Rockingham House, Lough Key, Boyle: Then & Now Photoshop

I’ve been a regular visitor to Lough Key near Boyle Co. Roscommon from even before I moved to the Northwest of Ireland in 2003 and many times since then, including this afternoon for the first time in a good while when I decided to drop by in the rain to snap some photos of the remnants of the old Rockingham House Estate there which was destroyed by fire (for the second time) in 1957 then subsequently demolished, perhaps controversially considering it’s decent state, in 1971. The large foundations, still interspersed with servants tunnels and sprouting an ugly tower, which I initially thought reminiscent of something you’d see in Ballymun, Dublin, rather than in one of the great forest parks of Northwest Ireland is now a commercial tourist attraction.

I’d seen photos of the old house before but never really thought through what it must have looked like or where it stood or which direction it faced before until I seen another fairly hi-res and impressive colour photo of the house on Facebook recently. I decided to do some research, take some photos and Photoshop together how I thought it might have looked “Then Vs Now”, just to give anyone interested an idea..

Here are the results (CLICK)

Photo Gallery:

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Some further references on Rockingham House and accounts of it’s demise:

http://www.boyletoday.com/57-years-since-rockingham-fire/

http://thegardens.ie/?page_id=918

https://www.irelandxo.com/ireland-xo/history-and-genealogy/buildings-database/rockingham-house-boyle

 

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Photoshop CC Essential Basics Online Course

I’ve created a 9 Lesson online course in Photoshop CC basics for Photoshop beginners who would like to know how to do basic image editing. It’s suitable for:

  • Photographers,
  • Business Owners,
  • Marketing People,
  • Graphic Designers,
  • Web Designers,
  • Photoshop Hobbyists.

Requirements:

  • Basic computing ability,
  • A decent, modern Desktop or Laptop computer,
  • A cloud subscription to Photoshop CC (or the free months trial).

Topics Covered include:

  1. Where and how to get Photoshop,
  2. Photoshop Configuration,
  3. The Photoshop Interface,
  4. How to Open images,
  5. How to Crop images,
  6. How to Resize images,
  7. How to Add Text to an image,
  8. How to Save an image,
  9. How to Save Optimised images for the Web.

There’s also a Quiz at the end to test your new found knowledge!

The course is a total of 40 mins long and only €79 + VAT.

TAKE THE COURSE

Mohill Railway Station Leitrim Then and Now

I have Google alerts set to alert me whenever Mohill or Leitrim is in the news and one came in last week for old photos of Mohill Railway station for sale on eBay by an Australian seller of all things! The auctions were fairly high quality old photos from about 1950 looking from both ends of Mohill at the old railway station. All photos were from about the 1950s.

I loaded them on my phone and went out one fine day (it’s only around the corner from where I live) to take some modern day photos from as close to the old photo angles as possible.

I went back to the office and loaded each set of then and now photos in Photoshop and aligned them best I could before masking out certain sections to merge then and now versions in some meaningful way. Finally I added some adjustment layers above everything to improve levels, colour and contrast..

The Old Photos:

The New Photos:

The Results:

Is Email Marketing Dead?

Recent Experiences

It just occurred to me as I sent out my last business Newsletter recently to a highly focused MailChimp list especially for existing clients of mine, a newsletter alerting clients to changes in the Google algorithm that will most likely affect their sites positions in search results and in turn possibly their main marketing channel, and having watched multiple unsubscribes and no replies to it, that Email Marketing, as I know it at least, may be dead.

The last few similar newsletters I sent out yielded the same results. No replies, no business and a few unsubscribes. I check the stats re open rate etc and all emails reach their destination and actually have good open and click rates. I’m sending these newsletters to a list that I use to alert existing clients of issues with hosting, problems that may arise and general important announcements that clients really need to know. If they unsubscribe, they wont get this information and they’ll be in the dark and I may not have the resources to deal with issues directly or by phone as a result of them being in the dark! Fair enough, I also use newsletters as a marketing channel sometimes but I doubt very much that I oversell through it.

Why?

So why the lack of interest? I guess it’s possible it could just be that they have no interest and see no relevance in the content. It’s hardly that they receive too many emails from me given that I only send newsletters out every 2 or 3 months if even that. Maybe people in general are overwhelmed by emails? Maybe they don’t have the time? Maybe it’s just a tired method?

