LoriB.me

Rambling On…

BeeDragon.com 2010 — 09/03/2010

BeeDragon.com 2010

BeeDragon Web Services2010 has been the most successful year yet for my business, BeeDragon Web Services. I have been getting a lot of work from other web developers and designers. It is very exciting getting to work with talented people who do similar work. When each person combines their unique skills, we make each other’s work shine.

With the growing popularity of open source software, I have been able to focus on building sites with WordPress and Drupal, and to greatly increase my skills in taking these platforms to the next level for my clients.

Once again, my business site has become outdated. The web development business is incredibly fast moving. One of my favorite things about this job is that I am continually learning new technologies. 2010 has been an especially exciting year for web development with the growing browser support for HTML5 and CSS3, as well as new releases (or near releases) of both WordPress and Drupal.

I am still working on the site, but for the most part it is done. I would like to thank Sallie Goetsch (aka The Author-izer) for helping me with much of the copy that fills the site, and as always, Karen, for being supportive, helping with the words, editing, and helpful suggestions.

An Updated History of BeeDragon.com* (Original History):

  • 1995 – version 1.0 – No layout at all, not even a table. All text is centered. Animated GIF of a dragon flying across the screen repeatedly.
  • 1997 – v2 – Table based version of the same site. Graphic page title images. Presentational CSS added. <FONT> tags removed.
  • 1999 – v3 – Template Monster template with Flash header. Need I say more?
  • 2004 – v4 – Mambo/Joomla CMS. Nice for 2004, but too boxy and modular for 2007. Very web 1.0. Hardly anyone has ever heard of a blog, so long detailed explanations were necessary but confusing.
  • 2007 – v5.0 – Customized WordPress site. Reflects what I do. Updated prices. Simple. Pretty. Tables for data only.
  • 2010 – v6.0 – WordPress 3.0. Once again, updated to reflect the work that I do. New design, focus on WordPress development, All-in-one website and hosting packages added, Portfolio updated.

* Fine Print: Technically, this is not really a history of BeeDragon.com. BeeDragon.com was registered in 2002. Before that, my “web design business” sites lived on aol, compuserve, and home.attbi.com.

Next Year in Jerus… I Mean Baltimore — 06/11/2010

Next Year in Jerus… I Mean Baltimore

Moving to Baltimore

Way too many things. Last month was the first month I haven’t posted here since July 2005. Probably wouldn’t have even noticed except for the missing link on the Archives page. Very busy with work. I am enjoying my projects, but wish I was working on them when there wasn’t so much else going on.

Our trip to Florida and Baltimore was nice. Good to see the families. Karen and I are moving to Baltimore next year, probably in March. Almost did it a few years ago, but the economy crashed and we got stuck here. Thanks to K’s sister offering to rent our house, we can now go for real. It is a huge move. I have lived in California for 20 years and K’s been here a long time too. I like Baltimore a lot, but do not have enough experience there to imagine what it will be like to live there. We will be near K’s parents and that will be good. They can use our help. I really like all of K’s friends there. It is very easy to hang out with them. It will be awesome to live near my friend Kim again. Will also be nice to be on the same coast as my family again!

There are so many things to do. Karen has to take her licensing test for being a social worker in Baltimore. We need to find a place to live. K needs to find a job. I need to get hooked up with the Baltimore web development community that I am assuming exists. There is tons of stuff I need to do for my business. Have not had the time, money, or brain to do what needs to be done. AND, we have to pack up our house and somehow manage to drive 4 cats across the country in a Corolla.

Part of my business plan is adding some work/business stuff here on LBnuke. This site has about 1000x more traffic than my business site. It is the site I like to work on and the site that people I know visit. Of course I will keep my business site. I don’t want to connect that site to this site. Too personal. When I have bits of free time, I have been adding little changes to this site. The theme is new. Same design as before, but wider and better organization of information. I will be working on it until at least the end of the summer. Got some great suggestions from Lou Anne at Be-Found!. If you need some SEO services, I would recommend her highly.

The summer is turning out to be busy as usual and things will only get busier as we get ready to move. I will miss it here, especially the weather! Baltimore will be a new adventure. I think I am ready for it.

BeeDragon on Facebook — 02/20/2009

BeeDragon on Facebook

I have been doing a lot of research into freelance networking. My favorite source of information is Freelance Radio, the FreelanceSwitch podcast. It is by far the best of the freelance podcasts I have listened to.

