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Once again, my business site has become outdated.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.

Autism Women’s Network — 01/05/2010

Autism Women’s Network

After 3 months of complete immersion, the Autism Women’s Network site is live and open to the public. I am still adding features and fixing the occasional bug here and there, but for the most part, it is done.

Autism Women's Network Website
Autism Women's Network Website

Building this site has been an amazing experience for me. I am happy to get to contribute something to the AWN, which is an awesome organization that “provides effective supports to autistic females of all ages through a sense of community, advocacy and resources”. This site is open to all supporters including men and non-autistic people.

The response has been amazing! After just 3 days, we have more than 150 registered users and over 1000 forum posts! I would like to extend a big thank you to all the beta testers and other people who have been helping to get this site up.

A large part of my obsession while working on this site has been in learning Drupal, an open source PHP/MySQL content management system and framework. I have been running a Drupal test site since 2003. About 2 times a year, I dust it off, update it, and try to love it. Usually, I end up hating it, but keep going back because of the large community that surrounds it. There could not be so much Drupal love without a reason.

I am now a Druciple. I will still use WordPress for as many sites as I can, but for larger projects, it is really nice to have the amazing power and endless flexibility of Drupal as part of my web dev arsenal. I look forward to continued work on this site and continued development with Drupal.

Meet The New Boss — 01/26/2009

Meet The New Boss

In President Obama’s first weekly address, he focuses on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

This video is just one part of the brand new, beautifully designed and implemented whitehouse.gov website. If you have not visited the site yet, I recommend checking it out. Aside from being an inspirational website from a web developer’s point of view, it contains a great deal of interesting information.

There is educational information about how the different branches of government work, pages explaining what items on the adminstration agenda are about, current news and updates, and lots of historical information about the white house and the former presidents and first ladies who have lived in it.

Autiblogger 1.3 — 02/16/2008

Autiblogger 1.3

I have been so busy with work lately that it has been very hard to keep up with non-work websites. Since most of the sites do not need much ongoing maintenance, this has not been a big problem, but Autiblogger has been needing some TLC for a while now. I had to shut down on-site registration a while back due to an insane number of splogs and anyone who wanted a blog had to contact me. Not ideal.

Autiblogger has now been updated to the latest version of WordPress MU! This new version includes security updates and more tools to regulate signups. This means that Autiblogger registration is open again!

I would like to extend a huge thank you to Andrea Rennick for doing the update! It went quite smoothly with a minimum of downtime. She also added some spammer protection above and beyond what the software itself provides. Andrea runs the WPMU Tutorials site.

In other exciting autistic community website news, aspieSocial has passed the 70 member mark and is becoming a nice community with quite a few regulars, interesting discussions, and some great bloggers.

I get very excited about the ever expanding network of autistic community websites. When I first came on the scene 3 years ago, there were just a handful, most notably Wrong Planet, a site started by 16 year old Alex Plank (now 21). Now there are many community sites, and thanks to Kevin Leitch, the Autism Hub, a network of autism related blogs.

I think these sites are very important for educating the general public about autism and especially for helping autistic people to find each other.

aspieSocial — 01/06/2008

aspieSocial

***Anouncement!***

There is a new website for adults on the autistic spectrum who want to meet each other just for the sake of socializing. It is called called aspieSocial. If this sounds interesting to you, please come and join us!

Social is usually not the first word that comes to mind when thinking about autistic people, but the truth is that many of us have an interest and a desire to be social. It just doesn’t always work out. I am sure there are lots of different reasons for that but there seems to be a few that are common to people on the spectrum.

One of the most common things seems to be that, for some reason, the set of rules that seems obvious to most people for socialization and interaction are either unknown to many of us and/or do not make any sense at all.

When I was younger, I did not know the rules. There was no good reason why I shouldn’t know them. My parents tried crazy hard to teach them to me. My brother learned them with no problem. Other kids at school knew them to the point where harsh punishment would be given to those of us who were clueless.

Over the years, I have learned many of the rules and use them as often as possible. For instance, when you see someone you know, you say hello and ask them how they are doing. The standard answer to this is some form of “Fine. How are you?”. You answer in turn and then talk about the weather or a sports team. Depending on how well you know the person, this can also include what you did for the weekend or will be doing next weekend. People may or may not pay attention to or care about the answers. It does not seem to matter as long as there is no ‘awkward silence’. Any silence at all is awkward. This is called small talk. I believe that in many cases people actually care how each other are doing, but the things that follow the greeting often seem random and pointless. Worst of all, there are many situations in which lying is appropriate and expected.

I can not at all understand why this makes any sense. What is the point of talking about nothing just so it is not quiet? Why is quiet bad? If people are going to lie, what is the point of talking at all? If you are expected to not tell the truth if it will make someone uncomfortable, what is the point of having any communication at all? These rules seem to defy logic. I do not think I will ever understand them.

When I first started meeting other autistic people, I discovered that things do not need to be that way. Not everyone understands, follows, or even agrees with these rules. It was a huge revelation for me. It was the first time I was ever with people who are like me in that way. When I went to my first meeting with other autistic people, suddenly the thing that made me feel so different for so long — like I was the only one in the whole world who was missing this critical understanding of how people work — was changed forever. A certain kind of core loneliness was relieved.

