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Month: April 2006

An update to the pics

I just added an April 2006 section to Ye Olde Photo Gallery. Get yer fix on. Some of the pictures are old and from my cell phone, which I tend to forget about downloading to my PC. Some are from Easter weekend in Columbia, some are from An Event Apart in Atlanta, and some are from our trip out to Brevard today. We went to see our friends Jenni and Jay and their daughter Lilah. Our friends Dave and Celeste were there with their son Frank too.

After looking at these, I realize I need to take more pictures of Dax. It’s kinda easy to forget about him because all he does is sit there.


Been working on a lot of sites the last few weeks.

Recently launched for Heidi Clare, fiddler extraordinaire of the Reeltime Travelers. Be sure to check out the MP3 samples.

Also on the old-time fiddler front comes the launch of Bruce’s site has several very good articles and stories relating to old time music, fiddlers he studies under, and a lot of general lore about Kentucky old-time music. Pretty interesting stuff.

Almost done is a site for a book publisher, which I cannot disclose just yet. Looking forward to seeing it go live.

My new job starts tomorrow. Technically, I am going to be doing this through my existing business, Asheville Technologies, so I guess I can say I am working for myself full time now, which is really pretty darn neat.

I am eager to get this transitional period over with – it’s been a few weeks since I stopped working at AFCCC, and I am finding out that I really like having a predictable schedule. Not that I haven’t enjoyed all the time I’ve spent with the family, but I start feeling edgy when I don’t have a regimine. I must be getting old.

My Favorite Web Apps

These are some applications (free and not free) that I have been using a lot, and that I would now consider myself unable to live without. All of them are web-based in that they are accessible from the internet and can be logged into from anywhere. This makes working from home, from the office, and from the coffee shop a breeze.

Backpack –
This application is excellent for anyone doing any sort of project management, freelancing, or collaboration. I was skeptical at first when I signed up for the free trial, but then I realized the power after using it for a few weeks. I was hooked when they lowered the price of the mid-level package.

Backpack allows you to set up projects (Pages, as they call them) for each of your projects. Each of these Pages has to-do lists, Notes, file uploads, the ability to share this content with someone, Writeboards, and more.

One of my favorite features is the Reminder feature, which will send you an email and/or a text message on your phone when an event is about to occure. Also, there is the ability to send an email to Backpack and have it be added to a Page automatically. Pretty darn cool.

TimeTracker v2.0 –
After trying numerous time-tracking apps that run off my PC, I landed at the TimeTracker web site. I can now set up projects and keep track of how much time I have spent on each. Slices of time can have notes appended to them so I can keep track of what I did during any given time. This makes billing clients for work I have done a breeze. Oh, and it’s free!

ForPerfect CInvoicer –
This is an online billing/invoice system that you have to download and install on a web site yourself, but it does everything I need it to do, albeit a little confusing. I wanted a tool to keep track of client invoices, send out reminders, send out recurring bills automatically, integrate with Paypal and 2checkout, and be reasonably easy to use for clients. This does it all. Configuring it to look and act like I wanted took a little time, but once it was done everything is running smoothly.

It costs $39.95 and requires a little MySQL knowledge to install it. There is a live demo on their web site (linked above).

HipCal –
I have talked about HipCal before, and I still love it. It is more feature-rich than any of the other online calendars I have toyed with. For a while I thought 30Boxes was going to trump HipCal, but when their developers showed a lack of interest (if not a defiant stance) in enhancing the repeatability of events, I gave up on them. They are shooting themselves in the foot if you ask me, but I digress…

HipCal rocks, and after their first couple of rocky months (bugs, server issues), things seem to have stabilized and I am enjoying the free calendar a lot. It will send me reminders of events, and has a simple to-do list on the side.

Netvibes –
Netvibes keeps getting cooler and cooler. It’s a ‘start page’ of sorts that allows you to customize the layout and content to your liking. You can add your favorite RSS feeds, widgets, email interfaces, and more. They just launched a major upgrade that has a ton of great features. I have tried other similar start pages, but they all suck and are clunky compared to Netvibes.

That about wraps it up.

Dinosaur, Jr. Owned Me

What was anticipated as being the Best Week Ever is now over. It was quite a week. Two extremely exciting events were tempered by a run of bad luck.

