Author - Web Developer - Educator
Found 6 results for tag "heroes"
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(A Small) Time to Breathe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Personal:

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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April Showers bring May.....Vacations?

It's been super crazy around here. That's probably why I haven't posted since February. I mean, with everything that is going on, I've barely gotten 6 hours of sleep at night.

But first, here's one reason why I hate March:
FatCats - March


I've put out the latest Shadow Dev newsletter that gives a good insight to what's been going on. But for those of you who don't get it, here's the run-down (business-wise):

  • We've signed on 2 new clients: Fairview Flower Shop and Dehydrated Delites. Fairview is a family-owned company in Decatur, GA, and Dehydrated Delites specializes in dehydrated and chocolate-covered fruit. Yay yay! The downside is that Fairview needs their site done by May 1, and it's one of the biggest projects we've taken on

  • It's been a record-breaking quarter for us. With the accounting records finally (and correctly) updated, we can see how things have been and are going to be. Let me put it this way: All financial reports have increased 430% and higher!

  • Tom and I have been discussing a lot of things and figured out a lot of good (and bad) ideas, both manpower and budget wise. This should allow us to proceed correctly down the right paths

  • Drinks with Geeks has a date: Saturday, May 5th at 4pm. The event is free, and we are trying to see if we can get food there or not. Details to come

  • Tom and I were at the HCC Career Fair. At first, we thought that we would have 3 or 4 people interested, but.....let me put it this way: our table was crowded from the point the fair opened to just about closing with potential applicants and clients. Way to go!

  • I'm researching a way to automatically export a pre-created pre-filled contract for Shadow Dev. Based on our previous process, it would take roughly 1.5 hours to manually fill out the fields necessary, along with doing the necessary calculations to figure out the rates. With this new PDF-Contract system, (which is in a prototype stage now), just put in the information, check the services requested, and BOOM! Contract created. A 1.5-hr process now takes 30 seconds. I call that Success!

  • We are working on 3 new (well, 1 is somewhat-new) services. I haven't started programming anything yet, but we may be able to enter these into the business competition later this month. Here's the overview: an automatic menu ordering system, a city-report tool, and a service comparison tool/app. Can't wait to get started!

  • I re-requested a quote for Shadow Dev from an Insurance Company that specializes in IT Companies. Luckily, the quote they gave us has the same rates from the quote they gave us last year. It would be nice to see that in action.

  • Tom helped re-plan the finance schedule. I don't know how he did it, but the system he developed (with a little tweaking) made the whole "check how much each person is making and payout" system a whole lot simplier.



And now Personal-wise:

  • I'm rewatching Heroes. So far, I'm halfway through Season 3. Although the latter seasons aren't as good as the first, it's still a great series

  • I've been doing a lot of editing on Neko Sentou and found a few areas that need improvement, and a lot of areas that need correcting. Hopefully, by going through the 300+ page draft, it should make for a better storyline

  • My mom came up to visit me yesterday. We had a good visit, but the best part was that she said she was proud of me. I'm so happy (YAY!)

  • I really need to catch up on MLP:FiH. I'm about 10 episodes behind and just haven't had the time to watch them yet

  • I am now off of my parent's car insurance. I know my Dad is happy, but now I have another $48/mth cost I have to work in to my payment schedule.

  • Keat is with her parents from Friday until Wednesday. It's super lonely here without her. I think I may go insane with 3 cats......are they talking to me?

  • I will (with keat and kat) be going to Drums of War next week. This event usually isn't until July-ish, but with the weather being what it has been, along with a wonky schedule update, it is now in April. I just hope it doesn't rain like it did last year



I'll end it at that since this seems like a rant, but hey, if you can't rant on your own blog, who can you rant to?

And now, an additional comic (since my stockpile has been growing):
Pearls March 25


G'Nite!


Tags:#fatcats #pearlsbeforeswine #heroes #mlp #insurance #sca #pdf #automated #hcc #fairview #dehydrateddelites

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Happy Post-Valentines Day!

It's been a joyous Valentine's Day 2012. Especially since I've been sick over the past few years on this date. Really. Over the past few years on Feb 14, I have come down with an extremely bad virus that kept me in bed all day. And when I go down, I really go down for the count. The good news: I wasn't sick this year! Yay!

