Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Internet Explorer 's cookie is starting to crumble?

.. now competitors start to nibble?

The news is out: Dell UK is shipping Firefox on it's systems. Confirmed by Blake Ross (one of the creators of Firefox) in his blog. However, at this moment Dell only ships Firefox in the UK. Dell Australia has no plans in that direction.

Similar plans come from Hewlett-Packard. HP plans to ship Netscape's Web browser on new PCs and notebooks starting early 2006.

With the move of Opera of disbanding the ads in their browser this might bring even more momentum to the alternative browsers. The competition is on the move. Microsoft may just be too late with IE7. In many reviews so far the IE7 upgrade has been called too little too late.

Now, the largest PC manufacturer of the world, Dell, is pre-installing Firefox on new systems and removing the IE icon from the desktop. This will give users direct access to Firefox and indirect access (somewhere in the Start menu) to Internet Explorer. This will mean that more users will start to use Firefox. If HP does the same with their Netscape installation then a lot of convenience users will probably just use the first browser available.

All, this should give a boost to these browsers and it will bring about the slow demise of the sleeping giant's browser.

On top of that the news earlier this month that Microsoft is dropping the Internet Explorer for Apple completely after having ignored development for it for years. They even promote the use of the Safari browser.

These are signs that things are drastically changing in the browser market. I think the era of world wide web domination for Microsoft and Internet Explorer (the 90% and more market share days) are over. Microsoft had fallen asleep and ignored the little people outside, who were hacking together real compliant browsers. They have ignored the users who had to suffer under numerous attacks and security issues. They may have sit back just a little too long and enjoyed the view from their palace window to look at a Teletubbie landscape.

The times they are a-changing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The "In between days"

.. are all over me

The days between Christmas and New Year are filled with usefulness and laziness. I need input from functional designers and others to keep going with my current projects and apparently these guys have way more leave than I because they can take off much much longer than I can. True, I have to admit that I will be away starting Friday for ten days, but they were already off well before Christmas.

Since, they have a large say in the web applications I am now building I am stuck. I have hit some problems that have multiple possible solutions. Each of these have different implications and they need to make the decision. On the one hand in order to know the consequences. On the other hand so I will not be blamed for doing everything the way I want without consulting. And then finding myself undoing all the nice changes I had made.

Again true, I have now some experience with their decisions: they always pick the option that I rule out completely. So, using that knowledge I could go for the most unlikely option and have their blessing afterwards. But only once every so often they select the better option and I cannot as yet predict when such a unique moment occurs. That would mean that just bluntly going for the less intelligent option will still have big chance of wasting my time on it.

I feel another version of Murphy's law is active here.

Roho's first variation of Murphy's law
When there are multiple options to choose from you will always pick the wrong one.

Years of experience have also taught me the following.

Roho's second variation of Murphy's law
The easiest way to solve a problem is always the most difficult to undo.

So, which ever option I implement I will always fail. If failure is guaranteed then why start at all?

Even more wisdom has shown me that which ever option you pick it is never the best one.

Roho's third variation of Murphy's law
When you pick a way to solve a problem your solution will always be the most elaborate one and will not solve the problem in the end.

Anyhow, Murphy always beats you.


Take a deep breath and surpress any urge to start work.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

SEO at a glance

.. for your convenience

OK, this is hardly an original post, but one the gazillion attempts to rake together the SEO factors in a simple list. Compiled from numerous sources around the web and NO it will not offer too many new things. To be used as a simple checklist when building a new website or doing search engine optimalisation on an existing one.

Build validating pages

Make sure the correct html is used and more importantly use the html for the right things. Semantically correct as they say. Use the H1-tag for a header text. Although, search engines can cope with not-validating pages it is advised to use correct markup.

Choose Domain Name

When you own a company with a well known name like Nike or CNN choosing a domain name is easy. But otherwise create a domain name that uses keywords related to your sites main theme. Separate these words in the domain by hyphens rather then underscores. For example: rather than

Secure and redirect similar domain names to your theme. Do not, however, provide multiple domains with exact content. This is considered search engine spamming.

For existing sites it is not a good idea to abandon the current domain and start anew with a new optimized name. You will drop from the rank you already had achieved and will have to wait until you appear in a search engine. In this situation it can pay to set up a second site with an optimized name that has slightly altered content that is linking to your primary domain.

