Friday, 22 May 2020

7-Step SEO Basics for Beginners - Step 1

While Lockdown creates the time and space for it, we're going back to basics on SEO. It shouldn't be difficult, it definitely isn't rocket science. It just takes a little effort.

Getting the basics right can make a big difference to all of our portfolio sites' rankings.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 21 May 2020
Thursday, May 21, 2020, marks the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

How to Fix VirtualBox UUID already exists Errors

Kitten and partial reflection in mirror, Paul Reynolds / CC BY (
Retrieving an old VirtualBox VM earlier, I had to copy the virtual hard drive from one partition to another. I released the copy of the disk from the Virtual Media Manager, tried to add the new copy in the new location to the machine's storage tree and Virtual Box stopped dead because... the disk's unique identifier was already registered by VirtualBox itself. I had to relearn how to fix VirtualBox 'UUID already exists Errors' all over again.

How to match content to questions, NOT SEO

What's My Line quiz show panel
The search engines make good incomes out of finding information and providing answers. It may be as a by-product of their advertising business, but the key to keeping eyeballs on the engine is to fulfil as many information needs as possible. Which is what you need to do for them if you want to be found; match content to questions not SEO.

Friday, 15 May 2020

How-to: Understand SEO

Field of Dreams (c) Universal Pictures
Are you getting junk mail daily from a mob of SEO 'experts'? Paranoid that you really really need it but don't understand what it is, how to get it, or whether to pay for it? Well, it's lock down, the time is now, so here is a whole series of posts on SEO, beginning with: How to understand SEO.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Is your web page mobile-friendly?

Google mobile friendly test
Ever though Google went mobile-first for search indexing in 2015, there's a long tail of websites still on their original desktop layouts. Fortunately Google's own mobile-friendly test tool is still accessible.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Stop Firefox updating in background

Firefox auto-update setting
<Rant:> I didn't want my work interrupted, so I told Software Updater to 'remind me later'. Firefox insisted on behaving like Windows 10 and updated anyway and further insisted on a re-start before it would do anything else. I hit the restart button and to add insult to injury... nothing. No restart and my open tabs weren't restored when I restarted manually. Bastards.

If you want to behave like bloody Microsoft, sell out to them so we all know where we stand and can go use a browser we can trust not to go behind our backs making a zillion connections and updates without our consent.

The ability to disable Firefox update checking was removed in Firefox 63. Thanks a bunch. Do not lecture me, Mozilla, about security, privacy and freedom of choice if you're going to enforce automatic updates whether I want them or, for good reason, not. Twats. </Rant>

Saturday, 2 May 2020

How-to: Artwork for Blog Posts

Image: Mini Piggy Bank Money Box -
Image: Mini Piggy Bank
Money Box -
As I have to keep telling clients, the bad old days of text-only blogs is over. Every post needs at least one image at the top so that it has some visual interest on the page and in any list of search results.

You need not only to find that image, but know how and where it will be displayed and at what resolution, in order to avoid that 'elementary school project' look.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

How-to: Write a Blog Post

How-to: Write a blog post
A couple of years ago, I calculated that I'd racked up about four and a half thousand blog posts across all my personal and professional projects. I've been doing this a while.

I won't say there's a set formula (if there is, I break it regularly), but there are definitely good practices.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Livepatch on Ubuntu 20.04

Canonical's Livepatch allows you to install kernel updates without a system reboot. First introduced in Ubuntu 16.04 it is a great utility for servers to maximise uptime and reduce server restarts. It also works on desktops, where kernel restarts can be just as inconvenient.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Review: Web design trends for 2020?

Web Deign Trends 2020
We're part way into the year and I wanted to review the 'web design trends for 2020' that came out last December and January, to see if certain commentators and agencies were just blowing smoke, playing the odds at the race track or genuinely had a finger on the pulse.

How many of these have you seen in the wild so far this year?

Friday, 24 April 2020

How-to: Install snaps on Ubuntu 20.04

In Ubuntu 20.04 you'll find the application Ubuntu Software (the Ubuntu Software Center having gone to the great development repo in the sky). This is actually the Snap Store (check the About link in the menu) your one-stop shop for installing software automatically as the graphical interface to the base program snapd. It will install whatever you ask it based on the software in its catalogue - any whatever is the 'best' format - Snaps first.

Monday, 20 April 2020

'The next outbreak? We're not ready' (TED 2015)

Bill Gates TED Talk 2015
Since he left Microsoft, 'the world's most evil capitalist' has become 'the world's most benign philanthropist' thanks to his charitable foundation and extensive investment into medical research and healthcare.

