Author - Web Developer - Educator
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The Move, the Jobs, and the Editing

Me in Japan!I'm on my bike, in Japan!
So, you may be wondering "Where has Kyle been?" I have a very good answer: busy. Okay, that's not a very good answer. How about this one: In the past month, I have done the following:

  • Packed up the Waynesville house for selling and moving
  • Had the cats examined and ready to move
  • Moved to Japan!
  • Attended training for my "new" job - teaching english
  • Maintaining the Japanese apartment
  • Planned out the new semester for a WEB 115 online course that I am teaching with AB Tech, all the way across the world
  • Recorded videos for WEB 115, edited, and published them (per section - I'm up to Chapter 3 out of 9)
  • Organized Moodle for WEB 115, which was a mess, since I merged my seated class with my "attempt" at my previous online WEB 115 class, so I had to sort that out)
  • Traveled to Tokyo multiple times to take care of some visa documentation
  • Attended more training for my English teaching job
  • Traveled to some of the schools that I will be teaching at
  • Prepped for a presentation at the Board of Education, who ultimately decides my fate with my new job
  • Edited the physical copy of Omega Noir (I'm editing the digital manuscript now)
  • Updating all profile information to either Raleigh or Japan
  • Communicating with in-laws about stuff we left in Waynesville, in Raleigh, and/or selling items
  • ....and I'm sure I left something off of this list

So I've been busy. Since I'm now (and hopefully) a full-time Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) with this company (instead of a substitute, which I was originally hired as), I will be working 40 hours a week between 2 elementary schools and 2 junior high schools; I'm also teaching/managing an online session of WEB 115 with AB Tech; and I'm editing/rewriting Omega Noir, so it can hopefully be released by the end of the year.

Why? I want "Omega Noir 2" to start in November, so I can participate in NaNoWriMo again.

Japanoblog!Japanoblog
Oh, did I mention that I'm also working on Keat and my side project, Japanoblog? Yeah, we're also doing that when we have some free time.
I know I've been slack on my personal site's postings - I've dedicated more time to Japanoblog while I've been at the apartment (shooting video, editing video, creating the blog post, managing social media presence, etc) along with making sure that my WEB 115 course is up-to-date (wash, rinse, repeat - minus the social media), and prepping for my new ALT job.

Overall, I have a lot on my plate - and that's how I like it. While working full time, having a part time online teaching job, writing/editing books, and managing/shooting/editing video and posts for a side job, I've got a lot to do. Am I making excuses? No, I just don't have a lot of free time. Does that mean I will stop writing? Of course not, but I won't have as much dedicated time to get my books done as fast as I originally hoped (which also means my parody book, The Story: Epic Conquest of Tag may have to wait until probably 2019 or so


Tags:#japan, #omega #noir, #the #story, #web #115, #ab #tech, #alt

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FIRE SALE!

What we have left!
If you haven't heard the news yet, Keat and I are moving to Japan. Therefore, we need to downsize our belongings. Some of these belongings include extra copies of our books, so we've decided to host a Fire Sale of our remaining inventory!

In order to move what we have left, all books are $5 flat! That's right, we'll cover the cost of shipping to anywhere in the US, because we need to move these things.

Spread the word, tell your friends, and help us get rid of our inventory, because we can't take it with us when we leave the country!

You can only get this deal on our Square store - not Amazon, not at a local book store, not anywhere else!

And once our inventory runs out, that's it (for this sale). Click on the titles below to purchase:


The Night Blade series is actually going to go through a minor revision, and will be re-released with new covers, and that should happen early 2017.


Tags:#nightblade #thekingsrose #lunarproductions #firesale #japan

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Review of Syfy's The Magicians

Quintin, the main character in Syfy's The Magicians When I first heard about Syfy's The Magicians, I was a little skeptical. I first thought it was just another Harry Potter.

Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against Harry Potter. In fact, my wife is a huge Potterhead, but when I heard that Syfy was creating a series about Magicians, I didn't have high hopes.

In fact, 5 episodes in, I still don't have high hopes. A friend of mine wanted to read the book summer of last year, and I didn't think much of it.

However, I bit the bullet (read: I was bored) and watched the first episode on Syfy.com. The beginning was a bit rough, as the main character was a bit timid. I will admit that having main characters timid at first is nice, so they can build up from there. But the main character doesn't get better!

The main character (to me) looks like Jim Carrey mixed with Jared Padalecki (Supernatural). He was in the hospital for something, and now he was trying to get an interview for grad school, which turned out to be a setup. He was then "handed" a mysterious (and missing) 6th book of a "Narnia" series, which the last page flies away and he chases it - into the magical campus of a magical university called Brakebills.

I won't give away too much, but I will do a quick comparison list:

Pros

  • The series itself includes a lot of adult themes (which Omega Noir has)
  • It introduces classes, which allows me to get a better perspective of how the classes work
  • Magic isn't limited to the elements (elements, telepathy, psychics, etc)

Cons

  • Time moves at an unknown speed (there aren't any transistions to tell you when an hour has passed versus 3 months)
  • The primary plot is very confusing (subplots include the Beast, Allison's dead brother, Quintin's friend getting into a rival magic group, the rival magic group has double agents in the school, Quintin's issue with the hospital, etc)
  • Summoning magic takes spells, but looks like Naruto instead
  • There is "Battle Magic", but it's only used once, and never brought up again
  • The rival magic group has powerful magic, but it's confusing how their structure is and what they are supposed to do (especially operating out of the back of a minimarket)
  • The main character (Quintin) is too timid, and is unsure of himself all the time
  • Syfy allowed the F word to be said, but then bleeped it out on production (although the S word is thrown in and is uncensorred a lot)
  • There are only 2 professors: the headmaster (or counslor - I couldn't tell), and one other professor - who gets meaninglessly killed in the first episode, in which case the headmaster/counslor subs! (There is a recruting agent, but I am completely unsure of her role, aside from assessing Quintin)
  • 5 episodes in, and (aside from the multiple subplots) there are too many characters introduced, and it's getting hard to separate them and figure out who does what (aside from Quintin, Penny, and Allison, who seem to be the most frequently recurring characters)


I'm sure there are more Pros and Cons, but this is the list that I have as of this posting.

If you are enjoying the series, please let me know, as I am still on the fence about it. If you have read the book, please let me know if it's better than the TV series or not.

On a semi-positive note, I've thought about my own magical series, and what can and can't be done. The weird thing is that if "Harry Potter" and "The Magicians" got together and had a kid, it'd be "Omega Noir". It's nice, but a little unsettling.

(And if you're wondering, I have not read the Harry Potter series yet, because Omega Noir was going to be based on Harry Potter, but I didn't want it to be a copy-and-paste result. I will read HP after I'm done with Omega Noir)


Tags:#themagicians, #syfy, #magic, #supernatural

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Latest Project: The Story

I thought I'd write a post about my latest project, because of various reasons. First, I want to make sure I get this idea out of my head and onto something referable, and so I can get some feedback on the concept to see if it is viable before I put it a lot of research (because this is going to take a lot of research).

So here it goes: *Ahem*

The whole idea is to make a spoof novel (or series) about novels. Basically, breaking the 4th wall of a story. If there is a way to go against the grain of a "book," I'm hoping to find a way.

The Story (yes, that's what I'm calling it)itself starts out with every evil villain's dream: he has finally taken over the world. How? It doesn't matter....oh wait, it does, but that will be covered in "The Sequel: A Prequel" (that's the title of the 2nd book). Maybe a 3rd one could be called "What Happened Afterwards"...?

Regardless, Tag, the main antagonist (or is he the protagonist?) rules the world. Everything is under his control. And for the first few weeks, it's pure bliss and chaos! But after realizing that the challenge is gone, he gets bored. There's nothing new to do; everything is under his ruling - his minions, the public, the economy, everything!

