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  • #2188132

    Rob’s diverse findings

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    by roho ·

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    • #3249408

      The Incredibles

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      It’s a good movie, nicely done.

      But I have reserved the name for an obscure species in Technology Land that seem happy with slowing down any progress we try to make.

      It is the species that populate the Supportdesk and the like.

      Whenever a change is needed to one of the servers or even a reboot. The first action they take is carefully filling in a form in supportdesk ticket application and that then automatically sends you an e-mail informing that the task has been logged in the system and that just before the Universe collapses they will have the problem resolved.

      But rest assured: all the (e-)paperwork is done.

    • #3249359

      Being disconnected …. can be nerve wreckingWhen …

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Being disconnected ..

      .. can be nerve wrecking

      When one is away from others and one tries to get into simple contact and that won’t work because there is no connection then things can get nerve wrecking. One starts to guess what might have happened and by human nature fear the worst and even more human nature tells one that the worst is also the most probable.

      Usually, things are not as bad as they seem at first glance. One should not panic and just breathe easy into the plastic bag to get the hyperventilation to subside. Get a hot cup of coffee and take a moment to be amazed by the items stuck in the vending machine. You probably did not know that these items were for sale anyway and now it’s too late!

      See that is what I mean: the panic has disappeared.

      Anyway, what happened to me? Why this enigmatic entry? I tried to send some email to people who are affected by my previous blog entry. The mail returned without a clear error. Sending a message to my deleted mail address at a former employer eerily returned the same shady error. Were they all fired on the spot?

      So, sweat breaks out. Get some coffee and tried again some time later same response. More sweat, more coffee. Even later, another try and the mail went out. Did not bounce. The relief was huge when I saw the read receipts come in. They were still alive.

      Eventhough this contact is little more then pinging them it gives a valuable and much appreciated sign of live. Hey people: keep breathing, in – out, in – out, in – out, etc.

    • #3249360

      Yes, it has been a while …but Happy New year!I h…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Yes, it has been a while …

      but Happy New year!

      I have been busy, which is always a good sign, but I will try to update this blog a little bit more regular than once or twice a month. Don’t expect a daily update, but a weekly-ish type of schedule. Why not be more specific?

      Anyhow, a new year, new chances, new opportunities to make this world a better place, although at the end of the year we may think that things could not have been worse than this year.

      OK, stop the pessimism and onto the optimism: here is a nice web thingy coming up: my personally tagged favorites up for grabs!

      Also known as Folksonomies. There is already an extensive paper on this subject out there: Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata

      Try them and see what interests me. Try it yourself and spread the word.

      Now back to my coffee.

    • #3249361

      Retro ….. now that’s a novel ideaWell not really…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Retro …

      .. now that’s a novel idea

      Well not really. But browsing about I cam across this nice T-shirt. It brings back the memories of the good old ZX Spectrum days. 48K of memory and a fiddly tape recorder. So much frustration after carelessly recording over your program!

      Ah, such bliss!

    • #3249362

      Finding new ways to do things. … and still more …

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Finding new ways to do things.

      … and still more ways to mess things up.

      And the ways to really make a mess are getting easier and way more effective. You gotta love it. It’s called progress.

      New technologies and the implementations thereoff emerge almost daily now. It is getting reaaly hard to keep up with them.

      If you do not blog, who are you then? Do you exist when you do not blog?

      If you have never heard of a podcast, are you worthy to listen to anything at all?

      I think we are in the age of running behind.

    • #3249355

      Here we go again .. even more advancedNo Need to C…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

    • #3249356

      Time flies by .. and wasting energy As said I hav…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Time flies by

      .. and wasting energy

      As said I have landed in a new job. Not quite crash landed, but still a bumpy ride with lots of air pockets. Even after landing!

      So, in the past moths I have been busy with lots and lots of new stuff and doing all sorts of unrelated thingies. Mainly ASP.NET and C#, but also a lot of XHTML and CSS and learning Photoshop the Nike way. (Just do it) Seems at least something has stuck from that era.

      More privately I have been and still am building some websites again and working hard on a new version of my own site. Even more privately, I have sold my house and am in the process of wrapping up the purchase of a new house. Meaning, I will have to get a mortgage (please do not spam me on this) and find a moving company.

      enough reasons for this blog to be silent for the last period.

    • #3249357

      And another one.. but why bother?I have just start…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      And another one

      .. but why bother?

      I have just started another blog. But what’s the use? I hardly post anything here, so why should I need another one?

      Well, there should be plenty of reasons to have another blog. Hundreds, thousands good reasons, millions even. Gazillions, when you really take the time to think about it.

      But why bother?

    • #3179788

      Storm in a glass of water.. and the ship is still …

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Storm in a glass of water

      .. and the ship is still sinking

      Sometimes you find yourself in projects that drag on and on and on and on. And you find that the only who really cares about the project is you. All the other project members have found other priorities and seem happy with that. Or they just have moved themselves off the team after never really having been part of it.

      When projects drag on without any real progress or a prospect of ever finishing then the moment comes that you think: “why bother? The world’s full of beautiful bunnies and flowers ..” Your are so near the end and still you feel like giving up on the whole show and forget about even starting.

      That’s when it happens! Some dormant team members, long presumed dead, at best MIA or AWOL, re-emerge. The zombies wake up! They start screaming outrage that things are not what they should be and that it is a terrible outrage that someone (= you) has just done all sorts of things to their baby. The product that is now there is not like they wanted it, like they had in their minds and not as described in all these secret documents hidden away in a very accessible share on a server amongst 65,301 other documents.

      How can you be so stupid!
      How can you be so ignorant!
      How can you be such a pathetic nitwit!

      When the first dust has settled and you have shown almost inhuman patience, then the time comes when you sit down and have a look at what the problem really is. As it turns out some things have been missed. Both in development and in testing. Too bad, you are both so sorry. But it’s understandable that they have been missed. The documents describing the correct behavior were kept a secret. Then after spending a few hours of work the problems are resolved.

      More time was spent on the outrage then on the solution of a few omissions. On top of that if outrage was needed it should have been pointed at the ones fuming and insulting.

      How can they be so stupid!
      How can they be so ignorant!
      How can they be such pathetic nitwits!

      But it most definitely damages a good working relation. If there ever was any such thing …

    • #3051711

      A new beginning .. a new soundBetter put: a new si…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      A new beginning

      .. a new sound

      Better put: a new site. In the past weeks I have completely rebuilt and restructured my website. I considered that an overhaul would be appropriate after about two years of service. Especially since I pretend to be a web designer.

      Now I have a new look and feel for the site it is time to start woking on the content. The number of pages and the quality of the content on those pages are limited. As with most web projects the content comes last. (I know, I know, this is absolutely wrong, I know, I know, I know.) Although I had designed the structure of the site beforehand I did not have all the parts filled with content yet.

      So my task immediately ahead is to write some good quality content and get it on my site in the next couple of weeks.

      I have ideas enough:

      • Some articles on web standards.
      • Technical background of self.
      • Samples of html, css and JavaScript.
      • etc. etc.

      All worked out within my new design, interlinked and linked out towards additional resources. Just to make it all extra search engine friendly.

      Write, write, write!

    • #3051712

      Hmm.. let me see Perhaps I should now focus more o…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Hmm

      .. let me see

      Perhaps I should now focus more on my actual job.

      Yep, my semi-annual review is coming up. So let’s pretend again for the next few weeks.

    • #3052146

      Deadlines: drop dead.. at least they should! We ha…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Deadlines: drop dead

      .. at least they should!

      We have set sail together months ago. Seems closer to a lifetime. We knew that the deadline that was set would prove to be impossible to make. There was simply too much to do and explore. But still, we started off and went to our business with an unexpected eager and feel of honor.

      So where does the journey leads us to?

      Well, as members of the e-business department of an insurance company, we have been given the rewarding task of completely rebuilding the dated current version of the company website. A website that has grown in an natural process: adding bits and pieces every now and then and using better coding along the way. The site nowadays serves its purpose, but is almost impossible to maintain due to its lack of any structure.

      So, after the decision was made that we need something new, the decision to build a new structure for the site was pretty obvious. We should also move from old ASP to the newer ASP.NET and we should therefore start working completely Object Oriented. And why not adapt to a new way of working in the same process? (The current “build it and then let me have a look and I will tell you what the functionality should be”-approach was a big PITA for the developers.)

      And while we are changing everything, let’s bring in a new Content Management System, which we are one of the first in our country to use the way we want it.

      And let’s all together change our hardware set up for production. We have grown bigger and we need load balancing and lot’s of servers in different locations.

      Hmmm, I have read a book about this.

      We are doing everything wrong here:

      • No project management methodology
      • A very big scope
      • New stuff for the developers (.NET and OO is new or relatively new for the most of us)
      • A completely new framework for the website
      • A new CMS (we are one of the first in our country to use it like we intend to do)
      • New production hardware with load balancing and more magic gadgets
      • New development methodology: we are supposed to use RUP and yes some of us do.
      • Functional designers who only have had training as text and copy writers, so they produce long documents with loads of words and absolutely no diagrams.
      • Probably even more …

      The original deadline was a shot in the dark, not based on the work that had to be done. Someone said a date and others nodded and then it was the Holy Date from then on. And it is still hanging over us. Ready to drop. Soon it will.

      Right now our department is decimated because of very long vacations (three or four weeks is normal). Still not all functionality has been defined. All the functional designers are out. (Who cares anyway?) Our architect is out for another two weeks. We are struggling to get our production environment up and running without processors hitting 80% all the time. Soon the new health insurance system will be all over us, before we have really solved all the problems we have now.

      Meanwhile, management is not showing any panic (they must have had some very good training for that or are just still optimistic for no apparent reason).

      And the Holy Date still stands.

      Do we panic? No.

      But for some stupid reason we care. I care. I try as an idiot to achieve my unachievable goals and get the stuff ready that has been assigned to me. Most of it self assigned. I try hard and find that it has influence on my private life. That is wrong, so wrong.

      I have been down this road before and maybe I just should park my car and shout in the dark.


      Aaaaargh!!

    • #3053091

      Building my own network.. around the globe Thanks …

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Building my own network

      .. around the globe

      Thanks to the wonders of the Internet I am now building my own network. At present there are not too many contacts yet, but hopefully this will grow.

      The link above brings you to O’Reill Connection. Currently stating This is a beta launch of our new job-oriented social network. on the homepage.

      I know I should not predict anything about the future of new web applications, but still I think this is a new idea (to me at least) that presents a new way to make contact with people around the world sharing the same or complimentary skills. This can lead to job opportunities (“I’ve got the looks, you’ve got the brains, let’s make lots of money”) or a private group of experts whom one can ask specific questions. Again, all this is based on voluntary sharing of knowledge and resources. An Open Source type of networking.

      I don’t know if it will make me richer, wiser or happier or none of these, but I am giving it a try.

    • #3058388

      The Golden Day has come … and moved quietly into…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      The Golden Day has come

      … and moved quietly into oblivion

      The much anticipated magical day of September 13 arrived yesterday and we did not have a celebration or a brilliant fireworks display. No corks of Formula One size champagne bottles flying through the office and the contents ending down the neck of the management.

      No, nothing like that.

      Our project has not yet completed and we are still working on it. Getting close though, but still it is not clear if we have built all required functionality as no one dares to take the responsibility to speak on that. So it still a wait and see experience.

      And we still struggle on.

    • #3056777

      Search the world.. and find the haystack with need…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Search the world

      .. and find the haystack with needle in it

      As we all know searching does not always mean finding. It seems easy to find a needle in a haystack once you have found the haystack. The problem is finding the haystack.

      Google is nowadays the leader in search on the Internet. Although there many more. Search around the ever increasing blogosphere has only recently been addressed by Google through the beta service Blog Search.. But there are others, see below.

      Now there are even more ways to get completely lost in cyberspace.

    • #3059524

      The Web is changing.. are you?Being on the Interne…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      The Web is changing

      .. are you?

      Being on the Internet for a lifetime (in Internet years I am a dinosaur) I have seen quite a lot things change. We were all drunk when the Internet was booming and then it turned out that it was a all a bubble. Since then all these revolutionary ideas are slowly getting along. Not every hype has become something mainstream, but there is more and more cash flowing across the Internet.

      There is still a lot that needs to be improved, but surely and slowly we are progressing along the steady path of evolution.

      But every now and then things are making a small jump forward when people think of new applications of usually existing technology. Everything seems to have been invented by now. You want some examples?

      These are all exponents of a new phenomenon: Web 2.0.

      Web 2.0 isn’t a ‘thing’, but a now way of approaching solutions. Solutions that not exactly solve existing problems, but instead raise inspiring new possibilities. The solutions are embracing technologies such as APIs, RSS, Folksonomies, and Social Networking. The combinations of these building blocks suddenly give developers a new way to approach hard problems with surprisingly effective results.

      Results can be achieved with surprisingly little effort if you have a little skill.

      This will again change the Internet landscape.

    • #3058586

      Firefox has more holes than IE.. is this a problem…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Firefox has more holes than IE

      .. is this a problem?

      This week Symantec came with a very interesting report stating that it more security holes were found in Firefox than in Internet Explorer in recent months. Well, that is something that shocks the world

      But is it shocking? Even the number of serious holes is bigger in Firefox than in IE. So, are all the claims about Firefox being more secure than IE a load of crap?

