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This blog is a cross between a scrapbook and a diary. I hope you find something here of interest. If you’d like to keep up with things as I see them then you can subscribe to my news feed by clicking the icon below:



Please note that any reviews/recommendations are based solely on my own experience and does not constitute a guarantee that you will have the same experience. Please do your own research before parting with any money - the risk is all yours!

The Briticiser

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facebook-icon-28x28.pngVisit my Briticiser Facebook Page to keep up with things here - lots of reviews of stuff I’ve really used and also all kinds of helpful computer tips with a heavy bias towards SAVING YOU TIME.

Add a new FlatPress Blog in Open Live Writer

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160121-165110

imageOpen Live Writer is the new open source version of Microsoft’s wonderful blogging tool Windows Live Writer, and users of the latter will feel VERY at home with the new open source version (as it’s pretty much the same thing!).

In my previous post I gave you my first impression of it - there was a slight hiccup when I tried to set it up with my first blog account, but here is how to add another blog account once you’re up and running. [Read More…]

Live Writer is now Open Source

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160120-174435

imageWindows Live Writer is/was a great blogging tool but Microsoft haven’t really supported it for some time now, so thanks to them for allowing it to become open source so it can be developed by the large community of users who love it to bits.

This is my first post using Open Live Writer on FlatPress and it was relatively easy to set up, but not so straightforward as it could have been… so here’s what FlatPress users may* need to know in order to get it working. [Read More…]

Avoid SPAM with my text to image conversion plugin for FlatPress

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry150530-064419

As one who knows just how easy it is to scrape web pages for email addresses it never ceases to amaze me how many people are unaware what they’re letting themselves in for by putting their email address on a web page.

I never do it myself but I was recently asked to do so by the owner of a new website I’m developing so I went looking for a way to help make those email addresses invisible to the kind of software programs I’ve used in the past, and found a simple text to image conversion script which displays an email address as an image, like this:

If you right click on the image above and inspect the image source address you’ll see that the email address itself is encoded so this will defeat most of the malicious robotic visitors to your site… though I’d still recommend that you NEVER put an email address on a web page, even like this, if you want to be 100% certain that your email address can’t be stolen and used in ways which could make your life a lot more difficult than it already might be.

As I develop most of my sites using FlatPress I wrote a neat little plugin to convert an email address to an image. This is how it works. [Read More…]

How to save a website as a PDF

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry130207-180043

Saving a web page as a PDF can produce varied results depending on how the page itself is laid out. Some web pages may be designed specifically to fit on a standard sheet of paper if you print it – either to a real printer or to a PDF printer driver – but most web pages are so long that they look pretty horrible when you print them.

If you want to save an entire website as a PDF for offline reading then things get a little more complex. There are programs out there which will attempt to do the job but if you have Acrobat Professional (I use version 7) you can create a PDF of an entire website. [Read More…]

Just updating my blog theme

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry130201-020922

giraffe-fallThings could get a little messy here for a while until I’m finished “twiddling”!

It’s all go at the moment!

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry120119-060218

My little soccer team Darlington F.C. (The Mighty Darlo) DID actually go bust yesterday and I was about to head down to the Hangar Bar and turn my Darlington scarf upside down, but the fans gathered round the body and resuscitated it…

Darlington go bust and then revived after fans raise £200,000

The club have NO staff (not even players) - they were all made redundant by the Administrator but the backroom staff are all volunteering to help stage the two next home games, the coach is working for free, and what players are still around are going to play on a match-by-match basis. The fans are collecting money to pay their wages while our “Rescue Group” tries to thrash out some sort of community-led business plan. The coach, Crag Liddle, deserves an OBE or something - he’s really the Youth Team coach who’s been looking after the first team for the past few weeks, he’s Darlington through-and-through and a monument to all that is good and decent about the game. I think he’s been the glue which has kept us all together - even the players who had to leave (they had to earn a living) were gutted at abandoning ship and many ex-players have sent messages of support or even donated to the fund.

The first is at home to table-topping Fleetwood on Saturday and we’ve got fans coming from all over the country for a Fans United day where they wear their own club colours. The second home game is against nearby rivals York City - so we’re expecting a bumper crowd for that game too.


