Recently, in the Smart Goat category…

I just made the official announcement over at Smart Goat, but I also wanted to get into some of the whys and wherefores of the whole thing.

Continue reading “Start All Over Again”…

SmartGoat logo Yesterday, we officially launched the all new Smart Goat website. It has a new look, new features, and, with any luck, a new tendency to get updated regularly.

This redesign has been a long time coming. We’ve been working on it off and on for months, when time permitted. In the last couple of weeks, though, it’s been our primary focus. We’re looking at doing a lot of new projects in the next few weeks and we wanted a proper place to showcase those projects.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting here about the technical aspects of the new site — the techniques we used and how it all came together. And on the Smart Goat blog I’ll be writing about why we did it the way we did and the business advantage of those techniques.

To start things off, here are a few highlights of the new site:

  • Movable Type 4 — The new site is completely powered by the new Movable Type 4. MT4 is an absolute joy to work with — so much so that when I get around to redesigning this site, it will go back to being an MT blog.

  • Newsletter — We’re going to be publishing an email newsletter about once a month. It will basically be the same as what’s posted to the blog, except with slightly more stories about goats.

  • Events & Links — The page footer displays business-related links we’ve delicioused and events we’re attending.

Best of all, the design is actually finished, something I never achieved with the previous design. And by finished I mean I still have a list of 30+ things I still want to do to the site. But still, it’s finished.

SweepsGoat I’m proud to announce the launch of the latest member of the Smart Goat family: SweepsGoat. SweepsGoat is a community site built for people to share online sweepstakes. Web 2.0 folks will recognize it as a Digg-style site — just like Web 1.0 folks recognize Digg as a Kuro5hin-style site. This has all happened before, it will all happen again.

Anyway, if you like entering online sweepstakes I hope you’ll drop by and give it a try. Right now it’s your basic “submit and vote” website, but we have some features on the way that will make it more useful to dedicated sweepers.

We had various motivations for creating this site. Angela’s something of a sweepstakes hobbyist, and we’ve talked from time to time about the various sweepstakes communities that try to keep some or all of their listings behind a pay wall. This is a topic for another time, but one of my main rules for business is:

If your business model is based on the scarcity of information, you’re doomed.

So we were kind of interested to see if a thriving sweepstakes community could be built around the idea of everyone sharing everything. Of course, we would like to make a little advertising revenue off the whole thing, but if the site can just pay its own bills, I’ll be happy. Basically, this is another business experiment, and it will either work or it won’t.

I should also mention we have other stuff in the works that I will hopefully get to announce soon. I’m almost done with a new design for this site, and we’re also polishing up a new design for Smart Goat. Gift Goat is still in the works, but I have no idea when that will be ready. As I get to work more on our various ideas I’ll be writing about them here. So you’ve been warned.

Oh look, it’s a blog. And it hasn’t been updated in over a month. How quaint.

I’m happy to announce two of the things that have kept me busy lately: NegativeArticles and AffirmativeArticles. Depending on your disposition you may prefer one over the other. Or you may find reading both is the closest you can get to a true zen experience.

Our writers at those sites, Joe and Willy, are a couple of, um, characters. I like to tell people we met Willy while we were visiting Tulsa. He came up to us on the street, recognized we were from out-of-town, and offered us money and a place to stay. We found Joe in San Francisco, selling water shoes on the Golden Gate Bridge. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

The sites have been a lot of work to get up and running, but a lot of fun, too. They’re running on Typo, which is built with Ruby on Rails. As a blogging platform, Typo is rapidly becoming one of my favorites. The interface is great. The templating system is just RoR, but it’s real easy to customize, which is all I ask from a templating system. I’ve had some stability issues — I don’t know if that’s because of my host or because I’m running off development code. Things have been better the last couple of days, though, so maybe it was just problems with the server.

Just so you know, I haven’t forgotten about Gift Goat. I’ve just been busy with other things. I still plan to get it working in time to have my family (and anybody else that wants to) beta test it over Christmas.

I’m also working on a site for a local realtor, going to Webmaster Jam next weekend, and planning my next NaNoWriMo.

So… See ya next month!

As I alluded to Wednesday, we are getting close to launching the next member of the Smart Goat family: Gift Goat.

Gift Goat is for wish lists — things you want, and things you want to buy other people. I know there are a ton of gift/wish list sites out there. Angela and I have tried most of them and haven’t found one with the set of features we want. So, instead of complaining about it, we’ve decided to do something about it.

We’ve had this idea for a while now, but various client work and other obligations kept getting in the way. It’s just been in the last couple of months that we’ve been able to find enough extra time to get things moving.

I had originally planned to do a closed beta/soft launch sort of thing. I have a list as long as your arm of “Phase 1” features. I’ve decided to just put it out there as soon as I have the basics done. In my opinion, launching a web site is like buying a house: If you wait till you’re ready, you’ll never do it. If it’s out there and people are using it I’ll have no choice but to keep improving it.

I’ll be talking a lot about Gift Goat over the next few weeks — at least until it has its own blog. If it sounds like something you would like to try please head over there and sign up for the announcement list.

Gift Goat

Get ready…

As promised, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. The story has been rattling around in my head for a while now. I’ve visualized most of the major scenes, but the subplots are still a mystery even to me. It’s something of an action/thriller novel — I’ll give more details when I start writing it. In fact, I’ll probably post excerpts here from time to time.

I’ve finished a few small web sites recently. I’m doing on-going maintenance for one, another in development, and another that will probably be starting soon. I’m really hoping to have my plate pretty well clean going into November, because I have my own project I want to start. I’d really like to be working on my project during the day and my novel at night. And watching television. Sweet, sweet television.

Oh, and if you haven’t noticed the Red Cross link in the corner, please do. I’ll most likely leave it there for the rest of the year. If you can give, I highly recommend it.

For the latest eMonitor, I wrote an article about finding free images. It highlights some of my favorite sites for royalty-free stock photography.

And, yes, that’s me. No, that’s not how I dress for work.

Smart Goat is now a card-carrying member of the EFF.

And we will continue to be for as long as it takes.

Just a quick note while I avoid working on it: I’m doing a presentation tomorrow for the Computer Club of Oklahoma City on creating PDF files. What can I say — they were desperate, and with such short notice I didn’t have time to come up with a topic, so I took the one they gave me. Anyway, it’s in Suite 201 of the Centre 3000 Building located at 3000 United Founders Boulevard, Oklahoma City, OK, if you’re interested in seeing it. It’s free and open to the public.

I’m afraid I don’t have much else to report right now. Business is keeping me busy. It’s funny, last year at this time things were kind of slow. I assumed most people were waiting until after the first of the year to start any new projects. This year, I’ve picked up a lot of work in the last couple of months. I guess you just never know.

I’ll do an end-of-the-year post in the next couple of weeks to talk about what’s happened this year and my plans for next year. January will probably also see light blogging, but hopefully things will slow down just a tad in February and I can get back in the rhythm.

Update: The presentation went well. If you would like to see the slides you can find them here. I used Eric’s S5 for the presentation, and it worked great. It’s perfect for us hand-coders that are more comfortable with XHTML than we are with Powerpoint.