Author - Web Developer - Educator
Found 9 results for tag "pearls"
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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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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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Secret Code

Pearls

The above comic reminds me of this clip from Spaceballs:


With this week looking up so far, I am looking up for what the rest of the week has to offer. My to-do list has been slowly shortening, which is always a benefit. I sent a potential client a quote, which is looking very positive from our new sales person. Also, our Site Analysis process is working well since it helps reduce the amount of work needed to complete a Site Analysis.

I had a major overhaul of server security this morning, with many of the 404's and IP's from the weekend. That took a while, but I think it should work a lot better against server attacks.

We were planning on launching a client's site today, and it may go as planned if everything goes well. It's a little different then what we originally planned, but C'est la vie.

We were also contacted by Fox News for a spotlight location on their home page. A very inciting offer, but I contacted Dr. Hughes to see what his opinion was. We should have a decision by tomorrow whether to accept it (which is a benefit to us, and great market exposure), or deny (which although would be a bad decision, would save our money).

I am also working on a mobile version of the PiLam site which should be easier to load on mobile devices. I thought it would be better since it is getting a lot more traffic, and the new year just started (and loading the "Brothers" list on a mobile device takes a while). I did accidentally cause a minor server outage (less than 5 minutes) while adding the mobile subdomain, but it was fixed. Apparently, Apache decided that it wanted port 80 and wasn't giving it up no matter what. I had to almost go all TRON on the server and kill the process myself, but I didn't have to since I could kill -9 it.

Keat starts school today, so she is officially a Catamount (again). She had Japanese class today, and when she talked to Sensei, he said that I owe him some money. Apparently, I owe him $1 trillion. Where he got that number, I have no idea.

Since Keat started school, I thought this comic would be appropriate and I wish I thought of it first:
FoxTrot


Tags:#foxtrot #keat #school #wcu #fox #pearlsbeforeswine #spaceballs

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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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A Day of Fixin' and Mixin'

Pearls Before Swine

I said that I'd make tonight's posting! Now, on to the day's activities: Keat and I woke up around 12 (it felt nice to sleep in), because the maintenance people were supposed to come at 1 to fix a lot of things in the apartment. We didn't actually leave the apartment till about 1:15, because we had to "tidy up" for the maintenance guy(s) (for example: putting the cats and all of their necessary items in the bedroom, etc). However, before we left, I found out that the sink was backed up! I ran the dishwasher last night and I was expecting the dishes to be clean when I woke up. Instead, both sinks were 90% filled with water and dirty dishes. I checked under the sink and didn't see anything. I removed the dirty dishes, put them aside, and ran the disposal. However, instead of sucking down the water, it sucked it down from 1 sink and spewed it into the other sink! So much for that method. I then looked below the sink again and removed all of the items under the pipe itself, only to find out that the pipe was leaking! There was a divit in the floor of the cabinet since we moved in, and now I know what caused that. Keat and I made a sign for the maintenance guys before we left to let them know the sink was clogged.

We arrived at the office, and I expected to be there about an hour or so. After replying to emails, checking my reader, and other items, I had a few things on my to-do list for North State (adding text, updating photos, etc). We left around 5 and stopped by Wal-mart (for the 1st time this week! A new record!) and Keat got herself a new MP3 player. We then charged through the traffic on the way home, and realized that with: 1) Friday traffic, 2) 5:00 traffic, and 3) holiday rushes, all of these together created one stressful trip home.

We finally got home and I expected for the maintenance guys to have stopped by (is that grammatically correct? I don't know - it's 2AM!) We checked in and saw the workorder on the counter. The drip pans on the stove were replaced (good), the living room outlet was "working" (tested; not working as expected: bad), fixed the A/C unit to heat up (replaced our thermostat; not expected, but good), and unclogged the sink (good; whew!). The living room outlet seems to have a "maintenance curse" on it or something; it never works for us, but maintenance always says it works and assume we're stupid because it is connected to the light switch, and they think we don't know how to turn it on. After testing it myself and plugging various things into it, I found out that technically it works, but it's loose and that's why nothing will stay on when plugged into it. As for the sink: it turns out that the sink was clogged with a carrot top. What are the odds?

