Tuesday, 27 June 2017

my day as a webmaster

I spent much of the day putting details of the next season's concerts on to the music society's website.  It had been on my list of things to do for over a month, but given that the outline list of concerts with dates and artists was already up there, and the printed brochure is still in proof stage and won't be posted to our loyal supporters until the second half of August, it didn't feel like the most urgent thing on the list.  Then I got an email from the Chairman asking very gently if I were going to have time to do it, because otherwise she would, and thought I'd better get on with it.

There is nothing exciting about setting up new Events on a very simple website and copy typing details of the programmes and blurb about the artists, before copying longer blurb from the artists' own websites and including links to them.  Artists who bother to specify tend to be rather sensitive about third parties editing their biographies, so it is safer to import the long versions lock, stock and barrel.  It's no good copying straight over, since everybody uses a different font, so it all has to go via Word to be converted into the music society's chosen script and be tidied up into neat paragraphs where there are extraneous spaces.

There is still no universal agreed standard among musicians about how to abbreviate the standard terms of the classical repertoire.  Should it be Op or op, with or without a full stop?  Comma or colon between the composer's name and the title of the piece of music, as in Brahms: Clarinet Quintet versus Brahms, Clarinet Quintet?  Is there a hyphen in E-flat?  Major or major, and Minor or minor?  The music society in theory has decided how to treat all of these questions, but in practice there turned out to be some variation between concerts in the draft brochure, because the entries had been copied and pasted from communications sent by the artists themselves, or their agents.  I felt bad I hadn't pitched in and proof read the brochure earlier, but several other people had and said it was OK, and I don't count myself a particularly good proof reader.  It goes to show how much more attention you pay to the minutiae of text when you have to copy it.

Inserting the pictures is the worst bit, and a couple of our artists' websites defeated me and I had to put the task aside until I could ask the Systems Administrator for help.  I only offered to maintain the music society's website after checking that the SA would be willing to provide me with technical support when needed.  The most organised artists understand that little local music societies and local papers might want to download a picture to use in publicity, and make available a series of photos of themselves on their sites that are downloadable in JPEG format and aren't too big, along with the name to use in the photo credit.  Bliss, it takes two minutes.  Other artists photos came in file formats I'd never heard of and couldn't work out how to change, or were bigger than the data limit allowed by the music society's modest website and I couldn't find any way of reducing them.  I longed for the SA, who was watching Essex v Middlesex in Chelmsford.

We have been following the Sky series Master of Photography, which manages to include enough technical details about apertures and shutter speeds to make the SA happy without there being so much that I switch off, along with a chunk of artistic commentary about the photos and some human interest as each week another contestant is eliminated.  I am afraid that some of the less successful, trying too hard aspects of the Masters of Photography approach have crept on to some musicians' websites.  Why, really, would you photograph a string quartet, the female members in long dresses, perched against chimney pots on a roof top or pretending to climb up a pile of logs?  I am very dull and provincial.  I would like pictures of them looking friendly and enthusiastic, and with their instruments, to reinforce what it is that they do.

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