Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Frequently Asked Questions

.. but how?

If you have a website you are a company. That's what most of website owners think. And when you have a website you also must have a purpose for it. A business goal. Something derived from the mission statement.

A great mission statement
Making the world a better place for everyone who buys our products.

So, then in the final stages of the creation of the website someone proposes to put information onto the website. Something that provides visitors with the option to find answers to any questions they might have. So, they do not need to wait endlessly while on hold.

The FAQ is born!

So, the Frequently Asked Questions section is born. Someone wraps the questions up in some categories and there it is. The answer to all the Frequently Asked Questions.

These Frequently Asked Questions are compiled by some people from marketing and do not hold questions like:

A non-Frequent Asker
Why don't you %$#@@&! send me a working product!
Why do I have to wait for fifty minutes on the phone before I get disconnected?

That's what happens on a lot of sites. But what strikes me as odd that after browsing through the list of FAQs and not having found any that applies to my question there is no way to ask the question. There is no form or email address available. Sometimes after long, long searches I cannot find it.

That leaves me with a very irky feeling and so my FAQ becomes:

How can there be any Frequently Asked Questions if no one can ask one single question?

I saw a good quote on the Douglas Adams site:

Douglas Adams site
Frequently Questioned Answers

Translation is a job for humans

.. ooh babe, Babel me!

Just for fun I pulled a page from my Dutch website through AltaVista Babelfish. The result is just great. I never knew I had it in me.

The late Douglas Adams cannot be thanked enough for the invention of the Babelfish!

Pulling the text back and forth between various languages makes for even more fun.

Or this is definitely more fun.

Firefox 1.5 is out

.. cannot wait for all the extensions to work again

I have just installed Firefox 1.5, the Dutch version. I had tried a Release Candidate before but had switched back to the current version because so many of my beloved extensions were not compatible. I hoped this would improve once the real version 1.5 officially set loose.

But not all are compatible by a long way.

I am not complaining. These extensions were build by clever guys and gals around the world and donated to the public. Without them receiving anything for it, except the eternal anonymous fame from numerous downloads and installs. I thank the makers for each and everyone I have tried and found useful.

I think this problem (which it not really is) will resolve over the next couple of days maybe weeks.

Perhaps some evil minded persons will show some rage about it and say that this exactly the reason why not to use open source. I think these people are silly. There is a new version out which is slightly altered to the previous one. Enough to break some extensions. So fixing these will take a bit of time. This happens with closed source applications all the time.

This time I will show patience and see how the extensions will come back to live over the coming weeks.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

ThinkFree Office Online [2]

.. free, free, set me free

There is a Dutch song from Paul de Leeuw that goes like this:

I have moved a stone
in a river on Earth,
Now I know I will not be forgotten
I delivered proof
of my existence.

All right, maybe this feeling is a bit too dramatic.

I wrote a post about ThinkFree Office online. I thought it was an interesting concept, but was bit disappointed when it appeared that I needed to download some 74MB worth of software for a Windows machine and even more for a Mac or a Linux box.

I then moved away from the site in the apprehension that ThinkFree had completely missed the boat.

Until I got a comment on my blog posting:


I apologize for the confusion. The 74MB download was for the offline version of ThinkFree Office 3, Desktop Edition. We have since deleted this information to avoid any future problems. Thank you for pointing this out to us.

If you click on GO ThinkFree Office Online you will be able to access the application suite and document management system. We are in the process of modifying our site.

If you have any further questions please let me know.

Jonathan Crow
Product Marketing Manager

I quickly moved over their site and yes! I have moved a stone!

I then decided to give it a REAL test drive. I uploaded some documents and had a little spin.

You do need some patience for the Java applets to start and load (and the applets are understandably quite big)), but then you can roll.

Being Java applets, they are slower than native compiled code, but all Microsoft Office functionality you ever need is available. Online, documents are stored online. Collaboration is possible. This is absolutely something to consider for use when working around the world or around the corner.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Writeboard and Basecamp

.. are made from the right stuff

I briefly mentioned it in a previous post: Writeboard.