What else can he do? He searches for a hero to fight, but who would want to fight the evil powerful overlord of the world? Not many, but that's what he wants to do. He's the ruler of the world, and gosh dang it, he's gonna find one!


I have a few ideas on how to break the 4th wall, including having Tag address the reader, create a theme song for himself, acknowledging typos, and even referencing the already published book for a few ideas.

My research is going to consist of studying a lot of Mel Brooks films (would that be called "work"?) since he loves breaking the 4th wall (along with a few other things). Some people may think that this is a rewrite of Megamind, and you'd be right, but instead of the hero wanting to retire and disappearing, this takes another perspective from the villain and puts him into an idealistic scenario.

Sure the novel may not be able to be turned into an audiobook or even a broadcast, but I think it'll be a fun adventure.


Tags:#thestory #melbrooks #tag #lunarproductions

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Post-Government Shutdown/October Progress

Derpy cat - why not?

I decided to put up a derpy cat. My reasoning? Why not.

Anyway, it's been a while since my last post. Since the Government shutdown lasted an agonizing 16 days (at least, agonizing since I've been an adult, since the last one was in 1996 when I was too young to know the difference), I've heard more than enough about the parks closing, veterans storming the gates, furloughed paychecks, federal services that closed, etc.

Since the Government shutdown is now over (as a seemed force-of-hand by the Republican party), hopefully this process can be easier to proceed.

Anyway, government techno jargon aside, here's what's been keeping me busy:
  • I've picked up progress on WNC Local again, and it seemed that my thought process almost repeated itself since I worked for a few hours only to realize that the work was already done (yeah, I feel stupid). I've been working on the front end aspects and it seems to be coming along nicely. According to the original timeframe, we are right on track, but I'm hoping to move the timeframe up some.
  • Since we launched the new Shadow Dev site, there were a few things that weren't quite finished. I believe that I have patched up those few things and polished up, including the services pages. I was able to write a posting about the Q4 expectations and celebrated 8 years of Shadow Dev. It's not completely glorious, but it's better than completely shutting down.
  • After reviewing the analytical data, I realized that Two Cats wasn't getting any traffic. I realized that the site wasn't active and it had to do with some misplaced site files within the internal file structure from the new Shadow Dev design launch. I took about 15 minutes and remedied that today. The site itself isn't fully functioning, but I've decided to pick up the coding again.
  • Basically, here's my work docket: WNC Local, CityFix, OmniCard, Two Cats Studios, Lunar Productions Beta, Zoomiform, and ScrumIt (and eWaiter, but it has a long way to go). Yeah - that's everything I have so far.
  • I'm also working on (again) integrating the WePay API into the services to help online charges and auto-payments. It's been a challenge and I believe I'm up to it, but it will just take time.

In (what's left of) my personal life:
  • I started watching Yu Gi Oh on Hulu. I know it's been over a decade since I've seen the series, but at least I can now watch the series in order and finish up the series (since after Duel City, the new series started - I don't know (or care) what the name of the series was, because I stopped watching it).
  • Keat and I attended War of the Wings last week, and it was a lot of fun. One of the many things I can say about it is that it was a lot more comfortable than previous WoW's. The temperature never reached about 75, and the nights were never below 60, which meant that the heat wasn't too unbearable and the nights were nice and cozy under the blankets, but never enough to bring out the cloaks/capes for warmth. There were a lot of other items that were fun, but I won't go into it here because it will take up 5 pages of text. If you want to know, ask me, because I have a great story about an idiot on the Archery range.

And, just for good measurement, here's a comic that I can relate to as far as Retail work:
Retail jobs are obsolete


Tags:#dilbert #derpy #warofthewings #wnclocal #omnicard #yugioh #lunarproductions #zoomiform #twocatsstudios #cityfix #shadowdev

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Summer Review

This has certainly been a crazy summer. Since my last post in May, I'll sum up what has happened, but first, this:
Dilbert

Business:

  • We have decided to evolve the business: after 7 years of creating client websites, we are taking a different direction focus to the business. The plan is as follows: we will be offering "quick to create" CMS websites at a low-end price for the businesses and organizations that don't have $1000 to spend for a website, and require the ability to update their own website (although we have been pushing and emphasizing our "Website Management" service), and focusing more on developing "Software as a Service" (SaaS) applications. These applications include the following:

    • CityFix

    • OmniCard

    • WNC Local (which is actually coming along quite nicely since I am developing a primary framework for it to work off of, which I can use for other projects to help reduce the amount of coding required)

    • ScrumIt

    • ...and a few others


    Let's just say that based on what our developers want, they would like the ability to code, develop, design, test, and innovate in-house applications instead of having to conform to deadlines or produce less-than-quality websites.

  • Based on the next upcoming months, we should be moving out of our current office space. All details aside, things just aren't working in our favor to keep it. The move out should happen within the next 60 days.

  • We did receive 2 new clients during the away-time, but we also lost about 5 clients. One client we gained wanted a full-fledge basic website, while the other wanted some custom work done to their current site. Either way, it's good money. However, we did lose about 5 clients, and (to say what I've told others) I have no specific idea why. So there was some bad to go with the good, but I do believe that this was a sign telling us to get out of the "design client websites" business. Therefore, "message received."

  • (This can be classified as either business or personal, but either way) I signed up for CoFoundersLab.com, which is basically a Match.com for Entrepreneurs. Overall, I like the concept, and within the first few days of signing up, I already had a meeting with a potential business partner in Asheville. (I put on there that "[I am] looking for someone to join [me]" to help bring all of these SaaS services up to speed. We can produce the code if they can manage the business) After the meeting, things went well, but not as well as expected. I was later contacted by many people who were looking for me to join them. When I explained that I already had prototypes of my services and were looking for someone to join me, they backed off. However, I did receive one good contact from Atlanta who (after a lengthy phone conversation) will send me investor connections he has. So, things look good so far.



Personal:

  • I beat Tales of the Abyss (finally). When I last played it, it took me over 70 hours to play fully, and when I reached the final boss, I could never beat him. Using a walkthrough I found (supercheats.com/playstation/walkthroughs/talesoftheabyss-walkthrough01.txt), I was able to level up appropriately and beat the final boss on the first try. I got to see the end of the game, and I'm playing through again with 2x the experience, which should allow me to beat the stronger optional boss at a later time. Yay!

  • Keat and I have started (seriously) began planning for the wedding. I'm saying "seriously" because her parents are finally getting serious. We have pretty much everything planned out, including: the locations, the downpayment schedules, the overall budget, the payment logs, the tuxes, the reception menu, the program design, invitation design, Save the Date designs, groomsmen, bridesmaids, preacher plans, limo scheduled, flowers, etc, etc etc. The only things that we have left are to finalize everything, test/decide on the cake, and order the printing material. Just over a year to go.

  • I was interviewed for the Magnet Program for Wake County Public Schools. I wasn't quite sure what to expect (since I had been through the magnet program since 1st grade and didn't have anything to compare it to), but I went down last Tuesday, went through the interview on Wednesday, and got it over.

  • I finished my Python program through Coursera and received a 90.6% with distinction (I didn't do the first week's quizzes). Not bad for my first online course. I tried to enroll in a "Programming with Design" course, but that seemed to be more of a "how to emphasize design in programming" geared more towards designers with little to no coding, so not really my kind of course. I also tried enrolling in an Algorithm course from Stanford, but I did not have the time during my week to watch 20 hours of videos each week, so I had to unenroll myself out of that course.

  • I've tried to install Ubuntu on my home server and failed miserably. After multiple, multiple attempts at trying to install it, I believe the issue was that my hard drive had officially died. I don't mean "dead as a doornail" kind of dead, but it could not have anything else written to it, so I cannabilized the spare office computer and inserted the hard drive from it into my machine, and I'm using that version of Ubuntu on the old mainframe. Not pretty, but it works.

