Golb’s Recommended WordPress Plugins

Simple CAPTCHA. Protect your blog against SPAM bots. Simple CAPTCHA doens’t require any coding and works extremely well and is easy to use. The big advantage of Simple CAPTCHA above Askimet is that it doesn’t give the SPAM bots the idea they could post something. After some atempts the bots will stop attacking you and will leave your blog aside. This makes a big difference on the server traffic and load.

Google XML Sitemaps: creates automatically a XML sitemap of your WordPress blog. These sitemaps can be used in Google’s “Webmasters Tools”, the ideal tool to monitor your sites healthiness.

Feedburner FeedSmith. First create an account on, then install Feedburner FeedSmith plugin on your blog. In the plugin settings, fill in the address of your newly created Feedburner RSS et voila. You’re done. All you RSS feed subscribers will be forwarded to the Feedburner RSS. No coding is needed. The great thing about Feedburner is that you can have a better view on your RSS subscribers.

Yet Another Related Post Plugin. In an attempt to get a higher click-through rate I installed this plugin. Based on the tags, categories, url and titles, related posts are shown under each single page post.

WordPress Database Backup. Last but not least: a decent backup tool. You can choose to backup all your WordPress tables plus all other tables inside your database. Manually or automatically. You can store the backups on your server or you can use the mailing option. Works perfect.

Web Performance Matters

I’ve been in quite some discussions lately about web performance. As a product manager it’s my concern what people would think about our web solutions. As of the beginning of a long period of testing and during some demonstrations I had the impression that our web performance was below average.

When you talk about this to technical people (funny I used to be a techy as well, not so long ago) they start waving with figures and showing you everything is fine and within the agreed KPI of 8 seconds. And those 8 seconds are a well known standard…

8 seconds or not, I’m still having the impressing things are going slow so I started some research on the internet to find out who said that a website that loads within 8 seconds is fast. I bumped into an interesting website that unfortunately isn’t updated very frequent anymore but still contains valuable information:

Just as I thought: those 8 seconds are not a standard, but are a threshold. During studies in the 90ies they noticed that a little more than 50% of all visitors were still attached to the website if the load time was less then 8,5 seconds. Entertaining them with animated gifs or cursors could even manage them to wait a little longer. But we are talking about the 90ies here. That time you were a geek if you had a 128K modem using a ISDN land line. The customers’ expectation was not as high as today.

Today we are all using broadband internet connection, PC’s and servers with a lot more power. And the database technology also evolved to deliver more results in less milliseconds. Opening a website and having to wait for 8 seconds is just not acceptable anymore. Will 4 seconds be? Yes and no. It doesn’t matter how fast things are. If the perception is that it’s slow, the performance is bad. If you can manage to let your customer think it’s reacting fast you’re ok.

Also you’ll have to make a distinction between your website as a product or a support tool. If you are running a webshop or a newssite and your competitor is having a product that is 50% more performant, you’ll lose money. If you give your internal customers a support tool to check their own usage reports e.g. they’ll wait anyway as they really want to get their data. However, you can’t hostage your customers everlasting as this will impact your customer’s satisfaction quota.

Bottom line: you can’t prove performance with a figure. It’s a perception. If your customer isn’t happy, you have a problem. How do you know if your customer is happy: you’ll have to ask, but more important: you’ll have to listen!

HTC Touch Diamond External Storage

The HTC Touch Diamond is equipped with 4GB internal memory only. It has no extension ports for external memory like SD or micro SD cards. It has a mini USB port however, and thats something we might be able to use to connect any USB device.

To try this out, I grabbed some stuff together:

The HTC Touch Diamond, a USB B mail to a USB A female and a 2GB Sony micro Tiny Vault

We plug the memorycard into the USB adapter.

We connect the USB adapter, with memory cart to the HTC.

Tadaaa: external memory for a HTC Touch Diamond!

Ok, blink your eyes, because things don’t look what they are. The pictures are real, no post processing is done on those. The screen of the HTC is real as well. But the screen that is shown is a manipulated screenshot shown as an full screen image. Currently it’s not possible to connect a USB device to the USB port of the HTC Touch Diamond as it is lacking the USB Host possibilities (no USB Host chipset) That’s why you can’t use any connected USB devices with the HTC.

Via I red an article that HTC is using some kind of a USB connector to flash their devices without the need of a computer. While booting you’ll have to press a certain key combination and that’s how you would be able to flash the device with a ROM that is stored on an external SD card, connected to the HTC via a Y cable. That Y cable is needed to foresee the USB port from power as this isn’t available from the device. Something that won’t be needed with a real USB host, as those are providing power to the USB devices by themselves.

There are also some other XDA-Developers busy experimenting with all kind of cables and drivers, but it seems that it was not very successful after all.

Except maybe for Zeno and his USB Host Drivers. It seems to work on some devices, but I already tested it on my HTC with no luck at all. I think we have to admit, if the hardware isn’t present, it will never work.

Steel Wool And A Battery

One of my hobbies is trying as much possible options to make a fire. Today I made fire with some Steel Wool (Wire Wool) and a 9 Volts battery.

