My dad is a photographer in Ohio and specializes in nature photography in the Cuyahoga Valley and northeastern Ohio. For several years he's been bugging his son ("you used to work at Amazon!") to help him set up a website to sell his notecards and fine art prints. Well over Christmas I did it.
I did a bit of research looking at the different options. I really wanted a few things:
I settled on using Shopify and I'm pretty happy with the results. There are a few quirks to the solution (using their Liquid macro facility for one), but overall Shopify satisfied our needs.
You can see the website at Tom Jones Buckeye Photos. It's still a bit of a work in progress, but take a look. I'd love to hear about other people's experiences setting up small business websites.
While I'm usually partial to electronics which have a computing bend to them, I can also be intrigued by audio equipment. So when I recently bought a new Ford F-150, I decided that I wanted to replace the really horrible sound system that came from the factory with something a bit better. After a lot of research, I decided to get MB Quart Premium Series Speakers, a JL Audio 450/4 amp, and a Kenwood KDC-X969 receiver/face plate with Sirius.
Sirius is interesting. My thinking was that while I wander around the Northern Rockies this summer, far from any radio entertainment other than bad country music stations, satellite radio might be a good thing. I chose Sirius over XM since they advertised NPR programming and I can't live without my Morning Edition and All Things Considered. I assumed that the music programming on both would be roughly equivalent.
Well after living with Sirius now for a while, I've got some thoughts. First, neither of the two NPR channels on Sirius have my two favorite shows: Morning Edition and ATC. They have plenty of other NPR programming, but these two shows are missing. I assume this is so that local stations can provide them along with their regular fund drives, but it's pretty irritating. The whole purpose of satellite radio for me was access to programming when I was beyond normal terrestrial ranges. I probably should have checked out the Sirius website in more detail before jumping in.
Second, the sound quality of the talk radio stations seems to be AM quality and gets tiring after a while. I'm accustomed to the rich FM sounds of NPR and other talk or news radio stations and the Sirius channels sound flat and tinny in comparison. The music channels sound great so the bandwidth is there, Sirius is just not choosing to use it on talk radio.
I'll post more updates as I form opinions about the music programming.
My friend Rand Wacker and I were recently talking about our websites and blogs. I commented that I'd probably post to the blogs more often if I had an easy way to write them while on the road, then periodically upload them to my server at home. Rand suggested I look into an application called "ecto" written for Mac OS X. Well, I've downloaded it and am playing with it now.
So far, it looks like exactly what I wanted. I'm writing this onboard a plane from San Francisco to Seattle, and I'll try uploading it when I get home. It's got a spell checker, can handle all of my categories, and seems to be a well behaved Mac OS X application. The version I'm using has a 20 day trial period; if I don't find any big problems, I'll be buying this.
ecto's website is here.
I spent the afternoon trying to get the MTAmazon MT plugin working. The prospect of using Amazon's webservices accessable from my bookblogs was very tempting. After about 4 hours, I've finally got all the problems solved and I can now embed links to Amazon in my blog entries.
Some hints: First, make sure you follow the basic instructions for getting plugins working as described on MT's site. After you know plugins work, use the MTAmazon site to get the pieces you need. Once you've got the MTAmazon plugin installed, use it for something simple in a template -- like an entry in a 'div class="side"'. Don't bother trying to use MTAmazon in a blog entry until you've got it working in a template. Finally, to enable MT to use the new plugin tags in blog entries, you'll need the Process Tags plugin.
I highly recommend doing this one step at a time. Good luck.