  • Keat and I have picked walking back up. Based on the past few weeks, we are doing an average of 2.5 miles a night, at a pace of 2.2 mph, which isn't bad. I'm sure I can go a lot faster, but I'm going Keat's speed, which is fine with me. I'll get up to running around the block again....one of these days.

  • I finally saw "Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead". This is the one Tennant movie that I could not get via Netflix or any other online streaming source (aside from BitTorrent), and while I was in Raleigh for my WCPSS interview, it was on BBC America! So I got to watch it! YAY!

  • One of my favorite animes, Sword Art Online, got an American adaptation with dubbing. Now, I know that I'm probably being prejudicial by saying "The American version won't be as good as the Japanese version", but in this case, I can freely admit that. Based on my previous blog posting, I said that I had a fan-crush on Asuna, and I meant that. However, when I heard that Toonami was picking up SAO when ThunderCats ended, I was excited....and scared. When I heard Episode 2 (that's the first one that we get to hear Asuna speak), I will admit that they didn't do anything to capture Asuna's spirit or personality. In addition, the same actress that played the daugter (Natsumi) in Sgt. Frog voices Asuna. I was semi-okay with the voice-over work, until the tail end of Episode 2 when Asuna said "I'm so stupid". At that point, I didn't see Asuna anymore, but the pink haired main female character from Sgt. Frog: Natsumi Hinata (don't get me wrong: Sgt Frog is a great, yet stupid, series). And...that ruined it for me. I still prefer the original Japanese version any day of the week.

  • I got a haircut. Yes, I know. "What a shocker!". I thought "It was time for me to get rid of the ponytail and get with a more realistic haircut....how about a 'David Tennant' inspired style?", and that's pretty much what I was aiming for. Not perfect, but I have a year to get it right before the wedding.
    My haircut

  • Wow, has it really been over 2 months since ConCarolinas? Keat and I attended Con during the first weekend in June and it was really fun. We saw the Team Tardis Cosplayers which did an amazing job cosplaying Doctors #9, #10, and #11, with an awesome real life Dalek, Keat entered into a Costume Contest as Katniss and she should have won (personal arguments against the actual winner aside, and the judges for making the contestants and audience wait 4 hours for a result), we met up with a lot of friends, attended a few parties, got a bunch of stuff, then drove back. I didn't have much of a costume, so I threw together some khaki's and a button up white shirt, trying to be Jamie Hyneman (I can't be Adam Savage), but it turned out more "Han Solo" than "Mythbuster" (see below image). Oh well, better luck next time.
    Wannabe Mythbuster turned Star Wars

That's it for now. I'll try to get back in to posting soon, as soon as I can get back into it.


Tags:#talesoftheabyss #saas #coursera #ps2 #wedding #ubuntu #debian #concarolinas #mythbuster

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Summer is over...but it's not a bad thing

Garfield


It has been some crazy past few weeks. Let me do a quick summary of what's happened:


  • I got into work today at 9:45am. Yes, AM! I had a crazy idea (based on an American Dad episode - the one where Roger has the "Sidney" persona that takes the hit out on himself. You remember that one? Don't cha? Right? Anyway...) to place my glasses by my "alarm". I turned off the alarm at 8:15 this morning (because Keat had to get into school before 10), reset it for 9, and went back to sleep. I got up at 9, turned off the alarm, and put my glasses on. Somehow, I felt more....awake and didn't want to go back to bed. So I got dressed, shaved, etc, and went into work. Anyway, I spent 2 hours going through my Reader and finding a lot of interesting business- and website-related articles that I felt would be good resources to share with the interwebs. So I scheduled i-don't-know-how-many posts into the Shadow Dev facebook page all the way through August 30, posting 2 per day. I then got the green light from Tom to send out an intro letter to a potential client in Asheville (after much editing), and sending some carefully worded explanations out as well. Afterwards, I worked on the Analysis followup links (see more below) and created that from almost-scratch to finished; jQuery, Paypal, form creation, and all, in a matter of about 2 hours. I then worked on a setInterval() on the Shadow Dev β site making random testimonials show up in a testimonial box every 4.5 seconds. That took about an hour or so. I had the hardest time figuring out 1) how to have the loop continuous, then 2) having the previous entry fade out, then the new one fade in. Afterwards, I met with Marti (see below) at 2 and met with her until about 4:45ish discussing different and new Project Management techniques, forms, and methods, along with a "Project Closure" sequence, which is new to me. I was getting things prepped for my teleconference at 7 when Tom sent me some requested files for the Maintenance and Rewards programs. I used the files he sent over to create the Rewards and Maintenance pages (finally). After I got done with that, I realized that I was supposed to meet Eric at Frog Level at 5 for casual beers. I hope he doesn't feel bad that I stood him up...? It was about 6:40 when I was done with the previous item, and I thought I would lay down for about 15 minutes. I set a timer for 15 minutes, and an alarm that would wake me up at 6:55. I started it (I saw it counting down), then went to lay down. About ~15 minutes later, I wake myself up, thinking that I overslept...again (see below). I woke up a minute before 7pm. Freaking out, I go over to my phone and try to call in. I see that my phone had only count down 2 seconds (from when I put it down), so it never counted down from 15 minutes. Somehow, I don't think my phone doesn't like to set alarms on Wednesday nights (see below, again). I called in to the teleconference, participated, and we were done in about 45 minutes. I then took it upon myself to clean out the office fridge. Long story short: it was over-freezing, so we turned down the temp. and the ice melted - all of it, so I transferred some out and emptied it in the sink. I then went home and watched some Big Bang, Futurama, Big Bang, and Battlestar Galactica. And that's just TODAY!


  • So, my Wednesday went a little wonkier than usual. I'll skim through the rest:


  • I created a Quote Generation System for Shadow Dev. I also created a Automatic Quote Followup system to send an email to the person who generated the quote for a followup. Quite nice if I say so.


  • The HCC Student Incubator was delayed until the beginning of September.


  • We recieved a new client: Premier Vacation Rentals


  • We gained a new staff member: Marti Daves! She comes to us with plenty of Project Manager experience, with a fine interest in hand-coding web development. Certainly a great addition to our team.


  • We re-worked the packets, again. Removed some pages, added some, and added a design to some of the packet folders. Hopefully, the response rate will be better.


  • Ordered 20 more bowls and sign holders. I find it hard to believe that each GLASS bowl was $1.44 each, but each PLASTIC sign holder was $5.34 each. It was pretty expensive, but the source for the sign holders was the least expensive option out of all of them that were researched.


  • I modified our Quota page to show what the Quarterly bonus would be if Quota is met. Should make things easier to manage


  • I created a newer version of a Contract Creator. Adding in some new clauses, price modifications, and service inclusions, and the new created contract is better than ever!


  • We launched the new SMDC design. Now to implement the information.


  • Added something a little different to a client: Instead of processing credit cards (as expected), they wanted "House" accounts (as in, give us your name, and we process your card on file). That wasn't discussed during the project negotiations, so the checkout system wasn't developed with that in mind. But, we did it.


  • Our first Contest winner won the free website, and turned it down, which is good and bad for us. Good: we have less work and don't have to shell out a loss to cover it. Bad: the Winner doesn't get a new site or PR, and we don't get good PR for offering this. Let's see how Round 2 goes...


  • After the last Monthly Meeting, I delegated out "Drinks with Geeks" and "Hello World". Good news: less on my plate to take care of. Now just to train/help the delegatees on how to do that.


