Progress

Jun. 17th, 2009 04:34 pm
morsla: (dream)
My research proposal (preliminary literature review, methodology & research methods, research timeline) is now finished and handed in. Hopefully it's meandering through the bureaucracy as I type - it needs to cross a few different desks before it gets approved.

Last week I interviewed a couple of business managers (partly for the CRC project, partly for my thesis). I'm currently writing notes on the two interviews.

I've caught up with my business activity statements for Purple Mantis, and paid the GST for last quarter. After retrieving some of the files from my old PC, I can now send invoices again :)

I've started updating the Purple Mantis website, and reduced the ranges carried - I'm only planning to stock sculpting tools and putty from now on, though I will add new tools as I discover them.

I'm helping to set up a new gaming ezine with other WargamerAU.com members, and have designed some page layout templates in InDesign. I'm wearing two different hats on this project: layout/production guy and "Other Games" subeditor, keeping track of things like Privateer Press, Alkemy, Infinity, Anima:Tactics and Hell Dorado, trying to give the smaller companies a bit more exposure.

The 2009 Uberlist continues to grow, with another batch of painting completed. Of course, it seems to be growing faster than I can cross things off the list...

Still to do:

Purple Mantis: Migrate http://www.purple-mantis.com.au across to my other Siteground account (currently holding two other sites). Siteground's shared hosting accounts now have "unlimited" web space and traffic, and purchasing an add-on domain will be cheaper than running it on a separate account.

Painting: Infinity (Nomads) will be painted over the next week; lots of resin models will also be cleaned up and assembled on Monday.

Holiday! [livejournal.com profile] aeliel and I will be in Tasmania (Hobart and Freycinet) from June 29th - July 6th. It will be nice to have a few days away from work.
morsla: (lookin)
Time I started tinkering with ZenCart in earnest, as a new update was released while I was still reading through my copy of the ZenCart book.

New Installation (1.3.8a)
Disk space required: 14.52 MB
Disk space available: 749984.5 MB
I'm still completely unable to grasp just how much space I have to play with in this account. Every time I log in to Siteground, they've increased the storage and traffic limits again... somehow, I doubt that I'm likely to run out of space in a hurry.
morsla: (purplemantis skyline)
I spent today mediating a truce between Photoshop, my PC and my scanner, in order to work on a logo for my business. After a bit of digital finger-painting with a fresh tube of purple pixels, I have a new logo captured in the form of a journal icon. I hope it looks okay... it was a good excuse to find out how to colour in pencil sketches. The original version is a bit plain without any text, so I made a skyline to put behind it.

Pre-school level photoshop notes: (mostly for my benefit, in case I try something similar in future). One day I'll figure out what the other eight million buttons do...

Pencil sketch: scan, desaturate to remove colour, clean up with brightness/contrast and a white brush. Take a thin black brush and fix up any mistakes.

Colour: Select all the non-picture bits, invert the selection, make a new layer and fill it with purple. Dodge and Burn to add highlighting and shading where needed, drag the outline layer above the colour, and set the layer to Multiply so the white disappears.

Background: Draw some buildings with the Polygonal Lasso tool, fill the selection with a brown gradient. Invert the selection, make a new layer for the sky, and fill it with a red-brown gradient. Dodge and Burn cloud patterns into both layers, and hit the skyline with a few Gaussian Blur filters until it fades into the smog.


On an entirely different note, this (in my wholely biased opinion) could be the Best Game Ever, if Octopus ever release it. 'It Came From Hollywood' lets people play giant monsters destroying major American cities, using a DDR dance pad to stomp on fleeing civilians and topple landmarks... and yes, you can play a giant praying mantis :)
morsla: (Default)
I know there are lots of web-savvy people out there, so I thought I'd pose this as a general question.

I need to set up a business website. I know what I want it to look like, from a page-layout point of view, and in terms of site structure. I know what functions I need, and what I'd like to add in future. I'm just not sure what the best way would be to actually build it. I use a ridiculous number of sites, but you're free to assume that I know nothing at all about how they were made...