      To be honest, the numbers surprised in a way. But then I thought a little more about it and decide that the problem might not be as severe as it seems.

      Now, Mozilla has reacted to the claims. Tristan Nitot, president of Mozilla Europe, came up with a nice list of arguments against the Symantec case.

      • Mozilla’s reaction time is shorter than Microsoft’s. When a vulnerability is found Mozilla has been more able to build a solution and roll it out. In this respect they are much better than Microsoft.
      • Adding to that, the observation that Microsoft decided this month to skip a security patch. It is obvious that any vulnerabilities will not be addressed for at least another month. Not something that Mozilla would do.
      • Over a longer period the Microsoft vulnerabilities were more critical. Last two years security company Secunia has issued 22 security advisories regarding Firefox 1.x, and rate it as “less critical”. In the same period Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.x had 85 Secunia advisories, and is rated as “highly critical”.
      • Firefox being open source gives more people access to the code. This gives them plenty opportunity to look for bugs. Internet Explorer is closed source and only reverse engineering gives a clue about vulnerabilities.
      • As Firefox runs on different platforms it is quite difficult to exploit.

      So, there is plenty of evidence that defends Firefox, so for me that case is resolved. Firefox to me is still more secure than Internet Explorer.

      However, now Firefox is becoming more and more widespread, it becomes an increasingly attractive target. People who have moved to Firefox shouldn’t only rely on having swapped their browser, They should also look at the security of the entire configuration of their systems.

      Finally I have to quote Tristan Nitot on the different types of security holes in Firefox and IE: Which would you prefer, to have a broken finger, or your head ripped off?

    • #3057101

      Office fun.. sigh! We’re having an internal move o…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Office fun

      .. sigh!

      We’re having an internal move or rather a rebuild of the office space. So once again we have to put all our stuff into boxes.

      Now they have given us way too many boxes. This what nice colleagues can do with those.










      Sigh!

    • #3061516

      You can.. do you? You can get a couple of women ou…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      You can

      .. do you?

      You can get a couple of women out of the hen house, but you can’t get the hen house out of a couple of women.

    • #3072104

      You can.. can’t you? You can get a couple of women…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      You can

      .. can’t you?

      You can get a couple of women out of the hen house, but you can’t get the hen house out of a couple of women.

      At least that’s my impression.

    • #3069967

      South Park?… mmmmmmmph! Thanks to the South Park…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      South Park?

      … mmmmmmmph!

      Thanks to the South Park Studio I have yet another alter ego.









    • #3070997

      I want my, I want my.. I want my MTV Well not dire…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      I want my, I want my

      .. I want my MTV

      Well not directly my MTV, but rather I want my big monitor back.

      Before the weekend some of the PCs in my department got upgraded. Not mine. I already had a reasonably well equipped machine being a developer.

      On top of the new systems they also received some of those hot ‘n sexy flat screens. Really nice ‘n slick 17″ TFT panels. Not me, I have one of those back breaking 21″ CRT that make my desktops bend. Both my desktop PC and my desk’s desktop.

      So, on Monday I walked into the department with a little bit of fear, that they may had replaced my desktop machine. It would mean days of installing and tweaking to get things up and running again or searching for my lost machine somewhere in dark dungeons of IT support. But no, my machine was still there. But they had replaced my big male canon with a sissy sized flat panel.

      I called IT support and asked for my monitor back. After some time (and a growing headache due to the too bright TFT screen) they came and replaced it with a bigger monitor. Things got better again. I could work again. The font wasn’t unreadable small anymore.

      But this was only 19″ monitor and not my big 21″ machine. So another call to IT support. They understood, but could not guarantee that it would be corrected soon. Maybe early next week. Sigh!

      Anyhow, a miracle happened and this morning a 21″ monitor was wheeled in and was then placed back on top of my poor desktops. Bending them both.

      As you can see:

      not all change means progress.

    • #3070996

      Contract renewal.. always funny I started in my cu…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Contract renewal

      .. always funny

      I started in my current job on 1st December last year. And as December is approaching rapidly again the renewal is coming up.

      I have been asking about it already for a couple of times and have been reassured that the employer has every intention to extend the contract. Indefinitely even.

      Good news so far.

      I had a good performance review. My manager said so, just after the review:

      BTW your performance is good.

      And I have invested a lot of time and made some personal sacrifices (quit a job with an indefinite contract, selling my house, buying a new one, moving my kids, wife quitting her job etc. etc.) Naively, I was expecting some form of reward.

      Well, I got an offer for a contract that is the same as the one I now have only there is no end date.

      I declined and decided to opt for another one-year contract. That way we would have to do this show all over next year.

      Now, see what they will offer me now. Or else, next year.

    • #3060654

      Working with Excel.. always funny This morning I h…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Working with Excel

      .. always funny

      This morning I had to print out a huge Excel sheet. A lot of columns and a lot of rows. So I decided to at least filter out the irrelevant rows. Using the Autofilter of Excel 2003 that was a breeze and a big pleasure. Now I was down to 4 pages of A3 sized paper.

      But due to the number of columns the printed font size was still relatively small. So, as I found that some columns were not really relevant to my work I decided to hide these. I selected these and in the context menu I choose the option ‘Hide’ and then an interesting messagebox popped up.



      Roughly translated from Dutch (if that is at all possible): Can not shift objects off the sheet.

      So .. I have just printed the lot and have to do a little more to find the right information.

    • #3046570

      Be like a shepherd.. get the Flock out of here!Thi…

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      Be like a shepherd

      .. get the Flock out of here!

      This morning I was cycling from home on my bicycle. I had the weird feeling that it was Saturday. But it was Friday. I was hoping it was Saturday, but no, it was Friday. That meant another day at the office. Sigh.

      I did not feel like going to work and did not really know what to tackle today.

      Then I logged in (it took me three attempts). Then I found an e-mail from Lloyd, on behalf of the Flock crew. I jumped up. My life all of a sudden had new meaning again. Thank gods it is Friday, if it had been Saturday I wouldn’t have found this message before Monday.

      So why did I jump up? I had found out about Flock sometime ago and it promised a new approach to ‘working the Internet‘. It has every promise to be the real start of Web 2.0

      Based on the Mozilla/Firefox engine it is a great browser, but added to that is much, much more. It has integration with Delicious, Flickr and Blogger. Making it easy to share bookmarks, photos and blog about it without going back and forth between web sites. It is absolutely amazing and why oh why did this not exist before?

      Read more about it in this Slashdot article Be sure to absorb all the comments.

      My life has changed in a dramatic way. I’m sold to the idea.

      Finally quoting the Flock guys themselves:

      Flock Developer Preview is now available. Our code couldn’t wait any longer to be free!


      Go and get Flock
      and your life will never be the same dull again!

      Naturally, this post was created using Flock!

    • #3046516

      This .. is it! This is it!

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

    • #3045675

      Jakob Nielsen is figure

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. always good for some interesting quotes

      At the risk of being butchered, here’s an interesting quote from the great Jakob Nielsen:

      One of a weblog’s great benefits is that it essentially frees you from “Web design.” You write a paragraph, click a button, and it’s posted on the Internet. No need for visual design, page design, interaction design, information architecture, or any programming or server maintenance.

      The full article is Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes (Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox). Buit that is not my point.

      My smile was brought upon by this:

      No need for visual design, page design, interaction design

      Go ahead and look at the site and see his implementation of this.

    • #3045561

      Working with Excel

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. always funny

      This morning I had to print out a huge Excel sheet. A lot of columns and a lot of rows. So I decided to at least filter out the irrelevant rows. Using the Autofilter of Excel 2003 that was a breeze and a big pleasure. Now I was down to 4 pages of A3 sized paper.

      But due to the number of columns the printed font size was still relatively small. So, as I found that some columns were not really relevant to my work I decided to hide these. I selected these and in the context menu I choose the option ‘Hide’ and then an interesting messagebox popped up.

      Roughly translated from Dutch (if that is at all possible): Can not shift objects off the sheet.

      So .. I have just printed the lot and have to do a little more to find the right information.

    • #3045562

      Be like a shepherd

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. get the Flock out of here!

      This morning I was cycling from home on my bicycle. I had the weird feeling that it was Saturday. But it was Friday. I was hoping it was Saturday, but no, it was Friday. That meant another day at the office. Sigh.

      I did not feel like going to work and did not really know what to tackle today.

      Then I logged in (it took me three attempts). Then I found an e-mail from Lloyd, on behalf of the Flock crew. I jumped up. My life all of a sudden had new meaning again. Thank gods it is Friday, if it had been Saturday I wouldn’t have found this message before Monday.

      So why did I jump up? I had found out about Flock sometime ago and it promised a new approach to ‘working the Internet‘. It has every promise to be the real start of Web 2.0

      Based on the Mozilla/Firefox engine it is a great browser, but added to that is much, much more. It has integration with Delicious, Flickr and Blogger. Making it easy to share bookmarks, photos and blog about it without going back and forth between web sites. It is absolutely amazing and why oh why did this not exist before?

      Read more about it in this Slashdot article Be sure to absorb all the comments.

      My life has changed in a dramatic way. I’m sold to the idea.

      Finally quoting the Flock guys themselves:

      Flock Developer Preview is now available. Our code couldn’t wait any longer to be free!

      Go and get Flock and your life will never be the same dull again!

      Naturally, this post was created using Flock!

      Tags:

    • #3045563

      This

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

    • #3045564

      Jakob Nielsen is quite a figure

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. always good for some interesting quotes and smiles

      At the risk of being butchered, here’s an interesting quote from the great Jakob Nielsen:

      One of a weblog’s great benefits is that it essentially frees you from “Web design.” You write a paragraph, click a button, and it’s posted on the Internet. No need for visual design, page design, interaction design, information architecture, or any programming or server maintenance.

      The full article is Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes (Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox). But before you go and read it, that is not my point.

      My smile was brought upon by this:

      No need for visual design, page design, interaction design

      Go ahead and look at the site and see his implementation of this. This seems like a perfect implementation of this statement.

    • #3044276

      Going round and round

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. all the way to retro

      Ever wanted to do that horrible Rubik’s cube? Here’s your chance to go retro.
      Created by Michiel van der Blonk (c) 2004

    • #3044820

      Improving traffic to your blog

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. cause you want to be read, don’t you?

      At the end of the day one would like one’s blog to be read. That is an assumption which I think might be true for most of the millions of bloggers. The intended readers might be just a small group of friends, but maybe also a larger audience is hoped for.

      So, in comes a little bit of search engine optimisation, SEO for short. Lots of sites are dedicated to this subject. Some sites offer detailed advice on how to do it in a nice way, while others approach it from the dark side: they promote all sorts of tricks with hidden texts and links only to be seen by search engines. That’s not what I want to suggest or practice.

      There are a lot of elements in SEO. One of these is a structured approach to the content. The semantic usage of HTML tags and the correctness of the HTML (“does it validate?”). And with a blog you can be happy as most of the structure and the code is hidden from the blogger. And the content is formatted in a search engine friendly way. We are well under way with SEO without doing anything! Search engines, and especially Google, are loving blogs because of the structure.

      So what more can we do?

      What else can we do to improve our traffic? How can we get higher into the search results?

      Well, a couple of things:

      • Inbound links are important, so get them.
      • Be sure to use the right keywords.
      • RSS is the way to go.
      • Content, content, content!
      Links

      Getting inbound links can be done in multiple ways. Be sure you add yourself to great sites like Feedster, Technorati and be sure your blog pings services like these.

      Make useful comments on other blogs (NO SPAM!!!) and include a link to your blog. Put a link on your web site to your blog. And in the signature in your e-mail. Many more options are available. Think about and do it.

      Keywords

      Keywords are a subject one can write shelves full of books about. Which ones to choose and which variations (including typos), how many times should the keywords be on your page (keyword density). Too many interestinga spects.

      Bottom line of this is quite simple: you have blogged about a subject that you wish to be found. Now try to figure out what someone would type in a search engine to find information about that subject. And then make some variations on the words used. Now try to use these words in your content. Put them in important places, like headings, lists, make them bold. That way not only are they easier spotted by the reader, but also by the search engine spider.

      RSS feeds

      RSS feeds are a way to syndicate content. That is sharing the content with others. Sites like Feedster live on them. But there are plenty of RSS reader clients one can use. Firefox and Flock can work with them.

      It is just another channel to promote the content of your blog. Costs are low, as most blog software support it already.

      Content

      Content is king and will always be king. Keep the flow of blog entries going. Be sure to blog regularly. At the very least once a week. Better daily. But do not blog just to blog. It should contain some relevant content. Yes you can side step from the main subject of your blog. Add some short funny bits now and then. Or comment on Georg W. Bush, which should be easy 😉

      Keep the blog entries coming. Link between your own items.

      To cut it short

      I am making this entry already too long. (I promise to get back on this subject in more detail, soon.) Keep the flow coming, do a little self promotion and think a little bit about the words you use and your blog will certainly rise on the ladder of the serach results.

      Good luck!

    • #3114414

      Putting Web 2.0 to work

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. and have fun at the same time
      Back in the old days there was this game that had you running around the world trying to find Carmen Sandiego: ‘Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego’. Remember the crude graphics and flying from London to Rio to New York and Tokyo to finally catch up with Carmen.
      Well, that was already years ago. There must be a dusty floppy somewhere that still has the game on

    • #3114415

      Improving traffic to your blog – Links

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. cause you want to be linked, don’t you?
      In a previous post I already gave some general pointers about optimizing your blog for search engines. In this post I will give a little more detail on the value of links.
      Importance of links
      Without links the web would not exist. Links are needed to get you from one site to another and from one page to the other. When there are no links pointing to your

    • #3114968

      Improving traffic to your blog – Keywords

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. cause you want to be found, don’t you?

