Tim Young's blog

Forcing the www in front of the url with mod_rewrite

Problem: My website could be accessed with http://www.plcdev.com or http://plcdev.com. While it doesn't seem like much of a problem it caused Google Adsense to go wacky since it doesn't have http://plcdev.com indexed. It also creates problems with search engines not realizing that these two links are the same and therefore diminishing the page rank.

Solution: You must have Apache's mod_rewrite enabled on your web host.  Create an .htaccess file and add the following

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\. [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^([^.]+)\.(com|org) [NC]
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.%1.%2/$1 [R=301,L]

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Ecommerce: Increasing conversion rates

I've compiled this list of tips for making an ecommerce store better and increasing conversion rates from a WebmasterWorld thread.


  1. Things to include above the "fold" on the front page
    • Identify the site
    • Engender confidence. One spelling mistake and you're dead.
    • Show the site's purpose (if it's a commerce site, make that clear)
    • Show a few best-sellers to grab the customer
    • Show at least one sale item "this week" or a new hot product (to grab old customers)
  2. Somewhere, not necessarily above the fold, should contain clear site navigation with links to cart, FAQs, email sign-up, policies and contact info which should ideally be a prominent #800.

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The Christmas (Xmas) Resistance

Well, isn't this something?  The Christmas Resistance Movement is in full swing with an impressive marketing campaign.



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PowerPoint Tip: Typing text in slide show mode

I really find it hard to believe that there's no way (natively) to type on the screen of a PowerPoint slideshow? In a presentation where there's audience feedback I just want to be able to keep a list on the screen. They give you this pretty useless little pen to make scribbles but it's useless for writing. It makes my handwriting look even worse. So I went on a Google search for the answer which was not that easy to find. At last I struck paydirt.  There is a way but none to obvious.

  1. Right click on a toolbar, select the Visual Basic toolbar,

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Eagle CAD to Gerber

These are my notes on creating a Gerber file from Eagle CadSoft.

  1. Open your board file. 
  2. Open the CAM processor = File | Cam Processor
  3. Open the job file in the CAM Processor = File | Open | Job ...
  4. Select "gerber274x.cam" Click on "Process Job"
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 but this time run the "excellon.cam" job.

This will create the Gerber files in the same directory as your board files.

For a simple prototype (no silkscreen, no soldermask) I zip these files.

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Cron job cheat sheat

I don't use linux enough so here's my cheat sheet when I have to change the crontab settings on my web host. It's not meant to be comprehensive but just the commands that I use. I've found the telnet program Putty works pretty good for SSH connections. I like Computer Hope as it has DOS equivalents for Unix commands. Very helpful for an lame old DOS user.

Command prompt:

  • crontab -l lists out the cron jobs.
  • crontab -e brings up the jobs in vi editor so you can change them.


  • i or Insert to start inserting text.
  • Esc stops insert.
  • :w writes changes.
  • :q quits.
  • :q! quits without saving changes.

There's a ton of other commands but that gets me around at least

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Image reflection with PhotoImpact 7

I love those image effects that make it look like the object is sitting on a piece of glass. These instructions are mainly for my benefit to remember how to duplicate this effect. So here's the makeover of our Allen Bradley SLC500...

Before   After
Reflection Start   Reflection Final

These instructios are based on the program PhotoImpact version 7. There's newer version that may do this automatically but I've been too cheap to buy an upgrade. I really should do it but here we are so lets do it in six easy steps.

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Evil spamming ruining del.icio.us

Man, you find a nice service like delicious and people just got to ruin it. Delicious is a nice online social tagging (aka bookmarking) service that I use. You can see my tags at http://del.icio.us/Timotheos. It's also really easy to add certain tags as RSS feeds to your site. So I was suprised to see in one of these a totally unrelated item that was just filled with tags that had no connection with the original link. Here's a link to the offender - http://del.icio.us/dngrand.

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Getting friendly with Drupal (goodbye Mambo)

At the core of PLCDev.com is a content management system (CMS) called Drupal. I think it's fantastic. I remember the old days (circa 1997) where all the html pages were static and I did an inordinate amount of 'hard coding' and copy/paste. I then discovered how to make them 'dynamic' by using the PHP scripting language when I had to make a contact management system. There still was a lot of work to do though and worries about security.

So when I began considering new projects (like my baseball site) I went shopping for a content management system to make my life easier. After much research and trying out demos (opensourcecms.com is great for taking test drives) it came down to Mambo* and Drupal. At the time Drupal wasn't PHP5 compliant which scared me away so I went with Mambo. While Mambo is great there were two things that turned me off:

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