Monthly Archives: February 2010


European City Guide Scam

I received this mailer through the post this morning, address to the company for which I work for. It states that our details will be included into the European City Guide, and that “Filling in this form would give you the opportunity to be published in our inter-professional Guide on the CD-Rom and Internet”.

There are the standard spaces to change and modify your details, and a box at the bottom to date and sign. What they only tell you in the small print is that by signing it you are entering into a legal contract to  pay Euro 997 per year for the privilege. All the terms and conditions are laid out on the reverse, but they are printed so faintly I struggled to read them.

A quick look on the Internet would suggest that far to many people simply fill this out, sign it and send it back! My apologies if you have already done this, but it’s amazing that scams like this are still so wide-spread and successful! This particular one come from an address in Portugal.

So – please be aware!
Update 7th September 2010

I have have today received several emails from ECG asking for this page, and the comments to be removed as they consider them ‘defamatory’. I have duly refused to do that. I believe that they are valid feedback and that the ECG should take note of their ‘customer’ feedback. We shall see what happens.

Update 24th November 2010
It’s worth noting that following the requests that I got from the ECG to remove this page, I have not had any further communication with them. They did not reply to my response; which, I think goes some way to understanding these […]

By |February 6th, 2010|Scams|321 Comments

Bulk creation of 2D Barcodes (QR Code, DataMatrix) in XMPie

For several versions now the XMPie’s suite of desktop tools for creating highly personalised and relevant documents has been able to support numerous variants of 1 and 2 dimensional barcodes. Code128, Code39, Codabar, EAN8, EAN13, INT2of5, MSI, OneCode, PostNet, UPCA, UPCE, PDF417, AztecCode, DataMatrix, MaxiCode, MicroPDF and QRCode to be precise!

From directly inside InDesign CS3 and CS4 XMPie’s uDirect plugin has the ability of generating and placing a barcode within the design. I blogged about this a while ago. However this is limited to using those barcodes within the printed piece. I was thinking about how you could use them online, or in an email communication, or even creating them on-mass to use in another process.

Most people seem to be content in creating single QRCodes that are then used. But what about if you want a QRCode to contain a personalised URL, or a unique piece of information linked to that the recipient?

Well, here’s one idea to create barcodes on mass by using XMPie:

Fire up InDesign with the XMPie plugin activated. (you can always get the 30-day free trial from
Create a new document of say 50mm by 50mm
Connect to your database of recipients, or simple create a Counter and use that
Create a new image ‘Content Object’, call it QRCode, and set the expression to use the fields of your choosing.
Place the QRCode content object on the page and change the Dynamic Graphic Properties to ‘Fill proportionally and Centered’
Save the document
Select ‘Dynamic Print’ in the XMPie Palette and choose, JPG (or PDF) as the output format.
Select your output destination and records, and hit ‘OK’
Job done. You should have individual JPG/PDF files in the output destination folder named {filename}_r{record number}_p001.jpg

The only real drawback here is […]

By |February 5th, 2010|XMPie|12 Comments

Overseal Primary School

Overseal Village Primary School is my local primary school where I recently offered to revamp their existing site, using Community Hosts to do it.  Naturally we turned to WordPress to do the job. The staff there are not very computer literate so something was needed that they could easily maintain and update themselves.

The previous site had a lot of content on the front page which quickly became out of date, so we opted for a design that put only the relevant information on the home page, and all the content behind. We made use of various WordPress features, including some of the social plugins.

The site now automatically updates a Facebook page, keeping the local parents and carers updated with news and information. Parents and carers can also subscribe for email updates, which are automatically sent out when new articles are posted by the school. These features have allowed information to be pushed out quickly and efficiently to the community and keeps the school running smoothly.

Sections have been created for the classes, so teachers can also publish class information out to the parents.

So far the feedback has been very positive, with the staff and parents loving the design and features. It’s great to see the school embracing the new site and updating content on a regular basis. We are hoping that the site’s ability to push information out to parents and carers that the school can also start to reduce the amount of printed newsletters that need to go out in their book-bags.

By |February 1st, 2010|Community|0 Comments

UK Seasonal Shop

UK Seasonal Shop is my first venture into affiliate marketing. Set up and hosted via Community Hosts. UK Seasonal Shop aims to promote UK seasonal shopping discounts and offers from hundreds of UK retailers.

Utilising WordPress the site only took a couple days to create – and essentially manages itself. Linked to Facebook and Twitter the site cross-posts everything that is posted across these social media networks. Various feeds are used to automatically populate the site, as well as engaging several authors to regularly post offers, discounts and seasonal articles.

The site is working well, and has proven that there is a fair amount of work needed within the affiliate selling market to pull a regular profit. The site continues to grow though and has begun making a profit – which is always nice to see.

By |February 1st, 2010|Community|0 Comments

Overseal Village

The local village of Overseal was in great need of a new and fresh website, which would allow residents to connect and communicate with each other. Again the website was built using WordPress, allowing various authors to contribute and collaborate together.

The site also connects to Facebook so that articles posted on the website are automatically cross-posted on the Facebook page, allowing a quick and easy ‘push’ out to the local residents.

By |February 1st, 2010|Community|0 Comments


GreenFortune, a local alternative folk rock band wanted a better presence on the web, opposed to using some of the more generic free, band based sites. They used Community Hosts to provide a free online presence with a sophisticated, yet simple to maintain website. We used WordPress and a series of powerful plug-ins to give the band, and their members full access to maintain and promote themselves on the Internet.

For a more detailed look at the site, take a look at the following article

By |February 1st, 2010|Community|0 Comments

Community Hosts

Community Host is a community based hosting and marketing organisation. We aim to provide free web hosting to communities across the UK.

This was set up back in 2009 and has been growing since.

This offers clients free web hosting services, as well paid-for consultancy. Community Hosts are responsible to several successful sites within the local community.

For more information take a look at

By |February 1st, 2010|Community|0 Comments