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Posted by on Jan 12, 2015 in Cool Stuff, Ideas, Interesting | 0 comments

I Wrote an e-Book!

I Wrote an e-Book!

For those who don’t follow my business blog, yes, I finally finished an e-book (with another on the way!).

Currently, the book is available as a downloadable pdf or you can buy the book for Kindle. I’m working on formatting for Nook right now.

The books is geared toward:

  • New Site Owners
  • Current Site Owners
  • Small Business Owners
  • Big Businesses
  • Non-Profits
  • Individuals
  • Web Designers
  • Web Developers

Yes, even web designers and developers can benefit from several of the chapters in this book. Many focus so much on their speciality, they don’t know as much about law or site promotion as they should or would like to know.

Here are a few choice excerpts I posted to my business blog.

Website Wonder Made Easy: Websites Unwoven

A Guide to creating a PROFESSIONAL website, in Plain English

First, a freebie. The first chapter in the book addresses what the book is and is not. It also has a whole section on terminology. Which, is in the book, and in the book there is a link to this page, where you can access all the web design dictionary for free. Ta da! Bookmark the page for future reference.

Chapter 2 discusses Your site and the Law. Here is just a little bit from the site:

Fair Use Myth

Once presented with this information, a lot of people come back with “but this qualifies under fair use!” Nope, it doesn’t. The vast majority of people have an inaccurate understanding of what “fair use” is and is not. So let’s clear that up for you.

Myth 1: It’s for a personal site.

Reality: It doesn’t matter if you are making money off of the intellectual property or not; you must gain permission to use it first.

Myth 2: It’s for an educational site.

Reality: See answer to Myth #1. It doesn’t matter if you are making money off of the intellectual property or not; you must gain permission to use it first.

Myth 3: I found it on the Internet.

Reality: The Internet is not a playground of freebies.

Myth 4: It’s old and the copyright expired.

Reality: Maybe. Copyright laws, depending on the country (and remember, not every website is made for and by the country you live in), can last up to 70 years. Additionally, copyrights can be renewed. This is often done by the estate of an artist long after their death.

Myth 5: I changed it 10% or more.

Reality: Even if you changed the original, it is still not “fair use;” and no matter how much you change the original work, that doesn’t suddenly turn that product into “fair use” for you to use.


Chapter 3:  Setting Realistic Expectations

Most people step into their first website with very unrealistic ideas. The average person tends to mis-estimate:

  • the amount of time and money involved in having a professional make a site for them;
  • the amount of time needed to learn to do it themselves;
  • the amount of time they have available to assist their website creator in making a website for them;
  • how quickly they’ll see a return on their investment;
  • how quickly they’ll see their site listed in a search engine; and
  • what a realistic search engine ranking is for their site based on the time and money they have put into the site.
  • So let’s get you moving with some realistic expectations on what you can expect while creating a site and after it is built.

This chapter goes on to address the realities of getting a website made, and what you can expect in the process. This chapter also busts a lot of myths about making websites, how fast you can make money, promoting your site, and more.


Chapter 4: Make a Plan

Before you have a website, you need a plan. Just diving in is a good way to end up with something that is not worth the time and money you invested. Whether you go the DIY route or hire someone to make the site, have a plan.

In case you missed it in Chapter 1, remember this:

Things You MUST HAVE to Have a Website

  • Domain
  • Web Host
  • Web Pages

These are not optional.

We’ll get to how to choose those later.

This chapter provides a list of questions to ask yourself. Questions that never occur to most people, when starting out on a new web design project. Then there are TWO website checklists:

  • one for a brochure website (no online sales)
  • and one for an e-commerce website.

Chapter 5: Buying Services to Get Your Site Started

How to Choose a Domain Name

Choose your domain name carefully. It will follow you forever.

Look for one that has your business name or product/services you sell. Keep it as short as possible. A short domain name is memorable, and easier to read and say. But don’t make it so short that the domain name appears unrelated to your business either.

A good domain name may help with SEO. But don’t choose your domain name just for SEO purposes either. Domain names aren’t the biggest factor in search engine rankings.

Get variations on your domain name. This includes anything that is similarly spelled or people may mistype. For example, my husband bought the following domains, in addition to his domain weaselpants.com:

  • weaselpantsproductions.com
  • weaselpants.com
  • wesellpants.com
  • weselpants.com
  • weaslepants.com

Most people buy TLDs (Top Level Domains), which are those ending in .com, .net, and .org.

