Ninja Web Development

I might be a bit quiet here for awhile.  Don’t worry, nothing’s wrong.  I just have a freelance project that is taking up my free time.  So while I’m MIA deep in code, I thought I’d tease something else I’ve been working on.  You see, I’ve wanted to pick up more freelance work and thought it would be a good idea to have a "Hire Me For Freelance" page.  Then, I was browsing through some domain names and decided to make a whole new website for freelance work.  So here is the "coming soon" page for TechyDad: Ninja Web Developer.  (The .ninja domain was too good to pass up.)

I apologize for the short post and the lack of other content.  Here’s hoping that next week I’ll have more time to blog.  Until then… *drops a ninja smoke bomb and disappears back into the code*

NOTE: The "ninja working at desk" image is by hector gomez and is available from

Routine: The Enemy of Inspiration

InspirationOn Thursday night, I sat down to write my post.  I had a great idea and began to type.  A paragraph in, however, and I just didn’t know where to go with this concept.  No problems, though, unlike some other days when I struggled to come up with one idea, I had another idea at the ready.  So I saved my first idea as a draft (to be completed when I could) and began work on my second idea.  Unfortunately, this too quickly descended into a mire from which the post refused to budge.  So there I was two ideas down and no more topics were coming to mind.  The night began to drag on, I couldn’t come up with anything else, and my already blog-topic-empty brain began to fight drowsiness too.  At this point, I decided to just skip the blog post.  Sometimes it is better to not write anything at all when you don’t have anything to write.

Over the weekend, I began to think about why I couldn’t think of anything.  Why did those perfectly good topics lead to no words springing to mind?  Why could my brain not think of anything else.  In one word: Routine.

I’ve settled into a routine.  Nearly every day is the same.  I get up, go to work, come home, make dinner, clean up from dinner, get the boys ready for bed, get the boys in bed, write a blog post, and go to sleep.  Sure, the details might change from day to day, but the overall schedule is the same.  And if there’s one thing that kills off all inspiration, it’s going through the same routine day after day.

I’ve gone through similar slumps in the past.  In every case, I broke my slump by doing something outside of my normal routine.  Playing Munchkin with NHL, running alongside JSL as he bikes, taking the boys to a museum, going on a walk by myself.  As long as it varies from my usual, daily activities, it can help get the creative juices flowing.

What helps to inspire you when you get into a creative rut?

NOTE: The "light bulb off => on" image above is a combination of "Light Bulb Off" and "Light Bulb On" by palomaironique which is available via

The Poor, Forgotten Blog Post

mystica_(Light)_bulbOn Wednesday, I picked JSL up from B’s parents house and started running some errands before coming home.  On the way, JSL and I got to talking, as we usually do.  I don’t remember the conversation much.  It was likely the usual things.  School, books he is reading, stuff he wants to do, stuff he has done.  That sort of thing.  Something in the conversation sparked an idea, though.  An idea for a great post topic.

I’ll admit that great post topics are hard to come by at times.  All too often, I’ll sit in front of my computer, with the blank post window staring back at me, wondering just what I should write before it gets too late.  Too many times, I get annoyed by the stares of the blank window and the emptiness of my idea bank and turn on the TV or do some idle web surfing to try to spark something.  Why I do this, I don’t know because it almost never works.  Instead, I find the hour even later with still no post in sight.

So when I had this idea, I should have written it down.  Obviously, I was driving at the time so jotting down the idea while steering the car was a no-no.  Still, I was in an area where I could have pulled over and quickly sent myself a reminder e-mail.  I didn’t, though.  I was sure I’d remember the idea later.  We all know how that usually turns out.

Now the idea feels like it’s still in my head, but just out of reach.  The more I grasp for it, the more it slips *just* past the edge of my mental fingertips.  It feels like if I just strain a bit more, I’ll recall it, but nothing seems to bring it back.  I even asked JSL if he remembers what we were talking about in the hopes that this would re-spark the idea, but he’s forgotten the topic of conversation.

So it seems that the idea is lost and – turning lemons into lemonade – I’ve turned the loss of the blog post idea itself into a blog post.

On a related note, while lamenting the loss of my idea, I noticed that the latest Dork Tower had been published by John Kovalic.  In it, he deals with ideas that get lost because they weren’t written down.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear he was following me around.


