To read the full and illustrated story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, click here.
After I left my first "real" band Road Menace, - real as in we played pubs and clubs and got paid for it - I teamed up with another ex Road Menace member, Terry Costello, and my brother Duncan (who was going by the name of "Slash" at the time). We formed a joke band called "The Big Red Poppers" and played a few parties. It was funny enough for a while but, like all jokes, I got pretty sick of it early and so Duncan and myself joined up with Baz McQueen (real name Barry McBreity) - who was also an ex Road Menace member - and formed Croc Attack. Baz and Duncan had been jamming for some time on their own stuff at Baz's house, so I was really a newcomer.
Croc Attack (1986-1991) was very different from Road Menace. For a start the sound was a lot more "raw" and perhaps a little bit angry to boot. Not punk by any stretch, but just a bit angry. Because we were a three piece we decided to "muddy" up the guitar sound with phasers, flangers, distortion and other guitar effects as well as beef up the drumming a bit more. I also tried to be a little more "busy" on the bass and EQ'd it to try and make it sound a bit more like a tinny, treble-y sounding bass. I guess at the time I felt that I would have to try and help flesh out the guitar sound and make the bass a little more melodic. I'm not sure if it worked but my bassplaying got a little bit better anyhow. Not that I felt I was that good, but I was adequate.
It didn't take that long for us to throw a few songs together and eventually we had enough to start playing live shows. We grabbed "Cutt Back" from Road Menace's set list as it was originally written by Baz and Duncan in the first place before being "stolen" by Road Menace. In my view Croc Attack did the better version of this song by far.
I spoke too soon! The websites have been up, down, up, down and up again the past week. At the moment (and for the past couple of days) they're up, but its becoming quite a pain and if we have too many more interruptions I'l give serious consideration to migrating to a new host -- especially now that we're making a little money from the sites!
Its a shame because we've had a good run with the current host and they've always been on top of things when there's been problems in the past. Nice friendly guys too. The past week though the organization has been looking a little shabby. Hopefully it will improve.
As far as other matters are concerned I've been busy updating various sites, as well as organizing a few tutorials for Handplane Central. I've conducted a bit of a poll there and it appears that most people, by far, want plans and tutorials -- so I've been digging a few profiles out, sawing some wood and taking a few photographs. I'm part way through making several hand planes and documenting the stages as I go. I had been slowing down on making hand planes in general the past couple of years but I'm on an upward curve again. It happens like that sometimes and I worked out that next year will mark my 15th as an infill plane maker, which is kinda....well weird I suppose. It hardly seems that long ago that I first got into it!
Spent part of the day trying to work out some database problems with the sites that recently went down. It began when Amy tried to post a comment on her blog and WordPress was having none of it. I was preoccupied with getting a tutorial done for another one of my sites, Handplane Central so I couldn't get on to Amy's problem right away but, eventually, I threw myself into it. I kept seeing broken "commands" at the top of all of her pages and thought that the database must have become corrupted in some way. After a bit of screwing around I managed to track the problem down and fix it.
Later on tonight I'm writing the text for said tutorial on hand planes (again using WordPress I might add) when I do a routine "save". All of a sudden I get a stupid 404 error when everything should've been fine. I remembered that I'd had some trouble on this very blog with that sort of thing a while back. Fortunately I was able to hit the back button and all of my newly written paragraphs appeared again. I then spent the next five minutes or so cutting and pasting text to try and ascertain just what it was that was giving me all the hassle. I finally tracked it down to one word and one word only - curl. Yup, I remembered that was the word that had given me all that trouble on a Speckled Band post. Can't remember what I changed it to back then but I did know that "curl" is a php command (I think) which, obviously, causes some distress to the program. The sucky thing is that I wanted to use the word curl, not "spiral" or "curve" or what have you -- curl dammit!
OK, best laid plans etc. etc...
Ran out of time on Friday to post an entry. Had to drive over to my parents house as Amy and I were staying the night there (Mel's birthday celebrations the next day et al). Talked with mum and dad for a while -- primarily dad in regards to starting up the new planemaking venture (which I'll get into in another post some time) -- but then fell asleep while watching TV at around 10.30pm. I seem to be doing that more and more nowadays over there. It's just so damn hot there with the heater on that I just kinda lose consciousness or something?