I’m also one of the admins for this page…


I’d really appreciate it if anyone reading this could “Like” that page and help spread the word. We’ve got about 10 days grace to save the club from extinction - Georgi’s quite upset about it - following Darlington is something which helps to fill his world up and if there’s no match for us to sit down and listen to on a Saturday then he’s going to make me get the colouring books out, or build the same Lego car I’ve built ten times before, or get all his toy cars out…. again…

P.S. if you would be so kind could you please print out the poster at the bottom of that first link (or just click here) and stick it somewhere prominent.

Up the Darlo!


Flatpress for Dummies

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry111119-105037

This article shows you how you can start your own blog in a matter of minutes using FlatPress.



What is FlatPress?

How does it work?

Basic guide to getting started

Get your own web space

Installing FlatPress

Administration basics


What is FlatPress?

FlatPress is a great piece of software and I use it a lot to rapidly develop websites, just like this blog. Basically FlatPress is a content management system (you can either create and edit pages using the built-in web interface, or by using other methods) which doesn’t need a database so you can install it on most web servers which have PHP installed which covers the vast majority of web servers out there in internetland and some of them are completely free to use (as is FlatPress) so getting your own “home” on the web has never been easier.

How does it work

The name “FlatPress” is derived from the fact that it uses “flat files” (i.e. ordinary text files) in order to operate, in contrast to WordPress (one of the most popular blogging platforms in use today) which is powered by a database. Nothing wrong in either case - but flat files are easier for the layman to comprehend so it’s little wonder that a regular flow of new users are popping up on the FlatPress support forum.

Hard statistics for the number of people using FlatPress are difficult to measure but the phrase “powered by FlatPress” currently returns over 430,000 results in a Google search, which sounds like a healthy number to me. However FlatPress can probably never hope to emulate the popularity of WordPress (about 1,740,000,000 results!) but don’t let the relatively small number of users put you off deter you from trying it out.

Basic guide to getting started

Getting your own blog up and running is a simple 3-step process:

  1. Download the latest version of FlatPress
  2. Find somewhere to upload it
  3. Go to your new blog and have fun!

Get your own web space

You don’t need to worry about getting your own domain name, getting confused by all the different web hosting packages available (unless you want to?). All you need is a web hosting company which offers you free web space with PHP installed on it. Like this one (there are others but I’m trying to make this easy for you):


Please note that I have no affiliation with this company - I just got tired of another free host I’d been using (they had reliability issues) and decided to try someone new. This was the first company I found and they seem ok, so far.

Simply click on the sign up and follow the instructions. You’ll need to choose a name for your new address on the web - that’s about the hardest part of it.

Once you’ve signed up you’ll receive an email with instructions on how to upload your FlatPress files - you can either do this using an FTP program or, if you don’t know what one of those are, you can simply use the web-based file manager on your new website.

Now, the single FlatPress file you’ll have stored on your computer is a compressed file, like a filing cabinet with lots of smaller files inside it. If you know how you can just upload this to the server first and then extract all the files there, or you can extract the files on your own machine first and then upload them - this is much easier if you use an FTP program, otherwise just stick with the first method (which is actually much quicker - I just prefer to do it the long way for reasons known only to myself).

Installing FlatPress

Installing FlatPress is dead easy - once you’ve uploaded the FlatPress files you just need to got to your new web address and follow the instructions.

There IS one folder which you’ll need to make “writable” (so the whole thing works). The FlatPress setup procedure will prompt you to do this, if you haven’t already done so, here’s how to do it:

If you use an FTP program you can just right-click on the “fp-content” folder and choose properties then either check all the boxes or enter “777” if such a field for this type of input is shown instead.

If you use the web interface then there’s a file manager in the control panel where you can make this change - simply check the box to the left of the folder you want to change the permissions on then clock the “Chmod” button on the right hand side of the toolbar at the top.

The rest of the setup process is extremely easy - simply answer a couple of questions and you’re done. Once you’ve done this a few times you can flash through this in a matter of seconds - it’s that quick!

