Category Archives: Blog

The Next Adventure (Perhaps)

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Whatcha been up to?

It has been almost two years since I stopped actively running Practically Dutch and doing digital marketing. I’ve been back in the workforce as a good worker bee and once again, I’m feeling the itch. Being the good little worker bee just isn’t…well…me.

Worker Bees - Not for Me Image

Lately I have been on a knowledge gaining rampage to bring myself back up to speed. To get my SEO and SEM skills back into top shape. I feel like I’ve got my brain working again, thinking again, creating again, and it feels good. I’ve been enjoying quite a few good SEO podcasts and blogs. I’ll post the list soon.

S30 Digital Marketing

My newest creation, S30, a Digital Marketing Agency here in Seattle, is slowly starting to take form. It is still going to be 3-6 months before I can launch this sucker and by that I mean quite my day job. ūüôā For now, I’m starting with some soft SEO and getting back in the habit of writing. I’ve never felt like i was a strong writer and that is another one area of improvement I’ve targeted. So whether or not you believe in the 10,000 hour rule or not it stills seems prudent to practice.

 

Bee photo: Todd Huffman from Phoenix, AZ – Lattice

2004 San Vincenti Chianti Classico Riserva from Tuscany

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Now I’m not much of a wine guy, but I am pretty familiar with how web sites get ranked in search engines. My buddy Mark over at CubeMarketplace.com has a whole mess of really amazing products like 2004 San Vincenti Chianti Classico Riserva from Tuscany but his stuff isn’t getting listed in Google. Part of the problem is Cube’s esoteric offerings, part of the problem is SEO overload.

Anyone who runs a web site is familiar with the the most confusing letters on the web – SEO or search engine optimization.¬† Like Mark, the more you read about SEO, the more confusing on contradictory it gets. As a web site owner, you are pulled in so many directions with so many “professionals” giving you conflicting advice you don’t have any sort of benchmark to compare anything against. In the end, you’ll probably just give up frustrated and possibly with less money in your pocket then when you started.

Ultimately being found on the web is all about authority.¬† There are many ways to establish authority and Google and other engines hire crazy smart people to write gnarly mathematical equations to figure it out. What does that mean for web site owners? Like anyone who is an authority on a subject – you have to prove yourself. On the internet – how does one prove themselves to be an authority on a subject? I’ve got the answer for you.

Links. Plain and simple. It is just links.  Just watch, this post very well may rank for the phrase 2004 San Vincenti Chianti Classico Riserva from Tuscany.  By the way, if you like wine, you can find this product over at CubeMarketplace.com

 

WebMatrix missed the boat, but Azure could rocket to the cloud.

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Recently I’ve been involved with Microsoft on a piece of software called WebMatrix.¬† It’s a rather obscure little program, and even those in the web development industry have probably never heard of it.

Monday I visited Microsoft for WebMatrixFest. A small gathering of the Microsoft team responsible for the software and about a dozen developers who work on open source platforms. First, thank you so much to the folks at Microsoft for putting the event together and for doing such a great job. It was a real pleasure meeting the team and getting to meet some more folks to network with. To the folks at Microsoft, none of this is personal, you were all awesome. This is just one guys opinion of a piece of software.

According to Microsoft, WebMatrix is:

…a free web development tool from Microsoft that includes everything you need for website development. Start from open source web applications, built-in web templates or just start writing code yourself. It‚Äôs all-inclusive, simple and best of all free. Developing websites has never been easier.

“Developing web sites has never been easier.” Those are some pretty bold words and in this developers opinion, WebMatrix does the complete opposite. After using and testing WebMatrix, all I can think of is Tom Hanks in the movie Big, specifically the scene where he keeps repeating “I don’t get it.” Here is the scene in Spanish.

Now to explain WebMatrix, I have to get geeky (if you have any questions, please leave a comment).