The panel is excellent. The host, John Brougher, does a great job of keeping the podcast on topic while still allowing room for tangential discussions about issues relating to freelancers. John and the other panel members, Kristen Fischer, Von Glitschka, and Dickie Adams, share tips and information based on their years of experience as successful freelancers.

The other day, I was listening to a ‘Super Mailbag’ episode where they answer questions sent in by listeners. One question was about ways to do marketing and the topic of having a Facebook page came up. There were some good points about how it is a great way to get your link out to a lot of people for free without being overly pushy about it (like when people spam twitter with business ads and links).

Facebook is a place where people who may not usually keep in touch with each other can catch up with old friends and have ‘day to day’ type communication with people in a way that time and distance would not normally allow. It is also a place where people share links and other information, allowing word to spread very quickly about anything from a new flower for your virtual garden to a great web business that you know about!

Today I created a Facebook page for BeeDragon. As a start, I posted screenshots from my portfolio to an album and a special offer for Facebook users to get 10% of their next order. I am still researching ways to use Facebook for business. If you know any, please feel free to post them.

If there are any BeeDragon fans out there who would like to share the love on Facebook, please head on over to the new page and click on ‘Become a Fan’.

Thanks 🙂

Baltimore — 09/25/2008

Baltimore

LB and K at the party

LB and K at the party

Mon 9/22/08 10:46am

On the plane from Baltimore to Oakland, stop in Denver. Had lots of fun in Baltimore. We went to an overnight birthday party for a couple of K’s friends that were turning 40 and had a great time. I really like K’s Maryland people. I am strangely comfortable around them. They remind me of people from Buffalo. The party went all night. At some point, I got tired of people and went to read in the living room. Most of the people were outside. I was happy that I had a book I could read. Got a Robert Ludlum book at the airport. The Ambler Warning. It’s a fast reader that does not require a full attention span. Other people started coming in and reading too after a while. I thought that was pretty funny. There were some books on the coffee table. K kept bringing people over to say hi and hang out for little bits of time. That was fun too. Little spurts of party.

The next day was fun too. Lots of people had slept over and others came back in the morning. After the party, we went to Kim’s place and then out for a drink. On the way home, she gave us a great tour of her neighborhood. I love tours with stories and she know a lot about her neighborhood. It was great to get to see her again after such a short time.

The first night we went to a restaurant/bar that a couple of K’s friends are opening soon. The place was amazing! Huge. They were building most things themselves, including booths and other assorted furniture from old church pews. It was fun to hang out there. Can’t wait to go back when it is open. We also helped K’s folks with their new fiber optic tv system. It was nice to be able to do that. Some stuff that is very hard for them is very easy for us. K will help them some more tomorrow. She is not coming home until Thursday.

I am looking forward to being home. Have work to do. Server was down for a while yesterday. Of course it has to happen when I am out of town. Got stuck in a loop and was overloading the CPU. A reboot fixed it, but today I got an email that the main hard drive partition might be dying and needs to be repaired or replaced. The server will need to be down for 1-4 hours. Crap. I told the techs to monitor it and reboot if it goes down again, but to wait until 3am US eastern time to take it down. I think it will affect the least amount of people at that time. Update: It did not go down again and is repaired now.

I met with the business consultant again before I left. New plan is to meet twice a month for 2 months, 2 hours each time. We covered a lot of ground in 2 hours. Got the basics of a contract written for my next project. Should be able to easily adapt it for other projects. We spoke some about pricing and how I need to raise mine and also about some other ideas I have that will bring in some steady income.

I am trying a new system of tracking hours. Only got to try it once before I left, but it actually worked. I was reading an article by David Seah that described a system where you set a timer to go off every 15 minutes and then fill in ovals on a piece of paper to track what you are doing when the timer goes off. I don’t do well with paper systems and the online version was alpha and not quite my style, so I combined some programs that I already had to do a similar thing. I set up a spreadsheet in Numbers with a sheet for each project, then set a calendar alarm to open up a 15 minute repeating timer in Alarm Clock Pro every weekday morning at 8am. The timer is set to make the spreadsheet pop up every 15 minutes. When it pops up, I just check a box for the project I am working on. The spreadsheet keeps track of how many hours I have worked on each project for each month by counting the checkboxes and dividing by 4 to get time in hours.

