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Welcome to Help!


This document covers all aspects of using the website. Take a look through the Table of Contents below to find the section that interests you... Please also check out the FAQ for quick help on frequently asked questions. If you can't find the answer in either of these places, then please contact me.

Table of Contents


Introduction

My name is Neil Gunton, and I am the website founder, developer, administrator and editor of this website. This Help document is intended to tell you everything you need to know to use the site, including editing your own journals, posting on the forums and guestbooks, and using all the other powerful tools that are available.

For an overview of the different areas of the website, see the Site Map.
There is a navigation bar, or "navbar", which is a menu of links at the top of every page. It is situated just below the website ads (if you have those enabled). You can use the navbar to get anywhere on the website within a couple of clicks; the links correspond to all the major functional areas of the site. The navigation bar is hierarchical, and you can look at each link as being like a tab on a file binder. When you click on the forums, for example, you will see that tab (or link) gets highlighted, and subtabs (links to sections within this one) are shown underneath the main tab. In general if you get lost in the website then the navigation bar should be able to get you anywhere in the site in just a few clicks.

For example, see the screenshot image below. In this example, we are currently in the "Website" tab, and you can see the additional areas available under this (About, Help, FAQ etc) as more tabs underneath the Website tab.

Sometimes you will see directions to some part of the site written like this: "My > Options". What this is referring to is the tabs on the navbar - in this example, you would first click on the "My" top level tab, and then the "Options" subtab which appears under that. This is just a convenient shorthand which allows for quick reference to the hierarchy of links in the navbar.

If you ever get completely lost, you should be able to find your way back to the place you want to be by using the navbar. And if you are ever hopelessly confused (even after reading this Help doc), then go on over to the Website top level tab, and then under that click on the Contact subtab to ask me questions.

Registration

To register, click on the Register link which is on the left hand side of the front page.

Registration is an fairly quick, two-step process that involves entering your name and email address, and choosing a username and a login password. A verification email is then sent automatically. You will need to click on the link in the email in order to activate your account.

Below are some additional notes on the registration process which you should read so that you are aware of the issues involved with things like email addresses and "real names".

Email Addresses

Your information will never be shared or sold to anyone else, so your email address will be safe - and it will never be displayed in the open on the website. See the Privacy Statement page for more details on this, but the short version is that I will NEVER voluntarily give, sell or rent your information to anyone else for marketing purposes (or any other purpose, actually - the only exception is if law enforcement has some sort of warrant, but if that's the case then you most likely have bigger problems than me disclosing your email address). You will not get spam from this website. When people need to contact you, they will use a contact form, which does not reveal your email address during the posting process (all that happens on the server side - when they submit the form, then an email gets sent to you from the server. This email has the sender's email address, so you can then reply to them and carry on a normal email conversation if you want to). There might be the very rare case where you post a classified ad, and a spammer trawling the contact forms gets through my checks, but that is the exception, not the rule - and even then they were only able to send their spam - they didn't get to see your address.

Since your information is kept very safe, I ask that you use your REAL email address, the one that you check regularly, rather than a throwaway. This is so that I can get in touch with you if the need arises - if I send you an email, and it gets bounced or there is no reply, then I have no way of telling you about problems with your account, and this may leave me with no other option but to disable it. This wastes both my and your time, I have to deal with thousands of people who use the site, so PLEASE just use your actual email address that you check regularly. Also, if you do ever end up changing your email address, please come back to the site at some point and update your account - you can do this easily, it's under My > Account.

One Person Per Account

Please only register one person per account. If you are a couple or a group who wants to register, then you need to register each person individually. Do not do things like "AnneAndRob Dillaney", which is obviously an attempt to get around the checks I do for multiple names (I look for words like 'and', which usually indicate more than one person). The reason for this is so that each person can have their own distinct profile, which includes an optional bio that the person can write about themselves. People are unique - even if you are a couple who does everything together, you are in fact still unique individuals, and I want the site to reflect that. When people post on the forums, it should be obvious who is doing the talking, so you should always log in under your own account rather than just being lazy and using your husband's or wife's (there have been cases where couples both use the same account, and it's very confusing to see a post on the forums where the author is apparently by one person, but then the post is signed by someone else - it makes people wonder if the account has been hacked, and you will be having to explain yourselves endlessly to make clear who it is that is really talking). Another reason for having separate accounts is that even though you may think you do everything together, one day one of you might be wanting to post something that the other person is not participating in. Having distinct accounts allows one of you to post something that is "just you". Or, if the relationship should sour and you part ways, then it will be much harder if both personas are mixed together in one single account.

If you are a couple that usually uses the same email address, then it's ok to use that address on both accounts.

It's worth noting that if you want to author a journal by multiple people, then it is very easy to list the relevant usernames in the 'Authors' field when you are creating the journal. The website explicitly caters to having journals by more than one person, and this assumes each person has their own account.

Finally, please note that "one person per account" is not a request, it is one of the basic rules of the website. Any account that attempts to circumvent this rule risks getting either disabled or removed.

Real Names vs Pseudonyms

I ask people to use their real names when registering on this website. The reason for this is that when you are interacting with other people, it helps if you know their real name, rather than some made-up alias; this tends to foster a better sense of trust in the community, while also making people seem more real to each other and less like anonymous avatars. While anonymity certainly has its place (e.g. for people who are in sensitive jobs, or who are victims of political or domestic abuse, or even if you just want to talk about something that is socially taboo and you don't want it to come back to bite you in real life), I think it's safe to say that most of the time, it's better if people are communicating openly with each other. The problem with anonymity is that it tends to remove the sense of consequences based on your behavior toward others - it encourages bad and juvenile behavior. If you know that your real name is attached to your words, then you will perhaps think a bit more carefully before casually insulting someone.

Some people will say that if the website does not verify that people are using their real names, then what's the point of asking for that information in the first place - after all, anybody could give any old name, and so they might as well be anonymous. While this is technically true, there is another dimension here, which is social: If the site's policy is to simply ask people to use their real names, then most will, and this creates a certain atmosphere of trust amongst the users. When people see real names, it tends to make the other people on the site more real, and it also encourages a more civil discourse than when everybody is anonymous. Also, it makes it easier to link the people you are talking to with your real-life relationships. While it's true that some people will give fake names just for the hell of it (and with a mind to create mischief), these people will generally make themselves known through their behavior, and they will be dealt with appropriately eventually. In the meantime, the rest of the people on the site will be able to enjoy the benefits of knowing that most of the people they are conversing with are real, and not some random avatar like Loverboy69.

Some people seem to believe that having your real name "visible" on the internet constitutes a threat to your identity. This is simply not true. Your real name is out in the real world anyway, you interact with countless individuals and businesses on a daily basis using your real name. Unless you are posting sensitive personal information (which you probably shouldn't be doing anyway), there's really not much that can happen simply from Google indexing your profile and forum postings.

That said, of course there are always exceptions - genuine cases where people honestly just don't want their real names to be exposed. Examples of legitimate situations include people who are in sensitive jobs (e.g. prison authorities or other government work that requires discretion), victims of domestic violence or other types of abuse, political dissidents, and so on. For such people, it is acceptable to use a pseudonym. So, assuming you must use one, what types of pseudonyms are acceptable? Well, all I ask is that you choose a name that sounds reasonable (i.e. isn't obviously fake), and isn't an attempt to deceive or otherwise confuse others. In other words, don't use nicknames, handles (e.g. "Biker Boy"), the names of famous celebrities, cartoon characters etc. Just please do me and the rest of the users of the site the courtesy of at least choosing a name that isn't obviously fake. You can choose pretty much whatever you like, from John Dorian to Winston Everly or Sally Epcott (three names just off the top of my head). It's not that hard! If you intentionally choose a fake, silly or offensively abusive name, then I will take that as an early sign that you are probably up to no good, and your account may be suspended or deleted without notice. So please just use common sense.

If you do decide to use a pseudonym, then please also check the 'pseudonym' checkbox on the registration form, to let other people know that this is not your real name. This will help to clear up any confusion if the pseudonym you choose happens to be similar to someone else's real name.

Usually, I ask that people only register once, since topicwise.com, townwise.com and crazyguyonabike.com all share the same user directory. However if you feel the need to have one "public" persona that uses your real name and one "private" one that uses a pseudonym, then I think it might be reasonable for you to register two accounts. Be warned though that anybody who registers multiple accounts for the purposes of making sock puppets will be swiftly banned from using the site. Only accounts made in good faith, without deception or other subterfuge intended to deceive others, will be allowed. I don't mind anonymity for legitimate purposes, but just don't assume that this gives you a blank slate for bad behavior - you'll end up kicked off the site, guaranteed.

In summary, please just use common sense, and remember that this website is not a playground for anonymous trolls, but rather real people to interact with each other in a civil manner. Thanks!

The Restaurant Analogy

(Please make sure to also read the guidelines above on real names vs pseudonyms)

Now there is a question of what types of pseudonyms are acceptable, and I find the analogy of a restaurant to be helpful here. Imagine a good restaurant, whose management wants to set a certain level of decorum and class for the patrons' dining experience. The atmosphere of the place is important, because it sets the tone for all the interactions that occur there. One of the things our restaurant might do is to ask that customers dress to a certain standard - for men, this might entail asking that you wear a jacket or tie, and that you wear reasonable shoes. Now many restaurants that do this won't turn you away if you happen to not have your jacket or tie with you - they can usually lend you one. The same can be said of using names on this website: While I would much prefer that you use your real name if at all possible, I don't absolutely require it - but if you need to use a pseudonym, then all I ask is that you please show some respect by using one that isn't the equivalent of shuffling in with a dirty t-shirt and flip-flops. This is simply a question of being polite to the other people using the site, and keeping up the tone of the place. So, what is the pseudonym equivalent of dirty t-shirt and flip-flops? Well, pretty much anything that is very obviously not a real name, for example:

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Andy LikesBikes
  • The Dominator
  • Mad Mick
  • I.P. Freely

And some random examples of pseudonyms that would be perfectly ok:

  • John McBride
  • Andy Savage
  • Susan Wilcox
  • Jim Nigh
  • Beverly Thompson

See what I mean? That last list of names was just off the top of my head. If you really must use a pseudonym then it's really not that difficult to come up with something that is the equivalent of a borrowed jacket and tie - sure, it's not yours, but you can at least help to maintain the atmosphere of the place... like a good restaurant.

I would like to emphasise that I see all new registrations, and subsequent name changes. If I see one that looks like it's taking the piss or otherwise the equivalent of the dirty t-shirt and flip-flops (or worse), then that account risks getting summarily deleted or suspended - so be warned!

Logging in and out of the website

Once you have registered, you can login by clicking on 'My' in the navbar, or the 'Log in' link on the left hand side of the home page. Enter your username and password, and you can also optionally check the 'Remember me' checkbox so that your browser will remember the cookie for future sessions. Only check this box on a private computer, since you don't want other people to be able to come after you and do things in your name.

If you ever forget your username or password, then there is a 'Forgot...' option on the login page. You will be asked to enter the current email address you have on your account. If you do this, then an email is automatically sent to you with your username, and a new temporary password (I can't send you your current password, since it's never stored anywhere in the database). Once you are logged back in again, you should change this temporary password to something more memorable.

If you have not logged in for a long while, and have both forgotten your login and also no longer have access to the email account that you registered with, then contact me and I will do my best to try to help you get back online again. It really helps if you can at least remember what the old email address was, since this will assist in confirming your identity to me. Please do not register again - it's much preferable to get your existing account back online.

You can log out of the website either via the link on the left hand side of the home page, or there is also a button on the 'My' page. If you did not check the 'Remember me' checkbox at login time, then you are automatically logged out when you exit your browser (since the cookie is only remembered during the current session). If you did check the 'remember me' checkbox, then the browser retains your login cookie between sessions (a "session", in this context, starts when you start your browser, and ends when you exit the browser). Always remember to log out of public computers, but it is not so important on private computers that only you have access to.

Logging in using HTTPS

Https means http secure. When you are on a secure page, the link in the address bar of your browser usually starts with 'https' instead of 'http'. When you access a website using https, everything that passes between your browser and the website gets encrypted, so nobody in the middle can intercept it. This means things like passwords are more secure; even if you're using a public WiFi, nobody can packet sniff to intercept your information. Not all websites provide an https option; it requires some special code on the server side in order to enable it. Usually it just happens automatically, and you're not aware of it (though your browser should give you some indication when you are on a secure connection, usually using a padlock icon).

This website now has an https login option, but it will only work with more recent versions of the major browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari). Older versions may show you a scary looking warning about the security certificate not matching the website you're trying to load. This warning is caused by the fact that older browsers are not able to use something called Server Name Indication (SNI). You don't need to know what this is, except that it's a newer part of the http protocol that is used on this website, and some older browsers don't know how to do it, so that's why you sometimes get that warning. You basically have three options if you get the warning: Either upgrade your browser to a newer version, or use a different browser which you do have a recent version of, or else simply disable https when logging in (there's an option for that above the login form). I try to automatically detect browsers that I know don't support SNI, and disable https for those, but it's possible that you might still see the certificate warning in some cases. If you do, then you need to either do the upgrade the browser, use a different browser, or click on the 'disable https' link.

If you are logged in with https and then click on a link to elsewhere on the site which starts with 'http' instead of 'https', then the website should automatically redirect your browser to the https version of the page. And conversely, if you are not logged in via https, and you click on a link that is https, then you will be redirected back to the insecure version of the page (note that if you are using one of the older browsers, then you may still get the certificate warning before the redirect).

My

The 'My' section is where you can see all of your journals listed - when you have just registered, you won't have any journals, obviously, but you should see a 'Create journal' button. See the later section on editing journals for more details on that process. Here we will focus on some of the other things you can do in the 'My' page.

My > Account

This takes you back to the same form that you used to register in the first place. It allows you to change your name, email and password.

Please also see the section above on Real Names vs Pseudonyms for details on the website policy for names.

My > Topics

This website is part of a network of sites which are organized by topic. You can select which topics you are interested in here. This will affect what topics are shown on your profile page. To learn more about how the topics work, click here.

My > Options

You can set some options that will be saved with your login, and optionally you can have some of these automatically applied whenever you log in. This can help when you're on the road, logging in from different computers.

My > Resources

When you create Resource entries while logged in, they are marked as belonging to you. This page is where you can see them all in one place, so you can edit them. See the Resources section for details on how to create Resource entries.

My > Classifieds

When you create Classified ads, they are marked as belonging to you. This page is where you can see them all in one place, so you can edit them. See the Classifieds section for details on how to create classifieds.

My > Bookmarks

You can bookmark journals, forum messages, resources, classifieds, pics, polls and user profiles. A bookmark is just a way of keeping a pointer to a place for referencing again later. If you bookmark a specific page in a journal, then you can continue reading from that page later - there will be a 'Continue reading' link on the bookmark under the 'My > Bookmarks' page.

You can order the bookmarks either chronologically (by when the bookmark was added) or manually. There is an option for this under 'My > Options'. If you choose manual, then you can move entries up and down in the sequence using the arrows which will appear on the left side of the 'My > Bookmarks' page, when you enable edit mode (there is a link near the top of the page for this). Edit mode also lets you delete bookmarks (using the yellow trashcan over to the right side).

If you bookmark an object that was previously already bookmarked, then this has the effect of moving it to the top of the bookmarks.

My > Relations

This is your list of pending relations (see Relations).

My > Ratings

This displays the list of Ratings that you have made. You can sort it and select filters just like on the main ratings page, but it will only show those ratings which you have set.

My > Downloads

  • This is where you can schedule to have a downloadable version of your selected journals generated.
  • First, go to My > Downloads and select the docs you want from the list. You can only select published journals and articles.
  • Next, select what kind of file you want. The default is zipped files format, which can be unzipped and browsed directly on your hard drive. However you can also select an ISO CD image which can be burned directly to CD or DVD. Both options contain exactly the same files; the benefit of getting the CD image is that it is slightly easier to burn it directly to CD. The benefit of the zipped files option is that you can browse the journals on your hard drive. You can also burn the unzipped files to CD if you so wish; most CD burning applications can generate CDs from directories on your hard drive.
  • If you don't have a CD burner, or even simply have a slow internet connection, then the My > Downloads form lets you request to have me download and burn it for you in return for a small donation to cover my time, materials, postage etc. If you opt for this, then fill in the contact info portion of the form so I know where to send the CD. The amount you send for the donation is up to you; it's whatever you can afford, or feel is appropriate. If you are unemployed or otherwise financially poor, then no donation (or explanation) is necessary.
  • Finally, click the 'Schedule' button. This will add your request to the job queue.
  • The download generation job is run automatically once an hour. While the process is waiting to be started, you'll see a 'pending' status on the My > Downloads page. You can cancel your request anytime during the 'pending' phase. Once the job has started, the status is 'running'. After it is complete, the status is 'done', and you'll be sent an automatic notification email. At this point, you will also see a download link for the zip file on the My > Downloads page.
  • Once complete, you can either click on the link in the email to download the zipped file, or go back to My > Downloads to get it.
  • Depending on the size and number of your journals, these files can be very large (tens or even hundreds of megabytes). It could take many hours to download on a dialup connection, and anywhere from 1 to 30 minutes or more on cable or DSL, depending on your speed.
  • The file is compressed in zip format in order to reduce download time. You will need to use an unzip program (such as WinZip or 7-Zip on Windows, or the standard 'unzip' command on Linux) to decompress the file.
  • The filename is a random string of characters and numbers. This is for security, to reduce the possibility of people being able to download other users' files.
  • Once unzipped, if you selected the "zipped files" option, then there will be a directory (with the same random name as the zip file, minus the ".zip" extension), which contains the files. In this case, you are now done, and can browse the journals by loading 'index.html' in your browser. If you selected the CD ISO option, then the unzipped file will be named with a .iso extension (which may now be burned directly onto CD or DVD).
  • The ISO file may be too large for a CD (max is about 700 MB). If so, then you will have to either generate a smaller file by selecting fewer journals, or else use a DVD (max 4.7 GB).
  • Note that even if save your file to a DVD, this doesn't mean it is then in video format which you can watch on TV. A data DVD is just a larger version of a data CD. You still need a computer and a web browser to view the journals on a data DVD.
  • The resulting CD should auto-start in Windows. It should load index.html into your default browser. If this doesn't happen, then you will have to open index.html explicitly. From there you can browse the journals on the CD or DVD.
  • Please note that if you have selected a random pic to be displayed on your journal title page, then one will be picked at random for the download - but since the CD is static, this one pic is fixed thereafter. If you want a particular pic on the title page, make sure to select it in the journal properties form before scheduling the download.
  • Any embedded Google maps will be shown in the CD version of the journal, but you will have to be online while browsing the CD in order for them to display and be interactive. Routes (lines) should also display correctly (as long as you're online).
  • The zip file will usually be automatically deleted after three days. If filespace on the server is becoming a problem, then this period may be shortened without notice. You can help keep disk usage under control by downloading promptly, and then deleting the file yourself.
  • You can only have one outstanding request at a time. You can delete an existing file by going back to My > Downloads and clicking the 'Delete file' option. You will then be able to start a new request.
  • Please do not use this feature frivolously. Building and downloading these files is an intensive process which puts load on the server and slows things down for everybody else.

My > Donations

This page displays all your previous donations (at least since April 2007, which is when the database functionality for tracking donations was implemented). Here you can see your privacy preferences (whether your name and amount are displayed or not), and there is a shortcut button for changing those preferences.

Canceling your subscription: There is a 'Cancel subscription' button on the donate page. However this may not work for older subscriptions, since the email address that I use for Paypal has changed. If you get an error with the button, then you can also manage all of your subscriptions directly on Paypal's website by going to My preapproved payments (on the Paypal Profile page, under Financial Information).

My > Ads

This page allows you to manage the ads you have posted on the website, and to create new ones. The 'My > Ads' page shows any existing ads you have, and if there is any outstanding balance on your account then you will see this displayed too (along with instructions on how to make payment).
Here's how the Search function works on this website:

Editing Your Own Journals and Articles

If you'd like to skip this introduction and get straight into how to creating your own journal, then see the Editing Quick-Start.

This website allows you to create and edit your own journals, complete with table of contents, pics and guestbook (message board). For a good example of what can be accomplished, see the original Crazy Guy On A Bike tour diary. This section is a tutorial on how you can do this yourself.

First of all, don't be intimidated by the apparent size of this help document. Creating and editing your own journal really isn't all that hard - I just tried to be really comprehensive with the Help documentation. I have actually put quite a lot of thought into making the whole thing as simple and easy-to-use as possible, while still retaining the powerful features required for editing documents online. In a nutshell, if you know how to use browser forms then it will be a piece of cake. And if you have any problems, then just get in touch with me!

Why publish?

So why would you want to publish your journal online at all? Well, first of all it gives you a great sense of closure about your trip. You feel like you have done it justice somehow, by showing the world what you did. It was, after all, a fantastic achievement! It doesn't matter if it was a one day fun ride, or a two year epic - all journals hold a special fascination for other people. We all love reading about journeys and parts of the world which we may only dream of visiting. So you are also giving something to the world - taking your (perhaps solitary) experience and making it into a shared one. You'll probably make new contacts with people as they leave messages in your journal guestbook, and who knows - you may even meet your next tour buddy in these pages. Putting your journal online is a pure contribution to the world of literature - free, unfettered by real-world publishing constraints and profit margins. The second you make your journal visible, anyone around the world with internet access can read it. And if that doesn't blow your mind, then nothing will...

