Busy Week, Some Updates

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This post was originally published in 2008
It may contain stale & outdated information. Or it may have grown more awesome with age, like the author.

Last Friday I released my first commercial product: a pack of 30 Smart Blocks with rounded corners. The took a lot longer to make than I thought they would – mainly because I really wanted them to display well in IE6. It sure was frustrating: making a small change, uploading, then walking over to my wife’s computer to test the change. I could have used Paralells I suppose, but I recently uninstalled it because I used it so infrequently and needed the extra hard disk capacity.

I was pleased with the end result, and also with the block’s reception. Creating that set taught me a lot – prior to this I had no idea what a Smart Block was! I’ve got a lot of ideas about what other things I could make – my problem is deciding which should be created first!

This week, along with my part-time job (manual data entry!), and my final exam, I’ve been working on one of these ideas. I’m pretty excited about it, I hope other people (when they see it) feel the same. I’ve got nothing planned for the weekend other than to work on this product – I’ve already ironed out most IE6 issues, and just have to work on styling and a little extra functionality. It should be out tomorrow or the day after.

Not knowing anything about e-stores, I looked at the companies used by RW, Yourhead and Henk, who I have bought things from in the past. Yourhead, Henk and RW both use Esellerate, so I thought I’d do the same. Maybe I’m stupid, but I found the interface to be quite clunky, and even following the instructions I found it hard to setup my store. I did eventually get it setup the way I wanted, but then noticed that I had to “activate” the account by faxing a bunch of documents to their head office. This didn’t suit me, as I had a product that I wanted to “get on the shelves” as it were – waiting was unacceptable. Remembering that Henk offered two ways to purcahse his products, I returned to his site. I saw that the second option was E-Junkie, and had a look at their site. E-Junkie, in my opinion is FAR superior. Though there is no “native” support for credit cards, they’ve partnered with a lot of companies that can process credit card payemnts. Unfortunately for me, Google Checkout (who I’d prefer to use) do not offer New Zealanders the option of creating Merchant Accounts. This doesn’t worry me too much though, as Paypal (as much as I may not like the company) is pretty pervasive, and it seems most people are comfortable using their service. For those who aren’t: sorry, but you’ll have to wait until I either buy a 2Checkout account, or Google Checkout begins offering New Zealanders Merchant Accounts.

One thing that Esellerate does offer (aside from native credit card processing) is the option to embedd a serial code generation system into one’s program. Currently this is not an issue for me, as I haven’t produced a program or RW plugin that would warrant the use of such anti-piracy measures, but I do plan on creating both a plugin and a stand-alone program for RW users. E-Junkie does offer the option of having data sent to a verified server at the time of sale, so that people may create their own serial number generation system. I like E-Junkie so much that I’d rather do this and use them exclusively than bother with faxing documents. We’ll see though, it could turn out to be a horrible nightmare to code, in which case I’m off to my Stepdad’s business to borrow their fax machine.

Oh yeah, my tutorial for integrating Roy’s Cumulus Tag Cloud with a RW blog seems to be too hard – too many tricky technical steps, so I’m told. Last night (until 4AM) I rewrote the tutorial and the script to make things more simple, but it still isn’t good enough. One issue was caused by the “cloud_creator.php” file not having the necessary permisions to create files on the server. The file processes all the tag files and outputs a list of links of different sizes – larger font for tags with more entries associated with them. If it doesn’t have permissions one just gets an ugly message. A lot of users get scared off when I use “technobabble” like “You need to change the permissions of the file to 755, to give it read/write permissions…” though I can’t see their eyes, I can tell they’ve glazed over. It’s not their fault, I don’t blame anyone but myself. I need to think of a way to automate the process, maybe have the file uploaded as the blog page’s asset. I’ll look into it after completing my current project.

Don’t let the above comments put you off – please give the tutorial a go. If you have some technical knowledge, you’ll be able to get it to work, and if you can’t then just post a comment or send me an email and I’ll do my best to help you.

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