Friday, 29 May 2015

The Companion

It is surprisingly difficult for people who are meeting me for the first time after hearing about my condition. Neither of us really knows what to say. 'How are you? ' creates the first problem: tell the truth (oddly very complex and thus both wordy and horribly self-indulgent) or lie. Actually the latter is the only option and I tend to go for, ‘Fine, thanks,’ which is probably cowardly but I can’t help that.

Certainly the plan to create a web site as a companion to Marcia’s novels has done wonders for me. The thought that all the work that has already gone into this project was to go for nothing appalled me and I don’t think that to say that I was bereft is an exaggeration. Anyway this project makes me feel quite excited. The time required is not that long – the basics will probably take a couple of months – and I feel reasonably certain that means I shall be able to get it finished. After that it would be a case of adding things which, while good, are not essential. A perfect project for someone in my position. I have given much thought to what Nancy said about bringing on board a student and have decided against for a very simple reason: although things are settling down I still have bad days when I really don’t want to have to be dealing with anyone or anything and that makes planning ahead tricky – and wouldn’t be fair on the other person.

The first decision was to choose the platform to use. It could have been a web site - rather along the lines of Marcia's web site - or a blog on either Google (which carries this one) or WordPress. Before tablets became so popular I would have opted without much thought for a web site because, in theory, you can do whatever you like and make it as big as you like (subject only to the space available to you on your host’s server).

Now that I have discovered that what works well on a PC may not work at all well on an Android tablet I have decided against. No real difficulty with simple text. Indeed you can put one captioned photo at the top of the page and that works fine so long as you take a bit of care. Putting any other pictures within the text is where the troubles start. On a tablet they behave very badly, often ending up on top of text and making it unreadable. To be fair, my web site designer does offer the facility to publish a tandem site for Android users but to use it would require me to go onto a steep learning curve which is something I really do not need just at the moment. So I looked at the other two options.

It seemed to me that I would end up needing about fifty pages and that none of the Google themes would support a suitable navigation system for that number (sorry, Google, if I am wrong and just wasn't looking in the right place). Thus I turned to WordPress – which I have used for years in association with the political side of my life. Now the great thing about WordPress is that you can chat to one of their people. Honestly, I know that is unbelievable but you can – using a chat box which is wonderful for a deaf person like me.

So we chatted. I outlined what I wanted to do and Sandy (sitting over on the other side of the Atlantic in Nova Scotia) soon satisfied me that it was all doable. So I have begun. Only the Prologue and some text about a few of the books and one page called TWS Country which, would you believe, is about the places associated with Those Who Serve. That page is far from finished but you will get the idea. Each book will have a page which talks about how the book was written. These will be followed by such pages where, mainly using photographs, I will try to give you a feel of Marcia’s west country.

What I want now is to find out whether or not this what you were hoping to see. I shall not be too badly hurt if you criticise – especially if your criticism is constructive. Click here to have a look.

Meanwhile, since you have plenty of photographs to explore on The Companion (which is what we are calling this new project) and I have had a busy week working on that, I’m afraid you only get one here. A not unusual scene, Marcia (you can see her feet to the left) in conversation with a couple of dogs and, if they are interesting, the people with them. As you can see, we are at that stage of the proceeding when a bit of bribery is needed to keep the peace.