Keat and I also found out a good name for the new service (can't say much) and I bought the domain for it. I had some credit on my VPS refund, and a portion of that paid for the domain. I'm also working on the display point-of-concept for the service, and if things go well, I should have that done after I'm done with this posting. I also created a temp logo for it, which looks really good.

We don't have anything really important planned for the weekend, except for relaxing.


Tags:#pearlsbeforeswine #maintenance #vps #domain #repairs

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Black Friday is Over! Time for more zzzzzzzz's!

Zits
\r\nBlack Friday is here and was gone. And guess what: I did not get up at 4:30am and work. Instead, I slept in till 10, which is reasonable, ate a hearty breakfast, went to an Alpaca farm, traveled throughout Virgina, bought some artwork, and came home. Not a bad day for Black Friday! As I said before, I never want to work another BF again. On a related subject, I found a few good comics that I wanted to share.
Ctrl+Alt+Del
(edited from the original for audiences - view original)


Chuck & Beans - c/o Shoebox Blog

As I said, I'm never working a Black Friday again, and I will enjoy my friday instead of working it.


On another related note, I found that Pearls Before Swine actually has its own cartoon series! I found one that I liked (this far) that I wanted to share:


Disclaimer: As I said, I do not own anything above except for the text. The presented comics and/or videos are copyright of their respective owners, and I do not take any credit for them.

Best part of all: I got this in before midnight! Night all!

Small Biz Saturday
PS: Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday! Celebrate it by shopping local! We're in Waynesville, NC, so if you're in the area and looking for a website, come by for a great deal! Here's the blurb from the site:\

November 27, 2010 is the first-ever Small Business Saturdaysm.
A day to come together in support of the small businesses we love.
The shops and restaurants that employ our neighbors and reinvest our money close to home.
The businesses that are the heartbeat of our communities and local economies.


Tags:#blackfriday #pearlsbeforeswine #zits #ctrl+alt+del #chuck&beans #art #alpca

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Turkey-day is over! Time for Black Fri.....zzzzzzzzz

Pearls Before Swine

Although today was a rather good day, I had the hardest time sleeping last night. Can't quite figure out the exact reason, but Keat was up at 7 and stayed up with her dad. Apparently, I slept in, and so did her mom (not in the same room, duh). We spent a lot of the day watching TV and cooking for the evening. We were supposed to go on a hike this morning, but Keat's dad said it was raining, so we didn't go. TV consisted of the Macy's Day Parade until noon, and then we watched Food Network until it got a little boring and had to get ready to leave.

Thanksgiving dinner was fun. I had a lot of intellectual conversations with a lot of Keat's parent's friends. Even though I miss my family on this day of thanks and gathering, it was good to have a little variety instead of the same people and the same food every year. Since I spend last year and this year with Keat's family on Thanksgiving, I'll be going back home next year to liven things up a bit.

While dinner was digesting, the last thing on my mind was......drum roll please.....Black Friday. Sure, the deals are outrageous and you can get a bargain on just about anything. But after actually working one Black Friday at [a certain retail store] back in '04, I never want to be around another black friday again. I mean, people wait outside stores in the freezing cold for hours on end (sometimes days on end; some people actually camp outside of stores for good deals, and there is even a guide to camping for Black Friday! How crazy is that?!), rushing inside as soon as the doors open, the employees shiver at the amount of customers (or the 'newbies' get over-excited), there isn't any room to move for 1-10 hours, the cash registers are ringing off the hook, and everybody is grabbing, talking, asking, demanding, and screaming to get their item they waited so long for. In addition, the stores only get a limited quantity (from 5-100) for certain items, and most stores don't offer rain checks, and most people think that stores do. Sorry, if the store runs out on Black Friday, forget it - you ain't gettin' it, no matter what you do (complain, hold your breath, complain, write/call the president, complain, demand better service, complain, talk to the manager, complain, talk to the manager about firing the employee because the item isn't in stock, complain, ask for a rain check with a "pretty, pretty please....with sugar and a cherry on top", etc........did I mention "complain"?).

