Author - Web Developer - Educator
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How many drafts does it take?

As I browse through my online profiles, I realize that I haven't updated my blog. IN 5 MONTHS! Geez, my online life really has fallen behind. I'm not proud of that.

My many drafts
My many drafts for Omega Noir
So, what has been keeping me busy? I'm glad you asked:

Working on 3rd draft of Omega Noir 1 manuscript


During NanoWrimo 2015, I wrote the majority of "Omega Noir: Ascension", which was the first of my magical fantasy series. During 2016, I finished the manuscript and began editing it, and really liked where it was going. However, while writing "Omega Noir: Chaos Cast" (#2), and editing what I had of that, I realized two things:
  1. Vol 1(1) had lots of plot holes
  2. Vol 2(1) had a sucky villian


So I started a 2nd draft of Omega Noir (#1), and got about 70 pages in, but I realized I was doing the same thing: making sucky villians and building up plot holes. Additionally, the story didn't flow the same way, and lost even MY interest.

Hence, I began Draft #3. This one has a better hook, explains as it goes, and keeps on moving. I'm already 56 pages in, and so much has already happened, with a lot more to go!

Teaching Japanese Elementary and Middle School


My job in Japan has me teaching at 4 different schools: 2 elementary schools (1-6 grade) and 2 middle schools (7-9 grade). My job: Teaching (or assisting in teaching) the English Language.

Luckily, the programs have already been planned out, so all I have to do is show up, maybe bring an activity, and be active. It's not the hardest job in the world, but it is technically the first 8-5 job I've had.

Teaching AB Tech


While teaching English during the day, I'm also teaching HTML by night (well, late evening). I still have my job with AB Tech, and I'm so happy that AB Tech was willing to let me keep my job while across the world. I've had to do a lot of video recording (and editing) as my course is completely online, so I can't just show up and talk for two hours like I did before.

Managing Japanoblog


Japanoblog has become a big part of our lives. While in Japan, we have traveled around the area, including Tokyo and Kyoto, documenting different adventures, sights, foods, and more. Although we still have to work on the weekdays, it's nice to get out and share our adventures with our fans.

Managing the cats


Getting the cats to Japan (after the paperwork) was easy. However, shortly after we arrived, the cats got fleas. We're still not quite sure how, because they never had fleas in America, and we didn't bring them. But somehow, they got fleas, and we've been fighting them ever since. The two of them fight like siblings and we keep them fed and watered, and they like the treats that Japan has to offer.

During some nights, Maru will come into the bedroom and sleep on our heads (or lick our faces) while Chi traps us under the blankets. Other nights (or days), neither of them will enter the bedroom, and when we drag them in, they immediately dash out. No idea why.

Figuring out Japan lifestyle


Comapring Japan to America is like night and day (which, since we're 14 hours ahead, can be a literal definition). There are many things in Japan that are different from America, such as traveling, paying bills, bank accounts, phones, and more. We'll do an article/video on Japanoblog and talk about that in detail.

So until the next post, I'm still busy.


Tags:#tokyo #kyoto #japanoblog #cats #abtech #english #omeganoir

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The Move, the Jobs, and the Editing

Me in Japan!I'm on my bike, in Japan!
So, you may be wondering "Where has Kyle been?" I have a very good answer: busy. Okay, that's not a very good answer. How about this one: In the past month, I have done the following:

  • Packed up the Waynesville house for selling and moving
  • Had the cats examined and ready to move
  • Moved to Japan!
  • Attended training for my "new" job - teaching english
  • Maintaining the Japanese apartment
  • Planned out the new semester for a WEB 115 online course that I am teaching with AB Tech, all the way across the world
  • Recorded videos for WEB 115, edited, and published them (per section - I'm up to Chapter 3 out of 9)
  • Organized Moodle for WEB 115, which was a mess, since I merged my seated class with my "attempt" at my previous online WEB 115 class, so I had to sort that out)
  • Traveled to Tokyo multiple times to take care of some visa documentation
  • Attended more training for my English teaching job
  • Traveled to some of the schools that I will be teaching at
  • Prepped for a presentation at the Board of Education, who ultimately decides my fate with my new job
  • Edited the physical copy of Omega Noir (I'm editing the digital manuscript now)
  • Updating all profile information to either Raleigh or Japan
  • Communicating with in-laws about stuff we left in Waynesville, in Raleigh, and/or selling items
  • ....and I'm sure I left something off of this list

So I've been busy. Since I'm now (and hopefully) a full-time Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) with this company (instead of a substitute, which I was originally hired as), I will be working 40 hours a week between 2 elementary schools and 2 junior high schools; I'm also teaching/managing an online session of WEB 115 with AB Tech; and I'm editing/rewriting Omega Noir, so it can hopefully be released by the end of the year.

Why? I want "Omega Noir 2" to start in November, so I can participate in NaNoWriMo again.

Japanoblog!Japanoblog
Oh, did I mention that I'm also working on Keat and my side project, Japanoblog? Yeah, we're also doing that when we have some free time.
I know I've been slack on my personal site's postings - I've dedicated more time to Japanoblog while I've been at the apartment (shooting video, editing video, creating the blog post, managing social media presence, etc) along with making sure that my WEB 115 course is up-to-date (wash, rinse, repeat - minus the social media), and prepping for my new ALT job.

Overall, I have a lot on my plate - and that's how I like it. While working full time, having a part time online teaching job, writing/editing books, and managing/shooting/editing video and posts for a side job, I've got a lot to do. Am I making excuses? No, I just don't have a lot of free time. Does that mean I will stop writing? Of course not, but I won't have as much dedicated time to get my books done as fast as I originally hoped (which also means my parody book, The Story: Epic Conquest of Tag may have to wait until probably 2019 or so


Tags:#japan, #omega #noir, #the #story, #web #115, #ab #tech, #alt

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My Journey into Git

Git logo

My Journey


My journey to discovering git was not an easy one. Since git was not covered in my formal programming lessons, I had to learn "version control" the hard way - the very hard way.

When I started learning HTML back in 2001, I learned to save and modify local files only. In 2002, I learned PHP and MySQL by working on a team server, but version control was not introduced (git was introduced to the world in 2005, but options like CVS or SVK weren't taught). My first local server came in 2004, when I learned to FTP files, instead of testing local files only.

I quickly updated to SSH'ing into the server and editing the direct code, and backuped the files using a combination of file extensions (such as .bak, date stamps like.20150515, and "Backup 20140523" folders).

...and I used this method up to about a year ago, when I took a git intro course online. Unfortunatly, I didn't quite understand the purpose of git because the demos kept talking about files that either already existed, or branches that were made by someone else - never really diving into the underlying purpose of git, which was version control.

I also couldn't get used to the idea of uploading my database login information (along with other private code) to the public site GitHub, which is great for open-sourced projects (see mine here), but not great for a company version control backup. So I dabbled in git for a while, until it hit me about a month ago: I could use git on my own server(s) and not have to deal with private repositories on GitHub (or the prices).

So, I started using git on my server for backups of projects site-wide. Then, I wanted to deal with errors on a non-production server basis (I didn't want the world to see my error testing, because that would be unprofessional). After getting a local Apache server, and MySQL server, and installing PHP (on Windows), I thought that I could use the GitHub software to create backups - but that was only for the GitHub site; I needed something to work with my own existing servers. Therefore, I installed Cygwin and got the Linux-enabled commands with git to my production server.

Overall, this is what I learned, and I hope it helps others:
The Process
The "direct" process vs the git process

Usage


(If you don't already have git set up on your remote server, then please do so by installing it - I recommend sudo apt-get install -y git. Otherwise, this won't work, and it's just a bunch of lines of code)
The SetupRemote (seperate from production folder):
mkdir [dir].git && cd $_
 
git init --bare
 
cp ~/post-receive.sample hooks/post-receive

The hooks folder deals with webhooks to automatically catch incoming files and do something with them (or at least, that's what I've discovered). To make the hooks run properly, you need a post-receive file, and this is what it should look like:
post-receive.sample
#!/bin/sh
 
GIT_WORK_TREE=[absolute path to production] git checkout -f


Once you have that set up, you can work on your local machine to create and modify files.
Local development machine
# If files do not exist
 
git clone [email protected]:[dir].git 
 
cd [dir]
 
# If files DO exist/update
 
cd [dir]
 
git pull
 

 
# Time for editing
 
vim [file]
 
[...]
 
[work on files, test on development machine]
 
[...]
 
(Ready to upload to production server)
 
git add [file(s) - * works as well]
 
git commit -m "Relevant message to update"
 
git push


One important note: As I have learned, your Git folder is not your production folder. I had my .git folder in my production folder of a project, and it was good for local editing, but not remote pulling. If your project folder (example: project.git) is somewhere else, like your home folder, then you can use the post-receive webhook to automatically pull committed files to the production area

Bonus: SSH Login w/o PW


Unless you want to type in your login information every time you git push, I recommend setting it up so your local machine/development server can automatically upload to the production server. If you are running a Linux system (and I recommend you do), then you can do the following:
SSH Password-less LoginOn your local machine (hopefully a Cygwin or Linux/Mac Terminal)
ssh keygen -t rsa
 
ssh [email protected] 'mkdir -p .ssh'
 
cat .ssh/id_rsa.pub | ssh [email protected] 'cat >> .ssh/authorized_keys'
B = Remote server



Summary


There is still quite a lot I don't understand about git (like branches, merging, etc), but I am getting better. I've been using this guide as a resource, as many other guides are very technical for a non-git person.

My takeaway: Better integration into team development instead of just "solo development"


Tags:#git #development #php #mysql #html #linux

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FIRE SALE!

What we have left!
If you haven't heard the news yet, Keat and I are moving to Japan. Therefore, we need to downsize our belongings. Some of these belongings include extra copies of our books, so we've decided to host a Fire Sale of our remaining inventory!

In order to move what we have left, all books are $5 flat! That's right, we'll cover the cost of shipping to anywhere in the US, because we need to move these things.

Spread the word, tell your friends, and help us get rid of our inventory, because we can't take it with us when we leave the country!

You can only get this deal on our Square store - not Amazon, not at a local book store, not anywhere else!

And once our inventory runs out, that's it (for this sale). Click on the titles below to purchase:


The Night Blade series is actually going to go through a minor revision, and will be re-released with new covers, and that should happen early 2017.


Tags:#nightblade #thekingsrose #lunarproductions #firesale #japan

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Become a Beta Reader!

Beta Reader! As part of a way to help spread the word, and to have my fans help me, I've created a "Beta Reader Program." Basically as a Beta Reader, you'll get 2 things:

  1. An unedited manuscript of my latest book, which I hope you can provide some feedback, and
  2. A mention in the acknowledgement section of the book you helped edit.


That's all I have right now. I'm sure I'll add more as more books come out.

If you would like to become a Beta Reader for me, please visit http://kylemperkins.com/beta-reader!


Tags:#betareader #fans #program

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Review of Syfy's The Magicians

Quintin, the main character in Syfy's The Magicians When I first heard about Syfy's The Magicians, I was a little skeptical. I first thought it was just another Harry Potter.

Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against Harry Potter. In fact, my wife is a huge Potterhead, but when I heard that Syfy was creating a series about Magicians, I didn't have high hopes.

In fact, 5 episodes in, I still don't have high hopes. A friend of mine wanted to read the book summer of last year, and I didn't think much of it.

However, I bit the bullet (read: I was bored) and watched the first episode on Syfy.com. The beginning was a bit rough, as the main character was a bit timid. I will admit that having main characters timid at first is nice, so they can build up from there. But the main character doesn't get better!

The main character (to me) looks like Jim Carrey mixed with Jared Padalecki (Supernatural). He was in the hospital for something, and now he was trying to get an interview for grad school, which turned out to be a setup. He was then "handed" a mysterious (and missing) 6th book of a "Narnia" series, which the last page flies away and he chases it - into the magical campus of a magical university called Brakebills.

I won't give away too much, but I will do a quick comparison list:

Pros

  • The series itself includes a lot of adult themes (which Omega Noir has)
  • It introduces classes, which allows me to get a better perspective of how the classes work
  • Magic isn't limited to the elements (elements, telepathy, psychics, etc)

Cons

  • Time moves at an unknown speed (there aren't any transistions to tell you when an hour has passed versus 3 months)
  • The primary plot is very confusing (subplots include the Beast, Allison's dead brother, Quintin's friend getting into a rival magic group, the rival magic group has double agents in the school, Quintin's issue with the hospital, etc)
  • Summoning magic takes spells, but looks like Naruto instead
  • There is "Battle Magic", but it's only used once, and never brought up again
  • The rival magic group has powerful magic, but it's confusing how their structure is and what they are supposed to do (especially operating out of the back of a minimarket)
  • The main character (Quintin) is too timid, and is unsure of himself all the time
  • Syfy allowed the F word to be said, but then bleeped it out on production (although the S word is thrown in and is uncensorred a lot)
  • There are only 2 professors: the headmaster (or counslor - I couldn't tell), and one other professor - who gets meaninglessly killed in the first episode, in which case the headmaster/counslor subs! (There is a recruting agent, but I am completely unsure of her role, aside from assessing Quintin)
  • 5 episodes in, and (aside from the multiple subplots) there are too many characters introduced, and it's getting hard to separate them and figure out who does what (aside from Quintin, Penny, and Allison, who seem to be the most frequently recurring characters)


I'm sure there are more Pros and Cons, but this is the list that I have as of this posting.

If you are enjoying the series, please let me know, as I am still on the fence about it. If you have read the book, please let me know if it's better than the TV series or not.

On a semi-positive note, I've thought about my own magical series, and what can and can't be done. The weird thing is that if "Harry Potter" and "The Magicians" got together and had a kid, it'd be "Omega Noir". It's nice, but a little unsettling.

(And if you're wondering, I have not read the Harry Potter series yet, because Omega Noir was going to be based on Harry Potter, but I didn't want it to be a copy-and-paste result. I will read HP after I'm done with Omega Noir)


Tags:#themagicians, #syfy, #magic, #supernatural

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Update Youtube Video Privacy with API and OAuth

OAuthI posted this on my Facebook and Github, but I thought I'd post it here for a more public audience.

Recently, while working on Japanoblog, I realized that there was a problem: when we created videos, we would post them for our Patreon supporters 3 days early so they could get early access to them. However, I had a few options:
  1. I could post a separate video to Youtube/Vimeo/etc and share the link, but then wait 3 days and upload the real video and take down the temp one (which would mean 2x the work, and misleading stats)
  2. I could make the video "Unlisted" and share the link with our Patreon supporters, then wait 3 days and change the video to "Public" for all, or
  3. Do the 2nd option, but then have the server automatically change the status to "Public" when the video was ready to go public (as per the blog post publishing date

Well, being the pragmatic programmer that I am, I figured out how to make the server do it for me. But it was not an easy task (apparently, nobody had done this before - at least, on a public searchable point). After scouring the internet to dissect the Youtube API, Google OAuth (along with token creation), researching and pulling parts from about 7 different public user projects, and some patient testing, I finally have it...I hope.

This script is based on Dom Sammut's code and the Youtube Sample Code (PHP #1).

(Don't want to copy/paste? Here's the Github repository)

So, without further ado, here is what I have come up with:

First: get your tokens


You need to generate your tokens to get the process started.
<?php
 

 
#Primary code from https://www.domsammut.com/code/php-server-side-youtube-v3-oauth-api-video-upload-guide/
 
#Create Client ID and Client Secret by creating OAuth credentials 
 
# at https://console.developers.google.com/apis/credentials
 
# MAKE SURE YOU UPDATE YOUR REDIRECT URL TO MATCH!!!!!!!!!
 
$CLIENT_ID = "XXXXXXXXXXXXXX.apps.googleusercontent.com";
 
$CLIENT_SECRET = "XXXXXXXXXXX";
 
$application_name="APPLICATION_NAME";
 
 
 
// Call set_include_path() as needed to point to your client library.
 
#set_include_path($_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . '/directory/to/google/api/');
 
#Download the PHP Client Library from Google at https://developers.google.com/api-client-library/php/
 

 
#This has been installed using Composer - update if you download the files directly
 
set_include_path(get_include_path() . PATH_SEPARATOR . '/PATH/TO/vendor/google/apiclient/src/');
 
require_once 'Google/Client.php';
 
require_once 'Google/Service/YouTube.php';
 
session_start();
 
 
 
/*
 
 * You can acquire an OAuth 2.0 client ID and client secret from the
 
 * {{ Google Cloud Console }} <{{ https://cloud.google.com/console }}>
 
 * For more information about using OAuth 2.0 to access Google APIs, please see:
 
 * <https://developers.google.com/youtube/v3/guides/authentication>
 
 * Please ensure that you have enabled the YouTube Data API for your project.
 
 */
 
$OAUTH2_CLIENT_ID = $CLIENT_ID;
 
$OAUTH2_CLIENT_SECRET = $CLIENT_SECRET;
 
#$REDIRECT = 'http://localhost/oauth2callback.php';
 
$REDIRECT = 'http://YOUR_URL.com/oauth2callback.php';
 
$APPNAME = $application_name;
 
 
 
 
 
$client = new Google_Client();
 
$client->setClientId($OAUTH2_CLIENT_ID);
 
$client->setClientSecret($OAUTH2_CLIENT_SECRET);
 
$client->setScopes('https://www.googleapis.com/auth/youtube');
 
$client->setRedirectUri($REDIRECT);
 
$client->setApplicationName($APPNAME);
 
$client->setAccessType('offline');
 
 
 
 
 
// Define an object that will be used to make all API requests.
 
$youtube = new Google_Service_YouTube($client);
 
 
 
if (isset($_GET['code'])) {
 
    if (strval($_SESSION['state']) !== strval($_GET['state'])) {
 
        die('The session state did not match.');
 
    }
 
 
 
    $client->authenticate($_GET['code']);
 
    $_SESSION['token'] = $client->getAccessToken();
 
 
 
}
 
 
 
if (isset($_SESSION['token'])) {
 
    $client->setAccessToken($_SESSION['token']);
 
    echo '<code>' . $_SESSION['token'] . '</code>';
 
}
 
 
 
// Check to ensure that the access token was successfully acquired.
 
if ($client->getAccessToken()) {
 
    try {
 
        // Call the channels.list method to retrieve information about the
 
        // currently authenticated user's channel.
 
        $channelsResponse = $youtube->channels->listChannels('contentDetails', array(
 
            'mine' => 'true',
 
        ));
 
 
 
        $htmlBody = '';
 
        foreach ($channelsResponse['items'] as $channel) {
 
            // Extract the unique playlist ID that identifies the list of videos
 
            // uploaded to the channel, and then call the playlistItems.list method
 
            // to retrieve that list.
 
            $uploadsListId = $channel['contentDetails']['relatedPlaylists']['uploads'];
 
 
 
            $playlistItemsResponse = $youtube->playlistItems->listPlaylistItems('snippet', array(
 
                'playlistId' => $uploadsListId,
 
                'maxResults' => 50
 
            ));
 
 
 
            $htmlBody .= "<h3>Videos in list $uploadsListId</h3><ul>";
 
            foreach ($playlistItemsResponse['items'] as $playlistItem) {
 
                $htmlBody .= sprintf('<li>%s (%s)</li>', $playlistItem['snippet']['title'],
 
                    $playlistItem['snippet']['resourceId']['videoId']);
 
            }
 
            $htmlBody .= '</ul>';
 
        }
 
    } catch (Google_ServiceException $e) {
 
        $htmlBody .= sprintf('<p>A service error occurred: <code>%s</code></p>',
 
            htmlspecialchars($e->getMessage()));
 
    } catch (Google_Exception $e) {
 
        $htmlBody .= sprintf('<p>An client error occurred: <code>%s</code></p>',
 
            htmlspecialchars($e->getMessage()));
 
    }
 
 
 
    $_SESSION['token'] = $client->getAccessToken();
 
} else {
 
    $state = mt_rand();
 
    $client->setState($state);
 
    $_SESSION['state'] = $state;
 
 
 
    $authUrl = $client->createAuthUrl();
 
    $htmlBody = <<<END
 
  <h3>Authorization Required</h3>
 
  <p>You need to <a href="$authUrl">authorise access</a> before proceeding.<p>
 
END;
 
}
 
?>
 
 
 
<!doctype html>
 
<html>
 
<head>
 
    <title>My Uploads</title>
 
</head>
 
<body>
 
<?php echo $htmlBody?>
 
</body>
 
</html>


Now that that's all set, save the response to a file (I recommend "the_key.txt"), and modify and run the following:
<?php
 
/**
 
 * This code is to be run automatically to update a Youtube video's privacy status
 
 *
 
 * First, generate your key using "get-token.php" - read the notes below for generation
 
 * Next, update this file with the appropriate information (path to key file, Client ID, 
 
 *    Client Secret (OAuth Required), Application Name, Database Login, Database Query, and
 
 *    location of PHP Client Library - all download information is below)
 
 * 
 
 * @author Kyle Perkins
 
 * @site https://github.com/kode29/google-youtube-api-privacystatus
 
 * 
 
 * NOTICE: Rest of copyright should be in tact for other scripts (Dom Sammut (domsammut.com) and Ibrahim Ulukaya (Google)
 
 * Last Update: 20160108
 
**/
 

 
#Primary code from https://www.domsammut.com/code/php-server-side-youtube-v3-oauth-api-video-upload-guide/
 
# Mixed with sample code from https://developers.google.com/youtube/v3/docs/videos/update (PHP #1)
 

 

 
#Generate the "the_key" with get-token.php and store it into "the_key.txt" or wherever you want to store it BEFORE running this script.
 
# Also, make sure "the_key" has a REFRESH TOKEN!
 
$key_file = "/path/to/the_key.txt";
 

 
#Create Client ID and Client Secret by creating OAuth credentials 
 
# at https://console.developers.google.com/apis/credentials
 
# MAKE SURE YOU UPDATE YOUR REDIRECT URL TO MATCH!!!!!!!!!
 
$CLIENT_ID = "XXXXXXXXXXXXXX.apps.googleusercontent.com";
 
$CLIENT_SECRET = "XXXXXXXXXXX";
 
$application_name="APPLICATION-NAME";
 

 
#CHeck the DB for updated videos
 
$video_list=array();
 
    $dbh = new PDO('mysql:host=localhost;dbname=DATABASE_NAME', "DATABASE_USER", "DATABASE_PW");
 

 
	$sql="select `video` from `TABLE` where `stamp` like '".date("Y-m-d H:i:")."%'";
 
				$query = $dbh -> prepare($sql);
 
				$query->execute();
 
				if ($query->rowCount() > 0){ #rowCount() won't work on some databases
 
					$values = $query->fetch(PDO::FETCH_ASSOC);
 
					while (list($key, $value) = each($values)){
 
						$video_list[]=$value;
 
					}
 
				}
 
$key = file_get_contents($key_file);
 
if (count($video_list)>0){
 
foreach($video_list as $VIDEO_ID){
 
	$VIDEO_ID = str_replace("https://youtube.com/watch?v=", "", $VIDEO_ID);
 
	$VIDEO_ID = str_replace("https://youtu.be/", "", $VIDEO_ID);
 

 
#Sample $VIDEO_ID can be "gYY3fVz6PjY";
 
/**
 
 * This sample adds new tags to a YouTube video by:
 
 *
 
 * 1. Retrieving the video resource by calling the "youtube.videos.list" method
 
 *    and setting the "id" parameter
 
 * 2. Appending new tags to the video resource's snippet.tags[] list
 
 * 3. Updating the video resource by calling the youtube.videos.update method.
 
 *
 
 * @author Ibrahim Ulukaya
 
*/
 

 
// Call set_include_path() as needed to point to your client library.
 
#Download the PHP Client Library from Google at https://developers.google.com/api-client-library/php/
 

 
#This has been installed using Composer - update if you download the files directly
 
set_include_path(get_include_path() . PATH_SEPARATOR . '/PATH/TO/vendor/google/apiclient/src/');
 
    
 
require_once 'Google/Client.php';
 
require_once 'Google/Service/YouTube.php';
 
session_start();
 

 
/*
 
 * You can acquire an OAuth 2.0 client ID and client secret from the
 
 * Google Developers Console <https://console.developers.google.com/>
 
 * For more information about using OAuth 2.0 to access Google APIs, please see:
 
 * <https://developers.google.com/youtube/v3/guides/authentication>
 
 * Please ensure that you have enabled the YouTube Data API for your project.
 
 */
 
$OAUTH2_CLIENT_ID = $CLIENT_ID;
 
$OAUTH2_CLIENT_SECRET = $CLIENT_SECRET;
 

 
$client = new Google_Client();
 
$client->setClientId($OAUTH2_CLIENT_ID);
 
$client->setClientSecret($OAUTH2_CLIENT_SECRET);
 
$client->setScopes('https://www.googleapis.com/auth/youtube');
 

 
#$redirect = filter_var('http://' . $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'] . $_SERVER['PHP_SELF'], FILTER_SANITIZE_URL);
 
# If running via Cron, HTTP_HOST may be blank
 
$redirect = filter_var('http://YOUR_URL/' . $_SERVER['PHP_SELF'], FILTER_SANITIZE_URL);
 
$client->setRedirectUri($redirect);
 

 
$scope=array("https://www.googleapis.com/auth/youtube", "https://www.googleapis.com/auth/youtubepartner", "https://www.googleapis.com/auth/youtube.forcessl");
 

 
// Define an object that will be used to make all API requests.
 

 

 
#if (isset($_GET['code'])) {
 
#  if (strval($_SESSION['state']) !== strval($_GET['state'])) {
 
#    die('The session state did not match.');
 
#  }
 
#
 
#  $client->authenticate($_GET['code']);
 
#  $_SESSION['token'] = $client->getAccessToken();
 
#  header('Location: ' . $redirect);
 
#}
 
#
 
#if (isset($_SESSION['token'])) {
 
#  $client->setAccessToken($_SESSION['token']);
 
#}
 
$client_id = $CLIENT_ID;
 
$client_secret = $CLIENT_SECRET;
 
#var_dump($key);
 

 
  $client = new Google_Client();
 
    $client->setApplicationName($application_name);
 
    $client->setClientId($client_id);
 
    $client->setAccessType('offline');
 
    $client->setAccessToken($key);
 
    $client->setScopes($scope);
 
    $client->setClientSecret($client_secret);
 

 
// Check to ensure that the access token was successfully acquired.
 
if ($client->getAccessToken()) {
 
/**
 
         * Check to see if our access token has expired. If so, get a new one and save it to file for future use.
 
         */
 
        if($client->isAccessTokenExpired()) {
 
            $newToken = json_decode($client->getAccessToken());
 
            $client->refreshToken($newToken->refresh_token);
 
		#This is for debugging if your token is not regenerated
 
	    #var_dump($client->getAccessToken());
 
            file_put_contents($key_file, $client->getAccessToken());
 
        }
 

 
$youtube = new Google_Service_YouTube($client);
 

 
  try{
 

 
    // REPLACE this value with the video ID of the video being updated.
 
    $videoId = $VIDEO_ID;
 

 
    // Call the API's videos.list method to retrieve the video resource.
 
    $listResponse = $youtube->videos->listVideos("status", array('id'=>$videoId));
 

 
#	array( 'id' => $VIDEO_ID, 'status' => array('privacyStatus' => 'public')));
 

 
    // If $listResponse is empty, the specified video was not found.
 
    if (empty($listResponse)) {
 
      $htmlBody .= sprintf('<h3>Can't find a video with video id: %s</h3>', $videoId);
 
    } else {
 
      // Since the request specified a video ID, the response only
 
      // contains one video resource.
 
      $video = $listResponse[0];
 
	$videoStatus = $video['status'];
 
	$videoStatus->privacyStatus = 'public'; #privacyStatus options are public, private, and unlisted
 
	$video->setStatus($videoStatus);
 
	$updateResponse = $youtube->videos->update('status', $video);
 

 

 
#    $htmlBody .= "<h3>Video Updated</h3><ul>";
 
#    $htmlBody .= sprintf('<li>Tags "%s" and "%s" added for video %s (%s) </li>',
 
#        array_pop($responseTags), array_pop($responseTags),
 
#        $videoId, $video['snippet']['title']);
 
#    $htmlBody .= '</ul>';
 
$htmlBody = "We're Good!"; #Just a debug phrase to know that the script completed successfully. Not required to output
 

 
  }
 
    } catch (Google_Service_Exception $e) {
 
      $htmlBody .= sprintf('<p>A service error occurred: <code>%s</code></p>',
 
          htmlspecialchars($e->getMessage()));
 
    } catch (Google_Exception $e) {
 
      $htmlBody .= sprintf('<p>An client error occurred: <code>%s</code></p>',
 
          htmlspecialchars($e->getMessage()));
 
    }
 

 
    $_SESSION['token'] = $client->getAccessToken();
 
    } else {
 
      // If the user hasn't authorized the app, initiate the OAuth flow
 
      $state = mt_rand();
 
      $client->setState($state);
 
      $_SESSION['state'] = $state;
 

 
      $authUrl = $client->createAuthUrl();
 
      $htmlBody = <<<END
 
  <h3>Authorization Required</h3>
 
  <p>You need to <a href="$authUrl">authorize access</a> before proceeding.<p>
 
END;
 
    }
 
#      echo "<body>$htmlBody</body>";
 
}}
 
	?>
 

Again, Here's the Github repository)


Tags:#php #mysql #japanoblog #video #youtube #api #oauth

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Our New Project: Japanoblog

Keat and I have been dwelling on this over the past few months (aka: years), and one thing has been certain: we want to go to Japan.

We waited until after the holidays wrapped up to really start this, but one step that we have taken to assure that we are really going to Japan is to start a travel blog; in this case, Japanoblog!


Keat is currently applying for jobs over there, and hopefully will leave within the next few months. Me? Well, I'm kind of anchored down until May 10th, because I have 3 classes to teach until then. I can't just abandon them now.


Basically, Japanoblog is going to have multiple sections that we want to cover.

Japan-o-food

Japan-o-food is going to cover different Japanese recipes that people can make in their home. We'll also go around to different restaurants and food stalls and review their food.

Japan-o-trains

As a train fan, I want to host a segment about Japanese trains; the different types, prices, routes, and maybe a bit of history.

Japan-o-tours

After going to Japan in 2008, I got to explore a few different places, and wanted to offer the same opportunity to the public (filming approved, of course)

Japan-o-tips

Japanese tips to help everyone live each day a little better, whether in Japan or America.

Japan-o-days

Lastly, since this is a thing on Youtube, we're going to film some of our day-to-day activities and let people see what we do.

Japan-o-comics

Keat is going to draw some comics about our adventures and post them online for everyone to view.

Lastly, Everything Else - this list includes videos that don't fall into one of the above categories.

Overall, the whole reason why we are doing this is because we want others to enjoy our Japanese experience, especially if they want to keep up with us (aka: our parents). We both think that it will be fairly fun to do this project, and make a bit of money on the side through Youtube and Patreon.

So take a moment to explore Japanoblog and let me know what you think.


Tags:#japanoblog #japan #living #moving #keat

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Latest Code Project: Coder Ranking

Coder Ranking
Version 1 of the Mockup Site Design

While traveling over the Thanksgiving break, I encountered a sign for a "code school" along the highway. That got me thinking: why isn't there a code school that allows you to pick up classes?

I did some research on this "code school" that I saw an ad for, and noticed two things:
  1. They only do Software (Python, Ruby, C#, etc)
  2. They charge $12,000 for a 12 week course!

  3. I'll admit that $12k is a lot to shell out for a coding course, and their in-depth approach is nice, but most people (especially aspiring programmers) don't have enough to buy a new car with (including me).

    I did some more research on other code schools, such as Codecademy, Udemy, Coursera, Treehouse, and others, and found that they were all lacking some form of educational resource: in-person training, low cost, accreditation, full study specializations, basic training (ex: Java for an Android course), predictive course schedules, and a few others. So I thought about merging my Entrepreneural and Programming experiences to make one.

    That's where I came up with Coder Ranking.

    (The name is mainly the only .com domain that I could get.)

    What is Coder Ranking?


    Coder Ranking does three primary things:
    1. In-person Training: The "online education" doesn't fit everyone (I know it's a challenge for me), and helping students and getting help from emails and forums just doesn't help. Someone needs to be there to help explain it, or show it live so it can be better understood.
    2. Low Cost: Not everyone has a grand or so laying around for a course or two. Therefore, by offering the training at a low cost, it should be accessible by everyone.
    3. Courses are à la carte: If someone has some fractured formal education, and needs to catch up to the latest trend or at least round out their training, they shouldn't have to go through 2- or 4-year colleges to get the education for something they already know 50% of (see my example below).


    Coming from Fractured Training


    The last one is probably the best: the à la carte option. Since I was semi-formally trained in Web Development, I learned HTML (4), CSS, PHP, MySQL, XML/XSL, and basic JavaScript. HTML5 I had to learn on my own, and the jQuery library. However, the big issue here is that while I was trained in PHP, I was trained in Procedural Programming while other languages like Java and C++ use Object Oriented Programming, which PHP does as well. My training was acceptable, but trying to get a better understanding of OOP and implement it was like pulling teeth. After much, much research, I have found that OOP is better, and I should have been doing it all along, but the tutorials that I stumbled upon were either jumping around like the person that wrote it assumed the learner knew, or were too advanced to understand.

    Additionally, since I went to college, Java wasn't really a big thing, so I didn't think that a CIS Degree would help. So I went into Entrepreneruship. However, a few years after I graduated, Java is the big thing (Mobile programming, OOP-based training, code structures, etc), and a CIS/CS Degree would be needed for a fallback field in case I wanted to go anywhere. When I tried to take an "Android Development" course through Coursera, I thought that it would be nice to learn, since the instructions said "For beginner programmers, with little to no experience with Java." I signed up for it, and the first lesson was great. However, the 2nd lesson required an understanding and experience in Java. Otherwise, the lesson didn't make any sense. So I tried to get some education in Java, and (sans the Oracle training) there wasn't really much out there. I tried to pick up some odd courses and tutorials here and there, but nothing really made sense. After a while, I tried the Android course (again, without knowing it was the same course), and even with the little experience I had in Java, the 2nd lesson still beat me.

    So why wasn't there a place to get a Java education without a 4-year degree (and cost)? I didn't know.

    Badge!

    Extra Bonus


    Another thing I like about Coder Ranking is in the name: The students are ranked by their education material.

    By completing each course, a student will get a badge and some points toward their profile. Additionally, they will get a certificate saying they passed. As they get more education, they can get more badges and points (basic gamification).

    The added benefit is that they will also get an identifying code that will allow employers and the like to look up their public education record (limited to Coder Ranking) and see what they have done. No other coding school really does that. I have some certificates from some coding schools, but unless I take the certificate in with an interview, the only reference that my possible employer will have is a listing on my resume.

    Can I Test Out?


    Additionally, coders with experience can "test out" of a course" and just try for the certification. For example: I have plenty of experience, but I don't have many certifications in coding. Some certifications I can get are from odd 3rd party resources that will either charge me $200-$10k for a certification, and even then, it may require a class or two. I just want the sheet of paper saying I know my stuff!

    I'm hoping that I can get Coder Ranking accredited some how to make the certifications mean more than just a sheet of paper. It's in the works.

    I'll work on this a little more and get my entrepreneurial experience up and going once more!


Tags:#coderranking #gamification #badges #courses #coding

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VIM Search and Replace

VIMI thought I'd post this because I needed it, and quick access doesn't hurt. I had a recent experience where I needed to replace a lot of text in a text file in the command line.

While I like to use vim as my text editor of choice while in a Linux system, I hated the fact that I had to find each instance of a word and manually type out the replaced word.

So, I found a solution: (thank you VIM Wiki)

:%s/
The %s command works just like wq, so you need to proceed it with a colon. But here's how it works:
:%s/FIND/REPLACE/OPTIONS
I hope this seems straight forward, but here's the breakdown: %s - initiate the :substitute feature FIND - the word/phrase you want to find REPLACE - the word/phrase you want to replace it with OPTIONS - there are a series of options you can include, the most popular one being g Here is an example:
:%s/cat/dog/g
This replaces all instances of "cat" with the word "dog". Simple, right?

Options

Here is the list of options I have come up with so far:
c - ask for confirmation (similiar to the -i flag)
i - case insensitive search/replace
I - case sensitive (the flag \C can also be tacked on to the word in case you want the word to be case sensitive only)
:%s/\<cat\>/dog/g - while not in the Options field, this searches for the whole words only (such as "cat", but not "categories")

There are plenty of other examples on the VIM Wiki page, but I thought I'd post this guide here for my benefit and anybody elses that needs it.


Tags:#vim #linux #texteditor #search #replace #guide

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My ArtistFirst Radio Interview

I was interviewed by ArtistFirst! You didn't listen in? No worries - my interview is available for you to listen right here:



Tags:#radio #interview #artistfirst #books #author

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Japanese Experiment: Result

It's been 30 or so days since Keat and I started our "Living Japanese" Experiment, and we've received the power bill, which means it should give us a better understanding of how our different lifestyle has helped or hindered us.

So here's the result:
October Bill

For those of you that like table comparisions instead of images, here's the September bill (when we started) as compared to our October bill:

SeptemberOctoberΔ
Water$15.82$15.82No Change
Sewer$15.81$15.81No Change
Electricity$92.42$78.51-15.05%
GarbageCollection$9.00$9.00No Change
Renewable Energy Fee$0.56$0.56No Change
Tax$6.51$5.54-14.9%

The verdict: Not much.

Our Electricity usage went down a bit, which I'm not sure whether it is because we used less electricity because we didn't use the big energy drainers (like the stove and dishwasher) or because my primary hosting server quit and I took out the servers (although that was on 10/5, only 10 days short of the end of the experiment).

I was quite surprised to see that our water, sewer, and garbage stayed exactly the same (I knew the Renewable Energy fee would stay the same, and the Tax of course would differ). I thought that we would have used remarkably less or more water since we were washing all of our dishes by hand, but I guess our town just doesn't work that way.

Does this mean that Keat and I will continue this 'experiment'? Probably, since we are looking at moving to Japan in 5 years or less. It will depend on a number of circumstances, including jobs.


Tags:#japanese #japan #experiment #kitchen

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Farewell to BlueIce

It has taken me a while to get over this, but I am officially saying "Goodbye" to a faithful, but frustrating, partner for the past (at least) 10 years.

My BlueIce server, which has been a desktop/server, then a desktop, then a dedicated web server for 3 years, then network storage, then a dedicated web server for another 3 years, has finally reached its end.

As of October 1st, it was the primary hosting server for all of my Q5 Industries services, along with my primary email server, NAS (before I got a NAS), and database server. Then at 7:28PM, it slowed to a crawl, then became unresponsive, then would not restart into an OS. Recovery efforts proved futile. (Good thing I learned my lesson and had rsync'ed a backup of the files and databases, but missed out on the last 2 days of work, which wasn't too bad to recreate.)

The hard drive lasted me a very good long time, as you can see on its manufacturing date: 13 Dec 2001. Almost 14 years it has given its all, including being formatted again and again and again for various purposes.

It is nearly impossible to find an ATA hard drive nowadays, and even so, upgrading the processor and RAM for this thing will cost an arm and a leg. The hardware has lasted a good ~10 years since I ordered it from Newegg back in 2005. (It still works, but modern hardware has just moved on too far)

I've had other servers that I've networked with, including some that were to replace my BlueIce server, but BlueIce kept going and going - like the Energizer bunny, and it always came out on top over the others.

So it is with a heavy heart that I bid it farewell. After putting up with me and my frustrating command line errors, along with creating a calming "hum" throughout the house (it's eerily quiet without it), it has finally called it quits.

You will be missed, BlueIce. I hope that you find harmony among your code.
The 120GB Hard drive that lasted 14 years
The 120GB Hard Drive last lasted 14 years
The inside of BlueIce - the hardware that was faithful
The inside of BlueIce - the hardware that was faithful
The reason for the name: the blue eye - also for its nickname: Pluto
The reason for the name: the blue ie - also for its nickname: Pluto

The BlueIce server it in entirety


Tags:#blueice #farewell #rsync

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Latest Project: The Story

I thought I'd write a post about my latest project, because of various reasons. First, I want to make sure I get this idea out of my head and onto something referable, and so I can get some feedback on the concept to see if it is viable before I put it a lot of research (because this is going to take a lot of research).

So here it goes: *Ahem*

The whole idea is to make a spoof novel (or series) about novels. Basically, breaking the 4th wall of a story. If there is a way to go against the grain of a "book," I'm hoping to find a way.

The Story (yes, that's what I'm calling it)itself starts out with every evil villain's dream: he has finally taken over the world. How? It doesn't matter....oh wait, it does, but that will be covered in "The Sequel: A Prequel" (that's the title of the 2nd book). Maybe a 3rd one could be called "What Happened Afterwards"...?

Regardless, Tag, the main antagonist (or is he the protagonist?) rules the world. Everything is under his control. And for the first few weeks, it's pure bliss and chaos! But after realizing that the challenge is gone, he gets bored. There's nothing new to do; everything is under his ruling - his minions, the public, the economy, everything!

What else can he do? He searches for a hero to fight, but who would want to fight the evil powerful overlord of the world? Not many, but that's what he wants to do. He's the ruler of the world, and gosh dang it, he's gonna find one!


I have a few ideas on how to break the 4th wall, including having Tag address the reader, create a theme song for himself, acknowledging typos, and even referencing the already published book for a few ideas.

My research is going to consist of studying a lot of Mel Brooks films (would that be called "work"?) since he loves breaking the 4th wall (along with a few other things). Some people may think that this is a rewrite of Megamind, and you'd be right, but instead of the hero wanting to retire and disappearing, this takes another perspective from the villain and puts him into an idealistic scenario.

Sure the novel may not be able to be turned into an audiobook or even a broadcast, but I think it'll be a fun adventure.


Tags:#thestory #melbrooks #tag #lunarproductions

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Free Book and Radio Spot

Great News! After much research and a countless attempts, I have finally made Night Blade: Dawn of Discovery FREE (the digital version, anyway)! I made the price reduction on other websites, such as Google Play Books, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble/Nook, and Leanpub, and by doing so, I price-matched them for Amazon, and got Amazon to reduce the price to $0.00 - finally!
Night Blade on Kindle is Free

It took a while, but Amazon finally brought the price down. I've submitted the free marketing to various Author networked sites I'm on, including The Independent Author Network. I submitted it to the Self Publishers Showcase, but as the moderator is in the UK, and Amazon UK is different from Amazon US, they haven't reduced the price yet, but I'm working on it.

Additionally, I've also been talking with the ArtistFirst Radio Show about getting a guest spot on the show - and it's confirmed! October 27th at 8PM! Listen here on that date to hear me, or to hear other artists and authors before or after.

Speaking of which, they allowed me to do a <20 second radio identification spot, so I did. Listen here:

I had a bit of trouble recording it, as I don't have the recording equipment setup properly yet, but I think it's a pretty good start! So, with that said, I'm working on some Audiobook projects for the Night Blade series. I don't have the equipment setup yet, but now I have a better idea of how to work Audacity and work with background noise. I've done some research around here and Recording Studios start at $65/hr - I don't have that kind of money to record a 6+ hour book reading along with the mixing! (Maybe later, but not right now).


Tags:#radio #book #free #nightblade #selfpublishersshowcase #independentauthornetwork #audiobook

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Introduction of the <ruby> tag

As much as I've wanted to write Japanese on the web, I never really knew how hiragana characters were written above kanji (see example).
NHK News Easy Website

I always thought that it was manually inserted with each set of characters a special <div> that showed the pronunciation, or there was a special engine or library that automatically did it.
Well, whether there is or there isn't, I have found a way: the <ruby> tag.

I always saw the <ruby> tag and thought it was for inserting Ruby on Rails code into HTML. I knew about merging Ruby and HTML codings, but never like this.
<ruby>愛
 
	<rt>あい</rt>
 
</ruby>
Produces this
あい


That is it. In order to insert special Japanese (or Chinese/Thai/Korean/etc) characters, you don't need to look up each special character code for each character if you already have access to it (like a Japanese IME or keyboard). Just copy and paste (or write) and the <rt> tags will put the special pronunciation over the selected character. Although, you may need to insert multiple <ruby> tags in order to write out a paragraph or something, but the concept is there.

I find it interesting that this is possible, and I may be late to the game, but it is nice to be able to do something like this.


Tags:#html #demos #tags #ruby #japanese

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Japanese Lifestyle Experiment: Day 1

So Keat and I decided to "live Japanese" for a while, just to see how we can do it and what it is like.

The Rules

With that being said, here are the rules that we are setting in place for at least the next 30 days:
  1. No Dishwasher: That's right. We will be hand-washing everything. Even though throughout all of the houses that we looked at 4 years ago, this house was the only house that had a dishwasher, we are going to try to not use it.
  2. No Stove: Since most Japanese houses/apartments don't have stoves, we will be using a 5th Eye only. We found out that ours kind of sucks, so we may need a better one.
  3. No Oven: Most Japanese apartments/houses don't have ovens, only toaster ovens. So we will be trying our best to reduce (if not eliminate) our oven-usage.
  4. Only using one side of our kitchen: Let me explain: our kitchen is fairly huge compared to most Japanese apartments, so we are reducing our usage to only one side: the sink side. It will drastically reduce our counterspace, but we think it may be a bit better (if we don't kill each other first for the space).
  5. No Dryer: We will be using our washer to wash clothes, but we will be drying them on our back porch. Mainly, so we can reduce our electricity usage because of the dryer, but also to get used to drying our clothes outside (although with Winter sneaking up, that may not be the best idea)

That's everything for right now.
Our kitchen setup
Our kitchen setup - everything off of the good counter
The GOOD side of the kitchen
The GOOD side of the Kitchen that we are going to use
Our first night hand-washing dishes
Our first night hand-washing dishes

The Interim Results

Since we technically started this experiment last night, here's what we've learned so far:
  • Cooking hasn't changed much. However, the counter space is very small, but that's okay for a 5th eye, a rice cooker, and some prep space.
    Cooking
    Gyudon!
  • Our 5th eye sucks! (See above) We have an electric 5th eye that we picked up a few years ago, but haven't really used it. We started boiling some water to make some home-made Mirin, and by the time we made the Mirin (which should have been a 5 minute ordeal), the rice was completely cooked (which takes 30 minutes). So we are doing some research to find a new one.
    5th eye sucks!
    We are just now starting to cook the meat, while the rice has been done for about 5 minutes
  • Cleaning all of the dishes is a bit hard, but the good news is that it all gets done in roughly 10-15 minutes!
    All the dishes!
  • We are reducing the amount of dishes we are using to cook and eat! Which means less to clean! (Well, mostly)
  • Our Town came by and recorded our power and water usage at the beginning of our experiment (which was lucky for us). According to our average power/water usage, our utility bill is $140. Hopefully, in 30 days, our power bill will be a fraction of that!
    Our Power Bill at the beginning

That's everything we've learned so far. More reports later, and (hopefully in 30 days) there is a comparison report!


Tags:#japanese #japan #eating #kitchen #experiment

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My Top 5 Best and Worst Doctor Who Episodes

I know it's been a while since my last post, and as I recover from my Honeymoon and get ready for the next school year, I pass the time by watching Doctor Who
for the nth time. My one, if not the most, favorite series.

While I'm watching some episodes, I thought I'd go ahead and post my 5 Best and 5 Worst episodes of Doctor Who.
Disclaimer: This only relates to New Who (Starting with Christopher Eccleston, the Ninth Doctor) and goes up to the end of Series 8 (Dark Water/Death in Heaven)

So, without further ado, here are my 5 Best Doctor Who Episodes that I'd be willing to watch and watch and watch. I mean, I'd be willing to rewatch the whole series, with the exception of my 5 Worst Doctor Who Episodes that I refuse to rewatch.
Disclaimer #2: If you haven't seen the episodes yet (up to the finale of Series 8), then Spoiler Alert!

Top 5 Best Doctor Who Episodes


Flatline

Honorable Mention: Flatline
Series 8, Ep 9; Twelfth Doctor & Clara Oswald


This has to be my favorite of the Twelfth Doctor's episodes (so far). With the TARDIS' energy drained by the dimensional beings, Clara takes over as the "Doctor" and goes on her own way to act all "Doctor-ly" while the Doctor figures out how to reduce the TARDIS' energy drain, eventually putting it into Seige mode (which is awesome).

