Tag Archives: work

Imma just build The Thing

Every morning, the very first thing I do (other than tell my woman I love her), is have a conversation with myself.

I get my pen (a Pilot G2 #7 in black, thank you very much) and my paper (El Cheapo legal pad in yellow), and I just start writing.

I never know what I’m going to write about or where I’m going to end up. The whole point is to just let my psyche connect with the physical act of writing and try to get my internal editor as much out of the way as possible.

In my conversation this morning, I realized that I have a thing for online content marketing. Like, it’s something that I gravitate toward, that I do anyway.

I have ideas for cool domain names. I grok the basics of traffic building and lead pages and conversion funnels. I already have chunks of social management systems that I use for my own accounts.

I already do this stuff.

Huh. Cool.

The thing I don’t do, that I’m not good at, is being in it for the long haul. Patience is not my strong suit.

I always stop building the thing before it has a chance to get going.

I register a domain name, whip up a WordPress site, post some content, make a couple social media accounts, tie it all together, post some content, and sit back and wonder “Why don’t I have traffic? It’s been like two days!”

I’m in the process of building a new thing. It’s been a month (shut up; it’s New Math). I’m in the “I need to back-fill all this content to support my marketing efforts / I have to write another post about what?” mode. When I looked at my analytics yesterday, I had five visits to the page for the day. I assume they were all from me.

<sigh/>

But!

It’s time for me to hang in there, to get another cuppa, to take a walk and come back, to do whatever it is I need to do to be here for the long game. Because I realized another important thing this morning:

This is a year of foundation building.

This is a year of setting myself up to get what need and want in the future.

This is my year of patience.

Keep Fucking Going

This is a note I wrote to myself. But I’m going to share it with you, because just like me, you look like you could use a little motivational kick in the ass, too.

Don’t worry that it’s about writing, because it’s really not. It’s really about anything that’s big, scary, hard. Maybe you’re working on your relationship with someone; Maybe you’re trying to lose weight; Pay down debt; Stay out of the snowbank on turn three of the ice track…

It doesn’t matter. This is for you.

Continue reading Keep Fucking Going

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

Every couple-three years, I go through months of angst about my job, my place in the world, my goals for the future. I try to look closely at where I am and where I’m going versus where I want to head.

Hey! Guess what time it is?

I hope that everyone goes through a period of self-introspection and evaluation from time-to-time. I also hope that it’s more useful and rewarding — and less confusing and discouraging — than it is for me.

I tend to get wrapped up in endless loops of “I could do this, but I don’t like that part of it, so maybe I should look at that; no, nevermind – it’s hard” and never settle on something.

I’m learning, though.

I’m learning that sometimes, maybe even most of the time, things aren’t clear, and you just have to make a choice. Do research, compare, contrast, plan, whatever; but choose.

I’m learning that by making a choice and focusing on it, I can make a lot more progress than I can by trying to make sure everything is perfect before I go anywhere.

I’m learning that the more I can focus on one thing at a time, the more ground I can cover. Yes, the world is full of amazing, beautiful things. Yes, I’m interested in understanding almost all those things. Professionally speaking, though, I need to choose. one. thing.

You’d think that with a windup like that, my closing will be a doozy.

Nope.

I’m still working on making that choice.

 

 

 

 

 

Un-cool

I just checked on a site that I built — for free — for some friends who have a little non-profit organization they run. I redesigned their site from the ground up, I battled Yahoo! for six weeks to get their domain name released, I put the whole shootin’ match into a nice little CMS, and I hosted it for more than half a year, all for free, because they’re good people doing a good thing.

Except when they turn around try to screw me.

When I went to the site, I noticed that they had some other developer rebuild (again) their site. This hack person totally ripped off my design, put the site back in tables, and put his (?) name on it. At least it’s on his server. I’d like to send him (and CC my friends) a nasty-gram explaining in great detail what bad form it is to steal my work. I’d like to send my friends a slightly-less-nasty-gram asking them WTF?

I think I’m pissed off because I put a hell of a lot of time into this project, and to have this kind of outcome feels like I’ve totally failed. It feels like I’ve failed as a developer by making a site my clients (friends) weren’t happy with, and it feels like I failed as a friend by (apparently) screwing up what could have been a nice gift for them. I think the worst part is that they didn’t even bother to email or call me and say something like, “Gosh, aj, we really appreciate what you tried to do for us, but we’ve decided to go in a different direction. Thanks for all your work.” Even, “Man, aj, you suck! Go get a real job,” would have been better that the whole lot of nothing they gave me.

Any thoughts on how to approach this garbage?

NAGW Conference Roundup

Now that I’m back home, I figured I’d do a brief roundup of the NAGW conference, both for my own edification, and (supposing that Google will potentially work its connection magic in the fullness of time) potentially to help make future conferences better.

First, the good:
I had some totally awesome pre-conference sessions. The rapid prototyping session led by Marc Drummond was super-helpful and crammed with good ideas (even if I couldn’t remember his damn name for the first couple hours!). Bill Brown’s presentation on the Holier Grail was exactly how I like my technical sessions: hard-core, fast-paced, and full of useful information while leaving my brain feeling like deep-friend mush. Thanks and kudos to both of you!

