Tag Archives | good

WordPress/Thesis Tutorial: Custom Google Search Engine

One of the things you always want to provide visitors to your website is a good search tool. The default search tool that comes standard with WordPress is adequate. However, if your website covers a topic, or area of topics, or you have a Google AdSense account, you can take advantage of Google’s Custom Search Tool. Continue Reading →

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A Website Realignment: Day 0

Here is the beginning of what I hope to be a great series of posts. This series will chronicle—in as much detail as I can provide without driving myself or you crazy—the process of reinventing my brand and transforming this website in form and function.

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Paying the price. One way or another.

time-is-money

Today I was reflecting upon a common occurrence among people that I talk to with regard to their website(s).

The people I talk to either want a new website or they have one and want to update/add/delete a design or function of the site. These conversations either happen through email or in person and become a dialogue of  back-and-forth brain picking. They ask how they can do “X, Y, and Z” and I then ask questions relating to strategy, objectives, and outcomes. These are great conversations, and I love having them to figure out what it is people are doing, and how I can help them out. Continue Reading →

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You will not end your life wanting more time on the computer.

Image of guy sleeping at computer

I have been in a slump as of late.

I have been busy and working (thank goodness in light of economic uncertainties). However, I have not taken time off in what is approaching a year. Feeling the burnout? Mmm… yeah maybe a touch. I have been here in this space before—to pre-burnout, then burnout and back that is—a few times. Sometimes I drive myself mad with the incessant desire to keep going, do a little bit more, forgo taking care of myself, and for what? Some imaginary idyllic computing nirvana where all my random downloads are in the trash, my email in-box is empty, and there is not an errant file sitting on my desktop? Did I just hear someone say “pipe dream?”

This ‘nirvana’ may be possible. But to think turning into ‘Jabba the Hut’ eating crap food and sitting in front of the keyboard for endless hours trying to achieve it? For what? I’m the only person that sees what is on my desktop. What kind of satisfaction do I think, that by doing this, it will somehow massage my pineal gland and make me feel complete? I enjoy working on the computer, but at what cost?

Sir? “Put down the mouse and step away from the computer.”

In this era of information overload, rss feeds, social media, email, it is easy to get sucked in if your job is to sit in front of a computer doing any type of job. What is worse is if you have a propensity to be a work-a-holic (ahem), and your career as a digital gun-for-hire also happens to be your hobby as well.

I’ve been reminded of late that at the end of my life I will not want more time on the computer. I will not think about how “I wish I had cleaned my desktop of all those files…” Or will I think “Gee, if I only got that email inbox to zero…” I will think of the people that mean the most to me, of the places I have travelled to and the things that I have seen. I highly doubt I will think of a YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr (unless its pictures of my kids 🙂

So this is a little “note to self” posted on the Interwebz…

Put down the mouse, turn off the monitor, get up, go outside, and do something with other people. Do something other than compute.

OK, that was a bit theraputic. Now back to my email…

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The Good versus The Perfect

rocks-460

Something I constantly strive for is perfection. I’ll admit it I am a perfectionist. I have written about this before. I have recently found myself editing, and re-editing just about everything in pursuit of some sort of non-existent pixelated nirvana.

While this quality can be seen as admirable it can also be seen as a pain in the ass. I tend to lean toward the latter. Trying to get things perfect can and will make people happy. Who would not be pleased with perfection? What is better than perfect? It’s nothing but positive when you have perfection. The underlying question is, what cost does one have to pay to get there?

When I work I do try to get things perfect and it costs me, big. It costs me time and what is more valuable than that? The difference in going from good, which is perfectly acceptable 95% of the time, to perfection is very high. It takes much more time to go from “good” to “perfect” in my experience. For example the change in time invested can go from 2 hours to get things “good” and then another 8 hours for “perfection.” To help out I will use a simple visual example.

Take a look at the image of rocks at the top of this post. The tower of rocks on the left are stacked well. Its an acceptable stack of rocks. The tower of rocks on the right are stacked perfectly. What if I told you that it took 15 minutes to find and stack the rocks on the left. But it took over an hour to find and stack the rocks on the right. To find the right rocks that presented themselves horizontally in a perfect vertical column takes time. These are both perfectly acceptable towers of rocks that look good. But is that extra cost in time really worth it to get the stack on the right? I would say no. its just a damn stack of rocks.

Are there times where perfection is required and the investment in time is worth it? Unquestionably yes. If I was getting open heart surgery I would want perfect, not just good, work performed. But does that simple web site you are working on need perfection? Not really. If it were to come easily then sure, why not? But does perfection ever come easily? 

Is the benefit of perfection worth the cost?

I say no, but it depends on the scenario (pay me big bucks and I can make a stack of perfect rocks for you).

I am perfectly happy with the good.

What about you?

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Some thoughts on the first day of 2009

Photo I took of the sun setting where I live on New Years Day 2009.

Photo of sunset on New Years Day 2009. Ojai Valley, California.

As the sun sets on this the first day of 2009 I have had some time to reflect.

Many people look at New Years Day as a time to initiate their resolutions. In years past I have concocted my own list of resolutions only to find that 3 weeks later they were nice ideas and that was about it. Now every year I like to reflect on the year that has passed and take stock of my overall experience, strengths, and weaknesses from the past year. From this reflection I develop some overall areas of focus  in the coming year. This is not a hardcore set of resolutions like “I will lose 15 pounds,” or “I will stop smoking” (although I can add that to my belt—non smoker for 15 years). Rather they are ideas that I will spend mental energy on in hopes of making my life, and the lives of those around me, just a little bit better.

