Busy Blogging Elsewhere

I am now a confirmed fan of WordPress. This blog introduced me to it, but I’ve recently been using it to create a new website for the Willingham Photo Club.

I’m currently one of the “gang of four” leadership team (there’s a rotating membership – all very communist) – having volunteered mainly in order to improve the club’s IT for viewing photographs on-screen at the monthly meetings.

It fell on our watch to organise our first exhibition as part of the Willingham Feast. It seemed obvious as part of the planning to have a website to send visitors to, and afterwards to continue the exhibition in the virtual world.

There are so many themes, plugins and widgets available to make a WordPress site look good, even the free ones, that it’s mostly a filtering task to choose what you need.  The results can look professional, and certainly give the impression that much more skill and hard work has been involved than is the case. (Having said that, the list of minor tweaks and edits to get it to look “just right” is getting longer.) I’m basking in that reflected glory, but it is an easy-to-please audience of non-technical people, so far.

I’ll finish by crediting  the Theme: Modularity Lite 1.2, and Plugins: The Events Calendar, NextGEN Gallery and NextGEN Public Uploader, which have made it so easy to do. Check them out next time you need to make a website for a photography club.

So that’s where my evenings have gone. I’ll just point out that if anybody mentions “display boards” in my vicinity in the near future, they’d better be on guard.

New Blog

Shiny and new, with its own subdomain and WordPress software, free from the tyranny of Blogger, welcome to coded v2.

Two things coincided to make this happen. First, Blogger stopped supporting FTP sites, which my old blog was. I like to fiddle with the files, so I wanted to host it on Ballandia, and this meant I couldn’t any more if I stayed with Blogger.

Second, 34SP, my website hosts, had a tasty upgrade offer which included SMTP (useful for Robyn while she’s in the USA), multiple MySQL databases (which is what was stopping me using WordPress before)  and subdomains.

Thus coded.ballandia.co.uk (update your Blogrolls and feeds) was born. Praise is due and given to Blogger and WordPress, which let me export (via a temporary blogspot domain) and import all the content, including the comments. I was impressed (especially the second time I did it (don’t ask)).

Initially spoilt for choice with themes, I’ve played with a few before stealing the one Paul uses, K2. I had to mess with it a little, of course (to make it wider, to get the Flickr and 365 galleries to be the same width, to make the menu bar visible), but I like it.

I hope you like it, too.

Isn’t Technology Brilliant?

In bed this morning I listened to last week’s Archers. Not particularly technological, until you consider how I got to hear it.

We couldn’t manage the omnibus last weekend (we had visitors), so I downloaded the podcasts via iTunes to the PC. The PC is running TVersity, which is a DLNA/uPNP Media Server. This means that clients on our home network can see music, photos and videos on the PC.

One such client is the Playstation 3 (PS3); sometime during the week I downloaded the Archers podcasts to the PS3 in anticipation of listening when the PC wasn’t turned on (although that is never whilst Donna is home). I also made a playlist to join all the episodes together and play them in order.

This morning I used the Playstation Portable (PSP) to connect via WiFi and the internet to the PS3 and run Remote Start, which effectively makes the PSP a small remote control for the PS3. From there, I played the Archers playlist into the bedroom stereo via the headphone socket into the AUX input.

And it all worked!

An Entry About Coding

A first for this blog! I really like the new Chart API announced by Google which lets you do this:

simply by coding up a URL with parameters. Insert it as an image, and Google will send back the chart in PNG format. That pie was made with the following ingredients:


You are limited to 50,000 hits a day, so I think I’ll be safe. I took the data from this image, which I originally made in Excel and captured, etc.

Democracy Inaction 2007

Resistance:Fall of Church

At first it made me angry, both at the Church of England for complaining and the BBC for running the story without checking any of the facts:

– the Bishop says “hundreds of people are gunned down in the cathedral”
You shoot aliens. Most of them are giant scorpion-like leapers. You don’t even shoot hundreds of them.

– “gun culture” is being promoted to “kids”
The game has a 15 certificate. No kids allowed.

– Sony didn’t ask permission
To use a medieval building? I don’t think the architect would mind.

– “a virtual cathedral – identical to Manchester Cathedral”
Except for half the tower being missing, a big hole in the back wall, it being used as a field hospital and being infested by aliens.

– constant reference to Sony as the creator of the game
Resistance: Fall of Man was written by Insomniac Games in Burbank, California. It’s amazing enough that they even know there is a cathedral in Manchester.

Then add to that a big helping of hypocrisy when it appeared that the church just wanted money – “a substantial donation – otherwise it will consider legal action.” Turn the other cheek, eh?

Now it amuses me. I suppose, if you have a big invisible friend whispering in your ear, it is very easy to get confused between real life and saving the world from an alien invasion in an alternative 1950s version of England.

Disclosure: I have a PS3 and a copy of the game. I gave the cathedral setting (maybe 10 minutes in 6 or 7 hours of play) less thought than I did the bus depot in York. Until now.

Less Intuit

So, Microsoft Money it is. Intuit did refund my money, a day after I sent the email. They just didn’t tell me, and what with the Egg website playing up as well, I couldn’t check.

MS Money is much better than Quicken 2000. Whether it is better than Quicken 2004 I’ll never know, because of the short-sightedness of their upgrade policy.

More Intuit

It got worse.

I uninstalled Quicken 2004, re-installed Quicken 2000 and tried to open the data file. Quicken validated the data, and then refused to open it. Apparently Q2000 cannot read Q2004 data files. Ha!

Off to Microsoft, where there is a free trial of Microsoft Money. (I originally picked Quicken because, back in 1999, Money had no concept of Standing Orders or Direct Debits. How Americans put up with their banks is a mystery.) A surprisingly similar 30Mb later, and “Guess What?” Money can open Q2004 data files. Not perfect, but close enough. And Standing Orders/Direct Debits are now handled. Only £22 including postage from eBuyer.

Intuit, to their credit (-:, offer a 90 day refund. They had come across my problem, and the solution is to upgrade to Quicken Investor (for another £11). I don’t want investment help, I only have some old Bradford & Bingley shares in the Quicken data. I suggested that a better upgrade path might have been to allow me to open my file but just discard the shares.