  • So, the idea behind WebMatrix is that it allows someone (I’m still really not sure who) to install a local copy of a variety of open source and .NET applications like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or more natively DotNetNuke.
  • In theory, with just a few clicks, you could be running Joomla on your home computer.
  • Once you’ve got this local copy running, WebMatrix allows you to edit the code or access the database.
  • Finally, you’ve made all your code changes and your new Joomla site is awesome, WebMatrix will help you publish the whole thing to your web host.

Now, if you understood all of that, you probably don’t need WebMatrix. You probably already have a set of tools you like to accomplish most, if not all of those tasks. On top of that, the need to run locally is totally contrary to Microsoft’s own direction but I’ll talk more about that in a minute. First, let me tell you why WebMatrix will not be a part of my tool kit.

Ask yourself these questions.

  • Why do I need to run a copy of the web site locally?
  • What advantage do I have of putting a copy of the whole site on my personal computer?
  • Why do I want to install several applications that need to be monitored and patched for security or to make sure I’ve got the latest version?

I keep asking myself these questions, and I just can’t come up with answers. I don’t get it. See – the alternative just makes so much more sense – develop on the server.

  • Regardless of the platform, developing on the server ensures your code is working in its live environment.
  • Since drive space is generally no longer a factor and servers can obviously host unlimited domains, where is the downside in developing code on the server. Simply create a temporary domain, secure it as you see fit, and work away.
  • When your code is on the server, the server admin deals with security, patching etc leaving you to not worry about it. Plus, why clutter up your computer with a bunch of software. Just because hard drive space is cheap doesn’t mean you want to take off those vacation photos to try out a new WordPress site or instal MySQL.

See – I geeked out again. That’s because when I describe what WebMatrix does and why it seems useless, I just sound like a nerd. The tool would be SO far out of the average PC users comfort level that they would just shut it off and say it was too complicated and they would be 100% right. Someone asked the Microsoft team who this product was for and sadly, they didn’t really give an answer. If even Microsoft doesn’t know who the software is for, doesn’t that say something?

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that WebMatrix is for me, the developer, it faces massive competition. At WebMatrixFest I heard Netbeans, Dreamweaver and command line editing as some of the most popular tools. Command line editing! That guy is so hard core he’s never going to use a GUI from Microsoft.¬† Quite frankly, is Microsoft prepared to throw down and compete with other established programs including its own Visual Studio?

Again, sticking with the theory that this is for me the developer, the other issue is WebMatrix is adding to many steps to the process. Many hosting companies now offer one click installations on many of the¬† same packages WebMatrix offers. If I run the install from my hosting provider, I just saved a bunch of time not uploading the same files my host already has on the server. I can let my host have the most up-to-date version so I don’t have to. All that saves me time and effort.

In the end, I feel like WebMatrix missed its day. If it had come out 5 years ago it could have been really awesome. Now, it just adds another layer of work and on top of that, work that is more easily done with other solutions. To me, that is a loose – loose proposition.¬† In my opinion – at the moment – WebMatrix is far too complicated for the average home user. It would need to be so dummied down that it may not even resemble the same program. Lastly, and most importantly, the idea of working on a local computer is actually contrary to Microsoft’s own bigger picture strategy – the cloud.

I’ve already written what feels like a book here, so I’m going to save the cloud and Azure for tomorrow, but I’ll say this. I’m excited. Azure looks super sexy and although I need to do some research, looks priced right. The irony is Azure is the very reason WebMatrix is a waste of time. Can’t wait to share more later.

I’d love to hear your thought on WebMatrix. Fill in the form below and leave a comment or click on the like button and share this on Facebook.

New WordPress Expert Site in the Clouds

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Recently my favorite Windows Web hosting company released a new thing called Awesome.net. The Awesome cloud hosting platform offers a load balanced,¬†fault tolerant hosting¬†environment. Your site¬†actually runs on upto 3 web servers and¬†more can be added as needed.¬† The Awesome.net cloud is built on top of¬†our Hyper-V Cloud using Windows Server 2008 and provides full support for PHP, ASP.NET, MySQL and MS SQL. Although this is a BETA you’ll get to experience the future of Awesome Cloud Hosting and be able to use all of your favorite tools and applications: WebMatrix, WordPress, SpiderCart, DotNetNuke and we’re giving you the ability to host several websites so you can really experiment with the platform.

