Photo Captions

Photo Captions in Blogs

In a prior post on Live Writer Basics, Photo Captions in WordPress Blogs, the topic was the caption feature provided in the WordPress blogging service. Captions are a nice feature to explain the details of an image. There were questions from readers about how to do captions for photos in Blogger blogs. This article takes up the subject and expands to Blogger blogs and blogs in general.

There is no native caption feature provided by Blogger, and there is no direct support in Live Writer. So, to do captions we do it the old-fashioned way and go back to using tables. That used to be very popular years ago when whole sites consisted of nothing but tables. That approach was cumbersome and is much despised and discouraged. However, it is a viable and relatively easy way to add captions to illustrations. Of course, it will work not just for Blogger blogs, but others as well. So it can be used on WordPress almost as readily as the  caption feature. There is a big HOWEVER, since the code described here is archaic and deprecated and won’t work with the newer WordPress themes. More and that farther down.

Here are the details – using a table to caption a photo

The Table tool in Live Writer

Table tool in Live WriterIn Live Writer the table option is on the Insert tab.

Before we go into the details let’s take a look at the problem we have set for ourselves. The need for “captioning a photo” assumes that the photo accompanies text and is set within that body of text, either to the left or the right. We likely do not want the outlines that are so common with tabular data. The table tool in Live Writer by default sets the table the width of the blog column and centers it with no text to either the right or left of it. Indeed, the tool does not offer an alignment option. We will have to do that the hard way.

captions-2-02The Live Writer Insert Table dialog

Clicking the Table tool brings up a small dialog to enter the details for the table. The dialog will look different for you the first time you use it and Live Writer will remember your settings for the next time.

For this use, captioning a photo, we need a table with just one row and one column.

The width is not critical at the outset as Live Writer will resize the table when you set the size of the photo once you have inserted it.

There is a check box for “Show table border” and a field for specifying the width of the border in pixels. For this application we don’t want a border. Unfortunately, Live Writer uses the style sheet set up for the blog theme or template and there may be some defaults that interfere with what we are trying to do. Uncheck the box, the field will be “grayed out” and no border width entry is required or possible.

Next come two other specifications, “Pad cell contents” and “Space between cells”. Both values are specified in pixels. These values are translated to HTML “cellpadding” and “cellspacing” attributes, respectively. Here again Live Writer may bow to the blog style sheet and be less than cooperative with you. We will come to the workaround shortly. Do remember that Microsoft has not seem fit to update this magnificent tool in the last few years.

We want some space between the blog text and the image, we will use the “Space between cells” value for that. A value of 10 should be fine. The “Pad cell contents” value specifies additional space within the cell, think of it as a margin setting. You would think that the two add to each other. They do. Yes, one or the other could be set to zero, but farther along in this article I will explain and added bonus feature, so go ahead and use 10 for this value also.

When you click Insert in the dialog you will see something like this on your screen:

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The HTML code, as seem when you click the  Source tab (lower left of Live Writer window) is like this:captions-2-04

We will need to add an attribute to this code to specify the alignment. You can do this at any time, but it is easiest to do it right away when the HTML code is at the end and easy to find. The attribute is align=”left” or align=”right” and needs to be added to the first line of the table HTML code. I like to add it just before the closing “>”. Live Writer will move it to where it likes it.

Move the cursor to the place in your post text where you want the image. Insert your table, click the Source tab. Find the table code. Move the cursor to the end of the “table” line but before the “>”. Type a space and then the align attribute. Obviously, if you want the picture on the left side, use align=”left” and if you want it along the right margin use align=”right”. Click the Edit tab to return to the normal display.

Click in the center space of the table. The cursor will be located inside the cell. I like to type my caption text before inserting the image, but it doesn’t matter. It works as you would expect. You can size the image as you normally do, the table size will be readjusted by Live Writer.

There is one thing I must caution you about: In Live Writer tables are not easy to move. It is easier to move the text that is around them.

Bonus

In elegant sites you may have admired photos not only being captioned, but also offset on a different color background. That is easy to do. First figure out the hex code for the color that you want for the background. captions-2-05Your theme or template may already set the blog on a colored background, so you want your “image highlight” to be a color that is close, a little darker if it is a light background or a little lighter if you blog is on a dark background. What I do is this: I do a screen capture of one of my blog posts, paste it into Paint and use the color picker to load the background color into the color selector. Then I adjust the color for the background I want, see the pointer in the illustration. The values for read, green and blue (see the arrow) are then translated into hex for the HTML code. For the values here, 255, 233, 191, you get FF, E9, and BF (I use the Calculator in Programmer view). The HTML attribute to set this color as the cell background is bgcolor=”ffe9bf”. This attribute goes into the “td” line. Again it doesn’t matter where you put it, Live Writer will relocate it. It is easiest, however, to put it right at the start. See the HTML code  illustration here and also the result in the normal edit view.

captions-2-06


The Eastern Continental Divide Monument
in Duluth, Georgia.
The location of this obelisk is at
34o 00’ 12.286” N   84o 08’ 43.245” W

Alright, let’s try it. Here is a little bit of art to illustrate photo captioning as well as setting a background color for the image. Once you try this technique it will soon become much easier that you now might think after this long dissertation. Note that for the caption all the text editing features are available.

Also note that the image not only can be sized as desired, you can also insert a hyperlink. In this case it takes you to my Café Ludwig OneDrive photo album.

What was just described works for Blogger blogs and WordPress blogs using some older themes. It does not work, or does not work well, with the newer WordPress themes. For the newer themes the use of the “” option is the way to go. This was described in Photo Captions in WordPress Blogs in the Live Writer Basics blog.

The text above is pretty much a duplicate of the article Photo Captions in Blogs from Live Writer Basics.

This blog uses a newer theme and what was described above does not work at all. The older, deprecated, HTML attributes are totally ignored and the default table settings just won’t cooperate with what was described here.

Of course, tables can be used for photo captioning and other uses, the newer conventions have to be observed and followed. Live Writer still prepares HTML code the old way. It was orphaned some four years ago by Microsoft and the world has not stood still in that time. It would be nice to wake up Microsoft and get Live Writer up to date, but that is not likely.

Modifying Live Writer table code to work with current WordPress themes

To work properly, the HTML code must be modified to use the “style” attribute for specifying the table properties. Live Writer can live with that, although it will modify the code that I will suggest here.

Use the Table tool in Live Writer but change the cell padding and spacing values to zero. The code will be as shown above, but let me repeat it here:

image

For setting the photo to the left, with other text to the right, change the code to this:

image

To set the photo to the right, with text to its left, specify the float value as right, and use left-margin:10px instead. Note that everything in the first line, the “<table” line, was replaced, and in the “td” line the two attributes were removed and replaced with the background color (this is optional, of course). Live Writer will change this code, but it will work. In the Edit view you will see just a dashed outline or a light space if you specified the background color.  Insert your photo into this box and your caption text. Use the normal tools and options.

imageOne last hint. If you want to use a color background but don’t wish to have to calculate the hex color value, do this: Type a couple of letter, I usually use XX, drag the cursor over them to select, highlight the text. Click the ▼ next to the little highlighter icon in the Font section, click on a color you like. The text you selected will now be on a color background like this: XX.

Now take a look in Source view. The code for the marked text will look like this:

image

Yep, Live Writer uses the style attribute for this and prepared the code, including the color value, for you. just select the part you need for the “td” section.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Blogging, Live Writer, Photos | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

OneDrive storage aplenty!

Microsoft announced a while back that the storage space on OneDrive would be increased. The free allotment is now 15 GB and an Office 365 subscription gets you an additional terabyte (TB).

OneDrive-140716-03The extra space is now being rolled out. You can see in the illustration here that I now have  well over one terabyte available on my OneDrive.

So the cloud war is picking up again. It wasn’t so long ago that Yahoo increased the storage allowance for Flickr users to one terabyte.

Google is lagging at the moment at 15 GB.

All this cloud storage space now makes backing up to the cloud something that can be seriously considered.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Flickr, Google, Microsoft Office, OneDrive | Tagged , | 2 Comments

OneDrive improvement

ZDNet reported on June 10, 2014 on a recent update to OneDrive, formerly SkyDrive: Microsoft slips sync changes into OneDrive on Windows 8.1 This is a useful small improvement that on Windows 7 systems was installed automatically but requires user-intervention on Windows 8.1 machines.

imageRight-click on the little OneDrive (cloud) icon in the notification area of the taskbar. If it does not have all the options shown in this screen clip, do another update.

To start an update use the search tool and enter “update” then click on “Check for updates”.

When you see the screen shown below click on “View Details”.

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You will see the available updates. Important updates are checked, but there is an update under “Optional” that is not checked. This update contains the OneDrive improvements.

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Click on the update KB2962409 to select it and then click Install. After the update process you will see the OneDrive options as shown above.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in OneDrive, SkyDrive, Windows 8.1 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

VirtualBox Drag-and-Drop

Sorry, drag-and-drop not in latest update

Oracle VirtualBox is a virtual machine utility that allows another operating systems to run in a window on Windows and other host machines. VirtualBox 4.3.12 was released on May 16, 2014. This is a maintenance release.

image

For a long time drag-and-drop was not available between the host machine and guest machines. Neither could copy and paste be used. imageSadly, that is still the case. You can find the setting under DevicesDrag’n’Drop. You can set Host To Guest, Guest To Host, or Bidirectional. The setting sticks, but such functions simple are not available.

