Welcome Kiosk

I am setting up a kiosk PC for the Lansdowne welcome team to use while helping our guests.
ubuntu logo
It will be a standard screen, mouse and keyboard connected to an old PC box running the Ubuntu operating system. I’ve not set up a kiosk style PC before so it should be an interesting exercise. I’ve chosen Ubuntu because it is free to use and keeps our costs to a minimum. This should be OK for the users, because we’ll restrict access to only the browser window.

I need the kiosk to have a login (to stop unauthorised start up) and to start up in a full-screen browser showing our standard website and a special “welcome desk” start page.

The kiosk can then be used to show guests what facilities we have to offer and allow them to load up a form for entering the guest’s contact details and interests/next step.

Each submitted form will automatically send an email to the church office with the guest contact information and also add a record to a Google Docs spreadsheet. The office can then immediately respond to new guests the next day.

Website redesign 2013

We’re redesigning the LBC website for 2013.

The existing site is now two years old and is starting to show it’s age. Also, as more people access the site via tablets and mobile phones, we need a responsive design template to make things consistent and simple to maintain.

Last week we had a kick-off meeting to discuss the process and time-scales and this week we met to consolidate the existing content. We needed to rationalise the site navigation which had grown organically over previous designs and had become a bit haphazard.

LBC Proposed vs. Current Site Map

The image above shows the current site map (on the right) and an initial proposal for the new site (on the left). One of the aims was to reduce the number of navigational options that are present on every page. The current site has many and we were looking at creating a pyramid style of navigation where more detail is held the further you travel down the navigation.

A cleaner ‘new-site’ proposal was the outcome of this week’s meeting:

Proposed Sitemap

Our web developer volunteer (Luke) is now working on wire-frame layouts for the major page types.

What about you?
What have you found works well for navigating your churches website?
Do you need to reconsider your site to make it responsive for the increasing number of mobile users?

Please leave your comments.

The run up to Christmas 2012

Not long now

The time between September and the new year can be one of the busiest periods in a churches calendar.

At Lansdowne, many new students have arrived in Bournemouth and the second and third year students have returned from summer break. Plans are under way for Christmas and two of our recent series have just come to an end.

We will have our women’s conference in just a few days time and all the final arrangements of badges, Power Point templates, slideshows for the refreshment rooms and background music are being made. I’ll be involved technically on the day – either with audio production and/or set up of the rooms before breaks (slideshow notices etc.).

There are quite a few things to get ready in a short space of time!

Following the conference, all concentration will be on the Christmas carol services and how we make guests feel welcome – especially those who are first-timers.

Things on my mind at the moment…

  • Christmas cards/Easter cards – Can we make these invitations?
  • Helper badges – For greeters and Info-point personel
  • Info point – We need to simplify registration/follow-up process
  • Media Ministry presentation in December at Explore Stream

I’m encouraged by Acts 20:27 – “for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.” (NLT)

Media room mash-up

Last Sunday, I was in the media room on webcast duty and decided to record Joe who was directing the live feed.

I have crudely mashed-up the media room footage (taken on my point-and-shoot) with the live output so you can get some idea of what goes on during the singing at Lansdowne Baptist Church.

Some day I hope we’ll have the time to present this a little more professionally! Until then, enjoy:

A couple of great free Android apps I’ve started using

I have recently stared using a couple of very useful android apps. Specifically, BubbleUPnP and HP ePrint.

Bubble enables me to stream media from my Windows 7 computer to my Nexus 7 and visa versa. I can, for example, find a photo in my Nexus gallery and ‘send’ it to my PC monitor screen. Conversely, I can browse the library of files on my PC and view/play them on the Nexus. This is handy for listening to music from the files stored on the PC.

HP ePrint provides a way to connect to HP printers from your Android device. I wondered how I would have to configure the software to find my wireless printer, but I didn’t have to… no sooner had I installed it then it automatically located the printer and now I can send documents to it directly.

Two apps, both installed today and both providing exactly what I wanted – and both free. Love it!

WordPress Login problems?

Another issue recently, with a different site.

The host supplier had moved the site to a new server and apparently this has “Suhosin” installed. This is an advanced protection system for PHP installations. It was designed to protect servers and users from known and unknown flaws in PHP applications and the PHP core.

