I’m Baaaaaacckkk!

February 7, 2015 at 7:33 pm

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Well, sort of. Let me give a brief rundown of what the Dealy-O is.

Last year, after writing a handful of things about the wild and weird things happening in the Catholic Church here in the pages of ye olde blog, I realized I was on to something and decided to start a website dedicated to precisely that sort of thing.

194 days, 295 posts, and almost 2 million pageviews later, OnePeterFive is a real thing. A Cinderella Story. A contender.

Before I launched the new site, however, I had begun trying to do essentially the same sort of thing here (before realizing it was too big in scope to be a personal project.) This site had begun a transmogrification into an online magazine. The formatting changed. I added too many ads to try to keep it funded. It got ugly and unwieldy. And then it got abandoned, because I was spending too much time working on 1P5.

Well, after countless notifications that people were trying to hack this site while I was off playing with my shiny new toy, I decided to finally upgrade my hosting, downgrade my theme back to the one I had before, and make it a personal site again.

After all, I used to write about other things. And those build up after a spell.

So here we are. A return to free form. I’ll write what I can, when I can. Personal projects. Observations on life. Things that amuse me. I haven’t picked up any spare time along the way, but I needed the outlet back. I’m a writer. And sometimes, a man who calls himself that has to write about things other than his religion.

Consider yourself updated.

 

New Comment and Email Policy

July 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm

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With the increased amount of traffic I’ve had this year (over 100K pageviews in the last 60 days) I’m having to shore up some areas that didn’t need attention before.

To that end, I have posted new “policies” (such as they are) about comments and emails. Of particular note: if you email me, I can quote it in whole or in part for public consumption or private correspondence unless you specify otherwise. Please consider this when writing. 

 

Pardon My Dust

July 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm

 

 

The past month has been busy at our house. We’ve had new ceiling lighting put in, our almost-unusable laundry room is being remodeled, and the past week has been the front foyer being re-tiled. We are replacing the old slate with different, nicer slate. Our older, in need of repair home is getting some TLC.

It’s awesome. The changes are beautiful. But what all of this work means is a preponderance of dust. Dust on my desk, dust on my cabinets, dust tracked throughout the house, dust everywhere. When you do projects at home, you expect things to get a bit messy. When you do them on a website, you’re supposed to try to keep them clean and seamless.

Screw that.

I’m working on installing a new theme for the blog. One that works better with the ads. One that’s cleaner and simpler and has more features. One I actually paid for (thanks to your kind donations!) The typical way to do this would be to make a copy of the database, set up a subdomain, do a fresh WordPress install, re-jigger the configuration files, export and import content, play around with settings, get everything working perfectly, then swap and re-deploy the test site on the main URL.

Does that sound like fun to you? Yeah. Me Neither. I’ve done it before. I have no patience for it now. Too much else going on. I create content, I don’t do IT.

The long and short of it is that pretty much as soon as I hit “post” on this page, you’re going to be seeing the sausage being made. It’ll be messy for a bit. I’ll clean it up as I go. C’est la vie, no?

Thanks for your patience.

 

The Management

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

July 3, 2014 at 11:10 am

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Hello there, faithful readers!

I realize posting has been scarce here lately. Summer is always busy, and this one has been especially so. Home improvement projects, a wedding, a first communion, a flooded basement, an anniversary, and life as usual have all been happening within the past 30 days. I also submitted a work of short fantasy fiction to this contest. (Professional fiction writing is one of my life goals. But I’m either working on that or writing here, usually not both.)

Also, much to do on the business front as we are working to update and revamp systems, marketing, website, logo, etc. (Know anyone in Virginia looking to buy or sell a house? Send them our way!)

There’s been a lot going on that I’ve wanted to comment on, but just haven’t found the time or focus to address. Partially, this is because I don’t know how to put my finger on what I want to say. If there are temporal nodes, as it were — points in history around which a number of divergent factors coalesce to create a change larger than the sum of its parts — I’d say we’re right smack in the middle of one.

