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May June Catch Up

(get it?)

Before I go apologizing for not posting, let me say that the absence of posting is a good thing and a bad thing. But before I go blabbing on what happened, here's the first comic as promised:
Garfield


So, in no chronological order (because I can't recall exactly what happened), here's a summary of what has happened since my last post:

Personal:

  • Alright - where to begin? Well, I guess I can start with the obvious. Kat and I are working on an online tabletop emulator for role playing games. Long story short: Kat, Keat, and I just didn't have the time (or resources) to meet up and play our role playing game, Werewolf the Apocalypse. So Kat and I designed an online system that will allow for players to virtually role play. The system is still in the planning phases, but Kat hopes this will expand her PHP experience. More details as they come.

  • I'm still a newbie at Magic, and since I only have 1 deck (white and blue), I feel good about any games I win against veteran players. I've won a few games against Kat, and 1 or 2 against Keat (who is also a newbie). When Chip Green came over last weekend, we had a bunch of Magic rounds. Now, keep in mind that Chip has over 20 years of experience, and I have.....2 months? Out of the numerous games we played (against my 1 deck and his ??? decks), here was the final score: Chip: Infinity; Me: 3. Hey, I won 3 games against him! I call that a victory. A small one, but a victory nonetheless!

  • I traveled to Keat's parent's beach house in Nags Head during Memorial Day weekend. I won't go into details, but I will outline the "highlights": we brought the Wii to watch Netflix at night and during alone time. It was "taken" by one of her cousins who used it to play Lego Star Wars for 5 days. I'm surprised he didn't kill the remote batteries when we got it back. Aside from not being able to use our Wii, it was still fun. And I didn't turn into a lobster this time!

  • I finished Doctor Who on Netflix in just over a month. No, not the WHOLE series, just Doctor #9 (Christopher Eggleson) to Doctor #11 (Matt Smith) in the latest season (The Wedding of River Song and the Xmas special). I won't go on a rant about this, but David Tennant did it for me; he defined the "Doctor" and made a role that only a few could fill. Matt Smith has his own personality, which is okay, and I know the primary writer (Russell Davies) left the writing cast, but the Matt Smith series isn't a replacement for David Tennant. Overall, it was a good run. I would like to see what the latest series has to offer once they put it on Netflix (since I don't get BBC).

  • In addition, I wish they put the Tennant-Smith transition on Netflix in order of the seasons. For most people, they went from Tennant saying "Bye" to Donna, then Smith came in. There were some DW movies that filled the transition during the downtime, but you had to go searching for them on Netflix. I mean, at least have "End of Time" easily available so people can understand why Tennant left, Smith came in, and why the Tardis comes into the Matt Smith/Amy Pond season flaming.

  • Great news! (and I will admit it) My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 1 and 2 are on Netflix! No more having to find torrents or 3rd party video services to watch MLP. I'm almost through Season 2 - still need to watch the Wedding epsode(s), but I hear that Season 3 is in the works (and John de Lancie will be in it again! Ponys vs Q - Take 2!) Yay! And to sum up the past 2 statements, here's something totally relevant:
    Doctor Who [Tennant] Pony Shirt!

    And for those Star Wars fans, here's DW/SW crossover which I found funny:
    Dw vs SW


  • After a year of being in our new house, we finally changed the dreaded iron lamp on our front porch! We changed it to an almost flush structure that gives off plenty of (almost too much) light. It soothes my head just knowing that we don't have to duck every time we come on/off the port. Now, for the dining room "death-by-chandelier"

  • I know I've been the advanced Developer on a lot of our clients' projects, but this past week has been especially stressful. To give a better idea about my "sleep schedule" (or lack thereof), here's a graph of my sleeping times (Thanks to @Sleepbot) :
    Sleeping schedule

    Yes, I have been going to bed between 4-7am for the past week or so.....?

  • Thanks to my wonder girlfriend, I now have a new bow to shoot with! I appreciate the 3rd-level hand-me-down bow that I used to shoot with (all 29lbs of it), but it was getting a little too.....used for my purpose. This new bow (which came in today) is a 45-pounder, which requires about 1/3 more power to pull back. After a few break-in rounds with it, I realized a few things: 1) I need a larger arrow rest; 2) I need to either build calluses or get a shooting glove; and 3) I need to do some muscle training (45 lbs of strength is a little too much for me right now, but I can do it).

  • A while back, we invited some of our SCA friends over to our house for a little get-together. Little did we know that the "little get-together" invitations spread like wildfire and we had 10 or so people in our house (we only have 1000 sq ft). Since we were not prepared for 10+ people, we were a little sparse on the meal (but that was okay since only a few were hungry). Most of us shot in the backyard with a "Marshal (In Training)", and did fairly well. I actually "Robin Hood"'ed an arrow. Regardless, all of us had a good time with music, signing, food, shooting, talking, and more. Defiantly something to repeat (with better planning) in the future. On a semi-related note, we didn't know that one of our good SCA friends, Dervila, lives about 20 minutes away from us! Small world, huh?

  • Our Sushi Chef friend, Janet, had to close her restaurant for a few weeks. Don't worry - nothing bad. She just needed the time off to help her husband recover from a surgery. However, before she closed, she called us over to get some leftover soup and some free sushi (to get rid of materials before the closing, since the fish wouldn't hold up for a month). In the process, we helped create a "Kaita" Roll, which is "The Best of Both Worlds Resembling an Everlasting Love". Janet said that the roll name should be "the marriage between you and Keat, so make it special". Trust me - it was much harder than it sounded. Photos to come later.

