Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sorry, sorry, sorry

It's been soooo long, I know. And I've neglected my pet blog for so long... If it was alive, it would have starved by now.

First I am just so horrendously busy, working on far too many projects, all of them fun, of course! Second, I have no idea if this blog is read by ANYONE! Third, I am still figuring out how it is different from JPUG.

Still, there's lots happening in Jungle Photos world, not as fast as I'd like but things are getting organized and systematized. The site's providing some nice pocket money, although the stats seem pretty, well, static. The site gets around 5,000 visitors a day, a figure I'd like to see going up.

Still, I think I am going about it the right way, to build content, and to strengthen the brand. Once all the natural history pages are done (I am up to toucans!) I'll finish creating the online gallery so visitors can purchase online. Once that's done, I'll start to add more photos. Hopefully by then, I'll have made a trip or two more and a chance to get some photos that are sorely lacking. I'd love more Africa photos, and a bunch more Galapagos photos. Of course, since this is a business, I should be able to write off the costs. :)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Plans afoot at hand

Feet, hands, toes, fingers, who cares? The point is we have umpteen changes underway. A "big" change will be to change the color of links to blue—the present color seems to confuse some users. Another idea is to have a slideshow so users can just see pictures instead of having to see the information. I have put some photos on so might use that or might figure out a way to do the slide show wholly on the website so people don't have to go out of the domain. The idea is to get people to come to Jungle Photos, not to give them reasons to leave!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Phew. At last!

Well, the immediate crisis is over it seems. Apparently a setting on my billing profile was incorrect, causing my account to be closed every billing cycle, which is every day. The problem was eventually figured out, but it's annoying that tech support took a week to figure it out!

I took the time to build content and experiment. There is a new shopping page for back to school stuff This is a good model to use for other seasonal promotions.

Even more fun has been messing around with different ways of blogging. Today I took a picture of my office with my mobile phone and blogged it from the phone. (Look, Mom! No computer!)

Computers are ergonomically friendlier than phones, but the phone is a great way to do quick pics if you just want to tell a story on the fly. The blog can also serve as an archive if your phone memory can't hold more than a few pictures.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


It's been up and down these past few days. Jungle Photos that is. No fault of mine, but my webhost is having serious technical problems so the website has been offline nearly two whole days out of the past three. Not to worry, I suppose they'll figure things out. It's a shame because I've been with them three years with no problems up until now. Luckily school is out so its low season for traffic to the site anyway. So I've been busy on other projects. Trying to figure out how to do podcasting and audioblogs, also trying moblogging--sending messages through my cell phone. It would be cool if I could get it to work! Watch this space.

Other stuff in the pipeline is pretty routine; adding a natural history page for Amazon poison frogs, researching other topic areas.

I am working on a new edition of my book, The Amazon: The Bradt Travel Guide. It's a lot of updating but hopefully I'll meet the publisher's deadline. You can see the 2nd edition on (surprise!)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Catching up! Not!

Well, I am trying. Things are getting back on track. Today I had a minor panic attack when we temporarily went offline because my webhost accidentally canceled my account! Arrghh. Well, they fixed things quickly and all is well. They're usually pretty good!

So there are lots of things in the pipeline. I've recently revamped the News sections which were taking a lot of time to update. Now the links to daily news are available via an automated feed (I've not yet worked how to configure it to deliver XML so you can get an RSS feed). So the news updates automatically on the fly. "Look, Mom! No hands!" The CMS system now works as an archive for headline news, updated weekly. Hopefully visitors will appreciate this consistency.

I'm working on other projects. My project de jour is to do audioblogs, and graduate up to podcasts. I figured out how to do a simple audioblog just be making a phone call. Check out the test audioblog, just before this entry. Watch this space for new audioblogs soon!

There's the routine content stuff. Coming up next is poison (dart) frog natural history. Then I have a bunch of other ideas; such as the Amazon passport and Amazon tour guide. But those are a steep learning curve and might take a lot of restructuring to do right. We'll see.

