Walks of Mind

Illuminating What Goes on in our Mind

Progress - Notes on the Building of This Site

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3rd Version - February 2007
Welcome to the 3rd major edition of this site. This website is a work in progress. I am building up the content on the site, but it is early days yet!
Pricing and Design:- I have yet again been rethinking how I want to build this site.... The good news is that the main walks are completely free to view online!
In the pipeline:- A new area is planned that will let you explore more freely as your intuition takes you, to give you a more entertaining experience and to allow you the opportunity to encounter something new with each visit. It will start small but will, I hope, grow and grow. Also coming are MP3 spoken-word versions of the main walks and, a little further into the future, some new walks.
Performance :- As I have bee developing this site I have encountered major technology problems (see the progress link). The good news is that these are now largely overcome, basically by going for a much simpler design, although it has meant putting some facilities on hold for the moment.
Made by hand :- Please don't expect highly-commercial sock-you-in-the-eye graphics or a lead-you-by-the-nose sales experience here. This is partly because I am concentrating on content rather than presentation at the moment, and partly because I don't think that a pure commercial model is appropriate to what I am aiming to achieve. I am aware that this may appear unusual as many of us these days tend to want to be entertained by life and we have become used to that appearing in a particular guise!

Up and Running - Friday, February 3, 2006
The basic site seems now to be up and running, and the performance and reliability issues seem to be a thing of the past. :-)
Rethinking how the site can work operationally and finding technological (and economical) ways to achieve this has been a rewarding process, though very frustrating to be in the middle of it.  Facing up to the reality of what I can and cannot do has helped me to achieve some clarity on what it is that I am aiming for and how I want to develop the site to achieve those long-term aims.
This process has actually been a mirror for my larger purposes - dealing with the reality of my current challenges has given me a significant insight into my bigger context for setting up this website and it is only when I have identified that bigger context, only when I have 'got-it', that I am fully able to appreciate what my opportunities are and what my next choices are.  I have taken my own next loop around the 3-step learning process as part of my aspiration to share and describe what that process is!
Accessibility and Safety - Friday, January 13, 2006
Over Christmas I've been doing quite a bit of thinking about how I want this site to develop.  I want to make my material readily available and I also want to generate income :- One of life's realities is that I will only be able to continue to give meaningful time to this if I can get something back from it to pay my bills!
What I have decided to do is to have the main material available online for free.  This means that anyone can browse the full website and gain personal benefit from doing so but extras will be extra.  Downloadable files, whether text, images, or sound files will carry a one-off charge.  Merchandise, which will include greetings cards, pocket cards, print versions, etc. will be charged on order.  Benefactor payments will give access to downloads and to discussion groups as these are implemented.
This change of emphasis is going to involve quite a bit of work unfortunately, including redesigning the pages that lead to the walks and producing new copies of the walks pages for online view.  I'll do this as quickly as I can.
I've also been working on some security issues - how to avoid email-harvesting robots from reading the contact emails and adding them to spam lists.  That is done now but it has introduced some first-time-in delays on showing some of the pages and may not work with some older browsers.
Continued Swap to HTML - Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Done!  The basic swap to an HTML front-end is done, with the addition of a main site menu to the front page.  The HTML version seems to work well - it is MUCH faster and more reliable than the DotNetNuke version.  My host swapped the website startup priority so I can have DNN available to run in the backgound, though at the moment I am only using it for the download options.
Visually the HTML pages are not fantastic, but then they are not too bad either given their simplicity and ease of maintenance.  MS ASP.Net V2 will make it easier to set up more consistent design options, but it is not available yet.....
Swap to HTML - Friday, December 16, 2005
I have finally given up on the development with DotNetNuke (DNN).  The performance and reliability issues (lack of both) are simply too much to overcome at the moment.  I've created simple HTML pages to replace most of what I had laboriously set up in DNN.  This gives the added advantages of a huge improvement in access speed and I get to keep an off-site backup of the whole site with the ability to play with new facilities before I put them on the live site. 
This leaves me with some big problems though......  It seems I cannot easily run an HTML front-end to DNN as DNN hogs the system - it is set up by my provider to be all or nothing.  Well, I've asked them to change the setup to let me do what I want but no reply so far.
If I completely disable DNN then I lose my ability to manage downloads of the walks that allow people to get the downloads in different forms and repeat-download when they want.
Plus I lose the simple feedback and blog facilities provided with DNN.
I have one idea about running DNN in the background....  I'll upload the new HTML pages and give it a try... 
Basics Nearly in Place - Friday, November 04, 2005
This week's battles have been with performance and with buttons.
