Archive for the 'Web Design' Category

Feeling Frosty in Cancun

Monday, January 19th, 2009

It’s a bit chilly in Cancun and here I sit in a house with no heater. I’ve been wearing jeans and long sleeves and have been thanking myself for dragging all those sweaters to Mexico because I’m using them.

I took a run today in the Parque Kabah and it was just like a nice crisp September day in Colorado. A hint of winter in the air, a gorgeous blue sky above with the sun out. It was perfect workout weather and I celebrated by doing extra stretches and extra sit-ups (I just wrote that to make you groan, I’m weird because I actually like sit-ups).

The other day I signed up for a Flash development class. I have skill with Flash now but have been feeling for a while that I need to deepen my knowledge. So today I did a dumb thing, today I logged in to the online classroom and got the reading assignment for the first week of class.

I think the teacher assigned almost 200 pages just for the FIRST WEEK, 200 technical pages, 200 pages full of programming examples and tech talk. I think I’m going to just roll over and die now. I’ve studied with this teacher before, and I know I have an aptitude for Flash, but 200 pages is going to KILL ME!

I suppose that if I get really frustrated with the Flash class I can just burn the book. It’s a big book, it might keep me warm for a whole hour!

Ushering in 2009

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

I feel I should write a post that ushers in the New Year and dismisses the Old Year, or something. So here goes.

I began 2008 with a lot more money in the bank than I ended it with. I’m a long-term investor so I’m not very bent out of shape about it, it will come back, but I did like having more money.

When the year began the exchange rate between the Mexican Peso and the U.S. Dollar was such that our house was worth more than twice what we originally paid for it (in Dollars). At year end our house is worth quite a bit less in Dollars, though still more than we paid for it. That’s frustrating. So now I’m really rooting for the Peso to gain strength against the Dollar again. Go Peso!

I began 2008 thinking that selling real estate in Mexico was something I might be good at. By May I’d been stabbed in the back on two big deals and had come to believe that if you lie down with wolves you might not get back up again. I love looking at real estate and have a strong understanding of real estate investing, so I may still help my friends find places to buy, but I’ve learned that I have to keep it light and not think of it as my work.

In 2008 my web design business made more money than ever before. I learned to be more efficient. I got faster and more importantly, I grew more realistic about what I can do for clients.

In 2008 I missed my kid way too much. As one friend told me recently “it makes you old before your time to live away from your kids.” I was happy to see her at both Thanksgiving (In November) and at Christmas, so we ended the year very close. But it still rots not to live with her.

We began 2008 with 10 cats and 1 dog. We ended with 8 cats and 2 dogs. Overall the house is happier with 2 dogs in it. But we still miss the two cats that died, one of them left a sister-cat who still cries for her, the other left his mama who isn’t close to any other kitties.

I’m not one for making lots of New Year’s Resolutions because I think it sets one up to fail. But there are several things I want and need to change this year. My one Resolution is to stop working on weekends. And I think if I stop working weekends I will automagically change other things that need to change because I will be taking more time for me and will be less stressed.

Here’s wishing you all a happy, fruitful 2009!

A Slice of My Life

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

I haven’t been posting much lately because someone invented days that are simply not long enough. So sorry. Things are good though.

Work is flowing along. Have found myself noticing that my web design business has become stable and consistent, with no advertising. All my work is now coming entirely from referrals and I’m able to pick only the jobs I want to do. And I’m getting better at estimates and I make fewer mistakes in my estimates than I used to. And I’m more efficient and am making more money (even though I have not raised my rates, yet). So that’s all good.

I’m about to release a web application that has been in the works for far too long. I designed it and had a good friend who is a master programmer write the engine to make it run. It’s one thing to build a web site that’s pretty and ranks high in Google. It’s an entirely different thing to design an interactive application that takes a database and manipulates the data in a new way. It’s cool. And it’s proprietary and password protected, so ya’ll can’t see it, you just get to wonder. I will tell you that it’s also pretty…I made sure it wasn’t just functional.

I’ve been taking a different multi-vitamin than I used to and it gives me more energy, it’s like mixing a cup of coffee with some endurance, it’s working. I rarely need naps and I can focus and I feel awake. Good vitamins make all the difference to me.

The only things that are really lacking right now are in the workout department (have not been running my normal amount) and in the housework department (house is a mess and I can’t be bothered). Will work to rectify the running issue over the next week. And will condescend to fold some laundry at some point today in a concession to the laws of chaos which seem to want to force me to think a messy house is actually worth my brainpower. Ahem.

Have been not watching my investments nosedive. Am repeating the mantra to myself that I am a “long term investor,” that I put that money there for 20 more years and there it should stay. Meanwhile husbandito gets all alarmist on my ass and says I will “lose it all.” Will certainly lose a lot if I jump out of the market right now…

And finally in an effort to not have to buy and move into a new computer I’m upgrading the old one. I detest setting up a new computer, I mean it’s fun in a way, but there’s so much starting over. I have at least 40 programs that I’ve downloaded that would have to be reinstalled. Too much work. So I’m making my old puter faster and updating it and am getting a nice new monitor. The monitor should make it so that I can spend 20 hours a day in front of my computer instead of my regular 16…fun, fun.

