Wednesday, November 30, 2005

More IS better!

You know, I had a lot of trouble deciding how/if to advertise on Jungle Photos. The fact is that it is getting to the point where I need to get something tangible back. Yes, thank you everyone who sends nice emails and does the survey, etc. but I really need to take care of the bottom line here. Ah, the economics of survival. Anyway, I have been adding ads (see previous post) to the website's pages, starting with the most popular and working my way down the list. And so far, it seems to be paying off, literally! Well, it's not a huge jump, but what I am seeing is an increase in book sales. It doesn't mean I can retire just yet, but it's going to add up, slowly but surely. Once the ads are set up, I can turn to content development and promotion. Hey, it's all about marketing... Capitalism works!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Adding ads—sell out?!

Okay, I confess! I have been busy adding content to the site. But most of it in recent days has been ads for useful products such as relevant books. I signed up to some affiliate programs which is a way to make money from the site without actually selling anything. So maybe it's a sell out since I always wanted the site to be free of charge. But the fact is in a year, I received barely $50 in donations and $30 of that was from my sister. I get money from Google Adsense, which is nice and covers the cost of hosting, but I don't get any compensation for my time so it is still a labor of love. Hence adding ads. But I have added new pages, some related to products and others being routine updates:
Latest Amazon, Africa and Galapagos news
Ideas Shop: Great gifts for the holiday season
Product of the Week
Technical Notes

Saturday, November 12, 2005

All right, all ready!

Yes, yes, yes. I know. I've been neglectful, AGAIN! But it's only been a couple of weeks, if that. And I've been busy, busy. Check out the Jungle Photos home page, and you will see what's going on. Major new stuff! Such as a concerted effort to put ads on each page. (Sellout! Oh well... I guess I feel like it's about time I cashed in on all my hard work since donations have been rather thin—non-existent, actually.) To supplement this I made a Product of the Week page, since the home page will have a new product featured weekly, and the Product of the Week will be an archive for those. I also made a page for technical notes so people can see how I built the site. It's been a slog! However, as I say "If you're looking for trade secrets, we're not giving anything away!"

Um, what else? I upgraded the search engine, since my software supplier (APB Systems) have a new version. It's cool, featuring more search customization choices and the ability to format the results page. I am also working on a cleaner home page design. The ads make things noisier, so I want a cleaner look and also some bells and whistles to keep things looking up to date. Watch this space for announcements!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Every time...

Yes, every time I start one thing, like providing new natural history content (sloth is next) I get distracted by another! But I hope it's worthwhile. The next project is to incorporate a payment system to use photos. I get lots of requests to use photos, and while a few kinds of personal usage are free, I do charge for other uses. It's a bit cumbersome to do all this just through emails. Sooo, I am getting systematic, baby. Yeah! I am incorporating a photo gallery function into the website. It looks great, and will be really easy to use. I have just complete running a beta version, which has all the functions but testing with only a few photos. The tough part will be to rescan all my photos to have a consistent resolution and photo naming protocol. That's what takes the time is having to go back to my originals and rescan to specifications. So watch this space! If you want to see a the beta version go here: Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It's here!

Yes! As promised here and elsewhere (believe me!) the upgraded news delivery system is finally done! Well, I shouldn't say done, as it is constantly being updated. A labor of love it is—day after day, trawling the news to find articles, blogs, features and other delights and snippets to keep you informed and up-to-date about our favorite places. So, dear reader, please go visit the new pages, and let me know what you think!

Friday, October 07, 2005

New news soon!

Okay, okay, it's been ages since I penned anything here. But I have been busy! Working on developing content for the site (or would you rather I spent time writing this blog!) The big new development is a new delivery system for news related to Jungle Photos topics. No, not news about the website! You can get that here or through the Jungle Photos User's Group. The new news system is a CMS portal built with Mambo, a free software plug-in. It provides lots of cool features that will make it easier for users to get to relevant news (and easier for me to update it!). It should be online in the next few days. Watch this space for the launch announcement!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Back at Last...

Okay, so here I am, looking over my posts and noticing that almost an entire month has passed since my last entry! Ow! How did that happen? Well, I have been busy (euphemism for watching too many movies courtesy of Netflix!). No, really. My new science education site, SciEdge, is now up and running. It offers a range of features for science educators, such as a forum and a Wiki devoted to science education issues. I am now thinking about how to best implement these on Jungle Photos. Another idea is to have a competition to get feedback or ideas on various improvements I have in mind.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Image is everything!

Okay so now Blogger let's me include images with the post. Here's a nice one. Let us know what you think!

(Caption: Trunks of the cercropia tree. These trees are early colonizers of riverside sand bars and newly eroded banks. They are among the commonest Amazonian tree species.)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Rant over!

