Aug 292013

I recently changed the theme on my photography portfolio site to the beautiful ShutterShot theme from I had been looking for a simple full-screen to showcase my photography and this is exactly what I wanted.

The one thing that I didn’t like was the sidebar which had a space for a Twitter feed and some sponsored ads (which I assume fab themes make some money on if you don’t change the default links) – It seems that lots of other people wanted to remove the sidebar too judging by the comments online.

The solution I found was to do the following:

Load your blog in a tab of your browser and navigate to a page which shows the sidebar with Twitter feed and sponsored links.

In another tab, go to the theme editor by navigating to Appearance > Editor in the dashboard. Choose ‘Sidebar’ from the list of templates on the right.You will now see the code for the sidebar.php page – this is what is displayed in the sidebar. At the very top of this page, type


on a line of its own, then on the very last line type


This will make all the content be treated as a comment so not display. Click the ‘Update file’ button at the bottom of the page and reload your blog.

You should see that the sidebar is now empty, but there is still a blank space where it used to be.

The width of the content on the blog page is controlled by the ‘content’ definition in the CSS. In the editor, click the stylesheet link on the right side, and find the section which has a line beginning

 #content { 

The width of the content is defined two lines below that. change it to read:

width: 740px;

Save the page and reload your blog – the content should now fill the space where the sidebar once was.

While you’re in the stylesheet, you might want to fix the menu so that it works on mobile devices.

Find the section which reads

#submenu {
margin: 0px 0px ;
padding:0px 0px;

and change it to

#submenu {
margin: 0px 150px ;
padding:0px 0px;

changing the value ‘150px’ will move the menu horizontally – 0px will be against the right side, 150px was about right for me.

I hope this helps you out – let me know in teh comments how you get on!

 Posted by at 10:06 pm
Jan 082013

Adobe have kindly made Creative Suite 2 (CS2) available to download for free – you can download it at – however, there are a couple of tricks to getting it to run successfully on Windows 7 64-bit

Step 1 Download the required files

Download the following files from the link above:


Step 2 Extract the files

Error when creating folder

Error message when trying to create folder

The Disk1, Disk2 and Disk3 files contain a compressed version of the files which originally came on CDs, the Disk1 file also contains the installer which will run automatically after extracting.

Run the CreativeSuiteCS2Disc2.exe, CreativeSuiteCS2Disc3.exe and CS_2.0_WWE_Extras_1.exe files and allow them to extract to their default locations. Do not run Disk 1 yet.

If you get an error “Unable to create the specified output folder!”, click ‘OK’ and retry – it should work the second time.

You now need to extract the files from CreativeSuiteCS2Disc1.exe, but cancel before the installer tries to install the applications.

Run CreativeSuiteCS2Disc1.exe and let it extract the files to C:\Creative Suite CS2\, but when the white ‘Welcome’ window appears, click ‘Cancel’ then ‘Quit’.

Step 3 Move the files to the required locations

After the files have extracted, you will find that Disk 2 has extracted to C:\Creative Suite\Adobe Creative Suite 2.0\

Disk1 and Disk3 have extracted to C:\Creative Suite CS2\

Extras has extracted to C:\CS_2.0_WWE_Extras_2

You must now move both folders from C:\Creative Suite\Adobe Creative Suite 2.0 to C:\Creative Suite CS2\Adobe Creative Suite 2.0\ – you can then delete C:\Creative Suite\

Check: C:\Creative Suite CS2\Adobe Creative Suite 2.0\ should now look like:

CS2 Install File list

The required installation files after extracting and moving them.

If you do not move these files, you will be prompted to “Insert Disc 2” during the install and it will fail.

Step 4 Check the installation path

When you run the installer in the next step, it will default to install in C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe but the installer does not like the space in the file name and will fail. If you choose another folder (e.g. C:\ProgramFiles\Adobe), Photoshop will not start successfully and will show an error “‘Your Adobe Photoshop user name, organisation, or serial number is missing or invalid. The application cannot continue and must now exit.”