  • I also made 2 major Linux upgrades: I upgraded my home computer from CentOS to Debian (better supported), and finally got my work computer to dual-boot Win7 and Debian (Ubuntu wasn't working well with nVidia). So, long story short: I can now use Linux at home and work (and since my Windows-only programs run ok on WINE, I don't really have a reason to go back to Windows!)



Business:

  • Modified the "Request for Information" page for Shadow Dev to automatically save upon textarea blur. This was done for many reasons - the main one being because the form is so freakin' long! If Clients type in their information, and (for some reason) their computer loses the connection, the information will be automatically saved based on what was previously put in. Not a bad mashup of HTML, PHP, MySQL, and jQuery if I must say so.

  • I've been working on Fairview's website probably harder than any other client website. Let's just say that it has been one hurdle after another. Not to say that it is bad, but playing the middle man was not easy. I've pushed my limits on PHP/MySQL/jQuery and I've learned a lot, and by creating a PHP/MySQL/jQuery auto-save function on the Address portions of orders, the RFI-auto-save feature (above) was created. Fairview's site is almost complete and I expect it to launch in the next few days (if everything works as it is supposed to). The biggest challenges in this project were: creating the custom scraper to auto-download the information from their old templated website from the 3rd party, auto categorize/label/describe the information downloaded (and the different types); getting an answer back from their Credit processing company (finally received an answer, and they sent me somewhere else, which gave me the authorization codes, and I had to go somewhere else to get the documentation and PHP code in order to process the forms); and lastly, creating the custom checkout process (standard e-commerce systems just wouldn't cut this project).

  • I worked on adding a testimonial page to NSMT. Found a way to add a dropdown function via jQuery, and (through some confusion in technology) posted a testimonial video to their site along with restructuring a few pages

  • We have a new client! Frog Level Brewing Company - long story short: owner received a WordPress site from a competitor, he became tired of just "blogging" and needed a more functional and more responsive website. Since we already had a relationship with him hosting our "Drinks with Geeks" event, we got him signed on!

  • We've also hired on 3 new people on the Shadow Dev staff: Rachael Caldwell (Developer), Darren Mastrangelo (Designer), and Steven Rich (Intern). Our family is growing! We are now 10-strong! What an eventful 2012!

  • Had the Shadow Development Annual Shareholder Meeting on Tuesday. Lots of things discussed. Lockwood attended via phone, which was a little unexpected, but we have "Part II" on July 2. Hopefully some good things come out of that meeting.

  • I can't say much (because some competitors may be reading this), but we are expanding our Markets! Without giving out too much information, I can say the following: We are expanding to Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and Central/East North Carolina. More to come in the next few months. The numbers are coming in, and things look good to expand!

  • One of our oldest clients, Smoky Mountain Development Corporation, asked us to perform a redesign for their site. I won't specifically say "they needed it", but it was time for their site to be refreshed. We completed the design early this morning (5am to be specific), and things look good.

  • I've reconfigured the main Shadow Dev site to reference images via "img#." subdomains. To put it in simple terms: it's like driving some moving trucks. By having 1 really big truck go from Point A to Point B, it will take a lot of gas and effort. By having 10 trucks drive from Point A, C, D, E.... to Point B, the loads each carry are smaller and they use less gas. This is in reference to loading images from the Shadow Dev site. By having the main site load all of the images through the www subdomain, the one request had to load EVERYTHING from the one source, and it took forever. By dividing the images onto dedicated image subdomains, and assigning random numbers to each, the load time decreased and the site loads a lot faster! Yay for me

  • I discovered a security issue with some of our sites that required password functions. Personally, I was encrypting the passwords with sha1 and md5 encryption. Bad news: they are easily decryptable. So, in order to respond with a more secure feature, I've switched the encryption to a crypt functionality, which automatically generates a $salt each time (a randomally generated key to encode the string), which makes each decryption that much harder.

  • Shadow Development has a Rewards Program in the works. The proposal phase is complete, it has passed the initial approval, and it is being formalized. Things should be ready to launch for the Rewards program by July 1

  • The Shadow Dev portal has kind of been left in the dust for now, since we have other urgent matters that require advanced developer attention (ie: mine). As soon as things calm down and I have a moment of free time, I will work on the portal again.

  • I've proven a proof-of-concept and +1 for automatic generators. By testing an "keyword density" tool on my own blog, I believe I have created an automatic keyword generator for pages. I know this won't replace in-depth SEO practices, but it helps automatically create keywords based on dynamic content (like blog entries). This tool is still in Phase 0.01, but it's a proof of concept none the less

  • We've started a public toolbox for anyone to use. In regards to the Game system and the Security hole above, we've created tools.shadowdev.com which will allow visitors (mainly developers) to use these tools for many things. So far, we have an automatic encryption form for SHA1, MD5, CRYPT, and BASE64 items as many times as needed. Other tools (like an auto web-font viewer) are in the works.



And for the end of the night:
System


If you are reading this far, I would like to congratulate you. This portion is reserved for a sneak preview. Not really, but since my comic repository is building up almost beyond belief.


Tags:#garfield #thesystem #robinhood #sca #gaming #werewolf #magic #doctorwho #mlp #sleepbot #sushi #fairview #rfi #froglevel #smdc #encryption #tools # #debian #linux

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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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Ponies vs Q

RealLife


Yes, I'll admit: I watch MLP:FiH. And best part of all, the newest episode (Return of Harmony (part 1)) has John de Lancie in it (the voice was too obvious)! If the ponies are going up against Q, they have no hope. But we'll see in Part 2.

On a semi-related matter, my favorite is Rainbow Dash!
Rainbow Dash
Credit goes to ~Creshosk


Tags:#ponies #mlp #Q #deviantart #rainbowdash #reallife