Do Keyword Phrase Research

When you want your site to be found you need to find out how people are searching for your site. If your site is about selling "mountainbikes", people might use phrases like "mountainbikes", but also "mountain bikes", "ATB" "offroad bicylces", "terrain bikes " or whatever. Be creative and above all ask other people and study your website logs to see what phrases people use who find your site.

Some tools that can help:

Finally, do consider using typos as well: "moutianbike".

Create Keyword Optimized Pages

From your keyword phrase list, create groups of two to three related keyword. Each group can then become the topic of a page on your website. These can be seen as view points to the products of your website. Getting back to our mountainbikes example you can think of subjects like: "Taking your bike off road", "Mountainbike parts", "Getting your bike out in the terrain ".

A lot of these pages will have largely overlapping content. Be creative and rewrite your content.

The more of these optimized pages you have the better. I would suggest a minimum of 10, better even, try to create at least 25.

Site Structure

A web site has a depth and width. Usually this can be viewed by having a look at the menu structure used fro navigation. The width is the number of options in a menu, the depth is defined by the number of nested menus. Both should not be too big. The depth should be no more than 3 layers. The width should be such that it is still easy to navigate.

This is not really a direct SEO aspect but it improves the overall performance of your site. It will make the site more attractive to users and thus they more likely will link to it. And that is good for your ranking.

Use simple navigation

Make your navigation simple and clean. Every page should have a link to home page. Every page should link to the level above itself. Linking between related pages within your site is also encouraged as it distributes the page rank evenly across your entire site. Finally, remove all broken links from site.

Design fast loading pages

Even in this era where almost all users seem to have a broadband connection it is still good practice to create lean, fast loading pages. Don't use a lot of graphics. Keep image sizes less than 100k. Keep the total page size below 100K. If your pages are longer consider breaking them apart.

Keep a high content to HTML ratio

Your pages should be filled with content and not with loads and loads of HTML tags. Use CSS rather than tables. Use semantic markup.

Keep your content at the top

Format your HTML so that the important content occurs high in the HTML source before other less important content. The related links, ads, banners should preferably appear after the main content in the html. Search engines rate content in the beginning of the pages higher.

Use internal linking

Again link all related pages within your site using properly formatted keyword rich link structure.

Get as many inbound links as you can

Work and work on getting as many inbound links as you can. Get them from related sites with high page rank. The best incoming links will have your keywords in the anchor text as follows:Website design and SEO in Steenwijk. Building links at relevant sites is a lot of work but it pays. It does take some time before the effects are apparent, but be patient: link building does work.

Take a good look at your site statistics

With the arrival of Google Analytics there is hardly any reason to not use site statistics. Enormous amounts of information comes to you for free. Take the time to study these and then take action. Modify and tweak your site to take advantage of traffic patterns. Extend popular parts of your site. Improve poor performing pages.

Update your content regularly

As many already know: it is all about the content of your site. A good visual design is nice, but does not necessarily help you popularize your site. People will not keep coming back just to look at a nice picture. They will return because you have interesting stuff.

Regularly provide fresh, updated content. Depending on the type of your site do this daily (for blogs), weekly or at least monthly. This will keep your site up to date and will give continuous new ways to your content.

Good advise

.. for all you would-be entrepeneurs

I found the following quote on a website very useful. For all you out there that consider making money by building websites or doing other web related work.

An anonymous philosopher
HOW-TO make a small fortune making Web sites...
... start with a large fortune ...

There you go with all your New Year's resolutions about starting for yourselves.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Just having fun

.. in the dark days before Christamas

Yep, if you happened to stop by today on my blog you may have noticed all different kinds of background images flying by. Sorry, for that. I am just restyling my blog. Just for fun.

Anyhow, check back every now and then to see the progress.

Drop a comment whether you like it or not.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A touch of football

.. and a little smile

In an attempt to clarify the infamous offside rule, after a disputed decision last weekend, the BBC dedicates a page explaining the rule.

the BBC website
Like most things in football, the offside rule is pretty simple - that is until it gets changed each year.

