Ikea Hacking: Take Two: Ingo Table And Lanni Chair

Ikea hacking is fun. And since we liked it the first time so much, we decided to try it again. This time with the big Ingo table and a Lanni chair. Just like the first time we’ll paint these items so that they’ll fit our interior. They are going to be the furniture in my little laptop corner.

We painted them first dark gray, and then we brushed some transparent brown varnish onto it to give it that antique look.
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And for the chair: the same thing.
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The final result.
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Now I only need to find a decent laptop…

Dryer Lint Tinder

Dryer lint makes excellent tinder. You have to clean your dryer’s filter anyway, and instead of throwing the lint away you could save it to use it as tinder. Put some of it in your emergency readiness or use it to light your BBQ.
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Now how does this work? I’ll give you a small demonstration.

Take a piece of dryer lint and tear it apart. Try to make it as light as possible. Take your firesteel and after a few strokes you have your fire. Be careful not to inhale the fumes as they could be poisonous due to the type of materials used for your socs or t-shirts.

Even though you might not have any dryer lint with you in an emergency situation, you can always make some by pealing off little peaces of fabric from your socs or blouse. This video also indicates that dryer lint is highly flammable and can be ignited with only a few little sparks. Those sparks can also be the result of static electricity, so be sure to always clean your dryer and remove any lint from it’s filter.

Ikea Hacking: Ingo Table

A lot op people make fun of the IKEA furniture packages. Screws or bolts are missing, the instructions are not clear or detailed enough and you always need a tool that is not present. My idea is that most people who share this idea do not have a good eye for detail. I bought already lot’s of stuff at IKEA and I never missed one screw.

Yes I did have some issues putting the goods together, but that was my own fault. The included instructions were so detailed but I missed the part where was depicted which side was up. Two big holes on the right means up, two small holes on the right means down. I only figured out that something was wrong when I wanted to install the latest piece. I had to breakdown everything again to fix my mistake.

But can you imagine there are people who don’t even care about that. The just need some parts of the package and will alter it the way they want to have it. They even have a website: http://ikeahacker.blogspot.com/

Being a fan of thinking outside the box, I also wanted to do some IKEA hacking myself. My wife wanted a little side table that fits our furniture, but we couldn’t find a nice and reasonably priced one, so we decided to hack some IKEA stuff. We bought a cheap
Ingo dining table (2 persons) and made a nice little side table of it.

First of all: unpack everything and check if all pieces are present.
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Because the table was too high (73cm) I had to cut down the table-legs to 43cm (tabletop = 2cm, so the table will measure 45cm in total). Be very cautious when cutting the table-legt: cut off the bottom and not the top! You’ll need the top for further constructing the full table.
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Warning: ask your wife first if you can do this inside.

when done, just follow the instruction from the manual. If something isn’t going easy, you’re doing it wrong and should check the details!

And here is the result:
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Subdomain Based Multilingual WordPress

Some days ago I wrote I was trying to setup this bilingual blog using different database tables but the same WordPress installation. This way I only have to upgrade my WordPress installation and plugins once. But I can still use different themes / language per subdomain if I want to do so.(and that’s great for experimenting).

Having this done is pretty easy. You have to change the part where you define your table_prefix in your config.php file to something similar to the code below.


$subdomain = substr($_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'], 0, strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'], '.'));
if ($subdomain == 'en')
{
$table_prefix = 'en_';
}
else
{
$table_prefix = 'wp_';
}

In this case I presume you want to link the subdomain ‘en’ to $talbe_prefix = ‘en_’ like I did for this website. If you want to use ‘english’ as a subdomain and you used ‘wp2_’ as table_prefix, of course you’ll have to use those values.

Now I only need to find a plugin that is able to scan the wp_content/uploads/ directory so I can use the same media in both blogs.

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 Feedburner.com, 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: WebPerformanceMatters.com/.

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 WMPowerUser.com 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!