Mic Check

exchange

I wonder if when I click “publish” if this will be pushed to the Twitter feed. See, these are the types of things you wonder when you haven’t written a post in over 3 years… Which is kinda nutz. I mean, I went from basically posting every day to posting nothing. And truthfully I don’t know if this post will mark a return to me posting with any type of frequency either but that you can probably blame on kids and Twitter.

So as one might guess, a lot can happen in 3 years and I suppose my last 3 years is no exception. Don’t get me wrong, nothing too huge but some nice little footnotes none the less. Here are the cliff notes (not necessarily in chronological order):

  • My first and only daughter was born which gets me up to the three kid mark
  • Lost my cousin Taahna Smith, the recipient of a heart transplant, a first cousin who I spent a lot of time with growing up.
  • Lost my beloved Monte Carlo when my wife sold it in a day on Craigslist w/ all my audio equipment still installed
  • Created and designed n00balert.com which I poured my soul into. Did a lot of great writing (which I have since removed from the site), a lot of great videos and convention coverage, got to tick off e3 from my bucket list and had a blast (along the way met Tommy Talarico. Steve Wiebe, Hank Chien, Billy Mitchell, Kim Swift, Seth Killian and other really cool cats)
  • Quit n00balert when I didn’t feel I could push it any further with the individuals involved
  • Bought a $1500 Black Friday special Samsung 65″ LED TV
  • Middle child threw a drumstick at Samsung 65″ LED TV within its first year of service making it a really big paperweight
  • Made my first Android app which has over 10,000 downloads
  • Hosted an exchange student from Hong Kong and taught her the value of the phrase “this sucks”

And there’s more stuff too (of course) which I may elaborate on in the future but of course that is presuming I write another post. Well one more I want to write is on the subject of the Xbox One, but again – We’ll see if that actually happens.

Power Windows and Siding Review and Complaints

Me and the wife were lucky enough to get into a small townhouse about two years ago now. Even though price-wise it wasn’t the BEST time to move, it certainly wasn’t the worst and in regards to our burgeoning family, we certainly needed the space. All in all, I think we are pretty content with our decision to buy.

Fast forward to today and while we like our little house, there are a lot of things we don’t like about it including how energy inefficient it seems to be. Add to that our complete disdain for our current windows and we were all about hearing what Power Windows and Siding had to say.

Power Windows and Siding Came a Knockin
It all started when somebody came to the house knocking on our door saying that their company was giving out free estimates on windows and that they would put the estimate in writing and would be honored for a year. I’m pretty sure we had gotten one of these guys at the house before and shirked them off, but for some reason we decided to give them a try this time. (I think it was because he said the estimate would only take 10 minutes). So we scheduled the appointment for that Saturday, didn’t think too much more of it and said goodbye to that guy.

A Very Good Presentation
That Saturday at 2pm, the representative from Power Windows and Siding came to our house to do the estimate. I won’t divulge the guy’s name but he was a really nice decent looking dude who went on to do probably an hour or two just straight presentation on the windows… And the presentation was good! He brought out lots of cross sections of the windows to show how they were made, real estimates from local competitors on the windows, he brought out the windows themselves, did a heat demonstration, discussed the company.. Again, it seemed really thorough and after the presentation alone it was hard to not want to buy the windows esp as how we can barely move the windows we have installed now.

Into Hour 3 or 4…
At about the hour 3 or 4 mark, we finally started talking about price. I think for 12 windows we were quoted a price of a little over $10K but don’t hold me to that. Now that price also came with a FANTASTIC double lifetime guarantee that covered the windows from ANYTHING. All acts of god, the kids, even if I locked myself out and broke a window to get back in. Being assured that we would never have to spend another dime on our windows and that we’d be saving some money on our energy bill was looking really attractive. BUT, we’re not millionaires and we concluded that $10,000 was just too far out of comfort zone. It was at that point that negotiations REALLY started as this guy would not take “no” for an answer.

The Estimate – 5 Hours of My Life Gone
It should also be pointed out that when we scheduled this appointment at 2 so that we could talk to this guy while the kids were down for their naps. Since then, the kids went down for their nap, got up from their nap, and we were all trying to just get some food. I had played a game of basketball before this and I was DYING. Every time the rep offered us a new lower price, he gave us some privacy to let us think about it but it was never “Here’s my phone number, think about it for a day”. At one point he even said, “Oh no problem! You two think about it – I can hang around.”

Now if this guy wasn’t absolutely charming and nice to talk to, I would’ve wanted to kill myself and that line wouldn’t’ve have flown. But don’t think I didn’t know what was going on either – It was quickly apparent that these Power Windows and Siding reps were trained to NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE hence him being at my house 5 hours after the presentation started. Adding to the pressure of everything is that all his reduction in prices were only available “that day”. But whatever… Sales guys are sales guys and I was pretty sure they’d find it in their heart to honor these one day prices two months down the road.