If you can buy the .com version of your name, I also recommend getting the .net too. You may also want the .co version as well. Some people get the .org just to cover their bases (although technically, this is generally reserved for non-profits, but some like to cover their bases to prevent confusion). Getting all domains with the most commonly used extensions means that in the future, if you have a competitor with a similar name, you are less likely to be confused with them. That said, sometimes your only option is to get a domain name similar to another one that exists because you can’t get the one you really want. In that case, take it. It’s better than nothing, and you may be able to either buy the other domain from the owner, or they may let the domain expire one day and you can buy it then. Personally, I’ve done both.

PRO TIP: If your domain involves a word that is often misspelled, get the misspelled version too. You can set that up with your web host to redirect to your primary website. This way, if someone misspells the address, they’ll still find you. This is why my husband also got weselpants.com when he purchased weaselpants.com.

And this is just the first page or two of the book. There’s a lot more in this chapter to set you on the right path to creating a quality website, and how to get all the services you need.


Chapter 6: Styling Your Content

This chapter tells you simple tips to make your site and newsletters look professional, instead of amateurish. Topics include:

  • How to use bullets
  • Color contrast for easier reading
  • Font choice
  • Font size
  • Font style
  • Font combinations

The chapter gives visual examples of good and bad text. And has visual demonstrations of how to properly combine fonts so they look professional.


Chapter 7 is about Getting the Site Made

This chapter covers a variety of topics, such as:

  • Doing it Yourself
  • How to Find a Web Designer/Developer
  • How to Choose a Web Designer/Developer
  • How to Work with a Web Designer/Developer

You get a lot of detail on all of those subjects, so you have a better experience in finding the right professional, and in understanding how to work with them. And there are tips for those with the time and tech savvy (and no budget) to try the DIY approach. The book also addresses what mid-size to larger businesses need to look for when hiring for in-house professionals.

 Chapter 8: What To Do When Things Go Wrong

It’s uncomfortable and  something no one wants to think about. But these things happen. I see them all the time (which is sometimes how I end up with new customers; they need help).

The chapter covers:

  • Web Designer Vanishes
  • Can’t Access Domain Registrar and/or Web Host
  • I Don’t Have the Email Address I Used to Sign Up for a Domain and/or Web Host
  • Project Taking Too Long
  • Web Designer/Dev Uses Stolen Material to Create Your Website
  • My Site Is Not Working!
  • My Site Visitors are Complaining About My Site
  • Someone Stole My Stuff!

The last chapter covers website promotion. Everything from search engine marketing to social media. That’s a lot of ground to cover; I address best practices for SEO and the most popular social networks, and if you, your business, or non-profit should or should not use certain types of social media.

Like what you see? The book is available as a a downloadable PDF on this site. It is also available for Kindle on Amazon. Later: it will be available for Nook through Barnes and Noble.

Can’t wait for Nook,  Smashwords or Goodreads?

order now

 

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Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in Cool Stuff, Geek/Nerd, Life | 1 comment

I Get To Meet My Childhood Hero: Nichelle Nichols

I Get To Meet My Childhood Hero: Nichelle Nichols

Last night, September 24, 2014, I got to meet my childhood hero. She was one of my first heroes.

I don’t follow celebrities like a nut. I’ve never even met one. But when I saw that Nichelle Nichols would be in town for a couple of hours, I HAD to go see her.

You see, she played my first TV hero, in a time when there weren’t many heroes for girls. Because of the era the show Star Trek first appeared in, she was a symbol, not just for people of color, but women and girls everywhere. She was playing a major role on television, and was both black AND a woman. Double-whammy in the late 60s (and still today, frankly).

Despite what my parents told me, I grew up feeling “less than” because I knew society told me so. I KNEW that, because strong and smart women were not well-represented on television. At best, there was a token female on a show or movie.

I remember being so angry about how society saw me, that, in the 5th grade as I mowed my other grandparent’s 2.5 acre lawn (with a push mower, before self-propelled) I grew angrier and angrier. I was determined to finish that lawn, just to show a girl could. At one point, I got so angry, I punched a pine tree (I pulled my punch just in time, realizing how stupid that was…only came away with scraped knuckles instead of broken fingers).

I think that a lot of my life, I’ve been proving that I can do anything a man can do. Maybe that’s how I kept finding myself in male-dominated work environments and later fell into a male-dominated industry.

Back to Trek stuff: some of my fondest memories are visiting with my Grandmother Floyce, the Original Star Trek Fan in the family, on weekends and summer, sitting on her knee to watch Star Trek in syndication late at night in the mid/late 70s.

So as a kid, I had Lieutenant Uhura and Princess Leia. That was pretty much it for quite a while.