The other nice thing about doing all this online is that you can write the journal as you are actually doing the trip! For example, on any of the major tours in the USA (even the offroad ones) you will pass through towns, and every fair sized town has a library. And most libraries these days have internet access. Since everything is done via the Web browser, it doesn't matter where you are geographically. You could be in Botswana, or New Jersey, or the Alps. Your friends and family (and the rest of the world) can keep up with your latest adventures. You might only edit the text initially, then go back and add the pictures once you're at home. It's up to you! Oh, and you can even post entries via email.

I have found that the more personal you can be in your journal, the better. People seem to really appreciate it when you bare your soul and express what was really going on in your head when you saw that mountain, fought off that bear or had dinner with that tribe. So don't be afraid to reveal very personal thoughts, doubts, trepidations, silly fantasies, fears, delights and gastro-intestinal episodes. It's much more interesting to read about that than a lot of dry stuff along the lines of "then we went here, then we went there, then we camped here"... don't worry about being witty or intellectual. We can't all be Mark Twain. You'd be surprised once you actually sit down and start writing, most of the time a lot more happened than you first thought. Tour journals pretty much write themselves. For this reason, it's very important that you keep notes on your trip AS YOU DO IT. Don't wait until after the end of your tour, because so much happens that you will forget all the things that make a journal interesting - little thoughts, random musings and incidents that are quickly forgotten in the rush. Keep a paper diary, or use one of those electronic organizers (I used a Psion). I am even considering taking a small, electronic voice recorder with me next time, because there are times when all you want to do is record a random thought - and it's much easier to just speak. Plus, you can record distances and events without having to stop and write things down. It's ok to commit it all to your written journal at the end of each day, but wait much longer than that and the memories will be crowded out by all the new experiences. You won't regret it later - even though the last thing you generally feel like at the end of a long day is sitting down and writing about it! Finally, try to remember to take pictures. You wouldn't believe some of the times I just stood there and gawked, completely forgetting to record some priceless scene or other...

Carsen Hoefer wrote an excellent article with some advice on writing a good journal that people will want to read - see A Style Guide for Touring Cyclists for some great tips.

Rules of Posting

RULES FOR POSTING JOURNALS AND ARTICLES

NOTE: DO NOT SKIP READING THIS SECTION! These are not casual rules. If you ignore any of them, then you may find your journal (or even your user account) deleted without notice.

  1. Bicycle tours and related articles ONLY. This means the main mode of travel must be by human-powered bicycle (i.e. no electric- or gasoline-powered motors on the bike), and articles must be related to bicycle touring. Do not post accounts of other non-cycling trips you've done here - the more general travel topic is the place for trips using other modes of transport. The focus here is specifically on bicycle touring, not racing, or commuting, or even just bicycles in general.

  2. No commercials. It's ok to talk about gear and other products, but these views must be honest, unprompted and non-compensated opinions from real consumers who have no connection to the company in question. If you want to post a more in-depth consumer review of a product, then a better place to do it is in the Reviews section. If you are a company that wants to promote your product, then you are welcome to post a Resource entry (assuming, of course, that it is relevant to bicycle touring). Note that resource entries can be quite long enough (with embedded pictures) to describe a product in some depth.

  3. No multi-trip journals. The journals on this site have been designed to have a single start and end date; each tour journal should be about one trip. Please do not attempt to combine trips that span multiple years into one big journal. You will be asked to split it up.

  4. No constant plugging of charities. Sponsored rides are fine, and it's certainly ok to talk about the charity that you are riding for on one page of your journal. But it's annoying to have cookie-cutter plugs, links and pleas on every page. Don't turn your journal into an advertisement. It should be about the bicycle touring, not the charity.

  5. This is not a "blog" website. A blog is an ongoing daily stream of posts with no real beginning or end. The journals on this website have been designed to work more like books, with a definite beginning and end. Journals should be articles about touring, or else actual tours. Ongoing blogs of everyday life are discouraged, even if they are ostensibly about bicycles or training for a tour. The reason for this is that such blogs have a way of inevitably veering off-topic into being about everyday life at home, which is not what this website is supposed to be about. Of course there is a large degree of creative flexibility within real tour journals and articles - you can post events, experiences and other stuff as it relates to your tour or bicycle touring in general, but please keep the family photo album / blog somewhere else!

  6. This is not a photo dump. Journals should have real text content, not just page after page of uploaded photos with no commentary. This is not flickr, if all you want is a photo gallery then please use some other place to host that. While pics are a very important part of any journal, they are not a substitute for real narrative. People come here to read actual journals, so please think about this - the reason you're here right now wanting to post something is because of the reputation the site has gained - this has become valuable through the quality content that others have posted. You want to help keep that standard high, right?

  7. This is a "Religion-Free Zone". If you have an urge to write about your faith, love of Jesus etc, then please do it elsewhere. Many people are irritated by this sort of stuff, and while some talk of your belief and prayer etc is ok in the proper context, it shouldn't dominate the flavor of the journal. Make it about the bike touring, please, not about your religious beliefs.

  8. Journals and articles should not be promotional vehicles. The journals and articles on this site are supposed to be real, honest, original and complete content, not advertisements for businesses, services, or your blog on another site (or anything else, come to that). Links to third party sites that come up naturally in the course of the narrative are ok (e.g. if you're discussing a tent you used, then posting a link to the manufacturer website is fine - but be warned, astroturfing and any other form of stealth marketing will get you banned). Please do not post journals that are partial rehashes or summaries of blogs that already exist elsewhere. If you'd like to have a link to your pre-existing website, then please feel free to use the Resources. Finally, journals with pics that have a website address as a watermark (i.e. text superimposed on the image, usually in one corner) risk being removed immediately. It's ugly, and it makes your journal feel like a promotional vehicle even if you don't have any other links in the text.

  9. Journals must be complete and original content. This is a site for complete works, not fragments, stubs or "tasters". If I see a journal that leads off-site for "the rest of the pics" or "click here for the full journal" etc, then that journal will be unpublished immediately. If you post a journal or article here, then it must be complete. Journals must also be your own, original content.

  10. If you are re-posting a journal that already exists on your blog somewhere else, then this is ok in principle; I don't mind if the journal exists elsewhere, and I don't even mind if you post a link to it somewhere (not everywhere). The big requirement in this case, though, is that you must post the entire journal - not just snippets, not tasters with links to your blog for the rest of the content, or the pics, or whatever. The big requirement is that journals must be COMPLETE. I make an exception for stuff like videos, which are usually posted on youtube, linking to those is fine, as are links to third party websites like Wikipedia. But for regular journal content created by you, i.e. text and pics, all of that must be posted here.

  11. No huge, single page journals. It is not ok to simply cut and paste an entire Word document (or blog) into one big page and then publish it. You can by all means copy from an existing source, but please split it up as appropriate to fit the page structure of the journals.

  12. Journals (and user accounts) may be removed without notice if they violate any of these rules, or contain inappropriate or off-topic content. The webmaster also reserves the right to edit journals as needed. Generally, small and obvious errors (typos etc) may be corrected without notifying the journal author; larger issues will be raised with the author via email. The webmaster's decision is final.

  13. Read the instructions on how journals are supposed to be structured and use the tools to create a journal correctly. Please take the time to read the Help, which contains full instructions for using the journal editing tools.

Editing Quick Start

Here is a quick overview for those of you who really hate reading user manuals. First thing, register and login(you can do both by clicking on the 'My' link in the top navbar). Once you're logged in, you'll see a button to create a new journal; click that and you'll get a form where you fill out the name of the journal, description, etc. If you're wondering about specific aspects of any form you come across, click on the Help! link and you'll be taken to the relevant section in this document.

Once you've created the new journal, you'll see the title page and (empty) table of contents. Click on the Edit option in the navbar, and this takes you to the page where you can add pages to your journal. So, just go to it! Add pages, re-order them, and upload pictures. Any time you need help, click the Help! link for the form. It should all be pretty straightforward. When you're logged in and looking at one of your journals, you'll always see the orange editing options prominently displayed. Have fun!

Creating A New Journal

  • You create a journal or article by clicking on the 'Create new journal or article' button, which is displayed on the 'My' page. Next you have to choose what it is you want to create - a trip journal, or article. After this, you're on the journal properties form - see the next section on Editing Properties for how that page works. Before that, though, it's worth getting the big picture about how the journals are supposed to be structured. The next few paragraphs give a brief overview of this.

  • Journals and articles consist of a number of pages,which you create individually from the Table of Contents.

  • To add pages to your journal, simply go to the Table of Contents and click on Edit in the navigation bar. This takes you to the Edit Contents page, where you'll see an Add Page button.

  • A good journal or article has an introduction, which tells the reader something about the author's motivations. Other good sections include equipment lists, overviews of the country/region which you passed through (for travel journals), and perhaps other information which would help someone else who was thinking about doing the same thing. Finally, it's always nice to have some kind of conclusion, with the insights, spiritual enlightenment, lawsuits etc gained from your experiences.

  • If your journal is about a trip, then you should try to have one page per travel day, because each page can have its own Date and Distance. Set these for travel days, just leave them for non travel days. All the pages with a distance are summed up in the Table of Contents to show the total distance for the journal.

  • You can give different heading styles to your pages, including the size and the indent. These styles apply only to the Table of Contents, and help to format it like a normal book's contents page. Try to avoid making all your pages one size and indent. A good style guide is to use 'medium' sized headings at indent 1 for main chapter headings, and 'small' at indent 2 for travel days. Take a look at the original journal, Crazy Guy on a Bike for an example.

  • Pictures help! Try to include lots of pictures, if you have them. It makes the journal more fun to read and gives the reader a much better sense of where you were (and who you are). You can add pictures from the Edit Page form.

  • The system has been designed for one trip per journal, with a single start and end date.

Editing Properties

This form is the first one you see when you are creating a new journal or article - you set things like the title, dates and description. You will also go back to it later to publish your journal and mark it as "complete". To get back here once you've created your journal, just go to the journal's Table of Contents and click on 'Edit', then 'Properties' in the navbar. Next we take a look at the fields on this form:

Type
This can be either 'Journal' or 'Article'. The difference is that a journal is about any sequence of events that happened in real time (e.g. a trip or project), whereas an article is not time-specific, and is usually more of an informational or reference piece, e.g. an article on how to make something, or about a particular region etc. This is really a categorization choice - the functionality for journals and articles is identical.

Title & Description
The Journal Properties include things such as the title and description of the journal. For example, in my first journal the title was "Crazy Guy On A Bike", and the description was "A Personal Account Of A Bicycle Ride Across America During The Long, Hot Summer of 1998". You should choose a title and description which evoke something of your spirit and character, and also what the trip was all about. It's probably a good idea to mention something about where the trip went geographically, if it is a travel journal.

Keywords
This optional property allows you to enter a list of keywords or phrases which you think should be associated with your journal. This text will be included in the Journal Index and on your Table Of Contents page, and it will be picked up by any search engine robot which visits the site. So, if you would like to increase your journal's visibility to search engines then you should think about good keywords relevant to your trip. You might, for example, put something like "bicycle tour journal diary personal account camping solo". Try to think about all the keywords which people might type into search engines, which you would like to result in your journal popping up. Please only put relevant keywords, to preserve the site's integrity with search engines. The site already enjoys a high ranking on Yahoo! and Google, and we want to maintain this, so any inappropriate keywords will be removed immediately by the webmaster. Note: You will be assigning categories (from the Journal Index) to your journal before publishing. The journal categories include things like region (country, US states), year (1998, 1999 etc) and special interest (recumbent, trike, tandem etc). The journal categories are used to browse the journal index. You will set whichever categories are appropriate. Most journals will probably have multiple categories, for example "USA, 1998, TransAmerica". New categories are created on an as-needed basis, so if you have an idea for an interesting new category, then contact me. The main point here is that you don't need to put keywords which will also be automatically displayed in your category list. If you put keywords like "USA" then this will be redundant, because it will certainly also be in the categories list. So, try to think about keywords which more uniquely identify your journal, and steer away from country and state names. Regions like "The Canadian Rockies" and "Pacific Northwest" are ok, because they are more descriptive. If you like, you can always publish your journal, and then wait and see what categories are available before deciding on your keywords. In a nutshell, only put keywords that don't appear anywhere else in your journal title page.

Handle
The handle is just a name which you can associate with the journal so that you can go directly to it using a URL of the form www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/handle. So, for example if you chose the handle "mytrip" then you could use www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/mytrip to go directly to your journal. This is just a convenience; it makes the URL easier to remember and pass to your friends. Handles are unique to a journal, so you need to think of a handle which is not already being used by another journal. Handles are not case sensitive, and can contain letters, numbers and hyphens. You should not use your username as a journal handle, because it is reserved as a special handle which takes people to your "author page", which displays your bio (which you entered when you registered) and lists all your journals. Of course, you also can't select a handle which is already in use by another journal. You also cannot use an existing username (including your own).

Authors
You can specify multiple authors for your journal. You enter a list of login usernames (not real names), separated by spaces. So, each author needs to register separately and get their own username. This is useful for groups and husband-wife teams. Each author will be able to edit the journal if they are logged in separately. The authors will be displayed as a list, on the Table of Contents page and the Journal Index.

You can also have non-attributed 'editor' users in the author list. This means users who are to have edit ability for the journal, but are not to be attributed as full authors on the title page. This might be useful for people who are on the road and want friends or family to be able to edit the journal, but not clutter up the title page as full co-authors.

To add a user as an editor, just put their username in the 'Authors' field, same as usual, but then put an asterisk (*) directly after the username, with no space. So if you are user xxx and you want to enable user yyy to be an editor on the journal, you'd put this in the authors field:

xxx yyy*

Then you won't see any difference on the title page, but user yyy will now be able to edit your journal. The journal also appears on yyy's 'My' page list of journals (but not on their public profile).

Start Date & End Date
You can specify a start date and end date for your journal. This is useful information which is displayed in the Journal Index. You don't need to set these dates, so you can leave them at the defaults of 0000-00-00 if you like. Or, you can just set the start date - then the assumption is that you started the trip but the end date is not yet known - i.e. the trip is going on currently. You should set the start and end dates if your journal is about a trip, but it's not usually necessary for articles.

Years
Enter the calendar years which your journal will cover, if applicable (not necessary for articles, unless the article is about some specific time period). Use the full four numbers for each year, e.g. 2020, and separate multiple years with spaces.

Distance Units
You can specify whether you want to count distance in miles or kilometers. You will see that you can enter the distance covered on your travel days. This is summed up so that the total distance of your tour can be displayed with the journal. If you change units, then any existing distances in your journal will be automatically converted between miles and kilometers.

Page Locales Format
You can set a default format for how locales are displayed on pages in your journal (see the Page Locales section for details). It's pretty safe to just leave this for now, you can always come back later and change it.

Enable Guestbook
Every journal or article gets its own guestbook, which is a message board where people can leave comments and feedback for you. This is one of the most interesting and useful aspects of publishing - most people want feedback to their work, words of encouragement and so on; so you are normally strongly urged to leave this on. However, the option is there in case you have some good reason to want to suppress feedback - for example, if you are being stalked by someone who is repeatedly posting abusive or mischievous messages or disclosing embarrassing personal information about you. Remember that this is really a last resort - you can always delete individual messages from your guestbook yourself (by clicking on the yellow trashcan at the top of the message - it looks like this: ), and report abuse to the webmaster, who can take care of most situations. You can turn your guestbook on or off without erasing any existing messages - it simply makes it visible or not, it does not delete whatever was posted previously.

Guestbook Notifications
You can opt to have any messages posted in your journal guestbook (message board) automatically forwarded to you via email. Thus you can just hit "reply" on your email client and reply to the person directly - or, you can reply to them on the message board instead. It all depends on whether you want to have a private discussion via email with the person, or prefer to keep your message board lively by responding to people there. As a general rule, people keep coming back to the more active message boards, especially when there is an interesting person driving the discussion and replying to posts. In the case of your journal, that person will probably be you - answering questions about your trip and possibly expanding on your narrative. So, try to answer guestbook emails on the website, rather than through private email, unless it really is a private conversation.

The email option is also useful if you finish your journal and go off to do other things - you'll automatically know if someone is leaving comments, without having to manually go in and check every day.

Enable Ratings
Uncheck this box if you don't wish to participate in the ratings system for your journal or article. If in doubt, leave this checked. Please note that even if you uncheck this box, then the basic ratings for flagging abuse, spam etc will still be displayed (these are only used to notify me of inappropriate content that needs action).

Enable "Links to this"
The relations feature on this website makes it easy to see where other people have linked to your journal or article. If there are such incoming links, then they are shown at the bottom of the journal, under an expandable "Links to this" heading. Some people don't like having this displayed on their journal, so I added an option to disable the display. Usually you should just leave this checked, since it's often useful and interesting to see where else people have been referring to your journal.

Single Page
Some journals or articles are quite short, and so the usual separate table of contents / title page seems a little cumbersome. For such cases, where there might be only one or two pages of content, there is the option to have it all displayed on a single page. This means that on the title page, instead of there being just the table of contents, below this there is the actual content. You should not check this box for cases where there will be more than a page or two, otherwise it will be very long and slow to download for readers.

Email Password
If you plan to use the emailing updates feature, then you should set a password for your journal here, so that you don't need to pass your login password in plain text via email (that's a security risk). So choose any old password here, and use that in your email updates to authenticate yourself. It's safe because this password is only used to authenticate email updates; it cannot be used to log in. Obviously you should make it something different from your login password, but it doesn't have to be very high security, since it's being passed in plain text anyway. Mostly it's useful to stop spammers from posting on the journals.

Title Picture
You can optionally select any previously uploaded picture in the journal to be displayed on the title page (the table of contents). This can be a nice way to give a quick flavor of your trip, so you should choose an interesting, attractive image that will be likely to draw people into the narrative. The displayed image automatically has a link to the page where that picture lives. All you need to do here is enter the filename; for example, myphoto.jpg. You can always leave this initially and then come back to the Edit/Properties page later to set a photo which you've uploaded to one of the pages in the journal.

If you would like to display a random picture from your journal on the title page, then just enter 'random' in this field (without the quotes).

Publish
You can keep your journal private while you are editing it, if you like. Until you Publish, only you can see it (when you're logged in). Then, when you're ready for the world to read your opus, just go back into the Edit Properties form and check the "Publish" box. You're free to publish (or un-publish) whenever you like; you can wait until it's all finished, or let people read along as you do it. A great example of this is when you update your journal from the road - dynamically updated journals which are being posted as the trip happens are very exciting to follow, and are encouraged! It's up to you. Just please try to avoid publishing "test" journals, which don't have any real content.

Completed
Once your journal is finished, you should mark it as "completed". This doesn't really have any functional significance - you can still edit your journal after it's been marked as completed. This is simply a visual cue for people browsing the Journal Index - they can see "at a glance" what state journals are in. So people will see that your journal is a "Work in progress" if it's not done yet, and they won't be as mystified if your account is unfinished.

Update timestamp
Sometimes you want to edit your journal without it popping to the top of the main journal index. So, if you leave this box unchecked, then your journal won't be pushed to the top. This allows you to do minor editing and tweaks without annoying people who keep seeing your journal at the top of the list, with only tiny changes.

The checkbox will be checked, unchecked or disabled by default based on the following rules:

  1. For journals of trips in progress, it is checked by default.
  2. Emailed updates always automatically behave as if the box was checked, unless you add 'update_timestamp = 0' to the options at the start of the email.
  3. For completed journals and articles, it is unchecked by default.
  4. For all others, it is checked if the last update was more than a day ago; otherwise it is unchecked. This encourages journals which are being actively edited to show up on the main index at least once a day, but not stay up there all day based on dozens of tiny edits.
  5. If the journal or article is not a current tour in progress, then it can go to the top of the main index at most 3 times per day. After that, the checkbox will be disabled. NOTE: This means that for articles, if you check the "update timestamp" checkbox more than 3 times in any 1 day period, then the box will become disabled.

Together, these rules make sure that journals being edited can pop to the top of the main index, but not annoy people by staying up there all day long as someone makes dozens of small changes.

Editing Categories

Before you can publish your journal you will need to set categories for it. These are the categories which make up the Journal Index. You can do this by going to your Table of Contents, and clicking on "Edit". Then you will see options for editing Properties and Categories. When you select this option you'll see a long list of indented categories, with checkboxes. Simply select all the relevant categories and click "Save".

There are some conventions which must be followed - you'll get an error message with instructions on how to correct it if you don't get it right first time. Also, there are certain categories which aren't really intended to be set themselves - they are mostly "placeholders" for organizing the hierarchy of categories. These categories are displayed in italics, and you shouldn't usually select them. Of course, sub-categories which are under placeholders are candidates for selection.

Journal Categories are created by the webmaster on an as-needed basis. If you find that a category doesn't exist or you have an idea for a whole new category, then please contact me and I'll add it.

