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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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Post Xmas Update

RealLife

I thought an off-key Star Trek reference would be a nice catchup. I knew at the beginning of the year that 2012 would be a year of change, just like 2008. So far, every night after I've gotten home from work, I've been working around the clock as well. With a Wii at home and Internet, I've been very active on Netflix when Keat doesn't have it.

As of now, my project list consists of: MySD, Receipt Rescue (a lot of planning has been done in the past few weeks), ScrumIt (total reconstruction), Zoomiform (replanning as well), and a few others I can't recall right now.

I rewatched Eureka seasons 2 and 3 on Netflix in 10 days.

Keat's parents came to visit last Friday, and we did a massive cleaning spree on the house. To be honest, it looks a lot better.

Tom and I have had a lot of conversations over the past few days over the infrastructure of Shadow Dev policies, and we are still working on making some major improvements.

On a related note, we've hired on a new designer, Brandon Knight, and are in negotiations of hiring a new sales person. More details to come.
Dilbert


The really bad/odd/maybe good thing is that I've been going to bed around 3am every night for the past week. Main reason: coding at night, as expected when we got the Internet at the house.

Also, is it just me, or does it seem like as soon as your Inbox gets empty, it fills back up quicker than it took to empty it? I mean, my inbox had accumulated about 20 emails I had to take care of over the course of 3 months. I finally archived/deleted/responded to the emails throughout the course of a day, and I received 40+ more important emails at the end of the day. So, it seems like my inbox will always have at least 20 emails at any time, no matter what I do.

I've also been working a lot on a new client's site, sakisushi.net - we've done some major improvements and it's coming along quite nicely. Also, we just got the contract for a non-profit student organization in Charlotte helping Tourette's Syndrome. Honestly, this seems like a win-win situation for us and them. More information can be found on the Shadow Dev blog at shadowdev.com/blog/article/new-client-walk-for-robbie-tourettes-inspiring-charlotte-students .

Keat and I have also been playing Wii a lot, both on the entertainment side and on the physical fitness side. Having a Wii fitness in the house is really helping out keeping us on a fitness schedule.

We've also made some improvements to the main shadowdev.com site and made a major jump on SEO and Social Media scores. +1 for us!

Also, we are working on a new Media Package to offer to customers. I won't release much information right now, but I will say this: website, QR codes, social media accounts/pages, SEO, toll free number, social media management, and more for a great price! We should have more details by the end of the month. In addition, we should also have a new marketing idea that we should be able to launch by the end of the month as well. Take a look at the local restaurants and high-traffic areas in Haywood County to know more.

Keat's doing well at school. She has 4 japanese classes (1 language, 1 film, 1 anime/manga (I don't know how she got that), and 1 more), 1 math, and 1 ENT course. To be honest: my hopes go out to her during this semester. Having 2 part time jobs and taking 18 hours at school.....I know I went crazy in the spring of 2008 when I had 2 part time jobs, 15 hours at school, plus preparing for a national business competition and local business competition. My transcript shows it.

Almost forgot! On December 31st, I wrote 5 more pages to Neko Sentou! Volume 14 is almost complete!

Well, I have an early day tomorrow. I'm going to call it a night now.


Tags:#brandonknight #emails #dilbert #reallife #sakisushi #tics

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Xmas is almost here

I know I haven't posted in a month, but I have a good reason. First, the comic:
Insane?


Here's what happened in the past month (in no particular order):

  • We now have Cable and Internet at the house! Yay! It's only a matter of time before I have more all-nighters working on projects.....

  • I finished TNG on Netflix. I've now started DS9. I know Pilots aren't always great, but I know DS9 gets better as the seasons go on.

  • I've moved my desk to face the door at the office. According to Janet, it balances the Feng Shui, and I think I have more confidence because of that.

  • Keat and I went to my parents for Thanksgiving. My sisters weren't there, so it was fairly quiet and not much happened. We also visited Keat's parents and went to a basketball game at State, then visited downtown Raleigh some.

  • Tom landed us a contract with a new client

  • We also had a great monthly meeting at the end of November. Everybody was there, and we were able to Skype in Hannah from Oregon. It was definitely a.....n interesting meeting

  • Obtained a new lead with a potential client in the incubator. So far, things look good

  • Cleaned the home office out a bit and am now using it. Combined with the internet, I'm looking at some good progress coming soon

  • We have a neighbor across the street that we've never met. Her mother died on the 16th. It was a chaotic situation trying to get everyone to calm down and the EMS's there. I do wish we met them on better terms instead of that.

  • Working on a new marketing "packet" for clients. This may be a great incentive for new clients, and may give us a new stream of revenue....?

  • Keat started work with the Sushi restaurant, and it's been great work for her. Chaotic here and there, but still a good job. I've been helping her out as well, and I can tell from first hand experience: it's harder than expected

  • I've played "Takes of the Abyss" for the PS2 for a bit. I started playing it because Keat wasn't. At first, I didn't know what to make of it, but 80 playing hours later, I'm through the majority of it and right before the big battle at the end. I'm waiting to level up my characters before I beat the super-hard boss, then go to the main boss. Should prove interesting...


I'll stop at that. We are heading to my parents and Keat's parents over Xmas break. Depending on how things go, I may be able to post. I will if I can.


Tags:#sushi #insane #cable #interest #skype #ps2 #talesoftheabyss #xmas

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End of a busy week

Bug

Yes, this marks the end of a very busy week. Although a lot has happened, a lot is still going to happen next week.

I know I didn't blog yesterday, but don't think of it as "I missed a day" - think of it as a break from my usual ranting. There - I said it. Enjoy.

I'm working on developing a new Customer Relationship Manager for Shadow Dev. The plans were drawn out nicely, and the design and database setup are going well. All I have to do now is put in the hours to develop it. Why am I developing something so intricate? Mainly because our new sales person has brought in so many potential clients that I've almost lost track of them. So a CRM was created to manage who, where, and what has been done with the potential and current clients. So far, we have 8 potential clients on the list, and I just had to write them down so I'd remember who they were.

I've also started watching TNG from the beginning. Yes, the video quality sucks, mainly because it was filmed in '88 (and I guess transferred from VHS quality), but it's the classics that bring us home. "Encounter at Farpoint" was a little different than I remember, but I'm glad I'm watching the series from the beginning.

Speaking of VHS, how's about a class Calvin & Hobbes comic:
Calvin and Hobbes


Anyway, I've also been implementing the new security feature for the Apache Killer issue, and I think things are coming along nicely. Had to install mod_security first, but it's okay.

I'm also happy that our friend Janet is still having her Sushi night on Sunday. Can't wait for that! Yum yum! Too bad it is going to be the last Sushi Night that she is offering. Maybe she'll have one at her new place....who knows.

Dr. Hughes also dropped off our brochures yesterday! They are lookin' nice! And we have 1000 of them that we can put wherever we need. I sent 10 to mom and dad today, so they should be getting them in the mail soon.

I had to miss my Meetup meeting last night due to some unforeseen circumstances, but it's okay. I got to spend time with Keat and things turned out well.

That's it for me this week. I believe I've put in around 35-40 hours or so - eh, who's counting?

I'm just glad I'm not like this......yet:
Working Daze


Tags:#workingdaze #bug #janet #apache #brochures #sushi #crm #tng #vhs #calvinandhobbes