The day arrives to meet her…..

As soon as work was over, I was running around trying on different outfits and jewelry. Doing hair and makeup. I swear, you’d think I was going on a first date. Shoot, I even busted out the curling iron!

After trying on many outfits, I settled on something simple so I could wear the awesome necklace my husband got me:

(FYI: click to enlarge any photo in this post.)

 

Federation Insignia

Blurry photo of hammered copper Federation insignia on leather rope.

I got a lot of compliments on that necklace at the event.

Moving on…

I arrived, plastic money card in hand, to get a photo of her, have her sign it, and have my picture taken with her and a moment to talk with her.

Bear in mind: I have Asperger’s Syndrome and General Anxiety Disorder, which comes with a healthy dose of social anxieties and phobias. I can go to parties with people I’ve know for years and sometimes need a Xanax or a few drinks to get through the experience.

On the drive there: calm. In the store: calm. Meeting and talking with total strangers: calm. Meeting Nichelle Nichols: calm. And amazingly, I was able to actually talk to her!

Really, my only moment of panic was that they had a spread of 8 x 10s we could pick from. Some had the whole cast. Loved the one with Uhura and Sulu in the alternate universe. Maybe a dozen choices. In the end, I chose the classic headshot that always has stuck with me over the years.

Nichelle Nichols autograph

It says: Janice, Blessings
Nichelle Nichols

 

Also, the earrings in the photo? She was wearing them that night. Some of the women that worked at the store made them for her, and she apparently loved them. While she signed my autograph, she stopped at one point to engage a 5 year old girl (of a couple I had gotten to know while in line). It was adorable.

Then, we took a photo together:

Me and Nichelle

You know I’m happy when I show teeth in a photo. I’m very insecure about my crooked teeth.

Before going to this event, I was given some great advice, saying that if I want to see her light up, ask about some of her projects, like NASA. And I wanted to. But instead, what came out was part of a script that had been running in my head the whole way there. Because I felt so much gratitude for the impact a woman had on me, that I have never met.

When the photo was done I said: “Ms. Nichols, I just want to thank you. You were one of  my first childhood heroes. I grew up watching you on my Grandmother’s knee. I only wish she could be here.”

Nichelle put her hand on mine and said: “Oh honey, she is.”

I mentioned that when I finally got my ears pierced, for years, I only wore gold hoop earrings. She laughed.

Then I told her that I had read her autobiography and told her that I found it inspiring. I said she’s an amazing woman and I admire her strength.

Again, she put her hand on mine and said, “Honey, you’re strong too.”.

I walked away from her, reverently holding her signed photo. (A certain part of my brain was also flashing to Lord of the Rings and thinking, “My Precious!”.)

I got to stop and visit with a friend and his son afterward too (and they got a photo too!). Then, decided to head home before it got too late. I like to be home when the kids go to bed so I can tuck them in at night.

The father of the family that I got to know in line (who also had a voicemail recording by Patrick Steward, that was awesome), talked all kinds of Star Trek lore with me. Somehow, Redshirts came up. I told him about it. I said that if he can find it for sale anywhere, probably just ThinkGeek and Amazon. To our knowledge, most or all the retail stores ran out. I told him another printing is on the way though and to go to weaselpants.com and check it out.

Last night, my husband says, “I got an email from some guy named Joe that wants to know what address to send you some videos.”

Me: “Oh! I met him and his family! Sure, give him my address!”

This morning, I woke up to the following footage in my inbox. Just brief recordings, but still precious to me. I sent him my most sincere thank you.

Here’s what he sent:

I love meeting other nerds and geeks. They are so warm and kind. While in the comic book store, it was like going to other geek conventions: I was “with my tribe”.

Having met Nichelle Nichols, she was a lot like my grandmother: a loving, compassionate, brave, strong, humble person that everyone could not help but love. Grandmother Floyce never saw in herself what we all saw in her.

I wish Grandmother could have met her. They were born around the same time and seem to have similar personalities. They’ve both overcome a lot of hardships. They would have gotten on like gangbusters. And EVERYONE who met my grandmother fell in love with her. She was just that kind of person. In a way, I felt like I was meeting Nichelle Nichols for Grandmother. In another way, it felt like I was meeting Grandmother.

My Grandmother was such a sci-fi and fantasy fan, when my husband and me got her the Lord of the Rings box set, special edition, DVD for Christmas, she cried. That was my grandmother. She loved Harry Potter. She loved Star Wars. She loved it all.

