Saying no

Great post by Fred Wilson (A VC), talking about keeping focus in a startup:

There’s always the desire to please the customers. But knowing what you are going to do and focusing on it is so critical. Saying yes might seem like no big deal. It’s only a few lines of code, right? Wrong. It’s never just a few lines of code. So say no as often as you can. It’s counter intuitive to the entrepreneur mindset, but it’s critical.

I couldn’t agree more, although I must admit it’s easier said than done. There are so many interesting things to try… but you have to focus!


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WPAds, show ads in your posts

I’m getting very interesting suggestions from the first WPAds users, as for example being able to show the banners inside your posts.

So here goes the new version with the plugin, with the ability to show banners inside your posts and a couple of bugfixes. Just follow this link to download it from

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DMOZ accepting submissions again?

DMOZI just read that DMOZ is accepting site submissions again, apparently they had technical difficulties that didn’t allow editors to aprove or edit sites.

The truth is I don’t have very high expectations about DMOZ, I think their model has not been able to keep up with the times. I was an editor for a while and found it to be very bureaucratic and not dynamic at all. There are many categories that don’t have an editor but it is still very difficult to be accepted to edit those categories. Site submissions take months to be reviewed and web site owners don’t get any feedback about the process.

I think the directory model of DMOZ, where a reduced of people are responsible for the content of the site, does not scale well enough. Other social sites like do a very similar job in a much more dynamic way.

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WPAds, adserver for WordPress

A few days ago I wrote about rotating ads in WordPress and as I said I had found a couple of solutions, but as it usually happens I was not completely satisfied with any of them, so I decided to code my own plugin.

I have written a plugin called WPAds, that allows you to define the different positions (or zones) where you want to place your ads and then randomly rotates the banners you want in those zones.

I use adservers like phpAdsNew for a few projects, but the installation and learning process are way too much for the usual blogger that just wants to show some rotating ads, and that’s what WPAds is written for. Of course, the features of WPAds are nowhere close to those of a full adserver, but I think they should be enough for most bloggers (and if you need something else, just let me know and I’ll try to include it!)

If you want more information on WPAds just follow this link, I hope you like it and find it useful.

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ViewVC, a great tool for repository browsing

ViewVC, a great tool for repository browsing

A few days ago I installed ViewVC in one of the servers we work on, and we are very happy with it. I was looking for something to browse our CVS repositories and after a bit of research I decided to try it. It is written in Python and very easy to install, just run a installation script and a make a couple of changes in the config file. Ah, and it also works for Subversion repositories, although I haven’t tried it yet.

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Rotating ads in WordPress

Over the last few days I have been looking for some plugin that allows me to show ads in a WordPress blog (the installed version, not, which does not allow advertising). I found a post in Problogger that recommends AdRotator, a plugin that rotates different banners in each ad position you define. It’s fairly simple to use and install, you have to create a .txt file for each ad zone you want, and in that file you include all the banners you want, one banner per line (this requires reformatting most of the codes you need for each banner, as for example the Google AdSense javascript code). To show each banner, you just have to include a very small php code wherever in the templates.

Another plugin I found is AdSense Deluxe, which has an interface to edit the ads and they can also be easily inserted in posts or templates. Looks easier to use than AdRotator, but very focused on AdSense, I don’t know how it will work with other ad codes.

Do you know any other plugins for serving ads in WordPress?

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Startups want to beat Google search

GoogleA very interesting article in the New York Times about startups in Silicon Valley trying to grab a piece of the search market, and an even better post in Read/Write Web categorizing the different approaches of those startups are taking to try to beat the big players:

  • Better technology: either through the application of artificial intelligence (AI) or using people’s votes to rate results
  • Better interface: which includes previewing, clustering results or visualization improvements
  • Vertical search: search focused on a narrow segment (classifieds, jobs, blogs, music, etc)

Read/Write Web is asking users what technology they think has the best chances of beating Google, people-powered search seems to be winning. In my opinion vertical search is going to be huge, the question is if it will be the startups who take that market or Google (and the other big players) will be fast enough to grab it… I bet some of those startups will be acquired.

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Backing up MySQL databases


We all know how important it is to backup our servers and personal computers… but we all avoid doing it!! We just went through a major crisis in our servers and for some hours we thought we had lost all the info in them… and our last backup of the databases was a few weeks old!! The rest of the content of the server was recoverable (one of the many good things of using CVS is that you keep many copies of the code in different computers), but the databases are critical.

In the end we managed to solve the problem and everything is up and running now, with no data loss. But as you can imagine we are now setting up a backup system for our MySQL databases. Here’s how we did it, in case it may be helpful for anyone.
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Templates and pages

AppleWisdump raises a very good point in their post Building systems that let me design every page: most websites today use templates and as a result most of the pages in the site look very much the same. This is not necessarily bad, but as they point out sometimes some changes in design make the site much more attractive while keeping it usable and coherent.

The example they point is great, check out these three different pages from Apple’s website. They are different because they contain different kind of information, but they keep the same great design and look as part of the same site.

Point taken, from now on I will try not to use the same templates throughout the whole site.

Wisdump’s post is based on a very good post by Jeff Crot, Five things I’m doing to get better at web design. They’re actually four things, but I couldn’t agree more with all of them; especially with the second one, “Getting over web standards”: web standars are great but they’re only a mean to an ending, we should adhere to web standards as much as we can but if sometimes you don’t nothing happens.

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About management consulting

I just read this post by Joel Spolsky, it’s so funny. But apart from that, I think it’s completely true: go to a client, create some ratio that shows the client is doing really bad, get the client to improve in that ratio and then go to a competitor of the client and sell them the same methodology. That’s a large part of what management consultants do.

And you, how many “Number of Function Points Per Programmer Per Day” do you get? 😉

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