I was actually browsing FB after I got back to the house, and found one of my old managers (who doesn't work at [a certain retail store] anymore, thank goodness) posting something about Black Friday. I just had to comment on it.
FB discussion
Names and Profile Photos blurred for security

As I said, after working only one Black Friday, I never want to work it again.

If the stores actually want to create....no, wait. Let me do a comparison list first:

  • Current Process = Unhappy Customers

    • Send a limited quantity of items to stores, offer "Early Bird Prices" from (enter ungodly hour)-8am or noon, have inefficient POS systems, have super-tight aisles, have items placed throughout the store in inconvenient locations so customers have to push through everything and everybody to get what they want, don't have any type of store security for "orderly fashions", etc


  • Process to create Happy customers

    • Offer their Black Friday prices ALL DAY and offer online ordering for out-of-stock items, therefore someone can actually get up at a DECENT hour, walk in, and ask for the item, place most-wanted items in easy-to-find locations in the front of the store for easy access, have a rope-security system for a "Desktop Defense"-type navigation system, have a limited number of checkout items to there is plenty for everyone, and a few other ideas


....at least they have stores opening up at various times instead of everybody opening at 5am this year. Hopefully, the after-hours traffic (meaning noon) may not be as bad as leaving a sold-out concert while everyone is on RedBull steroids.....just saying.

On to a different topic, I'm not quite sure what the plan is for tomorrow. I think we're visiting an Alpaca farm, but I'll just have to wait and see.

I have a perfect comic for tomorrow to deal with the plague called "Black Friday", but you'll have to wait till either after midnight or tomorrow evening till I post it.

I do miss the kitties. I wonder how they are doing.

Turkey is setting in.
Night world! I'm NOT getting up at 4:30am to work anything. I am sleeping in till a decent hour, then doing something enjoyable.


Tags:#pearlsbeforeswine #thanksgiving #blackfriday #fb #foodnetwork

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Not 4 years, but a Lifetime...

Internet Time - Pearls Before Swine

That's the motto for my brotherhood, Pi Lambda Phi, and today marks my 2 year anniversary of being a PiLam Brother! While today is a day for celebration, a number of things have also happened today.

While still cleaning the apartment for the inspection, I also got a lot added to the blog and did a lot in the apartment today. For example: I shared a video link and enabled a video player on the blog. I modified the Flowplayer code from the F&I site, along with the Flowplayer API documentation, and allowed for videos to be played on the blog. The current structure of the code may be a little long-winded, but it works for now until I find a better method to make it work.

I've also updated the Tweets with an AJAX-ified version so the blog loads a lot faster. The original code I wrote actually reads the RSS feed generated by Twitter and parses each entry as a "tweet." If Twitter has an issue with producing the RSS feed, then the blog would take a while to load and could take up to 10 seconds before a timeout is produced. The new way loads the page first, then loads the tweets with a limiter a second after loading. In a sense, it makes 2 small requests instead of 1 large one, so the processing method is faster. I also added a "Tweet" feature to each entry so the entries can be tweeted individually. Nice implementation if I say so.

I also completed the book interview sheet late last night and sent it in along with a few forms. I received a notification from the author saying "Thanks for your response. Yup, the questionnaire is a wee bit detailed, but I figured more info is better than less. Thanks for taking the time." I can't wait until the book is published to see what is said about me.

It seems like tomorrow should not be Monday, but I guess I better make the best of it.


Tags:#pearlsbeforeswine #flowplayer #ajax #pilambdaphi #book

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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