NOT Continuing to Work on HoldAnEvent.com for Now

It’s been a long while since I updated you all on how the work on the HoldAnEvent.com prototype is going. The short answer is the prototype is as complete as it’s going to get. The next steps are where the real work needs to begin, which includes the following items but is not the full list of work to be done:

  • Database functionality (currently it’s all smoke and mirrors)
  • Accessible ARIA
    • Error handling
    • Success messages
  • Security checking
  • Payment processing
  • Performance improvements:
    • Minify CSS
    • Minify JavaScript
    • Combine files

The work on Hold An Event has NOT been moving along at all in the last 25+ months besides making some code improvements. The updates were about updating accessibility and some performance items. These improvements will make the pages load quicker by minifying files and  removing necessary code (not needed when using HTML5.)

Part of the reason I have not done any more work on this project is that it is larger than one person or at least for me now with the knowledge I have. I’m looking to work on a smaller project I can complete and learn what I need to complete Hold An Event.

That project is about being able to save information about places you need to eat at while traveling or even if you are staying in town. I’m always asking people where to eat, especially if I’m traveling somewhere new.

The web based application will be simple; in that you store the name of the restaurant and the city at first and can add more information when you have the time or on a computer or tablet.

It’s for when you are in a city or other part of town you can search to find things near you and then sort the results by city, or distance from you, or maybe even food type later on in the process.

If this project sounds appealing to you, please leave a comment. If you would even pay for this service tell me how much a month or year it is worth to you.

 

Project 52 Plans

I’m still working on my plan of how to complete Project 52, but I first want to thank Anton Peck for coming up with the idea to get himself and others to blog at least once a week for a year. Anton at first thought that maybe 25 or at most 50 of his friends would participate and ended up with over 700 last time I checked the list.

When Anton first came up with the idea on his blog I was all for participating, because I didn’t do a whole lot of blogging last. Instead I attended a few web conferences, ran a few (Accessibility Camp DC and BarCamp DC) with help from others, along with starting a monthly accessibility meet-up here in Washington, DC.

Donate to Charity

In the comments of Anton’s blog post about Project 52 I even talked about why not try and do some good out of all this by donating $10 to charity for ever week I miss blogging, creating code examples, making a “How To” videos of either accessibility related items or whatever. So each quarter I will donate $10 per week of missed blogging to a local charity like Martha’s Table or to Kiva.

Blog Post Ideas

Some of the things I plan on blogging abut this year are listed below:

  • Accessibility related issues and best practices
  • SXSWi – spring-break for geeks in Austin, Texas
  • Access U – accessibility conference in Austin, Texas, put on by Knowility
  • Accessibility Camp DC
  • BarCamp DC
  • Accessibility DC monthly meet-up
  • Food and wine
  • An Event Apart DC – great web standards conference put on by Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer
  • creating my web application (more to following in a future post)
  • lessons learned from things I have done or from others (friends and experts)
  • book reviews – mostly technology
  • spending more time with friends
  • more writing

So those are some of my ideas for blog posts and plans for the next 50 weeks. Might have to write a few accessibility best practices or code examples posts in advance for times like when I’m at SXSWI for a week and won’t have much time to blog. I already have six or eight subjects with titles and a short outline started from ideas from last year, now to just do the writing and coding required.

Are you planning on doing more blogging this year or just more reading and other work?

Please tell me what you are doing or suggestions for me to do in the comments.

Wish me luck.

Cleaning Up My Life

Don’t worry, nothing like that, I am just cleaning up the apartment (first floor of two family home I rent) and my part of the basement. Kind of was forced into doing this, since the people upstairs noticed bugs. I had seen some over the course of the last year or two when the old tenant and his new wife lived here and thought nothing of it.

