Author - Web Developer - Educator
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

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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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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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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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. If we gave up, we had to lose a pinky for an hour (Madison would tape our pinky down to our hand for an hour). The guy I borrowed the glove from gave up in the last round and lost his). I wanted to keep going and find the solution. I don't know how long we lasted, but the other guy finally surrendered and gave up. He didn't lose his pinky, but he had to get up SUPER early on Sunday morning and help Madison pack her van. I was tied to another friend known as JR (real name unknown). After about 10 minutes of looking silly, JR and I (mostly JR) finally figured it out. I won't say how, but we had to perform the "escape" again since Madison didn't see it. We both got a cookie for winning, and she said "At the War of the Wings, come to me and ask 'Where is my prize?' and I will give you a much better prize!" I made sure to put that in my calendar (and post it on this blog) so I wouldn't forget. The other guy in Madison's tent sold swords and other unique items, and when he walked up to me, I thought he was going to say "Congrats" or something. He hands me a claw-like necklace and says "I can't let you go with just a cookie. Here, take this". Cool! I got a free gift for being stubborn! As my good friend James Contratto would say, "ROCK!"



I think that about sums it up from last week. Until my next posting!


Tags:#zits #saad #cron #wachovia #catnip #tcc #entrepreneur #apartment

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Birthday Times

I'm feeling super generous today, so here's two comics:






I thought I could make this update last week during my actual birthday (Wednesday), but last week was extremely looooooooong for me and Keat. Her aunt passed away last Sunday, and we traveled 480 miles across North Carolina from Waynesville to Nags Head on Tuesday, which was one of the longest trips I ever made (especially since we left after Keat's class was done at 2). Once we arrived, we crashed for the night and went to the funeral on Wednesday (which was very emotional, by the way, but I never went to a funeral on my birthday before), left for Tortuga's Lie (great seafood restaurant, and it was Sushi night, so I got some Sake!) we were all tired and left Thursday morning to drive 480 miles back to Asheville on Thursday. With the addition of the traveling from Nags Head to Columbia (NC) and back (and back to Asheville), it was close to 1000 miles in 1 week. I kept getting the notion from Keat's mom asking if I had a funeral on my birthday before. I kept saying "No, but I've had a Physics test before", and that happened about 4 times.

After we came back, our new friends in Apt #1 (Jen and Ty) invited us over to their place for beer and monopoly. That was very interesting, especially since Keat and I had about 4 beers each (which is a lot for us). We also cleaned up the apartment on Friday, which helped out a bit.

Our friend Kat invited us to Biltmore Estate on Saturday, which was very fun, but I don't want to walk around for 7 hours anymore. My legs still hurt from Saturday.......ow.

I got to work this morning at 7:45am, and still here at this hour. I finally figured out why the 3rd IP address wasn't added to my account (when I ordered it on Feb 9th) - it was because the order got stalled.....again. It seems like that is a recurring theme on my account: orders will stall and require an extra "push" from an Admin before it can successfully be processed. After getting that canceled and re-submitted, it was a fairly eventful day, with the education and installiation of the Intuit credit processing for EAUC, the status updates and video production for NSMT, the SEO Seminar preparation, and the sudden loss-of-internet for about an hour at the office (the county came over and tried to do something (I don't know what they were doing), and when they were working, the internet went out - found out about 20 minutes later that the College lost their connection, so the whole county was out for about an hour). What a day. I'm going home now to rest.....

One last thing: I found out that I'm (should be) in a book! It's called "Starting Your Career as a Freelance Web Designer" and it's available via Amazon! It is scheduled to be published in August, so I can't wait till it comes out.

I also made a logo for Zoomiform (aka: Business Accelerator) and registered the domain for it, and an official logo for Infinity.

Also, you would think that since Intuit is one of the biggest credit processing and accounting companies in the world, their online credit processing procedures would be easy. YEAH RIGHT. Unlike Sage (which NSMT used), Intuit is extremely difficult to integrate. They want you to use THEIR systems or nothing at all. So I'll be spending the next few days trying to figure out how to do that properly. I found a nice little PHP DevKit for Intuit systems, and got it to successfully return a test environment, and now have to figure out how to make it live and work with real funds. That should be fun. Night!


Tags:#dilbert #xkcd #biltmore #monopoly #eauc #nsmt #nagshead #travel

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February already?

Rudy Park
Squeezed this one before February hit with just a few hours to spare!

It seems like just yesterday I was making my last journal entry, but I mean WHOA! It's already February. My last entry was on Dec 11, the day that my internet provider left and I haven't had internet at home in.....wow, almost 2 full months. That's, like, forever in Internet-land. It's really a strain when you have a lot of work to do ON the "internets" and when your clients are breathing down your neck to get stuff done, but you can't get anything done because your only stable internet connection is 30 minutes away (I'm speaking of the Office, here) and you're snowed in so much you can't even leave the parking lot! Yeah, it's been a hard 2 months.