Administration basics

Once you’ve completed the setup you’ll want to give your blog a name and maybe change the theme. Start by logging then go to the FlatPress control panel.

First of all click on the “Options” button (second from the right on the Administration Area toolbar) and choose a name and a subtitle for your blog. This will change the main heading & sub-heading on your website. Remember to save your changes when you’re done.

If you want to change the theme then click on “Themes” on the toolbar. There is one theme included with the default installation, but this has two styles to choose from. You can download additional themes from the FlatPress Wiki.

As the popularity of FlatPress has grown, so too has the number of themes but there is still room for a great deal of improvement in the number of themes available. To install a new theme simply download it from the Wiki and then upload it to the fp-interface/themes folder on your website.

Any themes which you’ve installed in that folder should appear in the admin area Themes Panel, and you can just click on one to change it right there and then. Some themes (like the default theme) may have different styles so you need to click on “Styles” in the Themes Panel in order to view and choose which one you want.

And that’s about it! This was a very rough guide to getting up and running with FlatPress. The program itself is quite intuitive and fun to learn how to use. You can either create static pages (like an “About” page) which you can either show as the main page or have this displayed in the side bar - in fact ANY “static” page can be made to display in the side bar, as I’ve done with my begging bowl, or you can create regular blog posts (called “Entries” in the admin panel - you can think of these as your news bulletins).

After installation you’ll see an example “blog post” which teaches you the basics of how to write and maintain you content.

If you get stuck then the FlatPress forum is a great place to visit - no question is a stupid question so, if you don’t know, please ask and you’ll find lots of people coming to your rescue.

Using Windows Live Writer can screw up your blog’s news feed validation - here’s how to avoid it happening

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry111115-220140

Really, it can. 

I posted this on the FlatPress forum, as that is the blogging software I use - but it most likely applies if you use Windows Live Writer to post to other blogging platforms too (e.g. Wordpress).

If you use Live Writer and the Remote Posting plugin to maintain your blog then (in Live Writer) you need to go into “Tools… Options… Editing” and UN-check all those boxes which say “Replace hyphens…”, “Replace straight quotes…” & “Replace other special characters” otherwise if you use any special characters in your post titles (e.g. three dots “…”) that will get converted to a special character and trip up your feed.

It just happened to me.

FlatPress Captcha Plugin

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry101118-181033

Updated 17th June 2011 - now it should be case INsensitive. Thanks to pierovdfn at the FlatPress Forum

This is an experimental implementation of Zubrag’s Captcha as a FlatPress plugin.

Please disable the accessibleantispam plugin before trying this. Instructions are in the readme file in the plugin folder. [Read More…]

How to setup FlatPress to accept autoposts from Posterous

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry100508-063934

Posting to your blog is now even easier than ever before thanks to Posterous. However, getting Posterous to talk to FlatPress involves a little work – though if you follow these instructions you can’t go far wrong. The only drawback to using this method of posting is that you can’t add categories. However you can use the service to post things quickly as you simply need to send your post as an e-mail to one easy to remember address – and Posterous will immediately post it to your own Posterous blog, as well as post it to as many different blogs which you might have set up, and this can include to services such as Facebook and Twitter.

1) Create a new text file with just the following in it, then save it as rsd.xml in your blog root

<rsd version=”1.0” xmlns=”http://archipelago.phrasewise.com/rsd”>
                <api name=”MetaWeblog” preferred=”true”
blogID=”1” />

2) Open up plugin.remoteposting.php and alter line 15 to show the absolute path of your rsd.xml file - i.e. so it reads as follows:

echo '<link rel="EditURI" type="application/rsd+xml" title="RSD" href="'.BLOG_BASEURL.'rsd.xml" />

3) Open up defaults.php and remove the “#” from the start of the last 2 lines so they read:

function dummy() {} seterror_handler('_dummy');

4) Sign in at posterous.com and click on “Manage” then click on “Autopost” under settings in the left hand column.

