October 2012 Archives

Crafty Autumn Golds, Oranges, and Yellows

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This year has gone by so quickly, and I can hardly believe that it is time for Halloween again. In fact, the autumn days seem to be nearly over now as we have had our first properly cold days. For this year, I've tracked down some gold, orange and yellow items from Etsy and arranged them here for some creative inspiration. Also, Happy Halloween to all of my visitors.


Golden Egg Ceramic Sculpture: I love the colour and shape.
Golden Drusy Oxidized Sterling Ring: This golden ring really sparkles.
Acorn Necklace
Paper Maiche Bowl
Metallic Gold and White Pillow
Gold-plated leaf ear rings


Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub: While using this product, you can crave pumpkin pie. Just make sure that you don't eat it. 
Crochet Flower Corsage: This would add spice to your wardrobe.
Felt Pumpkins: These pumpkins are cute and can be requested in the variety of autumn shades.
Falling Autumn Leaves Ear Rings: These are pretty.
Ceramic Vases: These ceramic vases are featured in autumn colours.
Harvest Eye shadow: The make-up is made from natural Earth minerals without a trace of dyes, chemicals and fragrances. 
Hand Knit Pumpkins: I love the colours.
Clay 'Trick or Treat' Speech Bubble Brooch: I love this pin, and the shop features other good ones.


Indian Corn Gift Tags: These vintage-style Indian corn tags are perfect for autumn gifts. 
Native Feathers Art Print: This print can also be bought in other colours.
Crochet Scarf Flowers: This fabric necklace is made with crochet flowers in autumn colours.
Yellow Jade Ear Rings: I didn't know jade also came in a yellow variety. I like this colour.
Felt Acorns: These are cute.
Woman's Autumn Trees Wallet: I like the tree design, and it reminds me of late autumn.

Browser Test Tools

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As all developers and testers know, checking the visual appearance of websites in different browsers and versions of browsers is a pain. There's no easy way to do this. (Automated testing tools check for content, but there's nothing to specify in these tools that content on the screen looks acceptable between browsers, and this takes someone physically looking at and possibly interacting with the product.) 

While the best option is to have a list of all browsers available on various virtual machines for testers and developers, sometimes it is more practical to have a set of tools readily available and that allow the developer to work quickly. My feelings are that the following tools should not replace testing on the actual browser and automated testing, but they are useful and quick solutions. (Selinium is quite good with allowing the tester to use a defined set of browsers in automated tests.) 

This site lets developers view their websites in different browsers. This seems to be catered more for IE browsers and goes back to IE5.5. (Though quite why websites would require to be developed for IE5.5 is beyond me, but it's there for those who need to suffer by developing for it.) The developer simply enters the website domain that they wish to view and then selects the browser. The website is loaded in a frame on the page so the user can switch to another version of IE.
Downsides: This website is slow, and rendering the website in the browser takes some time. Also, it only caters for IE.

Browser Shots:
This tool allows the user to enter a domain name and select a list of options, including browsers. The browsers selected will create a screenshot for each so the developer can view the screens. In addition to the wide array of browsers and browser versions (including a few browsers I have never heard of), the user can also select other options. Other options include colour depth, operating system, screen size, and Javascript/Flash/Java enabled.

IE Tester:
I've written about this one before and use it often. It's a little bit buggy, and I have noticed a few glitches where it's not true to the browser. I would use it as a guide while developing, but I would not rely on it or replace it with proper testing.

Adobe BrowserLab:
BrowserLab is an Adobe product and is also available as an add-on in Firefox. Screenshots of the domain are taken for different browsers.

I've listed a few additional browser testing tools below:
Browsering: https://browserling.com
Spoon: http://spoon.net/Browsers/

Days Out: Beautiful Netley Abbey Ruins

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Netley Abbey is a medieval monastery based near the coast near Southampton. The abbey was converted into a mansion after Henry VIII dissolved the English monasteries and cut ties with the Catholic Church. The mansion was abandoned, and the site sadly became a ruin. It is clear to see the different building works from the different eras. Although the structure is a ruin, it still retains its awe and presence of days gone by.

