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Senior Web Engineer. Open web / music. Remote DJ. Tall Dutch guy. #3million

twitter.com/svandragt

github.com/svandragt

mixcloud.com/cloudseer

 

Keeping the task summary updated and clear when the acceptance criteria evolve and comments are added helps everyone work efficiently.

 

Is tool-layering the main threat to approachable web development?

 

You too can improve Firefox

Google Chrome is too dominating, this is not good for the web. So I'm switching back to Firefox, but it can be pretty ugly by default in places.

I like to apply the following tweaks to make it pretty again:

Screenshot-06_01_2017-10_48_22.png

Increase the Address Bar font size

Edit userChrome.css to make style changes to the Firefox UI. My Profile is located at %appdata%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<Gibberish>, use the previous link to find the location on your system. Inside your profile create a chrome folder and inside that create a userChrome.css. Add the following line:

 { font-size: 13px; }

The possibilities are endless but this does the trick for me. Restart Firefox after saving the file.

Remove unwanted buttons and the searchbox

Right click on any of the toolbar buttons > Customize... to bring up the Customize Firefox screen. Remove unused buttons and the search box (search via the address bar instead) by dragging them to the Additional Tools and Features panel --  or the hamburger menu panel to access them with a click.

Make the tabs square again

Firefox tabs have this rounded look to them, which I find displeasing: install the Squared Australis Tabs addon to add square corners instead.

Hide the menu bar

Did you know you can access the menu bar by pressing the Alt key on your keyboard? The menu bar is visible by default but it is not frequently accessed, so press Alt+V or bring up the View menu bar menu and untick the Menu Bar and optionally the Bookmark Toolbar items.

Hide bookmark toolbar item names

You can blank out the Name of a bookmark to have it display just the icon in the toolbar, which tidies up those frequently accessed sites.

 

How to signup for Flickr without disclosing your mobile number

I was looking to setup a Flickr account and noticed that it requires you to enter a mobile phone number to sign up. I prefer not to disclose this information to third parties so I looked for a solution. Unfortunatley, a lot of information is out of date as Yahoo! (which owns Flickr, and which is the service you sign up to so you can login) turned off third party signups back in 2014. However I found a way...

To complete this process you will need to have a non-yahoo email address. I recommend you try Hover and register your own domain with email (such as your surname), so that you will never have to change it when your email provider closes up shop.

Follow these steps:

  1. Instead of signing up via Flickr, Sign up for a Yahoo!'s account via their website.
  2. Notice that a mobile number is required. Follow the I'd rather use my own email address link just below the email address input.
  3. Notice you can now sign up with your own email and a mobile phone number is no longer required.
  4. Choosing your password and create a Yahoo! account.

Now you can use the credentials to sign into Flickr!

 

 

Ad tech is killing the online experience

Apple blogger John Gruber started off a new debate about these issues recently, when he noted that a 537-word text post on the website iMore.com weighed in at 14 megabytes. (Fourteen megabytes of text should correspond to about 7m words, or about 10 times the combined length of the Old and New Testaments.)

Gruber blamed iMore.com, but really it’s not the website’s fault, since to a very large degree the owner of the website you’re visiting doesn’t actually control what you see, when you see it, how you see it, or even whether you see it. Instead, there are dozens of links in the advertising-technology chain, and every single one of them is optimising for financial value, rather than low-bandwidth user experience. Many pages, if you’re on a slow connection, simply time out; they never load at all.

When you are a website owner, you are responsible for all the content on your site. If you don't have any control over the ads, then that's a process issue that should be addressed.

Why not band together with a few large sites and create a standardised ad submission and review system that advertisers can integrate into their content tools and websites can set criteria about ads on their sites.

Maybe the bigger problem is that those websites cannot afford to reject ads.

 

Microblogging with WordPress and Twitter

Manton Reece has been having very interesting discussions about microblogging and content ownership recently. He's working on an unannounced project in this area and I've been following his progress.

A few days ago he wrote a post about Microblogging with Wordpress in which he describes most of the process of writing your status updates on your own blog first. As I had to adapt his process for it to work with my configuration of WordPress and as I am using Twitter instead of App.net I thought it would be useful to detail how I went about, based on Manton's write-up.

Requirements

  • A theme that supports post-formats.
  • an IFTTT and Twitter account.
  • A self-hosted WordPress installation, hosted using Apache.
  • (optionally) the DoNote app from IFTTT for your mobile device.

