Abandon House: SC
All photos were taken with a Blackberry Passport and edited with Paintshop Pro.
I’m finally getting caught up and should be consistently online very soon. During the time I was without internet I made use of my time by working on an About Me page for this website. Writing about the old AOL, GeoCities and FortuneCity communities kind of inspired me. The page is launched – at least for the most part – but it’s not exactly how I want it yet and I don’t have it linked in the header.
When I first decided to make the About Me page I was thinking about the old AOL / GeoCities / FortuneCity pages along with Myspace and Facebook. I wanted to combine some of my favorite aspects of the previously mentioned websites, minus some of the psychedelic colors and flashy-ness that was often associated with the free hosting pages and Myspace.
One of the things I always loved about the old AOL communities was the guestbooks. I know guestbooks are defunct, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t bring one back to life. Even if for nothing more than nostalgia purposes.
On my old Myspace page I had an area that that featured a bunch of interview style questions. I would answer them and both questions and answers would be published to the page. Once published the Q&A looked like I was being interviewed. At the time that was a very unique feature that I feel provided visitors a clearer picture of what I was really about. Another feature I had on my page was a list of my favorite quotes. I know that sounds simple enough, but you just don’t see that very often on personal web pages today. And of course I had the photo gallery (as I do with Facebook) which is usually fairly popular.
Once I migrated to Facebook I really liked the idea that you could pick your favorite books, movies and television shows and have them displayed on your page. And most of all I loved the idea of connecting with old friends, the wide variety of stories featured on the news feed and privacy settings. Even though the last three features are not related to this post, I wanted to point them out because they are part of what makes Facebook an extremely special website.
I think when the features I mentioned are combined, visitors get a decent idea of the person who created the homepage they are viewing. I tried to add as many features as I could to my About Me page. Overall I think it came out ok – almost like a first draft, but I do think it looks a little bland. I’m thinking about adding some bars (AOL, GeoCities Style) to separate the sections and mixing in some color. But not the crazy overwhelming color and animated gifs that were popular in the 1990’s.
Here is the link: About Me
Sorry for the lack of posts this past week. I’ve been traveling a bit and was without internet for a few days. I have some catching up to do, but things should be back to normal in no time.
I started designing websites back in the mid 1990’s. HTML was probably one of the first things I learnt once online. Though, its safe to say my coding skills don’t reflect the number of years I’ve been designing websites. It took me a while to evolve into PHP and HTML5. Plus, I often modify open source code instead of building a website from scratch.
Back in the day, America Online offered free web hosting to all subscribed members. The first website I created was with the free AOL hosting. If I remember correctly users would get 5mb of web space and the ever so – Kewl – members.aol.com/YourUserName domain name. All kidding aside AOL actually had quite a nice little community of websites.
At that time the internet was still very new to me. I would spend hours upon hours searching Altavista for anything and everything that came to mind. During my searches I started coming across different AOL member sites. It was one big community. The uniqueness, creativity and the effort people put into their personal home pages was awesome. Everyone was signing everyone’s guestbook and helping each other. It really was cool and I wanted to be a part of it.
The problem was I didn’t have the slightest idea how to start. And had a ton of questions. Back then, whenever I had a question, I went straight to the chat-rooms. I know some of you generation Y-ers might have a hard time believing there was an internet without Google. There was, and at that time, chat-rooms were my Google. AOL had a chat-room for just about every subject. So say I had a question on cars, I would go into one of the automotive chat-rooms and just ask. Almost always there was someone there willing to help. That’s part of what made AOL so awesome.
Shortly thereafter the free hosting era kind of came to an end. AOL was already sharply in decline. Fortune City closed down. Yahoo ended up buying Geocities. At one time there were so many GeoCities websites in that community it was unbelievable. After the decline Yahoo kept them on life support for sometime, but eventually closed the doors.
As the free hosting hubs became less popular I was becoming more interested in starting and growing my own business. I wanted something more professional and decided to purchase hosting and a domain. The first hosting company I used was Dreamhost. That’s where I started learning about FTP, Cpanel, ect. I stopped developing personal websites for a while and only focused on working online. For those of you that know me – know that’s always been a dream of mine. The website developed through Dreamhost was basically used in conjunction with eBay and it wasn’t anything special.
Business was up and down and I was always working some kind of side job. It had to be around the years 1999/2000. I was still pretty young and everything I was learning was by trial and era. Plus, I wasn’t exactly the maturest person on the planet. During that time I also started getting into writing. And boy was I a terrible at it. At least grammatically speaking. I just didn’t know it at the time. On the days when I had some spare time I would jot thoughts down on a notepad and then enter them into Live Journal. I don’t consider Live Journal web development by any means, but my writing did lead me to Blogger and then WordPress. And with WordPress code being highly modifiable, I do consider that web designing. Somewhere in-between I designed a number of sites based on open source including message boards, galleries, blogs and e-commerce sites along with a few sites I probably don’t even remember. Which brings me to where I am today. I still love web designing and often think about the newness of it all when I first started, the experiences encountered and people I met along the way. I also think about how much the early days of website creation had helped mold me into who I am today.