But after more talks, we finally got the guy down to roughly $9000 and with tax credits and their stuff I think it came down to $7500 which WAS in our wheelhouse. So after 5 hours of presentations, negotiations, famine, and dealing with the kids – We finally signed the papers and he was on his way. Again, we felt ok with the purchase because we had a couple days to cancel and we did get the price down to something we liked.

Of Course the Wife Cancels
I sat through a 5 hour presentation, hunger and headaches for these windows. I hate the ones we have now and was definitely looking forward to replacing them. My wife on the other hand had apparently made a secret unilateral decision that she wanted a minivan and she thus decided to cancel the windows. And it was funny that in all the things that we read, all the fine lines that we went over – We didn’t read the fine print on canceling which could only be done with TELEGRAM or HAND DELIVERING THE LETTER to their Power Windows and Siding HQ in PA. I mean, who the hell even knows how to send a telegram?

If you haven’t been able to tell already, this was par for the course with Power Windows and Siding… making it VERY difficult for them NOT to close the deal. Undeterred however the wife discovered you could also send a letter with delivery confirmation or something and so we did. It was at this point that they said that we had to have a followup meeting (you guessed it) IN OUR HOUSE to fill out some “internal” paperwork to really terminate the transaction! And my wife is telling me this as if that’s just the way it was! I on the other hand said, “Enough is Enough!”

I called them up regarding this appointment and it was clear to me that they were on full scramble mode trying to keep this appointment to make one final stab at us. I was transferred from one CSR to the next until I finally spoke to someone who seemed able to end the insanity. She tried to give me some line about “Since this is such a big order, we need you to file some internal paperwork with us…” but I just had to cut her off, “LOOK, your internal paperwork doesn’t have anything to do with us and there is NO reason to send someone to our house again. We are done.” to which she quickly said “Thank you” and hung up.

Power Windows and Siding Conclusion
When I researching this company and seeing other people’s reviews and complaints, almost everyone complained about the process that I went through. And while they are definitely pushy as hell, I don’t think I’ve seen or heard any complaints from those who actually got their windows. Honestly, I wish I had been one of them.

This is How You Start New Relationships!

Not too long ago, I was in LA at a Direct Sales Conference for Women. It was the first time I had gone to a conference for my web design business and it was also the first time I had gotten a chance to meet my designers (since they live in Hawaii).

It was a pretty cool affair (despite me coming down with both a sinus and ear infection) and I met some very talented, passionate individuals out there including a very peppy and enthusiastic Stephanie Nivinskus. She’s one of those people that just gives off a good energy when she’s near ya know? So we talked a bit amongst the blaring music and all the commotion of the conference and we said that we’d definitely think about the other for various opportunities that would come down the line.

So fast forward to a week or two ago and Stephanie dropped me a line asking me for some technical help on her website, ImpressionsOnCall.com. Thankfully I was able to help, and that weekend we chatted on the phone where I tried to give her some tips on the finer points of website editing and the like. Well, we ended up having a great conversation (not only about her website) but also her marketing business as well as how our businesses could help each other. And let me tell you – Having the chance to partner with people who are passionate about what they do really gets me going. (And bubbly personalities don’t hurt either)!

So then get this – A couple of days ago I got an e-mail from the aforementioned marketing professional where she asked if I had “received the chocolate yet”? I’m like, “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?” So after I finished accosting the wife on the subject, I turned my attention to the UPS man and eagerly awaited the delivery. A day later I got this awesome package complete with an fantastic feel good card and 4 delicious (and I mean DELICIOUS) brownies!


Send Out Cards

And let me tell you, nothing makes me feel greater than getting compliments about what I try to do – Not the applications I make or the websites I put together, but the effort I try to put forth for everyone I work with.

So thank you Stephanie for brightening up my day and here’s to a great many projects together!
Everyone else, make sure to check out Impressions Marketing for all of our marketing needs!

Breathing Easier

Running your own business is a funny thing.

I’m trying to remember how long I’ve been in business but at the time that I write this, (like every other time I can recount for the last couple months), my mind is so… BUSY, that it’s hard to recall the small stuff.

But i will say that at least on the financial front, I’m finally breathing a bit easier. There have been so many highs and lows since I left my job… So many times where I’m just trying to move enough money around that I can make the minimum payment on my business credit card that it feels like a great accomplishment to FINALLY have a small amount of funds in the account.

And don’t read it any different – It’s a small amount of funds. But it’s enough to keep the family afloat for a month should a check not go through (or come) and we have not had that small amount of security for a long time.