First of all you make sure you’ll have enough tinder. In this case it’s only a demonstration, so I took some cotton. Loosen some steel wool and touch it with the battery. You’re actually short circuiting the battery, that’s where the energy is coming from. You’ll see the steel wool starts to burn. Hold you tinder against it while you are blowing on the burning parts.

Be cautions when putting away the steel wool. Due to the blowing into the steel wool, the fire might have moved into the middle of the steel wool. It can smolder for a long time. So before you throw it away: dip it in a bucket of water. Safety first!

Multilanguage WordPress Installation

WordPress is great, it’s easy to use and it does what it’s supposed to. Except for multilingual support. I already have a blog in Dutch:, and now I started another one in English (you’re looking at it). One way I could do this was to set up a sub domain and to install another WordPress installation in there.

Wouldn’t it be nice if WordPress would support this in the standard installation? I’m not looking for software or a plugin to translate each and every blogpost I make, but I would appreciate it if it would be possible to administrate both blogs from the same admin panel. If you have two separate installations, and two separate databases, you can’t easily reuse your media in your content folder and you have to upgrade your installations separately. Although the last part could be solved by making the config.php file sub domain aware. This option I still have to experiment with.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply indicate the sub domain you would like the post to show up? I configured my server in such a way that all sub domains are pointing to www, but without losing the sub domain name in the URL. If the WordPress software would be smart enough to see which sub domain is used and to show only the posts related to that subdomain, that would be great.

I don’t think this is difficult to implement, and I could do this myself, but then I have to alter the WordPress database and I’m not sure it will survive future upgrades.

What do we need to change? Three things: a piece op php code to query only the posts for the relevant sub domain, a piece of php code to make the option available to save a post for a specific subdomain and the MySQL db to keep track which posts belong to which subdomain. Can’t be that difficult.

So why isn’t this not yet implemented? Probably because not everybody has full control over his web server and probably because not many people are asking for it. But can you imagine the benefit of it? Not only for multilingual websites, but also for people who want to make separate blogs per type of interest. Maybe even on different domains…

Extreme Cola Vending Machine Hacking

I noticed a lot of people are looking to get things for free. Free in “not paying for it”. You’ll see there are plenty of video’s of Youtube proving this. Everybody is trying to hack a Coca Cola vending machine. So I tought, let’s make a parody on this and I published my own video on YouTube. I gave it the title: “Extreme Cola Vending Machine Hacking”.

The extreme part of it was to show I was popping a can out of a soda machine using the ultimate trick: putting some money in it. It’s fun to see some people like the joke, but it’s even more fun to see all those angry people shouting it’s not a hack, that I’m a fool or a stupid fuck or a gay.

The video is even flagged with “misleading title” and “not suitable for all ages”. Strange how you can make people upset by telling how things should work…

Portable Wood Stove II – DIY

Like I mentioned yesterday, my portable wood stove wasn’t burning that well. I used an extra piece of chicken mesh to (theoretically) improve it.

Below you can see my extended woodstove, placed on a solid surface and already filled with tinder.

Filled with wood, ready to ignite.

The goal of the evening was to boil a liter of water in my mess tin, and to make some tea. In order to save as much energy as possible I used my big mess tin as a lid on top of the small one. Let it burn! As it was pretty cold, and I didn’t use a windshield, I had to add lots of wood.

Only after 40 minutes the water was almost boiling…

The tea I made had a strong taste of mess tin and thermos. In other words: yak! Before you will like this, you’ll have to hike another 40 km. Sitting on the freezing soil for 40 minutes was not enough to appreciate it.

So what went wrong? To much heat got lost because of the lack of a windshield and because the mess tin stood to high above the fire. The opening in the wood stove was not big enough for easy refueling. So I had to use a windshield and probably also a lot less water. The wood stove is being recycled now and I’m already looking for a new container to build another one.

Portable Wood Stove – DIY

It’s cold outside and I’m bored of sitting inside. I want to go for a hike! But no hike without a nice warm cup of tea. And therefore I need a portable cooker. This time I tried to make a portable wood stove.

You can find lots of DIY wood stoves at Zen Backpacking Stoves. From very simple to very ingenious models complete with solar panels and micro waves.

What I wanted to do was to make a very simple wood stove from materials that can be found everywhere. Here you can see the result:

In the bottom I made small ventilation holes. I also inserted a piece of chicken mesh to prevent the wood to fall on to bottom. This way there is plenty of ventilation, something you need for having a good fire.

At the top I’ve cut out two big rectangles, those are needed to add extra wood and also for good ventilation. The pot or cup can be place right on top of the burner. When testing this setup I noticed that the holes are not big enough, and that I need something to make a spacing between the can and the cup. That can be a bigger can, or some nails.

Back to the drawing table 🙂

Barack Obama Visiting Belgium

This must be the first official visit of the president of the United States of America – Barack Obama – to Belgium.

Barack Obama

I have to admit, paper craft is addictive. It’s big fun to create those little paper creatures. You can find lots of simple paper craft models on But he who wants to have a bigger challenge must certainly try to create Yamaha’s MT-01:

So far the fun part. It seems Barack Obama is going to visit Belgium in October 2009 to celebrate the Canonization of Father Damien (Pater Damiaan – Jozef De Veuster).