The final solution of using the dimensional being's ability to rob a dimension from an object and using that to repower the TARDIS was genius! Although the Doctor doesn't actually do much except "hide in the TARDIS", the delivery and story of this episode was great, but not great enough to make it into my Top 5. (Althogh I fondly enjoyed "Time Heist" as well, but I enjoyed Flatline more)

Pandorica

5. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
Series 5, Ep 12/13; Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory Williams, River Song


As much as this episode can create a headache if you're trying to understand the "wibbly wobbly timey wimey" effect of things, set that aside. The fact that everything that has happened in Amy Pond's life has lead up to one single moment of the Pandorica (the crack, Rory being a Centuarian, the Pirates, etc) was worth it. Additionally, having River threaten a Dalek and have it beg for mercy was awesome.

The Eleventh Doctor's moment with the Fez and mop was a bit confusing, it made sense, even if in a semi-disappointing factor. Then, having him cross his own timeline from when he was shot to being alive and sending the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS of the universe was very nice.

Silence in the Library

4. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
Series 4, Ep 8/9; Tenth Doctor & Donna Noble (and River Song)


This is the first (well, last) apperance of River Song, which was very confusing at first, but worth the wait to learn about her very complex storyline. Although we never actually see the Vashta Narada, their presence was a force to be reckoned with. Learning about the developing concept of Dr. Moon, the library of CAL, learning about the Vashta Narada living in the pages of the books, River's death, and other items was very well delivered, and it actually made you care about Donna, even though she was uploaded/saved, and then about her relationship with the guy with the stutter was very romantic.

And of course, it left you wanting for more to learn about River, how/why the Doctor gave her a sonic screwdriver, her diary, and how she is going to make an impact later in the series if she's dead.

Utopia

3. Utopia/The Sound of Drums/The Last of the Time Lords
Series 3, Ep 11/12/13; Tenth Doctor & Martha Jones


I don't know what it is, but John Simms does a great job. It's only until this series of episodes that we learn about Harold Saxon, and how he's had a part of this since "The Runaway Bride", ordering the military to shoot the star-ship out of the sky.

Seeing Dr. Yana working with the Doctor to get the ship lifted to Utopia, and seeing Jack 'sacrificing' his life to finish the job was nice, then having Dr. Yana realize his watch, unveiling the affect of the Chameleon Arch and allowing him to re-become the Master, stealing the TARDIS to go back in time and become Harold Saxon, turning the TARDIS into the Paradox machine to bring the 'Toclafane' to their time to conquer the Earth, then having Martha travel the Earth to talk about the Doctor, only to use everyone's 'power of thought' to bring him back to his age.

The complexity, the story development, everything about this set of episodes was wonderful, including bringing back the Master. Once again, John Simm does a hell of a job (although I couldn't watch his series Life on Mars).

Stolen Earth

2. The Stolen Earth/Journey's End
Series 4, Ep 12/13; Tenth Doctor, Martha Jones, Rose Tyler, Donna Noble, Sarah Jane Smith


The buildup to bring back all emotions. Having Rose back was great (with Mickey), bringing Martha back for a brief stint to blow up the Earth, bring Jack back from Torchwood to give some more comedic lift and to wrap things up, and Sarah Jane Smith for K-9 and Mr. Smith to locate the Earth and coordinate a communication bridge was a great way to connect all of the 'old' companions in a single mission, including Donna finally becoming the 'Doctor-Donna' that we heard the Ood say so long ago.

And then bringing Davros for the age-old battle. Classic.

Everything about this series of episodes was great, including the tear-jearking ending of returning the Earth, and Donna having to lose her memories. Great, but sad, but great!

End of Time

1. End of Time
Special #4/5; Tenth Doctor (with brief moments with companions)


To wrap up an era and David Tennant's (and Russel T. Davies')'Doctor Who' career (sans "The Name of the Doctor") was sad to watch, but they did it beautifully. Bringing the Master back (yet again) to finish his duties - to bring the Time Lords out of their temporal stasis, even though he didn't know it. Seeing Timothy Dalton as the Rassilon was great, and could possibly explain how Bond could be a Time Lord(?).

Seeing the Doctor use a gun was nice, as he never does that, and the unfolding battle between the hero and his nemesis while the Time Lords pull the strings was awesome, and to use Wilfred Mott (Benard Cribbins) was nice, as we saw during Donna's run, but didn't see much more of. Being able for Wilfred to pull the Doctor from the streets and to travel with him to the cacti people's - sorry, the Vinvocci's - spaceship was interesting, almost repeating what happened in "Army of Ghosts" (with the Doctor calling out to Rose in the parallel universe).

As much of a fan of David Tennant that I am, I really cried when he said "I don't want to go", which was as tear-jearking as dramatic.

Thinking "Where are the 4 knocks?" during the episode, as we heard "...he will knock four times" back in "Planet of the Dead" was interesting, as we all thought the Master or someone more sinister would knock four times, not Wil, and not on a radiation control box door, exposing him to countless tons of radiation, unable to focus the radiation into something - I don't know, his left shoe? - and forcing him to come to an end. Revisiting other companions (Martha/Mickey; Luke and Sarah Jane; Jack and Alonso; Joan Redfern (via Verity Newman's book signing, asking about her great-grandmother from "Family of Blood"); delivering Donna, her mother, and grandfather the winning lottery ticket for some financial stability; and lastly, Rose, way back before Christopher Eccleston came onto the scene) was a major wrap-up to both David and Russell's "Doctor Who" careers, and was just great to watch.



And that's the good news. Now, onto the bad. I understand that the episodes below had a purpose, whether it be story development, concept casting, or even just to fill a timeslot, but here are my 5 Worst Doctor Who Episodes that I refuse to rewatch.

Top 5 Worst Doctor Who Episodes



Unicorn and the Wasp

Honorable Mention: The Unicorn and the Wasp
Series 4, Ep 7, Tenth Doctor & Donna Noble


My issue: Mainly, Wasps
I'm not a big fan of wasps to begin with, which was not a good start knowing the title of this episode. Learning about Agatha Christie was nice, and the bit of mystery was okay (for an Agatha Christie-type murder mystery), but the episode was very slow to develop, then had a rushed climax to end with (with the drowning of the wasp, the "Mystery of Agatha Christie", her novel being republished in the year 5 billion, etc). I'd watch it again if I absolutely had to, but I won't enjoy it.

I agree with Agatha Christie, though, in the quote "The thrill is in the chase, never in the capture." There was certainly a chase to figure out who the murder was, but at the end, it was just a rush to tie everything together.

Forest of the Night

5. In the Forest of the Night
Series 8, Ep 10, Twelfth Doctor & Clara Oswald


My issue: Nothing happened
I know the Twelfth Doctor still needs to develop his own character (which I hope he does in Series 9), but this episode has absolutely nothing to do. That's it. Nothing. (The only thing worth mentioning is the development in the Clara/Danny relationship.)

I mean, even "Blink" had an almost Doctor-less appearance, but with this episode, everything was going to happen regardless of whether the Doctor and Clara were there to do anything. Okay, the population is freaking about about the numerous trees on the planet, but the planet was doing that for protection. Then, after the solar flare, the sprites go away with the trees and everything returns to normal.

This episode was more than disappointing, did nothing, nothing happened, and there wasn't much to watch. (This episode won over "Kill the Moon", in which the moon is apparently a monster egg, whom which Clara has the choice to kill or not, all of which turns out to hatch, then lay another egg in its place; again, not much happened regardless whether or not the Doctor interviened or not)

Crimson Horror

4. The Crimson Horror
Series 7, Ep 11, Eleventh Doctor & Clara Oswald


My issue: massive plot hole in canon
As much as I wanted to enjoy the mystery of why Matt Smith was red, the episode concept was disturbing; I mean, turning people into candy and putting them on display? It was as if the writers just needed something to fill some time, and they were looking at a Fruit Rollup and a doll house. There have been plenty of episodes/series/shows where people have been eaten (look at Futurama: The Problem with Popplers where Freedom Waterfall, Jr, is eaten by Lrrr), the concept of this episode was just disturbing and not worth a re-watch.

Midnight

3. Midnight
Series 4, Ep 10, Tenth Doctor & Donna Noble


My issue: the screaming mad lady
Planet made of diamond. Waterfalls made of sapphires. Trains riding on radiation. What's not to like?

Oh yeah, the screaming mad lady. That alone made the episode unenjoyable.

I mean, having the Doctor try to figure out why everyone is repeating everything is interesting, and seeing "Young Authur" in the train was interesting, but the mad screaming lady just made me say "Oh, just shut up!" countless times, and taking out the enjoyment of this episode (and Donna only being used at the tail-end was nice, but seemed like just a filler to wrap up).

Fear Her

2. Fear Her
Series 2, Ep 11, Tenth Doctor & Rose Tyler


My issue: Chloe Webber
Back before 2012, I expected to see the Doctor (or just David Tennant) at the 2012 Olympics, since this episode takes place during that time. How cool would that be?

Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Oh well.

Regardless, this episode had some good points: the scribbles, the tiny alien ship that traveled on heat, the Olympic torch carrying. But one thing made it unwatchable: Chloe Webber.

That's it. Let me explain: Chloe Webber is a little girl that is the host of the alien and puts people (including the Doctor and the TARDIS) into a crayon drawing. The concept is interesting, but everytime the alien needs to talk, it does it through her, she does it in a very raspy voice referring to herself in the third person - repeatedly, and repeatedly, and repeatedly. I understand that she had to refer to herself to get the point across of the girl, but everytime I hear "Chloe Webber", I hear it in the girl's raspy voice, which just makes it annoying, and thus, this episode unwatchable.

Love and Monsters

1. Love & Monsters
Series 2, Ep 10, Tenth Doctor & Rose Tyler


My issue: complete side story with unrelated story development and awkward ending
Hopefully, this doesn't need to be said, as it's already been said multiple times. This episode was almost Doctor-less, but had very disturbing theme to it.

Overall: A group of people find clues to the Doctor (just like Clive found in "Rose") and eventually become a study group (thank you Community). They then have a person come and become the leader of the group, forcing everyone to do research to find the Doctor. Finally, the 'narrator' finds the Doctor, and a nasty looking alien, and reports back to the group, only to find members of the group missing - which we found out were absorbed by the 'leader' who is an Abzorbaloff, an alien species who absorbs others, which has been done before (just like "School Reunion"), but this was disturbing, especially seeing the people's faces on the body of the Abzorbaloff. At the end, the Abzorbaloff 'melts' and the narrator's 'girlfriend' melts into a cement plate, which he takes home and loves, which is just creepy.

Still, overall, my worst "Doctor Who" episode.




I do want to go on the record and say that I am a big fan of David Tennant, but there are just a handful of episodes during his era that I just would not like to see again. (I blame the writers.)

That's it. As of today, these are my top 5 (6?) Best and Worst Doctor Who episodes. Do you agree with this list or have your own list of episodes you love/hate/love-hate?

Screencaps courtesy of kissthemgoodbye.net and sonicbiro.co.uk. Of course, all screencaps are © of BBC.


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ConCarolinas and Next Novel Series

June brings new opportunities and ideas, along with ConCarolinas 2015 being over, which is a bummer, because it was really exciting!

Keat and I had a table to tell books (big thank you to Chip for helping us out) and made a lot of connections! We sold some books, raffled off some, and even raised some donation money for Niko (see more later).

To start things off, take a look at this:
K-9, 10th, and 4th Doctor



Keat and I did roughly 4 panels each, and although the scheduling could've been a bit better, it was still fun. We also got invited to a bunch of parties, which was awesome!

We raised some donation money in Niko's name to be donated to the Humane Alliance, and we raised $61 to be donated, which was awesome since we were basically unheard-of no-name authors.

My Next Series


My next series will be Omega Noir, which will be a magical series, and as I said in my Interview, this series will be "[...] following a "street-smarts" character and exploring the world of magic. Imagine "Harry Potter" meets "Hunger Games" meets "Game of Thrones," to put it simply." I'm already 10 days into writing and 20k words in, so it's coming along nicely.

The big difference will be that this will be almost R-rated, since it will have more of a darker tone. I may bridge it back to PG-13, but it will definitely be dark.


Tags:#omeganoir #concarolinas #doctorwho #cosplay

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Free Comic Book Day!

Keat and I participated in Free Comic Book Day put on by Comic Envy in Asheville. Long Story short: it was a blast!


























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Night Blade, My Future, and Niko

Wow, is it April already? It's funny how 2015 is flying by.

"Night Blade: Dark of the Night" is in Proof form, and I feel kind of bad for not posting my completed word update, like I did after my last 3 books. Just goes to show you how fast this year is moving (although with two jobs, a freelance writing career, and our cat passing away, I've had a lot on my plate).

Without further boring you, here's the quick rundown:

Night Blade Results


My word count for Night Blade: Dark of the Night topped out (as of the Proof) at....86,593! It's not the 100k I was expecting, mainly because I was trying to make the 30 pages of script stretch so far, until I just didn't have any more material to write. Maybe after the Proof is edited, I may surpass the 100k mark. Only time will tell, but it's been a fun ride while it lasted.
Word Count

Word Total

What will I do from here? Sell it, of course! Meanwhile, planning out my next series, which I believe will be Omega Noir. What will that series be about? Let's just say it will focus more on magic. I have a few more ideas for series in my head, such as a sci-fi series and a VR series, but I still have a lot of work to do with those. Omega Noir is the one that has the most progress so far.

My future Plans


I know that you want to hear more about Night Blade and stuff like that, but I thought I'd do a small plug about my future decisions. Here's the sitch: I'm stuck between 4 careers right now. Between the 4 of them, I need to decide what I want to do and pursue it.

I'm working as:
- Table Games at a Casino: Good money, low hours, but not something I want to do 5 years from now.
- Adjunct Professor at Community College: Good job, nice money, maybe worth pursing full time (at least I'll get my weekends back). However, I may have to pursue an MBA or a MST (Master's of Science and Technology) before going full-time.
- Freelance Writer: I like writing, and turning this into a career may not be so bad.
- Freelance Web Developer: My original love. I love coding web apps and love getting my hands dirty with code, but after experiencing burnout after 8 years, I may want to reapproach this, but from a different angle.

Which will I choose? Only time will tell - I hope.

Niko, forever loved


Our Niko One of the reasons why my social life has been a little lacking over the past few weeks is because Keat and I lost our beloved Niko. Long story short: in January, he had a UTI, which I rushed him to the emergency vet in Asheville at 11pm. Luckily, they were able to work on him at a high cost. Our local vet was keeping tabs on his PCV (Pack Cell Volume) for the past few weeks, and he was looking very good. Then, he wouldn't eat anything, which was unusual for him. We tried pure wet food, small portions of water, and even treats, but he would only eat a small fraction of what he would usually consume. We made him a comfy bed out of some blankets and made sure he was comfortable.

Then, on March 27th at around 3:15pm, we tried to give him some water, and he just stopped moving. I thought that since his eyes were open, he could still see us. I tried my best to shake him (without being too forceful), but he wouldn't respond. We called the local vet, rushed him over in a towel, and waited for them to do something, but it was too late. He left us before we got there. Keat and I cried in the operating room for a long time before we brought him back home. After all of that, we had to call out of work because we were just too emotionally wrought to deal with anything.

Niko was with us for 8 out of his 9 years on this earth. He was loved up until the last moment, and will still be loved afterward.

We buried him the next day, and got a solar powered LED flower that changes color, mainly so it would be glowing when we would get home from work in the early hours of the morning, signalling that Niko was waiting for us when we got home, like he always would. After much consideration, we looked into his cause, and we believe it was a combination of an auto-immune disease, which was either triggered or aggravated by his UTI, and a form of cancer, as many cancerous signs showed up (such as lack of appetite, lethargy, rapid weight loss, swelling limbs, etc).

It was hard for us over the next few days to remove a few of his items, but he will always have a place in our hearts (and as the main character in Night Blade, who he is named after, and as our Wifi Router name).


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Dark of the Night Progress

Night Blade 4 Cover
Proposed cover for "Dark of the Night"
The end of the year (and beginning of the new year) has passed, and I'm excited to say that Dark of the Night is coming along quite nicely. After having to travel down to Raleigh for an "emergency" trip over the holiday, and having to work almost 11 days straight at the Casino, I was pretty beat. However, after getting my act together, I was able to hammer out a large portion of manuscript over the past few days.

Let me explain: On December 18th, my word count was at 27k, which was roughly 9k under my overall word goal. Due to the traveling and the holiday, the next time I could write was on December 29th, which allowed me to get to 31k, but still 6k under my word goal (my word goal increases by 1778 words per day in order to keep up with the 80k overall goal). After that, the next time I could write was on January 15th, which seemed to be a pretty good day.

I ended my last writing session with Niko being tossed through a portal to the Grand Council (I'm trying not to give away too much detail), and the others are trying to track him down, but I didn't really have a good plan on how to proceed. However, when I started writing on the 15th, I couldn't stop! The creative juices were flowing, and I cranked out almost 7.5k words in one sitting (over 8 hours, of which I should have been sleeping)! I wrote over 300% of my daily word goal, and almost caught up to my overall word goal (38.8k actual, 39.1k goal). I will say that the events that unfolded during that writing session were probably some of the most interesting concepts I've ever had (especially since I didn't know where the manuscript was going)!

I'm still trying to write with as much availability as I have left, and hopefully can get this book done by the end of February at the absolute latest! I'm working at the Casino on the weekends (and one possible weekday) and teaching class on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I have at least two days off per week to write! Yay!

Also, in order to maintain a "Professional Author Profile", I've updated my Twitter handle!

This way, I can keep my followers (instead of having to create a new account) and have a more professional image, instead of "kode29" (which isn't bad, but it doesn't really portray the professional image)


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End of the Year Wrapup

As December looms over us, I wanted to reflect on a few of the things that I have neglected to do over the past few weeks - mainly because I have been so busy!

First off, "Night Blade: Dusk of Demise" has finished. After 3 different (simultaneous) edits, it rounds out at 86k words, which is a feat for me, as I didn't even know how Book 3 would end.

Now the real challenge: writing Book 4 without any prewritten script (like before).

Anyway, school has been pretty good. Classes have been going well, and I'm learning more of what it is like to be on the other side of the podium, if you know what I mean.

The Casino has been going well also, but we just rushed through a large portion of Thanksgiving traffic. On the good note, I did receive a(n electronic) "Thank You" for the hard work.
An E-Thank You


It was rough, but Keat and I made it through.

Since we also worked through Thanksgiving, we had our own version of Thanksgiving on Sunday with Turkey Breast, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Grapes, Cornbread Pudding, and a Cranberry Dipping sauce. It was surperb!

A Feast! Mashed Sweet Potatoes Brussel Sprouts The Feast in its Final Form!


We were hoping to invite a few friends, but they were working, so they couldn't attend. We also wanted to put our new Christmas tree up, but we were too tired to do so, so we will do that on Wednesday.


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Night Blade: Dusk of Demise Writing Results

Night Blade 3 Cover Okay, enough with the moping of my terrifying day last week. I thought it would be better to write a post about my latest book, Night Blade: Dusk of Demise and its progress (see Volume 1 Review and Volume 2 Results).

So, without further ado, here's the report for Volume 3!

As of September 17th, I finished the manuscript for Night Blade: Dusk of Demise! 80,000 words and roughly 300 pages in, and I'm beginning the (less interesting) editing process.

The good news is that I wrote Book 3 in a total of 50 days (well, 50 consecutive days over the course of roughly 6 months (April 24 - Sept 17). 80,000 words in 50 days - it's 20k more than Book 1, and just about twice as long. But keep in mind that the latter half of the book was written while I currently hold down 2 part time jobs: teaching computer courses at AB Tech and Table Games Dealer at Harrah's Cherokee. The Dealing job has been good for the pay, and the teaching job has been satisfactory for my own expansion of knowledge.

Regardless, while writing Book 3 in my spare time around a 24-32 hour (per week) job at night, then a 4-8 hour (per week) job during the day, I've been spending a lot of my free time sleeping, because I can't fit it in otherwise.

Word Count

Some of those writing days only got about a few hundred words in, while other days unloaded a few thousand words. It was certainly challenging trying to finish the book, as the original script was only through about 2/3 of the content. Trying to find out where the other 1/3 of the content would come from was interesting, since I really didn't know, which makes writing all of Book 4 a large challenge, especially as I've already set up the high word goal of 80k+. I've been told that I'm taking the "J. K. Rowling approach" in making every subsequential book longer. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not.
Word Total
Book Word GoalWord TotalDifference
Dawn of Discovery50,00059,993+19.98%
Day of Reckoning60,00082,220+37%
Dusk of Demise70,00086,844+24.1%
Dark of the Night80,000100,000+20%

I'm hoping that Book 4 does work out well, since I have an idea about how to take the story, but don't have the pre-written script as before. My expectation is that it will take roughly 90 consecutive days of writing, probably over the span of 6 months, which should make it roughly April 2015 for its release. I wish I could get it done by November, so I could complete the series in a year and have the book signing during the celebration, but I don't think that's going to happen. Well, we'll see what happens.


Tags:#nightblade #harrahs #abtech #wordcount

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My terrifying Day

For those of you that want to know a little more about how my day turned horrible, here are the full details.

Let's start on Monday, September 15th (Skip the boring stuff):

6PM
I wake up from a long day on Sunday, and felt it was acceptable to sleep in on Monday, since I had nothing to do. On the previous day, Keat received payment (in cash) from our neighbor for dog sitting, and splits it with me, since I did half of the work as well.

Our friend Kat, had also paid me $22. I had forgotten why, but realized it was because I had purchased some domains for her, and she just paid me back.

10PM
I start to clean the house a bit, because it needed to be done.

12AM, Tuesday, September 16th
Keat and I sit down and start watching "Good Morning, Vietnam", which is a Robin Williams film (rated R, 1987). I had never heard of it, but Netflix suggested it, and it was actually pretty good. There is actually a scene in there where the Robin's character seems really down and depressed, and when he is greeted by his fellow soldiers, they all show their support for him, then have to drive away. Robin's expression said it all for his recognition in today's society (and, sadly, he will be missed).

2:30AM
Keat and I are still up, so we decide to start watching "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." All throughout the film, we were curious how Disney got the rights to some famous WB cartoon characters, the fact that Christoper Lloyd (Doc Brown from "Back to the Future") was a bad guy, and how they did all of the cartoon/real life interactions in 1988 - almost a decade before CG and at least a decade before Space Jam.

5AM
Keat hits the hay while I stay up and write. I didn't see a reason to go to bed for roughly 2 hours, since I had to leave to teach at AB Tech at 8:30 in the morning.

7:45AM
I stop my writing for the time being, getting roughly 2600 words written, and cresting 77,000 total words. The fact that I'm almost finished with Book 3 was exciting to me, and I hope to finish it by the end of the week. Regardless, I take a shower and get dressed to leave.

8:40AM
Leave for AB Tech

9:20AM
Walk in, talk to my Advisor, get the key to my room, unlock it, then start talking to her about some Spring courses that I may be teaching. After a few minutes, I head back to my room, only to find that it has been closed and locked. Apparently, one of the other instructors, talking to my Advisor's Boss (the official terms are a bit lost) thought the room was open and unused, so he locked up. After I told him the situation, he apologized and unlocked the door. I walk in and start setting up for my 10am class.

10AM
Class begins. I do the Riddle of the Day, take attendance, and show them the instructions for the lab of the day.

10:15AM
A lot of people are having questions about the lab (Installing Windows 8.1 on a Virtual Machine). I install Win 8.1 on the Instructor Machine, going through the same motions, and spend roughly 15 minutes trying to find a solution. I did find one, let everyone know, then informed my Course Advisor about the situation. Apparently, a key step was left out of the instructions, but it has been rectified.

12PM
I start to shut down the class, get asked a few computer questions by some students, and lock up.

12:30PM
I leave AB Tech campus to head back home and sleep.


(In case you didn't care about the above stuff, the real story begins here)
12:45PM
Location: I-40 West, just short of Exit 27 (the exit to Waynesville). I'm on the left lane. My car starts to slow down a bit. I step on the gas pedal to maintain speed, but notice that my RPM guage is only around 2-3, where usually it is around 5-6, so it did seem a little low. Coasting toward Exit 27, I notice that my "TRAC OFF" light comes on. The only other times that I've seen that is when I am on very loose gravel or ice.

Realizing that my car is starting to act funny, I start to steer right, but find out that my power steering has locked up. Not good. So I try to force it, but to no avail. Therefore, I do the only other thing I can think of: slightly turn left to get off the road. My car continues to slow down. The gas pedal is doing absolutely nothing. I crawl to a stop as far left as I can, but not completely off the road (see image below - the circle is roughly where I was stopped, and how much of my car was still "in the road"). As soon as I stop, all of my dash lights go off. In a slight panic mode, I cut the car off, wait a few seconds, then try to start it again. After a bit of revving, it starts, then immediately quits. I try it a few more times, but the same effect happens.

The point of Terror

So, since I remembered that I had "Roadside Assistance" through my auto policy, and a GPS-enabled device that tracked my travels, I called State Farm. In a slight panic mode (again), I ask "Is this the line for offroad assistance?" (Keep in mind that I am sitting on the left side of I-40W with cars and trucks zooming past me at 75+mph, only mere inches from sideswiping or nicking me) The person understood what I was asking and said that my policy did cover this, but they needed to verify my name, address, and date of birth. I gave them that. Then, I was transferred to "Roadside America", which would be handling the scheduling and all of that.

After a few minutes of "Hold music", I was finally answered. The person on the other end was extremely calm (kudo points), but had absolutely no idea where I-40 was. They also spent roughly 10 minutes "trying to pinpoint my location" using my GPS device, which I have 2 in the car: the device from State Farm, and my phone. After "pinpointing" my location, they asked if I was "in the city of Haywood County". No, it's not a city. The closest "city" I would be near would be Canton or Clyde, depending on which direction you go. I keep saying "I'm on I-40 West, just short of Exit 27". They asked "what is the name of the exit?" I said "Exit 27, it leads to Highway 19/23", which the person didn't understand. So, after going on Hold (again) for about 5 minutes, still watching and fearing for the cars, the person told me that they "found a towing company. They are 6 miles away. Is that acceptable, or do you have a preferred towing location?" I respond, "Do I have a choice?" They respond back, "Okay, here's there number." Then, they told me "the towing company isn't a towing company. I have found another towing company that should tow you to another body shop. Here's there number." (Keep in mind that I do not have a pen and paper handy, because I'm scared for my life for all of the cars and trucks that are zooming past me - also, keep in mind that I AM NOT COMPLETELY OUT OF THE ROAD.) They then told me "The body shop isn't a body shop. Well, it's not a mechanic. Here's the number for a mechanic shop." (Still, freaking out every few minutes as more trucks and cars fly past me within inches of striking me - which some of them honk and flip me the bird.) Okay, I thought, maybe this chaos is almost over.

Suddenly, they said that in order to schedule the Tow Truck, I would have to pay $50, along with an $11 service charge. I respond (frantically), "Okay, just get it done." (Thinking I'm glad that I have cash right now, because my father always told me to "carry cash around, because tow truck drivers don't take checks or cards")
The person (Roadside America) asked, "Is it okay to proceed with the charges?"
Me: "YES!"
RA: "Okay, we will need your credit card information."
Me: "Okay, you should already have that on file. Can't you just charge it?"
RA: "No sir, we do not have that on file. I will need your name, card number, and expiration date to proceed with the charges."
Me: *sigh* "Okay, my name is ____, card number is ___, and expiration date is ____."
RA: "Just to verify, your name is ___, card number is ___, and expiration date is ___. Is that correct?"
Me: "YES!"
RA: "Okay, we will need the billing address to proceed with the charges."
Me: "Okay, okay! My billing address is _____, Waynesville, NC 28786."
RA: "Your billing address is _____, Waynesville, 28786?"
Me: "YES!"
RA: "Okay, the charges have successfully gone through. I will need to put you on hold again to call the towing company to come pick you up."
Me: "Okay, okay, please hurry. I'm still on I-40 about to be sideswiped at any minute!"
RA: "Please hold."

RA: "Okay, sir, I have contacted the towing company, and the highway patrol to inform them of your situation. A police car should be there within 5 minutes to make sure you're not sideswiped, and the tow truck should be there within 45 minutes."
Me: "Finally!"
RA: "Thank you for calling Roadside America. I will call you back on your phone to verify the schedule." (Hangup)

At this time, it is roughly 1:25PM - it has taken me roughly 30 minutes to schedule the tow truck to come.

Shortly after, I see a tow truck going down I-40 East, and turn its lights on, which usually means that they found me and need to turn around. Unfortunatly, the closest exit is 31, which means they will need to travel roughly 3 miles down I-40E, then 3 miles up I-40W to get me. The tow truck pulls in front, sticking out into the highway more than me, and the guy tells me to stay in the car (the only possible way out was through my driver window, because the door couldn't open for me to get out, and getting out on the right side was suicide).

The tow truck towed me up, with the IMAP car showing up shortly after, making sure to keep the traffic away. The tow truck drove across the highway, to the right side, and the guy told me to get out, so I did. I filled out a bit of paperwork for him, then got in his truck, riding backward to Canton. We arrive at Singleton's automotive (which I had been meaning to try anyway) and thanked the tow driver profusely, since he risked his life to rescue me. He told me that "Next time you call roadside assistance, tell them that you're in the middle of the highway and some urgency is needed, because you're in a dangerous location!" I told him I did, and the person did not understand.

At 1:45PM, I sat in Singleton's awaiting for the result and final paperwork. I filled that out, asked if I owed anything right now, and they said No, so I called Keat to come pick me up.

2:10PM
Keat picks me up, I explain everything, and she stops by McD's because we are both hungry. After sitting in the drive-thru for about 10 seconds, the car in front of us honks their horn, meaning that they had been there for a while and not been helped. So we go across the street to Sonic's and pick up some popcorn chicken. We head home, I get undressed, then get a call from Singleton's saying that the problem is my Fuel Pump - apparently, it had lost pressure and needed replacement. Labor and parts would be an estimated $589.40 (or something like that). I sighed, thinking "There goes all of my money" and agreed to it. It was either "Pay $600 now and get my car fixed, so we can have 2 cars, or scrap that one and pay $5000+ for a new(er) car." I would rather keep my old car right now.

Afterwards, we both take a nap before Keat needs to head in to work at 6 (starting at 7:30).

6:15PM-ish
Keat gets up from the bed, gets dressed, and leaves for work. I stay in bed until roughly 3AM when she calls saying that she is off. And that is where we are now.




I can't believe that it took that long and that much just to get a tow truck scheduled, and the fact that partner programs with State Farm don't have access to client files is ridiculous. They should have access to all client files and automatically charge them (upon permission) instead of having to relay all of that information, especially if one is sitting on the left side of the highway and may not exist within the next few minutes.


Tags:#roadsideassistance #car #tow #statefarm

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My Thoughts on Writing

As I finish Chapter 5 of my 3rd novel, I thought I'd transcribe some of my thoughts on the writing process, hopefully helping out friends and other fellow writers.

  • Word Quota: sets a goal to strive for, and helps with keeping yourself accountable and trackable (additionally, it lets you know when you last wrote, so you know if you slacked off or not). NaNoWriMo helped me out with this by setting a "50,000 words in 30 days" goal. At first, I thought it was insane! I honestly said, "50,000 words? I don't even think I've written 50,000 words in my life! That's impossible." Well, I tried it, and after tracking my progress, I write 60,000 words in 21 days - hence, my first novel (of 4). So it is possible, and when you approach your word goal, it's like the final stretch in a race - anything over that is just gravy.

  • Know your tense: my first novel was written in "3rd Person Singluar Present Tense", which meant that the rest of the books in the series had to be in the same tense. I realized that after my first book was published. If only I knew that I should have written it in past tense, but it works out well to my advantage because it really grabs the reader and puts them into a story at play

  • Write what you know: scripting can only get you so far. Only you experience what you experience, so write about it. Use it as inspiration. Change it up to make it more interesting. Additionally, write down your dreams. Sometimes, they are memorable, sometimes they are interesting. They could be your next story.

  • Stuck? Just start writing. You can change it later: I would always get stuck at the early hours in the morning, and would have no idea how to proceed. After just typing out a few words, the rest of the story proceeded, and I kept on writing. Sure, I had to change a few things afterwards, but that's what editing is for.

  • Get a good editor! You may save a few bucks by editing yourself, but try to get an unbiased approach so anything new is caught and you aren't overlooking things because you are familiar with your story.

  • Sometimes, the story writes itself: I've been writing a script for the past 7 years for my first series of novels. Interestingly, I've written almost 14 volumes of script for it (Let me clarify: the original intent was that it would be a manga series, but I thought that the NaNoWriMo goal would at least start the process of getting recognized). However, I only recently converted it into a novel-form, and when I started writing it, the story took a direction all its own and things that I had never planned suddenly popped up (or other items that I thought would be interesting in the script never showed up). Sometimes, the story takes control of itself and starts to write itself - you are just the tool to convert the story to text. Personally, I like when this happens because you never really have to do any of the thinking - just let the story flow.

  • Do your research, and let your friends know about it: if you are searching for nuclear weapons on the internet, let your friends know so they aren't calling the FBI on you for your search history (aside from other things)

  • Keep a notepad handy: you never know when an idea will strike, and you don't want a dead battery when you need to write something down.

  • You don't need thousands of dollars to publish: I personally use CreateSpace to publish, which is a great channel for independent authors to publish their books and get a foot in the door with Amazon (and other retailers, such as Barnes & Noble), along with getting a Kindle edition published as well. You pretty much do all of the managing yourself, upload your manuscript with their formatting, upload your cover, and publish! It's a "Print on Demand" type of service, so if you want a copy (or if anybody else wants a copy), it's printed when they order it and ship it out! Their team also double checks things (like cover size for the book) to make sure you're doing things right (they also provide professional services if you have a few hundred $$$ to drop). Other services include Lulu for self-publishing as well. There are a few others, but those are the top 2 I know of.

I'm sure I'll add more to this list once I think of it, but I just wanted to write this down when I thought of it (hence, the purpose for "keeping a notepad handy").


Tags:#books #writing #novel #process #thoughts

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HTML API: Intro to Web Notifications API

After taking some time to get back into my craft, I realized that I had missed a lot of advancements in the HTML world, especially the evolution of the HTML API. Yes, there actually is an HTML API.

While researching some of the "new" API, I came across a bunch of articles by Aurelio De Rosa via SitePoint (a lot of good stuff there), and one of the items that caught my attention was the "Web Notifications API." Now, I will say that this stuff is still experimental (see the W3C's Working Draft for Notifications, so it's not widely supported and may even disappear. But for now, it's pretty awesome!)

Anyway, I'm sure you're not here to hear read about my day, so let's get to the point of the matter: HTML API - specifically, the Web Notifications API.

I know a lot of you just want to get to the demo and play with it, so here's a Working Demo (Chrome, Firefox, and Safari 7+ only)


What are "Web Notifications"?


If you use an email system like Gmail or Outlook, chances are you've already seen something like this:
Web Notification in the wild!

Well, those are technically desktop notifications and are usually controlled by software, not browsers. (Prior to HTML5, in order to get Desktop Notifications for Gmail, you had to download the "Gmail Notifier" application, and Outlook is already a software program to begin with).

The main difference is that these notifications (like the one above) are controlled by the browser - yes, the browser can control (certain) desktop notifications, and it's actually quite simple.

How to Use It


In an HTML file, add this bit of Javascript:
var notification = new Notification("New Email Received", { icon: "mail.png" })
That's pretty much it. No external libraries to load, no frameworks to bend around your whim - it's automatically built in to most modern browsers. Now, I know what you're asking: "What? That seems too simple! There has to be more." Don't worry, that was just the extremely core concept (provided by W3C). Technically, there is one more step to do: your application must first ask for permission before doing anything with the visitor's computer. (Yes, I know this seems a bit backwards, but for privacy, I can understand - especially with all of the ActiveX IE vaulnerabilities out there). This seems that the W3C wants to get rid of, but for now, it stays. (W3C says: Warning: In designing the platform notifications are the one instance thus far where asking the user upfront makes sense. Specifications for other APIs should not use this pattern and instead employ one of the many more suitable alternatives. [ref])
Notification.requestPermission(function(){
 
    //we're declaring a new object here
 
    var notification = new Notification(title, options);
 
});
There are 3 states to the "Permission" request: default (equivilant to "denied", because a choice has not been made yet), denied (the user denied the access, and therefore the request cannot proceed), or granted (the green light). This is similiar to when a browser (and/or application) asks to automatically use your physical location to determine items near you, like so:

Geolocation API in use

If you haven't already allowed a site to display desktop notifications (or allowed for geolocation, as the above image), then it will ask you for permission before proceeding:

Asking Permission

Overall, in accordance with "best practices", here's what I have learned/uncovered/researched:

First, you need to check to see if the API is supported. As this is still in the works, it isn't fully supported everywhere (for example, only Chrome, Firefox, and Safari 7+ support this - see http://caniuse.com/#feat=notifications for the full supported range).

In order to detect if the API is supported, add this bit of JS before you go calling Notifications.
//check to see if the API is supported
 
if (!('Notification' in window)){
 
    //API not supported. Show a message or something
 
    ....
 
} else {
 
    // API is supported. Do things
 
    ....
 
}
Therefore, if you have any buttons, links, or other items that make the notifications appear based on calling them, then you can disable them safely (or, if you are basing it off of automatic notifications, like emails, scores, or calendars, you can safety defer the notifications instead of having an error thrown).

Let's get fancy


The above sample is pretty much all you need to know for calling Notifications. If you want to get a little fancy with things, try this:
title = 'Email Received';
 
options = {
 
    body: 'You have a total of 3 unread emails',
 
    tag: 'preset', //The UID of the notification
 
    icon: 'https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/favicon2.ico'
 
};
Before we go into detail about this, let's break it down:

  • title: This is the title of the Notification (duh)

  • options: This outlines a few of the Instance options available in the API
    (technically, everything is optional)

    • dir: This determines the text direction that the notification will be displayed (options are auto, ltr (left to right), or rtl (right to left) (default: auto)

    • lang: The language that the notification should be displayed in (example: 'en' for 'english') - (default: default language for computer)

    • body: The message that is displayed in the notification, like the body of a letter (default: blank)

    • tag: I like to think of this as the UID (Unique IDentifier) of the notification. Examples in the W3C Draft Documentation show usage of multiple instances of notification windows, so if you want one for your Email, Calendar, Reminders, etc, you can name each appropriately instead of just having to fall back on just 1. (default: blank)

    • icon: If you have a jpg, png, ico, or any other image file to show with the notification, you can list it here (I'd recommend the full absolute path of a web file instead of locally) (default: blank)

Those are all of the options available for the Notification API right now. Maybe more will come in the future - it just depends on what the official word is on the development.

FAQ


Can the notification automatically close after a few seconds?

I'd like to say 'yes', but the answer is unfortunately, no - at least, not completely.

I've tested my demo in Chrome and Firefox and had different results. I set up a setTimeout right after the notification is shown and tested it.
notification.onshow = function() { setTimeout(notification.close, 15000) }
However, Firefox displays the notification and automatically dismisses it after 5 seconds, regardless of the timeout, and Chrome will display the notification until you close it. Apparently, the problem is that the drafted Event Handlers don't register in the browsers, yet. I've tried to implement a calling feature of event.type == 'onshow', then call the setTimeout function, but to no avail. I've also tried to match up the event.type prior to the forEach function, but yet again, nothing.

Demo

In case you missed it above, here's the live demo again. It provides a call button that calls the notification on demand. I'm sure you can play around with it and figure out how it works.

References

Mozilla Dev Documentation: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/API/Notification W3C Draft: w3.org/TR/notifications/ Articles by Aurelio De Rosa: sitepoint.com/author/aderosa/ Aurelio's Notifications API Demo: http://aurelio.audero.it/demo/web-notifications-api-demo.html "Can I Use" browser feature comparison: http://caniuse.com/#feat=notifications


Tags:#html #api #javascript #w3c #mozilla #demos #tutorials

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Transistion, Business Shutdown, and Overall Updates

xkcd

Here's, the deal: the past few months have really been chaotic for me.

The first thing: As of March 4th, Shadow Dev is no more. On March 4th, I cut the 800 number, ended the insurance, and pretty much cut all ties. There's even a "goodbye" message at shadowdev.com that goes into a little more detail and the why of why it happened. Honestly, it was a good 8 years, but it was time to change directions.

Since I didn't want to say that I have been "unemployed" for the past few months (because self-employment doesn't supply unemployment insurance), I have created a sole-proprietorship freelance web development company called Q5 Industries. Don't ask about the name; Q5 was an available domain and good for a short domain (q5i.co), which really helps with short links.

So anyway, I've also finished Day of Reckoning - well, writing it, of course. It is currently going through the Editing process, which is taking a bit longer than expected, but hey - it's free. After that is finished, I will move on to Book 3: Dusk of Demise and almost be done with the series. My mother, although I'm sure it's 50% support and 50% real, likes my books, so finding how the series ends will be a surprise to us all.

I've also move some more personal "blog items" to a personal blog - kind of a "personal log". I gave it a LCARS look with more of a quick bootstrap view, and only available behind some security (I'm sure my reasons don't have to be explained).

Also, due to some role-playing gaming research, I would like to do a few things:
1) With a raspberry pi, I would like to do some hardware tinkering. I feel like I can do some testing and developing with basic LED research with a few helpful resources that I found on the internet using Python GPIO.

2) I would also like to tinker with raspberry pi and Jasper - a voice-command based system with a "dead-simple API". I thought I 'd give it a shot.

3) I've also been experimenting with some UI Framework, including UIKit, Bootstrap, Foundation (my favorite, thus far), Pure, HTML5 Boilerplate, and Skeleton. In reference, this may help with my job search with Frontend UI Design experience. (Speaking of which, I've updated my blog design to a slimmer, more responsive design, which looks pretty good)

I'm also going to be writing (and releasing) some tutorials on some HTML5, CSS3, and PHP on this blog - maybe to increase more traffic, maybe to show off some of the new techniques that I had learned (such as CSS3's vw property, which I thought was pretty cool)

Meanwhile, Java has taken a bit of a backseat while I get the rest of this chaos under control.


Tags:#nightblade #python #ui #raspberrypi #frameworks

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Java Progress

XKCD
Lost on the concept? This may help explain it

As per the request of many a-people, I have started studying Java.

Personally, it's because I started an Android application course that apparently was a lot harder than I anticipated. I expected the course to be "Here's what you need to know in order to develop an Android program." Instead, it was "We're expecting you to know Java. Knowing that, create this program with these Android specifics."

Let's just say that I easily zoomed through the video lectures (it was via Coursera) and the quizzes, but the first assignment really handed me my rear end. I thought I was alone in the fact that I had absolutely no idea what to do.

The Assignment

	// Create counter variables for onCreate(), onRestart(), onStart() and
 
	// onResume(), called mCreate, etc.
 
	// You will need to increment these variables' values when their
 
	// corresponding lifecycle methods get called
Okay, no biggie. I just need to create incremental variables in Java. How do I do that? In PHP, it's just $counter = 0. How does Java do it?
	// TODO: Create variables for each of the TextViews, called
 
        // mTvCreate, etc. 
Okay, creating variables. In PHP, it's $variable = 'string';. So, is there any difference than the above step?
		// TODO: Assign the appropriate TextViews to the TextView variables
 
		// Hint: Access the TextView by calling Activity's findViewById()
 
		// textView1 = (TextView) findViewById(R.id.textView1);
Wait, what? So do I write textView1 = (TextView) findViewById(R.id.textView1);?

And that's about as far as I got before I spent hours on Google searching on how to do these specific things (yes, they are extremely specific), and combed through the Course's forums.

Apparently, I was not alone. A lot of people were complaining about "I'm a Java beginner. I don't understand any of this stuff!" Even some people were saying "I've been studying Java for about 2 years, and even the first assignment took me about 7 hours to complete." WHAT? The first assignment of courses is supposed to be progressive. "Here's how you output 'Hello World'." and "Here's how you add color." and "Here's how you add a button." - you know, progressive

At this point, I said "I need to study Java more." So much for trying to "dive" into Android. I need to backtrack a bit.

Kilobolt to the Rescue!


So I followed some links in the forum and found many, many Java tutorials and found one that I really liked: Kilobolt, a student at Duke, has a lot of tutorials of basic Java (like understanding public vs. private methods, classes, and variables, actually declaring variable types like string, int, long, boolean, and even ArrayTypes, referencing outside classes, expanding classes, inheriting classes, and more. Overall, all of these items helps you develop a 2-D game to put all of these items to use: as in "Application Learning," which is what my Python course did last year.

Kilobolt has really saved me and helped me understand Java better. I don't think I'll be an expert by the end of the week, but I'll know more than I did a few days ago. And hopefully, by knowing this, I should be able to give Android a crack again.

Fruit of my Labor


Also, in the 8 (or so) hours that I have been going through Kilobolt's tutorials, I completed 2 out of the 4 Units for Java, and completed this nice little number:

It's not much to look at, but given the fact that as of 12PM on Wednesday, I had absolutely no idea how to do that, and, as of 3AM this morning, I created that, I think it's pretty awesome. I can't wait until the full project is done!

Wait a sec - you're studying Java, NOW? Why not in College?


I'm sure some of my programmer friends are asking "Why did you wait so long to study Java? Why didn't you go into Computer Science when you were in colleg?" Personally, I never really saw the appeal of "Desktop Software" (Software that only operated on your computer and nowhere else). I always saw potential in languages like HTML, PHP, MySQL, etc, because you could post it to the web and let the whole world see, without having to do any major marketing ("Here, try my software!"). Visual Basic and C++ gave me a taste of desktop programming back in high school, and although those were building blocks for what I know today, I had more fun with PHP and the like. When I entered into college, I saw that the CS department was teaching Java, and I thought "Why study something that was current 20 years ago?" and never thought twice about it (and seeing all of these "Applet Rich" programs on the web that took at least 10 minutes to download and run on a dial-up connection steered me away from learning a "pointless, single-purpose" language). However, now since Keat is going through a CIS 250 course and learning HTML 4.01 (ok, 13 years ago - yes, HTML 4.01 came out officially in 2000), I'm re-thinking my priorities. Entrepreneurship has its advantages, and it was fun while it lasted, but I love to code. I love to learn new languages. I love to push my potential. When I entered college, "Smart Phones" hadn't even been thought of. "Android" and "iPhone" programming was something completely foreign. I never thought "By learning Java, I can learn to program phones!" Never crossed my mind.

Looking back on it, I think I would have joined my friends in the CS department and been able to accelerate my programming knowledge further than today. Aside from 1 formal HTML course, a VB course, and a C++ course (and a Python course, if you count Coursera), I've always been self-tought in languages I learn. Maybe that's a problem with me - since I've never really had any advanced formal programming training, that's a flaw I have and didn't seek it out, thinking "I can learn all of this from the web." However, while trying to apply to jobs, I think a lot of people are saying "He has a degree in Entrepr-something. We want a Programmer!" and turning me down. Instead of saying "Ha! Their loss!", maybe I should look at myself and re-examine the priorities, emphasizing my experience in difference languages. Yes, I may have a degree in Entrepreneurship, but I studied and practiced web technologies, web strategies, web marketing tactics, PHP algorithims, code-based studies, SEO methods, and more while trying to build up my business.

Last Notes


I will say that I was against learning Java for the longest time. I always saw it as "slow, decrepit software". I always told people that it's like "learning Japanese when you know Spanish," which is technically true. However, the logic planning and orientation of the language is fairly similiar to PHP. The only main differences being that:
  1. Java (from what I've seen), like Python, is heavy on the "Object Oriented" portion of OOP.
  2. You must declare all of your variables at the top and specify their types, whereas PHP can just declare variables.
  3. You must have an IDE to complile Java, where as PHP you just need a text editor and a PHP-based web server.
  4. Changing variable types is not easy whereas in PHP, it doesn't really matter (example: integer to string to float and back).

I'm sure there are a few more, but that's the basics that I've seen so far. It's certainly more structured than PHP is, but I hope I can learn more about PHP through Java, just like I learned more about PHP Objects from Python.

Day 2


After completing Unit 3 and starting Unit 4, this is what I have so far:



Tags:#java #android #coursera #kilobolt

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Night Blade Progress and Birthday Results

Night Blade 2 Cover This may be a little late in posting, but I just got back from my family vacation over the weekend. The night before I left for it, I finished "Night Blade: Day of Reckoning". 300 pages, 82200 words later, it is finished.