Step 1: Link a status updates feed to Twitter

In order to post only the status updates to twitter, we have to identify them in both WordPress and for IFTTT.

Create a dedicated category

In Wordpress, if you do not have a category for status updates, create a Snippets category (with the slug snippets). Note the category ID. In addition, create a new category called ifttt-status if you plan to post to Wordpresss from your mobile device later, as I did (this is a workaround to allow WordPress to convert from this category to the status post format).

Setup the RSS feed endpoints

With the category ID, we can now create a new feed by editing the .htaccess file in your WordPress installation directory, see my gist comment on manton's configuration. I had redirection issues with Manton's original setup so I amended it. What we do here is create two endpoints, one for posts without status updates (rss.xml); and one for only status updates (snippets.xml). We then point any requests to /feed (the default WordPress endpoint) to the first endpoint.

Update (26 June): I updated the gist comment after identifying issues in initial configuration. Please reread the gist if you had problems using the initial configuration.

Post new status updates to Twitter

Now create a new recipe that is triggered from the snippets RSS feed, with the action to post a tweet with the tweet text EntryContent.

You can now blog from WordPress to twitter (just leave the title empty).

Step 2: Post status updates from your mobile device

I'm using DoNote to post to IFTTT which then posts to WordPress.

Setup WordPress

Login to your WordPress blog and in the users section create a ifttt user with the role of Author (this allows the user to create posts).

Install the "IFTTT Post Formats & Post Types" plugin, it will convert posts with the ifttt-status category to the status post-format. It will also hide the ifttt-status category from showing up in your template for example.

Link DoNote to WordPress using IFTTT

Back in IFTTT, In the My Recipe's DoNote section, create a new recipe for WordPress (you might get asked to provide the WordPress username and password you created for this purpose) with the action to create a post with the following values:

  • Title: (leave empty)
  • Body: NoteText
  • Categories: Snippets,ifttt-status
  • Tags: (leave empty)
  • Post status: Publish immediately

You are not limited to using DoNote if there is a trigger for your service, and you are not limited to usin IFTTT at all if there are WordPress plugins for your status update service and WordPress support for your writing app, but these will require similar configuration as detailed in this post.

Hope this helps!

 

Switched to secure connection [updated]

I've switched this site to HTTPS, a secure connection, using a ssl proxy service provided for free by Cloudflare, for reasons. Let me know if you come across any issues.

For those using WordPress, changing the settings Site Address and WordPress Address to HTTPS may make your site unavailable. FYI, the solution I settled on is to install the WordPress HTTPS plugin. Then I set the Site Address to HTTPS. Finally, I cleared the cache. All is working fine now.

Update (06/02/15):
I've moved away from Cloudflare as my DNS provider and as a side-effect this means I'm no longer HTTPS for now. Sorry.

 

Tweak Firefox UI using ChromEdit Plus

Update: ChromEdit Plus can no longer be installed because it's not signed, please see You too Can Improve Firefox.

For a long time I have been wanting to switch to Firefox as my main browser. I haven’t done so before today because I didn’t like two things: The font-size of the address bar, and having a seperate search box.

Today I’ll show you how to fix these issues.

Fix Address bar font-size: Install the ChromEdit Plus addon. Then, under Tools > ChromEdit Plus > ChromEdit add the following code to the userChome.css:


{ font-size: 16px; }

Press the Save and Restart buttons. Afterwards you can disable this addon.

Remove the search box: right click on a toolbar > Customise. Drag the searchbox into the Customise Toolbar dialog to remove it from the UI.

 

Clear writing

The best way to write a clear blog post is to paste your draft into a text-to-speech engine such as tts-api.com and listen to the output. If you can't easily understand what is said then that will most likely indicate problems with your sentence structure.

 

Facebook wants to be your email

Gervase Markham’s writes about the changes to your Facebook profile, where now by default a @facebook address is shown instead of your own email address:

The email instead goes to my Facebook inbox, and I don’t get a notification email to say it’s there.

So this is why Facebook introduced it: They want you to go to their site to check for email. They don’t want to send the messages to your email and have you interact there, they don’t want you to use a search engine to find content, and they don’t want you to use forums and instant messages to talk to people. They don’t want you ever to get the idea to leave the site.