Editing Locales

To learn about locales, see the Locales section. This form allows you to associate locales with the journal as a whole. These are then displayed on the title page, along with the journal categories. There are guidelines on the form for how to go about choosing which locales you should set. A good rule of thumb is to limit the number of locales to no more than 10 to 20 at the most. This is simply to stop clutter. Remember that this is supposed to be an overview of what locations your journal covered, rather than a detailed account. You can set detailed locales on the individual journal pages. It's mostly common sense: For a multi-country world tour, you'd probably just set the countries you passed through, since there may be a fair number of those. For a coast-to-coast ride across the USA, you would set the country and the states you went through. For a more local ride within one or two states or provinces, you could be a bit more detailed and list either counties or major towns. And so on... just follow the rough rule of thumb that if you are selecting more than 10-20 locales or so then you may want to be a little less detailed.

Once you have set locales for your journal, people will be able to find it by browsing the Journals by Locale index.

Obviously if your journal or article has no geographical component, then you can skip this form altogether.

Edit Contents

You get to this screen by logging in and going to your journal Table of Contents. Then click on the "Edit" option in the navbar at the top of the page.

Adding Pages To Your Journal

The "Edit Contents" page allows you to add pages to your journal, and edit existing ones. You can move pages up and down in the ordering, and change their indent in the table of contents. When you click on a page, you're taken to the Edit form for that page. When you're finished editing, click on the 'Done' link.

Sequence
This determines the ordering of the pages in your journal. Sequences always start at one. To add a page to the end of your journal, you just choose the next sequence number after the last page. Since the most common action is to add a page on to the end of the journal, this is conveniently automatically filled in for you in the "Add new page" form. You can also choose to insert a page somewhere in the middle of your journal: Just see where you'd like to insert the page, and enter that sequence number in the form before clicking the 'Add page' button. The other pages will be re-sequenced automatically. For example, if you want to insert a page before an existing one with sequence 12, then enter 12 as the sequence for adding the new page. The existing page at sequence 12 will be shifted up to be sequence 13, and so on. To add it on the end, enter the next sequence number after the last page in the journal. Once you have created some pages, you can move them up and down in the sequence by using the ^ and v icons. If a page has subsections, then you can move those too by first collapsing the heading (see below).

Level
This determines the Table of Contents indent level for each page. You can move the indent level of pages in and out by using the < and > icons next to the displayed level of each page. If the page has collapsed subsections (see below), then all subsections are moved in or out in sync. A good rule of thumb is to make chapter headings indent level 1, and travel days indent level 2.

+ Expanding and - Collapsing sections
These options allow you to hide (collapse) or show (expand) sections of the journal as you're working on it. Sections are defined by the indent levels of the pages. For example, if a page is at indent level 1, and there are a number of pages immediately following it which have indent level 2, then these pages make up a subsection of the first page. This should be pretty intuitive - it works the same way as a standard hierarchical Table of Contents. When a section is expanded, it shows a - icon. This means you can collapse it, which means to hide its subsections. A collapsed heading has a + icon, to indicate that it can be expanded. Clicking on these icons toggles the headings between the two states. You can also click on the same icons at the top of the table, to expand/collapse the entire journal at once.

This feature serves two purposes:

  1. Visual aid: It can help for longer journals to only show the particular chapter you're working on, and hide the rest (This only applies when you're looking at the Edit Contents page; when viewing the journal normally, these options have no affect).

  2. Moving entire sections: You can change the sequence and indent of entire sections at once, by simply operating on the section heading. To move an entire section, collapse it first. To move a page individually, without affecting its subsections, expand it first. In other words, hidden (collapsed) sub sections are always moved along with the heading under which they are hidden.

    For example, let's say you have a chapter heading with a number of subsections. Sections and subsections are identified by the indent level. If a page is indented below the previous page, then it's a subsection. So the heading page could be at indent level 1, and the subsequent subsections at level 2.

    Now, what happens when you move the section heading? Do the subsections move as well? There may be times when you want to just move the heading, and other times you want to move the entire section. That's where this feature comes in handy. If you want to move the entire section up or down (using the ^ and v icons), then you can collapse the main section heading and just move it - all subsections will be moved as well. If the heading is expanded , then only that one page is moved, and the subsections stay put. So, this feature gives you some flexibility as to how you can move individual pages and whole sections around.

In summary: To move an entire section, collapse it first. To just move the one page, make sure it's expanded first. This also applies to shifting sections and page indents in and out.

One final note regarding the display of this page in Web browsers. When you click on one of the small icons (^, v, <, >, + and - ), you are in effect asking the webserver for a new page. In the process, the action which you're requesting will be done, and the new page will reflect those changes. However, the web server can't tell where you had scrolled to on the previous page, and so it can't always return you to the exact same spot on the new page. As a result, you should be careful to re-orient yourself when the new page appears. For example, let's say you clicked on a < icon to move a page indent. Now, when you clicked on the icon it may have been near the bottom of the browser screen. But when the new page comes up the same page may now appear in the middle of the screen. The server tries its best to give you a good screen position (and to keep it consistent between actions), but this is just something to be aware of.

Editing Pages

This option is available either from the Edit Contents page, or from simply going to the page in question from the normal Table of Contents. If you are logged in to the website and are the owner of the journal, then the Edit Page option is automatically displayed.

Heading
This influences how prominently a page heading is displayed in the Table of Contents. 'Normal' is just normal sized text. 'Medium' is a mid-sized heading, and 'Large' is the largest, most prominent heading. You should use this in conjunction with the 'Level' setting. In general, main chapter headings should be 'medium', and travel days (or normal pages) in your journal should be 'small'.

Bold and Italic
These options make your headings bold or italic in the Table of Contents. Note that for the 'Medium' and 'Large' heading styles, the browser will probably display those using a bold font anyway.

Indent level
This is the indent level which the page will be displayed in the Table of Contents. Level 1 is no indent, you'd use this for main chapter headings. You usually won't use more than a couple of levels in any journal. You should use the level of a heading in conjunction with the heading size. For example, you'd probably use 'medium' or 'large' headings for main chapter headings, and put them at indent level 1. Travel days (or otherwise 'normal' pages in your journal) should be 'small', at indent level 2. You can play around with it to see what looks most pleasing to the eye. Take a look at some of the other journals on the site to see what other people have done.

Visible
For published journals, it can be useful to be able to create pages, but have them not be visible to the public until you are ready. So this checkbox allows you to do this. Usually it is checked, which means that for published journals, the public will be able to see the page. For unpublished journals, it won't make any difference - the journal as a whole is not visible in any case. Unless you specifically want a page to be invisible, you should leave this box checked. If unchecked, then the page will only show up in the main Edit page for the journal or article - i.e. when you click on Edit when looking at the table of contents. Here, invisible pages will be flagged with a red '+' or '-' instead of the usual yellow icon.

Date and Distance
You can set an optional date for the page. If you don't want a date, then just leave this field as 0000-00-00. Otherwise, the Date field must be in the format yyyy-mm-dd, and if you make a mistake the validation routine will probably alert you to this. The Distance should be in whatever units you chose when creating the journal, namely miles or kilometers. Both date and distance are completely optional. They are mostly useful for tour diaries.

One thing is worth noting here regarding Distance. The server uses this field to calculate the total distance for your trip. In other words, it totals up all the page distances. So, what happens when you have a situation where someone wants to put two separate accounts of the same trip into one journal? This can be seen in John & Lori Martin's journal, at martin.crazyguyonabike.com. If both John and Lori had both set the distance on all the pages in their respective accounts, then the "total distance" would have come out to double what it should be, which is obviously no good. So, to get around this, Lori made the distance for all her dated pages zero. This meant that the total distance was now correct (since John's portion of the journal had all the distances), but now Lori's part looked weird. We fixed this by adding a special feature: If the distance for any dated day is zero, then the server will automatically look for any other dated day in the same journal which has the same date and a non-zero distance. If one is found, then that distance is used when displaying the page. In other words, you can have more than one page in your journal with the same date, and as long as only one of these pages has the distance set then the total distance for the journal will not be adversely affected. The page which has zero distance will automatically display the distance from the page which has the distance set. This won't affect most people, but it's good to know about.

There is a note in the FAQ regarding a common error that people make regarding page dates which results in the "distance so far" figure appearing to be wrong for some days.

Title and Headline
Next you have the Title and Headline for this page. Why two separate, similar-sounding fields? Because I wanted to be able to have a Table of Contents which looked nice. I wanted to have names for my pages like "Day 1: The Long Goodbye", but I only wanted the link to be on the "Day 1" part, not the whole thing. So, I separated the two out. In the Table Of Contents (and when displaying the page), these fields are shown as "Title: Headline". The Headline is optional, and if you omit it then just "Title" is displayed. This gives some flexibility - for example, you can have "Introduction", and also "Appendix A: Equipment List". For travel days I like to make the Title field the day number of the trip. For example, "Day 23".

You should try to choose headlines that are somewhat interesting or witty - someone who is scanning your journal Table of Contents should feel drawn into the story, and wacky headlines can pique someone's interest sufficiently for them spend some time finding out what happened on a day entitled "Day 46 : Ash Grove to Pittsburg - The Diarrhea Song". And that reminds me - you might also give some idea in the headline as to the start and end point of the day, if it's a travel day. This gives some idea of progress.

Text
The next field is the meat of the page - the body, or text. Here is where you enter what happened that day, or else the prose such as Introduction, Afterword etc. You can also specify pics in the text, as seen in the next sections.

Edit comment
This is some optional text that will be shown on the table of contents next to the page heading. For the first day, the text is shown in red, then green after that. The text is displayed for up to one week. It allows you to give some indication to readers of what changes and edits you've been making on your journal, e.g. "Added some pics" or "Just small changes". This allows readers to see whether it is worth re-reading a page that they already read previously; if you were just fixing typos, then it's probably not worth revisiting, but if you added some major new content or pics, then it is probably worth a look. So this is really just a visual cue for authors to tell readers what's new. It's totally optional, and the text disappears automatically after a week, so you don't have to worry about going back and removing it.

Auto-Format Option
This is an option that allows you to control how newlines in your text are treated. This is necessary because Web browsers actually ignore simple newlines in text, and so we have to convert newlines into the appropriate HTML tags for newline (<BR>) and paragraph (<P>). A "paragraph" break is like a newline, but with a bigger gap, like this:

You enter newlines into your text by using the "Enter" key. You'll notice that you don't need to use Enter when you reach the right edge of the editing window while typing - the text wraps around to the next line automatically. When this happens, that is known as a "soft" newline, in other words it is not stored with the text. It's just there to make the text fit into the editing window. So you need to use Enter to get a real, or "hard" new line. This may all be obvious, but it's worth pointing out for people who haven't necessarily used a Web browser much to enter text.

The thing is, you sometimes want your newlines to be "hard" newlines in your text, and other times you'd prefer to ignore them - for example, when you import text from another source that has "hard" wrapped the text. This looks really awful on most browsers (since everyone has different screen sizes, browsers want to be able to wrap lines to the user's window size, but if the lines are "hard" wrapped then this doesn't work). So, in summary, this option allows you to say how you would like to treat newlines in your text. It may seem complex at first, but you'll see that it allows for all the different possibilities and variations in text that you might want to enter or import. It's worth having a quick read of the options below so that you can choose the right option for your pages - you could save yourself a lot of time later on.

There are three possibilities for the "Auto-Format" option:

1. Auto-Format - single newlines are dropped, double newlines become paragraph separators
This is good for most cases. All sequences of two or more consecutive newlines are converted into HTML paragraph separators, and all single newlines are stripped out. This is particularly useful when importing badly formatted text from other sources (e.g. pasting text that has been "hard wrapped"). Be warned that when you do this, you will lose all single hard newlines in your text! Double newlines will be converted into paragraph separators (<P> tags), and so will be saved. This is usually a good thing; an exception is when you have lists whose items are separated by single newlines. In this case, the list will be collapsed into a single paragraph, so you might want to use the next option, to preserve single newlines. If it's a large amount of text you want to reformat, then it may be easiest to just save first with the full auto-format option, to perform most of the formatting for you. Then go back and re-add the newlines for the list, set auto-format to option (2), and save the page.

2. List Format - single newlines are preserved, double newlines become paragraph separators
This will convert all sequences of two or more newlines into paragraph separators (the <P> tag), and convert single newlines into the HTML <BR> tag. This is useful for lists, since you generally write lists of items separated by single newlines. Thus these will be converted into real HTML newline tags, which will look the way you'd expect your list to look. You can safely use this option for most pages, the main exception being cases where you are pasting in text from another source. In this case, sometimes the pasted text has a lot of "hard" newlines which really shouldn't be there, and you probably want to use the full auto-format option (1).

3. Raw - no auto formatting at all, for advanced users who know HTML
The text is left exactly as you entered it. Beware! This means that simple newlines will not be displayed as actual newlines in the finished webpage. This is because browsers treats all whitespace characters (including tabs, spaces and newlines) as a single space when displaying web pages. This is part of the HTML standard. Remember, if you want a newline in your page and you are turning auto-format off, then it's up to you to put the necessary <BR> and <P> HTML tags. You should use this option if you are going to use <PRE> or <TABLE> tags, since <BR> tags inside tables can really mess up the formatting.

So, to summarize: If you're going to do non-trivial HTML in your page, then it's probably best to have no auto-formatting. If all you're doing is some emphasis and/or headings, then you can probably leave it on option (1), for auto-format. Just try it and see how it looks!

The auto-format option is set to be full auto-format (1) by default, since most pages benefit from being formatted automatically. You should change it for pages which contain <TABLE> sections (see next section, on HTML formatting), or manually formatted lists - since you probably want to retain the newlines in these pages just as you entered them.

The state of the auto-format option is saved with each page - so the next time you go and edit the page, this option will come up the same as what you selected the last time you saved the page.

Locales Format Option
This allows you to select how you want page locales to be displayed on the page. You can leave this at the default if you don't define any locales. See the section on Page Locales for more details of how this works.

Update timestamp
See Update timestamp.

Formatting text with HTML

Web browsers display text which has been written in a special format, called HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). This consists of special "tags" which you put into your text. Tags are written inside "pointy brackets" - like this: <BR>. There are lots of different tags, for specifying things like italic text, bold text and so on. Some tags stand by themselves, such as the newline tag, <BR>. Others come in pairs, and they bracket the beginning and end of a text region. For example, to make a piece of text italic, you put <I> and </I> around the relevant words. The forward slash is commonly used in HTML to signify the "end" of a tag pair. HTML is really quite simple, though very powerful. The whole Web is built on it!

One common thing that people ask about it how to mark up some text with a hyperlink. You do this using the A (anchor) tag. So to put a link to some website around some text, you do this: <A HREF="http://www.example.com/">blah blah</A> - this comes out looking like this: blah blah.

For most purposes you don't need to be aware of HTML explicitly, because basic formatting, such as new lines, is done automatically for you. So if you put a newline in your text, it will be converted into a <BR> tag. Also, links and URL's which are in the form http://www.example.com or www.example.com are automatically marked up as HTML hyperlinks for you (as seen here). So you don't need to do any special HTML tags for URL's - just write the address. If the web address starts with "www" then you don't need the "http://" for it to be recognized, but if it does not start with "www" then you'll probably need to put the "http://" for it to be marked up correctly.

Another useful HTML tag to know about is <PRE>. If you have text which you want to "pre"-format as, say, a table, then you can put it between <PRE> and </PRE> tags. What this does is to make the browser display all the text between these tags in a non-proportional font. In other words, it is displayed literally as you typed it, complete with spaces. This lets you format using spaces, lining up columns and so on. For example:

<PRE>
	Day         Miles         Weather
        1           15            Good
        2           34            Rain
        3           43            Clouds
	
</PRE>

The <PRE> tag is useful sometimes because of the way that spaces, tabs and newlines (i.e. "whitespace" characters) are displayed. The HTML specification says that browsers should normally treat any number of whitespace characters as a single space. Thus it doesn't matter how many spaces or tabs you put between words - on the browser it will appear as a single space. This is because HTML separates the structure and the presentation of a document; you can read more about this if you're interested (see the book reference, below). The <PRE> tag gets around this rule, by forcing the browser to display all the text between the tags "as-is". So why not display all text like this? Well, usually text just looks better when you give the browser discretion as to what's the best way to display it. Usually you don't care too much about exactly lining up columns, and proportional fonts are nicer to look at. So, the <PRE> tag is there when you need it, which probably isn't actually that often.

Note that if you use the <PRE> tag then you should remember to uncheck the Auto-format option. This is so that all the newlines and spaces which you so carefully formatted aren't automatically stripped out and reformatted!

If you want more ambitious tabular data, then you need the <TABLE> tag. This is too complicated to get into here; If you're interested in learning more about this or other HTML tags, then I can recommend the book "HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide", by Chuck Musciano & Bill Kennedy (O'Reilly, ISBN 059600026X) It's very concise and to-the-point, and you'll find yourself turning to it again and again as you write your documents. Of course, you can always also contact me if you are having problems or just have a question - I'll be glad to help out in any way I can.

For online HTML tutorials, try the following:

When trying out these tutorials, remember to take into account the following section - not all tags will work.

Posting explicit HTML using hat (^) codes

Sometimes it can be useful to post explicit html code in text (e.g. <i>italic</i>), usually when explaining how to achieve some desired effect. This seems difficult at first, since if you just put the html code in your text then it gets interpreted by the browser (thus displaying the effect rather than the tags themselves), and if you use character entities (e.g. &lt; for the opening pointy brace on an html tag) then these tend to get converted by the browser into the corresponding "real" characters automatically in the text edit box, so you lose them the first time you edit your text.

To get around this, I have made a proprietary set of codes which use the hat symbol (^), which you can use in your text when you need to express html tags and entities explicitly. I then have code to automatically convert these special codes into the corresponding html entities at display time. The benefit is that since these are proprietary, there is no automatic conversion done by the browser, so they get left alone, which means you can edit them without losing them. However when you view your text, the hat codes get converted by my code into the correct html entities. Below is a list of the available codes:

  • ^T - tab, which simply gets expanded to eight non-breaking spaces (i.e. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;)
  • ^LT - "less than" character entity (&lt;) useful for posting explicit html tag references without them getting interpreted as html by the browser, e.g. <b>bold text<b> is written ^LTb>bold text^LT/b>
  • ^AMP - ampersand (&), useful for posting explicit html character entities e.g. &nbsp; is achieved explicitly in text by putting ^AMPnbsp;
  • ^HASH - hash (#), maybe useful for character entities that have a hash, e.g. to have &#60; appear explicitly in the text, you can write ^AMP^HASH60; or actually just ^AMP#60; will work too (the ^HASH code may be redundant, since you can achieve most of what you need with just ^AMP, but it's there anyway in case it's useful).
  • ^HAT - the hat symbol (^), used to write these hat codes explicitly in the text e.g. to have ^LT appear explicitly (rather than getting converted to a less-than sign), you'd write ^HATLT.
  • ^NBSP - as noted above, this gets converted into &nbsp;

These codes are not case-sensitive, so ^LT is the same as ^lt.

Allowed HTML Tags

Due to the security risks of cross-site scripting attacks, it is unfortunately necessary to restrict the HTML that can be used on the site to a subset of the full HTML tagset. Here are some articles that go into more detail if you're interested:

A general rule on the website is that one-line entry fields do not allow any HTML at all, and multiline entry fields allow for the HTML tags specified below.

Here is a list of all the HTML tags and their associated attributes that are allowed on this site. Note that all other tags (and tag attributes) will be refused. There is not enough space here to explain each tag and its attributes in full; see an HTML reference for more details.

Note: If you are trying to use some tag or attribute that you think should be on the list, then let me know. I've tried to include all the common tags and attributes, but inevitably I probably missed a few. I am very willing to add tags and attributes to the "allowed" list, just about anything except for the script-embedding stuff and (unfortunately) <IMG>, which just seems have too much potential for exploitation.

HTML Tag Allowed Attributes Comment
<A HREF="http://www.example.com/">text</A> id, href, name, rel, title Hyperlinked text
<B>text</B>   Bold
<BIG>text</BIG>   Big text
<BLOCKQUOTE>text</BLOCKQUOTE>   Indents the marked text as a block
<BR>   Newline. For auto formatted journal pages simply use standard newlines (i.e. Enter key)
<CENTER>text</CENTER>   Centered text
<CODE>text</CODE>   Monospaced text
<DD>   Indented "definition" item. See <DL>.
<DIV>text</DIV> align Encapsulate some text in an area, usually for purposes of alignment
<DL>item list</DL>   "Definition List" of indented items. See also <DD> and <DT>.
<DT>   Non-indented "title" item. See <DL>.
<EM>text</EM>   Emphasized
<H1>heading</H1>  

Heading level 1

<H2>heading</H2>  

Heading level 2

<H3>heading</H3>  

Heading level 3

<H4>heading</H4>  

Heading level 4

<HR> width Horizontal line separator
<I>text</I>   Italic
<LI>   Line item in list. See <OL> and <UL>.
<OL>list</OL> start, type Ordered list of items separated by <LI>.
<P>   Paragraph separator. For auto formatted journal pages simply use two newlines
<PRE>text</PRE>  
Pre-formatted, monospaced text
<SMALL>text</SMALL>   Small text
<SPAN>text</SPAN> Encapsulate some text in an area, usually for purposes of alignment
<STRIKE>text</STRIKE>   Strikethrough text
<SUB>text</SUB>   Subscripttext
<SUP>text</SUP>   Superscripttext
<STRONG>text</STRONG>   Strong
<TABLE>rows</TABLE> align, cellpadding, cellspacing, bgcolor, border, width Table of rows and cells, like this one. See also <TR>, <TD> and <TD>.
<TD>text</TD> align, bgcolor, colspan, valign Single text cell in a table. See also <TABLE>, <TR> and <TD>.
<TH>heading</TH> align, bgcolor, colspan, valign Single heading cell in a table. See also <TABLE>, <TD> and <TR>.
<TR>row of cells</TR> align, bgcolor, valign Single row in a table, containing cells. See also <TABLE>, <TD> and <TH>.
<U>text</U>   Underlined
<UL>list</UL> type Unordered list of items separated by <LI>.

