Dark Mood V2 WordPress theme, editing wordpress files, encoding PHP

It may come as no surprise to some to find that freely available themes have got advertising embedded in them by default. It came as a surprise to me, mind you! I downloaded and installed the Dark Mood V2 wordpress theme by Ed Canape and found that in the footer file there was a PHP function that positioned some adverts. Not rocket science, but I wasn’t happy with the kind of ads that appeared. One was a pay per click affiliate program, one about Asian entertainment (ooer…) and one about Philipine paradises. However, what really ticked me off was the fact that the function had been encoded so as to make it hard to unpick it and remove said adverts.

Of all the encoding methods available to PHP programmers, possibly the best is from Zend. One of the most pointless is gencoder (although free). Luckily, it was gencoder that had been used on this occasion. The file looks like this:

encoded php

Now, as you can see there is no easy way to get into the code and remove the advertising links. However, there are two possibilities.

Firstly, you can create a CSS rule in your stylesheet which sets the footer ‘a’ display to be none:

footer a {

All this does is remove any clickable links in the footer, but leaves the remaining text. This is at best a workaround, but can get you out of a fix if you are in a hurry.

The second thing to do is decode the file! Again, there are two ways to achieve this, but probably the simplest is to edit the ‘eval’ statement to read ‘print_r’ instead. If you then run the code in your browser you’ll see that it makes a bit of a mess visually, but you can still right click and ‘view source’. What you are looking for is at the bottom of the page:

if((isset($v) AND $v==0) OR (isset($t) AND $t==false)){die('This script is protected by <a style"color:cyan\" href="http://www.gencoder.sf.net\"><b><font color"#330099\">G-Encoder</font></b></a>');}echo "<div id"footer\">n";
echo " Powered by n";
echo " <a href="http://wordpress.org\">WordPress</a>n";
echo " and Design by Ivy's <a href="http://www.rubberstampguides.com/\">Rubber Stamp</a> n";
echo " Guiden";
echo " <p><a href="http://www.kirrhi.com/\">Pay Per Click Affiliate Program</a> | <a href="http://yeinjee.com/asianpop/tag/asian-entertainment/\">Asia Entertainment</a> | <a href="http://www.paradise-philippines.biz/\">Paradise Philippines</a></div>n";
echo "</div>n";
echo "n";
echo " <?php wp_footer(); ?>n";
echo "n";
echo "</body>n";
echo "</html>n";

Now you can see the code more clearly, and you can easily see what needs to happen. The last four lines are all you need… in fact, one of those can be deleted! What you really need is the call to the wordpress footer routines and to close the body tag and close the html. This is all that is necessary to complete the footer file in wordpress. Armed with this knowledge, go back and change the ‘print_r’ statement if you like, but better yet, just delete all of that guff. In it’s place simply add the following few lines of code. You can leave out the ‘div’ tags if they are not needed:

<div class="footer">
<?php wp_footer(); ?>

and that’s it. Save the file and you have got yourself an advert free footer space on your wordpress blog.

Thanks (as ever) to Alex Blanc for his timely and ultimately very simple solution to the problem, and no thanks whatsoever to the person who decided to a) put adverts in the footer, and b) encode them at all. I believe each person needs to have the right to choose whether to display adverts, and in this case I chose most strongly not to!

Lowestoft Air Festival 2007, Red Arrows

Red ArrowsI haven’t seen the Red Arrows perform for a very long time, probably over 30 years now, but I was completely unprepared for the sheer excitement of watching them fly on Friday 27th July in Lowestoft.

The Lowestoft Airshow is an annual event attended by tens of thousands of people from all over the East of England. The town copes as best it can with the massive increase in traffic as everyone pours towards the sea front to take in the sights and sounds of the day. The programme this year was started by the Red Arrows who soared and swooped in move after move of sheer brilliance. What made it even more special for me was the audio being fed over the loudspeaker system that was patched through from the cockpits of the pilots themselves. You can imagine this is a particularly exhilarating thing to be taking part in, but the whoops of joy from the pilots as they completed intricate manoeuvres at very high speed were brilliant to hear. These are clearly very highly skilled fliers who absolutely love what they do! Nothing else in the day quite came close to watching this group, although everything there was superb.

