F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Questions)
Some of these are, in fact, questions that people have actually asked about this website. Others are questions that I imagine people would ask or, in my opinion, should ask. A few are simply made up questions that match some answers I happen to know.
- What's it for?
Danged if I know. 90+ percent of the time maintaining this website is a lot of fun but every now and then it feels a little like work and I then ask myself that very question. I answer myself with three reasons. One is that sharing travel stories is fun and, since I have no regular travel companion or significant other, the website lets me do that without forcing it on some guy who happens to be stuck on the bar stool next to mine. Second is so I'll have something to fuel the memories when my traveling days come to an end. The third is that I enjoy writing and taking pictures and this lets me do both. It doesn't exactly "keep me off the streets" but it keeps me busy while I'm there.
- What's it contain?
The main pieces of the site are the trip journals and the blog. Journals are the heart of the site. The whole thing started with a single trip journal in 1999 and there are now more than a hundred. There is a journal for every trip with a page for every day. These pages appear during the trip as soon as practical after each day's travel; Typically the next morning. Some journals contain other pages with extra information. An off shoot of the trip journals is a collection of "oddments". These are single page reports on events or locations that were not part of a road trip. There are separate indexes for all completed road trips and oddments. Road trips can also be accessed through a clickable collage containing one photo from each trip. The blog was added in 2011. Among other things, the blog gets an entry specifically associated with each new road trip or oddment. This serves as an announcement for anyone who only follows the blog but its main purpose is to provide a place for comments and questions on each trip or oddment. In addition to journal related entries, the blog is updated every Sunday with whatever suits my fancy. Some things that might have been oddments in pre-blog days now appear there and the list of oddments frozen since 2012. I also do an occasional review of something as a blog entry and those generally appear on Wednesdays. The blog's "About" page is here.
- How can I keep up with it?
There are a couple of mailing lists associated with the journals and there is also an RSS feed. The "Announcements" mailing lists just tells you when a trip starts and ends. The "On the Road" list tells you that plus when each daily page is posted. The journal RSS feed contains everything in the "On the Road" list plus an occasional feed specific item. The "On the Road" mailing list and the journal RSS feed are the only way of being alerted to the daily page postings. Note that both of these merely tell you when something new is posted and provide a link to it. The link must be followed to read the actual journal page. On the blog's home page you can subscribe to a mailing list for new entries and you can subscribe to email notification for comments on individual entries. There is also an RSS feed for blog entries and one for comments. I have a Twitter feed that is used mostly but not exclusively for close-to-real-time comments from the road. If a road trip results in some Tweets, I will usually signal its wrap-up with a "Twip that Twiggered the Tweets" Tweet. My Tweets are linked to my Facebook status but my Facebook account is used for personal non-road trip stuff as well. If you subscribe to all of the goodies available you will definitely see duplication. The web is like that. Choose wisely or choose to simply drop by the site once in awhile.
- Is it mobile-friendly?
Pretty much. When I realized the importance of being compatible with smartphones and the like, I set out to make it so. I don't expect the site to ever be 100% mobile-friendly. The two index pages, the Oddments and All Trips lists are tables that don't squeeze down easily and the effort to rework them doesn't seem justified. Many of the Oddment pages contain photo tables that, like the indexes, extend beyond small screens and require scrolling. I've decided that reworking these isn't justified either. At least for the present. But, somewhat in synch with updating this FAQ, the home pages has been modified as have the majority of journal pages. The blog pages were already mobile-friendly courtesy of WordPress. The ten "Decent" (i.e., my favorite) road trips have been updated and the remaining trips are being addressed in reverse chronological order. As of February 24, 2016, all pre-2003 trips (approximately 10) remain to be addressed.
- Does it make money?
Yes. Sorta. For a while. Maybe. In 2004 I added an area for advertisements from Google. I planned on removing this when I made the home page mobile-friendly but ended up just modifying it. If I see it affecting performance, I'll probably remove it since saying it makes money is only technically correct. The Google Adsense program, which manages the ads, issues payment when accumulated earnings reach $100. Based on the existing eleven years of history, that is projected to occur, for the first time, during calendar 2024. You are all invited to the party.
