Monthly Archives: March 2013

My balls – the metaphorical ones

OutlineI’m not sure whether this post is for you lovely lot, or simply for me so that I don’t lose track of all the balls that I have in the air. Yes, yes, snigger away, you’ll lose track of your balls when you’re older too.

Ball One is the ongoing medieval saga,1322, which is now outlined to my satisfaction. I have a coherent overarcing plot structure, which you can see in the pic there (blurred so as to avoid spoilers for any future readers). I’m still diving into the 14th Century for research, and will continue to tell you from time to time about life back then. I’ll probably get stuck into the first chapter of proper writing today or tomorrow, depending on how long it takes me to clean the bathroom.

Ball Two, Cubic Scats (an anthology of five years worth of blog posts), is simmering. (A simmering ball? Meh, why not?) Formatting the photographs is tedious in the extreme, and I’m carefully checking everything for possible copyright or permissions problems. I can’t decide whether to rewrite some of my very early and very badly-written efforts at blogging, or whether to leave them as they were as examples of my crapness.

Ball Three is a long-term collaboration with one of my favourite authors. More about that when the time comes. Over and above these things are, of course, the various blogs themselves. I have a number of pun-shops waiting to be added to Woof & Ready, many new photographs for Wombat’s World, and the delicious subject of bone churches to explore for Asphodel Meadows. Further, Wombatpics fans have been asking for that to start up again soon, too. Oh, and I’m halfway through reading a draft copy of another author’s new novel to provide, I hope, some useful insights and constructive criticisms. Busy busy busy.

But first, that bathroom. Where’s me Marigolds?

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Edward Raby, drunken artist

Mrs. Wombat’s Great Great Great Grandfather, Edward Raby. was born in 1810 in Staffordshire. He joined the Poultney pottery in 1845, and became celebrated for his work modelling flowers in parian on earthenware.

beesMy favourite piece of his is the small group consisting of a beehive beneath a may bush in full bloom. Bees scurry on the hive, a little flight of steps with hand rails leading towards it. On the left you can see a nest of young birds, almost on the ground, with just above the head of a snake about to devour them. The mother bird, in the foliage above the hive, ruffles her feathers in anger and despair. When you consider that each feather of this bird was made and adjusted individually; that the bodies and wings and legs of the bees were all separately made and placed together while the clay was still wet; that each little stem of may bloom was made by rolling the clay round a piece of fine cotton, the bloom then being attached to the end of the cotton leaf by leaf, and the stamens added afterwards, you will realise the immense patience and devotion to his art shown by Edward.

He was not always reliable after being paid, however. His wages were high at a pound a day, but often he went absent for a week or more on drinking binges. After one too many of these lapses the owner, J.D. Pountney, sacked him. He was not seen for some time, until one day he appeared at Pountney’s house in Richmond Hill when the owner himself was away on business.

His wife, Charlotte, spoke to Edward, and he revealed the exquisite piece of work photographed above, telling her that he had done it during his “holiday”, and had got the men at the works to fire it for him without the master’s knowledge. He offered it to the “young missus” on condition she persuaded the “old master” to take him on again. Amused by both his impudence and his talent she soon induced the “old master” to comply.

Edward remained with Pountney’s for many years, working always to a supremely high quality. At one time Charlotte Pountney exhibited the beehive piece and was offered sixty pounds for it by William Gladstone, which she declined. She defended Edward, saying that his lapses were few and far between. In his book “Old Bristol Potteries” her son, W. J. Pountney, described Edward as “a very kindly old man, for he seemed old to me at the time, and he used to try to teach my youngest sister and me how to model those little leaves of his. The only thing that I was able to accomplish was rolling the clay round a bit of cotton, but my sister was more successful and she could manage to model small leaves”.

BCWqDXYCMAAjtQo.jpg largeSpecimens of Edward’s flower plaques were placed in recesses beneath the High Cross in College Green in 1847, and when the cross was removed over a hundred years later, one was found still intact. It came into the hands of artist Emma Clegg’s mother. Emma’s sculpture is inspired by Edward’s work, and on her website she describes the find:

“It’s a tiny wreath of peonies, which are no more than 1cm across. The accuracy and precision that he achieved in clay is just breath-taking. It was buried under a cross in Bristol for over one hundred years, and when the cross had to be removed, the piece was, miraculously, still perfectly intact. I’m in awe of the skill and patience that he must have had. Such skill…

He described himself in the 1861 census return (which is where I first met him) as a “Flower Maker”. He certainly was that, and so much more. Edward Raby left the pottery in 1864, he finally died in his home town of Hanley in 1867.