The new tenant contacted the landlord about them, which they then had an exterminator come check on it. After looking around I guess they found that we had some cockroaches, while I was at Access U conference. I had lived here almost seven years and noticed the bugs recently and never paid attention to what I was squishing. So the landlord informed me that the exterminator would not spray/treat the house until we got rid of all our (neighbors and myself) cardboard boxes and old papers, since what they eat is the glue and cardboard.

Landlord’s Freaking (just a little bit)

The landlord was a bit freaked out because there were bugs in their rental property along with the fact that the couple upstairs is due to have a baby in like four weeks or so. They want it done yesterday so they can spray or whatever they are gong to do before the baby is in the house.

So for the last two weeks after work and on weekends when I have not had other obligations I have been first going through all the crap, as my mother would call it in my apartment. This has been helpful in the form of having me go through boxes of stuff that I have not looked at in years and tossing, saving, or as much as possible donating things to charity. I have recycled as much paper and others items that I can. I really don’t want fill up a landfill with more junk. No, I’m not a tree hugger, not that there is anything wrong with that, I just want to recycle/reuse as much as I can.

Donations to the Poor

I have donated a ton of clothes (work, casual, jeans, dress shirts, etc.), shoes, ties, and a lot more to Martha’s Table, so they can help out others less fortunate than myself. Even made two trips so far and I might have one more before I’m all done. I ended up getting rid about half of the clothes I owned, since I have not worn most of them in years for whatever reason.

Was at a fairly good point with the upstairs, so spent a few hours Saturday afternoon/evening going through boxes in the basement that contain stuff in them that have not moved or been looked, since I got here almost 7 years ago. I found at least one box so far that contained 5+ year old magazines in it. I had a lot of old magazines upstairs too. Pointer to others once you have read them unless it’s important to you because you, family, or a friend are in it, recycle them or just recycle them once your done reading.

I used to shoot a bunch of model photography back in the day as they say and had boxes and boxes of photos. I ended up transferring them from their cardboard boxes into new plastic containers with lids. Glad Target had 18 gallon plastic bins with lids on sale last week for $6, so I could buy 20 of them. Did not get all the miscellaneous boxes sorted yet since I have to go through to see if there are any important papers in them, like tax form, old bills with bank, or SSN information in them.

Spent Time with Friends

Spent about five hours Sunday(6/14) in the basement with a good friend of mine and her sister helping me consolidate, move, re-box wines. If your wondering why it took so long, it was because I have close to 600 bottles of wine just in my basement. I’m a wine collector, which made one of the landlords request to get rid of all boxes extremely difficult. How am I going to store 600 bottles of wine with no cardboard boxes, without spending thousands of dollars on wine racks, which won’t work downstairs, since floor slopes into center of room? Luckily I have been gathering and saving wooden wine boxes over the last few years, when I could get them.

I finally took my two 47 bottle wine frigs out of their boxes and started them up. Just in case you were wondering the number of bottles they say will fit is incorrect if you are trying to put Burgundy or long odd shaped bottles in them. Now they are loaded with a total of about 60+ bottles, which removes over five boxes from the basement.

Still need to go downstairs the next few nights to finish sorting and dumping the 20 or so boxes I have not looked at in the basement. The slowest part has been going through the old bills and removing the check receipt and bill to be shredded and placing them in one container and everything else  in a recyclable one. Anyone have suggestions to getting rid of old software. I recycled the boxes, but am trying to figure out what to do with all the CD’s and a lot of 2.5 inch diskettes.

A few friends and co-workers have asked if this has helped me feel lighter, less clutter free, and I have told them I will tell them once all of it is done. Right now it is feeling like a second job that needs to be worked on every night after work. I can’t imagine what is like for someone that is a hoarder to have to do a task like this.

Conclusion

If you have  suggestions for doing any of this better or stories similar to mine I would like to here about them.

Hopefully if nothing else you all start, recycling, donating extra stuff, and keep up with stuff on a regular basis so your not forced into having to “clean up your life” all at one time.

