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February 13, 2019

UPDATES - OLW Error 400 Bad Request and Google+

A couple years ago the Error 400 Bad Request was common problem.  My blog then HERE was a workaround for this error.   But it did not resolve the root cause. 

Well it’s back!  The root cause is now confirmed – The Application Program Interface (API) used by Open Live Writer requires access to the Picasa calls.  Picasa has been deprecated for several years, but OLW has not kept up.

The basic error is that OLW cannot post to Blogger any graphic since OLW uses the Picasa API to post. 

I found a workaround that works, for me, in my blog HERE.  By using links to photos already on the web, OLW works fine.  The links are HTML text, not graphics, and avoid the Picasa API altogether.

The remaining gotchya is the demise of Google+, I mentioned how it effects me in my blog HERE.  In that blog I mentioned that I requested a download of all the data Google has targeted for deletion. 

I made the request on Feb 2 and received the data on Feb 9, ‘19.  A full week and a few hours after the initial request. I used this LINK to request a download my Google+ data.  And received this email on the 9th with a link for the download

I was OK with the loss of ‘My Circles’, ‘My Profile’, etc.

But the loss of Google+ comments was a biggie!, HUGE!

My blog philosophy required and still requires threaded comments and the ability to reply to each individual  comment.  I believe the comments are interactive, if a reader takes the time to leave a comment I’ll take the time to respond.

Here's what I did to resolve this issue.  Before I tried a different templates or comments plugin I made a backup of my current Theme, including Template and Layout.  This was to preserve as much of the existing blog contents as possible:

Today I have a way that works for my template to not only thread comments, but also reply to comments individually.  And all this without a new template.  Older templates may require a bit more tweaking, but it can be done.

 My comments were set to Blogger default of ' Full Page' and looked like this, with inline comments:
For my case in Blogger Settings –> Posts, comments and sharing, I selected Embedded:

Next in Blogger Settings –> Other I selected Allow Blog Feed and set all entries to Full:

With that minor change my comments are again threaded and very similar the the old Google+ comments I had been using.  With this minor tweak my comments and replies now look like this:


Unfortunately Google is not providing a means to place comments back on the blog in the post where they belong.  They were included in the archive that Google provided, I do have them, just not where they would be most useful.

At lest now I have a means of maintaining the blog.  However it s more work, and more importantly more bandwidth!

It has taken a few days to test this out and today it was a nice rainy afternoon to sit inside and  write up this post. 

Next I either have to figure out thumbnail photos, or simply use full width graphics as many others do.  The graphics above do not enlarge when they a selected.  Another gotchya of OLW and the old Picasa settings.

Again there were No Bad Days, and I trust your day was good too.

If you have any additional suggestions please leave a comment, I can now reply!

February 10, 2019

Piedras Grandes - my search for the Horse and Rider

The Piedras Grandes Cultural Preserve is approximately 2000 acres set aside to preserve the rich Kumeyaay history found here.

The turnoff from S2 is Mortero Wash which is marked as an access point to visit the Dos Cabezas Railroad Station on the Impossible Railroad.  The Mortero Wash road from S2 is high clearance and 4x4 required!

Trail heads from here lead to the Piedras Grandes (Big Rocks), the mortero springs and palm groves, the Blue Sun Cave and the Goat Canyon Trestle.  Huell Howser was a TV personality for PBS with a weekly video blog California’s Gold.  The archives of his shows are maintained by Chapman University.


The link to Huell’s trip to the Goat Canyon Trestle can be found HERE.  Times have changed, the railroad has changed hands several times, but has never given up their right of way, which is 10' either side of the center line of the tracks.  To reach the trestle today follow Josh’s route HERE.
Back-in-the-day the Impossible Railroad took passengers between Yuma and San Diego in scenic luxury.  While the steam engine took on water for the long climb over the mountains, the passengers could enjoy the comforts of the station, including its outdoor plumbing.




After crossing tracks, I hike the Mortero Wash for a mile to the entrance to the preserve.





Yup this is the glyph I’m looking for, I call it the ‘Horseman’, but officially known as 'Horse and Rider'.  The only known rendering in the park of a man on horseback.  This represents the first contact with the Spanish.

There are lots of cool looking rocks within the preserve.  I do think it would be fun climbing the rocks and leaving a sign marking your special place.  Kinda like carving initials in a tree, or tagging.

About a half mile from the trailhead is a 'Yoni' carved into the rock  A yoni is a natural rock inclusion that has been modified into a female fertility symbol.

Near the yoni are several small caves.  The light coming in from the far side of this little shelter made it particularly interesting,
Along the main trail to the pictographs are several sign boards
The colorful pictographs shown on this signboard are captioned as found in the Blue Sun Cave.

Lots of challenging rock to climb.  As the trail starts gradual uphill to another sign board.
The rock shelter would be fun to find, but in reality I'd not want to squeeze into it.

This is a fantastic little cave with what could be an alter in the center.  On the top of the alter, ceiling of the cave and walls surrounding the cave are cupules.  I can only image the ceremonies that might have taken place here.



Most if not all the pictographs in Piedras Grandes are in very poor condition, suffering from long term exposure to the elements.

Another cool shelter

I took a break here to enjoy my PB&J burrito, only to discover I left it on the counter at home.  At the time I was just hungry and ready for a break, now I'm famished and exhausted!

The Horseman is listed as a 3-mile RT from the parking lot.  That is not correct as the parking is now at the railroad siding 2-miles RT away.  If I'd looked closer at the sign at the trailhead I would have known the park literature is incorrect.  It's 1 mile to the trailhead, 1.5 to the horseman = 5 miles RT.

Back-in-the-day the park maintained ramps to allow safe crossing of the tracks.  The ramps have mostly been removed, and it is no longer permitted to drive across the tracks.

Despite not being permitted there are places where ambitious off-road enthusiasts have gathered stones to create a crossing

I took a detour on the way home to Borrego Springs to meet George and Suzi of Our Awesome Travels, who are spending the week at the Peg Leg Smith boon docking site.  We've been following each other's blog postings for a few years, and this seemed like a good time to meet.  And so glad I made the detour!  A very enjoyable couple who have been full-timers for over a decade.  We shared some great stories and places we've visited.  I stole this picture from their website - Thanks George!



This was a fun outing made even better meeting 'old friends' for the first time. 
Certainly No Bad Days!


February 05, 2019

The Death of Google+

Google + will be shutdown starting April 2 - this is NOT a belated April's Fool Joke ...

Have you received your notification?  Here's a link to the email I received. Nor is it possible to create a new account:

So what does this mean as a user of Google's Blogger?

  1. Sharing new posts to Google+ profile - no longer permitted.
  2. About Me – Goggle+ profile no longer permitted
  3. Google+ Circles etc – no longer permitted
  4. All Goggle+ web content including photos and albums will be deleted
  5. Google+ login credentials will no longer work on sites where they were used.  I'm still unclear how this will affect Google Sync, Google Wallet and other Google apps...

I can work around all of most of these issues. 

With the demise of Google+, not only is my profile being deleted, all profiles are being deleted, as are all Circles.  I’ve been wanting to update my login credentials anyway. 

On the email I received from Google I can ask for all my Google+ content. 
I have requested a download of all material that Google will delete.  Google is obligated and should/will/can provide the files in either a .zip (Windows) of .tgz (MAC, Linux) format.  I have requested both. 
I submitted my request at 8:30 AM 2/2/19 and have yet to receive a response.

Google+ integrations for web apps are also being shut down, this has already begun with an expected completion of March 7. 
Check out all Google+ integrations being shut down from the Google web apps link.

The use of Google+ comments on Blogger posts will no longer be permitted, nor will Google +1, Google Share, Google Follow, etc. 

Here’s the show-stopper gotchya I have not been able to resolve: ”If you've used Google+ for comments on your own or other sites, this feature will be removed from Blogger by February 4th and other sites by March 7th. All your Google+ comments on all sites will be deleted starting April 2, 2019.”

Why do I like Google+ comments? Google+ comments are threaded, which allows me, or any reader, to reply to any specific comment directly to the comment.  I've made a commitment that if a reader takes time to leave a comment, I will take the time to acknowledge that with a response, creating an interactive conversation.  This interaction will no longer be allowed.  For example:

Such interaction between George and myself will no long be available.

The options are:
Blogger comments – these are not threaded, and they do not support a reply to a specific reader's comment, hence that interactive conversation is no longer going to be supported.  However Blogger comments do offer anonymous comments, moderator approval, moderator notification of new comments.

I’ve done a day long search for options that allow threading, replies to comments and notifications. 
Here are some of the products I’ve tested:
  1. Powr.io comments – FREE version allows readers to comment only
    Starter version 5.95 mo adds anon, approval
    Pro version 11.95 mo adds threads and replies
    Does not offer notifications at any price
  2. Disqus comments require registration on Disqus before a comment can be left
    That’s a show-stopper!  I will not solicit reader data for Discus!
  3. Livefyre comments – frick’n expensive!  Adobe Livefyre is after the big commercial user, not the casual blogger
  4. Mashups Easy Comments – Sounds good, but it has already been discontinued!  Bad timing on the part of Mashups.  Just thinking of all the data they could collect for resale, to be clear Blogger is collecting and reselling our data - but offering us little support.  It's an almost free revenue stream for them.
I will not monetarize the blog to cover the expense of what I think should be included in a basic package, and is included with Blogger.

I’ve also looked at migrating Ruffin it with Rufus to WordPress.  Lets face it Google has not been real supportive of the way many of us use Blogger nor the APIs that it supports.

WordPress is a full featured blog hosting site, for its paid features.  I’m looking only at what WordPress offers in its ‘free’ option. 

The WordPress good:
  1. MS Word can be used as  an offline edit/composing capabilities!, but not the public domain Open Office, which is what I use.
  2. It’s easy to import blogs from blogspot.com to a WordPress website <blogname>.home.blog.  In my case I imported all my blogs to ruffinitwithrufus.home.blog.  It’s an ugly work in progress!
The WordPress gotchyas:
  1. The free version of WordPress embeds undesired advertising!  These can be removed for a monthly fee … $3 monthly minimum
  2. Imported blogs lose all in-line comments, tags, theme and widgets.  Note that comments will be lost in Blogger also if the blog is using Google+ comments.
  3. The Reading List, Pages and followed blogs will also be transformed.
  4. The Reading List and Blog Roll is not supported in WordPress, the equivalent feature of a  Reading List featured is not supported, the Blog Roll can be inserted manually via cut-n-paste in either a list or a icon, but not as an icon with description as is supported in Blogger.
For instance WordPress:
 


or

Blogger:


Blogger has a much nicer display.  This option is not available in the FREE WordPress! After importing my Blogger posts I noticed:
  1. Tags are placed in separate menu Pages are not imported into the blog, but treated as links
  2. Comments are moved to the WP ‘Conversations’ Menu. OK not desirable, but it may be workable
  3. Archives are grouped by month NOT year.  Makes for a long list …

WordPress:
or
Blogger:



In Blogger, the Blog Roll was ordered by ‘most recent’, not sure if that can be done in the Free version of WordPress, it looks possible if ‘update’ is selected via HTML edit – that plugin requires the ‘Business Plan’.

I believe most/all of my gotchyas can be overcome with the Business Plan, which is  required to use the WordPress Plugins, including HTML editor, at $25 mo!

HTML is FREE on Blogger … as are all of the other gotchyas mentioned above!

Are any of my readers looking into these changes?  If so PLEASE let me know if you find a decent threading comments plugin, or other solution to the issues of migrating to WordPress. I've used "blogger thread comments widget" as a search, there are lots of hits, but alas none thus far are promising.  Or let me know your personal experiences of the Google+ changes!

Please leave your comments and your experiences, although I will not be able to reply to each comment I will read them all, and reply to them in-line.  In the comments section you'll notice I've turned off Google+ comments and will be using Blogger comments until something better can be found.

It’s again raining, and Google has disavowed its user base and so far there is no alternative.
I hate to say it, but perhaps today is a Bad Day!

Today 2/5/2019 another announcement from Google:
"Following the announcement of Google+ API deprecation scheduled for March 2019, a number of changes will be made to Blogger’s Google+ integration on 4 February 2019. 

Google+ widgets: Support for the “+1 Button”, “Google+ Followers” and “Google+ Badge” widgets in Layout will no longer be available. All instances of these widgets will be removed from your blog. 

+1 buttons: The +1/G+ buttons and Google+ share links below blog posts and in the navigation bar will be removed. 

