Somewhere in Spencer Walpoles History of England (covering the period 18151855) he mentions a minister it may be Palmerston who justifies his rather passive policy towards a foreign crisis of the time by characterising it as one of masterly inactivity. But it wasnt he who originated the phrase. It was coined by Sir James Mackintosh, who did much of the research for Macaulays History, and who used it to describe parliaments traditional stance. It seems to have become a catchphrase of the day, rather like economical with the truth more recently.
Needless to say this site, which is named on the same principle as the Holy Roman Empire, has no commercial affiliations.
The holiday narratives are mostly things Tracey wrote for her club comic, and the cycling cartoons were drawn by her for the same purpose. The account of the 6 days was written by Colin for the WCRA newsletter. The majority of the route notes were written specially by Colin for the web site, though Spiti was mostly written by Tracey.
The photographs were taken by both of us. Initially all photos were scanned in from prints. Maybe our scanner isnt very good: at any rate, some were very blurry. Starting with our Zanskar trek in 2001 we had photos processed onto CDs as they were developed. In early 2006 I went over old photos, having the negatives professionally digitised. Nearly every photo on the site is now a crisp reduction of a high-res digital image.
Tracey still lugs around a Pentax SLR formerly a K-1000 but now an MZ-30. She uses print film: Fujicolor Superia 100 ASA when she can be bothered to find it. Colin went digital in 2006, but isnt yet certain of the results. We have the processing done by Peak Imaging.
The number of visitors per day has increased as follows:
The average number of (html) pages viewed per visit has declined slightly from 2.5 initially to about 2. The picture is occasionally obscured by referrer spam, which accounts for the spike in the graph below but is currently under control.
The most frequent pages and search keywords for 2006 are as follows:
Google dominates the referrer statistics to the point of making them useless.
Most of the site was developed using the freeware cobweb, but with our move to OS X this has given way to Taco.
Ive gone round in circles trying to handle images in a way Im happy with. I used to scan in prints, but the results were never sharp. Now I send the negs off to Peak Processing for digitising onto CD and use Photoshop to shrink them and save them at jpg quality level 5.
In Jan 2004 I revamped the index page; and it was revised again in April 2007. Also in 2004 I started moving over to a new style sheet
Some useful symbols:
~ = ~  = … = † =
‡ = ‹ = › = × = ×
Any comments, suggestions, libel suits etc may be sent to the webmaster.
However 404 lab havent got to the bottom of things. Creating a .htaccess file will cause all access to your site to crash unless the site is listed in Apaches .conf file as permitted to have its own .htaccess. I had to request this from Joshua, who were happy to do it; Newnet do it automatically.
The quince space filler on the photos of foodstuffs page was gathered from the masterlyinactivity quince tree, Oct 2006.
While cycling one of the Mexican roads on a hot day, we paused for a rest and a drink on a grass verge. A couple of local Maya peasant girls, giggling, watched us, keeping a little distance. We tried talking to them in our broken Spanish, and they came a little closer, asking us in equally broken Spanish where we were going, which country we were from, and whether wed travelled to Mexico by bus. After a while one of them ran off to fetch the bracelets which she and her friend offered for sale. We bought them for what they seemed to think a fortune, though it was next to nothing. One of them found its first ever use being scanned in for this page. I suppose theyre married now with growing families.
The following pages have external links which need to be checked from time to time:
You may link to any html page on this site. There is no need to tell me. I do not move pages around gratuitously.
With the exceptions mentioned below I have no objection to people linking to jpegs or gifs, but do not recommend it and may move or rename them as the mood takes me.
You are likewise free to include my images (by <img src="...">) so long as you credit them appropriately.
What is not acceptable is to embody my images in your own pages without acknowledgement, either by reference or heaven forbid by copying. This is known as hotlinking and happens quite a lot, and is usually followed by my renaming the file in question. For this reason you should not hotlink my images from pages I cannot easily check, eg bulletin boards, pages in Japanese script, etc.
Moreover you should not link to the large images in my maps directory. Any link to these images will fail.
Use of contents
You may use the information in this web site in any way you please. You may print pages out for your own use. You may distribute prints free of charge provided that their provenance is indicated. (The url as included in a print by browsers is sufficient.)
Commercial use is by permission only. We have high resolution digital copies of almost all images on this site. Token acknowledgement is all we ask for.
I have suffered a lot of referrer spam over the past 18 months. The reason is that newnet sets sites up so that web stats pages are indexed by search engines (this is rather careless). I now direct search engines away from the stats pages using the robots.txt file. However the masterlyinactivity domain is still on lists of vulnerable targets, and it may be that some spammers attack sites indiscriminately.
Referrer spammers flood a site with requests with a bogus url in the referrer field so that this url gets mentioned in the top referrers list in the sites web statistics. Since the top referrers are listed as links, search engine robots treat the link as an unsolicited testimonial and boost the page rank of the url provided.
Web hosts dont seem all that switched on to the problem, but the biggest culprits are the search engines who almost encourage the practice by their passivity towards it.
Many spammers work from fixed ip addresses, so that their requests can be rejected by simple directives in the .htaccess file (assuming that your site is hosted using Apache web software). Eg.
More recently my referrer spam has come from a wide range of ip addresses. I think some webmasters suspect that search engine optimisation companies have been exploiting trojanised computers. This seems to me unlikely. More probably theyve used software which falsifies the ip addresses in its requests (if this is possible). Since the spammers arent interested in receiving the pages back, they wont mind that they get directed to random locations where presumably they get lost.
A suitable countermeasure can be incorporated in the .htaccess file. If you want to deny any request whose referrer field contains the string cat or the string dog, include the following directives
I confess to not fully understanding this notation. The Apache documentation refers to Perl regular expressions without further explanation. The [F] allegedly specifies a 403 response, but 404 is what I have been seeing in my logs. I will try [G] another time it purports to respond 410 in the hope of being able to distinguish rejected requests from 404s in my site statistics.
Note that the measures described above avoid loss of outgoing bandwidth to the spammers, but that the spam requests are nonetheless logged and taken into account by log analysers. This has the advantage that you can see how the requests are being handled, but the drawback that the spam requests displace more interesting information from your stats pages.
Another class of web spam is repeated robot requests for pages for no apparent reason. nicebot is a spam robot which downloads pages for no visible purpose. Ive recently had repeated visits from a robot whose behaviour is that of a referrer spammer except that the referrer field is blank (or possibly -). I sent it away by crude means which may perhaps have obstructed some benign requests. If the problem recurs and I have time I will experiment with some other Apache options. Perhaps its simply a buggy referrer spammer.
The following spam hosts have been banned at various times.
The following strings in referrer fields have been used to reject requests.
Human visitors may use the site as described above. Well behaved and benign robots are welcome. Furtive, unidentifiable or misbehaving robots are not permitted to use this site. They may be banned and other action taken.