Turning a Corner

About 10 days ago seemed to be a low-point in the development and launch of Notify My Team. I was stuck in subscription testing hell, essentially working through the various lifecycles of a subscription using a bunch of fake companies and our test Stripe credentials. If you want to get a feel for what I’m talking about, check out Stripe’s subscription lifecycle page. Subscriptions are endlessly complex compared to collecting a single payment for an e-commerce store. I had 20 test companies at various stages… Continue reading

11/13/20

The Point of No Return

At some point every project becomes a business. For us, LockerPulse in 2010 was the last time this happened. In the interim we’ve sold LockerPulse, shut down SportsLizard, and Detailed Image has grown a ton. We’ve came close a few times – once with a physical product in the detailing industry, and once with a software project I was working on – but for various reasons those didn’t pan out. So here I am, piecing together all of the components that you need to start… Continue reading

11/2/20

Notify My Team Started as a “Pandemic Project”

In my last post announcing Notify My Team I mentioned that this was something we had previously considered building when we started using our Twitter-based notification system back in 2018. Well, what changed that made us decide to tackle this project now? In short, the COVID-19 pandemic. In early March, as it was becoming obvious that shut downs were imminent, I had a discussion with a friend who is the head of HR at a staffing firm about emergency closures. She was concerned about the… Continue reading

10/20/20

Say Hello to Notify My Team – Our First New Venture in a Decade!

When you build a product or service, you make the call on hundreds of tiny decisions each day. If you’re solving someone else’s problem, you’re constantly stabbing in the dark. When you solve your own problem, the light comes on. You know exactly what the right answer is. That quote is from Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. It’s a favorite of mine because of how true it is. I’m excited to announce that we’re launching a new business that very much solves… Continue reading

10/9/20

Regaining Control of Technology-Related “Emergencies”

About two months ago I reached a breaking point. Since the pandemic had begun, the frequency of technology-related problems that required my immediate attention had increased from the “occasional issue” to a near-daily occurrence. Being on call, more or less, for the past 12 years (since we migrated to Liquid Web) was only sustainable because I had set up good notification systems and because the issues were rare. I’d get a wave related to a particular problem, and then have several months with nothing. This… Continue reading

10/1/20

The Most Productive Change I’ve Made to My Schedule in Years

When the pandemic and subsequent lockdown began, finding long stretches of uninterrupted time for programming was the biggest challenge I faced in trying to schedule my day around having a 3-year old at home and both of us parents needing to also work from home. Other tasks, such as answering emails, taking phone calls, reviewing reports, and analyzing data, are possible to get done in those random pockets of time that pop up throughout the day when my daughter just happens to be entertaining herself…. Continue reading

9/18/20

PageSpeed vs reCAPTCHA and YouTube: Will Google Ever Get on the Same Page?

With the Core Web Vitals Report now in Google Search Console, and an impending algorithm update coming, I decided it was time to revisit Detailed Image to see if there were some relatively easy “wins” when it came to improving our Google PageSpeed. With about 10 days of tweaks and changes, I was able to get most of our important pages to score 90 or above on mobile. Most of those pages were in the 20 – 70 range to start. A simple page like… Continue reading

9/2/20

Comments Disabled & Rethinking WordPress

This morning I received the email notification that WordPress had auto-upgraded. Lately, each upgrade has caused issues. This time my AMP pages were throwing 500 errors. In the process of debugging, I deactivated all of my plugins. Upon reactivation Akismet no longer works (you need to upgrade to a paid plan) and some of my other plugins appeared to have lost their settings. This was the last straw for me with WordPress. It’s wonderful software, and I’m committed to continuing using it as a publishing… Continue reading

9/2/20

Why We Don’t Use Video On Our Meeting Calls

From the NY Times article Why Zoom is Terrible: The problem is that the way the video images are digitally encoded and decoded, altered and adjusted, patched and synthesized introduces all kinds of artifacts: blocking, freezing, blurring, jerkiness and out-of-sync audio. These disruptions, some below our conscious awareness, confound perception and scramble subtle social cues. Our brains strain to fill in the gaps and make sense of the disorder, which makes us feel vaguely disturbed, uneasy and tired without quite knowing why. In the race… Continue reading

7/21/20

PHP Localbox – an easy way to test email on WampServer or XAMPP

A few weeks ago we automated a portion of our inventory management system involving kits that contain several individual items. For example, one of the things that now happens is that when a product goes out of stock, all of the kits that contain that item now also go out of stock. Previously we managed this manually. Sometimes we’d mark the kit out of stock, sometimes we’d substitute a different product in, other times we’d ship a portion of the kit to customers and then… Continue reading

7/14/20