Bye bye, Tweetdeck 0.38–a Twitter Client review

With Twitter changing their API, the lovely old version of Tweetdeck (0.38 from just before Twitter took over and ruined it) will stop working shortly. This will mean finally letting go of the splendid old Tweetdeck Groups, and finally embracing Lists. I’ll also need a new desktop app to replace 0.38. The most important feature for me (as most of you will guess) is the ability to use multiple accounts. I looked at five contenders. Here are my opinions. Click the pics to see larger versions.

MetroTwitMetrotwit

First off, there’s no multiple account support unless you pay for the Pro version. This costs 14.95 Aussie dollars (about ten quid), so I knocked off half a Wombat Point for that. Pro also removes the ads that they fling in here and there. (you can choose which column ads are displayed in). Metrotwit needs MS .NET Framework 4.5.

There’s no FaceBook access, but that’s not vital. It has a nice clean interface, which I like a lot and is reasonably customisable. Lists can be edited from within the app, and you can display a column of your Favourite tweets, something that some other apps don’t do. I like the huge character countdown when you tweet. Metrotwit has the capability to use Twitlonger for updates of more than 140 characters, but please don’t do that. Metrotwit gets a Wombat Rating of 7.5.

 

JanetterJanetter

The installation looked a bit strange, with an odd font, perhaps a result of its Japanese origins. There are no ads, and multiple account handling straight out of the virtual box. It looks more cluttered and not as elegant as Metrotwit but you get used to that.

Janetter automatically shows any tweet that a tweet is in reply to, which can clutter up the screen further. It would be nice to be able to turn this off, but I couldn’t find a way. If you want to see the whole conversation, that is shown inline too. There’s no option to alter the font size, and no FB access. I like the ‘Friend badge’ which subtly indicates which people follow you back. You can’t edit Lists in app, but there is the nice touch of being able to keep private notes on each user. I also like being able to show JUST Twitter ids without real names, if you want. You can even add your own background images. Wombat Rating 8.

 

sobeesSobees

With this app you can access FB, Twitter AND Linkedin – each service (account) has it’s own area of the screen, with tabs to switch between Mentions, DMs etc, You can therefore only see one aspect of each account at a time, a big drawback for me. Font size can be shanged, You can also disable sponsored content. As you can see, it had problems logging onto my FB. Wombat Rating 5.

 

 

 HootsuiteHootsuite

Hootsuite’s website put me off with its business-speak and obvious pitch for a corporate market. This one allows you to access any social network you can think of. The free version allows you 5 social profiles – not enough for me. To add more costs ten dollars EVERY MONTH. At least Metrotwit only charges the one time. You get insights and analytics way more than I’d ever need. Hugely over-complicated for my own personal use, and the appearance of the horrible word “WEBINARS” on the website meant I didn’t even download it, as you’ll see from the pic that I nicked from elsewhere. Hootsuite may well be brilliant for organisations, and even for those who need fewer than five accounts, but not for me. Wombat Rating no rating, cos I didn’t try it out.

 

imageTweetdeck

And finally, my old favourite updated, only this time without Group support. The download is an MSI which, when first run on my system, did nothing but put a (v0.38) icon on the desktop. Then it asked me to repair Tweetdeck. Then it finally installed the new version.

Good things – you can schedule tweets, and, erm, that’s about it. It’s not very adjustable (for example, you can’t configure where pop-up notifications appear). It is quite clunky looking (eg the horribly-coloured red @ above each avatar pic. It does handle multiple accounts, but you have to have a Tweetdeck account to do that. Actual tweeting is in a separate pop-up Window, which is a pain, and why can’t I use enter to send a tweet? Viewing conversations is AWFUL. Disappointing. Wombat Rating 2.

Janetter after I fiddled a bit

In conclusion, the two I liked the best and almost as well as each other were MetroTwit and Janetter. What tips the scales for me is that the version of MetroTwit I’d need would cost me a tenner, whereas Janetter is free. Wombie therefore chooses Janetter. Mind you, I’ll carry on using Tweetdeck 0.38 until it dies completely, probably at the beginning of May according to Tweetdeck themselves.

Buy this for it is SPIFFING

Music from my good friend @RachaelKanute – give it a try; you’ll love it.

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