A quick note about Keynotes

Recently, I learned about the origin of the word “keynote”, often used to describe talks at a conference or other event. Wikipedia says the following.

The term key note comes from the practice of a cappella, often barbershop singers, playing a note before singing. The note played determines the key in which the song will be performed.

I thought this made a lot of sense. A keynote address is a talk at the beginning of the event that (figuratively) sets the tone. This however also means that:
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Roy | March 31, 2016 | English,Personal | Comments (0)
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Windows 10 stuck at the lock screen? Try this.

windows10-logoLast saturday, I spent nearly four hours trying to revive a Windows 10 computer that seemed to crash at the lock screen. I tried everything, from BIOS settings to booting from an install disk and attempting repairs.

Nothing worked. The conversation turned to things like installing Linux or buying a new copy of Windows. There seemed to be no way to get this computer operational again. Just as I was about to give up I tried something really simple, and it worked.
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Roy | January 11, 2016 | English,Gadgets | Comments (15)
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Lenovo, three strikes – you’re out!

le-no-vo

I really wanted to like Lenovo. They had so much going for them. The iconic ThinkPad brand, their (often) top notch hardware and competitive pricing. All reasons why I bough a Lenovo laptop. But today, Lenovo was caught pre-installing malware on their computers. And it wasn’t the first time.
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Roy | September 25, 2015 | English,Gadgets | Comments (5)
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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 Off on Philips BT4000 Bluetooth speaker review
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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/

Roy | May 22, 2015 | Design,English,Internet,Programming,Web design | Comments Off on Introducing “Blocks 2015”
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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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Roy | May 21, 2015 | Design,English,Internet,Web design | Comments Off on It’s been 15 years since “The 5K”
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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 (2)
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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 Off on Logo design: Salgueiro Timber Products
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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 (12)
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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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