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Thursday, 03 November 2022


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I use Squarespace, but I'm not sure if the blog feature is robust enough for your needs. Otherwise it's really nice. The other big one is Wordpress, which lots of people love, but frankly drives me nuts with all the plug-ins and add-ons and what not. I prefer simple but customizable. You would probably have to spend a bunch of money and have someone build it for you.

Anyway, fingers crossed. Maybe one of our tech oriented readers will come to the rescue and help get it rolling. Looking forward to TOP 3.0

I use Squarespace, but I'm not sure if the blog feature is robust enough for your needs. Otherwise it's really nice. The other big one is Wordpress, which lots of people love, but frankly drives me nuts with all the plug-ins and add-ons and what not. I prefer simple but customizable. You would probably have to spend a bunch of money and have someone build it for you.

Anyway, fingers crossed. Maybe one of our tech oriented readers will come to the rescue and help get it rolling. Looking forward to TOP 3.0

1 and 5 are the main things for me. I take 2, 3, and 4 as given. No doubt incorrectly.

Courage! Mon ami. Better display of photographs is a great goal. I’d also love to have an easier way for readers to attach photos to comments, although that would put more work on that guy who wears the “comment moderator” hat…

Unless you value your working time very, very low, i think it would be better to get professional help in building a new site. Will be cheaper, faster and work better; all things you me and my fellow readers (and Patrons) will surely appreciate.
Unless it is a hobby of yours to stay up until 3am doing something you're admittedly not good at...

Hi Mike, not sure if this is the best place for this. I tried to comment on an earlier post from Monday or Friday and I'm not sure that it went through. This may be a duplicate Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that the RSS feed does not seem to be working yet. Just FYI. Thanks, Dan.

My primary and most important reason for returning to TOP consistently, regularly, and with anticipation is to read your writing, Michael. Your insights, observations, explorations, and style make a near daily visit to TOP routine. So, whatever you do to keep that available, I’ll be happy with.

I also enjoy the Comments, both Featured and not. The folks who gather virtually around the TOP bulletin board to read the latest post and then share their own take on the topic are interesting and bring a lot. So, that’s essential for TOP as well.

As for new features… I’m not sure. Sometimes I’d like to see more work by commenters. Sometimes I’d like to toss in a quick response or affirmation to a comment. Sometimes I’d like to search past articles for something that jogs a memory (usually foggy and fragmented) of something you or someone else wrote that makes me think “Oh! I remember Mike wrote something about that a couple years ago…” only to be thwarted by the gremlins that hang around Search.

But those are not essential. I keep coming back to TOP, but I’m not longing for those features. Might be nice to have (probably depends on how well they’re implemented), but like the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke… (I think it was Abe Lincoln or maybe Mark Twain who said that.)

A new site with a new provider is probably an overreaction to one weekend of disruption? As others have said, disruption and upgrades / migrations are synonymous.

And did you say Blogger with a capital B? Noo!! That's what we cheapskate amateurs use, because we are prepared put up with the complete lack of support, haphazard functioning, etc., etc. It's pretty reliable, but really not a platform for serious, commercial blogging.


"...4.) to be responsive, for convenient and pleasant access on phones and tablets..."

Good! Google penalizes sites in its search engine if they do not have repsonsive designs.

There are many good systems for creating web sites. Just pick one and learn all about it before creating the site. I use Wordpress.

Good luck.

Kudo, Mike, keep fighting the "good fight"! My approach to dealing with "trying times" is to embody as best I can, the ideals of "Stoicism" as exemplified by Marcus Aurelius, and get on with whatever is necessary to achieve your Aims.

With respect to the new format, site, whatever, for me, a key feature is the "comment area" where the TOP community can respond and shre their comments, insights, experiences. Cheers.

Free uncluttered and responsive going back several years. Created with easy to use cost-free components and tools in the Wordpress world.

I try to go my own way when creating images and most everything else like websites. Take your time looking at options. There are lots of ways to skin the cat.

The phototrice.com photo blog is not active due to physical challenges resulting from too much life and not enough attention to detail.

The studio.phototrice.com blog is a couple of weeks old and not directly photo related. Both use the same look and feel because I'm a bit lazy these days.

Didn't you abandon Blogger 17 years ago because it was terrible?

I'm quite happy with Wordpress. I don't use the plugins and I feel no need to subscribe to their most expensive plan, which would allow me to use a custom theme.

As far as requests for the new TOP: Since I've missed a number of posts now that didn't show up in my RSS reader (Feedly), I would wish for a site with good (I'd settle for any, to be honest) RSS. Primarily, though, please make it a site you are comfortable with, Mike, and confident in, and preferably even enjoy using. That's the most important thing, IMO.

