It's been a while.

I suppose I should apologize. But, you know, I won’t. I’ve just been kind of distracted by a number of things.

So I’ve been working on the following:

  • Working with Photoshop CS6 and InDesign CS6
  • Learning a number of Photoshop techniques for doing various things
  • Teaching myself to draw and paint
  • pestering the Internal Revenue Services for paperwork, to wit a tax transcript.

The last because, well, at this point in time I’m trying to apply to local colleges. Not much luck finding work so… time to go back to school. And the stuff above is all part of it. Because I’m hoping to get into the Seattle Central Community College program in Graphic Design.

Wish me luck.

Posted by mephron in Around Town, 0 comments

Thoughts about an online presence.

I’ve been thinking about various online presences, and what it means. Almost every big company, and even some very small ones, has some way of showing themselves online. Even the largest of banks and most powerful of retail outlets has one.

Early in the initial growth of the web, back when people were just starting to hear about it, there was the start of the plague known as ‘domain squatting’. People would quickly snap up domain names of companies that hadn’t gotten theirs yet and then sell it for a lot of money to that company. (One of the best known was the reporter who registered mcdonalds.com and then tried to convince McDonald’s that they should look into this before someone else did. Like Burger King. Or the fact that for a week and a half, Sprint owned mci.com – the domain name for one of their largest competitors. And then there’s the sex.com situation, which took more than ten years to resolve the outright theft of the domain name from the original owner, and which recently sold for $13 million.)

The first thing that needs to be considered is, of course, how complex you want it to be. I’m sure there’s people who register the domain for their business then redirect to their page on Yelp.com, or their Google Places page, or things like that. But that’s problematic, because if the page goes out of date, or a lot of bad reviews come in (whether there’s a problem there, or if it’s a competitor trying to torpedo them), there’s little that can be done other than filing complaints.

There’s simple sites, with some pages, the directions, and some information about the business. You can link to your Yelp or Google Places pages, or your own Facebook page, or your Twitter page, but you want something you can control. And then there’s the big online sales sites.

In my opinion, the important thing to do with an online presence is have some control over it, before someone else takes control of it for you. To hold onto your spot, because otherwise someone else might be the one to do it for you. I know a company in this town who needed their yelp.com page fixed because someone had reported them closed. They weren’t closed permanently, they’d just moved, but the Yelp page had never been updated.

Once you have some control over your online presence, those sorts of things start to go away. You need to monitor them – the Yelp pages, the people who run local directories – and keep track of what people are saying about you online. But none of that matters unless you work out, and control, your message.

Posted by mephron in Philosophy, 0 comments

Review: Apple TV, version 2.

(note: this is a revised version of an earlier post.)

So I picked up an .

The first thing to note is that it’s small. Really, really small. Go get a half-gallon of milk, and that’s the footprint on the entertainment center. A good hardback book laid down is taller than this device.

The second thing is the setup. Very easy. Plug in power cord (no wall-wart), plug in HDMI cable (no other output for video, although there is an optical output for audio), plug HDMI into TV. Get the remote, turn it on. The hardest part of the setup for us here was the insanely long password we had on our wifi connection.

Once we got that going, I associated it with my machine’s Home Sharing, and then set up the Netflix Streaming, and boom, done.

My roommates, one of whom is a self-describe Luddite, was able to easily pick a cheesy horror movie with Netflix and start watching it. She doesn’t really like intense technology, and she was able to get things running right away. (I don’t know the movie; I’m not big into horror.)

Then, just to see how it worked, I took it over remotely. I was watching a movie (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) on my iPad, and I just tapped the screen and AirPlay tossed it right over.

And as a final test, I pulled up something from my YouTube playlist and did the exact same thing. And with only a small delay to load (no more than would be normal), what I was watching on my iPad appeared on the TV. As you might expect, the better the quality of the video on YouTube, the better it appears on the screen; don’t expect a nine-year-old 320×240 video to look suddenly like a 1080i Blu-Ray image just because you’re using the AppleTV to view it on a 1080i TV.

The one downside I’ve encountered so far is the input mode. You cannot synch a Bluetooth keyboard to it, so searches and entering passwords require you to maneuver around an onscreen keyboard. For long entries, this can become rather tiresome.