Using Empty Pages to create Chapter headings

If you leave the main text field for a page completely empty, then the page is only displayed as a placeholder in the Table of Contents, without any link. Additionally, when traversing the journal using the "Next" and "Prev" tabs on the navigation bar, pages with no text are skipped over automatically. This allows you to have chapter headings which are basically just there as placeholders to visually split up the Table of Contents in a sensible way. For example, I have empty Chapter pages for each State I passed through. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, etc. This also gives some structure to long rides. You could also do this by country, county, town, or whatever else you feel like. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from putting text in any page, in which case it will be displayed with a link as normal in the table of contents.

Uploading Pictures

You are able to include pictures in your narrative. Look for the 'Upload Pic or File' button on the Edit Page screen, after the main form. In brief what you do is choose a picture (usually a JPEG or GIF), or a non-image file (e.g. PDF or Word doc) from your local hard drive (or another website) and send it to the web server for storage. There is also an option for uploading multiple pics at once, which I'll describe below after going over the single pic upload form.

When you click on 'Upload Pic or File', you'll see a form that gives you a choice of either selecting a file from your local computer, or else fetching the file from somewhere on the Web using a URL. The simpler option here by far is to use the first option, labeled 'Local path'. There should be a 'Browse' or similar button next to the field, which if you click it will bring up a standard dialog for choosing a file. This works slightly differently depending on what type of computer you are using, but basically what you do is navigate through your computer's file system to find the file you want, then select it and click 'Ok' to finish the dialog. There are some browsers on Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad which have disabled file selection, so you may find that the 'Browse' button is grayed out or otherwise disabled. If you see this then the workaround is to simply use a different browser - one that seems to work most of the time is iCab Mobile, which is available on iTunes for a couple of dollars.

The other way to get a file is to enter the URL of the image. This is much more complex than uploading a file from your local computer, since you need to know the URL of the file itself, rather than the address of the web page where the file is displayed. This distinction is hard to explain in non-technical terms, because it requires some basic awareness of how HTML (the language of the Web) works. Web pages are text files formatted using HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). This markup language is used to specify things like links, headings and other types of formatting. It is also used to include images in the text. This is done using a type of link, called an IMG link (for "image"). Images, or pics, are not actually stored in the HTML itself; they are kept as separate files, and simply linked to from within the HTML. So the Web page URL which you see in your browser address bar isn't actually the address of the pic itself; it's just the address of the HTML page where the image is linked from. It's not always easy to get the actual URL of the image itself. The website where the image lives might give you this option, but it will be different on each photo storage website and far outside of the scope of this Help document to cover in any meaningful way - besides, websites are constantly changing their format. Basically all I can tell you is that you need to get the URL of the image file. Sometimes your Web browser will let you get this URL, often by right clicking on the image so that a popup menu appears. You might see an option in that menu that says something like 'Copy URL to clipboard'. Or, you might have to select a 'Properties' option, at which point a dialog will appear that shows the URL as one of the properties of the image. But again, browsers are constantly changing and I can't give instructions on how to do that here. If you're not familiar enough with your browser to know how to get an image URL, then you will need to do some research online to figure out how to do it. There are generally lots of how-to's online these days, easily accessible if you use the right keywords in your search (e.g. "internet explorer get image url").

Just to be clear, you would use EITHER the first option in the form to select a file locally on your computer, OR you would enter a URL to get it from some remote website. Use one or the other, not both.

One more note about this: If you are unable to select files because of limitations of the device you're using, then you should look at the option for emailing updates to your journal. Most devices are internet-aware these days, and if they are then they should be able to send email, so this might be a workaround.

Ok, so let's assume you have managed to select your file by one of the above methods. Next you'll see a field called 'Save as filename'. You don't have to fill this out, as the server will try to use your original filename when you do the upload. But this just gives you the option to save it under some different filename for your journal. It's entirely optional. It's worth noting that if you upload all of your pics with the same name (e.g. "pic.jpg") then the system will prepend some random characters when saving the file, so that it doesn't conflict with the previous files that were uploaded with the same name. This is why you might end up with files that seem to have some garbage at the front of the name (e.g. Gh7f3V_pic.jpg) - it's just randomly generated in order to make the filename unique.

Next up is the Caption field, which is again optional, but you should think about adding captions to your pics, as this will help to give some context and perhaps explain what people are looking at. For example if this is a photo of some people, you might want to say who is there in the scene. Or if it's a scenic shot, then where it is. Whatever you like, basically, and you can feel free to be creative, making up humorous captions etc.

Next is the 'Rotate' field, which allows you to rotate your image file. This is obviously only relevant to image files like photos. Most of the time you can just leave this set to 'Auto', because modern cameras generally include some meta information in the image file (called EXIF data) which includes information about how the camera was oriented when the photo was taken. In other words, the server can determine whether the photo needs to be rotated, and if it does then it can do that automatically. However there some cases where this can't happen automatically, and so in that case you can edit your pic and specify the rotation manually. The rotation can be done in increments of 90 degrees, going clockwise.

The 'Border' field on the pic/file upload form allows you to specify whether or not you want the standard gray border to be displayed around the pic. This is purely a style preference. Most of the time it's ok to leave this checkbox checked, but there may be times when you want to uncheck it. You can just experiment to see what you prefer. You can always change it later without having to re-upload the pic again.

The 'Include in random' checkbox allows you to say whether you want the pic to show up in the Serendipity page, which is a page on the site that allows people to view random selection of pics. This option also affects whether the pic will be shown on the title page of your journal, should you use the 'random' option to show random pics there. You might want to uncheck this box for diagrams, screenshots, charts or other relatively boring images, while leaving it enabled for scenic shots and other "pretty" pics. It's up to you, though.

If your journal has been published, then there is one more checkbox for Updating the journal timestamp - see Update timestamp for details.

The last step is to click the 'Finish' button, whereupon your pic or file will be uploaded and stored on the server.

Scaling of Pics: Large, Small and Thumbnail

When you upload a picture, three versions of the file are stored: Large, medium and thumbnail. The large version is the original (but it may be scaled down too, see next paragraph). The medium size is typically scaled by 50%, and this is stored as the "small" version. Finally, a "thumbnail" version which is usually 10% of the original size is saved. These three versions are used by the server when users choose their options for viewing pictures, in the Options page. If your images are unusually small then they will not be scaled down as much, so that the thumbnails won't be too tiny to see.

If your picture is very large then it will automatically be scaled down (this applies to the 'large' size of the pic). This rule is only applied if the image is more that 1000 pixels in both dimensions (height and width). So, if you'd like to maximize the size of your pics, then size them so that the smaller dimension is 1000 pixels or less. For example, a picture which is 1200 x 1100 will be automatically scaled down so that the smaller dimension is 1000, because both dimensions are more than 1000; but a pic that is 1400 x 1000 will be left as-is.

Please note: If you are uploading pics from your digital camera, then it's very likely that your originals will be much bigger than the size that is stored on crazyguyonabike. In other words, it's likely that your pics will be scaled down, as described in the preceding paragraph. For this reason, you should not treat this website as an archive for your digital photos, since the version stored here will likely not be as high resolution as your original. Unfortunately it would take a lot more storage space if I was to store the originals as well - digital cameras these days can produce very large files, and we would need a lot more disk space to handle all that. In the future, I would like to be able to also store the originals, but for now you should be careful to keep your originals archived in a safe place. So if you're on the road, make sure you send copies home regularly for safekeeping. Nothing sucks more than losing a bunch of irreplacable images!

If you use a scanner, then in general you should be scanning your files at a resolution of 75 dpi (this is the maximum that web browsers can display at anyway). Personally, I scanned my pics at 600 dpi, directly from the slides. This gave good quality, large pics which could then be scaled down. Scanning directly from the negatives or slides gives much superior quality to scanning from prints, but you need a transparency/slide adaptor for your scanner. This can cost more than the scanner itself, but it is well worth it in my opinion, if you want the best quality scans.

Most people these days will be using a digital camera; in this case, you can sometimes select "web quality" for the pics. However, be careful of this; you really want to have your "originals" be as high quality as possible, so that you can make good prints of them later on. Remember that you can always take a high resolution image and make it lower resolution, but you can never go the other way. It's better to keep high-resolution originals, and make low-res (75 dpi) ones for uploading to the website. This takes more time, and requires a graphics manipulation program such as PhotoShop or The Gimp, but it's worth the trouble if you care about keeping your photos for posterity.

Every journal you create gets its own picture folder, so there is no danger of similar filenames in different journals clashing. Filenames can only contain letters, numbers, dashes, and underline characters. No slashes or other punctuation is allowed.

Pics are automatically converted into JPEG format, if they are not already (unless they are GIF, in which case they stay GIF). This helps the server and ensures that images are compatible with all browsers. This was done because some people uploaded images in Windows BMP format, which is not viewable on some non-Windows platforms. Since JPEG format is best all-round for photos anyway, I decided to do the conversion automatically. The filename extension is also changed to reflect this; the standard extension is '.jpg'.

Batch Upload of Pics and Files

If you are editing a journal or article then there is an option to upload multiple pics at once. This can be useful because when you have a lot of pics to upload, then it can be very tedious to have to do each one individually (especially true if you have a slow connection). Batch upload has to be a special option, because generally Web browsers only allow you to select one file at a time for upload. Since there is no easy way to do this using the browser's built-in features, we have to use a third party "widget", which entails utilizing the file dialog included in Adobe's Flash player (a browser plugin that enables things like video). So, if you want to use the batch upload feature, then you will need to have Flash installed. You can click here to go to Adobe's website and download Flash. It should be noted that some platforms, most obviously some of the "tablet" style devices, do not support Flash at all. You will need to determine whether Flash is available for your device; if it is not, then unfortunately you will not be able to utilize the batch upload feature here (at least, not until HTML5 becomes more common, at which point we may be able to dispense with the Flash widget and go back to using the built-in features of the web browser again).

Ok, so assuming that you have Flash installed and working, when you click on 'Upload Multiple Pics or Files', you should see a form that has some options common to the previous discussion of single file upload. There are checkboxes for 'Border' and 'Include in random', see above for an explanation of how these work. Then below that you'll see an empty box labeled 'Upload queue', and below that a button labeled 'Upload'. That button is a good test of whether your Flash installation is working: If you see 'Upload' then it's probably ok, but if you don't see the button at all then there is something wrong with your Flash install that will need to be fixed before you can use batch upload. Assuming you do see the button, if you click on it then you should see a fairly standard file selection dialog appear. The way you select multiple files will differ according to your platform, but often you do it using the Ctrl or Command key held down while clicking on the files. See your individual platform Help for how to select multiple files. When you click 'Ok', then the upload will begin. You should see the files you selected listed in the 'Upload queue' box, along with progress bars as they get transferred. A few seconds after each file is finished, it will be removed from the queue. Then, after all the files have completed, you are taken to a page where you can enter captions for all the files that were just uploaded. This is optional. Then you can finish, and that's it.

Inserting Pictures Into Your Text

After you upload a picture, you are returned to the Edit Page screen. Now you should be able to scroll down past the form and see your picture listed, along with its caption. Also, you will see above the picture a code, something like ## file.jpg ##. This is the name of the file which you specified when you uploaded the picture. To put the picture in your text, you just insert this code in the text of the page, where you want the pic to appear. It was done this way to allow some freedom as to how pages are constructed; so you can have text, followed by a picture, followed by more text, etc, just how you want it. The pic will automatically be formatted and displayed with the caption in the same style as other journals. Thus you don't need to know anything about HTML to include pics in your text.

As a convenience, this code is now inserted automatically for you at the end of your page text. So you can move it around or insert text as you please.

If you make a mistake and put a filename which doesn't exist, then you will see ## NO SUCH FILE ## in your text. Just go back and edit the page, and put the correct filename.

If you upload more than 25 pics, then the page will be split into parts (this is only a visual aid for the reader - your page is still one page, just being shown in multiple parts to split up the pics).

Managing Pictures - Moving, Deleting and Hiding

To delete a pic, you can use the 'Delete' link associated with the pic in the Page Edit form (the pics for the page are listed after the text fields). You can also simply remove the ## filename ## code for the pic from the text and then save the page. For safety, you will see a confirmation list of all the pics you're deleting in this way, with checkboxes. To confirm the deletion, you simply click 'Save' again. To keep any of the pics, you can un-check the relevant checkboxes. Those pics will then still be associated with the page, but won't be shown anywhere in the journal. So this is a good way to keep pics hidden, perhaps for future use.

To move a pic from one page to another in your journal, you can edit the pic, and select the page which you want to move it to by selecting from the dropdown list of pages in the edit form. The pic will be removed from the current page, and added onto the end of the new page.

You can also move a pic to another page by copying and pasting the ## filename ## code from the text of the original page to the new page. When you save the new page, the pic will be moved. Be careful when you save the original page - if you remove the ## filename ## code and save, then you'll be asked if you want to delete the pic (since it looks like that's what you're doing). You should un-check the box to keep the pic during the move. Note that you don't really have to manually remove the code from the source page - this will happen automatically when you save the new page with the ## filename ## code.

Copyright Issues with Pics

Personal rant: For what it's worth, I am totally disgusted with the direction our world is headed with "intellectual property rights". It seems that everything under the sun is patentable (even our own genes!) and the U.S. government keeps extending the Copyright expiration period to placate the big corporations such as Disney. Increasingly, we are seeing the erosion of "fair use" privileges which apparently makes it illegal to even do things like copy CDs you purchased totally legally. Who really cares if you copy and paste a map image from a free, public website into your journal? I mean, they made these maps available FOR FREE for crying out loud. Still, sadly, in these days of fascist intellectual property policies, we need to be cognizant of the risks and protect ourselves accordingly. So, take the following with that in mind - I hate it, I don't believe in it, but it's up to you to make sure you're "right with the law" as I don't have the time or the energy to go checking up on each and every journal page...

You must either be the lawful owner of the images that you upload, or else have permission from the copyright owner for using their image on this website. This usually applies most to maps, both online and scanned. See this thread on the Journals forum for more on the subject.

Here is a list of resources which have stated that it's ok to use their maps. If you know of other resources then please let me know and I'll add them to the list. Thanks!

Editing Page Locales

When you're on a tour it would be nice sometimes to be able to give people a better idea of exactly where you are on a particular day. Some people have used links in their text to services like Mapquest to achieve this. Now you can also do this using the journal editing tools. Go to the page in question, then click 'Edit', then 'Locales' (in the navigation bar, it's below the 'Edit' option once you're in the page edit form). Then you will have a form where you can view the locales that have already been added (if any) and add new ones. If you click "Add another locale" then you will see a form where you can enter the name of the town, along with (optionally) the state and country. The state and country are not really necessary, as the system will simply list all the matches found in the database for that town name. The database covers the entire world, so most towns should be in there already, but please do let me know if one is missing. Once you have searched for your town you can simply click on the appropriate one to add it to your list.

There are two ways of finding places; you can either search by name, or browse down through country, state/province, county and so on. If you browse, then you will also be able to see an index of towns once you are below the country level. This can help if you are not sure of the spelling of the town name, or if you don't know exactly which state or county where the place is located.

Tip: You can use the '*' character (asterisk) as a wildcard when entering names. So for example you could put 'Buckhorn*' if you want to see everything that starts with 'Buckhorn'. Don't put the * at the front of the name, otherwise the database won't be able to use the index and it'll be horribly slow (probably time out). The search automatically puts a wildcard at the end of the place name, so for example if you put "Yellowstone" then it will find everything beginning with that word, including "Yellowstone State Park". So, usually, there won't be much need to use the '*' wildcard, but it does give a little added flexibility in the search if you're having trouble finding a place.

Once you have finished adding places to the list, you click "Finished" to save the list and return to the page. You will see the locales listed at the top of your page. There is also a link to Google maps, which shows the location of the town. This will be useful for people to get a better idea of where you are, since they can zoom in and out.

Choosing how the page locales will be displayed
Usually, the locales will be displayed at the top of the page. However, you can also change this in the main Edit Page form (where you edit the page text). Below the 'Auto-Format' option there is another one for how to display page locales. The options are 'Default', 'Top', 'Bottom' or 'Manual'. If you select Default, then the setting that was specified in the Journal Properties form (when you created the journal, or go to Table of Contents -> Edit -> Properties) is used. If you select Top or Bottom, then the locales will be shown at the top or bottom of the page respectively. If you choose 'Manual' then no locales will be shown by default; you will have to put special codes into the text wherever you want the locales to appear. These codes have the form '@@n', where n is the number of the locale you wish to display (numbers start at 1). So to display the first locale, you'd put @@1, the second is @@2 and so on. These in-line locales will have the full locale name, including the map link. You can format these however you like - the locale will be shown exactly where you put it, with no surrounding text or HTML. You can also use these codes anywhere in the text even if you have selected Default, Top or Bottom - this means you'll be able to repeat the locale in the page body if you want, even with the automatic display. So, you could for example have all the locales shown automatically at the top of the page, but then refer specifically to one or more of them again in the text.

Emailing updates to your journal

When you are on the road it can be hard to have full, regular access to the Web. However, it can be convenient to compose emails offline, and then send them in batch whenever you get internet connectivity. To enable this, I've implemented a feature which allows you to send a specially formatted email to your journal from anywhere on the road, and it will get immediately posted as a new page (or an update to an existing page). This section will tell you how to do this.

Where to send the message
First of all, you need to define a "handle" for your journal, if you haven't already. This is done on the Journal Properties form. For example, say you choose "mytrip" as your handle - you will then use this as the basis for the address which you will send your updates to. The email address is "handle@crazyguyonabike.com". So for our example journal you would use mytrip@crazyguyonabike.com as the 'To' address. Please note that the journal handle address must be the ONLY recipient, and it must be in the 'To' field - do not CC or BCC these updates to other people, as this will compromise your journal password (and also possibly make your update fail, since my code assumes just the one recipient). The 'From' field does not matter; you can send these messages from any email account.

A common mistake people make with this is to use their own login username for the 'To' address, rather than the journal handle. This won't work, because of the fact that authors can have many different journals on the site; if you address the email to your username, how would the system know which journal to deliver it to? So it's important that you use the journal-specific handle, not your username.

Please note: This email address is only valid for posting updates to your journal - it cannot be used as a address to send or receive mail to/from other people. DO NOT GIVE OUT THIS EMAIL ADDRESS TO OTHER PEOPLE. It only works for posting entries, with the special formatting which I explain below. If someone sends a standard email to this address, it will bounce and I will get a plaintive message from some stranger asking me why they can't contact so-and-so. I want to emphasize this because I have had cases where authors have given their "journal email address" to people they meet on the road, and those people have then thought that they can email the author using that address.

Sometimes people confuse email and web addresses. Remember that an email address has the '@' symbol, web addresses do not. So to give your journal web address, and your journal handle is 'neil98', just say http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/neil98. You can omit the 'http://' bit if you like, since all modern browsers will assume that if you type in a URL.

Setting the journal email password
Originally, the email feature required that you put your login username and password in the body of the email in order to authenticate yourself. However this presents some potential security issues, since emails are transmitted in plain text - so that makes your password vulnerable to snooping in the (unlikely) event that someone was intercepting internet traffic. So, I made an alternative: An 'email password' specific to the journal, which you set in the journal properties form (i.e. same as the one where you set the journal handle). Just set the email password for the journal to any old passphrase, then you can use this as the password when emailing journal entries - no need to put your login username and password. I have kept this old method of authenticating, since there are people who have been using it for a while and I don't want to break their established system of posting. But the new method is much preferred. There is much less risk if the email is intercepted, since the email password cannot be used to log into your account on the website - it's only for these emails.

'Subject' optionally specifies Title: Headline
You can use the 'Subject' of the email message to specify the title and headline for the new page, just as you do in the Edit Page form. You separate the title and the headline using a colon (':'), in the same way that the Title and Headline are separated in the final display of the page. So for example if you put 'Day 1: Getting started' as the subject, then the page title would be set to 'Day 1' and the headline would be 'Getting Started'. As you may remember, the only reason for having both Title and Headline is that the Title gets the link in the Table of Contents, whereas the headline is plain text. If there is no colon present in the Subject, then it is used as the title, and the headline is left blank. If you don't specify any subject at all, then the current date is used for the title by default (unless you specify a date in the message body - see below), for example the title would be set to 'Saturday, March 15th 2003' (or whatever today's date is). In this case the headline is left empty. This is useful as a default, since it says when you posted the entry.

