Google docs in WordPress blog

This was a little test to see if I could export a menu that is regularly changed to a wordpress website, so that the daily menu changes would be effortlessly reflected in a dynamic web page.

In Google docs you are given the option to publish your document as an html page, which I’m sure could be set in a frame, or you are presented with an line of html, featuring the the <iframe> tag, which I have pasted into the text editor of this wordpress post. It has the ugly scaling effect of fitting what should be an A4 document into a narrow centre column.

A genuine export of the text content to match the formatting of the host blog would be a more design friendly solution, though this provides a quick and easy fix.

The iframe below is produced by the below code

<iframe src=”” seamless width=”700″ height=”1100″ scrolling=”no” ></iframe>

I had to add seamless width=”700″ height=”1100″ scrolling=”no” to the code suggested by google otherwise it doesn’t fit very nicely.

If you can’t see the menu below, try refresh.

Watch BBC iPlayer from a non-UK IP address using Ubuntu and Tor

Tuning into UK catchup TV while travelling abroad isn’t an easy task since sites like BBC iPlayer and Channel 4’s 4OD block non-UK IP addresses. An simple fix is using a VPN provider, which could cost you upwards of £50 a year. Not an fortune, however I’ve discovered another method which is absolutely free and will raise your geek kudos to another level.

I’m using Tor, a software client designed to guard your on-line anonymity, then tweaking the configuration file to use only UK “nodes”. Tor recommend not to use any plugins such as Flash, since they can be manipulated into revealing your IP address, so we will not get the full benefit of anonymity as most catchup TV sites use Flash. If you want to know more about protecting your on-line identity, start with the Tor website at

You’ll first need to download the Tor Browser Bundle which is much easier than downloading the individual components of Tor, Vidalia then configuring Firefox to work. Tor is a cross-platform, open source project released on many platforms including Windows or Mac. I’m an Ubuntu user, and though the Linux download from the Tor site works a treat, I prefer to add the PPA as detailed at this upubuntu post since it integrates better with the Unity launcher.

Please note upubuntu’s instructions worked a treat for me, except for 

” sudo chown $USER -R ~/tor-browser/ ” should probably be 

” sudo chown $USER -R ~/.tor-browser/ ” since the tor-browser folder is hidden in your home directory.

If you are new to Linux, you need to change $USER to your user name. Windows and Mac users will not need to worry about any of this

After downloading then unpacking your Tor Browser bundle, you’re nearly ready to start watching iPlayer. If you are on-line when you launch Tor-browser, the Vidalia Control Panel will spring into action and start connecting to the Tor Network. On successful connection, The Tor Browser will launch, which is a version of Firefox modified for tighter security. You are now ready to surf the web with protected privacy which the following steps will mess up a bit, but our goal was merely a UK IP address, not an on-line existence free from all surveillance. If this is something you need, check out tails, a live-USB Operating System which run’s Tor on any PC compatible computers without leaving a trace on the host machine when you’re done.

On with the tweaks for BBC iPlayer. Find your Vidalia Control Panel and click on Settings then on Advanced. We need to “Edit current torrc” to edit the Tor Configuration file. Add the two following lines to the top of the file:

ExitNodes {GB}

StrictNodes 1

Then save and exit, and stop and restart Tor so you should start to use only UK nodes. In the mean time, find your Tor Browser Window. Though installed, the Flash browser is not enabled. Go to the Tools menu, then click on “Add-Ons” to open the Add-Ons Manager. Find the Shockwave Flash Plugin and enable it.

Go to and find something to watch. The Tor browser will ask you to activate a plugin. This is to let Flash work. You will need to do the last two steps every time you use Tor. You should now be watching iPlayer.

I’d appreciate any feedback on these instructions, and if any part did not work for you. I’d really like  to find away of enabling Flash by default so I don’t have to manually enable it every time. Any ideas?


An open letter to Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre.

In responding to Chantelle Goddard-jones’ call to arms in support of Team Slalom Plus, I’d like to share my story.

I’m not from a skiing family, I wouldn’t have been a skier at all if it wasn’t for the dry slope on my doorstep. I was introduced to skiing back in ’91 when I joined Krazy Kids Klub on Saturday mornings at Gloucester Ski Centre. Within a year one of my coaches had invited me to join her new ski racing team “Slalom Plus”.

I had already sampled ski racing in the form of the Gloucester Summer Race league, and as far as I was concerned this was the elite of British Ski Racing. By 1993 I had discover the national series of events all over the UK, and by 1994 I did my first ski race on snow.

Year by year, my experiences grew. 1997 my first British University Dry Slope Championships. 1998 I was on the winning University team in Les Arcs, France.

University came and went, and all the while, when I could, I was training twice a week with Chantelle at Slalom Plus. I was 6 months into my first graduate job when I came 2nd place senior in the World Dry Slope Championships in High Wycombe.

In 2002 the club was bursting with talent, including several British Children’s Team members. I started to get involved more in the organisation of the club. Helping more with events, transport, etc, we even formed a Team SLP band for the 10 year anniversary of the club!

I started to show an interest in coaching and a friend told me how to get started. With plenty of encouragement from the club, I quit the rat-race set of to Canada to start my career in snowsport instruction.

It seems so long ago now. I’m about to start my 11th Winter season. I’ve spent 5 years working for the ESF in Tignes in France, now I’ve moved to a smaller independent school called TDC and this season I’ll also be working with a specialist snowboard school called Alliance (I’ve broadened my skill-base along the way).

You can say that skiing has become my life, I even met my wife skiing, but none of my skiing adventures would have been possible if it wasn’t for a chance encounter with Chantelle. I showed no particular promise in the sport, I had no experience to speak of, yet still Chantelle though she could make a ski racer of me.

A move to ban Team Slalom Plus from Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre will only deny young people of Gloucestershire the opportunity I had. Whatever reason there is for the ‘ban’, it is already damaging the reputation of the ski centre and the wider sport in general.