Why?

In no particular order: The war for the soul of the Church; the coming battle (already started) over communion for the divorced and remarried; the massive and deeply troubling and brutally violent rise of a self-proclaimed Islamic caliph (with nothing standing in his way); the hugely disturbing situation happening on our southern border; the immunological consequences thereof (and the oppression being used to keep that story from getting  out); the uncontrolled outbreak of Ebola spreading through Africa (for which there is no cure); the dirty, knock-down, drag-out battle for control of the only party that can bring conservatives to power in this country; the ongoing instability in Europe; the never-relenting threat of economic collapse; and the fact that we’re still killing about 50 million babies every year around the globe.

I’m scratching the surface here. There’s a lot going on, and it’s getting really hard to read all the signs. But they all point down a fairly dark road, and lots of people are asking themselves how long we have before we reach a tipping point.

Not long, I expect. Not long. Something has to give.

Yesterday, my wife, who has a sense for the shifting tides of the world, sat up at her desk and asked me, “Do you feel that?”

“What?” I asked.

“Change.” She said. “Change is coming.”

“Good change or bad change?” I asked.

“You always ask me that.” She said. “I don’t know.”

 

I don’t know either. It could be good, it could be bad, it could be both. I’m increasingly convinced that it’s going to have to be very difficult for a while in order for things to get better.

But like the song says, “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on….

Things to do. Kids to raise. Stories to finish. Coffee to drink.

Hope to write more soon.

 

 

Those Ugly Ads and the Dreaded “Donate” Button

June 24, 2014 at 9:46 am
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Honesty in Fundraising

I don’t know about you, but I believe that the things we’re talking about here are really important.

I spend a lot of time on the posts I write, and increasingly, that takes me away from other paying work. I also need to keep my hosting package fairly robust, because I’m getting a good deal of traffic. I checked my analytics last night and was a bit shocked to see that this site has had over 75,000 pageviews in the past 30 days.

The bottom line is: this is my passion, but it doesn’t pay. Not yet.

I have some things I’m working on. I ask for your prayers — specifically for God’s guidance — as I seek the best way to build on what we’ve started here.

Until then, I need to try to recoup what costs I can. I added those terrible ads beneath the post titles. Adsense tells me these are the best to use. I hate them. They absolutely violate my aesthetic sensibilities. I’m not sure how long I can take it.  (Some of you have told me you’re seeing ads that are inappropriate. I’m playing whack-a-mole with those, because they’re served up by Google and I have little control over them other than to report them when I see them.)

I have also added a “donate” button on the sidebar, top-right. If you find what I’m doing here valuable, and want to make a contribution to the effort, I’d appreciate it.

I’m always looking for new and better (and less obtrusive) ways to monetize the content I provide. It takes as much time as a part-time job, so it’d be nice if it helped pay the bills of my large family.

A final note: I’ve had a few people ask me about subscribing to posts by email. I’ve added a subscription page for those who would like this option. It’s easy, doesn’t cost anything, and I won’t ever sell your information.

As you were.

 

Thanks,

The Management

UPDATED: Theme Fiddling S̶h̶a̶l̶l̶ ̶C̶o̶m̶m̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ Is Done For Now

October 10, 2013 at 4:37 pm

With the influx of traffic has come an influx of comments. With an influx of comments has come a revelation that something is broken in the WordPress theme I’m using. I can’t view all the comments, others have struggled with leaving them.

So I’m going to be playing with themes. Swapping them out, messing with plugins. Hopefully it won’t be too disruptive and discussion can continue.

 

Thanks for your understanding,

The Management

 

UPDATE: The theme I was using, which I really quite liked, appears to be really broken when it comes to handling comments. So I’m stuck with a new one. Not sure if it’s what I’ll keep, but I don’t have any more time to play with it. So there you go.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chaaanges!