Other favourites from the day include (for me) the Lynx and Gazelle helicopters – the Lynx flies upside down – the beautifully graceful Catalina flying boat from WWII, the Blades (ex Red Arrows fliers) and the wonderful supermarine spitfire. The day was simply awesome, and the weather brillaint too – not too hot, just warm enough to be comfortable.

Also on show were a number of powerboats warming up for a race to take place the next day. Even at such a distance it was obvious how mad you have to be to drive one of those! Excellent fun, I expect!

Some images from the day are here…

Cleveratom Move Offices

It’s Official!

Cleveratom Limited moved house on the 25th July 2007 to their new premises in Chelmsford. Two days of lifting and shifting furniture proved extremely tiring – everything had to be taken up a flight of stairs for a start – but very worthwhile. We have managed to save some of the furniture destined to be disposed of from Anglia Ruskin University and since it all co-ordinates, the new office looks pretty good too. I’ll post some images when I get a chance!

Our new address is confirmed… all correspondence now needs to go to:

Cleveratom Limited
Fenchurch House
93 Springfield Road

Tel: 0845 868 9020
alt: 01245 252009

We owe a great deal to the fine folks at the Essex Technology and Innovation Centre in Ongar. They have been extremely helpful and understanding and throughout our time there have been able to support the company with high quality advice and ideas. If you are looking to start up a new company and want a good place to work from, look no further. OK – Ongar isn’t the centre of the commuter dream land, but it is close enough to Epping, Harlow, Brentwood and Chelmsford, and the M11 and A12 for it to make little difference. If there had been the oportunity to have a larger space in the centre we probably would have moved into that instead. Contact David Adlington or ring 01277 368200 for more information about moving in… Unit 29 is now empty!

Pizza Express Review Site

Anyone who has ever been to a Pizza Express restaurant will know that the quality is reasonably consistent from place to place, however, it isn’t always… A new website http://www.pizzaexpressyourself.co.uk/  is available where you can sign in and review your experiences of Pizza Express. If you have a small image taken on a camera phone, you can upload that as well to illustrate what you see.

Entitled ‘Date it, Rate it, State it’, you get to say what you want, but are encouraged to comment on the quality of the food, the service and the environment in Pizza Express restaurants. So far there are not many reviews… the site is new, so why not go in and add your review!

Advertising in Magazines – does it work?

alex_adHere you can see Alex leafing through one of the national magazines that deals with education whilst in W H Smith in Chelmsford. He happens to be on a page carrying an advert for Cleveratom and our consultative services for schools looking to develop or implement a virtual learning environment, or learning platform.

This is a bit of a test for magazine advertising. Previously, we were always advised to steer clear because it isn’t cost effective and can only reach the person reading the magazine, whereas a poster or leaflet can be read by multiple people simultaneously.

My question is does advertising in magazines work? If it does we can expect a deluge of people downloading the advice sheet we created as they rapidly realise the deadline for implementation is looming and that they haven’t yet grasped the nettle to understand what is going on. Alternatively, it could be that al schools in England and Wales are well sorted, and don’t need our input. Or, I guess it could be that no-one gives two hoots what we have to say on the matter… there are plenty of other sources of advice. All very likely, I dare say.

We are thinking that this time of year is not so good for advertising to schools. They are about to embark on their long summer vacations and most folk won’t be thinking about VLEs or learning platforms for another six weeks at least. Oh well.

The good news is that we want to find out the effect, and to do so has cost very little money. It could be argued that it is a waste of money no matter how small an amount, but time will tell. If you are interested in seeing the advert up close, or want to take advantage of a free advice sheet, head over to http://www.cleveratom.co.uk/vle