My original goal was 10k more than book #1, and I believe I passed that by 37%. Not bad for my 2nd book, but now I expect that book #3 will have 100k, and book #4 will have 120k, if the pattern continues. Anyway, the manuscript has been submitted for editing and I'm expecting the book to publish in the next few weeks.

Although my progress was a bit shaky, I'm proud that I was able to finish half of the Night Blade series. Let's just say that this is the "bird's eye view" of book #2:
Chisai is captured, Niko and Kitsune fight to get her back, all three of them fight Omego and the people they met at the matsuri, Tsuyoki re-enters the scene, Tsuyoki tasks 3 people with challenges, all of the main characters go to Niko's parent's house, Kitsune's parents visit, give the main characters new clothes, they all go to Chisai's school's festivals and get into a major fight, one of Chisai's friends gets majorly hurt, Niko's friend gets hurt (emotionally), and they start to chase down another thief.

That's it for Book #2. Book #3 will have a major fight in it, more progress with Niko's blade, Tsuyoki's plan progress, the secret processing in the background, and starting one of the biggest fights the characters will have to go through, along with going deeper into a relationship. We'll just see what happens.
Words vs Goal

Words per day


On to the family retreat: I left friday for Murphy to meet up with my parents, my sisters, brother-in-law, and nieces and nephew. Although I expected it to be something like last year, I must say that it wasn't too bad. My parents and I (and Keat) went to a new restaruant in Murphy and got some pizza, then the rest of the family arrived. We all went on a trip to Georgia (Amicalola Falls) on Saturday, had a picnic, watched a bird show (really great), walked down the waterfall and got some great photos, and got back. Then, we talked, celebrated my (and Jarrod's) birthday(s) with a brownie cook-off, got some great presents, and played "Cardinal Mexican Train", which is extremely confusing and requires a few rounds to understand it. We then left on Sunday and toured Leatherwood Falls, which I'm glad that the GPS got us there instead of "Let's go this way" kind of trip. Afterwards, we all departed our own ways.

Overall, it was a great family vacation, I got Book #2 done, and I'm spending the next week exploring my new gifts.

Here's an overview of what I got: my dad's old work laptop (it's a Dell, but I can work with it), an android tablet (which needs some work, but for an inexpensive Taiwainese-knock-off, it isn't too bad), and some Star Trek comics (which I didn't even know existed).


Tags:#startrek #murphy #nightblade #georgia #falls #brownie

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Job Hunt Progress

I felt it was necessary to report my latest status regarding my "job hunt" so far.

Over the past 6 months, I have been searching for a job to bring in additional income. Here are my results:

9/14/13:
Kitchen & Company - Never heard back
Trader Joes - Denied at interview
Haywood Community College (Director of Small Business Center) - After a long and frustrating application process, where my application and transcripts were sent to the wrong department twice, I never received a return call

9/25/2013:
Target - Denied on 1/17/14
Biltmore (IT) - Denied
Biltmore (Dishwasher) - Denied
Biltmore (Security) - 1 interview, then Denied

12/3/13:
Regal Cinemas (Floor Staff) - Never heard back/Application Expired

12/14/13:
WCU (Grounds Keeper) - Still "In Progress"
WCU (Instructor) - Still "In Progress"
WCU (Assistant) - Denied
WCU (IT Services) - Denied
UNCA (Journey) - Still "In Progress"

1/6/14:
MedWest (IT) - 1 interview, then never heard back

1/12/14:
Art & Logic - 1 return email, completed a sample task, then Denied on 2/19/14 (although, according to the email, my work was better than what they usually receive, but it wasn't good enough to move on)
BCGTrans - Never heard back
KISS (Book company) - Never heard back
Followup Boss - Denied
TOKY - Never heard back
Morrison Agency - Never heard back
Authenticff - Never heard back
McKinley - Denied

1/25/14 (at this point, I just didn't care where/what the job was):
Lowes (Overnight Stock) - Turned down within 12 hours
Bi-Lo (Stock) - Denied even before I finished the application
Ingles - TBA
Harris Teeter (3rd Shift Stocker) - Application expired (3/25/14)

Update (2/10/14)2/1/14:
Buncombe County (Black Mountain Tech Support) - Application expired
Barnes & Noble - Denied
PNC Bank (Tech Support) - Denied on 2/10/14

2/2/14:
National Park Service - Denied on 4/7/14

2/3/14:
WCU (Tech Support) - Turned down (3/25/14)
WCU (CatTran Driver) - Possibly accepted on 7/2, but way out of date
WCU (UC Housekeeping Staff) - Denied on 2/25/14
WCU (Ramsey Housekeeping Staff) - Still "In Progress"
WCU (Assistant Campus Activites Director) - Still "In Progress"
Champion Credit Union - TBA
State Employees Credit Union - Denied on 3/20/14

2/4/14:
Mast General - TBA
New Meridian - TBA

2/6/14:
Harris Teeter (3rd Shift Cashier) - Application expired (3/25/14)
Regal Cinemas (Floor Staff) - Application Expired, Again

2/9/14:
Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority (Operations Specialist I) - TBA

2/10/14:
Harris Teeter (PT Cashier) - TBA
Harris Teeter (PT Stocker) - Application expired (3/25/14), Denied on 5/16/14
Harris Teeter (3rd Shift Assistant Grocery Manager) - Application expired (3/25/14), Denied on 5/16/14

Update (2/21/14)2/17/14:
Clear Channel Radio (Promotions Director) - Denied on 8/20/15
A-dec (Web Developer) - Denied on 4/10

2/17/14:
AdvisorPool (Web Developer) - Denied on 3/26
[Legal Website] (Web Developer) - In Progress, not finalized

2/21/14:
UNCA (Assistant Director for Student Engagement) - TBA

Update (3/14/14)3/14/14:
KeyBank (Applications System Consultant) - TBA

Update (3/25/14)3/24/14:
City of Asheville (Park Ranger - Athletics & Ball Fields) - Denied on 5/6/14
City of Asheville (Parks Recreation - Cultural & Arts) - TBA
City of Asheville (Concessionsare/Runner) - TBA
City of Asheville (Adminstrative Assistant - Human Resources) - TBA
City of Asheville (Adminstrative Secretary - Human Resources) - TBA
City of Asheville (Cashier) - TBA
City of Asheville (Tradesworker) - TBA

3/25/14:
CBTS (Web Developer) - Possibility.... and Nope (4/9/14). Apparently, not enough Responsive experience
Abacus Group, LLC (Web Developer) - TBA
CyberCoders (PHP Developer) - TBA
CyberCoders (LAMP Developer) - Denied on 4/3/14

3/27/14:
SMDC (Building Manager) - TBA

Update (4/7/14)4/7/14:
Harrah's Cherokee Casino - Production Technician - Denied on 5/7/14
Harrah's Cherokee Casino - A/V Technician - 1 interview, then never heard back

Update (4/17/14)4/17/14:
USPS (Mail Sorter and Processor) - TBA
Applied Solutions Group (PHP Developer) - TBA
WCU (Director of Conference Services) - TBA

4/18/14:
Evergreen Packaging (Traffic Coordinator) - Denied on 5/15/14
Haywood County (Custodian) - Denied on 5/16

4/19/14:
City of Asheville (GIS Analyst/Civic Programmer) - TBA
Immedion (Managed Services Engineer) - TBA
Modis (IT Infrastructure Manager) - TBA
Sinclair Broadcast Group (Multimedia IT Engineer) - TBA
Smoky Mountain Center (QA Tester/Trainer) - TBA
Self-Help (IT Tech Support Specialist) - TBA
Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (Director of Marketing and Communications) - Denied on 5/16/14
A-B Tech (Programmer Analyst III) - TBA
A-B Tech (Instructor - Computer Skills) - TBA
A-B Tech (Instructor - Business Computer Technologies) - Possible
BorgWarner (Sr. Business Analyst - SAP) - TBA
Gaia Herbs (Application Developer) - Denied on 4/28
Storage Unit Auction List (Developer) - TBA
City of Asheville (Park Ranger) - Denied on 5/6/14
RSI Vacations (Application Developer) - TBA

4/20/14:
Beaconfire (Programmer/Developer) - TBA
GalaxeSolutions (PHP Programmer) - TBA
TreeHouse Internet Group (PHP Developer) - TBA

4/22/14:
Locus (Front End Developer) - TBA

4/24/14 - Harrah's Job Fair:
Harrah's (Production Designer) - Denied
Harrah's (Drop Counter Staff) - Denied
Harrah's (Groundskeeper) - Denied
Harrah's (Table Games Dealer) - YES!

5/1/14:
Runskip (Web Designer) - TBA
RSI Vacations (PHP Developer I) - TBA
(no name) (LAMP Developer) - TBA
(no name) (Web Designer) - TBA
Econosoft Inc (PHP Developer) - TBA


Although I'm hopeful for Ingles and/or Harris Teeter, nobody can say that I didn't try, or "Getting a job is easy". I've been trying, trust me. That's 26 44 49 50 62 64 84 87 applications in 8 months (as of 4/18/14).


Tags:#jobs #status #search #results

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What I learned from my first Startup Failure

I was inspired to write this from many articles referenced in the December 21st Edition of Startup Digest. In that newsletter, I found many articles about "What I learned from my Startup Failure" (or along the lines). Therefore, I thought I would write this.

Work on the business, not in the business


As the quote from Michael Gerber goes, it is best to work on the business instead of in the business. In my college career as an aspiring Entrepreneur, I never really understood that quote. My logic consisted of the following phrase: "If you can do the task, then do it and market yourself. You are the business - it's your idea, it should be your fame." It took me roughly 7 years to understand that I was wrong.

From Day 1 up until the end of 2012, I was the "CEO/President" of Shadow Development (CEO from 2005-2009ish, when I learned that if I was a "CEO of a small company, then the credibility hasn't been built", so I downgraded to "President" thinking "Yeah, that'll work"; yeah right). In 2013, I stepped down from "President" to "VP of Operations" basically stepping aside from the Presidential duties and taking a look at the business as an outsider and not just as myself.

That was probably the best thing that I've ever done. Not in the "This was a great decision, it made a million bucks" kind of way, more of a "I see what is actually happening and not just want I want to happen."

I saw that the business had been running on my hopes, my dreams, and my stubbornness for far too long. I should have shut the doors a long time ago if I saw this happening. Even throughout the ups and downs, it was my stubbornness that kept my business up for so long.

What should I have done? Hired someone to take care of the project management, project development, and selling. I shouldn't have done those things back when the business was started. I should have managed the business, sought out investment, asked others for help, evaluate the cash flow, find ways to save money, establish marketing channels, etc; not become the primary developer.

Basically, I've learned that "If a person can't do the work, then they should be fired. Based on the logic, if you can't do the work, then fire yourself, but then the company will no longer exist." However, I couldn't fire myself because I was too damn proud.
Entrepreneur Fail


Surround yourself with like-minded people who can do the jobs you ask


After dealing with managing people, it's a lot harder than just "Do this task." You must take into account their schedule, their emotions, their skill sets, not "playing favorites", their quality, etc. I always thought that "If I surround myself with people that have the skill sets, I can delegate tasks to them" (see the next point as well). Well, I hired developers, designers, project managers, sales people, and interns. What did I get: next to nothing.

My designers didn't have anywhere near the skill sets that I had imagined. I thought "They have design experience and an eye for design. Their designs will be great!" What I received was "This is what I think will work", not what I had in mind.

My developers knew what they were doing (for their development levels), but they had a long way to go in order to provide what we promised the clients.

My sales people said they knew the material, they knew the sales process, they knew the contracts and services. However, they also fell short of expectation and probably couldn't sell water to a dying man in the desert. (Hell, neither can I)

My interns were treated as "gofers" instead of the "learn as you work" kind of experience. I didn't like that.

My project manager was great at managing projects, but we didn't have many projects to give them that weren't already being managed (or the budget to allocate to them).

In short: Just because the person you hired had the title "X" doesn't mean that they can do what you expected of your last "X".

(However,) Hire Slow and Fire Fast


Just because you are in a company doesn't mean you need to have 10 employees around you. Take your time to hire the right person for the right job. If you hire someone just because they have "X" in their previous title, that doesn't exactly mean that they know everything there is about X (for example: just because someone says they are a salesperson doesn't mean they can actually sell).

If a person isn't the right fit for a job, get rid of them. If a person isn't doing what you want them to do, get rid of them. If the person is trying to take over the company, get rid of them - quickly.

I know that many Managerial books have said "Hire Slow, Fire Fast", and I never really understood what that meant. However, now I know what they meant, and I have been burned in order to learn that.

Don't think that "If I just keep them on the payroll for another few days/weeks/months, things will turn around." That never worked for me. I also knew that my stubbornness got in the way for "being nice to people" because I wanted to see them come around, like in TV shows. Yeah right.

If a person isn't doing their job, you have 2 choices, and you better choose one fast. Either 1) Train them to do their job better, or 2) Fire them without resentment.

If I could go back in time and do one or the other, I would have chosen #2 in a heartbeat instead of waiting around for about a year to see what would happen. I would have rather hired the right person for the job, instead of someone who I thought would work based on their previous title.

Never expect to copy yourself


If you are super-skilled in X, don't expect others to be as well. They may have the same basis, but you can't expect them to know what you know in 24 hours - especially if you were trained over several years.

I have been studying Web Development since 2001, since my first HTML class in high school. Since then, everything else has been self taught: Advanced CSS, PHP, MySQL, jQuery, XML/XSL, DHTML, JavaScript, Python, Ruby on Rails, etc. So I've had over 10 years of experience in the field.

When I hired on extra developers, I had a high expectation: they were on the same level as myself and could crank out stuff just like me.

I could not have been more wrong.

Most of the developers I hired on worked under the premise that they would learn additional skills under my leadership. Well, I spent roughly 2 months teaching them the most common advanced PHP techniques, jQuery items, CSS3 markup, and even Database management with MySQL (as much as I could do). What did I expect? I expected them to come out of the training doing what I was doing. The actual result: I advanced their skill set a bit, but they were still a long way off from developing what we needed for our clients.

I always said "If I could copy myself, I would", but in today's technological era, that's an impossibility (unless you're a sheep).

Basically, it came down to the education gap between me and the other developers; I knew a lot more than they did, and they needed to know a lot more if they were to crank out stuff like me. That wasn't going to happen in 2 months or 2 years - they needed the "on-the-job training" like I had; they needed the "decade of wrong-doings" that I had; they needed to "do things the hard way before learning the ease of a shortcut" like I did (I spent nearly 2 months of nights and weekends in my room hand-coding a visual editor (without advanced PHP functions) because I "wanted to do it").

Location, Location, Location


Waynesville, NC, is not the place for a high-tech kind of company. It took me many years of trial and error (mostly error) to figure that out. As my business advisor once said, "I'm sorry you are in this area." If I was in Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, San Francisco, New York, etc, it would make more sense, but you can't force a business model (or technique) into an area that isn't ready for it. Most of the businesses in this area are "Mom and Pop" stores with owners who are usually the ones behind the counter. While there isn't a problem with this kind of business operation, it isn't the kind of market that can allocate thousands of dollars towards marketing.

I also didn't find out until a few years in (after moving to a small office space in 2007) that we could not put up any additional advertising on the building we were renting, or near the building in general. The landlord did provide us with a large sign on the front that had all of the businesses listed that were inside our building, but any additional logos, signs, even something saying "HERE WE ARE" were prohibited.

My suggestions: prime location for exposure (like Main Street), a professional environment that you can advertise with/on, and/or an easy access office.

Price is not always a factor, but it is a big one


Price may be beneficial, but you can always set it too high or too low. Most people in this area want a low-cost solution, and if your only price range starts in the $1000's, you can easily price yourself out of a market, which is pretty much what we did. After calculating how many hours went into the research, the design testing, the development creation, the usability tweaking, and the launching of a site, $1000 was the bare minimum for the kind of work we produced. While a company in Atlanta wouldn't bat an eye at that, people up here would turn us away within a second. The people up here want the $5 solution, the "What can I pay you to do that won't cost me an arm and a leg" type of solution, the "I have $100, what can you do" kind of solution. Not the "$1000 will get you X, Y, and Z" kind of solution.

Create an enjoyable work environment


A happy team is a productive team. While I'm always the one to think of an enjoyable environment such as Google, IDEO, Patagonia, etc, we didn't really have that, and it showed. Although the extent of our budget allowed for the purchase of some darts with my own dart board, it didn't provide much of an "enjoyable environment" as it were. I also brought in my personal PS2, games, and TV to hopefully provide a few hours of entertainment for the staff. It was never touched. I would love to provide a ping-pong table, a pool table, a HDTV with PS3 entertainment, and more, but our budget didn't allow for it, because I didn't put the money aside to do so.

Don't grow too fast


Grow your company as needed. Don't expect to have your own glass-covered office in 5 years. Don't expect to have a pool table and 200" TV next year. Don't expect to have 30 employees and your own stock options next month.

If you grow too fast, your goals and focus will be thrown out of alignment and you will be focused on the end-goal, not the "right now" goal. So your company is 5 years old - does that mean you need your own conference room? No - invest that money into more marketing and product development, maybe even some staff training. If you absolutely need that conference room, then your company will tell you so. Until then, find a library meeting room, somebody's house, or even a coffee shop to meet at.

Don't get caught up in meetings


Just because you have meetings doesn't mean that they (or the people who attend them) will be productive. As I learned from my years at Last Minute Productions, the majority of items that were discussed in the board room usually stayed in the board room. During my reign as President, I vowed to change that, although my board didn't like the idea (they wanted more money for doing less). In most Board Meetings, assigning a task to someone that will get it done usually results in responsibility, accountability, reliance. If a task is not assigned, then it will not get done.

Also, I always thought it was a great idea to bring my board member attendees up to speed with what has been happening. Usually, that turned into 45 minutes of me blabbing about calls, meetings, and other items that didn't concern, relate, or include the other members. I could have just as easily summarized those blabbings, or even just said the end result and cut the time down to 5 minutes, but my stubbornness got in the way and I was too proud of myself for all of the work that I did (and nobody else). What I should have done is delegated out some of those items to the members so I wasn't always bogged down with items like that.

Don't over complicate things


When I first started my company, I thought that the idea of making websites easy to use would be easy. I mean, the whole world was doing it wrong: Geocities, Yahoo Sites, Homestead websites, even "Welcome! I'm HTML Code!" websites were designing things wrong. The wrong resolution, relying on "Best Viewed in Internet Explorer" tags, over complicating things with animated GIF's to make the site "cute", creating 5-minute flash "splash pages" that you had to sit through in order to get to the site's content, and the list goes on.

I thought I could change this. Instead, I made it more complicated.

In The Oatmeal's blog posting on "How A Web Design Can Go Straight To Hell", the artist/programmer/fun guy Matt Inman talks about exactly what I mean: taking a poorly designed website from the 90's and improving it with high-def graphics, a nice content flow, a beautifully laid out menu, and easy-to-read items. Instead, the client wants what they had: a poorly designed site from the 90's because that's what they had, and that's what they're used to (hence, the "cute kitty", the "mother who designed a Bake Sale flyer in the 80's", and the "pop" and "edgy" items that only exist in their mind). Personally, I also hated it when people would come into Staples (when I worked there) and acted like they knew more than I did in Technology - the same concept applies here: when clients think they know what they should based on the latest article, blog, or news report and want "Web 2.0 items" and "SEO Techniques" integrated into their sites, thinking that those are the most important and absolutely necessary items to have a great site.

I also tried to put too much focus on "how the site worked" and not so much on "how the site looked". My logic said that "if the site worked beautifully, we can design around it. Too many companies focus on how the site looks and not how it operates. Let's flip that." I was wrong. I knew that people went to websites because they looked great (the latest graphics, the flowing sections, even the effects on the photos). I also knew that people left websites because they operated poorly (bad links, page redirection went wrong, server errors that didn't make sense, etc). I wanted to focus on the development of the site to make it operate as expected.

What should I have done? Balanced the design and development, making sure that the design was exciting and the site operated as expected - nothing more.

Always have a backup. And when you do, backup some more


Having your hosting company hold your content hostage is bad business. Over the course of 8 years, I switched hosting companies 4 times. In 2005, I self-hosted, thinking that it wasn't that hard. I was wrong.

In 2006, I moved over to "Website Source" and it was pretty easy to manage, but it cost roughly $66/mth. I did lose some data while with them, and it cost me $50 to recover it from one of their backups.

I migrated to some larger systems while with Website Source, but in 2013, I had to call it quits. In early 2013, I switched to another company (I won't name names here) that would provide me with direct access to our server with backups.

In late 2013, they called it quits with us and froze our server, which meant that all of our data (ours, customers, databases, financial, emails, etc) was gone, and it took me nearly 4 days to get them to "unfreeze" the server so I could transfer the data off. And their "promise" of a backup system? Never happened, so the only place that our data existed was on one single hard drive.

Late 2013-now, I'm now back on my own hosted server (with a lot more experience for managing) and have a backup script to an external server running 2x/day, just in case.

Overall, backup all of your data. Once you do, back it up again, because you never know when you will need it.

If you are going for professional, don't cut corners


Even the iPhone 4 launch was pushed back due to some flaws. Back in 2005, our slogan was "We stay in the shadows, you get all the credit" which was okay. In 2007, our slogan changed to "Simply Professional, Professionally Simple." Personally, I liked it; it portrayed an image of professionalism along with the confidence of knowing that we would be simple (not to contradict a previous point, but that wasn't relevant right now). We even got some professionally printed white polo's that had our company logo on them to display our professionalism. Whenever I went to a client meeting, I made sure that I was clean shaven, my hair was washed, my teeth were brushed, my polo was clean and tucked, my pants were clean, and my shoes were shiny, along with other items to show that I was "A Professional." I thought that this image would be a standard and everybody who copied me would show that we were professionals.

My primary sales person thought otherwise. When I first brought on our primary sales person, I knew that he was a laid-back guy. He was my old freshmen english professor, and I thought that with his "relaxed state" and our "hardened professional mind", we could go far. I didn't expect him to cut so many corners in our "professional environment." For starters, he thought that just because we were a "company", we had millions of dollars sitting in the bank, and $20 meal wouldn't be missed. Little did he know that the $20 he just spent on a meal could have gone towards other resources, such as supplies (and we didn't have much in the bank to begin with, so $20 could have been all that we had!) To make matters worse, I had to order a button up shirt instead of a polo for him, because he didn't like things over his head. When he went to client meetings, he rolled up the long sleeves on his button up shirt. Sometimes he arrived with his button up shirt untucked from his pants, and even left it unbuttoned. He would approach potential clients like they were old friends, taking the conversation on completely irrelevant tangents, and even throwing in a few curse words to get his point across (playfully). Although I knew that we should have let him go a lot earlier, my stubbornness got in the way and thought "he can be reformed." Again, I was wrong...for 2 years (he finally left under his own accord).

Keep in touch with your team


Miscommunication (or lack of communication) can make team members drift apart, and if you constantly rely on them, then losing them is not an option. When I used to talk to my team members on a daily basis, it almost got annoying. However, going days, weeks, even months without any communication seemed like we were drifting apart, almost to the point of "Do I have a job anymore?" (which I have received a few times). Communication is key, but effective and frequent communication is better.

Make all of your goals and intentions clear


Stick to a timeline, schedule your goals and expectations, make sure that everyone knows what the result will be. Missing a deadline is a lot more than just a lowered grade on a test - in the real world, it can mean losing somebody's business.

Whenever I assigned a task to someone, I expected it to get done by the deadline set. When the person says "no problem", my expectation of getting the job done seems worthy. However, when the deadline comes along and there isn't a completed project (or even progress on said project), then my reliance becomes less and less, almost to the point of "If you can't do the task, then you're fired." But, once again, my stubbornness got in the way and I didn't fire anybody. However, when something is delegated out to a person, and that person hasn't completed the task, then the blame is put on the person that delegated the task in the first place, and personally, I'm tired of being blamed for delegating uncompleted tasks (which is why I would take the tasks in the first place, so that I knew it would get done on time, but then I was blamed for not giving anybody else any tasks and hogging everything). It's an endless cycle....

Basically, make the goals and intentions clear. Make the deadlines important, and the punishments clear. Don't allow anyone to slip by because of something that isn't understood.

Never stop seeking out investments


Bootstrapping is a great solution...if you are in your 2nd week of operations. But much later, you will need to seek out more investments in order to grow your business and can't always rely on bootstrapping. If you are taking in your income and only keeping 30% of it as profit, then you won't have enough to cover any additional items, such as moral-boosting get-togethers, upgraded office equipment, RENT, and more.
Also, make sure your team can get paid. Basically working a "freelance" job (or an on-call part-time job) isn't going to pay the bills. If your team isn't committed to you, they will seek out other opportunities for income and leave you.

Set the example


You are the boss. Show your team what you can do. Otherwise, you're just a team member. If you need to resolve a conflict, then resolve it peacefully. If you ARE the conflict, fire yourself or get a 3rd party arbitration.

If you expect your staff to be there on the holiday, you need to show up on the holiday(s). If you expect your team to be there at 7am, then make sure that you are there at 7am (preferably with a hot pot of coffee). If you expect your team to work 40 hours on a project, then you work 40 hours on a project.

Don't just sit back and expect to take the credit while your team does all of the dirty work.

Never expect someone to completely understand what you are offering, and the benefit of it, within the first few minutes of your presentation


Entrepreneur Fail

I expected people to see what we offered and go "Hey! That's what I need! And look at all of the great features!". Instead, I received glassy-eyed stares, basic technology questions, bored attendees, and other signs saying "I have no idea what you are talking about."

When we offered "Advanced, modern websites with the technologies of HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, jQuery, and more", I expected a bit of confusion among the crowd, especially at the acronym part, but that was to show our expertise in the technologies and show that "We know what we are doing." Therefore, the potential client would say "They know what they are doing - we should go with them." Instead, it resulted in "I have no idea what that means; therefore, I'm not listening to you anymore."

My expectation was that people would easily understand what we were offering by our presentations, our elevator pitches, and our portfolio. Instead, most people didn't understand or care what I had to say. It basically took an educational session to bring them up to the same level as us for them to understand what we were saying. Let's just say that it didn't turn out well.

Therefore, simplify your techniques. Don't throw in all of the bells and whistles just to impress people. Tell them what they want to know, not what they need to know. It's like an interview: tell the person interviewing you what they want to hear ("I can do the job"), not what they need to here ("With my three decades of experience in X, I suggest that you should do A, B, and C"). Even if it means that they are missing out on an important aspect (ie: security flaws), they want to hear what they want to hear.

Do research on your market, then create the product - not the other way around


I always thought "If you build it, they will come" (insert movie reference here). That may work for some items, but not everything, such as my business. I created a "modern, high-tech web design company" that I thought people would be busting my door down for us to work with them. Instead, of the clients that we found in the Western North Carolina area, most of them were busting my door down because they were unhappy with the service.

I also thought that if we created a service that cranked out quality websites and charged a monthly fee to maintain them, then we would be rolling in the profits. Easy as pie, right? Well, it wasn't so. First, we had to go out and almost physically drag the potential clients to sign with us. Then we had to make sure that we did almost every project underbudget, then provide continuous tech support for the most basic items, even if it went against our "best practice" recommendations. Yada yada yada.... Not really the best idea for starting a business, then sitting back and relaxing while the profits roll in.

Another developer wrote an article about a similar concept, and I agree with him: Research the market, then build the product. Just because you have the best designed, flashy, sparkly billboard in the desert doesn't mean that people will see it, or want to see it.

Don't screw up your credit


As an 18-year old, my first credit card was a surprise. I just entered college and had a personal banking account with Wachovia for a few months (there wasn't a branch of my local bank in my college town, so I switched). A few months in, I received a card from Wachovia saying "Your New Credit Card". I thought "My parents warned me about this. My sister had a bad experience with one. I should not use this unless it is an absolute emergency." So what did I do? I went to Taco Bell and got a drink to test the card out. It worked!

A month later, I used the card some more on a few small things, thinking "I'm getting paid, I can pay it off." I receive my first credit statement. "Amount due: $105. Minimum payment required: $5." When I saw this, I thought "Great! I can make the minimum payment and pay it off slowly." I would like to point out that this card had a limit of $10,000 because I used Debit since I opened the account.

Six months go by. I pay the minimum payment for six months. My credit bill is probably in the medium-to-high 100's. Suddenly, on my credit bill for the 7th month, minimum payment jumps to near $75 or so. In my mind, I'm thinking "Whoa! What happened? This is insane!" I call Wachovia asking about the jump in payment, and they say it's a "Promotional Period that has expired." I told them that I never heard of a promotional period when this started, and I was never offered it as the card was sent to me in the mail, which I never signed up for anyway. The lady was extremely persistent on the fact that since I had the card and was using it, that I was liable for any purchases, regardless of what the promotional period was or what the minimum payment was. I told her "I can't make the minimum payment right now! I don't even have a (well funded) job!" She basically said something along the lines of "Not my problem."

I will say at this point: I never expected my personal credit to cross paths with my investment record.

A few years go by, I get a job that pays roughly $150/mth. Not bad for a part-time gig. I start to pay off my credit bill little by little. Next thing I know, my minimum payment jumps to around $250/mth. I call again and complain, but I was told again by the bank "Not [their] problem". So, my credit bill keeps going up because I can't make the minimum payment, and 29% interest is gained on the bill because it hasn't been paid. At the $7,000 credit mark, I completely stopped using the card altogether. After all of the interest and "late fees" added up, my card topped the $10,000 limit within no time at all. I told Wachovia "I don't use the card. I will never use the card again. Please close the account and I will pay it off." They basically said "The account can't be closed until the card is paid off." So, the account stayed open and accrued interest. Just great. It finally got closed a few years ago, and I'm still attempting to pay it off, but I expect that will take about 10 years or so to pay it all off.

Later in my college career, I start to seek out additional funding for my business. The first few places I go say "Your business plan looks good, but in order to get you funding, we need to take a look at the Owner's credit report." What? This was never covered (in depth) in college!

Let's just say that pretty much every investor I talked to said "Yes" to the business, the plan, and everything else, then changed their mind to "No" once they saw my credit score.

I have never accepted another credit card since the first one, and never will again, regardless of any "offers", "Cash back deals", or "frequent flier points" they provide.

If I could go back and change history, I would have never bought that drink at Taco Bell and shredded the credit card. My credit score would keep going up because I was making so many on-time payments with debit, and I could probably have a few thousand (if not hundred thousand) in investments right about now.


Summary
I know that I've covered a lot of points in this entry. I just wanted to get most of them off my chest before I went to some type of therapy (Even referencing this article was a stretch). Hopefully, other entrepreneurs will read this and discover that not everything will work out like in the movies, the books, or even in the classroom scenarios. You are not indestructible. Your life does hold secrets that others will find. You cannot hide from everything. There is no "reset" button. And, you should fail before you succeed. I know many Venture Capitalists may not look at me because "I have a failed business", but you know what? So what. I've gone through 8 years of self-torment, stubbornness, hopefulness, and grief to know what to do and what not to do. If that means that you won't look at me because of that, then I will go elsewhere.

I'm not saying that you (as an entrepreneur) should read every business book out there. I'm not saying that every article on the internet is right. Go through your own experiences and learn the mistakes. Even Albert Einstein once said, "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." Therefore, I have learned many lessons through my mistakes?

Am I done learning mistakes? Not by a long shot.


Tags:#entrepreneur #fail #credit #php #html #xml #css #jquery #business #lessonslearned #server

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Number Munchers!

This was just too awesome not to share.
Number Munchers

Ah, the days of olde. I remember playing Number Munchers back in elementary school while waiting for school to start (don't call me a "nerd" for that - my mother was a teacher at my school, so I arrived extra early).

Now, the Internet Archive has an emulator that can play 11 classic games, including Number Munchers, which was always one of my favorites.

Now, can they get Oregon Trail to be on an emulator?


Tags:#classic #numbermunchers #mac #internet #archive

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Pre Xmas Status

It's been a busy end-of-November, and the holiday chaos is just beginning.

The good news: I finally got to work on the Pi some. After reconnecting my Pi and finding out that it had been dormant for about 7 months, I decided to kick things back into gear. First, the server setup:
Server Setup

With the Pi set up in the window, I set up the Cron system to automatically delete all files older than 20 minutes and automatically RSYNC over to the main server for remote management. Having all of the images on the Pi over the course of a day creates over 90,000 files and fills up the tiny 8GB device within hours. So I had to find another method. Luckily, I already knew how to automatically back up files over RSYNC with Password-less SSH sessions. Yay.

Cron commands:
*/2 * * * * root find /var/www/motion/* -mmin +30 -exec rm -f {} \;
 
*/5 * * * * pi /home/pi/rsync.sh
See my rsync script at my other post

Other good news: Night Blade has been published! Yes, we are out of the Proofing stage and officially selling copies!

Luckily, I got my Proof copy right before we left for Thanksgiving, and I spent the majority of Thanksgiving break proofing the edition (all of 6 days). After I got home, I made the modifications to the manuscript, reformatted it, and re-uploaded it to CreateSpace, Smashwords, and Leanpub. Personally, I'm proud of the fact that I wrote a book. Now on to #2: Day of Reckoning!

Back to Thanksgiving for a bit. Keat and I did the turkey, which turned out well, as expected. A little drama happened over the break that I really am glad that I wasn't a part of, although I wish I was in order to defend Keat a bit. As expected, as usual, we went on a hike. This time to Stone Mountain.
Keat on Stone Mountain

Overall, it was "fun" with the expectation of someone questioning your every decision. Ah, the holidays.

Also, since Shadow Dev is going through a bit of a revamp (and I spent some time writing instead of coding), I've been looking for some jobs with very little success. My requirements are as follows: non-sales job and non-fast food. Aside from that, I'm pretty much open to anything, but 90% of the jobs are "Part Time Sales", if you know what I mean.
Our Generation on Jobs
(I did not say this - it is a screenshot from Failbook)

I mean, I don't mean to be picky, and I have very good reasons to why I said what I did. As per my previous experience (and what many others have told me), I suck at selling. I'll say it again: I suck at selling. I'll admit it. Anyone who hires me to sell will never get their ROI back. They'll pay me to stand there and do many other things (stock, checkout, manage, etc), but not to sell. I'm a "people pleaser", and if I know of something that you can do to save you money and not hand it over in an "upsell" tactic, I will let you know. Although I'm thinking I need to move away from the "people pleaser" state as it seems to be doing more harm than good for me.

Anyway, here's what has been happening so far:
- Haywood Community College: I applied for the Small Business Director position. Personally, I thought I was a great fit. I met all of their qualifications (including a Degree in Entrepreneurship, which I have), so I thought I was a shoe-in. I sent in my application, my research paper, and my transcript copy to them in September as the due date for the application was October 30th. After a month, I didn't hear back, but it was still before the due date, so I sent in a message via USPS contacting them about the status of my application.

A few days before the due date, I was contacted by the HR Department saying "We received your letter, but not your application." Confused about the situation, I hand delivered in the other copy of the application, my research paper, and another transcript request copy to them an hour afterwards.

Not hearing anything back, I emailed the HR person about a followup. They said that they never received my transcript, and I had to go on a wild goose chase to find out where it went. Western said that they sent out both requests that I sent in, with the matching dates and addresses as well, so the problem was with HCC. Apparently, the problem was that my transcripts (and probably my first application) went to Student Services, not HR. I called Student Services and asked them to deliver my transcript to HR (across the hall).

Afterwards, I contacted the HR person again and asked for a status update. She said that the committee was making their decisions and that interviews were to be held on December 5th and 6th. Well, here it is, December 9th, and no callback. Which means, I didn't even get considered.

- Thinking that the HCC job was a deadend (and looking for backups), I applied to Target on December 3rd for "Backroom Stock" (not Sales and not Fast Food - perfect!). The application process wasn't that hard, but I have yet to hear back.

- I also applied to Biltmore a while back (October), but was turned down for 3 different positions: IT Staff, Security Guard, and Dishwasher. Yes, Dishwasher. I was passed up for a Dishwasher. Their message:
Thank you for your recent application for our Dishwasher position 
 
with The Biltmore Company.  We regret to inform you that we have filled this 
 
position. After considering each application carefully, our hiring team felt 
 
that there were other candidates that more closely matched the specific needs
 
 of the position.
Seriously? WTF?

- Looking elsewhere, I also applied to Regal Grand Theaters hoping to get some low-line cleanup crew position (hey, it's money). After visiting the theater with Keat at the Catching Fire premiere, the whole building said that they were hiring. So, I applied on December 3rd and have yet to hear back (I was hoping my LMP experience would mean something. I guess not)

If "overqualification" is a thing (it was when I applied to Best Buy back in 2004), then maybe I should do this:
Overqualification solved


Onto a different topic, I visited the NCCAT center last night to celebrate the "Hour of Code" (an initiative program to increase programming skills in schools) and talked to Dr. Wade with the NCCAT. After briefly meeting with him, I think that we may be on our way to start our own CoderDojo in the WNC area (the closest one is in Missouri). I also got an "Hour of Java" which was interesting. I contacted Dr. Andrew Scott for more information. Although, this has resparked my love for programming.

Meanwhile, Keat is working with a few "clients" on a Consulting business. Knowing that, we had a discussion and may be opening a "Web Technologies Consulting Business". Since "Web Design" is such a flooded market, and there aren't really any upsides to DIY Websites (and people want the moon, but only want to pay $1), we explored WordPress (yes, I know - stop badgering me) as a viable option. I installed a test environment and it does seem quite easy to use, so we may be able to offer that as a "Small Website Option" and make the clients manage it themselves. Self-managed websites with client decisions and actions, without being yelled at for things out of our control or expectations that we can never meet? I think it's definitely a considerable option, but not just for the "Web Design" factor - a consultant should be referenced.

And just because my week had been going like a wild rollercoaster, I saw/heard this, and it really helped me along:

And a reference:
Tso - get it?

And with that, I probably won't post again until after Christmas, as the holiday chaos is catching up and my sleep pattern is completely messed up.


Tags:#thanksgiving #nightblade #rsync #cron #stonemountain #jobs #consulting #target #haywood #regal #bc #nccat #coderdojo #hourofcode #picard #startrek #tng

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Results (and Day of the Doctor mini-review)

After constantly refreshing my Smashwords, Leanpub, and USPS Tracking tabs over the past 5 days, I visit my NaNoWriMo page early this morning, just to clear out any old messages. And I see something that I knew was there, but didn't really pay attention to.
NaNo awards

You see the thing with the trophy on it? Yeah, that was grayed out. So I hovered over it to see what it said. It said "Get this award by validating your word count at 50,000 words" (I'm paraphrasing). Seemed a little weird, since I had already passed the 50,000 word count on November 20 (see previous posting).

I head on over to the "Edit Novel" page and instead of a link saying "Validate my word count" (as seen in previous weeks), this link says "I am ready to validate my novel". I'm thinking Okay, this is a bit odd.

I open up my Smashwords manuscript (the least formatting), copy the book's text, and paste it into the popup box presented to me. Once I clicked "Validate", something happened that I didn't expect.

All of my "Word Counts" turned from green (saying that I met or exceeded the minimum) to purple.
My NaNo stats

So, yeah, they all changed from green to purple and now say "Winner". I guess "officially validating my word count" and surpassing the 50,000 goal turned me into a 2013 NaNoWriMo Winner!

And I got this cool header graphic:
NaNo Winner


My linked user image changed as well:
Me: a NaNo Winner


I also got a snazzy certificate:
My Certificate


I've also been told that I qualify to get a sweet t-shirt (for $16.67), and get a bunch of offers from the sponsors. I'll have to check back in at a later date to get those.

So, yeah, that just happened. What has been waiting for me for so many days has finally been "validated" and I am a NaNoWriMo 2013 Winner. Although, honestly, I thought that would automatically apply once I met the 50,000 word goal and was picked among the thousands of entries. I guess as long as you write 50,000+ words, you are winner. It takes some of the pizzazz out of the winnings, but I'll focus on the positives.

I've also contacted ConCarolinas to see if I can be a Author Guest during May 2014, hopefully promoting the series (and possibly the next series) and presenting at some panels. I'll have to wait about 2-3 weeks before I hear back and know if I can even do that or not.

ALSO, I had a great conversation with a person that left some comments on my previous post about issues with the Smashwords uploads. However, though some friendly conversation, he and I saw eye-to-eye and I actually learned a lot from him. The Smashwords uploads did get fixed, he did purchase a copy, and he says he is enjoying it. That made me happy. He also had this tidbit of helpful information:
Advice from Gerry

"Words to the wise." Thank you Gerry.

On a non-related note, I did watch the Day of the Doctor yesterday. Although I do believe that the Zygon storyline was left unfinished, the episode was one that had me on the edge of my seat the whole time to figure out what Smith, Tennant, and Hurt were going to do, and to see the ending with all of the Doctor's incarnations really threw me for a loop. I won't spoil anymore until after Monday when it airs in theaters here in the US. I do hope the Zygon storyline finishes up with Smith on Christmas.

Also, if you haven't seen The Five(ish) Doctors, you need to drop whatever your doing and go watch it. Trust me: it will be the best 30 minutes of your life if you are a Doctor Who fan. Just seeing Davidson, Baker, McCoy, Smith, Tennant, McGann, Barrowman, Davies, Moffat, and others (including Georgia Moffett) was a real treat. I'm glad Peter Davidson got to do his thing with this little mini-sode.


Tags:#nanowrimo #doctorwho #smashwords #leanpub #usps

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I wrote my first book!

What are Sales?

It's official. I have officially finished writing my first book. The first book of the Night Blade series has been finished as of 7:40pm today.

Over 60,000 words, 220 pages, and 9 chapters later, I have converted (and revised) Volumes 1-5 of "Neko Sentou" into "Night Blade". I must say, I'm proud of myself for doing such a large feat.

I must give a lot of credit to NaNoWriMo for giving me the "kick in the butt" I needed to start something like this. On November 2, when I first learned about it, I thought that the "50,000 goal" was way out of the way. I would have to incorporate all of my scripts into one novel, and then add some more to make the goal. Instead, using the first 5 volumes as a basis, and a 1,666 word/day quota, I not only met the 50,000 word goal, I surpassed it by 21.06%!

Yes, my official word count is 60,530. And that's just the first 5 volumes. I'm expecting to make Volumes 6-10 into Book 2: Day of Reckoning. Let me first get through the publishing process before I begin that book.

It was definitely a challenge to take visual aspects and put them into descriptive terms. However, through many late nights between Nov 2 and now, I can say the novel has been completed!

My stats for this novel:
Words per day track Words vs Goal

...and here's my sleep pattern for the past month, just to show how late I was up during some intense-writing mornings:
Sleep Duration



Tags:#nekosentou #nightblade #novel #writing #book #nanowrimo #charts #sleepbot #pearlsbeforeswine

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This is why you shouldn't interrupt a Programmer

I recently subscribed to the Startup Digest mailing list, which has been full of very helpful articles and references. Today, though, I saw something that I just had to share.

I previously wrote about my Thought Process and all of the steps that go into planning something mentally as far as all of the steps/obstacles/designs/concepts/etc that go into planning a site/program/application. However, I don't think that got the point across that I was trying to make.

Instead, this comic does a perfect job of making my point:


In summary: when a programmer, like myself, is deep in thought trying to figure something out, don't bother us with a tech support question, personal issues, clarification requests, etc. When we get into the thought process "zone", getting out is easy, but getting back in is hard (insert joke here).

Here's a reference from The Big Bang Theory to help illustrate my point (ignore the Raccoon virus stuff):


Tags:#programmer #thought #process #startupdigest

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Backups and Sync Success!

Backups are important

After many, many months (and many mistakes), we finally have our own backup server!

Let me explain: when we had our data hosted on 3rd party servers, backups were never considered because the services already provided backups (or, so we were told). We only had to use WebsiteSource's backup service once, and the other company said they were creating a backup service, but never put us on it.

When we moved our data to the primary local server back in September, my level of worrying gradually increased over time. We had all of our site data on 1 server - and if that server were (for some reason) to crap out, we'd be in a very large hole with no way out. 8 years of coding. 8 years of projects. 8 years of client work. 8 years of a full portfolio. 8 years of database records. All gone.

Luckily, that hasn't happened yet (and we hope it never will - oh, the horrors if it did). So, in order to fill in this gap, I finally got the courage to make a backup server! (finally, right?)

I was able to salvage a bunch of the spare parts that I had laying around. Some RAM, some hard drives, a few semi-barebones desktop frames, motherboards galore...and all of this stuff was just collecting dust in various areas.

I went through a bunch of combinations of RAM/Hard Drives/Motherboards/CD Drives before I found a combo that worked (a few of the frames that I had required SATA drives, and I only have ATA/IDE drives available).

I finally got some RAM that fit appropriately, a large enough hard drive to hold the information that I needed (not the same size as the main server drive, but big enough), and a CD drive that worked (I had to install the Server OS somehow, right?).

After spending all of today getting the latest Ubuntu Server ISO downloaded and burned, I popped in the CD, ran the install ISO, and had a dedicated backup server ready to go.

I then spent the latter part of the day setting up rsync, cron, and mysqldump to automate the creation and mirroring of backups.

MySQL Dump Script:
#!/bin/bash
 
BACKUP_DATE=$(date +'%F')
 
mysqldump -u [username] -p[password] --all-databases --events > \
 
   /var/www/vhosts/$BACKUP_DATE.sql
--events is here because it was returning an error saying "Skipping mysql.events table"

RSYNC Script:
#!/bin/bash
 
N=$(date +'%F %T')
 
LOG_FILE="$HOME/rsync.log"
 
echo "RSYNC Begin: $N" >> $LOG_FILE
 
rsync -r -a -v -e "ssh -l [username]" --delete \
 
   [source directory from root] [remote_server_ip]:[remote directory from root]  >> $LOG_FILE
 
echo "---------------------------------" >> $LOG_FILE
--delete is to delete any remote files that aren't on the source location. Also, if you want to only sync certain file types, add "--exclude='*' --include='*.[ext]'" after --delete (exclude everything except what is included), or you can just omit --delete altogether if you want. The rest of the script is just log information - completely optional, but makes the log easier to read

Update 2013-12-09: I've updated the script a bit to make it a little more universal after some things were called to my attention

The main part of that was spent trying to get the backup server (which I am calling "Fry" - I'm thinking of going Futurama for a server nomenclature) to automatically SSH into the main server without a password (aka: storing an SSH key). I had to learn a lot in order to do that, but I found out that the problem that eluded me for about 5 hours was that the main server's home directory had the wrong permission settings for the .ssh folder.

Next time the SSH keys aren't being stored right, run [sudo] tail -f /var/log/auth.log and see what the error is. Lesson learned.

So, the overall point of this story:
  • A dedicated backup server, Fry, has been salvaged, installed, and setup
  • There is an rsync script on Fry to automatically sync up the files from the main server (all 40GB+ worth)
  • The Main Server has an automatic cron script to run mysqldump to make a full backup of all of the MySQL database
  • Fry's rsync will keep the latest 6 (daily) copies of the MySQL Dump backups along with the main backup
  • Fry's rsync script creates a custom log to record the output


Now to install a Leela (why not Zoidberg?) server for load balancing (or a production server. I don't know - I've never had more than 1 server running locally at a time).....

....and just because this whole "end of the year" thing is so chaotic, here's a comic I liked which I hope to do (just to get it all over with):
BC


Good Night!


Tags:#bc #xkcd #backup #ubuntu #futurama #rsync #sudo #zoidberg #bash #tutorials

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Backup and Restore All MySQL Databases

I routinely make mass backups of all of my MySQL databases, but sometimes forget the syntax when doing so. Instead of creating a script to do it (which I will do in the future), I have to Google the syntax to find out what it is. Most of the time, I can only find one or the other, so I thought I'd gather these two commands here and hopefully provide a better reference for anyone else searching.

Making a Full Backup (All Databases)


Using a Linux Terminal:
$ mysqldump -u [username] -p[password] --all-databases > [filename].sql
notice that there is no space between -p and [password]

Restoring a Full Backup (All Databases)

Using a Linux Terminal:
$ mysql -u [username] -p[password] < [filename].sql
notice that there is no space between -p and [password] Hope this helps others that scour the internet looking for these two common commands.


Tags:#mysql #linux #backup #restore

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My First Mobile App

I've been trying to push my limits for the past few days, to make up for the fact that I've been very de-motivated. So, I decided to pick up the progress on WNC Local, which has been going well. I've also been working on the WePay API as well, and that's been...enlighetning? It's been a little challenging, but it's good to get the experience.