It's an online collaborative word processor with version control. Limited maybe when compared with Word when looking at the make up possibilities, but way better in the collaboration area and miles ahead in versioning. And who needs all the fancy font styles when working together with someone maybe many miles away. Or in the office next door.

Oh yes, this sure is something very clever. The guys from 37Signals are clever

Basecamp is a great project manmagement tool. That does not have the 253 options of the Swiss Army knife named Microsoft project, but it holds the bare essentials. Anything you need to set up a project and keep your project members informed about everything. Anything you need but nothing you do no need.

I know, I am not the first to find or use it. But so far, I am absolutely impressed by the sheer genius that these applications hold: simplicity on the outside and probably also on the inside. I can but guess about the inside, but performance of the applications is plain outstanding.

Basecamp logo Writeboard logo Ruby on Rails logo

Every thing is build with Ruby on Rails. From what I have seen so far and after having created my first Hello World-like applications I conclude this is a very interesting way of developing.

Ah, so many great things to do and so, little time to do them.

I didn't even mention Backpack and Ta-da List yet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Playing with Google Analytics

.. and having fun

The first results are in and oh boy there is so much to explore. Just a few glimpses of resulting graphs below.

Overall Keyword Conversion
Overal Keyword Conversion

This shows all the keywords used by visitors who landed on my blog. A funny feature is that by clicking on the colored square in the legend you let that part of the pie slide out.

Besides that, this is a very interesting statistic. Not only does it show what keywords people use, but also the unexpected results that show up. I would have never guessed that anyone would ever use the searchterm:

formula one celebration champagne size

And yes, apparently my blog is optimized for that ;-)

Referring Source
Referring Source

The referring sources show how good your link building is succeeding. Not too bad, I should think.

Geo Map Overlay
Geo Map Overlay

This Geo Map Overlay chart should maybe better be named Ego Map Overlay! Since I can now show off that I have readers of my blog all over the planet. Even just off the coast of South America.

So, I am a man over the world, I've been around,eh. Nudge, nudge, say no more!

Seven Hills Run 2005

.. luckily we still have the pictures

Around the 13km mark pictures were taken from all the runners. With the use of digital cameras and the Internet this is possible nowadays. Great.

I have ripped some of the pictures to my Flickr account and here's a nice slideshow of me near the 13km point.

For the really interested people: my number is 12387 and I wear a wit cap and an orange shirt.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

ThinkFree Office Online

.. maybe not so free

So I found the ThinkFree website. They offer a Microsoft Office alternative. Always good to have choice. I had a good look and found that they also have an online version. That triggered me!

I decided to give it a go. For free I would get 30MB of disk space. This would be something for working in every available location with Internet connection. A way to also collaborate on a document. Many, many options. Yeah! Groovy baby!For the umpteenth time I entered some credentials and I was admitted to the next screen. And I saw the screen of which I have reproduced a part below.

It was a bit of a disappointment to say the least. I still had to download 74MB worth of software for a Windows machine and even more for a Mac or a Linux box.

I then decided to NOT give it a go. This is simply not something one would want to use.

I have seen something like Writeboard and that seems a much better solution.

I think that is much more lightweight and enough for most things I can think of now.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Google Base - add a new channel to your shop

.. at a minimal cost

I have updated this entry with some comments from John. Thanks John.

With the launch of Google Base last week Google did it again. Another potential killer app is set loose on the Internet community. Chances are big that the community will embrace it with all arms available. So, do not stay behind and join the ever expanding rat race.

Google Base
What's all this, then?

Well first let's quote the makers themselves:

If you have information you want to share with others, but aren't sure how to go about gaining an audience, Google Base is for you.
If you don't have your own website, we'll host your content for you. You'll be able to choose labels and attributes that can draw more attention to the content you're showing. And, based on their relevance, your items may appear on Google, Froogle, or Google Local.
Google Base is free. Plus you're always in control: you can edit or archive your items at any time.

They talk about information which is as vague as you can get. But what is meant: anything. If it is possible to somehow describe it and you want others to know of its existence then you can put it up on Google Base. It can be a product you want to sell or a recipe you want to share. Or a link to your website, because you feel it is the best in its kind. Well, anything you can think of. And then some.