May 31, 2013 at 10:24 am

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Bless me blogreaders, for I have sinned. It’s been 3 months since my last post.

I’ve been a genuinely very busy guy lately, so I won’t apologize, but I hate to neglect this space. I aim to spend more time here in the coming months as I get back to more personal writing again. I left off on that novel draft just shy of 50,000 words back in February. So close to crossing the big milestone set by NaNoWriMo. And yet…so far.

So what’s been happening? Well, today is officially my last day as Director of Community Relations for the Society for Technical Communication. It’d be 3 years on the job this November, and it’s been a fascinating ride. I’ve learned a lot, spent a lot of time developing my skills in relationships management, corporate communications, marketing, design, and diplomacy, among other things.

I’m a better man for it. No doubt about it. But it was time to move on.

In early 2012, I convinced my wife Jamie to leave Long & Foster real estate and go solo. She had already obtained her Real Estate Broker’s License in Arizona and Virginia, and I couldn’t see any reason for her not to capitalize on that. When you work for a big brokerage, you pay out lots of money on commission splits and desk & marketing fees, and when you’re already working on commission only, that’s a tough row to hoe. If you have a broker’s license, far better to do it your own way and bring home 100% of the split.

So on St. Patrick’s Day of last year, Home Source Realty was born.

What started as a part-time job for extra income has quickly grown to the point where Jamie couldn’t manage it alone. This year, Jamie’s income as a real estate broker has outpaced my own, and she needed help. The juggling of both our schedules was getting out of hand. She was teaching all-day homebuyer classes two Saturdays a month, heading out to show houses the minute I got home from work, or trying to cram as many home inspections, closings, and business meetings into my work-from-home-Fridays as she could. It was getting to be too much.

Since I’d already been doing a lot of graphic & marketing work for STC, I took that experience and had been putting it straight back into the development of logo, branding, and marketing pieces for Home Source. It’s a great time to be in business for yourself, especially when between social media and self-publishing options you can put out materials every bit as good as the guys with multi-million dollar budgets, as long as you have the chops for it.

So when the time came where we knew it was time to go all in, we held our breath and took the plunge into our family business. Tomorrow, I will make my official as the Vice President of Communications & Marketing for Home Source Realty. (Yes, on Saturday. Welcome to real estate.) In addition to web, marketing, graphics, PR, and vendor relations, I’ll also be getting my real estate license in the coming months. Oh, and helping out as a co-stay-at-home-parent, a new faculty member in our ongoing homeschool project, and adjunct chef and house-cleaner-upper.

It’s going to be a wild ride, but I’m really excited to build something of our own. Are there risks? Sure. Is this a great time to be in real estate in the DC area? Best it’s been in a while, yes.

Will I have time to write fiction, finish those novels I’ve been yammering about, and win a Hugo award? I’ll make time. It just may take a bit longer than I’d hoped. So be it. The adventure begins, and adventure is what every writer needs.

 

2012 Blogging Report from WordPress

January 8, 2013 at 11:05 am

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New features abound at WordPress, and the 2012 blogging report is no exception. According to my report:

  • I had 25,000 views in 2012
  • Only 59 posts – I will be writing more in 2013.
  • Hands down, my biggest post was Is Wheat Bad For You?, which had over 10,000 pageviews on its own for 2012.
  • Second biggest post was Why Facebook is Evil, with 1,710.

I’d add to this report that I spent way too much time talking about Social Media strategy and platforms last year. I’ve grown bored of talking about it (I’ve been involved in Social Media professionally since 2006) but it’s a big part of what I do for work, and it was on my mind. I’m going to be moving away from that this year, and back to talking about whatever interests me. Spin the wheel, baby – that can be a lot of different things.

Website is Back; Hosting Issues Fixed (For Now)

April 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Just a quick note – I had some major site trouble over the past 24 hours, but it appears things have been restored to normalcy.