I won't go into any fine details, so I'll just cover the basics in 60 seconds or less (I hope). *big breath* Here I go: Keat and I went across the state (twice) for Xmas, had fun with my sisters and their signifiant others (and accompanying children), got a few gifts for Xmas, spent New Year's at Keat's parents' and met Thomas' new girlfriend, shucked oysters (fun), came back to Raleigh, found out that I mixed up my Secret Santa person (oh well), came back to Asheville, got snowed in for 2 weeks (not fun), got Chi fixed before Xmas (semi-tragedy; almost lost her (temporily misplaced, not due to surgery)), finally got into work and have been working for 2 weeks straight, Keat is back in school and it's kicking her butt, doing well with the Shadow Dev Newsletter (yay - committment!), got 2 new Ratchet & Clank games (spent many wee morning hours playing those), signed up for FourSquare over the holiday, got tired of it, stopped doing it, attended many, many seminars over the past few weeks, started a new service Receipt Rescue (which seems to be progressing well), worked on client stuff (did I say that yet?), trying to shrink my to-do list, worked on Neko Sentou and 50% through Vol 12 (YAY! Check our story progress at Lunar Productions), participated in my first PiLam Omega Zeta initiation after 2 years, and we are moving to Waynesville in the summer since Keat's transfering (hoping) to Western in the fall.

Was that 60 seconds? Probably not, but that's a lot easier than filling x number of pages with finer details.

Over the past few weeks, I've been working on NSMT's request system. After a (literal) system overhaul with some finer tweaking, the system is finally finished (99.9%). Technically, it's done, but I'm revamping a record modification system with jQuery and it's taking me longer than expected.

I've been working closely with QR codes on the Shadow Dev site for today (take a look at the QR Page I created - I think it's pretty cool), and replacing the images with image sprites (to reduce the server hit response; in laymen's terms: 10 images produces 10 hits, meanwhile 1 image sprite with 10 images used 10 times produces 1 hit - smaller server response time, faster loading, and more accurate analytics). I'm also working on NSMT's Shuttle Service, which is a new service they want. May take me a few more days to get that finished.

Just saw Inception, and that was pretty good. It took a while to get into it, but once you got into it, it's like a roller coaster ride (same goes with The Men Who Stare at Goats).

Oh yeah, I have been receiving a butt-load of spam-bot comments on the blog. I finally revamped the comment system to strip out a lot of what the spam-bots were sending in. I used to receive 1 email every 30 minutes saying "New Comment" with the content of (but not limited to): free poker online, certain underage adult actions, enlargements of a certain male body part, getting 1000 Facebook fans (tons with that), "I like your site and visit it daily" (if they really submitted that, they would realize that the blog hadn't been updated in 2 months), and various other spam-bot-like material. They're getting really desprate and/or creative. I like to think the first. Anyway, since I revamped the comment posting system and implemented some new filters, I get maybe 1 spam-bot a month now. Nice to have those multi-level filters in place.

One last thing: finally met Janet at the Specialty Sauce place down the hall. Turns out that she and her husband(?) owned the Sushi restaurant down the street for 16 years. They had to leave since a nail salon moved in next door and the toxic fumes were getting into the restaurant - not a good experience. However, it turns out that she's a semi-expert sushi and nigiri maker, and she's making/selling sauces since her restaurant is kinda downhill right now. She also said that people from all over the area went to her specifically to have sushi (even people in Sylva, Asheville, and even Robinsville (where the heck is that?)). Can't wait to try some of her sushi!

I'll try to keep up with the postings as much as I can. Till later.


Tags:#inception #xmas #rudypark #qr #hits #sprite #nekosentou #receiptrescue #chi #asheville #snow #shadowdev

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YAY! Server issues are.....*meow* SHUT UP!!

Dilbert

Today was a very snowy day. Lots of snow and not a lot of travel. I wonder if we'll be snowed in tomorrow or not. Hopefully not.

Not much really happened today. Keat had the Marketing Plan to work on and finish, which she did while we watched a number of American Dad episodes. I received a call on the 800 number from a potential client, and after the call was done, I was super excited: the potential client fits our target market perfectly! I mean, after revamping our current marketing strategy, we're seeking out organizations and businesses who have gone through a web designer/developer/firm already and were dissatisfied with the results, either through the vanishing points of contact to the updated site design, and even with something as simple as missing updates. When the client becomes frustrated with their current site provider and they want to seek out a better firm, that's where we come into play! As the motto says, "Simply Professional, Professionally Simple™", and we hold that true to today!