Maybe you have thought of something to add to Google Base already. That's cool.

OK, so how do we use it?

Basically, there are two options:

  1. Doing it by hand, one by one or
  2. Doing a bulk upload.

Which ever of the two options you choose you will need a Google Account. But if you already have used Google Sitemaps, Google Analytics or G-Mail you already have one. If not then get one.

The first option is the simplest. It takes you through a simple online form. You fill in the form and your ready. Easy as that.

The bulk upload is perhaps a little bit more work. First of all you need to create a file of all the items that you wish to upload. There are various formats the file can be: Tab-delimited, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, and Atom. Depending on your situation you pick your format of choice.

There are again a couple of ways to create such a file:

  • Doing it by hand, on by one or
  • Use a clever tool to create an extract from your site.
  • An automated extract from your site's CMS.

The first, boring option I will not discuss here.

There is a great tool GSiteCrawler from SOFTplus that is basically used for creating Google Sitemap files, but by using a special export format file you can create Google Base bulk upload files. I haven't tried it, but it looks promising. Extra attributes can later be added by uploading the tab separated file in Excel or tool of choice and editing it. Great idea to reuse something for something else. My compliments!

Another way to attack the problem when you have a database driven web site. Maybe some open source CMS or something custom build. You may even already have implemented an RSS or Atom feed in it. If you have some skills you could quite easily adapt the feed module to add in the Google Base specific fields and attributes and create the Bulk Upload file automatically. You only need to tell where Google where to find the url and the upload file will be completely up-to-date when Google Base picks it up. Much like the automated dynamic Google Sitemaps.

You could also use the SOFTplus approach and adapt a Google Sitemaps module.

If you do not have the skills to create such an adapted module or plugin then you can try to find one. Seeing the pace that modules emerged for Google Sitemaps it will probably note take too long before these will emerge. Or why not hire someone to do it for you?

Update:There is already a plugin template available for MovableType.

Some quick hints
  • Items in Google Base remain active for a maximum of 31 days. After that you should renew them.
  • A quick look at the search results shows that using images is very important. The first images associated with an item appear on the results page.
  • You can upload your bulk file everytime you have changed something. You can do that on a daily basis. Note: If you leave out items in a subsequent upload, theu will not be automatically removed from Google base (yet).
  • You can upload up to 1,000,000 items at the moment (when you contact Google and ask them) but the file has maximum of 10MB.
  • The more info you can add to your items the more ways you give to potential searchers to find your items. Google Base lets you drill down easily into the results by filtering on location, price, brand or any other attribute someone added.
  • Some wicked black hat SEO chaps will probably find a way to abuse it for spamming search results. Please, do not abuse it.

Have fun with Google Base!

Seven Hills 2005 was a success

.. although without a personal best

Yesterday, 21st November 2005, I ran the Seven Hills Run for the third time. And I think it was a success.

I did not train as much as the last years so I didn't anticipate to run a personal best. I set my aim for a time within 1:15. So making an average of just under 5 minutes per kilometer.

I ran an exceptionally flat race. Which is even more exceptional considering the seven hills ;-) I finished the 15 km after 1 hour 14 minutes and 48 seconds. Which makes for an average of 4 minutes 59.2 seconds per kilometer.

Haile Gebrselassie from Ethiopia did the same distance in 41 minutes and 56 seconds. An incredible average of 2 minutes 47.7 seconds per kilometer!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Google Sitemaps - updated

.. or how much new things can Google introduce in a week.

Well, this week we saw the surprising launch of Google Analytics. I have already expressed my love for that.

Then there was the launch of the anticipated Google Base. Other than just creating my own entry I haven't really had too much time with it to write a comment.

And now I have found out some changes to Google Sitemaps!

Some time ago I created a couple of posts (1, 2 & 3) about the experiment I did with Google Sitemaps on my site. I mentioned that there were some benefits. Most important one:

a website master has the possibility to view reports on the last crawl results. This can be achieved by placing an html file with a name provided by Google to verify that you can manage the site. Google then provides you with a list of failed pages. Pages that no longer exist or have another error.
Always good to find out some missed missing links.

And now there is more. There are more reasons to use Google Sitemaps.

What extras are hidden in the Google Sitemaps console?

  • The most popular queries that your Website shows up for.
  • The top queries from which you get click throughs.
  • Crawl statistics: Pages successfully crawled, pages blocked by robots.txt, pages that generated HTTP errors or were unreachable.
  • The PageRank distribution within your site.
  • Various indexing stats (pages indexed, etc.)

If you, for a completely obscure reason, do not wish to create a Google Sitemap, you can rest assured. You do not need to have Google Sitemap to be able to use this functionality. All you have to do is create an empty HTML file and upload to your site to verify that you own the site. And tada you start leveraging the benefits. For free.

This is an absolutely awesome troubleshooting tool for all webmasters. Something that the other search engines will copy soon, I hope. And then maybe I will spend more time working on improving my position with them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Need help with picking blogging / CMS tool

.. TextPattern, WordPress or anything like that.

With the risk of getting hopelessly lost in comments I have a question for the all people out there.

I am currently brooding on a plan to set up a new community type portal web site which should include a blog. As the plans as to what will be there are beginning to take shape I am now starting to look for the right type of software to use to get it going. What I want to be able to do:

  • set up one blog, possible more
  • be able to have other pages than blog entries, like tutorials, portfolios and the like
  • have multiple contributors
  • open source
  • preferably PHP (although other options are possible)
  • the resulting HTML should be easily made fully W3C compliant and NO TABLES for layout

Anyone can advise me on which solution or combination of solutions I should use?

Google Analytics - first impressions

.. can leave big dents!

I was a bit impatient I must admit, but sometimes twelve hours can seem like forty. (Which they actually were and thus increasing my impatience.) But the first results are in. Google Analytics has delivered my first report. And man, I am impressed. This looks horribly cool and there is so much to explore.

Ok, the numbers are not impressive, but I am not one of the Internet Big Shots (yet). I have only just started to make some more relevant content on this bog. At least trying hard to do so. Hard work is needed to get these lines going up and staying up. I now have another tool that gives me an incredible amount of information my visitors. Which will help me to find out how to make things better.

Those hoping for a full review I must disappoint. I haven't looked closely at all the reports and the possibilities, but I know that for most websites this could be more than they would ever need. For the really big sites with multiple on-line wizard-style buying forms the number of funnels (4) might be a problem. But there is so much to explore.

I will try to go through the reports and find out what the use for me or the not so average website owner could be. When I have raked together some insight I will get back on this.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Google Analytics

.. is Big Brother watching you and me?

The word is out for a day now. Google has presented Google Analytics. It's a Googlefication of the recently purchased Urchin statistics software. They once again offer it free.

But is it free? Or does it come at a cost?

Bogle's Blog already has an entry about the terms of service and privacy policy. In this he utters some reserves to the contents of that document.

Some quotes from the Google document:

The Google Services are made available for your personal, non-commercial use only. You may not use the Google Services to sell a product or service, or to increase traffic to your Web site for commercial reasons, such as advertising sales.

Clearly this is weird. I can not use it to increase traffic. Well, my main purpose of doing website stats is analyzing my visitors behavior in order to serve them better and server more of them. That's obvious.

We may use personal information to provide the services you've requested, including services that display customized content and advertising.

As far as my personal information is concerned that is OK by me, but hey, we are talking about the personal information of people visiting my website. Should I warn visitors that I have Google Analytics switched on? Will that scare them off?

Just, like Bogle's Blog I come to the conclusion that Google Analytics promises to be a valuable tool. And yes, I have already switched it on on this blog. So Big Brother Google is watching you! Your visit is being analyzed and maybe you will be spammed, harassed by appropriate AdWords ads and maybe I will hunt you down to the end of the Internet. No, I don't think so, too much hassle.

Does it work?

Bottom line for me is: does it work?

Well, as many website owners have jumped on the Google Analytics bandwagon, the service seems a bit stressed. I only see the message below now for the last 24 hours.

I'll just wait for further results.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Another Firefox extension

.. a great way to waste time

I have fallen for it. I did not want to install it. I heard about it. I was warned. Yes, I am guilty as charged.