Open a command window (Start button,  type CMD, press enter)

Type “CD \” to change to the root of your c: drive

Type “DIR /X” to see what the DOS name for your Program Files (x86) directory is. It is likely to be PROGRA~2 – Make a note of this, you need it in the next step.

CMD Window

The highlighted section is the part you need to take note of

Step 5 Run the installer

Navigate to C:\Creative Suite CS2\Adobe Creative Suite 2.0 and run Setup. This will run the installer which you cancelled in step 2.

Read and agree to the license, enter your name, company and the serial number which can be found on the download page.

When you are prompted for the install location, amend it to read c:\PROGRA~2\Adobe (where PROGRA~2 is the name you found in step 4) If the ‘Next’ button does not become active, press ‘Tab’ and it should become available.

Choose which components you want to install (probably ‘Entire suite’) and step through the rest of the wizard.

Register the software if you want to at the end, and check for updates.

Bonus: If you register, you will receive an email from Adobe which offers you a complimentary benefit – choose from:

Garamond Premier Pro
A new Adobe original typeface family, complete with optical sizes designed by Robert Slimbach.

2 issues of Photoshop® User
An award-winning, cutting-edge “how-to” magazine, packed with tutorials, cool tips and insider information.

2 issues of Layers® magazine
This magazine highlights hidden shortcuts and tutorials, with a more creative look into Adobe products.

Once the install completes, you should have a working CS2 installation! Try running Photoshop to confirm it starts correctly.

Let me know in the comments how you get on!

Update: Thanks to a couple of commenters spotting an error in step 3, I have uninstalled and reinstalled from scratch to make sure I get the steps all correct. Now with added screenshots!



Dec 182012
Instagram logo

Instagram logo

Today, 18th December 2012, Instagram announced that they would be changing their Terms of Service effective 16th January 2013. After that date, Instagram will be able to repackage any photo submitted to the service and sell it for advertising purposes without informing the photographer. This means that your photo could be used to advertise any product – even ones you are opposed to. Further, if there are any legal claims about the content of the images used for advertising purposes, the liability will lie with the photographer, not Instagram.

The only way to opt out of the new rules, is to delete your Instagram account (however, the new TOS will only apply to photos uploaded after the new TOS becomes active) – by logging in either using the mobile app, or the web page confirms your acceptance of the new rules.

This change in the TOS has angered a number of photographers online and they have been venting on Twitter and Facebook. The Anonymous hacker collective has urged Instagram users to boycott the service (see the hashtag #boycottInstagram).

Instagram is a fabulous tool which allows photos to be taken and instantly uploaded – If you want to, you can add a variety of filters and frames with a couple of clicks. This makes it a very immediate medium for sharing thoughts and breaking news as it happens.

Flickr Logo

Flickr Logo

There is, however, an alternative in the newly released Flickr Mobile App which is available for Android and iOS.

The Flickr App is very similar to Instagram in that it allows you to take a photo and add one of a number of filters to the image. I don’t see an option in the Flickr App to add frames, but I rarely use them anyway. The Flickr App does not restrict the image to being square, and the image is much higher resolution. The Flickr Terms of Service are much more agreeable to photographers too.

But, what if you already have photos on Instagram which you would like to migrate to Flickr?

The best method I have found, is to use the free service at which allows you to download photos from Flickr, Facebook or Instagram in bulk. Signing up is free, and you can choose to save your photos to a Dropbox account which is also free. If you would like a larger-than-normal Dropbox account, please sign up using my affiliate link:

Note: is currently undergoing an upgrade, but if you sign up now, they will let you know when the service is available – you have until January 16th 2013 before the new Instagram TOS becomes active.

Let me know your thoughts on the new TOS and the Flickr App!

UPDATE: [22:00GMT 18 Dec 2012] Instagram have issued a clarification of what they meant by the new TOS – U-turn or genuine mistake?

May 192012

This morning, I put my LP-E6 battery for my Canon EOS 7D camera on to charge in the standard LC-E6E charger, but it did not charge at all.

The charger has a single LED which shows the charging state of the battery. While charging, the LED is orange – it flashes once and pauses when the battery is less than 50% charged, twice and a pause when the battery is less than 75% charged and three flashes and a pause when the charge is less than 100%. Once the battery is fully charged, the LED turns green and lights continuously.

