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PodShop: We're Not in February Anymore?

Assorted Ramblings and Filings.

Welcome to the PodShop blog. Pull up a chair. Read. Write. Interact.

We're Not in February Anymore?

Wednesday June 21, 2006

The last thing I remember, it was early February. The calendar shall tell no lies, I guess, as it is now evidently late June, the first day of summer, nonetheless. But how can that be right? Over four months? Yes, that is indeed the length of time it took me to get the new site finished. Over one third of a year. For all of the other sports fans out there, let me put this timeframe in terms you can further relate to: from the Super Bowl through the end of the NBA Finals, and just a few weeks shy of MLB’s All-Star Game. Yikes.

If I would have known ahead of time that it was going to take this long, I don’t know if I ever would have started. But I am so glad that I did. Glad for the fact that it took me this long, as I have learned a lot along this journey, and even far more than I ever cared to know about the inroads and byways of traversing the CSS and XHTML landscape in the buggy that is Internet Explorer. And I mean buggy in every sense of the word.

As a one-man organization, I don’t have the budget for an experienced and proficient web designer to rebuild from the ground up. That, and I really didn’t want to outsource something that I truly wanted to do by and for myself. No one knows my business better than I, so why try to fake that I would be willing to cede some sort of control – and of course, cash – over to someone with actual experience and know-how? Everyone, raise your glasses to entreprenuerial stupidity guts and follow along, as the decision was made to tackle the site refresh alone, sans professional help. OK, quit sloshing soda on your monitor and put those glasses down, because as I was soon to discover – and you are about to find out – I was actually not alone. I had a lot of help along the way, unbeknownst to those providing the assistance.

Tired of hacking my way through the old way of coding a website (with boxed software), I started leaning towards coding it by hand. Had I ever coded a website without the aid of the Dreamweavers, the Front Pages, or the RapidWeavers of the software world? Heck no. Was I afraid to do it all by hand? Hell yes. But for me, fear subsides when chased away by the empowerment of knowledge, and that’s where the power of community comes in. If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that when I get stuck on something, I know someone else in this world has had to have been through or is currently going through the same exact situation/experience/dilemma. I wasn’t the only person that had to learn how to code (X)HTML and or CSS before, so let’s start Googling.

Actually, I had a head start before I needed to start searching. My use of the OmniWeb browser led me to the site of Hicksdesign some time back, and after downloading a theme for OW from this site, I had to return to gape at its look and feel. Jon Hicks’ site was (and still is) simply amazing. You can’t do stuff like this with boxed software. No way. Links from the Hicksdesign site led to even more sites that left me with jaw dropped upon desk. It was like finding a treasure map with a big fat red X marking everyplace I needed to start digging. “You can make web pages look like this?!?” I would often think to myself after stumbling across even more amazing works of hand-coded website works of art. It was from these sites that I was fortunate to discover books and articles that would help me begin to learn how to do the stuff these people were already obviously masters at. They were a way for me to understand how the things that I saw popping out from my iMac’s screen were made possible, and even offered directions, tips, and full out how-to’s on how they were done. For me and all my web design and coding deficiencies, this was like having a paint-by-numbers kit for tackling the Mona Lisa or American Gothic.

A partial list of resources I gleaned information from and continue to refer to for this design and coding quest can be found on the Thanks page. Please have a look at it at some point, as this is my attempt to express my gratitude and to pay respects for everything these people do and contribute to the web community. There’s also a list of links on the right in the Sidebar under the “Blogs” and “Design” headings that will lead you to some great resources. If you think the site is OK, just wait until you see a few of these. Amazing.

Designing and building the new site was one of the toughest challenges I have ever faced, both from a career and personal standpoint. Just when I thought I had a handle on things, along comes a new idea I want to implement – which would often times force a scrap of hours or even days of previous work, or, as what would become my newest and biggest fear and item of utter frustration, debugging code for Internet Explorer. The latter had so many twists and turns that it deserves its own write up at another point in time. Damn you, IE, and I’ll leave it at that for now.

This blog post is the last major item of work prior to cutting over from the beta site to taking it live at If you’re reading this, things went well, and I might actually have time to catch up on some much needed sleep (not to mention some quality time with my family). But tomorrow brings another day in which there is always work to be done. Someone has to answer emails, produce the product, process and fill orders, and all of the other countless things that take place during a normal PodShop workday. At least today, I can finally cross off “Update PodShop Website” from my list of things to do. Regardless of the workload, for all of these things I am extremely grateful. I have a job I love. I am my own boss. I alone am responsible and accountable for and to my customers and for how far my business can take myself and my family.

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