Assessing My Current Situation
So today when I finally took a breath and found myself in a “good place” – My mind immediately began to race towards all the things I could buy now that I couldn’t before. In my younger days before I had these kids and a wife, I would probably have gone out and bought an LCD, new computer or SOMETHING! Presently however, I’m very content to just not have to worry for a little while and to have the chance to future proof my business!

*whew!* Everything is coming up Millhouse.

Too Busy to be Bothered With Posting!

There are a number of posts in the queue that I’m really ready to crank out, but I’ve been far too busy to polish them up for your reading pleasure.

Currently, my time has really been split between a certain client site that I had hoped to have done in December, the fantastic goodness that is Borderlands and of course – My kids. It looks like the client site in question is nearing an end which I couldn’t be happier about. It really is a project that has dragged on beyond dragging on. Part of that has been my fault admittedly, but in fairness I know that I’m dealing with one of those clients where you have to gently nudge them at certain times. But I love’em so it’s all good. (#):) (All this time with the site not being done however is hosting money lost so it WOULD be in my best interest to wrap this one up before March).

Kids are doing well and I think I’ve been doing a better job of getting away from the keyboard during the day and giving them some quality dad time. Of course you always worry that it’s not enough but I’m doing what I can and I think it IS an improvement relative to what they were used to. I’ll say though that I think all of us are ready for this cruel Maryland winter to be over so we can go outside and play again. Going on walks and stuff is as good for me as it is for them no doubt.



And finally there is the GEM that is Borderlands. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy the game as much as I have but even on my second playthrough I can’t get enough of the game. I think it’s very possible too that I’ll be downloading all the DLC too! …Which on that note may mean that I won’t be posting again for a long time ha ha!

MD SnOMG/Snowpocalypse Has Buried Me

Yesterday I had to apologize to everyone through my Twitter feed because I haven’t written any posts in a while and haven’t been going anywhere in the blogosphere.

Well blame it on this snow!

If you haven’t heard, we in MD have been getting hit with a LOT more snow than we’re used to. I think last week we had somewhere around 2 feet of snow and today they’re forecasting another foot or something.

Recently, most of my days lately have consisted of me waking up, shoveling, recovering, shoveling, recovering, shoveling and then going to bed only to do it all again the next day. And let me tell you, trying to find places to put this much snow is very difficult. Around my house I have inadventently built a giant wall of snow, towering higher than the cars in our parking lot. And trying to throw more snow OVER that wall well… My back loves it.


View outside my house.

And really, I do LIKE snow. But this is just too much and it keeps coming!

I’ll Tell You What I Want What I Really Really Want (Part 2)

When you’re a budding entrepreneur, (even though at this point, I think I’m full-fledged), you often look ahead to nicer times…

Times when you’re not worrying about keeping your server dues paid, times when you’re not stressed about paying your designers, times when you’re not worried about getting new work…

It’s also these times when you look ahead to when you’ll have some disposable income to blow on the good stuff! Week before last I shared some of the things I’m most excited on incorporating back into my life from insurance to my gym membership, but today I’ll share with you some of the good stuff!

A PS3
If you’ve followed me for any period of time, you may be surprised to hear this but yeah – I’d like to get a PS3 (when I have disposable income that is). I really haven’t come around in my thinking on the system, (being as how there are still only a handful of PS3 exclusives I want to play), but the video game hoarder/enthusiast in me is willing to look past that. Plus, in addition to God of War III coming out soon, I’m hearing that PSN Home is looking a lot better than when I last saw it.

Kratos Could Winterize My House
I bet Kratos could Winterize my house. Or burn it the ground. Either way I’d probably be warmer.

Winterizing My House
As I type this, I’m sitting in my basement looking at the news on my Windows 7 box hoping that getting the latest NVidea drivers will stop Windows Media Center from crashing. And let me tell you, as much as I love my basement, my fingers are freezing. The only reason the rest of me isn’t is because I’m wearing several layers, a hoodie and shoes. It sucks. Last year I tried to do something about this problem myself but it’s way beyond even MY industrious skills.

Amplifier for My Car
I’m not sure if it was around Christmas or my birthday this past year, but around that time I got my some Best Buy gift cards. (SIDE NOTE: If you ever want to make me happy, buy me some Best Buy gift cards). And interestingly enough, “right now” there isn’t too much at Best Buy that I want – Which is to say that I’m at a weird point with my electronics (home theater, computer, etc) where everything is pretty up to date, so the next step up would mean major dollars.

So I was thinking about what I would use my gift cards on, and then I thought that I always wanted to upgrade my car audio. Well after I got a new deck, I had to get new speakers and despite getting rave reviews, I was really underwhelmed with them. So I went onto Crutchfield and asked one of their fantastic advisors what the deal was and they said it’s probably because my speakers are underpowered and that I desperately needed an amp.