Neither is copy and paste. The clipboard sharing can be set in the MachineSettings, under General on the Advanced tab. It is just as pretty an illusion as the drag-and-drop setting. image

So how do you move data between host and guest systems? imageThe optional use of a shared folder works very nicely. You can set up such a folder anywhere on the host system. I put mine in the same folder as my virtual machines. This makes is a bit of a chore to locate and open. My work-around is to open the folder and then right-click on Favorites in the nav pane of Windows Explorer, File Explorer to Windows 8 fans, and click Add current location to Favorites. This makes it easy to get to. In fact I do the same thing in the guest system. Then drag-and-drop or copy-and-paste operations take just one extra step.

Window Resizing

imageI should add that window resizing is still not implemented properly. VirtualBox provides a few screen resolution settings. If that is not sufficient, there is a mode called Scale mode. In that mode you can drag the window to a new size. Unfortunately it stays proportional to the original size. The menu bar and Taskbar disappear. The window is not really resized, just stretched out, making the readability very poor.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Virtual Machine | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

OneDrive Advancements

Microsoft adds new OneDrive features

The competition to be the “one and only” in the personal cloud storage competition continues to bring us improvements and enhancements. The latest from Microsoft OneDrive are a number of nice updates for photo albums.

The thumbnails are now much larger than before. There are still some sizing quirks that need to get worked out as the small images are not always in the correct proportions.

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The little slide shows on the folder tiles can now be replaced with a fixed cover photo.

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This is a neat feature. The next step will likely be lager folder tiles as the present small images seem a bit outdated now.

One “feature” that I find a bit bothersome is the way OneDrive is presented differently to the owner and public visitors. Here are two views, the first as I see it when signed in, and the second as it appears to visitors. This has to do with the permission on folders and photos.

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TnT-OnDrive-140506-4

For more on the updates see the OneDrive blog post Updating OneDrive: Five New Features You Asked For

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Digital Photos, OneDrive, Photos, SkyDrive | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Blogging: Tags, Links and Stats

Blogging – Tags, Links, and Statistics

It seems that I have been inadvertently conducting a longtime experiment in blogging. WordPress provides some wonderful and comprehensive statistics; this gives me a good deal of information about the effectiveness of tags and other tools.

This blog is just celebrating its fifth anniversary. The target audience was, and still is, the older folks needing a bit of help to use and enjoy their computers and cameras. Early on I added several other blogs to keep any one more closely oriented to a particular topic area. This blog, This ‘n That, is more computing oriented. For specific questions I started Ask Ludwig and for just sharing images I use Gallery Ludwig for photos, and Silver Canvas for digital art, I call it “café art”. Below are four charts showing visits to my blogs. The vertical scales all differ and do not matter for this discussion. The top two are for the “talkie” blogs, This ’n That and Ask Ludwig, the bottom two for the “showie” blogs, Gallery Ludwig and Silver Canvas.

 TnT-20140419-1

You can see the “showie” blogs get visited rather infrequently, whereas the “talkie” blogs get visited quite a bit, in fact hundreds of times a day. Let’s take a look at why that might be. There may be just a bit of useful information in this post for you. I don’t do many “chatty” posts like this one, so bear with me on this occasion.

When I started This ‘n That it was on another blogging service, “Live Spaces”, a service offered by Microsoft and discontinued long ago. When they shut it down they offered everyone help to move over to WordPress, past posts and all. So my earliest posts are preserved but the formatting and illustrations lost much in the move. The earliest statistics also were lost. Still, to this day my initial “real” post on “Live Search” still gets frequent visits. Now “Live Search” is long gone too, it was replaced by Bing. That first post used what I thought was an uninteresting and unusual search to illustrate how searching works. If you search “wicker chairs in aircraft”, either in Google or Bing, you will see my first post in the top returns.

How are visitors attracted to a blog?

There are several ways. I already mentioned the search sites, Google and Bing, we’ll come back to them a bit farther down. Tagging is a very effective way to assist visitors to find a blog and the posts on it. Links from other sites and blogs can drive traffic. Then there is the WordPress “social scene”. I will take these up one at a time.

Tags

Since the earliest days tags have been used in blogging. When This ‘n That started on Live Spaces I used the “Clubhouse” tags. This was a Microsoft tagging service. Microsoft also provided  “syndication”, picked up the blog posts on their on Clubhouse site. This blog enjoyed huge popularity with visitors in the thousands per day. Microsoft, ever clever in snatching a good product or service from the certain jaws of success. discontinued Live Spaces in October 2010. The Clubhouse followed into extinction as did Clubhouse tags. Those tags that are still on my early posts simply no longer work.

