Category: Techie

Need to book rooms and resources?

mrbsIn today’s fast paced life, it is more important than ever to keep tabs on whats going. My church have recently undergone a refurb project and as a result has lots of activities taking place in different rooms throughout the building. Suddenly the paper diary that is keep by someones telephone was no longer an adequate system for us to use.

I looked for various solutions to this problem before settling on MRBS from The features that made this so attractive were:

  • The code is free!
  • It would run on our existing website, (although a MySQL database and PHP is required)
  • The layout is customisable
  • I will grow with our needs
  • Accessible by many people via the Internet.

I cannot express what a great sucess this has been for us so if you are needing to implement a similar system, I personally think MRBS is well worth a look.

Picasa 3.5 released – with face recognition.

When it comes to sorting out pics I’ve always been ademant that whatever program I use it needs to be easy and straight forward and after trying so many different programs I finally settled for Google’s Picasa. I have to say that right from the early stages of Picasa’s life the software did exactly what it was set out to do in a very straight forward kind of way and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the latest release comes with some very interesting features.

  • Name tags – scans all the photos in your collection, identifies the ones with faces, and groups photos with similar faces together.
  • Geotag your photos with Google Maps – Quickly add geotags using new integrated Google Maps
  • Import, upload, and share, all at once – improved the import process so that you can star your favorites, upload to Picasa Web Albums and share with Google contact groups at the same time
  • Tags — Better bulk tagging, quick tags & tag counts – improved the tagging experience.

I installed the new version 3.5 yesterday and I loved the new features. See below for a little video explaining the new features and you can download picasa from


For years, web developers have been creating the necessary html files on their local computers and once design and content have been finalised, uploading to their website. This is an efficient way of working but is not possible with php based sites such as WordPress or MRBS that reply on a database that creates the html files, ‘on the fly’.

One little program I have found indispensable is Xampp. This sets up a web-server with php and MySQL facilities on your local machine allowing development and fine tuning of your website without the hassle of constantly uploading files via FTP. Once the site is ready with a little tweak and an upload, you can make it live with an upload.

I’m currently running this from a USB stick which means I can use this from any computer, take it into meetings and have access to my latest developments even when no Internet connection is available.

The developers of Xampp openly admit there are security issues if you try and use this to make your site publicly available but it not intended for that. They have kindly made versions available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Solaris operating systems. The only little problem I have found with this is when also having skype installed, there is a conflict but a work around can be found here.


Weblogs, (or blogs) have already taken the internet by storm and are constantly changing the way we share and digest information across the web. For this, (and MANY other) reasons an increasing number of churches are adopting blogs as their main website.

Due to itโ€™s flexible and versatile nature, WordPress is a very widely used blogging platform, (in fact IpraiseYou is currently running on this platform). Once set up WordPress is a very efficient way of keeping your site fresh and up to date. WordPress will host the site for you but to unleash the full power of WordPress, you will probably want to install this on your own website. The greatest benefit of WordPress to my mind is that you can expand your site to include many pages other than just your blog.

If you are interested exploring this solution, for your site, check out this site as an example.

If you just want a personal blog perhaps for your church leader to share their thoughts, you might want to turn to Blogger. Run by the Google empire, Blogger offers a no nonsense ready to go solution giving users the ability to share their thoughts online. Blogger will also host the website for you which makes blogging as simple as surfing the web!

TiltViewer – present your photos online with a little 'tilt'

Well there I was surfing the net today and I came upon this cool little site – Tiltviewer. This is a handy piece of code that allows photos to be presented in a typical slide show with a twist – in an almost 3D like grid allowing people the freedom to glide around your photos. To quote from their site: “is a free, customizable 3D Flash image viewing application”

In order to use it, you will need to download the code and install it on your site, but once that’s done it will gives your pics a very smooth interface and backdrop. There are plenty of options for the user to as it allows you to zoom into each photo, move around in 3D and even information for each photo.

However it does sound like Tiltviewer might not be for everyone because of the installation process. But if you can follow instructions and know your way around a few lines of code then you should definitely give Titlviewer a try.

BeFunky – Funky ways to express yourself

A few months ago I found this site that turns any photo and gives it a cartoonish effect. The problem was I just couldn’t remember what it was called for the world of me. So I’ve been searching hi and low for this clever little site and then low and behold today it just appears in front of me.

Befunky takes images from your computer, webcam or on the web and creates a cartoonish effect that you can share with others. They call it CARTOONIZER – here’s a little something I made.

They are also planning to launch the VIDEO CARTOONIZER – where they say you will be able to turn a home movie into an animated feature film. I’m looking forward to that. In the meanwhile check out their video example below.

Video Cartoonizer By BeFunky from BeFunky on Vimeo.

Dumpr – novelty effects to your pics

In my daily surf today I found this clever little site that allows users to apply some funky effects to their images. If you’re looking to do something a little different then Dumpr is for you. My favourite so far is the Rubick’s Cube effect.

You can upload photos from your own hard drive, or paste in URLs from some of the major photo hosting services, including Flickr and MySpace.

It is pretty fun to play with, and it’s great for quickly doing things to photos that would take a while for a novice to learn in Photoshop. It also has a few Flickr-specific features, like searching for pictures similar to your favorites, and rating Flickr photos.

Go ahead give it a go ๐Ÿ™‚