- What's with the Seeds, Leads, and Deeds?
These are selections on the site's home page associated with three possible stages of a road trip. Done Deeds accesses the journals of completed road trips and oddments. There are subcategories for my favorites and those most recently completed but the most useful items are the Oddment link and the List and Collage links under "All Trips". Fixed Leads contains road trips that I have firm plans for. At a minimum there will be a cover page and a Prelude paragraph or two. Some of the bigger trips may have additional pages about history, planning, and such. Trips that I'd like to do but have no definite plans for are placed under Just Seeds. Whenever anything is added or significantly changed, a yellow "NEW" appears next to the affected item and the selections it is under. For example, if firm plans were made for a trip to Venus, a link to the trip's cover page would be placed under Fixed Leads and the yellow "NEW" would appear next to Fixed Leads and the Venus link. Things become not-new after a month. When a trip actually begins, it is marked with a red "NOW" and it remains under Fixed Leads until completed. Sometime later (i.e., when I get around to it) it will be moved to Done Deeds and marked as new for a month. The majority of trips occur without ever having been Seeds and some even occur without ever having their Leads fixed. And yes, I do realize that a trip to Venus would not, at this time, technically be a road trip.
- What GPS do you use?
I currently use a Garmin Zumo 220. This is the cheapest current Garmin model to support routing properly. I have used others in the past but all have been Garmins. The on going My Gear series of blog entries will eventually cover them all.
- What camera do you use?
My primary camera is currently a Nikon D5100 but I also carry and use a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS40 and the 13 mega-pixel camera in my Samsung phone gets involved on occasion. The on going My Gear series of blog entries covers all the non-phone cameras I've used for the website.
- Do you geotag photos?
Yes. After the fact. I try to keep my camera clocks in synch with my GPS receiver then use the recorded track to assign locations to photos. The software I'm currently using for this is Garmin's BaseCamp.
- What photo editing software do you use?
Serif's PhotoPlus. I have used PhotoPlus for many years through many releases. I also use FastStones' Photo Resizer (and watermarker) regularly. The on going My Apps series of blog entries will eventually cover most of the graphics software I've used for the website.
- What website software do you use?
CSE HTML Validator. It's essentially a slick text editor with powerful syntax checking. There is nothing very fancy on the site and Dreamweaver style designer/builders seem like overkill and learning them too much work. A background in software (From back when a K really meant something.) made basic HTML not too tough and beyond basic I don't go.
- What routing software do you use?
I create almost all routes with DeLorme Street Atlas. I also use Garmin's BaseCamp because of the need to interact with the Garmin GPS hardware. The on going My Apps series of blog entries will eventually cover most of the map software I've used for the website.
- What is your favorite highway?
I don't sit cryin' over good times I've had. I love the road I'm with.
- Do you really look like the caricature with long hair and dark mustache?
dodid. When this question first appeared, the caricature in question appeared at the top left of this site's home page. It was removed with the mobile-friendly changes but still appears on some individual trip pages as well as here.
iswas that picture in the upper right that keepskept changing?
After each trip I select one photo to represent it. When the original question was asked, one of these photos, randomly selected, appeared on this site's home page each time it was accessed. Clicking on the photo would access the journal for the trip it represented. That feature was removed when the page was revised to increase mobile-friendliness. With completion of the 100th trip, I started using these pictures in a clickable collage of all trips. The link to the collage which appeared beneath the changing photo went away with the photo but one now appears in the "Done Deeds"-"All Trips" menu. There is also a "Random Trip" link that leads to a page containing the changing picture feature.
- Mac or PC?
PC. When I was working it was more or less necessary so that I could share stuff with my work machine. Now that I'm gainfully unemployed, I may at least consider a Mac for my next computer but that's some time off. I hope.
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