Bilberry sunset

Bilbery Sunset Bilbery Sunset

The car is in the garage at the moment, so this afternoon we all squeezed ourselves into the Peugot 106 courtesy car the garage had lent us and struggled our way over Holme Moss to Digley and Bilberry reservoirs for a quick walk. As we got to the bottom end of Bilberry reservoir the sun was setting over Black Hill, with the clouds giving the most glorious salmon sky which was reflected in the reservoir below. I haven't modified the photos whatsoever, the sky really was that colour!

Bilberry reservoir was the scene of a disaster on 5th of February, 1852 when the dam gave way and flooded the valley below, including the nearby town of Holmfirth. 81 people lost their lives, and there was a vast amount of damage to houses and the many mills that lined the valley. At the moment however, Digley reservoir which is the lower of the pair is very low, as are all the reservoirs in the area, due to the extremely dry autumn that we have had.

After our jaunt around the reservoir we finished up at Compos Cafe, a Holmfirth fish and chip emporium that is themed around the long-running TV series Last of the Summer Wine which is filmed in and around Holmfirth. The show is the longest running sitcom in the UK, and has been blighting the airwaves for 30 years. For those of you not from these shores, the basic plot revolves around the various (mis)adventures of a bunch of old gits who get up to mischief in scenic surroundings. The chippy is festooned with photos of the cast (several of whom are now dead), which is a bit disconcerting, but the food is good and more than compensates for the somewhat unique theme of the place.

After eating we battered our way back up Holme Moss, stopping briefly at the summit to look at the "Dragon Towers", otherwise know as the TV and radio masts at Holme Moss and Emley Moor. The dragon reference is a fanciful comparison of the red anti-collision lights on both masts to the eyes of dragons - Look, I've got young kids, OK? :-)

Categories : Peak District, Family

A weekend away

Stock Ghyll

I was up at my mum's last weekend, along with my brother, sister and their families - 8 adults and 6 kids, so it was a full (and frantic) house. Mum lives in Ambleside in the Lake District, another of the UK's National Parks, and on Sunday we all wandered up Stock Ghyll with the kids in tow to look at the waterfall above. I was Googling to make sure I'd spelled it correctly, and I found this 1910 photograph taken from almost exactly the same spot as the one above. It's amazing how little it seems to have changed in nearly 100 years.

In the afternoon we went to my hometown Barrow-in-Furness and had a guided tour of HMS Cumberland, a Batch 3 Type 22 Frigate, which was in Barrow for Remembrance Sunday - my brother-in-law Dave is the Weapons Officer on the ship. As a consequence we got to see all the things on the ship that went pop, bang or whoosh. We also tried to persuade the kids that the helicopter was for purely used for collecting takeaway food orders for the crew, but I don't think they bought it. I think I probably enjoyed the visit more than the kids!

I've always had this romantic vision (garnered mainly from old B&W war movies I suspect) of the captain steaming into battle on the bridge, clad in his dufflecoat and with his binoculars around his neck. The truth is a little more prosaic. Dave took us into the command centre, a low-ceilinged windowless room entirely filled with various radar, sonar, missile system and computer screens. The captain "fights the ship" from the command centre, and the ship's systems are all controlled from in there. The 4.5" gun on the front is aimed with a very ordinary-looking joystick, and the gun is fired with something that looks for all the world like a sewing machine pedal. Even the sighting of the gun is done with various TV and IR systems. So much for the "Romance of the High Seas", we live truly in the Nintendo Age.

Categories : Personal, Family

Putting GoogleBot on a leash

As I noted earlier, I get a lot of hits from the Google web indexer GoogleBot (252 visits last month), in fact various web crawlers are the most frequent visitors to my site. Whilst most webwranglers know about the robots.txt file and how to use it to control the activities of robots when they visit your site, it is a bit of a blunt instrument, as it can only exclude entire subtrees from being indexed.

There is a more fine-grained way of controlling the way Google and other robots index your site using a <meta> tag to direct the robot. This is mentioned on the GoogleBot page linked to above, and the official specification is available here. The basic principle is very simple, you need to add a line of the form

<meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow" />

in the <head> section of your HTML documents. The content attribute has just four possible permutations:

  • content="index,follow"
    Index the page itself, and follow all links from the page.
  • content="noindex,follow"
    Don't index the page itself, but follow all links from the page.
  • content="index,nofollow"
    Index the page itself, but don't follow any links from the page.
  • content="noindex,nofollow"
    Don't index the page itself, and don't follow any links from the page.

Not all robots take notice of this directive, but Google certainly does, and you can use it to prevent it indexing rapidly-changing and low-content pages such as your main index page and your TrackBack entries.

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Categories : Web, Tech