  • I also created an auto-followup for websites that are analyzed using our GetMyAnalysis.com analyzer. For the past few weeks, the followup email would say "Get ____ service!" with a link, but never went anywhere. Now, the ordering page has all 3 services available, along with a checkout system (see above for more detail).



That's it for business. If you got this far, I know you're tired of reading this. I'll finish the rest quickly.

First, a bonus comic:
The System


Personal:

  • I reworked my Magic deck using Core 2013 cards. My battles with Chip and Keat are going better, and I'm not being slaughtered as badly.


  • I am now the Project Manager for Pi Lambda Phi Internationals for the front-end portion of the website. I didn't know what to expect, but I thought it would be a good PR rep, along with experience in the PM world.


  • Allstate was charging me $51/mth for auto insurance. Peaking my curiosity, I searched for some quotes from other companies. Out of all of them, State Farm had the best rate at $37/mth. The rest were $44-84/mth (Geico, Nationwide, Progressive (which has a very flash-heavy version), Farmers (they operate as 21st Century around here), and more). I received an auto-followup email saying that my rate was $34/mth. I went to talk to the agent with a few questions, and she said that it was ~$32/mth. Maybe if I keep talking, it may drop below $0/mth! That'd be nice. Anyway, the same auto coverage I was getting from Allstate for $51/mth, I can get for $32/mth from State Farm. Talk about saving $100's (actually, about $240/yr). I have nothing against Allstate - I know my parents have been with them for years, and my policy was spun off about 6 months ago. My Allstate agent was super nice and helped me out a lot. State Farm just provided a better rate.


  • I tried watching the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. I'm sorry, but 5 episodes in, and I couldn't get into the storyline. It's too much like Warehouse 13, which I also couldn't get into.


  • I started watching Battlestar Galactica (the 2004 version, with Katee Sackhoff). I'm not totally immersed like I was with Doctor Who, but I like it. Maybe it's because I'm writing a futuristic space-based manga called Phoenix Eye. I don't know...


  • I visited a new Jamacian restaurant around here called One Love. I gotta say: for being out in the middle of nowhere, it was some pretty good food! And not badly priced, either! As soon as I get my paycheck, I know where I'm going again!


  • I gathered the stamina and finally went to a meeting of the "Smoky Mountain Model Railroad Club" 3 weeks ago. I've had their brochure for about 6+ months. The club was mainly about O-Scale trains. Those are nice, but I prefer my N-Scale. I met a guy named Eric there and we tried to go train-spotting during the following week. Due to some bad communication with the relays, our spotting turned up empty. Regardless, it was good to meet someone new. We went to a guy's house in Canton who had a super-ginormous N-Scale layout that he had been building for 20 years. Let's just say that it puts my old 4'x8' plastic-grass oval track to shame. No, worst than shame; I may be in the same "sport" as him, but my set would be "Here's how to play Tee-ball" while his was MLB Atlanta Braves (I'm no sports fan, so if my analogy is incorrect, please let me know). I brought out my N-Scale set and a few books and hope I can go back soon and run my set.


  • Keat and I helped Janet cater a super-fancy party for one of Janet's friends. Let's just say that this guy's garage was the size of our house! He was super-nice, and certainly blows away the "I have a vault-load of money, therefore I have the right to be snooty" stereotype. I don't think this guy could be more friendly. Regardless, the catering event was fun, even if we did walk around for about 8 hours.


  • I am working on a new service called CityFix. It's only in Phase 1 so far, and I'm doing some additional research in order to complete this service. Apparently, there is a need for this, but it hasn't been thoroughly met...yet!


  • I receive daily emails from Randy Glasbergen's publisher for his comic. I will say that I appreciate his humor and quick wit, he has some super-strict copyright policies. If his comic is republished on ANY format, it is $25 per showing. Thank you Randy, but I don't have the budget to shell out $25 per comic. Maybe later...


  • I found a new YouTube series I like: Doctor Whooves. Yes, you read that right. I think my "Brony" is showing...


  • Keat and I attended a MTN. RENDEZVOUS Archery event late July. Personally, I thought "Okay, I pay $10, I get to shoot 10, maybe 15 targets down a range. Not too bad." Instead, Keat and I found out that it was 40+ targets in a woods-style shoot (uphill, downhill, around trees, across creeks, etc). It was 1 arrow per target. 5 pts for the animal (ranging from a rabbit to a bear), 8 points for the inner ring, and 10 points for center ring. I don't recall our scores, but (I believe) Keat beat me during the first 20, and I beat hear during the last 20. $10 for 40+ challenging targets? I'd do that again! (Minus the ticks - I found one on our bed during the next day, and one under my nipple (stop laughing) later that same day). Keat also found a local supplier of traditional archery supplies! Not too bad for one crazy and tiring day!



Okay, that's enough from me for now. Ranting over. Enjoy this penguin:
Penguin!


Tags:#thesystem #garfield #penguin #facebook #reader #americandad #rewards #maintenance #futurama #bigbang #quote #client #hcc #packets #bowls #contract #smdc #contest #magic #mtg #allstate #statefarm #doctorwho #torchwood #galatica #onelove #nscale #janet #archery

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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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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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Friday the 13th - 2012 Version!

Working Daze

How's everybody's Friday the 13th going gone? It was different for me. Here's how things went today:
Keat and I had the first Marketing Meeting today with Brandon and Tom at 10am via Skype and phone. It didn't go exactly as planned, but I think it was a good start. After that, Keat headed off to school, I emptied the litter boxes, cleaned the kitchen a bit, then headed to the office.

Before I headed out, I said to myself "Today is going to be a good day." Setting the mental state is important in seeing the glass half-full for production.

I planned on having a CEO Day today, but it didn't exactly work out. First thing I did today was check the mail and my gift card from RingCentral came in! YAY! $100 for me! I activated the card, went online, and ordered a few gifts that I owed. At that moment, my laptop finally decided to call it quits. I couldn't get it to start up again and stay on for more than 10 seconds. So, I tried to load the desktop.

While I tried loading the desktop, I received emails from my online seller saying that there was an issue with the payment.

The desktop had a small short in it and wouldn't stay on as well. I unplugged one of the hard drives and was able to load a live cd. I tried installing that to the hard drive, and after a few failed attempts, it installed.

Tom came in at that time and I helped him with a small tech issue, and got him started on his TICS assignment, which he finished promptly.

I went back to the desktop and restarted it, only to find a hard drive failure. Great. I tried it a few more times with no success.

I tried my laptop again, and it stayed on for a bit, so I thought I'd try to fix the payment issue. I chatted with my seller, and the laptop cut out mid-chat.

So, with the laptop on the frtiz and the desktop not having a stable hard drive, I went to the server room and used that connection.

I chatted with my seller and asked to retry the gift card. No success. I chatted again with another person, same result, but they said to give them a call and it could be fixed. I called for a retry, no success. I chatted again, no success. I called again, no success. I was getting frustrated. I contacted the bank that issued the gift card, and apparently the issue was that my seller was cross-referencing the address I supplied on the Billing Address with the billing address on the card, as expected. However, I found out that the billing address on file was of the company that bought the gift card, which I had no idea what exact address that was. The person at the issuing bank changed the address on my card, I chatted with my seller, and the card went through. I actually just received emails saying that my orders had shipped! Yay! 1 task down.

After that fiasco, I decided to call it a day since that took around 5 hours. So much for a CEO day. I didn't get anything done that I expected to get done.

I came home at 5, Keat came home shortly after. I watched Mythbusters, some DS9, took a nap, cooked some dinner, Keat went to bed, and I'm up trying to get stuff done.

On the good side, I finally found out about the Mythbusters Behind the Myths Tour, and the best part is: they are coming to Raleigh in March! Yay! Need more info? Nah, but here you go anyway:



"Jamie" at ConCarolina 2011
More info at mythbusterstour.com - it would be nice to see Jamie and Adam in person. The closest thing I had was a Cosplayed Jamie at ConCarolina '11, which was nice.

