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Polar Bears in Svalbard

Just came back from a spectacular cruise with Lindblad and National Geographic Expeditions around Svalbard (the island group north of Norway with the closest permanent settlement to the North Pole).

While a documentary series like the BBC’s Frozen Planet can give you some sense of the beauty and fragility of these places there is nothing like actually being there, feeling the chill wind, the sound of glaciers calving, the smell of bird cliffs, etc. It also provides an opportunity to witness some magnificent sights such as a polar bear drama we witnessed.

In the distance we spotted an old male polar bear lying on the ice. As we drew close we discovered that he had company. Initially we thought that the female bear and cub close to him were waiting by a seal breathing hole but no they were lying there watching the male bear (although strictly speaking Mum was watching the male bear and the cub was watching Mum). The male was lying on what appeared to be a pillow of snow but that too proved to be incorrect as suddenly he pulled a baby beluga whale from the snow. When he did the great reveal and started eating it she challenged him but he saw her off (and her confused/frightened cub). Walking in the far distance were two more bears who nearly instantly changed direction and started to come in our direction. First a young female came to challenge, perhaps indicating how hungry she was and then a young male. Both were scared away by the old, scared male but they all then set up camp not far from him (and us in the ship) to watch for another opportunity. I have no idea how it ended as we moved away while the old male was still eating with his audience of 4 other bears.

Another lazy day in Longyearbyen

Last full day in Longyearbyen before the NGE cruise begins and of course it’s raining. Not that is a problem as Basecamp has a nice cosy loft area where I can sit with my iPad and listen to the rain. Somewhat glad that I didn’t do a cruise today to one of the Russian settlements as it probably won’t be a whole lot of fun.

Of course the weather changed again and while it’s still brisk the low cloud and rain have passed so it’s back to “pleasant” and wandering around town weather. Went down to the harbour and noticed the signs warning of aggressive Arctic Terns. Sounded a lot like Adelaide’s aggressive Magpies. I saw some at a safe distance so I escaped without a welcome from them. There was a Greenpeace ship in the harbour, no idea why as I’m blissfully news free (well mostly, still trying to keep up with the TdF via twitter 🙂

One last restaurant to try tonight, the one at the Radisson (I’m passing on the pizza joint, although it’s probably excellent).

DNS problems

Discovered why some people (including me here in Longyearbyen) are getting my old web site rather than the new one. It seems that the Internode name servers haven’t updated. Looking closer it seems that Internode is using one to do the transfer and it’s being denied as it’s not one of the actual slaves. Fixed that but it seems that there is a race condition too. Had to update the SOA three times and get my server to send notifys to the Internode server to get it to a state where the rest of the data is up to date. Now need to wait for caches to refresh. Maybe tomorrow…

Svalbard

Well I made it here and it’s warmer than I expected, a balmy 6C! The intermittent drizzle is a bit annoying but it didn’t stop me from walking up to the western edge of town and back taking photos. Being ultra careful with the D3s after the disaster in the Baltic but it was hard to keep it dry and take photos, especially given I had left its rain jacket in the room. It would be good to be able to add some iPhone photos but that requires the app which hates my self signed cert 🙁

WordPress for iOS hates my self signed certificate

I thought that I would be able to use the WordPress app to write stuff in my blog while I am overseas and not lugging around a laptop but it seems that it doesn’t like self signed certificates. I can be sure though as the diagnostic isn’t particularly informative. It’s not clear which signing authority would be acceptable either.

Using Safari works though, assuming this post makes it 🙂 so all is not lost.

Moving www.mrp.net to a new server

OK I’ve finally bitten the bullet and changed the A and AAAA records and http://www.mrp.net should now use the new web server built using RapidWeaver. Still some work to be done to complete the rebuild (more photos to add, blog entries to fix) but hopefully it’s usable and I’ll fix the broken links as I discover them. It still leaves the mail system to migrate but at least there’s been obvious progress now 🙂

Importing the iWeb blog into WordPress

Well it turned out to be a whole lot less painful than I expected as you can use iWeb’s RSS feed but you need to change the number of entries in the RSS feed to the maximum (50) otherwise you only get the small number of entries on the main page and none of the archive. Fortunately I had less than 50 posts so I could do it in one hit. Getting the photos embedded in the blog imported was less successful. Some made it but others have gone AWOL and as WordPress wants the images to be smaller than 2MB just dropping copies into the article isn’t just going to work, I’ll need to scale them down individually.

Testing WordPress as a blog

I didn’t like RapidWeaver’s default blog so in the search for something “better” I’ve discovered a plugin that uses WordPress. Dunno if this will actually be better but it seems more flexible. It’s probably going to be a hassle to migrate by old, infrequent, blogs to a new system irrespective of what software I use but ideally I’d just like to do it once 🙂

Changing from iWeb to RapidWeaver

I have no idea if Apple will continue to support iWeb but I suspect not so perhaps the migration to a new machine is the right time to change to some new web design software. Although I’ve got DreamWeaver that seems a lot of work so I’m trying out RapidWeaver. Like iWeb it has its irritations but hopefully less than iWeb.

More changes

The iWeb template is 700 px wide but that’s just wasting space on a wide screen laptop so I’ve widened some of the pages to 900 px which looks better. Given iWeb’s uncertain future I’m not going to do them all (at this stage anyway) and might investigate RapidWeaver.
I’ve also started the process of migrating to the new server. If you’re seeing this page then you’re using the new one!