Archive for the ‘web tech’ Category

Back from the dead…

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Well, poo. I’ve been really busy lately. Sometime in the last month or so, I noticed that ye  olde blog wasn’t working. Attempts to access it were greeted with a database connection error. I poked around a bit trying to fix it, but to no avail. I went so far as to do a new WordPress installation and imported a back-up copy of my old posts into it. That sorta worked, but the text was littered with  non-printing characters rendered as gibberish.

I finally figured out the problem. I’d changed the database password some time back as a security measure, without realizing that WP used the same damn password. A simple change to the wp-config.php  file, and voila! The Blog Which Nobody Ever Reads is back online.

Orbs Crush Quack

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Today I received an email through the contact form of my girlfriend’s website, orbgoddess.com. It started out:

Our Website [dreamhealer dot com] has a link from your website. We request you to remove that link at earliest because the backlink is hampering our website ranking and seo very badly.

We also understand that your website integrity isn’t in question here but the penalty from google is severely affecting our business. The link has already had a very negative effect on our website SEO and business.

We believe that you would take action over it immediately or in case of no action within 24 hrs, we are going to have to file a “Disavow Link” report with Google. If we do this, it may affect your site’s Google rankings…

Orbgoddess is a silly little site which gets very little traffic or attention. It does no black hat promotion which might possibly cause problems with Google.  It baffles me how a nice friendly link would be blamed for poor search engine rankings of a relatively large site. It should help their rankings, actually, but since Orbgoddess is a low traffic site, it wouldn’t help much, just an itsy-bitsy bit. The notion that it would have a serious negative impact is ridiculous. But not as ridiculous as the profitable quackery barfed up on dreamhealer dot com.

Dr. Quack’s Web Dude: I do not work for you. You do not pay me. Do not give me orders. Do not demand I snap to attention on a holiday weekend. Do not threaten me. Your ideas about search engine optimization are preposterous, and your boss’s naturopathic crackpottery should be illegal. I will remove the link which is benefitting your site when I get a round tuit, but at the moment I have other things to do. Like working for paying clients. Like writing a snarky blog post. Like going home and eating dinner.

For the rest of you: do you want to learn how you can spend hundreds of dollars attending a workshop about bullshit? Want to see a picture of a naturopath wearing a stethoscope so he looks like a real doctor? Want to buy DVDs and books full of new-agey gibberish? Follow this link for a heap of pseudo-scientific quackery from Adam.

medical cannabis patient records and verification system

Monday, November 4th, 2013

One of my web clients is the friendly neighborhood pot doc. I’ve been working with him over the last few years to develop a system for veryfying his patients’ status and keeping track of their records. It’s one of the most complicated programming projects I’ve created, with 2o database tables and over 100 pages of code,  and it works well for his operation. It keeps track of patients names, addreses, emails, notification preferences,  medical conditions, office visits, and records. It helps notify patients when they need to set up a new appointment. It allows dispensary workers to verify a patient’s status by typing his/her id number into a website.

I received a phone call about it recently. Another clinic was looking for an online verification system. I began to think that maybe this system wasn’t just a solution for the one client; maybe it was something which would be useful to a larger group. But, how could I demonstrate the features of the system without compromising the patients’ privacy?  I set up a demo site, which allows a tour of the functionality without real patients’ data. I’ve also written up some simple documentation of the system, so interested parties can get an dea of what it does.

You can view the demo and read the documentation of my medical marijuana records and verification system here.

A demo patient with a current recommendation has this id number:  ABC-2013102535448

Mini Sites Redux

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

The beta testing has begun for the store pages on realMendocino.com. In a great moment of general dopeyness, I put out a note on Facebook saying I was looking for a few good beta testers, and then went camping for a week, far from wi-fi or cell service. But, a couple of folks did set up mini-sites while I was out, and they both look pretty good.

Joshua Grindle Inn, one of our local B&B inns; and Liquid Fusion Kayaking, a kayak business which offers tours, rentals, and classes; both set up very nice pages without any help from me. The slightly odd thing about this is that both of those businesses already have their own substantial sites. The store pages were originally conceived as a quick web presence for businesses who aren’t online at all. But I was also striving for versatility and adaptability, too. It’s fine, and probably wise,  for folks to use them as part of a multi-pronged web marketing strategy. It also gives me ideas for new features to include in the mini-sites.