And in his 2015 TED Talk, the one and only Bill Gates outlined the lessons we needed to learn from the 2014 Ebola near-miss. Just in case another global pandemic should strike...

Snaps, Flatpacks or Debs: Package Management hell

Fragile package Snaps, Flatpacks or Debs? No idea what I'm talking about? These are the three competing package management, hm, 'standards'(?) currently supported in Ubuntu Linux.

Ubuntu draws from the Debian repositories upstream to assemble and add to the distribution, as do a slew of other Linux distributions from Mint to Puppy and many between. The default package format for all of these is the .deb. So why do we need the others?

Saturday, 18 April 2020

What Ubuntu 20.04 means on the desktop

Ubuntu 20.04 desktop
Since 20.04 is a Long Term Support release, it is by nature on the conservative side of new features, both for server and desktop users. As described in the first look, there aren't many cosmetic, wow! changes this time around, but there are improvements under the hood that keep progress rolling along and should make for a better experience overall.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

PayPal Personal vs Business Account

If you're getting into e-commerce to sell online, you're going to need a payment processor and the grandaddy of them all is PayPal. Without getting into the rights and wrongs of PayPal's business model, it's an easy choice for coverage, anti-fraud measures and simple technical integration.

Cutting to the chase, then, PayPal offers 3 Account Types: personal, business and premier. All PayPal accounts allow you to send and receive payments, so what's the difference?

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

The Perfect Desktop: Desktop Icons Extension

Desktop Icons extension
Following up on the Gnome-Shell extensions that make up my perfect desktop, the fifth and final of these is Desktop Icons.

It may not be radical or sexy, but Gnome Shell doesn't support desktop icons natively and while I don't use a lot, I do park certain things on the desktop where I don't have to go clicking around to find them. RC

Monday, 13 April 2020

The Perfect Desktop: Ubuntu AppIndicators Extension

Ubuntu AppIndicators extension
Following up on the Gnome-Shell extensions that make up my perfect desktop, the fourth of these is Ubuntu AppIndicators; this a mock extension which is an alias for the extension KStatusNotifierItem/AppIndicator Support.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

The Perfect Desktop: GNOME Shell Frippery

Frippery Applications Menu extension
Following up on the Gnome-Shell extensions that make up my perfect desktop, the third of these is Frippery Applications Menu.

Released under the tag-line "for grumpy old stick-in-the-muds" this seems ideally suited to me. It is a collection of Gnome-Shell extensions in JavaScript to provide a user experience more akin to that of Gnome2.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

The Perfect Desktop: Dash to Panel Extension

Dash to Panel Extension
Following up on the Gnome-Shell extensions that make up my perfect desktop, the second of these is Dash to Panel.

This is an icon taskbar for Gnome-Shell, which moves the dash into the Gnome main panel. The application launchers and system tray are combined into a single panel, similar to that found in KDE Plasma and Windows 7+. A separate dock is no longer needed for easy access to pinned and running applications.

Friday, 10 April 2020

The Perfect Desktop: Tweaks Extension

Following up on the Gnome-Shell extensions that make up my perfect desktop, the first  of these is Tweaks.

Previously known as Tweak Tool, this extension is a graphical interface for advanced GNOME 3 settings. Yes, you could dive into several configuration files and edit things painfully in Vi, but why would you...?

Thursday, 9 April 2020

First Look: Ubuntu 20.04 'Focal Fossa'

Ubuntu 20.04, code name 'Focal Fossa', is the next long term support (LTS) release. In line with Canonical’s typical 6-month development cycle, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS is planned for release on April 23, 2020. 

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

The Perfect Desktop: Gnome-Shell Extensions

Ubuntu 19.10 desktop
Anyone with a long enough memory will recall that one of the many reasons I ditched Ubuntu for Debian for five years from 2013 to 2018, was my inability to contend with the Unity desktop. Clunky, clumsy and unintuitive, it simply got in my way.

That wasn't the only reason, Canonical made quite a few questionable technical and commercial decisions in the run up, but Unity really set the cap on it.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

BTW: We're back (again)

What happened to 2019? I blinked and I missed it.

2020 so far: fire, flood, almost WWIII, plague and pestilence. I can do without living through a moment of history, thank you. Although the alternative of not living through it is equally unappealing...

How-to: Youtube-dl video download basics

Often times various browser-based video downloaders, even the good ones, fail to penetrate YouTube's byzantine front-end to access all the formats available.

This is where the terminal-based Youtube-dl is able to query the server directly to get exactly what you want. And, for a terminal based tool, it is simplicity itself.