Today I installed the addictive Firefox extension StumbleUpon. Cicking a button takes you to more or less random sites all over the Net. It is so addictive, that you will forget time, lunch, dinner, work, your wife, your kids, your reason to breathe.

DO NOT INSTALL!!!! It is like selling your soul to the Devil.

Do not say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Working in a hen house

.. is like going crazy in a solitary confinement: no one listens to you.

In a previous post I mentioned women in relation to chickens.

Quoting once again:

You can get a couple of women out of the hen house, but you can't get the hen house out of a couple of women.

But I must admit that this was slightly female unfriendly. I have come to the conclusion that it's not just women who can dabble endlessly. I know a couple of men who keep me from thinking straight. Which is a big problem while doing some object oriented development.

So, many apologies and I have to correct my words:

You can get a couple of women out of the hen house, but you can't get the hen house out of a couple of women. However, it's the rooster that makes the most noise.

Improving traffic to your blog - RSS and Content

.. cause you want to spread the news, don't you?

In the previous articles of this series I focused on links and keywords. Now we will cover the last two subjects: RSS and Content.

RSS feeds

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (terms also used: Rich Site Summary and RDF Site Summary) and is part of the XML family of communication standards. These programs or scripts can allow you to have your news and updates from your blog broadcasted on other sites that are willing to post your RSS feed.

RSS feeds are a way to syndicate content, to share content it with others. Others can be sites or people using RSS readers. Sites like Feedster live on them. But there are plenty of RSS reader clients one can use. I use SharpReader. Modern browsers like Firefox and Flock can work with them. And so will the upcoming Internet Explorer 7.0.

Using a RSS reader you can keep up to date with a lot of news and blogs. Right now I have some 40 to 50 feeds that I keep track of on a daily basis.

RSS is just another channel to promote the content of your blog. Costs are low, as most blog software support it already.


The final subject is the most important of all. People will not read or link to your blog if it does not have anything of value. You need to sustain quality and quantity of content.

Content is King and will always be King. Keep the flow of blog entries going. Be sure to blog regularly. At the very least once a week. Better daily. But do not blog just to blog. It should contain some relevant content. Yes, you can side step from the main subject of your blog. Add some short funny bits now and then. Or comment on current world affairs.Georg W. Bush, which should be easy ;-)

Keep the blog entries coming. And remember to link between your own items.

Wrapping it up

There is so much more to write about this subject. Much of the SEO tricks for normal websites apply to blogs and vice versa. Using good common sense without any tricks will give good results at the end of the day.

This is part of a series of articles on improving traffic to your blog.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Create more accessible web-sites and get found more easily

.. just proving: common sense works all the way

I am always eager to read a new A List Apart issue. Usually they come up with interesting aspects of web design. This time they have interesting article: High Accessibility Is Effective Search Engine Optimization. In it is made clear that making your site more accessible will also make it more search engine friendly.

I find it almost amazing that so much of the good practices in web design come down to just using simple, common sense. It is no rocket science.

When you try like me to create

  • fast-loading,
  • accessible,
  • maintainable and
  • findable web sites,

you will find that these different aspects do not cancel each other out. Aiming for the one does not mean missing the other. In fact the same solution applies to all. A solution for one problem is a benefit to the other. This article shows how making a site accessible also benefits your findability. Building with the Standards in mind gives so many benefits you wonder why not everyone is doing it.

Yet another business case!

The fact that creating an accessible site also gives a better and more search engine friendly page is great business case that we can show to our customers. It's a win-win situation: a better accessible site for visitors and a site that is easier indexed by the search engines and thus found by potential customers.

Yet another reason to not do Black Hat SEO!

Many black hat SEO consultants use all sorts of hidden links and texts which makes the pages less accessible for screen readers and the like. Abandoning these tricks will maken better pages and in the end the pages will score better in the search engines.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Corporate lessons

.. or corporal punishment

It's a long post, but anyway.