With the move to WordPress I stated using Technorati tags in October 2010. I knew that I could not expect much traffic from Technorati. Technorati rated blogs primarily on frequency of publication. Not only did I only post when I had something relevant to say, but I also used the most topically oriented blog. Visits referred over from Technorati were never more than a “trace impurity”. I discontinued the use of Technorati tags in October 2013. The service made extensive changes and none of the tags on my posts still work.

So for me the tagging services of Microsoft and Technorati were a decided failure and those are of no use to readers.

WordPress has provided tags and those I have used all along, I even had gone back and tagged early posts. WordPress tags are “blog specific”. When you click on a tag on one of my posts you will be shown other posts using that tag on my blog. The tags do not lead to other blogs. They cannot bring visitors from other blogs, except as used in the “Reader” – see the “social scene” section below. Tags, however, can be very useful to readers and I plan on using them more effectively on all my posts. You might find this post of interest: Better Tagging for Increased Traffic.

Links

Links, either in the sidebar or within the text of posts can be another help to readers. The group of blogs that I find complementary to mine, or of potential interest to my readers, has shrunk as some of the bloggers have discontinued their efforts. I need to do some research to find other blogs that are along the topic lines of mine. When I write a post I like to provide as much access to other material as I can find.

Links from other blogs and sites have been the largest source of visitors other than the search engines. Links really work and I recommend making good use of them to everyone in the blogosphere.

WordPress “social scene”

In recent years WordPress has been very active in building the users into a full-fledged community. A number of blogs promote blogging with tips, news, and challenges. The Daily Post is always an interesting read with inspiring thoughts and useful information. WordPress.com News is another site that is really helpful to bloggers. I have those blogs and a number of other blogs in my “Blogs I Follow” list. The WordPress Reader is a daily habit of mine, not only to get the latest posts of blog that I follow but to look in on what is happening in topics, that is tags, of interest to me.

The WordPress Reader, and the ability to “follow” WordPress blogs, provides the gateway to the huge WordPress community. I follow a modest number of blogs, and my blogs have small numbers of followers. There is a downside to this, I discovered. You can see it in the stats illustration above. The Reader shows posts and readers need not visit the actual blog to read and see the latest. My “showie” blogs, Gallery Ludwig and Silver Canvas, have actually more followers than my “talkie” blogs, This ‘n That and Ask Ludwig. I like to publish one photo or “work of art” at a time, and my followers can see that just fine in the Reader. Rarely do they visit my blogs to see other images.

The other downside of the way WordPress works is that only WordPress account holders can “follow” a WordPress blog. Most of my target audience is outside the blogging community so they are not “followers”. I have to reach them through other means.

Search

The search sites are the main drivers for visitors to my “talkie” blogs. Both This ‘n That and Ask Ludwig get hundreds of visitors a day this way. Google is by far the biggest source, followed a long way behind by Bing with the other search sites just a small portion. My “showie” blogs, Gallery Ludwig and Silver Canvas get most visitors from links on other sites. This situation does not come as a surprise. Search engines primarily look for words or short strings of words. I rarely have textual material along with the images. So there is nothing for search engines to find. Obviously here is an opportunity to see if descriptive text along with the images will allow visitors to find my photos and “café art”. Of particular interest to me have been the listings of search terms. This shows the queries that folks entered in the search box. Very often my posts did not fully answer the questions and that has given me incentive to explore those topics in more detail.

Well, thank you for reading this far! I hope that my rambling thoughts have provided a little bit of useful information and maybe a tad of entertainment.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Clever these Redmondians!

Microsoft gives away 10 PB of storage

As part of the SkyDrive to OneDrive renaming hoopla, Microsoft gave away a ton of online storage. They had announced that in a teaser puzzle post to their Facebook fans. The first 100,000 users to log in after 11:11 am PT would get an extra 100 GB.

It had to be a frantic 30 minutes – that’s about how long it took for all the gigabytes to be claimed. Now this extra storage is for just one year. So what do users who have made good use of this space do a year from now? Why upgrade and buy more storage, of course!

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An extra 100 GB only costs $50 per year. Getting 100k users hooked is an easy five megadollars! Clever, yes?

To extend the reach Microsoft sent out this email: (Just an image here, links don’t work)

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Go ahead, fill it up, friends! And if you have more pictures than fit in your OneDrive, remember that over on Flickr you get 1 TB free (that’s 1000 GB).

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Flickr, OneDrive, SkyDrive | Tagged , | Leave a comment