Oh well, time to go explore the Jungle! See ya.

My first audio blog! (Just a test)

Hi there,

This is my first audio blog! It's just a test.

this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I'm back!

It's been so long since I lasted posted here that some of you must have thought I was lost in the Amazon jungle! Well I am back, not from the Amazon, but from a crazily busy time with too many projects filling my life. But it's been a lot of fun! In any case, I found time to add some content to the website, such as the information on caiman natural history and a new Amazon plant quiz. It's been hard to keep up with the news updates. I'd really like to hire someone to do that (any takers?!). I've been steadily adding ads to the pages, and revenue is creeping up there. Google ads have been doing really well. Time spent on that has been a really good investment. If I had ten websites each providing me the same monthly income, I could retire! For now it's not enough to live off, but it's a pretty steady source of income. And it's so easy! If you're interested in making money, there's a lot harder ways than Google Adsense!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

News experiments

I am experimenting with news delivery systems.

Right now I am using the Mambo CMS to manage the news.

It works well and seems stable, but it's fairly basic and a bear to update regularly. I am wondering if there is a way to link directly to Google's news search page and have it appear on my page as a series of links...

My current model is to use the email updates and cull those for the best information, reformat each item and repost to my page (for example, click Latest News/Latest Amazon News).

Another issue is how to syndicate each page's content. Right now only the main page can be syndicated. Maybe it's just a Mambo thing!

My solution so far is simply to have the user take the Google news link and add it to their aggregator.

For example, for Amazon rainforest news take this link and drag it to your aggregator.
Google Amazon rainforest news
With some browsers such as Safari it will load automatically as a feed into the browser window. I like that!

As proof of concept you can also take the following links for news feeds on different subjects and put those into your aggregator:
Google Africa news
Google Galapagos news

For developers this is a useful tool because it allows them to provide a service on a relevant topic without having to edit any news content. However, it does mean the user may not revisit your site for news but will just check the feed you have conveniently provided!

On the other hand, an important caveat is that Google News is not 100% reliable and sometimes has irrelevant or repetitive content. The advantage with manually editing the CMS pages is that the quality of news delivery is higher. Again the key here is to provide content that will keep visitors coming back.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Woefully long it is... That I've not contributed here. But today I am aiming to change that. Among my interests is science education. A group that I have belonged to for several years called MEGA, based at North Carolina State University, helps nurture this interest and keep me in touch with new and emerging ideas. The relevance for Jungle Photos is to fold these ideas into the content and functionality of the website to enhance the visitor experience. Today I went to a MEGA meeting, where one of the guest speakers was David Warlick who is at the forefront of implementing educational solutions in the classroom. He spoke of a new pardigm in information, describing the interaction of blogging and wikis as a way of creating content and communicating. This is Web 2.0, as he described. Such a scenario is consistent with business model and vision of Jungle Photos, so I am going to make further efforts to figure how to integrate the technology into Jungle Photos.

One idea I have is to use Google news to feed RSS content directly into my CMS news pages. At the moment this is a time-consuming effort involving cutting and pasting, formatting and so on. Quite an ordeal!

Some progress has been made with my other web site, SciEdge which features a BBS and a wiki. I am still figuring out how to leverage this web site!

Saturday, February 04, 2006


With me! The sad fact is that I have been having technical "issues" so have been focused on those. Fixing a sick computer is one of those things that is a necessity, but one that's horribly time-consuming! Hence the relative lack of activity on this blog...

Aside from these latest challenges, I have been busy exporing options that are consistent with my mission in life: viz. an outlet for my love of writing and of science. Well, hope rests eternal!

So... so life goes on! Added to that our house has been half demolished from the inside out in search of elusive colonies of mold that may be hiding behind walls, under floors, and in other nooks and crannies that otherwise escape our daily (yearly!) attention.

But... but life goes on! I am thoroughly occupied with its slings and arrows, working on some great projects, meeting great people, so it's just a matter of plugging away to get things off the checklist!