Writing Good Programming Articles

The article 10 Tips for Writing Consistently Popular Programming Articles is very relevant to the types of articles I am trying to include on PLCdev. Number 1 Choose a Pithy Topic and 2 Augment Existing Documentation are especially relevant. I love numbers 3 Compare Things and 4 Make a List and would like to have some more of that in automation articles. All in all, this is a must read if you'd like to contribute to PLCdev.

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One Server, Multiple Sites - Easy Web Development

Here's a nice tip from WebmasterWorld if you have multiple sites you manage as a webmaster and want to do local development.

This is an example to set up two websites so I can access them at http://mytestsite1 and http://mytestsite2.  You can name them anything you want.  Note also that you can put any extension on the end that tickles your fancy.  Some like to have it as .loc to indicate it's a local copy.

I'm using the Apache web server on WindowsXP so I add this at the bottom of the http.conf file under the VirtualHost section:

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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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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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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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