So, to take a break from the many hours I've spent slaving over the API, I decided to switch directions for a bit and start tackling the Android and see what I can do with mobile apps. Not having a speck of knowledge in Java, it is a real challenge.

However, thanks to the Android SDK bundle, the Eclipse IDE was included (I've had experience with Eclipse when I was working on C++ back in 2003), and Eclipse+Android Development Toolkit (ADT), getting to "Hello World" was fairly simple.

Using the techniques mentioned on the basic training page, I created the following:
My First App Icon
(Yes, that is Asuna in the background)

My First App

The basic training allowed for the creation of the basic app: input text, output the text.
My First App Output

The documentation was not completely fool-proof, so I had to do some additional research to do a few things (thanks to Toast), like this:
Search Button Pressed

Settings Button Pressed

And the documentation didn't go this far, so I thought I'd add this based on some UI experiences:
String cannot be Blank

I know it's not a very impressive app, but it's not bad for my 1st one done within an hour.

In case you want to fork it or view the source code, I have the app on Github: https://github.com/kode29/MyFirstApp

Here's the APK if you want it

Here's to seeing what Mobile App Development can do!


Tags:#android #app #development #github #wnclocal #wepay #c++ #sdk #eclipse #ide #adt

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PHP Malware Problem

While working with the WePay API, I needed to get some clarification with a PHP function and decided to reference the PHP documentation at php.net. Little did I know that Chrome had some different ideas for me this morning:
PHP Malware error

This seemed very odd to me. I mean, I understand that php.net has some malware-type code on it if it is classifying PHP code as malware. Even the URI that I referenced was directly to php.net/print_r, so there wasn't any URI misdirection or rewriting or anything like that, so I am very confused.

I looked into the problem that Google provided:
PHP Malware description

That wasn't very helpful, but it did provide an insight to the issue.

I don't know why Google decided that php.net contained malware since over 100 million sites use the language, with at least 3x the amount of developers on a per-day basis?

Has anybody else experienced this kind of issue? Was my version of Chrome just derping up?

Update (2013-10-25 09:13 AM): Slashdot covered this error in particular in a discussion forum on their website. Apparently, it was a bit of compromised and altered Javascript that caused Google to flag the site.


Tags:#php #google #chrome #problem

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Post-Government Shutdown/October Progress

Derpy cat - why not?

I decided to put up a derpy cat. My reasoning? Why not.

Anyway, it's been a while since my last post. Since the Government shutdown lasted an agonizing 16 days (at least, agonizing since I've been an adult, since the last one was in 1996 when I was too young to know the difference), I've heard more than enough about the parks closing, veterans storming the gates, furloughed paychecks, federal services that closed, etc.

Since the Government shutdown is now over (as a seemed force-of-hand by the Republican party), hopefully this process can be easier to proceed.

Anyway, government techno jargon aside, here's what's been keeping me busy:
  • I've picked up progress on WNC Local again, and it seemed that my thought process almost repeated itself since I worked for a few hours only to realize that the work was already done (yeah, I feel stupid). I've been working on the front end aspects and it seems to be coming along nicely. According to the original timeframe, we are right on track, but I'm hoping to move the timeframe up some.
  • Since we launched the new Shadow Dev site, there were a few things that weren't quite finished. I believe that I have patched up those few things and polished up, including the services pages. I was able to write a posting about the Q4 expectations and celebrated 8 years of Shadow Dev. It's not completely glorious, but it's better than completely shutting down.
  • After reviewing the analytical data, I realized that Two Cats wasn't getting any traffic. I realized that the site wasn't active and it had to do with some misplaced site files within the internal file structure from the new Shadow Dev design launch. I took about 15 minutes and remedied that today. The site itself isn't fully functioning, but I've decided to pick up the coding again.
  • Basically, here's my work docket: WNC Local, CityFix, OmniCard, Two Cats Studios, Lunar Productions Beta, Zoomiform, and ScrumIt (and eWaiter, but it has a long way to go). Yeah - that's everything I have so far.
  • I'm also working on (again) integrating the WePay API into the services to help online charges and auto-payments. It's been a challenge and I believe I'm up to it, but it will just take time.

In (what's left of) my personal life:
  • I started watching Yu Gi Oh on Hulu. I know it's been over a decade since I've seen the series, but at least I can now watch the series in order and finish up the series (since after Duel City, the new series started - I don't know (or care) what the name of the series was, because I stopped watching it).
  • Keat and I attended War of the Wings last week, and it was a lot of fun. One of the many things I can say about it is that it was a lot more comfortable than previous WoW's. The temperature never reached about 75, and the nights were never below 60, which meant that the heat wasn't too unbearable and the nights were nice and cozy under the blankets, but never enough to bring out the cloaks/capes for warmth. There were a lot of other items that were fun, but I won't go into it here because it will take up 5 pages of text. If you want to know, ask me, because I have a great story about an idiot on the Archery range.

And, just for good measurement, here's a comic that I can relate to as far as Retail work:
Retail jobs are obsolete


Tags:#dilbert #derpy #warofthewings #wnclocal #omnicard #yugioh #lunarproductions #zoomiform #twocatsstudios #cityfix #shadowdev

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My Thought Process

SALAD!
No, my thought process isn't this.....squirrel!

There have been many instances when people that know me very well start talking to me, and during the conversation, my eyes go back and forth very quickly. Some people may think I'm having a spasm. Technically, no. It's just my "Thought Process" starting up and going 1000MPH.

For the sake of understanding, I have (at least started) a list of items that my thought process goes through when it gets started. 99% of the time, it deals with a new website or web-based service. And to give you a better understanding about what my process goes through, instead of just staring at me with a quizzical look, here's (mostly) everything:

My Thought Process: (by the way, all of these happen at the same time)
- preestablished functions and methods required during the development process
- passing variables between applications/pages/databases/forms/etc
- best way to "write" the code
- memory consumption limits
- resolution flexibility
- information security (transmission and storage)
- "what will the end result be?"
- infinite loop restrictions
- shortening the "writing" process with custom functions
- function recursion process
- CSS formatting
- interactivity with jQuery
- script automation
- plausibility of completion
- requirements for device compatibility (mobile, tablet, phone, etc)
- legal hurdles
- usability practices
- SEO tactics
- overall user flow throughout the site/application
- mock designs
- database storage and retrieval designs

(Yes, it's a lot. What did you think, I just thought about the design?)

I may add more to this list as need be, but at least it's a start.


Tags:#thought #process #websites #webapps #css #jquery

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Mid-September Review

Bug Martini

It's halfway through September, and things have been less than calm. Ever had one of those days where nothing goes right and you pretty much have to change everything in order to fit one request/demand/requirement? Yeah, stretch that over about a week, and that is/was my past 2 weeks.

Here's the rundown:

Server Downtime, Transfer, and Remodification


Over the past week, I had to majorly downgrade/upgrade the primary hosting server for Shadow Dev. Since our primary hosting environment was costing us $200/qtr, we were looking for an alternate hosting environment. The requirements were simple: Linux hosting environment, ability to SSH into it from a remote location, and root access. You'd be amazed how many services out there offer a "Windows/Linux" environment for a much lower price, but no Admin/Root access. I'm sorry, but I need direct control over the server, and shouldn't be waiting on the hosting service to perform updates (especially security updates).

So, we had a partner company help us out. Over the past few months, we transferred all of our primary data to their hosting server, since they were helping us out. Things were going smoothly. Our old VPS system ended their service on September 1st, and we weren't going to renew. Things were going as expected.

Since our primary hosting environment was hosted semi-locally, I split off my personal stuff and the business stuff. I modified the DNS servers to point home so I could host my personal website (this one), and have the business stuff on a "business dedicated" server. Meanwhile, my plan was to relaunch the main Shadow Dev site with a new design and direction on September 1st, but that had to be delayed by a few days.....and then the problem started.

Do you recall my previous blog posting about the "Server Connection Confusion"? On September 2nd, I was trying to SSH/FTP into the server to update some business pages and could not get through. I could access the server via Port 80 (HTTP), but not 22 (SSH) or 21 (FTP), which meant that I could view what was on the server, but I could not modify it in anyway. There was one option: I could access Port 10000 (VirtalMin backend management) and download/upload one file at a time, but I had about 200 files to download, modify, and upload, so that would have taken forever. I kept trying over the next few hours with no success.

On September 3rd, I tried to access the server hoping that the Port 21/22 issue was just a fluke (as it sometimes happens). However, I could not access any part of the server. SSH, FTP, HTTP, VirtualMin backend, Email, anything (which meant that my primary email server was down as well). I sent an email to the company that manages the physical hardware and said that the server was down and if they could look into it. Their response: "Yes, it is down, [they] will boot it back up. You will need to start paying for this server or remove your content from it. Out accounting software has placed a hold on it. As we have decided our relationship has not been mutually beneficial." Long story short: our "tradeoff" was not paying off. The tradeoff was "website service" for "hosting space". I should have realized something when the person we were talking to said "You have creative freedom." In an inexperienced mindset, that means "YAY! I can do anything without limits and they will like it!" In an experienced mindset, that translates into "I don't know what I want. Read my mind, or I will turn down any ideas/suggestions you have" which, in a "web designers" standpoint, is a huge red flag. It also doesn't help that we only had one informal meeting about a new site for them.

Anyway, in my response to that email, I said "If that is the case, then we will remove our content from it. In our current state, we cannot afford $1200/year for hosting, as we were paying $800 before. / Please reactivate it so I can move all of the content from it within a reasonable timeframe, then you can do with it as you wish. / I wish our relationship could have been more beneficial."

Afterwards, I tried to re-login to the server (as I was told they would boot it back up). Same result: nothing.

I waited and tried to re-login to the server over a few hours. That turned into the next day. I sent another email to the company restating "Please reactivate the server so I can move all of the content from it within a reasonable timeframe".

Once again, nothing. This downtime was really starting to mess with our uptime records, which we try to strive for a 99.9% uptime record. This was not helping. However, I did get an idea; get a cache of our main site (CSS3 and minimal design concepts only), modify my home server to act as a proxy-hosting server, and get the uptime records going. It took about 3 hours to get (since the primary hosting server was pretty much "blocked"). Thanks to CloudFlare's uptime caching, I was able to get the egg, the egg shadow, and the CSS3 that I used to make it move. I made the DNS changeover, and our uptime was back up and going. It wasn't the full-fledge hosting server, but it's better than nothing.

Day 3 of primary server downtime: I sent yet another email to the hosting company and said "I have tried to be patient with you, but my patience is wearing thin. I have asked nicely in my previous emails to reactivate the hosting server so I can transfer our content off of it. I have not heard back from you since my email on the 3rd. Since it seems like you are holding our content hostage, we are facing our 52nd hour of downtime, and our clients (and ourselves) are suffering that have their sites hosted on this server. In addition, any one who has email being handled by the server is not receiving any emails, including myself, which is causing panic since the emails are not bouncing or anything." Seems like a mostly professional message, right? (By the way, we had about 25GB that we needed to get - note to self: don't have the primary hosting and backup services by the same 3rd party)

I received a response within minutes: "You patients is thin? It is your actions that caused your problem by not producing anything. If you are that poor of an admin and do not have a backup of your content sounds like a personal issue... However I have issued the boot command to your server. Remove your content asap." (yes, misspellings and typos are maintained). I will say that 'Yes, we did not have a primary backup, because you said that you were going to enable that for us, but never did after many months of saying you would.' Regardless, situation has passed.

Anyway, the server was booted back up, which meant that I could get the files....or so I thought. I tried to SSH into the server, but for some reason (whether through my own doing of automating a port blocker or not), I could not. After many hours of fiddling with system and network settings, I came to a conclusion: my IP address was being blocked via Port 22 (SSH). This meant that I could not SSH into my home server and initiate an SCP transfer (Secure Copy - basically a command-line FTP between two Linux-enabled boxes). However, FTP was still open, so I initiated a primary backup to my home desktop (not the home server). I had the max system simultaneous downloads set at "2". I increased it to "3". Yay, things were going faster. I increased it to "4". Even better. I increased it to "5", and things crapped out. I could not SSH/FTP/HTTP or anything into the remote server. Which meant that I was back at square 1.

Based on my previous experience, I knew that I could log in to the server via SSH using my phone (thank you ConnectBot) and the 4G connection. I did so and tried to initiate an SCP connection from the remote server into my home server (for some reason, incoming SSH connections from my IP weren't getting through, but outgoing's a whole new story - and before you bark at me, yes, I did check the iptables for an Incoming blocking rule. There were none. Anyway, I let that run since I thought things were going a bit slow, but better than nothing.

After about 30 minutes, ConnectBot just quit. No reason, no message, no disconnect dialog boxes. It just quit. Which meant that I couldn't SCP for more than 30 minutes, which was a problem.

I tried to FTP into the server again, and was able to. I decreased the amount of simultaneous downloads to "4" and let it run. It took about 8 hours to transfer everything, including the primary MySQL databases.

After everything transferred, I ran a rm -rf command in the /var/www/vhosts/ folder. I know it's not completely secure, but at least it gets rid of things on a first level basis (installing a secure command like shred was possible, but the documentation didn't say anything about shredding a folder - it was only 1 file at a time, which for 25GB, will take a very long time). I also dropped the primary MySQL database and let it. My last words: good riddance.

So, I had the primary hosting files on my home desktop. Now to begin the mega-upload to the home server. 3 hours later, transfer complete. Now for the fun part: setting up the "Linux Desktop" to operate as a "Linux Server" (which, by the way, is not GUI based anymore, so all of this was done via Command Line), to be able to handle multiple domains and subdomains, import the huge MySQL database dump, setup the permissions for the databases, files, and folders, and re-initiate the cron jobs to run. Let's just say that I'm 99% done all of that as of now.

One of the hardest portions I had to deal with was separating out all of the domains. Let me explain: on the old hosting environment, all of the domains (except for the primary shadowdev.com domain), were managed and recorded under one central apache2.conf file, which Apache looked for and loaded for all of the domains. My home server, although the same operating system, didn't like that. Therefore, I had to go into the primary apache2.conf file and separate out each domain into it's own file under /etc/apache2/sites-available/[site], then run sudo a2ensite [site] to make it enabled, then sudo service apache2 restart to allow for the webserver to reload and reread the configuration files. Yeah, that was fun.

I still don't have the Postfix/Dovecot system completely operational yet, but the server can now receive and forward emails. It can't 100% send emails yet, but I'm working on it. I also have some finer points of the cron jobs to figure out. Aside from that, the server (hopefully) should be back up and operational.

Liquidation Sale Troubles


On a related note, we had our Liquidation Sale on the 31st for the office. Let's just say that apparently this town doesn't like any "Liquidation Sale" signs around the area. I posted a few around town, hoping that they would allow them for just a few days (since the event was on the following Saturday). I can understand taking down signs that are for an event a few weeks away, or for personal services or hand-written items that are pretty much illegible. However, after checking on all of the signs I put up, all of them were taken down. Now, I want to hope that it was because people liked the event and wanted to make a note of when/where it was. Based on the attendance record of Saturday, it was obvious that the signs were removed. We only sold $110 worth of stuff, 1 buyer, and 2 browsers. I mean, it's better than nothing, but I wish that we sold more. Now, the agreement that I put in with the landlord was "Anything that we didn't sell on the 31st is free-for-all for any tenants." That didn't translate quite as I expected. It turned into "We [the landlords] will keep what we think is ours, but you have to remove everything else." So, I get a large box from Walmart and try to remove a bunch of the small stuff. I receive an email a few days later saying "We have a tenant that would like to move in, so please remove all small items from the office." So I have to get another box (luckily they are cheap) and go back and get the rest of the small stuff. So much for getting rid of all of the small stuff.

Let's just say that our home is overflowing with office-related stuff. I'm just glad that we don't have to bring any of the BIG stuff home - I have no idea where we would store it. So yeah - our nice, professional, dedicated office is now sitting at home.

Getting the main site back up


The new Shadow Dev site
Meanwhile, I got the new Shadow Dev site up and going and wrote a State of Shadow Development Address for the public. Basically, it says that "We did our best, it wasn't good enough, so we are changing directions to pursue new ideas." That's pretty much it summed up. You can read the rest if you want.

I've been working on finishing up the touches on the new Shadow Dev site (like cross-browser compatibility, improving it's performance on other connections, and finishing up the content distribution with the database. It's coming along a bit slower than I had hoped, but working at home has it's own pros and cons to it.

Personally, I'm having a hard time dealing with the major downsizing and removal of partner services. What I had to do 7 years ago in my dorm room (where I had the main hosting server sitting in my dorm and I was managing all of the services via Command Line Interface (CLI), I'm doing yet again. Although I'm more experienced in how to handle the technology, and the technology is a bit easier to handle, the amount of responsibility needed to make the server work like it was before is no short order.


Lunar Progress


Crystal Blaze
I'm trying to channel some creativity and write some storylines for Lunar Productions' mangas. I did create a new site for them using the old Shadow Dev design, and ramped up the interactivity and information distribution (see beta.lunar-productions.com for a preview), so that helped a bit. However, I can't launch the new site yet until we get some final items down pat. I did, however, completely revamp Death Rose into a new series. Any storywriter will tell you that there was a part in a story (or even the story itself) that seemed to make the storyline go off-track. Well, Death Rose wasn't going anywhere, and I was getting tired of forcing myself to write storyline that didn't fit. So, I revamped the whole thing: the primary storyline, the storyline concepts, the characters, the antagonists, the setting....everything! It's now called Crystal Blaze. Let's just say that it's like Sword Art Online/Matrix/StarCraft/Accel World/Star Trek mix. Yeah, I know it's a lot, but it is making sense, because I'm already on Page 19 of script. The story is unfolding in my head, and sometimes my fingers can't keep up to type the story fast enough. I will say that the beginning of the story is a bit slow, so I am thinking of adding some concepts in the beginning to make a more enticing "hook" to the story. We'll just see where it goes.

Wedding Ups and Downs


Colonnade
On a positive note, we have the Colonnade! (For the wedding, not permanently) The final "OK" was put forth by Keat's parents and we were able to sign the contract and put the downpayment in. That's just 1 of the multistep process that is wedding planning. (see more details at (temp site) kk.shadowdev.com - actual domain to come later) I will say that I knew the whole wedding planning process was going to be tough, but I thought the major disagreements and compromises would be between Keat and myself, not Keat and myself vs her parents. No matter how much planning we/I put in (I am saying "I" here because I have been self-designated as the primary planner since Keat is finishing up her last year of school. As anyone will say, "Put Education First". She's already taking 18 hours of classes, and my schedule is not set, so it's pretty much been put upon me to do most of the calling/negotiating/researching/quoting/etc for this event), it seems that her parents have some minute detail that they must demand. For example: the reception. During our discussions, Keat and I talked to the event planner at our location. She gave us a packet that outlined all of the details, prices, and items that would be provided for the reception. I had a few follow-up questions to clear up any non-clear items (like "when does the 4-hour reservation start: when the guests arrive, or when the crew starts to set up" and so on), and things were going well. Suddenly, Keat's parents demanded to have custom beer and wine at the event. They even "suggested" (kidded? I hope) to have a keg at the reception. I'm sorry, but if this was a frat party, a keg would be acceptable. At a wedding reception? I may not have been to many nor planned many, but I find a keg unacceptable.

Anyway, we asked our location how much it would be to have "a local microbrewery supply beer and a remote winery supply the wine". According to the planner, they had to purchase it because of their liquor license. Okay, understandable. I don't want to impede the liquor liability on any one unnecessary. After 2 months of asking that question, we finally received an answer: the microbrewery has to bottle their beer and ship the bottles. Our cost: $10/bottle. HOLY CRAP! $10 a bottle? That beer must be made of gold or some super rare gems! We still hadn't heard back about the winery question, so I contacted the winery directly. Within a few hours, I received a response and forwarded that to our planner. Still haven't received a response (I think at this point, they are starting to hate us and may force-cancel our penciled-in reservation with their location). After waiting so long, Keat's parents said "Let's forgo the custom wine and beer and just go with what they have. Can we get an itemized proposal for this?" At the absolute end of my frustration, I sent a calmly-worded email to the planner and asked the question. She pretty much responded with the exact same thing that the packet says that she gave us. The location, the DJ, the setup/cleanup, China, Silverware, chairs, linens, tables, etc, etc, etc, for the set price (tax and gratuity included as well). If they were getting mad at us, I don't blame them, but please don't kill the messenger. We're just passing the message along to get the check signed.

What we would like
We've also talked to the cake company that was highly, highly recommended and received a quote from our tastings. $800 for a custom, high quality, delivered day-of cake. Not a bad price. We told Keat's parents, and (I quote) the response was "Keep looking! That is out of sight!!!" Based on the amount of cake companies around here charge, yes, that is a bit high, but we're dealing with a high-quality cake here, not a "Let's go to Walmart and order a cake" kind of thing. Yes, Walmart makes great cakes. We even got our 7th Anniversary Cake from them, but I don't want to go to them for a wedding cake. That's like having a keg at the reception. At this point, it's either "go all in or get out" kind of deal. I don't (and Keat doesn't) want to compromise on a lower-quality cake that we will wish we could have improved 20 years from now just to save a few bucks. So, I contacted other cake companies around here and once you add in the amount of guests we will have along with the design concept we want (along with their delivery fee), it pretty much averages out to $800. (We had a "phone conference" (although if you call Keat's parents on 1 phone and Keat and I on another a "phone conference") about the overall budget. Basically, Keat's dad was mad that we had multiple versions of the budget. I thought he would be happy that I split the budget up into 2 categories (Estimated and Actual), then subsplit that into what Keat's parents would pay, my parents would pay, and we (Keat and I) would pay. That seemed acceptable, but he had made some adjustments that we didn't know of until he sent us his copy. I sent him our latest version (since we were the ones doing the research), and he seemed to get upset that there were multiple copies floating around, so he claimed "his" copy the official one, which means that any additions that we find due to research, we have to let him know instead of just using our own copy. I thought I could simplify things by using a Google Docs copy that would allow for simultaneous edits from multiple users, but that seems to have majorly backfired as they do not know how to use Google Docs, so we are back to "his copy being the only one that should ever exist" scenario. Yay.... I have, however, asked on multiple occasions "What is your optimal budget? What would you like to spend on an event like this? Therefore, we can stay within that range and know what the limits are." Seems like a reasonable question, right? I mean, we're trying to shoot for a $10k budget. Keat's dad is acceptable with a $15k budget (in passing conversation), but we aren't trying to spend millions upon millions on this thing. Heck, we're even below the average cost for a wedding Haywood County ($16-24k). The only answer we have received is "We don't have a set budget - we just want to make you happy", which means (yet again) "Read our minds or we'll turn down every idea and suggestion you have". Great.....)

So, if this whole wedding thing was a TL;DR for you, let me sum it up: we have the Colonnade for the ceremony, I think our Reception location hates us, we need to find a high-quality custom cake for less than $800 total, and the budget seems to be out of our hands.

Additional Money Needed


So, in order to gain some additional money in order to pay for this "seemly outrageous wedding", I decided that I should try to apply for some part-time work (heck, since I don't have to "go into the office" any more, my schedule is pretty freed up). I found out that there was a Trader Joe's opening in Asheville, so I tried to drop off an application last Tuesday. The website (which isn't 100% working) said that they were accepting applications Monday-Friday, 10-7. No problem, right? I arrived at 4:12pm on Tuesday. There was a whiteboard out by the front door that said "Accepting Applications: Tuesday - Thursday, 10-4", which meant that I was 12 minutes late. Well, that's pretty much a trip to Asheville wasted. However, thinking ahead of this process, I thought "Why not apply to Kitchen & Company?" (it's a kitchen supply company that offers a whole lot more than Walmart or other kitchen companies. Keat and I found a lot of good quality stuff in this store during our previous trips). I tried to contact the store via their website, but their careers section was on their parent company website (which was a pain to find), and they only have 1 job posting available. They said "Please contact our Admin offices to inquire about other positions", so I sent them an email inquiring about the question in hand. Within 30 minutes, I received a response basically saying "Walk into the store and bring a resume." Seems simple enough, right?

Well, I head on over to the store and start to walk in. Little did I know that there was a sign on the front door that said "Part Time Sales Associate: Must be energetic, ability to multitask, and passionate about cooking" (I may be paraphrasing here). Seems like my kind of day! (Since I do most of the cooking at home anyway). I walked in, asked for an application, filled it out, and talked to their manager. Since he saw that I had previous experience at Staples, he said that this would be pretty much the same thing (I hope so too). Although, if there is a "Kitchen Quiz", I should be ready. Questions like "How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon? What's the difference between a Santoku and a Chef's Knife? What does a 'sharpening steel' actually do?" and other questions should be easy, thanks to Alton Brown. I don't know if there will actually be a quiz, but can I say that I kind of hope so? Anyway, I received a letter in the mail today from Trader Joe's saying "Thanks for applying, but you have not been selected for an interview." Basically saying "Thanks for coming in, and we appreciate your interest, but we don't need you right now." Oh well - my dad did say to stay out of the Grocery business. I guess this is the Universe's way of keeping me out. No biggie - I have higher hopes for Kichen & Company anyway.


New Anime: Accel World


Accel World
In order to blow off some steam, I thought I would give "Accel World" another try (in laymen's terms: Accel World is by the same author as "Sword Art Online", but set about 20 years in the future (from SAO, so about 2046) where all of the <15 year olds have a digital device that allows them a "virtual environment" to type, send messages, view emails, save video, and even enter their own VR world. 'Accel World' is an advanced version of the VR world that heavily relies on a software called "Brain Burst", which allows your processing power of your brain to be increased 1000x. The (semi) downside is that in order to use it, you need to build up some "Burst Points" by fighting in the "Accel World". The theory seems legit). When I first tried it, I got about 5 minutes in and had to stop. I didn't watch the series again until this past Sunday. Throughout the week, I watched all 24 episodes (and got some great ideas for Crystal Blaze) up to Thursday evening/Friday morning.

I will say that it had some flavors of Sword Art Online, and I liked how it wasn't exactly the same (as the author wrote this post-SAO and submitted it first to a writing contest, where it won first prize) as SAO. The concepts portrayed in the series were unique enough to hold their own, but also reflected some traits of other series like Bleach), so I was able to find those traits and mold them into what Crystal Blaze (and other series) should offer. I was never in any "Creative Writing" classes, but I believe this gave me a better understanding of how to write a compelling storyline (although I still have the fan-crush on Asuna from SAO. Accel World didn't really have any characters that I could really connect with, but that's not necessarily a bad thing).

Is this the end?


That's it for now. I believe that 27,000 characters is pretty much my max limit on a blog posting like this. However, I hope this gives a better insight to what one chaotic, crazy week I have had.


Tags:#swordartonline #accelworld #wedding #colonnade #vr #kitchen&company #traderjoes #altonbrown #beer #crystalblaze #lunarproductions #shadowdev #design #server #hosting #sale #apache2 #sudo #scp #ftp #http #css3 #email #virtualmin #port #bug

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One way to lose a customer

I was browsing on facebook today, just checking my news feed, when suddenly I saw an ad on the right side for "Miyazaki Household Decor Sale".
Totoro Ad

Now, since my girlfriend is a huge Hayao Miyazaki fan, I thought it would be interesting to check out what this company had.
So, I clicked on the ad, and saw this:
Dot and Bo - one way to lose a customer

Basically, in order to view anything on their site, you have to submit your email address (for newsletters, deals, coupons, etc) OR login with Facebook and give them access to pretty much anything. There isn't a "Close" button or "Not Now" link, which would have really helped. Ask for my email and/or login info after I've browsed and want to make a purchase.

What if I just wanted to browse? I don't want to give my email or Facebook info to you just to see what you have? That would be like giving your email address OR social security number to someone before entering a store!

And not only do you have to submit this information in order to just browse, a chat window pops up within seconds in the bottom right corner. "No, I don't want to chat. I don't know what I want help with yet. I'm just here to browse"

I was able to browse what they had thanks to Page Eraser in Chrome, and they do have a lot of nice products, but I shouldn't have to submit information just to browse around.

I was just going to browse around and pass along the information to a certain someone, but if I have to submit this information before before browsing, then they just lost a customer.


Tags:#totoro #miyazaki #keat #facebook #ad #pageeraser

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Business Transition and Wedding Details

I thought this would be a good time to let everyone know about the recent changes/progress that have been going on. First, Shadow Development is going though a business transition (as mentioned in my previous post).

Shadow Development is transitioning from a "build websites for clients" to "designing, developing, and maintaining online services" (so, basically, a "software development company"), as the underlying reason since 2005 has been all along. Now, we're serious.

Shaking Egg...
I've replaced the main Shadow Development site with a shaking egg that I coded completely with CSS3


Out with the old office


As of August 31st, 2013, we have moved out of our office. Yes, the new office that we moved into in January, we have officially moved out. It wasn't because we were evicted or anything, it was just a combination of multiple channels combining their worst moments at once (we had half of our client base leave, invoices weren't getting paid to us, staff members were losing their motivation, increase in bill costs, etc). After crunching the numbers, it was better for us to leave the office and go virtual instead. The whole "working at home" thing is nice, but it has its drawbacks.

A "State of Shadow Development" press release should be released on the main site soon. Edit: Here ya go

code process


Over the past week, I've actually been doing a lot of work on code. I've revamped the Shadow Dev Beta Site, which has a whole new theme and concept versus its previous incarnations; I migrated the old Shadow Dev design to the Lunar Productions Beta Site, which worked out quite well, and I fluffed out some extra images to give the site some makeshift content to view; I worked on the wedding site a bit to get it up and going (I was inspired by WeddingWoo examples for a new concept, since the old concept was a bit...well, drab); and additional work here and there on various aspects.

Server Connection Confusion


Although, right now, I'm very confused at the main hosting server. Here's the rundown: last night at 3am, our legacy server at Website Source finally kicked the bucket (at our discretion), which means no more $200/qtr for hosting on a "maybe it's up, maybe it's down" kind of hosting environment. Although, about 5 hours ago, realized that the old legacy server was also handling the MX records for our mail. Once that was gone, well, so was our email accounts and forwarding. Therefore, I had to initiate a server system upgrade to the hosting files of the primary shadowdev.com domain in order to set up the new email accounts. (Yeah....that sounded like gibberish. - by the way, I updated the DNS records to have the MX records point to the new server, and I just received an email that was sent at 3:27AM today. 17 hours in limbo - wow!)

When I initiated a system backup to my local machine, my SFTP process stalled. I tried to connect via SSH, and I kept getting timeouts. I was furious since I basically had no "editing methods" for the server any more! After finagling for a few hours, I thought "what if I disabled the Wi-Fi on my phone and tried to SSH with that?" (from previous experience from a similar situation). I did so, and was able to SSH in no time! So, that just meant that the server wasn't accepting FTP (port 21) or SFTP/SSH (port 22) from my IP address.....again.

Basically, I can access the server via port 80, 8080, 10000, and others, but not 21 or 22, so I can't initiate a total system backup from my home, and I don't have any tunneling options since I only have access to 2 locations (my home and the server). So, I'm still chasing down a port 21/22 access error....

I've checked the iptables and even enabled a complete system access acceptance for my specific IP address. I made sure ufw wasn't enabled, as that was the problem before. I rebooted the server multiple times (that usually solves it). However, nothing was working. So, yeah, I'm still trying to figure that out.

The situation is as follows:
- The web server will not accept port 21/22 connections from my IP address, although the port is "filtered" (that's acceptable)
- Resetting my home router/modem does not work
- Restarting the web server does not work
- I can access the web server via port 22 when accessed from outside IP address
- I'm pretty lost with this situation

NMAP results

The Wedding Plan(ing)


To change up the tone a bit, I've been working on some wedding plans for me and Keat. With Keat in school taking 18 hours of classes (and working on homework every night), she doesn't have much free time, so I've been self-appointed with planning the wedding.....yay.... (for clarification, Keat is in her last year of school, so that's a little more important for her right now)
Save the Date

Here's what the plans are so far (and you can find more details at kk.shadowdev.com - the real domain will be acquired later, just so people checking it in September 2014 aren't cut off, and we aren't paying an additional fee for a year to have the site active for 2 months):

Rehearsal Dinner: Bogarts, August 30 (2014), 7pm
Status: We've been penciled in for 20 people

Ceremony: Lake Junaluska, August 31, 6pm
Status: We have talked to the coordinator, have the contract, now we are just awaiting "approval" from Keat's parents to move forward and submit the contract

Reception: Waynesville Inn, August 31, 7pm
Status: Everything is pretty much set, we just need to straighten out the food budget, get a quote on bringing in additional alcohol, and get the contract (again, Keat's parents)

Apparel:
- Keat has her ring and is paying for it
- I have placed an order for my ring, and should receive it in 3 weeks
- Keat and her mom are shopping for a dress (this is all her)
- My tux order has been placed, and I am paying it off
- Best Man has his own tux, but is getting some additional items
- Rest of Groomsmen need to be fitted
- Bridesmaids have been picked out, now for "Bride Discussions" (not my department)

Flowers:
- Quote has been received, and vendor has penciled us in for the day

Photographer:
- Quote has been received, details will be discussed in person in October

Music:
- Music selections have been selected, but waiting on professional opinion before finalizing (see next bullet)
- Musicians for ceremony have been ordered (friend of mine), quote received, details discussed this week
- Reception location is providing DJ

Print:
- Designed and received Quote for Invitations + envelopes, RSVP cards + envelopes, Thank You cards + envelopes, programs, road signs, Save the Date cards + envelopes have been edited. Need finalization from decisions and order placed

Guest List:
- After multiple, multiple versions, I believe we are at about 100 (115 with a 20% no-show rate, so 92-ish + party), however it seems to be a constant battle between her parents and us (my parents are okay, so far). Butter zone is between 100-125, as the Lake has 75 chairs +$3/additional chair, and the Waynesville Inn needs a minimum of 100 for the reception.

Budget:
- We are estimating a $12,000 total budget (let me explain: I am tracking the budget, which is split up in "Estimated" (what we expect) and "Actual" (what has been spent), and then it is sub-split into each party pay area: Keat's parents, my parents, and us. We're looking at $10k for her parents, $500 for mine, and $1.6k for the two of us)
- I'm also keeping track of all of the finances (what is expected, what will be paid, what has been paid, outstanding amount, additional fees, etc)

Travel:
- Quote received from local limo company, just need to inspect/place order and figure out payment system

Cake:
- Appointment is being made with local company for tastings (and possibly ordering, based on the high number of recommendations from others)

Gifts (what we will give the people in the wedding):
- Have been looked at and budgeted, but not ordered yet

Favors:
- Decision made, quote received, but not ordered yet

Officiant:
- Quote received
- Finalized on date
- Travel costs will be covered
- "Pre-marriage Counseling" has begin with a 126 question "Inventory" list (we both fill out questions about ourselves and each other, then discuss that with the Preacher)

Salon/Spa:
- Prices have been estimated, no decision has been made yet

Hotel:
- The Waynesville Inn is the plan, but one thing we did not expect to encounter was "higher hotel rates for the holiday." Yeah, big overlook on our part. The Waynesville Inn's "Group Rates" (if we can guarantee 10 or more rooms) would be $130/night. I'm hoping that other hotels around us can provide lower rates.

Wedding License:
- Will go in July 2014 to receive from the Haywood County Registrar of Deeds office. $60 flat, no physical/blood tests required.

Wedding "Day Of Schedule":
- Schedule has been planned, tentative timeframes have been scheduled, awaiting discussion from other parties and vendors of finer details

Dance Classes:
- Have contacted local dance groups/academies. Awaiting response

Website:
- Website has been redesigned (kk.shadowdev.com), new features available
- Online RSVP available
- Online donations set up/honeymoon somewhat planned

I believe that is it so far. So, yeah, I'm the "wedding planner" for this big event. I have absolutely no idea how the Bride is supposed to do all of this, as you better be damn well organized to keep all of this in order. I've been to some excellent weddings and some way-below-par weddings, and my expectation is for this day to be outstanding and (hopefully) I can recall it in 20 years (I barely recall my own high school AND college graduations since they were so hectic).

I'll post updates when I get some and can clarify a few things.


Tags:#wedding #office #coding #shadowdev #lunarproductions #dns #ssh

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I FOUND THE TARDIS!

(Well, a bunch of other people found it before me, but I thought it was a neat trick)

After browsing around Facebook for a bit, I noticed an odd item in my news feed:
What could this be?

So I decided to check it out. After fiddling around with a newer version of the Google Maps images (and some more recent images), I decided to go incognito (according to the comments), and by using the Classic version of Google Maps on this link (bit.ly/14K4bWn), I was able to.....you guessed it: GO INTO THE TARDIS!
Yay! We are in the TARDIS! The console! In detail! More console! In detail! It is more than just cardboard cutouts We can go under and mess with the wires! Viewing from afar What? Time to leave?

....and (even though I know it was just a recreation of the actual TARDIS, and I wish it was Tennant's TARDIS instead of Smith 2.0, as first seen in "The Snowmen") it was fun to view. I can't wait to go to the the experience and view it myself with more interaction!


Tags:#doctorwho #tardis #google #maps

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Hittin' the Tracks with Rails

Well, more like a "Ruby" and "Ruby on Rails" scenario, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, here's a comic that I wish I could create:
FatCats


Getting back to the topic, I've been going through the Codecademy's track for Ruby to understand the concepts for Ruby (I went through all 10 courses they had within 11 hours), then studied up with RailsForZombies.org and Rails Tutorial book to get a grasp on Rails. I've been working on that book for about 2 days now, and it has really shown me the in's and out's of a basic dynamic rails structure. I'm on Chapter 7 right now.

All I can say is that Ruby seems very robust, but Rails seems very picky.

It is a different standard from what I'm used to with PHP. Whereas Rails is extremely picky with "only my way works" (kind of like older HTML), I'm used ti the PHP mindset where "if you have an idea, there are about 50 ways to create it". Personally, I still like the PHP way, but I haven't given up on RoR yet, but I like the MVC procedures that Rails incorporates (and now that I can finally use git for a good reason). You can checkout my progress at http://cdn.kmp.link:3000 or even view my github releases at https://github.com/kode29/sample_app.

On the lighter side, I've created a "Skillset Chart" on my blog showing off some of my skillsets and how experienced I am with them. Just view the middle right section of my blog layout to view it.


Tags:#fatcats #rails #ruby #ror #php #html #github

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Summer Review

This has certainly been a crazy summer. Since my last post in May, I'll sum up what has happened, but first, this:
Dilbert

Business:

  • We have decided to evolve the business: after 7 years of creating client websites, we are taking a different direction focus to the business. The plan is as follows: we will be offering "quick to create" CMS websites at a low-end price for the businesses and organizations that don't have $1000 to spend for a website, and require the ability to update their own website (although we have been pushing and emphasizing our "Website Management" service), and focusing more on developing "Software as a Service" (SaaS) applications. These applications include the following:

    • CityFix

    • OmniCard

    • WNC Local (which is actually coming along quite nicely since I am developing a primary framework for it to work off of, which I can use for other projects to help reduce the amount of coding required)

    • ScrumIt

    • ...and a few others


    Let's just say that based on what our developers want, they would like the ability to code, develop, design, test, and innovate in-house applications instead of having to conform to deadlines or produce less-than-quality websites.

  • Based on the next upcoming months, we should be moving out of our current office space. All details aside, things just aren't working in our favor to keep it. The move out should happen within the next 60 days.

  • We did receive 2 new clients during the away-time, but we also lost about 5 clients. One client we gained wanted a full-fledge basic website, while the other wanted some custom work done to their current site. Either way, it's good money. However, we did lose about 5 clients, and (to say what I've told others) I have no specific idea why. So there was some bad to go with the good, but I do believe that this was a sign telling us to get out of the "design client websites" business. Therefore, "message received."

  • (This can be classified as either business or personal, but either way) I signed up for CoFoundersLab.com, which is basically a Match.com for Entrepreneurs. Overall, I like the concept, and within the first few days of signing up, I already had a meeting with a potential business partner in Asheville. (I put on there that "[I am] looking for someone to join [me]" to help bring all of these SaaS services up to speed. We can produce the code if they can manage the business) After the meeting, things went well, but not as well as expected. I was later contacted by many people who were looking for me to join them. When I explained that I already had prototypes of my services and were looking for someone to join me, they backed off. However, I did receive one good contact from Atlanta who (after a lengthy phone conversation) will send me investor connections he has. So, things look good so far.



Personal:

  • I beat Tales of the Abyss (finally). When I last played it, it took me over 70 hours to play fully, and when I reached the final boss, I could never beat him. Using a walkthrough I found (supercheats.com/playstation/walkthroughs/talesoftheabyss-walkthrough01.txt), I was able to level up appropriately and beat the final boss on the first try. I got to see the end of the game, and I'm playing through again with 2x the experience, which should allow me to beat the stronger optional boss at a later time. Yay!

  • Keat and I have started (seriously) began planning for the wedding. I'm saying "seriously" because her parents are finally getting serious. We have pretty much everything planned out, including: the locations, the downpayment schedules, the overall budget, the payment logs, the tuxes, the reception menu, the program design, invitation design, Save the Date designs, groomsmen, bridesmaids, preacher plans, limo scheduled, flowers, etc, etc etc. The only things that we have left are to finalize everything, test/decide on the cake, and order the printing material. Just over a year to go.

  • I was interviewed for the Magnet Program for Wake County Public Schools. I wasn't quite sure what to expect (since I had been through the magnet program since 1st grade and didn't have anything to compare it to), but I went down last Tuesday, went through the interview on Wednesday, and got it over.

  • I finished my Python program through Coursera and received a 90.6% with distinction (I didn't do the first week's quizzes). Not bad for my first online course. I tried to enroll in a "Programming with Design" course, but that seemed to be more of a "how to emphasize design in programming" geared more towards designers with little to no coding, so not really my kind of course. I also tried enrolling in an Algorithm course from Stanford, but I did not have the time during my week to watch 20 hours of videos each week, so I had to unenroll myself out of that course.

  • I've tried to install Ubuntu on my home server and failed miserably. After multiple, multiple attempts at trying to install it, I believe the issue was that my hard drive had officially died. I don't mean "dead as a doornail" kind of dead, but it could not have anything else written to it, so I cannabilized the spare office computer and inserted the hard drive from it into my machine, and I'm using that version of Ubuntu on the old mainframe. Not pretty, but it works.

  • Keat and I have picked walking back up. Based on the past few weeks, we are doing an average of 2.5 miles a night, at a pace of 2.2 mph, which isn't bad. I'm sure I can go a lot faster, but I'm going Keat's speed, which is fine with me. I'll get up to running around the block again....one of these days.

  • I finally saw "Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead". This is the one Tennant movie that I could not get via Netflix or any other online streaming source (aside from BitTorrent), and while I was in Raleigh for my WCPSS interview, it was on BBC America! So I got to watch it! YAY!

  • One of my favorite animes, Sword Art Online, got an American adaptation with dubbing. Now, I know that I'm probably being prejudicial by saying "The American version won't be as good as the Japanese version", but in this case, I can freely admit that. Based on my previous blog posting, I said that I had a fan-crush on Asuna, and I meant that. However, when I heard that Toonami was picking up SAO when ThunderCats ended, I was excited....and scared. When I heard Episode 2 (that's the first one that we get to hear Asuna speak), I will admit that they didn't do anything to capture Asuna's spirit or personality. In addition, the same actress that played the daugter (Natsumi) in Sgt. Frog voices Asuna. I was semi-okay with the voice-over work, until the tail end of Episode 2 when Asuna said "I'm so stupid". At that point, I didn't see Asuna anymore, but the pink haired main female character from Sgt. Frog: Natsumi Hinata (don't get me wrong: Sgt Frog is a great, yet stupid, series). And...that ruined it for me. I still prefer the original Japanese version any day of the week.

  • I got a haircut. Yes, I know. "What a shocker!". I thought "It was time for me to get rid of the ponytail and get with a more realistic haircut....how about a 'David Tennant' inspired style?", and that's pretty much what I was aiming for. Not perfect, but I have a year to get it right before the wedding.
    My haircut

  • Wow, has it really been over 2 months since ConCarolinas? Keat and I attended Con during the first weekend in June and it was really fun. We saw the Team Tardis Cosplayers which did an amazing job cosplaying Doctors #9, #10, and #11, with an awesome real life Dalek, Keat entered into a Costume Contest as Katniss and she should have won (personal arguments against the actual winner aside, and the judges for making the contestants and audience wait 4 hours for a result), we met up with a lot of friends, attended a few parties, got a bunch of stuff, then drove back. I didn't have much of a costume, so I threw together some khaki's and a button up white shirt, trying to be Jamie Hyneman (I can't be Adam Savage), but it turned out more "Han Solo" than "Mythbuster" (see below image). Oh well, better luck next time.
    Wannabe Mythbuster turned Star Wars

That's it for now. I'll try to get back in to posting soon, as soon as I can get back into it.


Tags:#talesoftheabyss #saas #coursera #ps2 #wedding #ubuntu #debian #concarolinas #mythbuster

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HTML5 Canvas - Bouncing Ball Example

At this point, I'm trying to stay up with HTML5 programming, and I feel like I'm a little behind the times.

So, because I'm in a Python class (via Coursera by Rice University) learning about interactive programming (more specifically, "Pong" was this week's project) and seeing Google's anniversary edition of Breakout, I felt inspired to learn how innovative HTML5 could be, so I looked up some HTML5 references and thought I'd try my hand at it.

Well, I combined by Python experiences and some HTML5 canvas examples and created some ball-bouncing joy. Want a demo? Here's a demo!

Here's a screenshot of it:
Bouncing Ball
I've taken out the clear() function to show it in motion


Even though this is very simple (as compared to some more advanced HTML5 stuff), I thought I'd go ahead and put this here for others to view/use/learn from.