I visited the abbey a couple weekends ago, as the autumn leaves were just starting to turn colour. A bride and groom were having their wedding photographs shot here, and I imagine that they looked amazing with the romantic ruins as a setting and backdrop. 

Please enjoy my photographs of the beautiful ruins of Netley Abbey. 

The brick stonework of the monastery makes a pleasant photograph. A piece of red brick can also be seen in the photograph; I assume that this is part of some building repair work.

This area functioned as the cloisters, but it was redesigned when the abbey became a mansion.

A couple of huge, old oak trees reside near the abbey. The abbey appears behind this acorn-laden oak branch.

This view of the abbey was shot from the abbot's house, another ruined structure situated to the north of the abbey.

Day 10: Mostar

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Getting out of Sarajevo the following morning was difficult due to road works, and we lost a good chunk of the morning due to this. Today was our final day, and we needed to drive from Sarajevo back to Dubrovnik for a flight late in the afternoon. On the way back, I planned to stop off at a couple of places, including Mostar. (Due to the time it took to leave Sarajevo, Mostar was the final place that we could visit. The other places to visit will have to wait for a future time at some point in my life.)

Although the snow was mainly gone from Sarajevo when we left, the weather was still cold and cloudy. The weather got sunnier and warmer through each range of mountains we crossed as we headed south toward Dubrovnik. It was as though we were crossing multiple seasons in each range of mountains.

One of the mountain ranges we drove through on the way to Mostar from Sarajevo. The road and mountain ranges reminded me of driving through Colorado from Denver to Breckenridge.

From Sarajevo, we headed southwest toward Konjic before heading south toward Mostar. We passed more of the watermills that were seen on the great Bosnian Road Trip the day before. The Konjic area was quite pretty with a large lake and nice views. This lake was very still and clear, and there were beautiful reflections of the bridges and mountains. Unfortunately, there wasn't anywhere to pull over to get any photographs.

Within a short amount of time, we came to Mostar. Although already a beautiful village, the village of Mostar gathered more publicity after its UNESCO bridge was destroyed in the 1990s. The bridge was rebuilt exactly like the original after the conflict, and it has regained its status as a world heritage site once again. The bridge itself is shaped like a rainbow and very steep with stone steps leading to the top. Divers will jump from the top of the bridge into the water below if they are paid to do so, but I did not see any make the jump during my time here.

An approach onto the famous Mostar bridge with souvenir sellers.

A view of Mostar bridge.

Mostar is a popular tourist destination. It is easily accessible from Dubrovnik, and many tour companies plan day trips there. After stepping into the centre, its popularity with tourists was quickly seen. Many tour groups were being led around, and many souvenir shops and restaurants are set up on both sides of the famous bridge. 

Souvenir shops are popular in Mostar.

These old town shops now sell souvenirs.

There are still traces of the conflict immediately seen in Mostar. Apparently, the different groups of people that live on either side of the bridge also do not talk anymore. I guess that it is difficult to forget problems in a town such as Mostar. In addition to shelled buildings, the souvenir shops sell many items associated with the conflict: army helmets, knives, guns, bullets and souvenirs made from weaponry.

Shelled buildings are a common sight in Mostar.

However, Mostar does boast beautiful architecture and views. There are beautiful mosques and the Old Turkish House, which was built along the river. 

Beautiful view from the bridge over the river at Mostar mosque.

Beautiful buildings in Mostar.

We did not have long at Mostar before we had to rush off. However, we managed to grab an early lunch at a restaurant that had great views over the bridge, and we admired the bridge on our way back to the car. This brought our trip to an end, and we were soon off to the airport to catch a flight back to England.

Grilled herby chicken, salad and flat bread are common in Bosnia. I took a liking to their flat bread.

A view of the bridge in Mostar.