When I look back on my reflections from 2007 I can see just how far I have come during 2008. 2008 was a very good year for me professionally but more importantly I made great strides personally.

Time, time, time what has become of me.

2008 was a very busy year that presented a great many challenges for me. The biggest challenge of 2008 was time management. Using time well and effectively are so important to achieving goals and feeling accomplished. In 2008 this issue came up for me time and time again (pun intended). I continue to refine my approach to managing my time as no one tool or technique is the silver bullet.

Work, work, and work. But not necessarily in that order.

I am fortunate to be self-employed, learning new things, and been able to make a bit of money while doing both. It has been a great experience thus far. However, I basically make my money one way, actively. I do not derive any income from passive resources. An active source is like what I do. Trade your time and expertise for money. A very simple transaction. The passive model involves me building something (think e-book, etc.) that is created once and sold again and again without having to recreate it every time. In 2009 I am working on ideas of generating passive income and have some things in motion already. Lets just say that this year will prove to be a very busy working year to provide fruits of the labor afterward.

The suitcase and the onion.

Personally I have been working on myself quite a bit. We all have our suitcases of issues that we drag along with us through life whether we want to or not. Sometimes we open them up and deal with the issues inside, others may keep them shut and carry their weight with them all their lives. For me it was a year to open all the suitcases and lighten my load. Suffice it to say that I have opened all my suitcases, processed and discarded many heavy items, and I continue to find new items in the cases when discarding others—like the layers of an onion. I peeled much of the onion back in 2008—more than I have than at any other time in my life. I continue the work and discovery of self improvement with a much better toolkit going out of 2008 than when I went into it.

It looks like I will be spending mental energy (and time) on using time more wisely and effectively, working on passive income streams, and peeling back more of the onion. So here is to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

So what has your attention for the next 12 months?

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So much to say, so much to say…

The empty speech bubble.

Yes I have had so much to say these past few months. Really. Seriously.

I have had many good blog topics pop into my head. I have come across many good blog posts this year that have prodded me to respond either by replying after the post, or posting my own retort on this blog—alas, neither happened. There are many things I can point to and say, “that was the issue,” or “that was in my way,” but basically it comes down to one simple concept.

Time.

The management of time, the use of time, the juggling of time, the lack of time. ( I know that last sentence is a fragment but who cares, it’s my blog). It all boils down to time.

In 2008 the one thing that has sucked for me has been the management of my time. I’ve sucked at it for years, but this past year the chronic disease developed pustules that popped and started oozing goo that was stinky and foul to many people around me. OK, enough of the gross visual examples.

In some respects this may be a considered a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ or whatever—who cares. All I know that time management is something for me to tackle in 2009. I need to work on it and maybe, just maybe I might be able to post some more to this blog.

But really, who cares?

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Somehow the loss was traced to me; Haha.

Thank goodness I know I will vote, but this video I received today reminded me of the power of one persons vote. I know the power of a single vote. I remember my father losing a local election by 12 votes. Change 7 peoples minds and he would have won the election.

The video is hilarious nonetheless.

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A Truly Special Evening

Image of Radiohead on stage during "In Rainbows" tour

Now that I am a father of 3, married, and a business owner life is busy—and a very good busy. However, when I was younger I was an avid concertgoer. The list of artists I have seen live is long. Now that I am in a different phase in life the opportunities to attend concerts are far and few between. It’s an issue of value. Is a group worth the time, effort, and money to see?

The case last night was a solid Yes! I was lucky enough to see Radiohead at sold-out Hollywood Bowl show. I must say that the experience overall was first rate. Radiohead’s ability to recreate their very layered and textured studio music in a live venue is unsurpassed. Aside from the excellent musicianship the staging and lighting were remarkable. The use of LCD lighting in combination with multiple fixed cameras showing different angles of each band member was very simple yet highly effective. The light show was one of the best I have seen.

Overall it was a truly special evening of entertainment for me. Radiohead are a group that I really enjoy listening to and to see them live was wonderful.

If you happen to be a fan of Radiohead you can see the set list here.

When they return for another tour I will be looking for a ticket.

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One of my arguments may have fallen.

Image of This on textured board

I have always been a proponent of standards-based web design. Semantic markup is tasty for me and for the search engines. It makes everyone happy. However, clients do like Flash based websites for the ability to control things explicitly. The rub has always been that a great website is Flash is basically invisible to the search engines. I have always argued that non-Flash sites are best. All your content is indexed and searchable, and Flash-based sites are out of luck. Well apparently no more.

I read in Ars Technica today that Flash based sites are good-to-go. Apparently the major search engines can now rip through Flash sites and index the content. Does this mean that more sites will be Flash-based?

Perhaps.

However there is one caveat from the article:

Of course, Google (and eventually Yahoo) won’t be able to index everything embedded within a Flash file—at least not yet. Anything that is image-related, including text that is embedded into images, will be invisible to the search engines for the time being. Google also noted that it can’t execute certain JavaScripts that may be embedded into a Flash file, and that while it indexes content that is contained in a separate HTML or XML file, it won’t be counted as part of the content in the Flash file. These are all issues that are being worked on, however, and are likely to change in the future.

Just how will it index text rendered in an image? Isn’t that what CAPTCHA systems are now? Images of text that you have to type in so that humans can be separated from the bots? Would love to see how that will be done. I don’t see that coming any time soon. But I can be proven wrong too. 🙂

Do you think that Flash sites are better than traditional non-flash websites?

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