(Click the panel for the full Dork Tower comic.)

I’m sure, for the next couple of days, I’ll struggle to remember what the post was about.  Whether I recall it or not, I don’t know.  All I do know is that, the next time I get a blog post idea, I’m writing it down!

NOTE: The "light bulb" image above is by mystica and is available from  I modified it by adding a question mark.

Six Years of TechyDad

Last week was my sixth blogoversary.  Honestly, I completely forgot about it given that it was also the first full week of school.  That and other hectic life events caused it to slip my mind until I happened to notice it yesterday.  I decided to go back and see what I was blogging about in September each year (limiting myself to one or two posts per year).


This was the year that NHL started kindergarten.  JSL did not like his brother leaving every morning and he especially didn’t like me leaving every morning.  Though he still couldn’t talk, he made his opinions on the matter clear and gave me quite the guilt trip.


This seemed to be the month of cooking.  I tried making Mock Crab Cakes to limited success (though now I’m thinking of trying it again).  The Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Dessert Pizza, on the other hand, was a bigger success.  (NHL’s braces might preclude this one given the ooey-gooey marshmallows.)


JSL had finally figured out how to ride his big wheel.  He also got on his brother’s big kid bike to pose for a photo.  Little did I know, at the time, that not four year later, he would climb atop that bike again and ride it without training wheels.


This wasn’t the happiest of months.  Hurricane Irene had just swept through, devastating much of the area.  Though our property was relatively unscathed, we had planned a trip to Disney World with just B and me.  This trip had to be cancelled due to the hurricane.  While it wasn’t of the magnitude of what others had to deal with, it took me quite awhile to recover from this.  Posting my two part blog post detailing our could-have-been vacation was very cathartic.


Shhh…. There’s something I can’t share.  Or, at least, I couldn’t at the time.  I wanted to shout the news from the highest social media rooftops, but we needed to keep quiet while we got some things in place.  Eventually, I was able to post about how we had gotten a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome for NHL and how I suspected that I am an Aspie as well.


B went to Type A Con.  While she was away, the boys and I had some time to ourselves and I learned some valuable lessons.

There you have it.  A quick overview of my six years of blog posts, or at least a selection of the September ones.  It’s been quite a wild ride.  I can’t wait for the next six years.  Then again, that will bring NHL’s bar mitzvah, NHL going to high school, JSL graduating elementary school, JSL’s bar mitzvah, NHL prepping for college, and me being the father of two teenagers.  Maybe I can wait for a bit for all of that.  Here’s hoping the next six years go by slowly!

The Great Google Analytics Crash

Last month, I was browsing through our Google Analytics reports when I saw something shocking:



Yes, that was her analytics numbers flat-lining.  She went from a respectable amount of traffic to only a couple of page views a day.  Something was obviously seriously wrong.  I immediately ruled out her traffic actually dropping.  Traffic numbers just don’t drop like that unless you do something monumentally stupid online to cause your readership to flee, and B didn’t do anything even remotely like that.  So what could it be?

As we thought it over, I suddenly remembered.  B had told me to add in a plug-in for a blogging program she’s a member of.  I installed that plug-in on the night before the analytics plunge.  That must have been to blame.  We e-mailed her contacts and they were very helpful, but they had never seen anything like this before.  After some investigation, I realized that their plug-in was adding Google Analytics code just before my Google Analytics code.  Their code must have been interfering somehow with our code resulting in the lowered numbers.

I couldn’t modify their plug-in, but I was able to modify the theme on B’s site to move our Google Analytics code higher.  (One of the perks of being a web developer.)  Then, it was a matter of waiting to see what would happen.  Would her numbers rise back up?  Or would there be something else preventing the numbers from being reported right?

Analytics_Return Luckily, her numbers started going back up until they were back to normal.

The lesson here is to keep an eye on your Google Analytics closely.  This is especially true if you’ve made any changes to your blog recently.  B was lucky that her reported numbers only dropped for 10 days.  Had I not checked in when I did, we could have gone for much longer and then, when she needed to report recent traffic amounts for blog campaigns, she wouldn’t have had good information to report.

Have you ever encountered a dip in your blog traffic due to technical difficulties?

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