The message body
The body of your email contains the text you want to post. At the beginning, you need to put some additional information which specifies things like password, and, optionally, some additional settings which correspond to the fields on the Edit page form which you would use if you were posting your page via a Web browser. Here's an example, just to give you a feel for what it looks like - I'll explain what the individual lines mean below:
	password = bananatuesday
	title = some title
	headline = some headline
	date = 2003-04-05
	distance = 23
	size = small
	style = bold
	indent = 2
	format = auto
	update_timestamp = 0

	Hello there, here's some text
Note that you have at the start some lines which are in the form "option = value", followed by some plain text which is your post. The only mandatory option line is the password - all the others will default to reasonable values if you don't specify them. So you could have a minimal post that runs something like this:
	password = banana546

	Hi everyone, this is Joe and I'm finally on the road!
... but that's the minimal case. More usually, I would probably specify this sort of information:
	password = blahdeblahblahblah
	date = 2004-04-29
	distance = 67

	Well, that's it, I'm off, blah blah blah
I would have the subject of the email as something like "Day 1: From home to the first camping spot", and this would get parsed out with the title as "Day 1" and the headline as "From home to the first camping spot". This results in a nice looking contents page.

Options Reference
The options always go at the start of the email, and the format is 'option = value', with the option being at the very start of the line, and nothing else on the line after the value. All of these settings are optional, except for the password, which must always be supplied.

Following is a list of the options, with their possible abbreviations For example, 'username | u' means the full name of the option is 'username', but you can also abbreviate this as 'u'. Possible values are given in quotes, for example 'value'. Do not put quotes around these values in your email.

username | u
Your username. This is deprecated, and is only necessary if you have not set an email password for the journal in the properties form.

password | p
This should be the email password that you set in the journal properties form.

An alternate, deprecated method that also works is to use your login password, in combination with your username (see 'username' option above). However, it's strongly recommended that you switch to using the method of setting an email-specific journal password, since this cannot be used for logging in should your email get intercepted by someone else.

title | t = [text]
The page title (can also be given in the email subject, as title: headline). Default is '(no title)', so you should give at least a title in the email subject, or in the text.

headline | h = [text]
Optional page headline (can also be given in the email subject, as title: headline). Default is blank.

date | dt = [date]
The date, if given, must be in the format YYYY-MM-DD (year-month-day, with 4 digits for the year, and 2 digits for month and day), for example 2010-01-30. Default is today's date.

distance | ds = [number]
Distance traveled for that day. A simple number, e.g. 23 or 23.4. The units will be assumed to be whatever is defined for your journal (miles or kms). Default is 0.

size | sz = [small|medium|large]
Refers to the size of the heading in the Table of Contents, just as in the website 'edit page' form, and can be 'small', 'medium' or 'large' (without the quotes). Default is the size of the previous page in the journal.

style | st = [normal|bold|italic]
Refers to the style of the heading in the table of contents. Can be 'normal', 'bold' or 'italic'. If you want both bold and italic, then you need two separate lines, one for each. The 'normal' setting turns off both bold and italic. Default is the style of the previous page.

indent | in = [integer]
A number, usually 1 or 2, etc (depending on how you've structured your journal). This refers to the 'Indent level' field in the Edit Page form. Defaults to the indent of the previous page.

format | fm = [auto|list|manual]
Lets you specify one of 'auto', 'list' or 'manual'. This again operates just like the website form: The 'auto' option means that all single newlines in your text will be deleted, and double newlines will be converted to paragraph separators. This is probably a good option to use for emails, since many email clients hard-wrap your message before sending it. The 'list' option is used for pages which may have lists, where you want to retain the single newlines in your text. The 'manual' option is for text which you are formatting totally manually, using HTML tags. This is only for those people who know what they are doing, or who are pasting in text directly from an HTML editor of some sort. Defaults to the format of the previous page.

border | bo = [1|0]
Sets whether pics posted in this email will have borders or not. Possible values are 1 or 0. Default is 1.

update_timestamp | up = [1|0]
Lets you say whether the journal will pop to the top of the main journal index or not. By default it is set to 1, because the main timestamp for the journal is updated when you email an update. However if you don't want the journal to go to the top of the journal index, then set update_timestamp to 0.

text_timestamp | ts = [1|0]
Determines whether a text timestamp will be prepended at the top of the posted or updated page. Possible values are 1 or 0; default is 1.

visible | v = [1|0]
Set to 1 or 0, for whether the page will be visible or not. Default is 1.

sequence | sq = [integer]

Post the page at the given sequence (integer). So if you want to post your new page at the start of your journal, then you would put sequence = 1. This option is of limited use for other sequences, since you need to know the sequence of the page where you want to do the insert, but it is there if you need it.

after | af = [title]
Post the page after the given title. So if you know you have a page with the title 'Australia', then you can put this and the new page will be posted after it.

before | bf = [title]
Post the new page before the page with the given title.

chapter | ch = [title]
Look for the page with the given title, and treat it as a chapter heading. Then post the new page at the end of this chapter. This is useful if you have pre-posted pages as chapter headings for, say, the countries you are going to be passing through - e.g. Australia, Europe, Americas etc. So then if you are currently going through Australia, and have already posted a number of days under that heading, then you can say 'chapter = Australia' and this will put the new page at the end of that sequence of sub-pages. The script attempts to deduce reasonable settings for the style (indent, bold etc), from the previous page that was posted. If there is no chapter found, then the page is posted at the end of the journal.

append | ap = [title]
Append this post on the end of the page with the given title. This can be useful for making updates or "where am I" pages.

prepend | pr = [title]
Prepend this post onto the start of the page with the given title.

======== | -----------
Some email services tack on some advertising onto the end of your message, so it can be useful to be able to say where the actual end of your text is. If you start a line with three or more '=' (equals) or '-' (hyphen) characters, then that is seen as the end of your text (and isn't included). If you put this, then everything after this line will be discarded.

Here's an example of a message body, using abbrevations for the options:
	p = xxxxx
	ds = 65
	dt = 2003-04-23
	Well, today was a hard day, we went all out to get to where
	we were going!
	
	And that was today, but tomorrow's another day!
	===========
As you can see, we specify here the distance and date for the entry, followed by the text for the page. We separate paragraphs by leaving a blank line, just as in the standard Edit Page form. And finally we terminate the message by the line of '=' characters (at least three characters are needed). You don't need the last '====' line unless you're using an email service that tacks extra crap on the end of your messages.

You will not receive any reply to your message, unless there is a problem with the options or formatting. In that case you should receive an immediate reply (within a few seconds), with a single line indicating what kind of error there was. If your journal entries are valuable to you then it's probably a good idea to save your emails until you are certain that they went into your journal successfully.

If you mail an update to a dated page which already exists, then the new update will be appended to the end of the existing page text. Every post gets a heading which indicates when it was received, so there is no need to put that information in your email body.

If you send pictures as attachments then they will get posted to the page as well. Pictures have to be in either JPEG or GIF format (most digital cameras save photos in JPEG format these days). If you put the ## filename ## codes in your email text (see inserting pictures) then the pictures will be displayed at that point, otherwise the ## filename ## code will be automatically added at the end of the page (just as happens when you upload pictures using the web forms). Please note: Filenames must not have any spaces or other punctuation characters - safest policy is to use just the normal alphanumeric characters here (i.e. a-z and/or numbers). If you want to supply a caption for the pictures, then you have to include the ## filename ## code in your email text, and the caption simply goes right after the filename in the code - for example if you sent a picture named mypic.jpg, and you wanted a caption which said "Hello world" then you would put the code as ## mypic.jpg Hello world ##. If you put no caption then it will be blank.

Some email programs automatically name the attachments, which can make it cumbersome to put captions in the text using the filename. So, there is an alternative method, which is to use the sequence number of the attachment, starting from 1. If you do this, then you would use three '#' instead of two, followed by the pic number and then the caption, e.g. ### 1 here's the caption for pic 1 ##.

The picture attachment feature will not be useful to people using small, text-only devices, but there are increasingly cases where it is practical - for example, some digital cameras have an option to generate a smaller, "email friendly" version of your photos. These images are smaller and easier to upload than the high-resolution, full-sized versions. So, if you have a portable computer that can connect to the internet using a modem, you could potentially send small versions of your pics from the road via email, and then when you get home replace them with the high resolution versions.

This email posting option is simply intended to allow you to post new entries to your journal from the road. I assume that later you will probably be getting to a real Web browser and tidying up, formatting and adding pictures etc. So the email feature is not intended to replace the Web interface, but rather just be a convenience for posting from the road. Let me know if you have any problems with it, or suggestions.

Random notes:
  1. The keywords are case insensitive - e.g. 'Username' works the same as 'username'.
  2. Passwords are always case sensitive, so 'ABC' is different from 'abc'.
  3. The spaces on either side of the equal sign are optional - e.g. username=neil is the same as username = neil.
  4. Any title/headline embedded in the body of the email takes precedence both over the title/headline in the subject of the email and over the title/headline already on the page. Any title/headline in the subject of the email takes precedence over the title/headline already on the page.
  5. It is possible, via the subject of the email, to replace the title without replacing the headline. Replacing the headline without replacing (or respecifying) the title, however, is not possible.
  6. The distance in the body of the email, if any, will replace the distance already on the page. Otherwise the distance on the page remains unchanged.
  7. You cannot email updates to a journal that has been marked as 'complete' (see properties form). If you do this, then the email processing script will treat it as spam, and drop the email without any error message (the reason for this rule is that over the years, somehow spammers got hold of a few of the journal email addresses, and once an address is in those databases, it is there forever). This rule should not affect most people, since the whole point of the email updates is to make it easier to update your journal from the road, and if the journal is marked as 'complete' then that implies you're no longer on the road. It is just something to be aware of, if you have become used to emailing updates, and then mark the journal as 'complete', and wonder why the updates don't work any more. The simple workaround here is to simply not mark the journal as 'complete' until you really are done with your updates.

Status updates using SMS (text message)

Sometimes you may just need or want to update your journal with a quick status update, just to let people know you are still alive, where you are etc. Modern phones often have the ability to send short text messages using SMS, and at times this might be more convenient than finding a good WiFi connection or sending a full email update; also, there are times when you can't even get good voice service on your cellphone, let alone internet access, but texts can still get through. So, this option allows you to take advantage of this: You can send updates to your journal via text message. Actually, this feature doesn't really use the SMS protocol directly; it depends on your provider being able to forward texts to an email address. So what you do here is send your text update to a special email address associated with your journal, along with a password that you defined previously, and this will be converted by your service automatically into an email message which is then forwarded to the web server for processing. Here's what you do, step by step:

  1. Preparation: Give your journal a handle and email password, via the journal properties form. For the purposes of this example, say you choose the handle 'abc' and email password 'xyz'.

  2. Where to send it: Send your text message to the website using the journal handle, e.g. abc@crazyguyonabike.com. NOTE: DO NOT use your login username! It has to be a journal handle, otherwise the webserver won't know which journal to deliver the update to.

  3. Message format: The message must start with your email password, followed by one or more spaces, then the actual text of your message. This is a small security device just to make sure that spammers and other people can't send arbitrary status updates to your journal (obviously, for this reason you should keep your email password to yourself). For example, if you chose 'xyz' as your email password, then your text message would look something like this:
    xyz I'm ok, just camping out in the Mojave desert tonight - back with regular updates soon!
    

The message length should not exceed 250 characters; in reality, most SMS messages can't be longer than 140 characters, but I want to make this clear just in case your text service somehow allows construction of longer messages. Stay within the regular limits, otherwise it might not work at all.

It's important to note that the email password MUST be the first word in your text message, followed by a space. This shouldn't present a problem in most cases, as SMS providers usually forward texts as plain text emails. However if your provider uses HTML formatted emails, then you may have to add a special sequence of characters in front of your password so that my script can find it inside all the other junk. This sequence is '+++', i.e. three 'plus' symbols, and they should be places directly before the password, without any other spaces. So for example:
+++xyz I'm ok, just camping out in the Mojave desert tonight - back with regular updates soon!

If you make a mistake such as omitting the password, then you may receive a reply to your phone informing you of the error. Please note that you cannot reply directly to this notification message to correct the problem, because it comes from a system email account (notifications) and not your journal address. You need to send your message again to your journal address, otherwise it won't work.

It's also worth noting that you can send status updates via regular email as well as via SMS; after all, the webserver is expecting the text message to be converted into an email anyway, so you could conceivably just send an update via email and skip the SMS step altogether. The same rules apply: The message should be plain text (not rich text or html), with the first word being the email password. The email 'subject' doesn't matter, and will be ignored. This option might be useful if for some reason you happen to have access to email, but not full browser or text messaging via your phone.

The journal author can also post updates via the web interface (i.e. using a browser), by clicking on 'Status' in the navbar and then clicking the 'Post' subtab. You can also edit and delete individual status updates on the same status page, by clicking on the little icons to the right of each post. The icon edits the post, and the deletes it. You will have a confirmation before completing the deletion operation.

When you have posted an update, it will be displayed on your journal's title page, just above where the table of contents begins. Please note that the update may not appear instantaneously; the script for processing incoming emails on the webserver is run once every minute, so there may be a perceived delay of up to a minute before you see it. The status will be shown in red on the same day it was posted, then green until it is a week old, then it will drop off the title page. You can see a list of all the status updates that have been posted to a journal by clicking on the 'Status' link in the navbar while reading the journal. There is also an RSS option in the navbar to allow people to subscribe to your status updates, if they use an RSS reader or service. Finally, note that journals marked as 'complete' will not show status updates on the title page (since this is a service for journals "in progress").

Please do not use this feature as your sole method of maintaining your journal on the road; it is intended as a way for you to let people know your status during those times when you are out of regular internet contact. Your journal won't be very interesting to read if it just consists of short status updates; if that's all you want to do, then Twitter is probably a better venue for achieving that. That said, you may use the status updates as much as is needed - just please use common sense, and update your journal properly as time and access permits.

Editing Pics

If you are logged into the website then you will be able to click on the "Edit" option in the navbar while viewing the pic you want to edit. You are then able to edit the filename and caption for the pic, and rotate the image if so desired.

If you change the filename, then it is automatically also changed wherever you include it in your text (the ## file ## code) - but this works only for the page where the pic "lives" - if you referred to the pic manually in any other pages in your journal (which you can do simply inserting the ## filename ## code in the text) then you will need to change those references yourself. The automatic renaming only works on the "official" page which the server knows is linked to the pic.

You are also able to change the page which the pic belongs to. You will see a dropdown menu in the Edit Pic form, with a list of all the pages in the journal currently. The page which this pic currently belongs to is automatically selected. If you want to move the pic to another page, then select the desired page, make any other changes you want to the caption, filename etc, then click "Done" as usual. The database will be updated to remove the picture from the old page, and add it to the new one. The picture code (## filename ##) is also automatically removed from the old page and appended to the new one.

Deleting Journals / Pages / Pics

You can opt to delete a journal from the "Properties" page (go to the table of contents, click Edit, then Properties).

If you choose to delete a journal, then you are first warned that you are about to also delete all pages, pictures and the message board associated with the journal. This is a fairly drastic measure, and should generally only be done as a last resort, or if you just recently created it and there isn't really any content.

If you delete a page, a similar confirmation screen informs you that all pictures associated with that page will also be deleted. Deleting a pic has the usual confirmation as well. So you have a chance to say "cancel" if you got to that page by mistake.

Deleting By Mistake

If you make a mistake and unintentionally delete a valuable journal anyway, then contact me; your journal may be recoverable. This is because when you delete a whole journal, the data is not immediately destroyed; it is merely marked for deletion (and hidden from view on the website - kind of like being put on "death row"). The database will be cleaned up on an occasional basis, deleting "for real" journals which have been on death row for a good while (i.e. months). This allows mistakes to be made and relatively easily corrected. However this only applies to whole journals; if you delete a picture or an individual page in a journal, then the deletion is immediate. Backups of the website are made nightly to tape, and the backups go back 10 weeks. Also, regular permanent backups are made to CD-R. However restoring backups from tape can be a tricky and time consuming business, since it is only one small part of the database which is being retrieved. So if at all possible, try not to delete valuable content in the first place please!

Maps

You can post maps in your journal or article, which will be embedded like pics. If you want to post a route, or any other information that might be best expressed using a map, then you can use the 'Add map' button on the page edit form in your journal or article. There are lots of powerful features which allow you to plot a route using "snap to road" routing. You can also place annotated markers to show features and make comments on locations along the way. There are elevation profiles, full-screen mode, and other handy features that make hosting a map in your journal or article easy. Route lines can have multiple colors, and you can have multiple lines per map.

It is recommended that you use this feature rather than creating your map elsewhere and then taking a screenshot to post in your journal, because when the map is created on this website, the route data is stored locally here in the server database. This will allow us to do all sorts of cool stuff down the line, such as tie all the maps together into one big map that people can browse. Imagine looking at a map, panning and zooming to a particular region that you are interested in, and being able to see who else has been there. By integrating all the maps together in the database, this will be possible. But when you post your map on some other website or software (such as Garmin's BaseCamp or whatever), then that map data is lost to us - it's not in the database, so it won't be browsable down the line when I implement the global map browser. So, please do use the 'Add map' button here rather than posting screenshots of maps. There are powerful tools that let you plot a route, you can even import routes from other sources by uploading files (GPX, TCX, FIT or KML).

See the Maps section for details.

Publishing your Journal

Publishing is an important step in writing your journal or article. Basically all "publish" does is make your document visible to the world. Before you do this, only you can see it, under the 'My' page. This feature is there to allow people to work on their opus in private if they so desire, only revealing it to the world when they are ready.

You publish via the Edit Properties form. The 'publish' checkbox is down near the end of the form. Check that, and then save the form. Note that before you can publish, you may need to set the categories and locales. If you get an error message talking about categories or locales when you try to publish, then just go and set those, and then come back to the properties form and try again (hint: look for the Categories and Locales subtabs up in the navbar). Lastly, you do need to have at least one page in the journal before you publish. This is to stop people from publishing without any content at all; there has to be something there to publish!

Note that you only need to do the "publish" thing once; all it really does is make the journal visible to the world. You don't need to re-do it every time you add a new page to the journal. Once the journal is published, any new pages will automatically be visible to readers, unless you explicitly make the page invisible (there is a 'visible' checkbox on the page edit form for hiding pages until you're ready).

You can also "unpublish" your journal anytime; this will make it invisible to the outside world. If people have bookmarks or links to it, then they will get a "forbidden" message, or be asked to log in. Of course you, as the author, will still be able to see it (assuming you're logged in - if you want to check to make sure it's not visible to the outside world, then you can bookmark it, then log out, then go to the bookmark and refresh the page).

Please be aware that whenever you unpublish your journal, then all your pages need to be removed from the site search index (obviously you don't want your journal showing up in search results if it's not visible). Updating fulltext indexes is not a trivial operation - the more pages your journal has, the more work will need to be done (it's automatic, but I'm talking about server resources). And then, each time you re-publish, all your pages will need to be re-indexed again. So please don't repeatedly publish and unpublish your journal - it's really a decision that you should make fairly infrequently. Also note that you can make individual pages in your journal visible or invisible, if you wish - this is a way for you to keep certain pages "private" in a published journal until they are ready for the world to see. So unpublishing should be a fairly infrequent occurrence; that said, you are free to do it whenever you need to.

Finally, unpublishing your journal will not affect what Google has in its search index; if your journal has been published for any length of time, then it may have been visited by Google's web crawler, and so it will then show up in Google searches. If you unpublish, then when people click on those links in Google's search results, they will get a 'forbidden' page. However, Google can also cache pages, so people may still be able to see your page in Google's cache (at least until Google crawls the site again, which could take an indeterminate amount of time). The point is, unpublishing an established journal may not immediately erase it completely from the internet, since search engines outside of my control can cache page content. Only publish your journal if you are really ok with the world seeing what you wrote!

Marking your journal as 'Complete'

Once you have completed all the major work, then you should signify this to the readers of the site by marking your journal 'complete'. Doing this says to people "I am mostly done, this is a complete work that can be read from start to finish without you, the reader, being left hanging and wondering what happened". So it's just a visual cue, nothing more. Marking your journal 'complete' doesn't mean you can't add pages, or delete, or edit, or do anything else. It just sends a certain message to the reader. That said, it is an important step in the editing of your journal: It says to me, the webmaster, that your journal has some closure, and has not been abandoned. Occasionally the webmaster (or other designated editors) may "unpublish" unfinished journals that have obviously been abandoned for a long time. If your journal is marked as being "complete" then the chances of it being unpublished for being abandoned will lessen considerably, since it demonstrates that you, the author, have taken enough care to try to reach some closure with the document. You may not have completed the trip that the journal was about, but at least finish it off for the reader, and then mark it as 'complete' when you're done - it's just a courtesy to the readers of this site, and to me, the webmaster.

To mark your journal or article as 'complete', you go to the Edit Properties form, check the 'Completed' checkbox, and save the form. Again, you can still edit your journal! This is only a visual cue to your readers (and me) to say that the bulk of the content is there.