Saturday was pretty good. Not only was Mel there but Adrian and Dan -- my two best friends -- visited as well. There was some concern earlier that morning with Adrian's mother (who lived across the road from my parent's house) being a little disorientated and wandering the streets but Adrian managed to sort things out. By the end of the afternoon Amy and I decided to stay at my parents for another night.
I think I'm going to start and post here regularly again. I know I've said that on at least 2 occasions but I've just been so busy with other stuff, online and off. It appears that there is just not enough hours in the day for me to do everything that I want to so, for obvious reasons, some things have to suffer and be put on the back burner. As I'd had a bit of grief in the past in regards to this blog -- grief that I did bring upon myself, mind you! -- it was an easy decision to leave the blog writing for a little while at least. Weeks tended to turn into months however and The Speckled Band turned out to very much be an "abandoned blog" for a while there. Now I long suspect that whatever readers I had in the past had also moved on and given this blog a wide berth and for that I apologize. I'm a slacker sometimes who does what he wants to do, generally speaking -- some of which I'll now elaborate on.
Hundreds, maybe thousands of quality incoming website links for free? And the only thing you have to do is sign up and add a few links to you own webpages? Sounds too good to be true - and it just may be - but its definitely an experiment worth undertaking and something I want to be involved in.
I stumbled across a new site today, www.pyramidlinking.com, which could very well go ballistic in 2006 if enough people find out about it. Its claimed by the webmasters that if you place, say 5 links, on your site you will end up with 10 other websites linking back to you. These websites won't necessarily be the same sites that you link to so they're not strictly "reciprocal" links - which is great because reciprocal links tend to cancel each other out as far as many search engines are concerned. As many people know, building quality links to your website has always been one of the most difficult and tedious methods of search engine optimization, so anything that simplifies the process and still provide good quality links is great. Because all the links back to your site are individual links and not easily related to each other (like directory sites or blogrolls are), Google and the other search engines just see a link back to you and add it to your overall site score, pushing you up in the search engine results pages and making it easier for people to find you.
The way this new site works, www.pyramidlinking.com looks very promising. Each website that signs up is given a list of sites to link to. Once the links have been validated the site is added to the link queue and will receive twice as many links as it donated. The links obtained using the site are one-way static links in plain html so there are no scripts to install or tracking code to leave a footprint for search engines to detect. The links obtained are all relevant (well they will be once the beta bugs are ironed out) and, due to the nature of the program, are all of a higher PageRank than the links donated. As a bonus an innovative referral program will give all users the opportunity to earn 5 extra links for each new user they refer.
It does have a rather dumb name though, "Pyramid Linking". Dumb because its not really a pyramid scheme anyway, so why call it that? It does have a referral system (so does Google, Amazon etc.) but its not even tiered, so aligning it to a pyramid type setup is probably more damaging than good. Still, if it becomes huge overnight - which is very possible - and people start pulling in impressive results from it them I'll eat my words!
At the moment though its all small potatoes - which is good really. There's a bit of work to be done on it but it does look very promising. One of the best things is that its not very well known about - being only a week or two old - so its great to get in on the ground floor. There's not a lot of relevant sites at the moment but that should change as more sites join up and the directories are re-organized. There's also some spammy sites but they're getting weeded out each day. For a few links though, and enough referrals, you could end up with hundreds or thousands of back links to your site which will improve your PageRank and search engine results dramatically. Who knows, you might even give those top ten ranking blogs a kick in the behind!
And if it doesn't work out I can just delete the links and not worry about it. After all, 5 minutes work and a cut and paste job and its done. I haven't really lost anything at all.
Yes, yes! I know I'm a slack b**tard and I should be posting here more often, but I've just been too busy these past couple of months to do so. I did think about making it a New Years resolution but, on reflection, I think that if anything it will only be an "unofficial" New Years resolution.......whatever the heck THAT means???