I also received an email from the support guy saying that he couldn't find anything wrong that would cause the downtime on the server. He said that there was a cron job (Geek-to-English: a cron job is a scheduled task in a Linux system) set to run every 30 minutes, and he changed it to every hour. I haven't received any downtime-related emails since about 6 or so tonight, so I guess that solved the issue. I checked the cron jobs and only saw 1 other cron job aside from the one I set. The other cron job was a system-wide backup (or so I can guess), and doing one every 30 minutes may cause the downtime issue. As I said, I haven't received any downtime emails since then, so hopefully that solved it.

I also received an email from our vet-tech friend discussing Chi. She said:
Cats go into heat from about Feb to Nov. They usually don't go 
 
into heat in Dec and Jan, though they can certainly do so. Cats 
 
essentially go into heat all year long, constantly, until bred. 
 
They can go into heat, be out of heat for a week, and go right 
 
back into heat. they can even go into heat while still nursing 
 
their young, and get pregnant again. They are very prolific 
 
breeders.

Apparently, female cats can go in and out of heat quite frequently (just great) and she gave us a reference to check out for getting Chi spayed. If all else fails, we can take Chi down to her and she'll do it (although she's about 1.5 hours away from our home, so that may take a while or a weekend trip). Chi's been pretty good all day, especially when she was asleep on the bed. BUT when she was up and about, all we heard was "MEROW MEROW MEROROROW mrrrrrRRROOW" again and again and again (she likes to turn purr's into meow's). I think my favorite phrase today was "Chi, I love ya, but please SHUT UP!" I think I also said "For the sake of my sanity, please SHUT UP!" a few times during the day. I know Chi didn't listen, but it felt better to say that. Although it's been a pain trying to keep her from peeing on stuff.

One last note: ......GREAT SCOTT!!! There's a Back to the Future Game! Saw it on my reader via GameTrailers.com, and just had to share it! After 25 years, when the first one came out, there is finally a BttF game! YAY! Had an interest in obtaining the trilogy, and found that Wal-mart has it for $32! What a deal!

Another last note: the neighbors finally came home and took care of their dog. The "female" came home at about 6am and stayed for a while, then we knew she was gone when the dog went "HROOOOWWWLLLL" again. We realized that both of them came home around 6pm, so (for the dog's sake) we're glad they're home.


Tags:#bttf #backtothefuture #chi #cron #downtime #americandad #dilbert

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What happened to Friday? And Saturday?

Zits

Sorry I missed Friday's update. It was a hectic day and I had such a headache after I got home. I'll explain it in a bit. I don't recall what happened exactly, but here's the best I can remember it.

Friday
I was supposed to wake up at 9ish and go to an auto-repair shop to get my tie-rod checked out. Turns out I woke up around 12ish and went over to the shop. After I walked in and explained the situation, the guy came back and said he didn't see anything wrong with it. I called Dad and he said "Just as I thought." Great. So the auto place I went to first either lied to me or was trying to gouge my wallet. Either way, I'm not going back there. Dad said he'll file a complaint with the BBB, but personally, I don't know how much "good" that will do since I found out that they aren't BBB Accredited over lunch. Keat and I went to lunch at Hardee's and then went to the office. We spent about an hour there, and I worked on the server configuration trying to make the subdomains work right. Turns out that there was an issue with the configuration file saying "Indexes" and "+Indexes", which was the main issue.

I also received a potential client contact and responded accordingly. A teammate from Keat's business class called and asked a few questions for the business paper. After the discussed options between us and her, I would like to get a copy of that paper; the things said in that paper would be a great media content!

Keat and I left from there and went to Barnes & Noble for some market research (class-related for Keat), and I got some hot cider and Keat got some hot chocolate and some cheesecake. After taking the cider and cheesecake, I didn't think life could get any better....

Keat and I browsed the mall for a bit, then went home. I had a small headache that turned into a large headache, and at about 12, I went to bed. I thought I would fall asleep before the intro to Futurama was done. I skipped the blog post and went to sleep.

Saturday
I woke up around 12 again, but it felt great to sleep in. Keat and I went to the store to pick up a few things, got "Grown Ups" and watched it (which was a great movie, by the way). I returned the returned the Redbox and came back home.

I also found out that the support guy responded to my email from Friday, after I told him about the "+Indexes" thing and mentioned the constant downtime issue. He responded saying the following:
Thank you for your email. The sub domain m.####.com is working fine for
 
me. Please clear cookies on your browser, close them. Now, try it again.
 
Thank you!

Yet, I didn't need to clear the browser cookies (I'm not stupid) since I checked the subdomains with 4 browsers on 2 systems (one local and one remote), and still nothing about the downtime issue I mentioned earlier. I replied saying that that subdomain issue was solved, and I needed to investigate the downtime issue, and received this:
Thank you for your email. I am sure what your question is this 
 
time. i checked all the sub domains and everything seems to be 
 
working now. Quick question, did you have to do something with those 
 
sub domains like 'kp.shadowdev.com'? 'cause it kept downloading the 
 
homepage when i visited earlier. It works now.
 