However, I did stay home and work since I had a lot of work to get done (and another reason, but I'll get to that later). Really, it's not a bad thing. I spent most of the day in front of my desktop at home, played Pandora in the background, and worked on some tasks that have been living on my ToDo list for a while.

The other good news is: Keat got me chocolate for today! Here's a snippet:
CHOCOLATE!


Now, you may be thinking: "What did you get for her this year?" Well, the short answer is: nothing. WAIT! Before you start flipping out on me, hear me out. We observe/celebrate "Valentine's Day and White Day". I'm sure the latter sounds like a racist celebration. I assure you it is not.

White Day is actually a holiday in Japan that the younger generation celebrates. Instead of me trying to rant on about what it is, here's a quick overview:

In Japan, Valentine's Day is observed by females who present chocolate gifts (either store-bought or handmade), usually to a male, as an expression of love, courtesy or social obligation. A handmade chocolate is usually preferred by the receiver, because it is a sign that the receiving male is the girl's "only one". On White Day, the converse happens: males who received a honmei-choco (本命チョコ, "chocolate of love") or giri-choco (義理チョコ, "courtesy chocolate") on Valentine's Day are expected to return the favor by giving gifts, usually more expensive. Traditionally, popular White Day gifts are cookies, jewellery, white chocolate, white lingerie and marshmallows. Sometimes the term sanbai gaeshi (三倍返し, literally, "triple the return") is used to describe the generally recited rule that the return gift should be two to three times the cost of the Valentine's gift. [source] [another source]


You may be thinking this is a quick cop-out for me forgetting Valentine's Day. I can guarantee that I didn't forget it, but just didn't have the necessary means to get something yet. However, she is going to get something 2-3x nicer next month (and I'll be 25!).

Anyway, here's the comic for today:
The System

I thought this comic would be relevant to this past week, since I do have a few projects going on that could fall anywhere on this chart.

However, on Sunday, I had a revelation. After thinking over the events from last week (revamping the contract, the preliminary fish bowl launch, Drinks with Geeks planning, getting the new computer up and running, finalizing the new prices, straightening out the accounting records, meeting with AdvantageWest about funding, fixing a co-worker's computer problems, getting a new contract signed, planning some new "ease of use" projects to help new sales people, and more), I realized that everything that we were doing seemed to be working in countless different directions, causing our workforce to become thin and not be able to take on much work. I realized that if things were going to improve, we have to mainstream: make the whole "first contact to project launch" process a whole lot faster, easier, and more flexible.

After thinking about the process we had in place for the past 6 years, it occurred to me that we are basically reinventing the wheel each and every time. Overall, this wasn't getting us anywhere. We need to have a tried-and-true process for going from Step 1 to Step 2 to Step 3 without any hassle. Right now, in order to get one task passed along the production line, a person either has to be trained in that area to take care of it, or it needs to be taken over by someone who can get it done quicker, and some communication between the lines gets lost.

We need a company-level Sales tracker, Project tracker, Site Manager (not just a CMS, but a Company-wide version), Customer notifier, integrated payment system, team calendar, and EVERYTHING else that we have been working on. Instead of working on so many different projects, the solution is simple: make this 1 massive project for the company. This way, Sales people can track leads, Designers/Developers can work on any site, Customers can keep track of their projects, Customer payments can be processed/managed, teams can collaborate on projects and tasks, and more. By integrating the Scrum methodology to this process, we can shrink 3 months down to 1 month or less! Just imagine the work load we can take on!

To be honest, I feel stupid for not seeing this earlier. The solution is so simple. I was trying to create 20 different things to do 20 different tasks. What I should have been doing is developing 1 project to do these 20 things and integrate it into the company so it would be easier to manage.

Why am I confessing all of this here? Two primary reasons: 1) So I have an official record of what I am thinking about so I can look back on it at a later date, and 2) So I can be held accountable for this. Looking back on a few projects that I've worked on, they were started anywhere from a week to 2 years ago, and they all seem to be in the same state: hiatus. To be honest: that sucks. How can I work 5 days a week from 10-5pm and 10-5am and get so little done? This will change.

