Power to the cloud


Website hosters are eating website hosters, which mean higher prices for the masses, combined with fewer functionality. So I finally got fed up with this, as the latest hoster forced me to accept a business type of hosting. Nothing wrong with that service, unfortunately my pockets aren't that deep... So I took the leap to the public cloud, where this site is now hosted.

Upgraded from drupal7 to drupal9 as well. The upgrade process included some docker instances voodoo, including sacrifying a puppy on full moon. Maybe I really should have a look at Hugo as well...

Grand Unified Social Networking


Internet savvy people will know this problem : you have a blog, are using microblogging tools as or Twitter, and of course have a Facebook or Netlog account. But what about your target audience ? Do you expect them to follow you wherever you post something on the internet ? And as more and more people are using Facebook as a medium, the less popular blogs are becoming. Sure, some people use a feedreader for this, but it requires extra software to be installed, and feedreaders are sooo 2008 anyway :) In this post, I'll show you how you can use a single channel for the display of all your internet publications.

First of all, we must choose a consolidation channel. In my case, I'll be using Facebook for this. It has the advantage that it has lots of features which can help you realize many of your consolidation efforts.

Let's start with your blog posts : we want our blog posts to be displayed on our Facebook wall. This can easily be achieved by using the RSS feed aggregation that Facebook is supporting. To activate this, Go to your Profile, choose Actions, Imported Stories. In the first section, you can use other social networking sites as Youtube or Flickr to be imported. To import your own blog, simply head over to the second section, and choose Blog/RSS,and enter the feed URL of your website. A disadvantage of this is that Facebook imports the whole story and stores it internally : typos that you have made cannot be corrected this way, even if you update your blog post. Just use a good spell checker (default in Firefox) to minimize the damage ;) Another thing is that everything you post on your blog gets drawn into Facebook, which might be a disadvantage. This can be solved by creating categories or taxonomies for Facebook posts only, but it requires your blogging engine to support this.

In a next step, we want our Twitter feeds to be displayed also on our Facebook wall. Facebook supports many Twitter applications, from which I personally like Selective Twitter Updates the most. You can select which tweets are to be displayed on your wall by ending them with a #fb suffix. It looks a bit weird on your Tweet list first, but this is something you're getting used to quickly. Selective Twitter Update has the advantage you don't submerge your wall by every tweet you're publishing.

There you have it : some simple steps to steer all your internet posts to a single distribution channel, which might help you save some time.

Robbed on Ebay


I regularly buy stuff on the internet. You can compare prices from behind your computer, and the item is delivered on your doorstep a few days later. I had way more problems with items bought in regular shops. So shopping on internet is easy, convenient, and (most of the time) cheap. But is it safe ?

When buying stuff on internet, there's a small amount of time where the buyer is quite unprotected. It is between the time of payment, and the time of receiving the item. At that time, there's nothing much you can do but wait, and trust the seller has sent the item to you. This gray area of time turned black for me last week.

I was browsing Ebay for a second-hand smartphone, when I found a Nokia N96, and decided to bid for it. To my surprise, I won the phone. So I payed, emailed the seller the shipping address and waited for it to arrive. Three days later, however, I noticed the seller had removed his Ebay account, and that was a warning flare that went of in my mind. I decided to request Ebay for the seller contact data, like phone number and address. I quickly found out these were fake, and decided to write one last email to him, saying that if I hadn't received a confirmation email by him the next day, I would contact the police. That didn't work, so I quickly noticed the cops, and filed a dispute at Paypal.

All I know is that the thief goes by the name of Christian Collard, his email address is, and I'm pretty sure this data is correct. The rest I leave for the police to figure all out to their amusement. Paypal offered an insurance of 66% of the artifact, so I hope the damage will be limited.

The next safety tips are free of charge : when buying stuff on Ebay, watch out for these points, which might ensure a more safe transaction :

  • only buy from a seller which has lots of positive feedback. This ensures you're buying from someone more trustable.
  • always pay with Paypal, and look out for items with a Paypal insurance which covers the buying price
  • always contact the seller before paying. That way, you're sure his email account is at least correct

The split modem syndrome


I recently noticed that the electrical socket of my now 8 year old Speedtouch ADSL modem seemed to have a crack in it. While pulling it out from the electricy net, it literally fell apart. Pushing it back into the power wasn't an option, I had no other choice than contacting Belgacom for a replacement of the socket. As the modem wasn't manufactered anymore, I had to pay for a new one. Grmbl...

One thing that struck me : I tried to telephone our local Belgacom shop, but nobody answered the call. I first thought it would be too busy in the shop, but after checking the website, it seemed that they were closed. Isn't it weird that a telecom giant doesn't install an automatic answering machine, noticing people of the opening hours of the shop ?



This is the 1000nd blogpost I'm creating in Drupal. There were many more, but most of them didn't survive the Postnuke-to-Drupal migration. I only wish I had some more time to blog, most of the posts are nowadays hush-hush written in a spare minute, something which hopefully doesn't reflect in the writing style.

Kudos to Dries for creating Drupal : it is both lightweight and full-featured, and these properties are in most blog engines mutually exclusive.

Do Zebra's get more spam than Aardvarks ?


A new study reveals that the first letter of your email address might be crucial to the amount of spam you receive. Analysis of traffic logs of email received by a large UK ISP shows considerable disparity between the proportions of spam received by addresses with different first characters. This disparity is quite marked when only email addresses that appear to be 'real' are considered. The root cause is likely to be spammers using dictionary or Rumpelstiltskin attacks to guess valid email addresses.