      At the end of the day one would like one’s blog to be read. That is an assumption which I think might be true for most of the millions of bloggers. The intended readers might be just a small group of friends, but maybe also a larger audience is hoped for.

      This is part three of the series and focuses on keywords.

      Keywords

      What keywords are is a subject that one can write shelves full of books about and several people have written pages and pages full of it.

      First one remark: this is not about the META-tag that sits hiding in your Head-section. It is largely accepted that the value of that META-tag has been devaluated and has little to no significance. Abuse of this tag by stuffing it with multiple instances of the keyword has rendered it useless. This is the fate of most blackhat SEO practices where tricks are used to raise the importance of a page. In the long run any page and site will punished for this.

      So what are keywords then?

      Relevant keywords

      I tend to think of keywords as the words a visitor enters in the search box of a search engine. The keywords therefore should be present in the content and also relevant to your content. And vice versa: the content should be relevant to the keywords. It is easy to add a sentence like:

      Equipe claims, Lance Armstrong innocent in Tour de France drugs scandal.

      And by adding some mark up to the text I have added some more weight to the words. But these words are totally irrelevant to this subject. But hey it could raise the importance of this page.

      This is reminiscent of the old days when adding multiple hot keywords to your keywords META-tag could help you up the ladder of the search engines. (And yes “sex” was a hot keyword in those days.)

      Choosing keywords

      Now try to figure out what someone would type in a search engine to
      find information about that subject. And then make some variations on
      the words used, make some deliberate typos. Now try to use these words in your content. Put them in important places, like headings, lists, make them bold. That way not only are they easier spotted by the reader, but also by the search engine spider.

      Keyword density

      Next piece of semi science regarding keywords: how many times should keywords be on a page (aka the keyword density). There are many ways to calculate this. Rule of thumb, use them throughout the text but do not let it be annoying

      Keywords research

      A lot of common sense can bring you a long way in determining relevant keywords for your content. But you can never guess what people type in the search box of the search engine and make them end up on your site. One way to find out what is bringing people now to your site is by examining your web server’s log files. Most web statistics packages give you specifics on the search queries and search words used. This list of words can already give some wonderful insight in what people use as search terms. You can consider to use these terms more often in your content, in other words get the density up for those keywords.

      Also the results from this research can trigger you think of some more synonyms and alternative keywords.

      Keyword research tools

      There are many tools out there that can help you find more keywords and the possible effectiveness of these keywords. A few of these tools:

      Many tools are available to play with. Some of these are free, others not.

      To cut myself short

      Bottom line of this is quite simple: you have blogged about a subject that you wish to be found. People use words to search, use these words and you might get found.

    • #3116629

      Show your ID!

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. this is mine

      Flickr Photo

      Well, now it’s official I guess. This is me. I guess and could gain entry to almost any important rock concert and G8 meeting with this one.

      Hmm, where to go next?

      Tags:

    • #3116554

      It’s a cover for talent

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. or maybe a lack of inspiration

      If you hold an interest in song covers than the CoverBlog is for you.

      Interesting facts about songs that you may never know that were recorde by artists we all know.

      Just, plain fun to see who ever did ‘Mrs. Robinson’.

    • #3137705

      Take cover!

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. he’s doing it again!

      Neuronix has done it again. Every time I just jokingly make some weird remark about something that probably might never have happened, he manages to find the unbelievable fact.

      He had an entry about covered songs scoring a hit after about 18 to 19 years after being a hit the first time. He proposed that this might be an ideal time to pass for a song to be covered. Interesting theory, could use some more research. Anyhow, I was triggered by 19 and I recalled Paul Hardcastle‘s hit 19. A great song from the eighties and probably impossible to cover. So I mentioned that in a comment on his blog.

      What happens next?

      He comes back with a new entry:
      A tribute is not enough for some and in that he mentions a band that has actually covered the song!

      Neuronix, go get a life 😉

    • #3137703

      Pimp my Firefox

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. and give me an extension

      I am a fan of Firefox for quite sometime now. Something I am proud of. Well, OK, that’s a bit over the top. But I am very pleased with Firefox. One of the main reasons for using it is the simple way one can extend the functionality with all sorts of extras.

      Yes, I have fully pimped my Firefox. It’s not completely bling-bling, but it has many features that makes my life a bit easier. At least while browsing the web. See the screenshot below that I Photoshopped together. I have a rather long list of extensions installed which I use on an almost daily basis.
      Firefox extensions

      For anyone interested I categorize them below and explain a little bit about each of them.

      Web design & development
      Colorzilla

      Does a lot more than just pick up colors. Adds zooming and info about elements in the status bar.

      View formatted source

      It shows a very nicely formatted tree of all the elements of page. Great tool for finding out where you misplaced that closing div.

      View Rendered Source Chart

      When JavaScript makes changes to the DOM you can see what is resulting HTML is rendered.

      Web Developer

      Well, this is an absolute must have for web developers.

      MeasureIt

      Measure elements on screen.

      Html Validator

      Puts the page through the validator and shows errors and warnings.

      Document Map

      Show the outline of a page in the sidebar and navigate quickly through it.

      JavaScript Debugger

      It has it’s idiosyncrasies and maybe a bit slow, but it is a great debugging tool.

      Fangs Screen Reader Emulator

      Shows a text version of what a screen reader outputs. Great for accessibility testing.

      Search Engine Optimalisation
      Google Pagerank Status

      Shows the Google Page Rank in the status bar.

      SEOpen

      Basic SEO tools.

      SEO Links

      Adds more SEO info in a tooltip like window, from Yahoo and MSN as well.

      Cookies
      View Cookies

      Well, the name says all.

      Add n Edit Cookies

      Again, very good name.

      Browsing ease
      Autofill

      High lights field that can be filled automatically.

      Inline Autocomplete

      Like IE also has.

      Google
      Customize Google

      Enhancements to Google research pages.

      Google Suggest

      suggest search terms while you type.

      Various
      LinkPreview

      Preview the target of a link in a small tooltip window.

      CuteMenus – Crystal SVG

      Adds nice icons to menus.

      SessionSaver.2

      Saves your session when closing Firefox, so that all opened tabs come back on restart.

      CruiseControl Monitor

      When you use Cruise Control this one beats the icon tray application.

      Last but not least
      Greasemonkey

      This one is one of the best. It adds the possibility to run user scripts on any page. There are so many user scripts created by so many people that probably at least one will suit you.

    • #3137704

      Corporate lessons

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. or corporal punishment

      It’s a long post, but anyway.

      Corporate Lesson 1

      A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower when the doorbell rings.
      After a few seconds of arguing over which one should go and answer the doorbell, the wife gives up, quickly wraps herself up in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next door neighbour.
      Before she says a word, Bob says, “I’ll give you $800 to drop that towel that you have on.”
      After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob.
      After a few seconds, Bob hands her 800 dollars and leaves.
      Confused, but excited about her good fortune, the woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs.
      When she gets back to the bathroom, her husband asks from the shower, “Who was that?”
      “It was Bob the next door neighbour,” she replies.
      “Great!” the husband says, “Did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?”

      Moral of the story

      If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk in time with your stakeholders, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

      Corporate Lesson 2

      A priest was driving along and saw a nun on the side of the road.
      He stopped and offered her a lift which she accepted. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to open and reveal a lovely leg.
      The priest had a look and nearly had an accident.
      After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg.
      The nun looked at him and immediately said, “Father, remember Psalm 129?”
      The priest was flustered and apologized profusely.
      He forced himself to remove his hand.
      Changing gear, he let his hand slide up her leg again.
      The nun once again said, “Father, remember Psalm 129?”
      Once again the priest apologized “Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.”
      Arriving at the convent, the nun got out gave him a meaningful glance and went on her way.
      On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to retrieve a bible and looked up Psalm 129.
      It Said, “Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.”

      Moral of the story

      Always be well informed in your job, or you might miss a great opportunity.

      Corporate Lesson 3

      A sales rep, an administration clerk and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp.
      They rub it and a Genie comes out in a puff of smoke.
      The Genie says, “I usually only grant three wishes, so I’ll give each of you just one.”
      “Me first! Me first!” says the admin clerk. “I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.”
      Poof! She’s gone.
      In astonishment, “Me next! Me next!” says the Sales rep. “I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of pina coladas and the love of my life.”
      Poof! He’s gone.
      “OK, you’re up,” the Genie says to the manager.
      The manager says, “I want those two back in the office after lunch.”

      Moral of the story

      Always let your boss have the first say.

      Corporate Lesson 4

      A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day.
      A small rabbit saw the crow, and asked him, “Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?”
      The crow answered “Sure, why not.”
      So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested.
      All of sudden a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

      Moral of the story

      To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

      Corporate Lesson 5

      A turkey was chatting with a bull. “I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree,” sighed the turkey, “but I haven’t got the energy.” “Well, why don’t you nibble on some of my droppings?” replied the bull. “They’re packed with nutrients.”
      The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree.
      The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch.
      Finally after a fourth night, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree.
      Soon he was spotted by a farmer, who promptly shot the turkey out of the tree.

      Moral of the story

      Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there.

      Corporate Lesson 6

      A little bird was flying south for the winter.
      It was so cold that the bird froze and fell to the ground in a large field.
      While it was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on it.
      As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, it began to realize how warm it was.
      The dung was actually thawing him out!
      He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.
      A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate.
      Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

      Moral of the story

      Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy; Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend; and when you’re in deep shit, it’s best to keep your mouth shut.

    • #3135821

      Create more accessible web-sites and get found more easily

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. just proving: common sense works all the way

      I am always eager to read a new A List Apart issue. Usually they come up with interesting aspects of web design. This time they have interesting article: High Accessibility Is Effective Search Engine Optimization. In it is made clear that making your site more accessible will also make it more search engine friendly.

      I find it almost amazing that so much of the good practices in web design come down to just using simple, common sense. It is no rocket science.

      When you try like me to create

      • fast-loading,
      • accessible,
      • maintainable and
      • findable web sites,

      you will find that these different aspects do not cancel each other out. Aiming for the one does not mean missing the other. In fact the same solution applies to all. A solution for one problem is a benefit to the other. This article shows how making a site accessible also benefits your findability. Building with the Standards in mind gives so many benefits you wonder why not everyone is doing it.

      Yet another business case!

      The fact that creating an accessible site also gives a better and more search engine friendly page is great business case that we can show to our customers. It’s a win-win situation: a better accessible site for visitors and a site that is easier indexed by the search engines and thus found by potential customers.

      Yet another reason to not do Black Hat SEO!

      Many black hat SEO consultants use all sorts of hidden links and texts which makes the pages less accessible for screen readers and the like. Abandoning these tricks will maken better pages and in the end the pages will score better in the search engines.

    • #3120427

      Improving traffic to your blog – RSS and Content

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. cause you want to spread the news, don’t you?

      In the previous articles of this series I focused on links and keywords. Now we will cover the last two subjects: RSS and Content.

      RSS feeds

      RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (terms also used: Rich Site Summary and RDF Site Summary) and is part of the XML family of communication standards. These programs or scripts can allow you to have your news and updates from your blog broadcasted on other sites that are willing to post your RSS feed.

      RSS feeds are a way to syndicate content, to share content it with others. Others can be sites or people using RSS readers. Sites like Feedster live on them. But there are plenty of RSS reader clients one can use. I use SharpReader. Modern browsers like Firefox and Flock can work with them. And so will the upcoming Internet Explorer 7.0.

      Using a RSS reader you can keep up to date with a lot of news and blogs. Right now I have some 40 to 50 feeds that I keep track of on a daily basis.

      RSS is just another channel to promote the content of your blog. Costs are low, as most blog software support it already.

      Content

      The final subject is the most important of all. People will not read or link to your blog if it does not have anything of value. You need to sustain quality and quantity of content.

      Content is King and will always be King. Keep the flow of blog entries going. Be sure to blog regularly. At the very least once a week. Better daily. But do not blog just to blog. It should contain some relevant content. Yes, you can side step from the main subject of your blog. Add some short funny bits now and then. Or comment on current world affairs.Georg W. Bush, which should be easy 😉

      Keep the blog entries coming. And remember to link between your own items.

      Wrapping it up

      There is so much more to write about this subject. Much of the SEO tricks for normal websites apply to blogs and vice versa. Using good common sense without any tricks will give good results at the end of the day.

      This is part of a series of articles on improving traffic to your blog.

    • #3119105

      Working in a hen house

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. is like going crazy in a solitary confinement: no one listens to you.

      In a previous post I mentioned women in relation to chickens.

      Quoting once again:

      You can get a couple of women out of the hen house, but you can’t get the hen house out of a couple of women.

      But I must admit that this was slightly female unfriendly. I have come to the conclusion that it’s not just women who can dabble endlessly. I know a couple of men who keep me from thinking straight. Which is a big problem while doing some object oriented development.

      So, I have to correct my words:

      You can get a couple of men out of the hen house, but you can’t get the hen house out of a couple of men.

    • #3120017

      Another Firefox extension

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. a great way to waste time

      I have fallen for it. I did not want to install it. I heard about it. I was warned. Yes, I am guilty as charged.