Thank you!

and then...
Hello,
 
Thank you for your email. Great to hear everything is working 
 
properly for you now. I think there were some sub domains that 
 
were down because the dns records were missing. Overrall, 
 
everything seems fine.

No real reason why the download thing happened, but I still have no response to the downtime issue. Overall, the downtime has been 1-2 minutes every 30 minutes or so. What "support!"

Just FYI, here's the uptime and downtime report as of now (over the past 5 days):

Uptime
Uptime Report

Uptime
Downtime in Response Time (ms)


As the day went on, Keat and I got some Papa John's pizza and watched some American Dad. We're now on Season 3, although I believe we have actually seen all of the episodes. The biggest thing that keeps bugging us is that our neighbor's dog has been crated alone in their apartment for 24+ hours. I'm pretty sure that's a little inhumane. The dog loves people and doesn't like to be alone, and the constant howling is getting on our last nerves! Keat wants to get in there a free the dog, but that would be against the law. We've sent an email to the landlord(s), but they most likely won't get that until tomorrow (if that early). The Internet has been slowing down every now and then, so Netflix has been 'nixed for the time being until things get faster. I just hope the dog goes to sleep soon. It doesn't really help to crate the dog, then leave all of the apartment lights on and the blinds open so everyone can see the dog inside and the dog can see everyone outside.

It also doesn't help that it seems that Chi is in HEAT again! She was meowing like crazy on Friday night and has been meowing her head off again today (and peeing everywhere). It was only last week that she was in heat, so this seems impossible for her to be in heat again. I actually had to close the bedroom door on Friday night because the meowing was too much. Little did I expect for Niko to be scratching under the door again after n months. The under-the-door scratching wasn't too bothersome, but the fact that he scratched under the door and shook the little springy thing (you know, the thing that protects the door from hitting the wall), which made an annoying "SPROOINGGG" noise.

One final note: I received another note from Progress Energy saying that they couldn't process my account. They have a direct connection to my bank account, so they can't say "Can't find account number." Aside from the howling neighbor dog, Progress is also getting on my nerves.

Let's see how the rest of tonight goes, and hopefully things get better. Keat has some homework she has to get done, so she'll be spending all of sunday doing that. I'll most likely be implementing the cURL system that I need to get done. Until then, 'night!


Tags:#hardees #americandad #dog #howling #chi #heat #barnes&noble #zits #headache #bbb #futurama #papajohns

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Server Issues and Bad Day

Well, the server file transfer is done, but there are a few DNS issues with the subdomains and the uptime. It is getting very confusing. That is why this posting is a day late. I'm working with the support guy, but I think either he's getting pissed at me or the server setup is so specifically confusing that it is causing issues.

Garfield

Yesterday had to be one of the worst days I ever had. I'm not quite sure what the issue was that made me have a totally "mad-at-the-world" mood, but I think it had to do with Chi scratching drywall and the Director's Cut newsletter (called "Hello World!"; appropriate, right?) I wanted to get out on the 1st. I stayed up till 5am writing it, then got about 3 hours of sleep before Keat had to be at school. I'm normally good on 3 hours of sleep, but I don't think that helped at all.

I woke up grumpy, which has been unusual since high school (when Mom would come in and say "Time to get up." "Time to get up." "Time to get up." / Me: "OKAAAAAAYYY!!!"). I was pretty much mad the whole day. Couldn't really work much. I got some emails sent, some files updated, and tried to work on the subdomain issue.

Keat didn't have her phone, so I left around 2:15 to pick her up. After I picked her up, it turned out that she was in a sour mood as well. We went to Wendy's to get some food, and tried to act civily. I think it helped a little, because we had some food and started joking around. Keat and I felt better, so we went to Ingles and got a copy of The Mountaineer, which contained an article about us. How exciting!

We came back to the office, I clipped the article out and posted it, and things got better. Keat approved the newsletter, took a nap, and I sent it off. I sent off a few more emails and tried to work on the subdomain issue again - no luck. Couldn't figure out the issue.

Keat had class at 7:30, so she got up and left. I watched some American Dad and tried to clam down some more. Keat got done with class and we went home, played with the cats, and went to sleep. There goes Wednesday.


Tags:#garfield #americandad #dns #subdomains #helloworld #ingles

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Good news Everyone! Server transfer is being finalized!