It can also kill your WordPress dashboard (and the rest!).

I could authenticate successfully and get the WordPress banner menu showing above the site, but if I tried to get to the dashboard or any other part of WordPress administration, I was being redirected to the 404 Error page.

The site continued to work fine, I was just unable to change it in any way as I could not get to the dashboard.

A quick chat session with the host supplier and they disabled Suhosin. Now all is back to normal.


WordPress and mod_security

A web site that I jointly administer suddenly started to fail when trying to add images to pages/posts.

We’d not altered anything nor installed any new plugins, but this was disconcerting as Christmas was approaching and that’s a busy time for us.

It turns out the issue was caused by our host provider changing their security and WordPress was (to use their words) “violating mod_security settings”. Thankfully, they added an exclusion for us and things are up and running again (no lasting harm done).

So, if WordPress starts saying something like “Page not found” (404 error) when you attempt to publish a page or post, check with your hosting provider and see if they can change settings for you.

There’s also a WordPress support thread here on the issue:



SanDisk Sansa Fuze – Long term review

I needed an MP3 player, didn’t want to buy an expensive iPod and someone recommended I look at the SanDisk Sansa Fuze. I’m glad I did.

Fuze with SD card for size

The SanDisk Sansa Fuze with SD card for size comparison

I bought it in January 2010 for £53 (at time of writing, they’re only £35 from Amazon) and have been nothing but pleased with it ever since.

It. Just. Works. The list of great things about it are:

  • It plays just about any audio file you wish to copy onto it (MP3, WMA, secure WMA, Ogg Vorbis, and FLAC).
  • It sounds great and the battery lasts for ages.
  • It plays just about any MPEG4 format movie file.
  • Has expandable memory with a microSDHC memory card slot.
  • FM radio (not used that much to be honest).
  • Voice recorder (not used that much either).
  • Has EQ settings, including allowing custom settings.
  • Photo/image viewer (small screen, so of limited use – use your phone instead).
  • Metal back and sides (apparently made of LiquidMetal) with a piano-gloss plastic front.
  • Has a good solid weighty feel to it without being heavy.
  • It appears as two drives when connected to the PC (internal/external memory) so no iTunes needed.
  • It supports Audible books (used these – they’re great).

Rather than bore you with a full review, read the excellent AnythingButIpod.com review which will give you all you need to know.

Want an MP3 player that will last but don’t want to pay a premium price, then this will be money well spent. A simple (not included) jack-to-jack cable lets me plug into separate speakers if I want to.

Enough said. Here’s a photo of the unit with its blue ring of wonder:

Sansa Fuze with its glowing blue dial

The Blue Ring of Wonder!

Poached Egg

I came across this blog post from Mali Korsten on the perfect recipe for poaching an egg:

Poached eggs have been my nemesis for the extent of my cooking career (I use the term “career” loosely, in the way that one might describe wearing clothes, or any other necessary daily activity). Without one of those special cheat-pans, my eggs just dissolve into a stringy mass of albumin floating in a sea of frothy salt-water, the yolk sitting isolated at the bottom of the pan, long-since detached from its white partner. Yesterday, all that changed.


I tried the recipe this morning and can tell you, it works! Evidence below:

Poached Egg on toast

Straight from the pan

Poached Egg on toast with yolk broken

Just how I like it



















Apart from being able to make great eggs, Mali is also a musician. Her album is here and is well worth a listen: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/malikorsten

Finally, a quote from C S Lewis which mentions a poached egg:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. – Mere Christianity, pages 40-41.


Free time in Sydney

After working in Sydney this week I got some free time before my flight in the evening.

Prior to my arrival in Australia, they’d had about two weeks of rain (some quite heavy I believe). When I arrived, the weather took a turn for the better and the sun came out – unfortunately I was working between 8am and 5pm so was not able to enjoy it.

On my last day in Sydney, I had some hours to myself – but the weather has returned to rain, and some of it torrential – there was even a “water tornado” just a few miles away. So with a few hours to spend, I resorted to trudging around the shops with my back pack, looking like a soaked vagrant. Granted, this gave me time to buy gifts for the family, but it wasn’t the day I was looking forward to. I had been hoping to get out and take some photographs of the famous Sydney landmarks.

Thankfully, I’d brought the Canon D10 with me so had no problems using that in the rain: