Free alternatives to GMail Workspace

When Google announced that they will be making their G Suite Legacy Edition start paying for service, many people were justifiably miffed. After all, it’s been offered for free for many years. What you get is almost exactly the same as what’s on offer with a free account, but with the novelty of using your address.

In my case, I started migrating some of my non-essential domains to a reputable web hosting service that offers free inboxes, like Dreamhost (Note: referral link), because I’ve my account with them for a long time. It was not exactly as straightforward, especially for non-techies. Additionally, all you get is email service, without the Google services bells-and-whistles.

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December 2021 Housekeeping

This blog has not been updated for so long that I feel it needs a new coat of paint. I was planning to code a new minimalistic from scratch, but decided against it. Instead, I went with Arke, a creation of Olympus Themes.

I like its simplicity that’s almost too bare, aside from the built-in archives page it provides. You can see it in action on this site now.

Remove extra header tags

WordPress generates a handful of <meta> tags that are not always used by a theme, so here’s a trick to remove some or all of them:

* code #5 - removes excess WordPress header tags from default themes. 
* feel free to customize the options to suit your own needs.
function clean_wp_header() {
	remove_action('wp_head', 'wp_generator');
	remove_action('wp_head', 'rel_canonical');
	remove_action('wp_head', 'rsd_link');
	remove_action('wp_head', 'feed_links',2);
	remove_action('wp_head', 'feed_links_extra',3);
	remove_action('wp_head', 'wlwmanifest_link');
	remove_action('wp_head', 'wp_shortlink_wp_head', 10, 0);
	remove_action('wp_head', 'adjacent_posts_rel_link_wp_head', 10, 0);
add_action('init', 'clean_wp_header');

There’s more of it in this collection.

Check for retina via javascript

Retina displays can lead to all sorts of new things you can do, some of them headache–inducing. Detecting for retina devices or hi–density displays still isn’t a straightforward thing, but this javascript snippet could come handy for a quick hack:

    // do something here

More details on this technique from Shaun Inman’s post.

Webpage Screenshots using PHP

I’ve always wondered about how to grab screenshots of web pages through PHP and other languages, but without utilizing a real browser. I believe that previously, running multiple machines on a network was the easiest though logistically difficult solution.

But thanks to a project named wkhtmltopdf, it can now be done with minimal configuration and programming. Using the Linux shell and some PHP scripting via the snappy library, taking screenshots of web pages aren’t so hard at all.

WP Help: A Simple Plugin for Documentations

I’m sure you’ve had a need for something like this. While building WordPress–powered sites and blogs for other people, you sometimes need to provide some documentation for them to use the site correctly. A “style guide” is the first thing that comes to mind—like how authors should format their headlines as well as structure their post content. The WP Help plugin by Mark Jaquith solves problems like this, as described:

Administrators can create detailed, hierarchical documentation for the site’s authors and editors, viewable in the WordPress admin.

Now if you’re building a custom WP site with lots of customizations and tweaks, the WP Help plugin will make things easier for you and your users.


WatchOCR is free OCR server for PDFs. Based on Knoppix, WatchOCR uses cuneiform, and exactimage to create text searchable PDFs from image only PDFs. Using the web interface, WatchOCR can be remotely configured to monitor a watched folder for newly scanned PDFs for OCR conversion. Leveraging the power of a liveCD distro, WatchOCR is the fastest way to get an OCR service up and running for your network.”

This seems a very useful way to get high–quality optical character recognition across all services in a network.

autojump: Linux cd command on steroids

autojump is “a cd command that learns,” one that programatically learns your favorite directories and allows you to minimize keyboard input to get you where you want.

autojump is a faster way to navigate your filesystem. It works by maintaining a database of the directories you use the most from the command line. The jumpstat command shows you the current contents of the database. You need to work a little bit before the database becomes usable. Autojump will listen and rank your ‘cd’ commands by frequency.

This seems like a good utility for commandline purists!

Image Sliders

Image sliders, like lightboxes, are just some of the useful presentational tools brought about by the growth in browser technologies and javascript frameworks. If you’re looking for one you can use for your blog, I recently found three robust solutions that should fit most needs: Nivo Slider, Coin Slider, and SlideDeck. You’d be surprised how extensible yet easy–to–setup these jQuery plugins are.

Bulletproof MySQL Backups

Doing database backups for MySQL can be as simple as commandline dumps, but complex deployments can make things well, very complicated. This guide on bulletproof MySQL backups can be very helpful if you think you’ll be going into the complex type of deployments.

Masonry: A jQuery Layout Plugin

Masonry is a layout plugin for jQuery. Think of it as the flip side of CSS floats. Whereas floating arranges elements horizontally then vertically, Masonry arranges elements vertically then horizontally according to a grid. The result minimizes vertical gaps between elements of varying height, just like a mason fitting stones in a wall.”

Mount Disks in Ubuntu

I’m currently working on a server migration and doing backups at the same time, all this on a remote VPS, and I just realized I keep on forgetting how to mount disks in Ubuntu and Linux in general. This Ubuntu guide on Mount/USB was very helpful. Basically, these are the commands that come handy:

sudo mkdir /media/external
sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /media/external

Or something close to that.


YoxView is another jQuery image viewer plugin that doesn’t look like your typical lightbox. Though there are too many lightbox options available, YoxView is among the few that have a built–in slideshow feature, which may come in handy for some sites.

iPad & iPhone Fonts

The recently released iPad and the iPhone have been revolutionary devices that change the way we access the web. As a result, web designers should be aware about the typeface options in both devices so you can properly declare them in your stylesheets without unnecessarily digging into @font–face embedding.


SublimeVideo is a javascript library you can use to serve HTML5 video to capable browsers while still retaining compatibility with older browsers, gracefully degrading to using a flash–based player. In many ways, it is similar to html5media, another library we featured a few weeks ago.

jQuery Crash

Now here’s a jQuery plugin with an evil twist: jQuery Crash. With just Javascript through jQuery, this plugin will crash anyone using IE6, a not so subtle way of telling them to start using a better browser. Sick.