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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
  • Post more content at my other sites (,, 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! :)

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

  1. This is like one of my long rambling posts, except a bit more focussed. I got some advice but it is Friday night, so I’ll just say good luck and get back to you when it isn’t Friday evening.

    I hope 2011 is good year for both of us.

  2. Jeff Starr 2010/12/18 2:45 pm

    @Muskie: I agree! Here’s to a prosperous 2011!

  3. Richard Link 2010/12/18 4:21 pm

    VMWare / Parallels… Both are pretty much the same. VMWare has been in the VM market way longer, Parallels seems to be a step ahead on features. VMWare is available on various platforms, Parallels is Mac only…. It’s a real back and forth issue. I’ve owned both, and settled on VMWare because I use it at work also on a windows machine.

  4. Heh, I am in the process of both a Big Leap and Big Switch.

    Will start full-time freelance work in a couple months and also considering the switch to Mac.

    I have no doubt you will succeed in your new self-employment endeavors.


  5. @Richard Link: I will be checking out both even further before installing. I’ve read some horror stories about virtual/windows apps really messing things up. I know they’re just ghost stories, but still trying to make an informed decision. Thanks for the information – it helps.

    @Alex Tran: You will do great Alex! And I recommend switching to Mac as well – it changed my entire work experience. I went back the other day and used windows again and it just felt so slow, tired, and clunky. Congrats on going freelance – Best to you in 2011!

  6. Paul Cloke (clokey2k) 2010/12/20 10:04 am

    I’m very early in the move to freelance. I have learnt a lot myself this past year, some of the knowledge had been passed from you and Chris Coyier.

    Maybe I’ll dip my feet deeper into the web pool, or even go for a swim this coming year.

    I may have to retire my Vaio this year also, but I have a PC already built to replace it.

    So to you now, good fortune for 2011!

  7. I wish you much success on the Big Leap. You’ve been a huge resource for…can I say, millions??? Whatever the number may be the fact remains that you’re probably just scratching the surface of what accomplishments lie ahead.

    Like many of your followers who have expressed the desire to ‘Leap’ I too hope to make some small steps in the freelance direction.

    You give us hope for a better life than the mundane world some of us currently tread through. Thanks for all you do.

  8. Best of luck for 2011 Jeff. Looking forwards to seeing the Perishable Press redesign.

    Oh and I’ve been on Macs (good ones and bad) since 1989!!!


  9. Jeff Starr 2010/12/21 3:15 pm

    @Paul Cloke: Thanks and likewise back to you: Best of luck in 2011! :)

    @Visual: lol, I doubt it’s that many, but appreciate the sentiment. Thanks for the kind words, and much success to you as you venture into the freelance area. I can tell you that there is plenty of work out there, so just know that a better life is possible for those who really want it. Cheers :)

    @Isiah: Thanks, I am also looking forward to the redesign :) I wish that I had switched to Mac years ago – but 1989 is before I even knew how to use a computer! Best of luck to you in 2011! :)

  10. Guillaume 2010/12/22 1:11 am

    Congrats for the switch to working @ home full time! That’s something I would like to do someday…
    And a big thank you for your articles here, they’re always interesting, useful and a pleasure to read!
    Cheers from France.

  11. Iwani Khalid 2010/12/22 10:37 am

    Wow, I think this one of the best end-of-the-year post I’ve read in a while. Inspiring!

    Best of luck for 2011, Jeff and keep the good stuffs coming! Really enjoyed reading your latest post on Digging into WordPress.

  12. Umair Minhas 2010/12/31 3:49 am

    I was waiting for years to you to say these for this site (and you said it! way to go):

    – Complete redesign with new features such as code library, screencasts, and asides
    – Make it lighter, brighter, and easier to use (sound familiar?)


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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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