Turbulence. Hate it. The lady who was sitting next to me at the beginning of the flight kindly gave up her seat to another lady with a baby. She got free drinks for doing it. I usually don’t like being near kids on planes because they are loud, but I don’t mind it so much at the moment. Cute kid. Nice mom. Some screaming when they first got settled, but quiet now. My ears are clogged anyway. Enough writing for now.

Thu 9/25/08 3:54am

I never did get around to posting that. It is nice to be home. K is coming home tomorrow. I can’t wait to see her 🙂 We both have a little time off before going back to work. I am hoping to use the time to do some business stuff that I hardly ever have time to do. Today I set up an online project management system to make it easier to communicate and share files with clients. It is very similar to Basecamp, only open source, free, prettier, and hosted on my own server. Currently, I am using it to manage my hosting affililate program project. The affiliate system is ready to go, but still needs a couple of web pages, graphics for banner ads, and text ad copy. I am also thinking of starting a newsletter to send to clients and other interested people every few months. I would like to announce the launch of the affiliate program in the first one. Hopefully I can get that done this week because I have a big project starting soon.

It is 4:06am. I think I should go to sleep. Jetlag.

Taking Care of Business — 09/12/2008

Taking Care of Business

I have officially given up on voc rehab to help me with my business. I’ve been working with them for over 3 years and am tired of not doing other things because of waiting for them to help.

The last straw was when I was going to do a 10 week business program in my community. I got approved on the condition that I had a tutor to help me process the information. Karen was willing to do it, but since she works full time it would be best to find someone else. The rehab people acted like they could help find one but kept putting us off. By the time we gave up and decided to do it anyway, there were no more spots left in the program.

I did some research and found a business consultant who I will meet with for a few months. Her job is to help me structure my business so that I make more money. I met with her last week and she had some great ideas. Seems to think my case is easy because I already have clients. I hope she is right! I am excited about it.

Last month, I finally had time to fix Aspieland and the Autistic Planet Store. I will probably move the store away from printfection when I have some time because I don’t like that they charge more for larger sizes and there is no way to equalize it. Still, better than no store at all.

Soon I will start a hosting affiliate program. I have the backend set up where affiliates would log in to their accounts, but need to make some banner ads and publicize it. I will post an announcement when I get it all together. It will be a good way for me to get more hosting clients and for whoever becomes an affiliate to make some extra money.

My friend Kim was here last week. It was great to see her and we had lots of fun wandering around San Francisco. By strange coincidence, me and K are going to Baltimore next week and will see her again!

Done uploading files now. Time to get back to work.

Back In Business — 06/22/2007

Back In Business

I have finally updated my business site! I last updated it in 2004 and it was so out of date that I had to unpublish half of the pages because the information was no longer accurate.

BeeDragon Web Services

The focus of my business has changed over the years. When I first started out, I made mostly static table-based HTML sites. I started using CSS for presentation soon after that, and eventually started using CSS for layout as well.

When I first created LBnuke, it was made with a content management system (CMS) called PostNuke. It was my first experience with PHP, MySQL, and a CMS in general. I had never seen anything like it and quickly started investigating just about every open source PHP/MySQL CMS that I could find. Once I learned how they worked, I started specializing in customizing the design and function of open source CMS’s. After years of experimenting, I finally decided that my favorite CMS of them all is WordPress.

All this month I have been working on my new business site. I ditched a custom design that I was working on and then an XHTML/CSS template site that I was contemplating before finally deciding to convert BeeDragon to wordpress using a really nice wordpress theme that I found. I added some images (including a bee and a dragon of course), some rounded CSS boxes, updated my site content and pricing, came up with a few special offers, and put it up live last night.

I am very thankful to Karen for helping me with the site content! My goal was to keep it simple and easy to understand. I am still tinkering some with the content, but even in its first version, it is far more up to date and easy to understand than my old site. I am not sure if this design will be temporary or permanent, but it is nice to have it finally done 🙂

A Short History of BeeDragon.com:*

  • 1995 – version 1.0 – No layout at all, not even a table. All text is centered. Animated GIF of a dragon flying across the screen repeatedly.
  • 1997 – v2 – Table based version of the same site. Graphic page title images. Presentational CSS added. <FONT> tags removed.
  • 1999 – v3 – Template Monster template with Flash header. Need I say more?
  • 2004 – v4 – Mambo/Joomla CMS. Nice for 2004, but too boxy and modular for 2007. Very web 1.0. Hardly anyone has ever heard of a blog, so long detailed explanations were necessary but confusing.
  • 2007 – v5.0 – Customized WordPress site. Reflects what I do. Updated prices. Simple. Pretty. Tables for data only.