How Hitcounts Work

Hits are counted on your journal as soon as it is published. Before publication, hits are ignored. Once published, any browser request for the table of contents, or any page, pic or slideshow page from your journal will be counted as one hit. Requests from web robots such as Google are not counted. Thus the hitcount does not reflect the number of people reading your journal, but rather how much people are reading it. If you have a lot of pictures and/or pages in your journal, and it's interesting and well written, then people will be going from page to page and you'll inevitably get more hits. If there are many pics on one page, and the reader loads just the page, then that counts as one hit. But if each pic is requested separately (using the slideshow feature), then each of those requests will count as one hit.

If you have friends and family reading your published journal as you're writing it from the road, then you will likely see a lot more hits than normal, since these people are likely to be checking back in every day, possibly several times. After you've finished your journal, the hitcount will most likely slow down.

On the first day of publication, you may notice that the hitcount says "0" for a while - this is because the hitcounts are only calculated once a day, from the server request logs. This usually happens sometime in the middle of the night. Thus you will generally only see the hitcount change once a day, even though many people may be reading your journal.


Using the Forums and Guestbooks

Forums and guestbooks are just different types of message board. When you post a message, it appears on the website and other people can read and reply to it. It's different from email, since the discussion is more open and many people can participate. Thus a discussion on the forums can be much richer than one conducted via email, since people who you may never have otherwise met will often contribute and lend their expertise.

Each board contains messages, and these messages are organized into discussions, or "threads". A thread is an original post, along with all its replies. Any post that is not a reply to some other post is by definition a new thread. If you want to reply to a message, then click on the 'Reply' option in the message header. To start a new thread, then click the 'Start new thread' button on the forum in question.

So, to summarize: If you are contributing to a discussion that is already under way, then use 'Reply' to reply to whichever message it is that you would like to respond to. If you are starting a new discussion, or asking a new question etc, then start a new thread by posting using the 'Start new thread' button. The only difference between these two options is that the 'Reply' option will automatically associate your new message with the one you are replying to, so that other people can see the relationships and follow the discussion.

The Forums consists of a number of message boards relating to different aspects of Bicycle Touring. Each journal and article also gets its own dedicated message board, called a guestbook. These work just like the forums, and allow people to get in touch with journal authors. Messages which are posted in guestbooks automatically cause a notification to be sent to the author. When you reply to a message, a notification is also automatically sent to the person you are replying to.

Messages in the forum message boards and journal guestbooks can contain HTML as specified by the Allowed HTML Tags section. Only the message body may contain HTML, not the subject or any other fields.

The main Forums page also has an option that you can set in the Options page, for how you view the topics and threads.

Posting Pics and Maps

If you are logged in, then you can post pics and maps with your forum and guestbook posts. When you preview your post, you will see (if you're logged in) a button for 'Upload pic or file', and another for 'Add Map'. Clicking on either button will post your message, and then take you to a form for uploading a pic or map. After you're done uploading, you are returned to the posting form, where you can either click 'Finish' or upload more pics. See the Maps section for instructions on how to add maps.

Instructions and Rules for Posting Messages

  1. You can post as a Guest or as a Registered User.
    There is no need to register for posting in the journal guestbooks; however, the Forums are usually restricted to posts from registered users only (this helps to reduce spam and other abuse). If guest posting is enabled, then you can simply enter your name and email address each time you post. If you are redirected to the login page, then that means guest posting has been disabled for this section. Registering allows you to post on any of the forums. Being logged in also saves some time if you use the site more regularly, because registered users have their name and email filled in automatically. Other benefits of registration include the ability to write a profile (something about who you are, your interests etc). Your profile will be linked from every message you post. As a registered user you also gain the ability to upload files and pictures, and edit your messages (within a certain window after posting).

  2. Use 'Reply' to respond to messages.
    If you're replying to another message, then you should use the Reply option on the message you're responding to, rather than the 'Create new thread' button. The author of the parent message will then be notified of your response, and your post will be part of a 'thread' of conversation that can be followed back to the original post, thus maintaining context. If you are responding to someone's previous post and you start a new thread by just clicking the 'Create new thread' button, then there will be no relationship between your message and the earlier one, which is confusing for anyone trying to follow the conversation.

  3. If you are logged in, you can use 'Save as draft' to save your post before posting it. If you do this, then you are taken back to the guestbook or forum, and your draft will not be visible. You can get back to the draft by either clicking on the same message 'Reply' link again, or else on the 'Post new thread' in the same board or guestbook. You can have multiple drafts active at one time. All of your current drafts are listed on the 'My' page. If you click on any of them, then you are taken to the posting form, where you can work on the draft and either re-save it as draft, or post it. You can also delete a draft, by clicking on 'Cancel' in the posting form, or the little yellow trashcan next to the draft on the 'My' page. Old draft messages eventually get deleted automatically (currently the time limit is 180 days).

  4. Your email address is safe from spam.
    Your email will not be displayed on the website, unless you explicitly include it in the text of your message. Even email addresses included explicitly in the message text are automatically reformatted to stop them being harvested by spambots. For example, username@example.com would be displayed as username at example dot com. This fools the spambots, but humans can still read it and reconstruct it into the real address. Please note that it is perfectly safe to use your "real" email address when posting on this website - I guarantee you will never get spam as a result of this, since your personal information won't be divulged to anybody (see the Privacy Policy).

  5. The forums are not the place to post links to useful websites.
    You should use the Resources for this. The forums are for discussion, whereas the Resources is a more structured database which is more appropriate for collecting interesting links, since it is organized by category, features and locale. People are more likely to find your link by browsing or searching the Resources, whereas in the forums it will probably get lost over time, hidden by all the new threads that get added constantly. An exception to this rule is where you have a link which you think really merits discussion, because it has some controversial or especially interesting aspect. But in the general case, "reference"-type links should go in the resources.

  6. The forums are not to be used for promotional purposes.
    Honest discussion about products and companies are ok, but any posts which seem to be purely self-promotional in nature, or posted for the purpose of marketing or raising the visibility of a company or organization, are not ok. In the case of Resource and Classified forums (the message boards that are associated with individual resources and classifieds), the person who posted the entry should not start threads themselves for the purpose of promotion. The Resource/Classified forums are primarily for other people to ask questions and comment on the entry in question; they are not places for the author/poster to try to market under the guise of spurring discussion. Any posts that do not adhere to the spirit of this requirement may be removed without notice.

  7. You will only be able to edit your post within a 3 day window.
    After that window has expired, you will no longer be able to edit your message, so you should use the 'Preview' stage while posting to try to make sure you are saying what you want to say, and the edit window just to correct any typos. After that, you can clarify your post if necessary by posting addendums to it; this is done via the same 'Edit' link for the message in question. In extreme cases (e.g. if there is personal or sensitive information that needs to be removed), then you can request this via the 'Report' option on the message. That allows you to report the message to the webmaster, with a note saying what it is you want to change. This should only be used in exceptional circumstances, though - usually you need to make sure your posts are what you really want to say. This policy was instituted in part so that people could not go back and change what they said during contentious debates, or delete their words "as if it never happened". The thing is, it did happen, you can't take back or "unsay" things you said to someone else. People need to take responsibility for what they post online, since their words have a real effect on other people. Please think before posting, and only post words you are willing to stand behind, otherwise don't post in the first place.

  8. The website administrators reserve the right to delete any post for any reason.
    All messages are monitored by the webmaster. Spam, abuse or grossly off-topic messages will be deleted immediately. Do not post the same message on more than one message board or guestbook; this will be treated as spam. Posting here is a privilege, not a right. Debate and controversial opinions are fine; juvenile insults, trolling and other forms of abuse are not. Finally, I am under no obligation to remove any post or user profile that is otherwise legal in content.

  9. If you have any questions about what's appropriate, then please contact me.

Forum Etiquette

These "rules of engagement" may be updated from time to time as I think of new ones.

  1. The Fine Art of Debate: It's perfectly normal to have debates, and arguments are a natural part of forums. However, always follow this rule of thumb: Don't say anything online that you wouldn't be comfortable saying to someone face-to-face. When arguing, do not discount the other person's position in a disdainful or insulting way. Present reasoned arguments, and remember that on the internet, "having the last word" is a non-existent luxury. This is something many people fail to realize; when you cannot see the other person, and indeed will probably never even meet them in real life, it's very difficult to gauge what they are really thinking. The usual cues, such as body language and vocal intonation, are not present. This, combined with the fact that many people are just not very good at expressing themselves in print, results in many misunderstandings that can easily blow up into full flamefests.

    You can never tell when someone is just having fun by being obnoxious, or maybe is having a bad day at work, is angry over some personal loss, or is just externalizing grief and anger. Remember that if someone seems to be a bit of an asshole, then they are probably not happy with their own lives in some way. Being nasty to other people is usually a result of frustration with their own life.

    If you find yourself getting sucked into an unpleasant exchange, then the best thing is to just step away and leave it for a day. Don't worry, nobody will think you've "lost the argument", "accepted defeat" or just "given up". You'll probably find that after 24 hours, you will have cooled off sufficiently to realize how silly the situation really is, and you'll be glad you just let the thing die.

    If the other person is so determined to win the argument at all costs, then just walk away - there's just no way you can win with some people, and I have never seen any passionate online argument that really fundamentally changed anybody's opinions. In reality, all that usually happens is that people get more and more entrenched, even in the face of facts and evidence (they will, if necessary, simply resort to questioning your sources, so you really can't win). If they are becoming outright abusive, then contact me, or mark the relevant posts with the 'Abuse' rating and I'll be automatically notified.

  2. Multiple postings: Do not post the same message in multiple forums or guestbooks. Once is enough, more starts to look very much like spam. The messages will most likely be removed, and if you persist then you may be blocked from using the site.

  3. Revisionism: It's considered bad form to go back and edit your past posts in order to change the meaning of what you said and make yourself look better. Likewise, it's not good to go and delete your own posts which are part of a larger discussion. If you can't stand by what you posted, then please don't post it in the first place. It's very bad manners to engage people in discussion or debate, and then go back and simply delete what you said. This makes it impossible for people coming after to see the context of the discussion. It's ok to edit your posts to clarify points, add thoughts and fix typos, as long as it doesn't change the overall thrust of the message.

  4. Do not troll: Trolling is posting in bad faith, i.e. posting controversial or inflammatory messages simply to rile up the community and stir up outrage, or posting extreme opinions that you don't really hold, but know will cause a reaction. Some people obviously find this funny; such people are almost always socially alienated, and feel no real connection to the website and the people who make up the community there.

    Be advised that I will not hesitate to delete and ban anybody who smells like they are trolling. I don't have to put up with it, and I will not be held to any strict rules as to what exactly constitutes trolling. It's one of those "I know it when I see it" things. Look at these forums as being kind of like a bar, and I am both the bartender and bouncer. If you start behaving like an asshole, then you will be thrown out.

    I should also emphasise that contrarian opinions are fine, as are strongly worded posts, as long as they are not outright abusive, are posted in good faith (i.e. you do not have some hidden motive for posting) and as long as you are being somewhat reasonable. You can even disagree with me (shock! horror!). Just be advised that things that really get up my nose include arrogant and/or dismissive behavior, religious proselytizing, and anything that advocates or makes light of harm to kittens. Sarcasm is ok, in moderation. Just remember, I'm the bartender, and I have a large bat, and I'm not afraid to use it. Enjoy! :-)

Abuse and Spam

There are various ways for you, the users of the site, to help deal with abusive messages and spam. Here is a rundown:

Ratings

The Ratings Page

The Ratings page is a summary list of the ratings that have been made by the users of the site. It can be viewed as both a "What's New" and "Best-of" list. The default view is latest-first (what's new). The form at the top of the page allows you to select the following criteria:

  1. Type - the type of object that you want to see; for example, if you're mainly interested in seeing pics, then select that here. The only slightly confusing aspect of this might be the difference between "Journals" and "Journal pages". It is possible to rate both the journal or article as a whole, and individual pages within the journal. To rate the journal as a whole, you do this on either the Table of Contents or Thumbnails page. This allows for a general overall opinion to be registered. But it's also useful to be able to capture more finely focused opinions about particularly useful or interesting pages within journals; for example, there might be a really long journal that has a particularly good page on the equipment used. Similarly, people might rate an individual pic or page as 'insightful', but that doesn't mean the journal as a whole is insightful. So then it makes sense to be able to rate pages by themselves, independently of the journal as a whole. Ratings for individual pics and pages do not affect the rating for the journal as a whole; so if you want to rate a journal highly as a whole, then make sure you do this in the Table of Contents or Thumbnails page.

  2. Rating - if you want to view by rating, then select it here. For example, to filter out everything but the funny content, select 'Funny'.

  3. Order - you can opt to sort the results either latest first (what's new), or by score (best of). The latest-first option uses the dates when the ratings where updated on the objects in question. The 'score' option uses the summary score for the object (which is calculated from the rating that received the most points for that object).

You can combine these options in any way to get interesting views on the ratings. For example, you can see all the latest funny pics, or all the most 'useful' articles. Click the 'Go' button to submit the form and see the results.

You can page through the results in the usual fashion, by using the 'next' and 'prev' options in the navbar, and also clicking anywhere in the gray graphical slider (which shows where you are in the sequence of pages).

Locales

A "locale" is a place in the real world: A country, state, province, county, town, lake, park, etc. The Locales database is a worldwide hierarchy of over 2 million places, all the way down to the town level. You can associate journals and resource entries with the relevant locales; the idea is that people can then find journals and resources by locale. Thus you can for example, find all the journals associated with a particular town, and so on.

The locales data was culled from the freely available USGS GNIS (for the USA) and NIMA GEONet (for the rest of the world) databases. These data sources, while apparently comprehensive, are actually quite spotty and incomplete in places. For example, the NIMA database often has no associations between places and the state/province. So for example in Switzerland we have thousands of towns with no idea of what part of Switzerland they are in. This presents a problem for presenting the information, since it makes much more sense to break countries down into state/provinces and then places. If you just list all the towns in a country at once, there are way too many to be practical. So, over time, I hope to fix up this data to make the correct associations between places and provinces. In the meantime, I have simply created a special province in each country, called 'Unknown'. All places which are unknown are under these provinces. So if you see a place which has 'unknown' as part of the name (e.g. Switzerland > Unknown > Leysin) then this is simply an example of a place for which we don't yet have a province associated. If you have trouble finding a town, then just try searching for it (in the Resources there is a text box for typing the name of a town to search for). If you find it under the correct country and there are no other instances under that same country, then it is probably the one you are looking for. You can select it, and later on when the association is made, all records using those locations will reflect the change automatically. If you can't find a place that you know exists, then let me know and I'll see if there are perhaps alternative spellings.

There are certain areas of the world which are currently incomplete - the most glaring example of this is Northern Ireland, which actually has no entries at all. I will be trying to fill in the gaps as soon as possible, but given the amount of data involved, it may take some time. Please bear with me, but do let me know about any areas which you think are incomplete anyway - it helps to know what to prioritize.

Maps

Google Maps have been integrated with this website, so that anywhere you can upload a pic, you can also define a map which will then be shown embedded on the page. This should work with recent versions of all the major browsers (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, Safari). You need Javascript enabled in your browser in order for the maps to work. Here's how it all works...

Editing Maps

First, you start off with a map of the world. You can then zoom in to the region you want. If your mouse has a scrollwheel, then you can use that to zoom - I find it really convenient. Or, you can type an address, town, country etc into the search box above the map and Google will try to find that for you. If you type coordinates, in decimal format separated by a comma (e.g. 44.35718, -107.02469), then that location will be highlighted using a map marker. If you are in 'Marker' mode (see below) then the currently selected marker will be placed at that spot. If you are in some other mode, e.g. line mode, then a non-persistent marker will be placed on the map. You can just click on the marker to make it go away.

Once you are where you want to be, then let's take a look at your options over on the right side of the page. There are four main "modes": Lines, Shapes, Markers and Spot Info. Only one mode can be selected at a time. Lines should be obvious, that one lets you draw lines on the map (for routes, mainly). Shapes is for drawing shapes like circles, rectangles and polygons. Markers is for placing icons on the map, for purposes of annotation. And finally Spot Info is for getting information about spots on the map. Basically all these "modes" do is determine what happens when you click on the map. I'll look at each of the modes in more detail now.

Lines Mode
This lets you draw a line on the map, point by point. Just start clicking, and you'll see how it works. There are additional options which affect how the line looks, how routing is handled etc, and these are covered below.

New Line
You can create multiple lines on each map. When you click 'New Line', then subsequent clicks on the map will result in points being plotted for a new line separate from any existing one. You do not have to click 'New Line' at the very start of making a new map; there is already a default line there, you just start clicking to plot it. You only need to use the 'New Line' button when you already have an existing line, and want to start another one.

Add Line Segments
This is the default line mode, whereby each click on the map is plotting a new waypoint on your line. When you click, a new waypoint icon is added to the line. If you click on the line itself, then a waypoint is inserted into the sequence at that point. Each waypoint icon can be dragged using the mouse to a different location on the map. Depending on the routing that was used on this line segment (see below for more on routing), the affected line segments will be recalculated on the fly as you drag the icon. If you click on the map outside of the line, then this is interpreted as adding a new waypoint to the end, and a new line segment will be made from the previous last point to the new one. You proceed like that, clicking to plot new points. When clicking, new segments are made using the line width, color, and routing options that are currently selected. Each icon has a number which indicates its index in the sequence for that line. These start at zero and can go up to 99. If you define more than 99 waypoints then the numbers start at 0 again, and the color of the waypoint icons changes from red to 'teal'. It will be quite rare, though, to have more than 100 waypoints on a map. For one thing that would be quite tedious to define, and it would also make the map slow to render on many computers. Generally, people will probably use the routing options (below) to reduce the number of waypoints. You can change the color, width and routing for your line on the fly by changing those options on the right side of the page. Each new line segment you define will get the current width, color and routing. You can change those later by using the 'Modify Line Segments' option, below.

Modify Line Segments
This mode allows you to change the width, color and routing for line segments that have been previously defined on your line. A line segment is the line between two waypoint markers. When this mode is selected, then you will see checkboxes appear next to the line width, color and routing options. These checkboxes allow you to specify what you will be changing on the line segment when you click on it. So for example if you only want to change the color, but want to leave the width and routing unchanged, then you would check the checkbox for color, and uncheck the other boxes. Then, when you click on the line segment in question, only the options you have checked will be used in the update.

Modify Whole Line
This lets you make changes to the line as a whole. Currently you can change the width and the color of the whole line. To do this, you just click on the option you want, and the currently selected line will be changed to that. For example, click on a color box, and the line will be changed to that color. Select a width, and the whole line will be set to that width. Currently you cannot change the routing for the line as a whole, due to a limitation in the rate at which routing calls can be made to the Google Maps API. This is quite restrictive, and there would need to be multiple calls, one for each line segment. In tests, this resulted in a "rate exceeded" error, so until Google changes their policy on this, route changes will have to be made one line segment at a time (see 'Modify Line Segments' above).

Delete Line Waypoints
When this option is selected, then clicking on a line waypoint marker will delete that marker. The line segments on either side of the marker will be consolidated into one segment.

Select Line
When you have more than one line defined on a map, then this option allows you to select which line you want to work on. Click on the line you want to use, and it will become the current line. The current line is signified by the waypoint icons - only the current line's waypoint icons will be visible. Other lines will have their waypoints hidden, and will not be clickable.

Delete Line
This allows you to remove unwanted lines from the map. Just click on the line to delete it. There is an 'Undo Delete Line' option, which allows for limited "Undo" functionality. The last deleted line will be restored. If multiple lines where deleted, then this can be used multiple times. However the 'Undo Delete Line' option only works during the same session when the line was deleted - once the map is saved, then this undo queue is cleared.

Undo Last Point
This button peels off the last waypoint from the end of the current line. Note that it does not undo the last point that was placed (which could have been somewhere in the middle of the line); rather, it simply deletes the end waypoint and its associated line segment.

Line Width
This allows you to set the width of your line to one of three values: Thin, Medium or Thick. Usually a thick line is easiest to read - thin ones tend to get lost easily among all the other lines that Google puts on their maps. This option is also relevant for the Shapes mode.

Routing
This determines what happens when you add new waypoints to your line. If you select 'none', then each new line segment will be a straight line from the last point. If you select one of the others (Bicycling, Driving, Walking) then Google's Directions service will be used to try to plot a course from the previous point to the new one. This is sometimes known as "snap to road", as your line will probably follow the nearest available roads. Sometimes, there is no route available, in which case you will see an error alert telling you of this, and you can try clicking somewhere else. Generally the Driving mode will select routes that Google thinks would be fastest and most appropriate for car travel; Bicycle mode will still use roads, but presumably it will try to avoid main highways, and also will use bike paths where available (though this is up to Google, not me); and Walking mode will try to select routes more appropriate for pedestrians. Sometimes there are not many options, but Google's service will do its best (we hope). You can change the routing option by line segment; i.e. you can have one segment in the line that has Driving, and another that has Walking.