The other very small downside is that the remote is very small, and rounded, and seems to love to fall between couch cushions.

So: unobtrusive, easy to set up, easy to use, and AirPlay on both the iPad and the iPhone works just fine with it. I highly recommend the device.

Posted by mephron in What I'm Up To, 0 comments

Today…

I installed some new plugins on my local WordPress install so I could get practice with membership, ecommerce and DRM setup.

Also, I think I will not be updating my Twitter Tools plugin install guide. The plugin appears to be abandoned. On the other hand, perhaps I’ll try to figure it out and update it myself.

Posted by mephron in What I'm Up To, 0 comments

Business thoughts, continued.

I am considering getting a portable lighting tent kit, since at the very least my first (hopeful) job may include setting things up for e-commerce, and taking photos in a controlled condition will help considerably.

I’m trying to decide if I need to make an S-Corp or LLC filing. The business license is currently a sole proprietorship, and I don’t know enough to decide about making the changes. There’s some small business starting things going on in Seattle, so I may attend those to figure out what’s best.

I think, though, that I’m starting to get my brain around some of the ideas for this. However, the one I’m least-aware of is how to get more clients. I just lack the knowledge, I guess, but again, the small business startup seminars should help with that.

It’s just strange to think that… this is actually happening.

Posted by mephron in What I'm Up To, 0 comments

WordPress Seattle – the Ignite sessions.

I admit to being somewhat less than informed about Ignite-style presentations. Basically, a presenter gets 5 minutes to present, slideshows automatically update so they need to keep up, things like that.

There were three, and I’ll link them as I can.

First was Sheila Hoffman, who talked about WordPress plugins. She posted all of the information at a page on the Hoffman Graphics website (her business).

There were also presentations by Larry Swanson on Workplace Fitness, and Grant Landram, called “How to be a better WordPresser: Tips & Tricks for users & dev/signers”. (As I’m a user, moving to dev/signer, this was one I was mightily interested in. Sheila’s was also very helpful, and interesting, for me.)

The chat after the break, where I sat in on the plugins discussion that Sheila and Bob Dunn moderated.

I’ll try to keep up with what went on at these, even as I know other people do, because the more word gets out, the more people show at the meetups and the more interesting discussion goes on.

Posted by mephron in What I'm Up To, 0 comments

Title gotten

“Business Artificer”.

I think it works.

New temporary header image put in place. There may be changes later. (The logo, the G-in-a-gear, may need to go. Way too MST3K. Ideas happening, though.)

Posted by mephron in Technology, 0 comments

Title gotten

“Business Artificer”.

I think it works.

New temporary header image put in place. There may be changes later. (The logo, the G-in-a-gear, may need to go. Way too MST3K. Ideas happening, though.)

Posted by mephron in Writing, 0 comments

Business thoughts.

I’ve been trying to put together in my head what my new business idea is going to do. I know I can do WordPress setup and design; I can use Photoshop; I can write (as a technical writer and as a fiction writer); I’m working on programming again (JavaScript/Ajax, PHP and Python). Ten years of work for my previous employer gave me a number of skills, some useful and some not so (due to in-house-developed, non-portable programs to do what some companies do manually). I can take photographs fairly well, but not professionally so.

But what does all that do for me? What do I do with all that?

And I have an idea. I just don’t know quite how to phrase it. Online concierge? Digital Doorman? Technical Assistant? It’s not quite coming together.

The idea, as my business presentation showed, was offering myself to small business who have no online presence and helping them build one. Social networking, building a web page, getting themselves set up. Make some money from that, and maybe some followup work to keep them up to date (for, uh, a fee, of course).

I need a job title. That’s the thing that’s getting me right now.

Posted by mephron in What I'm Up To, 0 comments

Graphical Fun

I redid the background image for the page.

I think I need to redo the header image. For starters, I want to change the font. For another, the background, and for a third the image. So, basically, start from scratch all over again.

Also thinking about a new logo, or maybe just keep it background and text. Not sure. The logo I’ve used for years is for my relaxed, informal online identity; this is my ‘professional’ site and I think I need something a bit more professional me. It’s really difficult to come up with something like that, which I suppose is why people pay a lot for it.

Posted by mephron in Philosophy, 0 comments