@John Krumm: I help maintain a Squarespace site and I would not call the blog feature robust. In fact, SS feels to me like a rather klunky cludge of a simple blogging platform and a simple calendar that aren't well integrated; and because they charge for adding "advanced" features, I don't see much incentive for SS to improve the base offering.

To be fair, SS is a relatively easy and reliable means to have an attractive web site without any coding or heavy maintenance (assuming that their pre-fab templates and themes and minimal functionality fit your needs). You can also write your own code if you waive tech support (but at that point there are better and less expensive options).

A friend recently switched to Wix and is happier for it. Another returned to Wordpress.com, also happier.

"Me building a website is like a fish knitting a sock."

Since fish don't have feet it does not matter what the sock looks like. Hope your efforts do better than the fish.


I think it's fine as it was.

Small photos lead to a shorter time to load the web page. (New Windows installations seem to run pretty quickly, but give it time and all sorts of things slow it down. Thus, the need to keep the web pages small so that the pages don't take half a minute or more just to load.)

Using links for photos of larger sizes are the efficient way to keep things manageable.

Good luck finding a good blog site if you decide to change. (What will happen to the archives if you change sites?) It seems as though every blog software has deficiencies -- even after all these years.

Things sure have changed since my days of high school and good old BASIC programming!

So I am not quite sure what you are saying here, but if you are looking to move platforms, I think the benefits of WordPress.com are clear. In case you are not clear on this, WordPress.com is akin to hosting on Typepad - that is, you are hosted on someone else's (WordPress.com's) server.

There is also Wordpress.org - the files with which a person can build a site on their own chosen web host. There are some advantages to the self-hosted option, but the biggest advantage to the WordPress.com option is that WordPress (or rather, Automattic, the company that owns WordPress.com) take care of all the security issues.

So why WordPress.com and not something like Wix or Squarespace?

One - because there is a huge community that drives WordPress and improves it and acts to protect it.
Two - Because there are many themes for the kind of display that you want.
Three - because there are many, many people who can help you tweak the site to look just as you want.
Four - because you get a ready-made audience of everyone who is already on WordPress.com and who will see your posts - and because TOP already has a big audience, it will rises to the top like cream and put you in front of even more eyes.
Five - because you can export your existing posts from Typepad to WordPress with the export-import tools

Best of luck.

Maybe discuss your ideas with the good people at SmugMug. They seem to be interested in photography and the interwebs. They might be able to help you out.

The last time I used Wordpress it was high maintenance, so much so I abandoned it. It is very good for those who have plenty of time and skills to maintain it. I would not recommend for a one man band, who really needs to spend time on the content rather than the underlying technology.

It is hard to avoid the temptation of using WordPress plug-ins .... then there are versions of WordPress and plug-ins to keep up to date and in synch.

I can recommend WordPress. I've been blogging about canoeing and kayaking for over a decade using WordPress. I self-host, but if I was starting out today I'd considering using a paid plan from WordPress.com.

WordPress is flexible and has many different options for displaying photos. Creating a look is as easy as selecting a theme that you like the look of.

There's probably an easy way to import all your content from Typepad, too.

I have to say I never minded the current setup and even the difficulties of the last few days didn't seem too bad (especially since I didn't have to fix them!). I like your newfound solution of hosting pictures in Flickr, it is a nice way to view them. Would it be nice to have them look great natively on the site? Sure.. but at what cost.

Comments are another interesting piece. They are done so poorly on other sites that I also hesitate to ask for change. Is this the kind of place that needs an upvote button? Or even a downvote button? I don't think so, and that could likely spiral into chaos. I do wish sometimes I could show my appreciation for a fine comment, but you do a pretty good job of that yourself with featured comments and replies (again, easy for me to say since I don't have to moderate them!). Is there a better way? Maybe, but tread carefully down that dark path.

We love your writing, your photos, and the way you take a thread through the days, weeks, months, and sometimes years. If that is all there I know I will be happy, and I suspect most others too. But you must be looking for something if you are ready to change. Is it just to not be annoyed by typepad? Is it to find a better, more realistic workflow? Or is there something that you want the site to be that just isn't going to work in the current form?

Gee Mike, I don’t know if pinning my livelihood on one of Google’s side projects that they don’t seem to be actively doing much with is such a good idea. Google has a pretty big pile of really useful tools they subsequently abandoned or killed off. I’d be looking at Wordpress if I were you.

You're taking the right approach. I've entirely given up trying to read two photography news sites because they are both running a Jeep advertisement that takes over your entire phone screen and says at the bottom "scroll to continue with content" but no amount of scrolling on any part of the screen gets rid of it. As soon as I got far enough into an article for it to pop up, I would just say "oh well, I give up on trying to read the rest," and now I have given up even trying to visit those sites at all.

Ironically, one of them was a site I started reading after you mentioned it, and said it was something you had once aspired TOP to be like. I'm glad it didn't turn into that!