Alpine MRP-F300
Alpine MRP-F300

I even picked one out at the time, but because I left my cushy 9-5 shortly thereafter, I had to put this little baby on the backburner where she sits to this very day. Truth be told, I COULD buy it using reward points from my credit card but we’ve had a pretty harsh winter so I don’t think I’d be in a rush to install it – Yes, that’s how I roll.

And if you think that’s a lot, think again! I still have more to write but I will not subject my fingers to the frozen tundra that is my basement any longer! Maybe another iteration next Friday?

I'll Tell You What I Want What I Really Really Want (Part 1)

Before my wife got her hooks into me, I used to spend money like it was going out of style. Which is really all to say that I never saved money and just enjoyed a comfortable single guy lifestyle of eating out all the time with friends.

Now that I’m married, have kids, and just “getting off the ground” with web design stuff, I’ve REALLY had to dial it back. But with every new financial foothold I gain back (it’s a rough transition from the 9-5 to this), the more I can dream about life’s little luxuries.

Day Care
By far, the biggest luxury I’m looking forward to in the near future is being able to afford day care again for my 2 kids. Don’t take this the wrong way, the kids are great and I know I’m lucky to be able to spend so much time with them – But trying to program while my littlest one is on my lap turning off my monitors, trying to take conference calls while my oldest is yelling for more apple juice… It can be a bit trying sometimes. And I also look at this as an important milestone because conceivably with more time, I’ll have more of an opportunity to grow my business. Or at least the theory goes.

Insurance
I know you’re going to get a kick out of this one Pete, but I can’t wait to have decent insurance again either. Right now we have the “if you lose an arm, you won’t lose a leg” insurance so for things like going to the Allergist, I’m pretty much SOL. I’ve been pretty lucky that I haven’t been really sick either but just being able to get back on my allergy meds would do so much for my sleeping habits.

Gym
Lastly on my list of “must haves” is the gym. I belong/used to belong (it’s complicated) to a Globo Gym with admittedly, a pretty high price tag. I really want to get back in there because we all know that staying healthy does A LOT for you. But when you’re home with the kids every waking moment, it’s kinda hard to find a yourself out of the house with an hour to lift.

And of course I have a ton more on my list, but if I wrote them all out here, it would be an extremely long post. I think I’ll probably post more next Friday (fun stuff at that) – So make sure to check back then!

2009 is Out and 2010 is In! – Auf Wiedersehen

Even though this post may be written a day early, it doesn’t mean that the sentiment still doesn’t ring true! I hope everyone has had a great 2009 and a fantastic New Years!

For me, 2009 was a really fantastic year. Without a doubt, my biggest accomplishments were finishing up The Dude Registry, seeing my web design company really begin to flourish, and leaving the 9-5! I can’t tell you how happy I am that I got out of that job. Now to be honest, the job wasn’t ALL THAT BAD, but truthfully – It was killing me.

In other news, I know it has been a while since we’ve talked so I hope you had a nice Christmas. Mine was good but it was WAAAAY too fast. For my oldest kid, it was his first one where he could KINDA understand what was going on. And by that I mean he knew he was entitled to presents. (#):) Oh and check this out – Our holiday card for this year!



A Few Goals for 2010
In the past I’ve said that I’m really not one for resolutions, (since I believe that it shouldn’t have to take ONE DAY to change your life), but this year I wanted to take a second and just set up some goals for myself. First one being to really take my web design company to the next level where it’s bringing in the amount of money I want it to and I can get really picky about the clients I decide to take on. Secondly, I want to show a renewed interest in my own health. I think currently I’m about 190 lbs (at 5″10′), not taking my allergy shots, and overall I’m just disrespecting my body. That really needs to change.

But really, I can’t tell you how excited I am about 2010. For me, (and I believe for you too), it’s ripe full of possibilities which means there’s only one thing to do…

REAP THE WHIRLWIND!

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Has it really been 3 months since I’ve written anything on here!? Wow.

But you know, I think there have been “good” reasons for that. I’ve been actively working with clients with my web design company, got a great site up recently that I’m pretty proud of and I’m putting the “finishing touches” on my super secret big project soon to be unveiled!

And what is perhaps the biggest news yet, I am not working a 9-5 anymore! That’s not to say that I’m making enough money to support me and the family yet, but hopefully I can make it work so I don’t have to go back to that horrible world anymore! Now hopefully all of this means that you will be seeing some more posts from me, but who knows if that’s really going to be happening because the thing of it is, (while I’m not making any money), the kids have been taken out of daycare which means I’m seeing a lot of them, and my FREE TIME is not seeing a lot of me.

So I guess stay tuned true believers and make sure to follow me on Twitter!