Hmm. The off side rule is getting so confusing why not just drop the rule? I am a (field) hockey player and the offside rule was abolished many years ago and the game has become even more attacking and faster. The same should apply to football.

Monday, December 19, 2005

JavaScript Debugger for Firefox 1.5

.. Venkman is back

With the coming of Firefox 1.5 some of my beloved extension had stopped to function. Slowly most of these have recovered now. One was still missing from this list. The JavaScript Debugger aka Venkman had stopped functioning. I have used this tool to find out what went wrong with my dynamically created scripts for an e-commerce site that me and my colleagues are building like forever. Without I had to get back to using many alert() statements. Not much fun.

But that problem is now gone!

An updated version is now available and better it seems to be working!

Venkman for Firefox 1.5

Getahead has a download available. Find out more at the Getahead site.

One more extension can be crossed of the missing list.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The world according to Neuro

.. putting new extensions to work

Funny that some entries inspire others to do the same.

Even though getting the casing right is still a problem: it's Roho!


BTW this comments was created with the Blogger Web Comments extension that I discussed earlier.

I used the extension to make this comment and then saved as a 'Draft'. The html produced is a bit overloaded with whitespace and there is an additional div around it, but since I tend to always edit my comments in the Blogger Editor (with the help of some Greasemonkey scripts) I think that is not a problem. When using Flock's Blog This option I have the same approach.

More extensions for Firefox

.. when will it fall over?

Today the Official Googleblog announced some new extensions for Firefox. And being a Firefox aficionado I had to check it out.

I installed the Blogger Web Comments extension and tried it out. This is absolutely great! On every page I visit a little box pops when there are comments found on Blogger relating to that page. You can also add comments yourself.

By clicking on the title of the comment the corresponding page opens in a new tab. This is just great.

Creating a comment very much reminds me of the Blog This context menu from Flock.

I haven't even tried the other extension: Google Safe Browsing extension, but I just might install that on my home PC as that is more likely to ever get targeted by phishing sites.

Google: you are doing it again!

What's in a name?

.. or there is no coincidence

In November I ran the Seven Hills Run in Nijmegen and I did a few posts about that. Nothing special to that.

Now some weeks later an anonymous reader of my blog posts a comment to one of the entries.

i don't know how you came up with roho2003, but my high school cross-country team won the New England competition in 2003, and our team cheer was "Roho"... crazy.

The weird part is that for reason people are shouting "Roho" as encouragement to each other. Even weirder is the fact that this lead to winning the New England cross-country competition.

However, miracles and coincidences do not exits or if they do, the exist for a reason. Taking this a bit further leads me to some powerful conclusions:

  • "Roho" is a strong word.
  • "Roho" is a worldwide spontaneous expression having the same feeling of success about it.
  • "Roho" is associated with achieving things, sports and winning.
  • "Roho" can be shouted.
  • "Roho" is stabilizing factor in the hectic world of today.

OK, I might just run away with my enthusiasm now, but hey it's about me!

Feet back on the ground

Let's get back to reality. I have used the name "Roho" since my days at the Dutch equivalent of high school (yes, more and more coincidental links) and have kept these up through my time at the Delft Technical University. Back then people even called me by that name.

I have always wanted to start my own business, become my own boss. (Just so I could argue with myself about how bad things were organized.) And I always knew that that business would be called "Roho Products". And indeed in 2003 (!) I set this up. The main focus of my company is building websites. Though I do some basic system management and Windows development as well.

Coming back to what "Roho" stands for. It is quite simple the first two letters of my first and my last name. The "2003" bit is just the year that I add at the end. In 2003 I started this blog and only recently I have found enough time to keep it updated on a regular basis.


Finally, I would like to know how anyone can come up with using "Roho" as way to cheer a cross country team to victory? Please, any member of that team enlighten me. I could not find out quickly which team it is, but if someone would add that as well I am prepared to include a photo of that victorious lot.

Now, back to work. First some coffee though. It is still early.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Study of Markov Models

.. finally finished

After many (and I do mean many) attempts at finalizing my scientific paper I have eventually succeeded. So with some proud I present the report here today.

Deck's embedded study

I am as always happy to receive comments.

You can download the PDF here.