Performance has been a disaster area, which I don't yet have a solution for.  It can take from 1 to 100 seconds for the front page to come up and there is a roughly 25% chance that the whole thing will grind to a halt with an error.  I don't want to have to change to a different host unless I have to as it would require a deal of work, but the performance is obviously unacceptable as it is.....
The other issue that has been challenging me is buttons, or more specifically getting buttons to work reliably in the PayPal payments module that I have been implementing on a number of bages.  I could get the buttons to show, and after a significant amount of time testing different options They would respond to a mouse click by changing colour etc.  Only this morning did I finally get the button to click and to actually link to another page!  Whoopee!
All of this was made more of a challenge due to the host crashes and because the module would 'correct' my HTML at times (until I worked out that it would had a limitation on the number of characters..).
Done now though, so most of the first-phase is complete and I can begin to look forward to adding new features.
  PayPal Cont'd - Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Well that's another DNN lesson - the editor for this module lets me type in more than the messages module will display!
This is the bit that is missing from the last message (if that makes sense)...
Then just last week one of the suppliers released an update to their PayPal module that actually seems to work!  Sure, it does not give me the multi-currency facility that I wanted, and I'm not absolutely certain that it will give reliable instant payment verification, but it means I can now get on with my primary job of getting the site filled out!
So today's news is that I now have the basic payment and download pages in place, which is a significant landmark.
Now, I wonder where I left my enthusiasm to do more?.....
  PayPal - Wednesday, October 26, 2005
This last month or so has been quite a trip behind the scenes!
Not long after discovering DotNetNuke (DNN), and choosing to use it for this site, I also found two commercial modules that seemed to offer a way of accepting PayPal payments for download access.  These both promised to give me the basis for what I wanted to do on this site - ask for a single payment and give easy access thereafter to a download page, and to do this for each of the pay-walks.
However!  After buying the modules, it very rapidly became apparent that neither of them actually worked.  Both of them worked to some extent but both had such significant flaws that I could not use either.  And, neither of the producers seemed able to correct those flaws.
So, I decided to grasp the nettle and look into producing a module of my own and started to learn much more than I wanted to about PayPal, DNN, ASP.NET, and so on.  The more I learned, the more there seemed to be to learn.  The more I learned the more I discovered that DNN still has a long way to go to provide a sophisticated framework for website development.  It seems that you can indeed develop almost anything and you are well-supported to do that within the Microsoft concepts of ASP.NET - but you still have to have a very high competence in a range of MS technologies to make a go of it.  Unfortunately, as a lowly Windows programmer, I lack those competences and was somewhat daunted by the steep learning curve.  My determination was firmly in place but I could see the task taking considerable time - time that I did not have much of....
Then just last we  
  Buttons! - Wednesday, September 07, 2005 I have found out how to do buttons!  At least, I have found out one of the ways to do buttons.  I have had less time recently to do much on Walks of Mind, but I have been finding out more than I want to about adding buttons to web pages.
I find it 'somewhat' surprising to find out just how primitive HTML actually is, and it shows in the way buttons are supported.  I would have thought that one of the most common facilities wanted for any web page would have been provided for right from the start, but then I often can get into thinking I know how things should be - and ranting achieves nothing beyond giving me an important chance to own my feelings.
To get a style of button which I think greatly enhances the look of my pages I use a seperate software package to create 3 individual images for each and every button, upload the images, and then add a block of HTML code to my text to actually display the images (to give the look of a button which shows when it is selected and when it it pressed).  Tedious to implement each time but it does the job!
So that's what I am up to at the moment - adding buttons to replace the simple text-based links that I have been setting up until now.
  Walks on Line! - Wednesday, August 24, 2005
I have found and bought a PayPal module that gives me the basic capability that I want and have set it up on the live website!  It has some limitations (like only offering a payment currency of $US and having a quantity selection field) but at least it functions...
So, with that capability in place I have been able to upload all of the walks now and set up the web pages and user-rights to allow them to be accessed.  And that's the bones of the first priority done!
The next step will be to create and add some graphics - buttons and the like, to make the site more user-friendly.
  PayPal - Friday, August 19, 2005
I've been investigating PayPal and how to use it to give paid access to the content pages.  I have found out the DNN supports the use of PayPal (although with almost zero documentation as usual) but that this support is basically and practically limited to subscriptions.  Unfortunately that is not what I want to provide....
At the same time I am learning about PayPal.  This seems to offer what I want, and relatively simply.  However, PayPal has never really got the idea of user-friendly access to its facilties.  It is all there, somewhere, but most of the actual useful stuff seems hidden away.  This makes the learning curve much steeper and deeper than it need be.  It has taken me weeks at a time to get past the next hurdle as it comes up.  I think I'm making progress though!
The end result is that nothing much has happened visibly on walksofmind.com in the last few days.  Patience John, patience.