The first day of the conference proper started out with a great opening keynote by Joe Rotella addressing the need to keep my sites’ users foremost in my mind while building my shiny toys. He also strongly suggested (is demanded too strong a word, Joe?) getting actual input from actual users, then following the time-honored creative writing tradition of Killing Our Babies (see I.6). After that, I went to a session led in part by Bruce Blood about the future of government websites. After framing the conversation, Bruce and his co-hosts turned the discussion over to the room. After an hour of give-and-take, the consensus was pretty much this: We all know how and (potentially) when to deploy all the cool tools out there; the sticking point comes with the legal aspects (particularly moderating comments vs. First Amendment protections).

We finished off day two with a trip out for pizza at dinner, then beer around the fire ring back by the pool, during both of which the discussions and stories flowed freely. Very cool!

You’ve (probably) already ready about the Day Two Debacle (below), and I don’t really have anything to add but this: That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes; you just get unlucky with the choices you make. Oh well…

On day three, I decided to bail right after a breakfast session of geeking out with a new friend about custom ROMs for smart phones. The closing keynote was about “What we can expect with IE 8.” Considering I spent about 90 minutes the previous night fighting (and losing) with my computer to remove IE 8 and return to a working IE 7 configuration, I fell like I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. And I’m glad I did get out of town, too, or I might still be down there, doing the breast stroke.

The real sum, though is my answer to the key question: Will I try to go next year? Answer: Hell, yes. Especially because we’re supposed to meet in Galveston. During the peak of hurricane season.

Fer cryin’ shame

Today was pretty much a total frickin’ waste at the NAGW convention. I actually got “shushed” (seriously) by an uptight woman at breakfast when I was in the middle of a conversation with someone else, I went to three sessions which featured:

  • “CuttingEdge.gov” presented by a CMS vendor who, in the first paragraph of his presentation, mentioned how his showcase site “has dropdown menus.” Pardon me while I pick my jaw off the ground…
  • “An Introduction to Adobe Flex” which featured the presenter giving us a blow-by-blow account of application development. As he did it on the screen. For an hour. Ugh.
  • And finally, just to make me wonder what planet the hotel elevator took me to today, there was the old lady from Texas who (sort of) gave a presentation about how to build a website for free because “I spent $39 on my site in the last three years.” Boy howdy, did you ever. My favorite quote from her presentation, though, was definitely, “My city ain’t gonna give me money to piss away on something just ’cause I don’t wanna do the work.” That would have been right before she regaled us about how she spent all this last summer picking up and dropping off some poor high school kid who volunteered to be her “intern.”

I had so frickin’ after that session that I went cross country, through some parking lots and through a stream of pissed-off Chicago rush-hour traffic to get me some Chipotle lovin’. And then I had a beer. And then I skipped the NAGW award banquet because, quite frankly, I don’t think I’d be good company tonight.
The part that really gets me, though, is that the previous two days were so damn good. I’ve had a really useful session on prototyping, a pretty damn hard-core four hours of css presented by a genuine guru, a really inspirational keynote address by Joe Rotella, and some awesome conversations about where government websites are headed and how they’re going to get there. I’ve been out for pizza and beer with some new friends, and had more beer around a (gas fed; for shame) fire ring.

Maybe those first two days just set the bar too high…

ChiTown

I’m in my hotel room in St. Charles, IL, working on upgrading an ecommerce cart for one of my clients tonight. The cool thing, though, is that I’m attending the annual conference of the National Association of Government Webmasters. It’s a great smallish, youngish organization that I’m proud to be part of.

And it’s fun to get to go on a road trip, too, even if my brain suffered a meltdown in a hell of a CSS session this afternoon, and I’m hittin’ it hard again tonight. It’s all good. Especially with a little Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in the fridge. Who knew Target was so well stocked? I just went for a belt…

My Technical Bookshelf

I’ve had a subscription (via work; thanks boss-man!) to O’Reilly’s Safari Bookshelf for a couple months now, and I’m starting to think that it’s one of the Best Things Ever. I can read (online) pretty much all the xhtml/css/flash/php/MySQL/security/programming/certification/business logic pr0n I could ever want right there.

While I’m pretty sure they don’t carry a lot of private label training/certification labels, and though it seems like some of the publishers involved (SitePoint, for sure) hold back a few of their publications, I can get both high and mid-level information about any technical (read: computer-related) subject I can think of. Most of the time, I’ve been able to find something to help me get down and dirty, when I need it, too.

So, to recap: Safari Bookshelf = sweet!

Open House in the New Offices

Sometimes, it’s amazing how fast things can come together if you just go for it.

I’ve been thinking for a while that the IT office at work needed to have an open house so that people can come down, see our new digs, get the nickel tour of what we actually *do* all day. Since we finally got our new furniture last week, and actually got our floor mopped this week, I struck while the iron was hot.

Yesterday morning, I told the other guys that an open house was imminent, I sent out an e-mail to “everybody” inviting them over for tours and snacks, and then we put out a posh spread of geek food: Doritos, Oreos, chololate, and Dew. Life was good.