Working Daze

Today had to be one of the shortest working days I ever had. Before I get into the day's activities, I received an email from the support guy yesterday (Monday) at 1pm saying that the missing databases were up, and he could move the subdomains for me. I sent him a list of the subdomains I needed moved (send around 1:30pm). I also found out that accessing PHPMyAdmin was tedious (see previous post), and sent another email around 8:30pm. On to Tuesday:

Everytime my alarm went off (at 9am, 9:30, and 10), I checked outside to see if the "Inspector People" were here yet. Luckily, they weren't. I got out of bed around 10:30, got dressed, unloaded/loaded the dishwasher, did some last minute cleaning, put the cats in the bedroom (with litter, food, water, and scratchers), and left the apartment just before 11 to get Keat to class. After dropping her off, I arrived at the office at 11:45 and booted up. The server transfer was supposed to be completed Monday night/Tuesday morning, so I wanted to check on it. Well, it wasn't exactly finished. A few of the sites weren't even transfered! I received this email at 12:15pm today:
It seems like all the sub domains are redirected to one of the sub net of shadowdev.com. I think you can log on the control panel and add them. Most of them don't have any content. you know where they redirects to. It will be easier that you add and set them up on the httpd.conf file which locates at /var/www/vhosts/shadowdev.com/conf
..and this about the PHPMyAdmin access:
I am not sure if you can access to phpMyAdmin in the other way. That is how i usually do which i have to log on the control panel and do it.
I sent in a response saying that I actually completed the subdomain transfer (which took about an hour), and asked about the shadowdev.com transfer (send at 1pm). Also, I checked the other domains to see if they were transfered, and found out that only 5-6 were transfered and the rest were not. I asked support about what was going on (at 1:15pm). This was the first time I was a little suspicious about my support guy's education and training. I mean, not to stereotype anybody, but when the support email says:
Hello,
 
Thank you for your email.
 
The reason i did not switch them because there are so many sub domains attaching with a couple of domains. I just switch them all to the new server now. There might be a few setting which are not configured properly (old configuration). Let us know if you need root password so you can easily configure the php files. This the full path where each domain locating: /var/www/vhosts/ This is where the website content locates: /var/www/vhosts/domain.com/httpdocs

...you know there has to be something up. My webhosting company hasn't really been the best webhosting company in the world, especially with some of the previous support requests I sent in the past. However, this is the only company that gave me a good price for the services I needed. Other companies were either lacking in equipment, software, or too-high price.

Anyway, I finally found out that the shadowdev.com domain was transfered (or so I hoped), and I downloaded the PHPMyAdmin software to its own subdirectory on the server. After loading the setup domain and fixing a few requirement files, I had quick and easy access to PHPMyAdmin, just like the old server. It's not exactly the same, but it's better than the 5-step process. You think that the support guys would know that. Oh well.

I left the office around 2:15 to pick up Keat, we quickly picked up some gas and food, and went home. It turns out that the "Inspector" guy had been there, and left a little 1" strip on the counter saying "Maintenance was in your apartment today performing the semi-annual safety inspection. Thank you for your cooperation." I guess we passed.(?)

We let the kitties out and about, and they love the clean(er) apartment. Keat and I actually sat down and watched Date Night (which was good; 8/10 overall). Afterwards, I worked on fixing server migration issues and found out that either the hosting company's servers were getting confused, or the worldwide DNS servers were getting mixed records, because wheverI would go to a site (for example: shadowdev.com), it would either load the old server or the new server (the sites on the new server have "New Server" comments at the top of the main index page so I could tell the difference, but end-users couldn't tell). It got really confusing when I had to upload or edit certain files to fix specific errors (hence: the "finalization" process).

Keat took a small nap while I did that, and then I cooked dinner. Afterwards, she woke up and we caught up on some of our Hulu episodes while eating, and by the time we realized it, Tuesday was over and December was here.

On the lighter side, I found out that Yanni (my favorite New Age artist) is releasing his first instrumental album since 2003, and it comes out in February. Maybe early Birthday present for myself? That'd be nice.

Along with the server location confusion, the top-level domains (like shadowdev.com) point to the new server, while subdomains (like dev.shadowdev.com and kp.shadowdev.com) point to the old server. I'm not an expert on server setups, but that gets really confusing, especially since the DNS records were never manually modified for remote subdomain locations. I'm posting this entry on both servers so both have the most updated records no matter what the DNS/cache servers say.


Tags:#server #workingdaze #inspection #support #dns #phpmyadmin #yanni

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A day full of TV - and Facebook URL's!

Amount of Comedy in Entry: 30% - xkcd

Although I'm not getting this in before midnight, I do believe that I should get this done before tomorrow starts. Bear with me...

Last night was a pain. It seemed like I couldn't get to sleep - tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable, staying warm, and....Chi meowing downstairs. Although I did have a few dreams, I believe Chi was meowing away last night as her "heat spell" was dying down. I sure hope it is over soon, because it is getting really annoying with the Siamese-volume meowing and constant "marking" all around the house and anything on the floor (I mean, even with a TOTALLY clean litter box AND being house trained, she still pees on random things while in heat).

The alarm went off at 8am and Keat got up. Yes, that is a first. She got up at 8 and stayed up. And the weirdest part: she got up before me. Although I love my sleep, it's very awkward that she gets up before me. She got some coffee and got ready for school. I tried to sleep for another 30 minutes. I thought I killed all of the alarms between 8 and 8:30, but apparently, my phone wanted to create some alarms to annoy me. 8. 8:10. 8:15. 8:20. 8:30. Okay, I got up.

