How we learn new things and how that affects your business online

Cavemen learning about fire and shopingLast May, my family and I moved from an apartment in the center of Amsterdam to a family home on IJburg, a suburb next to our beloved city. And by moving to a new place we needed to find a new dentist, a new family doctor, where the most convenient supermarket is located, the closest letterbox, etcetera, etcetera. Only after finding out about those basic necessities we started to check out the more entertaining parts of our new ‘hood’.

I guess that’s pretty natural behavior. Back when humans lived in caves, they probably did the same; they must have first explored the close surrounding for dangers, water and other essentials. And only after knowing about those basic ‘rules’, they could start setting up their house and tend to their daily tasks.

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Keeping your clients close

The conductor on a local train waits for an express to pass.I love it when I’m in the train and the announcer tells us why we’re not leaving on time or why we need to stop in the middle of nowhere for more than 2 minutes. The simple fact that I now know “why” makes me relax. It makes me realize that there are real people doing their utmost at that very moment to try to get me to my destination.
Preferably on time.
It resizes my world from a line in my calendar to a place where people live together. Yes, I want to get to my meeting but I’d rather wait right here, between an odd farm, an electricity pole and 23 ruminating cows, than to speed on with a good chance to hit another train!

There’s companies that get this and encourage their people to talk openly to their clients and there’s companies that don’t.  I run my own company and I’d really like it to fit the first profile.

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Want to make better links on your website? (and do a little SEO in the process)

A swimming boy wearing a pair of fogged swimming gogglesIn my work as Internet Consultant I often run into poorly linked content. Making useful links in your content is one of the easiest methods to improve your ranking in Google. And it helps the visually impaired get a better online experience.

One thing people do when visiting a page is quickly scan for linked content. It’s, next to reading the first sentence, a pretty good way to know if you’re on a possibly ‘right’ page or if there’s a link to something possibly more interesting. So making links in your content is a good habit. No need to link everything, just link to sites and pages of which you know they deliver good and relevant content. (Relevant to the subject of your page.)

Visually impaired people do the same except they don’t have a trustworthy set of eyes to do the job for them. They use a program to read the page aloud to them. Having no links in your content forces them to either just start reading or, more likely, dismiss your page as irrelevant. So make some links!
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How to stay ignorant of Darknet

How come I never ended up in DarkNet? Why did I never even hear of it? Does it support Retina display?

You live in a city for years and years and suddenly you hear about this part of town you never went to or even knew existed. Supposedly there was this insane, amazing market where you could freely buy drugs, fake passports or weapons and contact hackers and hit-men. And everything bought and sold was paid for in a new world currency.

It sounds more like a cyberpunk Harry Potter sequel than anything else. I’d expect to run into Hellboy or Arnold Schwarzenegger tearing things up.
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Oh, you people and your filenames!

People use the ‘wildest’ names for files!

Or at least, so it seems when you are a programmer like me.

Looking at it from a human point of view, it’s actually quite logical to name a file “Cover-image, corrected & proofed, issue: 7, 2013 DEF•••.jpg“. Anybody can see this is the file that’s supposed to be used because it’s corrected, it’s proofed and it’s the (3rd) definite version.

But uploading a file with this name to a CMS is asking for trouble. That’s why there’s this little plugin for MODx available now which will rename any file you upload to something more web appropriate (cover-image-corrected-proofed-issue-7-2013-def.jpg in this case, pretty it is not, web-save it is)

http://modx.com/extras/package/sanitizeupload

Easily installable from the MODx Package Manager

How to change the world

Sometimes I run into video’s which grab my attention so crudely, I cannot stop watching. It then feels like the video found a direct entrance to my emotive center and keeps hammering away!

Alexa Fischer showed me this video which is created around a part of a commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace in 2005 at the Kenyon College.
It shows you how you can change the world, simply by changing your world, decide what you think.

Mobile green house

For a while now, Amsterdam sponsors electric cars and their owners. That’s great because it might help someone make the decision to go green and it helps the streets of Amsterdam to be less “smokey”.

Amsterdam does so by placing, in front of your house, free of charge, a car adapter. More and more of these poles pop up around town. A great USP for a future ready city.

But Amsterdam is known for more than one USP. Continue Reading

The end of video

I first started thinking about creating a new video service because of an often recurring situation:

I work with some people who need or like to put video on their website. They’re not YouTube and don’t have hundred thousands of visitors but they do need or want to insert videos.

No problem, they upload it through the CMS and there it is. Sweet.

But then a friend calls and says they’re unable to view the video! Continue Reading

Acceptance (in 16 digits please)

When looking for a way to accept online payment for metered services I came across some service providers who seem to think that a half baked service is a solution. Continue Reading

Keeping your tech simple

I love it when machines emit and understand simple messages. I love the “START” button in my car. It makes me feel slightly understood.

There’s no need to study some kind of secret handshake to get from A to B. No searching for a hidden away keyhole and twisting an old fashioned iron key to ‘unlock’ the car’s engine. That gesture is probably based on a concept that’s as old as Mr Ford himself. Continue Reading