      Today I installed the addictive Firefox extension StumbleUpon. Cicking a button takes you to more or less random sites all over the Net. It is so addictive, that you will forget time, lunch, dinner, work, your wife, your kids, your reason to breathe.

      DO NOT INSTALL!!!! It is like selling your soul to the Devil.

      Do not say I didn’t warn you.

    • #3130498

      Need help with picking blogging / CMS tool

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. TextPattern, WordPress or anything like that.

      With the risk of getting hopelessly lost in comments I have a question for the all people out there.

      I am currently brooding on a plan to set up a new community type portal web site which should include a blog. As the plans as to what will be there are beginning to take shape I am now starting to look for the right type of software to use to get it going.
      What I want to be able to do:

      • set up one blog, possible more
      • be able to have other pages than blog entries, like tutorials, portfolios and the like
      • have multiple contributors
      • open source
      • preferably PHP (although other options are possible)
      • the resulting HTML should be easily made fully W3C compliant and NO TABLES for layout

      Anyone can advise me on which solution or combination of solutions I should use?

    • #3122383

      Seven Hills 2005 was a success

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. although without a personal best

      Yesterday, 21st November 2005, I ran the Seven Hills Run for the third time. And I think it was a success.

      I did not train as much as the last years so I didn’t anticipate to run a personal best. I set my aim for a time within 1:15. So making an average of just under 5 minutes per kilometer.

      I ran an exceptionally flat race. Which is even more exceptional considering the seven hills 😉 I finished the 15 km after 1 hour 14 minutes and 49 seconds. Which makes for an average of 4 minutes 59.27 seconds per kilometer.

      Haile Gebrselassie from Ethiopia did the same distance in 41 minutes and 56 seconds. An incredible average of 2 minutes 47.7 seconds per kilometer!

    • #3123761

      ThinkFree Office Online

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. maybe not so free

      So I found the ThinkFree website. They offer a Microsoft Office alternative. Always good to have choice. I had a good look and found that they also have an online version. That triggered me!

      I decided to give it a go. For free I would get 30MB of disk space. This would be something for working in every available location with Internet connection. A way to also collaborate on a document. Many, many options. Yeah! Groovy baby!For the umpteenth time I entered some credentials and I was admitted to the next screen. And I saw the screen of which I have reproduced a part below.

      It was a bit of a disappointment to say the least. I still had to download 74MB worth of software for a Windows machine and even more for a Mac or a Linux box.

      I then decided to NOT give it a go. This is simply not something one would want to use.

      I have seen something like Writeboard and that seems a much better solution.

      I think that is much more lightweight and enough for most things I can think of now.

    • #3114084

      Seven Hills Run 2005

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. luckily we still have the pictures

      Around the 13km mark pictures were taken from all the runners. With the use of digital cameras and the Internet this is possible nowadays. Great.

      I have ripped some of the pictures to my Flickr account and here’s a nice slideshow of me near the 13km point.

      For the really interested people: my number is 12387 and I wear a wit cap and an orange shirt.

    • #3123132

      Writeboard and Basecamp

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. are made from the right stuff

      I briefly mentioned it in a previous post: Writeboard.

      It’s an online collaborative word processor with version control. Limited maybe when compared with Word when looking at the make up possibilities, but way better in the collaboration area and miles ahead in versioning. And who needs all the fancy font styles when working together with someone maybe many miles away. Or in the office next door.

      Oh yes, this sure is something very clever. The guys from 37Signals are clever

      Basecamp is a great project manmagement tool. That does not have the 253 options of the Swiss Army knife named Microsoft project, but it holds the bare essentials. Anything you need to set up a project and keep your project members informed about everything. Anything you need but nothing you do no need.

      I know, I am not the first to find or use it. But so far, I am absolutely impressed by the sheer genius that these applications hold: simplicity on the outside and probably also on the inside. I can but guess about the inside, but performance of the applications is plain outstanding.

      Basecamp logo

      Writeboard logo

      Ruby on Rails logo

      Every thing is build with Ruby on Rails. From what I have seen so far and after having created my first Hello World-like applications I conclude this is a very interesting way of developing.

      Ah, so many great things to do and so, little time to do them.

      I didn’t even mention Backpack and Ta-da List yet.

    • #3121976

      ThinkFree Office Online [2]

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. free, free, set me free

      There is a Dutch song from Paul de Leeuw that goes like this:

      I have moved a stone
      in a river on Earth,
      Now I know I will not be forgotten
      I delivered proof
      of my existence.

      All right, maybe this feeling is a bit too dramatic.

      I wrote a post about ThinkFree Office online. I thought it was an interesting concept, but was bit disappointed when it appeared that I needed to download some 74MB worth of software for a Windows machine and even more for a Mac or a Linux box.

      I then moved away from the site in the apprehension that ThinkFree had completely missed the boat.

      Until I got a comment on my blog posting:

      Roho,

      I apologize for the confusion. The 74MB download was for the offline version of ThinkFree Office 3, Desktop Edition. We have since deleted this information to avoid any future problems. Thank you for pointing this out to us.

      If you click on GO ThinkFree Office Online you will be able to access the application suite and document management system. We are in the process of modifying our site.

      If you have any further questions please let me know.

      Sincerely,
      Jonathan Crow
      Product Marketing Manager
      ThinkFree
      jcrow@thinkfree.com

      I quickly moved over their site and yes! I have moved a stone!

      I then decided to give it a REAL test drive. I uploaded some documents and had a little spin.

      You do need some patience for the Java applets to start and load (and the applets are understandably quite big)), but then you can roll.

      Being Java applets, they are slower than native compiled code, but all Microsoft Office functionality you ever need is available. Online, documents are stored online. Collaboration is possible. This, absolutely something to consider for use when working around the world or around the corner.

    • #3127711

      Firefox 1.5 is out

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. cannot wait for all the extensions to work again


      I have just installed Firefox 1.5, the Dutch version. I had tried a Release Candidate before but had switched back to the current version because so many of my beloved extensions were not compatible. I hoped this would improve once the real version 1.5 officially set loose.

      But not all are compatible by a long way.

      I am not complaining. These extensions were build by clever guys and gals around the world and donated to the public. Without them receiving anything for it, except the eternal anonymous fame from numerous downloads and installs. I thank the makers for each and everyone I have tried and found useful.

      I think this problem (which it not really is) will resolve over the next couple of days maybe weeks.

      Perhaps some evil minded persons will show some rage about it and say that this exactly the reason why not to use open source. I think these people are silly. There is a new version out which is slightly altered to the previous one. Enough to break some extensions. So fixing these will take a bit of time. This happens with closed source applications all the time.

      This time I will show patience and see how the extensions will come back to live over the coming weeks.

    • #3127627

      Translation is a job for humans

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. ooh babe, Babel me!

      Just for fun I pulled a page from my Dutch website through AltaVista Babelfish.
      The result is just great. I never knew I had it in me.

      The late Douglas Adams cannot be thanked enough for the invention of the Babelfish!

      Pulling the text back and forth between various languages makes for even more fun.

      Or this is definitely more fun.

    • #3127628

      Frequently Asked Questions

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. but how?

      If you have a website you are a company. That’s what most of website owners think. And when you have a website you also must have a purpose for it. A business goal. Something derived from the mission statement.

      Making the world a better place for everyone who buys our products.

      So, then in the final stages of the creation of the website someone proposes to put information onto the website. Something that provides visitors with the option to find answers to any questions they might have. So, they do not need to wait endlessly while on hold.

      The FAQ is born!

      So, the Frequently Asked Questions section is born. Someone wraps the questions up in some categories and there it is. The answer to all the Frequently Asked Questions.

      These Frequently Asked Questions are compiled by some people from marketing and do not hold questions like:

      Why don’t you %$#@@&! send me a working product!

      Why do I have to wait for fifty minutes on the phone before I get disconnected?

      That’s what happens on a lot of sites. But what strikes me as odd that after browsing through the list of FAQs and not having found any that applies to my question there is no way to ask the question. There is no form or email address available. Sometimes after long, long searches I cannot find it.

      That leaves me with a very irky feeling and so my FAQ becomes:

      How can there be any Frequently Asked Questions if no one can ask one single question?

      I saw a good quote on the Douglas Adams site:

      Frequently Questioned Answers

    • #3128557

      Get Firefox 1.5

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. and take back the web

      After having installed the latest version of Firefox I may have temporarily lost some of my experience. I still think that Firefox is a much better way to browse the web than Microsoft Internet Explorer.

      So, here is some shameless publicity for Firefox. Look in the sidebar for links taking you directly to Firefox download sites.

      Go get Firefox and take back the web!


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    • #3128281

      Intelligent Deity design

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. or may your deity be with you

      Sometimes you come across the most weird sites on the Net. Since the Net is huge there is always another site that is represents any other view of live, universe and everything. So, I am bound to find almost any strange opinion by any strange person if browse long enough.

      With the risk of abusing anyone I will bluntly put forward this link: The Do-It-Yourself Deity.

      My sincere apologies to anyone who is abused by my smiles.

      Tags:

    • #3129798

      Macromedia is fading

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. TAFKAM, The Application suite Formerly Known As Macromedia

      This morning a colleague pointed it out to me. I was just sipping my first cup of coffee (or was it my second?). Macromedia was now completely fading away. I immediately pointed my browser at Macromedia.com and shock and horror: it was true!

      macromedia.com is no more

      Adobe has begun with the dismantling of the name of Macromedia. Soon we will be silently redirected to Adobe.com and in a few years time the name Macromedia will only linger in the Walhalla together with Ashton Tate and the likes.

      formerly macromedia

      On the Macromedia.com site the logo has almost completely disappeared. Only the favicon is still present. Maybe just because my browser cached it or maybe they have forgotten or maybe a very friendly webmaster left it there on purpose. If so, many many blessings to that man or woman.

      I was just on the blink of buying Studio 8. Now I will probably have to rush to get a real Macromedia branded version. If left unopened could make me a millionaire on e-Bay, I guess.

      It is a sad, sad day for everyone.

      And another one bites the dust …

    • #3126481

      Customizing Firefox

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. adding some grease for a smooth ride

      Over a month ago I blogged about how I pimped my Firefox. In the list of extensions that I use I also have the Greasemonkey extension. I only very briefly described it:

      Last but not least
      Greasemonkey

      This one is one of the best. It adds the possibility to run user scripts on any page. There are so many user scripts created by so many people that probably at least one will suit you.

      This is way, way too little information to get anyone as excited about Greasemonkey as I am. So I will follow up and will tell some more.

      What is Greasemonkey?

      Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension which lets you to "user scripts&quot to any web page to change its behavior. In much the same way that user CSS lets you take control of a web page’s style, user scripts let you easily control any aspect of a web page’s design or interaction. You can add extra functionality or delete unwanted ads. There are hundreds if not thousands userscripts available.

      User scripts are bits of JavaScript that can use the DOM to access the page to add or rewrite links. Rewrite URLs. You name it. If you want to create scripts on your own then go to Dive into Greasemonkey for an excellent tutorial.

      As said, there are numerous scripts that can be easily installed. Here is the list that I currently use.

      General user scripts
      • Linkify Plus
        Turn plain URLs into links. Supports http, https, ftp and email addresses.
      • Zoom Image
        Displays a small popup over images that allows zooming in or out.
      Del.icio.us
      • AutoDelicious
        Adds Auto-Complete capabilities to the del.icio.us posting page.
      • Del.icio.us delete item
        Adds a "delete this item link" while viewing your del.icio.us items.
      • TagRenameDelete
        Allows you to rename or delete the del.icio.us tags on the front page.
      • del.icio.us skin
        Adds a skin to del.icio.us
      • del.icio.us undupe
        Remove redundant del.icio.us entries from a page, leaving only the first entry for a given URL.
      Blogger
      • Blogger enhancements v1.1
        Keep current time on posts. Handy when you start a post and finish it later.
      • Blogger large post editor
        The Blogger post editor really is too small. This user script sets the editor’s width to 100% and makes it higher and also makes the title field wider. It works for both plain and rich editing.
      • Blogger large template editor
        The template editor is also too small. This user script hides the navbar setting and doubles the editor’s height.
      • Blogger tag adder
        Add Technorati tags in the Blooger post editor.
      Specific user scripts
      • Dilbert Lite
        Removes unnecessary ads from Dilbert.
      • Nu Compact
        Nu.nl is a Dutch news site. This user script deletes pictures from the frontpage stories so only the links are visible.
      • Google Media Search
        Gives quicklinks for search strings to find directories of media files.

      Now, go and give it a spin. Install the Greasemonkey extension and go and find some useful userscripts.

      You’re browsing will never be the same again!

    • #3126482

      Suprglu

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. bringing all your stuff together on one page

      So you are into the fast lane. You are paddling along with all the others at the forefront of the web. At least you think you do. You have started a blog on Blogger, you upload your pictures to Flickr, you keep your bookmarks like forever already in del.icio.us. You are sure that you have all sorts of RSS feeds of all these sources. You have even combined the lot in a single Feedburner feed. So anyone can now keep track of all your interests, opinions and pictures.

      Wow, you are web 2.0 savvy.

      But many of your friends are not that savvy. They do not know what RSS means or what they can do with it. What’s a RSS feed reader?

      Once again there is a solution. You can now use superglue to stick all this together. At Suprglu.com you can sign up and add your feeds and have these "glued" together into one web page. Send the URL to your friends and they have an easy way to know all they should know about you.