I gotta say: This 2-day work week is really throwing me off. This morning, I was planning for what to do on Thursday and Friday. After I asked a few questions about using certain cars on Wednesday, Keat said "I don't have classes on Wednesday!" Then it hit me like a brick soccerball (because a "ton of bricks" would kill me). Thanksgiving break starts Wednesday and we're heading out, so (knowing how things will go down) work won't get done between Wednesday and Saturday. I hate putting work on hold for that long, especially when I'm on time-specific deadlines.

We left at 8:59am, and it usually takes us 22 minutes to get from the apartment to get to the office and/or school for Keat. Somehow, we arrived at her school at 9:16am. Don't quite know how that happened.

Anyway, my day was busy. Along with catching up on the weekend tasks and reading my RSS feeds (aka: my "daily digital newspaper" - should call it my "DDN"), I decided to go ahead and start the server upgrade process. Although it upgrades the main hosting server from a 30GB space to 50GB and Red Hat RHEL 3AS (which isn't supported anywhere, and it seems it hasn't been for about 2 years), to CentOS 5 (32 bit) which is something I can certainly relate to since the main operating box at the office, and the box in my home office both run off of CentOS 5 (32 bit). Can't complain about that.

I spent a lot of time talking to the hosting support staff on how to get the upgrade done. It seems pretty seamless from what I understood. I purchased the upgraded server space, but waited to initialize the domain and file transfer from the old VPS to the new VPS. Although I had both VPS's set, I wanted to proceed knowing that all bases were covered before I was slapped with some "unknown" fees. I was about to get things going until....normal business called.

After I sent out a mass message on FB asking people to "Like" Shadow Dev, I received a tip saying that a local competitor may need some help. Long story short: the business owner opened up a new business (while operating the current business), and things seemed to fall behind. The tip suggested that we offer our services to them in a non-competition agreement. I said that I'd think about it, and may attempt to contact the owner after Thanksgiving, allowing the holiday chaos to calm down a bit. Odd request, but what the hey?

I also received some updates from a client concerning some cosmetic items and photos. The photos they sent were to be used in the main slideshow on their site. All were good photos, but I could only properly use a few of them. There were also some issues with spacing and photo placement, but nothing unusual from normal day-to-day activities.

I went to Arby's for lunch, which was good for variety, but I swear: their "Value Roast Beef" looks like (Bread + Air) + 1 thin slice of Roast Beef + (Air + Bread). I've always been an Arby's fan and loved the Big Montana sandwich back around 2002 (which I believe is now a #4), but this was a little unacceptable. I wish I got a photo, but I was so hungry I didn't care what it looked like. I'll get a photo next time (I also dowsed it in Arby's sauce so it actually had some flavor). Their chicken is still good though; fresh, crisp, and thinly breaded. Pure flavor there. And love the curly fries. Mmmmmm.....is there an Arby's open this late?

After Keat and I got back to the office, I read an updated headline about "including your Facebook URL on your marketing materials" and thought "there's no way I can fit our super-long url on our marketing material. How can I fix that? Hmmm. Oh! Unique Facebook URL! Ok, how do I get it?" I recalled a re-tweeted tweet from a local competitor trying to perform a "social experiment" to gain 25 "Likes" to get a "Vanity Facebook URL". Not a bad idea. We had a few "Likes", and I knew it would take a while to get to 25. I thought "If they could do it within a few hours, so can we. Let's see what happens."

I posted the first "Like Us" post on my profile, Shadow Dev's page, my twitter, and Shadow Dev's twitter (turns out that auto-made shortened FB links don't always work) at around 3:30pm. I posted updates on how many followers we had and made sure to be at the top of the "updates" list about every 30 minutes or so. After multiple update posts (and probably the point that most of my friends were tired of me), we reached 25 followers at 8:30pm and I got Shadow Dev's own Vanity Facebook URL at facebook.com/ShadowDevelopment (30 characters) - what a space saver (instead of facebook.com/pages/Waynesville-NC/Shadow-Development-Technologies/30328325855, which is 77 characters).

After that happened, I offered a 10% discount to all new customers who are Facebook fans, in order to show my appreciation of their support. Honestly, I think it's a great deal. Like us = save 10%. No coupons, rebates, or special conditions. I recall Land's End had a similar deal for me when I was ordering the shirts. The lady on the phone said "Can you go to the Land's End website?" / Me: "Yea" / Her: "Do you see our main special on the front page?" / Me: "Yea, the one about logos?" / Her: "Yep. That special allowed you to save on your logo setup fees. Congrats." / Me: "Really? Wow" / Her: "Yeah, it's that easy." Why not give a little incentive to some fellow facebook fans?

