Blog

2012 June

Tools of the Trade

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It’s time to reflect upon one of the most timeless and essential tools of our industry. A device that has been utilized by man for over 2000 years and has still retained its basic and intuitive design.

For your viewing pleasure, Volano has composed a listing of our favorite models of this fantastic writing device, the pen.

Rod

Pilot – Precise V5

Price per pen: $ 1.10

Smooth-writing liquid ink is fadeproof and water resistant.

Don

Uniball – Vision Micro

Price per pen: $ 2.30

Features ink specially-formulated to become trapped in paper, helping prevent criminal check washing and other document alteration.

Shane

Pelikan – Souveran 800

Price per pen: $ 360.00

Piston filler with a 24 carat gold plating and a high-quality resin casing and a viewing window to monitor the ink level.

Brandon

BiC – Ultra Round Stic Grip

Price per pen: $ 0.20

Grooved finger grip for comfortable, controlled writing. Designed for long-lasting dependability.

David

William Henry – Merlot Pen

Price per pen: $ 500.00

David Carnley: “Million dollar checks don’t sign themselves.”

Derek

Inkology – Glam Rocks Rhinestone Pen

Price per pen: $ 15.99

Bling is the Thing. What better way to show off your glam side.

Hiring a Team

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Something that really frustrates me is when I run into projects that give custom software a bad name. This could be because of budget, timeline, quality – or most likely a combination of the three. There are plenty of bad custom software development companies out there, but it seems the culprit is usually an independent contractor at fault or more likely, a moonlighter. There is an inherent problem with the solo effort either way – there can be only one. If they run into a problem, they only have themselves to turn to. Today a problem arose. Derek and I collaborated on a solution, Shane installed IIS on a box, Brandon helped configure IIS, Derek coded and I was there to assist. Together, we were able to have a viable fix in place in two hours. It’s times like these when I’m proud of the company we’ve built.

WordPress as a CMS

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Since I began developing websites professionally 3 years ago I’ve heard a number of negative comments about using WordPress a CMS (content management system). I’ve used WordPress a number of times in the past (this blog for instance), but always as a tool for blogging, never as a CMS. I’ve been biased for some time based solely on the opinions of others, so I decided it was time for me to take a stab at some WordPress development and decide for myself where it stands.

Here is a list of the WordPress features I really liked:

1. Simplicity of Design
Compared to many other CMS systems WordPress (out of the box) is very easy to use, and I say this with the end user in mind. Compared to larger systems such as Drupal the interface is very intuitive, especially for users without much web experience.

2. Documentation
As a junior level developer I tend to spend a lot of time foraging through documentation trying to get a basic understand of how a particular CMS works. Compared to many other popular CMS websites I found the documentation for WordPress to be top notch. I was able to find answers to all of my development questions relatively quickly using simple Google searches.

3. Ease of Use
The WordPress learning curve is much lower than any other CMS I’ve used. It’s organized in a very logical manner, everything seemed to be exactly where I expected it to be. It’s also very quick to setup. It took slightly less than 10 minutes to do a manual install and start cranking out some basic page templates.

4. Community
WordPress seems to have a very large and active development community. While browsing for plugins I did a search for “gallery”, which returned 33 pages of results! I also found the majority of WordPress plugins to be free to use, which was quite refreshing. In addition to the vast number of plugins I also found the forums to be very active. Almost every post I read had a conclusive resolution to the OP’s problem.

While WordPress comes with some great features, I found it was still lacking some of the basic CMS functionality that I’ve become accustom to. The biggest of which was creating and managing additional “Content Types” beyond “Posts” and “Pages”. I assume there may be plugins that add this functionality to WordPress, but I didn’t see this as a packaged feature. At the end of the day I suppose it really comes down to preference. With enough time and elbow grease you can customize any CMS to do what you need it to. I like WordPress and can see myself using it for “brochure” style websites that require some CMS functionality. However, I don’t think I’m completely sold on using for larger (enterprise) level development at this time.