Author - Web Developer - Educator
Found 8 results for tag "ces"
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My Thoughts on Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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This is why you shouldn't interrupt a Programmer

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

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

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


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

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


Tags:#programmer #thought #process #startupdigest

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My Thought Process

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Everything is becoming automated!

Corgi Loop!
Corgi's!


This is going to be a very short update, mainly because I am so tired and need to hit the bed soon.

I just wanted to write this because I am actually proud of what I did.

Here's the overview:

  • The web server was already set up to find scheduled invoices, create said invoices, and notify the client of the invoice to be paid on the appropriate due date and frequency (monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc)



So, based on practicality, I took that a step further:

  • All invoices are due in 14 days. On day 15 (if the invoice is still not paid), a reminder is sent to the Client saying "Hey! This is a reminder that your invoice is due."

  • 1 week after that is sent out, and the invoice is still not paid, then a final reminder goes out saying "Pay your bill or your website will be deactivated"

  • 1 additional week later (and if the invoice is STILL not paid), then 3 things happen: 1) an email goes out saying that the website has been deactivated, and the Client must pay their bill in full plus a reactivation fee in order to get their site back up; 2) a flag is put in their client file triggering the site deactivation sequence; and 3) whenever someone goes to any page of their website, the deactivation sequence checks for that flag and puts up a "This website is down" page (their email will still work, but visitors and SE's can't get to their site)

  • (I'm still working on this) When the invoice has been paid in full, plus the reactivation fee, anyone with access to our Portal can go in and re-activate the site by 3 simple clicks. After that, the Client will receive an email saying that their site is back up, and visitors and Search Engines alike can view the site again.



Well, that's my saturday night. I'll make a more detailed post tomorrow, discuss the recent events, my vacation, and the progress on the back of the house! YAY....zzzzzzzzz


Tags:#corgis #invoices #server #

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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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(A Small) Time to Breathe

First, here's a good comic to celebrate 4/20:
4/20 with Cats

I don't think the term "crazy" defines the past few weeks around here. It would be more like....chaotic, crammed, catch-up, compiling, compunding....any other "C" words go here?

Anyway, here's a quick rundown of what I've done, and what is yet to come:
Shadow Dev:

  • Fairview's site is coming along, and should be ready by May 1. I spent a little too much time on their scraper, but when it ran, it was a beauty!

    Here's what it was supposed to do: scan the site for links, find product pages, and archive their current product listing.

    Here's what it did: scan the site for links, create a database of the links that every page goes to, scan each of the pages for a common phrase that is on the product pages (since the product pages didn't have a commonality among url's), scrape the code and find the product name, default ID, and default photo, scan for further images (both small and large photos), find the area that lists prices, grab and store the different types of prices and "packages", optimize the database for remote links and make them local, download all images that are listed in the database, scan through the database and delete duplicate product entries, scan the stored images and delete duplicates, and set up a test page to choose a random product and show the different images, prices, and listings based on the information presented. Yeah - that's a mouthful!

    With our other basic developer out of the area for a while, I have to finish the rest of Fairview's site in order to be ready by May 1. Here's the todo list for the next 10 days: finalize the design tweaks, create additional pages, integrate the information into the new pages, create a formalized version of the product pages, order/integrate an SSL certificate, and integrate a Merchant account into the system ready for a May 1 launch. Yay....

  • We've hired another Developer, Cheryl Mason, and she is a real gift! She knows more SEO stuff that I could have ever guessed. She's also well prepped for Developmental work. Put it this way: I had to spend about 3 months training our other developers from basic HTML 4.01 to HTML5, CSS3, basic PHP, MySQL, and basic Javascript/AJAX/jQuery. My overall experience with Cheryl took about 2 weeks. It looks like I may have found my replacement in the Development area! YAY!

  • We've finally finalized the transfer for one of our "potential" clients. I won't go into details, but I'll say this: Potential client "Pete" owns a business. He's had this business for X years. His primary source of new business comes from people calling in (our reasoning: his site didn't work well, so people had to call). Pete knows that his site wasn't doing too hot, and wanted to discuss details about getting a new site. Bad news, his wife owns the domain. More bad news: it's his ex-wife, and they are not on good terms. So.....after about 4 months or so, Pete's domain expired and was available to the world. Pete told us to get it for him. Well, by the time it was available for us to get it, his ex-wife renewed the domain (we believe it was auto-renewed, and she didn't know/care). So....Pete finally talked to his ex-wife and his hosting company, got the domain released, and gave us the EPP. From there, we exchanged a number of emails confirming the transfer (which is another reason we recommend updating the nameservers instead of a transfer, as a transfer can be really confusing and frustrating depending on the technical experience of the transferee). After about a week, the transfer finalized and we got it updated to our servers. He should be signing within the next few days.

  • We are developing some new services to produce some additional income. These services include a: Site Usability Report, Competitor Comparison Report, and In-Depth Analysis (which we used to offer for free, but the time spent on generating these reports didn't produce the ROI we expected). More details to come soon.