* Fine Print: Technically, this is not really a history of BeeDragon.com. BeeDragon.com was registered in 2002. Before that, my “web design business” sites lived on aol, compuserve, and home.attbi.com.

Useless — 04/20/2007

Useless

I have not been able to do anything today. No work. No play. Couldn’t go out. I worked a bunch of long days and nights on the server move and the site upgrade for my client and now I am totally useless. I am pretty sure I have a bunch of work to do, but I can’t figure out what it is. I tried to make a list, but it just confused me more. K is going to help me figure it out this weekend.

My mom helped me brainstorm about ways to make money to pay for the new server and I realized (after doing tons of math yesterday) that I can actually offer people more disk space and bandwidth than I could before. I need to find at least 13 more people paying $100/year to be breaking even. Not sure how I will do that. I am considering doing a promotion of including a free blog with new hosting accounts. If I ever have time again, I will figure it all out. I also need to update my business site because it is 3 years old and WAY out of date. My demos are especially out of date and the content does not accurately describe my services anymore.

I am booked up until June, so can not take on any more website clients until then. I have 5 projects in the works, but am waiting on content for three of them. It is very frustrating to have so much to do and not be able to do anything! I wish I could at least go outside or play a video game. I can play with the kitten. That is a good thing.

I wish I could hire someone to run my brain. They would keep it organized and running smoothly, and I would do all the things that would be able to get done once it was working right. I suppose that is what a business manager does.

I am glad it is Friday. This morning I was convinced that it was Thursday and argued with K about it. I even made her check the calendar. Somehow, I missed a day this week. Not sure which one, only that it wasn’t Tuesday or Thursday.

Yesterday, me and K went to the dentist. It is hard to get me to the dentist even though we have a great dentist. He is right around the corner from my old house in Berkeley. Ever since the first time I went there, over 10 years ago, I have been asking him to pull out my top left wisdom tooth. Every time, he has some reason why it doesn’t need to come out.

After having my teeth painfully cleaned and being reprimanded for not flossing every day, the lady who looked at my x-rays said that I needed to come back and have both top wisdom teeth pulled. There is no room in my mouth for them and one of them (the one I have been trying to get pulled) is pointing sideways and doesn’t do anything except hurt when I eat carrots. I made an appointment for sometime in May. I am not looking forward to it at all, but am glad to finally get my tooth pulled. K will come with me because she rules 🙂

How come I can write this, but can’t do anything else? Except twitch. I am very twitchy today. I don’t understand how thinking works. Is it really as easy for other people as it seems? Why aren’t other people stuck in their house not even able to watch tv? I am not stupid, but somehow end up being totally useless sometimes. I did help my brother get some info about an imac earlier. I guess I’m not totally useless. I wonder why I can talk about computer stuff almost any time, even when my brain won’t do anything else. It is all very strange. Oh well, what can you do? Back to doing nothing now…

Hacked :( — 10/03/2005

Hacked :(

I woke up this morning to an email that my business site was hacked with a malicious javascript that affects (what else?) internet explorer. I removed the code and alerted the hosting company so that they can make sure the entire server is clean. As far as I can tell, everything is ok now, but it totally freaked me out. This is the first time I’ve been hacked in 10 years of using shared servers. Someday when I have money, I will get a dedicated server, or maybe even a server of my own if I can learn linux sysadmin way better than I know it now.

Besides from that big adventure, things are looking up. Me and K got to have a mellow day yesterday for the first time in a very long while. It was SO nice! I have been feeling much better the past few days. The iron and gatorade are definitely doing their job. It is easier to do things now. I appreciate it so much after feeling bad for a while. It is a whole other world. The land of the living. I suppose that if I was to be hacked, it was much better that it happened today rather than last week.

Update: the server is clean and protected. i am happy 🙂

New business site is finally up! — 09/28/2004

New business site is finally up!

After many months of changing my mind about the design and technology of the new BeeDragon site, it is finally done! It’s a custom design, and is powered by mambo code. If you like, you can check it out here. Tell your friends ; )

It is still in the “public testing phase”. All feedback is appreciated!