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Recent Drama, News, and Other Stuff

Okay so it’s been awhile. That’s a good thing because it means I’m busy. But it also sucks because life moves too fast to blog about everything that happens. Especially with web design: you get started blogging about your discoveries, and then you find yourself learning and doing too much to post or tweet about even just the big stuff.

But now I have some time to write and share some of the awesome and insane things that have happened since my boring 2009 personal update. So much has happened since then but I will try to stay focused because I value your time.

The Big Leap

I quit my full-time day-job in September of 2010 to work full-time on the Web. This was a risky but calculated move that was set in motion back in 2004, when I decided to follow my creative passions and earn a living by helping other people succeed on the Web. If I were single with no kids, the entire process could have happened much sooner, but providing for a family of four is muy expensivo, even here in the small town of Moses Lake, Washington. Don’t even get me started on health insurance or taxes.

So I took it slow, working full-time as a lab technician at a large silicon manufacturing plant. The job was interesting enough; I got to work with some cutting-edge instruments such as ICP mass spectrometers and low-temperature Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. My lab work schedule was crazy: three 13.33-hour days – an entire work week packed into Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. This schedule enabled me to work Sunday thru Wednesday on web design, blogging, writing a book, and everything else.

For six years I worked easily 80+ hours every week, three days in the lab, four days on the computer. Week after week, year after year, patiently and diligently learning, working and building things up. At times, it seemed that the right time to quit my job would never arrive. And when it finally did happen back in September, it almost felt like I waited too long. But it felt SO good. I can’t even describe how surreal that first month was, like floating around with a million billion things to do. Eventually, what I had just done began to sink in. It seems like I had been planning it forever, but oddly enough never really expected it happen. Now that a few months have passed, I’m all settled in and just loving it. There is so much freedom working for yourself, and I feel totally blessed to be living the dream.

The Big Switch

Two weeks ago, I finally took the plunge and switched from PC to Mac. I have always used PCs, but bought a small MacBook several years ago for web design and cross-browser testing, and really loved working on it. So much so, that I’m now the proud owner of a shiny new 27-inch iMac. It was spendy, but worth every dollar and definitely worth the wait.

The iMac has enabled me to really streamline and consolidate my entire operation. Instead of needing three computers, three external hard drives, and a million wires, I now enjoy more room in my office with the all-in-one iMac and a few peripherals. As for the machine itself, let’s just say that it shreds over the crusty old 2006 Sony Vaio that was literally falling apart.

But it’s not all wine and roses. As much as OSX and Mac software feel superior to what I was using on Windows XP, there are several areas where Mac falls short of the things that PCs can do quite easily. For example? Playing different video formats without installing a million apps, playing music without iTunes, and built-in chat functionality using MSN, ICQ, or even Yahoo. But rather than get into the full review here, I’ll save my raving and ranting for a post focused on entirely on switching from PC to Mac.

The Big Flood

Okay so it wasn’t that big, but back in October our entire crawlspace (under the house area) was flooded. Apparently whoever did the plumbing did a piss-poor/half-ass job when tying the main water line into the city line. They cut corners, their crappy plumbing broke, and the house was flooded with thousands of gallons of water. What a way to wake up – pretty freaky staring at pieces of floating debris under your house.

Granted, it could have been a lot worse – we were fortunate to have caught it before too much damage was done. Nothing in the house (above the crawlspace) was damaged, including hundreds of freshly printed copies of Digging into WordPress sitting right there on the floor. That would’ve sucked. So after pumping out the water, digging up and fixing the broken pipes, drying out the crawlspace, and cleaning things up, the event set us back around $1200 and about 40 hours of precious time.

Pretty sucky, but like I said, it could have been a lot worse. And just a heads up: call your insurance company before doing anything if you plan on filing a claim. I made the mistake of taking immediate action to resolve the issue instead of calling my insurance company first. Like the first thing to do after a terrible event is to answer a million questions and dive into endless bureaucracy. Filing would have returned less than zero. So whatever. Lesson learned, moving on..

The Big Push

Relatively speaking, I’m terrible at promoting stuff. Case in point: I have launched a number of websites during the last few months and have announced/discussed none of them here at Perishable Press. Again, this is mostly due to the fact that I work much faster than I am able to write about everything, especially at the level I tend to write.

So without further ado, here are some of the better sites/projects that I’ve built & launched over the past year or so (in roughly chronological order):

Update (2013/08/27): much has changed since posting this a few years ago.. in fact, of all the projects/sites listed below, only one remains online, lol!</update>
  • jQuery Mix – Sharing the best of jQuery on the Web
  • Product Reality – User-submitted photos of product failures
  • Angry Birds site – Member/fan site with Forum, Game Map, & more
  • Pink Floyd Thoughts – Another incredibly awesome Pink Floyd fan site
  • Perishable Tweet Archive – Browsable archive of my Twitter account
  • CSSresetr – Online tool for testing & downloading the perfect CSS Reset

And more on the way, I’m sure. I have to be honest, however, in that I don’t have time to maintain all of these sites, so I’m thinking about selling half of them. Stay tuned for more news on that front. They’re some great sites that I would love to see taken over by people who care about doing things right.

Big Hosting Drama

I tweeted recently that my current hosting company, A Small Orange completely shut down all of my sites (more than 20) because of a single script running on a single site. Apparently, CSSresetr was hit with a ton of traffic after Chris Coyier posted about it at CSS Tricks. A few hours after his post, traffic began surging exponentially, and one of the stats scripts began chewing up too many shared-server resources. So ASO swiftly suspended my entire account.

