Feb122011

Setting Up Shop

Published by tom at 10:40 PM under General

I’m not really a web developer. I’ve dealt mostly with Windows-based applications through-out my career. I know C# and .NET, which translate well to server-side things with an ASP.NET site. But, there is much more to it than that.

So I didn’t want to try to build a full-fledged site. Especially, for something that is more of a side project. I turned to BlogEngine.NET, which is a polished and well established open-source blogging platform.

Installation

I chose to build BlogEngine.NET myself and deploy that to my webhost using an FTP client. I wanted to go this route just in case I had to customize the binaries. I did run into two issues.

The first issue had to do with (accidentally) entering invalidate data into the geo-locations fields. I was able to resolve this by manually updating the settings in the database.

The second issue had to do with using a .NET 4 app pool. I didn’t take the time to figure out this issue, since switching to .NET 3.x fixed the issue.

Aside from that, the setup was really pretty smooth and well documented.

Theming

For the theme, I started with the Paalam theme which was adapted by Chris Blankenship. I liked the over all layout, which would allow me to make minor tweaks.

The first step was to “go green”, as that was my color of choice. Using Google Chrome, you can right click various elements and inspect them. Using this tool, you can then see what CSS styles are applied. This allowed me to find and customize the various colors.

The next step was to customize and add some icons. I’m also not a graphic artist, but again to save money I try my best. I decided to go ahead and purchase the Blockie icon set from IconDock. It definitively saved me a lot of time, while giving me a look I liked.

For the banner, I originally used some of the Blockie icons with a customized background. But wanted something a little more fitting to the CodeNaked name. Thankfully, Spoon Graphics has several tutorials for creating vector illustrations. I based my “naked dude” on the Mechanic tutorial.

The only trouble I had was with the default keyboard shortcuts in Adobe Illustrator. As a Windows guy, I’m used to having Ctrl+Y mapped to the redo operation. In Adobe Illustrator, this switches you to an “outline” view. The outline view does not show any strokes or fills. I finally figured out how to change back to the “preview” view, so I could fill in colors.

For the header background, I referred to this tutorial. It has a nice walk through of creating the “sun ray” effect, as I call it, and applying a texture.

Analytics

Finally, I wanted to be able to track visitors to my site. I used to have a WordPress blog, which had some fancy charts and statistics. BlogEngine.NET doesn’t have any built in analytics, but it is very easy to integrate Google Analytics. With that setup, I can now view pretty graphs and charts based on traffic to my site.



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Feb042011

Wandering Aimlessly in the Dark

Published by tom at 9:39 PM under General

When I first quit my big corporate job with dreams of start up money, I had incorporated under CodeNaked, Inc. Luckily, I also registered the associated domains, since they’d most likely be snatched up by now. I didn’t really know what I was going to do at that time, just “projects” that I thought were interesting and that could potentially make money. I had a long list of possible projects.

I ended up ditching CodeNaked and founding another company, SQL Farms, with a buddy of mine. During that time, we built a fairly kick-ass product called SQL Farm Combine. It was written from the ground up using C#/.NET and WinForms, with a little C++ for licensing. The company ended up folding anyway, but it was a fun ride. I learned a lot, especially about end-to-end commercial application development.

Since then I have been working as a contractor, focusing on WPF and Silverlight components. This is definitely my current area of expertise, but I tend to dabble in lots of areas.

One “hot topic” is smart phone application development, which interests me. Largely because, it is fairly easy to get setup with one off applications. I obviously started reading up on iPhone development and have since started reading some Android development books.

I’ve been flying under the radar for quite a while now. I had maintained a blog a few years ago dealing mostly with C#/.NET and TSQL, but that has since languished. I have wanted to start blogging again for a while now, but could never really find the time. But, as they say, you have to make time. So that’s what I’m trying to do here.

I’d like this blog to cover my adventures through various development projects, whether or not they go anywhere.



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