What a Headache!


Battling broken code in a client’s site that was built using PHP 5.

Their hosting company arbitrarily decided to upgrade to PHP 7 and the code used for database interactions was all deprecated (translation=”now totally non-functional”).

A little warning would have been nice so I could update code to use mysqli at a reasonable pace rather than a fire drill.

The front-end was easy to fix and back up and running in short order, but the back end maintenance site is giving me headaches.  SO much code to change.

AAA Rainbow, Inc has a new website


Another WordPress site, this time for AAA Rainbow, Inc Home Improvements of Somerville, NJ.

The site features examples of their work from repairing or building decks, to remodeling interior kitchens, bathrooms, and even (as seen in the image above) wine cellars!

Most of the sites I’m building these days seem to be WordPress – it empowers the client to manage their own content.

I’m also hosting the site, providing an inexpensive hosting solution scaled and priced to match this client’s needs.

The trickiest part of this project?  Probably setting up email as I had to add a TXT and an MX DNS record – the client uses office360 for their email.  Getting the Office360 settings took a little digging, but ultimately no problem! 🙂

Spent time installing Ruby on Rails


So I decided it was time to install Ruby on Rails on my mac.  It was more time consuming than I’d expected.  I also spent considerably more time in terminal at the command prompt than I’m used to these days.

I didn’t want to use a ‘one-click installer’ for this as wanted to be a little more hands-on and have a sense of what was involved component-wise.

Steps were configuring Git, setting up an SSH cert there, setting up Homebrew, then rvm, checking the gem manager installs, updating installed gems, installing bundler to manage gems, installing nokogirl (which is a dependency for many other gems), upgrading ruby to a more current version, then installing rails.

At the end of all this I was finally able to display a web page on the laptop.

That’s it for now.  Environment set up – but actual work called so I had to leave this for now.  I’ll be back!

Useful link: http://railsapps.github.io/installrubyonrails-mac.html

Use of the Ruby on Rails logo should in no way be taken to infer an endorsement of Blue Larch llc

A Journey To Change

A WordPress based site I launched not too long ago which I meant to share online but got distracted by something shiny or maybe it was a butterfly….

Biggest challenge with this project was masking the background out behind Jodi’s frizzy hair for the slideshow on the home page so that the transparency looked clean over the forest background.

I upgraded to the latest version of Photoshop just for better tools, then sought expert help from more than one Photoshop ‘whiz’, and finally took what they gave me and tweaked a little more with layered versions with varying degrees of fill and transparency.  Jodi was delighted with the outcome though so it was all worthwhile!



One of the things I enjoy about my job





I love it when a project involves doing something I’ve never done before, or combining a couple of things I HAVE done, but in a new and creative way.

A recent example was when a client asked me to add some new functionality to their site to allow them to generate a custom PDF welcome letter with variable information in it and then email that from a list of registered ids on their web site.  We also save details of who received it as well as a copy of the PDF AND the variable information in a way that the client can resend or send to more people with the same information or a slightly modified version.

Sounds simple – but I was surprised to find that many email recipients weren’t getting the PDF during testing – something peculiar to this particular situation of an email with an attached PDF.  To get around this I had to incorporate PHPMailer to send via an SMTP account instead of just using the server to mail things itself.  Now it looks just like the client himself mailed it – no more issues.

Another successful project where I learned something new – this stuff still gets me excited after all these years!!! 🙂

Now with video!

A new strategic partnership has allowed us to extend our service offerings to include video production for web sites or other marketing uses.

Our first venture was for Hunter Innovations who wanted to be able to show the benefits of a new construction product they had developed.

We also built the web site to showcase the video and the product’s benefits.


View the site

New Web Site Launched for Economy Auto of South Amboy, NJ

economy-auto-public-2015Today we launched a revised design for Economy Auto.  Economy Auto’s site had been built some time ago and was starting to look a little dated, as well as not taking advantage of wider displays now in common usage.  It was also not responsive to reconfigure content layout for mobile devices.  The new code does both of these things using CSS more extensively than the prior version.

We changed the color scheme, making it more vibrant also to give it more visual appeal.  The original site was database driven providing details of the latest and featured vehicles on the site…. we added to this functionality by providing the client the ability to upload and maintain a home page slide show as well as update the shipping information page (which is content that needs to change more frequently than was originally anticipated).

New Web Site Launched for JML Landscaping, Inc of Neshanic Station, New Jersey


JML Landscaping feels that your outdoor spaces should not only be the extension of your living area but be unique and functional as well as be a reflection of your lifestyle.

This is the second site we’ve built for JML Landscaping.  This incarnation represents a shift in messaging intended to show that they are more focussed on helping achieve lifestyle changes by realizing their client’s vision on how the exteriors of their homes can improve their overall enjoyment of their property.

The site was built using WordPress – we created a child theme based on a standard template.  This allowed us to incorporate distinct design elements and customize how the site renders in various display sizes (from phones, to tablets, to laptops, to large screen desktops).

One thing a little different about this site is the use of a full screen background slide show.  Each page features a small number of background images that cycle through in a repeating sequence showing a sample of projects carried out by JML Landscaping.  This is particularly effective on the home page where only the menu, the backgrounds, and some simple messaging are present (the screen shot above shows this page).

Visit their site today


New Web Site Launched for Somerset Hills Property Management

Today we launched a new web site for Somerset Hills Property Management, a NJ based property management company.

To quote from the site “Hiring a property manager allows you to get and keep your rental in optimal condition at all times. You increase the likelihood of higher rent, a more stable tenant and a better return on your investment. We’re the first point of contact for your tenant, so you can relax knowing that we’re taking care of issues and keeping your tenant happy.”

Take a look http://somersethillspropertymanagement.com/

Somerset Hills Property Management

New Web Site Launched for Don’t Sit Home®

Don't Sit HomeLast week we launched a new site for a local venture whose goal is to bring a consolidated list of things to do and places to visit into one web site.  The primary focus is on places and activities within New York City and neighboring Hoboken, NJ.

Amanda (the driving force behind this site) seems to have an uncanny knack of finding surprising and fun things to do, plus some great deals.

So if you are in the NYC or Hoboken areas and would like to find a great restaurant, or a concert to attend, or just a great place to hang out with friends over a drink, then visit http://dontsithome.com/ today on your computer or smartphone.

UPDATE: I’m sad to say this site has gone dark. The client didn’t want to maintain it and they are just using social media now.

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