On a related matter, one reason why it will change is because of the following:
TNG, DS9, and Voyager. Done


Yes, I have finished watching Star Trek: TNG, DS9, and Voyager in their completion. I will admit that I spent a few nights in the past months up till wee hours in the morning watching Star Trek, but now that I've gotten through TNG, DS9, and Voyager, I can dedicate more time to getting stuff done.

I find that I get a lot done with background music. Time seems to work with me when I'm in that "state of mind." However, when I find a series I want to watch (or I'm curious about) on Netflix, that seems to occupy my time instead of getting things done. For example: I didn't think I'd really get into Heroes. I thought "I'll watch the first episode and be done with it." Yeah right. Before I knew it, I watched all 4 seasons and lost valuable programming time during those 16 days it took me to watch it. I have lots of other items on my Netflix instant queue to watch, but I have a ToDo list that is breathing down my neck. I have to get that done.

Enough procrastinating on this blog. I have work to do.


Tags:#thesystem #chocolate #keat #valentinesday #whiteday #startrek #tng #ds9 #voyager #japan #netflix #heroes #accountable #streamline

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Weekend is over already? I'm just getting started!

Garfield

What a way to wind down the weekend. Keat and I are getting ready for the stupid inspection, and we've knocked a huge dent in the mess, but we're still a ways off from being done. However, I do have good news: I saved a bunch of money by switching to Gei... Shadow Development has a new Advisor! Yes, Hugh Simpson is now an Advisor for Shadow Development, and we're excited to have him on board. Hopefully, this will allow us to proceed on our 6-9 month plan with SMDC to get a loan.

Not much else happened today. I mean, I got up around 1pm (I slept ok - I mean, 8/10 on 'greatness'). I checked on the server transfer today, and not much has changed. I'm still waiting on the shadowdev.com transfer, because that is one of the most important transfers on the server. I spent most of the day cleaning and playing with the cats. Didn't go anywhere (except to the library at 12am to drop a book off).

Although, I did watch Star Trek (XI) for the first time in 6 months or so. After watching the whole Heroes series, I can't see Zachary Quinto as Spock anymore. I'm expecting him to turn into Syler and cut everybody's heads open. I know that's kinda dark for me, but Heroes was good. (I was the same way after watching Star Trek for the first time in theaters, then watching FlashForward; I expected John Cho to be Sulu in FF - didn't work out that way, but he did a great job as Noh, and FF was great anyway.)

On to Monday.......yay. I have a lot planned for Monday, so hopefully I get through it all. Still gotta clean...grrr.


Tags:#garfield #heroes #startrek #flashforward #hughsimpson #smdc

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Wednesday is here, now it's gone...

I thought I'd go ahead and get this post out of the way before I forgot tonight (knowing how busy I'll be with cleaning the apartment for "Inspection" on the 30th). You may have also noticed that I'm including comics in the posts. I'm doing this not because I can draw (really, I can't), but these are some of my favorite comics from various sources. They may have something to do with the content of the post, they may not. It depends on what I find that day.
Pearls Before Swine - May 23, 2010

After I posted this morning's post, thing got crazy. First, the web server suffered from a MySQL hiccup. I couldn't get anything to load or edited, which got really annoying, especially since a lot of the sites I create run from our main MySQL database server. After multiple attempts to get it restarted (and stay ON), I sent an email off to my hosting provider, and they said "We restarted it, try it now." I did that, and same thing. Then it hit me: I'm doing a massive download of the main server to a backup server for the hosting server changeover. Could the FTP requests be hogging the sockets and denying MySQL the sockets it needs to access the page information? Maybe. So I slowed down the FTP service I had from 10 files at a time to 3, and limited the download speed. After about 15 minutes, no more MySQL errors. Crisis averted.....for now.

For the majority of the day, I worked on the Blog design and features. The main things I changed were the background (like it?), moved the Social Network features to the top, automatic syntax highlighting for source code, and the toggling (togglation?) of the archive listings (that took me all day). jQuery is certainly being challenging, but I think I'm getting the hang of the basics.