That's it for my Friday the 13th.


Tags:#fridaythe13th #workingdaze #laptop #desktop #ceo #giftcard #tics #mythbusters

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Webinar-mania!

Bug

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

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

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

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

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

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

On a related note, here's this:
Bizzaro


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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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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E-Consulting is a Bad Company!

It's taken me a day or so to post this, but I thought this would be beneficial to anyone who is considering working with E-Consulting from 5850 Canoga Ave, Suite 308 in Woodland Hills, CA 91367.

Long story short: I was first contacted by E-Consulting back in April 2010 with a promise of a "potential partnership arrangement" - basically, I sent in a few samples of clients' sites for them to run their SEO program on and get back to me. A week later (after I inquired about it), I was sent back my samples. It looked exactly like they copy and pasted the keyword analysis reports on each.

I responded with the following:
[...] However, I do believe that the proposal format is a little lacking. After taking a look at the 4 proposals (all of which you should have received copies of), it looks like they were just cut-and-paste from a 10-minute document. I don't mean to sound insulting if I am, but it really doesn't display a level of professionalism. I'm sure we can work these proposals to better fit our clients (like adding analyses of local competition and what keywords they have, including the business name(s) into the proposal (only 1 had it), adding their logo for more of a "customized" feel, and giving the clients a more broken-down understanding of what they will be getting for their money; more importantly, putting OUR logo on it as you mentioned before).
 
You did say in your previous email (or a forwarded edition of Matt's email), "Keep in mind, you don't have to do anything on your end, we'll create the proposal for you and put your company logo and branding on it.  You can just forward it to your client with pricing and see if they are interested.  We want it to be as painless as possible! " However, if we forwarded these to our clients as they were, they'd probably regard the attachment(s) as spam and delete it. We would also have to do a lot of re-vamp work on our end to make these presentable. We did fill out each form completely with the site information, client name/site (in the Client/Website section; we put Client Name and their site), and asked for SEO for all of them and SEO and Social Networking Management for ourselves. However, all of the proposals looked the same and our proposal didn't even mention the Social Networking Management at all.
 
As I said, I don't mean to sound insulting, but I don't believe that our clients would purchase the services you are offering if they saw the attachments we received. [...]


Keep in mind that I talked to 4 different people during this situation, including Matt Watson, the CEO of the company. When I finally received an answer from him (4 months afterwards), the main contact I was talking to about the reports (Chris Morris) was no longer with the company. This was his response:
Chris Morris is no longer with the company and all I can do is apologize for the lack of attention in answering your questions and concerns.  We have an amazing SEO Platform and I think it would be best for both parties to at a minimum to discuss how it works and what it does.  I'm an entrepreneur and it pains me that we botched the opportunity with you initially.  See if you can carve out some time for me so that I can address all of your concerns as forthcoming as I can.  The platform has changed, proposals have changed, and the process has changed as well.  In regards to auto-emails, just delete them for now and we'll find our own working relationship from here on out.  If you still wish to discontinue our business relationship, that is your call and I wish you the best.
After being bombarded by "Sign up with us" emails from different people at the company between last December and this September, I sent in emails saying "Stop contacting me or I will file a complaint with the BBB" - twice. So, I did. Here's the report:
BBB
Long story short: I filed it on 9/20. I didn't get a response until 10/15, almost a month later. The worse part: it was the exact same "canned response" sent to their last BBB complaint. I sent in my reubtal two days afterwards (the BBB didn't let me know until then). By 10/31, E-Consulting didn't response, so BBB closed the complaint. My reaction: they didn't know how to answer since they screwed up. Overall: Don't agree to do anything with them!


Tags:#econsulting #badcompany #dontgowiththem #bbb #complaint

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This guy sent me an email so I decided to grade it.

Email Grade

Thanks to The Oatmeal for the idea. I'm not as funny as Matt Inman, but I thought I'd give it a try


Tags:#theoatmeal #email #grade #fail

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Squishy Day!

The System

Today was Take your Squishy to Work Day, so I brought my Squishy to work. Here's a shot of my mini-fox hard at work:
Squishy!


Anyway, today was kind of a wasted day. I don't know why. After getting my notes together and corrected this morning about a client, I met KC at the office at 11, gave him his cards, then pretty much browsed the Internet for a few hours - mainly webcomics. Today seemed like a good day to browse the other 99% of webcomics that I had been missing from the outbound corners of the internet. I added a nice little "Favorite Webcomics" section to the blog (below the "Comments" section on the right side), which looks like this:
Favorite webcomics - in no particular order

The above webcomics are always listed in a random order, so don't think that I have a preference.

Anyway, after I got done browsing, KC finished his work on a client's site. I went in and tweaked it a bit, and it was officially classified as "Done!" so I moved the beta.php page to the index, and made a PR announcement on the Shadow Dev website.

I went back to browse some webcomics, and voted for a lot of my favorites on topwebcomics.com. So, that's it for my Wednesday. Hopefully I can be more productive tomorrow and Friday to call this week a success. 7 hours today + Mon and Tues = ~21 hours.


Tags:#thesystem #squishy #webcomics

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Bachelor for a Week - Day 4

The System

It's been a while since I posted a System comic on here, but I thought this would be nice.

Day 4 of Bachelor-ship, and the days are starting to run together. I've completed more work on the Shadow Dev Beta site, and if I keep this up, I should be able to release it by September 1st. That'll be one major accomplishment out of my way.

Not much has really happened today. I kept watching Voyager - I'm on S7:E2 now, so almost done with the series. Still glad I got to see the whole thing from the start.

I also found out the issue behind why my txt's wouldn't sync with Gmail: my IMAP was turned off. After I turned it on, all of my txt's synced within a matter of minutes.

If I keep up this "blogging" thing, I'll have been blogging for a year in just short of 3 months. To be honest, I'm glad I'm doing this. If not for a personal record (or for you readers out there), then for personal enjoyment to entertain whoever is reading this.

Keat comes home in T-48 hours. Honestly, I can't wait. With the kitties meowing their heads off, no internet access at home, and trying to get work done during these ever-longing days, I may lose my mind before Saturday gets here. Good thing I have a small client meeting and a janitor coming tomorrow to keep my schedule in tact.

PS: According to the server log, I've been logged on since 1:05pm. To date, I've worked 35 hours so far this week. Only 5 more, and I'll qualify for overtime! (that is, if I got paid for it)


Tags:#thesystem # #keat #voyager #txt #blog #kitties

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Bonus: Fix the HTML!

Just checked my reader, and saw this. Thought I'd share it since it deals with my favorite (and most annoying) field.



And this is appropriate for last weekend:


Tags:#dilbert #bonus #thesystem

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I had a case of the Tuesdays

I know it's Wednesday, but this first portion deals with YESTERDAY. Deal with it. After I posted yesterday's entry, Keat and I went home. Nothing super special, but it started raining. Hard. We went to Ingles to pick up some dinner, then got back out to the car, and the stupid car wouldn't start! Since the RKE doesn't respond anymore, we have to open the car with the key, which causes a mini-alarm to go off for a bit. After about 10-15 seconds, the full-on "HEY! I'M BEING STOLEN!" alarm goes off. Which it did. For 10 minutes. The stupid key wouldn't turn in the ignition. So here we are, holding groceries, in the hard, wet rain, trying to either disconnect the car battery and/or start the car. The car finally started and we were off. Soaked, but wet.

ANYWAY, there were a few comics in the past day that I liked, so I'll be posting them throughout the week. Here's the first one.
The System

Haven't posted a System comic in a while, but what the hey - I thought I'd do it.