Paperchase Postcard Designs

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I've been interested in postcards for over the past year, and I have always enjoyed looking at nice card designs and artwork. I collect postcards and cards that I enjoy looking at. One of my favourite places to shop is in card stores, and I have been keeping track of the postcards that the shop Paperchase offers.

Last year, Paperchase had a range of 2011 wedding postcards, and the theme for these cards was the royal wedding. The 2011 wedding postcard range in Paperchase is photographed below.

The above photograph of the 2011 wedding postcard range was taken by Nigel Lupton and uploaded onto Twitter. 

Another card design by Hanna Werning and sold in Paperchase features fruity designs. My favourite includes bright red strawberries and strawberry blossoms. Another features apples, another mixed fruit salad, and the final in the range features a collage of banana stickers. 

Hanna Werning's fruity postcards.

Other postcards feature letterpress-esque black cats, and these were created by Jane Ormes. She also has some cute Dalek artwork, but this sadly was not one of the designs for sale in Paperchase.

Jane Ormes' postcard designs

Other designs include a repeating pattern of objects, and I've posted two examples below. These designs are apparently created by Sukie.

Sukie's designs, from http://bugsandfishes.blogspot.com/2010/08/paperchase-pretties.html

In 2012, a popular design for postcards is featuring several London landmarks made with different sizes of text. I love the Battersea Power Station, created with many different types of words that are used to describe London and places in London. There are also postcards featuring the London taxi, phone box, and post box. There are many more similar designs featuring landmarks of London. I've photographed a few below.



In 2012, the postcard wedding range featured British theme with glittery bunting and a lucky horse shoe. The horse shoe card has a glossy finish, and the bunting card is glittery. There is also a 'Love' card in the range (by Art File), and this also uses glitter.


In 2012, the Paperchase postcard themes are all about Britain and British traditions. The following postcards highlight these traditions and contain tongue-and-cheek text along with the images. One features tea and strawberries and cream. Another features fish and chips, and another morris dancing.


In addition to the British theme above, "Keep Calm and Send a Postcard" (pictured below) is one of my favourites. The design was created by Dean Morris Cards.


UK flag postcards in various colours and patterns are also a part of the range, such as the one below.


I also liked the following postcards, including the "You are the cream in my coffee" (by Keep Calm Ltd.) and the London letterpress-esque ink monuments, which are both pictured below.


Another range features cute cards, such as flowery cupcakes and a teacup with blossoms. The designs are by ArtPress.



Pinterest Web Design Influence

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The website Pinterest has been inspiring website design. For those who are not aware, Pinterest is a website where users can bookmark (or pin) web pages by selecting an image to represent what the page is about. Web pages and blogs that feature recipes and fashion are prime examples of content which are regularly pinned and then organised by the user. The user can view the pins (images), which are arranged in a grid layout, such as the screenshot below.


This grid layout is quick and easy to digest, but it only works for websites that are not text-heavy. Users can flip through images much more quickly than they can read text, and a good photograph speaks more than text ever could.

For e-commerce websites that focus on products where imagery is important, this layout works extremely well. One example of a website that has emphasis on photographs of the product is Etsy. Like Pinterest, Etsy features product imagery in a grid layout. It also allows users to create and organise 'treasuries' where similar products can be arranged and shared with the Etsy community, similar to the idea of "boards" in Pinterest. (See the screenshot below to see an example of a user's treasury.)

While Etsy has been around longer than Pinterest, I can see where Pinterest may have been inspired by some of these ideas. Both websites also have similar user demographics, so this may be one reason why Pinterest has gained many users. However, while the websites both use tiled images, the main difference is that the design in Pinterest is responsive and Etsy's isn't.


The dynamic/responsive grid layout responds to the size of the browser window; the images are arranged and rearranged depending on the browser size. To achieve the dynamic grid effect similar to Pinterest, developers can use a variety of Javascript plugins: 

  • jQuery Masonry: http://masonry.desandro.com/
  • Isotope: http://isotope.metafizzy.co/
  • jQuery Wookmark: http://www.wookmark.com/jquery-plugin

I've recently learned that a high profile website (auction site eBay) is being redesigned to use the Pinterest grid layout effect to showcase its products. This may lead the way for other e-commerce websites will start to do the same. Although the new eBay design is not launched yet, it will be in the coming weeks (1). I am curious to see this. Whereas many of the photographs on Pinterest look professional and really show off the items/products, eBay suffers in this area as the average seller does not know how to take a good photograph to show the product that they are selling.