And here’s another thing about Star Trek: because I was an undiagnosed child on the autistic spectrum, I learned a lot about human behavior from reading all the Star Trek books (when I was a kid, my parents had an enormous collection that was nearly every Star Trek book ever printed).  For example, when I read Uhura’s Song (my favorite) I learned not to stare at people without breaking eye contact during a conversation. It makes people uncomfortable. So that was when I learned to glance away from people when talking. One of the many social nuances I remember consciously learning, then training myself to do.

The episode “The Naked Time”, where Sulu runs around pretending to be D’Artagnan of The Three Musketeers, led me to pick up a copy of that classic piece of literature, because I knew nothing about it. And fell in love with the book.

So that’s my story. I got to meet her, briefly, and just say “thank you”. I know it’s no different from any other fan, but it was what was in my heart and I just wanted to make sure she knew of my gratitude and admiration. And if you haven’t read her autobiography, go get it.

 

 

 

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Posted by on Apr 13, 2013 in Cool Stuff | 0 comments

Janice’s Mighty Fine Margarita Recipe

I like a good drink.  A good drink.

My favorite mixed drink is a margarita.

MMMMMMMmmmmm….mar-gar-it-aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..

If I get the urge to have a margarita, it better be good, or I have a sad. I talked to a bartender a while back who said what makes or breaks a margarita is the type of mix used. I tried her recommendation. Then tried some others. Fiddled with different tequilas.

And so far, the best I’ve come up with is this:

For a smooth margarita on the rocks:

¼ cup of Camarena Silver Tequila
¼ cup of Dekuyper Triple Sec
¼ cup of Rose’s Lime Juice (or a splash extra to top off your cup)

EDIT: Actually, you may want less tequila. I forgot that tequila is your friend at first, then after a few drinks and a few hours, it sneaks up behind you and whacks you in the head with a 2 by 4.

Stir or shake (I’ve never noticed a difference, but I just stir it together a bit).

Pour into a tall drink glass with ice.

Salt or no is up to you. Personally, I like a little salt. Make sure you wet the rim of you glass first, then set the rim in the margarita salt before adding ice, then the liquid.

Enjoy! And let me know what you think!

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Posted by on Dec 4, 2012 in Cool Stuff | 0 comments

Got Lavender?

Holy cow, I found something cool!

Let’s be clear: I love my Western medicine. I am not an all-man-made-drugs-are-evil kind of gal. I just believe in other medicines too, when I see their effectiveness. Each has it’s place. So while I like my herbs, acupuncture, and I love my chiropractor, give me my antibiotics and my Synthroid any day, thankyouverymuch.

That said, I do love to study herbalism and other alternative medicines, and I believe there is a use for (some) things that are not pharmaceuticals. Sometimes I find some very handy things.

Like lavender.

Not in the stuff-it-under-your-pillow-to-sleep sense. Not in the de-stressing sense. I mean in the: fix-something-on-your-body-that-is-broken, sense.

(You can’t have enough hyphens in a blog post.)

But seriously, years back, I kept having a recurring case of foot rot, aka athlete’s foot. Over-the-counter (OTC) spray-on medication didn’t do a thing for it. It wasn’t too horrible. But it was uncomfortable and just came and went periodically. And let’s face it, that’s nasty.

Then I remembered, “lavender has antibiotic and antiseptic properties”. In other words: it kills bacteria/germs…the stuff that causes athlete’s foot.

So I slathered some lavender oil on my feet. The next day, most of the cracks were gone. I put it on for 2 more nights in a row. BAM! Feet fixed. Haven’t had a problem since. Not a single incident. That was 8 years ago.

Later, my husband had a bit o’ the foot rot. He tried it. A roommate we acquired, had foot rot. He tried it. All got fixed up in 3 days. As my husband says, “it works great, but if you want to have a lavender-free night you can just f&$% right off”.

It’s strong-smelling, but it works. I’ve found that lavender oil works for break-outs and various cuts and scrapes. Also: break outs! (aka zits or pimples: I’ve always hated that word, but there it is. I have oily skin so it’s a huge help.) I have read it works for eczema and while I do have a touch of eczema, I haven’t noticed a long-term fix. But basically: anything that involves bacteria, this stuff kills.

WARNING: Just because it’s “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe. Test on a tiny spot on your skin first. If you have plant allergies, you could be allergic to lavender too. I’ve known people allergic to chamomile (a member of the ragweed family). Be safe. And DO NOT stick it on babies or small children either. Don’t let your child find out they are allergic to lavender the hard way, at a young age. Anaphylactic shock is not our friend.

Otherwise, go nuts and enjoy the fungal-free feet thanks to lavender oil

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