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Found 13 results for tag "thesystem"
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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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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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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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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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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