Alison Chase & Apogee Arts Dance Theater

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

It is with great pleasure that I announce that Alison Chase and I have released her web site. We’ve been working on it for over a year, a lot of energy has gone into it and it’s a nice feeling to finally have it out there.

Alison Chase is a choreographer and was co-founder of Pilobolus Dance Theatre. Alison’s new dance theater production company is called Apogee Arts. Apogee Arts’ mission is to “combine innovative choreography, dance training, performance and educational programs to create an experience that engages and informs audiences in unusual performance spaces.”

– Take a look at the web site here: Apogee Arts Dance Theater
– Look at the video sample of Alison’s choreography here: Alison Chase Video Sample



Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

About a million years ago (who me, exaggerate?) I owned a computer store. And I noticed that year after year the store’s busiest months would be September and January. You would think December would be busy for a retail store. But not for us, our primary clients were businesses and from what we saw businesses make decisions to spend gobs of money on computers in January and in September.

For the last (What year is it? Oh yeah.) 12 years I’ve been getting paid to make 1’s and 0’s look good in a web browser…and in that time I’ve noticed that my web design clients have the same “buying” pattern that my computer store clients had. My busiest months are always January and September.

It makes sense. People get done with the end of year holidays and think “I need to finally update that web site.” And they do the same at the end of their summer vacation. September is a time to get down to business.

But then when you live in Cancun September takes on another meaning. Here September jokingly gets called “Septihambre” which is a running together of the Spanish “Septiembre” (September) and the Spanish word for hunger which is “hambre.” The reason for Septihambre is that this is the slowest season here. The tourists do not come. The normally-full planes come with 10 or 20 or 30 passengers in them. The hotels are empty. The restaurants are empty. And so all those people here who live paycheck to paycheck and depend on tourism to keep them in the black end up suffering.

We get more crime in September here. People here are hesitant to travel in September because they figure their houses will be more likely to be broken into in September.

The other thing that happens in my house in September is that my husband’s job gets much more relaxed. Instead of needing to work 14 or more hours a day he is suddenly getting out early and is working many fewer hours. He is a bureaucrat so he gets paid the same whether he works a 24-hour shift (as occasionally happens) or a 6-hour shift. But what this really means is that he’s home a lot more in September, home bugging me (sometimes) and home distracting me (usually).

So while I’m running from one end of the day to the other, while I’m struggling to keep up with all the details of my business, while I’m rushing here and there, while I barely have time to eat or sleep or take a run, my husband is just hanging out.

Like right now…right now he’s here in the office hanging out in the hammock (along with the dog, who loves the hammock) blathering on to me about something or other. Good thing I’m not actually working right now.

So Typical

Monday, August 25th, 2008

The Democratic National Committee Convention (DNCC) started in the U.S. today. And being that I’m in Mexico and have essentially pathetic TV cable service (Can you say Cablemenos? Menos means less in Spanish.) I decided I wanted to watch the opening night speeches over the internet.

So first I dug around on Barack Obama’s (lovely) site looking for a link to a live video stream, but that was a fruitless search. Then I got with the program and made my way over to the DNCC’s site. I found the DNCC video stream link, but when I got to that page I was informed that I needed to install 2 plugins in order to view the live video (they were Microsoft’s Silverlight and the Move Media Player). Now I don’t live under too big a technological rock, but I had not heard of either of these programs before.

When I have a web design client who wants to deliver video on their web site I always tell them that we need to provide video in the formats that are commonly used. I tell my clients that it’s bad form and that it’s a usability obstacle to force your viewers to install a plugin in order to see content. If you want to reach the widest possible audience you deliver content that users can see without doing any extra work.

But why on earth would the Democrats do that? Why would they make it easy for us to view their video when they can complicate things by making us download not one, but two plugins?

Now it’s possible, maybe even likely, that this combination of plugins provides better quality video than other programs would. If that’s the case then I guess I’m happy to have installed them. But I’m still upset that I couldn’t just arrive on the site and see the video stream without doing the work of installing something first. And if these two plugins were widely used I’m certain that I would have encountered them by now, so now I’m annoyed that I may have just installed two plugins that might not get much use once the Convention ends.

Something about this feels typical of the Democratic Party. It’s an example of what we Democrats always seem to do wrong. We make things complicated when they should be simple. We make people work to hear our message when they shouldn’t need to.