So what should have been one of the best site launches ever turned into an epic fail. Just as things were really taking off, A Small Orange technicians shut down not just CSSresetr, but my entire account – over 20+ personal, business, and customer websites were offline for several hours. And the next morning while scrambling to figure out wtf, my support ticket is met with this priceless gem:

Because your website has reached such a large number of traffic, and in order to keep your website active, you will need to upgrade to a VPS server where all the resources are yours to use. While we do appreciate your business, we cannot have your website using the majority of the shared server where it is hosted. Please see our VPS packages (virtual private servers) […] If you have any questions or would like to upgrade, we can make the migration process painless and will take care of it all for you. If this is something you are interested in, let us know and we’ll take care of it immediately after passing your account through billing.

Huh? What about getting my other sites back online? You know, the 20 sites that aren’t getting “large number of traffic”? I submitted my initial help ticket at 10:34 am. It took the heavy-handed tech staff nearly 3 hours to finally restore service. Six tickets into the game and ASO refused to do anything more than pitch their VPS service. I finally resorted to Twitter, and low and behold, somehow they suddenly figured out a way to restore my account. This behavior makes my business look bad, my customers look bad, and my sites look bad. As I mentioned in my reply to the ASO CEO:

Leaving my sites suspended for hours on end is completely unacceptable. A Small Orange DOES NOT have my back, rather they would like to squeeze more money out of this 3+ year customer.

One thing that I agree with, I’ve definitely outgrown my shared hosting account at A Small Orange. They were great once, good for awhile, but now too unpredictable for serious web hosting. I honestly don’t have anything against anyone at ASO. I just want to explain what happened and move on to greener pastures. Yesterday I signed up for a dedicated virtual (dv) account at Media Temple. Looking forward to getting everything transferred over and starting fresh.

Big Plans

So here we are at the end of 2010. So many big events have left me wondering what the new year might bring, but whatever happens I plan to continue moving forward and growing things as much as possible. Current plans for Perishable Press include:

  • Migrate domain to (mt) (dv)
  • Retire the current subdirectory WP install and begin fresh with a new one
  • Complete redesign with new features such as code library, screencasts, and asides
  • Make it lighter, brighter, and easier to use (sound familiar?)

Current plans for other projects include:

  • Write more guest posts at ProBlogger and elsewhere
  • Complete overhaul and re-branding of my business site, Monzilla Media
  • Video screencast tutorials on securing WordPress sites (at Lynda.com)
  • Post more content at my other sites (eChunks.com, WP-Mix.com, et al)
  • Write more books

And I’m still just getting started ;)

Thank You

I want to say Thanks to everyone who reads and supports Perishable Press and my other projects. Huge shout out to Chris Coyier for all of his help, advice, and inspiration. Here’s to the future and an awesome Holiday Season! Cheers! :)

About the Author
Jeff Starr = Designer. Developer. Producer. Writer. Editor. Etc.
Digging Into WordPress: Take your WordPress skills to the next level.

53 responses to “Recent Drama, News, and Other Stuff”

  1. Jeff,

    For the Mac stuff. Take a look at Perian, it’ll let QuickTime play multiple formats. VLC is better though since it does playlists.

    As for IM, yeah. Adium is about the best I’ve found, but Trillian has a Mac client now too.

    But then, none of this stuff is standard in Windows either. :/

  2. Jeff Starr 2010/12/16 7:10 pm

    @Staze: Thanks for the tips. I am using Perian, and it works for some videos, but there’s quite a few in my collection that won’t play. I’ve also installed NicePlayer, and that also plays some, but not all videos even of the same format. I did see VLC and will re-visit and check it out. I just need a single, multi-instance app that plays all video formats. Playlists would be a bonus.

  3. Tommy Day 2010/12/16 7:18 pm

    Congrats on going full-time Jeff! I did that about a year ago and I’m never looking back.

  4. Jayson Brown 2010/12/16 8:19 pm

    Hey Jeff,

    If you’re looking for affordable hosting for clients, I recommend a reseller account with HostGator, which includes WHM, cPanel & WHMCS… Throw in a CDN such as MaxCDN and you have both a cheap and solid hosting solution.

    Hope you have a great 2011!

  5. Jeff Starr 2010/12/16 7:20 pm

    @Tommy Day: Thanks, glad to hear you’re still going after a year. It’s a LOT of work so far, but the freedom is priceless :)

  6. Chris Thurman 2010/12/16 7:37 pm

    I feel like I can ditto everything in this post (minus the flood). I just went to full-time freelance web worker and I love it. Working on my rebrand and relaunch of my design blog, visualswirl.com. Congrats on all the changes. Excited to see what’s to come!

  7. Jeff Starr 2010/12/16 7:40 pm

    @Chris Thurman: Visual Swirl looks awesome! Congrats on the rebrand and please include larger wallpapers in your articles (which are awesome btw). Rebranding is also on my list, so tons of fun stuff in the future!

  8. Kim Woodbridge 2010/12/16 7:50 pm

    Hi Jeff – I just wanted to say hi :-) It’s great to hear what’s going on with you even if it’s not all good. But the good stuff sounds great. Happy Happy 2011 to you.

  9. Jeff Starr 2010/12/16 8:00 pm

    @Kim: Hi! :) Thanks for dropping by – it’s always good hearing from you. I hope you’re doing great and wish you an even awesomer awesomer 2011! :)

  10. Jeff Starr 2010/12/16 8:20 pm

    @Jayson Brown: Thanks for the tips! Will check it out :)

  11. Hey Jeff,

    May I ask why you didn’t switch to a Linux distro? I made the switch a couple of months ago and couldn’t be happier.

  12. @Seth: I’ve used Linux Red Hat long ago, but never had the time to learn how to really use it. I think I went with Mac because the small little macbook I got provided such a smooth user interface and just felt good.

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Perishable Press is operated by Jeff Starr, a professional web developer and book author with two decades of experience. Here you will find posts about web development, WordPress, security, and more »
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