is hard to ask meaningful questions about something you have little knowledge or experience of. A good teacher will give the learners enough enculturation into a new topic such that they can ask useful and meaningful questions. This means that the questions aren’t restricted to the start of a topic: explicit use of them is needed throughout the topic, to progress learning but also more closely follow the learners’ interests. I wonder what you think of that.

(from a comment on a student journal)

Catholic Interference in Education

I was asked this week to provide a reference “to testify to [a person’s] religious belief and character”. I refuse to do this, not least because I can’t testify to anyone’s religious anything but also because I am not comfortable encouraging the interference of any church group in education, in particular the Catholic Church, infamous for interfering with children.

The Scottish Catholic Education Service website has this:

The relevant legislation on the management of denominational schools in Scotland states: “A teacher appointed to any post on the staff of any such school by the education authority. . . shall be required to be approved as regards religious belief and character by representatives of the church or denominational body in whose interest the school has been conducted.”

My difficulty with this is that is goes directly against what we are trying to do in education. Indeed, lawyers advise that it is…

unlawful to discriminate against an employee on the basis of age, sex, race, disability, marriage and civil partnership, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, and religion or belief

It is clear that employers have no right to discriminate on the basis of religion and that if asked, teachers should refuse to provide this information. The anachronism of church interference in education needs to end now.


Rename Image Files in Folders

This is a Python script to walk a directory tree, renaming .jpg and .JPG files. It was written for a client who had a directory containing multiple directories, each containing zero or more (up to 100) image files. Most of the images were named <abitrary name 1>.jpg or <arbitrary name 2>.JPG.
The client wanted each folder’s images to be numbered 001.jpg to nnn.jpg for some further process.

import os
import imghdr

def renamefiles(path):
n = 0
for root, dirs, files in os.walk(rootstructure):
for f in files:
if os.getcwd() != root:
n = 0 # Reset the counter

type = imghdr.what(f)
if type == 'jpeg':
n +=1
os.rename(f, str(n).zfill(3) + ".jpg")

# Specify the full path to the directory here.

Grav Error 403 in Admin Panel

I’m trying out Grav, a flat file CMS, on my server. It looks promising, having just installed it with the admin plugin. It seems that there is a fairly well-known problem with false positives from apache’s mod security web application firewall software, which manifests as an annoying 403 error banner in the admin pages (and the notifications panel not loading).

This is easily fixed by whitelisting mod security rule 350147. In Plesk, mod security rules can be whitelisted in the Server Management | Tools and Settings | Security | Web Application Firewall (ModSecurity) page. Enter the security rule ID (in this case 350147) in the box at the end of the page and click apply.

There is a security risk associated with this and users should assess the risk to their servers before implementing this workaround.


In education, this is often the time of year that people move on to new posts or retirement. This year, in particular, several of my colleagues at Moray House are making way for new people to continue their work. It has been a reflective time, therefore, and a time to connect with friends old and new, and the influencers and mentors who have had such great impact on all of our lives, at gatherings where careers are celebrated and good wishes for the future are shared.

Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata advises that a career is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time, but the wise man knows when it is time to let go and move on. One such wise man who is moving on, at a gathering of friends and colleagues where there was food and sunshine, honeysuckle and wine, recited Norman McCaig’s Small Boy in the context of clearing out his office of the chattels and keepsakes of many years in his role as he prepares to leave.
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