I also learned that the loan that we applied for (won't say though who) was turn down. This isn't the first time, but I'm a grown person, and instead of whining to some random Internet reader or forum list (or to the person's/committee's face), I'm going to say "Ok, thanks for the opportunity. What can I do to improve the business so I can reapply for the loan?" We'll see where it goes from there.

I'm still working on the "Projects" tab, and that should be up by next week (hopefully). I also worked on the F&I site, unifying the Ticket section along with writing a news which should help in the PR/SM department.

This is actually the first day in a month that I've worked without a TV show in the background. Exactly 1 month from yesterday, I started watching Heroes on Netflix and finished 16 days later. The next day, I started Eureka and finished yesterday. Today, I just listened to music on Pandora and worked. It's amazing what a non-distraction workplace can do for the attention span.

I was also asked why I am doing this blog. The purpose is actually 3-fold: #1) to provide family members with updates to what I am doing and the progress I have for our advisors/project owners, which mirrors #2) update our advisors and project owners on the status and progression of their projects, and #3) give myself a personal log to track what I've done over time and where I am going (just in case I forget - say, over a long vacation). I'm also using the Blog as a personal sandbox where I can test and refine new techniques and functions without having to mess up other sites. This way, I can show off what I know and nobody's site will go down because of it........I hope.

I had some criticism about the content of the blog, saying that it was not relevant to some of the viewers, but I want to assure you (generically) that this is more for the advisors and myself. If I include too much jargon in a post, please either let me know or Google it. It would be really stressful to maintain 3 separate blogs (if that many) to update the individual audiences, so I'm going to try to create a function which can extract the appropriate information per audience depending on what is searched. Maybe that's the wrong direction? I won't know until I get responses.

Since the Blog design is basically finished, I'm going to go back to working on the Accelerator. I have a new business idea in mind that I'm really excited about, but I'm not going to say anything until the idea is ready to go public (news-wise, not IPO).


Tags:#heroes #eureka #jquery #netflix #pandora #mysql #ftp #pearlsbeforeswine

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What a way to end a week

Well, I finished Eureka Season 2 today. Gotta love Netflix and all of their Instant shows, right? I mean, I could have watched SyFy (or SciFi as it was known) when it came on, for example: Tuesdays at 9, and I usually operate on a "must have a time slot" schedule for most things, but not TV shows. Instead of waiting each week for a certain day at a certain time for a TV show to come on (if it comes on), I prefer to watch it online. Sure, I can't do that with current shows (waiting on new Psych episodes is killing me), but who else can say that they watched all 4 seasons of Heroes in 16 consecutive days? I know I can.

But on to more important things: Keat went out shopping with Kat today, which left me home alone for about 5-ish hours. My main goal was to figure out Milestone 3 of the form building algorithym. I found out about the .empty() portion of the jQuery binding function (example: $('.to_delete').click(function() { $('#box').empty(); });), which is 80% of the Milestone. Now all I have to do is get the form builder to have multiple fields recognize the self-emptying feature with 1 function instead of having 1 auto-built function per row (which can get very confusing and very redundant).

I'm still playing with jQuery to better understand it. Although I'm all for building my own functions and features from scratch, I gotta admit: jQuery is probably the best of AJAX scripting libraries I've ever come across. jQuery makes everything that I've done with AJAX (such as the repetitive function $(box){ return document.getElementById(box); }, which simplifies a lot of the element claiming) seem like 1st grade.

If I keep working at this tomorrow, I should have Milestone 3 done by evening (I hope). Although one thing that always bugs me about the Fall/Winter season is the shortening of daylight. In the Summer, I like how at 7pm, you can see the oncoming of the night, and by 9, the night us upon us. However in the Fall/Winter, it's day at 5:30pm, as soon as 6 o'clock, nighttime comes and it's pitch black.

So far, the progress is coming along nicely. I'm awaiting payment from a client, which will allow us to afford the server upgrade, and then I'll spend some time getting the cURL installed and getting their site up. After that's done (est. time: 1 week), I should be back on the Accelerator and hopefully have the form builder done by Xmas, which means the whole system (form builder, form editor, validation and submission, payment, and more) should be done by March.


Tags:#jquery #netflix #heroes #eureka #milestone #xmas #psych #curl