Why being a Web Developer is interesting…

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Okay, it’s an established fact and one that my fellow I.T. nerds (or geeks if that’s your preference) are more than aware of. Computing, being a software developer, hardware techie or anything remotely related to the world of I.T. is dull as dishwater as far the rest of society is concerned.

Every I.T. professional will tell you that when at a party or gathering of any kind with friends, family or strangers, they’ve learned from bitter experience not to talk about what they do, let alone try to explain it to anyone.

The truth is nobody cares or is the faintest bit interested. You can see their eyes glaze over and their anxious glances over to the other side of the room where another group is having a much more interesting conversation. Probably about football or shopping as the classic line from Trainspotting goes.

So why is being a Web Developer interesting?

Well I suppose I ought to be truthful and say that for some people it won’t be. There is a section of society that doesn’t really have any thirst for knowledge of anything beyond the most recent infantile incumbents of Big Brother, the laughable wannabees on X Factor or the latest tragedy to beset Albert Square.

So what is this knowledge that is so interesting? Well, as established above, it isn’t website development itself, but rather anything and everything else.

When creating a website for a customer, the conscientious web developer (aka me) will take the time to get to know and understand something of the customer’s business to ensure that the site delivers as expected, is found on Google for the appropriate terms and makes sense to visitors.

In this way, being a web developer is interesting, because for every job you do, you learn a little bit more about how the world works.

So what have I learnt?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve produced websites for a plumber, a portrait photographer, a house removals company, a qualified Sky installer and someone who makes wedding cakes, but with the exception of moving house (which I’ve done once for myself, twice for my mother and several times for friends), I wouldn’t now class myself as being skilled in any of said fields.

I’ve overtightened valves when removing a radiator, would be terrified of being responsible for someone’s precious memories, I don’t enjoy walking on sloped roofs and my culinary skills stretch as far as putting a pizza on the top shelf for 10 minutes.

It’s the snippets of information or new facts that you pick up that make it fun. For example, before doing a website for a company that does shot blasting I had no idea what it was. In fact, even after the customer had explained it I wasn’t sure. Good old Google to the rescue once again…

Curious? Take a look at the following Google results:

One of the most interesting pieces of work I’ve done to date was a Search Engine Optimisation (aka SEO or getting a website to appear on the front page of Google in lay terms) job for an on-line shop that sells thermometers.

For a start, who’d have thought there were so many types of thermometer? I learnt the correct temperature for cooked chicken and where to stick the thermometer in to measure it, what a reference thermometer is, how an infrared thermometer works, the required temperature for making jam, the legal required temperature for a workplace, how a thermometer is useful when trying for a baby and much more.

Why haven’t I included details of all that I’ve learned here? But then what would I talk to you about if I met you at a party?

In conclusion…

I’m not sure how useful all of this is, but if like me you enjoy learning new things, web development is officially interesting. And who knows, some of it might just pop up in a pub quiz some time in the future…

How much should a web page cost?

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In my current role as a self-employed website developer for small to medium businesses, I pride myself on being reasonably priced. I’m happy to make enough money to provide me with a decent income, but without ripping the customer off.

Now, I’m  not talking about a whole website here, just adding an individual web page with up to a side of A4 of text and 2-3 photos to an existing site.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? Copy and paste some text, resize the images, place and label them appropriately, add links to the new page elsewhere on the site, add suitable page labelling and titles and publish it. All done in less than an hour. Total = 1 hour.

But what if?

But what if the customer is not very good at writing content and you end up having to edit it to make it suitable or even write it from scratch? Total = 2 hours.

And what if you don’t know anything about the subject matter and need to do some research via Google and Wikipedia? Total = 3 hours.

Or the photos they supply are exceptionally poor and need serious editing / tidying up? Total = 4 hours.

And excessive emails are required to chase up content or approval for it? Total = 4.5 hours.

Plus maybe a site visit might be necessary to agree final content? Total = 5.5 hours.

Then add-on the time for creating and sending an invoice. Total = 6 hours.

However, what if they don’t pay up and you end up chasing the payment with emails, phone calls and / or a site visit. Total = 7 hours.

And finally, bank the cheque, transfer monies out of the business account and do your books for the tax man. Total = 7.5 hours.

Too cheap?

Now, it’s not often that all the above factors come in to play, but at the proposed new minimum wage, that equals:

7.5 hours x £5.93 = £44.48

which is more than I’m charging! And that’s before the tax man takes his cut.

So if you’re in Blackpool or the surrounding area and you’re looking for reasonably priced website design, give me a call, but make sure you do it quick, because I might just be putting my prices up.

One for my fellow nerds!

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Another quick work related post of something from yester-year. A slightly edited version of some SQL I wrote one day when I was extremely annoyed about a particular user.

The original contained more in the where clause that identified the person in question, obviously removed for publishing purposes.

=======================================

SELECT *
FROM all_users
WHERE iq > ( SELECT AVG(iq)
                      FROM  uk_flora
                      WHERE genus = ‘Narcissus’ );

0 row(s) returned

=======================================

Bozz, ©Copyright ‘03

Although they say plagarism is the sincerest form of flattery, please don’t get this printed onto a t-shirt before I have! Or at least put a credit to me on the bottom…

Facintrolfs

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If you don’t understand Monty Python or don’t think Spike Milligan was a genius, the reason for the existence of this post will be lost on you entirely. Look away now!

For that reason, perhaps this really shouldn’t be my first proper post, but I found it the other day whilst reminiscing about (some of) the team I used to work with and it made me chuckle. It’s the contents of an email from my equally nutty previous I.T. boss and my reply.

Email (Title: Facintrolfs)

This new word born of the age we live in, is now licensed and ready for use. Any queries on pronunciation, see me.

My Reply

Facintrolfs: A recently discovered and already endangered rare breed of South American hamster. The Facintrolfs is easily distinguished by the red stripe running the entire length of it’s back right down to the tip of its tail.

Even more obvious and perhaps the reason for its rapid demise are its 20ft antlers. These fearsome weapons make the hamster almost unassailable by frequently taller predators, but pose a challenge during the mating season when males attempt to lock horns. Many a male Facintrolfs is found face down in the dirt and tail in the air, locked in mortal combat with a rival. With no chance of ever getting up again, the males simply starve to death.

The lone females are then forced to form knitting circles and hold coffee mornings as a substitute for male company.

Offspring are few and the World Wildlife Fund estimate that with only 23,250,100 Facintrolfs left breeding in the wild, the species could be extinct by next Thursday!!!

Ay up y’all…

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Greetings and welcome to the collective mutterings of Bozz, known for convenience in WordPress as the TheBozzMan.

Topics may be many and varied, dull or of interest, verbose or succinct, poignant or pointless and may or may not contain decent Scrabble scoring words dependent on the amount of sleep that I’ve had.

Enjoy!

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