Somewhere along the way, I resolved the technical problem I blogged about a while back. I was trying to use subdomains to access the main script which generates the store pages, so they have URLs like liquidfusion.realmendocino.com rather than realmendocino.com/stores.php/23 . Better for business cards and such. For some reason, I was  thinking I needed to use a redirect for this, but the redirect wasn’t getting indexed the way I wanted. And then, in a blinding flash of “DUH!”, I realized I didn’t need to use a redirect at all, just put the store script in an include file.

But anyway, if you have a Mendocino Coast business or service and are interested in a mini-site, check  it out. Just go to any of the directory pages on realMendocino, such as this guide to Mendocino lodging, scroll down to the bottom, and click on “add my site”. From there, you can set up an account, add directory listings, and yes, create a store page. If you’re near my office, I’ll even peer over your shoulder if you’d like, and gleen info about any difficulties you might have.

Store pages are free during the beta testing phase. After September 1, they’ll be $100/yr or $30/quarter.

Mini Sites for Everybody?

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

This is part of the ongoing saga of the development of realMendocino.com. Sort of, sort of not.

While I was doing data collecting and data entry for the directory section of realMendocino, I noticed that many of the local businesses and self employed professionals have no website at all. This doesn’t seem wise to me.

On the one hand, most of those folks don’t need a fancy-shmancy site; they’re not doing e-commerce, they don’t need to reach beyond the local community and people who actually visit the area. But, on the other hand, this is the Twenty-first Century. Fewer and fewer people use old-fashioned phone books. Every business needs some kind of web presence of their own, otherwise the only sign of their existence to many of their potential customers may be an inaccurate, rarely updated page on Yelp (or some such global corporate monoculture site). And that Yelp page is likely to have a nasty review by some grumpus who visited the store a year ago.

So, I saw a need to develop an option for mini-sites for these people. One easy-to-set-up, easy-to-edit page with the pertinent information about the business or service. They’d just need to fill out a few forms with info about their business, upload a few photos, pick some colors, define the order in which those elements are displayed, and *voila!* an instant mini-site!

It’ll be inexpensive (maybe $100/yr) for the people setting up the sites, but still a decent source of steady income for me, once I get a decent number of folks interested.

As is often the case with such things, actually developing the gosh-darned thing has turned to be vastly more complicated than it seemed like it would be. I’ve put a lot of time into designing the database, writing the scripts, securing it from malevolent code, trying to anticipate all credible contingencies, etc. But I’ve been persevering, and the monster is almost ready for me to draft a few friends to be beta testers.

Today, as I was working on some of the editing scripts, a new thought ocurred to me: maybe this isn’t just a section of realMendocino. Maybe I should offer the mini-sites to the larger web world. The scripts themselves are portable, I could set them up on a separate site and people in Hoboken and Biloxi could set up their mini-sites and I’d get rich. Or maybe it’d just get lost in a sea of other options which are supported by giant ad campaigns and stuff. Hmmm…

Indiegogo Sucks

Monday, April 29th, 2013

In a previous post, I wrote about how I had started a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo to raise capital for my Mendocino community website project, realMendocino. It didn’t go well. A week after the campaign ended, I’m still trying to get the money the capaign raised out of the greedy clutches of the Indiegogo monster and into my bank account. Furthermore, there is not one hint of a shred of a scintilla of evidence that my campaign benefitted in any way from its presence on the Indiegogo site; the donors are all people I already knew. There’s no sign of anybody else even looking at the campaign’s page.  If I’d posted a Youtube video, sent pretty much the same Facebook posts and emails I did, and just asked people to send money to my Paypal acount or my post office box, I would have raised at least as much money. Faster. Furthermore, the Indiegogo vampire wouldn’t have gotten to suck out a cut of the action, and they wouldn’t get to squeeze out a few more nickels of interest by  incubating my money after the campaign is long over.

The Indiegogo scum’s support desk is remarkably unhelpful. They  just endlessly regurgitate a line buried in a FAQ page in a remote corner of the Indiegogo maggot’s site saying that “it may take two weeks for us to get around to transferring your money to your bank account, or maybe we’ll just hang onto it until hell freezes over”. OK, maybe that’s not an exact quote. Repeated queries as to why, exactly, it should take up to two weeks to send a few bytes of information from one computer to another in the twenty-first century have gone unanswered.

The Indiegogo demon likes to crow about its “GoGo Meter”, which picks campaigns which are already doing well all by themselves and features them on the site’s homepage. That way, it looks like the Indiegogo vermin are successfully helping campaigns, when they’re actually just milking them.