      This is my Suprglu page.

    • #3126456

      Ford gives in to conservative group

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. glad I don’t own a Ford

      To me this sums up much what I do not like about people imposing their views and morals upon others.

      CNNMoney.com

      Ford Motor Co. faced sharp criticism from gay and lesbian advocacy groups for agreeing to stop advertising in gay-themed publications in the face of a boycott by the conservative American Family Association, according to a report Tuesday.

      No, I am not gay. But that does not matter anyway. To me Ford has given in to blackmail. A group of people with a view of life that differs from others are imposing their views on Ford by means of force. The force being a boycott threat.

      Ford has no become the gay-unfriendly car. Ford has now become the pro-Christian Family car.

      Or perhaps not?

      On the Ford.com website I found this press release.

      Ford.com website

      FORD FUND MAKES RECORD DONATION TO GAY COMMUNITY CENTER IN SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN
      • Ford Fund pledges $250,000 to the construction of a new Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center in Ferndale, Mich.
      • The organization plans to break ground on the estimated $5.3 million facility in the spring of this year. Spokespeople for Affirmations organization say the new center will be open to the public in early 2006.

      All right, let’s not boycott Ford for not being gay-friendly.

      But I think we should try to stand up against these way-of-life imposing organisations who are entitled to their own view but should never force these onto others.

    • #3124587

      John Lennon

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. twenty five years today

      Twenty five years ago some crazy person ended the life of a great man.



      Let’s never forget John Lennon.

      Give peace a chance.

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    • #3120923

      A less than productive day at the office

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. so why not blog a little?

      Just, had a great long, long weekend. Four days in total. Loved every minute of it.

      Now, on Monday I returned to the office and logged in. I noticed some programs not starting. Hmm. I looked a bit further some of my desktop items were missing. Uh oh!I started Firefox and it asked which settings to import. Uh oh! My extensions and everything so precious were gone. Uh oh!

      Uh oh!

      So, it was getting on the phone to the dreaded support desk. I start at seven they start at eight.Uh oh! Wait a while. Finally, I get them on the phone.

      Flamboyant support person

      Have you tried rebooting your system?

      Uh oh! Yes, I did. I’ll do it again. I suggest to do restore of my profile.

      Flamboyant support person

      I think we need to do a restore.

      Uh oh! I make it clear that I need it rather quickly or I can not do any work.

      After waiting another while there is a restore. It’s from the same day as was already present on my machine. Uh oh!

      Flamboyant support person

      I think we need to do another restore.

      More time passes and I have finished reading about anything with letters on it. Then the second restore is done. Still not much has been found. I decide I’ll leave at this. They are wasting my time as well as their own.

      I am now seven hours further and still trying to fix my broken installations of Visual Studio and Firefox. Luckily I had documented my extensions and my Greasemonkey scripts.

      Just a little time remains before a meeting and then I can go home and be a coach potato. Sigh!


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    • #3197778

      Learning a trick everyday

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      ..helps to keep boredom away

      Today a colleague asked if he could hide something when printing a web page. Well yes, css can do that easily. Not too difficult as well. Add a class of donotprint to the element in question. Then add a print stylesheet with the following rule.

      .donotprint {display:none;}
      

      Yes, but no. He just wanted to add some style to the element in the html. Adding a stylesheet was not an option. There was a quick fix needed in an old site.

      So I gave my mind a twist and decided to give something a try. I added the following to the html page.

      <style type="text/css" media="print">
      .donotprint {display:none;}
      </style>
      

      Much to my surprise: it works!

      I have learned something again. Though probably something I might never use again, but still.

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    • #3127190

      Study of Markov Models

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. finally finished

      After many (and I do mean many) attempts at finalizing my scientific paper I have eventually succeeded. So with some proud I present the report here today.

      Deck's embedded study

      I am as always happy to receive comments.

      You can download the PDF here.

    • #3125780

      What’s in a name?

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. or there is no coincidence

      In November I ran the Seven Hills Run in Nijmegen and I did a few posts about that. Nothing special to that.

      Now some weeks later an anonymous reader of my blog posts a comment to one of the entries.

      Anonymous

      i don’t know how you came up with roho2003, but my high school cross-country team won the New England competition in 2003, and our team cheer was “Roho”… crazy.

      The weird part is that for reason people are shouting “Roho” as encouragement to each other. Even weirder is the fact that this lead to winning the New England cross-country competition.

      However, miracles and coincidences do not exits or if they do, the exist for a reason. Taking this a bit further leads me to some powerful conclusions:

      • “Roho” is a strong word.
      • “Roho” is a worldwide spontaneous expression having the same feeling of success about it.
      • “Roho” is associated with achieving things, sports and winning.
      • “Roho” can be shouted.
      • “Roho” is stabilizing factor in the hectic world of today.

      OK, I might just run away with my enthusiasm now, but hey it’s about me!

      Feet back on the ground

      Let’s get back to reality. I have used the name “Roho” since my days at the Dutch equivalent of high school (yes, more and more coincidental links) and have kept these up through my time at the Delft Technical University. Back then people even called me by that name.

      I have always wanted to start my own business, become my own boss. (Just so I could argue with myself about how bad things were organized.) And I always knew that that business would be called
      “Roho Products”
      . And indeed in 2003 (!) I set this up. The main focus of my company is building websites. Though I do some basic system management and Windows development as well.

      Coming back to what “Roho” stands for. It is quite simple the first two letters of my first and my last name. The “2003” bit is just the year that I add at the end. In 2003 I started this blog and only recently I have found enough time to keep it updated on a regular basis.

      Finally

      Finally, I would like to know how anyone can come up with using “Roho” as way to cheer a cross country team to victory? Please, any member of that team enlighten me. I could not find out quickly which team it is, but if someone would add that as well I am prepared to include a photo of that victorious lot.

      Now, back to work. First some coffee though. It is still early.


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    • #3125744

      More extensions for Firefox

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. when will it fall over?

      Today the Official Googleblog announced some new extensions for Firefox. And being a Firefox aficionado I had to check it out.

      I installed the Blogger Web Comments extension and tried it out. This is absolutely great! On every page I visit a little box pops when there are comments found on Blogger relating to that page. You can also add comments yourself.



      By clicking on the title of the comment the corresponding page opens in a new tab. This is just great.

      Creating a comment very much reminds me of the Blog This context menu from Flock.

      I haven’t even tried the other extension: Google Safe Browsing extension, but I just might install that on my home PC as that is more likely to ever get targeted by phishing sites.

      Google: you are doing it again!


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    • #3125743

      The world according to Neuro

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. putting new extensions to work

      Funny that some entries inspire others to do the same.

      Even though getting the casing right is still a problem: it’s Roho!

      Read more at neuronix.blogspot.com/

      BTW this comments was created with the Blogger Web Comments extension that I discussed earlier.

      I used the extension to make this comment and then saved as a ‘Draft’. The html produced is a bit overloaded with whitespace and there is an additional div around it, but since I tend to always edit my comments in the Blogger Editor (with the help of some Greasemonkey scripts) I think that is not a problem. When using Flock’s Blog This option I have the same approach.


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    • #3124162

      JavaScript Debugger for Firefox 1.5

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. Venkman is back

      With the coming of Firefox 1.5 some of my beloved extension had stopped to function. Slowly most of these have recovered now. One was still missing from this list. The JavaScript Debugger aka Venkman had stopped functioning. I have used this tool to find out what went wrong with my dynamically created scripts for an e-commerce site that me and my colleagues are building like forever. Without I had to get back to using many alert() statements. Not much fun.

      But that problem is now gone!

      An updated version is now available and better it seems to be working!

      Venkman for Firefox 1.5

      Getahead has a download available. Find out more at the Getahead site.

      One more extension can be crossed of the missing list.


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    • #3197351

      A touch of football

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. and a little smile

      In an attempt to clarify the infamous offside rule, after a disputed decision last weekend, the BBC dedicates a page explaining the rule.

      the BBC website

      Like most things in football, the offside rule is pretty simple – that is until it gets changed each year.

      Hmm. The off side rule is getting so confusing why not just drop the rule? I am a (field) hockey player and the offside rule was abolished many years ago and the game has become even more attacking and faster. The same should apply to football.


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    • #3196823

      Just having fun

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. in the dark days before Christamas

      Yep, if you happened to stop by today on my blog you may have noticed all different kinds of background images flying by. Sorry, for that. I am just restyling my blog. Just for fun.

      Anyhow, check back every now and then to see the progress.

      Drop a comment whether you like it or not.


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    • #3198192

      Good advise

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. for all you would-be entrepeneurs
      I found the following quote on a website very useful. For all you out there that consider making money by building websites or doing other web related work.
      An anonymous philosopher
      HOW-TO make a small fortune making Web sites…

      … start with a large fortune …
      There you go with all your New Year’s resolutions about starting for

    • #3198191

      SEO at a glance

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. for your convenience
      OK, this is hardly an original post, but one the gazillion attempts to rake together the SEO factors in a simple list. Compiled from
      numerous sources around the web and NO it will not offer too many new things. To be used as a simple checklist when building a new website or doing search engine optimalisation on an existing one.
      Build validating pages
      Make sure the correct

    • #3082176

      The "In between days"

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. are all over me

      The days between Christmas and New Year are filled with usefulness and laziness. I need input from functional designers and others to keep going with my current projects and apparently these guys have way more leave than I because they can take off much much longer than I can. True, I have to admit that I will be away starting Friday for ten days, but they were already off well before Christmas.

      Since, they have a large say in the web applications I am now building I am stuck. I have hit some problems that have multiple possible solutions. Each of these have different implications and they need to make the decision. On the one hand in order to know the consequences. On the other hand so I will not be blamed for doing everything the way I want without consulting. And then finding myself undoing all the nice changes I had made.

      Again true, I have now some experience with their decisions: they always pick the option that I rule out completely. So, using that knowledge I could go for the most unlikely option and have their blessing afterwards. But only once every so often they select the better option and I cannot as yet predict when such a unique moment occurs. That would mean that just bluntly going for the less intelligent option will still have big chance of wasting my time on it.

      I feel another version of Murphy’s law is active here.

      Roho’s first variation of Murphy’s law

      When there are multiple options to choose from you will always pick the wrong one.

      Years of experience have also taught me the following.

      Roho’s second variation of Murphy’s law

      The easiest way to solve a problem is always the most difficult to undo.

      So, which ever option I implement I will always fail. If failure is guaranteed then why start at all?

      Even more wisdom has shown me that which ever option you pick it is never the best one.

      Roho’s third variation of Murphy’s law

      When you pick a way to solve a problem your solution will always be the most elaborate one and will not solve the problem in the end.

      Anyhow, Murphy always beats you.

      Conclusion

      Take a deep breath and surpress any urge to start work.


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    • #3083447

      Internet Explorer ‘s cookie is starting to crumble?

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. now competitors start to nibble?

      The news is out: Dell UK is shipping Firefox on it’s systems. Confirmed by Blake Ross (one of the creators of Firefox) in his blog. However, at this moment Dell only ships Firefox in the UK. Dell Australia has no plans in that direction.

      Similar plans come from Hewlett-Packard. HP plans to ship Netscape’s Web browser on new PCs and notebooks starting early 2006.

      With the move of Opera of disbanding the ads in their browser this might bring even more momentum to the alternative browsers. The competition is on the move. Microsoft may just be too late with IE7. In many reviews so far the IE7 upgrade has been called too little too late.

      Now, the largest PC manufacturer of the world, Dell, is pre-installing Firefox on new systems and removing the IE icon from the desktop. This will give users direct access to Firefox and indirect access (somewhere in the Start menu) to Internet Explorer. This will mean that more users will start to use Firefox. If HP does the same with their Netscape installation then a lot of convenience users will probably just use the first browser available.

      All, this should give a boost to these browsers and it will bring about the slow demise of the sleeping giant’s browser.

      On top of that the news earlier this month that Microsoft is dropping the Internet Explorer for Apple completely after having ignored development for it for years. They even promote the use of the Safari browser.

      These are signs that things are drastically changing in the browser market. I think the era of world wide web domination for Microsoft and Internet Explorer (the 90% and more market share days) are over. Microsoft had fallen asleep and ignored the little people outside, who were hacking together real compliant browsers. They have ignored the users who had to suffer under numerous attacks and security issues. They may have sit back just a little too long and enjoyed the view from their palace window to look at a Teletubbie landscape.

      The times they are a-changing.


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    • #3094937

      Happy New Year

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. and may it be long

      Yes, back from skiing in the French Alps.

      All the best wishes and I will try to keep the entries flowing.

      Any new Year’s resolutions?

      Don’t worry: they will fade away in the next couple of days.

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      Roho Products – Web design – Steenwijk

    • #3078704

      Doing something right with SEO

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. always good to know

      There are many things one can do about optimizing one’s site for search engines. A pseudo science has come up about this. An industry with many good and many bad companies has arisen around it. You can spend enormous amounts of money and time on it. Results are not always easy to measure.

      Now, there is yet another site that offers a tool to create a report about some SEO specifics. Sitening.com offers a tool, the seo-analyzer that gives an extensive report on a number of aspects. It also gives an overall score.



      Pleased to say the least that I can now announce that my own website has gotten a perfect 100 out of 100 score. Check out the report yourself.

      I am walking on sunshine.


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    • #3097578

      Six months of hard work

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. down the drain

      Today is just another one of those days. One of those days that make me more and more determined to go it alone.