Have you seen any websites that remind you of the style of Pinterest, or do you have an opinion or comments on this new style of user experience? Write a comment below to let me know what you think.

1) Banks, Tom. eBay unveils new look site. http://www.designweek.co.uk/news/ebay-unveils-new-look-site/3035394.article [12 October, 2012].
I headed up to Yorkshire this summer as part of a weekend break during my anniversary weekend. Actually, because this year is a leap year, the day itself fell on the Monday, but the bloke and I decided to celebrate at the weekend.

The last time I visited Welburn and Bulmer in Yorkshire was close to ten years ago. The villages are still beautiful with golden stone cottages and nice gardens, and they are still very quiet. Apparently the ancestors lived in Welburn, but they were buried in Bulmer, which is the next village just down the road. Both villages are near Castle Howard. The last time I was at Welburn, I was certain it had another shop or post office; however, a small bakery/restaurant had opened up where I'd always remembered there being a small shop. This appears to be the only shop in the village now. I had a hot chocolate and toastie here. Across the road is an old schoolhouse with a single clock, and this had not changed.

The schoolhouse and a beautiful garden. I think they love purple lavender.

The hot chocolate I had in Welburn.

After the quick meal, we headed over to Bulmer. This village is smaller and quieter. I took a quick walk up to the little church and noticed more changes. The last time I had visited, the graves were open with high grass around, and they were not well-tended. This time, they had put fence around the graves and kept sheep inside. This looks picturesque with the sheep amongst the graves, but the sheep are no doubt wearing away the grave stones as they eat the grass near it and lay against the stones. I noticed that several stones seemed to be wearing away at the bottom. 

[The ancestor's grave - Richard Smailes. The grave reads: "Sacred to the memory of Richard Smailes of Welburn who died Feb. 27, 1838 ages 48 years. And of Ann, his wife, who died Dec 20, 1854 aged 64. Also in affectionate remembrance of Jane Dobson, daughter of the above and wife Robert Dobson Master Mariner who departed this life Feb 21, 1858 aged 42 years from fever in the West Indies during a voyage. "Sorrow not as those without hope - 1st Thes. Chap. IV.]

Bulmer's Cemetery near the church now contains sheep amongst the stones.

A view of the graves and Bulmer's church.

After visiting the graves, we drove to Bridlington seaside resort before continuing on the journey to Hull. Although much of Hull is modern, the city has a lot of history and was also once popular in Victorian times. Unfortunately, the city suffered during the second World War, but the docks and gardens are good to visit, and there's many places to shop. 

Holy Trinity Church in Hull reflects in newer buildings across the street

On Sunday morning, we stopped off at Beverley, which is a picturesque town north of Hull. Apparently, it was one of the ten most populated towns in England and was made rich and popular due to the wool trade. Beverley has many beautiful historic buildings and cottages, and the phone boxes are painted white (as they are in Hull). This is the only part of the UK where the phone boxes are a different colour to the standard red.

White phone boxes in Beverley.

Beverley has a nice market square, church, and a cathedral. The town seems to be built in a linear fashion instead of surrounding a central point. I parked near one of the city gates and walked through two or three squares before arriving at Beverley Minster. The town was quiet as it was Sunday morning.

Beverley Market square with the church in the background.

Walking further down the main streets, the beautiful Beverley Minster came into view. Walking early on Sunday morning was nice; the streets were quiet except for the melodic ringing of the church bells.

I especially loved the facade of the church and the fine detail of Beverley Minster.

Beverley Minster

[I've included a family letter from one ancestor to another, to encourage them to leave England for America. This is included below. Maybe someone reading this will share the same ancestry.]