Can I just write the page contents in basic HTML (headings, paragraphs) and then find/modify a stylesheet to handle the appearance? (Column widths, text styles, positioning things on the page). I can handle notepad-level HTML, but I've never used CSS.

The shopping list:

Basic stuff
* Front page with News updates (new products, auctions, etc).
* Simple pages (bio, commission pricing, links)
* Gallery/portfolio. I'd prefer a simple HTML page here - I've played around with Gallery 2 for my personal photo collection, but I don't know enough about the guts of the Gallery database to feel completely comfortable with it.

More complex but still needed
* Shopping cart - currently favouring Zen Cart. I'll be selling small stock items in addition to one-off painted pieces. I'd like an e-commerce package that supports things like discount coupons and gift certificates. Free products with a good support community are also a plus.
* Payment gateway (possibly credit card, possibly PayPal - PayPal charges commission fees, but the others tend to have monthly or annual charges)

Things I'd like to do
* RSS feed for the News items on the front page. The front page will be updated weekly at a minimum, to encourage people to come back regularly. Not essential, but it's on the 'add if it's not too hard' list.
* Automated secure download links for PDF products. Linklok seems to be used for this by a few RPG publishers. Not an urgent need, but I want it to integrate with the shopping cart by the end of 2007.

Oddly enough, installing things like Zen Cart won't be particularly complicated - my web hosting package has a nifty installer that can auto-load many different scripts. Trying to get some sort of consistent appearance between the shopping cart and the rest of the site is currently beyond me, though.
morsla: (lookin)
I've been slowly starting work on the things that have been on my "to do" list for ages. Most of them were swept aside by the uni year, but now I finally have some time on my hands...

[livejournal.com profile] aeliel and I have started work on our Exalted campaign. It's a long way off at the moment, but the basic structure is in place. It's a wiki project, using RPG.net's MediaWiki. At the moment, it's made up of empty pages and super-brief summaries of the pantheon. The next major stage is fleshing out the myths and legends, to give the players (taking the role of champions of the gods) something to sink their teeth into. I've also written up the basic rules for using divine favour in the game. It's essentially a source of conflict to drive story opportunities, bribing the players with bonus dice if they try to win favour - and adding a pool of dice to use against them when they invoke godly ire.

Once people start creating characters, they can add any bits of background description - allies, enemies, artifacts, locations, manses, hearthstones, etc - to the wiki. Backgrounds don't exist in isolation. They're a direct means by which the players build some of the game world, and can be woven into other players' histories as well.

I also (finally) got around to setting up my own webspace via Siteground. I spent today installing Gallery2 and the Carbon theme, and started the process of transferring my Pbase content across to it. I really need to re-take a lot of my photos... especially as I'm assembling an online folio of painting and sculpting work. Fortunately, I know a lot more about Photoshop than I did a couple of months ago. As with the Wiki, the site is still at that early stage where I'm mainly setting up folders for everything to go into.

I really like Pbase, and have been happily paying for my photo gallery there for a few years now. I've left links to the gallery on many different forums, but I think I still get plenty of traffic from random Pbase viewers... at the moment, the site (mainly landscape photos and painting) has had 105,000 page views. Running my own gallery will cost roughly double the Pbase fees, but it includes essentially limitless storage space for photos and web pages (from my perspective) and lets me fumble my way through all the projects I've been curious about. It's been about six years since I made a website, so I'm basically learning everything from scratch.

Now I just have to figure out how to make a site that vaguely resembles the gallery... I haven't even put up an index page yet, as the gallery is my only content so far... if you're interested in seeing the bare bones, you can find them at http://www.morsla.net/gallery

I'm working at Synergy for the next couple of days, so I'll hopefully put Friday into taking some more photos for the site. After that, I should get stuck in to the next batch of sculpting commission work. If I want to be out of town for virtually all of January, I'll need to get Ian's Arcanacon models finished over the next few weeks.

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