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Perishable Press

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:

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! :)

Jeff Starr
About the Author Jeff Starr = Designer. Developer. Producer. Writer. Editor. Etc.
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53 responses
  1. Jeff Starr

    @Donace: Glad to see you back online again, and looking forward to seeing some new stuff from you. Drop a line anytime! Here’s to 2011!

  2. Richard Link December 17, 2010 @ 10:38 am

    Grats on everything Jeff! I’ve been neck deep in Windows for 17 years, and four years ago took the plunge with a MacBook Pro, and haven’t regretted it. I keep VMWare around for those times that “I just need windows” I echo the comment about “perian” and “flip4mac wmv”

  3. Jeff Starr

    @Richard Link: Thanks and I’m glad you mention VMWare – setting up a quick and easy Windows environment is on my to-do list. I’ve read about some other options as well.. is VMWare the best way to go? Thx for the tip on flip4mac wmv – checking it out now.

  4. We just wanted to send a big hello and send a kudos for making the switch over to our (dv). Let us know if we can help you out with anything in the future. You can contact us through the phones, Support Request, or Twitter.

  5. Jeff Starr

    @(mt) Matt: Thank you for the excellent service. The outreach and positivity is refreshing :)

  6. Congrats Jeff! I hope to be full freelance at some point as well.

    I would definitely like to hear about the PC to Mac switch. I’m a pure Mac user since day one (tons of IT Windows training though) so it’s interesting to hear about switch experiences. VLC for all media. I don’t think I ever use QT anymore. Adium is a great all-in-one chat client but I’ve recently switched to pure Skype now.

  7. Jeff Starr

    @Skye: Looks like I’ll be installing VLC for all media. As long as it isn’t iTunes and can play whatever I throw at it, I’m good. Adium does work great, but I don’t think it can do live video chat..? I’ve honestly never used Skype :p

  8. Would love to hear how you move from the subdirectory install of WP. I can figure out the process itself, but how do you handle the redirects, etc? I don’t want to lose my Google rank.

    Every time I need to look something up, I find it in Digging Into WordPress. Now I just have to remember to check it BEFORE I search for the answers somewhere else.

  9. Nice to hear everything is going in the good direction, Chris! It’s been a while seen you posted, and a while since my last comment too. I never stopped reading you though. My student life is quite full here in France, that’s why. Now, about your post:

    Quitting your job. Well done. Being your own boss is priceless.

    pc -> mac. You made me rage so hard lol. Hopefully you will become more familiar with your iMac and stop saying nonsense about video formats (VLC?) and such.

    ASO. I’m still hosting my blog there. Great support so far, and no problem. It was your recommendation, and a good one. What happened for you sucked, but as you recognized, it was unreasonable to expect that much from a shared hosting. Their handling of the situation was poor though. MT has a great reputation; I think it’s a great choice.

    Have a great holidays season! :)

  10. Goddamn, it’s so late here that I call you Chris like the comment #3. I meant: have a great holidays season Jeff :p

  11. Jeff Starr

    @Cindi: Actually, I’ll be leaving the /press/ subdirectory in place and just starting fresh with a new one, maybe something like /perish/ or whatever. Still, there is a process involved, and because I’ll also be switching to a new server, there are more possibilities and details to concern about. I will try to post an article on this after doing it.

  12. Jeff Starr

    @Louis: It is so good to hear from you again, and it means a lot that you continue to read while living the busy life a student. Thank you for taking the time to comment on this stuff.

    Yes, you used to rage against my old macless days. Lol – that is a good memory, because you really were so serious and convincing about the superiority of Macs to PCs. Now I can honestly say that I agree with you! Ha :)

    Happy Holidays, Chris! ;)

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