Nov. 18th 41 

My Dear Brother, To my great surprise I rec'd yours on the 14th ultimo. As you state a many things that are news to me, I hardly know where to commence my Epistle. Shall, however, in the first place, begin by telling you that through the good wife and mercy of God, I am well and doing well and to the praise of our heavenly Father, my family are all alive and in tolerable good health -- not one hoof of my tribe are in wanting since we left England, but have encreased one by the name of Bridget. With respect to my circumstances, I stated to you in my last that we are living upon the same farm. Three of my children are married near to us. I have the pleasure to see them every few days. They are all doing well. Robert, I have a farm for him adjoining mine containing sixty two acres. He has moved upon it last week. I bought it since I last wrote you. I have set him out with furniture, two four year old colts, 2 cows, hogs, pigs, geese, ducks, hens, etc. In fact, he has got what was necessary to give him a good start and make him an independent man. John is living with me (as he is not married) and going to work my farm upon shares, so we shall only have four in family -- me and my wife, John and Bridget. I shall next reply to your request with respect to your coming to America. I see nothing to hinder you from doing far better for your family that you seem to be doing at present. You do not state what money you have (or will have) to bring with you but I suppose you will have some at least to bring you to this goodly land -- and if you can get here, I hereby assure you dear George you will find in me an affectionate Brother and friend. The experience will (I suppose) be from Liverpool to New York in the steerage -- about 20.00 sterling or as we say near one hundred dollars. 

 From Welbourn to Liverpool you can form the best idea. From New York to my house is about 850 miles, all the way by water. This will seem a great distance to you but it is nothing to us. It will cost you (I suppose) about 30.00 or one hundred and fifty dollars. That is if you do not bring too much luggage. I would advise you to bring nothing but your beds, bedding and clothing as you can get every necessary here same as at Malton. I think I gave you directions in my last but should you have lost them, I will renew them. When you get to New York, start by the Steam Boat for Albany, from thence up the canal for Buffalo, then up the lake to Cleveland, then down the Ohio Canal to Roscoe. Then you arrive at Roscoe, enquire for me at Judge Retillys Store (as he knows me well) and he will take care of you, and your goods untill I can bring my waggon to fetch you home. What money you have to bring, you had best exchange at Liverpool for Guineas or Spanish Doubloons or Silver Dollars and be sure you do not lose them for they are a set of sharpers -- likewise at New York -- in fact -- all the way you must be wide awake or you are sure to be robbed or swindled somehow or other. Your Gold or Silver is now worth here from eight to ten per cent premium. Had I known what money you would have, I could have purchased a small place for you against Spring but as you have not said anything about it -- I shall wait until I see you. I can buy several places near me. For instance, one farm 15 acres for about 30- or one hundred and fifty dollars with dwelling house etc upon it and I think about 10 acres cleared -- another 100 acres for $750.00 seven hundred and fifty dollars and other places in the same ratio according to improvements, location etc. With respect to myself, I like America as well as ever and instead of groaning out my days in England in poverty -- I am independent in a free country -- thanks be to God. The death of dear Uncle did not surprise me but poor brother Richard -- I feel for his small family but must acquise in the will of the Lord. You mention something misterious to me about Brother Gibson -- with respect to that money -- will you please see him and assure him I have never rec'd any money nor had any invoice respecting it -- but I intend to write to him in a few days. If the money be not paid -- I wish you could get it and bring it with you -- as I had rather you had use of it to bring you here, as to let it lay as it is. Give my kind respects to him and dear Mary. I would advise you to start about the ___ of April ____ I expect ___ for your Christmas dinner, (while we shall dine upon Roast Goose or Turkey.) If you will write me the receipt of this, I shall be glad to answer you and give more particulars as there will be time enough before you will want to start. I have been very brief. As I must mention dear Cousin John Wilson -- give my best respects to him and should be glad to see him or hear from him -- remember me to all my old play fellows at Welbourn -- and all relations or enquiring friends -- and my new sister. Tell her to come and see America and then if she doesn't like it she can return to her own country -- like Orpha in the days of Ruth. My family join in their kind respects to you and your dear family and will be glad to hail them on the Valley of Wakotomaca. 

