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The new version of this site

This is the third version of this site, which I started some time in the late 1990s. The first was, by modern standards, a crude assemblage of simple HTML pages with few graphics or images. Then, in June 2005, I transferred the content into the Sites4Doctors site management system, which I had built to provide an income after I left my web-management job with the NHS.

The About this site page - unrevised for some time - says more about this period. The Website hosting and development page has a lot more detail, and for the techies there's How Sites4Doctors works.

The two sections below - which have been living at the top of the home page for some time - bring things up to date, explaining why and how everything has changed in 2013 and I'm back from the exciting territory of database-driven dynamic sites to static HTML.

STOP PRESS - April 2013!

My web hosting provider, 1&1 Internet, has chosen this month to upgrade its servers from MySQL4 to MySQL5 for databases and from PHP4 (the version of the programming language Iíve used since 2004 to build and develop Sites4Doctors) to PHP5.

The database upgrade went fine - back up the database to an enormous MySQL script saved on my own PC, create a new MySQL5 database and import the script to rebuild the whole database and populate it with data and site content. Easy!

But testing Sites4Doctors late at night after switching the global PHP version to 5 in the 1&1 control panel showed that very little of my system will run properly after PHP4 is switched off.

As it happens, I have only four clients left and had already intended to stop trading at the end of March 2013, so this isnít as big a disaster as it might have been! Iíve nearly got the surviving clients transferred to other providers, so the only question is what happens to this site, which I really would like to keep going.

Iíve already captured all the pages as static HTML, which I found I could edit in a nearly WYSIWYG environment using MS Word. However, when I looked at the amount of extra code that Word added, I had serious second thoughts about that bit and beat a hasty retreat back to EditPadPro, my trusty raw-HTML editor! Iíll probably get a beginnerís hosting package from 1&1 and keep this going as a static site - hopefully with the same address.

Iíve just (28 May) updated this stop-press and everything is still running normally. But donít be surprised if the site disappears for a while.

I'm experimenting with the Mozilla SeaMonkey browser's web editor on my local HTML copies of the site pages, and it seems to work very well, allowing me to work on with fully styled versions of the pages.

Thursday 17 October 2013
This afternoon, after a horrendous slog, I completed the salvage operation on this site. As I explained in April (above), I have had to close down the Site Management System I built around nine years ago for Sites4Doctors. I went right through this site using Internet Explorer, saving every page as a 'complete web page' - an HTML file and a folder containing any images and a CSS stylesheet.

Then came the long task of copying the main content of every one of the 136 pages and pasting it into a standard template.

This was followed by the even longer job of editing every single internal link, changing the original database address of each page to its new .htm filename.

Finally - for now - I used 1and1 Internet's rather primitive WebSpace Explorer to upload all the site content into my new cheap-and-cheerful Beginner hosting package.

Now, lacking my beloved Site Management System, I'm editing this page using the Composer window in Mozilla's SeaMonkey browser - and so far it seems to be pretty usable. And I've followed 1and1 Internet's advice and installed FileZilla, a free and pretty grown-up FTP client from the same stable as SeaMonkey. I wish I'd done that before uploading with the ponderous WebSpace Explorer!

Ignoring errors, what I have now is a pretty faithful static version of the dynamic, database-driven site I've been working on for eight and a half years.

This is intended mainly as an archive, because I couldn't bring myself to discard all this hard - and highly enjoyable - work, so many of the pages are hopelessly out of date. But, as SeaMonkey seems like a pretty good content manager, I will inevitably get back to do using the site as my working notebook for breadmaking and other stuff, and continue to keep a diary of my wandering mind.

Update 1 February 2014

As forecast above, I have got back to using the site as a place to record my ongoing exploration of the science of the universe - most recently in a page intended for grandchildren called We live on a lump of rock - and my cookery development work. The sourdough bread development continues and in the last couple of weeks I've got back to hot-smoking salmon and - excitingly - cold-smoking it too!

My development platform is now established. Pages are composed using the WYSIWYG Composer window in Mozilla's SeaMonkey browser and uploaded very slickly with the same developers' FileZilla FTP client.

The only drawback to this setup is that the Composer window doesn't allow any control of font sizes other than actually changing them in the code. This goes back to my discovery a long time ago that Microsoft's Internet Explorer seems to be the only browser that doesn't follow the standard for font sizes when interpreting cascading style sheets. This is a pain, because IE is the de facto standard browser. The SeaMonkey browser window has a zoom function which I can set to make pages look as they do in IE, but the Composer window doesn't. This means that, when composing or editing, my ageing eyes have to cope with text about half the size of what I see when browsing - hardly ideal for spotting typing errors! Otherwise, though, SeaMonkey is a great toolkit.

Personal site for Paul Marsden: frustrated writer; experimental cook and all-round foodie; amateur wine-importer; former copywriter and press-officer; former teacher, teacher-trainer, educational software developer and documenter; until March 2013  a professional web-developer but now - finally - retired.

In June 2005 the static content of the original version was transferred to the Sites4Doctors Site Management System, and was developed and maintained there until April 2013.

In October 2013, following changes to 1&1 hosting which made continued use of the SMS impossible, this version was captured as static HTML. It is now being maintained using Mozilla SeaMonkey.