Here's the HTML:
 
<!DOCTYPE html>
 
<html>
 
	<head>
 
		<meta charset='utf-8'/>
 
		<title>Ball Canvas Test</title>
 
		<link href='main.css' rel='stylesheet'/>
 
		<!--[if lt IE 9]>
 
			<script src="http://html5shiv.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/html5.js"></script>
 
		<![endif]-->
 
		<script src='http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.8.1/jquery.min.js'></script>
 
		<script src='main.js'></script>
 
	</head>
 

 
	<body>
 
		<div id='debug'></div>
 
		<div id='container'>
 
			<canvas id='scene'></canvas>
 
		</div>
 

 
		<footer>
 
			© 2013 - Kyle Perkins
 
		</footer>
 
	</body>
 
</html>
 


Here's the CSS: (this uses a standard Reset CSS, started by Eric Meyers)
 
@import url("//dev.shadowdev.com/reset.css");
 
html, body{
 
	display: block;
 
	text-align: center;
 
}
 
#debug{
 
	position: absolute;
 
	top: 50px;
 
	right: 50px;
 
}
 
canvas{
 
	margin: auto;
 
	display: block;
 
	border: 5px #000 solid;
 
	background-color: #efefef;
 
}
 


And here's the fancy-smancy Javascript:
var canvas, ctx;
 
var circles = [];
 
var circleCount = 4; 
 
var velocity_set = 2;
 

 
function oneorzero(num){
 
	// simple function to randomly get 0 or 1
 
	if (Math.round(Math.random())==1) num *= -1;
 
	return num;}
 

 
function Circle(x,y,radius, color){
 
	// get the information stored for eac ball
 
	this.x = x;
 
	this.y = y;
 
	this.radius = radius;
 
	this.color = color;
 
	var V1 = oneorzero(velocity_set);
 
	var V2 = oneorzero(velocity_set);
 
	// velocity is set as an array so we can have the [x,y] values
 
	// [5,5] means ^,>
 
	// [-5, -5] means V,<
 
	this.velocity = new Array(V1, V2);
 
}
 

 
function clear(){
 
	// clear the screen (prevent "dirty canvas")
 
	ctx.clearRect(0,0, ctx.canvas.width, ctx.canvas.height);
 
}
 

 
function getrand(){
 
	// function to randomly get a value between 0-255 (one value for R, G, and B each)
 
	return Math.floor((Math.random()*255)+1);
 
}
 

 
function drawCircle(ctx, x, y, radius, color) { // draw circle function
 
//	$('#debug').html("X:"+x+" Y:"+y);
 
//    ctx.fillStyle = 'rgba('+r+', '+g+', '+b+', 1.0)';
 
	ctx.beginPath();
 
	ctx.arc(x, y, radius, 0, 2 * Math.PI, false);
 
	ctx.fillStyle = "rgb("+color+")";
 
	ctx.fill();
 
	ctx.stroke();
 
//    ctx.closePath();
 
}
 

 
function drawScene(){ //main draw function
 
	clear(); //clear the canvas
 
	// this is only for additional draw functionality (testing only)
 
/*	ctx.beginPath();
 
      ctx.arc(canvas.width/2, canvas.height/2, 70, 0, 2 * Math.PI, false);
 
      ctx.fillStyle = 'blue';
 
      ctx.fill();
 
      ctx.lineWidth = 5;
 
      ctx.strokeStyle = '#fc0';
 
      ctx.stroke();
 
*/
 
	
 
	var ball_info ="";
 
	for (var i=0; i 0)
 
		$('#debug').html(ball_info);
 
}
 

 
////////////////////////////////////////
 

 
$(function(){
 
	// call these setup properties upon load
 
	canvas = document.getElementById("scene");
 
	ctx = canvas.getContext('2d');
 

 
	// this is to make sure the canvas spreads across the screen
 
	ctx.canvas.width = window.innerWidth-10; // the canvas has a 5px border
 
	ctx.canvas.height = window.innerHeight-50; // 50 is only for the footer info
 

 
	var circleRadius = 25;
 
	var width = canvas.width;
 
	var height = canvas.height;
 

 
	for (var i = 0; i < circleCount; i++){
 
		// start at random position
 
		var x = Math.random()*(width*.9);
 
		var y = Math.random()*(height*.9);
 
		var r = getrand();
 
		var g = getrand();
 
		var b = getrand();
 
		ballColor = r+","+g+","+b;
 
		// add circle to array
 
		circles.push(new Circle(x,y,circleRadius, ballColor));
 
	}
 
	setInterval(drawScene, 1); // loop drawScene - aka: "draw handler"
 
});
 

 
function animate(ball, canvas, context) {
 
	// this is for adding (aka: "move") the ball based on the velocity increase/decrease
 
	// velocity is an array
 
        ball.x += ball.velocity[0];
 
	ball.y += ball.velocity[1];
 
	
 
        if( (ball.x > (canvas.width - ball.radius)) || (ball.x < (0 + ball.radius))) {
 
		// bounce off left or right wall
 
		ball.velocity[0] *= -1;
 
        }
 
	if ( (ball.y > (canvas.height - ball.radius)) || (ball.y < (0 + ball.radius))){
 
		// bounce off top or bottom wall
 
		ball.velocity[1] *= -1;
 
	}
 

 
	// draw the circles with on the (canvas, x position, y position, radius, color)
 
        drawCircle(ctx, ball.x, ball.y, ball.radius, ball.color);
 
      }


I hope this works for some people learning how to use HTML5 and the "velocity effect"


Tags:#html5 #css #javascript #python #tutorials

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Get a Webpage Screenshot with GIMP

I was browsing around GIMP trying to get a screenshot when I stumbled upon this neat little trick:
GIMP Get Webpage

In GIMP (this edition is in Windows 7), you can go to "File > Create > From Webpage" to get a screenshot of a webpage! This is especially helpful on super-long pages (like Parallax websites) in addition when the browser Screenshot extensions/addons/plugins do a bad job.

(I have the Screen Capture extension in Chrome, and it works most of the time, but sometimes it gets the screenshot and misses/overlaps sections, so I have to repeat the Screen Capture process multiple times in order to get it right).

Anyway, after you click "From Webpage" in GIMP, type in your URL
GIMP Get Webpage

And click "OK".

In a few seconds, you'll have a full screenshot of the website in GIMP ready to edit/export/compress/etc!
GIMP got Shadow Dev!


I hope this helps some people out. I know it will save me a few headaches.


Tags:#gimp #screenshot #google #chrome #shadowdev

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Viewing Recent Purchases via Google

I was browsing for the voltage requirements for an item I recently purchased through Amazon when I found this neat little trick with Google:

I was browsing for HDE, the seller of a nice little camera I bought, when this box on the right popped up.
Searching for HDE with Google

I thought it was kind of cool, so I clicked on "1 item from Amazon.com" (which took me to https://google.com/search?&q=my+purchases) and I saw this:
My Purchases with Google

Google used my Gmail information and told me (very concisely) what the recent orders were, their expected delivery dates, and a tracking link for each (if it can find a relevant one).

I didn't expect to find this, but hey, one more way that Google is making my life easier.

(PS: You will need an active Gmail account for this to work)

(PPS: You can also just Google "my purchases" and the search result page will come up as well - you don't have to go through these steps to find that page)


Tags:#google #gmail #amazon #purchase #search #tracking

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Raspberry Pi: The (Unofficial) Missing Startup Guide

Raspberry Pi Logo If you just ordered a Raspberry Pi (like me) and unboxed it only to find a circuit board and no instructions, let me outline a few things for you and make it simple to go from "box" to "running" with little to no hassle:

(also because the "Quick Start" guide was a little more confusing than expected - based on the directions, I thought it required a Windows-based computer to set up a Linux circuit board. I'm glad I was wrong, but it took me a while to find it out)

Step 1: Gathering the Necessary Parts/Cords


Here is a list of items that you will need to set up your Raspberry Pi:

  1. Micro-B USB Power Cord (with at least a 700 mA / 5V output - most cell phone chargers will work)
  2. A USB Powered Keyboard (hopefully with an input power of ~100mA)
  3. An HDMI cable (for HDMI TV's or Monitors) OR an double male RCA-RCA cable (for CRT TV's - if you have a double yellow male Video-Video cable, that will work too, as you will only need the yellow video jack). Don't expect to get a VGA connection out of this, because HDMI-VGA connectors are super expensive
  4. A Network cable (recommended)
  5. A dedicated blank (or can be blanked) 4GB+ SD Card (or Micro SD card with a full SD Reader - that's what mine is)

The SD card is here because that is the "hard drive" of the Raspberry Pi. Which means that the Pi does not come with it's own pre-installed OS, as I found out the hard way.

Alright, all of the parts have been gathered.


Step 2: Get the OS


Next, you'll need a functioning computer with internet, and go to raspberrypi.org/downloads to get an operating system.

Note Note: When I saw "For your free download go to raspberrypi.org/downloads " on the box, I thought it was for some free open source items - they didn't say "Go here for your Operating System"

At the time of this writing, the latest version of the common Raspberry Pi OS is a Debian-based distro called Raspbian (specifically, "2013-02-09-wheezy-raspbian").

Download the ZIP or Torrent of the OS to your hard drive (about 1.8GB in size) and unzip if you downloaded the ZIP.

Now, you will have to process the IMG to the SD card using a specific program.

Linux/Mac: you can use dd from a terminal
Windows: Follow the instructions on raspberrypi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/quick-start-guide-v1.1.pdf to use Win32DiskImager

I'll be discussing Linux instructions from here.

Linux


Put the SD card into your machine (or into the USB Dongle if you don't have a card reader). Once your machine recognizes the card, find the specific location of where the card is located in the mounted file system (Debian: Go to "Applications" > "System Tools" > "Disk Utility").

Once you find the location, format the card (if you haven't done so already) so it is blank (I recommend formatting using a FAT system). Now, unmount the card, but don't pull it out of the machine.

You will need to perform the following command to get the Pi to properly read the card:
 
sudo dd bs=1M if=[location of your img file].img of=/dev/[card location]
 

Example:
 
sudo dd bs=1M if=2013-02-09-wheezy.raspbian.img of=/dev/sdf
 

NoteNote: You will want to write to the whole card, not just a partition. Double check to see if there are any numbers after your mount location. If there are, you may be writing to a partition and not directly to the card

That process will take a couple of minutes. Once it is done, confirm that it transferred the full amount to the card (1.8GB). If it did not, repeat this process from the "Format" step.

Note Note: This took me about 12 tries before the card was properly written to for the Pi to read it

Once it is properly written to, you can just remove the card, but I recommend "Powering down the device" first.

Step 3: Starting up the Pi


Hopefully, everything up to this point has been successful. If so, please proceed.

  1. Assuming you haven't already, open the Raspberry Pi from the box. I have a Model B
  2. Put the SD card into the slot below
  3. Plug in the Network cord, USB Keyboard, and HDMI/RCA cable into their respective slots (also, make sure that your TV/Monitor is on the right Input setting to receive signal)
  4. Plug in the Micro B cord into the small port opposite the Network port for power

Success! You should now see a Red LED (PWR [Power]) in the corner light up. If it did, you have power!

You should also see a Green LED (ACT [Activity]) start to flash. If it is, your Pi is reading the SD card. If it is not, your SD card may have not been written to correctly (as in my case). If it's blinking, please refer to elinux.org/R-Pi_Troubleshooting for Troubleshooting tips.

Note Note: For the longest time, I could not figure out why the Red LED would come on, but I wouldn't get any display or additional LED's. From some of the forums I was on, they called for pulling out a multimeter and testing the power flow between points. I was expecting this to be an "easy DIY project", not "easy, but you need some electrical engineering experience before you can boot up" kind of deal. Luckily, my problem was the SD card, which I was able to finally rectify.

If your Network cord is plugged in, you should also see 2-3 additional lights: FDX (green [File Data Transfer]), LNK (green [Link Connectivity]), and 100 (100Mbps, orange if 100, nothing if just 10).

Step 4: Setting up


Alright! Hopefully everything went well and your Pi is powered up, fully connected, and reading the SD card properly.

I recommend to at least do the following, just so your Pi has a standard basis for operations, unless you have other plans for it.

  1. On your screen, you should see the Startup logo and sequences (unless you are reading this slower than it took to start up). Regardless, you should see a large blue box with options
  2. Select the 2nd choice: expand_rootfs. This will expand the root file system to the SD card for usability and storage
  3. Set your Locale (if necessary)
  4. Set your Timezone
  5. Turn on SSH
  6. Hit "Finish" and confirm a reboot

Default Login: pi
Default PW: raspberry - I recommend changing this to something you will remember

Last Note


I would highly recommend running "sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade" before too long, just to make sure you have the latest system updates.

That's it! Your Raspberry Pi should be fully configured as a base to do whatever you want it to do. Go explore the options!

What can I do now?


There are a gazillion+ things that you can do with a Raspberry Pi. My first project was to create a webcam-based monitoring system from the instructions I received from pingbin.com/2012/12/raspberry-pi-web-cam-server-motion/ (including making it Wifi).

You can make a:
  • personal music server
  • small desktop environment (try startx after you reboot)
  • small network file storage system
  • media center (see openelec.tv)
  • small web server
  • sensor for recording temperature, light, wind, speed, etc
  • lightweight search engine
  • multi-core cluster processor
  • ...and more! Go google something

Enjoy!

PS: This site/guide/reference point does not in anyway endorse Raspberry Pi or the manufacturer. This guide was written as a hope to help others get started without the hassle of spending half a day to figure it out, or (if like me) have little experience tinkering with projects like this.


Tags:#raspberrypi #startup #guide #power #led #blinking #help

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Bachelor for a Week 2013: Day 5

Last night was a bit of a doozy. I spent most of the night watching Season 3 of Reboot. Apparently, I haven't seen that season in quite a while, because nothing looks familiar.

Well, the good news about yesterday is that the Internet came back. Long story short: I have no idea why it came back.

Long story: On Tuesday, the internet went out. So I found the most recent paper bill and saw that "If $4.55 was not paid by 3/25, then service would be cut off". Since the Internet was out, I couldn't pay the bill online, so I had to use my phone to do it. Good News: Charter has a mobile friendly site. Bad news: their payment system doesn't work on mobile (and I have a market smartphone, so having an "Unrecognized device" was irrelevant). Since I thought that the bill wasn't paid, I freaked out a little and paid $150 to cover the bill cost. That charge went through successfully, however, since it took 24 hours to process, I was internet-less on Tuesday night.

I came home yesterday and I find out (to my surprise) that the Internet is still out. I logged on to Charter's site from my phone, and somehow, the billing system says that I paid $150 at the beginning of March, so I have a credit of $78, which means that I overpaid. If that's the case, where's my Internet?

I called Charter and said "Internet is out", which apparently is a key phrase that starts their automated system troubleshooter. After it automatically ping'ed and restarted our modem (which was the first thing I did along with power cycling the router), the Internet came back up.

Miracle? Probably. But I didn't do anything to fix it.

Well, semi-rant over.

Today started out weird. I first had a call from the building Director that his computer was acting up and some program was making him buy some antivirus software. As soon as I arrive at the office, my first question to him was "Were you using Internet Explorer"? His response (of course) "Yes, I think so". Found the problem.

So I booted into Safe Mode, found the location of the issue program, removed it and all traces of it, cleaned up his computer, scanned the registry (Thank you CCleaner) and rebooted. Problem solved.

I told him (for the xth time) to use Firefox or Chrome to browse the internet because IE is bad and etc, etc, etc.

ILK


As you may be able to tell, I don't like IE - the fact that over 80% of the world uses it and having to develop for Microsoft's excuse for browser standards.

After that was done, I played catchup all day, including re-convincing a client to not pay extra for SEO services again (let's just say that the client paid somewhere around $2000/yr to a company to perform "SEO Services". Translation: they added some Google Analytics code and provided meta tags for pages (which were very poorly written and irrelevantly coded). As I told the client, "this is 'first year developer' stuff. There's no need to pay somebody else $2000 for this when we do it for you". I have been told by the client (again) that she will contact the other company and cancel the service. Here's hoping it turns out better and doesn't come up again.

On the brighter side, my Raspberry Pi came in!
Raspberry Pi!


At first, I thought: provide power, connect network, all is good.

However, nobody told me I had to configure it myself.

Here's what I have done: provide Ethernet cord, Provide power supply, go to raspberrypi.org/downloads, download OS, dd'ed it on SD card, provide USB keyboard, provide RCA cable (I don't have any HDMI TV's), connect everything together, (here's where I am) boot from SD card, set up OS, configure system, and then ready to go.

So far, I have everything, but I'm not sure if my SD card (which is in the form of a 8GB Micro SD card in a SD Card reader, which is in a SD/USB dongle to write with) is working right. When I plug the SD card in and power on the Pi, the red POWER light comes on, but nothing else. Even by connecting the RCA Video cable to the TV (and making sure it's on the right input setting), still nothing. I'm supposed to get a green LED to light up, but no luck so far. I think I may need to get a full fledge SD card, which nowadays are pretty cheap.

Other good news: our peppers are finally coming in! I took a look last night, and 9 sprouts are coming up!
Peppers!


I've also started watching Breaking Bad - not bad so far. (Sorry for the pun). I'm halfway through episode 3, and it is still keeping my attention.

I also did some research on Zero Hour, found out it was semi-cancelled. Can't same I blame it - the first episode dragged on, set up the mystery at the very end, and basically told the whole story in the first hour of show. I like a quote from The New York Daily News' David Hinckley stated the series "dodges several bedrock problems that have torpedoed other recent attempts to make engaging series TV out of mystery thrillers", adding, "The question is whether Zero Hour can sustain [the setup] for 13 weeks, because what makes a good two-hour movie doesn't always make for 10 gripping hours of television." (wikipedia)

I'm going to see what I can scrounge up tonight on the server and call it a night. Good thing is that this is the last night I will be spending alone for a while. In just over 25 hours, I get to pick Keat up from the airport! YAY!


Tags:#zerohour #raspberrypi #breakingbad #reboot #ie #seo #ccleaner #internet

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Bachelor for a Week 2013: Day 4

Today was very unenthusiastic/lethargic. The thought of "something is missing" was always on my mind, and I didn't have the slightest idea why.

Here's a clue:
Squirrel


Yep, the internet was out at home, so I'm Internet/Email/TV/Server-less for the night. I don't know what the exact reason is, but I was told it will be back on tomorrow. (I'm writing this on my home server, so I still have access to that, but if you are reading this, then it means that the internet is back up)

On a better note, my order of Assimilation2 came in today! I can't wait to crack it open and see what happens to the Enterprise and the Doctor.

Since the Internet was out, I didn't really know what I was going to do. Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, iHeartRadio all require the internet, and I have limited data on my phone (which resets on the 21st, so just under a month away, and the only radio system in the house is in the attic). So I thought I would catch up on some Reboot for nostalgia-sake. Currently, I'm at the end of Season 2, and it's amazing how many adult themes/pop culture references/computer science jokes there are that I never caught as a kid (there was even a bit in AndrAIa where they have a Kirk and Picard reference!).

While I was waiting on dinner to be microwaved, I worked on some localhost files and retweaked my RSS parser. Apparently, anybody referencing my RSS feed was getting some incomplete parsed code, which looked very weird when processed. I believe I have fixed the problem, but I won't know officially until outside sources process the feed.

In addition, I have pretty much confirmed that CJ is coming up next tuesday. That will be exciting, although I expect some of my production to slow down since getting CJ+Keat+Me together can cause some rather long discussions (in a good way). Man, some stores can demonstrate that!

All things considered, Keat's vacation is half over. Optimistically, she is only 3 days away. I can't wait to (get the drive over with and) go to the Greenville airport on Friday night and pick her up. My expectation is for Saturday to be a super-lazy day and Sunday is a "you're back, let's celebrate" day (weather permitting).

Also, Doctor Who returns in 3 days as well! I won't be able to watch the live event, but I will sure find some resources to watch The Bells of St. John!

On a related note, here's this:
Dalek mania!


Tags:#internetisout #squirrel #cheezeburger #startrek #doctorwho #cj #rss #reboot #netflix #hulu #pandora #localhost #keat

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Bachelor for a Week 2013: Day 3

First, since Keat's in Colorado, here's an airplane joke (special relevance since Southwest allows you to pick your seats):
XKCD


I was able to sleep in this morning, but it was a little odd again having the big bed to myself. I can't say it was comfy, but it was almost....to comfy. I didn't actually get out of it until about 2.

The weather decided to have some different plans (as March always done) and it sprinkled about 1/4 to 1/2" of snow today. I would have driven into work, but based on the extremely low amount of cars that I have seen/heard on the road in front of our house, I'm guessing that traveling was not the best option.

So, I got comfy in my chair at ("in") my home office and started working on the "First Steps" section of the site. I've been making a lot of progress on different sections loading internally of jQuery's framework. It sounded like a challenge at first, but through the process, it has become a whole lot easier.

While I was working, I also caught up on my TV shows: Once Upon a Time, Community, American Dad, Family Guy, Malibu Country (which I found out that Lily Tomlin was Ms. Frizzle, which blew my mind), and Last Man Standing.

Also, I found out that Volume 2 of my Star Trek/Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 compilation has been shipped and will be here soon. In addition, my Raspberry Pi (which I assumed was extremely backordered and would ship in on the 29th) apparently shipped out today and is on it's way.

I did some research and tweaking on my RSS feeds for my personal blog and company blogs, and found out that my original RSS importer was not working. Therefore, I found a new one, which I highly recommend: RSS Graffiti , which is an app via Facebook. So far, it looks pretty sleek and works efficiently to import the RSS feeds into Facebook.

The first of 3 articles I wrote yesterday went live this morning: shadowdev.com/blog/article/extra-links-on-google-what-are-they-and-how-do-i-get-them (the next 2 will go live on Wednesday and Friday)

Also, I finished Enterprise tonight (this morning?). Overall, I give it a rating of 8/10 stars. It has some unique qualities of it's own, and has some TOS mixed in. Jeffery Combs does a great job in his own role, but I kind of wish the crew was a little more dimensional. Season 3 and 4 were better than the first 2, especially since Season 3 had a whole dedicated arch to itself, which reminded me of DS9 and the dominion war. At least the Xindi arc had a little more depth than the Dominion war.

Now, here's a(nother) Star Trek related comic:
Bug


That's it for me. 'Nite!


Tags:#bug #xkcd #plain #startrek #enterprise #doctorwho #raspberrypi

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Bachelor for a Week 2013: Day 2

I did not report in yesterday because I was in immense pain, almost flu-like symptoms. Needless to say, I spent most of the day in bed, surrounded by cats.

Today, however, was much better. For me, but not for the weather.
Garfield

(Seriously: a major downpour of rain today, snow last Thursday, great short-sleeve weather on previous weekends, then heavy gusts throughout the month....all that we're missing is hail)

I moved the Wii into the guest room/office so I could have some entertainment while I coded away. Let's just say that if I had a fridge and a toilet in this room, I'd never leave.

I watched a good chunk of Enterprise today. Now, I'm only 6 episodes away from the end. What's on my "To Watch" list next?

I also wrote 3 articles for Shadow Dev, which will be premiering over the course of the following week.

I worked on the small blurbs and larger fancyboxes of our new pricing page, which should also be premiering sometime soon.

I lastly worked on the Portal 2.0. I made some great stride with window.location.hash when trying to reload pages based on post-hash URI's. jQuery just became a lot better now.

Here's what I am happy about today:
 
$(function(){
 
	$('#db_menu').find('a').live('click', function(){
 
		var link_id = $(this).attr('id');
 
		$.ajax({
 
			type: "GET",
 
			url: "/get_box.php",
 
			data: { q: link_id },
 
			success: function(data){
 
				$('#db_box').html(data);
 
			}
 
		});
 
	});
 

 
	var path = window.location.hash;
 
	if (path==""){
 
		$('#main').click();
 
		window.location.hash = "#main";
 
	}
 
	else
 
		$(path).click();
 
});
 


I basically had to scrap the whole project and start from almost square 1. I kept the original login scripts along with the database structures in tact. My main starting point was from the Dashboard and so on.

My plan over the following week is to improve the new Portal to a point that it is ready to launch. The plan to launch Portal 1.0 with the new site launch had a small...drawback. It didn't convert with the new CSS well, and had a few delayed bugs in it, along with a good chunk missing for the Clients. My goal is for Portal 2.0 to fix that.

I don't usually like scrapping projects during development, but the pro is that the revamp comes out much cleaner than originally expected. Only time (and late nights) will tell if my feats become useful.

On a some-what related note, I was told by Keat (I don't recall if it was today or yesterday, as both days are a bit of a blur) that it is 4° out in Frisco right now. I would have been okay (that's a joke) with 4° Celsius, but we're in America, and that's 4° Fahrenheit. I do wish her the best in that frigid temperature. I'll stick with the rainy 40° here.

XKCD


Also, I used a gift code from StateFarm to order the next Star Trek/Doctor Who Crossover Vol. 2 comic book today. It only cost me $5.71 (and that was with shipping and tax). It would have cost me somewhere around $18 in a shop. Although I do support local shops, I had a gift code that I had to use or it would have expired.


Tags:#jquery #javascript #enterprise #startrek #projects #garfield #keat #articles #xkcd #doctorwho #comics

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Ah, the life of an Entrepreneur

I have had this process repeat multiple, multiple times

Ent Roller Coaster

[Source]


Tags:#rollercoaster #entrepreneur #under30ceo

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Leave my childhood alone!

Ctrl+Alt+Del


Although the latest TMNT movie wasn't bad, I hope Michael Bay doesn't proceed with his version of it. The Nickelodeon series was bad enough.


Tags:#cadcomic #tmnt #movies

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First Day of Spring shows progress

Programmers vs Users

The main reason I am writing this post is because I'm really excited that I have made a lot of progress.

First, I found a great Parallax framework and created my first parallax site. Long story short: the most recent site I worked on, Omega Safety had very little content compared to lots of other sites, so I thought a Parallax framework would work best, in addition to allow me to test and play with the Parallax framework.


Standard Site Work



Parallax Framework




So far, the Parallax framework is a lot simpler than creating a new site. The main focus is on images rather than content, so the content can be spread out over space instead of crammed into little boxes. I call that: progress.

I have also started moving content to our new server with our new hosting company. Progress will be reported later on that.

Forgot one thing: we are getting over 1 inch of snow. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings.


Tags:#parallax #newserver #omegasafety

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Marching on

Yeah, it's a lame title. But it gets the job done. Let me explain, but first: here's a comic I've been holding on to for a while:
Bug

So, where to begin?

Since this is my first post in almost a month and a half, here's the rundown of what has been keeping me busy:
  • First and foremost: we had a staff member leave Shadow Development. I won't say exactly who it was, but I will say that having this person leave does alleviate some stress from us. Broken promises, 99% tardy, never following up, and spending more time with others than working on the job. It seemed like a huge stress reliever to come home and just vent about the craziness at the office. Well, that person is gone and we do not have to deal with the likes of that person again. It feels good to say that and to be able to program in peace without having to re-teach what I just taught multiple times to this person.

  • I'm curious and want to build a webcam-based monitoring system. With Port-forwarding open on the router, things have been very adventurous and I want to explore the options. So, here's the deal: I buy a Type-B Raspberry Pi circuit board, a webcam, a powered USB hub, and (maybe) a usb-to-wifi device (the wifi is TBD). Through some instructions based on pingbin.com/2012/12/raspberry-pi-web-cam-server-motion/, I believe that the setup should be fairly simple. Now if I can only get the Raspberry Pi to arrive....

  • I had to reformat my home server. Since I was playing around with the firewall rules and tried to find a Firewall Rules Editing GUI, apparently it installed and overwrote what I had in place, so it erased all of my iptables rules and blocked port 80, 22, 443, and pretty much everything incoming. After trying to correct/reset/re-enable the previous ruleset, my only option was to perform a complete system reformat. Luckilly, Debian is free. I just had to go through about a week of backups and transfers, resetting options, enabling modules, and getting the start-up commands the way I wanted them. So now, here is the first post on the reformatted system!

  • Shadow Dev is going through some major reconstruction. Not on the office (although, it could use a physical visual upgrade), but the strategies and operations. Since January, I've been the VP of Operations, and basically, I'm in charge of the technology, processes, networks, and overall operations of how the business is run. It's basically like President, but without a lot of the Presidential stress. Keat and I have been meeting with our new advisor off-and-on for a few weeks, and he has us on the right path. Now to just finish it and get the new strategy underway.

  • I spent my 26th birthday weekend with my family in Murphy, NC. It was nice to have a family gathering without the 20+ other members, and just make it with my immediate family. The nieces and nephew weren't too bad, and my sisters and I really caught up. We had a bit of a confusing endgame, though, when I blurted out the idea of visiting a dam on our out-of-town-sightseeing-tour, which turned out to be off some unnamed road out in the boonies, so all of us were driving for about 2 hours up and down steep gravel roads until we reached Tennessee. Jinnee and them went west (to their home), Mom and Dad went east (Raleigh), and Keat and I traveled up to Knoxville, then down 40 to Waynesville. It was quite an interesting trip, and I got to see a bit of Knoxville while I was at it. Now to just go back and hit the zoo!

  • Keat and I wanted to have our friend CJ over for a while, and in order to do so, we needed to make the guestroom, well.....usable. After a mass weekend cleaning, we rearranged the guestroom/office and now it's easier to walk in to and easier to navigate. Somehow, it seems like this place wouldn't be able to operate without the specific arrangement we picked, but we'll see what time says. (by the way, CJ had to postpone his trip to a later date)

  • I've been working on some improvements on the shadowdev.com site. So far, I've made some major improvements to the contact page. I'm working on the solutions page, the new pricing page (TBA), and a new section I like to call First Steps. More info to be announced soon

  • On a related note, Shadow Dev has some new pricing scales that will be announced. Basically, I have been talking with my friend at 3dBWireless, who is building a data center+office at the SMDC Incubator The Center for New and Expanding Businesses, right across the hall from us. It's interesting to see how far they have progressed in their construction and what types of technology they have been installing. I thought our new office was pretty neat, since we were pretty much the tip-of-the-technology-point in the building. In comparison, they put our new office to shame. I'm really hoping that they can help us reconstruct our office to some better standards when we get the funds. Also, we are doing a trade off with them: web work for hosting space. Yet another way for us to bring our costs down, but also we are able to have local hosting instead of paying out $200/qtr for the limited hosting service we have now. To summarize: we have 30GB of space, 1TB of bandwidth, and 512MB of RAM. With 3dBWireless, we have 60GB of space, unlimited (at least, not capped) bandwidth, and 4GB of burstable RAM. I call that a good deal. And it's local, so speed should definitely be increased instead of having to send a NC signal all the way to Germany (CloudFlare proxy IP) and California (current host) and back.

  • A few clients have been taking up some time in the office. One client has a site that is slowly progressing, but they are still paying their bills and we should be able to launch their site any day now. One client was put on hiatus because they were still working on their business plan 1 year into billing, so since not much work was being done, it was our decision to put them on hiatus until they are ready. No sense in paying a company that doesn't do anything, right? Also, we got a new client (finally!). Our former staff member was able to get a client signed right before departure, and this is the first client signed since August! Check out the Shadow Dev Blog for more details.

  • Since we moved in to our new space, I really haven't paid much attention to the power meter. I guess I should have, because the demand on our meter was "off the charts" (as our building manager put it). I don't know why, as we only have 2 computers running, a low-power router, and the AC every once in a while. The little spinner-disc-thingy is barely crawling during standard day-to-day operations, and the meter counter barely increases from day to day. An old tenant who specializes in electricity developments is coming by tomorrow to take a look at it.

  • Also, I've begun watching Star Trek: Enterprise. I know some people say "It's the worst thing on television...", and I believed that for a long time. But I realized that I never really gave it a chance. Yes, there are a few things that could be improved, like the dimensional development of the characters, the cultural diversity of the crew, the storyline consistency, the cinematography style, etc, but by thinking about it in a different way makes it understandable. Put it this way: TOS, TNG, DS9, and Voyager all followed one storyline, and as things got further, things progressed better. Enterprise is not really on the same storyline, but is instead making it's own storyline off the chart. It's the early days of Starfleet, the era before the UFP, and we "humans" have never heard of a "Klingon" before, much less the "Romulans". So it definitely sets up the rest of the storylines using a bit of modern technology (like functional and LED lit PADD's), but it has a flavor all it's own. Sure, the budget is a bit more than TOS's christmas light buttons and boards, but that's part of the issue with modern day society. You can't shoot a 1960's series in 2000 making it ready for the 2000 audience. Things have to progress faster, be made flashier, always keep them guessing, etc. I tried watching TOS, and it has its good points, but the storyline is the same as the 1960's and 1970's Doctor Who: the first few minutes sets up the story, purpose, and situation, then a lot of filler story, then the last few minutes solves the issue. I'm sorry, but TOS and classic Doctor Who put me to sleep. There - I said it. Let the blasphemy begin.



Chances are at this point, you are either tired of reading or just scrolled down to see the ending. Well, I'm done for the night. I may be able to work on some small items for about another hour, but I need to hit the hay since I need to be at the office at 8:30am for some electrical testing work (see above).


Tags:#

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January Catchup: Server Testing, Office Move, Blog Migration, and Turkeys!

The past month has been really crazy. Not just a roller coaster ride, but more like a roller coaster that had its brakes cut. Yeah - that crazy.

First (and this is in no chronological order), I watched Sword Art Online in 5 days.
SAO

Overall, the series was....is there a better word for AWESOME? The action, the progressive storyline, the drama, the mystery, the twists, EVERYTHING! In addition, I have a fan-crush on Asuna (the one on the right).

According to many independent lists, SAO was the top anime of 2012, so I have already maxed out my quality list for anime's for a while. I don't know of any more that can top that. Although, I'm starting to watch Steins;Gate - I hear it's pretty good.

Anyway, I have also been talking with a co-worker at our building and may be able to negotiate some hosting space for Shadow Dev. He was able to get me a testing server, and at 60GB of space and 2GB (with +2GB of burst) of RAM, it's more than I could have asked for! So this looks like a good relationship.

I have also successfully migrated my personal blog (yes, this) onto my home web server. After learning about Port Forwarding a few weeks ago, my home server has been able to be accessed by the public! Yes, you are reading this off of the server I have sitting at home! It took a while to learn the differences between the company web server and the home one (CentOS to Debian, Apache to Apache2, enable mod_rewrite, FTP to SFTP, etc), but I did it.

Also, there was a power-change at Shadow Dev. As of January 3rd, I am no longer President (at my own choice). I prefer coding and exploring the world of technology, so I decided to pass along the responsibilities of President to someone else. The only person I trust to carry these responsibilities on (and do it without a 6-figure salary) was Keat. So Keat is President of Shadow Development, and I demoted myself to VP of Operations, which I am happy with. My to-do list is shrinking everyday now that I don't have so many presdential duties hanging over my head.

Christmas was fun, aside from the traveling. We went to my parents for about 4 days and got to play with the neices and nephew. We also had the grand "Christmas Dinner" on saturday, since this (may be) the last Christmas at my parents' house. I was under the assumption that Christmas was going to be on Saturday, but as of the day of, it was just the Grand Dinner. Christmas was still on Christmas day, which was a little confusing since Keat and I planned to be there Christmas eve and prepare the turkey. Anyway, then over to Keat's parents house at the beach, which was (70%) fun for a few days. Then, back to my parents house for about an hour and back home.

By the way, since we did such an awesome job on the Thanksgiving turkey, I told my parents and I thought my mom assigned us to permanent turkey duty. Well, it turned out that she was only suggesting that. So at Christmas (my parents), we had a Turkey Cookoff between me+keat and my dad (who was a little more into it than others). The winner had to cook the turkey from now on. According to the family, they couldn't taste a difference, so I guess we are going back for Round 2.

When we cooked the turkey at Keat's parents house, the oven had been pre-heated at 400 degrees for 5 hours before we got there, so the first phase of the turkey took about 45 minutes instead of 1.5 hours. Keat's dad was frantic saying "Turkeys shouldn't take less than 4 hours to cook!" and was causing a fit because he feared the turkey was undercooked. According to the internal thermometer, the meet inside was a 161, which is what it is supposed to be at. Anyway, after trying to be reasonable with him, Keat's mom put the turkey back in the oven at Warm and he was satisfied. The turkey was still juicy, though.

So, back home. Last weekend (not the one that just past, but the one before), Keat and I attended a meeting of our local Starfleet ships, the Alaric. I thought this was going to be just a meeting with Star Trek nerds talking Trek, but it ended up being a 3 hour discussion of, well, everything! Planetary exploration, space weather, physics, gun control, book discussions, rocket launches, movie nights, recycling, baseball, and more! Keat and I are considering joining Starfleet (well, officially "The International Star Trek Fan Association, Inc"). It's like the SCA, but for Star Trek! I'm game!

Changing gears for a moment, we did get moved into our new office. (See photos at shadowdev.com/newoffice ) Expanding to 900 sq. ft. from 200 sq. ft. is quite a change, and it seems almost a little too spacious. I'm just glad that we have a storage closet to store a lot of the stuff that isn't supposed to be out. I'm trying to make our 2nd floor a "Lounge" area, but it's coming along very slowly.

I'll call it a night for now since it's 4:15am. Keat has to be up at 7:45 for class, and I need to be in the office at 10ish. Until later.


Tags:#server #migration #hosting #swordartonline #steins-gate #christmas #turkey #starfleet #office

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Python Progress: Coin Flip

Based on a conversation I had earlier today with Keat's brother, I took another whack at Python. I've been working on learning Python for a while, but never really got the hang of it since I'm mainly a PHP guy.

Anyway, based on some tutorials I learned today, I wrote a pretty nice Python script for calculating coin flips and reporting the outcome. Some of my Python-skilled friends may laugh, but I enjoyed writing this and testing my (limited) skills.

 
#!/usr/bin/python
 
import time, random, os
 

 
#clear the screen
 
os.system('clear')
 

 
#define H and T, making them floats
 
H=T=0.0
 

 
#begin input
 

 
max_num = raw_input("How many times do you want to flip a coin? ")
 

 
if len(max_num)==0:
 
	#if no input, make 10 the default
 
	max_num = 10 
 
	print "No number specificed. Defalting to 10"
 

 
max_num = int(max_num) #convert to integer to make the calcualtions work 
 

 
#little helpful tip
 
if max_num >= 300:
 
	unit = str(round((max_num*.2)/60,2))+" minutes"
 
else:
 
	unit = str(round(max_num*.2,2))+" seconds"
 

 
print "It will take "+unit+" to complete"
 

 
#flip the "coin" max_num times
 
for x in range(0,max_num):
 
	coin = random.randrange(2)
 
	if coin == 0:
 
		print "Heads" #report
 
		H+=1 #record
 
	else:
 
		print "Tails" #report
 
		T+=1 #record
 
	time.sleep(.15) #take a small break
 

 
#simple function to calcualte the percentage and report it, 
 
# instead of having to write this out more than once
 
def report(text,side):
 
	perc = round((side/max_num)*100, 2)
 
	print text+": "+str(perc)+"%"
 

 
#debugging
 
#print "Heads: "+str(H)+" | Tails: "+str(T)
 

 
#finalize the reports
 
report("Heads", H)
 
report("Tails", T)
 

 

 
#Print the winning side
 
#print "\n"
 
if H>T:
 
	print '\033[1m'+"Heads Win!"+'\033[0m'
 
elif T>H:
 
	print '\033[1m'+"Tails Win!"+'\033[0m'
 
elif T==H:
 
	print "It's a tie!"
 


I've been trying to work on getting Python to work on the web, but my server doesn't really like WSGI or mod_python. I also tried TurboGears, but that didn't quite work as expected. I may be able to work on that better and get it incoroprated to to some Dynamic programming and offer that to clients.

Also, things may be changing at Shadow Development - could be for the worse or better. Personally, I think it will be for the better because I really enjoyed pushing my skillset and coding practices, so we'll see where it goes.


Tags:#python #php #coins #heads #tails #percent #tutorials

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Simple but effective: <label for=''>

It's amazing how something so simple can go a long ways, especially when most people don't know about it.

I'm talking about labels. Specifically, the <label for=''> attribute.

Common sense says "If you have a radio button or a checkbox on an HTML form, give it a label so people know what it is for."

Experience says "Make sure that each item has an id and name so it's universally accepted."

Better experience says "Add the for attribute to the label so your visitors don't require a microscope to click in the teeny-tiny little circle/box."

I will admit that Matt Inman (The Oatmeal) said it best:
The Oatmeal describes what [for] is for


If you don't code, here's what it looks like (click the label - doesn't do anything):

<label>Check Me</label> 
 
<input type='checkbox' name='ckbx'/>


Here's what the difference is (click the label, see the difference?):

<label for='ck_box'>Check Me</label> 
 
<input type='checkbox' name='ckbx' id='ck_box'/>


I just wanted to get that out in the open.

In summary, if you hand-code forms (like me), use the for attribute in your labels. It makes everybody's lives easier.


Tags:#label #for #labelfor #html #oatmeal #rant #tutorials

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Early Bird get the....you know the rest

Good morning world! Yes, it is 3:47am here on the east coast, and what am I doing? I am at work! Not because someone forced me to be here at this ungodly hour, but because I wanted to. Yes, I am that insane.

Don't believe me? Here's a photo I took about 30 minutes ago:


Actually, I'm not that insane. Most developers work best at night, and since Keat is out of town for 24 hours, I thought it would be a good chance to come in and get some work done without the distraction of home (and since Netflix doesn't (completely) work on Linux, I can't stream it from the office. Pandora on the other hand is a joyous pleasure).

Usually at this time, I have been up for 12+ hours and have been drugging away all day with the standard day-to-day activities. This time, I've turned the tables. I went home after work yesterday, got some dinner, finished "Rules of Engagement" (at least, Season 6 on Netflix), slept from 10:30 till 2:30, got dressed, had breakfast, fed the kitties, got all of my materials together, came to work, loaded up Pandora, got some tea ready, and I'm working! YAY!

I don't want to jinx the day so early, but I would like to estimate that today looks like it will be a good day.

Anyway, my expectation is to get a lot of development-specific work done during these wee hours. We'll see how things go.

On the brighter side (ha, get it? Because it's before sunrise.......), I thought I'd post a few comics here to free up my un-used collection. Enjoy, and Good Morning!









Tags:#goodmorning #shadowdevelopment #keat #dilbert #bug #kitty #linux #netflix #badjoke

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End of November Catchup


Where to begin, where to begin......

Ok, here's the rundown:

  • I've become a fan of Rules of Engagement. It's actually a pretty good show, and Patrick Warburton is doing well for a sitcom.

  • I participated in my Fraternity's Initiation Night on Friday, and since I can't tell too much, all I can say is that we finally used the FPAC for I-night and it was visually exciting! I wish that the planning was a little better so things went a little smoother than "Okay, it's been 2 hours! What are we supposed to do?" and turning into "We have 2 hours left! RUSH EVERYTHING!"

  • Keat and I were in charge of the Turkey for her parent's Thanksgiving. After all of the criticism, questioning, confronting, questioning, "process correction", questioning, and so on, we did the following:
    - Brined the Turkey for roughly 12 hours
    - stuffed it with an apple, onion, rosemary and other spices
    - baked at 500 for 30 minutes
    - put on a turkey triangle, baked at 350 for 1.5 hours
    - rest for about an hour
    - carved, eat, nap, repeat
    Overall, the Turkey was the best turkey we'd ever had! Now, my parents want us to do it for their Christmas, and Keat's parents have put us on permanent Turkey duty.

  • We are moving our office from the 200 sq ft space to (just under) 900 sq ft! Progress is really going well, and we should be done by Dec 20 (photos are here: flickr.com/photos/shadowdevelopment/sets/72157632013766916/ )

  • We landed a new client: Omega Safety, and a Contest Winner. PR will be released soon

  • Our facebook page reached 100 likes! Yes, through a combination of a Facebook Advertising Beta program (which gave us $100 worth of FB advertising) and some article sharing, we reached 100 likes today! Yay!

  • I created 2 items with jQuery that I thought were really cool: play sound with jQuery and Color blocks with jQuery - most jQuery "Masters" may think that they are super simple, but I thought they are great because I thought about them and created totally from scratch (although the blocks require the jQuery UI plugin)

  • My dad had a weird change-of-careers. Let's just say he doesn't have his job anymore, but has been hired back on with the same company with the same job responsibilities working his own hours at 3x the pay. Yeah, go figure. Apparently, his company got rid of his position, but hired him back on as a Consultant to do his same job. Yeah, that just happened.

  • Found a good solution for our online payment conundrum. WePay is an integrated payment system with an API for automatic charging. Otherwise: a solution to manually monitoring Paypal and manually typing into Square.

  • I started watching the classic Doctor Who episodes (at least, all of the ones available on Netflix Instant) from Hartnell through Baker (translation: First Doctor through Fourth)



I'll stop it there. November was busy, and I'm expecting December to be twice as busy (as always).

Until next update.....

Also, I found out that this blog is just over 2 years old. You can easily see what kind of updates I post on this thing.


Tags:#doctorwho #jquery #november #turkey #keat #dad #pilambdaphi #fpac #japan

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I just found a cool tool!

Ever since I first learned about Chris Pedderick's Web Developer Toolbar for Firefox, it has been an invaluable tool for my web development processes.

Now, Chris has gone one step further and included something that I just thought was cool: Responsive Layout viewer!
Responsive Location


This little widget allows you to view a site in the standard responsive design sizes, including standard mobile, mobile landscape, tablets, standard desktop, and more!

Here's an example of The System in this view, because I like the way Rosscott made his site:
The System - Responsive!


If you have Firefox or Chrome and work on the web, I would highly recommend this tool. This is an extremely close 2nd to Chrome's Developer Tools when working on sites.


Tags:#webdeveloper #chrome #firefox #responsive

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Everything is becoming automated!

Corgi Loop!
Corgi's!


This is going to be a very short update, mainly because I am so tired and need to hit the bed soon.

I just wanted to write this because I am actually proud of what I did.

Here's the overview:

  • The web server was already set up to find scheduled invoices, create said invoices, and notify the client of the invoice to be paid on the appropriate due date and frequency (monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc)



So, based on practicality, I took that a step further:

  • All invoices are due in 14 days. On day 15 (if the invoice is still not paid), a reminder is sent to the Client saying "Hey! This is a reminder that your invoice is due."

  • 1 week after that is sent out, and the invoice is still not paid, then a final reminder goes out saying "Pay your bill or your website will be deactivated"

  • 1 additional week later (and if the invoice is STILL not paid), then 3 things happen: 1) an email goes out saying that the website has been deactivated, and the Client must pay their bill in full plus a reactivation fee in order to get their site back up; 2) a flag is put in their client file triggering the site deactivation sequence; and 3) whenever someone goes to any page of their website, the deactivation sequence checks for that flag and puts up a "This website is down" page (their email will still work, but visitors and SE's can't get to their site)

  • (I'm still working on this) When the invoice has been paid in full, plus the reactivation fee, anyone with access to our Portal can go in and re-activate the site by 3 simple clicks. After that, the Client will receive an email saying that their site is back up, and visitors and Search Engines alike can view the site again.



Well, that's my saturday night. I'll make a more detailed post tomorrow, discuss the recent events, my vacation, and the progress on the back of the house! YAY....zzzzzzzzz


Tags:#corgis #invoices #server #

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This is your only clue

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Debate? It was more like a Duh-bate

After watching the Presidential Debate last night, all I can say is a question: was that a debate or an SNL sketch? Seriously. I'm all for discussing topics and getting answers, and I thought when both candidates spent 30 seconds thanking everyone then getting to the first question that this was going to be an informative debate, but that was not a debate. It was more like Romney sweating his way through an unprepared class presentation, attacking Obama on every point imaginable, and always getting the last word in (and even the attack on PBS! I mean, COME ON!), while Obama was casually going through the questions and trying his best to defend on what Romney was throwing.

While this was going on, Keat was working with some of her groupmates on a project (I'll go into detail later), and she couldn't watch the debate. Although from as much as I was commenting on Facebook (10 status posts in 90 minutes, at least 15 replies to items, and I lost count how many likes I gave/received), she pretty much got a play-by-play commentary of what was going on.



After all was said and done, I receive a PM from a friend of mine whom I have not heard from in a long while. His message was a little.....abrupt, but I did just like Obama and casually responded addressing all of his points while informing him of his decisions.

Let's just say that while his PM was 1 paragraph, mine was 2 pages. And here it is:


I just thought this was worth sharing. Although Jonathan probably despises me right now for responding with that, he is entitled to his own opinion.


Tags:#debate #obama #romney #keat #pbs

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We're building a Dalek! We're building a Dalek!

Dalek Blueprints

Through some internet connections and an totally tangent idea, a few friends and I are building our very own Dalek! Yes, it is true. Here's the conversation to prove it:
Dalek Conversation

I can't wait to see what happens when we get together and start getting this thing off the ground. We may even be able to enter it into a convention or two!

And just because I'm on a Doctor Who craze right now, enjoy this:
Tardis and Daleks together?


Tags:#doctorwho #dalek #building #friends

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Monday Rollercoaster

Since I seem to droll on with my previous catch-up posts, I promise to keep this one short and sweet:

Today:
  • Came in today, worked with Janet to get her new menu ready
  • Recorded/processed payments/invoices for 3 clients
  • Added rewards to said clients
  • Signed up for Basecamp, explored it a bit
  • responded to emails, including Tom, Kat (+debugging), client (previous system), client (current checkout system), client (invoice followup), Amazon Spoofing
  • Checked my backlogged Reader
  • Ordered mini-squishies
  • Scanned for Health Insurance quotes - couldn't find anything usable under $90/mthCompany insurance survey
  • reconciled accounts (both)
  • split insurance declarations into one document
  • updated SD's G+ page
  • added G+ to Blog and site (for Author Verification program)
  • updated Janet's site with new roll
  • explored IdeaPaint some more
  • worked on the Team Operating Manual a bit

Previous to today:
  • Rewatching the reboot of Doctor Who, got Keat hooked
  • Signed SD up for Pintrest, flickr
  • made some major progress on the SD Portal
  • became Google Engage partner
  • talked with White Fox Studios
  • went to family gathering, had fun
  • started going to N-Scale meetings
  • PiLam volunteer meetings
  • Interviewed two people
  • Southern Atlantian Archery Day (SAAD):, rain, bow broke, stayed a night at Keat's parent's place, got refund for busted bow
  • JapanFest!
  • Sacred Stone Baronial Birthday: fun, shot some, went and stayed the night at friends house b/c it was so humid
  • met with SMDC, we are moving! (videos)
  • SD now insured
  • Got award from Powder Creek Traditional Archery


See? Told you it would be short and sweet.

And here's a short and sweet comic to sum up what Niko has been doing when I'm not in the chair:
Kitty in Chair


Tags:#doctorwho #janet #invoices #basecamp #squishies #insurance #googleplus #ideapaint #pilambdaphi #saad #japanfest #trains

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Soft Kitty, Warm Dalek, little ball of....WHAT?