Okay, now I have said my bit, on to business. Things have been a bit slow, but not completely static. I've had some commitments to meet (what, my whole life isn't devoted to Jungle Photos!?) but those are mostly behind me so I'll do some catching up in the next week or so. A couple of days ago I finished updating the Zambia news pages. I am waiting on some help to finally put the Galapagos database online. The big deal with the Amazon part of the website was finishing up the large monkey natural history section, which took a lot of time because there is so much information available — see the list of links on that page! Upcoming is information on captive animals, whereas aforementioned pages on ethics of nature photography, definitions of endangered species and more are also in development. One exciting feature we're adding will be a model of the effects of city growth on biodiversity. It is being developed with the help of a group of students and staff of the Shodor Education Foundation, marking the first partnership of this kind for Jungle Photos. We're honored to be working with people from such a prestigious organization. The biodiversity model is based on Netlogo, a freeware program that enables users to develop their own models from scratch. The model will feature interactive variables that students can experiment with to see how a growing city affects biodiversity. Watch this space for the announcement of its "official" launch!

Comment on London

Recent events in London compel me to have my 2 cents worth, or in England, my ha'pennies worth. I was born in England, and now live in the United States. Obviously it is very painful to see what is happening over there. I was in England in March visiting my Dad who was ill at the time. Back then, it seemed that Britain was immune from the terrorists, perhaps because over the years it has been a free and open society and has offered asylum to people from more repressive parts of the world. It is a cruel irony that that very policy has made possible in some ways what we are seeing unfold. Nothing is more reprehensible and wicked than killing innocent people to achieve political ends. Yet, some would argue, that is exactly what the US and UK and other developed countries have done in Iraq. Then again, terrorist acts took place before the Iraq war. Whatever the truth of the various arguments, I can only do what is within my power, and that is to lead my life with the core belief in the ultimate value of peace; to love the people around me and to have faith in the human spirit. As my Dad once said, "Humanity's instinct to survive is stronger the instinct to destroy."

Monday, July 11, 2005


Now I am feeling really bad! It's almost a month since I posted anything to this blog. I wonder if it's worth it, as no one has written me about it or made comments to any of the entries, but I feel it is a good record (well, the only record!) of what I am doing with the website.

It's hard work keeping up with all the stuff that needs doing, especially when I have to make a living besides! But I just finished the Malawi news page which is now up to date. Next I will carry on updating news pages and add the other content I am working on. This is listed on the home page to give people an idea of what to expect. But the big news is that I have almost finished the beta version of the Galapagos islands database. This is very exciting as it provides users a way to access statistics and information about each island through a user-selected interface. Check out the test version (it's still got bugs!).

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Yes, I have been very neglectful of keeping up here. Just too many things to do! I added a couple of new pages and have made some updates to various others. The main thing I am working on right now is to develop a Galapagos Islands database that stores information on the islands and can be queried by users. It is using a MySQL database and PHP script for the browser interface, but this stuff is hard! Even one typo can make the whole thing fail, and the error messages are quite obtuse. So I struggle on. It's getting there, one line of code at a time! But I think it will be worth it as I can then apply this knowledge to other applications, such as a database of Amazon rivers or whatever.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Well, it's not "Who wants to be a millionaire?" but we think our quizzes are really cool! We've just added three self-graded quizzes about the Amazon rainforest; one is a geography quiz and there are two animal quizzes. They're a lot of fun to do! The aim is to provide teachers and students an engaging way to test their knowledge about what's on the Jungle Photos website and to learn about the Amazon rainforest. Want to test your skills? Check out the quizzes here: Amazon rainforest quizzes

Friday, May 20, 2005

Breaking news! (It's bad)

Amazon deforestation is up. About 10,000 square miles were lost in 2004, or an area the size of Maryland. Chopped down, hauled off to sawmills, burned, etc. It's gone. Instead we have fields of soybeans. That's it, I am off tofu and edamame. What's really needed is to consume responsibly. We should be eating soy products that are locally grown. Buying local produce supports local farmers, reduces fossil fuel use and, you never know, might even save an acre or two of rainforest. You can read a collection of news reports about the Brazilian government survey posted on the website.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

It's late...

But work proceeds apace. Now that the spiffy new home page is done, and the sections sport a consistent look, I can shift gears to developing content. Today I added a quiz to the Amazon section, and will shortly be adding new quizzes transferred from the old site. So this is not new content as such but revamped content. What is new is a jigsaw! Check it outI found a site that will make a jigsaw from an image, so I promptly made a page. I think I need a new section, Games or something, considering
I also have a crossword to go in there. It's fun developing that stuff, but I also need to focus on the bread and butter, or what I hope will be bread and butter, lesson plans, publications and the like... Watch this space!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

It's in the can!

