Beep Mode

Web development & junk mail

About Beep Mode / Robert Rijkhoff

A drawing of Robert Rijkhoff working on a laptop. (c) 2013 by Eloise O'Hare.
A drawing of me, made by Eloise O'Hare.

I've been coding web sites since 2004. Like many slightly older geeks I started coding almost by accident. A local political party needed a "web master", as it was commonly called then, and I volunteered. I bought a book about HTML that counted roughly 150 pages, opened Notepad and a browser window, and got going. Within a couple of weeks I launched my first ever web site. It used frames and tables for the layout and, as recommended by the book's author, all HTML elements were written in upper-case. From a technical perspective it wasn't all that impressive, but the feeling of being able to publish content on the world wide web was quite liberating.

I continued to improve the web site and started coding lots of new ones. In the process I learnt about CSS, JavaScript, LAMP stacks and all the other things good web developers should know about. Notepad was first replaced with Dreamweaver, and then with Vim. For a while I specialised in Wordpress, only to find that Drupal is much more suited for web sites with online shops and other complicated features. In short, it's been a journey involving lots of learning.

My work

Most of my web site work is functional and fairly minimalist. Web sites that use lots of graphics and fancy effects can be very nice indeed but I tend to use such features sparingly. Design should not get in the way of content. That said, I do like to experiment with 'cutting edge' technologies. Some examples can be found in my 'scrapbook' at Visual Mode.

Since June 2016 I'm working part-time (mostly evenings and weekends) for a friendly web hosting company. I'm also the founder of Stop Junk Mail, a campaign that has featured in various magazines, newpapers and radio and television programmes. If you're curious, here's a clip from You & Yours about a super-duper opt-out scheme for junk mail leaflets that was promised by the government in 2011 but which was quietly scrapped some time in 2013.

Needless to say I don't like aggressive marketing – and that includes online tracking / surveillance by marketing companies. In my work I try to be ethical. For the same reason I'm also a free software advocate. I develop and host websites on Centos Linux and use only free / open source software. Without such software I would never have been able to do coding, and the same is true for most people on this planet. Computing shouldn't be exclusively for those who can afford expensive software / licenses.

Why Beep Mode?

The name Beep Mode comes from my favourite text editor: vi. The editor dates back to 1976. At that time editors had different modes. To enter text you would switch to insert mode and to do things like saving a file you would switch to normal mode (and run the appropriate command).

With all that switching it's easy to forget what mode you're working in. The easiest way to solve that problem is to hit the esc key. This either puts you in command mode or, if you already are in command mode, makes the computer beep at you. Hence beep mode… it's an informal name for normal mode.

The logo of the Vim text editor.

The vi editor still exists, though most people – including me – nowadays use a derivative named Vim. One of the many improvements in Vim is that the editor will always tell you at the bottom of your screen what mode you're working in. Another improvement is that Vim doesn't beep when you do something wrong (like hitting the esc key when you already are in normal mode).