On to more technical stuff(s), I had an idea for a developer-friendly MySQL error notifier, since mysql_error() only works on the front end. My proof-of-concept that I developed yesterday really worked! And I'm so happy! Here it is for anybody to use.
#notify developer(s) of MySQL Errors
 
#use: $result=mysql_query($sql) or die("Oops!".mysql_dev_error($sql));
 
#(c) 2011 - Shadow Development [http://shadowdev.com]
 
if (!function_exists(mysql_dev_error)){
 
function mysql_dev_error($sql){
 
        #get the php-generated mysql error
 
        $error=mysql_error(); 
 

 
        #get the database name
 
        $db_q=mysql_query("SELECT DATABASE()"); 
 
        list($db) = mysql_fetch_array($db_q);
 

 
        #get the top-level domain along with the page the 
 
        ## query is being executed on
 
        $page=$_SERVER['SERVER_NAME'].$_SERVER['PHP_SELF']; 
 

 
        #send HTML email
 
        $headers  = 'MIME-Version: 1.0' . "
 
";
 
        $headers .= 'Content-type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1';
 
        $headers .= "
 
";
 

 
        #generate message
 
        $message ="SQL Query:
$sql

"; $message.="Database:
$db

"; $message.="Error:
$error

"; $message.="Page: $page"; #send off mail("DEVELOPER_EMAIL", "MySQL Error for ". $_SERVER['SERVER_NAME'], $message, $headers); }}

BTW: Creative Commons License
MySQL Developer Error by Kyle "KP" Perkins - Shadow Development is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

I'm really surprised how well it works for just a proof-of-concept. I told Keat last night that I must be getting really good at this "programming" thing. I used to think of an idea, write it down, write the code in 15 minutes, then spend 2 weeks debugging it. Now, my 15-minute code sessions work like a charm from the get-go. I must be doing something right....

Here's the overview of what I got done today:
  • I got some minor edits done to the Shadow Dev Beta blog (added a side navigation like the on one this blog; had to make my own URL shortener for some URL-based comments).

  • Made some additions and edits to the Receipt Rescue.

  • Finally sent out May's newsletter and followups (I'm only 3 days late!).

  • Contacted a potential client to find out that my idea of a "potential client" turned into "We need an editor" - no fun.

  • Made a minor adjustment to my Cron job from last week (decided to have the IP addresses added to a DB log and see which ones were repeats - so far, it's blocked 29 addresses in just over a week; that's about an hour of free time I got back!).

  • Finished Rocko's Modern Life on Netflix (first 3 seasons were good, the last season got a little weak, like most final seasons do).

  • Added a Microtimer to the Main and Beta Shadow Dev sites to see the page generation time.

  • Found out about EchoSign.com - an electronic PDF signer for clients. Not a bad idea, and I may try it in the future.

...and that's about it for now. Till tomorrow!


Tags:#thesystem #php #creativecommons #mysql #car #alarm

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Time well wasted

Not to knock off Brad Paisley's album, but today was really wasted. With the building's main internet connection going inactive at 11:15 (just as I finished the first draft of this entry, along with getting ready to begin today's work), and just came back at 6pm (as of this writing) - you'll understand more at the end of the post. This means that I couldn't do anything that I wanted to do today that required the Internet (and nowadays, what doesn't?). While the Internet was out, I did get a budget created for the wedding, and also created a master copy of the guest list that Keat and I will be maintaining. Aside from that, it has been a very wasted day. Stupid internet. ANYWAY.....

Angry Birds via Over the Hedge

I've made some improvements to the blog recently; mainly SEO-friendly URL's. It did require a re-parsing of the feed, but hey, at least the relevant URL's are showing in search results instead of "entry.php?id=48". I think that counts for something.

Last week was certainly a week for attacks, wasn't it? I mean, with our DoS attack on 4/20, then Amazon's AWS network going down (which supplies about 90% of the important stuff on the internet), and Sony's Playstation Network going down, and not to mention the launching of Skynet (for those of you who pay attention to The Sarah Connor Chronicles, although the same thing could be said about April 29, 2010, if you know what I mean), things certainly had a downward spiral last week. On a semi-related note, I just created a CRON job that will scan our secure SSH log, filter out denied access attempts, add the offending IP addresses to our firewall, and email me the report. Not bad for a 15 minute "lets-do-it-now-and-it-hopefully-works" job.

On the up-side, I have made some major improvements to the Shadow Dev mobile site along with the CloudFlare service. It was a bit confusing trying to get the mobile site to update with the CloudFlare proxy DNS set in, but I finally got through it.

On the flip side, the apartment looks like a tornado went through it. Everything that had its own little storage area is now in the middle of the living room, dining room, and part of the kitchen. Why? Because we are moving to Waynesville and we have to get everything packed. Although our original plan was to move at the end of June/July, a friend of ours let us in on a connection to some local landlords and they are looking to have the smallest downtime ever, so with the eviction of their old tenant last friday, they want someone to move in NOW! So we had to move up our move-out date to the end of May (must give current landlords a min. of 30 days notice, as usual). It's not that we don't like Bear Creek, but with Keat going to WCU and the business in Waynesville, the amount of gas alone would be at least $100 a week if we stayed in Asheville. Also, we haven't spent enough time in Asheville to really call it "home" - sure, it's nice and trendy, but we spend more time in Waynesville than in Asheville (really, there are over 200 events, restaurants, shops, and more in Asheville, and we've been to.....4?).

Anyway, I've also picked up the PS2 again and started playing some of my games (the ones that weren't packed yet). I started Onimusha 2 again, and it was pretty fun. I was beating myself up for remembering certain things in certain levels, then trying to figure out how to get them (like the Yellow door at Gifu castle) when in the end, Jubei goes back to those locations and can access them. I beat that in about 4 days (mainly playing between 11pm and 4am). After the boss battle, I switched to Onimusha 3, which (thank god) finally allows access of the left analog stick. I was getting tired of using the D-pad for directional control. I also had my previous save file on my memory card, so I could use Samanosuke's Cowboy outfit (not really appealing, but I thought I'd give it a try). 2 days in, and I'm already at the Zoo level.

On to today's to-do list: working on NSMT's Shuttle system and mobile site, working on finishing Lu's Specialties Foods design, getting Innocent Footprints design planned out (code-wise), finishing Shadow Dev's mobile site, take some business calls for insurance and a potential client, service a friend's computer, create site analysis for competition, write some articles, and see about getting the Wedding site up and going with the online RSVP system. Yay for Monday....

Speaking of the Wedding site, here's a good Bug comic:
Bug


And Monday continues to taunt me with the absence of an internet connection from 11:15 to ??? (although, the college that our building connects through is also down, which means their internet connections, VoIP Phones, teleconference systems, faxes, etc, are all down as well - what luck....). I finish my weekend reader, create a small cron job, reply to some emails, (and write this entry), and as soon as I'm ready to begin my actual work....the internet goes down.

On the up-side (again), I did receive a CloudFlare T-shirt in the mail today (it must have been delievered on Saturday since Friday was a holiday). Thanks CloudFlare, and keep up the good great work!
Webcams suck on quality, and camera phones suck too when there is a lot of background light


Tags:#internet #overthehedge #bug #cron #terminator #apartment #ps2 #onimusha #asheville #mobile

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I know not of Yesterday

The System

Well, yesterday had its ups and downs. I never really knew exactly what was going on, but I had a good idea. Aside from waiting on the latest Bleach chapter to come out, I worked on some Fire and Ice updates, some Cove Creek updates, tried to get the North State payment system working (found out I needed to contact their Merchant and put the account in Test mode), replied to some business emails, and napped a bit. For some reason, I couldn't fall into a good sleep on Tuesday night. So I napped when I got to the office until Keat called. She went to lunch with her class, and then went back to her other classes, and I napped. After a restful nap, I got back to work, trying to catch up and get things going. I know it seems pretty vague, but that's how yesterday seemed: vague. We were also waiting to hear back from the Radio station about a hosting gig and the SMDC Board about the Expo idea. I'll explain more tonight.

