So I have this friend, and this friend’s website, which I threw together under emergency, “has-to-be-live-now” conditions, custom coding it in, quite literally, hours a few years back, NEEDS to be upgraded. …Because it’s going to fail soon. But this friend is very particular, so it’s very hard to get a semi-solid “this is what I envision” from them. I had a couple of “Dawn” ideas, but nothing I “knew” would gather any sort of approval. So I pulled a “sneaky” based on a mere passing mention that was made of another friend’s site, something I knew was built on bad coding, but that I knew I could hand-code myself if need be.
Now here comes the “sneaky/naughty” part:
First I displayed a site laid out much as the one already in place. After a couple of hours of working through this friend’s critique of it on the phone, I switched to a rough I’d coded on another design scheme, and, as I anticipated, this was definitive “no”. So then I pulled up a raw, stripped version of something I thought might be kinda sorta cool–good for cross compatibility (responsive-to-all-devices/mobile-first) yet allowed for a really professional presence that didn’t get ‘old’ to the eye or the brain. And it worked. This one is a go. …At least so far. We’ll see how this all works out after I get done custom coding it all out, then dressing it with content. My fingers and toes are all crossed. This is supposed to be a Christmas present for them to be launched with the advent of the new year. Wish me luck.
8 Months Research, a Breakthrough, So It’s Build Time
Back in January, 2016, I quit publishing. I had book #3 of the Country James series ready to throw to my editor and was pounding out the final manuscript of E. J.’s Come-Back Road, the second book of a planned three book series covering the life of one Dr. Warren Jeffries, DVM that started with Old Hickory Lane. I quit because I got a good solid look at the piracy numbers of just one of my titles. Then, I got the rest of the numbers, too.
Throughout 2016 and 2017, I published nothing. And I was pretty darned sure that I would never publish another novel, not until piracy could be defeated (Ha! Dream on. Did a year of research on that and found no good solution.) Then I met author Laura Belgrave, mystery/crime author of the Claudia Hershey Mystery series. Like a drip of water that slowly wears away stone, Laura got my rock hard petulance worn down bit by bit. It took her until January of this year. Then, once again, I began to research.
I’ve got a very interesting brain. It works at its own pace, and, usually, that pace is quite fast. Not this time. I kept shoving data in, but got back …silence. I shoveled in more data. Then more again. Still silence. Eight solid months inputting more and more data; eight solid months of dead silence. …Until last week, when, like gears finally starting to move once the penetrating oil does its job or like one of those strange flowers that takes months to form, then bursts open into full bloom all at once, the whole evaluation and conclusion precipitated from subliminal simmering into fully served answer.
So I tried it.
And it worked.
Now, I’m scurrying about, pulling out projects I built, then mothballed as unworkable, and all the pieces are hanging together quite nicely.
I’ll keep you posted on progress as I work through all the various branches of the project’s build. See you on the other side.
Yeah. I know. It’s about time, huh! So, I’m working on EJRuek.com and CountryJames.com, then it will be DLKeur.com right after. Then, I’ll see about revitalizing Aeros’ site. Meanwhile, I did release another E. J. Ruek book. I just never got around to posting it up here on this, my main website. It’s titled Slightly Disturbing Stories and those folks who’ve read it seem to really, really like it.
Dear Website Owners Selling Something I May Decide to Try,
- hide your pricing;
- hit me with a persistent pop-up window requiring me to create an account, login with my Facebook account, join your mailing list, and/or anything demanding I share with you any contact information or identity information, forbidding me from exploring your products and/or services unless and/or until I do.
- prominently display the benefits of your goods or services and the cost of those goods and/or services;
- allow me to decide if I want to create an account and share my identity and contact information with you once and only if I decide to buy.
Your job and your website’s job is to convince me that you’re trustworthy, dependable, offer a worthy product and/or service. Hiding your pricing and terms of service, blocking me from information about your products and/or services unless I jump through hoops to get there is a sure way to lose me as a potential customer.
I turn on the system in the morning, check email …and it starts–all these demands for me to attend the fact that WordPress needs to update across the board on the more than two handfuls of installs I monitor and maintain for myself and others. Then there are the plugins updates, sometimes a theme update. Meanwhile, FireFox, Chrome, IE, and Thunderbird are also demanding to install security updates. My anti-virus, too. And all the rest of it.
This is not a once-in-awhile occurrence like it used to be. This isn’t even just a monthly occurrence. This is, at minimum, weekly, and, sometimes, even every couple of days.