Corporate Lesson 1

A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower when the doorbell rings. After a few seconds of arguing over which one should go and answer the doorbell, the wife gives up, quickly wraps herself up in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next door neighbour. Before she says a word, Bob says, "I'll give you $800 to drop that towel that you have on." After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob. After a few seconds, Bob hands her 800 dollars and leaves. Confused, but excited about her good fortune, the woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets back to the bathroom, her husband asks from the shower, "Who was that?" "It was Bob the next door neighbour," she replies. "Great!" the husband says, "Did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?"

Moral of the story
If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk in time with your stakeholders, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.
Corporate Lesson 2

A priest was driving along and saw a nun on the side of the road. He stopped and offered her a lift which she accepted. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to open and reveal a lovely leg. The priest had a look and nearly had an accident. After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg. The nun looked at him and immediately said, "Father, remember Psalm 129?" The priest was flustered and apologized profusely. He forced himself to remove his hand. Changing gear, he let his hand slide up her leg again. The nun once again said, "Father, remember Psalm 129?" Once again the priest apologized "Sorry sister but the flesh is weak." Arriving at the convent, the nun got out gave him a meaningful glance and went on her way. On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to retrieve a bible and looked up Psalm 129. It Said, "Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory."

Moral of the story
Always be well informed in your job, or you might miss a great opportunity.
Corporate Lesson 3

A sales rep, an administration clerk and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out in a puff of smoke. The Genie says, "I usually only grant three wishes, so I'll give each of you just one." "Me first! Me first!" says the admin clerk. "I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world." Poof! She's gone. In astonishment, "Me next! Me next!" says the Sales rep. "I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of pina coladas and the love of my life." Poof! He's gone. "OK, you're up," the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, "I want those two back in the office after lunch."

Moral of the story
Always let your boss have the first say.
Corporate Lesson 4

A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day. A small rabbit saw the crow, and asked him, "Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?" The crow answered "Sure, why not." So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested. All of sudden a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story
To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.
Corporate Lesson 5

A turkey was chatting with a bull. "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "but I haven't got the energy." "Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?" replied the bull. "They're packed with nutrients." The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. Soon he was spotted by a farmer, who promptly shot the turkey out of the tree.

Moral of the story
Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.
Corporate Lesson 6

A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold that the bird froze and fell to the ground in a large field. While it was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on it. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, it began to realize how warm it was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Moral of the story
Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy; Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend; and when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut.

Pimp my Firefox

.. and give me an extension

I am a fan of Firefox for quite sometime now. Something I am proud of. Well, OK, that's a bit over the top. But I am very pleased with Firefox. One of the main reasons for using it is the simple way one can extend the functionality with all sorts of extras.

Yes, I have fully pimped my Firefox. It's not completely bling-bling, but it has many features that makes my life a bit easier. At least while browsing the web. See the screenshot below that I Photoshopped together. I have a rather long list of extensions installed which I use on an almost daily basis. Firefox extensions

For anyone interested I categorize them below and explain a little bit about each of them.

Web design & development

Does a lot more than just pick up colors. Adds zooming and info about elements in the status bar.

View formatted source

It shows a very nicely formatted tree of all the elements of page. Great tool for finding out where you misplaced that closing div.

View Rendered Source Chart

When JavaScript makes changes to the DOM you can see what is resulting HTML is rendered.

Web Developer

Well, this is an absolute must have for web developers.


Measure elements on screen.

Html Validator

Puts the page through the validator and shows errors and warnings.

Document Map

Show the outline of a page in the sidebar and navigate quickly through it.

JavaScript Debugger

It has it's idiosyncrasies and maybe a bit slow, but it is a great debugging tool.

Fangs Screen Reader Emulator

Shows a text version of what a screen reader outputs. Great for accessibility testing.

Search Engine Optimalisation
Google Pagerank Status

Shows the Google Page Rank in the status bar.


Basic SEO tools.

SEO Links

Adds more SEO info in a tooltip like window, from Yahoo and MSN as well.

View Cookies

Well, the name says all.

Add n Edit Cookies

Again, very good name.

Browsing ease

High lights field that can be filled automatically.

Inline Autocomplete

Like IE also has.

Customize Google

Enhancements to Google research pages.