  • We are also developing a Rewards Program for our clients. Can't say much, but it should be coming out soon

  • The role of "Presenter" may also be taken off of my plate. I've talked to Cheryl about it, and she's really excited to have control of an SEO Seminar that we put on a while back. If things go well, we should be able to schedule that during the summer or fall. Can't wait to see what she produces!

  • Been talking with AboutUs, seeing what they can do as far as a site comparision and competitor comparision, and we are in talks about a Partnership! Cool!

  • We've released the PR for our site contest. The "fishbowls" have been out since the beginning of February, and we now have all 10 placed, and the PR is out. I honestly didn't even know that we were published until Cheryl (the SMDC Secretary) came over and said that she saw our article. My original response was "We're in the paper?"



Personal:

  • I watched all of Heroes, again. Still a good series.

  • Finally get to watch all of Season 4 of Eureka! now I can see how they got to 1947 and the stories before and after that. I was really excited on Monday (wow, is it really Saturday already?) to see Eureka Season 5! That first episode was....a repeat of Season 4 (with the changing time frame), but still looks good. It really sucks that this is the last season. It seems like all of the good shows are cancelled before their time.

  • Mythbusters new Season! Yay! In addition, Jamie and Adam have a new series: Unchained Reaction, which is really awesome.

  • Psych had their season finale. Boo! I wish their seasons ran longer

  • We went to "Drums of War" earlier this month in Elkin. Didn't win anything, but had a great time shooting some targets and getting to see everyone again since October.



I think I'll call it a night with that. Between now and May 1, I may not be able to post again. I see a lot of sleepless nights in my soon-to-be future.


Tags:#lolcats #heroes #erueka #mythbusters #sca #paper #pr #aboutus #seo #services #epp #html5 #css3 #

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Webinar-mania!

Bug

Not quite sure how this comic fits in to today, but enjoy!

Today just seemed to fly by - literally. I arrived at the office shortly after 11am this morning to attend a RingCentral webinar for reselling a service to offer toll free numbers to our customers. Still need to verify some final information before the service is offered, but I think I have a good idea on how to revamp our program to reflect the best opprotunity on how to offer this to customers.

Anyway, that webinar was supposed to last about an hour. In reality, it lasted about 2 hours. However, I was able to ask an important question about direct and indirect calling of the 800 number to our employees and direct calls to our cell phones. Finally, after months of searching, I finally found an answer, and cleared up a very confusing situation that dealt with people calling my personal cell phone and (for some reason) forwarding to Tom's phone. I believe that has been resolved, and when people call the 800 line (with extensions or not) the 800 number will show up on the cell phone, so therefore we know if a professional call was made and how to process it.

I also received a free meat pie from Joan from St. Andrews Square bakery down the hallway. I have 1 thing to say about that: GOOD!

After I finally found out the issue with the phones, I attended a "Merger & Acquisition" webinar at 1pm, discussing the trends of the industry, what the peaks were in the vertical and horizontal market, and who bought what (company-wise) in the past year. It seemed like a lot of information, but I think I took away a lot of good information.

I wished I could be at CES this year, but based on two of the presenters that were at CES, it's a madhouse (although, that seems like a standard there) and the cell signals were jammed.

On a related note, here's this:
Bizzaro


That seminar was supposed to last 1.5 hours, and about an 1.25 hr in, I called it quits since it was Q&A time. A client was supposed to show up around 3:30, but did not due to other obligations. Tom was supposed to stop by as well, but he got a little too busy and didn't have a chance to show up. It's kind of a good thing, since I had a few things to take care of in the afternoon.

I filled out the tax form for the county, called my car insurance company to get some information, went to the post office to send off the tax form and pick up some stamps, stopped by my car insurance company and spent around 45 minutes there getting an answer to my (what I thought was a) simple question. In reality, it was worth it because the staff at the car insurance company were more-than-friendly and gave me a lot of information to use.

It didn't occur to me until I started to leave the office that I didn't open PuTTy and modify any file on the server. Make-shift CEO day?

After that, I came home, got some chili from last night, and watched Mythbusters until Keat got home. She and I discussed some topics that needed discussing about Shadow Dev, and even though things got a little tense during some topics, but I think it was because she had a headache and things weren't getting across correctly. Aside from that, we are on the same page.

Afterwards, Keat and I watched a bunch of episodes of The Big Bang Theory (time does fly while watching these, doesn't it?). She hit the hay and I plan on getting some coding done as the night goes on.

Now, to bring an important topic to mind: comic copyright. I just want to go on the record to say that all comics posted here are copyright and under ownership of their respective owners (also mentioned in the footer on every page). I do not modify any comic (except for one, since it had the F word in it) and do not take credit for any comics, unless they are drawn by me, which probably won't happen. I follow an artist on DeviantArt.com who talks about the issue in detail about a Facebook App that scrapes the internet for comics, takes the copyright off, and shows them. His journal can be viewed at http://tompreston.deviantart.com/journal/Facebook-Art-Theft-App-279043179 - just thought I'd bring that up.


Tags:#bug #bizzaro #webinar #ringcentral #bigbangtheory #comics #deviantart #ces #insurance

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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