From my own perspective as someone who also receives a lot of email newsletters, it can be overwhelming. The companies that send out the most frequent and/or longest newsletters usually get the boot from me but I try not to make the same mistakes in my own email campaigns.

GDPR

Then there’s GDPR. Could this have had an affect on email marketing? I took all the necessary precautions when the new GDPR regulations passed last summer. I emailed everyone, asking them if they wanted to remain on my list and telling them what data I held exactly. I had very few unsubscribes then, if any so I presumed people were happy to stay on the list. I’m pretty sure GDPR has scared a lot of people off email marketing though. And caused a lot of unsubscribes.

The Future?

So what’s the next new marketing thing!? I’m subscribed to Seth Godin’s email list. I signed up for it because he famously keeps them very short and concise. I’ve seen some come in that are barely a sentence! More often than not they talk a lot of sense and wisdom. Seth is a big proponent of the old fashioned way of doing things. Being honest, offering value, doing things the hard way and not taking the quick and easy fixes.

That’s what I’m going to try to do anyway. I just have to find the right medium to do it through!

Ireland Regions Map Vector

I’ve been learning Adobe Illustrator finally and getting some practice in on the job so to speak. I was asked to rebuild an old jpeg of an Ireland map in hi-res vector format by the Northern & Western regional Assembly.

I started with a blank off the shelf Ireland map vector and added the regions, colours, text and borders/boundaries as well as background colour and drop shadow in Illustrator.

Ireland-Map

 

Mobile First Indexing

This week, I’ve been getting regular emails from Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) to let me know that my own sites and those of my clients that I’ve added to the console have been switched to “Mobile-first” indexing.

Mobile-first Indexing

What this basically means is that the results in Google searches will show content primarily from the mobile version of your website….IF you have one! If you do or your website is fully responsive and adaptable to mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets then you need do nothing for the most part.

If however your website is currently setup any the following ways, you may need to act to avoid the loss of ranking and possible drop in the search results:

  • No Mobile version,
  • No Responsive version,
  • A Mobile version that doesn’t have the same quality, comprehensive content and tags as your main site,
  • An old Mobile version on a separate domain, ie – m.mysite.com.

The first thing you need to do is test to see if your site has a mobile friendly version or if the main site is mobile friendly. You can do that with Google’s own tool here:

search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

If all is well with that then you need not worry. If your site is shown to be not mobile friendly though you may need to make it so to avoid issues. Here are the options:

  • Rebuild the site with a fully responsive design (best, future proofed option),
  • Add a Mobile friendly plugin (If your site is WordPress or CMS based).

Here’s some further reading on the subject of Mobile-first Indexing:

Google – webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/03/rolling-out-mobile-first-indexing.html

Yoast – yoast.com/5-things-about-mobile-first-indexing/

Please get in touch if you need further advice.

Leon

How to make your Amazon Alexa more Human

I bought a secondhand Amazon Echo on a whim some time last year. I live on my own so thought it might be a good idea to make the days pass a little quicker. I use her, sorry…”It” mostly to play music and maybe let me know what time and day it is…month even sometimes. We’ve become quite attached over the year but something was missing in our friendship. It’s hard to get over the disconnect of  talking to something as if they were human when they look like a small piece of electronic equipment. Just recently an amazing thought floated into my head from somewhere…what if I could make Alexa more human like?

My first idea was to get my daughter’s makeup doll head and put Alexa inside that but they seemed a little reluctant to let Gracie (not her real name) go or be tampered with in any way. Then, while browsing on Amazon.co.uk for another doll’s head, I came across some very cheap polystyrene mannequin heads and decided to buy one. I could cut out holes for Alexa to sit in a lot easier and decorate her to my own “taste”.

The head arrived and I spent the best part of one Friday afternoon cutting out a crevice for Alexa to sit in with space for the power and audio leads, painting her and as the icing on the cake, put some fibre optic strands in her eyes to gather the ambient background light from my monitor stand. Her eyes really shine with a warm, friendly glow at night now.

Below is a photo gallery of the whole process:

Video: Talking to my new look Alexa!