Farewell, dear George, for the present -- let not thine heart fail thee, but commit thy way unto the Lord. Trust also in him -- and he will bring it to pass -- Psalm 37-C5. Again, dear Brother, farewell -- and may the blessing of heaven rest upon you and all your dear family shall still be the prayer of your Affectionate Brother and sincere well wisher. 

Thomas Smailes 

I could fill 2 or 3 sheets 

Cincinata is about 180 miles from us in this State.

Locks of Love, Shoreditch

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On a visit to Shoreditch (London) early this summer, I came across this chain fence containing several different sizes, types, and colours of locks and colourful knitted hearts attached to the fence. In many cities across the globe, locks are placed on structures to symbolise love and commitment. I've read somewhere that this started in France. Many of the locks on the chain fence mention love, and some include drawings of hearts.

A knitted yellow heart and a gold lock with French text.

The chain fence and a close-up of a silver lock that looks like a face.

"I adore u"

Several locks and knitted hearts attached to the fence.

I'm not sure who James and Joce are, but they have a lock dedicated to them.

Have you seen locks attached to fences in public? Let me know where you have seen them.

Colours: Orange (Websites and Design)

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At the end of last year, the colour company Pantone announced that a shade of orange was the Pantone colour for 2012, and the year featured the colour heavily in fashion. In fact, I even purchased an orange handbag (below) before I started my new job at the end of March.

As a child, orange was my favourite colour. My parents brought back three soft toy puppies; being the eldest, I had the first choice. I ignored the white and brown one and choose the orange one, which I fondly named "Orangie". (He is a little worn, but I still have him.) Orange also complements my skin tone, but my fondness is now for the colour green.


Orange is a popular colour for websites, and the colour works well with black, shades of blue, and shades of green. Combined with black, the mood of the design becomes powerful and strong and is a serious combination. Grey can also be used to look professional but less striking. Depending on the shade of orange used, blue/green is on the opposite side of the colour wheel from orange; this contrast works well.

Most of the websites using the colour orange are design agencies and designers. The colour is also popular in other industries, such as food and drink and the auto industry. Popular brands or corporations that use the colour include: Budget Car Rental, Easy Group (Easyjet), Firefox, Orange Mobile, Tropicana, Harley-Davidson, Fanta, Sunkist, Home Depot, Nickelodeon, B&Q, HTML5, Etsy, and Smashing Magazine.

A few websites that use the colour orange are listed below.

























In addition to the orange websites, I've also discovered some orange items on Etsy. I've avoided the traditional Halloween-themed items this year and have posted non-holiday-themed items. The items range from pillows to bunting, sculptures to wall art, rings to decorative plates, and cupcake toppers to necklaces. Enjoy!


Autumn Indian Summer in Bournemouth

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I have been reminiscing about Indian summers. Last autumn was warmer than normal, and a few days saw the temperature rise to nearly 30 degrees (Celsius), which is nearly perfect. Luckily, one of the warm days fell on the weekend, and I managed to get a train to Bournemouth to spend a few hours relaxing and enjoying the sunshine. Despite the leaves changing colour, many of the spring flowers came back out in bloom, thinking that spring had arrived.

I hope that these bright photographs cheer you up on a dull, grey October day.



London Underground Poster Archive

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When traveling on the London Underground, I often see catchy posters and advertisements; some of them are beautifully executed. This is all part of the London Underground experience and can be instantly recognisable for an era. I enjoy looking at different advertising campaigns, particularly the campaigns of days gone by.

The London Transport Museum's website now contains an archive of its poster artwork for the Underground, which has featured in the Underground over the century. There are over 5,000 different posters to explore, based on a different search criteria (theme, artist, colour, and date).  

To view and browse the artwork, visit: http://www.ltmcollection.org/posters/index.html


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