Goodbye Zemanta

For years I have used Zemanta to suggest Related Articles for my blog post and it has always served me well. Mainly I look for other WordPress bloggers who are taking part in the Weekly Photo Challenges and include them as Related Articles. Usually Zemanta would return links to about twenty or thirty weekly challenge participants and I would choose the ones I liked to add to my blog.  Recently though it has no longer been returning the results I want and gradually I have been seeing less and less results from Zemanta.

For example, whilst I have been writing this article Zemanta has suggested the following Related Articles to me

  1. Summer Days :: Lately on Instagram
  2. We Crawled in Each Others Skin for Game Nights
  3. Happy Holidays from Cul-de-sac Cool!
  4. Most anticipated movies of 2015
  5. Krishna Adisesha Appeared in the Sky ?

All of them are obviously relevant to this post. Even using the search term “WordPress Weekly Challenge” doesn’t return any hits. So reluctantly I am going to remove the Zemanta plugin from my browser. Why keep something that isn’t working?

Sure WordPress has the facility to insert Related Articles but I have never found the articles they supply relevant to my blog articles.

So if you know a browser plugin that can suggest Related Articles for a WordPress.com blog I’d love to hear about it.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning

I was thinking about this challenge and deciding what photographs to use this week. So I’m going to take you back to 2004 when I first bought a digital camera. A little Fuji S304, cost me an arm and a leg, but it opened up so many new possibilities for my photography. It’s still in working order and this is one of the first photographs I took with it. (I never throw anything away)

John Arthurs

I wasn’t experimenting. I took this photograph for a purpose. My wife was working on her family tree and by recording this digital photograph of the gravestone of John Arthurs, her great, great-grandfather, we were able to share it with other family members.

Digital opened up a whole new world, we were able to visit locations where past generations had lived and instantly record grave stones and their location for future use in the family tree.

Saint John the Baptist - Sampford Peverell

This is the beautiful church of Saint John the Baptist in Sampford Peverell, Devon and it is where John’s grave is located. I am standing almost next to his grave and by recording this viewpoint it allows others to find the stone should the churchyard get overgrown, as many do nowadays.

Finally I’d like to mention the decision by WordPress to drop the Zemanta Plugin since the start of 2014. For a good few years I have been using Zemanta to point to other bloggers who were taking part in the Weekly Photo Challenge, or articles from the web that were relevant to my post. Suddenly we have lost the facility. No notice, just an arbitrary decision. I am not happy to say the least. The folks at WordPress say that their new in-house Related Posts is far better. I disagree. In fact I would go so far as to say it is totally useless as i only points to posts from my blog and i have no control over what is considered related. At least with Zemanta I could select how many related posts to add and choose what i consider related.

However there is some form of workaround. You can install a plugin for Zemanta into your browser which seems to work except for WordPress related posts. So far I have been unable to get Zemanta to find any related posts for this weeks challenge.

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

One of the great things about the Weekly Photo Challenge is that it makes me think. I have to think about what photograph to use, maybe I should go out and shoot something special, or, perhaps that photograph I took a couple of months back would suit the theme exactly. That’s what has happened this week, I’ve used something taken a while back but I think it suits the subject really well

Geometry is defined as the branch of mathematics concerned with the properties, relationships, and measurement of points, lines, curves, and surfaces. Personally, I was never a lover of mathematics at school, although after I left, it was a discipline I did have to learn and learn well. Nowadays I appreciate angles and shapes, whether they’re man-made or natural

And so to this weeks photograph, taken as the sun was setting, the Offa’s Dyke trail monument was silhouetted nicely against the setting sun. Yet, because of the angles and shape of this sculpture the front is well-lit.

Reaching High

The clouds as well are starting to form distinct shapes, the type we often see before a storm. Benoit Mandelbrot a French-American mathematician who is famous for his pioneering work in fractal geometry wrote;

Why is geometry often described as ‘cold’ and ‘dry?’ One reason lies in its inability to describe the shape of a cloud, a mountain, a coastline, or a tree. Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line… Nature exhibits not simply a higher degree but an altogether different level of complexity.

When I go out to photograph landscapes or I’m down on the shoreline, I always hope for a cloudy sky. Clear blue skies are nice but extremely boring, just like those awful grey skies we often get in winter. There’s no shape or pattern just an endless mass of the same colour. For me the best part of this photograph is the clouds, there are so many shapes and patterns and best of all if I wait another ten or so minutes, those shapes and patterns will have changed, giving me a completely different picture.

As usual I am indebted to Zemanta for finding other WordPress Bloggers who are writing about this weeks Photo Challenge. If you’re not using Zemanta, why not?

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

I couldn’t think of anything better than my favourite lighthouse at Point of Ayr to show as a silhouette. Due to it’s proximity to my house I have photographed this lighthouse in different weather conditions and at various times of the day. I’m not alone, there are other photographers who live nearby that seem to be fascinated by this abandoned wreck of a building. Have a look at the work of Adrian Evans, he’s got several of this photogenic little lighthouse in his Flickr photostream.

This photograph was taken one evening as the sun was setting. I could see that the building cloud formation was going to make for an interesting photograph, so a quick trip to the beach was organised. Gear in the car, park on the beach, 10 minutes.

Talacre Lighthouse - Silhouette

Point of Ayr also gives its name to a lighthouse, built about 1776, though inactive since 1883. It stands on Talacre beach, at the entrance to the River Dee estuary. The lighthouse once displayed two lights. The main beam, at 63 feet, shone seaward towards Llandudno. A secondary beam shone up the River Dee, towards the hamlet of Dawpool, in Cheshire, on the English side of the estuary. Whilst in service, the lighthouse was painted with red and white stripes, and had a red lantern housing. It was replaced in 1844 with a metal pile lighthouse, bearing a white light, put up by order of the Corporation of Trinity House. This new structure was itself replaced in 1883 with a lightship.