For my ACTUAL New Years resolution I did something that I KNEW was going to be easily achievable.....and over and done with in a short time I might add. Some may feel it's a cop-out - cause it pretty much is - but my resolution for this year was to have a haircut in the first month. That's done, and now I can continue on, having already fulfilled my resolutionary duties.
Now about the lack of posting....well, that's going to be a little more difficult to overcome - but I WILL try. If anything I suppose I can just post the occasional "quicky post" featuring something goofy.......Kinda like that Elmo pic I just posted! To tell you the truth I kinda suspected Bert and Ernie to come out with a similar book, rather than little ol' Elmo - but then you can't really predict these things now, can you?
As far as "web-work" is concerned I'm considering taking on a large website design centered around car auto parts.....Blllleeeeuuggghh. Bore-a-rama plus! Still, if the money is there it might be worth my while? Apart from that I'm thinking of designing up a few freebie WordPress themes which I'll set up for people to download.
Yeah right! I wish! Still, there were some very positive things on the horizon last year, financially speaking. We live in hope though...
Speckled Band possibilities...
One of the things I thought of over the Christmas break was that I might do my own version of Speckled Band - the Sherlock Holmes story I mean. I thought of this for a few reasons. One, it's the reason why most people end up here nowadays - my absence during the middle part of last year decimating my core readership and all - so I probably already have some sort of interest there, market wise. Another reason for doing the story is that no-one has ever done it like I plan to do it so it'll be unique in that regard. Also, I could "save" a bit of time in designing a new blog skin by just using some of the artwork from the book. Of course I won't have really saved any time whatsoever as the making of the artwork will likely take a year or two to finish....
I will probably leave the original story intact and not mess with it at all. I mean it's long out of copyright now so I don't need to pay anyone to use it, and it's a top story anyway! Why would I want to mess with it? It's the story Sherlock Holmes fans know well and love and it's my favorite Holmes adventure. I'm not sure exactly why that is? I only know that it captured my imagination when I was a kid and I've never lost that interest since. Who knows, maybe I'll start illustrating my own versions of all of the Sherlock Homes stories. Then again, probably not.....It would just take too long the way I do things!
OK, so it's the title of a rather dodgy 1930's science fiction comedy which, in turn, is taken from an almost equally dodgy expression of speech, but it IS true! Time DOES fly by when you least expect it to.
Man, what a year it's been....and oh so busy to boot! I don't think I've ever worked as hard or had as many ups and downs as I've had this year. Even when writing or illustrating books I don't think I've worked as hard? Then again you kinda forget a lot of the details as you get older......Well I have anyhow.
2005 FINALLY saw me finish The REG Temple redesign.......almost! The bulk of it has been done anyway and there's really only a bit of "plugging up" to be done here or there. I've had a couple of false starts on this site already in the past two years, so I'm finally glad that I've been able to break the back of it - as well as clear out much of the the backlogged stuff I've accumulated over the years.
When Amy got sick and went back to the States to recover I was able to knuckle down and get the work done on The Temple, but now that she's back I haven't really slowed down from the pace I set and I'm still doing a ton of website stuff - a few mini-sites here and there but two very work intensive sites that I envision will be - with any luck - quite large affairs. One is nowhere near being launched yet and the other has had a low-key "launch" but needs to build up an extensive backlog of articles quickly. In the meantime I've been getting Amy to help me with scanning and typing which has been a great help.
Just got back from midnight mass and it was pretty good. My knees and ankles were playing up again so I didn't do too much of that "stand up, sit down, kneel, stand up again" kinda stuff. Just did my best.
Tomorrow - well today rather - Amy and I will be going to my parent's house for Christmas lunch so we're both looking forward to that. My sleep patterns are all out of whack again (surprise surprise) so I'm not sure how I'll be in the morning? I'll probably be all "punchy" and stuff.
I'm sure glad I made the story of Sherlock Holmes and The Speckled Band a "sticky" post as it appears that's the main thing that people come here for. Rather than have a bunch of disgruntled net surfers I saw it as my "duty" to make sure they at least got what they were looking for. After all this website is in the number one spot for "The Speckled Band" so I figure it's the least I can do.
Lastly I just want to say that I wish everyone out there a great Christmas and holiday season! A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Merry Christmas!