Playing around with Ajax

There is always something new that comes out. And sometimes it is so hard to catch up with what’s happening. If you are just starting out making websites and learned HTML, once you learn it… you find out there is more to learn with Javascript, with CSS. To make your website look nice, you still need to know your graphic softwares, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator. Then you find out there is some animation software, there is more to learn. Macromedia Flash, and Flash has it’s own scripting language, Actionscript. And you learn you can’t do databases, you need some server side programming language, some database where you have many options, either PHP, ASP/, JSP, Cold Fusion, Perl, Miva Phyton and more with so many database options, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, Oracle and a lot more. After you learn all of that, it just does not end there. You can learn about SEO, and techniques on special ways to do things. Tableless sites in CSS, CSS rollovers, Spritenavs, Suckerfish Navs, better transparent PNGs, cross-browser techniques, scalable designs and a lot more.

Some people get discouraged with all these things to learn but all I can say is, you do not need to learn it all. And collaborate with others. Or how I do it… just find out what everything can do, and just learn specific parts that are needed on a project. And gradually increase knowledge as more projects come in.

After I first read about Ajax or Asynchronous JavaScript + XML on the article on the Adaptive Path website a few months back when former co-worker Jason Kent sent me the link via an ICQ message at work I took a quick look at read and read through it quickly since I still had a lot of work to do that time. I said to myself, great, now I got something new to learn again, when is this going to stop? Can I still catch up with all the new things coming out? The article sound a bit complicated showing all these diagrams and the only Ajax I knew then was some laundry soap.

Although I already had a good grasp of the concept, I never tried it out until just recently, actually last 2 days ago. I was just working on an email contact form and needed to add an anti-spam code generated on an image that the user must type in a text box to avoid spam bots submitting the form. The code should not be found anywhere and should be save on the server. After discussing this with Mike Lopez via YM, he suggested the Ajax approach and I said, nah, I got a lot of projects to finish, I will just do a page reload and study Ajax some other time. But he told me it is not as hard as you think. It is really simple, it only takes 30 minutes to learn. And through the process of looking for a good tutorial online, he found Sajax made by Modern Method which is an Ajax toolkit. Yes it did make Ajax easier.

With my inferior Javascript skills, it still took me 2 days to get it work (but not working whole day on it, only in the night time). I had problems passing the values of variables from Javascript to PHP and back. And when I found out what was causing the problems, they are super simple dumb reasons. I shared Sajax at work and Mike Hawkins showed my something else. He showed me Xajax and after reading about it, it seems Xajax is offering something better. But I haven’t really tried Xajax out yet. I might try that out on my next Ajax implementation.

Philippine Web Awards

I have been fortunate in the past to be part of the web awards in 1999 and 2000 as a finalist and won in the People’s choice awards. And in 2001, 2002 I was a chosen judge. In 2003 was my first time to go to the awards not as a judge nor competitor. Everyone’s skills just stepped up and getting in the finals is not as easy as it was before. 2004 I felt totally unknown in the web awards and I still went there to watch. 2005, at least they contacted me to be a semi-finals judge again. My company had three entries this year and only one reached the semi-finals.

The Philippine Web Awards posted our profiles and they mentioned my blog. Grabe kakahiya. lolz. Puro problema lang ng buhay ko nilalagay ko sa blog ko. hahaha.

Anyway, I did ask them to take it off the site. Pero hindi na matatanggal sa printed materials.

Thanksgiving na dito sa US, so Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. A long weekend from now to Sunday. A good time to catch up with pending work.

Pero right now… inaantok na ako. Sleep muna… zzzzzzzz

Pare, walang pera sa hosting…

I still remember these words from a friend of mine. We were partners in an old company before I got tired of the company. I got tired making websites. Designing and even more tiring, a bunch of web development projects. The price tag was high, but the work was hell. I was a Zombie everyday due to lack of sleep. That is why I got tired of working as a web designer/developer that time. I felt the price to amount of work ratio was not proportionate since I just got so tired that the money was a small value that I would give up for getting more sleep.

Those early days… I already proposed to concentrate on hosting alone and not to concentrate on designing and development. And I still remember my partner’s words… “Pare, walang pera sa hosting, ang pera sa na development.” (Man, there is no money in hosting, the money is in development) Well only in web development have I experience closing a P1Million deal, as well as a P600,000 worth deal in a single year. Mysteriously… if you get paid in small chunks for the deal… and expenses always come… you never get to hold that large amount of money. And the projects that were targeted for 3 months often turn out to be 1 year. It was not worth it for me having no sleep for these big one-shot big deals. I was so tired… I gave up on the whole company.

I decided to work in the academe teaching computer subjects. And decided to give business another shot… this time concentrating on hosting and domains alone.

As my partner once said there was no money in hosting… I believed otherwise, it may be small, but it was a regular payment. It was passive income in a way. Like a vending machine, like a pinball machine, like an arcade video game machine, not much to maintain. No need to have an employee at the place of business and people pay money. You just go occassional check ups that everything is running fine.

Last week I had 109 websites on my server. Today I already have 117. And I still have tons more of inquiries or hosting and domains. Most active countries are the Philippines and the US, but clients also exist in Australia, China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh and Romania. Although good things may be happening… hack attempt happen more often since more websites are exposed, and serve as more known target places. Even if there is no such thing as 100% security, I always try my best to get nearer to the 100% secure with the help of the opensource communities online sharing knowledge. Not an easy task, but for technical people, opensource is still cheaper than commercial software. But for the non-technical people, the time needed to learn opensource softwares or high extra help to manage an opensource server may cost them more and might as well get commercial software with good customer support.

My company is still not earning a significant amount to depend on my company alone, but it is doing better than my company before than concentrated on web design and development deals with a steady amount of income. Not really really big, but still a steady amount. Keep everyone happy, and you keep everyone on the server.

Today, I am still like the way I hated it several years ago, having no sleep. But the no sleep today is more worth it.