Wow! It was a rush to the finish there, but the main work is done for now, the upgrade is complete. The Amazon section was finished off quickly, so then it was just a matter of completing the portal pages. Now all three sections can be accessed from the home page so that navigation is consistent throughout. No more frames! I made a long list of improvements and added some pages, so I am hoping that this will be reflected in increased traffic. I am developing a longer-term strategy with a view to commercializing the website to enhance its value to users. All the details can be found on the new About and FAQ pages from the portal (Home) page.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Maps section done!

I finally finished the maps section, leaving only Conservation and the upgrade will be complete. I can then take it live! I am hoping this will prove to be a big boost to Jungle Photos web presence, as the site has a more modern look and much more user-friendly navigation. I added a new subsection to the Maps, called "Rainforests of the World" to put the rest of the Amazon-related stuff into context. This entailed drawing three new maps from scratch, but I think it was worth the effort. I tried to get some additional scientific maps, and wrote to UNEP-WCMC for permission to use the maps from their site, but they were very reticent so I just gave up. It defeats me why an organization like that wouldn't allow public use of their maps. Still you should check them out:
Now there's just the Conservation section, and I am hoping that will go smoothly, so that I should only be a little behind the anticipated completion of end of April.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Artists section done!

Yes! The Artists section is complete! Now I am working on the Maps section, which should go quite smoothly as the directory structure is simple. (I had to create two higher-level directories to incorporate the different schools in the Children Artists section.) At some point I want to list the main improvements made to the site upgrade compared to what was there before. Also I am thinking how to deal with the old pages that external sites are linked to. It would be a pain to write each one individually. A better solution might be to put a redirect javascript in each page...

Thursday, April 14, 2005


That's where I am at. The children's art is taking a while because there are so many drawings, but they really enable kids to relate to the rainforest—they can see what other children have done. All that's left now are the Maps and Conservation section so the light is at the end of the tunnel. But the work never ends, and once I am done with the main parts of the upgrade, I can begin filling in other parts of the site, as well as continue with other projects.

Right now, I am working on a print-on-demand Galapagos travel guide, a science-education program and looking for a full-time job. What? You didn't realize I make no money from my website? Actually I just did my taxes, and found from Google that I made over $800 in the Adsense program. This year, I am aiming to make about $100 a month. Not enough to retire on, but it covers the hosting fees!

Friday, April 08, 2005


It's just been a matter of plugging away. The People section is now complete, along with the Scenery and Towns sections. I am now in the middle of the Artists section which only leaves three more sections: Maps, Conservation and From Space. My aim is to get all this done by May... Then I'll go ahead with the official launch and archive the original Jungle Photos. I'll need to add content to all the extra information pages on the new site, for Africa and Galapagos as well. For the old site, I'm thinking about adding some Javascript to redirect users to new pages and to get users to update bookmarks.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Back to work!

I returned from England last week. Dad is okay but will need a long time to recover. I've not done much on the website, just carried on creating the new pages. Now I am up to People/Ethnobotany.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

More progress

Tomorrow i have to go back to England to visit Dad in hospital, so work has to go on hold. Still it teaches me what is most important. On the website I have finished updating the pages as far as People/Traditions, maybe about halfway through. I put a note on my home page that the new version will be ready around May. I have created two Yahoo groups:

Amazon Tropical Forest and Jungle Photos Users

The aim is to provide a forum for discussing rainforest issues and the Jungle Photos website without having to worry so much about the backend maintenance.

I set up a domain SciEdge to promote my science education and outreach efforts. The aim is that this work complements and enhances the Jungle Photos site, as offering personal education products (such as presentations and travel programs) whereas Jungle Photos will offer free on-line information and ability-to-pay lesson plans.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Forest wars

Those who know me know that I am passionate about the rainforest. It has become my life, or a significant part of it. I wrote a travel guide to the rainforest and run a successful educational website.

Amazon rainforest book

Jungle Photos: images and information from the Amazon rainforest

Just recently, a nun was murdered in the state of Para, Brazil, probably because she had devoted her life to the poor, and trying to protect them, hence their land, from unbridled exploitation by loggers, agribusiness, mining, etc. This is just one of many such killings over the past few years. Essentially we are seeing a low-intensity war unfolding, a war over the forest. Such conflicts are bound to spread. As population increases and resources shrink, there will be less to go around and squabbles will break out into fights, battles and war. This is the beginning of forest wars...

Thursday, February 17, 2005


I am making slow but steady progress at this stage. The Africa and Galapagos sections were completed some time ago. Presently the make over of the Amazon pages is proceeding. I have just completed the first page of the Amazon children section.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Day 1: So it begins

Here, I get started. To blog or not to blog? that is the question. So I have jumped on the bandwagon. But it's not a bad thing. I have my agenda (heh, heh!).