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.
More Windows’ biggest problem may be its out-of-the-box experience
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.
More 29,788,871 dots, 1929 baffles, one hell of a ceiling
Sparkling is a popuplar free WordPress theme on wordpress.org right now. It’s nice an clean, and I recently recommended it to a client. The one thing both my client and I didn’t really like about the theme is how it handles static front pages. There’s a specific template file for them with a full-width layout, that also hides the page’s title. This is probably great for some users, but my client preferred to keep the sidebar and display the page’s title.
To work around this in a way that didn’t require a child theme or modyfications to the original theme, I wrote a little plugin. All it does is call the regular page template instead of front-page.php, when a page is set as the front page.
If you’re using Sparkling, and would like to try the plugin, you can download it from Github. The plugin will work for other themes as well, but I’ve not tested this.
RT Bypass Sparkling Front Page Template
I love WordPress. It’s the easiest Content Management System to use, and it’s also very easy to develop for. Out of the box, WordPress is so intuitive that most of my clients require little to no training in order to use their new website. But there’s one thing that I find hard to explain to novice users. The concept of a “posts page”.
More New WordPress plugin: RT Hide Posts Page Editor
Last weekend, at WordCamp Europe in Sofia, Siobhan McKeown gave an excellent talk about the fundamental principles that underpin WordPress. For me, the most essential one is freedom. Being an open source Content Management System, WordPress is both “free as in beer” and “free as in speech”. And while the former has probably been a big factor in WordPress’s amazing growth, it’s the latter that we should all really be thankful for.
More A fifth of the web now runs on Freedom
Two weeks ago, I finally bought myself a new laptop. The Lenovo Yoga 2 was the first ultrabook to offer all the specs I wanted at a (very) reasonable price. It’s taken me a while to properly set it up, but the Yoga is now ready to replace my trusty old Asus UL30A. The Lenovo has some pros and cons, so I thought I’d write about them.
More Lenovo Yoga 2 13 first impressions
A while ago, I backed the Rocki Kickstarter project. I think the idea of a “Chromecast for music” is great, and I love how it adds Sonos-like capabilities to – for example – your old 70’s receiver. But while the hardware is really nice (colorful, small, stable), support for many online music services is currently still in the works.
While browsing the Rocki forums, I found that playing internet radio streams – while not currently an option in the official Rocki app – is actually quite straightforward. That’s why I created a little web page that makes it easy to send the correct API call to the player. My office mate and I have been using it for a couple of weeks now, and it works.
More Stream internet radio to your Rocki wireless music player
Yesterday evening, when I got back from vacation, I found that our home internet connection and phones weren’t working. Our ISP is Ziggo, and when I called them they agreed with my initial assessment that the modem wasn’t working. They found a local retailer that could provide further service, so I went there.
I put the modem – a Ubee EVM 3200 – and its power adapter on the counter, and told them that one of the two items was probably faulty. Immediately, they said it was the power “brick”, and offered a free replacement. From what they told me, the original 12V 1A adapter was too weak for the modem, and they were failing for many customers. I got a 2A replacement, and was soon back online.
With the old adapter, my modem would seem to power on, but all the lights would come on at once, and they’d flicker slightly. Normally, the modem requires some time to power up, and the lights are steady. If your modem is acting up, you might want to call Ziggo to get the power plug replaced.
Kudos to Ziggo for handling all this very smoothly btw, and shame on Ubee for supplying the underspecced original ac adapter.
My new media PC has a 120GB Kingstong V300 solid state drive (SSD). I bought it because reviews suggested that it offered excellent performance given its low price. But it seems that since those reviews were written, Kingston has started using cheaper, and much slower components in these drives.
More Watch out when buying a Kingston V300 SSD
Actually, “building” may be overstating it a bit. The Shuttle DS437T is a “barebone” system, which means you’ll only need to add a couple of components to create a complete PC. It’s essentially a case with a motherboard. The CPU is soldered onto the motherboard, and has built-in graphics. The barebone also comes with audio, network and wifi. All you need to add is memory, storage and an operating system. But the thing that makes this barebone different from others it that it contains no moving parts. There are no cooling fans, which means you can use it to build a completely silent PC.
More Shuttle DS437T barebone: Building a silent media PC