      When you work for a company and are just a obeying employee and your boss says: “jump” well then you prepare to do so. Even though sometimes you do so while you know it is better to take a step sideways and then forward and back sideways again to get to the next position. Your boss decides the way to go. He is in charge and he is responsible. You can advise. And hope for the best.

      Usually this is good. It means you do not have to take the bigger decisions and you can focus on your work. The little people’s decisions are yours. These are your domain and yours alone. You are (or should be) free to do your work in the way you think is best. There are constraints like requirements, performance and quality. But within these limits you are free to paint the colors as long as you stay within the lines.

      But ..

      Sometimes however decisions are taken over your head that have huge impact on your work that you feel are not the correct decisions. Decisions taken at the wrong moment and with not sufficient insight in the situation. Decisions that destroy all the hard work you have put in over a long period. Decisions that completely drain your good spirit and motivation to carry on working hard for your boss.



      You just want to shout out loud that you think they are utter, utter idiots, but no, they give you your paycheck at the end of the month. And there are mortgage reasons to not miss these.

      You just sit there numb, completely numb, not comfortably numb. You speak out your doubts in a friendly way (at least you try to control your tone of voice) and keep breathing and try to stay calm.

      So what happened?

      AS I have mentioned before I work for an insurance company. And in The Netherlands the big thing in insurance world is the basic health insurance that was introduced this year. So, this year it is big business as everyone in The Netherlands over 18 years old has to have a basic health insurance. They have until 1st March to decide with which insurance company to do business.

      I have been building a new wizard for the website to enable people to obtain such an insurance online. This as a part of a new version of our website which will be built in ASP.NET with C# and a lot of OO. As safety net some other developers build a version for our existing website. There were some doubts if we could get all elements of the website up and running in a sufficiently satisfying fashion in time before the health insurance boom would occur. These doubts were reasonable doubts as we have struggled a lot with the performance of the third party CMS we had chosen.

      The safety net was then promoted to production version and it went live with considerable success in November 2005. The new website was postponed and so was the new wizard for the basic health insurance. Meaning that I all of a sudden had months in stead of days to finish it. I did not have to cut corners and could do a great job. The decision not go for the new website was not induced by the status of my wizard but rather by the problems we had with the third party CMS.

      And two weeks ago someone had a bright idea. When all people over 18 years old in The Netherlands have basic health insurance on 1st March 2006 not many people will be going to our website to get basic health insurance. Only people who turn 18 and people who come to live here will do so. Only very few of them will go to our website and get basic health insurance. People can only change to another insurance next January.

      What an insight! This must be a genius at work.

      All of a sudden the need for the wizard was gone. Why bother building something that hardly anyone will use?

      Thus with just a few days of work left the project was cancelled. Even though the new wizard fits better in the new website and the fact that we need a wizard at the end of the year for people who want to change. The current (old technology, ASP) will be inserted into an <iframe> and used.

      If someone had used his or her brain a little bit earlier at least the time I spent on the wizard since the decision to go for the safety net option would not have been wasted.

      At least it is another great way to destroy any motivation.

      Now what?

      Now, I sit here with at least two months of time wasted on a project that will never go live. I also have the feeling that I have been working hard the last six months for .. nothing.

      I have been reassigned to yet another wizard, for car insurance. Together with a colleague who has no real experience with new website, ASP.NET or OO. My experience is only slightly bigger than his.

      We will see what the future holds in this next project, but I fear the most.


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    • #3097577

      On days like today

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. and some others as well

      I get the feeling of doing something like this.

      Do not try this at home!

      Try it in the cubicle next to you.



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    • #3097406

      Meetings, please no more meetings

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. they are not healthy

      Something we knew all along. But now some scientist have done a study regarding meetings and their unhealthy effects.


      Alexandra Luong and Steven G Rogelberg

      Do you believe, as someone somewhere perhaps does, that meetings, meetings, meetings, followed by more meetings are altogether a good thing?

      Everybody knows that having loads of meetings is bad for the amount of work you can do. But Luong and Rogelberg also state that it is very tiresome.

      “It is impressive,” Luong and Rogelberg write in their summary, “that a general relationship between meeting load and the employee’s level of fatigue and subjective workload was found”. Their central insight, they say, is the concept of “the meeting as one more type of hassle or interruption that can occur for individuals”.

      Not world shocking, but it makes it easier to understand why managers produce less and still feel that they have done a lot, because they are tired after a day of meetings.

      However so far the study does not give insight in the detrimental effects on the mental abilities of managers. This is food for another study.

      It could give a good explanation for the erratic behavior of previous and present managers of mine. 😉


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    • #3097064

      Firefox is gaining slowly

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. a substantial piece of the action

      XiTiMonitor has reported on the spread of Firefox. As a fanatic Firefox user I have repeatedly blogged about Firefox. As there are so many reasons to at least give it a try. Take some time to check some of the extensions: these do add value.

      Europe

      Back to XiTiMonitor. They have produced some nice graphs about the spread of Firefox. The first one (below) shows the spread thruoghtout Europe.


      Firefox in Europe

      As a Dutch citizen it hurts a bit that apparently we are slow to move. So are the Danish. As I recall correctly we were also clinging onto Novell Netware and Wordperfect as the world was moving to Windows NT and Word. You could say that was pure genius back then, but seeing the trend now it is more some conservative carefullness. We know what we have let’s cling on to it. Only Ukraine is worse at adopting Firefox.

      The world

      When looking at the World map I feel proud to be European. Europe is the forerunner with Firefox. Down Under people seem to be picking it also in a good way.


      Firefox in the world

      Not ready yet

      But we are not there yet! Not in The Netherlands and not in the rest of the World.
      Get Firefox!


      Get Firefox!

      Don’t be shy or scared, it’s easy, it’s painless. It is liberating.


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    • #3099359

      What’s in a name [2]

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. well, a lot.

      Funny, I came across a site that uses “roho” in a posting and gives it a very nice meaning.


      pricestability.com

      While this is “roho (good news),”

      I do like these occasional discoveries.


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    • #3259327

      Howto

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. make a Roho2003

      Found at Go-Quiz.com.

      How to make a roho2003
      Ingredients:
      5 parts intelligence
      5 parts crazyiness
      1 part ego
      Method:
      Add to a cocktail shaker and mix vigorously. Serve with a slice of caring and a pinch of salt. Yum!

      Sounds yummy indeed!

      Tags:

    • #3257775

      A business plan [1]

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. and totally for free!

      As I have no time recently to start a business and get rich I have decided to not let these brilliant ideas gather dust. I have decided that in this age of Open Source to go Open Source with it.

      I will release two of the brightest plans under a new type of license. This license boils down to the following (after removing all the lawyer language):

      • You can use the idea free of charge
      • You are allowed to own the business set up.
      • Whenever you become filthy rich you are encouraged to share a little bit with me.
      • If you do get rich and are not thankful in a financial way then be prepared to feel guilty for the rest of your life or just don’t care.
      Idea #1
      Observing the landscape

      In recent years many prize fighters have emerged in the airline business: EasyJet, Ryan Air and also the Dutch Transavia.Com.

      Finding the opportunity

      This market is slowly filling up. So where is the opportunity? Is there a way to find something new in this market?

      Well, what is needed is another low investment business. And if you stay up with current events then this easily found

      Idea #1: FlyCIA.com
      Resources needed

      You need a website (yes) on which customers can leave some form of US political incorrect comments on George W. Bush or the United States in general. It is advised to use the words: terrorists, Islam and Al Qaida for swift service.

      The customer will then at a not announced moment be taken to a not disclosed airport into an unmarked plane and taken to an unknown destination.

      So, it is adventure at its best. I don’t think there will be many complaints from customers.

      Good luck

      And when you do get filthy rich: please remember where you got the idea from!


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    • #3109805

      A business plan [2]

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. and again totally for free!

      I promised to give away some business ideas. Here’s the next installment.

      Idea #2
      Observing the landscape

      During my working life in several companies I have seen many projects come by. Some of them were huge successes others failed brilliantly.

      Finding the opportunity

      Successful projects are easy, there is nothing to them. So where is the opportunity?

      Well, project that fail offer huge opportunities. At the end of such a project there will always be a evaluation and then someone has to be blamed for the failure. Blaming your own employees is not a very easy thing. You will be destroying careers, but also possibly throwing away experienced and motivated employees. Some of these might even have become friends.

      You need some outsider to take the fall: the scapegoat.

      Idea #2: blame-the-temp.com
      Resources needed

      You need a website (yes) and a base of professional scapegoats.
      These can be hired for selected periods and will be very present during the span of an entire project. The scapegoat will send memos to management with the summed up opinion of a project team. Carefully omitting any team member’s name. He will be posing all sorts of questions during meetings. By request he can even ignore any questions or tasks. He can also send totally unrelated and irrelevant advise to management. He will also be very sociable, with good jokes and snappy conversation. His ties will be just too much.

      In this way everyone within the organization will know the weird temporary project manager with his strange behavior.

      So, when failure for the project is approaching the scapegoat will be very easy to blame. And no employees will have to be blamed, keeping everyone perfectly happy.

      And if ever a project should succeed (how improbable it seems) there is a good change that it is late or incomplete so blame the scapegoat. And if ever you should have a perfect project on time within costs and with all deliverables, then we sincerely apologize for the bad performance of the scapegoat.

      So, for any type of project or business reorganization with high or low risk: hire a scapegoat.

      Good luck

      And when you do get filthy rich: please remember where you got the idea from!


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    • #3093335

      The Inside Track on Firefox Development

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

    • #3092245

      Perversions in Information Technology

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. wtf?!

      Sometimes you find the most interesting sites by chance. This one was supplied by one of my colleagues.


      Perversions in Information Technology

      The Daily WTF reports on Curious Perversions in Information Technology and that is fun to read.


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    • #3093781

      Are you Web 2.0?

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. or have you already moved on?

      Do the logos below mean something to you? Are you familiar with ten or more?


      web 2.0 logo's

      If they do make sense you are definitely into Web 2.0.

      Or maybe within this collection of logos is the selection of companies that will be around in five years and be part of the Internet establishment. Most of them will likely have been superseded by better Web 3.0 or Web 4.0 incarnations.

      Tags:


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    • #3093780

      Unfortunately Rob

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. is

      Do a Google on Unfortunately Rob and you get results like these:

      • Unfortunately Rob was apparently caught in a weak moment.
      • Unfortunately Rob‘s team lost.
      • Unfortunately Rob D. just wasn’t who he once was and was back for only five months.
      • Unfortunately Rob walked in. Fortunately, Carly was right beind Rob.
      • Unfortunately Rob had moved his small unit of light cavalry into the path and charge range of a Sasanian elephant.
      • Unfortunately Rob never gave me any evidence for his assertions but merely said my comments were evidence enough.
      • Unfortunately Rob, you cannot produce evidence of that success you claim.
      • Unfortunately Rob himself has indicated that the cut off for well-defined predictions regarding meteor trails seems to be at around a ZHR of 500 and the distance between last year’s 4-revolution trail and Earth was a relatively large +0.0016 a.u.
      • Unfortunately Rob never gave me any evidence for his assertions but merely said my comments were evidence enough.
      • Unfortunately Rob as very little information to go on, other than the photograph attached and that his father was Polish and stationed in England.

      Inspired by some other posts:

      There are probably plenty more out there.

    • #3254269

      Unfortunately Roho

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. yes I know that should have been the post

      Do a Google on Unfortunately Roho and you get results like these:

      • Unfortunately Roho does not make the cushion I have, it was a prototype.
      • Unfortunately Roho has learned that two new delivery trucks, a necessity for the lunch delivery service, will cost a total of $24,000.
      • Well, unfortunately Roho woke up with a very bad cough Saturday morning and Kirah spend the day nursing him.

      Well, unfortunately that is all Google or any of the other search engines come up with.

    • #3254115

      Ski jumping

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

    • #3103368

      New template

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. pfooh, at last!

      I finally got around updating my template. The previous one was broken and all over the place. Now things should be tidier.

      There is still a problem (in wonderful IE!) with images that are wider than the main column. In Firefox the overflow:hidden is nicely adhered, but IE just plainly ignores this. Any suggestions on how to fix this for IE are welcome!

      It is not yet finished but finished enough for the time being.

      Details

      In case anyone was wondering about the specifics. It is source ordered three column layout. Based on a design by Blue Robot. That I fiddled just a bit to make it what it is now.

      I might just take this template and put it up for download on my site. If anyone is interested drop me line.


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    • #3100639

      Ektron cms400.NET has an open back door

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. and most admins don’t know

      In my daytime job I am busy with some colleagues to put together a new website for the company we work for. An interesting job involving many exciting subjects like:

      • XHTML & CSS
      • C#, ASP.NET and the .NET Framework
      • lots of OO and Patterns
      • and the exciting Ektron cms400.NET content management system

      We have had our share of struggles with this system. Getting it to work with our framework which involves talking to the web service side of the cms and finding that not all functionality from the server controls were available in the web service. On top of that we have found problems with the performance. In the mean time we have worked around these problems and are now in the finishing phases of the long running project.

      Now what’s with that back door?

      Well, it sounds pretty harsh like accusing Ektron of some sort of crime, but that’s not my point. The back door is mentioned in the manual (at page 27) and there is a warning for administrators there so any admin who reads his manuals thoroughly ..