When plotting a line using Google's routing, you should try to choose your next waypoints according to how obvious the route is from the last waypoint. Obviously since Google is routing, you don't need to click on every turn and street corner; Google knows how to route from one point to the next, along whatever roads are available. So try clicking a ways away from your last point, and see how it does. If the route isn't optimal then you can add more waypoints in between existing waypoints (just click on the line to add waypoints), and then drag those waypoints with the mouse. You should see the route change interactively as you drag the mouse. This is usually going to be a much faster and easier way to plot lines that go largely by road, than doing point-to-point manually.

Show bicycling layer
This checkbox shows or hides Google's "bicycling layer", which is a map overlay showing bicycling routes (at least, the ones they know about). This can be useful for discerning bike trails more easily. Also, when routing, Google seems to prefer bike trails when this layer is enabled.

NOTE: This option is "sticky", in that it will be saved with your map. So if you save the map with the layer enabled, then the map will be displayed for readers also with the bicycling layer. Readers have the option to turn it on and off, but you should give some thought as to whether you want the layer to be visible for your readers. I would say that normally, unless there is some special reason, you should probably just use this option while defining your maps, but then un-check it prior to saving. This is because it does make the maps look a little different, slightly obscuring normal view of roads and other features.

Color
There is a palette of colors, with the currently selected one shown just above the palette. To change to a different color, simply click on the dedired color box.

Shapes Mode
This lets you draw and manipulate various shapes on the map (circle, rectangle, polygon).

Add/Edit
In Add/Edit mode, clicking on an existing shape will set its line width, color and whether or not it is filled with solid color, or just an outline. See the individual shapes below for details on how to create and edit them.

Delete
When this mode is selected, then clicking on a shape deletes it. There is an "Undo Delete Shape" button, which retrieves shapes that have been deleted during the current session (once the current editing session is over, then this undelete queue is cleared).

Circle, Rectangle, Polygon
When you click on the map (not on an existing shape) in Add/Edit mode, you will see a very small dot appear where you clicked. Grab this with the mouse (i.e. click on it and then, with the mouse button still held down, drag the mouse) to expand the circle to the desired radius. This is similarly true for rectangles. For polygons, you first drag the initial point out to a single line; you will then see additional drag points on the center of the line. You can drag those points out to make other dimensions as desired. Each time you do this, a new drag point appears at the center of the lines you created. This should be fairly intuitive once you start to use it.

When you click on an existing circle in Add/Edit mode, then it will have its color set to the current selected color, and the 'Fill' checkbox will determine whether or not the circle is filled with a solid color.

Markers Mode
This lets you add markers to the map. These markers can have a variety of different icons, to signify different types of condition or place that you want to note. You can also annotate these markers with text, and sub-icons. See below for more details.

Add/Edit
In this mode, clicking on the map (not on an existing marker) will add a new marker. The icon will be the currently selected icon, seen in the list to the right side of the page. You can change the current icon that will be used for new markers by clicking on the desired icon. You should be able to see a small popup text which describes what the icon is for, by hovering the mouse over the icon. Incidentally, this set of icons came from the excellent Map Icons Collection website by Nicolas Mollet.

Once a marker has been placed on the map, you can click on it to add text notes. A popup window should appear, with a text box. Type whatever you need in there, and then click 'Ok' to save it. Also, clicking anywhere else on the map will close the window, and save the text. While the window is open, you can add sub-icons from the list of icons on the right; just click an icon to add or remove it. The sub-icons will appear at the top of the popup window, above the text box. The purpose of these sub-icons is to allow for situations where more than one icon may be relevant to the thing you are wanting to annotate. For example, for a campground, the main icon would be the campground icon. But you might also want to add as sub-icons some of the facilities that the campground has, like showers, grocery store, ATM, phones and so on. Just choose the most appropriate main icon, and then add whatever sub-icons make sense. Eventually, when the Maps are integrated with the website search, you will be able to search by icon, which may be a useful way to find services in a given area.

When a marker has text or sub-icons associated with it, then a little '+' appears in the bottom right corner of the main icon as it is displayed on the map. This is intended to help act as a cue to inform the reader when there is additional information available by clicking on the icon.

While editing the marker text, you will see any pending Relations that you may have made. You can check the boxes for the relevant links you want to include, and these will then be included when you close the marker window. The Relations are not actually made until you click 'Finish' and save the map to the server. If you add relations like this, then the object that is being linked to from the map will have the usual note of "Links to this". When you click on that, then it will bring up the map, with this marker automatically opened to show its note window.

Set Icon
This allows you to change the main icon on the marker. Select the icon that you want from the list to the right side of the page, then click on the marker you want to change.

Delete
In this mode, clicking on a marker will delete it. There is an "Undelete Marker" button, which will retrieve deleted markers from the current editing session in reverse order that they were removed.

Spot Info
This mode lets you click on the map to bring up a window that tells you the nearest address to that point, as well as the elevation. This might be useful for researching routes, or trying to find out an address for a place you wish to contact.

Auto Center
If checked, then the map is automatically re-centered each time you click. This can be useful for when you want to plot a line with the map zoomed in, because you won't have to manually drag the map often in order to stop going off the edge. But it might be annoying in some circumstances, in which case you can uncheck it.

Scrollwheel Zoom
If you are using a mouse with a scrollwheel, then this option allows you to take advantage of that for easier zooming in and out of the map. If this is checked, then when you want to scroll the actual web page up and down (rather than zooming the map), simply position the mouse outside of the main map area, anywhere on the web page. In other words, the scrollwheel zoom only works when the mouse cursor is on the map itself.

Show Information
If this is checked, then there is a one-line window displayed at the bottom of the map. When you move the mouse around the map, this window displays the current latitude/longitude. Also, if you pass the mouse over any lines you have previously defined, then this window will show the distance between the two immediate waypoints, as well as the total distance of the line.

Show Elevation
This shows an elevation chart at the bottom of the map, for the currently selected line.

The elevation calculation uses freely available data from a couple of different sources (mainly SRTM (with voidfill data by Ferranti) and NED).

You will see a small yellow '+' icon just to the right of the 'Show elevation' checkbox. This shows or hides a couple of additional options for how elevations are calculated. The first option allows you to select a preference for which dataset to use. The SRTM data is global, but not very accurate (3 arc-seconds is about 90m square). The NED data is more accurate, but also slower to calculate, due to the larger file sizes involved. The NED1 is accurate down to about 30m, and NED1/3 is about 10m. NED only covers North America (NED1 covers parts of Canada and Mexico, NED1/3 is only USA). If you select one that isn't available for the area you are plotting, then it will automatically fall back to the next best one.

You can also select the number of samples you want to use. Generally, 500 points will be sufficient, but you can play with this and see how a larger sample size affects the profile. You will notice that a larger number of samples can radically affect the cumulative elevation gain/loss. This is because with the larger number of samples, there is then a correspondingly larger number of small ups and downs being factored into the cumulative gain/loss. I'm not sure how accurate the larger sample sizes are, so this is one reason why I gave you the option of selecting this manually. You can play around and see what you think looks best. Be aware that larger sample sizes, combined with finer resolution datasets like NED1/3, can take a lot longer to calculate. So if you just want quick and dirty elevation profiles, then select SRTM and 500 points, that will give you at least a rough idea of what the route looks like in terms of elevation. In the USA, you can select one of the NED options to get a slightly more accurate representation.

Another option is the 'Smoothing factor'. This allows you to apply line smoothing to your elevation profile. It can be useful if your line has a lot of little spikes or peaks and troughs which you know are not really an accurate picture of the route. When this happens, it means the elevation data for that particular route or region might be "noisy", and smoothing can help to eliminate some of this noise. A smoothing value of zero means no smoothing will be applied. A value of one means that for every elevation point, an average will be taken of that point's elevation, and the elevation of 1 point on either side of it on your line. A value of 2 would take 2 points on either side of the point in question, and make an average of those. The greater the smoothing factor, the larger the number of points on either side are used to make the average. This is done for each point on your elevation profile. You can play with it to see what looks most reasonable for your route. You will probably find that the best smoothing factor will depend on how many samples you are taking from the route. For 500 samples, probably just 1 or 2 for the smoothing factor will be enough to get good results. For 5000 samples, you may need to use 10 or more for the smoothing factor.

The elevation chart uses Google's Visualization library. The elevations are in meters or feet, depending on what option you have selected for units in the main Options form. If you run your mouse along the chart line, then you will see a green icon appear and run along the line, keeping pace with where you are along the X axis of the chart. This helps to relate the elevations to the locations along the line. You can click on the green icon to dismiss it. Clicking on the chart will put up a small popup telling you what the elevation is at that point, along with some other information like distance, cumulative elevation gain/loss, net gain/loss from the start, resolution used to calculate the elevation, and number of samples used for the chart, and the smoothing factor.

Pan/Zoom To Fit
This will look at all the points you have on the map, including line waypoints, shapes, and markers, and try to zoom the map so that all of your points are visible. This is a useful button to press just before saving your map, so that you can be sure everything is visible.q

Clear Map
This will remove all lines, shapes and markers from the map.

Uploading GPS Trackpoint Files
If you use a GPS (global positioning system) unit then it's possible to save trackpoints as files which can then be uploaded to a computer for processing. See the instructions for your particular unit on how to do that. For the purposes of this documentation, I'll just assume that you have a file accessible for uploading to the website. Please note that the best way to do this is to have the GPS save one trackpoint file per day (usually this is the default). This fits in very nicely with the way that the journals are supposed to work (one day per page), so you can simply upload where you went on any particular day to the relevant page in the journal. Try to avoid huge trackpoint files that cover multiple days, or multiple routes.

When you upload a file to the map, it will be used to define a line on the map. This is easier than plotting out where you went by hand, point by point.

On the map definition form, there is a file upload option just below the map, where you can specify a trackpoint file for upload. The recognized formats are GPX, TCX, FIT (Garmin), KML (Google) and JSON. In all cases, the file must contain just one single line or route, not multiple ones. If there are multiple lines, each with their own start and end points, then the resulting map will look like a mess, because my code will try to connect all the start and end points. So as long as it's a single line, it should work ok. The most common format is probably going to be GPX, as that is what is generated by most common GPS units (Garmin). TCX is a similar file format used by Garmin, which may be generated by their desktop software. FIT is yet another Garmin file format (don't ask me why they have so many, I have no idea). Then KML is one that is used by Google, when you download a map from Google Earth or their own maps product. So you can export from there and import the map here. Finally, the JSON option is specifically for importing maps that were exported from other maps on this same website. So if you have a map elsewhere on this site, then you can download the JSON data as a file (there's a link above the map when browsing), and then upload the resulting file to another map.

It's worth noting that although each individual upload file has to contain just one route, it is possible to combine multiple routes into a single map, simply by uploading sequences of different routes in separate files (which can be any of the accepted types). Each time you upload a file to a map, any route defined in that file will get uploaded to a distinct line on the map (remember that maps can contain multiple lines).

How to upload a trackpoint file
To use this feature, scroll down to the bottom of the Map definition form. First select the type of the file you are going to upload (the 'Select file type' dropdown). Then click the 'Browse' button in order to select the file from your computer. Finally, click 'Upload'. This will send your file to the map. After it is done uploading, you should see the line appear on your map. At this point the line is not yet saved on the server; you will still need to click 'Finish' to save it to the database.

You can, if desired, upload multiple files, one by one, to the map. Each file will generate its own separate line. Be aware that having many of these files on a single map can generate a huge number of points that need to be plotted, so you should be careful not to overload the map. A sign that a map is overloaded is when it takes a long time to retrieve and render when being displayed. This will slow down your readers' experience, and will not be good, so try not to go overboard with having many huge files on maps on the same page.

When you upload a trackpoint file, it is saved so that people can download it for use in their own travels. See below, 'Browsing Maps', for details on how to download the file.

Full-screen Mode
There is a 'Fullscreen' button on the maps (look in the top right corner), which will expand the map to fill the whole of your browser window. If you want the map to be actually full screen, then you can maximize the browser window to get close to that. When the map is expanded, other parts of the map editing form become hidden, so there is an additional 'Menu' button shown on the map, which serves to toggle the map editing toolbar on and off. You can also show or hide the elevation profile chart while in fullscreen mode - while visible, it is shown in the bottom left corner of the map.

You will need to exit from fullscreen mode in order to save your map, edit the caption etc. Remember to use 'Pan/zoom to fit' if you edited your map in fullscreen mode, so that your map fits within the smaller maps that are used for browsing the site (readers also have access to the 'fullscreen' button while browsing, but you should try to make your map visible within the normal map window size).

Browsing Maps

Lines
When in browsing mode (i.e. not editing), lines are shown with 'A' and 'B' icons to signify the start and end of the route. In the event that one of these icons is obscuring some detail, you can simply click on the icon to dismiss it (you can get it back by reloading the page). The A/B icons are shown in green if there is no trackpoint file associated with the line, or red if there is a file associated. If there are multiple lines defined for the map, then the A/B icons are not shown by default (this is because lines that are contiguous with other lines may have overlapping start/end points, which can make multiple A/B icons confusing). In this case, passing the mouse over any of the lines will reveal the A/B icons for that line.

Download options
There are download links shown above the map for each line that is defined. These are shown with the type of file that will be downloaded (GPX, TCX, FIT, KML or JSON). JSON is a special case which is a file containing ALL the data (lines, markers etc) for this map, in a format which can then be uploaded to another map elsewhere on the site. The other file types (GPX, TCX, FIT, KML) are line-specific and will depend on how the line was uploaded originally by the author; in the case where the line was defined manually, then the file type is shown as GPX* (i.e. with an asterisk). This denotes "manually plotted line", with the GPX file being generated on the fly from those points (rather than just giving you the original file that was uploaded by the author). If there are more than 8 lines defined on the map, then the download links are not shown directly. Instead, by default you will see text saying something like "Click to show download options", and upon clicking that text, the individual download links will be revealed. This is done in order to reduce clutter on the page. Passing your mouse over the download links will show the A/B icons for the relevant line (in the case where there are multiple lines on the map), which should help to determine which line you would be downloading.

Elevation profiles and other line info
Clicking on a line will bring up a popup window within the map, showing the total distance of the line, distance from start & finish, as well as links to download the file and display the elevation chart for this line. If you select the elevation chart, then the A/B icons for the line will be changed to yellow, to highlight which line's elevation is currently being shown. Only one line's elevation chart can be displayed at at time. To hide the chart, or display a different line's chart, simply click on the line in question again, and then click the 'Show elevation' or 'Hide elevation' link in the popup window.

Bicycling layer
You will notice a small 'bicycle' icon is displayed above the map when in browse mode. This icon may be shown with either a gray () or green () background. It denotes whether or not Google's "bicycling layer" is enabled. The bicycling layer is a map overlay which shows bicycle routes and trails. When the icon is green, the layer is enabled, and when it is gray, the layer is disabled. Clicking on the icon will toggle the layer on or off.

NOTE: The bicycling layer only shows a difference on the map when you are zoomed in to a certain level (generally, you need to be zoomed in to at least the "city" level - if you're looking at an entire region with multiple cities, then you may not see any difference). Also, the bicycling layer may (like routing) only work in certain countries where Google has defined that information for their maps. If you see no difference no matter how far you zoom in, then either there are simply no bicycle routes defined for that area, or else this country has not had a bicycling layer defined at all yet.

Zooming with the mouse scrollwheel
When you are browsing maps, you can click on the map to toggle the scrollwheel zoom on and off. It's off by default, so that it doesn't interfere with page scrolling.

Fullscreen mode
There is a 'Fullscreen' button control near the top right corner of the map. If you click this, then the map will be expanded to full your browser window. You can maximize your browser window to make it fill the whole screen if desired. Click the 'Exit fullscreen' button again to go back to regular map size.

Resources

The Resources is a very flexible database of all kinds of different resources relevant to Bicycle Touring. The only criteria for being included in the Resources is that it must be related somehow to Bicycle Touring.

The resources is a community database, so everybody is encouraged to post entries.

Browsing the Resources

There are three ways to browse: By Category, Feature or Locale. If you select any of these and then go to another, then you can combine criteria together.

By Category

A category is something that a resource entry is, i.e. the type, or description of what the resource is about. For example: Website, Book, Motel. You'll see a list of the categories; if you have previously selected other Features or Locales, then you will only see those categories which exist for the other criteria.

By Feature

A feature is something that a resource has, i.e. a characteristic or attribute. For example: 'Showers' might be a feature of a campground; 'Maps' might be a feature of a website.

By Locale

A locale signifies where a resource is in the world, if applicable. You start at the top level of 'Country', and zero in from there down to the town level.

Posting Resource Entries

The Resources is an open database, which will only grow and prosper if you, the members of the community, contribute to it. This is not something that is entered by "experts", it is ordinary people like you. So, you are actively encouraged to post entries.

Please note that only entries related to Bicycle Touring are allowed. Others will be removed.

To create a Resource entry, click on the 'Post new entry' link in the navigation bar when browsing the Resources. The process takes three main steps: Selecting categories, selecting locales, and finally entering details and features.

Step 1: Select Categories

First, you choose the categories for the entry. This is a set of checkboxes, where you should check all those that apply to the entity that you are posting. Each Resource entry should relate to a single, distinct entity - e.g. a person, place, business, website etc. This means that you should not post one entry that relates to a whole collection of businesses, unless they are all tied together in some way. Think about a telephone book or other types of resources. You might get a business that covers several of the categories, in which case by all means check all the relevant boxes.

Step 2: Select Locale(s)

Step 2 is choosing a locale (or possibly multiple locales). This may be skipped, if the entry does not relate to any particular location (e.g a website).

You can select a locale either by browsing the database using the dropboxes - first selecting the country, then province, then town - or else simply by typing in the name of the locale and searching for it. The locales go down to the town level, and should include such features as parks, forests, lakes and mountain passes. You should try and find the closest locale to where you are talking about. For example, if you are posting a campground that is in one of the National Parks, then try searching for the name of the park. If the place is on a lake, try looking for the name of the lake, and so on. Similarly for routes, it might be useful to include any passes that lie on your route, so try looking for them. As always, if there's a place that you think should be in there but isn't, then let me know.

Step 3: Entry Summary, Features and other Details

The final stage is where you enter a Summary for the entry. The Summary is like the subject of an email, and it is the line of text that will be seen in the main resource listing. So you should choose something that appropriately reflects whatever it is you are posting - the name of the business, for example.

Next you have a bunch of checkboxes that comprise the 'features' of the entry. Check all that apply to your entry.

After the feature checkboxes, we have the contact information. Some categories don't have contact information, so you won't always see this. Just fill in whatever you can, and remember - this is not your contact information, but rather the place/business/whatever that you are entering!

After the contact information is a checkbox that allows you to say whether this entry will be visible or not - just keep it checked for it to be shown, or uncheck it to keep it private for now. You might, for example, post yourself as a Hospitality host, but if you go away on vacation then you might want to take yourself off the Resources. Just remember to re-check this when you return!

There is also a 'Personal' checkbox, which allows you to say whether this entry relates to you personally - e.g. you're the owner of the business or website. If you check this box then there will be a guestbook which visitors can sign, and these messages will be forwarded to you automatically. Non-personal resource entries do not get a guestbook.

Note:
  • Guest users who are posting will not see these two checkboxes (Visible and Personal). Instead, you will have to enter your name and email address, so that the webmaster can notify you when the entry is enabled.
  • The Update timestamp checkbox determines whether the timestamp on this entry will be updated as a result of the current edit (i.e. when you click 'Save'). This is relevant to how the entries get displayed in the main index. If the box is checked, then the timestamp gets updated and the entry will go to the top of the main index, since the main index is sorted by time of last update. If the box is unchecked, then the timestamp does not get updated, so you won't see the entry shoot to the top of the index. Sounds simple? Well, almost... there is an additional wrinkle, which is that some people will inevitably try to keep their own posts at the top of the index, by repeatedly editing them (while not actually changing anything of substance - the idea is simply to "bump" their own post so that it's more visible). To stop this, the checkbox can only be checked once every n days, where n is a number that can be set by the website admin. If n is 3, then any entry can only go to the top of the index every 3 days. You can still edit it as much as you want, but this means the main index won't be polluted as much by people who are simply trying to get their post to the top. Please do not edit your posts and check the 'Update timestamp' checkbox very regularly, since this will annoy other website users who are interested in seeing actual new content. If they keep seeing your post popping to to the top of the list every couple of days, then they may report it, and you may be restricted from posting on the site. Just use common sense - it's fine to use the checkbox if your ad simply hasn't had any responses in a while; this is a good way to let people know that the ad is still relevant.

That's about it for entering resources - once you've completed Step 3, the entry is created and you can see it. You can then edit it (using the 'Edit' link in the navigation bar) and add pictures if you so wish (guest users cannot do this). The Edit option takes you back to the main Step 3 edit form, and you will see that there is now an option to add pictures. Pictures always help to convey a better sense of a place, so please do post any that you think would help.

Uploading Pictures to Resource Entries

After you have created a resource entry, you can if you wish upload pictures to it. To do this, view the entry, and then click 'Edit' in the navigation bar. You will see the edit form, and near the 'Save' button there is the option 'Edit pics'. If you click on that then you will see the form for uploading pictures.

If you click on 'Upload new Pic', you will see that this form follows pretty much the same process as uploading pics to journals - you have to select a file on your computer (using the Browse button), and choose a filename to save as. You can also elect to rotate the pic by 90, 180 or 270 degrees (this is useful for some digital camera images that do not come pre-rotated).