*   *   *   *   *  < 50%
**  **  **  ** ** < 75%
*** *** *** *** *** <100%
******************** = Problem!

When I connected the battery, it flashed orange rapidly with no pause.

To fix the problem, I unplugged the charger, I cleaned all four contacts using a dry duster. There are two copper ‘blades’ and two silver ‘bent wire’ contacts. The charger seems to gather lots of dust. I also cleaned the contacts on the battery taking great care not to touch them with anything conductive. The exposed contacts can be rubbed gently with a cloth, but the two slots which connect to the ‘blades’ on the charger are harder to clean. I folded a clean piece of paper in half and gently pushed it into the slots – there was a small amount of fluff which came out of the slots.

When I put the battery on to charge again, it was showing 50% charged and after a few minutes showed 75%.

I hope this will save you spending £75 on a new battery, or £50 or a new charger!

May 062012

My girlfriend wanted a unique and interesting case for her mobile phone to replace the one she was using. She had seen handbags made of old books and I had recently bought a Dodocase for my playbook and that gave us the idea of  hacking an old book into a phone case. Here’s how I did it and how it looks…

A cheap, but attractive book

A cheap, but attractive book

Step 1, find an attractive book about the right size for your phone. We looked in book shops and charity shops before finding a nice ivory coloured book titled “An Anthology of Love” – try not to pick a rare or valuable book!

A cheap eBay case

A cheap eBay case

Step 2, get a cheap case for your phone which you can steal the mount from – the one we used was from eBay and cost £1.99

Pages removed

Pages removed

Step 3, carefully trim the pages out of the cover, and trim the paper which makes up the inside of the cover to reveal the edges of the fabric which makes up the outside of the cover. Dampening the paper with soapy water helps unstick it. I decided not to remove all of the paper as it could damage the cardboard and make the cover weak.

Fix the paper, unstick the outer cover

Fix the paper, unstick the outer cover

Step 4, Glue down any parts of the paper which are hanging off – I used PVA ‘white’ glue. Also unstick the edges of the outer cover and flatten them out.

Mark where to cut

Mark where to cut

Step 5, Put your phone, in the mount, in place on the cover and mark where the cardboard needs to be trimmed.

Mark the cuts and unfold the other sides

Mark the cuts and unfold the other sides

Step 6, Unfold the other edges and draw straight lines where you are going to cut the cardboard.

Cut the cardboard

Cut the cardboard

Step 7, Carefully peel the outer cover away from the cardboard until you are just past the line, then cut the cardboard with a craft knife and steel rule.

Trim the outer cover

Trim the outer cover

Step 8, Trim the outer cover to size – use the existing cover as a template.

Glue the edges and cut holes

Glue the edges and cut holes

Step 9, Glue the outer cover down nice and tight, and cut any holes you ned for the phone camera etc.

Step 10, Glue a ribbon across the middle of the cover to allow you to tie it closed later. Glue it firmly – I used a hot-melt glue gun.

Step 11, Cover the inside of the cover with a rectangle of paper. Glue it down firmly and take the opportunity to print a fancy inside cover if you like.

Step 12, Glue the plastic mount into place – again I used hot-melt glue, and plenty of it!

Outside cover

Outside cover

Step 13, Put your phone in the mount and show it off to your friends 🙂

Inside the case

Inside the case


The back cover

The back cover

 Posted by at 12:47 am
Nov 172011

Union Canal HDR Wallpaper

Union Canal HDR Wallpaper

Last night, I visited the Union Canal at Lochrin Basin in Edinburgh. I took a series of photographs and combined them to make this HDR image.
I have posted it in various sizes which you can use as a desktop wallpaper if you want to.

Widescreen: 1920×12001920×1800 |1680×10501440×9001280×800

Fullscreen (4:3): 1600×12001400×10501280×9601024×768

Oct 292011
May 082011

I have recently finished reading the Scott Berkun book Confessions of a Public Speaker and I think it should be compulsory reading for everyone, especially if you speak to groups of people.