I wanted to check it out so I opened a beta account a got a quick WordPress Expert site up and going. Not only does the site look pretty slick, the service is easy to use. I’ve been using AppliedI for years and they have always been doing cutting edge work. They were running WordPress on Windows before anyone and they even had those pesky pretty permalinks sorted out. Customer support is awesome. I always know I can count on the team there to get my issue resolved.

Now, if you are looking for a WordPress theme or custom design, you’ve found the right place. Check out our portfolio and give me a call.

Practically Dutch featured in Microsoft Case Study

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The windows web hosting company we have worked with for years, Applied Innovations, recently suggested to Microsoft that they take a look at the work Practically Dutch was doing with WordPress on Windows servers. Turns out Microsoft took a look and liked what they saw.

Admittedly the article is really dry and rather technical in many places, but hey, it was a case study on something fairly obscure in the grand scheme of the world. For Practically Dutch, it reaffirms our own belief that we know WordPress incredibly well and are truly WordPress Experts.

Here is a link to the full wordpress case study at Microsft.

If you are in a rush, here are the highlights:

A couple years back, my host, AppliedI, told me I could run PHP on Windows. With IIS and other technologies that all happen on the server side, applications like WordPress were now available for me to blend with my already existing .NET web applications. With this knowledge in hand, I started deploying WordPress blogs on every client web site. Some of those first examples are still (sadly) running.

Once I saw what WordPress was – a content management system – I immediately saw the possibilities this platform offered: easy publishing and putting the client back in the driver seat – right where they belong. Under the right conditions, with the right product line, I think WordPress makes a great front-end engine for eCommerce.

Warning – Really boring content ahead!

A great example is 2jane.com The challenge Рput a new face on 2jane.com and use a legacy .NET cart tied to existing distribution and accounting systems and do it on a limited budget.  The solution РPractically Dutch put a custom WordPress ecommerce theme on the same server as the .NET shopping cart and ran them side by side. The design is seamless and the custom experience is too.

We were able to provide a significantly more robust publishing system with better SEO and kept everything running smoothly.¬† With WordPress on the front side, the site can now handle more traffic with less stress on the cart – resulting in better conversions when traffic is spiking. It isn’t a perfect system but we think it is a unique and creative one.

By the way, if you click the link to appliedi and make a purchase, I will receive a commission.

Stuf a new product line from Wry Baby

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What is Stuf? Stuf is the latest brainchild of creative duo Dave and Kelly Sopp, owner and operators of Wry baby, a hip parenting lifestyle brand. Wry baby is famous for things like the snapsuit, the super suit, Mysterio predicts and the ever popular stacking blocks. Even with all of these great products, Dave and Kelly are always working on the next big thing and I think they have hit it big.

The newest creation to leave the Wry Baby factory floor is Stuf. Right now Stuf comes in four “families”. Developmental stuf is black and white and crinkles or jingles. Bird stuf is all – well bird inspired and then there is the rough and roudy – Pirate Stuf. I haven’t decided which is my favorite yet but I think it may end up a three way tie.

Where can you get Stuf? If you visit the Stuf web site you can check out the entire collection. If you are ready to buy, head on over to Wry Baby and check out the Stuf department.

The last question I keep asking Dave is what am I supposed to do with Stuf? According to Dave, you can do anything you want with Stuf. Put it on a shelf, hide it in a tree or let you child snuggle up with it. Whatever you do with your Stuf will be sure to make you happy.

By the way – Stuf happens to be a custom wordpress theme that we build for them. Wry Baby provided the designs and practically dutch converted the design to a custom theme.

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