As you know, the week started in Atlanta at An Event Apart, which was exciting, fun, and fulfilling. I got to meet Eric Meyer:

Me and Eric Meyer

I came back home to a very sick family. I worked one day with Position Builders, my part-time gig, before I had to take the rest of the week off to take care of my family. Double ear infections, vomiting, walking pneumonia, and sinus infections have all been present in this household over the last 2 weeks. I have escaped all of this, somehow.

Bring The Noise
Friday came and all was set straight. I went to see Dinosaur Jr in concert. I cannot describe how much the second album by this band, “You’re Living All Over Me”, influenced my drumming, my tastes, my life, and my musicianship as a whole. I was extremely upset the night I didn’t get to go see them in Lexington, KY in 1990.

Then the original lineup split ways and things were never the same. Until last night.

Lou Barlow, J Mascis, and Murph were all back together, bygones being bygones, and they absolutely rocked my socks off. I had tears in my eyes at one point. The raging sound that they managed to tame into this beautifully orchestrated barrage of power absolutely floored me. It was the loudest show I have ever been to, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I felt like I was cheating myself and the band by even considering putting in the earplugs I had in my pocket.

They played only one song beyond the first three albums. This was a good thing for me, though I could tell many people there were expecting to see the poppy Dinosaur Jr of the early to mid 90’s – the Lollapalooza version that was not at all like the original trio.

I think they played all but one song from “You’re Living All Over Me”. They even played their cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” – complete with Lou’s gutteral chorus line and the abrupt ending.

The level of stokedness I still cannot describe.

What more could I ask for??? I am still in awe and unable to grasp the sheer magnitude of what bombarded my soul last night. The cycle is now complete. The circle is unbroken.

Blogging An Event Apart

I am currently at An Event Apart in Atlanta. It’s almost noon, and I am finally online. The storms that ripped through here last night wreaked a little havoc on the network here at Turner Field, but thanks to some dude sitting at my table, I am currently accessing the Web through an SSH tunnel running off his server somewhere. Everyone else here, crouched by their laptops, keep eyeballing us enviously, wondering how we did this.

I haven’t gotten to meet Eric Meyer yet.

Anyway, the day is half over and so far has been quite interesting. Eric Meyer started off this morning talking about the impending release of Internet Explorer 7 and what it means to web designers. Specifically, he spoke about CSS, bugs, and things that will be fixed. Generally, the news is all good.

Still haven’t gotten to meet Eric Meyer.

Following that, Jeffrey Zeldman got up and walked us through how he created branding narratives. This was especially helpful for me since I am venturing into the world of working for myself (as of today!). There was a lot of good discussion about client relationships, conducting business, and the flow of a project.

After a short break, Jason Santa Maria got up and walked us through his process of redesigning the A List Apart web site. Eric is currently up there talking about how he took Jason’s design, and converted it to a CSS layout.

Haven’t met Eric Meyer yet.

This is great! Check back later for an afternoon update.

Afternoon Update – 3 PM
Zeldman is ripping into the copy on as an example of how one can improve the writing on a web site. Pretty funny stuff.

Still haven’t met Eric Meyer.

3:50 PM
Todd Dominey is speaking in regards to starting your own business, attracting and keeping customers, making things work smoothly, and keeping things in order. He is using his freelance business and the Flash-based photo gallery he created to illustrate these points.

And no, I haven’t met Eric Meyer yet.

Woohoo! I just met Eric Meyer and got him to sign my copy of Eric Meyer on CSS for me. He commended me on my choice of the Sharpie Ultra-Fine Black pen.

Final Update
Made it back home at 10:30 pm. Whew! It was quite an Event, and I am glad we made the trek. I’m sure I will have more to say about it here soon.

Others who are liveblogging this event:
CSS Insider
Flickr Group for An Event Apart
Jeremy Flint


After a year and a half, I spent my last day working as a contracted web developer at the Air Force Combat Climatology Center yesterday. With mixed feelings I signed off and stepped into the unknown. The job was certainly the most interesting I have ever had in that it gave me an insider-view of a world I would likely have never known otherwise.

I took away a lot of good things from the job, the most important of which will be the friends I made and the stories I can tell.

I also came away with a lot of good experience, training, and a security clearance, so every way I look at it I win. Except that I don’t have a full-time job anymore (yet). However, as previously noted here, I am hoping this will be a good thing.

Monday is a big day, so look for more from me then.