Link is broken.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Learning a trick everyday

..helps to keep boredom away

Today a colleague asked if he could hide something when printing a web page. Well yes, css can do that easily. Not too difficult as well. Add a class of donotprint to the element in question. Then add a print stylesheet with the following rule.

.donotprint {display:none;}

Yes, but no. He just wanted to add some style to the element in the html. Adding a stylesheet was not an option. There was a quick fix needed in an old site.

So I gave my mind a twist and decided to give something a try. I added the following to the html page.

<style type="text/css" media="print">
  .donotprint {display:none;}

Much to my surprise: it works!

I never knew that one could use the media attribute like this in the head-section of a page. I seemed possible, that's why I tried it, but I thought it would fail. I certainly had not seen this trick being used before.

I have learned something again. Though probably something I might never use again, but still.


Monday, December 12, 2005

A less than productive day at the office

.. so why not blog a little?

Just, had a great long, long weekend. Four days in total. Loved every minute of it.

Now, on Monday I returned to the office and logged in. I noticed some programs not starting. Hmm. I looked a bit further some of my desktop items were missing. Uh oh!I started Firefox and it asked which settings to import. Uh oh! My extensions and everything so precious were gone. Uh oh!

helpful supportdesk personel

Uh oh!

So, it was getting on the phone to the dreaded support desk. I start at seven they start at eight.Uh oh! Wait a while. Finally, I get them on the phone.

Flamboyant support person
Have you tried rebooting your system?

Uh oh! Yes, I did. I'll do it again. I suggest to do restore of my profile.

Flamboyant support person
I think we need to do a restore.

Uh oh! I make it clear that I need it rather quickly or I can not do any work.

After waiting another while there is a restore. It's from the same day as was already present on my machine. Uh oh!

Flamboyant support person
I think we need to do another restore.

More time passes and I have finished reading about anything with letters on it. Then the second restore is done. Still not much has been found. I decide I'll leave at this. They are wasting my time as well as their own.

I am now seven hours further and still trying to fix my broken installations of Visual Studio and Firefox. Luckily I had documented my extensions and my Greasemonkey scripts.

Just a little time remains before a meeting and then I can go home and be a coach potato. Sigh!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

John Lennon

.. twenty five years today

Twenty five years ago some crazy person ended the life of a great man.

Let's never forget John Lennon.

Give peace a chance.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Customizing Firefox

.. adding some grease for a smooth ride

Over a month ago I blogged about how I pimped my Firefox. In the list of extensions that I use I also have the Greasemonkey extension. I only very briefly described it:

my blog entry
Last but not least

This one is one of the best. It adds the possibility to run user scripts on any page. There are so many user scripts created by so many people that probably at least one will suit you.

This is way, way too little information to get anyone as excited about Greasemonkey as I am. So I will follow up and will tell some more.

What is Greasemonkey?

Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension which lets you to "user scripts" to any web page to change its behavior. In much the same way that user CSS lets you take control of a web page's style, user scripts let you easily control any aspect of a web page's design or interaction. You can add extra functionality or delete unwanted ads. There are hundreds if not thousands userscripts available.

User scripts are bits of JavaScript that can use the DOM to access the page to add or rewrite links. Rewrite URLs. You name it. If you want to create scripts on your own then go to Dive into Greasemonkey for an excellent tutorial.

As said, there are numerous scripts that can be easily installed. Here is the list that I currently use.

General user scripts
  • Linkify Plus
    Turn plain URLs into links. Supports http, https, ftp and email addresses.
  • Zoom Image
    Displays a small popup over images that allows zooming in or out.
  • AutoDelicious
    Adds Auto-Complete capabilities to the posting page.
  • delete item
    Adds a "delete this item link" while viewing your items.
  • TagRenameDelete
    Allows you to rename or delete the tags on the front page.
  • skin
    Adds a skin to
  • undupe
    Remove redundant entries from a page, leaving only the first entry for a given URL.
  • Blogger enhancements v1.1
    Keep current time on posts. Handy when you start a post and finish it later.
  • Blogger large post editor
    The Blogger post editor really is too small. This user script sets the editor's width to 100% and makes it higher and also makes the title field wider. It works for both plain and rich editing.
  • Blogger large template editor
    The template editor is also too small. This user script hides the navbar setting and doubles the editor's height.
  • Blogger tag adder
    Add Technorati tags in the Blooger post editor.
Specific user scripts
  • Dilbert Lite
    Removes unnecessary ads from Dilbert.
  • Nu Compact is a Dutch news site. This user script deletes pictures from the frontpage stories so only the links are visible.
  • Google Media Search
    Gives quicklinks for search strings to find directories of media files.