Enter your FlatPress admin username & password then use the following address:


Posted via email from collents’s posterous

My FlatPress Team Blog : Using FlatPress as a Multi-user Collaborative Tool

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry090928-000640

I’m currently developing a team blog based which is basically a multi-user collaborative tool for use by a very small group of people in a controlled environment, which is quite an interesting exercise in hacking things about until they work, because I’m still developing the blog into something it was never designed to do, while we’re actually using it. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation really, developing the tool which we’re using to develop the tool we’re using! It eats up all of my time but great fun and it seems to work. It’s almost addictive, to be honest, as using FlatPress in this manner opens up a whole new realm of possible uses for FlatPress as a means of coordinating projects, and I hope to reveal some of those ideas to you here.

FlatPress is a great blogging platform but it’s only really designed to be a personal blog, and asking it to handle more than one user introduces certain risks which need to be addressed.

First and foremost there are no security levels. If you give people full access to use the blog posting interface, you give them full power over all of your content. A malicious user could destroy your work, or cause an almost untold amount of damage to your or to your company’s reputation.

Secondly you need to be aware that currently I have this at a stage of development where I need to keep the list of users very small and ensure that they follow my explicit instructions when using FlatPress as a group collaboration tool. Primarily, there is are potential problems lying in store for me if two (or more) people try to do the same thing at the same time, and my main instruction to them is to only ever edit their own blog posts, and to leave the creation and editing of any static pages to the administrator (me).

Thirdly you need to be aware of security - do you want the rest of your network, or the rest of the planet to see your work? If not, then you need to secure your blog from prying eyes. If you follow my changes then you’ll see how I’ve achieved that so far, but I give no guarantee that it is totally secure - in fact it probably isn’t, but I have it at a stage where average Joe Public would be prevented from seeing anything, unless one of our group members was careless enough to either give his password away or leave his machine unattended for any length of time. In such cases you should be asking a few tough questions about that person’s eligibility for inclusion in your team, as mutual trust is paramount.

From my experience thus far, I can say that FlatPress works really well as a group blogging tool but there are still issues to be resolved, so I keep a list of nagging doubts here of any current issues.

I’ve also listed the steps which I’ve already taken to secure the blog here.

Finally, there’s a bit of a wishlist here, though this is also a page where I record any happy accidents, successes and pleasant surprises along the way.

Hopefully this will all come together as a fairly complete record of the project and I hope it will be of some use to others, in particular NWM who wrote FlatPress in the first place. If it helps you then please consider making a donation to the FlatPress project (see links at the foot of this page).

Please remember that this is an experimental project which has no affiliation with or approval from the official FlatPress project. Neither is this ever going to become an official release of any description. You are free to use the ideas which are expressed here, but this is not a support forum and no guarantee is given or implied that the successes which have been recorded will be repeatable in your own installed version of FlatPress. In short, I would recommend that you don’t try any of this yourself unless you really know your way around the FlatPress architecture. The usual warnings apply: make sure you have a back up of your original files in case something goes wrong and test, test, test! Test everything is working after EVERY change so you know exactly which files to restore in case something goes wrong. I visit the FlatPress forum frequently, though I do not expect to see this become clogged up with requests for help concerning this experiment – in particular where things have gone wrong. If things progress then Collaborative Enterprises themselves may be prepared to open up a forum to assist you, as their implementation of this has been running for some time now.


How can I help?

  • Support the official FlatPress project with a small donation
  • Translate FlatPress or the documentation into your language
  • Share your knowledge with other people on the forums   
  • Spread the word!

Support our caregiving

If you found anything on this site of use, interesting, or even mildly amusing then please consider dropping a few pennies in the jar to help us to take care of our disabled son who contracted encephalitis in 2007 at the age of 6 and who is now confined to a wheelchair. He is getting bigger as his mother and I get older, imagine that, please. Every penny we collect goes towards his upkeep, and towards his future care requirements.

Thank you.

Support our caregiving

Support our caregiving

If you found anything on this site of use, interesting, or even mildly amusing then please consider dropping a few pennies in the jar to help us to take care of our disabled son who contracted encephalitis in 2007 at the age of 6 and who is now confined to a wheelchair. He is getting bigger as his mother and I get older, imagine that, please. Every penny we collect goes towards his upkeep, and towards his future care requirements.

Thank you.