Please note that if you have a custom template that includes Google+ features, you may need to update your template. Please contact your template supplier for advice. 

Google+ Comments: Support for Google+ comments will be turned down, and all blogs using Google+ comments will be reverted back to using Blogger comments. Unfortunately, comments posted as Google+ comments cannot be migrated to Blogger and will no longer appear on your blog."

January 30, 2019

Hot Stars and Heavenly Bodies

Our (my) reason for our quick Borrego Springs trip was not the flowers of Arroyo Saldado it was for the Ocotillo Wells Hot Stars and Heavenly Bodies.  Their biggest Star Party of the year. 

For sure Ocotillo Wells is an off-road park.  Some folks spend many thousands of dollars on their sand rails, ATVs, UTVs, side-by-sides, motorcycles, etc.  We settled into a quiet empty spot below Blow Sand Hill.  Our son rolled down this hill with the 3-wheeler some years ago. I thought he was hurt – nope just laughing too hard to get up!

This is the same site we had that trip.  Nobody in sight on Quarry Road, it’ll pick up later on Friday.

And boy did it pickup, at least next door!  About midnight these 6 rigs rolled in, fired up the generator, set up lights and started setting up to loud CW music.  About 2AM they settled down, but left the generator running.

So this was the scene at 7AM right in front of our RV, surprised to see any of them already up!  In all I counted 12 kids, 14 adults, 6 trucks, 1 RV, 1 5th-wheel, 1 pop-up and 4 tents!  WOW!  Biggest group I’ve ever seen here, by far!

They got their wish, we moved to another site again no neighbors at 11 AM on Saturday.  Once we were settled we walked over to the Discovery Center, where Fran found a comfy horned lizard bench.   There are several of these along the paved Natural Trail.

After lunch we took the Jeep for a run along the Fish Creek Geology Trail.

A nice fault line

With an aster clinging to the side.  This aster has been greeting visitors for over a decade!

The Fish Creek Wash follows along the base of a fault, with walls over 100 feet

We came here for the sole purpose of checking out the Fish Creek Anticline.  Also known as a Drag Fold, it looks as if the rock wall folded back on itself.  So what’s the difference?  An anticline is formed slowly by geological processes.  A drag fold is formed by a fast moving landslide.

And to think all these layers were laid down horizontal until geologic processes, or a landslide created some really fun patterns

As I earlier mentioned, Ocotillo Wells is the premier off-road park, heck Fran and I ride here too.  And it's also my go-to spot to view the night sky.  Midweek we’re sometimes the only ones here and I can set up my little 4” Celestron and get the most out of it.

There were several speakers at the Discovery Center during the day.  I attended the intro to astrophotography.  What it boiled down to is Manual Setting, Lowest F-spot (nothing higher than 2.8), mid-range ISO of no more than 400, 20 second manual exposure. And PRACTICE!, nothing magic learned.
 

This weekend Woody is here with his ‘Sky Trek’ mobile observatory.  Take a peek inside- there’s no eyepiece on his 11” Celestron.

It’s totally self contained, the rear door flips up to gain access to the equipment, expose the control station and display screen.  With the roof slid back it’s ready to go.  About 10 minutes to set up and it self aligns too!

Here’s a few pictures taken with my ancient Canon G16 from Woody’s outdoor TV display.  The Orion Nebula is always fun even in binoculars.  But spectacular from an 11” Celestron!

Our neighboring spiral galaxy Andromeda

A Beetlejuice a red giant (I think- that’s what’s in my notes …)

The Horsehead Nebula a dark nebula (I had to edit this one, but you get the idea)

Woody sat here in the outdoor control room until 10 PM running everything using a Blue Tooth connection.  Pretty impressive!

Woody is the mobile face of the San Diego Astronomy Association, the only thing that could really have helped is if the SDAA had provided a ‘Spokesperson’.  Someone to handle the questions from the participants and chat a bit about what Woody had on the screen.

We headed home Sunday morning using S2 to avoid Banner Grade, it adds about 10 miles, but it’s lots easier to drive and the RV is a lot happier too!

We again take a break in the big lot behind Dudley's, this time for dessert.  My favorite an Apple Mountain Berry from the Julian Pie Company - still warm from the oven!


For sure No Bad Days on this trip!