Tag Archives: Facebook

Catching up

Hello. It’s been a while, hasn’t it. Sorry about that, but I’ve been busy. Larking about updating blogs has been fairly low on the agenda. I have been updating the social media stuff, but this blog needs a little more time and thinking about.

So, what have I been up to?

NBL Type 2

Well, Just Like The Real Thing asked me if I’d like to demonstrate building their kits at one of the biggest O Gauge shows in the country. With all expenses paid, who could refuse an offer like that? At the same time, they were to reveal a new diesel loco kit, and I got to build the show stand version, which you can see above.

The weekend was quite successful. I think I picked up a couple of new clients—which was part of the exercise—and had a good old chat with friends old and new. I think we may do it again.

WD tender

I set about this tender, which matches an Austerity 2-8-0 which I have yet to begin. This build was an exercise in refreshing my head after some tussles with the coach kit lurking behind it. There are still unresolved issues with that build, but I think I can see a way forward.

BG van

Fun and games have also ensued with a GWR broad gauge passenger luggage van build. This is proper old school modelling, as it used to be back in the 1970s and 1980s. The basic body shell is provided by the Broad Gauge Society, but the underframe, suspension, door handles, couplings and plenty more, have to be sourced from various suppliers. The underframe has been built, dismantled and rebuilt several times, and I think I’m almost happy with it now. I’ve finally got the body parts soldered together, and some thoughts are forming about how to tackle the roof. The client is happy, and seems intent on sending some more kits my way—so I think it’s time I set up a dedicated broad gauge test track to make sure things are running nicely.

On a similar tack, and a similar vintage to the broad gauge vehicles, I was commissioned to “breathe my magic” on three Slater’s GWR 4-wheeled coaches. They had been acquired second-hand, and came in various stages of completion. One was unbuilt, one was mostly built, and one was, quite frankly, a basket case.

Deans (1 of 4)

Deans (2 of 4)

This is the unbuilt kit, or rather was the unbuilt kit. I’ve made up the underframe and begun the body work. It’s helped me understand how the kits go together so I can disassemble the basket case and make it properly.

Deans (4 of 4) Deans (3 of 4)

This is various parts of the basket case. I’ve stripped the model down, stripped some frankly appalling paint off the body, and retrieved most of the underframe components for cleaning up and repairing. The plan is to get all three models to more or less the same state of build so they can be painted as a batch.

That’s just some of the work I’ve been up to lately. I haven’t mentioned the diesel and electric locos being worked on, or the ready-to-run diesels waiting for the client to source detailing parts, or the steadily growing waiting list of commissions that should see me busy well into 2015!

In the meanwhile I’ve found time to revamp the web site, although it needs some work to make it play properly with mobile devices. You can keep up with me on Twitter (@snaptophobic) and Facebook (search for Heather Kay Modelmaker), and I am a regular poster on the Western Thunder forum.

Diesel Brake Tender

Diesel Brake Tender by Snaptophobic
Diesel Brake Tender, a photo by Snaptophobic on Flickr.

I’m sure I’ve posted this before, but I like to blow my own trumpet occasionally. Built to S7 standards from a JLTRT kit for a client last year.

Don’t forget you can find out more about my professional modelling activities on my web site — heatherkay.co.uk. You can also follow me on Facebook, if that’s your thing. Search for Heather Kay Modelmaker, or just click through.

The cat came back

In March 2011, I had had enough of Facebook. Various things prompted my decision, including the fact I didn’t really want to have a Facebook account in the first place. So, came the day when I pulled the “kill switch” and moved on with my life. Facebook said my account had been deactivated, and I was led to believe it had been deleted permanently. Gone. Finished. It was an ex-Facebook account.

Two years on, and having started down a new career path, I discovered some of my modelling work had been featured on a kit manufacturer’s Facebook page. The photos had even gathered some “likes”, so I considered the possibility of tentatively setting up just a business page for Heather Kay Modelling.

Yesterday, I took the plunge and began to set up a business account on Facebook. Oddly, someone was already using my email account, which was annoying because I didn’t want to use another account. Of course, if someone else was using my email, then I ought to have been received status updates and so on. Then the penny dropped. My old account was still there. It had not been deleted. It was just sleeping, waiting for the day when I might drag my sorry carcass back to the Facebook fold.

Like The League of Gentlemen‘s Royston Vasey (“You’ll never leave.”) or The Eagles’ Hotel California (“…You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!”), Facebook had retained my old account, against my wishes and instructions.

Be that as it may, I am now back in the ‘Book. And if you are also so encumbered, you can find my Heather Kay modelling page and follow if you wish.

Spot the difference

Let’s play a nice game for a Sunday morning. See if you can spot the difference between these two social media web pages.



Okay, the content is different, but otherwise there’s not much between them is there? The first is from my Diaspora* stream, and the second from my Google+ stream.

As you may be aware, my experiment with Facebook ended with deleting my account there. I was unhappy with the arbitrary changes to my security, the constant fight with advertising, and simply trying to keep up with everything going on. Facebook has become mainstream in the past couple of years, to my mind jumping the shark. Every manufacturer wants us to “friend” them, to keep up with all their advertising nonsense. I fell for that at first, but eventually I found I was spending more time fending off requests to join silly games, or managing my interaction with groups I had joined, than doing anything useful. I had entered into my Facebook world with my eyes wide open, knowing my presence there was simply to be sold on as advertising fodder, and even though I had locked down my account as far as possible I could’t ignore the sense of looming paranoia that simply having a Facebook account engendered. I left, and felt much happier for it.

Meanwhile, I had been following the progress of a new kid on the block. Diaspora* was launched as an open source community project to provide a better and more secure alternative to Facebook. Rumours of this new social media site began circulating more than a year ago, and eventually it entered what the developers call a “public alpha” stage. I registered my interest in joining, and finally got my invitation. It made a refreshing, if somewhat spartan, change to the cluttered, overbearing and frankly noisy space inhabited by Facebook. It’s been spartan ever since. While many of my online friends wanted invitations, and signed up, activity is rare. The problem, I think, is while Diaspora* is trying to be a better Facebook, the things that attract people to the latter simply don’t exist in the former.

The other problem is since Diaspora* has been in development, and has made some welcome improvements over the past few months, a big blue gorilla has entered the room and started throwing its not inconsiderable weight about. I’m talking about Google.

In a very short space of time, Google+ has taken the tech world by surprise. Initially only open to join by invitation, Google+ is now open to anyone with a Google account, be it Gmail, Blogger or just the web tools. I signed up yesterday, even though I had intended to sit on the sidelines and let things settle. 

Like Diaspora*, Google+ is still in a field testing phase, but it has already gained more traction in a week than Diaspora* has managed in a year. I can only attribute this to the fact that Google is a well-established—one might even say ubiquitous—presence in the online world. Google has video and photo sharing, maps, web stats, email, a web browser, office applications, and of course web search, already firmly established and available to back up a social media site. Crucially, it also has a growing mobile space with Android. Social media works best when it can be accessed via a smart phone, and Google knows this. Diaspora* has none of this to back up its venture, relying instead on developers taking such projects on and adding them to the pot as they mature. As I write, the sum total of such projects in the Diaspora* world is one, and I’m not even sure what it does.

Google tried a similar social media toy a while ago, launching what they called Buzz. On the surface, it seemed a good idea, but in practice, people found it simply too intrusive and confusing in many ways, and Buzz was consigned to Google’s digital Techno Drawer. You can still sign up for it if you want, but I don’t know anyone who has. But Google is one of those companies that exists to innovate. Ideas spread from Mountain View like sparks from a sparkler. Some fizzle out, others live briefly, yet others manage to hit the mark and grow into something bigger. I think Google+ is one of the latter.

Since the Google gorilla has so much weight to throw around, I wonder what will happen to Diaspora*. Sadly, I don’t think they will be able to muster the resources to overcome Google—Google has literally lifted the best features of Twitter and Diaspora* and built them into Google+. Diaspora* simply doesn’t have the momentum to take on such a behemoth, and I suspect the best outcome will be that Google simply buys them out, for good or ill.

Such an outcome would be sad, albeit inevitable. Diaspora* was launched on a wave of disaffection with the Facebook hegemony, and worries over personal online safety. Facebook has since grown ever larger, and seems unstoppable right now. If anything can take Zuckerberg’s empire on and have a chance at winning, it’ll be the other tainted empire of Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Should I be worried? We’ll see.