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Before I was an entrepreneur, I was a developer. And a geek.

Today, I still like to think of myself as a full stack hacker, from DB design to front-end dev, through server security and performance optimization.

This blog is about code, the OS (Mac or Linux), database design, web app, responsive websites, webperf, server maintenance and looking at nerdy metrics...

How to disable Adobe Reader in Safari

How to disable Adobe Reader in Safari

Sometimes you have to install Adobe Reader because some pesky government agency forces you to use a pesky PDF file that only works with Adobe Reader. And once you install Adobe Reader, it will take over your whole Mac, even the default PDF preview in Safari.

Here's how to restore the default PDF preview on OS X:

Go to /Library/Internet Plug-ins (there is a "Go To Folder..." option in the "Go" menu of the Finder if you need it).

In that folder, delete the following 2 plugins:

  • AdobePDFViewer.plugin
  • AdobePDFViewerNAPAPI.plugin

Restart Safari and you're done ;)

The power of the power button! (or eject key)

The power of the power button! (or eject key)
That on/off button at the top right of the keyboard can do more than on/off...

You might wonder what to do with that Eject key on your Mac keyboard, now that drives with ejectable media are gone... or you may not use your power key to its full potential...

Personally, I've been using Ctrl + Eject or Ctrl + Power (depending on what key you have at the top right of your keyboard) for quite some time now. It brings up a popup dialog with the following options:

  • Restart
  • Sleep
  • (Cancel)
  • Shut Down

But I always found a missing item here:

  • Lock Screen (or Login Screen would also do)

I accidentally stumbled on the right shortcut for that today: Ctrl + Shift + Eject or Ctrl + Shift + Power will put your display to sleep immediately, and if you have your security preferences set up to lock your screen when display goes to sleep, you're all set. Neat! This is the fastest way I know to lock a Mac when I don't want to put it to sleep.

By the way, if you want to put it to sleep, without confirmation, you can use Cmd + Option + Eject or Cmd + Option + Power .

Be careful though, there are also "deadly" restart and shutdown without confirmation shortcuts involving Cmd + Ctrl + ... A good way to lose some work... Thus I'd recommend to stay away from the Cmd key all together when trying out these shortcuts ;)

How to insert Tabs in a textarea (OS X)

How to insert Tabs in a textarea (OS X)

Whenever you're on a web page with Safari, Chrome or Firefox and want to type a code snippet (or maybe just align what you type) you might be tempted to use the tab key...

But no, luck it moves the browser focus instead of inserting a tab into your text.

In order to actually insert a tab you need to press the following key combination: ctrl + alt + tab.

Note: depending on your keyboard, the alt key is sometimes called the option key.

Screw it, let's reskin it!

I think it was about time I re-skinned this site! 

Since my last post pledging to get rid of the ugliness, I feel I’ve made some significant progress on b2evolution.net (especially the home page) but this personal site you’re looking at right now was really starting to hurt my own eyes! (I can’t believe I actually used to be happy with my old design :p)

So today I just decided to “screw it and re-skin it“.

I’ve been procrastinating on this for maybe two years just because I didn’t have time (or the energy) to actually re-design it – meaning: polishing a new design for it. Making it responsive, etc.

So I finally decided to take a shortcut: use another skin I like and make it fit as fast as possible. And sometimes I actually forget how fast this can be done with b2evolution. Once I had uploaded the new skin, it took me about 30 minutes to set up all the menu/navigation widgets so the site navigation makes sense. And voilà.

Of course, there’s a million details in this skin that need fixing but I think the improvement is massive already! 30 minutes of work vs. 2 years of procrastination. What a shame! :/

Now, there’s a couple interesting thoughts down the road:

  • I just made the 20% of the effort that yields 80% of the benefits;
  • I still have 80% of the work to do to get the details right;
  • Some day this new deisgn will probably feel ugly again… :(
  • How do I prevent letting it slide into ugliness again next time? hum… it feels like I have so many gardens that need constant care… :p

Anyways, Dear Reader, I hope you’ll enjoy this site in its new form! :)

Did I abandon my sites?

2014. Time to wake up, eh?

First off, why have I been blogging so little in the last couple of years?

I guess it's a combination of:

  • Too much work
  • Having a real life (which I might not have had a few years back...)
  • Google did a great job at scaring me off posting "non-useful" content (Shall we call it "Panda angst" ?)

All of these are lame excuses.

  • Blogging is part of my work
  • Don't even get me started on balancing work and real life - there has to be a solution!
  • Sharing ideas, no matter how mundane they might seem at first, has been the beginning of many great projects in my own experience. Plus: it definitely helps to structure a lot of thoughts that would otherwise just swirl around in my head, without ever leading to anything tangible. Moving forward, even small steps at a time is far more important than a particular Google algorythm might think of it... especially on my personal blog (I'm still debating this regarding some other sites :p)

2014. Time to get rid of the Ugly!

The most vexing part in this wake up call is that so many of my (many) websites are just plain ugly... compared to the current web-design state of the art.

I don't recall exactly what led me to this realization but part of it was comparing b2evolution.net to its competitors. Ironically, it's not that the competitors (Free CMS tools) look good. It's actually that those competitors look bad compared to commercial solutions.

Thought: Why does Free software has to look so bad compared to commercial software?

And then of course it dawned on me: why does my software have to look so bad compared to commercial software and other free software alike?

If you know b2evolution, you know it's really powerful. Arguably significantly more powerful than its commercial alternatives indeed. That's the result of 10 years of hard work. But does it show on the surface? Hell, no! It really deserves a packaging that would do it justice! Welcome to the world of (virtual) product packaging!

Ok, I know what you think... But better late than never. And yes, I also realize how late I am now...

And then, the same logic applies to a dozen other sites of mine, all the way down to the one you're reading now.

Where do we go from here?

OK, so I realized the problem. That's always step 1. Check.

Then I blogged about it. Now I feel pressure to do something about it so I don't look like a fool by the same time next year. Step 2. Check.

I started collecting ideas about redesigns and started test implementations on some of them. Those are ok steps 3 and 4 I guess. Check. Check.

The real effective & efficient solution though, would be to hire a top designer... right? One might think, indeed.

However, it's not as easy as it seems:

  • There is definitely a shortage in modern web design talent;
  • There is an even higher shortage in UX design. Graphic design without User eXperience is worthless. The most basic illustration of that is that many graphic designs still use fonts so small they won't be read by anyone. More modern problems are: choosing button sizes, button positions, how many buttons to show at a given time, what to hide, what not... and at some point it starts to overlap with marketing in the sense you need to choose in which order to present the info.
  • And then comes the terrible chicken and egg issue: my sites actually look so ugly right now that pro designers wouldn't want to touch them with a 10 feet pole! :p

So my only possible course of action, I guess, is:

  1. Clean everything up making the best use of my current resources;
  2. Hire top talent once they can see a credible client when they look at my sites!

Ok, 'nuff said. Let's do some implementation!