That being said, I did enjoy watching the opening night speeches. And Michelle Obama’s speech made me a little misty…

A Treat For You: Quarryography

Friday, August 8th, 2008

For the past year I’ve been working closely with the magnificent and brilliant choreographer, Alison Chase (a founding artistic director of the famed Pilobolus), on her new web site. This week we made a big push and we are very nearly there…. And so I want to warm you up with a little video of one of Alison’s more irreverent and joyful choreographic works. Please enjoy Quarryography:

Calgon Take Me Away…

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Remember those old Calgon ads for bath products? Well in Mexico it’s not common practice to put in bathtubs. In fact, in this house our bathrooms are small and square so there’s no room at all for a bathtub, we just have a shower in the corner. But I digress. I want to take a bath because I need to de-stress in the worst way. So I wish Calgon could take me away…

I’ve been killing myself for work lately. I’ve worked part of each day every day in the last 2 weeks, so I’m in need of a serious day off. It might happen next Sunday, but that remains to be seen.

I’m close to finishing 2 big web projects. Both projects have been difficult for me. Both have shown me exactly what parts of project management I happen to SUCK at.

One of these projects is for a non-profit in the U.S. I got the contract for it a long time ago. But I didn’t realize how much work it would be to get the client to make decisions. The work hasn’t ended up taking significantly longer than I expected. But the number of meetings and emails and conference calls it’s taken to make all the needed decisions has literally added ONE YEAR to the project. I’m dumbfounded by this.

The client has even had personnel changes since we started working on this project together. And guess what? My new contact person there seems to hate me. She knows nothing of the history of the project, just that it’s behind schedule. So I get the blame, all the blame. Today she destroyed a conference call by interrupting, being condescending (she sounded like a bratty teenager), and finally hanging up on the rest of us.

The project is finally within mere weeks of being done. And now it’s getting derailed by a bad attitude? Grow up already. Let’s just focus on getting this shit done and fucking be nice about it.

My husband is that champion of “fuck it all”. When he heard about her little snit he said “tell her to fuck off.” We are 98% done and he wants me to walk out on the project because someone treated me like shit. He has no tolerance for bullshit, and that’s what I love about him. But I won’t be taking his advice, not this time anyway.

Say It Isn’t So

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

In the world of web design the use of frames is generally considered to be a bad thing, a big no-no. For those of you who don’t know what an html frame is it’s basically a way of making separate pages appear on screen as one.

There are many reasons why this is bad which I won’t get into. But basically it’s a rare site that actually needs to be coded with frames and which uses them to the clear benefit of the site’s visitors. And often sites using frames are hard both for users to navigate and for search engines to index. In short, frames suck both for the users and for the site owner.

So imagine my surprise when I visited the famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking’s web site and found ugly, nasty, not user-friendly and most importantly NOT EVEN NEEDED frames in use (if your browser window is small enough you see scroll bars which indicate where the edges of the frames are).

One of the most intelligent men on earth has a web site with frames, what is the world coming to?

Cats, God and I need a day off

Monday, March 17th, 2008

I’m a bit frazzled. I’ve got several real estate buyers in town right now, and I’ve got several web design deadlines in the next two days. Not a good mix. Real estate is this open-ended, lengthy schmooze process. While web design takes total concentration with no distractions or other appointments. I’m seriously considering pulling an all-nighter, I feel like I’m 18 again (and I mean that only in the worst possible way).

My daughter called and said that her agnostic/atheist father had just given her a 40 year old Bible and “how cool is that?” (I’m wondering if he wanted to make space on the bookshelf). And I’m thinking that it’s cool that she thinks that’s cool, because she was not raised with a religion, she was raised to choose her own religion, if she wants to. One of my recent conversations with her involved me reading long passages from the Old Testament to her over the phone and providing my ribbing commentary along the way (there was quite a bit of giggling, especially about not coveting thy neighbor’s ass). Anyway, I think it’s great that she’s think her Bible is cool. Perhaps it’s time for her that grandmother who has a Ph.D in Religious Studies to give her grand daughter a call… Oh Mom?

Meanwhile the next book my Book Club is going to read will be The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever edited by Christopher Hitchens. One member of the Book Club stated that she “didn’t believe in Atheists”, I’m pretty sure she voted against this book, but she lost (we have a very democratic voting system). Regardless of viewpoint I’m sure that book will make for a great discussion. And a great discussion is the only possible excuse for all the wine we drink at those meetings.

Besides musings on God and his lack, and real estate and my lack of focus on web stuff my big thing right now is my cats. Surprised right? Flaco’s death has made me appreciate the living. So I’m trying to actually pet each of the living breathing 9 cats every day. This is harder than it sounds, since several of them hide under beds night and day and only come out for meals. I’m kind of forcing love on them, I feel a bit odd, “you will accept my love, like it or not”. But my eldest and fattest, and probably most frail, Grace, the 17 year old cat that I rescued back in Colorado, is appreciating all the attention. She’s even waking me up at night by purring in my ear. So I think I’m on the right track.

  • Advertising

Pueblo Maya - Mexican Restaurant & Craft Market, Chichen Itza, Piste, Yucatan Yucatan Direct: Real Estate for Sale by Owner in Yucatan, Mexico The Truth About Mexico
  • Blogosphere