All I really care about us your lovely writing however it's presented.
Having said that I've often wanted to post a photo in a comment but utterly refuse to learn HTML just to do so. An easier way to do this would be great.
All the best Mark

All I really care about us your lovely writing however it's presented.
Having said that I've often wanted to post a photo in a comment but utterly refuse to learn HTML just to do so. An easier way to do this would be great.
All the best Mark

Mmmm, when I tried to post this the little thingamibob just kept going around forever so if this is a duplicate comment please sort it out, thanks again

I've got a crazy idea for you, Mike. How about we (your regular reader base) crowdfund (GoFundMe?) a migration project for you to hire someone that's an expert using WordPress to migrate TOP for you.

Make sure part of the migration would be to bring over all of your historical posts - you could get some help from an expert or two here to figure out the right questions to ask of a prospective contractor to make sure you hire someone worthwhile and that the site remains easy for you to maintain.

I'll gladly donate.

Your writing is what I appreciate the most Mike. And yes, it would be nice to be able to easily post photos. Is it really necessary to jump ship though? Better the devil you know.


I concur with others that the obvious heart of the blog is you, and your knowledge, and writing, and any changes should be focused on enhancing the presentation and communication of that first and foremost.



Your site, despite some annoyances, is the best looking blog that I read. I don’t think any of the “photoblog” layouts would suit you as they are mostly aimed at selling photos and that’s not your primary attraction. — “Online Photographer”≠”Online Photography”.

Put not your trust in “Blogger” or anything owned by Google, they are worse even than Apple at abandoning products.

Now you’ve started using Flickr in conjunction with the blog it seems your photo display is half solved. Can you not insert Flickr linked images in the blog? That seems to be the usual way to do it in forums. Using Flickr more seems a possible way to gain more readers. Maybe commenters can insert Flickr linked images in their comments since there seems to be a demand for that.

One of the major attractions of the blog is the quality and quantity of the comments but the slowness of posting them is also a major inconvenience. I accept you’re never going to give up “editing” them but it would help if there where some indication on the page to show where new comments had been added, maybe just a symbol, something searchable. There doesn’t seem to be any way in Typepad for readers to get notifications of updates to a post — only for new posts, unless I’m missing something but I have searched their help pages.

If you are worried about Typepad’s recent inconvenience to readers I would think they likely to be even more inconvenienced by any voluntary change to another provider for the blog!

Not everything is working. At the top of the page there used to be arrows to move one post forward or one post back. It appeared very briefly in the last 10 days, but disappeared quickly and is still missing.

My sole bit of general advice as you consider changing platforms for your blog: Be realistic and be reasonable.

TOP is just one guy. Always has been. And that guy isn’t getting younger or more energized. The speed of your comment reviews and postings has become dramatically slower over the fast few years. Not a criticism, just an observation suggesting that it’s a painful process with Typepad….and making TOP far less interactive than days of yore.

So whatever course you choose make sure it’s realistic for enabling you to get new content online and to manage discussion materials. Honestly, photos are probably of secondary interest to your subscribers. They like to read your writing. And, also honestly, TOP is really about -you- and cameras, not much about photography.

Two things:

(1) Almost all of the "photography" themes in WordPress AUTO-CROP the pictures to fit the design template, e.g., some of them make all pictures square, until you click them, they will be cropped differently on mobile and desktop, etc. For a "purist" like me, that's a no-go.

(2) If you can, DO find a way to migrate all the present content over to the new site, so it starts off with a huge amount of searchable (and useful!) content.

That being said, I'm fine with the current site. When I open it on mobile, I just double-tap to zoom in on the light-yellow column, and then it's fine...

I come here primarily for the writing, with the images essentially serving as “supporting content.” I’d like to see a new TOP as essentially the same in terms of content, but with a contemporary design that looks better and adapts to different screens. That’s pretty much out-of-the-box for any decent system these days, so it’s not like you have to do any work to achieve it. That includes what’s called “responsive design” for images, meaning the images respond automatically to different screen sizes or zoom levels. Ideally the images would open in a “lightbox” when you click them (an overlay that is easily closed when you’re done looking) instead of jumping to a new browser tab. Again, that should be easy to find right out of the box.

Please crowdfund a proper site.

I'm not opposed to any kind of relaunch until I've seen it, but I'm very skeptical of Blogger. At the moment, I cannot even visit the old site, either by using your link or typing the adress, without google demanding to login first. I do not want to login. I'm pretty sure Big Brother is watching me anyway, but I don't like telling him what I'm doing online.

It’s your words that matter! I’m happy with things as they currently are.

Just for fun, take a look at SmugMug (which happens to host my site: https://www.nhartmannart.com/). I have used it for several years and have never seriously explored its capabilities, but I have been quite happy with it as a way to present photographs, drawings, and pictures of pottery. The "caption" feature might be where you can put words, although I don't know its maximum capacity.

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