One thing I like to do is come up with a creative domain names, register the domains and then design a website specifically for the domain. Most of the domain names I have are developed and active. However, I do have a few undeveloped domain names with potential to be turned into cool websites. The problem is, at this moment of my life, I don’t have the time or ability or even the motivation to develop the domains. And even if I did come up with a creative idea and found the time to develop the website, I certainty wouldn’t have the time to promote it properly. I’m already up to my ears in social media accounts. And despite all the accounts I’m still not getting that much traffic. Although, that’s because many of the accounts don’t have the followers necessary to deliver meaningful traffic. Not to mention, I have to make getting the three inactive / maintenance mode e-commerce websites up and running a priority before I can get into any new projects.
I hate sitting on good domains, because it takes away the opportunity of potential development. Even so, I only have a few and I’m going to hold on to them in hopes I’ll be able to develop them myself in the future.
As for the time being, my main focus is going to be adding content and promoting News Stop, Wowzers and UpperCut. The great thing about adding content is it’s different everyday. This is an aspect I really enjoy because I come across so many excellent, interesting and informative stories. As for promoting – in general it isn’t my thing. I always had the mindset that a good product promotes itself (at least after a certain point). And when I see to much advertising it’s a turnoff. However, I seem to do ok with social media. Maybe because it is networking with the end result often being promotion.
In a post about a week ago, I mentioned I was going to spend more time promoting through social media – I did. Though, most of the time went to organizing and creating accounts for each active website. Directly below are the social media accounts (at least the major social media accounts) I now have for each website (feel free to network):
If you noticed I don’t have any Tumblr accounts. I’m hoping to change that this week. I’ve heard some good things recently about Tumblr regarding the websites technology and the traffic for which it can deliver. I’ll soon find out if that’s true.
—- Updates —-
Revamped the main page so only active websites are being displayed. Removed all tables from the entire website; reorganized the “current websites” page and created individual description pages for each website.
All Kinds Of Good Stories were added to News Stop over the past week. Here are a few of my favorites:
After a slow couple of weeks for UpperCut, there were some very cool stories submitted. Here are some of the better stories:
Your credit score is an important factor when it comes to obtaining lower interest rates on loans or new credit cards. Ones credit score and income are two key factors banks take into consideration when deciding on credit limit, loan amount and interest rate.
This post focuses on different actions one can take to raise their credit score. However, before I begin I wanted to mention (and I only say this because there seems to be a bit of a misconception when it comes to credit score and income) that the amount of money you make / income and your type of employment (if any) have nothing to do with your credit score. You can have a high credit score with no income or have a low credit score while making a substantial amount of money. And also that this post is probably geared more towards people just starting to build credit (and may or may not have a full understand of how ones credit score is compiled) or those who have made mistakes with their credit in the past.
There are three main independent credit bureau’s / agencies responsible for determining ones credit score: Experian, Trans Union and Equifax. They take a number of factors including but not limited to available credit, payment history, number of credit accounts and types of credit accounts and enter those factors into a formula to come up with ones credit score. Each of the three credit agencies will provide you their own credit score. There is also a fourth credit score called a FICO (Fair, Isaac, and Company) credit score. In short it is a score based on all three reporting agencies. Banks use your FICO credit score as one deciding factor when determining if someone is eligible for a mortgage.
I feel available credit is the most important factor (other than of course paying your credit cards and loans on time) in obtaining a higher credit score. Available credit is simply the amount of credit you have available for use. For example: Lets say you have one credit card with a $1,000 credit limit. Then you use $900 to buy a television; your credit score will be impacted negatively as your available credit will drop from $1,000 to $100. Now lets say you pay off that $900 the following month; your credit score will go up. And it will probably go up significantly because you’ll have much more credit available (low use rate).
One way to build up available credit is through secured credit cards. Secured credit cards allow you to deposit your own money into the secured credit card account. These deposited funds will show as available credit as long as the credit card is not used or barely used. If you decide to go the route of a secured credit card, beware that many charge highish annual fees and often come with high interest rates. It is also important to choose a secured credit card that reports to all three credit agencies. I only say this because there are secured credit cards that don’t report to any of the three credit agencies.
Use Of Credit
How often one uses their credit is another strong factor in the determination of a credit score. For example: Lets say you have three credit cards and charge $50 on each one. Then pay off the amounts when you receive your bill – your credit score should go up. This is because every time you make a payment it will have a positive impact on your score. So in summary, if you already have a credit card and want your credit score to go up, try charging a small amount every month. Then pay it off once you receive your bill.