Keat and I picked up some dinner and went home after that and caught up on some of our favorite TV shows. However, Keat made a good point while we were picking up dinner. She and I were talking about the Direct and Indirect competitors for Shadow Dev. Although I had a rudimentary understanding of direct and indirect competition in my 1 Marketing class while in college, I don't believe I got a lot out of it since I was preoccupied with ScrumIt and Nascent (when the idea of riding the Indy Speedway in a Limo is in your head, nothing else really fits). It has been determined that Keat knows a heck of a lot more than I do at marketing, and that is one of the many reasons she's studying Marketing and I'm studying Operations. I'm going to leave just about everything "Marketing" to her and do what I can with what I have.

Back to the shows: Futurama had a new special out yesterday, and we watched it online (comes out 1 day after air showing). That episode was.....a little weird. After that, we watched The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show. Although they had good stories, it certainly seems like Matt Groening, Seth MacFarlane, and their writers are stretching to find good quality stories.

I just realized a whole 1 1/2 episodes of Futurama have played while I'm writing this (we sleep to Futurama in the background). I'm gonna sign off before this becomes a term paper.


Tags:#xkcd #thanksgiving #chi #linux #vps #fb #arbys #shadowdev #discount #marketing #futurama #thesimpsons #familyguy #americandad #theclevelandshow

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Shadow Dev has a Vanity Facebook URL!


I've shared it everywhere else - why not here? Yes, Shadow Development officially has it's own Vanity Facebook URL at facebook.com/ShadowDevelopment, and I have all of the Fans to thank for it.

It took a few hours and a bit of Social Media marketing to do it, but what was only an idea this morning became reality about 30 minutes ago! And best part of all, I'm giving every Facebook Fan a 10% discount for new clients! Tell your friends! Tell your family! Tell your fish! If you're a fan, you'll get 10% off of your service amount - just like that!

It's been an eventful day, and I hope to get another post in before midnight - don't know if that'll happen or not, but here's hoping....


Tags:#shadowdev #facebook #vanity #url #fans #discount

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Today - Headache = Good Day


Today wasn't bad. I woke up around 11am (no alarm) without a hint of a headache and it felt great. Keat and I spent the majority of the day cleaning the apartment to get ready for the inspection. We watched a lot of Eureka again today, and I think we're up to Episode 8 of Season 2. This is actually a series I would like to buy. Anybody know of any good sources? So far, I can't find Season 1 for less than $24. It'd be great if I could get it under $15.

Chi's still in heat, and it's driving us nuts. She's peeing everywhere she can and we're tired of washing things. Although things are getting cleaner, it's really a pain.

On to a better topic, I received a message from a Entrepreneur friend on FB from WCU, and he said "This is my new business. Would appreciate you "liking" it so I can build a following. Feel free to drop me a line if you want to talk small business sometime." Interesting idea, so I sent out a few invites for the Shadow Dev FB page and had a bunch of people "Like" it within 30 minutes. Not bad for a shot-in-the-dark blanket marketing message.

Didn't really do much else today. More cleaning tomorrow, and hopefully I get that Interview sheet done by Monday.

I should also be able to get the servers upgraded on Monday. Can't wait for that transition.....*cough cough*


Tags:#facebook #dilbert #eureka #shadowdev

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Sick Day vs. Entrepreneur's Day

Cat Proximity - xkcd

I can't say much about today. I spent most of it in bed....with a killer headache. I got to bed around 2-ish, which isn't bad for me, but I wasn't feeling too bad so I thought going to sleep would be easy. Turns out, Chi is back in heat. It feels just like last week that she got out of it, and now she won't stop the constant meowing. I think I laid awake until 6 or so when I finally got fed up with her and tossed her out of the bedroom and closed the door. When I'm very sleep-deprived, my long fuse of patience quickly becomes smaller than a micron. It's times like these that I regret her half-Siamese background (in case you don't know, Siamese have very large lungs and can meow very loudly. Chi is an Ocecat, so she's 1/2 Abyssinian, 1/2 Siamese, and a little tabby mixed in for color. Adorable cat, but very annoying when in heat).

Anyway, I woke up (and got out of bed) around 2pm because I had my Angel Investment class at 2:30. Keat was nice enough to take me although I had a headache all through the class. The class itself was nice, since we finished up the talks of a 3-week topic. Now I feel better prepared to talk to Angel Investors, although not completely confident. It may take me a few practice sessions, but I'll get there.

I went back to bed after I got home around 4:30, and slept till 8. My head was a little better, but not great. I finally got up, took an ibuprofen, ate a little dinner, and watched Price of Persia with Keat. Not a bad movie, but I do wish the ending scene could have been a little better. Great story and effects though.

I took another ibuprofen after the movie, and although my head isn't 100% better, I wouldn't be typing this if I didn't take those pills.