Aside from the typical business stuff, I also tried to work on some more subdomains. I added them, but they aren't showing up. Don't quite know what that's about.

Until tonight, PEACE!


Tags:#thesystem #vague #smdc #northstate #fire&ice #covecreek #subdomains

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YAY! Server issues are.....*meow* SHUT UP!!

Dilbert

Today was a very snowy day. Lots of snow and not a lot of travel. I wonder if we'll be snowed in tomorrow or not. Hopefully not.

Not much really happened today. Keat had the Marketing Plan to work on and finish, which she did while we watched a number of American Dad episodes. I received a call on the 800 number from a potential client, and after the call was done, I was super excited: the potential client fits our target market perfectly! I mean, after revamping our current marketing strategy, we're seeking out organizations and businesses who have gone through a web designer/developer/firm already and were dissatisfied with the results, either through the vanishing points of contact to the updated site design, and even with something as simple as missing updates. When the client becomes frustrated with their current site provider and they want to seek out a better firm, that's where we come into play! As the motto says, "Simply Professional, Professionally Simple™", and we hold that true to today!

I also received an email from the support guy saying that he couldn't find anything wrong that would cause the downtime on the server. He said that there was a cron job (Geek-to-English: a cron job is a scheduled task in a Linux system) set to run every 30 minutes, and he changed it to every hour. I haven't received any downtime-related emails since about 6 or so tonight, so I guess that solved the issue. I checked the cron jobs and only saw 1 other cron job aside from the one I set. The other cron job was a system-wide backup (or so I can guess), and doing one every 30 minutes may cause the downtime issue. As I said, I haven't received any downtime emails since then, so hopefully that solved it.

I also received an email from our vet-tech friend discussing Chi. She said:
Cats go into heat from about Feb to Nov. They usually don't go 
 
into heat in Dec and Jan, though they can certainly do so. Cats 
 
essentially go into heat all year long, constantly, until bred. 
 
They can go into heat, be out of heat for a week, and go right 
 
back into heat. they can even go into heat while still nursing 
 
their young, and get pregnant again. They are very prolific 
 
breeders.

Apparently, female cats can go in and out of heat quite frequently (just great) and she gave us a reference to check out for getting Chi spayed. If all else fails, we can take Chi down to her and she'll do it (although she's about 1.5 hours away from our home, so that may take a while or a weekend trip). Chi's been pretty good all day, especially when she was asleep on the bed. BUT when she was up and about, all we heard was "MEROW MEROW MEROROROW mrrrrrRRROOW" again and again and again (she likes to turn purr's into meow's). I think my favorite phrase today was "Chi, I love ya, but please SHUT UP!" I think I also said "For the sake of my sanity, please SHUT UP!" a few times during the day. I know Chi didn't listen, but it felt better to say that. Although it's been a pain trying to keep her from peeing on stuff.

One last note: ......GREAT SCOTT!!! There's a Back to the Future Game! Saw it on my reader via GameTrailers.com, and just had to share it! After 25 years, when the first one came out, there is finally a BttF game! YAY! Had an interest in obtaining the trilogy, and found that Wal-mart has it for $32! What a deal!

Another last note: the neighbors finally came home and took care of their dog. The "female" came home at about 6am and stayed for a while, then we knew she was gone when the dog went "HROOOOWWWLLLL" again. We realized that both of them came home around 6pm, so (for the dog's sake) we're glad they're home.


Tags:#bttf #backtothefuture #chi #cron #downtime #americandad #dilbert

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Subdomain trouble again

The System

Before I get started, I wanted to share this major issue that I just discovered. I was standing downstairs in our apartment today, and I thought I felt a slight breeze. After trying to narrow down the source of the mysterious wind, I found out that the door wasn't completely sealed! There was a constant gust of freezing air blowing in from between the door and the frame. Keat and I jury-rigged a light insulation system made from blankets (see below). Afterwards, I also found out that a breeze was also coming in from the window next to the door! Somehow, the sliding window frame wasn't flush with the wall, so that was poorly insulated as well! The make-shift insulator worked well, but not perfect. Hopefully, we won't be paying high electricity bills again if this works (and as soon as it gets fixed - Keat sent an email to the landlord yesterday).
Make-shift insulator



On to Today:
Today wasn't much better with the subdomain issues. As you may (or may not know), I contacted the support guy yesterday with a concern about the subdomains. I received an email at about 1:30 on Thursday:
Hello,
 
Thank you for your email.
 
01. Most of your sub domains are manually configured pointing to 
 
a folder in shadowdev.com (sub net). You might need to reconfigure 
 
the httpd conf file which locates at /var/www/vhosts/shadowdev.com/conf/
 
Let us know which one is not working.
 
02. Please fill out this form:
 
http://####.com/company/cancel.php
 
Make sure you cancel the old account. Or email billing@####.com 
 
about it after you fill out the cancellation form.
 
Let us know if you have any question.

Again, notice the lack of grammar. Additionally, after I stopped the old server and requested a service termination (which I assumed was the correct course of action), I now have to fill out a stupid info form for canceling my account. I don't have an issue with forms, but this form was anything BUT professional:

Cancelation Form

Aside from being very unprofessional, the "Password" field was just a plan text field! Talk about lack of security. You would think they would at least make the Password field a password-type field!

After the old account was canceled (it took about 10 minutes after I sent the cancelation request), I received a response email at about 2:30 talking about the subdomains. My email had a dig request for the subdomains, and it showed all of the subdomains pointing to the old IP address. This is the response I received:
Hello,
 
Thank you for your email. They all point to the new IP now. What i did 
 
was that i logged on the old control panel, go to each sub domains, and
 
switch the 'subscription' to the new one. DNS record will automatically 
 
pick up the new ones on the new VPS account. Let us know if you have any
 
question.

Again, notice the lack of grammar.

I then sent another email saying that the subdomains are pointing to "Apache Test Pages." This basically meant that the subdomains were pointing to the correct server, but to the wrong location. For those of you who know the Plesk system, it seemed that the web server was ignoring the custom file locations in httpd.include and going back to the original file locations for when the subdomains were created. What a pain! As far as a response....none yet.

Later, I received an automated email saying that my server space was almost used up. At first, I thought, "How can that be possible? I transfered about ~20GB of info from a 30GB server. How can I use up 50GB already?" I didn't really install anything super-large and there wasn't anything added to the domains that was huge. I remembered that I told the control panel to perform a backup, about 2 days ago. I guess it finally got done (and duplicated the whole server, which can easily eat up any remaining space). So I went through and told it to delete it. I think it's still doing it...

Lastly, I don't mind the spotty support service or the server transistion issues, but if there is one thing that bugs me about 3rd party hosting, it's downtime. I subscribe to a free service called Pingdom which pings the web server every minute testing for downtime. Here's the latest result of uptime:
Pingdom Report: Uptime

Yeah, one major issue there.

I finally got home, and Keat and I watched American Dad while we ate dinner (gotta love Netflix). After about 4 episodes, we went to bed. So....'Nite!

PS: Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends!


Tags:#netflix #thesystem #pingdom #apache #downtime #subdomain

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Happy Turkey-day Everyone!

Thanksgiving...yay

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Enjoy this comic. May have more later.


Tags:#thanksgiving #traffic #thesystem

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A day full of TV - and Facebook URL's!

Amount of Comedy in Entry: 30% - xkcd

Although I'm not getting this in before midnight, I do believe that I should get this done before tomorrow starts. Bear with me...