Diversification Of Credit Accounts
Credit Bureau’s look favorably upon diversification of credit accounts. Individuals with a portfolio containing a mix of credit card(s), auto loan(s), student loan(s), personal loan(s) and mortgage(s) will usually have a higher score than an individual with just credit card(s) on their portfolio.
Free Credit Report
Everyone is given the opportunity to obtain one free credit report per year from each of the three Credit Bureau’s. Even though these reports do not list your credit score it is a good idea to get a copy from all three agencies for review. There may be an instance where you see a mistake in the reporting of one of your accounts, which affects your score negatively. If this is the case you can request the mistake be corrected. Once corrected you should notice a positive impact on your score. You can obtain all three free credit reports through www.annualcreditreport.com.
Pitfalls To Avoid
– Having to many credit cards or credit accounts on your portfolio. In general it is probably not a good idea to have more than four or five credit cards on your credit portfolio.
– Applying for to many credit / loan accounts will also have a negative effect on your credit score. Every time you apply for a credit / loan account (regardless of whether you get the account or not) your credit score will take a hit.
– Making late payments. This one is pretty obvious, but I had to include it anyways. Making a late payment is basically like taking a hammer and slamming it into your foot. It’s an unnecessary self inflicted hit to your credit score.
If you follow these steps it shouldn’t take long before you notice a jump in your credit score – depending of course on your current credit situation. Once your accounts are under control and your credit score higher, try to keep them that way as the longevity of credit accounts is also a benefit. And your newly-found higher credit score should help provide you more purchasing options at lower rates.
* Disclaimer – The idea of this post is intended to try and help people obtain a higher credit score. However, there is no guarantee that if these steps are followed your credit score will be impacted positively or won’t be impacted negatively. It is merely a list of suggestions based on information acquired over the years that in theory should help obtain a higher credit score.
The first week of June is National Sun Safety Week.
I don’t believe the idea of National Sun Safety Week is to deter people from going outside in the sun. Everyone loves hitting the beach on a bright sunny day, hanging out by the pool or simply just the enjoyment of being outside on a beautiful day. I do think the idea is to encourage people not to over do their exposure to harmful UV Rays and when out in the sun, to use precautions.
All the tables from the main page have been removed and replaced with div tags. Now the same has to be done to the rest of the this site. Web sites that use tables incorrectly aren’t penalized (at least not yet) by search engines and still work in web browsers. However, tables are no longer intended to be used as part of the – design of a web site – in HTML5. So it is time to bring this site into the 21st century and avoid potential problems in the future.
An e-mail subscription form has been added to NewsStop.us – So please subscribe to the newsletter! This has been a long time coming and the idea is that it will help to increase readership.
Two new news stories have also been added to News Stop:
The Week Ahead
I’m hoping to apply a bit more time to social media marking in the week to come – especially regarding News Stop and Wowzers. The long-term plan is to generate revenue from the two sites via adsense. Right now neither site generates much traffic. One site is new and the other one never gained much momentum and has been dormant for around a year. So I have my work cut out for me when it comes to building up readers / users / traffic.
I am far from an expert in marketing, but I do understand social media to an extent. Currently, I’m only using Twitter to drive traffic towards the two websites. And in regards to Twitter, I try to use it as intended, meaning I don’t use programs to add thousands of followers at once. This makes it a bit less effective in the beginning because it takes more time to build up followers.
Going forward I am hoping to start using additional social media sites including Reddit, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Google+, Newsvine, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Delicious, Facebook, and Youtube. I believe I have accounts for most of these sites, but not many followers / connections. The great thing about promoting a site via social media is the cost: Free. At least if you don’t outsource. The bad thing is it can take up a lot of time if you decide to post to all the top social media sites. Moreover, it is very important to add followers / connections in order to maximize the amount of users who see the content and links posted.
With that said, I did discover one way to help save time when when submitting content to multiple social media sites. And that is to use a FireFox extension called ProfileSwitcher. ProfileSwitcher lets users switch between social media profiles without having to log-in and out of each social site. This saves a substantial amount of time.
I also plan on commenting more on other peoples blogs and within message boards. When the opportunity presents itself and if ones comments are legit and relevant, both blog and forum links can be very valuable. Plus, they are a great way to make connections around the web.
GreenTeaBreak.com – one of my favorite sites hasn’t been updated since February. I do have a new post in the works, but it is still a ways away because of additional research that needs to be completed.
The two e-commerce sites I ran before I got sick are very far from going back online. Mostly, because I am just not in a position to get them up and running properly. Even when I get into a situation where it is feasible to put The Dusty Loft back online, I’ll need to build up inventory beforehand.
The other e-commerce site I ran was MagicCity.us. That site was a mess even before I got sick. It is made up of an e-commerce website, a blog and a directory – none of which mesh well together with the current design. I’d defiantly want to redesign the whole thing so it fits together better. I figure at worst I can work on a new design and contribute to the blog portion of the site until it makes sense to re-open the e-commerce store.