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Summer is over...but it's not a bad thing

Garfield


It has been some crazy past few weeks. Let me do a quick summary of what's happened:


  • I got into work today at 9:45am. Yes, AM! I had a crazy idea (based on an American Dad episode - the one where Roger has the "Sidney" persona that takes the hit out on himself. You remember that one? Don't cha? Right? Anyway...) to place my glasses by my "alarm". I turned off the alarm at 8:15 this morning (because Keat had to get into school before 10), reset it for 9, and went back to sleep. I got up at 9, turned off the alarm, and put my glasses on. Somehow, I felt more....awake and didn't want to go back to bed. So I got dressed, shaved, etc, and went into work. Anyway, I spent 2 hours going through my Reader and finding a lot of interesting business- and website-related articles that I felt would be good resources to share with the interwebs. So I scheduled i-don't-know-how-many posts into the Shadow Dev facebook page all the way through August 30, posting 2 per day. I then got the green light from Tom to send out an intro letter to a potential client in Asheville (after much editing), and sending some carefully worded explanations out as well. Afterwards, I worked on the Analysis followup links (see more below) and created that from almost-scratch to finished; jQuery, Paypal, form creation, and all, in a matter of about 2 hours. I then worked on a setInterval() on the Shadow Dev β site making random testimonials show up in a testimonial box every 4.5 seconds. That took about an hour or so. I had the hardest time figuring out 1) how to have the loop continuous, then 2) having the previous entry fade out, then the new one fade in. Afterwards, I met with Marti (see below) at 2 and met with her until about 4:45ish discussing different and new Project Management techniques, forms, and methods, along with a "Project Closure" sequence, which is new to me. I was getting things prepped for my teleconference at 7 when Tom sent me some requested files for the Maintenance and Rewards programs. I used the files he sent over to create the Rewards and Maintenance pages (finally). After I got done with that, I realized that I was supposed to meet Eric at Frog Level at 5 for casual beers. I hope he doesn't feel bad that I stood him up...? It was about 6:40 when I was done with the previous item, and I thought I would lay down for about 15 minutes. I set a timer for 15 minutes, and an alarm that would wake me up at 6:55. I started it (I saw it counting down), then went to lay down. About ~15 minutes later, I wake myself up, thinking that I overslept...again (see below). I woke up a minute before 7pm. Freaking out, I go over to my phone and try to call in. I see that my phone had only count down 2 seconds (from when I put it down), so it never counted down from 15 minutes. Somehow, I don't think my phone doesn't like to set alarms on Wednesday nights (see below, again). I called in to the teleconference, participated, and we were done in about 45 minutes. I then took it upon myself to clean out the office fridge. Long story short: it was over-freezing, so we turned down the temp. and the ice melted - all of it, so I transferred some out and emptied it in the sink. I then went home and watched some Big Bang, Futurama, Big Bang, and Battlestar Galactica. And that's just TODAY!


  • So, my Wednesday went a little wonkier than usual. I'll skim through the rest:


  • I created a Quote Generation System for Shadow Dev. I also created a Automatic Quote Followup system to send an email to the person who generated the quote for a followup. Quite nice if I say so.


  • The HCC Student Incubator was delayed until the beginning of September.


  • We recieved a new client: Premier Vacation Rentals


  • We gained a new staff member: Marti Daves! She comes to us with plenty of Project Manager experience, with a fine interest in hand-coding web development. Certainly a great addition to our team.


  • We re-worked the packets, again. Removed some pages, added some, and added a design to some of the packet folders. Hopefully, the response rate will be better.


  • Ordered 20 more bowls and sign holders. I find it hard to believe that each GLASS bowl was $1.44 each, but each PLASTIC sign holder was $5.34 each. It was pretty expensive, but the source for the sign holders was the least expensive option out of all of them that were researched.


  • I modified our Quota page to show what the Quarterly bonus would be if Quota is met. Should make things easier to manage


  • I created a newer version of a Contract Creator. Adding in some new clauses, price modifications, and service inclusions, and the new created contract is better than ever!


  • We launched the new SMDC design. Now to implement the information.


  • Added something a little different to a client: Instead of processing credit cards (as expected), they wanted "House" accounts (as in, give us your name, and we process your card on file). That wasn't discussed during the project negotiations, so the checkout system wasn't developed with that in mind. But, we did it.


  • Our first Contest winner won the free website, and turned it down, which is good and bad for us. Good: we have less work and don't have to shell out a loss to cover it. Bad: the Winner doesn't get a new site or PR, and we don't get good PR for offering this. Let's see how Round 2 goes...


  • After the last Monthly Meeting, I delegated out "Drinks with Geeks" and "Hello World". Good news: less on my plate to take care of. Now just to train/help the delegatees on how to do that.


  • I also created an auto-followup for websites that are analyzed using our GetMyAnalysis.com analyzer. For the past few weeks, the followup email would say "Get ____ service!" with a link, but never went anywhere. Now, the ordering page has all 3 services available, along with a checkout system (see above for more detail).



That's it for business. If you got this far, I know you're tired of reading this. I'll finish the rest quickly.

First, a bonus comic:
The System


Personal:

  • I reworked my Magic deck using Core 2013 cards. My battles with Chip and Keat are going better, and I'm not being slaughtered as badly.


  • I am now the Project Manager for Pi Lambda Phi Internationals for the front-end portion of the website. I didn't know what to expect, but I thought it would be a good PR rep, along with experience in the PM world.


  • Allstate was charging me $51/mth for auto insurance. Peaking my curiosity, I searched for some quotes from other companies. Out of all of them, State Farm had the best rate at $37/mth. The rest were $44-84/mth (Geico, Nationwide, Progressive (which has a very flash-heavy version), Farmers (they operate as 21st Century around here), and more). I received an auto-followup email saying that my rate was $34/mth. I went to talk to the agent with a few questions, and she said that it was ~$32/mth. Maybe if I keep talking, it may drop below $0/mth! That'd be nice. Anyway, the same auto coverage I was getting from Allstate for $51/mth, I can get for $32/mth from State Farm. Talk about saving $100's (actually, about $240/yr). I have nothing against Allstate - I know my parents have been with them for years, and my policy was spun off about 6 months ago. My Allstate agent was super nice and helped me out a lot. State Farm just provided a better rate.


  • I tried watching the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. I'm sorry, but 5 episodes in, and I couldn't get into the storyline. It's too much like Warehouse 13, which I also couldn't get into.


  • I started watching Battlestar Galactica (the 2004 version, with Katee Sackhoff). I'm not totally immersed like I was with Doctor Who, but I like it. Maybe it's because I'm writing a futuristic space-based manga called Phoenix Eye. I don't know...


  • I visited a new Jamacian restaurant around here called One Love. I gotta say: for being out in the middle of nowhere, it was some pretty good food! And not badly priced, either! As soon as I get my paycheck, I know where I'm going again!


  • I gathered the stamina and finally went to a meeting of the "Smoky Mountain Model Railroad Club" 3 weeks ago. I've had their brochure for about 6+ months. The club was mainly about O-Scale trains. Those are nice, but I prefer my N-Scale. I met a guy named Eric there and we tried to go train-spotting during the following week. Due to some bad communication with the relays, our spotting turned up empty. Regardless, it was good to meet someone new. We went to a guy's house in Canton who had a super-ginormous N-Scale layout that he had been building for 20 years. Let's just say that it puts my old 4'x8' plastic-grass oval track to shame. No, worst than shame; I may be in the same "sport" as him, but my set would be "Here's how to play Tee-ball" while his was MLB Atlanta Braves (I'm no sports fan, so if my analogy is incorrect, please let me know). I brought out my N-Scale set and a few books and hope I can go back soon and run my set.


  • Keat and I helped Janet cater a super-fancy party for one of Janet's friends. Let's just say that this guy's garage was the size of our house! He was super-nice, and certainly blows away the "I have a vault-load of money, therefore I have the right to be snooty" stereotype. I don't think this guy could be more friendly. Regardless, the catering event was fun, even if we did walk around for about 8 hours.


  • I am working on a new service called CityFix. It's only in Phase 1 so far, and I'm doing some additional research in order to complete this service. Apparently, there is a need for this, but it hasn't been thoroughly met...yet!


  • I receive daily emails from Randy Glasbergen's publisher for his comic. I will say that I appreciate his humor and quick wit, he has some super-strict copyright policies. If his comic is republished on ANY format, it is $25 per showing. Thank you Randy, but I don't have the budget to shell out $25 per comic. Maybe later...


  • I found a new YouTube series I like: Doctor Whooves. Yes, you read that right. I think my "Brony" is showing...


  • Keat and I attended a MTN. RENDEZVOUS Archery event late July. Personally, I thought "Okay, I pay $10, I get to shoot 10, maybe 15 targets down a range. Not too bad." Instead, Keat and I found out that it was 40+ targets in a woods-style shoot (uphill, downhill, around trees, across creeks, etc). It was 1 arrow per target. 5 pts for the animal (ranging from a rabbit to a bear), 8 points for the inner ring, and 10 points for center ring. I don't recall our scores, but (I believe) Keat beat me during the first 20, and I beat hear during the last 20. $10 for 40+ challenging targets? I'd do that again! (Minus the ticks - I found one on our bed during the next day, and one under my nipple (stop laughing) later that same day). Keat also found a local supplier of traditional archery supplies! Not too bad for one crazy and tiring day!



Okay, that's enough from me for now. Ranting over. Enjoy this penguin:
Penguin!


Tags:#thesystem #garfield #penguin #facebook #reader #americandad #rewards #maintenance #futurama #bigbang #quote #client #hcc #packets #bowls #contract #smdc #contest #magic #mtg #allstate #statefarm #doctorwho #torchwood #galatica #onelove #nscale #janet #archery

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i can haz resume?

I received this in my inbox earlier tonight. Based on the unprofessionalism of the context, I wanted to share my unholdable laughter of this.....uh, "attempt."
CV

Honestly, if this "guy" had any professional experience, he would write this in a more professional manner, instead "lolspeak".

Now, if I was an uneducated HR manager (using IE/Outlook and Windows XP, or something like that), I would download this potentially harmful file and infect my somewhat protected computer, and start freaking out when something go awry. So, I clicked "View" to view the *.docx in Google's Document Viewer. If something is to go wrong, I'd rather Google's servers find it, take care of it, and help others than infect my machine.

So....I clicked "View" on the document and saw what it had to offer. I'm only showing a portion of it, but this was the best part of the whole document (my commentary is in red):
What the CV had to offer


Now, I previously graded an email that was sent to me, and this pretty much the same thing.


Tags:#email #resume #cv #grade

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July Progress + Christmas (List)!

It certainly seems like my posting frequency has been reduced to 1x/mth. Well, we'll see how it progresses.
Zits

Between my last post and now, here's a summary of the last month's operations:
Personal:

  • I started re-watching Voyager again (since July 1). I'm already on Season 3 Ep. 16. At this pace, I should be done with the whole series (again) by the end of the month.

  • Keat got me a new bow! It's a 45lb'er, so it takes a little more strength then the ones I've used before. My previous one was a 29#, and Keat's a 35#. I've developed some blisters and had some string-bite welts, but nothing permanent. With a little more strength training and practice, I should be able to hit the bullseye 9/10 times!

  • I went to Games and Gluttony in Canton in June. It was really fun - I learned to play some medieval games and had more than enough feast. Next event: SAAD in September!

  • Star Fleet! I'm already starting my Christmas list for this year. Here's my first item: Starfleet Uniform (pre 2370)

  • Next item: Tickets (and hotel, and airfare, and transport, and spending money) to ComiCon! I'm seeing all of the photos, videos, cosplays, merchandise, comics, etc, and it's just making me want to go even more!

  • I can't believe the last episode of Eureka airs next week. It will be missed!

  • Futurama's next season started on Wednesday at 10pm. This season has been....interesting.

  • I've taken up Python....again. Hopefully, I can stick with it this time. If Python sticks, I may try Ruby as well, if the server will support it.

  • I installed Debian on my work computer. Now it dual-boots into Win7 and Debian, although I'm using Debian more. There are only 2 differences between Win7 and Debian:
    1) I can't run Netflix. Without going into too-technical detail, Netflix uses SilverLight to play their titles. SilverLight is a MSFT product. Netflix/Microsoft has declared that SilverLight will NEVER be available for Linux (I can run it by creating a VirtualBox, but I have to install Windows on that Virtual partition in order to run anything. Apparently, I can't have the VirtualBox load the existing Windows partition because it doesn't like to work that way, and without the original installiation discs (the computer only came with a recovery partition), I can't install a 2nd copy of Windows on the VirtualBox, which means I can't run SilverLight, which means no Netflix)
    2) Windows-programs (and the Windows half of the hard drive) run SUPER SLOW whenever they are accessed. Quicken has to be run for financial records, and it runs like it is on a 256MB system instead of a 4GB. Everything else is super-fast.



Business:

  • A few tools have been created for public use: Phrase Encrypter, tinyJpg, FontTest, and GTS Homepage Tool (the last one we've had for a while, but we finally decided to release it for public use)

    And I created a Japanese Name/Word Generator. While working on Omega Noir, I needed a tool to help me create some Japanese names and words. Most of the japanese words in Omega Noir were created with this tool.

  • I've created an automated "Weekly Facebook Resource Mailer" that I call our "Web Utility" Newsletter. In short: this gathers all of the posts made on the Shadow Dev Facebook page (via RSS), puts them in a database, pulls out all of the ones from the past week (based on date comparison), makes those nice and pretty, then sends them out to everyone who wants a copy of it.

    I had a few issues with the initial concept of it, but after studying the structure of how the RSS feed was presented, but after looking at it with fresh eyes (after 24 hours), I figured out a good de-structuring method and configured the system to parse the RSS into the database. In short: it's working!

  • Today, I was invited to a grand opening of a new data center in Asheville. I invited Keat because I thought it would be a unique experience. Apparently, the experience was nowhere what we expected. Let me explain:

    Based on the original member invite that I received, my assumption was this:
    Arrive on site, see 20-30 people gathered in a small security room with some crackers and sodas, mingling for about 20 minutes, taking an extended tour of rows and rows of servers in a chilled room, seeing the backup generators, seeing the security room of a data center, following up for questions, leaving in about 1.5-2 hours

    Here's what actually happened:
    We arrived at 5:20 (10 minutes before the event "begins"), about 50 people were already there. We walked into a fairly large "lobby" (about 700 sq. ft.). I found my nametag and Keat had to write hers. Tours began at 6 and ran every 15 minutes, and we wrote our names at the top of the list.
    We found the "refreshments", which consisted of wine, beer, and water. More people gathered. After about 20 minutes, there wasn't any wiggle room in the lobby because of everyone cramming in (my assumption, 120ish). We were introduced to the "Board room" which had a large table of finger foods. We gathered some, ate, then tried to "wiggle" out. 5:45 - about 180 people, and more were pouring in. Keat and I were starting to get dizzy and a little claustrophobic.
    We gathered around the "tour table" hoping it would begin at 6 as expected. More people were coming in.
    6:05 - no tour, more people coming in. My guess - 200+. This arrangement made a sardine can look comfortable.
    6:10 - tour was about to begin. The guides looked at the list, looked around, looked at the list, looked around, said "We will only take 6 people on the tour." (I'm thinking: "6 people! That's only 1% of the people here! Come on!") The first 6 people around the table rushed to the hallway behind the guide. "1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6! Okay - that's it!" (I'm thinking: "WHAT!?! We were the first names on that list! We've been waiting ever since we got here! Why can't we.....aw, nevermind")
    Keat and I wiggled our way to the front door, threw our cups away, and drove off. So much for a tour.....

  • We had a some-what "Part 2" of the Shareholders meeting with Lockwood. Let's just say that the meeting was....more personal than business. It was good to catch up with Lockwood and Donna.

  • We had a meeting with the owner of Chimsesa (?). His product was definitely interesting, and I wish I could have helped him out, but he is looking for a Technical partner with a python background. That is one thing that I/we do not have.




That'll do it for now. My days have been merging with nights, and I'm lucky if I can recall what day it is. I'm trying to wake up at 9:30am. Let's just say that my 9:30am days are starting at about 12-1pm. So, my day consists of the following:
1pm-ish: Get up, get dressed, get to the office
1-7pm: Work on everything: programming, accounting, legal, project management, sales, secretary, janitorial, etc
7-10pm: Go home, do home-based chores (cut grass, laundry, dishwasher, clean up, cook, etc)
10ish: Dinner
11pm: more home-based chores (dishwasher, laundry, gather files, feed the cats, etc), go for a daily walk
11-1am: Get ready for the night (help with pills, tuck Keat in bed, etc)
1am - 4:30ish: work/program (while either listening to music or watching Netflix)
4:30ish - 9:30am: sleep
9:30am - 1pm: attempt to get up, sleep more
Repeat


Tags:#startrek #voyager #zits #archery #comicon #saad #sca #python #win7 #debian #netflix #silverlight #virtualbox #tools #datacenter #

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Real World Portal

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Voyager 1 is leaving the system!

Yes, it has finally happened! Voyager 1, launched in 1977, has finally left the Solar System.
Voyager 1


So basically, what took us 35 years to do will take us a matter of seconds in the 24th century (using Okuda's Light Speed calculations based on the conversion of light years)

[ source ]


Tags:#warp #speed #voyager #space #startrek #okuda

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May June Catch Up

(get it?)

Before I go apologizing for not posting, let me say that the absence of posting is a good thing and a bad thing. But before I go blabbing on what happened, here's the first comic as promised:
Garfield


So, in no chronological order (because I can't recall exactly what happened), here's a summary of what has happened since my last post:

Personal:

  • Alright - where to begin? Well, I guess I can start with the obvious. Kat and I are working on an online tabletop emulator for role playing games. Long story short: Kat, Keat, and I just didn't have the time (or resources) to meet up and play our role playing game, Werewolf the Apocalypse. So Kat and I designed an online system that will allow for players to virtually role play. The system is still in the planning phases, but Kat hopes this will expand her PHP experience. More details as they come.

  • I'm still a newbie at Magic, and since I only have 1 deck (white and blue), I feel good about any games I win against veteran players. I've won a few games against Kat, and 1 or 2 against Keat (who is also a newbie). When Chip Green came over last weekend, we had a bunch of Magic rounds. Now, keep in mind that Chip has over 20 years of experience, and I have.....2 months? Out of the numerous games we played (against my 1 deck and his ??? decks), here was the final score: Chip: Infinity; Me: 3. Hey, I won 3 games against him! I call that a victory. A small one, but a victory nonetheless!

  • I traveled to Keat's parent's beach house in Nags Head during Memorial Day weekend. I won't go into details, but I will outline the "highlights": we brought the Wii to watch Netflix at night and during alone time. It was "taken" by one of her cousins who used it to play Lego Star Wars for 5 days. I'm surprised he didn't kill the remote batteries when we got it back. Aside from not being able to use our Wii, it was still fun. And I didn't turn into a lobster this time!

  • I finished Doctor Who on Netflix in just over a month. No, not the WHOLE series, just Doctor #9 (Christopher Eggleson) to Doctor #11 (Matt Smith) in the latest season (The Wedding of River Song and the Xmas special). I won't go on a rant about this, but David Tennant did it for me; he defined the "Doctor" and made a role that only a few could fill. Matt Smith has his own personality, which is okay, and I know the primary writer (Russell Davies) left the writing cast, but the Matt Smith series isn't a replacement for David Tennant. Overall, it was a good run. I would like to see what the latest series has to offer once they put it on Netflix (since I don't get BBC).

  • In addition, I wish they put the Tennant-Smith transition on Netflix in order of the seasons. For most people, they went from Tennant saying "Bye" to Donna, then Smith came in. There were some DW movies that filled the transition during the downtime, but you had to go searching for them on Netflix. I mean, at least have "End of Time" easily available so people can understand why Tennant left, Smith came in, and why the Tardis comes into the Matt Smith/Amy Pond season flaming.

  • Great news! (and I will admit it) My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 1 and 2 are on Netflix! No more having to find torrents or 3rd party video services to watch MLP. I'm almost through Season 2 - still need to watch the Wedding epsode(s), but I hear that Season 3 is in the works (and John de Lancie will be in it again! Ponys vs Q - Take 2!) Yay! And to sum up the past 2 statements, here's something totally relevant:
    Doctor Who [Tennant] Pony Shirt!

    And for those Star Wars fans, here's DW/SW crossover which I found funny:
    Dw vs SW


  • After a year of being in our new house, we finally changed the dreaded iron lamp on our front porch! We changed it to an almost flush structure that gives off plenty of (almost too much) light. It soothes my head just knowing that we don't have to duck every time we come on/off the port. Now, for the dining room "death-by-chandelier"

  • I know I've been the advanced Developer on a lot of our clients' projects, but this past week has been especially stressful. To give a better idea about my "sleep schedule" (or lack thereof), here's a graph of my sleeping times (Thanks to @Sleepbot) :
    Sleeping schedule

    Yes, I have been going to bed between 4-7am for the past week or so.....?

  • Thanks to my wonder girlfriend, I now have a new bow to shoot with! I appreciate the 3rd-level hand-me-down bow that I used to shoot with (all 29lbs of it), but it was getting a little too.....used for my purpose. This new bow (which came in today) is a 45-pounder, which requires about 1/3 more power to pull back. After a few break-in rounds with it, I realized a few things: 1) I need a larger arrow rest; 2) I need to either build calluses or get a shooting glove; and 3) I need to do some muscle training (45 lbs of strength is a little too much for me right now, but I can do it).

  • A while back, we invited some of our SCA friends over to our house for a little get-together. Little did we know that the "little get-together" invitations spread like wildfire and we had 10 or so people in our house (we only have 1000 sq ft). Since we were not prepared for 10+ people, we were a little sparse on the meal (but that was okay since only a few were hungry). Most of us shot in the backyard with a "Marshal (In Training)", and did fairly well. I actually "Robin Hood"'ed an arrow. Regardless, all of us had a good time with music, signing, food, shooting, talking, and more. Defiantly something to repeat (with better planning) in the future. On a semi-related note, we didn't know that one of our good SCA friends, Dervila, lives about 20 minutes away from us! Small world, huh?

  • Our Sushi Chef friend, Janet, had to close her restaurant for a few weeks. Don't worry - nothing bad. She just needed the time off to help her husband recover from a surgery. However, before she closed, she called us over to get some leftover soup and some free sushi (to get rid of materials before the closing, since the fish wouldn't hold up for a month). In the process, we helped create a "Kaita" Roll, which is "The Best of Both Worlds Resembling an Everlasting Love". Janet said that the roll name should be "the marriage between you and Keat, so make it special". Trust me - it was much harder than it sounded. Photos to come later.

  • I also made 2 major Linux upgrades: I upgraded my home computer from CentOS to Debian (better supported), and finally got my work computer to dual-boot Win7 and Debian (Ubuntu wasn't working well with nVidia). So, long story short: I can now use Linux at home and work (and since my Windows-only programs run ok on WINE, I don't really have a reason to go back to Windows!)



Business:

  • Modified the "Request for Information" page for Shadow Dev to automatically save upon textarea blur. This was done for many reasons - the main one being because the form is so freakin' long! If Clients type in their information, and (for some reason) their computer loses the connection, the information will be automatically saved based on what was previously put in. Not a bad mashup of HTML, PHP, MySQL, and jQuery if I must say so.

  • I've been working on Fairview's website probably harder than any other client website. Let's just say that it has been one hurdle after another. Not to say that it is bad, but playing the middle man was not easy. I've pushed my limits on PHP/MySQL/jQuery and I've learned a lot, and by creating a PHP/MySQL/jQuery auto-save function on the Address portions of orders, the RFI-auto-save feature (above) was created. Fairview's site is almost complete and I expect it to launch in the next few days (if everything works as it is supposed to). The biggest challenges in this project were: creating the custom scraper to auto-download the information from their old templated website from the 3rd party, auto categorize/label/describe the information downloaded (and the different types); getting an answer back from their Credit processing company (finally received an answer, and they sent me somewhere else, which gave me the authorization codes, and I had to go somewhere else to get the documentation and PHP code in order to process the forms); and lastly, creating the custom checkout process (standard e-commerce systems just wouldn't cut this project).

  • I worked on adding a testimonial page to NSMT. Found a way to add a dropdown function via jQuery, and (through some confusion in technology) posted a testimonial video to their site along with restructuring a few pages

  • We have a new client! Frog Level Brewing Company - long story short: owner received a WordPress site from a competitor, he became tired of just "blogging" and needed a more functional and more responsive website. Since we already had a relationship with him hosting our "Drinks with Geeks" event, we got him signed on!

  • We've also hired on 3 new people on the Shadow Dev staff: Rachael Caldwell (Developer), Darren Mastrangelo (Designer), and Steven Rich (Intern). Our family is growing! We are now 10-strong! What an eventful 2012!

  • Had the Shadow Development Annual Shareholder Meeting on Tuesday. Lots of things discussed. Lockwood attended via phone, which was a little unexpected, but we have "Part II" on July 2. Hopefully some good things come out of that meeting.

  • I can't say much (because some competitors may be reading this), but we are expanding our Markets! Without giving out too much information, I can say the following: We are expanding to Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and Central/East North Carolina. More to come in the next few months. The numbers are coming in, and things look good to expand!

  • One of our oldest clients, Smoky Mountain Development Corporation, asked us to perform a redesign for their site. I won't specifically say "they needed it", but it was time for their site to be refreshed. We completed the design early this morning (5am to be specific), and things look good.

  • I've reconfigured the main Shadow Dev site to reference images via "img#." subdomains. To put it in simple terms: it's like driving some moving trucks. By having 1 really big truck go from Point A to Point B, it will take a lot of gas and effort. By having 10 trucks drive from Point A, C, D, E.... to Point B, the loads each carry are smaller and they use less gas. This is in reference to loading images from the Shadow Dev site. By having the main site load all of the images through the www subdomain, the one request had to load EVERYTHING from the one source, and it took forever. By dividing the images onto dedicated image subdomains, and assigning random numbers to each, the load time decreased and the site loads a lot faster! Yay for me

  • I discovered a security issue with some of our sites that required password functions. Personally, I was encrypting the passwords with sha1 and md5 encryption. Bad news: they are easily decryptable. So, in order to respond with a more secure feature, I've switched the encryption to a crypt functionality, which automatically generates a $salt each time (a randomally generated key to encode the string), which makes each decryption that much harder.

  • Shadow Development has a Rewards Program in the works. The proposal phase is complete, it has passed the initial approval, and it is being formalized. Things should be ready to launch for the Rewards program by July 1

  • The Shadow Dev portal has kind of been left in the dust for now, since we have other urgent matters that require advanced developer attention (ie: mine). As soon as things calm down and I have a moment of free time, I will work on the portal again.

  • I've proven a proof-of-concept and +1 for automatic generators. By testing an "keyword density" tool on my own blog, I believe I have created an automatic keyword generator for pages. I know this won't replace in-depth SEO practices, but it helps automatically create keywords based on dynamic content (like blog entries). This tool is still in Phase 0.01, but it's a proof of concept none the less

  • We've started a public toolbox for anyone to use. In regards to the Game system and the Security hole above, we've created tools.shadowdev.com which will allow visitors (mainly developers) to use these tools for many things. So far, we have an automatic encryption form for SHA1, MD5, CRYPT, and BASE64 items as many times as needed. Other tools (like an auto web-font viewer) are in the works.



And for the end of the night:
System


If you are reading this far, I would like to congratulate you. This portion is reserved for a sneak preview. Not really, but since my comic repository is building up almost beyond belief.


Tags:#garfield #thesystem #robinhood #sca #gaming #werewolf #magic #doctorwho #mlp #sleepbot #sushi #fairview #rfi #froglevel #smdc #encryption #tools # #debian #linux

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As if Adam Savage wasn't cool enough already: MAN CAVE!

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Adam Savage's Man Cave

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Adam Savage on Education

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Alton Brown to develop Zombie Cooking Show

Alton Brown


"And just so you know…I am working on a zombie cooking show spoof. My zombie cooking show doesn’t have a home yet though…I’m guessing youtube as I doubt #foodnetwork will appreciate it. brain brûlée, brain chili, brain cake, brain sliders, brain on the half skull…" [via @AltonBrown - full tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/altonbrown/status/200911207312539648 ]

My input: not enough statements of "AWESOME" can be said.

How can something that has "Alton Brown", "Zombie", "Cooking", and "Show" not be more awesome?

Source: thebraiser.com/alton-brown-zombie-cooking-show/


Tags:#altonbrown #twitter #zombie

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Starting to feel like a President

Garfield

Today is certainly the start of something new. Let's just say that I think I'm finally starting to understand the phrase "Work on the business, not in the business."

Put it this way: a typical day would consist of covering a bit of all areas (as the President does when he wears multiple hats), but mainly development time making adjustments, tweaks, and additions to client sites.

However, today, I worked on the following: Accounting reconciliation, HR development, Internal Affairs planning, Business Credit establishment, Marketing Strategy planning, Client File reconciliation, Budget Planning, Loan Application, Server Status Reporting/Investigation, Partnership Proposal Negotiations, Technical assistance, Sales Team development, chasing a support team for solving a business profile issue, and 5 minutes of coding to update the browscap.ini file.

On top of (finding the correct place to vote and) voting, delivering an application to HCC, delivering a payment for a personal bill, paying my insurance bill, playing with the cats, watching some more Doctor Who (I'm on Season 4), and cooking dinner.

That's a Tuesday for you!

MthruF Fail


Tags:#garfield #mthruf #browscap #president #business #sales #marketing

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Repeal Amendment One!

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The bad side of the night shift

I know this feeling all too well, especially at the 4-5am mark.
Night shift


....and this happens:

Ideas go fast


Tags:#syac #night #thoughts #creative #phd

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This should help Monday suck less

It doesn't matter how bad your week is going to be, or how much you hate your job, you can't stay mad at this:
Corgies!


Tags:#corgies #monday

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A bunch of browser-based comics

Since my comic repository is growing faster than I can post, I thought I'd go ahead and post a bunch of browser-based comics. Enjoy!


XKCD
Foxtrot
CH Tabs
Firefox


That will do it for now.


Tags:#xkcd #foxtrot #cyanide&happiness #firefox #browsers

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DOT!!!!!!!!! DOT DOT DOT DOT DOT!!!!

Here's to all of you cat fans and wonder why pets act the way they do.
Garfield
DOT


Tags:#cat #dog #laser #ball #fetch #dot

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I'd read that!

Pokemon Twilight


As long as the main character's name is changed to "Red" and the main nemesis is "Blue", I'd be set.


Tags:#pokemon #twilight #books #read

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For the Win. Enough said

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Something is definitely wrong

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How to get the RSS Feed of a Facebook page

This situation has baffled me for some time since Facebook took off the ability to subscribe to Page's RSS Feeds.

Why get the RSS of a Facebook page? Because many pages update 20x times a day, and unless you have time to check each page and/or your newsfeed (which is already overloaded at this point) 20+ times a day, let your Reader take care of finding those updates for you.

So, after doing some research, I found a work around.

Level of Difficulty: Low

Here's what to do
  1. Go to the Facebook page you want to have an RSS feed for.

  2. View the source of the page (by pressing Ctrl+U in most browsers (Cmd+U in Mac browsers), or right clicking and going to "View Source").

  3. Press Ctrl (or Cmd) + F to start the "Find" sequence (or go to Edit > Find in the menu bar)

  4. Find the phrase "profile_id"

  5. There should be a long number to the right of the profile_id. Copy that number.

  6. Go to your favorite RSS Aggregation Service (my favorite is Google Reader). Add a new subscription in the form of the following URL:
    https://www.facebook.com/feeds/page.php?format=rss20&id=[PROFILE_ID] 
  7. Save, Add, or Submit (depending on how your service is set up)
You now have the RSS feed of your favorite Facebook page. See? Simple. This workaround should work until Facebook removes the /feeds/page.php?format=rss20 feature, which could be tonight, a year from now, or never. So if this workaround stops working abruptly, don't blame me.


Tags:#facebook #pages #workaround #hack #rss

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Carlton Flash Mob!

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(A Small) Time to Breathe

First, here's a good comic to celebrate 4/20:
4/20 with Cats

I don't think the term "crazy" defines the past few weeks around here. It would be more like....chaotic, crammed, catch-up, compiling, compunding....any other "C" words go here?

Anyway, here's a quick rundown of what I've done, and what is yet to come:
Shadow Dev:

  • Fairview's site is coming along, and should be ready by May 1. I spent a little too much time on their scraper, but when it ran, it was a beauty!

    Here's what it was supposed to do: scan the site for links, find product pages, and archive their current product listing.

    Here's what it did: scan the site for links, create a database of the links that every page goes to, scan each of the pages for a common phrase that is on the product pages (since the product pages didn't have a commonality among url's), scrape the code and find the product name, default ID, and default photo, scan for further images (both small and large photos), find the area that lists prices, grab and store the different types of prices and "packages", optimize the database for remote links and make them local, download all images that are listed in the database, scan through the database and delete duplicate product entries, scan the stored images and delete duplicates, and set up a test page to choose a random product and show the different images, prices, and listings based on the information presented. Yeah - that's a mouthful!

    With our other basic developer out of the area for a while, I have to finish the rest of Fairview's site in order to be ready by May 1. Here's the todo list for the next 10 days: finalize the design tweaks, create additional pages, integrate the information into the new pages, create a formalized version of the product pages, order/integrate an SSL certificate, and integrate a Merchant account into the system ready for a May 1 launch. Yay....

  • We've hired another Developer, Cheryl Mason, and she is a real gift! She knows more SEO stuff that I could have ever guessed. She's also well prepped for Developmental work. Put it this way: I had to spend about 3 months training our other developers from basic HTML 4.01 to HTML5, CSS3, basic PHP, MySQL, and basic Javascript/AJAX/jQuery. My overall experience with Cheryl took about 2 weeks. It looks like I may have found my replacement in the Development area! YAY!

  • We've finally finalized the transfer for one of our "potential" clients. I won't go into details, but I'll say this: Potential client "Pete" owns a business. He's had this business for X years. His primary source of new business comes from people calling in (our reasoning: his site didn't work well, so people had to call). Pete knows that his site wasn't doing too hot, and wanted to discuss details about getting a new site. Bad news, his wife owns the domain. More bad news: it's his ex-wife, and they are not on good terms. So.....after about 4 months or so, Pete's domain expired and was available to the world. Pete told us to get it for him. Well, by the time it was available for us to get it, his ex-wife renewed the domain (we believe it was auto-renewed, and she didn't know/care). So....Pete finally talked to his ex-wife and his hosting company, got the domain released, and gave us the EPP. From there, we exchanged a number of emails confirming the transfer (which is another reason we recommend updating the nameservers instead of a transfer, as a transfer can be really confusing and frustrating depending on the technical experience of the transferee). After about a week, the transfer finalized and we got it updated to our servers. He should be signing within the next few days.

  • We are developing some new services to produce some additional income. These services include a: Site Usability Report, Competitor Comparison Report, and In-Depth Analysis (which we used to offer for free, but the time spent on generating these reports didn't produce the ROI we expected). More details to come soon.

  • We are also developing a Rewards Program for our clients. Can't say much, but it should be coming out soon

  • The role of "Presenter" may also be taken off of my plate. I've talked to Cheryl about it, and she's really excited to have control of an SEO Seminar that we put on a while back. If things go well, we should be able to schedule that during the summer or fall. Can't wait to see what she produces!

  • Been talking with AboutUs, seeing what they can do as far as a site comparision and competitor comparision, and we are in talks about a Partnership! Cool!

  • We've released the PR for our site contest. The "fishbowls" have been out since the beginning of February, and we now have all 10 placed, and the PR is out. I honestly didn't even know that we were published until Cheryl (the SMDC Secretary) came over and said that she saw our article. My original response was "We're in the paper?"



Personal:

  • I watched all of Heroes, again. Still a good series.

  • Finally get to watch all of Season 4 of Eureka! now I can see how they got to 1947 and the stories before and after that. I was really excited on Monday (wow, is it really Saturday already?) to see Eureka Season 5! That first episode was....a repeat of Season 4 (with the changing time frame), but still looks good. It really sucks that this is the last season. It seems like all of the good shows are cancelled before their time.

  • Mythbusters new Season! Yay! In addition, Jamie and Adam have a new series: Unchained Reaction, which is really awesome.

  • Psych had their season finale. Boo! I wish their seasons ran longer

  • We went to "Drums of War" earlier this month in Elkin. Didn't win anything, but had a great time shooting some targets and getting to see everyone again since October.



I think I'll call it a night with that. Between now and May 1, I may not be able to post again. I see a lot of sleepless nights in my soon-to-be future.


Tags:#lolcats #heroes #erueka #mythbusters #sca #paper #pr #aboutus #seo #services #epp #html5 #css3 #

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April Showers bring May.....Vacations?

It's been super crazy around here. That's probably why I haven't posted since February. I mean, with everything that is going on, I've barely gotten 6 hours of sleep at night.

But first, here's one reason why I hate March:
FatCats - March


I've put out the latest Shadow Dev newsletter that gives a good insight to what's been going on. But for those of you who don't get it, here's the run-down (business-wise):

  • We've signed on 2 new clients: Fairview Flower Shop and Dehydrated Delites. Fairview is a family-owned company in Decatur, GA, and Dehydrated Delites specializes in dehydrated and chocolate-covered fruit. Yay yay! The downside is that Fairview needs their site done by May 1, and it's one of the biggest projects we've taken on

  • It's been a record-breaking quarter for us. With the accounting records finally (and correctly) updated, we can see how things have been and are going to be. Let me put it this way: All financial reports have increased 430% and higher!

  • Tom and I have been discussing a lot of things and figured out a lot of good (and bad) ideas, both manpower and budget wise. This should allow us to proceed correctly down the right paths

  • Drinks with Geeks has a date: Saturday, May 5th at 4pm. The event is free, and we are trying to see if we can get food there or not. Details to come

  • Tom and I were at the HCC Career Fair. At first, we thought that we would have 3 or 4 people interested, but.....let me put it this way: our table was crowded from the point the fair opened to just about closing with potential applicants and clients. Way to go!

  • I'm researching a way to automatically export a pre-created pre-filled contract for Shadow Dev. Based on our previous process, it would take roughly 1.5 hours to manually fill out the fields necessary, along with doing the necessary calculations to figure out the rates. With this new PDF-Contract system, (which is in a prototype stage now), just put in the information, check the services requested, and BOOM! Contract created. A 1.5-hr process now takes 30 seconds. I call that Success!

  • We are working on 3 new (well, 1 is somewhat-new) services. I haven't started programming anything yet, but we may be able to enter these into the business competition later this month. Here's the overview: an automatic menu ordering system, a city-report tool, and a service comparison tool/app. Can't wait to get started!

  • I re-requested a quote for Shadow Dev from an Insurance Company that specializes in IT Companies. Luckily, the quote they gave us has the same rates from the quote they gave us last year. It would be nice to see that in action.

  • Tom helped re-plan the finance schedule. I don't know how he did it, but the system he developed (with a little tweaking) made the whole "check how much each person is making and payout" system a whole lot simplier.



And now Personal-wise:

  • I'm rewatching Heroes. So far, I'm halfway through Season 3. Although the latter seasons aren't as good as the first, it's still a great series

  • I've been doing a lot of editing on Neko Sentou and found a few areas that need improvement, and a lot of areas that need correcting. Hopefully, by going through the 300+ page draft, it should make for a better storyline

  • My mom came up to visit me yesterday. We had a good visit, but the best part was that she said she was proud of me. I'm so happy (YAY!)

  • I really need to catch up on MLP:FiH. I'm about 10 episodes behind and just haven't had the time to watch them yet

  • I am now off of my parent's car insurance. I know my Dad is happy, but now I have another $48/mth cost I have to work in to my payment schedule.

  • Keat is with her parents from Friday until Wednesday. It's super lonely here without her. I think I may go insane with 3 cats......are they talking to me?

  • I will (with keat and kat) be going to Drums of War next week. This event usually isn't until July-ish, but with the weather being what it has been, along with a wonky schedule update, it is now in April. I just hope it doesn't rain like it did last year



I'll end it at that since this seems like a rant, but hey, if you can't rant on your own blog, who can you rant to?

And now, an additional comic (since my stockpile has been growing):
Pearls March 25


G'Nite!


Tags:#fatcats #pearlsbeforeswine #heroes #mlp #insurance #sca #pdf #automated #hcc #fairview #dehydrateddelites

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Droooool

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Dexter's Lab = Big Bang

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(Takeshi's Castle + MXC) = Wipeout?

Saw this comic on Comixed.com, but had to make a modification.
Takeshi's Castle + MXC

Don't you just love it when Americans take over Japanese gameshows? *cough cough*


Tags:#mxc #takeshiscastle #wipeout

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Get an RSS feed for Twitter Searches

I tried to get an RSS feed for a Twitter search earlier today, and found out that they removed the ability to get an RSS or Atom feed from their searches.
Twitter - No RSS

Luckily, I had some saved RSS feeds in my Reader from a long time ago, and found the URL setup:

  1. The URL for the page should look like this (in the example above):
     https://twitter.com/#!/search/ice%20cream 
  2. Replace "https://twitter.com/#!/search/" with the following:
     search.twitter.com/search.atom?q= 
  3. The URL should look like this now:
     http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=ice%20cream 
  4. Copy the URL and transmit that to your favorite reader. Now you have an RSS feed for your search!
See? Simple.


Tags:#twitter #rss #workaround

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Double Twitter Explosion!

This has been one great day! I submitted an article to the popular social media site SocialMediaToday.com and I can't believe how much it has spread across the corners of the 'net. I submitted it less than 24 hours ago, and it has received more retweets and shares than I can track!

Here's a quick overview:
On SMT, it has 109 LinkedIn shares, 12 Facebook Shares, and 97 Tweets
Twitter Trend


To make things better, it was also picked up by TweetMeMe's Twitter account, @TM_Twitr
TweetMeMe


TweetMeMe has 39 retweets alone:

TweetMeMe
TweetMeMe


I know some of the other big-wig article writers have somewhere around 1k shares, but for my first article published outside of the company website, I call 257 shares within 24 hours a success!

Not too bad for an article that was a quick idea and written in about 3 hours!


Tags:#social #media #today #smt #twitter #retweet #linkedin #facebook

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Happy Post-Valentines Day!

It's been a joyous Valentine's Day 2012. Especially since I've been sick over the past few years on this date. Really. Over the past few years on Feb 14, I have come down with an extremely bad virus that kept me in bed all day. And when I go down, I really go down for the count. The good news: I wasn't sick this year! Yay!

However, I did stay home and work since I had a lot of work to get done (and another reason, but I'll get to that later). Really, it's not a bad thing. I spent most of the day in front of my desktop at home, played Pandora in the background, and worked on some tasks that have been living on my ToDo list for a while.

The other good news is: Keat got me chocolate for today! Here's a snippet:
CHOCOLATE!


Now, you may be thinking: "What did you get for her this year?" Well, the short answer is: nothing. WAIT! Before you start flipping out on me, hear me out. We observe/celebrate "Valentine's Day and White Day". I'm sure the latter sounds like a racist celebration. I assure you it is not.

White Day is actually a holiday in Japan that the younger generation celebrates. Instead of me trying to rant on about what it is, here's a quick overview:

In Japan, Valentine's Day is observed by females who present chocolate gifts (either store-bought or handmade), usually to a male, as an expression of love, courtesy or social obligation. A handmade chocolate is usually preferred by the receiver, because it is a sign that the receiving male is the girl's "only one". On White Day, the converse happens: males who received a honmei-choco (本命チョコ, "chocolate of love") or giri-choco (義理チョコ, "courtesy chocolate") on Valentine's Day are expected to return the favor by giving gifts, usually more expensive. Traditionally, popular White Day gifts are cookies, jewellery, white chocolate, white lingerie and marshmallows. Sometimes the term sanbai gaeshi (三倍返し, literally, "triple the return") is used to describe the generally recited rule that the return gift should be two to three times the cost of the Valentine's gift. [source] [another source]


You may be thinking this is a quick cop-out for me forgetting Valentine's Day. I can guarantee that I didn't forget it, but just didn't have the necessary means to get something yet. However, she is going to get something 2-3x nicer next month (and I'll be 25!).

Anyway, here's the comic for today:
The System

I thought this comic would be relevant to this past week, since I do have a few projects going on that could fall anywhere on this chart.

However, on Sunday, I had a revelation. After thinking over the events from last week (revamping the contract, the preliminary fish bowl launch, Drinks with Geeks planning, getting the new computer up and running, finalizing the new prices, straightening out the accounting records, meeting with AdvantageWest about funding, fixing a co-worker's computer problems, getting a new contract signed, planning some new "ease of use" projects to help new sales people, and more), I realized that everything that we were doing seemed to be working in countless different directions, causing our workforce to become thin and not be able to take on much work. I realized that if things were going to improve, we have to mainstream: make the whole "first contact to project launch" process a whole lot faster, easier, and more flexible.

After thinking about the process we had in place for the past 6 years, it occurred to me that we are basically reinventing the wheel each and every time. Overall, this wasn't getting us anywhere. We need to have a tried-and-true process for going from Step 1 to Step 2 to Step 3 without any hassle. Right now, in order to get one task passed along the production line, a person either has to be trained in that area to take care of it, or it needs to be taken over by someone who can get it done quicker, and some communication between the lines gets lost.

We need a company-level Sales tracker, Project tracker, Site Manager (not just a CMS, but a Company-wide version), Customer notifier, integrated payment system, team calendar, and EVERYTHING else that we have been working on. Instead of working on so many different projects, the solution is simple: make this 1 massive project for the company. This way, Sales people can track leads, Designers/Developers can work on any site, Customers can keep track of their projects, Customer payments can be processed/managed, teams can collaborate on projects and tasks, and more. By integrating the Scrum methodology to this process, we can shrink 3 months down to 1 month or less! Just imagine the work load we can take on!

To be honest, I feel stupid for not seeing this earlier. The solution is so simple. I was trying to create 20 different things to do 20 different tasks. What I should have been doing is developing 1 project to do these 20 things and integrate it into the company so it would be easier to manage.

Why am I confessing all of this here? Two primary reasons: 1) So I have an official record of what I am thinking about so I can look back on it at a later date, and 2) So I can be held accountable for this. Looking back on a few projects that I've worked on, they were started anywhere from a week to 2 years ago, and they all seem to be in the same state: hiatus. To be honest: that sucks. How can I work 5 days a week from 10-5pm and 10-5am and get so little done? This will change.

On a related matter, one reason why it will change is because of the following:
TNG, DS9, and Voyager. Done


Yes, I have finished watching Star Trek: TNG, DS9, and Voyager in their completion. I will admit that I spent a few nights in the past months up till wee hours in the morning watching Star Trek, but now that I've gotten through TNG, DS9, and Voyager, I can dedicate more time to getting stuff done.

I find that I get a lot done with background music. Time seems to work with me when I'm in that "state of mind." However, when I find a series I want to watch (or I'm curious about) on Netflix, that seems to occupy my time instead of getting things done. For example: I didn't think I'd really get into Heroes. I thought "I'll watch the first episode and be done with it." Yeah right. Before I knew it, I watched all 4 seasons and lost valuable programming time during those 16 days it took me to watch it. I have lots of other items on my Netflix instant queue to watch, but I have a ToDo list that is breathing down my neck. I have to get that done.

Enough procrastinating on this blog. I have work to do.


Tags:#thesystem #chocolate #keat #valentinesday #whiteday #startrek #tng #ds9 #voyager #japan #netflix #heroes #accountable #streamline

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Where has the time gone?

The past month has really flown by, hasn't it? Before I knew it, it's already a week before Valentines day and 2 weeks before I turn 25. Wow...a quarter of a century old. When it is put like that, I feel super old. No offense to the "old fogies" I know.

Anyway, here's a run-down of significant things that have happened between my last post and now:

- I'm finishing up DS9 on Netflix. I'm at the tail end of Season 6.

- Finally got my desktop at the house up and running. I can now work at home....into the wee hours of the morning. As I told Tom today, I work from 10-5(pm), and 10-5(am). Good? Maybe. But it beats staying at the office 24/7. Not that that's a bad thing, but I think Keat would miss me.

- Keat may be going to Japan for 2 weeks to a semester next year. On one side: I'm super happy for her (not sarcastic). Going to Japan for 2 weeks was an exhilierating experience for me, so I can only imagine what a semester could do. On the down side: I'll be left alone with 3 cats for a semester! I'm going to go insane.......again.

