Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 1, 2004

I suppose for many people, New Year’s is just an excuse to party. To me, it’s a reminder that the world does, in fact, have a reset button. Each January 1, everything starts over — a clean slate with new possibilities. Sure, you can still see the dusty chalk marks of the past year, but the mere fact that you get another year means new hope.

Last year had its ups and downs. Sometimes it felt like someone was scratching their fingernails down my slate. But, the good times were more frequent than the bad, and that’s all I ask from life. I also did something I’m rather proud of…

Last New Year’s, I did something I never do — I made resolutions. The reason I always refused to make resolutions is because it’s arbitrary. If there’s something I want to change, I change it — waiting for a specific date doesn’t make me any more likely to follow through. But, in 2003 there were two things I really wanted to accomplish, so I decided to call them resolutions. More than anything, I wanted to not be working where I was at the time, and I wanted to lose weight. I’m happy to report that I have accomplished both, although I can’t take full credit for either. Getting laid off wasn’t my idea, but I certainly wasn’t going to fight it, and working for myself is exactly what I want to be doing. And, I’ve lost almost 30 pounds since Angela & I started our diet in October. I now weigh less than I did when I graduated high school, and I have my lovely wife to thank for that.

So, since last year was such a successful one for resolutions, I’m making another this year. My goal is to make a significant amount of money from my home business. “Significant” is intentionally vague — I don’t expect to get up to my old salary, but I do want to make a decent contribution to our household income. A reasonable goal, I think.

To keep me busy when clients are few and far between, I have plans for several projects. These will be good for me and good for the business, because they will provide me with much needed practice. Here they are, vaguely in the order I intend to accomplish them:

Crafty Goat

That’s right, the redesign more than a year in the making. It’s almost ready for its initial launch. Expect an announcement in the next week.

I have bigger plans for that site, however. The engine for the new version is osCommerce, which is high in features and low in web standards, accessibility, and modifiability (is too a word). After working with it some, I’ve decided it would be possible to re-work it to use CSS for all styles and layout, and do away with the horribly complex tables that currently control it. I don’t know how long that will take, but I would like to get it done this year and release it for others to use.

Smart Goat

Our business site is in need of a redesign. I don’t know what form it will take yet, but we want it to be much more eye-catching than it is now.

Central Oklahoma Mensa

This site will get a complete overhaul. I’m getting rid of PHP-Nuke, and using Movable Type to run most of the site. I’ll also probably add a bulletin board, which will hopefully generate more interest in the site. I’m making a long list of features I want to add, including comments on calendar items and newsletter articles. I also want this site to be the most accessible in Mensa. Hopefully, I’ll have it done before the annual PRP competition.

News Goat

I have a vague idea for a new look for this site, I’m just waiting till I have a few other projects out of the way. If all goes well, I’ll be able to do this about the time MT 3.0 is released.

Ad Goat

Ad Goat needs a completely different engine. If we can find one we like, this site will get an overhaul as well.

Gift Registry

We had an idea for a generic wish list site where you can list the things you want without being tied to a particular store like Amazon. MyGiftList.com offers this, with most of the features we had thought of. It would be nice, though, if there were an open-source alternative, and that’s what I hope to create.

SweepsZilla (working title)

I want to create a Mozilla Firebird extension that allows you to keep track of your online sweepstakes entries and makes it easy to enter them, similar to Turbo Sweeps. This will be a way for me to learn how to program using Mozilla as a platform. And it’s a way for me to contribute to my wife’s addiction. ;-)

Anyway, those are the plans for the year. Happy New Year to you, and good luck to us all in 2004.