I spend more of computer time than ever approving updates to install, then waiting through the process, only to move on to the next demand for yet another update over here, over there, under there, up there….
I eye the master surge protector’s off switch, consider parking all domains…and wait for yet another update to install on the server, breathing a sigh of relief when a client’s rather Twidget-laden website makes it through intact with everything still working and located on the pages where it all is supposed to be.
…Oh, look! Here comes another one!
I spent the greater part of yesterday testing a friend’s website that I neither own nor manage. This website is a rebuild of a previous version hosted somewhere else, and it’s supposed to open this Sunday. After some shallow testing using four tools, I was having grave misgivings. I spoke with the owner. Then I pulled the owner’s content to ensure its preservation just in case things should ‘go south’.
I don’t like messing with another’s website. I don’t like or want the hassle. However, there’s this sense of ‘what needs to be done’ and ‘what’s right to be done’ that won’t allow me to just turn my back. It’s the same core in me that makes me stop and help when another entity, regardless of species, is in jeopardy.
When it comes to webmastering, I think I’ve spent as much time rescuing domains for their owners as I have building them. That’s probably not at all accurate, but it often feels that way, because, often, it requires hours, days, and a lot of research and expertise to effect the necessary solution, and it’s always tedious and laden with bureaucratic nightmares. ICANN is not fun to deal with in these cases. and you’d better have your receipts and documentation in order, a good fax machine, a notary on standby, and some solid gold identity proof, because you’re going to need it along with me or someone like me to help free your property from danger. Else hire a very good, expensive lawyer.
In this case, it was a matter of getting the content as secured as possible — some thirty pages, only — then writing up some pertinent questions that should instantly demonstrate to the would-be webmasters involved that their bluff has been called. “Lay your cards on the table, boys. It’s over.” Luckily, the owner retains complete control of their domain — the only saving grace to this. But not the content. The content wasn’t backed up before turning it over to the ‘boyz’. Hence, scraping it to preserve it …just in case. It’s now in a nice .zip file, handed over to the owner, though I retained a copy …just in case, as well.
I hate when things like this happen to unsuspecting people, and, actually, I’m very sure the webmastering dudes running this show are genuine in their desire to do the job right …for their fee. But it’s too obvious they are in way over their heads and don’t realize — not at all — that their underpants are showing, and those underpants have a very noticeable brown stripe.
…And, no, I haven’t (yet) gone nutz …but I’m working on it.
I’m working on a 4-website launch, some of it all hand-coded in HTML5/CSS3, and to do it right takes a great deal of meticulous care …which takes a lot of time.
This morning’s chores included spreading traction sand on treacherous, water-slicked ice, because it’s so darned slippery, even with traction gear on feet and wheels, there’s just no way not to fall on butt or wind up in the snow bank. It’s raining…and, of course, flooding in some places where ice dams prevent drainage. (Not here. The water drains downhill from here. But, yes, out there.) Little cars wind up in trouble where water crests the road to levels where even jacked-up pickups roll through very slowly, carefully.
Another thaw has hit us, stripping all the remnant ice and snow from roofs and ledges. squashing down the giant snow berms and making icy slides of the mountains scraped and shoveled off the roofs. Nobody will be sledding down the garage roof, anymore, a favorite winter game for some. (Not me.)
I’m done with any labor, now, for at least an hour. Checking stats, I fill in my Excel spreadsheets with copy/paste, then nod as pre-set formulas churn out results, broadcasting them to a selected handful who will, in their turn, pass them on to others in the group. Miles away–thousands of them–my cohorts chatter on my live feed. We launched our latest project right on time in January, and, yes, our suspicions prove themselves already, though it’s only February. Six-and-a-half weeks of tracking for specific patterns already shows the trends. I’m glad I’ve made my plans. I’m glad I’m already prepping for the changes that we suspect are happening.
So, knowing I had to move to SSL encryption since last year (2015), I finally got around to actually doing it. (This site is almost done. Still running the broken link checker, but, chances are, that won’t affect you much.) Now for the ‘why’ and a tinyeducation on owning a real website.
A) It’s expensive to own and run a website. Yes. Honestly, it is.
B) If you own and run your own website…and even if you just use a freebie, you are going to need to go SSL. SSL uses useless encryption, but it’s becoming the web standard necessity if you want folks to be able to visit your website. Mozilla Firefox and other top line browsers will soon be disallowing visits to non-encrypted sites. It’s the difference between http: and https: in the address (for those of you who can actually see that). And you will need a legitimate, rather than self-signed, certificate.