- We've launched a new "Fishbowl" contest in the area to get some leads. So far, it's looking good. We spent $100 on the materials, and should get more than 100% ROI on this. On a related note....

- Tom and I talked to the owner of Frog Level Brewery, a local brewery in Frog Level (next to Waynesville), about a potential event/conference for local geeks. The owner said "Yes" and planning hit full force. This event will allow the local non-techies to network and ask questions to the local geeks (and get a few beers while we're at it). It's called Drinks With Geeks, and it should be a great event! It won't happen in the immediate future, but maybe in April or May....

- We got a new client: ALP Systems Inc. The owner is a great guy, and it seems like we are copies of each other, if you know what I mean. He's a guy with a "No BS" attitude, and I want to make sure we keep it that way.

- We launched the TICS site on the 1st. So far, so good.

- Allan had a major computer virus that took out his PC for a bit. I'm still working on it after 48 hours, but I think this sums it up:


- Since my laptop finally called it quits, I was able to acquire some funds to get a new computer. I decided on a desktop for the office for the processing power and stability. I turned it on the first day I got it, and it hasn't been turned off since. I know it's Windows 7, but Quicken/QuickBooks doesn't run well on Linux, and I don't have the funds to get a Mac (although that is my wish)

- I'm working on a few new projects: Client Portal (project in progress), Sales Portal (planning has started), and a few others. I've been really preoccupied with other tasks at hand, but I think this sums it up well:
Ceiling Cat


- I found out about Star Trek RPG thanks to this little comic:
Real Life - Star Trek RPG

Since Kat's been helping us with WhiteWolf, I'm glad we are able to experience RPG gaming without having to worry about battling against super-experienced players.

That's it for now. The rest of the month looks pretty busy and my guess is that I'll have a lot more sleepless nights.


Tags:#ds9 #reallife #icanhascheeseburger #quicken #pc #whitewolf #tics #alp #facebook #drinkswithgeeks #fishbowl

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Friday the 13th - 2012 Version!

Working Daze

How's everybody's Friday the 13th going gone? It was different for me. Here's how things went today:
Keat and I had the first Marketing Meeting today with Brandon and Tom at 10am via Skype and phone. It didn't go exactly as planned, but I think it was a good start. After that, Keat headed off to school, I emptied the litter boxes, cleaned the kitchen a bit, then headed to the office.

Before I headed out, I said to myself "Today is going to be a good day." Setting the mental state is important in seeing the glass half-full for production.

I planned on having a CEO Day today, but it didn't exactly work out. First thing I did today was check the mail and my gift card from RingCentral came in! YAY! $100 for me! I activated the card, went online, and ordered a few gifts that I owed. At that moment, my laptop finally decided to call it quits. I couldn't get it to start up again and stay on for more than 10 seconds. So, I tried to load the desktop.

While I tried loading the desktop, I received emails from my online seller saying that there was an issue with the payment.

The desktop had a small short in it and wouldn't stay on as well. I unplugged one of the hard drives and was able to load a live cd. I tried installing that to the hard drive, and after a few failed attempts, it installed.

Tom came in at that time and I helped him with a small tech issue, and got him started on his TICS assignment, which he finished promptly.

I went back to the desktop and restarted it, only to find a hard drive failure. Great. I tried it a few more times with no success.

I tried my laptop again, and it stayed on for a bit, so I thought I'd try to fix the payment issue. I chatted with my seller, and the laptop cut out mid-chat.

So, with the laptop on the frtiz and the desktop not having a stable hard drive, I went to the server room and used that connection.

I chatted with my seller and asked to retry the gift card. No success. I chatted again with another person, same result, but they said to give them a call and it could be fixed. I called for a retry, no success. I chatted again, no success. I called again, no success. I was getting frustrated. I contacted the bank that issued the gift card, and apparently the issue was that my seller was cross-referencing the address I supplied on the Billing Address with the billing address on the card, as expected. However, I found out that the billing address on file was of the company that bought the gift card, which I had no idea what exact address that was. The person at the issuing bank changed the address on my card, I chatted with my seller, and the card went through. I actually just received emails saying that my orders had shipped! Yay! 1 task down.

After that fiasco, I decided to call it a day since that took around 5 hours. So much for a CEO day. I didn't get anything done that I expected to get done.

I came home at 5, Keat came home shortly after. I watched Mythbusters, some DS9, took a nap, cooked some dinner, Keat went to bed, and I'm up trying to get stuff done.

On the good side, I finally found out about the Mythbusters Behind the Myths Tour, and the best part is: they are coming to Raleigh in March! Yay! Need more info? Nah, but here you go anyway:



"Jamie" at ConCarolina 2011
More info at mythbusterstour.com - it would be nice to see Jamie and Adam in person. The closest thing I had was a Cosplayed Jamie at ConCarolina '11, which was nice.

That's it for my Friday the 13th.


Tags:#fridaythe13th #workingdaze #laptop #desktop #ceo #giftcard #tics #mythbusters

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Webinar-mania!

Bug

Not quite sure how this comic fits in to today, but enjoy!

Today just seemed to fly by - literally. I arrived at the office shortly after 11am this morning to attend a RingCentral webinar for reselling a service to offer toll free numbers to our customers. Still need to verify some final information before the service is offered, but I think I have a good idea on how to revamp our program to reflect the best opprotunity on how to offer this to customers.

Anyway, that webinar was supposed to last about an hour. In reality, it lasted about 2 hours. However, I was able to ask an important question about direct and indirect calling of the 800 number to our employees and direct calls to our cell phones. Finally, after months of searching, I finally found an answer, and cleared up a very confusing situation that dealt with people calling my personal cell phone and (for some reason) forwarding to Tom's phone. I believe that has been resolved, and when people call the 800 line (with extensions or not) the 800 number will show up on the cell phone, so therefore we know if a professional call was made and how to process it.

I also received a free meat pie from Joan from St. Andrews Square bakery down the hallway. I have 1 thing to say about that: GOOD!

After I finally found out the issue with the phones, I attended a "Merger & Acquisition" webinar at 1pm, discussing the trends of the industry, what the peaks were in the vertical and horizontal market, and who bought what (company-wise) in the past year. It seemed like a lot of information, but I think I took away a lot of good information.

I wished I could be at CES this year, but based on two of the presenters that were at CES, it's a madhouse (although, that seems like a standard there) and the cell signals were jammed.

On a related note, here's this:
Bizzaro


That seminar was supposed to last 1.5 hours, and about an 1.25 hr in, I called it quits since it was Q&A time. A client was supposed to show up around 3:30, but did not due to other obligations. Tom was supposed to stop by as well, but he got a little too busy and didn't have a chance to show up. It's kind of a good thing, since I had a few things to take care of in the afternoon.

I filled out the tax form for the county, called my car insurance company to get some information, went to the post office to send off the tax form and pick up some stamps, stopped by my car insurance company and spent around 45 minutes there getting an answer to my (what I thought was a) simple question. In reality, it was worth it because the staff at the car insurance company were more-than-friendly and gave me a lot of information to use.

It didn't occur to me until I started to leave the office that I didn't open PuTTy and modify any file on the server. Make-shift CEO day?

After that, I came home, got some chili from last night, and watched Mythbusters until Keat got home. She and I discussed some topics that needed discussing about Shadow Dev, and even though things got a little tense during some topics, but I think it was because she had a headache and things weren't getting across correctly. Aside from that, we are on the same page.

Afterwards, Keat and I watched a bunch of episodes of The Big Bang Theory (time does fly while watching these, doesn't it?). She hit the hay and I plan on getting some coding done as the night goes on.

Now, to bring an important topic to mind: comic copyright. I just want to go on the record to say that all comics posted here are copyright and under ownership of their respective owners (also mentioned in the footer on every page). I do not modify any comic (except for one, since it had the F word in it) and do not take credit for any comics, unless they are drawn by me, which probably won't happen. I follow an artist on DeviantArt.com who talks about the issue in detail about a Facebook App that scrapes the internet for comics, takes the copyright off, and shows them. His journal can be viewed at http://tompreston.deviantart.com/journal/Facebook-Art-Theft-App-279043179 - just thought I'd bring that up.


Tags:#bug #bizzaro #webinar #ringcentral #bigbangtheory #comics #deviantart #ces #insurance

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Post Xmas Update

RealLife

I thought an off-key Star Trek reference would be a nice catchup. I knew at the beginning of the year that 2012 would be a year of change, just like 2008. So far, every night after I've gotten home from work, I've been working around the clock as well. With a Wii at home and Internet, I've been very active on Netflix when Keat doesn't have it.

As of now, my project list consists of: MySD, Receipt Rescue (a lot of planning has been done in the past few weeks), ScrumIt (total reconstruction), Zoomiform (replanning as well), and a few others I can't recall right now.

I rewatched Eureka seasons 2 and 3 on Netflix in 10 days.

Keat's parents came to visit last Friday, and we did a massive cleaning spree on the house. To be honest, it looks a lot better.

Tom and I have had a lot of conversations over the past few days over the infrastructure of Shadow Dev policies, and we are still working on making some major improvements.

On a related note, we've hired on a new designer, Brandon Knight, and are in negotiations of hiring a new sales person. More details to come.
Dilbert


The really bad/odd/maybe good thing is that I've been going to bed around 3am every night for the past week. Main reason: coding at night, as expected when we got the Internet at the house.

Also, is it just me, or does it seem like as soon as your Inbox gets empty, it fills back up quicker than it took to empty it? I mean, my inbox had accumulated about 20 emails I had to take care of over the course of 3 months. I finally archived/deleted/responded to the emails throughout the course of a day, and I received 40+ more important emails at the end of the day. So, it seems like my inbox will always have at least 20 emails at any time, no matter what I do.

I've also been working a lot on a new client's site, sakisushi.net - we've done some major improvements and it's coming along quite nicely. Also, we just got the contract for a non-profit student organization in Charlotte helping Tourette's Syndrome. Honestly, this seems like a win-win situation for us and them. More information can be found on the Shadow Dev blog at shadowdev.com/blog/article/new-client-walk-for-robbie-tourettes-inspiring-charlotte-students .

Keat and I have also been playing Wii a lot, both on the entertainment side and on the physical fitness side. Having a Wii fitness in the house is really helping out keeping us on a fitness schedule.

We've also made some improvements to the main shadowdev.com site and made a major jump on SEO and Social Media scores. +1 for us!

Also, we are working on a new Media Package to offer to customers. I won't release much information right now, but I will say this: website, QR codes, social media accounts/pages, SEO, toll free number, social media management, and more for a great price! We should have more details by the end of the month. In addition, we should also have a new marketing idea that we should be able to launch by the end of the month as well. Take a look at the local restaurants and high-traffic areas in Haywood County to know more.

Keat's doing well at school. She has 4 japanese classes (1 language, 1 film, 1 anime/manga (I don't know how she got that), and 1 more), 1 math, and 1 ENT course. To be honest: my hopes go out to her during this semester. Having 2 part time jobs and taking 18 hours at school.....I know I went crazy in the spring of 2008 when I had 2 part time jobs, 15 hours at school, plus preparing for a national business competition and local business competition. My transcript shows it.

Almost forgot! On December 31st, I wrote 5 more pages to Neko Sentou! Volume 14 is almost complete!

Well, I have an early day tomorrow. I'm going to call it a night now.


Tags:#brandonknight #emails #dilbert #reallife #sakisushi #tics

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Are you kidding me?

I was browsing DeviantArt.com about 10 minutes ago and saw this ad:
Firefox for AOL?

I'm sorry, but if you are still using AOL, Firefox must be as Greek to you as the Higgs Boson. I'll admit: when my parents had AOL, I connected (using dialup) using AOL and browsed with Firefox, but why would you need a Firefox optimized for AOL?


Tags:#firefox #aol #ad #deviantart

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End of 2011

I thought I'd go head and get one last posting in here before the end of the year.

First....
BC Picture Day for Firefox!

Anyway, I know I've been slacking on this whole "blog" thing, but I can assure you that it will come to and end! (the slacking, not the blog). Here's a run down of what has kept me super busy over the past week or so:

  • I have surrendered to The Big Bang Theory. Finally watched it, and now I'm a fan. I must agree: Smart is the new Sexy. I know I'm about 4 years too late, but better late than never, right?

  • We went to Keat's parent's beach house for Xmas. It was fun. Traveled over 1000 miles. Yay. That's all I can say.

  • We got a Wii for Xmas! Yay! Now we can watch Netflix on our TV

  • Been working hard on planning some new seminars for Shadow Dev. One deals with the Mobile market and one deals with taking brick-and-mortar stores online

  • Also been working on notes and storylines for our two new mangas: Phoenix Eye and All Souls Crescent

  • Been working/studying/planning on a new version of MyShadowDev to help clients check/report things

  • Rearranged my desk before I left. Looks nice:
    Deskchisaineko.shadowdev.com - so far, looks good

  • My laptop is on its deathbed. The fan is about to give out after so many years. It's wheezing so much it's hard to talk over it. I checked in on the warranty from Best Buy, and wouldn't you know it: it expired on 12/26! On Monday! I should have taken it in last week and had them fix it over Xmas break! So basically I have a delima: pay $90+ to have it shipped off, diagnosed, and (hopefully) fixed; pay $900 for a new laptop; or pay $200x2 to get some new desktops (Yes, Windows - some of my programs only run on Windows and I'm not paying $900 to get the Crossover software, and until they create a stable Wine, I can't use a lot of the programs I want to). Personally, I think I'd go for the desktop since it provides more power with less hassle, and more customizable than a laptop. My laptop has served me well these past 3 years, but I think I'm ready to move on once it croaks (luckilly, all of my files are on a cloud. Can't say 1 specific location, because I have many.


And now for something completely different:
Penguin Hat


Also, remember Fresh Prince? I found a photo of the cast from about a week ago:
Fresh Prince, circa 2011


Chances are I won't be able to post between now and midnight tomorrow, so HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE and have an enjoyable party/celebration/sit at home.


Tags:#laptop #files #freshprince #newyear #xmas #seminars #bc #desk #netflix #wii #eureka

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Xmas is almost here

I know I haven't posted in a month, but I have a good reason. First, the comic:
Insane?


Here's what happened in the past month (in no particular order):

  • We now have Cable and Internet at the house! Yay! It's only a matter of time before I have more all-nighters working on projects.....

  • I finished TNG on Netflix. I've now started DS9. I know Pilots aren't always great, but I know DS9 gets better as the seasons go on.

  • I've moved my desk to face the door at the office. According to Janet, it balances the Feng Shui, and I think I have more confidence because of that.

  • Keat and I went to my parents for Thanksgiving. My sisters weren't there, so it was fairly quiet and not much happened. We also visited Keat's parents and went to a basketball game at State, then visited downtown Raleigh some.

  • Tom landed us a contract with a new client

  • We also had a great monthly meeting at the end of November. Everybody was there, and we were able to Skype in Hannah from Oregon. It was definitely a.....n interesting meeting

  • Obtained a new lead with a potential client in the incubator. So far, things look good

  • Cleaned the home office out a bit and am now using it. Combined with the internet, I'm looking at some good progress coming soon

  • We have a neighbor across the street that we've never met. Her mother died on the 16th. It was a chaotic situation trying to get everyone to calm down and the EMS's there. I do wish we met them on better terms instead of that.

  • Working on a new marketing "packet" for clients. This may be a great incentive for new clients, and may give us a new stream of revenue....?

  • Keat started work with the Sushi restaurant, and it's been great work for her. Chaotic here and there, but still a good job. I've been helping her out as well, and I can tell from first hand experience: it's harder than expected

  • I've played "Takes of the Abyss" for the PS2 for a bit. I started playing it because Keat wasn't. At first, I didn't know what to make of it, but 80 playing hours later, I'm through the majority of it and right before the big battle at the end. I'm waiting to level up my characters before I beat the super-hard boss, then go to the main boss. Should prove interesting...


I'll stop at that. We are heading to my parents and Keat's parents over Xmas break. Depending on how things go, I may be able to post. I will if I can.


Tags:#sushi #insane #cable #interest #skype #ps2 #talesoftheabyss #xmas

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CEO Day #2

I didn't mark this last week, but as of last friday, I'm making all fridays afterwards CEO-Only Days where I push the Development side of the business to the side and work on the business instead of in the business. Here's my report from today:


  • Day started: 11:15am

  • Checked reader

  • Balanced bank account

  • Cleaned my desk off a bit

  • Took care of a customer's inquiry and renewal

  • Learned something new in Notepad++: Auto-Completion on Functions - no more having to search php.net for what order the haystack and needle go

  • added some new keywords to the Analyzer landing page based on Google's Analytics reports

  • Generated and submitted Sitemaps for a few sites

  • Found a great site: japaneseswords4samurai.com - it's not the greatest design-wise, but they have a lot of neat stuff (including Paul Chen quality swords)

  • Ran through the rest of the Kit manual

  • Created Shadow Dev specific "Client Management Process" for review

  • Started Shadow Dev specific Client followup process/script

  • Created "Design Approval Form"

  • Media Kit started

  • Started agenda for annual meeting

  • received notes for annual meeting

  • Accepted contract for new client

  • Send out task list to employees for new client

  • Lost a lead - sent out "Thanks for the opprotunity" letter

  • Made some updates to the accounting records

  • Found CancanIt.com - good analysis site

  • End: Now


That's it for me today. These CEO-only days are proving quite useful.


Tags:#ceoday #cancanit #notepad++ #php

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Time to go Retro!

The 90's was "da bomb", as our generation puts it. A lot of cool stuff happened in the 90's, and for the kids that were born between 1998 and now, well, too bad that you missed out on some really cool stuff.

I saw these on Comixed.com and thought I'd share them:

First, the short version:
Cartoon Network!


Lastly, the long version (you have been warned):
90s RULED!



Tags:#cartoonnetwork #90s #disney #nickelodeon #

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I get a response

It only took half a month, but I finally received a "response" from E-Consulting. There is a certain phrase I want to use to show my fed-up attitude with them, but I'll take the Zen approach.....and post their response on the internet.
Final Response - 11/9/11

This seems more like a personal attack than anything else. Oh, and by the way: E-Consulting has C+ with the BBB. Don't just blame me for your bad reputation - you did this to yourself.


Tags:#bbb #econsulting #final #baby #WHAAAAAA!

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Google meets SimCity

Google ceases to amaze me. I was trying to find the quickest way to my local polling place today, and I saw a new button on Google Maps that said 3D. Couldn't help but click it.

Not to change subjects, but this marks my 100th Blog Entry! Yay!

Anyway, after a few minutes of processing, I was surprised! Google merged Maps with Earth and added 3D effects to the browser-based directional application. It seems like Google took a trick from Maxis' gamebook and created a realistic SimCity.

Before proceeding, take a look at what SimCity can produce (as of SC4):
SimCity


Here are a few samples I thought I'd try:

Raleigh, NC


Raleigh, NC


Charlotte, NC


Charlotte, NC


San Fran


San Francisco, CA


Washington DC


Hey look! 3D Trees and 3D Fountain!
Washington, DC


Hey look! A CG person in DC!


A Person in DC!


My fellow Con-goers should recognize this structure


Can you guess the con?


If you get a chance, try it out yourself. It's only in Metro areas for the time being, but other places (like Waynesville) have a topographical 3D layout instead of buildings (yet).


Tags:#google #maps #earth #simcity #maxis

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E-Consulting is a Bad Company!

It's taken me a day or so to post this, but I thought this would be beneficial to anyone who is considering working with E-Consulting from 5850 Canoga Ave, Suite 308 in Woodland Hills, CA 91367.

Long story short: I was first contacted by E-Consulting back in April 2010 with a promise of a "potential partnership arrangement" - basically, I sent in a few samples of clients' sites for them to run their SEO program on and get back to me. A week later (after I inquired about it), I was sent back my samples. It looked exactly like they copy and pasted the keyword analysis reports on each.

I responded with the following:
[...] However, I do believe that the proposal format is a little lacking. After taking a look at the 4 proposals (all of which you should have received copies of), it looks like they were just cut-and-paste from a 10-minute document. I don't mean to sound insulting if I am, but it really doesn't display a level of professionalism. I'm sure we can work these proposals to better fit our clients (like adding analyses of local competition and what keywords they have, including the business name(s) into the proposal (only 1 had it), adding their logo for more of a "customized" feel, and giving the clients a more broken-down understanding of what they will be getting for their money; more importantly, putting OUR logo on it as you mentioned before).
 
You did say in your previous email (or a forwarded edition of Matt's email), "Keep in mind, you don't have to do anything on your end, we'll create the proposal for you and put your company logo and branding on it.  You can just forward it to your client with pricing and see if they are interested.  We want it to be as painless as possible! " However, if we forwarded these to our clients as they were, they'd probably regard the attachment(s) as spam and delete it. We would also have to do a lot of re-vamp work on our end to make these presentable. We did fill out each form completely with the site information, client name/site (in the Client/Website section; we put Client Name and their site), and asked for SEO for all of them and SEO and Social Networking Management for ourselves. However, all of the proposals looked the same and our proposal didn't even mention the Social Networking Management at all.
 
As I said, I don't mean to sound insulting, but I don't believe that our clients would purchase the services you are offering if they saw the attachments we received. [...]


Keep in mind that I talked to 4 different people during this situation, including Matt Watson, the CEO of the company. When I finally received an answer from him (4 months afterwards), the main contact I was talking to about the reports (Chris Morris) was no longer with the company. This was his response:
Chris Morris is no longer with the company and all I can do is apologize for the lack of attention in answering your questions and concerns.  We have an amazing SEO Platform and I think it would be best for both parties to at a minimum to discuss how it works and what it does.  I'm an entrepreneur and it pains me that we botched the opportunity with you initially.  See if you can carve out some time for me so that I can address all of your concerns as forthcoming as I can.  The platform has changed, proposals have changed, and the process has changed as well.  In regards to auto-emails, just delete them for now and we'll find our own working relationship from here on out.  If you still wish to discontinue our business relationship, that is your call and I wish you the best.
After being bombarded by "Sign up with us" emails from different people at the company between last December and this September, I sent in emails saying "Stop contacting me or I will file a complaint with the BBB" - twice. So, I did. Here's the report:
BBB
Long story short: I filed it on 9/20. I didn't get a response until 10/15, almost a month later. The worse part: it was the exact same "canned response" sent to their last BBB complaint. I sent in my reubtal two days afterwards (the BBB didn't let me know until then). By 10/31, E-Consulting didn't response, so BBB closed the complaint. My reaction: they didn't know how to answer since they screwed up. Overall: Don't agree to do anything with them!


Tags:#econsulting #badcompany #dontgowiththem #bbb #complaint

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Find text in files with GREP

I needed to reference this quite frequently, so I thought I'd post it here.

Ever had the frustration of needing to find a certain string inside files on a Linux OS via a terminal/command line? It'd be nice to have something like the Windows File Finder (when it works) to search for text inside of a file and report the file back.

You could cat each file and use grep [string] to spit back each line, then write down the filename. But there is an easier way.

Use grep first instead of piping it!

All you need to do is type in

grep -lir "[phrase]" [directory]
and that's all there is to it (the quotations are optional). By using the command grep instead of using it after a pipe "|", this can search through files in an instant instead of having to manually search through each file. The -l (that's a lowercase "L") puts out files that match (as opposed to -v which shows all files that don't match). The i makes the search query case insensitive. Lastly, the r makes grep recursive in folders. Simple as that. Of course, you can have the results spit back to you if you just press Enter, or you can output it to a file by using the > operator, like so:
grep -lir "cout" . > output.txt
(my VB and C++ friends should like this)


Tags:#linux #commandline #terminal #grep #search #tutorials

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Neat QR Trick for Printing

While watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 3) on Netflix, I realized a great method to implement QR codes to connect offline content to its online material.

This method is implemented in 3 steps:


  1. Put this code in your footer files (PHP only):
    echo "";

    (this uses Google's API to automatically generate the QR code for each page. If you are using ASP, insert your own code)


  2. Put this in your main CSS file:
    #print_qr{ display: none; text-align: center; }
  3. Put this in your Print CSS file:
    #print_qr{ display: block }
    and if you haven't done so already, put a print-specific meta tag to enable print-specific CSS
And that's it! Now, when your users print your pages (hopefully they go green and won't print it), they can get direct access to the page by scanning the QR code instead of having to worry about typing in the URL, if it is even on the page You are free to change anything in the provided code. I'm not ©'ing the code, just providing a concept to help others.


Tags:#qr #print #css #php

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Illuminati

Illuminati by Adam Withers

Saw this on DA [source]. Thought it would be nice to share.

+100 Points if you can name all of the characters.


Tags:#illuminati #cartoonnetwork #deviantart

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Hello October!

SYAC

If you are wondering why this is my first post of October, I've been extremely busy over the past month. And I have a lot of comics I'm waiting to display in the upcoming entries.

So, here's the overview of what's kept me busy over the past month:

  • I updated my blog using HTML5 fonts instead of the JS Cufon. It processes faster and works in more modern browsers instead of having to load the page and post-process the H1 and specified div tags into the font I chose.

  • Tom and I worked on our "Intro to Shadow Dev Seminar". That took a lot more time than we expected, but the seminars we produced went well

  • We've signed on a new client: Saki Sushi! They are opening their new restaurant in the next few weeks, and we've signed on to help them get a great web presence before their opening

  • We've also signed on another new client: Cullowhee Mountain Arts, Inc, with the help of Dr. Lockwood

  • Tom and I have been running up and down Route 19 to find some new clients - had some very interesting adventures up Rt 19

  • Watch MLP:FiH episode 2 (John de Lancie was great as Discord) and episode 3, which I can sum in 2 words: unorganized chaos (emphasis on "organized")

  • I'm working on a few domains and subdomains for Shadow Dev: docs.shadowdev.com (for a documentation area (wiki-like) for our quotes to help reduce our carbon footprint instead of sending our 30+ page quotes), getmyanalysis.com (our site analysis landing page from Fox Carolina), m.getmyanalysis.com (GMA's mobile version), and a few others

  • Celebrated Shadow Dev's 6 Year Anniversary!

  • Shadow Dev joined the NFIB

  • Wrote an article about Domain Name Expiration Notices, since I'm sick and tired of them anyway

  • Registered ReceiptRescue, ScrumIt, and Zoomiform on Twitter too

  • Finally saw the season premiere of Psych! I'm so glad a new season started

  • Attended War of the Wings in Elkin. Sacred Stone won! Yay!

  • Watched Last Man Standing on Hulu. It's good to see Tim Allen back on TV

  • Attended a forum for WCU. Best part of it: "We should have a beer department!" - WCU Chancellor Belcher. I like the way he thinks!

  • Ok - I'm on Spotify now. Whoppie. It's good, and the music is more controlling, but it seems that the SAME commercial shows up after every 3rd song.

  • Beat Angry Birds without the Eagle

  • Watched the last episodes of Eureka - Season 4. Wil Wheaton had a very "Vulcan" acting style....ironic?

  • Finally saw the new Producers movie. Certainly one to look back on and laugh, in a good way. Although, I can't think about it without hearing John de Lancie singing "I want to be a Producer"....creepy (?)

  • Started a new book: Final Theory, which is pretty good. Here's a quick preview:
    ICHC

    Ok, that's not a preview. But it's cute, right? (and the book does deal with the String Theory)

  • Got our Fox Carolina ad up and got some great team shots for Shadow Dev

  • Dealt with Netflix's price increase, then the Netflix/Qwikster split, then the Qwikster descent. I believe this comic works well for this:
    the Joy of Tech


  • Received a complaint on my blog in the past few days. If you are reading this, please keep in mind that this blog is a personal reflection of myself and does not reflect the views, opinions, and/or skills of Shadow Development or any associated companies. In addition, all comics are © of their respective authors. I do not take credit or responsibility for any comics posted. (If a comic has a super-offending word in it, but the context is acceptable, I will edit the comic, but I try not to if I don't have to.) If there is something on here that offends you, let me know. Don't go behind my back and tell your friends to tell me. Have the guts to take 10 seconds to send me an email saying "Hey! I don't like this: _____________". My email address, facebook, twitter, linkedin, and other contact methods are located on the right side of every page



That just about does it for me. I know this is a little long, but I think I need to catch up for almost a month of no entries (in addition for being 20 days away from my 1 year anniversary of this blog, and 5 entries away from my 100th entry). Back to watching Mythbusters on Netflix. Yay!


Tags:#syac #joyoftech #wcu #hulu #timallen #spotify #zoomiform #receiptrescue #psych #angrybirds #newclients #mythbusters #deviantart

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Ponies vs Q

RealLife


Yes, I'll admit: I watch MLP:FiH. And best part of all, the newest episode (Return of Harmony (part 1)) has John de Lancie in it (the voice was too obvious)! If the ponies are going up against Q, they have no hope. But we'll see in Part 2.

On a semi-related matter, my favorite is Rainbow Dash!
Rainbow Dash
Credit goes to ~Creshosk


Tags:#ponies #mlp #Q #deviantart #rainbowdash #reallife

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Behold! The Power of Web-Mastery Type Stuff!

Real Life Comics

I thought this would be appropriate since I'm helping plan a seminar, I'm a dwell in "Web-Mastery Type Stuff", and I've put a (Walmart) bookshelf together upside down.


Tags:#reallife

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Busy Monday: Part 4

Yeah, yeah, I know: it's Thursday, but this day seemed like a copy of monday.

Anyway, here's the comic. Enjoy.
Endless Origami

For those of you who do not get this reference, here's an (edited) snippet from the movie that references the above comic (head's up for all of you "PG-13" people: it does have the F word in it)


And here's the rundown:

  • I arrived just before 10am to meet with a potential client. Apparently, Tom had the same idea as I arrived just seconds behind him (extra points for him for showing up before the Boss). We had a good talk while waiting on the potential client, who called at 10:30 to say he was going to be late. No biggie. He arrived, we talked, possibly have 3 potential contracts from one source. Yay!

  • Which leans into the next item: our 10am potential client called one of our current clients and asked when they could deliver an outstanding check. Next thing we know, the outstanding check arrived less than 30 minutes after the call was made. A week of constant emails and calls to get one task done, and he does it in less than 30 minutes. I would say "Showoff," but I'm appreciative of the fact

  • Anyway, the reason why I showed up so close to 10 this morning was because the kitties decided I shouldn't go to work today. 1 kitty decided that he wasn't going to take his pill, 1 kitty decided to make a run for the door, and 1 kitty decided to knock everything off of my nightstand (and the stories go on). So I had to deal with the kitties before I could leave for work.

  • Back to the chronological timeline: Since Tom had never deposited a check via Wachovia before, we left to 1) deposit the check, 2) have lunch, and 3) stop by a potential client that Tom didn't know where they were.

  • While we were stopping by the potential client's location, I received a call from our Fox Carolina ad rep. Apparently, our ad went live yesterday without our approval, and (in addition) there was some confusion on exactly where the ad was to show up on the Fox Carolina site. The call I received said that they were deeply apologetic about the ad going up, as it usually never happens (why do I not want to believe that?), the ad would be taken down, they would wait for our final proof, and more representatives would get in touch with us about our requests (because our previous contacts weren't very helpful; long story short: the person I was told to call said he didn't know how to help us, and he didn't know why we kept calling, so he gave us a number to call at another location, so I called and left a message, but THAT person won't be able to get in touch with me until tomorrow (I hope)).

  • SOOOOOOO....after that was done, Tom and I stopped by his wife's place, Women in the Moon, and his wife talked about her services as an interior designer. Certainly something we could use in the future. She and I got on a discussion about how the office could use some sprucing up to make it "more attractive for clients". Although I fully agree, I told her the short-and-sweet version of how the SMDC Board has basically full control over the building, and we really can't do much (except to hang stuff). We'll see how it goes.

  • After Tom and I realized that there wasn't much else for him to do that day, he dropped me off and took care of some personal business. Anyway, our friendly janitor came by today and spent 15 minutes in our office to clean it up. I believe I have said it before, but I'll say it again: she can perform miracles in a fraction of the time it would take us to clean it.

  • After she left, I made a bunch of calls that I was supposed to make: 1 to a potential client from this morning's source (left message), 1 to Dr. Lockwood to schedule our strategy meeting next week, 1 to a client about a contract, and a few others. It's a little hard to remember all that happened today since it was a lot.

  • I then took care of a few client modification requests and tied up some loose ends in the financials and some file locations. Finally, i checked my reader for the day.

  • I then came home (around 5), changed clothes, and tried to find some headphones. Long story short: I have become a Celldweller fan. I planned on playing Pandora on my cellphone while I cut the grass. After unsuccessfully finding headphones, I called Keat to ask her where some were. After not finding any from her suggestions, she said there were some at the office. Luckily, it's only 6 minutes down the road. I drove down there, got the headphones, drove back, started by Pandora, and cut the grass. I know that the grass usually takes me roughly an hour, but having some background music (especially some hard-core instrumentals), the cutting process went by a lot faster.

  • After that, I found that my cell phone had only gone down 10% in an hour of constant pandora usage. Not bad. not bad at all.

  • Anyway, I gathered some materials and decided to wash my car, since Tom's wife would be borrowing it (you know the story about "My boss needs my car"? This situation calls for "My employee's wife needs my car"). I got some soap, water, a cloth, and luckily one of our faucets is hot water. So I proceeded to wash my car. At the end of my washing, our neighbor, Lee, said "Looks better when it's clean, don't it?" I agreed, and said "This is first time I've washed it in....6 years." Without skipping a beat, he responded with "You're kidding, right?" I was not. Since I had the Pontiac since 2005 and it was at college, and at apartment complexes after that (with strict rules), I never had a chance to wash my car myself (stupid rules of "no soap on the asphalt" and other BS). So finally, I washed my car.

  • Nightfall came, Keat got home. She checked some things on her computer, and basically went to bed. She was tired. After she went to sleep, I had some custom-made mushroom/onion/extra cheese/hot sauce pizza, which was pretty good for a last minute menagerie of toppings.

  • At this moment, I'm watching Matrix Reloaded. Yes, I know it's nowhere as good as the first one, but I'm watching it more for the philosophical points and fight scenes. I know Tom would approve. Although while I'm watching it, I'm realizing that in retrospect, the Programmers are really the controllers of the world. I mean, if you think about it, programs do run our lives. Our cars, bank cards, medical records, communication, travel, etc, all run on some type of programs, whether software or webware. As a programmer, we have the "key" (pardon the pun) to access, read, modify, or even delete our lives. I mean, I know Identity Theft is a big crime, but think about this: with a few clicks and some raw code, all records could be deleted for 1 person. Just imagine how insane their life would be if they couldn't purchase anything, travel, communicate (long distance)....you get the picture. Who knows - the machines are running our lives, and if the machines are gone, our lives as we know them would cease to exist (or at least, revert to medieval times).



Okay, enough philosophical crap for today. Tomorrow's going to be a long day as well, since we have to plan a seminar, more calls to make, cars to trade, 5 hours to travel, and more. Here's to tomorrow.


Tags:#endlessorigami #matrix #client #kitties #foxcarolina #witm #ad #janitor #meeting #grass #pandora #celldweller #car #pizza

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Busy Monday

Zits


Whoa, it's Monday already. What a busy day/week/month so far.

Here's the rundown:
Today:

  • I received 2 calls 15 minutes before my alarm this morning from 2 clients. Way for a Monday to start.

  • Stopped by Post Office to pick up package that wouldn't fit in the mailbox on Saturday

  • I got to the office and got ready to make some calls that I was supposed to make. Had the first client come in. Nice lady, but seemed like she just wanted to vent. No biggie - but did find out that her husband has some Pro Photography experience and could take pro photos of us on Wednesday for the Ad

  • Tom came in as I was finishing up with the 1st client. I finished things up and went to him. He and I started talking about some personal stuff.

  • 5 minutes into that meeting, client #2 walks in, talks for 5 minutes, leaves. I go back to Tom and discuss options for him

  • Spend an hour or so deciphering odd Paypal code. Tom makes packets.

  • I did some budget analyzing and found out that it costs us (figuratively) $13 to make an info packet. Whoa.

  • Tom left; I called/contacted most of the people on my list today

  • Responded to some emails, cleared up confusion in a contract, and graded an email

  • Ordered more ink for the business - $50 for each other, 2 standard blacks, and 1 XL black - not bad.

  • updated and re-printed a sign for the office (with hours and updated QR code)


All in all, it doesn't seem like a lot, but I've been going non-stop since I got here at 10:15.

And not to bore you with the finer details, here's the quick-and-dirty summary from last week:

  • My old phone was sick. I got a new one! YAY!

  • Kat, Keat and I played WhiteWolf on Saturday and Sunday

  • Had meeting with Shadow Dev staff on Monday, hired Kat on

  • Planned Developer Training for Shadow Dev

  • Working out the finer details of our Movie Night

  • Had to deal with the Copier missing the Scanning function - had a meeting with Allan and going to figure it out

  • Fixed a client's login/check issue - that took a while

  • Finally got ST:TNG Season 1 and 7 back on Netflix - now I can finish Season 1

  • My 2nd oldest sister and Dad stopped by on Friday - she is now in TN

  • Met wit 2 potential clients. Wish I was more professional

  • Finally got a response back from the Fox Carolina guys about the relationship. I was told to call another person. Here we go again

  • Had a major server outage on Friday for about an hour. I can honestly say IT WASN'T MY FAULT! Apparently, the server company had an issue with their main operations server and had to force a shutdown/restart. All details are at the Shadow Dev Blog

  • Fixed some issues with another client's site. Should be getting the final check soon

  • Watched the 4th Bleach Movie. It was really good.

  • Created a Site Reporter using Google's API. Now, I get daily reports telling me where Shadow Dev is in non-biased Google Rankings for our area

  • And of course, the 10th Anniversary of 9/11. Still can't believe I was a freshmen in High School when that happened. My support goes to those in need.


That wraps up last week. And now for something completely different (but TOTALLY worth it):
Blade!



Tags:#blade #twilight #foxcarolina #server #outage #google #sttng #training #developer #shadowdev #phone #ink #sign #calls #postoffice #zits

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This guy sent me an email so I decided to grade it.

Email Grade

Thanks to The Oatmeal for the idea. I'm not as funny as Matt Inman, but I thought I'd give it a try


Tags:#theoatmeal #email #grade #fail

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Jack Carter can't save Eureka this time

Working Daze

As much as we hate to realize it, even Jack Carter can't save Eureka from this disaster. Even with all of Eureka's population trying to solve this issue, this is one that cannot be prevented. Sure, Eureka has been through some tough troubles, like a literal shrinking town, super-gravity, time loops/freezes, light-speed devices with the Einstein-Rosen Bridge device, and even proven some undefinable probabilities. But "cancelation" is one issue even they (including Carter) can't fix.


Tags:#workingdaze #eureka #syfy

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"Work Smarter, Not Harder"

My Favorite quote from my favorite cartoon character, Scrooge McDuck.

Work Smarter, Not Harder
-Scrooge McDuck


Scrooge McDuck

Original quote is assumed to be created by Carl Barks [reference]

I think this applies to much more than just Duckburg - as a developer, I've been told I am "the master of 1 step" by making a difficult process much easier (such as modifying one file to work across a whole website instead of modifying 37 different files to reflect the same change - thank you Dr. Hughes).


Tags:#ducktales #scroogemcduck #quote

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End of a busy week

Bug

Yes, this marks the end of a very busy week. Although a lot has happened, a lot is still going to happen next week.

I know I didn't blog yesterday, but don't think of it as "I missed a day" - think of it as a break from my usual ranting. There - I said it. Enjoy.

I'm working on developing a new Customer Relationship Manager for Shadow Dev. The plans were drawn out nicely, and the design and database setup are going well. All I have to do now is put in the hours to develop it. Why am I developing something so intricate? Mainly because our new sales person has brought in so many potential clients that I've almost lost track of them. So a CRM was created to manage who, where, and what has been done with the potential and current clients. So far, we have 8 potential clients on the list, and I just had to write them down so I'd remember who they were.

I've also started watching TNG from the beginning. Yes, the video quality sucks, mainly because it was filmed in '88 (and I guess transferred from VHS quality), but it's the classics that bring us home. "Encounter at Farpoint" was a little different than I remember, but I'm glad I'm watching the series from the beginning.

Speaking of VHS, how's about a class Calvin & Hobbes comic:
Calvin and Hobbes


Anyway, I've also been implementing the new security feature for the Apache Killer issue, and I think things are coming along nicely. Had to install mod_security first, but it's okay.

I'm also happy that our friend Janet is still having her Sushi night on Sunday. Can't wait for that! Yum yum! Too bad it is going to be the last Sushi Night that she is offering. Maybe she'll have one at her new place....who knows.

Dr. Hughes also dropped off our brochures yesterday! They are lookin' nice! And we have 1000 of them that we can put wherever we need. I sent 10 to mom and dad today, so they should be getting them in the mail soon.

I had to miss my Meetup meeting last night due to some unforeseen circumstances, but it's okay. I got to spend time with Keat and things turned out well.

That's it for me this week. I believe I've put in around 35-40 hours or so - eh, who's counting?

I'm just glad I'm not like this......yet:
Working Daze


Tags:#workingdaze #bug #janet #apache #brochures #sushi #crm #tng #vhs #calvinandhobbes

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Neat Netflix Trick

Believe it or not, my cat, Maru, found this trick by accident. This little trick allows you to skip through the portions of a show that you don't want to see (like the intro or the credits). So far, this only works for me in Full-Screen Mode, and I've had it work in window-mode a few times, but it's nice to share regardless.

Here's what to do:

  1. In "Full-Screen Mode", press Shift+Enter, and you should get a screen like below:
    Netflix Trick


  2. You can move between sections of the film/episode/etc in several second-based intervals using the left and right arrow keys. In this example, this episode is 45:35, and this allows a person to skip in 10-second intervals.

  3. When you are at the section you want to resume, press Enter, you will get a small "Loading" bar, and you will get the place you selected without having to sit through boring scenes (like the Intro or credits)


I don't know how many people know this trick, but I thought it would be nice to share.


Tags:#netflix #trick #maru

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Tell a Potassium Joke? K

Sorry for the bad chemistry joke, but I thought it would be appropriate for this chemistry-based comic from SMBC:
SMBC


Tags:#chemistry #smbc #badjokes

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Anti-Virus Software

I think this explains a lot about Anti-Virus software manufacturers.



Tags:#dilbert #antivirus #hulu

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Squishy Day!

The System

Today was Take your Squishy to Work Day, so I brought my Squishy to work. Here's a shot of my mini-fox hard at work:
Squishy!


Anyway, today was kind of a wasted day. I don't know why. After getting my notes together and corrected this morning about a client, I met KC at the office at 11, gave him his cards, then pretty much browsed the Internet for a few hours - mainly webcomics. Today seemed like a good day to browse the other 99% of webcomics that I had been missing from the outbound corners of the internet. I added a nice little "Favorite Webcomics" section to the blog (below the "Comments" section on the right side), which looks like this:
Favorite webcomics - in no particular order

The above webcomics are always listed in a random order, so don't think that I have a preference.

Anyway, after I got done browsing, KC finished his work on a client's site. I went in and tweaked it a bit, and it was officially classified as "Done!" so I moved the beta.php page to the index, and made a PR announcement on the Shadow Dev website.

I went back to browse some webcomics, and voted for a lot of my favorites on topwebcomics.com. So, that's it for my Wednesday. Hopefully I can be more productive tomorrow and Friday to call this week a success. 7 hours today + Mon and Tues = ~21 hours.


Tags:#thesystem #squishy #webcomics

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SPAAAAAAAAACE Bar

I was browsing my reader a few minutes ago, and saw this:
SPAAAAAAAAACE Bar


Which, of course, made me want to see the ending to Portal 2.......again.


And that referenced to this video, which is slightly annoying, but still fun to watch.


Tags:#portal2 #space #keyboardcat

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What a day...EARTHQUAKE!!!

Working Daze

Wow, today has been a busy day. I came in this morning a little tired and expected to finish a few things that I started yesterday.

Anyway, here's the rundown of today:

  • Apparently, there was a 5.8 earthquake in Virgina around 2pm. I was unaware of it, but curious when my chair was moving under my desk without me moving it. I thought it was a low-flying plane or a big truck or a fast train, but when I went to go check outside, none of the above were present. After going through my emails, apparently Glenn Beck reported on it, but I was not aware. More details can be found on Google Maps and USGS. This makes the 2nd earthquake I've been through (and the 1st one I've been conscious for).

  • I am in the process of finishing the last episode of Voyager. It's still a good series, although it seemed like they ran out of material in the last season (as usual).

  • I called the Fox News guy back and began our ad run with them. I was contacted by Tom an hour or so ago with his expertise, and I'm glad that we were on the same page: it's a gamble, but hopefully it pays off

  • I talked to Janet today, and she's working on her new place. I can't wait till she's ready to open for business!

  • I was also contacted by Tom with a potential client connection. We have performed a site analysis and sent it over, all within 20 minutes

  • I finished the PiLam mobile site, and that worked out quite well. I used Shadow Dev's mobile site as a template, but overall, I think it works nicely

  • I received feedback from Lionel, and although I don't completely agree with the idea of switching from our current web development means to a mobile-only app development

  • I had a potential client walk in today and talk about his new service. His service sounds nice, and I told him I'd have his quote by Friday. I got it to him today. Hence the saying "Under-promise and over-deliver" - thank you Dad.

  • I sent an email to Dr. Lockwood for catchup and to get a meeting time for our monthly Shadow Dev meeting. Hopefully I get a response back soon.

  • I added images and information to a client's site and implemented a function to display September-only material in September. So far, it works well.

  • I finally received the new address for the Pi Lam house. Can't wait to see it!

  • A client had some images that they sent over that were too small. Apparently, they googled images and sent the thumbnails. To be honest, I'd really expect an organization to send over some higher-quality images for a site like this. Hopefully, we can get some better images soon.


Server says I've been signed on since 10:23. 7 hours later, I'm signing off. Same hours go for yesterday, so 14 hours thus far.


Tags:#earthquake #voyager #clients #lockwood #lionel #analysis #pilam

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Secret Code

Pearls

The above comic reminds me of this clip from Spaceballs:


With this week looking up so far, I am looking up for what the rest of the week has to offer. My to-do list has been slowly shortening, which is always a benefit. I sent a potential client a quote, which is looking very positive from our new sales person. Also, our Site Analysis process is working well since it helps reduce the amount of work needed to complete a Site Analysis.

I had a major overhaul of server security this morning, with many of the 404's and IP's from the weekend. That took a while, but I think it should work a lot better against server attacks.

We were planning on launching a client's site today, and it may go as planned if everything goes well. It's a little different then what we originally planned, but C'est la vie.

We were also contacted by Fox News for a spotlight location on their home page. A very inciting offer, but I contacted Dr. Hughes to see what his opinion was. We should have a decision by tomorrow whether to accept it (which is a benefit to us, and great market exposure), or deny (which although would be a bad decision, would save our money).

I am also working on a mobile version of the PiLam site which should be easier to load on mobile devices. I thought it would be better since it is getting a lot more traffic, and the new year just started (and loading the "Brothers" list on a mobile device takes a while). I did accidentally cause a minor server outage (less than 5 minutes) while adding the mobile subdomain, but it was fixed. Apparently, Apache decided that it wanted port 80 and wasn't giving it up no matter what. I had to almost go all TRON on the server and kill the process myself, but I didn't have to since I could kill -9 it.

Keat starts school today, so she is officially a Catamount (again). She had Japanese class today, and when she talked to Sensei, he said that I owe him some money. Apparently, I owe him $1 trillion. Where he got that number, I have no idea.

Since Keat started school, I thought this comic would be appropriate and I wish I thought of it first:
FoxTrot


Tags:#foxtrot #keat #school #wcu #fox #pearlsbeforeswine #spaceballs

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Employee Praise

Received this from one of my employees. It made my day.
Praise from Dr. Hughes


And received this in as a response to this posting:
Praise from KC Weeks


Tags:#hughes #employee #praise #kc

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Brent Spiner does Patrick Stewart with Jonathan Frakes

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Brent Spiner as "Sir Mr. Stewart"

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Bachelor for a Week - Day 5 - Almost Over

PvP

Keep in mind that the above comic has to deal with the Ren. Fair(e). I thought it was appropriate since I'm watching Voyager and active in the SCA.

Anyway, this week is over and I've defiantly surpassed 40 hours this week. The server says I logged on this morning at 9:57, so up to now, I've been working about 7.5 hours. Add that to my current work load, and I've worked 42.5 hours. Not bad for a week of Bachelor-ism.