People who will find the book especially useful are not just teachers or lecturers, but anyone who gives any type of performance; actors, magicians, storytellers, tour guides. I wish I had read it while I was still leading ghost tours.

Scott Berkun is a professional speaker who has had many articles published in top publications such as Wired Magazine,  The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. In this book, he reveals the secrets of successful public speaking all beautifully illustrated with real life stories and anecdotes. He gives tips on how to properly prepare for a presentation and how to adapt your presentation on-the-fly if the technology fails you, or you don’t get many “bums on seats”.

The final section of the book has confessions from other public speakers about speeches they gave where their preparation failed them and everything went wrong. I could add lots of examples from my own presentations, from trying to explain the inticracies of the National Covenant in Greyfriars Kirkyard while the ‘Three Tenors’ were performing outdoors at the castle above me. Or the time I stepped backwards out of the final tomb at the end of the tour, tripping on my black leather trench-coat and landing arse first in the muddy puddle behind me.

The book is fantastic – great advice about what your audience is likely to be expecting, and how they feel about being part of an audience which will help you see your presentation from a different point of view. If you purchase the book from Amazon through the link below, I get a small cut from Amazon.  Thanks.

Confessions of a Public Speaker

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Apr 292011

When I tried to power on my TV this afternoon, pressing the power button did nothing, it felt like the switch inside was not being activated. I decided to void my warranty and take a look inside. My TV is a Toshiba Regza model number 32XV555D, but I imagine the same switch is used on many Toshiba models and the following instructions may be of use to you too.

Opening your TV is dangerous and will void your warranty – there are high voltages inside and the following steps should only be carried out if you are sure you know what you are doing. I’m not a professional TV engineer and I take no responsibility for any damage you do to yourself or your TV if you are foolhardy enough to follow my description!

The first step to repairing the switch is to remove the back of the TV. Unplug the TV from the wall, and remove any HDMI/SCART/Aerial cables. Put the TV screen side down on a soft non-scratch surface.

The back of the TV is held on by 17 screws – you will need a phillips head screwdriver to remove them. The screws are not all the same size, so ensure you remember which screw goes in which hole. The screws to remove are all marked with an arrow, the 17th one took me a while to find – it is located above 2nd SCART connector.

Once the screws are removed, carefully lift off the back panel – it should come off easily. If not, make sure you have removed all the screws.

Switch as I found it

Switch as I found it

The power switch is at the right side of the TV , you will see that the button you push has a cylinder on the back which needs to somehow activate the switch which does not line up with it.

The button should push a square plastic plate which should be attached to the switch. In my case, the plate had broken and fallen off the switch. This meant that the button did nothing. You can see in the photograph that the plate has fallen off and is lying underneath the button. You have a couple of options at this point; you can either activate the switch manually, put the TV back together again and just use the wall switch to power your TV off an on, or you can repair the switch.

From a search of the Internet, it seems that this is a common problem with Toshiba TVs – if your TV is still in warranty, it is probably best to get an official spare fitted, but I decided to make a stronger repair so it does not happen again.

The plastic piece with broken section

The plastic piece with broken section

The plastic clip which holds the plate in place seems to be very fragile, and I could not find the small piece of plastic which had broken off. I mixed up some 5-minute epoxy and waited a couple of minutes for it to thicken up a bit. I put a small blob of epoxy onto the clip and put it in place on the switch. You will find this easier if you manually press the switch to put it in the ‘on’ position as this gives a little more space for maneuvering. The plate should be able to stay in position by itself while the epoxy cures (why not go and write a how to fix your TV blog post while you’re waiting!)

Once the epoxy has cured (mine says it is ready to handle in 15 minutes and achieves full strength in 1 hour) you can put the back on the TV by replacing all the screws. Power on your TV and, with a bit of luck, the power switch will work again. You have probably missed the programme you were wanting to watch though!

I hope this helps you if you have the same problem – the whole thing took me about 20 minutes to fix – much faster than waiting for the repair man! Leave a comment if it worked for you. Thanks.

The plastic piece glued back in place

The plastic piece glued back in place



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