I have been very lucky to make some very close friends over the years, but I still am kind of clueless about what to do when I am with people who I like but am not very close to. I find that when I hang out with other people w/asperger’s or other types of autism, it is much easier to socialize. While some of the rules are expected (such as not being mean to people), others are tossed out the window. It is suddenly okay for there to be silence. The conversation seems much more real even though there may be fewer words exchanged.

One night a few weeks ago, me and my friend d were out having drinks at a local bar and talking about making a website. She was thinking of making some kind of aspie social or dating site. We decided that one thing missing from the quickly growing online autistic community was a site just for being social, like myspace, but not like myspace. I have wanted to do something like that for a couple of years now. It was my original plan for the aspieland domain name, but at the time the open source solutions I tried were not ready for prime time. Then I got way too busy.

D is very busy too, but there are faster, easier ways to make an online community these days. I suggested we use ning, an online community for making online communities. I had played around with it in its beginning days and then forgot about it. I was reminded again because this years macworld conference is using ning for a macworld community site. I like the way it worked and suggested it to d. A week or so later, she sent me a link to the first draft of aspieSocial. She had opened an account and created the whole thing just like we talked about! I was very impressed and even more excited. This site was going to exist. Thanks d!

We invited a few people and they told a few people and there are now 35 members. If you are interested in something like this or know someone who might be, come visit us!

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.

Autiblogger 1.2.1 — 05/24/2007

Autiblogger 1.2.1

Autiblogger is a free blogging community for people on the autistic spectrum. Since its initial beta release last August, many new features, themes, and plugins have been added. We have moved from a very unreliable shared server to an excellent dedicated server thanks to donations from the community and lots of help from my family. Thanks everybody 🙂

A couple of new measures have been taken to fight the continuous annoyance of splogs (spam blogs). Splogs are fake blogs that are created for the purpose of either displaying ads or creating search engine traffic and search engine ranking for another website to which the splog points. At one point, Autiblogger was getting about 30 new splogs per day!

I installed an anti-splog script to block users from signing-up if thier IP address is blacklisted at spamhaus.org. That helped quite a bit, dropping the number of splogs per day to around three. Finally, I gave in and added an image captcha (challenge response test to verify that a user is human) to the sign-up page. I was really trying to avoid that due to accessibility issues, but it was hard to keep up with even a few splogs per day. I added a link to the sign-up page for users to contact me if they could not view the captcha image. At this time, splogs are down to just one every few days.

With the splog problem under control, I was finally able to add some new features and update some old ones. Today I added a flickr post bar plugin which adds thumbnails of the most recent photos from a user’s flickr account to the post-writing page, making it very easy to insert a flickr image into a blog post. I also added a LiveJournal cross-posting plugin which automatically copies new posts to a specified LiveJournal. Editing and deleting cross-posted entries causes the same changes to be made on the LiveJournal.

Other changes include an update to the Friends List feature which fixes a few bugs and an update to the admin bar that appears at the top of a user’s site when they are logged in, providing easy access to their blog administration. Unlogged users will see a link to Autiblogger and a ‘Get a Blog’ link. A Random Blog link was also added. Click on it and guess what…

If you are interested in helping to support Autiblogger and other Autistic Planet sites, please visit the Support Autiblogger page.

Why Autiblogger 1.2.1? I was almost going to call it Autiblogger 2.0, but the changes didn’t seem large enough to warrant a whole new version number. 1.2.1 is also the current stable version of WordPress MU, which is the excellent open source application that powers Autiblogger.

Autistic Planet Site and Store — 09/02/2006

Autistic Planet Site and Store

I put up the Autistic Planet website, which is pretty bare bones at the moment. Eventually, I would like to add information about all of the sites, and possibly interviews with the people who run the sites that I don’t.

For now, it is serving its purpose of being a central location that links to all of the web sites, the t-shirt store, and the brand new CafePress shop! The CafePress shop offers some fun items including a mouse pad, a messenger bag, a teddy bear, a dog t-shirt, as well as a few other clothing items that are not available from GoodStorm, the place where the t-shirts are from. The GoodStorm t-shirts are now available in children’s sizes.

Maybe someday I will open an online store where I actually make some money. Then I wouldn’t have to fundraise at all!

Autiblogger — 08/14/2006

Autiblogger

I am working on a new project to provide free blogs to the autism community. Autiblogger.com is now in the first public testing phase. It is powered by WordPress MU, and so far all is going very well.

I have been wanting to set this up for a while and am very glad to finally have it working. There were a few problems with the wordpress mu install, but that was because I didn’t have a wildcard DNS entry set up for the domain. It is set up now and everything is working as it should. I wish I would have known to do that the first million times I tried to set up wpmu!

LBnuke 5.0 — 08/07/2006

LBnuke 5.0

The spam. I can’t deal with it anymore. I am finally going to convert this site to WordPress. I was inspired by word camp. Can’t get online at moment. I am guessing it is a Comcast thing. It has given me some time to start transferring posts since I can’t even find out what my homework is for this week until I’m back online.

I am working on a version of this theme for wordpress, but for now will be using a different one which is very nice and has a similar color scheme. I will also be trying out a beta version of MeCommerce by Good Storm, so if you are looking to buy things, check my sidebar first! I will get 50% of the profits. Pretty cool!

WordPress widgets are fun! Drag and drop sidebar items. I’ve widgetized a few themes, and when I have some time, I will try my hand at making a widget.
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