About the Activity Workshop

This is the page for all those annoying, niggly questions that frequently (or not so frequently) pop up. Maybe the answers are here too.

How was this website made?

Mainly with a text editor, and a few other tools. The tools have undergone a few changes, currently they are pluma or gedit together with Gimp, Inkscape and an occasional Hugin running on Debian linux. The photos are a mixture of standard 35mm, Lomo 4-way 35mm and digital. There are also some custom tools using perl and java used to ease the administration and a little bit of PHP on the server side. The site should be viewable by any recent, standards-compliant browser, although any bug reports would be gratefully received.

There used to be some java bits (in the puzzles and games section), created originally with a text editor and Sun's JDK 1.3 (a long while ago), but since applets aren't easy to run in browsers any more, the Battleships game, the Nonogram puzzles and the Sudokus have all recently been converted into javascript (client-side only). GpsPrune is still java though, made with Eclipse or IDEA and OpenJDK, all on Debian.

Oh, and the Translatinator uses Python and Flask, with uwsgi, and Murmeli is Python 3 with Gnupg and tor.

And the 3d hike plots?

There are 3d plots both for hikes and for ski resorts, and are all made in the same way. First of all a handheld GPS (from Garmin) is used to record the route. Then the route is read in to the PC using the program GpsPrune which can also edit and process the data, before displaying with Java 3D or POV-Ray. Finally, Gimp is used to annotate the image to make the final jpg. The resort plots in the snowboarding section are made in exactly the same way, and the slope charts for each resort are made by reading in the same text file but outputting to standard java AWT classes instead of Java 3D.

And the Google Earth files?

The Kmz files for Google Earth are made from the same data, again using the program GpsPrune. This exports the GPS data as a Kml file, which can then be loaded into Google Earth, the snapshots are recorded along with descriptions and then the file is saved from there as a Kmz.

What's RSS?

The icon on the home page rss feed offers a small text file for download called an RSS feed. This contains snippets of information about updates to the Activity Workshop and lets you see at a glance what's new, just by refreshing this small file. You can use a variety of applications to use this file, for example see wikipedia's comparison of feed aggregators. You can subscribe to many other website feeds in the same way. Then you can quickly get an overview of new features here and get linked right to the new stuff.

Why is it asking me about cookies?

A cookie is a small bit of text which is stored on your computer by the web page. Depending on your browser's settings, the browser may first ask your permission before doing this, so you may receive a warning message. If you wish, you can change the settings so that cookies are automatically accepted or automatically refused, so avoiding the warning messages.

The Activity Workshop only uses a cookie in the puzzles & games section, so that your computer can remember which nonograms and sudokus you have solved and which ones you haven't. It's important to note that this information is not used by the web server, or by any computer other than your own. Also note that if you have disabled javascript in your browser, the pages will not be able to store or read the cookies (but you won't be able to play with the puzzles then either).

Why is it all https now?

Because https is just better than http, and the readers of this website should be able to use https (even if they themselves don't care about the difference). Switching to https has been in the plans for a while, but it was only recently with the amazing efforts of Let's Encrypt that this has become an option.

Where have the adverts gone?

For a while, this website experimented with Google Adverts on the web pages to try to recover some of the hosting costs. These adverts were made as reader-friendly as possible by making them text-only, no graphics and no animations. They were used in a limited number, so as not to overwhelm the site with adverts, and the categories of adverts were restricted to block certain kinds of adverts which readers may have objections to.

Unfortunately, the financial benefit of doing this was small, and steadily diminishing to negligible levels over time. So the choice was either to try to increase revenue by making the adverts less friendly to the readers (more adverts, graphical adverts, potentially objectionable adverts), or to remove them altogether.

So now the adverts are gone. I hope you all enjoy the cleaner, advert-free experience and appreciate the lack of traffic-tracking from Google :)

So how are the costs covered now?

Well, they're not :) Apart from those users of GpsPrune who have purchased their own copy of the user guide. If you're not a GpsPrune user but you'd like to support the website financially anyway, you could choose to purchase a user guide (or follow those instructions to pay a lower amount of your choosing).

If you want to support the website and you know how to use bitcoins, you could donate to the following address:


but due to the nature of the bitcoin system I won't know who to thank for the donation. If you have any other ideas for how the site could be supported, please get in touch.

Another option, introduced recently, is that (if you wish) you can now buy me a coffee using some kind of credit card.

How do I suggest a new hike / new activity / fantastic biscuit recipe for the Workshop?

Easy. Write an email and send it to mail@activityworkshop.net. It would help if the subject line has something to do with the website though, to help your email stand out from the mountain of spam.

I'm viewing an offline copy - where's the latest version?

The ActivityWorkshop can be found online at https://activityworkshop.net. If you're viewing an offline copy of this website, it's of course possible that the online version has moved - if so, and if you're not redirected from the above URL, then use whichever search engine is currently most fashionable to hunt for "Activity Workshop".

Does the Activity Workshop accept freebies in return for recommendations?

No. If this website recommends a hotel, or a gliding centre, or a GPS receiver, or anything else - it's definitely not because of freebies. We neither solicit nor accept free stuff or free services, and don't get cheap hotel rates or anything like that. We pay normal rates just like you and don't announce that we're reviewing on behalf of any website.

Why isn't there the obligatory page of funny links?

Because you didn't come here for funny links, did you? And anyway, you probably know where stuff like the Onion, rathergood, xkcd, theoatmeal and thedailymash are already. And waitbutwhy.

Why does it look like I've been sent a virus or spam email from the ActivityWorkshop?

First of all, these emails fake the sender adress, so the email did not really come from the ActivityWorkshop. What probably happened is that the ActivityWorkshop email address has been trawled from these webpages or from legitimate email traffic, and this is then used as the "Send From" address for the spam mail. That doesn't mean that the ActivityWorkshop machines have a virus, or that they sent the email. You can thank the designers of the email protocol for making this spoofing of the sender so trivially easy.

Protecting yourself against such infections is straightforward:

I like your software, can I pay you to write some for me?

Believe it or not, this one has actually been asked. It hasn't happened yet, but it might, if it seems like we can come to an agreement. Java, Python, C++ and Web would be the most likely candidates, so please get in touch if you think it makes sense. See software commissions for more details.

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