      (space left blank to count the entire two of them)

      any admin who reads his manuals thoroughly can close that back door.

      A quick Google around the world by two of my colleagues showed quite a few instances of the exciting Ektron cms400.NET with their login pages exposed.

      Then it was simply trying the admin account with a password I will not disclose (you go and guess it) and they were in. That was simply too stupid. Every admin should at least have the brains to change the admin password.

      For most of these sites the admin password was changed, but the second built in user account (you try to guess it again) was usually still wide open!

      So, it’s just stupid admins?

      No, it’s not stupid admins, they usually are not stupid. Those who didn’t change the admin password can be rated stupid, but those who left the second user exposed are not. I blame Ektron for that.

      I think it is quite normal to have an admin user account in a system and maybe they should force changing the password the first time the admin logs in to the system. But I do not understand why there is a second user account that there that is completely hidden in the user list so most admins will not even know of the existence unless they have read page 27 of the manual.

      So, most of the companies and organizations that use the exciting Ektron cms400.NET are completely unaware of the vulnerability of their web sites. After finding that we could login we immediately logged out. Less friendly people could cause a lot of harm.

      And you?

      We are completely safe with our website. We have simply left out all the admin stuff from our website. We manage the content from within our safe network.

      Advise to Ektron

      Inform your users and leave out this second user account in your future releases.


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    • #3087023

      Security: ignorance is not bliss

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. it’s just plain stupid

      In a previous post I talked about a security risk my colleagues and I had discovered with a relatively widespread web application. Apparently the cms is not widespread enough or the web masters, whom I notified of the problem on their sites, do not think it a problem that clever bad guys can go in and completely destroy their site.

      It may be a choice for the web masters to ignore my message. (Maybe it even got trapped in an over eager spam filter.) But a decision to do nothing is a decision as well. It can be well thought about decision, but in my opinion it is plain stupid to leave your system vulnerable when the protection for that vulnerability is so simple.

      What bothers me most

      The thing that bothers me most that the supplier of the software, Ektron has not done anything.

      So here I am thinking should I warn them again?


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    • #3086296

      Hype is up

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. time to relax

      At this time when it seems normal to create organic buzz before launching a product, there is so much buzz around that it gets annoying. Many companies are leaking information about new stuff coming our way and you get the suspicious feeling that they leak on purpose. They deny and the harder they deny it, the more we get certain that they do it on purpose.

      Apple is good example of a company that uses this type of marketing. (Even when it is really unintentional leaking making the best use of it is definitely marketing.) Shortly before every launch rumors start in the blogosphere that something exciting is coming to the world. Just the announcement of another presentation with Steve Jobs is enough to get the wild speculations going. Hypes turn into overhypes. Expectations turn into disillusions with the launch of a leather pouch for your iPod.



      A trend in leaked information

      Creating a buzz is definitely a trend. Even if these leaks are unintentional on the current Internet there are always people who will find the document with the list of the versions of the upcoming Microsoft Windows Vista. Through these careful observers we also know of something like Google’s G-Drive (supposedly an online storage for all your files) and CL2 (an on line calendar, rumored to be part of the persistently rumored web based G Office suite).

      It makes me wonder how people find these hidden pieces of information in some document somewhere on web server without a little help from their friends inside.

      The other trend

      Apart from taking a leak the other way is claiming a domain with some interesting name some a couple of teasers and let everyone guess what it is all bout. Microsoft is at with The Origami Project a site that sounds like a new Dan Brown bestseller.

      What can we learn from this?

      A new channel for creating brand heat is now in full swing. The blogosphere is an important part in this. Teaser videos known from Sony Playstation and many Nike campaigns have now found there equivalent on the Internet.

      This new channel is cheap and simple.

      Taking a leak requires putting a document on your server and accidentally drop the link to some friend who can then blog about it. That friend can even be an insider making a blog entry about it.

      Setting up a teaser web site is not too expensive. Get some Flash wizards in and set them loose to create some whirling logos and phrases and make sure it ends with return soon for more ..

      It’s not just the big players

      Not only the big companies can play this game also the smaller companies can excel in this area. As said it is cheap and all you need is some people taking notice and blog about it.

      So, it’s up to you and me to create some more buzz on already buzzy Internet and maybe that little mashup Web 2.0 app your are just putting together on those long dark nights can become something everyone yearns for long before the actual launch.


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    • #3267813

      I may be too good

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. too good for this world

      Yep, I did it. I have sent out another warning message to a number of website owners regarding the hole in their Ektron CMS. And again have informed Ektron.

      Now, after a few days of wait and see. Nothing came up, no one reacted, so be it. It is their responsibility and their risk.

      So, if you have received an email from me, do not fear it was the last one …


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    • #3151452

      Firefox? Why use Firefox?

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. you need a reason?

      Anyone out there still does not get it: why use Firefox for browsing the web? You nee a reason? What about a million reasons?

      some random contributions

      • Its said to be safest
      • It’s being actively developed.
      • It’s Microsoft-free
      • Itis modifiable
      • at first the safety…then STUMBLE
      • fully customizable
      • i think the logo is sooo cute
      • Extensions!!!
      • Im takin back the web?
      • because i like a browser that crashes randomly whenever
      • CSS Compliance
      • It’s free and was built for Linux. Why not?
      • Adblock + Flashblock + Abe Vagoda Status = Firefox wins

      Mine is #1978.

      Add some more.

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    • #3151448

      You have been merged

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. goodbye?

      Today the insurnce company I work for has merged with another insurnace company. This was already in the works for some time, so not really a shocker.



      The implications will probably felt the most in health insurance portion of our part of the merged company as the other company was much bigger in that area. I feel relatively safe being in the e-businnes department for now. But YNCT what the future may bring. They might decide to relocate the head office in which I work.

      We’ll see.

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    • #3151449

      Blogging and workload

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. a strange interaction

      This week on A List Apart Ryan Carson wrote an interesting article: The Four-Day Week Challenge. In it he describes that he and his wife used to work long hours five or more days a week and never really had the feeling they finished anything. His wife proposed to work less; four days a week and limit the number of hours. This seems strange, but it worked for them. Read the article for the details.

      Now my situation

      We are at this moment working towards the release at the end of this month of a completely new web site. Normally one would expect that during those final weeks every developer is working franticly to reach the date, fixing bugs and adding the inevitable last minute extra feature.

      But no, not here. It is oh so quiet on the western and eastern front.

      Blogging

      During these doldrums of work I have virtually stopped blogging. (I have forced myself today in to writing some stuff again).

      Apparently, when the workload is less I can not seem to find time or inspiration to wrote for my blog. This seems weird.

      Must be a great theory and an article in this phenomenon.

      Update

      Since writing this post I am blogging like a waterfall again. Hmmm, weird, considering that I still have a negative workload.

      Tags:


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    • #3151450

      Is browser A better than browser B?

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. or is it poor website coding?

      Sometimes a small post can trigger a comment and sometimes a small comment can trigger a post.

      What is this about?

      Yesterday I wrote a small post about a website that collecting a million reasons to use Firefox. I thought it is a funny site. I do not think that all these reasons are based on facts or whatever. Just plain fun. Period.

      However

      Some people’s toes are always stepped upon. I was just showing a random list of quotes. And I received a comment.

      Anonymous

      The safest Browser is actually Opera. As for the other reasons, get the facts:
      http://www.firefoxmyths.com

      Anyhow, I do not think that that site mentioned shows the ‘facts’. Yes, it does adds a grain of salt to most ‘myths’ although not all the myths are myths.

      As a web designer / developer I was triggered by the so called myths about W3C Standards compatibility. IE would support those better because it shows more sites ‘correctly’ than Firefox. This is a very subjective approach. If according to the code as described by the W3C Standards a menu should be below the content and thus be unclickable in Firefox and if IE uses another interpretation and shows the menu on the left side fully functional: which browser is better?. I think that the web developer did a very poor job. Do not blame the messenger. It could very well be that the developer developed for and tested in IE only.

      Bottom line

      I am quite fond of Firefox. I have Opera installed as well and IE 6 and IE 7 and Flock and Lynx. Yes, I am developer. I always start out with designing in Firefox and then see if it looks good in the other browsers. From there I move on to an Apple and test it in various browsers there as well. My principle: Design for the best, test for the rest.

      I have become addicted to Firefox and a list of extensions. I have always found that Opera was a bit too different in GUI and I never felt completely at ease on first sight. And the ads that existed in previous versions just put me off. When Opera dropped those I was already addicted to Firefox. Now I don’t see enough reasons to switch.


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    • #3151451

      The spread of the fox

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. is it still spreading?

      Now, I am blogging about browsers. Let’s revisit an older post. In January of this year I posted about the spread of Firefox as reported by the XiTiMonitor. There are new numbers available. Let’s compare the old and the new ones.

      The old numbers


      The new numbers


      Overall we see a little increase in percentages, although some countries have dropped a little bit (Ireland, United Kingdom). This is mainly caused by the fact that XiTiMonitor now used measurements of an entire week and not just one Sunday as in the previous report. And in this report they also show that the share of Firefox usage in the weekend is slightly higher than during the week. Firefox support in companies is still a problem.

      Other countries have gained a bit more than average, Romania, Ukraine.

      Here is link to an English version of the XiTiMonitor Firefox survey in PDF.

      So, is it spreading?

      I think that the numbers in this latest survey are more to the point. (The previous ‘Sunday-only’ numbers were rightfully questioned by FirefoxMyths.com/.)

      I think, it shows that Firefox has taken a steady beachhead in Europe. The trend will show in the next reports as we can then compare the same type of numbers.


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    • #3155842

      Project timeline

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. I have never experienced one like this

      The insurance company I work for is on the brink of launching it new improved website. I was involved in developing the site in particular the XHTML and CSS are largely my work and I also did some of the C# coding. The bulk of the framework was created by our architect in such a way that developing parts of the website was a breeze.

      Now we are about to finish this long running project I can do some reflection (our architects has done enough of that already).

      Normally

      In a normal world in a normal IT project towards the end of it you will find people working hard making long hours and run around trying to get the highly necessary features in before the deadline. In a normal world this is what makes up the last couple of weeks of the project life cycle. It’s part of the fun. It’s the final blast before we can open up some bottles and admire the product we created. Then after three seconds of leisure it’s onwards to a new challenge.

      In a normal world in a normal IT project towards the end of it you will find people working hard making long hours and run around trying to get the highly necessary features in before the deadline.

      Note, in a normal world this would be the case.

      Are you normal?

      Since there are hardly any normal companies or even IT departments a project never really runs as planned.

      Our website project never ran as planned, since we never were really sure it was planned. Perhaps someone had the master plan, but he kept it a secret in a very dedicated way. So, in a sense it is possible that everything went according to plan. Hmm, that is a discomforting idea.

      So, we are not normal, over here. I knew that, but it is just a confirmation. People who work in projects enjoy confirmation. The need it, constantly. Projects are usually riddled with exceptions and issues and conflicts and a constant factor in a project forms a stable basis for happy, hard working project members.

      People who work in projects enjoy confirmation.

      Constant factors of projects
      Projects are always late
      This is something we have successfully achieved. Originally we would go-live on 13 September (luckily no year was mentioned, so we could be several months early). 1309 will always be some special for us.
      Scope creep always happens
      Yep, been there done that. On the one hand we squeezed in some Flash bits late in the project, on the other hand a wrapper and caching services were created because the CMS could not perform as we would have wanted.
      Planning is usually infuenced by something trivial
      Well, the content of a website is not something I would call trivial but that was how it was treated in the planning. It turned out that this was what was worked on until the last minute. In fact it is being worked on as I type this and my guess is they will still be doing this after the launch.

      So, this makes the project quite normal.

      What is worrying me

      The thing that is worrying me is that in a the great many projects I have been involved in at different companies in different roles is that there always was the constant factor of the “almost-finished-rush” just before the final milestone of a project. You would find to be converting data, making final changes since the production environment was completely different from what it was designed for or you would find yourself moving boxes or telephones or other heavy stuff.

      In this project I am becoming completely disoriented. In the last five to six weeks I have solved maybe seven bugs found by our testers and seven bugs found by myself or the other developers.

      I miss that rush. That rush usually prevents you from thinking straight. You have to press on to solve issues and meet the deadline and you hardly have time to think about how to solve them.

      Now that rush is absent we have time to go over and over the website and we spot many small issues and also bigger ones. Pages that hardly contain any content and things like that. But still, at most annoying for a visitor but it will not cause errors.


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    • #3157933

      Yes we went live

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. and without any major glitches

      Yesterday was the the biggest milestone in the project that had this weird end. The website that we had been building for the last year and in the time before that exploring in several Proofs of Concept. It had been a struggle at times with new technology, getting specifications sorted out, having a deadline before we had any specifications, struggles within our department, new people, struggling with a not very performing CMS and going through burning hoops to get it to perform etc. etc. You know, the usual stuff that happens in any major project. For some reasons they always happen.

      Yesterday we had breakfast with champagne to celebrate the event and after that we were allowed to “enjoy the achievement a bit“, which meant just staying in and doing as little as we did over the last couple of weeks.

      Only the usual little problems popped up that kept some of us from really “enjoying the achievement a bit“.

      I think we pulled off quite an impressive job, but also think that we have just set a first step on a long road ahead.


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    • #3157731

      Building websites is fun

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. when you do it the right way

      “Disclaimer”

      I know this blog entry is close to self-indulgence, but it is just a self inflicted boost for my self-confidence. Heck, every now and then you have to tickle yourselves.

