Traveling to Hungary? This is how I got online on the cheap

The last couple of weeks, my family and I have been vacationing in Hungary. We’d booked accomodations with wifi, and we hadn’t brought any travel info with us, confident that we’d be able to use Tripadvisor, Foursquare, etc to find nice places to visit. Unfortunately, the wifi at our first vacation home turned out to be broken. This meant we had to improvise, and after a bit of shopping, I got a killer deal on a mobile 4G hotspot. So I thought I’s post it here.

Meet the Alcatel W800

Alcatel W800

I’de never seen a mobile 4G router disguised as a USB stick before, but the Alcatel W800 isn’t simply a 4G modem dongle. It’s a complete router, and the USB connector is there mostly to supply power. There’s no need to plug it into a computer. Once powered up, it’ll connect to the 4G network, and broadcast a wifi network for up to ten devices. You can log into the W800 to modify the network name, password, etc, just like any other router.
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Roy | August 3, 2015 | Gadgets | Comments (0)
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Philips BT4000 Bluetooth speaker review

Philips BT4000 bluetooth speaker

In our household, I do all the ironing. And the one thing that makes it bearable is putting on some good music. But my radio alarm clock wasn’t cutting it. It sounds tinny, and there’s no bass at all. That’s why I needed something decent for upstairs. Sonos would have been overkill, so I started looking at bluetooth speakers.

A compromise

Basically, there’s two types of bluetooth speakers, small, portable ones that come equiped with batteries, and stationary ones that don’t. Speakers in the former category are usually small, and small boxes tend to produce small sound. Plus I did not need a battery. Stationary bluetooth speakers are often large and expensive. Ideally, I’d need something that fell inbetween these two categories.
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Roy | July 6, 2015 | English,Gadgets | Comments (0)
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New WordPress plugin: RT Widget Statistics

icon-256x256Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of helping a large government organisation here in The Netherlands implement WordPress. Eventually, this project became the largest multisite network I’ve ever been involved with. As more departments joined my client’s WordPress-based intranet, we added plugins and widgets to enable their communication goals.

Eventually, the network grew to hundreds of sites, and it became increasingly important to keep track of things. Things like which widget was being used where. This little plugin attempts to help multisite admins do just that.
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Introducing “Blocks 2015”

blocksYesterday, I blogged about the 5k Awards. I mentioned that I managed to find the “Blocks” project that Wouter de Jong and I entered, but that it didn’t work in modern day browsers. Of course, that was rather unsatisfactory.

So today, with the help of jsbeautifier.org, I spent some time fixing the javascript code, removing 20th century browser checks, and coverting upper case HTML tags to lowercase. The result is a working version of the original project. It may not look like much now, but 15 years ago, it did really well in the 5k Awards, reaching the top 5 in all categories.

Like the 2000 version, it lacks some basic HTML things – like a doctype declaration – to keep the file size down. It’s functionally and visually identical to the old version, but it now works in recent versions of Chrome, Firefox and IE. And thanks to modern day minifiers, the whole thing is now under 4 kilobytes.

Check it out here:

http://media.roytanck.com/5k/blocks/

It’s been 15 years since “The 5K”

Yesterday, Jeffrey Zeldman posted an article on the A List Apart blog about the 5K Awards. I actually entered this competition in 2000, so this post brought back memories. Fond memories of a competition that would be as relevant today as it was back then. Also, it’s not every day that you interact with both @zeldman and @stewart in a single Twitter thread :). So I thought I’d recap.
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Opening links inside WordPress comments in a new window

A project I’m working on requires all links to external sites to open in a new browser window or tab. This is easy enough for regular content, but I’ll have to figure out a way to add a target-attribute to links inside comments left by readers. WordPress automatically transforms URLs into links, but does not add this attribute. Unfortunately, many of the solutions I found a less than ideal. Somehow, the same piece of code keeps turning up in Google. Most search results are a variation of the following snippet (from Cats Who Code).

function autoblank($text) {
	$return = str_replace('<a', '<a target="_blank"', $text);
	return $return;
}
add_filter('the_content', 'autoblank');

This will simply replace every occurrence of <a with <a target="_blank". There are two problems with this approach.
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Roy | April 2, 2015 | English,Programming | Comments (4)
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Logo design: Salgueiro Timber Products

salgueiro

Last week, I was asked to design a logo for a shop set up by a friend’s brother. Salgueiro (“willow” in Portugese) designs and sells beautiful one-off wooden furniture items through Facebook (for now). The logo needed to be monochrome, as it will be used to create a branding iron/stamp.

I went with the wonderful Bigshot One font, designed by Gesine Todt, and added a growth rings effect inside its capital S. The whole letter is essentially one shape – inspired by historical branding irons – except for the innermost ring, which is a “knot” in the wood.

Both the client and I are quite pleased with the end result. What do you think?

Roy | March 17, 2015 | Design,English | Comments (0)
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Replacing a healthy hard drive in a QNAP NAS

QNAP-TS-212P

Yesterday, one of my NAS devices emailed me, informing me that one of its drives had failed. I have two “entry level” 2-bay QNAP NASes, both with two disks in a redundant RAID1 setup. They’re set up to synchronise over the internet daily, so my files are stored safely in two physical locations. This way, all of my important data is stored on a total of four hard drives. Or rather – at the moment – three.

Both the drives in my TS-210 were getting old, so it wasn’t really a surprise that one of them acted up. After I got the email, I logged into the NAS’s admin interface and rebooted it. Sure enough, the second drive re-appeared, and seemed fine. But I wanted to replace it anyway. With the help of QNAP’s excellent support forum, I found the correct way to replace a “suspect” drive that appears to work properly. It involves just a couple of steps,and they’re all very easy to do.
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Roy | March 5, 2015 | English,Gadgets | Comments (5)
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Windows’ biggest problem may be its out-of-the-box experience

windows-crosshairs

Being the computing enthusiast that I am, I’ve always loved trying different operating systems. I think it’s essential to not “bury” yourself in a single ecosystem. I’ve owned and/or used computers running Apple II OS, AmigaOS, DOS, BeOS, MacOS, OSX, Windows (3.11 through 8) and various flavors of Linux. And while it’s easy to hate Windows, I find it to be quite stable nowadays, and certainly not the worst OS out there. What is incredibly bad about Microsoft’s offering though is its out-of-the-box experience.
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29,788,871 dots, 1929 baffles, one hell of a ceiling

delft-1

Yesterday, I was invited to visit the new railway station in Delft, which is currently under construction. This new building by Mecanoo architects features a spectacular curved ceiling, constructed out of 1,929 so-called “baffles”. Both side of these elements are covered by a 7700 m2 city map depicting Delft in the year 1876. This map was converted to a pattern of nearly 30 million “delft’s blauw” (blue) dots using software written specifically for the project by Hjalmar Snoep. The ceiling print itself was designed by my friend Martijn Geerdes.
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Roy | December 18, 2014 | English | Comments (0)
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