Gravatars and Wordpress

Enhance your presence.

Why do YOU blog?

I blog because it forces me to keep up to date with the many changes going on. Blogging also helps to show the expertise my company has  accumulated over many years. For that reason, it’s important that we use the tools which help us to enhance our presence.

The avatar announcement from WordPress looks like one of those tools.

So – what’s involved? The WordPress page here shows how gravatars are displayed and used etc. and how to set the gravatar hover button

  Read more of this post


Using Autocollage to Make a WordPress Heading

Make the header bar stand out


Many of the themes in WordPress allow you to add your own image bar to give the site a feel to better suit you.

Autocollage is a great tool for making those image bars. I cover how to get Autocollage free if you’re a teacher here (and there are some instructions there at the same time).

The task is easiest broken down into 3 steps – get the pictures, make the collage then make the heading bar.

Read more of this post

A Blog for the Class

How can WordPress help in a primary school?

This just appeared on twitter – “Need help! Want to set up a blog with my new class but no idea where or how to start! Any ideas gladly welcomed!” and it was pretty much the subject we worked through in our recent workshops.

This blogpost has been made as a result of that request, and I’m sure a few people can add / correct some of my comments.

All the information here is based on using the free of charge hosted solution.


First things first – this stuff appears on the internet so adhere to the policies you have for web sites.(If you’re reading this, then the chances are that you can add to these comments)

  • Use only images of children where you’ve had consent
  • No image with name
  • No name with image

And some more to follow below.

Getting Started

You need to register a blogname, users and pick a theme – the information in the WordPress Getting started guide is really helpful.

Protect your children

When you fire up you’re greeted with a screen like this –


Today – it’s fine. Sometimes these popular blogs are not really appropriate to show up in a class. So – get to grips with an off-line editor like Windows LiveWriter. This means that when you or the children are making blogposts they only see your material. (To find out how to use Windows Live Writer – my user manual is here).

Watch Those Comments

Once people find your blog, you’d like to see some comments. But – beware, you may be opening your blog up to some weird and (not so) wonderful comments. So – make sure that anything anybody adds is approved by you first.

Here’s how you do that in WordPress.

On the dashboard – goto Settings, Discussion and make sure you select this option


How ‘Public’ do you want it to be?

Some of us want to make our blogs as easy to find as possible – others want to keep them fairly private.

On the WordPress Control Panel – look under settings->privacy and select the option to suit you


Note that if you select the last option, you’ll need to register users with WordPress – they’ll then receive an email which they have to acknowledge. This school visit blog is an example of the middle option.

Use Pictures – but think a bit

It’s so easy to generate high quality digital images and it’s also easy to forget just how big the picture files can be. High quality = large file size. This means that users will see delays in downloading the pictures and you’ll get through your storage space allowance pretty quickly.

Here’s the information related to my file space usage after 223 posts


The space usage of the pictures has been reduced drastically by using a free tool called Image Resizer. (An essential utility which I’ve written about here)

salisbury cathedral

The original of this image is 3.44Mb

This (resized) version is 127Kb.

As you can see, the picture quality of the resized picture is more than adequate for screen resolution.

Have you found any mistakes in this blog post? Is there anything I can add to make it more useful?

Please use the comments below.

WordPress and Free Software Session

Part 1 – The WordPress Bit

We had a great session today looking through some features from and free utilities and ideas from Google and from Microsoft. To round off a very useful session we got a dormant twitter user up and running 🙂

Here are the links and notes from the session. (Some of these are elsewhere on my blog, and some go out to other web sites).

Blogging in school?

Make sure you check this box – someone needs to be in charge of comments. On the dashboard, select settings, discussions and tick this box-


Want your blog to look like a web site?

For your blog to have a ‘static’ front page, and still be able to your blog posts, make a new PAGE called Posts then select this option in dashboard –> settings –>reading


I don’t want search engines to find my blog

Dashboard –> settings-> privacy


Use the second option and simply give your blog address to people. if you use the third option remember that you’ll have to define the users to WordPress (may take a bit of effort).

How do I get that Tweet button on the blog post

The new sharing option appears to have replaced this (in the time between showing it today and writing this blog!).


In the dashboard below the settings menu there’s a whole tab called sharing. Please could someone look a this post and tweet it!

Microsoft, Wordpress and Videos

Never the twain

Do you have the video upgrade option from WordPress.

I use it on this blog – the reason? By hosting the videos with the site itself, then any user can see all of my content. To simply link to video feed channels may be problematic, as these video feeds are often blocked inside schools.

So things were working just fine until we started using Community Clips to capture screens and make instructional videos. Community Clips is an excellent free resource from Microsoft, but – I added this video on July 13th


So ‘about a couple of minutes’ has become ‘about a couple of months’.

Read more of this post

Safe Image Searching

And the copyright has been sorted out as well

 The National Education Network Image Gallery has a mass of useful images, videos and audios for you to use in schools.

 It’s been pointed out to me that sometimes the search methods can be a bit ‘challenging’. There’s also very little to help you navigate (if there is, I couldn’t find it). So – here goes.

On the Teachers Page of the gallery is a very instructive document on how to download images and find either by browsing or by using the advanced search.

So – what about the basic search button?


Let’s see a few terms – I know my daughter put on a picture of a red squirrel. So let’s see what that gets ..


Not really.

Changing our search term to


Gives –


When you have the display on screen, the slideshow button gives you a slideshow of your search results.

A potential use in a school?

Pick a subject – for example Thames.