Another Long Frustrating and Sometimes Fun Week

Last week was a bit frustrating and somewhat fun at the same time.

Work was busy and somewhat of a pain. I need to get about four projects done before I head to SXSW on the 6th of March, 2008. A bunch of my users/clients want all the work completed, but do not have time to give me the necessary information or they just have no time to just review the finished work so we can move it to PROD.

On one project I finally, suggested that we put in what we had, which was about 90 – 95% of what was needed. This way they could start using the much better version of the web application instead of waiting. they agreed and next week I still have to work on three pages that are still in the old layout and then I will be done with this pass. We finally moved the new pages to PROD on Tuesday.

After work on Tuesday’s most of you know I normally go to a wine tasting/class. Well this Tuesday the Washington, DC, metro area had some really bad weather. It consisted of some rain, freezing rain, sleet, or snow depending on where you lived. So I figured I would just stay home and do stuff around the house, since people around here just need to learn to drive in bad weather. After talking with a bunch people I usually meet there, we all decided to try and make it to class, which is normally a 30 – 40 minutes drive (12 miles).

I suggested that a few of us that live near each other should carpool. I told one of my friends I would pick her up and then we would go to another friends that is on the way. They both live like two or three miles from me in different directions. I left for the first friends at like 6:45 PM, but first I had to remove ice from car. This drive usually takes ten minutes or less on a bad day, since it is all of 2.25 miles and has a few stoplights. The second half of my trip should take 15 minutes to go to our other friends place and then a final drive of eight miles (15 minutes).

Well, as you can imagine the first part took forever. I was on the phone most of the time off and on keeping everyone inlvolved informed of me progress, which was going poorly. The first three quarters of a mile went well. Once I got to the hill on Braddock Road that’s when the problems started. It took over an hour to get to the top of the hill and it is only like a quarter of a mile long. We moved about two or three car lengths about every few minutes. A few times I had to put the emergancy brake on after putting the car in neutral so I could get the feeling back to my feet. This is the one big problem with having a manual car in this town.

The second friend decided to leave without us. He got to class before I even made it half way to my other friends place. The first friend ended up having enough time to balance their checkbook, watch a full episode of “The Simpson’s”, have dinner, and do a few other things. A few people told me to just head home and call it a night. I told them it was not that easy, since the road going the other direction was backed up too, so I could not make a U turn.

Of course I did not turn around and go home, since now it had became a matter of principal.

At some point I made it to a street that I thought I could get to my friends from. I called her and had her work me through the neighborhood to her place. At one point she told me to make a right on a road that I thought was going the wrong way. She told me now that I was heading uphill I should look for some street, I can’t think of now. I told her I was headed downhill and she said “No, you I should not be”. She had gotten confused to which way I was traveling , because this street was a big loop and she normally comes in to that street another way. After I got turned back around things where just fine.

I then picked up my friend at her place and the last part of the trip to wine class was like ten miles and took all of 18 minutes to get there. Even the Key bridge (named after Francis Scott Key the same guy that wrote the “Star-Spangled Banner”) had no traffic on it, which is really odd, since that is one of the places that I spend most of my time getting to class normally.

When we finally got to class about an hour after it started the other 15 or 20 people started to cheer that we had finally made it. By being this late we had to catch up on like three wines that they had already tried. Not that hard to do, since I could use a drink after spending almost two hours in my car.

On an unrelated note while at class my second friend mentioned that the wine blog, I started for our wine group had gotten a bit of spam comments under one of the blog posts that with the title “Two Blondes, a Brunette and Five Reds – Big Bodacious Blends Part 1“. I have him set up be one of the authors to the blog so I don’t have to do all the work. He said he had deleted about 70 or 80 spam comments. I said I would look into it when I got home.