So, if you’re looking to start a crowdfunding campaign, there doesn’t seem to be much to be gained by using one of the monster sites (I  haven’t tried the others, maybe they’re just as bad) instead of  just running the campaign yourself. If you’ve got the family/friends/colleagues/Facebook/Twitter network in place, you don’t need the greedy Indiegogo motherfuckers. Just do it yourself.

It’s not just me. There are plenty of other people complaining about the Indiegogo scam.

Nice PayPal Button Lite

Friday, March 29th, 2013

If you’re just tuning in…

Your erstwhile blogger/webdeveloper is trying to overcome his aversion to website-in-a-box development platforms and find a simple Paypal payment solution for a prospective client. If I happen to sell some of my own photography along the way, that’s OK. too.

I’m trying to come up with a simple “buy now” button for a site that doesn’t need a real shopping cart; people will only need one widget at a time, so there’s no need for many of the shopping cart complications.

Let’s stick with the same photo. This image is available as a 12×16 inch, canvas print, gallery-wrapped on a stretcher frame for $250:

moonrise over mendocino

“Moon and the Maiden”, a 12×16 gallery wrapped canvas photo print. $250.

Let’s see if this one works without a lot of recombobulation.

Yeah! That seems to be OK.

Now, for testing porpoises only, a test widget, so I can actually consummate a deal with myself and make sure everything works:

“Test Widget”, nothing in particular. $0.23

Hooray! And the winner of the Paypal Buy Button Derby is:

Nice PayPal Button Lite

OK, you can go ahead and buy that photo now.

 

WordPress Paypal Plugins

Friday, March 29th, 2013

A possible new client wants to do some hyper-simple e-commerce. Usually, I create custom sites, but WordPress has a lot of advantages, starting with easy set-up and maintenance, and this site will be so simple, it shouldn’t really require anything I can’t do with WP. But, I’ve never used the WP add ons for e-commerce. Let’s try a “buy now” button for one of my photos. I just took this one a few evenings ago, and it’s been getting lotsa “likes” on Facebook, so I’ll do a live test. If somebody actually orders this, I’ll ship it.

 

moonrise over mendocino

I’m offering this as a 12×16 canvas print gallery-wrapped on a stretcher frame, for $250.

Are the WP gods smiling on me today? I’ll click “publish” and check it in another browser.

Well, poo. That plugin requires more setup than I want to do, and it has more features than I need. For that particular client, anyway. They just need a few “buy now” buttons, and than plugin is a more complicated shopping cart.

Now I’ll try the Easy Paypal Payment or Donation Accept plugin from the same folks (tipsandtricks-hq.com)

Let’s see if I can get that one to work easily.

Moon and the Maiden Photo



Well… making progress. How about this method with the same plugin?



Barfarooni. Let’s try another plugin.

realMendocino and crowdfunding

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

I’ve been contemplating, planning, and dabbling with regards to realMendocino.com, my Mendocino community website project, for a couple of years. I’ve got a lot of the background code written, and some of the data entered for the directory. But there’s a great big heap of work to be done. I’ve been trying to rustle up enough enough loot to focus on the project for a couple of months and get it running properly. Once it’s running and getting traffic, I’ll be able to sell ads and get some ongoing income from it.

But where does the startup loot come from? Borrow it? Tee-hee. No sane person or institution would loan me money. Advances from future adverstisers? I’m open to offers, but the ads ain’t worth nothin’ until the site is up and getting traffic. Friends and family? Uh… maybe. But who, exactly, and how many times would I need to deliver the same basic pitch?

Which brings me to crowdfunding. Theoretically, I should be able to make a quick video, write a little blurb, post ‘em on one of the crowdfunding sites, announce it on Facebook, email a few other friends and family, and let the money flow in. Sounds nice. That’s what I’ve tried. You can visit campaign’s page. So far, the results are rather underwhelming. Maybe I just suck at this whole begging thing. Maybe I should move to North Dakota and get a job driving a truck in the oil fields or something.

Spam Bait

Monday, March 19th, 2012

In the tradition of using my blog as a guinea pig for my clients…

One problem with WordPress is that WP blogs get a lot of spam. Spammy comments. Spam trackbacks. Etcetera. So forth. Ad infinitum. One of my clients is claiming he gets around 2000 spam comments per week. There’s a plugin called Akismet which comes with the basic WP install and supposedly filters the crap, but it isn’t free. Well, it’s free-ish. Or something. I hear Akismet is pretty good, but I thought I’d try a genuinely free one or two before relying on the default. After a little research, I decided to try Comment SPAM Wiper on my own blog, and see if it seems to be working.

I just installed it a few minutes ago; that was painless. As to its effectiveness, time will tell…


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