Keat comes home tomorrow (YAY) and my Bachelor-ism will be over. I can't say it's been all great. The majority of the week has been: get up, go to work, come home, watch some tv, go to bed (+10 points if you can get that reference). Literally, I've gotten up (usually around 9), arrived at work around 10-ish, worked all day, went home, watch a movie (and feed the kitties), and went to bed. That was my week in a nutshell.

ANYWAY, I worked on the WHCC page a lot today, and should have that up by Monday as promised. I also worked on the Shadow Dev Beta site again, and things are coming along nicely. I should be able to meet that September 1st deadline with no problems.

I had a meeting with WHCC early this morning to go over some documents, and had the cleaning lady come in after that. Let's just say that what she did (and her daughter) in 20 minutes would have taken me a whole day to do in the office. $15 for a thorough cleaning is well worth it. She even offered to dust and more, but I thought I'd better start off small since this is her first time. She will definitely be back in 2 weeks!


I'm going to call it quits early today and head home to take care of some of the chores that I was supposed to do over the week. I did a few of them, but I have a lot to go. Good thing I don't have any Lumbergs around!

Although I did watch Dinner for Schmucks last night. Some people may have thought it was bad, but once you accept that it is "Steve Carrell"-funny, then it makes more sense. Overall, with the amount of comedy, dirty-ness, follow-through storyline, and cast of actors (including Jeff Dunham), it was a really good movie.

I've also watched: Mortal Kombat Annihilation (crap), Star Trek Nemesis (ok, but I'm starting to like it better once I got past the "Data died" part), Star Trek Insurrection (eh...), and The Karate Kid (yes, the 1984 version - I finally saw it all the way through and it was pretty good).

I'm gonna go home and work now....wait, what? Oh well.

And just for kicks, here's another Star Trek related comic:
Bug


Tags:#officespace #lumberg #cleaning #whcc #beta #keat #deadline #startrek #voyager #sca #pvp #bug

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Bachelor for a Week - Day 4

The System

It's been a while since I posted a System comic on here, but I thought this would be nice.

Day 4 of Bachelor-ship, and the days are starting to run together. I've completed more work on the Shadow Dev Beta site, and if I keep this up, I should be able to release it by September 1st. That'll be one major accomplishment out of my way.

Not much has really happened today. I kept watching Voyager - I'm on S7:E2 now, so almost done with the series. Still glad I got to see the whole thing from the start.

I also found out the issue behind why my txt's wouldn't sync with Gmail: my IMAP was turned off. After I turned it on, all of my txt's synced within a matter of minutes.

If I keep up this "blogging" thing, I'll have been blogging for a year in just short of 3 months. To be honest, I'm glad I'm doing this. If not for a personal record (or for you readers out there), then for personal enjoyment to entertain whoever is reading this.

Keat comes home in T-48 hours. Honestly, I can't wait. With the kitties meowing their heads off, no internet access at home, and trying to get work done during these ever-longing days, I may lose my mind before Saturday gets here. Good thing I have a small client meeting and a janitor coming tomorrow to keep my schedule in tact.

PS: According to the server log, I've been logged on since 1:05pm. To date, I've worked 35 hours so far this week. Only 5 more, and I'll qualify for overtime! (that is, if I got paid for it)


Tags:#thesystem # #keat #voyager #txt #blog #kitties

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Bachelor for a Week - Day 3: Lazy Day

Dilbert

Yep, today was a lazy day. I was awoken at 10am sharp by a fellow door-to-door "Do You Believe In God" advertiser, and after that, I went back to bed. My plan was to sleep for a hour, then go into the office. I didn't get into the office till 3. So 3 till 8, not a bad (or good) work day length-wise. So far, that makes....what? 26 hours so far? Either way, I'm still ahead of schedule if I'm going to get 40 hours in this week (is that too much to say since I'm employed by myself?).

Anyway, I did some more work on the Site Analyzer and it's coming along nicely. It's not 100% perfect yet, but it's pretty close.

I also watched 6 episodes of Voyager today. I just finished the one that Kim Rhodes is in. I think I first saw her in Zack and Cody, but she still has a unique perspective on her acting style.

I've also downloaded SpinFire for Android. As a hint from @WhitsonGordon, I've explored it and it seems a lot better than the stock browser. I had Dolphin for a while, but Android 2.1 only has <20MB of free space, and no APP2SD support, so I'm stuck uninstalling items to install new ones. 2.1 sucks - I can't wait till I upgrade and finally get 2.2+. If you are wondering why I still have 2.1, it's because I have the Eris, and Google/Verizon don't want to upgrade the Eris for some unknown [insert curse words]in' reason.

Anyway, that's pretty much the extent of my day. I better get home and let the kitties out before it gets too dark.

Also, here's a bonus comic I've wanted to share for a while. One hint: SPLORF!
Dilbert


Tags:#sinfest #dilbert #kitties #voyager #android

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Janeway's gotta have her coffee

Voyager

via geekfeed (pardon the Season 1 and Season 2+ transitions - noted by Janeway's infamous hairbun)

If I was in Janeway's position, it would be Dew, but the statement still stands.


Tags:#startrek #voyager #janeway #coffee

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12 hour work day

PvP

To give you a good idea of the above comic, just imagine a Ren. Fair(e). Yes, I don't go to them, but the author of the comic did, and since Keat and I use long bows, I thought it would be nice.

Anyway, here's the lowdown on the 12 hour work day:

  • I came in to work a little after 10, to meet Tom and his mountain of business cards. When he came in for a quick sweep, I started on the Site Analysises of a few of the sites. A lot of them scored below 60%. Along the way, I thought I'd go ahead and score Shadow Dev's site, just to give a client the perspective. We are at a 90.1% (of course, this is with our current design - our beta design scores much higher). That was pretty much the extent of my day for that part

  • I kept watching Voyager. I'm on S6:E12. Not bad for a day of watching

  • I'm creating an analysis program to help me with the site analysises. So far, things are looking promising.

  • I go accepted into Forrst! A developer's social media network, if you know what I mean. The application process is extensive, and I almost forgot about it until I received an email saying I was accepted.

  • The book I am mentioned in officially shipped the edited copy today. I should get it in the mail in a week or so.

  • The kitties have been pretty spazzy the past 24 hours. I think Niko has seperation anxiety. He doesn't want me to go into a room without him, and when I'm home, he just loves to nuzzle.

  • Keat's not having a good time with her parents, as expected. I won't go into too many details since they might be reading this, but I will say that they peaked interest in Shadow Dev for the first time. The questions they asked this round were more in Keat's court, so she could answer them. Although when Keat's dad asks technical questions about the company, it seems like he knows what he is talking about although he doesn't have a grasp on the subject he's trying to prove he knows (for example: he thinks that every site has a Mobile application, and that the mobile application accesses a different database than the main site, and that creating a mobile application is easy to create - I mean, sure, if you are bilingual in PHP and Java, but if you aren't, creating an App is not as easy as it sounds). It would be like me asking him "What is the financial change of the Income Statement of your company for the first quarter of 2011, and what areas are affected by the change of command, and while you're at it, what is the maximum load bearing of the triangular struts used in the construction of the east wing of the Phoenix location, and why can't a company simply copy and paste the blueprints of one building to another in a different location of the country? (You get my drift)"

  • Had a discussion with a potential client today. I won't say much, but apparently we got to him too late. His current "Web Designer" got his hands full, and then his site got hacked by an SQL injection. So he signed a contract with Adobe and Capatan, and they're taking care of everything (I think).

  • As you may be able to tell, I discovered geekfeed this morning, and found a lot of good pictures. Here's one I couldn't pass up:
    Mythbusters go Boom!

    Lotta good stuff!

  • I also set up another Cron job to help with the optimization of tables. I thought I had one in the past, but I couldn't find it in the X amount of files I have. It won't be long now before the server can stand up on it's own and start demanding coffee!


That's it for my 12-hour day. Until tomorrow, and the rest of the week. G'Night!


Tags:#sql #mythbusters #voyager #renfaire #pvp

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Star Trek: Too Good to Pass Up

Saw these on geekfeed. Too good to pass up

Away Team
Away Team

Just some guys attending the first space shuttle showing
Just some guys attending the first space shuttle showing

Couldn't pass these up. More ST references at geekfeed.


Tags:#startrek #space #shuttle #geekfeed

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Meanwhile at Syfy

Syfy

via http://geekfeed.tumblr.com/

First Firefly, and now Eureka. With Eureka canceled, what will Syfy do next? More Wrestling - yeah, that's "Syfy'y"

It's only a matter of time before Syfy (btw: I still like "SciFi") goes the way of MTV: showing all non-related genre shows and appealing to only 1% of their market. Seriously, MTV back in the day was Music TV. I still recall turning it on (no matter what time of day) and seeing random music videos. Now, it's all about "who can get pregnant the first" and "what little bitch can spend all of her daddy's money on useless items" (I recall one episode that my girlfriend was watching about one 16-year-old who made her dad return her birthday beetle because it was the "wrong color." MTV makes me want to drop kick the TV.

Why not bring back the actual quality programs that make the channel unique, like Eureka and Firefly? Those shows actually pushed the limits of creativity, both in the writers and the audience. Sure, it's not Dr. Who, but it still had that spark of interest that said "This hasn't been done before. Let's do it!"


Tags:#mtv #syfy #eureka #warehouse13 #drwho

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Designer vs Developer vs Manager War

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Bachelor for a Week

Well, it's here again. The week that I am alone. Keat's with her parents spanning the US (NC to CO, AZ, NM, and others). All I have is 3 cats and only 1 internet connection. This is going to be a LONG week. In addition to keat being gone for a week, our new sales person will be gone from Wednesday till next Thursday. So I will literally be alone from Wednesday till Saturday, when I pick Keat up at the Airport.

But enough griping....here's today's comic:

Non-Sequitor

In plight of the major downside, I've made some great improvements and completed some major work that I've been needing to complete over the past few weeks.


  • I've added a mobile image optimizer to my blog. The images will now be loaded to 10% of their original filesize for faster loading on mobile devices

  • I've finished work on NSMT's password complexity, as well as finished a 180-day expiration policy. It's taken a longer than usual, but it has been completed. Now, on to the rest of the to-do list

  • I've added shadowdev.co as an official URL shortener for Shadow Dev. There are more details on the Shadow Dev Blog. Right now, it's not really open to the public, but general readers can create shortened url's at shadowdev.co/shorten - we are working on some analytic procedures and may have those up within the next week or so (at least on a basic level)

  • I've also created a nice 404 page for our URL shortner. You can view it at shadowdev.co/nonfolder (this doesn't exist, so you should get a 404 error). Thanks to the @Oatmeal for those images
    TumblBeasts

  • I've created some HowTo articles on the Shadow Dev blog - mainly about some techno-babble like DNS systems, Proxy servers, and Email hacking solutions

  • I've been on a Voyager-trek (no pun intended) for the past few days, and without (borrowing) Keat's laptop, I can't watch it at home (and our PS3 has a faulty laser, so that's out of the question), so I've been watching it at the office all day. I am at the end of Season 5 and about to begin Season 6. I'm so glad that I've been able to watch all of the episodes in chronological order and without commercial breaks
    PvP
    Although this is from April, I thought this would be appropriate since I'm on a Voyager-trek

  • I received my new license in the mail today (with my updated address). However, my license still expires in Feb of 2012, so I still have to go get it updated then. So basically, my license is good for about 6 months

  • I've also created 3 major cron jobs: one to report 404 errors to me to see where people have been trying to access (and block attackers), one to update YUM on a nightly basis, and one to send weekly reminders to our Independent Contractors to send in their weekly status report

  • We've finally received info from one of our clients that has been pretty quiet. I hope that the rest of the information we receive should be able to make the site live (especially since they wanted it on July 15, but we had no information to go live)

  • I played WhiteWolf with Kat on Saturday, and we've progressed fairly far. I had 1 quest to get a Silver Braided Cord to trade for a skill, and now I/We had to go to a trailer park and "take care of it". Right now, we are stuck mid-dash trying to get away from the trailer park. We'll see what happens in a few weeks when the episode resumes


That's it for now. I'm sure this is a lot to read, so I'll leave you (the reader) with additional comics, one I think may make my generation cry a bit.

Corpse Run
Dilbert



Tags:#corpserun #cron #witewolf #url #shadowdev.co #dilbert #keat #non-sequitor

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CICADA!

Pearls Before Swine


I know that the last few days have been absent of my entries, but I have a few reasons of explanations.

  • With our new sales person, he has kicked out butt into gear at the company. We've been spending the past few days getting sales folders ready (printed, punched, assembled, distributed, etc), and working on a brochure as well. It has been rough going, but I'm glad that he is pushing us in the right direction, instead of us just sitting around waiting for the next assignment.

  • Last weekend, Keat and I went to Elkin for a Pennsic Pity Party. While it was hotter than anything I've felt before, it certainly was interesting. I saw a live cicada for the first time in my life! Most people usually just hear them or see their shells, but I had one actually land on me!
    Cicada!

  • We had some unexpected visitors last night for dinner. Janet and Ivan came over to our house and we had some of Janet's famous curry! I don't mind having some last-minute visitors, but I do wish I had some time to clean up the house a bit. Either way, it was good to have some of her curry after so long.

  • I've also been working on an Alumni list for the PiLams. It was a bit harder than expected, since I had to get 1 form to go 2 ways (to the local database and to Paypal). After implementing some jQuery, AJAX, and some unorthodox methods, I was able to get the appropriate data to go where it needed to go, and got a collection of names for the Alumni database. I've also been asked to provide some friendly advertising on the site. We'll see how that goes.

  • We may have a new Janitor at our office. Details to come.

  • We should have our own URL shortener for Shadow Dev! Unfortunatly, sd.to was taken, but shadowdev.co was not. I should be working on a way to allow for shortened urls through shadowdev.co soon.

  • There were a few other things, but that's the jist of the past few days. I'll try to find some time to make some more entries before long.



Tags:#cicada #pilam #url #pearls

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What Websites are made of

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Long Weekend

Garfield

Thought the above comic would work for this past weekend and the past week. I know it's been a while since I posted last, but things have been super busy. Here's the run-down of the past few weeks:

  • Shadow Dev hired 2 new employees: KC Weeks (Developer) and Dr. Thomas Hughes (Sales). We had our first "team meeting" last week, and things have been good so far.

  • I played our 2nd episode of WhiteWolf which is going nice. Keat and I went to a friend's location and had a restful and eventful weekend. It's not D&D, but it actually makes things better since it's more in real-time than in medieval times (now, if only the holodeck was real....)

  • I was mentioned in a book! YAY! The book itself is called "Starting your Career as a Freelance Web Designer", but I'm mentioned in it 4 times (along with Shadow Dev)!

  • there are a few things I'm missing, but I'm gonna call it a day and go home.


and since I haven't posted in a while, here's another comic:
Fail



Tags:#new #employees #book #garfiend

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A Brief History of Programming

Saw this via @GeeksAreSexy - it's amazing how the Java vs PHP and Ruby duels have progress

History of Programming


Tags:#programming #java #php #ruby #javascript #fortran #cobol #basic #c #pascal #c++ #python #perl #ruby #rails

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Vacation Relaxation

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[Web Fight!] Web Designs vs Web Developers

Saw this. Had to share it.
web fight
Credit to wix.com and gizmodo


Tags:#webfight

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Triple Nugget!

I was going through my image library and saw this from xkcd comic that I thought was relevant to the past few days. Long story short: I ordered 3 DVD's from Amazon, a sign from Vistaprint, and business book from Amazon. The DVD's got here yesterday. I'm still waiting on the sign to be printed, and the business book is still in PA after being shipped yesterday. I wish it was here already.
xkcd

PS: happy triple post! (is this a record for me? maybe I should do this more often....)


Tags:#xkcd #package #tracking

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Kirk gets Nyan'ed!

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Nuggets!

Wow, it's been over a week (almost 2) since I last posted. Does that give you any idea on how busy I have been?
Working Daze


PS: I'm calling this "Nuggets" because we are making home-made chicken nuggets for CJ tonight! YAY!

I won't go into too many finer details, but here's the rundown of the past few weeks:
Personal:

  • Best News: I'm on Google+! I've been waiting forever for a friend to send me an invite, and I finally got one! YAY!(?)

  • 2nd Best News: Netflix has all of the Star Trek Series on Instant Play! I can now watch every episode of TNG, DS9, and Voyager back to back and in chronological order! YAY!!! YAY!!! YAYAYAYAYAY!!!!! (did I say "Yay?") NYAN!

  • Keat an d I got a used PS3. It's good and all, but we think the main laser went out and we have to get it replaced. TBD

  • CJ is here for the weekend. Is there a word for "insane insanity to the insane max?" If so, that's what we (me, Keat, and CJ) are together. I don't think there is ever a dull or boring moment.

  • On the same topic, CJ watched "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" yesterday. Let's just say that he almost died laughing. Finally! A Mel Brooks comedy he likes!

  • On a similar topic, I've become a big Cary Elwes fan. I don't know what it is, but he is a natural actor and damn good at it! I mean, Psych, Twister, Men in Tights, Glory, and of course, The Princess Bride, he has a good line-up of fimography credits. And.....

  • I'm not one for Cosplay I used to not be into Cosplay, but after seeing The Princess Bride a few weeks ago, I'm determined to make Cary's The Dread Pirate Roberts outfit. Basically, it'll be double duty: SCA and Conventions. After that's done, I'm going to make/buy Squall's outfit

  • The house is coming along nicely. We just mowed the lawn twice. It takes about an hour, depending on how fast you go. We're almost totally unpacked, and having an attic is nice too



Business:

  • We have a new contract - but I don't know how much things will progress on it since the main contact people aren't being very communicative

  • We hired a new developer! Yay!

  • I'm interviewing a Sales person on tuesday, and with our current relationship with him, it should be nice.

  • We may be hiring another developer. I'm negotiating details now.

  • I'm dealing with a client's security policy that they had to make for one of their clients. It's not looking pretty right now. We have a conference call in a few weeks, and hopefully I don't get my head bitten off. We'll find out.

  • Our office has been a little rearranged. We removed the couch (put it in our house), added a futon sofa (works better), moved my desk to the window, and took down the table. It's certainly more open now.

  • I'm trying to figure out a fiasco about some office keys that were misplaced. Basically, I've contacted two previous employees from '08, and it's been crazy trying to figure out where some missing keys went.

  • I've lost my faith and respect in Parallels. Put it this way: I upgraded my Plesk Control Panel from 7 to 10 (first mistake). I then had to go through all of the configuration files to re-configure the server to work properly. Apparently, instead of editing the main server configuration file, it creates a new one for each edit you make, and they are all titled something like "1300625830.75118100_httpd.include", so trying to find which one was the latest is extremely hard, especially when you are dealing with edits made within seconds of each other instead of minutes. Anyway, I went through Plesk 10 and tried to order a new domain for a client. This sent me to shop.marketplace.parallels.com and told me to login. I logged in with the credentials I had, and it charged me for the domain. I then waited about 24 hours for the global nameservers to catch up, and it turns out that the domain was mis-registered! Apparently, it was registered under my name at Parallels, not my standard domain registrar. So I couldn't go into any control panel and change any of the settings because (after contacting Parallels, Plesk support, my domain registrar/manager, and the reseller's reseller, I can't find $%#@ control panel to correct the nameservers to point to the right server! AAAHHHHHGGGGG!!!!!! [insert Charlie Brown scream here] I'm still talking with the people to try and find a straight answer. So far, it's not going well.



Enough boring details. I'll save the rest for later.

Update: [2011-07-08 07:09pm] After sending a kinda frustrating email to the MyPlesk support, I finally received a straight answer:
 
Hello Kyle,
 

 
Thank you for your email!
 

 
Kyle, that is absolutely right, please use [support management link] to manage 
 
your domain [domain in question].
 

 
I am sending you the login credentials for the domain management panel:
 

 
Login   ######
 
Passwd  ######
 

 
Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to email me back.
 

 
Have a wonderful weekend!
 

 
Thanks,
 
[Support Person]
 

I logged in, updated the nameservers, and the switchover happened within hours. Why couldn't I have received this from the beginning.

I especially like the part when it says "...that is absolutely right,...". I feel a little happy inside.


Tags:#startrek #nuggets #cj #workingdaze #ps3 #caryelwes #cosplay #newemployee #google+ #office #domain #registration

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Kirk vs. Kirk

Presented without further comment, William Shatner arm-wrestling with Chris Pine via @GeeksAreSexy

Kirk vs Kirk


Tags:#startrek #kirk #gas

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Send in the Mythbusters!

I was going through my image files, and wish I had shared this 2 weekends ago:

Saw this guy at ConCarolina 2011 and couldn't pass up a photo!
We asked where Adam was, and he didn't know


Which leads me to this image:

Don't worry PETA: no animals were harmed in the sharing of this image

Later!



Tags:#mythbusters #jamiehyneman

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Drums Drenched at War

JoyofTech


I thought the above comic would be appropriate after last weekend's drenching. Let me explain: there is good news and somewhat bad news.

The Good News:

  • We met a new SCA friend named Bryan (SCA Name: Boar). Very funny guy, and it's amazing what helping a friend will do for you

  • I placed 5th in the first Archery Prize Shoot! (not bad since I had been placing last in almost all competition)

  • I placed 3rd in the second Archery Prize Shoot! (and tied with one of the best archers in the kingdom!)

  • I was recognized in Court for the 3rd place above! Yay!



The Bad News:

  • It was hot, then we got drenched. Here's the story:
    Saturday started out hot, and just got hotter. With most SCA events, most people set up a table in front of their tent for cooking, planning, lighting, etc, and place chairs outside for resting. Most people also place dayshades over the table so their table doesn't get too hot. We did all of these, like smart Scadians. Anyway, after all of the competitions and contests, we went back to our tent to wait for Court in a few hours. We saw the dark clouds in the sky and thought "I hope the rain isn't too much." The 3 of us (House of Felis Noir) were sitting under our dayshade to cool ourselves off and saw our friendly ex-baron Axel. We all said "Hi" and struck up a conversation. A little later, our new friend Boar brought us 4 frozen lemonades. What a great friend. He then offered for us to sit with him under his dayshade since ours was a little full with the table, cooking, and lighting items. We moved our chairs and sat with him eating/drinking our frozen lemonades.

    The clouds above started getting darker and the trees made an odd noise. Boar looked up and said "I hope the wind isn't too much, because this [dayshade] isn't staked down." At that moment, I grabbed one of the legs of the dayshade to hopefully keep it on the ground.

    No more than a second later, a huge gust of wind came from the side (almost hurricane strength) and started blowing us over. Boar started to notice the dayshade was going to give way, and said "Let it go! Let it go!" I wish I could. The dayshade had latched onto me, flipped, and dragged me about 10 feet. Our dayshade fell over with not much damage, but before I could get to my feet to start to regain an understanding of the situation, a massive downpour came and drenched anything that was outside. Our dayshade already collapsed on itself (almost nicely) and we had a few people helping us to get the table, cooking, and lighting materials inside our tent. We zipped up our tent with everything we could get, and Boar let us stay in his almost-empty tent for the storm.

    While we were waiting for the rain to pass, the wind decided to pick up again. With Boar's tent, it was a large rectangle, so it deflected most of the wind, but the 4 of us were posed in corners trying to keep his tent up. Not really a bad situation, but when the tent (with 4 people in it) is tilting 40+ degrees, it turns a little more serious. Boar was afraid that the wind was going to pick up the tent and we were all going to die. To be honest, I'm glad we didn't.

    I kept one corner of his windows open to keep an eye on our tent. Luckily, a modern tent saved the day. I know that being part of the SCA means having medevial tents, but modern dome tents help fend off strong winds by deflecting the wind direction and bending with the flow. Luckily, our tent (after bending and twisting in odd angles) did survive the impact. A few corners inside were wet, but nothing inside was too drenched. Us, on the other hand, were soaking.

    As far as I know, there weren't many casualties aside from a few bumps and bruises, and one tent did collapse in on itself, which was bad. We were lucky that Boar's tent was in front of ours so it did deflect a lot of the stronger winds. A little later, we had a smaller rainstorm and then the sun. When the sun came out, it got hot again. We had "Survivor's Court" a little later and laughed about the situation. Boar kept telling my story and was saying that I was a "F***ed up Mary Poppins". I'm glad I can laugh at that.



So the week begins anew and life begins again. I'm back at work and hopefully can get some of this insanity down to some sane level.

BTW: I thought this was appropriate for the SSL issue a few weeks ago:
There, I fixed It!
What IT Support really looks like


Tags:#sca #war #rain #dayshade #it #support #felisnoir #hot #wet #archery

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Easter Egg Comics

Here are two comics I saw that I wanted to share:
Bug
Who woulda thunk it?


I Can Has Cheeseburger
Thought this would be appropriate since I am technically self-employed


Later!


Tags:#bug #ichc

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Mustard

xkcd
What if Wikipedia existed during the Magic School Bus? That'd be a short series...

Wow, has it really been 2 weeks since I posted last? It's been a super-busy 2 weeks and a lot has happened. Here's an overview (without too many details):

  • We moved into the new house! YAY! We're still moving in stuff and getting it organized, but we are now living there and it's great to be right down the street from downtown and the office! It did take a while to get things packed up and moved, and we're still doing it

  • We had a dispute with one of our clients: NSMT. Apparently, some communcation got crossed/lost/misunderstood and things got a little hectic, but now it's better and we're working our butts off to get their stuff done ASAP!

  • Keat's parents came down for the weekend to help us move. I can honestly say that the tension was so thick, you couldn't cut it with a knife - you'd need some type of chainsaw on steroids! On the good side, they didn't talk about much - just the moving. That's also the bad side: we needed to talk about our wedding plans, and they didn't want to. However, we did get some house repair and needed items (like the blue recycling bags that Waynesville requires). So it's an adequate trade-off.

  • We are in negotations with a few new clients. I won't say much, but here's our potential client list thus far (minus some personal details):

    1. A photo sharing/selling company

    2. An anniversary that has a party and needs an invitation site

    3. A travel and booking business

    4. A local entertainment center

    5. A Psychic person (?)

    6. An unknown person that contacted us at the office and wants to help us (or us help them; I'm not sure)

    7. A local Retirement lodge

    8. A political action group

    9. and a Property management company


  • I just got June's Hello World out today. I know it's the 13th, but better late than never, right?

  • Had a bunch of meetings with current clients and the Exec. Director for SMDC. Along with NSMT, we're also working on Lu's Specialties Foods and Innocent Footprints at the same time (while moving....yay)

  • and a few other things that I can't recall right now. Like I said: it's been a busy 2 weeks.


On a semi-related note, I know the xkcd comic is a little far-fetched, but I thought it would be a good re-entry to the posting. Along with seeing an episode of it (about Heat) on Saturday while eating lunch. Pretty cool!

I have also collected some pretty cool comics while out and about, so I'll be posting those as well to catch up to my quota.

Hey, look! Here's another one:
Bug


I'm gonna finish moving stuff in and get some NSMT stuff done too. My "To Do" list is getting longer everyday....not good.

And I know the title of this posting is "Mustard". I already have one called "Ketchup". Why not add a little "Chili", "Relish", and some "Hot Sauce" while I'm at it? I think I have some titles ready to go for the rest of the week....


Tags:#xkcd #bug #todo #new #clients #house

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Bonus: Fix the HTML!

Just checked my reader, and saw this. Thought I'd share it since it deals with my favorite (and most annoying) field.



And this is appropriate for last weekend:


Tags:#dilbert #bonus #thesystem

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Weekend of Unplanning


+10 points if you can correctly guess which episode and series this came from.

Anyway, the main point of this post is to discuss this weekend. Sure it's Memorial Day weekend, and I'm proud of our active and non-active heroes in the military and non-military fields, but that's aside the point.

To start off with, I am currently at Nags Head beach for the weekend. This was not really of my choice. I have a lot of work to do for the business, and it seems like with the way that Keat's parents were acting, we are staying Friday till Monday in the Nags Head area. My parents wanted to hold a get-tigether with both of my sisters and us to celebrate Jinnee's birthday, Jarrod's graduation, and Keat's graduation. It originally was planned for last weekend, which we had open, but then based on Jinnee's schedule, it had to be re-scheduled for THIS weekend, and since Keat's parents wanted us over for Memorial Day weekend, and wanted us over for 2 weeks originally. While we did NOT have 2 weeks to spare, we were able to get it down to about 4 days.

Long story short: Keat's parents are nice and everything, but it seems that the whole concept of "vacation" usually doesn't mean anything to them. They like to discuss things (or as they say: "talk about it") that Keat has issues with (from their standpoint), yet anything that has to deal with us, Keat's dad will only talk to her and not me.

This has been the actual proof-of-concept that proves that Keat's parents know what a "vacation" is. So far, all we have done is gone on the beach and gotten sunburnt (don't remind me). A lot of family is over and it seems like the only way that they can "talk" to us is to pull us aside and out of the way. As they are the "hosts" of this little "get-together", it seems kind of hard for them to do that. In addition, we are also staying at a family friends' house, which reduces the chance of them "talking" to us.

On a semi-related note, my sister sent over a text which seemed like she was super-mad at me. I can kinda understand, since apparently my parents had a special "celebratory dinner" which I was not told about. I sent her a response saying that we were not told about the dinner and based on the original idea of Keat's parents, we were lucky to get 4 days out of the original 2 week plan (and could not get out of it). I haven't received anything back yet which means she understands the situation (either by my text or talking to Mom, who knew our schedule), or she's even more pissed at me, which I'M SORRY for. I would have loved to stay Memorial Day weekend with my parents, even if a few chores are involved, but trying to manage 2 schedule requests for 1 person ain't that easy.

I do have some good news, though. Late on Wednesday (the day before we left), I was flipping through some channels at my parent's place and saw Boomerang playing Swat Kats, one of the best shows ever! Because I was curious, I found that WB stopped selling the Swat Kats DVD's, but that doesn't means that other sellers don't have it. While searching for the DVD set, I also came across another great series called ReBoot, which was one of the first (and possibly greatest) CG series that ever came around.

On a more good-news note: I'm watching a Mythbusters marathon on Discovery channel, one of my favorite shows which I haven't seen in so many months since Discovery doesn't have an agreement with Hulu yet, so I can't watch my missed episodes (and they don't have episodes on Discovery.com/mythbusters yet).

While I try to heal this unsightly and uncomfortable sunburn and work on some of these client projects that are due by Tuesday, I hope your memorial day weekend goes better than mine.

And while I'm at it, here's a bonus comic:


and if you like bonuses, here's another comic (I have a whole gallery that I need to catch up on):


Goodnight!


Tags:#mythbusters #swatkats #reboot #graduation #vacation #xkcd #bug #dilbert

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Best Defense

Saw this. Wanted to share.
Best Defense


Tags:#defense

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Quaint

Over the weekend, it has been super busy with all of the house hunting and dealing with Keat's parents. The word of the day had to be "quaint" because that is the only term that we could use to describe some of the houses. One that we saw seemed like it was out of a Dr. Seuss book (literally). After saying "goodbye" to her parents, the sanity could once return to our world.
Dilbert

This comic seems to sum up my list of to-do's around the office. Although I only had 2 days of actual work last week (as seen in my last posting), I frantically spent all of Wednesday cleaning up the apartment. After flying through the place, making sure everything had it's own little home, Keat's parents walk in on Saturday (or Friday? I don't recall - all of those days blurred together), the only comment they could say is "what a crummy place". I'm sorry - we are the ones who live there, and for us, this is clean (you can see the floor and there aren't clothes strewn everywhere [wow, I think that's the first time I've used that word]). For doing a super-fast clean-up from a pseudo-packing task, I say it's pretty good.

All stress aside, we did see one house that we really liked. I won't go much into details yet (so I don't jinx it), but her parents are placing the bids on the house. As I was afraid of, her parents also have a LONG list of "requirements" to be met before anything can proceed (with us, not the house). I won't go into that because that could be another blog entry on its own.

Now, we're back to work, nearly a week after I made the last posting. A lot of work and so little time.

Edit: Little side note, but Keat finally graduated from HCC on Thursday! I didn't mean to overshadow this with the parent visit, but I wanted to let the world know!
Keat HCC Grad


Tags:#dilbert #house #apartment

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SSL Relief

After spending 1 week with email support from Website Source, Comodo, and enom, I finally have the SSL Certificate for a client that was assumed "lost". It turned out that after getting super-frustrated at being sent in circles, Comodo sent me an email saying "Please call support". So I called support and (finally) had my SSL Certificate within 10 minutes. 5 minutes later, I installed it on the client site and everything was at peace.

Here's an overview of what happened:
  1. Ordered a "Comodo Essential SSL Certificate" via our Control Panel (powered by Parallel's Plesk) which is through Website Source (aka: "WSS"), our reseller on May 6

  2. Comodo sent me a "Domain Verification Email". I clicked on the link, provided the code, and verified the domain.

  3. 24 hours later, I did not receive an email from Comodo with a "Here's your Certificate", so I contacted Comodo about it

  4. They said to contact my reseller (they said "enom", which isn't true)

  5. I contacted WSS about the issue, and they weren't sure about the WSS/Comodo relationship. They also said that I can contact Comodo and cc them on all correspondences in the future with Comodo

  6. I sent back an email with the instructions that I used to obtain the Certificate purchase procedure.

  7. It turns out WSS didn't even know that purchasing SSL Certificates through Plesk was possible (even though I did it a few months ago). This was their response:
    Well, that clears up our first source of confusion - buying SSL certs through the Plesk panel might be a new thing, we didn't know it was possible.
     
    SO- unfortunately it doesn't seem to do anything to clear up what happened after you ordered it.
     
    Perhaps you could write to Comodo again and say, basically- your last message didn't make a lot of sense, Enom shouldn't have anything to do with this transaction, could you please either tell me exactly where the certificate was sent, or just resend it to the proper address?
     
    As I said, feel free to cc us on this stuff. I hope that you can clear it up with Comodo. If not, then I imagine that we'll have to open a ticket with Parallels.

  8. I contacted Comodo again, and they sent over the same response ("The certificate has already been issued. Please contact your webhost reseller")

  9. I sent them a response saying "I know - I've contacted them and they said enom shouldn't even be part of this"). I also asked "Where did it go?"

  10. They responded with "Please be informed that i have sent the certificate once again to your account email id. Kindly contact your web host. Also for your information you can directly download your certificate from your account login."

  11. I tried to login to their "Account manager", but none of my login combinations worked. I tried their "Forgot your password" feature, but it said that all of my login information was wrong. SO...I contacted them about it

  12. They responded with:
    If you want to get the login detail, you will have to reset the password and get the login detail through the account admin email ids.
     
    You can reset the password by the given below link by entering the order number and account admin mail id and get the login detail through your account admin email id: [password reset link]

  13. I responded saying "THAT DIDN'T WORK! This is why I'm writing to Comodo - to say it didn't work!"

  14. They responded with "The certificate has already been issued. Please contact your webhost reseller (enom)" (sound familiar?)

  15. So, I set up a support ticket with enom and awaited a response.

  16. In regards to my "Account Manager" issue, I received
    an email saying the following:
    For this reasons you need to contact your webhost [Secure Business Services],they will assist you in better way.
    meaning I need to talk to enom
  17. I appended the ticket I sent to enom saying this
  18. I finally received a response from enom late last night saying
    Thank you for contacting eNom technical support. I will be glad to look into this for you, but I will need some additional information to better assist you. Unfortunately I was not able to locate the domain: #### or any account associated with it on our system. Do you have an account with eNom? And if so, what is your login ID? In order to 
     
    purchase this certificate, you would need to have had an account with eNom or eNom Central. Unfortunately without additional information I won't be able to find any additional information, and it is likely you did not purchase this directly through us.
     
    It is possible that you may have ordered this through a reseller that uses eNom as their backend service provider. In which case, you would want to contact them to find out more information, and for further assistance.

  19. I tried to respond to the ticket, but enom's ticket management system kept logging me out for some odd reason. I even tried a different computer and different browser, but it kept logging me out even when I wasn't logged in. I couldn't go anywhere or do anything, so I emailed them about it.

  20. I received an email from Comodo again (with the title "Password Reminder") saying that enom had the certificate and I had to go through enom to get it. I also received an email from WSS asking what the issues were with my password. I responded saying "I only cc'ed you on this. There aren't any troubles with my login"

  21. I responded to Comodo saying "I can't login to the account manager, I can't get access to the certificate, I can't get a straight answer!" (paraphrasing)

  22. Comodo responded saying "The instructions enom provided you were wrong" and some other @^(*&$! about how I have to go through enom to get it

  23. I said that the instructions were NOT provided by enom, they were provided by Comodo! I think this is the 3rd or 4th time I said "If I can't get a straight answer, I will demand a refund and go somewhere else" (at this point, I was ready to punch through my laptop - my mediation training from Martial Arts couldn't save me now!)

  24. Comodo sent me an email saying "Thank you for your reply, please call into our support staff for further assistance at US"

  25. I called Comodo support, and got the certificate emailed to me within 10 minutes

  26. I told WSS what had happened and cleared things up with them saying it wasn't their fault. I am still awaiting some type of answer from enom if I ever get it.

...and that was the past few days. May 6 to today to be exact. It feels good to get that off my chest and release some steam. I was driving like crazy today and about to rip something if I got my hands on it since nobody was paying attention and didn't understand what was going on.

ANYWAY, here's today's comic (which I think is very relevant):
SMBC
Is this the first time I've posted a SMBC comic?

That pretty much sums up my past few days. Keat and I went house hunting on Sunday and found a few houses that we liked. We sent the list off to her parents and are awaiting "the talk."

I also called my mother on Mother's day and wished her "Happy Mothers Day". Yay for mothers!

Also got Half-Life re-downloaded from my old Steam account and started that back up. By using a wireless mouse I have from ??? ago, I'm doing pretty well for not having played the game in about.....4 years? The CD didn't want to install on Vista 64, but luckily Steam had my account active and I was able to re-download the install files. Yay! Now to deal with all of the stuff that piled up over the past few days while I was dealing with the SSL stuff.

PS: Keat finished up her final semester at HCC today and graduates on Thursday! Hooray for her! Now on to Western to finish up her Bachelors.

PPS: I (and Keat) am on the Squishable Gallery! (2nd page) YAY!


Tags:#squishable #ssl #comodo #websitesource #enom #halflife #certificate #plesk #parallels #smbc

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New Shirts!

It's the end of the week, so TGIF! Although it's been a pretty rough week, it's also been fairly productive. First, before I get into details, here's a comic:
Yellow Peril

I thought I'd offer a new comic. This one is Yellow Peril, a fairly new comic I've started liking.

Anyway, on to the activities: As the title conveys, we received a new shirt design today! YAY!
Front Back

Honestly, it was a prototype design, but it came out REALLY well! I've started offering it to people via inspiration from CloudFlare.com.

I've also become a big fan of 4 new bands: Porcelian Black (heard their new song on the radio when we picked up Pizza last week), Paramore (they are covered often on Pandora, so I thought I'd create a station for them - still good), Flyleaf (good stuff), and Fireflight (more good stuff). I've never been one to cling to new artists, but these guys do it right!

Anyway, I've re-connected with an old college friend today and found out that she joined the SCA yesterday! Small world, huh?

I'm having a small issue with SSL certificates for a client. I ordered it through our Server company, which orders it through a 3rd party, but it turns out the 3rd party either sent it to the wrong place or didn't sent it at all. Our server company is trying to help us solve the confusion (and I hope soon, because the client's temporary SSL expires on May 10).

I don't recall much of what happened yesterday, but all I know is that I'm working on a mobile version of this blog. It's not easy, since I have to deal with cached pages from CloudFlare (the "developer" option doesn't work as well as I'd hoped), but I'm working with a direct input of CSS instead of an external file. After it's ready, I'll switch the include with the and things should be good as gold.

Anyway (again), I'm off to Asheville to meet up with Keat and another friend at the mall. Till next week


Tags:#ssl #sca #css #cloudflare #yp #new #tshirts

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I had a case of the Tuesdays

I know it's Wednesday, but this first portion deals with YESTERDAY. Deal with it. After I posted yesterday's entry, Keat and I went home. Nothing super special, but it started raining. Hard. We went to Ingles to pick up some dinner, then got back out to the car, and the stupid car wouldn't start! Since the RKE doesn't respond anymore, we have to open the car with the key, which causes a mini-alarm to go off for a bit. After about 10-15 seconds, the full-on "HEY! I'M BEING STOLEN!" alarm goes off. Which it did. For 10 minutes. The stupid key wouldn't turn in the ignition. So here we are, holding groceries, in the hard, wet rain, trying to either disconnect the car battery and/or start the car. The car finally started and we were off. Soaked, but wet.

ANYWAY, there were a few comics in the past day that I liked, so I'll be posting them throughout the week. Here's the first one.
The System

Haven't posted a System comic in a while, but what the hey - I thought I'd do it.

On to more technical stuff(s), I had an idea for a developer-friendly MySQL error notifier, since mysql_error() only works on the front end. My proof-of-concept that I developed yesterday really worked! And I'm so happy! Here it is for anybody to use.
#notify developer(s) of MySQL Errors
 
#use: $result=mysql_query($sql) or die("Oops!".mysql_dev_error($sql));
 
#(c) 2011 - Shadow Development [http://shadowdev.com]
 
if (!function_exists(mysql_dev_error)){
 
function mysql_dev_error($sql){
 
        #get the php-generated mysql error
 
        $error=mysql_error(); 
 

 
        #get the database name
 
        $db_q=mysql_query("SELECT DATABASE()"); 
 
        list($db) = mysql_fetch_array($db_q);
 

 
        #get the top-level domain along with the page the 
 
        ## query is being executed on
 
        $page=$_SERVER['SERVER_NAME'].$_SERVER['PHP_SELF']; 
 

 
        #send HTML email
 
        $headers  = 'MIME-Version: 1.0' . "
 
";
 
        $headers .= 'Content-type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1';
 
        $headers .= "
 
";
 

 
        #generate message
 
        $message ="SQL Query:
$sql

"; $message.="Database:
$db

"; $message.="Error:
$error

"; $message.="Page: $page"; #send off mail("DEVELOPER_EMAIL", "MySQL Error for ". $_SERVER['SERVER_NAME'], $message, $headers); }}

BTW: Creative Commons License
MySQL Developer Error by Kyle "KP" Perkins - Shadow Development is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

I'm really surprised how well it works for just a proof-of-concept. I told Keat last night that I must be getting really good at this "programming" thing. I used to think of an idea, write it down, write the code in 15 minutes, then spend 2 weeks debugging it. Now, my 15-minute code sessions work like a charm from the get-go. I must be doing something right....

Here's the overview of what I got done today:
  • I got some minor edits done to the Shadow Dev Beta blog (added a side navigation like the on one this blog; had to make my own URL shortener for some URL-based comments).

  • Made some additions and edits to the Receipt Rescue.

  • Finally sent out May's newsletter and followups (I'm only 3 days late!).

  • Contacted a potential client to find out that my idea of a "potential client" turned into "We need an editor" - no fun.

  • Made a minor adjustment to my Cron job from last week (decided to have the IP addresses added to a DB log and see which ones were repeats - so far, it's blocked 29 addresses in just over a week; that's about an hour of free time I got back!).

  • Finished Rocko's Modern Life on Netflix (first 3 seasons were good, the last season got a little weak, like most final seasons do).

  • Added a Microtimer to the Main and Beta Shadow Dev sites to see the page generation time.

  • Found out about EchoSign.com - an electronic PDF signer for clients. Not a bad idea, and I may try it in the future.

...and that's about it for now. Till tomorrow!


Tags:#thesystem #php #creativecommons #mysql #car #alarm

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Weekend Overview

Zits

I think this comic would have been better with last week's posting, but it didn't come out till 4/29. Anyway, here's the run-down from last week:
  • Our neighboring branch of the SCA had their annual Southern Atlantian Archery Day (SAAD) over the weekend, and it went well. Unlike last year, I actually participated! And it was great! I used my hand-me-down bow with a few new arrows that Keat had made, and I shot 37 points (out of 21 targets/3-6 arrows each)! Not bad for my first tournament shoot. I can't wait till the next one so I can shoot more! The good side: we didn't have an uncontrolled fire like last year (although one of our camp-mates caught his tunic on fire for a few seconds). The down side: we traveled to and arrived on the site, ready to set up, and we found out that we forgot our tent poles! I had to drive to Walmart down the street and (luckily) bought the same tent - we harvested the poles and set up camp in about 10 minutes.

  • Keat and I went to the AB Tech Jump Start day last thursday, and it was okay. Most of the vendors there I had already dealt with, so the event itself was a little down. I can understand "New" businesses going to that to get connections, but being that we have been in business for a little over 5½ years, I didn't feel the need to talk to most of them. I did, however, talk to the organizer of the event and register Shadow Dev as a vendor for next year's event - yay for free marketing!

  • we also went to our monthly meetup group last thursday, and it was great! We had about 7 people show up, and we talked about everything from PPC to AdWords to Niches to SMI to....you name it! I also met a rep from TopFloorStudio - although one of our direct competitors, it was good to get to know a name other than Ty Hallock.

  • I was feeling really bad early Thursday morning, so I had to call in to my morning event, a TCC Peer Entrepreneur Lunch. I wish I could have gone, but my body said different. I hope I don't get sick before the next one!

  • Keat and I semi-decided on the Allen's Creek apartment that we looked at earlier, but then we received a call from Holly, our broker, who had a list of foreclosures that she wanted to send us. I swear she was listening on our conversation, because Keat and I were talking about that with Keat's parents just moments before Holly called us. We have looked at a few of those houses (online at least), and we are interested. Now if we can only get the finer paperwork done.

  • Speaking of moving, Keat and I started to pack up the apartment. As I said last week, it looks like a tornado went through it and took everything off the shelves and out of the closet. We are working on cleaning that up, but it's pretty much a death trap right now.

  • Finally received an email from the owner of the lawn care service that our apartment uses - he was willing to replace our catnip plant, but the attempt at communication came a little late. Exactly 1 month late. I sent an email the day of the lawn work (March 29) to the landlords, and they said they contacted the lawn care guy (I saw CC on an email). I received an email on April 29 saying "Sorry for the delay in this email. If my employees cut you plant down I want to apologize and see what I can do to replace the plant. If you want to tell me where you bought your plant and what it was I will replace it. In the future if you will put a stake or something for my guys to identify it from other plants or unwanted weeds they will not cut or remove it. We have alot of apartments to take care of and lot of people who plant items in the beds but never mark it. So when the mowing crew comes around they didn't see it last week or last year so they think it needs to be removed. Once the mowing crews knows its suppose to be there then they will leave it alone." So much for support; this seemed like a "We're sorry we did that - here's a coupon as our apology" attempt

  • While I was at SAAD, I received an email from Mint.com (great service, btw) saying that Wachovia charged me $5 on my personal savings account. I recall the phone call on March 14 saying "Would you like to open a savings account?" / Me: "Is there a monthly maintenance charge?" / Them: "No, as long as you have your free student checking, there will be no charge to use the savings account." So I transferred the money out of the account (they said the same thing on my Business savings account, then charged me for it, then said "there is a charge to use it", so I closed it), went over to Wachovia, talked to an Advisor, and she said that there wasn't a discount code added to the account. She refunded me the $5, added the "No Charge" code to the account, and sent me on my way (in a good way). Hopefully, they don't gouge me out of more money, or I may have to transfer my 3 accounts from them to somebody else

  • I set up a cron job last week to scan for IP addresses that try to SSH into our main web server (which runs every day at 12:01AM), and so far it has blocked 26 unique IP's since it was first set up. Not bad for a quick "let's-set-it-up-and-hope-it-works" attempt

  • One last thing about SAAD: Since I didn't have much archery equipment, I had to borrow someone's leather glove to shoot off of (so I wouldn't scratch up my hand with fletching burns). He said "I'm letting you borrow this, so you owe me". I agreed, and he called in the favor. Late Saturday, I was called over to the Cordial lady (who is "Madison", btw, and she lives in Fletcher! Small world, huh?) and she had a little challenge for me. I was tied to another guy (who I didn't know) by some leather rope and we had to get out of the "tangled mess". Being of stupid-, sleep-deprived-mind, and tired-body, I just wanted to get out of it. It was some fun trying to figure out how to get out of the knot when everybody around us was laughing, recording, egging on, tempting, and trying to "help" us (although I don't think the "helping" was "helping", if you know what I mean). After about an hour and a half, the other guy wanted to give up. I