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It's Shabbos tonight, and by the time it ends it will be a new year. What a year the last has been! I learned SO MUCH about life and responsibility and coping strategies. I want to thank all of my incredible and patient teachers for all they have done for me. Rabbi Bloom has been a constant force of mussar and learning. Rabbi Bogopulsky and all of his congregation at Beth Jacob have helped me in countless ways. My kids have blossomed in new schools, again by the kindnesses offered by Rabbis Weiser and Piekes. And then there has been the steady personal growth of a wonderful and beautiful shidduch with the girl of my dreams. Finally, a new sales career has opened that requires more from me than ever. Hashem has been very generous with me and, for this, I am learning to be grateful.

- Friday, December 30, 2011 at 01:34:44 (EST)
Since the Panda update to the Google search algorithm, most websites are scrambling to get back to where they were with placement, popularity, relevance and pageviews. Cancer Answers, a site that runs on my server, was hit particularly hard and I have been looking into how to fix it. One key incident that I didn't even know about until my research discovered it occurred within my host environment. They made some big changes to their PHP and cgi-bin practices that caused parts of the site to simply quit working. It was easy enough to change the permissions to my get.cgi script and get the homepage pulldown menu to work again. So fine, pageviews could have been down because the site was broken. But, since the repair, traffic has not bounced back and still hovers at around 30% of where we were this time last year. My strategy to clear this up is pretty radical. I am going to give away all my content. When the site was built, the idea was to sell cancer treatment information to end users. In 1997, that idea was viable since content was slim and the need was great. Since then, information is much more available and reputable while ours has become stale. Thus, transcript pricing was reduced again and again. Now, a full transcript is only $3. If I put all that content onto the public site, that will probably go a long ways toward freshening the site and increasing traffic. Since the site is static html, that is going to be a huge GAK. I'll keep you posted on that.

- Monday, November 28, 2011 at 10:49:50 (EST)
I built the Cancer Answers site back in 1994 when there were no WYSIWYG page building tools at all. Pages were built in a static manner and each was separate, as opposed to the database approach we see in most new sites developed today. With database sites, like the WordPress stuff installed for clients on my server, a small change in the site template propagates to the site and are seen globally on every page served. The cancer treatment information site, developed in partnership with an oncologist writer, needs to be edited page by page. Thus, adding Facebook like and share buttons would have involved hundreds of pages of edits. Over the years, I have adopted a developer's toolkit. Way back when I was coding the pages I designed at Bein Logic, one of the programmers there turned me on to BBedit. With this tool, I can replace a string of text from every file in a folder. In this case, a table cell was added within an existing footer that is on every page in a singular format. Once I coded a page to work, I copied those results to all of the other files in one fell swoop. Sweet!

- Sunday, November 11, 2011 at 13:50:01 (EST)
I remember when I bought my iMac years ago, an HP PSC 1510was purchased along with it and I wrestled with the config to make the two hardware pieces see each other and play nice. Since then, the hard drive crashed and now it's the whole thing all over again. Like most things these days, the troubleshooting began with a Google search and there was a wealth of information from others with the same problem. Turns out that HP and my iMac simply don't play real well together. There was lots of funky advice about unplug, power off, uninstall, reinstall, blah, blah, blah... What finally worked was to download much older drivers than the ones on the HP website and install those. Turns out that the manufacturers improvements to the drivers broke them.

- Friday, November 4, 2011 at 2:33:50 (EST)
Launched a new site and took responsibility for my blogging in a more public forum. Also, I combined my many blogs (culture, religion and tech) all in one place under my name. It's the big thing to do and big changes are on the horizon. I am deeply involved in cleaning up my web footprint and minimizing bad press.

- Tuesday, May 5, 2011 at 07:25:42 (EST)
When I was looking for my son's Bar Mitzvah invitations online, all I saw was overpriced junk. Nothing was even close, so I dusted off the design tools and got busy. Type on a curve was fun old-school trick. Getting hebrew fonts was a bit of a grind, but there were some good ones out there. FontExplorer X from Linotype is a must-have tool for any mac user with a font library. A couple hours of work and a simple upload to FedEx Office and I had my custom invitations in an hour for $36.

- Wednesday, April 4, 2011 at 17:52:24 (EST)
I have always had to maintain a PC on my mac network to run various business softwares and this has always been a painful experience. Before getting this (sweet) new laptop, it sure was. Especially near the end there where the blue screen closed every session at some point. A perfect example is the pain from needed activesync to connect WM6 to my gCalendars. Still have to do that, but W7 made it easy (huh?) So then I pumped it up with an online install of the best insurance illustration package I have ever used (pretty strong case for a guy whos first system ran on floppy discs ALONE) and ran through a 47 member census in one standing by calculating target face amounts with blinding speed. OK. Good. But can it do graphics? Installing Adobe Photoshop CS5 (extended) was way too easy. Laughably so. Then, discovery of the fun little snipping tool (that was my idea!) made a previously complex task simple. Nothing was left but to write a rave review, and I thought that day would never come.

- Tuesday, February 28, 2011 at 15:03:23 (EST)
I've been pretty psyched with the default template bundled with the latest release of Wordpress, not so much for its flexibility but because it's easy to do what I want, then come back and apply some new trick. I've been using other systems too, but I always come back to the plugin universe. Granted, I don't really have to answer to anyone about how my sites look, so what ev'. My indoor climbing wall site was from the days when I used javascript and .html to build sites. I like the functionality of the new site way more. Plus, it was fun to open up the old files and repurpose them into FotoBook galleries.

- Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 02:23:35 (EST)
There's probably a lot of entrepreneurial types out there frustrated that their profile's employment history doesn't link to the page they created to promote said business. Facebook has a nasty way of hanging a company page off a personal page the same as a community page. Making a company page requires associating a "spokesperson" email address with your Facebook account before attempting to create the page. Then, once the company page is fleshed out, add it to your profile as job history. Don't make my mistake. I built up followers on the Cancer Answers community page long before linking a company page to my profile. Today, I decided to gak the main site's social links back to the community page and to stop following the company page.

- Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 23:46:14 (EST)
The other day I had a chance to make a big chunk of change, but I discovered that my insurance license had expired TWO DAYS previously. Bummer. I went into hyper-renewal mode and powered out all my Continuing Education units in a morning. How was this amazing feat accomplished? My downloading the textbooks and using Acrobat Pro to convert them all into searchable documents. For pretty much every question, I was able to copy keywords from the test browser window into my resource files and find an identically phrased answer. Nice. I thought I got a perfect score on this test, but ended up with a passing 86% because I actually answered a few questions from memory. Shoulda known better...

- Friday, February 10, 2011 at 12:45:30 (EST)
Yesterday, I was ripping some CDs for a client's iPod and used the time wisely to do my first Drupal install. The idea is to use this robust open source platform for the content management of my bigger sites. I used another client's site as a model for an Ubercart implementation and realized right off that the scale of the project didn't warrant the complexity of the tools. So, even though UberDrupal is uber-cool, I bailed for a simple WordPress install.

- Wednesday, February 1, 2011 at 21:30:46 (EST)
It was like seeing an old friend for the first time in a long time when I saw this interface again. There was a period that I was active in converting DVDs to .avi files. I had my reasons (ratio) and gathered up a good set of tools that would let me play these files on my divX/XVID box. Then, I got this new Mac Mini and had to start all over. Handbrake, a killer converter for .vob files, was the first tool I reached for. I needed an old version because my ppc maxes out at OS X 10.4.11. I was working with my daughters band concert disc, so it wasn't protected. The next lesson (don't hold your breath) is about cracking those discs you bought with Mac The Ripper.

- Monday, January 24, 2011 at 14:56:49 (EST)
It seems like I never get a break in this business. Most of the codegaking and marketing I do has no hard deadline, so it doesn't matter if it's the middle of the day or the middle of the night. Another factor is that my $$$ is directly connected to the amount of hustle. Thus, I'm pretty much always on. If not actually pitching my various wares and asking for money, there's a multitude of preparation and implementation tasks. Then there is opening new markets and updating the old ones. Then there are clients and joint projects. Don't forget single dad and homeowner and minyan maker. My life, thank G-d, is overflowing with davidness.

- Monday, January 19, 2011 at 14:49:09 (EST)
I really wanted to like the movie Somewhere. I've always loved the work of writer and director Sofia Coppola, not so much for what happens but for what doesn't. I imagined the random scenes (Las Vegas heliport, floating pool bed, swimming laps) as being carefully staged and full of visual irony. I kind of had to imagine it because there wasn't a whole lot going on other than the crafty camera angles. Seriously, the whole movie went by wondering what happened. The car took six laps on the oval track. He took laps on all the chicks. Its aimlessness was it's charm though, and I was engrossed in the same question that everyone else must of had. "What was Johnny Marco's problem?" It was a thinker's movie, so what I thought was that he happened into everything and felt none of it until the moment he had somewhere to go.

- Saturday, January 17, 2011 at 23:43:56 (EST)
A friend came by today and we got to talking about his company's website, blog and twitter integration. Just to prove how easy it is, I banged out a fresh WordPress install and padded it with content from blogspot. Turns out their main site was SEO only (no real content) so all that stuff leant itself to pages. I was also to copy/paste the posts from the old blog with minimal repurposing. I did get to gak some source code to inspect elements. Fun!
- Sunday, January 11, 2011 at 19:41:15 (EST)
I've said countless times that I built Cancer Answers as a cancer treatment information portal in 1997 with the rudimentary .html skills available then. What I haven't talked about much is how much of a hassle it is now to have such a kludge of a site.  I was adding social buttons from the homepage to the content pages, and needed to amend the sitewide table structure. If I built the site today, I would lean toward a database design where design changes occur universally. With old-school coding, each page exists as, well... a page. (ex: http://www.canceranswers.com/Kidney.Cancer.html) Again, as it's been pretty much since always, BBEdit from Bare Bones software saves the day. Over the years, I've buried < ! - doohickeys - > in the code that become handles for multi-file replacement.  By finding the beginning and ending of the content, I was able to modify the tables around it with a couple search strings.
- Tuesday, January 6, 2011 at 13:23:22 (EST)
I was looking at my stats and studying which pages get lots of traffic and from where and wondering how to squeeze a few buck more out of the mix when I thought of my old Amazon Associates account I never implemented. I was messing with the Omakase Contextual Widgit at the time and thought it was pretty cool. The cancersite is always good for a bride of frankenstein kludge, so I gaked it into the topic pages along with a new AdSense for Search and navigation sidebar. As I perform my pre-bed post, my feeling is one of gratitude that I have such skills. How can anyone not want to have such opportunities? Come throw yours on my server and give it a go!

- Sunday, January 4, 2011 at 23:08:42 (EST)

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