Waaaaay back in 2010 (can you even remember that far into the past?) my site got hacked by some Saudi Arabian cyberpunk. No, really. I’m not kidding.

Hack

Well, I wasn’t exactly employing heavy password security back in those days, and I was stupid enough to use the same password for every website. (I also remember the days when I didn’t have to lock the door at night, and could leave my car open…nevermind.)

Once I got the hack resolved and the website restored, I thought things were fine. I upgraded my password security. I was ready to move on.

Then a month or two ago my hosting account got suspended for spamming. I was puzzled by this, but sure enough, when I logged into my webmail for my steveskojec.com domain, I had THOUSANDS of bouncebacks for emails that had been sent from my account.

So I got my account re-instated, changed the email password to something even stronger, and went on my merry way. All done, right?

Nope. Not a chance.

Yesterday afternoon, after spending the morning in meetings, I checked my email only to find that it’s happened again. Hack. Email. Spam. Account Suspended. None of words are words I want to see together in a sentence.

I responded to the rep at Site5. Usually they’re very quick. Nothing. I ping them on Twitter. They apologize. Still nothing. I beat the drum on my ticket. I can’t even log in to my admin panel to fix things because I’m locked out. Guilty until proven innocent, I guess, when spam is coming from your site. I hit them up on Twitter again. Despite the fact that I’m the one who got hacked, I had to wait, oh, 18 hours or so before they responded to my repeated requests to deal with the problem. And this only after I emailed them four times and mentioned them on Twitter another three times.

Finally able to log in, I change my FTP password and upgrade a non-public-facing copy of WordPress I have sitting in a root directory. Which proceeds to overwrite my custom index.html page in that directory, so I spend even more time chasing down a copy of that to restore. Only I can’t find it. So I go to the Wayback Machine, download their copy, and strip the HTML down and fix the links. Finally, more than 24 hours after the initial incident, I’m back in business.

This is obviously hugely inconvenient, but that happens. What could make life better, though, would be some real responsiveness from the support team at the hosting company. I have been with Site5 since 2008, and I haven’t had a single complaint (other than no privacy registration for domains) in four years with them. But having been met with the great wall of silence for such a long period of time while my site was MIA did not make me happy. Luckily, I’m not using the site for my livelihood. Yet.

On the flip side, I’ve been dealing with slow server times for WEEKS with FatCow, which provides hosting for my wife’s website. And when I say slow, I mean REALLY slow. Regardless of domain forwarding. And their customer service is abysmal. It takes DAYS to get back to us sometimes.

I get that hosting on the cheap relies on aggregate business to provide residual income streams that add up to real profits. Paying 5 to 8 bucks a month for hosting isn’t exactly going to get me Nordstrom-esque service. But at the same time, that’s the business model in play. Just because you’ve priced a service to move doesn’t mean a customer shouldn’t expect to get issues taken care of promptly. Too many of us have income on the line to have to worry about reliable hosting or support. I’m not a chronic complainer about bad service. I get it – things go wrong, stuff falls through the cracks, the power goes out. I am not the guy who sends back a steak because it’s medium rare and I ordered rare. But suspended accounts and slow websites kill traffic, and traffic is the stuff of life on the web.

I’m seriously considering finding a new host for me. I know I’ll be moving Jamie’s site soon. I’ve heard that for sites that primarily run on WordPress, Bluehost is good. Any other recommendations?

A Word About Comment Moderation and Spam

March 27, 2012 at 10:22 am

Just a quick note – my Akismet spam filter for the blog is set to “kill” despite the fact that I have deployed fairly light comment moderation requirements in the site settings. I just pulled two real comments out of over 140 spam comments left in the last 24 hours.

If your comment doesn’t appear right away, let me know. I go fishing for them every day, but I don’t want to miss any. You can email me at steve (at) steveskojec (dot) com. I’ll throw a comment form on the site later today to make this easier.

Thanks,
The Management