Google Suggest

suggest search terms while you type.


Preview the target of a link in a small tooltip window.

CuteMenus - Crystal SVG

Adds nice icons to menus.


Saves your session when closing Firefox, so that all opened tabs come back on restart.

CruiseControl Monitor

When you use Cruise Control this one beats the icon tray application.

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.

Take cover!

.. he's doing it again!

Neuronix has done it again. Every time I just jokingly make some weird remark about something that probably might never have happened, he manages to find the unbelievable fact.

He had an entry about covered songs scoring a hit after about 18 to 19 years after being a hit the first time. He proposed that this might be an ideal time to pass for a song to be covered. Interesting theory, could use some more research. Anyhow, I was triggered by 19 and I recalled Paul Hardcastle's hit 19. A great song from the eighties and probably impossible to cover. So I mentioned that in a comment on his blog.

What happens next?

He comes back with a new entry: A tribute is not enough for some and in that he mentions a band that has actually covered the song!

Neuronix, go get a life ;-)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

It's a cover for talent

.. or maybe a lack of inspiration

If you hold an interest in song covers than the CoverBlog is for you.

Interesting facts about songs that you may never know that were recorde by artists we all know.

Just, plain fun to see who ever did 'Mrs. Robinson'.

Show your ID!

.. this is mine

Flickr Photo

Well, now it's official I guess. This is me. I guess I can now gain entry to almost any important rock concert and G8 meeting with this one.

Hmm, where to go next?


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Improving traffic to your blog - Keywords

.. cause you want to be found, don't you?

At the end of the day one would like one's blog to be read. That is an assumption which I think might be true for most of the millions of bloggers. The intended readers might be just a small group of friends, but maybe also a larger audience is hoped for.

This is part three of the series and focuses on keywords.


What keywords are is a subject that one can write shelves full of books about and several people have written pages and pages full of it.

First one remark: this is not about the META-tag that sits hiding in your Head-section. It is largely accepted that the value of that META-tag has been devaluated and has little to no significance. Abuse of this tag by stuffing it with multiple instances of the keyword has rendered it useless. This is the fate of most blackhat SEO practices where tricks are used to raise the importance of a page. In the long run any page and site will punished for this.

So what are keywords then?

Relevant keywords

I tend to think of keywords as the words a visitor enters in the search box of a search engine. The keywords therefore should be present in the content and also relevant to your content. And vice versa: the content should be relevant to the keywords. It is easy to add a sentence like:

Equipe claims, Lance Armstrong innocent in Tour de France drugs scandal.
And by adding some mark up to the text I have added some more weight to the words. But these words are totally irrelevant to this subject. But hey it could raise the importance of this page.

This is reminiscent of the old days when adding multiple hot keywords to your keywords META-tag could help you up the ladder of the search engines. (And yes "sex" was a hot keyword in those days.)

Choosing keywords

Now try to figure out what someone would type in a search engine to find information about that subject. And then make some variations on the words used, make some deliberate typos. Now try to use these words in your content. Put them in important places, like headings, lists, make them bold. That way not only are they easier spotted by the reader, but also by the search engine spider.

Keyword density

Next piece of semi science regarding keywords: how many times should keywords be on a page (aka the keyword density). There are many ways to calculate this. Rule of thumb, use them throughout the text but do not let it be annoying

Keywords research

A lot of common sense can bring you a long way in determining relevant keywords for your content. But you can never guess what people type in the search box of the search engine and make them end up on your site. One way to find out what is bringing people now to your site is by examining your web server's log files. Most web statistics packages give you specifics on the search queries and search words used. This list of words can already give some wonderful insight in what people use as search terms. You can consider to use these terms more often in your content, in other words get the density up for those keywords.

Also the results from this research can trigger you think of some more synonyms and alternative keywords.

Keyword research tools

There are many tools out there that can help you find more keywords and the possible effectiveness of these keywords. A few of these tools:

Many tools are available to play with. Some of these are free, others not.

To cut myself short

Bottom line of this is quite simple: you have blogged about a subject that you wish to be found. People use words to search, use these words and you might get found.

This is part of a series of articles on improving traffic to your blog.