  Sample Pages There! - Tuesday, August 16, 2005
The basic sample pages for each walk are now available in a rather minimalist form.
I have started to investigate the use of the PayPal facilities in DNN.  These seem to be somewhat hidden away and referred to as a facility which is intended for replacement - which has me thinking that perhaps they do not work....  And my first test confirms this.  It took quite a struggle to do the basic setup, something that appeared very straightforward according to the minimalist instructions, and the eventual connection to PayPal gave an error.  More work to do there then!
The timeout issues are probably to do with the host server reclaiming memory on a regular basis, and losing the connection information as it does so.  This is a problem that, according to the comments I have been able to come across so far, may ease when there are more than just me accessing the site.
  Slow but steady progress - Friday, August 12, 2005
The timeout issue is improved but not cured.  The actual timeout seems relatively random but the average is improved.  This still makes for one upset author when I lose all the text I have just entered!
At least now I am making some basic progress on entering content.  I have a basic layout for the main walks pages - very crude but it gives me a start.  I'll spend the next few days uploading the core texts that I have available and then review the status again.
I'm swapping to using a larger font for all the text on the site - hope it helps!
  Links and things - Thursday, August 11, 2005
The timeout issue continues to irritate.  I've seen some comments on the forums asking for a solution, and no replies.  I've now tried doubling all of the timeout settings in config.web.  I'm hoping that makes a difference.
I've found a way to set links!  Basically use the standard editor Create Link option and type in (without quotes) "default.aspx?tabname=Name of page".  Must remember the '/'.  "Name of page" is the page name as seen in the Admin list of pages.
Another irritant is the default typeface, which is predictably Times where I use Arial.
Also today I am struggling with one of the most basic of display options: showing a page with a setup which is different to the main site setup.  I'm using a standard skin and wanting to use a standard container to display my text on a white background.  I've tried lots of alternatives and none make any difference.   Hmmmm.....
(And today I am remembering to save this text to the clipboard BEFORE I try an update - which runs the considerable risk of dropping into the timeout issue and losing all my text).
  New Pages - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 I am starting to set up the basic pages to support the walks.  The two problems I am running up against:
* The time-out of the login, which means that I am losing me text almost as fast as I am entering it (I'm compensating by saving every 30 seconds or so).
*The obscure way of setting up links.  I want to be able to set text on a page to give a link to a specified page (as is the way with websites) and I cannot yet find any even remotely sensible way to do that.
  Struggles with HTML - Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Today I've been struggling with the HTML editor.
Theoretically I can paste text in from more or less anywhere, but much of the formatting is lost when I do.  Also, the formatting in edit mode can be VERY different to the final displayed format.  And also, I can't easily add images as the 'Insert Image From Gallery' refuses to show me the majority of the images I have available.
I've discovered that the most reliable result comes from typing text in directly and then formatting as I go or at the end.  This means that my dyslexic spelling will tend to show through when I'm not supporting myself with a full word processor....
I've found a way around the image problem by inserting a dummy image and then editing the HTML text to pick up the image that I actually want.  Clumsy and slow but effective.
Another annoyance is that if I stay in the editor too long my login times out and I lose all my edits (for example I'm now writing this log for a second time having lost my first version).
Also I'm getting display errors showing up after spending some time on the edits.  Closing down the browser seems to sort them, so presumably there is something going on with the cahcing or perhaps the cookies.
  Starting to add content - Monday, August 08, 2005
Today I am starting to add content.  This means that I am also starting to find out about some of the 'personality' of the DNN system.
It does indeed seem to be relatively straightforward to add content, though how to get it to format reliably is presenting a bit of a challenge at the moment.
A log of my updates would be useful, at the moment I am taking notes as I go, but that approach is doomed to be minimalist!
One GOTCHA I've just run up against is that the announcements module that is used here resets the time setting on an announcement if you edit it - and then shifts it to the top of the list.  Moral: Get it right first time or you are going to end up in a mess!
  Initial Startup - Monday, August 08, 2005

July 2005 (I only set the 'Progress' page up on 8 Aug, so I couldn't post before then)

Work in Progress
This website is a work in progress.  If you are reading this in June/July 2005 then I'm sorry but you will find very little here as I am building the basic site as I go.  I anticipate and hope that I will be adding content on a regular basis and that I will be introducing new material, new ideas, and new facilities as I learn how.


Please make yourself free to explore what is here but don't be surprised to find links that don't lead anywhere yet or great chunks that come and go from day to day.


I want to communicate through this website.  I want to communicate a number of ideas, some my own and some drawn from well-known sources.  These ideas build to give me, and hopefully others, a broader and deeper understanding of why we are as we are, why we think and behave as we do, and why we have the emotional and mindful experiences of life that  

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