Launching the Fort Pitt Web Shop

Running my own business, the Web Communications Group, has been a great learning experience and very rewarding. The time has come to make some changes, though, so in October and November of 2013, I began putting a lot of thought into how I wanted to proceed. It wasn’t a matter of deciding between folding up shop completely and going to work for someone else. I shudder at the thought of ever having to step back into a cubicle again. Rather, it was a question of how can I take the lessons I’ve learned so far and apply them to my practice, giving customers a better service experience?

There was a lot of deliberation and engaging counsel. Eventually, I concluded that I needed a new brand that more directly addressed the needs of my customers – and thus the Fort Pitt Web Shop was born. The business is still unfolding. I have employed Dale McNutt of StartUptown to craft a graphic mark for the company. And the website will have to wait until that process is further along. I have not done any social media publishing yet, but the profiles are “live” and lurking.

The business address will stay the same – same desk and boring chair. But I am certainly excited! It’s a break from my initial attempt at being a small business owner. Was that attempt a failure? Hmm … depends on the metrics. I didn’t “get rich”, for sure. Didn’t retire into the sunset. But hopefully I was able to bring excellence in service to local small businesses and non-profits, and I hopefully I can take the lessons it taught me into this next endeavor, into the Fort Pitt Web Shop. If I can, then I’d consider the Web Communications Group a success.

I am looking forward to the road ahead – all the challenges and pitfalls and rewards that come along with being a small business owner. And, as always, I could never do any of this without the support of my wonderful and loving wife. Thank you!

Physics of Guns Underwater

I enjoyed watching this guy explain the physics of a rifle shot occurring underwater. He brings in a slow-motion video capture team. We get to see a bunch of video from various angles underwater as the rifle fires. There are some (over my head?) explanations about what is going on with the physics. It is reminiscent of the explanations I have heard of the universes’ Big Bang, expansion, collapse, and expansion. Also, I had no idea how far a round from a rifle would travel underwater. Not to far, apparently.

Coolest part? The potential sonoluminescence. Never heard of it before, but it is pretty sweet. Even if it isn’t occurring here, as the host notes, the concept is interesting.

Thanks to the Smarter Every Day team. Great video. You earned my subscription!

Action Hooks Do What Now?

I have been working in WordPress for awhile.  Hey, I really like it. One of the great things about WordPress (and probably a major reason for it’s skyrocketing adoption rate) is how simple and useful it is for the complete newbie who just wants to post a blog.  And one of the great things about WordPress (and yeah, probably a major reason for it’s skyrocketing adoption rate) is how functional and useful it is for the developer who needs to push the boundaries of an already robust content management system.

For folks like me who are in the middle (more than newbie; less than full-on developer), some of the concepts are hard to digest.  One of them that took me awhile to understand is the concept of Action Hooks.  Understanding it, though, really opened some doors for me.

I have had to spend a lot of time reading through the WordPress Codex and countless help forums to really get a grasp of Action Hooks, but I recently found this elegantly simple article by Nathan Rice.  His short post on WordPress Action Hooks was like windex on my peanut butter and jelly-covered glass door. He made it all clear to me.

Check out what Nathan has to say about Action Hooks.

It is a simple and powerful concept. Get the most out of your development time in WordPress by bringing a full understanding of Action Hooks to your next project.

Micro Hydropower at Home

I was recently excited about an idea to link up a tiny waterwheel to my downspouts. After a little online reading, I learned from a series of circa year-2008 posts that downspouts would not really produce a reasonable enough amount of power a turbine, but wastewater flow would. It is illegal in the City of Pittsburgh to tap into the wastewater systems, but in places where this is allowed, it seems like a reasonable way to collect from a passive energy source.

Here are some websites for reading:

This is an area where I think community leaders ought to cast a eye while they consider ways to minimize power draw from the overall power grid.  If each home could pull from a passive source to generate a low amount of energy (particularly clean energy), it might just add up to something significant.

I’ve Always Wanted to be In a Video Game. This Kid Will Rule A Videogame!

Bryan Henderson logged into the free game Curiosity and broke a few cubes. Little did he know, he was about to break open more than a virtual square. What he chipped away at was the last of 25 billion (?) tiny cubes inside Curiosity.

What was so curious about the game was that,in exchange for the mind numbing task of breaking cubes, one (and only one!) lucky person would eventually break the final cube and win a prize that would be “life-changing in any measurable way.”

So what’t the prize? Henderson was rewarded with a special video (now released on YouTube) which explained to him that he would be the virtual God, the morality and final arbiter of what goes down within the game. How will this chance Henderson’s life? Well, there is also the royalties he was promised for sales of the game. Looks like the sales of the game might correspond with how wisely he rules the lands – in other words, the markets will be the final ruler of this God’s world.

This website saved my skin today

Today I was moving a WordPress installation over to a new webhost. I updated the settings on the DNS before I snagged an export from a WordPress installation, then I initiated a password reset to the client so:
A) I could not log back into the site and
B) I didn’t have an export.

I did have FTP and PHPAdmin, though, so I knew, just knew there was an easy way to still move the site over to the new host. After all, I do it all the time with MAMP, so no biggy right?

Well, I kept forgetting the simply but crucial step of creating the new DB and user over at the new host, so of course all my PHPAdmin imports kept failing. Whose dumb? This guy.

But here comes superman ===>

Migrating a WordPress Site – FTP, PhpMyAdmin and SQL queries « Web-kreation

Thanks, Jeeremie! Sometimes, when you are running, running, running, you make a simple but crucial mistake, like I did. Having a simple step-by-step walk through is incredibly helpful in eliminating frustration and in just ensuring you are getting each of the little things done just the way they need to be done.

Edit (9/15/2013): No longer getting a response from the website above. Here is a similar step-by-step  ====>

Please take note of the authors own edits and updates; the one on URL replacement is significant.


Google Products Are So Easy, Until They Aren’t

Like many folks, I have been using Google products for awhile. Sometimes it is so simple that, like any well-designed product, I do not even notice how complex the actions I am taking are.

However, from time to time, I stumble and trip and cut my chin on something and I just keep on beating my head against it for awhile.

Google authorship is one of those things. Others include merging Google Apps G+ account and my personal G+ account – not Google Take Out for data, but keeping one account active while basically hiding the other while not deleting it.

Anyway, Google delighted me with this really nice video about authorship.

2013 Super Bowl Ads: GoDaddy, Budweiser, Mercedes, BlackBerry, Samsung and the night’s most interesting commercials. – Slate Magazine

ah yes, the annual run down of the best and worst of Superbowl television ads. What would we do without this holiday to help us through until our next big buying spree on the 14th?

2013 Super Bowl Ads: GoDaddy, Budweiser, Mercedes, BlackBerry, Samsung and the night’s most interesting commercials. – Slate Magazine.

And my favorite: