Time is definitely flying by. A lot I’ve been wanting to write about, but when I think about firing up the blog, everything I want to write about sort of clumps together and clogs the pipes. So, I’ll catch up, a bit at a time, as the mental Drano starts working (which, in my case, is working in the garden and forgetting there is even an internet while I get my hands dirty. Which is what I did over the weekend.)
http://www.kaleidoscopekid.com for a store, Kaleidoscope, in Stamford. Kaleidoscope sells kids clothes and gifts.(Click on the image to see it larger) What I want to write about now is a new site we just launched last night:
For now, it’s a brochure with contact information and directions to the store. Down the road, the site owner wants to set up a store on her website, which will be interesting to work on, with the goal of making it as easy as possible for the owner to add new products as the seasons change. I’m not sure which shopping cart we will use yet other than it will be based on a PHP/MySQL platform and not Perl/CGI.
One thing I’ve been learning a lot about is shopping carts and ecommerce. We’ve been using PayPal for years, as well as RTWare for http://www.charlieandgrace.com, which is pretty much a “you build the buttons” solution though is getting a bit hard to manage as the company adds more and more products. So we’re thinking about moving it to Zen-Cart. We have http://www.famous-artists-school.com and http://www.cursos-ingles-cortina.com on Zen-Cart, and it’s working really well on those sites. The bitchy part about Zen-Cart is setting up the zones—a tedious pain.
We’re building a “shopping mall” with osCommerce, which might be finished some time in this century. In this case, it’s a lot of different storefronts with the same back end database, and is pretty tricky, especially since the site owners keep moving the goalposts. On some sites, we’re stuck using ClickCartPro, which is a clunky Perl-based application that can’t handle lots of traffic. I find it extremely difficult to use. I’ve been curious about really trying CubeCart—I installed a demo and like it so far but haven’t really needed it yet (it didn’t do the mall stuff, which is what I was looking for). The price is right (under $100 gets you a LOT of bells and whistles), and this might be what I use next, just so I can test it thoroughly.
Besides working on Kaleidoscope (which was a lot of fun and will get an About Us page pretty soon), working on the shopping mall and storefronts (skins), and working on what’s turning into a gorgeous site for a resort in Mexico, we’ve had a lot of activity going on for most of our clients.
Oh, I nearly forgot, there’s another website we launched recently, http://www.fearlessmountainfilm.com—which is a work in progress. Tony Anthony made a documentary about some Buddhist monks. More about that in a later post. (But check it out!)
Did some link hopping, first from a New York Times article about Wikipedia to Earth Portal: The Encyclodpedia of the Earth (which appears to be pending—I couldn’t figure out how to actually access anything) to, finally, Digital Universe.
Digital Universe is the beginning of the Encyclopedia Galactica, that compendium of everything envisioned by Isaac Asimov. DU is a portal to portals: “It is an ever-growing array of commercial-free portals mapping the highest-quality Internet destinations, as recommended by experts recognized in their fields. These experts review public contributions, create context and attest to the reliability, integrity, and accuracy of the portals.”
It is an inteface that organizes existing websites into topic areas. For example, if you want to look up some medical information, you’d select the “Human” portal, then “Health,” and look at the resources available on the right side of the screen, which are organized further into topics such as “Essentials,” In-Depth,” etc. In some cases, the site selected loads into the main screen, in other cases it lauches in a new tab or window. (I imagine what happens has to do with copyright agreements.)
DU’s founders write: “The vision of the Digital Universe is to organize the sum total of human knowledge and make it available to everyone.” Hey, shoot for the stars, why not?
Just go poke around; it really is pretty amazing. Sparse or empty in certain areas (such as women’s health), loaded with information in others (Tree of Life).
I love Teva sandals, particularly Mush flip flops. My dad has a pair of Teva’s for walking—he said last year how much he likes them. So, for father’s day, we went to Teva‘s website to send him a gift certificate. Piece of cake. Automatic. One would think. This was June 17.
I’m now on the phone with Teva yet again (third call), and it’s now ten days later, and they still haven’t figured out how to send a gift certificate via email. This was supposed to have been taken care of on Monday, June 19, then again on Thursday, and now, today, we’ll find out if the third time is the charm. Or not. The guy said he is going to personally walk upstair to the woman, Jeana or Gina or something like that, who is responsible for sending out gift certicates (why they need a PERSON to do this is beyond my fathom—with all the stores we run, email gift certificates are sent out automatically) and stand over her while she sends it out to my dad, along with a mea culpa from Teva for screwing up our father’s day present. That promise was made at 2:34 pm edt—I wonder when (or if) I will get a copy of what they sent or if I will have to call yet again. This is not rocket science—it’s simple web technology that’s been around for, oh, more than ten years ...
The first time I called, I was told there was a hold on the order because the name of my street did not fit into the box. I don’t quite know where this bullshit came from since my address was prepopulated in the form as I had already logged in to my account. I asked why this was even relevant, since this order was not being shipped to me (let me mention, not quite two months ago I successfully ordered online and received my Mush flip flops), but was supposed to be delivered via email to my dad. Never got an answer to that one.
The second time I called, Thursday, I was told that Teva had instituted a new payment system over the weekend and when the customer service crew walked in on Monday morning, they discovered not only was there a new system, but that it didn’t work and that not one order was processed. “Ohsosorrysorrysorry ... we will get your order out right now, along with an apology and by the way you get 50% off your next order as an apology from us, just mention it when you call.” Yeah, right.
Third call, today, ...
Un-frigging-believable. I called back again today, since the so-called manager never called me back yesterday. Was told something about my street address and zip code and my amex card not authorizing—which is total BS since it authorized just fine two months ago with the same information. So now, I’ve been assured, Gena or Jenna or whatever her name is, the woman who is allegedly responsible for these transactions, will call me back after she gets back from lunch. I asked why nobody called me, and, of course, didn’t get an answer.