When the results show, select slideshow,then use one of the transition options and adjust the timing – this could make a great introduction to a subject – or even – ‘do you know what it is yet?’


Could your colleagues benefit from easy to access, safe images? How much more powerful will the gallery be if more people add material to it?

Ink Blogging with WordPress and Windows Live Writer

Dream big dreams

I’ve been experimenting with Windows Live Writer! (This is also known as playing).

Here is a picture I took a few years ago at the Rugby League Cup Final at Wembley. (When did it stop being new Wembley).

By using my 4 year old tablet PC and a fantastic plug in – WordPress really comes to life!

Windows Live Writer Manual

Blogging Made Easy

I’ve been making use of Windows Live Writer to make this blog, and many others, for the last 6 months. Thanks to Ray Fleming from Microsoft for introducing me to this great FREE 🙂 🙂 utility.

As I’ve tried to introdce it to other staff and customers – I’ve had the question – is there a user manual?

There is now. Please feel free to download a copy – please let me know how you feel I could improve it.

Windows Live Writer manual release ver1

Convert Blog Posts to Pages

And, convert blog pages to posts.

Cool tricks with Windows Live Writer.

In your haste to get the information into your blog, then information goes down without thought to the structure. (Sorry, this is quite a long post – there are a few steps involved,and it’s essential that they are carried out otherwise you’ll have strange errors and mysterious problems :()

The introduction of drop down menus of pages for some of the themes now lets you change the way you want to present the information. The built in editor in WordPress doesn’t make this easy.

(Sorry, this is quite a long post – there are a few steps involved,and it’s essential that they are carried out otherwise you’ll have strange errors and mysterious problems :() 

What’s the benefits? (These answers apply to WordPress – I haven’t tried them with other platforms)

Posts – allow you much greater control of the information you add related to the post – as this display from Windows Live Writer shows.

post options in wordpressSome of these help the blog visitor (categories, tags) and some help your blog to be found more easily and accurately on the internet (tags and excerpts).

wordpress drop down menus

Pages – allow your information to be published in a structured, managed way. In addition, as your blog develops, you may find that information you placed in ‘time based’ blog posts is better served in organised pages. This is particularly true now that stacked menus are available in

So – you (yes, and me!) – need to make the change over – how do you do it?


Windows Live Writer to the rescue

Firstly – prepare the Windows Live Writer way of working and knowledge of your blog. You must be online for this.

Windows Live Writer blogs menu


It’s essential that Windows Live Writer knows the current settings for your blog. Since you last ‘synchronised’ Windows Live Writer with your blog you may have renamed pages, blogs and restructured drop down lists.

In the Blogs menu (left) – ensure that your required blog is ticked then click on ‘Edit blog settings …’ 



image On the next menu – click on the ‘Update Account Configuration’ button – this will now make Windows Live Writer aware of what your blog now looks like.

Windows Live Writer Options

On the tools drop down, select options and select single window as shown here


The reason for this is that you’ll be opening Windows Live Writer a few times, and you will move material between different Windows Live Writer ‘instances’. This works okay on my installation on my Windows XP Pro PC.



At last – something starts to happen!

Now – start Windows Live Writer again – important – make sure that you do NOT have your blog open in the admin page in your browser. If you do, you may receive the user error messages from hell. On your task bar you should see


Let’s copy a chunk of a post into a page .. (I’ll make a new page in called ideas and I’ll start it with a post from my blog).


So – Open the blog post from eolat in one instance of Windows Live Writer



And make a new page called ideas in in the other instance


The page title in the blog will become the title you enter on the header line. When you ‘save draft’ this goes to your computer, and you can see the change on the bottom bar of Windows.


Now – go to the ‘donor’ Windows Live Writer instance – in this case the blog post in eolat. Place your cursor somewhere in the body of the text and press ctrl-a to select everything. Then press ctrl-c to copy it to the clipboard.

Next – go to the ‘receiver’ Windows Live Writer instance – in this case the blog page in mikemcsharry.

>>>>>> Place tour cursor in the text space – not the header bar! <<<<<<<< and click ctrl-v to paste it all back!

In this situation, don’t save the ‘donor’ blog

You may need to do a small amount of tidying up. Then publish your new page. Like this –

Has this post helped you? Have you tried this trick with other bloging platforms? Did it work?

Windows Live Writer

By Windows Live Writer (ably assisted by Cropper)

How to download Windows Live Writer – download live writer

WordPress is one of many blogging platforms. I currently use it for this blog and work with schools on 5 or 6 others.

It’s a fantastic facility and has some real strong points, but the editor really is basic.

wordpress editor display

This is where Live Writer comes in.

Live Writer provides a clean, crisp interface which allows you to create posts and pages off line to upload to your blog when it’s convenient for you.
Most of my blog about the Computing at Schools Conference was made on the train on the way home.

There are a number of good documents out there showing the more powerful features in LW.
This post will introduce it a bit slower.

Posts AND Pages?

WordPress blogs can have a page full of posts – these are the entries in the ‘newest first’ order, typically on the home page of a blog. They can also have ‘static’ pages as other tabs in a WordPress Blog.

On my blog – here’s what a post looks like

crop of apple wordpres post

The pages are seen here

heading from mikemcsharry website on

So – as I’m busily making this ‘off line’ – will it be best as a post or a page all of it’s own? I’ll make it a post – because the more feature will let users read it only if they want.

more button windows live writer

This is the more button on the Live Writer toolbar – and when I click it, you’ll see the ‘more’ broken line below this text

Read more of this post