Category Archives: About Critical Focus

Sorry, Spambots

It’s nice to have a lot of subscribers to your site.

It’s even nicer when they comment on your posts.

Except when they’re basically trying to get a platform to link to their knock-off shoes, handbags or “pharmaceutical” sites.

I know I’ve not been maintaining this blog (I may reactivate soon), but I ended up deleting 1200 dodgy accounts yesterday, which is a waste of everyone’s time (and I’ve actually had another 9 today).

This would be followed up by a comment for the aforementioned online outlets. Which were, almost without exception, picked up by the Akismet detection routine. I still reviewed and deleted them all, though.

I tried putting in Kaptcha validation. That doesn’t seem to have slowed things down much.

So I’m afraid I’ve had to implement email password notifications. This sends you an email containing the password – so without a valid email address, the user won’t be able to sign-in, change their password, and comment.

Hopefully, in the next few days, I’ll implement another routine to delete the IDs of those who don’t respond (and make the welcome email a bit more friendly).

So … my apologies if you’ve received an email from this site that you didn’t expect. That means someone has misused your email address. Hopefully, you shouldn’t get more unwanted mail from me.

If you’re trying to post spam with a made-up email address, then I’m afraid you’re wasting your time.


A Bit of Trumpet Blowing

I had a tremendous piece of news yesterday – some of my images have been chosen for exhibition at a local Art Gallery. Here’s the story …


Multistory are an organisation based in Sandwell – where I’m studying. They work with the people of that borough to “make art that reflects their lives”, commissioning artists to help that happen.

One of their projects is called “Black Country Stories”, where photographers (including Martin Parr of the Magnum Agency) document the lives of people in the area.

The latest phase of Black Country Stories involves another Magnum artist – Mark Power.

The photography students at Sandwell and Walsall colleges were given an opportunity to run their own take on his theme, and some selected student images would be exhibited alongside the main exhibition.

And ?

I’d had a project in mind I’d given the working title of “Sunday Best”, documenting the diversity of clothes that Christians wear to worship on a Sunday.

Sandwell is culturally very diverse, and so is its Christian community. I wanted to record, explore and document that diversity.

Unfortunately (for one reason or another), I only had chance to get to one church before the submissions deadline, so it wasn’t as diverse as I’d hoped. But I will be following up on it.

Now, documentary photography isn’t really my strong suit – there are other’s on my course who are much better at it. So I was surprised to be even shortlisted.

And then I found out that three of my photos have been selected – along with my friends Khuram Choudri, H. Walters and Jas Singh.

We’re all so excited about this (I haven’t stopped grinning yet), and I’ll let you know more as soon as I know anything. The show opens on July 20th, 2012 at the New Art Gallery in Walsall.

I’ll be putting the images online at some stage, but don’t want to spoil the show …

Phew … made it here at last

Well, after a month or so of messing around with mod_rewrite voodoo, I’ve finally made it here to what I hope will be my permanent home at – with help from my hosting service at Unlimited (who pointed out that I was complicating things unnecessarily).

Since I started this – really, as a way of blowing off steam – I think there may be some areas where I can add a different perspective.

From my perspective, I’ve been planning this for a couple of months and that’s meant I held off on some posts – I didn’t want to get all the Google indexing messed up.

And as well as building content, it means that I can work a bit more on visibility – I didn’t want to spend time getting everyone to link to a site that was going to move.

The new site has other advantages – and I can offer a platform to other voices. Hopefully, I’ll try and get some guests posting, where the have something that fits with the flavour of the site.

And I may be less reluctant to load images.