      OWI Van Lieshout

      If you want to laugh, you have to tickle yourselves.

      A new website

      The website that we launched yesterday is big cooperative effort from the entire department and each one of us has put in their respective special skills into action. This has resulted in a completely fresh site that is ready for the next couple of years.

      We have moved away from an all ASP site with frames and table-based layout to fully fledged .NET site with our own framework that spits out clean XHTML and CSS.

      This last bit has been my main focus in the project. I must say that I am proud of what has come out of it. There is room for improvement, as always. On top of that one learns new things every day and these new things have pointed me to little bits of code that can be improved.

      Let’s make things better

      Now we have finally finished our deliverable we are fixing the inevitable small issues and are already looking at improvements. During the build we compiled lists of these and now we can at last start making them.

      In my area of XHTML and CSS I have started working changing the layout. The site was designed with 800 by 600 pixels as an already overdue requirement. So, right now I am tweaking the site’s CSS to make it a 1024 by 768 pixel design. Much to my enjoyment I have already one of the templates working in Firefox and I only have hack a bit to make things work in Internet Explorer.

      A couple of things make feel very good today:

      • The speed at which I have made the changes
      • I have also made some changes to the implementation (background colors and images) are now on more logical elements.
      • By changing the implementation I have reduced the number of background images and made some considerably smaller.
      • To top things of I have not changed one bit of the XHTML. Meaning that I can drop the changed CSS files and background images on the server and implement the new size!

      That’s why I am pretty proud of myself.


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    • #3157616

      Separation is the way to go

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. in modern web design

      Maybe I should again apologize for the ”Building websites is fun post I did yesterday. I was maybe cheering to hard for a goal I scored as part of a great team. But once again, I could not have done without the rest of the team.

      And it is just such a good feeling that things that you have put together prove to be working in real life. I guess that’s why I became a developer in the first place: creating things. That’s probably also why I keep up this blog.

      Col. John "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard)

      I love it when a plan comes together.

      The A-Team

      What’s all the fuss about?

      So, what’s all this fuss about then? What did I contribute to the project that works like it should? Why cheering for just doing the job I was hired for? Shouldn’t things always work when I create them?

      Uhm? Yeah, well, right. Ok, yes, sorry again. I just made another impression that successful development work is something to cheer about loudly and long just because it so rarely happens. Apologies to all colleagues around the globe.

      OK, now stop apologizing and tell the handful readers what it was that I did.

      What did I do?

      In the process of building a new website for an insurance company I was assigned to make sure that the XHTML and CSS coming out of the site was as optimal as possible. More or less self assigned as I thought to have gathered some knowledge in that area. The team was already underway with several Proofs of Concepts of early phases of the site framework and I joined in time to take up my task King of XHTML and CSS. And happily so.

      Just before last summer the graphic designs came to us and they were delivered mainly as Photoshop files and some early versions of cut up html. I then started to work on tweaking these to be lighter in markup by stripping out unnecessary bits and making sure stuff showed like they should in the two major browsers of that moment: Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox. I also checked to see if things were reasonable in Opera and on a Mac. But that was only on an occasional basis.

      Plan of attack

      The old website was a highly successful site (in its market) and was developed some years ago. Since then many tweaks and enhancements were added. The site ran in frames and the layout was largely table based. Good old fashioned Old School web design. In essence nothing wrong with that: it produced very good revenue.

      For the new web site we opted to become more up to date. We moved from the classic ASP to ASP.NET and on the client side we opted for XHTML. As configuration was set high over old fashion programming we did not go with the standard .aspx files (in fact we have only one .aspx file). A complete framework was built that has several types of containers for the different types of pages. In the CMS one can pick the right container (template) for the page and the information will then be displayed correctly. There are quite a few webservices running in the background that glued all things together.

      My role in this was taking the different page designs and translate these into XHTML and CSS which the other developers could then implement in containers and components of the framework. My most important focus was separating the structure of the page and the styling. The third aspect of a web page: behavior was already being handled by external JavaScript files.

      Using the principle of separation of structure (semantics), style and behavior we were able to keep the site very lightweight for our visitors. The users don’t for all the clever stuff we did in the background on our servers and load balancers. They just want to get the information quickly.

      Structure & semantics

      As far as was possible within the framework and the design the html was stripped to the minimum so it was still semantically correct and enough structure to allow the styling to make up the design. This was all implemented in various containers and components that show different types of content and controls. That gave a few restrictions and added a bit of extra fat, but the overhead was small and made for easier development of the server-side framework.

      Styling

      At first we had a huge CSS file. Later that was cut up into several as not all containers use all styling. We added a bit of intelligence to the containers and let them load extra stylesheets when needed.

      We also added a print stylesheet that simply hides all unnecessary stuff like menus and also adds the URL to links through the content() styling. This proofed to be quite a simple approach and gave satisfying results really quick.

      "Bad vision" styling

      Then there was a little bit more work. The site needed also to be viewable by people with some kind of disability. We added a button for "bad vision" that would link in other stylesheets. The "normal" stylesheets had pixel based fonts and as you know that does not really resize very well in Internet Explorer and also the used background images and all measurements were not relative to font size. Resizing the font in your browser will lead to a broken page layout pretty quickly.

      So everything needed to be em based. Then the layout was changed from fixed width to fluid so the browser window would be used to the full at any resolution and not just 800 by 600 the site was designed for originally.

      We also dropped a lot of the background images to make it easier to read and added a "skip links" link. (This "skip links" link is hidden in the normal vision site which the more I think about that was maybe not the best decision.)

      This special impaired version of the stylesheet did involve some work, but it was done without any changes to the html. The only change is that containers load an extra set of alternative stylesheets.

      Benefits

      The benefits of separating structure, style and behavior have become really apparent during the development of the different styles. It was very easy to update and also very flexible. I also did some research on bandwidth savings and a saving from between 10 to 20 % is made. That is taking into account the images that are part of the content. During the research I found that these images are nowhere near optimized for the web. SO if we could improve on that I guess that the savings could go up to around 30%.

      Conclusion

      By separating the different aspects of the web pages we have reduced on time spent making changes and will also save on bandwidth usage. So overall it is the right thing to do, not because it is hot or trendy, but because it saves both time and money.

      Go ahead and have look at the new website.

    • #3141684

      A new Standard in screen resolution?

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. smaller or bigger?

      In a post today Tony Patton over on TechRepublic discusses Determining a standard screen resolution for your application. He has some point to keep in mind when designing a web site.

      • There is a general trend towards bigger monitors with higher resolutions. Multiple screens are close to becoming a common household item as well.
      • Never ever use your own screen resolution as the standard.
      • Nor the monitors of your colleagues. Both will be probably more state of the art than the old CRT or cheapo flat screen from Joe Average.
      • Screen resolution does not equal the viewable area or the browser window size. Most users will not have their browsers maximized on screen.
      • It is good to look at visitor statistics, but be sure to sample the right audience. Taking the numbers from a site largely visited by developers will not do when the site you are designing is aiming at pensioners.
      • Also keep accessibility issues in mind. The disabled users can use screen readers with or low resolution monitors with odd metrics. You should test, test, test.
      • You can use JavaScript to establish the viewport size and serve the client a fitting design.

      All in all, a not all too shocking article, but a good summing up of things to keep in mind.

      Monitors are becoming smaller, not larger!

      In a comment TechRepublic member Wombat Ron then adds the increasing use of handheld and smartphones that have much smaller screens. He predicts that the 640*480 resolution could be coming back into the charts. So, it is difficult to say whether we are moving towards bigger or smaller screens.

      Separating content and styling

      I think Ron is right, although I think these could be handled by using the mediatype’handheld’ to serve special styling through a dedicated CSS file. This is where separation comes back in its full power. With a good design of the structure of your site (the html) you will keep that lean and you can then just as easily serve that to handhelds and adjust the styling so that it will fit on a small screen.

      What is wrong in the article?

      One thing struck me as quite odd in the article was the example code that was in the article. This code looks at the size of the window to determine what to present to the customer. See code.


      <SCRIPT language="JavaScript">

      <!--

      if ((screen.width >= 1024) && (screen.height >= 768)) {
      window.location="high_resolution_version.html";

      } else {
      window.location="low_resolution_version.html";

      }

      //-->

      </SCRIPT>

      Here the principle of separation is missed completely. The users is redirected to another page and I think that it would be more then enough to serve another CSS file.

      Separation of structure and styling gives the versatile option of changing the style while still leaving the structure intact. At our new website we have a ‘normal’ version and an ‘impaired’ version. The only difference is that other stylesheets are delivered to the visitor. The html stays the same. (Mind you: this does not make the site accessible, there are still plenty of issues that we will tackle soon.)

      Right now, I am working on changing the layout of the site so that it strechted from an 800 pixel wide design to a 1024 pixel wide design. I this is all relatively painful as I only need to make changes to a couple of CSS files and stretch a few background images.

      Afterburner

      What is the most odd really in the ‘resolution business’ is that apparently designs are made for 1024*768 or 800*600. I hardly ever design the height of a web page. The width is a valid parameter but the height of the page is usually determined by the content and as a designer you have hardly any influence on that unless it is your own site.

      I usually design for a certain screen width. Also I have a preference for fluid or liquid designs.

    • #3112350

      Upgraded my laptop

      by roho ·

      In reply to Rob’s diverse findings

      .. and got it working

      I have a laptop so I can bring that to clients and show some stuff and work at other locations than my home office. As with all computers I have owned after some time the systems can not hold all the stuff you want to take with you and become slower and slower after intensive usage.

      As the machine was still good enough for its purpose it was time to give a little boost. I wanted to add some memory (I worked with a lousy 512 MB anyway, which is not very much) and my hard disk was filling up with all sorts of disk images and projects and other stuff that I needed more storage as well.

      Just for some extra info: I won a Acer Aspire 6003. I am quite happy with it.

      Adding memory

      Adding some memory shouldn’t be too hard now. On the bottom of the machine is a panel that hides the memory. Taking a screwdriver it is simple to remove the screw and then open the panel. Tada! There is DIMM module. I take this out with care and look at it with interest. It says 256 MB and I have 512 MB total memory. I look inside the opening, but no, I can not find another DIMM. Hmm, this is strange. I have looked at the manual and it says that there should be two memory modules. There are some more panels one that leads to the wireless card and the others are for the battery and de the media drive. Look again in the manual and all over the Acer website but I cannot find out where the other DIMM might be. So, I decide to just replace this DIMM with a bigger one.

      Carefully I make a photocopy of both sides of the DIMM so I have with all information necessary to purchase the correct one later. And indeed this came in handy as there are gazillions of memory modules to choose from. I buy a 1 GB DIMM and pop that in and my laptop all of sudden has 1,25 GB of RAM. It was completely plug and play. Unbelievable that things do work like that. Starting up my system is now a lot smoother and faster since there is no swapping going on anymore.

      If anyone can tell me where the other DIMM is hiding in my laptop then I might just replace that one as well.

      replacing the hard disk

      I had already figured out that adding memory would be much less of a hassle then replacing the hard disk. I had one big requirement with this part of the job: I don’t want to be busy reinstalling the OS (Windows XP) and all the applications and then for ever patching all the stuff. I wanted to copy the hard disk to the new drive and replace the old disk with the newer one.

      I had the following plan:

      1. buy an external hard disk casing for a 2.5″ drive with a USB interface
      2. buy a 2.5″hard disk
      3. put these together and hook it up to my laptop
      4. copy my hard disk to the new drive
      5. swap the drives and smile, smile, smile

      I combined the first three steps by finding a cheap complete external 120 GB 2.5″ drive with USB cable. This would double the storage of my laptop which seemed enough for now.

      So I hooked up the drive and started off with grabbing Partition Magic and created some room on the new drive and then started copying the partitions across. I created a new partition in the remaining free space. This takes sometime so in the mean time I watched some World Cup.

      With all copying finished I switched everything off screwed open the external casing (voiding my warranty, but what the heck) and took out the new drive. I then swapped it with my laptop’s drive and switched the laptop on.

      Aaaargh!

      Windows started protesting that hal.dll was corrupted or missing. Googling over the Internet and several news groups I found this to be a common problem happening when people tried to do what I did. I tried several of the fruitless solutions and then tried a new approach.

      One workable solution appeared to be making a copy of the existing drive without making any changes to partition sizes or adding partitions in the remaining unused disk space.

      I downloaded Casper XP trial edition at Future Systems. It gives me 30 days to try it out, which should be more than enough to tackle this problem. I put my old drive back into the laptop and I told Casper XP to copy my drive to the new drive. It warns me that all info will be lost and then told it would take more than 10 hours to complete. A World Cup hardly ever lasts that long so I decided to just let it run through the night.

      The next morning it was finished and thanks to some clever algorithms for copy empty space it took just two and a half hours. I swapped the drives and like a breeze my system booted! Absolutely amazing!

      Partition Magic came in handy to stretch the partitions to cover the entire drive and in a matter of another half an hour I had my system completely ready.

      Conclusion

      Even though there was some problem with copying the hard drive in the end it was quite a simple job. You need to know the right approach on copying your Windows XP installation onto a new hard drive and you need the right tools. Looking back I might not have needed Casper XP I could have used Partition Magic (with the right strategy) or Norton Ghost for that matter.

      A job is always easy once you know how to do it.


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