On a related matter, I spent the past 30 minutes or so going though my reader (with more than 150 items on there). I was surprised to find that President Obama announced on Tuesday that today, November 19th as National Entrepreneur's Day! I was under the impression that November 20th was the official day, but I guess today is better than tomorrow. Also, Nov. 14-20 is National Entrepreneurship Week. Glad that the work of David Hauser and Siamak Taghaddos, Founders of Grasshopper Group, and the petition they started actually produced the result they were expecting. It only took them 6 months, but they did it! Way to go guys!

I'm going to finish up some work while I'm up and then back to bed. Stupid headache.


Tags:#entrepreneurday #chi #headache #kitty #angel #xkcd

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I know, I know...

So it's almost 2007 and my last post was from November. Don't get on my back about it. I have been very busy with the past month with finals, getting papers in, traveling home, family issues.....okay, so finals were a breeze, i got 3 A's, 2 B's, and a C (Accounting isn't my strong suite - the math is easy, it's the record-keeping that's hard). So it's the new year. Whooppee! Yay! *blow little noise maker* okay, happiness over. Time to get back to work.


Well, we haven't gotten any new clients for Shadow Dev, but we are getting some progress in with SGA. The communication person I have been talking with hasn't responded to any of my recent e-mails, and I believe that she checks her e-mail once a month. That's why she hasn't gotten back to me yet. Long story short, i went past her and contacted the "old contact" that I used to talk to before she came in, and I finally got results. We should have a meeting when school starts again.


LMP got two new people in, so I should have their profiles soon to put up. Also, my family and I went to Lake Myra Christmas which (for those of you who know) makes the Alltel Pavallion Light Show look like a banjo-playin' country irish hoedown. I won't go into the details, but we may have LMC as a client soon! (giving them a big discount along with that). And, some guy called me wanting a job with SD. I told him i wasn't in the area (which i'm not...in the area that is; I'm in Raleigh instead of Cullowhee) so i told him to send me a resume and some sample work via e-mail. That was Thursday - nothin yet.


Speaking of which, my girlfriend should be out of debt soon! she got lots of money from Xmas and she is depositing it all, which should get her out of the red and back in the black (which is a good thing....). Also, I'm still working on Neko Sentou which hasn't gotten anything added to the story yet, but many mini stories are coming to me. And I'm getting the Characteristics section organized so it's a lot easier to understand, as a writer and for publishers/editors.


Um...what else....well, I wish my girlfriend was here with me for New Years, because she is literally going through hell with her parents. I won't go into details here because someone she dearly knows may read this and rat her out, which will get her in more trouble than she is already in, so i'll just say...I MISS HER SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!! I know that she is only gone for 2 weeks, but I MISS HER!!! (hey, idea for the manga). I can't wait for her to get back here and we can go back to Cullowhee. But the first thing that I'll do when she gets here is give her a big kiss and a big hug, because I know that she needs it.


My brother-in-law decided that we (as a family) should watch Slithers, which I will say that....it was interesting, but not something that I want to watch again...ever. I walked into the kitchen and saw those little weiners and I thought they were slugs from the movie....creepy.


I do have good news though: since my laptop won't work with burning or burned cd's (don't ask), i was able to use my dad's laptop to burn two copies of an Offspring mix, which we can use for the manga when it goes anime. well, gotta go. Dial up may kick me off again. I'm gonna ask jinnee if she can help me with closing my accounting books, because i still don't understand how to do that concept.


Tags:#2007 #finals #grades #keat #manga #sga

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Winding down the Semeter...

Well, I know that it's been over a month since my last post, but I have a good reason for it: I have been extremly busy. We now have a new client, the Student Support Services of Western, I'm talking to a new client (Desktop Factory), SD is now part of the Web Advisory Board for Western, we lost Catamount Communications to a "class project" (they'll come back to us, muh ha ha ha), and the UC site is a dud (the guy said that "we as individuals will redo the UC site"). AND...SD (which is now SD&T [Shadow Development & Technologies]) is trying to get ad space in the new LMP Calendar (it's going to be a flip kind, instead of the one sheet of paper).

Besides that, I had a lot of innovative ideas over Thanksgiving break, and only 2 weeks of classes left till exams!

I haven't been able to work on Verge much, but as I practice AJAX, I should be able to make Verge better than ever.

On the down side, big controversy with Sara and everybody. I've been out of the loop for a while, but it seems that Sara is apologizing to everybody (i don' quite know why). Also, I have discovered a new band: The Offspring. They've been around for a while, but I just heard them for the first time, and they ROCK! As I heard "Kids Aren't Alright," I was thinking of an intro for Keat's and my Manga series, Neko Sentou (of course, this will be for the anime, which I hope will happen soon). That song fits perfectly for an action-based series like this).

I don't know what else to say...post later


Tags:#AJAX #LMP #Offspring #SGA #Shadow #Dev #Thanksgiving #Verge