As usual I am indebted to Zemanta for finding other WordPress Bloggers who are writing about this weeks Photo Challenge. If you’re not using Zemanta, why not?
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Mine

 

This is a first for me. I’m using Picasa Web Albums to store my blog photographs. Previously I’ve always used Flickr and my ISP gave me a free Pro Account for as long as I stayed with them. But that contract has now expired and I’ve found a better alternative. Unfortunately, no Pro access to Flickr. Yes, I could use the WordPress option to host my images but eventually that’s going to run out of space. Why move from Flickr? The main reason is the 200 file access limit and the resizing of the images because I’m on a free account. Picasa doesn’t restrict the size and because I’m a Google+ user I get unlimited space. Well I hope that’s the way it works….

I use Windows Live Writer to write my blog off-line. It’s great with WordPress, and, if you’re a PC user I recommend  having a look at it. I can prepare my blog, embed the photographs directly from Flickr or Picasa, add tags and set categories. there’s a Zemanta plugin which allows me to add related articles without the dreaded 10 article limit that you get if you use Zemanta on WordPress.

Pictured above is Amantra Prince Rupert, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and he’s mine. He even shares the same birthday with me and this year he’ll be nine. Of course Amantra Prince Rupert is a bit of a mouthful to say ever time so we call him “Deefer”.

I’ll leave you to work it out why we used that name, but if you can’t get it, leave a comment and I’ll explain.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong (Zemanta links limit)

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This is not strictly a weekly photo challenge more of a gripe, but please read on as I think it’s important to us all. The subject this week is WRONG and I thought it was an ideal time to highlight this problem which has just started occurring. I’ve always been a firm believer in using the related links on my blog and generally I rely on Zemanta to point me to those links. If you’re not using Zemanta, why not? It comes free with your blog and I really recommend its use. What does it do? In a nutshell Zemanta will suggest photographs, links and keywords for you to include while you are writing your blog post. I never use the photographs, on my blog they’re all my own, but I do use Zemanta to find blog posts that are entitled Weekly Photo Challenge. These are what I insert as related links.

Sometimes I can reach up to about 40 related links which previously Zemanta has faithfully supplied. Once I insert them into my article a pingback is initiated to your blog should you happen to be on the list. That was until last week. Suddenly I find that I can only insert a maximum of 10 links. Either WordPress or Zemanta has imposed an arbitrary limit, without notification.

I’ve looked on the WordPress Support pages, currently they are still advising that you can use as many related articles as you like so either there is a fault or they need to update the advice. Talking of WordPress Support, have you ever tried to contact them? I have found no matter how you answer those 3 questions you will always end up in the forums. Now the forums are good, there are some very knowledgeable people on there, but no one seems to be able to provide an answer to this problem, if that’s what it is. Here’s what it looks like when you try to insert that additional link.

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That’s not very clear but to the right you can see that Zemanta has successfully displayed what the elated link is about. But, that grey box just to the side of it says you’ve reached your maximum of 10 inserts. I really do find this very frustrating.

If you are a Zemanta user are you finding the same problem? Or is everything ok with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Why They’re Together..

Photography like art is often down to interpretation. Take any theme and you will find it interpreted by photographers in many different ways. Each month Fuji Cameras UK runs a themed competition which gets hundreds, maybe even reaches into the thousands, of entries. This months theme is “Motion” and if you were to look at the entries you would see so many different interpretations of the theme…..

….and so it is with the Weekly Photo Challenge here on WordPress. I try my best to look at every entry, I don’t always comment because there are just too many entries now to leave comments on every one. I do however use Zemanta and if it spots your blog as a related entry I will publish it. Anyway I digress. When I look at the entries for the photo challenge I often think how does that relate to the theme. Sometimes I see it as a very tenuous link, sometimes it’s glaringly obvious and sometimes I just don’t get it. No matter how many times I will look at the image.

It’s the same when I post an image. For last weeks photo challenge I invited you to comment on why I included the image above in a group of photo’s from the Rhyl Air-Show I know why it’s there but here’s some examples of what you in the WordPress community think are the reasons;

Xavier at SinPolaris thought that maybe it was because they are together in the sky.

Robin  at <<The Great Escape>> Life from behind a lens on the other hand said “I would go for the last image representing the two subjects of plane and sun both blazing in the sky together”

Steve Ransome decided that he would think about it and get back to me. You should check out Steve’s wildlife photography on Flickr, he has some really good ones

Judy at JayJaysFavorites commented “Can’t figure out the last one Mike. Unless you have one of the Red Tails flying in the red sky”!

Patti Kuche at Nylon Daze in New York went out on a wild wing and took a guess that the image might have something to do with twin engines or twin rockets?

Kate Walsh at DesignHouse9 took a guess that in the image the sun and the aircraft both represent powerful energy. But on reflection Kate thought it probably wasn’t the reason I posted it. So Kate decided maybe they were suspended in the Universe together. At that point Kate decided to quit.

OK! Why did I think the image fitted the theme? Well for me the answer was simple. It’s a combination of two images, the plane flying across the sky and a setting sun which I combined together to give me one image. Or maybe it’s because the plane is from the Red Arrows display team and there’s a red halo round the sun. In reality it’s both. I did combine the two images and I really liked the way the plane was silhouetted against the red. So there you have it. My reasons for including this image in the Together theme.

But there’s an additional bonus (sounds like one of those TV ad’s). You took time to comment on why you thought I had included the image. In return I have published links to your blog with this post, in Steve’s case it’s his Flickr portfolio, but it’s brought you and me together. Maybe a few others will read this post and who knows it may bring you and them together if they follow the links.