When I got home we had like 40 or so more comments. I had forgotten to turn Akismet on this blog for some reason, which would have made this a bit easier. So this meant I had to manually delete all the comments from the posts. Just what I wanted to do. I tried to activate Akismet and it was looking for an activation key, which I could not find the e-mail with it in it. I figured it would stop soon anyway and I was tried and needed to sleep. When I woke up early after like six hours of sleep I noticed the spamming had not stopped. I had to delete another 180 comments. What a pain in the rear.

At this point I found my Akismet activation key and got it going, but the spam continued coming. I noticed that it was just a bunch of comments that dealt with casino’s, gambling, slot machines, lounges, etc. and all coming from one I.P. address – 195.225.178.29. It is from a company called “RIPE Network Coordination Centre” in Amsterdam, NL. It finally stopped after like a day and a half. At this point Akismet had stopped about 100 or more comments by Thursday afternoon. I still do not get why comment spammers do this.

The fun part of the week was when about five other single friends (four women, my buddy, and myself) of mine got together on Valentine’s Day at my friends house to have nice relaxing evening. The night consisted of a bunch of appetizers the rest of us brought, that included champagne (really sparkling wine from France), shrimp with cocktail sauce, shrimp cooked in basil pesto sauce, a bread bowl with different types of flat breads, crackers with pate, olive spread, and a cheese spread.

Once all that was done we got to the dinner part, which was just fabulous. We started the meal with a roasted pumpkin soups shooter with one shrimp. Next we got to the dinner, which was filet mignon seared and placed in a beef stock, shallot, and course ground mustard sauce. With all this we had broccoli rabe and roasted fingerling potatoes. During dinner we drank three different years of the same wine the same producer from Argentina.

The following is the list of wines we had during the evenings events in the order that we had drank them.

  • NV – Kirkland Rose Champagne
  • 2000 – Concha y Tora Don Melchor Cabernet Puente Alto – Chile
  • 2001 – Concha y Tora Don Melchor Cabernet Puente Alto – Chile
  • 1999 – Chateau Lalande Saint-Julien
  • 2004 – Concha y Tora Don Melchor Cabernet Puente Alto – Chile

If all this was not enough my buddy was reading reviews about the wines from the internet. He mentioned that the second wine we had was similar to French wines from the Saint Julian region. One of the women that was there said something to the effect of I have never had one of those. So what did my buddy do, he went to where he stores his wines and brought out a 1999 of one of them. Great wine drinking just wonderfully now.

We finished the the night off with a flourless chocolate tart with home made fresh whipped cream and a dusting of coco power. the final thing to top off the evening was my friend had made each of the women a box of home made chocolate truffles. He had asked me to get a single rose for each one , which I told him I had thought of doing. From what I heard from all the women these two things topped off and already perfect night.

Now that the fun is done it’s back to work projects. I moved my second project’s the code into PROD on Friday without any error checking, since it is only used by one maybe two people. I figured that they can be careful for a few days while I get that done. The only reason I’m doing it this way is they really need to get to entering information into the system and they know they should enter information for every field and there is field formatting examples as part of the LABEL text. Now I can get going on two other projects and at least move the new and improved code for now. There is still going to be a second phase to add new fields, reports, and functions in the near future (after SXSW) anyway.

Last night (Friday) I went back and checked to see if the spamming had stopped and of course it had started again. Now they are trying to post to another one our spots that has the title “Two Blondes, a Brunette, and Five Big Bodacious Reds Redux“. We are now up to almost 700 spam comments from them stopped by Akismet, since Wednesday morning, plus the 250 or so we manually deleted. They are spamming the website every four or five minutes from different websites and blog posts, but the same I.P. address.

So in conclusion if you want to get your blog post comment numbers really high without having to write a really lot of ground breaking information and not getting hit by Mixx, Digg, or Slashdot, just have a post titled with the words “Two Blondes and a Brunette” in it. By writing about this subject I could be asking for comment spam on this blog too.

Have any of you had similar stories of getting spammed, just because of a blog post title? If so what did you do to stop it?