Last night was a pain. It seemed like I couldn't get to sleep - tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable, staying warm, and....Chi meowing downstairs. Although I did have a few dreams, I believe Chi was meowing away last night as her "heat spell" was dying down. I sure hope it is over soon, because it is getting really annoying with the Siamese-volume meowing and constant "marking" all around the house and anything on the floor (I mean, even with a TOTALLY clean litter box AND being house trained, she still pees on random things while in heat).

The alarm went off at 8am and Keat got up. Yes, that is a first. She got up at 8 and stayed up. And the weirdest part: she got up before me. Although I love my sleep, it's very awkward that she gets up before me. She got some coffee and got ready for school. I tried to sleep for another 30 minutes. I thought I killed all of the alarms between 8 and 8:30, but apparently, my phone wanted to create some alarms to annoy me. 8. 8:10. 8:15. 8:20. 8:30. Okay, I got up.

I gotta say: This 2-day work week is really throwing me off. This morning, I was planning for what to do on Thursday and Friday. After I asked a few questions about using certain cars on Wednesday, Keat said "I don't have classes on Wednesday!" Then it hit me like a brick soccerball (because a "ton of bricks" would kill me). Thanksgiving break starts Wednesday and we're heading out, so (knowing how things will go down) work won't get done between Wednesday and Saturday. I hate putting work on hold for that long, especially when I'm on time-specific deadlines.

We left at 8:59am, and it usually takes us 22 minutes to get from the apartment to get to the office and/or school for Keat. Somehow, we arrived at her school at 9:16am. Don't quite know how that happened.

Anyway, my day was busy. Along with catching up on the weekend tasks and reading my RSS feeds (aka: my "daily digital newspaper" - should call it my "DDN"), I decided to go ahead and start the server upgrade process. Although it upgrades the main hosting server from a 30GB space to 50GB and Red Hat RHEL 3AS (which isn't supported anywhere, and it seems it hasn't been for about 2 years), to CentOS 5 (32 bit) which is something I can certainly relate to since the main operating box at the office, and the box in my home office both run off of CentOS 5 (32 bit). Can't complain about that.

I spent a lot of time talking to the hosting support staff on how to get the upgrade done. It seems pretty seamless from what I understood. I purchased the upgraded server space, but waited to initialize the domain and file transfer from the old VPS to the new VPS. Although I had both VPS's set, I wanted to proceed knowing that all bases were covered before I was slapped with some "unknown" fees. I was about to get things going until....normal business called.

After I sent out a mass message on FB asking people to "Like" Shadow Dev, I received a tip saying that a local competitor may need some help. Long story short: the business owner opened up a new business (while operating the current business), and things seemed to fall behind. The tip suggested that we offer our services to them in a non-competition agreement. I said that I'd think about it, and may attempt to contact the owner after Thanksgiving, allowing the holiday chaos to calm down a bit. Odd request, but what the hey?

I also received some updates from a client concerning some cosmetic items and photos. The photos they sent were to be used in the main slideshow on their site. All were good photos, but I could only properly use a few of them. There were also some issues with spacing and photo placement, but nothing unusual from normal day-to-day activities.

I went to Arby's for lunch, which was good for variety, but I swear: their "Value Roast Beef" looks like (Bread + Air) + 1 thin slice of Roast Beef + (Air + Bread). I've always been an Arby's fan and loved the Big Montana sandwich back around 2002 (which I believe is now a #4), but this was a little unacceptable. I wish I got a photo, but I was so hungry I didn't care what it looked like. I'll get a photo next time (I also dowsed it in Arby's sauce so it actually had some flavor). Their chicken is still good though; fresh, crisp, and thinly breaded. Pure flavor there. And love the curly fries. Mmmmmm.....is there an Arby's open this late?

After Keat and I got back to the office, I read an updated headline about "including your Facebook URL on your marketing materials" and thought "there's no way I can fit our super-long url on our marketing material. How can I fix that? Hmmm. Oh! Unique Facebook URL! Ok, how do I get it?" I recalled a re-tweeted tweet from a local competitor trying to perform a "social experiment" to gain 25 "Likes" to get a "Vanity Facebook URL". Not a bad idea. We had a few "Likes", and I knew it would take a while to get to 25. I thought "If they could do it within a few hours, so can we. Let's see what happens."

I posted the first "Like Us" post on my profile, Shadow Dev's page, my twitter, and Shadow Dev's twitter (turns out that auto-made shortened FB links don't always work) at around 3:30pm. I posted updates on how many followers we had and made sure to be at the top of the "updates" list about every 30 minutes or so. After multiple update posts (and probably the point that most of my friends were tired of me), we reached 25 followers at 8:30pm and I got Shadow Dev's own Vanity Facebook URL at facebook.com/ShadowDevelopment (30 characters) - what a space saver (instead of facebook.com/pages/Waynesville-NC/Shadow-Development-Technologies/30328325855, which is 77 characters).

After that happened, I offered a 10% discount to all new customers who are Facebook fans, in order to show my appreciation of their support. Honestly, I think it's a great deal. Like us = save 10%. No coupons, rebates, or special conditions. I recall Land's End had a similar deal for me when I was ordering the shirts. The lady on the phone said "Can you go to the Land's End website?" / Me: "Yea" / Her: "Do you see our main special on the front page?" / Me: "Yea, the one about logos?" / Her: "Yep. That special allowed you to save on your logo setup fees. Congrats." / Me: "Really? Wow" / Her: "Yeah, it's that easy." Why not give a little incentive to some fellow facebook fans?

Keat and I picked up some dinner and went home after that and caught up on some of our favorite TV shows. However, Keat made a good point while we were picking up dinner. She and I were talking about the Direct and Indirect competitors for Shadow Dev. Although I had a rudimentary understanding of direct and indirect competition in my 1 Marketing class while in college, I don't believe I got a lot out of it since I was preoccupied with ScrumIt and Nascent (when the idea of riding the Indy Speedway in a Limo is in your head, nothing else really fits). It has been determined that Keat knows a heck of a lot more than I do at marketing, and that is one of the many reasons she's studying Marketing and I'm studying Operations. I'm going to leave just about everything "Marketing" to her and do what I can with what I have.

Back to the shows: Futurama had a new special out yesterday, and we watched it online (comes out 1 day after air showing). That episode was.....a little weird. After that, we watched The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show. Although they had good stories, it certainly seems like Matt Groening, Seth MacFarlane, and their writers are stretching to find good quality stories.

I just realized a whole 1 1/2 episodes of Futurama have played while I'm writing this (we sleep to Futurama in the background). I'm gonna sign off before this becomes a term paper.


Tags:#xkcd #thanksgiving #chi #linux #vps #fb #arbys #shadowdev #discount #marketing #futurama #thesimpsons #familyguy #americandad #theclevelandshow

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Science is Blinding!

Heard a Swiffer commercial. Love this song. Enjoy.



Edit: 2010-11-21 23:00:00 I decided to replace the flowplayer video with the a youtube link due to legal reasons. Although the concept was proved wonderfully, I don't want to get in trouble in case the owning company of the video found it. Although I do state in the footer that all content is © me, I also mention that all other respective ©'ed work is © of their respective owner(s). I don't want to take credit for something I didn't do. I still have the original proof of concept available online for viewing purposes.


Tags:#science #thomasdolby #youtube #zen #thesystem

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Comments are now Live!

margin: auto
I wanted to announce that the blog now has a Comment feature! As I said before, the blog is like a sandbox so I can test and show off some of the newer features I have learned. I spent about 4 hours learning the proper syntax, testing, and debugging, so the Comment system may be a little buggy, but I believe it's a great first-time try.


Tags:#comments #thesystem

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Creative Distance

Saw this on The System. Had to share and archive for all time.
The System


Tags:#thesystem #computer #ideas