Once you have uploaded pictures, you can also change the order and delete pics. This is done using the form that you see when you first click on 'Edit pics' from the main entry edit form. You will see a listbox containing the filenames of the pics you have uploaded thus far. You can select entries and move them up or down, or delete them.

By default the pics are listed at the end of the entry, in the order which you defined. You can also embed the pics at specific points in the "Notes" text, by putting a special code: ## filename ##. So you simply put the filename that you chose to save as between the ## codes. For convenience, the filenames are shown above the pics when you are editing the entry. This feature is most useful for narrative-type entries such as routes, where the Notes section may be quite long and it would be useful to be able to have pics appear at specific points in the text. For example, if you had a pic that was uploaded as view_of_the_sea.jpg, and you wanted to include it in the Notes, then you would simply put
 ## view_of_the_sea.jpg ##
at whatever point in the text you desire.

Classifieds

The Classifieds section of the website is a place where you can advertise items for sale, personals, jobs and so on. The only requirement is that the ads be relevant to Bicycle Touring.

Browsing the Classifieds

There are three ways to browse: By Category, Feature or Locale. If you select any of these and then switch to another, then you can combine criteria together.

By Category

A category is the type, or description of what the ad is about. For example: For Sale, Wanted, Employment, or Personal. You'll see a list of the categories; if you have previously selected other Features or Locales, then you will only see those categories which have classifieds posted in conjunction the other criteria.

By Feature

A feature is a characteristic or attribute for the ad (these are presented as a set of checkboxes when posting). Each category has a different set of features. For example, a Job ad might have 'Full time' and 'Temp' as features, whereas a 'For Sale' ad might have 'Bike' or 'Bookcase'. A Personals ad might have 'Non-smoker', and so on.

By Locale

A locale signifies where the classified is in the world, if applicable. You start at the top level of 'Country', and zero in from there down to the town level. This is useful if you are looking to buy or sell locally.

Posting Classifieds

Anybody is free to post a classified, as long as it is relevant to the topic. The posting process is free, but the site operates on an "honor system" of donations. In a nutshell, if you liked the service and found it useful in some way, then you are asked to donate something, whatever you feel is appropriate and can afford. The Donate page has more instructions on the different ways you can give money.

In order to post a classified ad, You will first need to be registered and logged in. To do that, click on My in the navigation bar. This is required because you will probably have to come back later to edit and eventually delete your ad.

Only ads related to Bicycle Touring are allowed. Others will be removed.

To create a Classified, click on the 'Post' link in the navigation bar when browsing the Classifieds. Alternatively, there is a "Post Classified Ad" button on the classifieds page itself. The main posting process takes three steps: Selecting categories, selecting locales, and finally entering details and features.

Step 1: Select Category

First, you choose the category for the ad. Try not to combine a whole bunch of unrelated items into one ad; it's usually better to post separate ads, grouping things together only as makes sense.

Step 2: Select Locale(s)

Step 2 is choosing a locale (or possibly multiple locales). This may be skipped, if the entry does not relate to any particular location (e.g a website). Note that you can make this step faster when posting multiple classifieds, by setting your locale in your profile (My > Account). If you do this, then your locale will be automatically set whenever you post a classified. You can of course change it when posting, but the pre-setting should save some time in most cases, since you probably want your locale to be your home town.

If you do need to select a locale, then you can do this either by browsing, or else simply by typing in the name of the locale and searching for it. The locales go down to the town level, and should include such features as parks, forests, lakes and mountain passes. You should try and find the closest locale to where you live (usually the ad will be related to your home, unless you're advertising for companions for some kind of trip, in which case you might want to put the locales that will be relevant to that).

Step 3: Summary, Features, Notes and other details

The final stage is where you enter the Summary (headline) for the ad. The Summary is like the subject of an email, and it is the line of text that will be seen in the main Classifieds listings. So you should choose something that appropriately reflects whatever it is you are posting.

There may also be a Price field. You can fill this in if the ad is for a single item that you are selling - otherwise, if you are including multiple items in the ad (unwise) or if it simply doesn't apply (e.g. Personals) then just leave it blank.

Next you have a bunch of checkboxes that comprise the 'features' of the entry. Check all that apply to your entry. We try to include all features that make sense for the different categories, but if you feel that there are omissions, then do let me know.

After the feature checkboxes, we have the contact information. Some categories don't have contact information, so you won't always see this. Just fill in whatever you feel comfortable with. This information will be saved automatically, and pre-filled for you the next time you enter another ad. This will save some time filling out repetitive information, since your contact info will most likely be the same each time you post.

After the contact information is a checkbox that allows you to say whether this entry will be visible or not - just keep it checked for it to be shown, or uncheck it to keep it hidden for now.

The Update timestamp checkbox determines whether the timestamp on this entry will be updated as a result of the current edit (i.e. when you click 'Save'). This is relevant to how the entries get displayed in the main index. If the box is checked, then the timestamp gets updated and the entry will go to the top of the main index, since the main index is sorted by time of last update. If the box is unchecked, then the timestamp does not get updated, so you won't see the entry shoot to the top of the index. Sounds simple? Well, almost... there is an additional wrinkle, which is that some people will inevitably try to keep their own posts at the top of the index, by repeatedly editing them (while not actually changing anything of substance - the idea is simply to "bump" their own post so that it's more visible). To stop this, the checkbox can only be checked once every n days, where n is a number that can be set by the website admin. If n is 3, then any entry can only go to the top of the index every 3 days. You can still edit it as much as you want, but this means the main index won't be polluted as much by people who are simply trying to get their post to the top. Please do not edit your posts and check the 'Update timestamp' checkbox very regularly, since this will annoy other website users who are interested in seeing actual new content. If they keep seeing your post popping to to the top of the list every couple of days, then they may report it, and you may be restricted from posting on the site. Just use common sense - it's fine to use the checkbox if your ad simply hasn't had any responses in a while; this is a good way to let people know that the ad is still relevant.

That's about it for entering Classifieds - once you've completed Step 3, the ad is created and you can see it. You can then edit it (using the 'Edit' link in the navigation bar) and add pictures if you so wish. The Edit option takes you back to the main Step 3 edit form, and you will see that there is now an option to add pictures. Pictures always help to convey a better sense of a place, so please do post any that you think would help.

Beware of scams! - when you post an ad, you may receive email from people who appear to be interested in an item you have for sale, but what they really want from you is money. See the Internet Scam Alert website for details on how this usually works, and what to look out for. I will try to put tools in place that block spammers and scammers as much as possible, but since these people enter their messages manually, it can be difficult to stop it completely. After all, you do want people to contact you, that's the whole point of posting the ad! Knowledge is power - educate yourself and you should be fine.

Uploading Pictures to Classifieds

After you have created the classified ad, you can if you wish upload pictures to it. To do this, view the entry, and then click 'Edit' in the navigation bar. You will see the edit form, and near the 'Save' button there is the option 'Edit pics'. If you click on that then you will see the form for uploading pictures.

If you click on 'Upload new Pic', you will see that this form follows pretty much the same process as uploading pics to journals - you have to select a file on your computer (using the Browse button), and choose a filename to save as. You can also elect to rotate the pic by 90, 180 or 270 degrees (this is useful for some digital camera images that do not come pre-rotated).

Once you have uploaded pictures, you can also change the order and delete pics. This is done using the form that you see when you first click on 'Edit pics' from the main entry edit form. You will see a listbox containing the filenames of the pics you have uploaded thus far. You can select entries and move them up or down, or delete them. Note that if you manually insert picture codes into the text of the ad (see next paragraph) then this automatic ordering will no longer be applicable.

By default the pics are listed at the end of the entry, in the order which you defined. You can also embed the pics at specific points in the "Notes" text, by putting a special code: ## filename ##. So you simply put the filename that you chose to save as between the ## codes. For convenience, the filenames are shown above the pics when you are editing the entry. This feature is most useful for longer entries, where the Notes section may be quite long and it would be useful to be able to have pics appear at specific points in the text. For example, if you had a pic that was uploaded as my_bike.jpg, and you wanted to include it in the Notes, then you would simply put
 ## my_bike.jpg ## 
at whatever point in the text you desire. Note that when you do this, the ordering of the pics which is shown in the Edit Pics form will no longer be applicable. If you put a pic code manually into the text, then it will not be shown at the end as well, but the ones that are listed at the end will be shown in their correct order.

Deleting Classifieds

Once your ad is done (you sold the item, or you otherwise want to finish the ad), then you can do one of two things: If you want to permanently remove it, then simply delete it. You can always find all of your currently posted classifieds by going to My -> Classifieds. Click on the ad, then Edit, then Delete. If you want to take the ad offline temporarily, then you can uncheck the 'Visible' flag in the edit form. This will hide it from view. You can go back anytime to republish the ad again. Due to caching, there may be a short time during which your deleted or unpublished ad is still visible; but within a few minutes most people coming to the website will not see it any more.

Relations

Relations are two way links which you can use to connect together pages on this website. You are probably already familiar with Web URL links (e.g. http://www.example.com/). These are one-way only, because you can only follow them one way; there is no easy way to go in reverse and tell what else links to the object in the URL. The main idea behind Relations is to make links two-way. Thus relations operate very much like regular web links, only they maintain additional internal information that allows them to be two-way.

A relation, in this context, links a source page to a target page. The source page is where you place the relation, and the target page is where the relation points to. Both the source and target are pages on this website. You can't use a relation to link to a page on another website, since it depends on internal ids which identify the objects being linked. To link to external web pages, you would use standard URLs.

You can create relations between journals, articles (or individual pages therein), pics, forum messages, resources, classifieds, polls or user profiles. In other words, most of the things that you can post or otherwise create on the website can be used on either end of relations. You do not have to be the owner of the target page, but you do need to be able to edit the source page.

To make a relation:

  1. First go to the target page you want to link to.
  2. Click 'Relation' in the navbar (pics have this right above the pic, same for forum messages). This marks the page and adds it to your pending relations list (viewable under My > Relations).
  3. Repeat this process for as many target pages as you desire to link to.
  4. Go to your source page, the one you want to make the link(s) from.
  5. Edit the page. For journals as a whole, go to the Table of Contents, then Edit, then Properties. Otherwise, Edit should take you directly to the relevant form (for individual journal pages, pics, messages, classifieds etc).
  6. The pending relations should be listed as checkboxes near the end of the edit form. Select the relations that you want to place here, then save.

That's it! You should be able to see the relations listed at the bottom of the page you just edited. Relations are displayed using this background color, in order to distinguish them from regular links and pics.

Relations to pics have an additional special feature: The pic is displayed inline where you placed the relation. This can be useful for constructing compilation articles which refer to pics on other journals, or for referring to interesting pics in forums discussions. The benefit of using a relation (rather than re-uploading the pic) is that it saves you time, and an attribution link back to the original location is automatically displayed. Also, ratings for the pic are preserved.

You can see the two-way nature of relations by going to view the target page after making a relation to it. You may have to reload the target page (since your browser caches pages, and you need to make sure you're getting the most up-to-date version). You should see at the bottom of the target page text looking something like "Show links to this". If you click on that, it will expand and show you a list of all the incoming relations that point to this object. Your new relation should be on that list. This can be useful to see how and where a page is being referred to or discussed on other parts of the site.

There is an option for journal authors to turn off the "show links to this". Some people don't like to have this displayed on their journal without having any control over who links to it. So if you don't see your relation listed at the bottom of such a journal, then the author has probably used this option.

When you add a relation to a textual page (e.g. journal page or forum post) then a special code is added to the end of the text. This looks something like [Pic 1234]. This is a simple code that signifies the type of the relation target (could be one of Doc, Page, Pic, Message, Resource, Classified, Poll or Profile), followed by the internal database id of the target object. You can move this code around in the text if you like, to aid with formatting. You can also add some text after the numeric ID, but before the closing square bracket. Then this will be shown as a caption immediately after the relation. This can be useful if you are using relations to display pics from elsewhere in the site, for example.

Regular URLs which are included in the text are automatically checked to see if they are pointing to pages within this website. If so, then an "implicit" relation is automatically created when you save. This implicit relation is seen in the "links to this" for the link target, as described above. Implicit relations do not get the square bracket codes, however, since the relation has already been expressed in the text via the URL.

To delete a relation, edit the page where you originally added it. There will be checkboxes near the bottom of the form. You can either uncheck the checkboxes of the relations you want to remove, or else you can also simply delete the relation codes from the text. When you save, the relations will be deleted. If you remove a URL which previously produced an implicit relation, then that will also be automatically detected and the relation removed.

Options

The Options page lets you set various properties related to how information on the website is presented. The options are stored in a browser cookie, which is a small piece of persistent information that the browser saves. You need to enable cookies in your browser for the options to work. Here is an explanation of the various fields on the Options form:

Timezone
If you select your world time zone here, then the dates and times which are shown in various places on the website will be automatically converted to your local time. Otherwise, the default will be wherever the webserver happens to be located, e.g. US/Pacific. If you want timestamps to make more sense, then it's a good idea to set this option. The date/time you select should take Daylight Savings into account automatically.

Pic size
There are a lot of pictures in the journals on the website, and so this option allows you to select different sizes for how the pics are displayed. You can opt for no pics at all, or thumbnails, small or large versions. The large size is simply the original size that was uploaded by the author of the journal. The small size is usually around 50% the original (unless the original was very small, in which case the scaling may not be as much). The thumbnail size is around 10% of the original. You should select appropriately based on your internet bandwidth and screen size. Larger pics will take longer to download, so if you have a dialup connection then you might want to stick with the 'small' or 'thumbnail' sizes. When you select a smaller size, then the pics are linked to the next larger version. For example, if you are showing 'small' pics, then you can click on any pic to go to the 'large' version. If you are showing 'thumbnail' size then clicking on a pic will display the 'small' size.

Max pic display width
This can be a useful option if you have a monitor or screen that is not very wide. When images are wider than the screen, then browsers often introduce a horizontal scroll bar, which then requires manipulation in order to pan across the whole page - obviously this can get annoying. In cases like this, you can set the maximum width (in pixels) that you would like pics to be shown at. This will ensure that pics will always fit into your particular screen size - they are automatically scaled down.

Website font size
This allows you to have some control over the size of the text that is used for the non-content text of the website - e.g. menus and other non-user-generated text. Useful for people who may need larger text due to poor eyesight, or those with smaller screens who want to avoid horizontal scroll bars.

Text font size
This is similar to the preceding option, only it applies to the user-generated text of the site - i.e. the journal page content, forum posts etc. Having two distinct options allows you the flexibility to have, say, smaller "system" text while making the journal content stand out more and still be easier to read.

Text display width
This allows you to set a maximum width (in pixels) for the user-generated content of the site (e.g. journal pages, forum posts). This can be useful for people who prefer to read text in more narrow columns rather than always having it go all the way across the entire width of the browser window. Studies have shown that it is easier to read narrow columns of text than wider ones, so this is an option for those who like that.

Small screen
If you check this option, then the website will be shown in a format that is more "friendly" to small screens (e.g. smart phones etc). What this mainly does is try to reduce the amount of information being crammed into each line of text, so that we can avoid your browser having to make a horizontal scroll bar. Basically we just always want to try to fit everything on the screen, at least in the horizontal plane, otherwise browsing gets very irritating, always having to scroll left and right. You will see less information displayed on the home page of the site, but you should still be able to navigate to all areas of the website as before.

Journals listing
This option allows you to set how journals are displayed when they are listed. You can choose between 'summary' and 'expanded'. The 'summary' option will display the journal lists in tabular format, with the title, author, last updated time and current status. The 'expanded' format lists journals in list format, with more information, e.g. journal description, categories, and start & end dates. You will see that you can temporarily override this option while you are browsing the journals or What's New pages - but when you return to any of these journal lists, the option you selected here will be used again.

Resources listing
This option is very similar to the Journals option described previously. It allows for three formats when listing Resource entries: Summary, Compact and Expanded. The Summary format is tabular, and displays the one-line summary of the entry, along with an indication of whether there is a link associated, and the categories. The Compact format shows a bit more information, including the locales (if any) and the full link (if applicable). The Expanded format shows everything in each entry, including pictures. Note that you can override this option while you are browsing the Resources - so you could select 'summary' in the Options page, and then go into the Resources and change to 'expanded' view. That view will then be kept temporarily while you stay browsing the Resources pages, but if you go elsewhere on the website and return to the Resources, then the option that you selected in the Options page will be used again. Thus this option is your 'default' for browsing the Resources, but can be temporarily changed while you are browsing a specific topic or locale.

Classifieds listing
See the previous option for Resources listing; this is the same idea, applied to the classifieds.

Forums overview
The main Forums page has three different ways to display the messages and topics: Alphabetically by topic, By topic (latest activity first), or by latest thread activity. This option allows you to choose which format will be the default when you go to the Forums page. You can override this option when viewing the Forums, by using the option links on the page - but these changes will only be temporary. The next time you visit the page, the options will be set to what you choose on the Options page.

Forum display
This gives you the choice of how you view a particular forum - either as a list of messages (latest first), or else as a list of all the different threads (discussions). I think the threads option is more useful, generally, especially where there are lots of different discussions going on.

Thread display
This allows you to show threads either in chronological order (i.e. earlier posts in the thread shown first), or nested (i.e. showing replies indented below the parent messages that they are in reply to). Usually I find the chronological option more useful and natural, but there are times when you want to focus on a particular sub-tree of replies, so this gives you that option.

Message style
This has options for 'compact' or 'expanded'. It mainly applies to the placement of the various options for replying, printing, reporting, ratings etc for each individual message in the forums. With the 'compact' view, everything is shown at the top of the message. With the 'expanded' view, some of the options are shown at the end of the message.

Display sponsor ads?
The website displays text ads in order to raise revenue to help with hosting and development costs. The ads are text-only, and they are hand-picked by the webmaster so that they are guaranteed to be relevant to the website topic. However, some people may prefer the website without any ads at all, and so this option allows you to turn them off. You may occasionally still see a page with ads on it, if it was cached by a proxy server. However in most cases, the site should be largely ad-free if you uncheck this checkbox.

Display ratings
You can turn the display of ratings on and off - see the Ratings section for more details on how that works, also for the filtering functionality.

Filter trolls
This allows you to hide messages that have been rated by other users of the site as being 'troll' (i.e. someone judged to be posting just to get a rise out of the community). You can select the score threshold that you want this to kick in, which relates to how many people have rated that message with 'troll'.

Filter abuse
Similar to the previous option, only for the 'abuse' rating.

Filter spam
Same as previous, only for the 'spam' rating.

When you click the button to save the options, the cookie will be sent to your browser, and the browser will then be redirected to a location appropriate to where you were on the website when you clicked on the Options tab. So if you were reading a journal, then you should be returned to the page in the journal where you were previously. If you were looking at the Resources, then you'll be returned there. If you weren't doing anything in particular, then you are returned to the Journal index.

Ads

Here's a summary of how the website ad program works:

Why sponsor this site?

How corporate sponsorship works

How to post an ad

  1. Register - click on 'My' in the navbar at the top of the page, and then 'Register'.
  2. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email which contains a link that you need to click on in order to activate your account.
  3. Log in - click on 'My' in the navbar.
  4. Go to My > Ads (i.e. first the 'My' tab and then the 'Ads' subtab) and follow the instructions there.
  5. If you are computer-phobic or just do not wish to deal with registration, then contact me and I will help with the process of getting your ad online.

Topics

This website is part of a network of sites which are gathered together under topicwise.com and townwise.com. Basically each topic site has exactly the same structure as this one, just with different content. The original topic was crazyguyonabike.com, which was about bicycle touring. I developed crazyguyonabike over a number of years, until I realized that the code could be applied to other topics, e.g. hiking, travel, photography, or just about any other subject you could think of. Rather than dilute crazyguyonabike, which I wanted to keep focused on the bicycle touring, I decided to get a new domain for the expanded site. In fact what I ended up with was two new domains, topicwise.com and townwise.com. Topicwise would be the umbrella domain for "subject-oriented" topics such as hiking, whereas townwise.com would be focused on places, mostly towns (a bit like craigslist). Each topic would have its own subdomain under topicwise.com or townwise.com, e.g. hiking.topicwise.com is the Hiking topic.

You will notice that right at the top of every page, on the top line, there is an indication of which topic you are currently on, followed by "[change]". Here is an example screenshot of the top left corner of the page to highlight what I am referring to:

You can click on 'change' (not in this image, but on the actual webpage) to go to the topic directory, either for topicwise or townwise, depending on where you are currently. From there you can go to any of the other topics.

The main directory sites, www.topicwise.com and www.townwise.com, also have forums which are dedicated to the discussion of new topics and other site-wide questions and problems. So if you have a question about how the site works then you should head over there to post your question. The webmaster will see whatever you post, so don't worry if it looks like there hasn't been any activity recently.

There is also an introductory overview article on topicwise, which explains in a bit more detail how the concept works.

Conclusion

I hope this help document was useful to you - if there's anything it didn't answer then take a look at the FAQ, also under the Help section. And if you are still confused then get in touch with me and ask the question directly. If it's a point which I've missed here then I'll add it!


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