Creative Learning Systems

Creative Learning Systems logo
New company, new logo

Just a quick note – Cleveratom has closed (we went into voluntary liquidation after a run of particularly bad luck, and some less than satisfactory decisions). In the mean time I have set up a new company called ‘Creative Learning Systems’. Does just what it says on the tin…

I am very sorry to lose Cleveratom – such a cool brand! I wish my former colleagues well in their new endeavours, and will look forward to carrying on doing some excellent learning based consultancy, learning space design and web application development with Matthew Eaves as a co-director.

Since we have no development team anymore, we will be looking for excellent individuals who have a lot of skills and want to work in a dynamic way. If you know of anyone, do send me their info (or send them mine!).

Cleveratom Website

cleveratom website
cleveratom website

The Cleveratom website has been given a new look and a new engine, too! For the last few months we have been relying on WordPress to drive things along, and whilst it has been OK, it has never been what we wanted. It was better than a static page, but never really did the job we needed. Fortunately, that has all changed today as we moved over to the rather brilliant ‘CMS Made Simple‘ content management system.

If you head over to you will see the new livery and be able to read all about the work that we are doing. There are many things still to add in relating to the projects we are doing, and you can always sign up to the newsletter in order to get more information on a (fairly) regular basis!

Getting a new site up and running is always traumatic in some way, and today we did battle with DNS servers, Nameservers and email records. Sheesh! No doubt we are all the better for the experience!

Engage East England, CMS Made Simple

A recent project required us to create a website for Rochford District Council, Uttlesford District Council and Essex County Council where users would be able to access information relating to public consultations and best practice. Nothing particularly remarkable in that – this is the sort of project that we enjoy doing as it is for a very good purpose and allows a degree of creativity in the design and approach to creating the site.

Read more

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="\"><b><font color"#330099\">G-Encoder</font></b></a>');}echo "<div id"footer\">n";
echo " Powered by n";
echo " <a href="\">WordPress</a>n";
echo " and Design by Ivy's <a href="\">Rubber Stamp</a> n";
echo " Guiden";
echo " <p><a href="\">Pay Per Click Affiliate Program</a> | <a href="\">Asia Entertainment</a> | <a href="\">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!

Simple forum for WordPress


At last, I seem to have found a decent set of forum tools that plugs directly into wordpress! I have been looking for something that gives me some of the functionality of PHPbb but uses the WordPress user table in the database. Following a link to YellowSwordfish I happened across ‘sf-forum’.

I have since installed it on this blog, and you can get to it by following the ‘Forum’ links in the menu bar. It allows me to establish forum groups visible only to specific users or set up different ones open to public access. Currently, if you visit the page you will be able to see three forums related to the work I do as part of Cleveratom Limited. However, if you sign up to the site you’ll also see (as a subscriber) another forum dedicated to DVD technologies. Now, none of these are particularly high profile things for me to broadcast, but they do illustrate the power of the simple forum plug in.

The only caveat I would suggest is that to get the forum to appear you need to be sure that your page names match your database names – it took a few minutes for this to sink in and at first I was thinking I had not managed to get a decent forum… but hold fast! Get those names right and it appears beautifully.

Many thanks to Andy (I think) at yellow swordfish – a brilliant little plug in with lots of versatility.