Now, go and give it a spin. Install the Greasemonkey extension and go and find some useful userscripts.

You're browsing will never be the same again!

Ford gives in to conservative group

.. glad I don't own a Ford

To me this sums up much what I do not like about people imposing their views and morals upon others.
Ford Motor Co. faced sharp criticism from gay and lesbian advocacy groups for agreeing to stop advertising in gay-themed publications in the face of a boycott by the conservative American Family Association, according to a report Tuesday.

No, I am not gay. But that does not matter anyway. To me Ford has given in to blackmail. A group of people with a view of life that differs from others are imposing their views on Ford by means of force. The force being a boycott threat.

Ford has no become the gay-unfriendly car. Ford has now become the pro-Christian Family car.

Or perhaps not?

On the website I found this press release. website
  • Ford Fund pledges $250,000 to the construction of a new Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center in Ferndale, Mich.
  • The organization plans to break ground on the estimated $5.3 million facility in the spring of this year. Spokespeople for Affirmations organization say the new center will be open to the public in early 2006.

All right, let's not boycott Ford for not being gay-friendly.

But I think we should try to stand up against these way-of-life imposing organisations who are entitled to their own view but should never force these onto others.


.. bringing all your stuff together on one page

So you are into the fast lane. You are paddling along with all the others at the forefront of the web. At least you think you do. You have started a blog on Blogger, you upload your pictures to Flickr, you keep your bookmarks like forever already in You are sure that you have all sorts of RSS feeds of all these sources. You have even combined the lot in a single Feedburner feed. So anyone can now keep track of all your interests, opinions and pictures.

Wow, you are web 2.0 savvy.

But many of your friends are not that savvy. They do not know what RSS means or what they can do with it. What's a RSS feed reader?

Once again there is a solution. You can now use superglue to stick all this together. At you can sign up and add your feeds and have these "glued" together into one web page. Send the URL to your friends and they have an easy way to know all they should know about you.

This is my Suprglu page.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Macromedia is fading

.. TAFKAM, The Application suite Formerly Known As Macromedia

This morning a colleague pointed it out to me. I was just sipping my first cup of coffee (or was it my second?). Macromedia was now completely fading away. I immediately pointed my browser at and shock and horror: it was true! is no more

Adobe has begun with the dismantling of the name of Macromedia. Soon we will be silently redirected to and in a few years time the name Macromedia will only linger in the Walhalla together with Ashton Tate and the likes.

formerly macromedia

On the site the logo has almost completely disappeared. Only the favicon is still present. Maybe just because my browser cached it or maybe they have forgotten or maybe a very friendly webmaster left it there on purpose. If so, many many blessings to that man or woman.

I was just on the blink of buying Studio 8. Now I will probably have to rush to get a real Macromedia branded version. If left unopened could make me a millionaire on e-Bay, I guess.

It is a sad, sad day for everyone.

And another one bites the dust ...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Intelligent Deity design

.. or may your deity be with you

Sometimes you come across the most weird sites on the Net. Since the Net is huge there is always another site that is represents any other view of live, universe and everything. So, I am bound to find almost any strange opinion by any strange person if browse long enough.

With the risk of abusing anyone I will bluntly put forward this link: The Do-It-Yourself Deity.

My sincere apologies to anyone who is abused by my smiles.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Get Firefox 1.5

.. and take back the web

After having installed the latest version of Firefox I may have temporarily lost some of my experience. I still think that Firefox is a much better way to browse the web than Microsoft Internet Explorer.

So, here is some shameless publicity for Firefox. Look in the sidebar for links taking you directly to Firefox download sites.

Go get Firefox and take back the web!

Wear a Google t-shirt

.. and get a job

Trisha Weir

I just read this post on the Official Google Blog. In it Trisha Weir (see picture) relates how she landed a job at Google.

It goes to show that non-standard application letters can get you a long way.

BTW the Official Google Blog is the place to look at to get all the official latest from Google.