VectorDefector Blog

I finished reading the revisted version of the book E-Myth by Michael Gerber a few weeks ago. I’m not really a fan of all the trendy “self-help” books out there, but this one had come highly recommended by a number of my colleagues. I typically think most of the topics are common sense, and while many are in this book, I didn’t think it was half bad.

emyth

E-Myth - Michael Gerber

Maybe its because I’ve made many of the entrepeneurial mistakes outlined in this book myself, or maybe it just carried a certain entertainment value, but I consider it a success since it still has me thinking about a key theme. The main point Gerber makes is that solo proprietor really has three personalities: the entrepeneur or big idea guy, the techy who gets the work done and the manager who keeps it all organized; to really be successful one must try to encompass all three.

Thumb through it if you haven’t done so already, and I’m going to keep trying to be the best entrep-tech-ager I can be.

I’m admittedly a late one to getting the most recent software, but today I finished upgrading all my Adobe software to the latest version (CS4), and have been pretty pleased with the results so far.

It seemed to me like CS3 was still a little clunky with leftover pieces from old Macromedia software and ran a bit slow on Vista; not nearly as bad a CS2 however. The newest versions run noticeably faster on my machine and have a number of neat new innate features that make each application more compatible with its associates.

I’d recommend upgrading to the new version. While I hate the fact that the new model for software is to force an upgrade every year, I agree that this upgrade was worth it. Check it out for yourself by going to Adobe.com and downloading the free trial, or click the link on the bottom right of my blog- I believe you get a discount.

I’ve become a huge fan of WordPress lately. Its backend platform runs this blog and  a number of other sites I’ve developed for clients lately. I’ve worked with and built a number of website content management systems in my day and none of them were without their flaws. It seems like they either lack the options I’m looking for, or are too complex for my clients to manage. Its no good if they spend all their time trying to figure it out! Several I’ve made have worked out fine, but its quite an undertaking for just one developer.

Enter WordPress 2.7. I’m very impressed. Earlier this year I started writing my own CMS system, but its taken a back seat to WordPress. Adding plugins and writing custom skins for it has been super-easy to master, and the interface is nice and light. Just wait- soon Colorado will be swarming with elegant sites of all shapes and sizes all running on WordPress.

I’ll be the Colorado WordPress master! Interested in learning more about WordPress or data-driven websites? Check out my portfolio or contact me.

Today I was thankful for a simple yet often taken for granted function included in most PC software- Find & Replace. Upon realizing I’d have to update one line of code on  250+ pages on the site I was working today, I promptly opened up the Find & Replace panel, pumped out a simple macro, and bam! 250+ pages updated in a matter of minutes. I repeated the process again to clean up 1000+ records in the accompanying database.

I remember when computers first got “copy & paste” functionality. I was head-over-heels for Wordperfect when I found I could duplicate a whole mess of typing in a simple keystroke. Often I think 1/4 of my working life is spent copy and pasting. Lets consider how much time that could actually save!

Lets say I save 20 seconds of typing code every time I copy/paste. Lets also say I do this around 25 times a day (which is probably a low estimate). Thats an average of 8 minutes a day saved. If theres 260 work days in a year (in a 40 hour work week- yea right), thats 34 hours a year! Multiply that times 8 years at the computer grindstone and thats 4.6 entire days copy/paste has saved me. Wow- thanks simple keystroke macros!

I read an interesting article at PCWorld.com today about printer ink sent by Eric at IndieArsenal. This investigative article shows some interesting methods for testing just how much ink is really left in the cartridges and how much that ink actually ends up costing you over the course of owning your printer.

One fact I found especially interesting- on average, a gallon of printer ink costs $4731! Given a gallon is a lot considering most cartridges only contain 8-10 milliliters, but that sure puts paying $3 for a gallon of gas into perspective.

My Shiny New Printer

My Shiny New Printer

I think this is a great article. I just recently purchased an all-in-one printer for around $60. Less than 5 years ago, that price would’ve been unheard of, however the replacement ink costs almost $30 a pop- about half the cost of the printer. Maybe there’s something to those little shops that refill your old cartridges…

A few weeks ago I did some icon sets for a customer of mine, Mortgage Training Institute, for their new video conferencing product LivePresenter. I drew them from scratch in Illustrator.

LivePresenter Icons

LivePresenter Icons

I love jumping back and forth between development and design- they’re totally different thought processes. I always think of design more like painting a blank canvas and the real challenge is to come up with that one big idea, whereas development is more like assembling a puzzle- the artwork is complete, but I have to come up with the most efficient way to put the pieces in order.

Overall I’m pleased with the icon set and I think the MTI guys were as well- however I’d prefer it if they chose my “robo professor” (even though it doesn’t really fit their audience). Check out a better pic of them in my portfolio under illustration.

I also designed and developed a site, a simple Silverlight player and a series of layouts for their toolsets. More info on that later.

I have these braided Japanese tea plants (often called “money trees”) in my apartment, and they seem to have an eerie correlation with my business. A friend one mine once said he thought he could track my progress based on which plant was doing what. If the big one lost some leaves- it looks like long-term money flow will drop. If the short plant gained a new stalk- big money this month!

money-plants

Japanese "Money" Plants

That being said it looks like the plants say “outcome uncertain”. My big one has lost a lot of leaves lately, but the small one is growing like gangbusters. I don’t do anything different to encourage any of this change.

Its funny- since I’ve quit my “real” job and restarted my consulting company that seems about right. Not as much long-term cash, but some months are big. Lets hope the plants know what they’re talking about and I land a whale this month!

I launched the site for Development Foundation International a few weeks ago and must say both the client and I are pretty satisfied with the results. DFI is an international organization that helps people in underpriveledged countries get eye care. Nothing’s better than doing a project for client who has a really cool cause!

Development Foundation Int'l

DFI Site

DFI ended up being a custom WordPress site. I designed a custom skin based on imagery provided from them on their last mission to Lebanon and developed several plugins to ensure the site was exactly the way they liked it.

Finally, I’m pleased to announce they’re doing fairly well on search engine indexing (at least on google). You’d be surprised how much competition the words “international, development, foundation” get. Cheers guys!

I recently read an interesting post located at www.webconfs.com discussing the possibility of a Google “sandbox” in which sites are placed into a “temp” zone in the search index before being released into the wild so to speak.

I know lots of companies have “sandbox” areas for development purposes, but I’d never heard of a search engine utilizing it. I personally buy into this phenomenon- I’ve recently released a site that hits 90% of Google’s recommended methods for site rankings and nada! And just after my recent bragging about the last few releases maintaining top-ten rankings!

Bleh,  if this is the case, I guess we’ll just have to sit back, relax and wait to wade out of the quicksand of the great Google sandbox.

Greetings-

This is my first blog entry and I figured I’d start off with a casual mission statement:

Primarily this blog will serve as a vessel to release recent updates related to VectorDefector. These will more than likely be in the format of a casual case study but may also branch out into new technology I’m in to, big happenings in the industry and entirely random crap that I think is awesome.

My business [VectorDefector], while established loosely in 2001 and again in 2004, has recently been revived to usher in a new era of web design, graphic design, custom web applications and whatever else crosses my plate that is fun, entertaining (and profitable!). I function on some basic fundemental principals: Make it work great and make it look great. I’m fast, efficient, educated and driven to make the best possible solutions for my customers while maintaining the quickest turn-around this side of the Mississip!

If that sounds good to you, check out my portfolio at https://vectordefector.com and lets get started on something bold!