Friday, February 10, 2023
Recently, when the admin for the Facebook group, MarylandBloggers polled members about blogging and other content creation activities, I noted of the 15 or so respondents- only 23% were still blogging.
That said, most indicated they were using Instagram more (29%), while a smaller percentage were creating content for TikTok and Youtube.
I have been researching Youtube bloggers, which are also known as vloggers. I have to say, that my research provides if you do not have a paid sponsor for each video, the Adsense revenue alone is probably not going to offset the cost of the equipment, software used for editing, and time required for this content creation activity.
So why did I register a new domain, marylandbloggers.com? Mainly because it was only $10.74 a year and I wanted to see if I could come up with a business plan.
I am actually looking to promote both bloggers and vloggers from Maryland. I feel effective use of promotional tools can help with other business areas, and I would like to assist other small business owners in this area.
The morning (February 8, 2023), I registered the new domain (actually renewing my real estate site when I checked to see if "marylandbloggers.com" was available), and roughed out the database schema, using MS Excel. The final version will be used for the online database which will provide a directory of Maryland content creators.
Also playing around with graphics and slogans for the new site.
This project is not a high priority for me, however I do feel that with the current state of employment issues, anything anyone can do to help the communities they are a part of, might be useful.
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
It has been a hectic November. Along with shopping, cooking, and normal business activities, I have had a number of unusual issues that required immediate attention.
Software issue #1, Freddie Mac discontinued a number of stats having to do with mortgage loan rates and discount and origination fees making it imperative that I update my software. Relatively easy fix that is reflected here and here.
On November 17, 2022, Freddie Mac changed the methodology of the Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The weekly mortgage rate is no longer based on a survey of lenders. For more information regarding Freddie Mac’s enhancement, see their research note. See more here.
Changes to the FatSecret API required attention, even though my software app is not installed on the WiredPages Health page. The FatSecret API provides nutrient information about specified foods. I periodically check all of my applications (even those offline) to ensure they are operable.
My access to the Amazon Product Advertising API is again available (based on sales). I have become used to the Native Ads that appear when the API is unavailable, so I decided to make that the default when a page using the app is requested.
WiredPages hosting one of two applications which use the Amazon Product Advertising API:
The difference now, the applications provide search results provided by the Amazon Product Advertising API.
It is Thanksgiving week and I began cooking this morning. I ran errands yesterday, and expect to be in, at least until Friday (day after Thanksgiving).
I am one of those people who researches and plans. So already, I have plans that have gone awry. I am expecting everything else to go as planned. Also hoping to get some rest. For some reason, all of these unexpected issues, including one or two not mentioned- are throwing me off kilter.
Hope your holiday plans are going as planned.
Friday, November 18, 2022
With the end of the year quickly approaching, I have more to do than normal. In addition, because my 2010 WindowsXP Acer Netbook is beginning to have problems, I have had to move most of the computing resources on that platform to other systems.
One of the resources on the Acer platform was the Microsoft Access Database I use to maintain addresses. Over the years, I added custom features to my version of the address database that shipped with some of the earlier versions of Access.
I use Microsoft Office 2000 Professional on the Acer Netbook so I had to convert the database to the 365 version of Access for use on the mini PC where the database is now maintained.
Though not a difficult conversion, it was not as straightforward as I had hoped. It took less than 10 minutes yesterday afternoon to convert the database.
I have installed a licensed version of Microsoft Office 2000 Professional on one of my Windows10 Pro mini PCs, however now that I have a licensed copy of MS Office Professional 365, I prefer to use the later release.
I have been developing and using Microsoft Access databases since 1993, the same year I purchased my first version of the software. Though I could have used a workplace copy, I was so impressed- I purchased my own copy of the software. I consider Microsoft Access to be an invaluable resource.
Monday, September 12, 2022
It has been a busy start to September 2022. Some of the things I have been doing, include:
- Corrected the problems with my Instagram demos, see here and here.
- Corrected an issue with the Zillow Zestimate API demo.
- Filmed cooking videos for my Youtube channel. I have a lot of editing to do on the videos.
- Began working on a new tool using the Youtube API that provides earnings for specified Youtube channels.
- Researched Youtube Vloggers.
- Completed 1.5 hours of real estate continuing education (Fair Housing) for my license renewal in April 2024.
- Researching ways to make money online. Wanted to understand whether surveys were a viable source of income. Made about $20.00 in a little over a week, however given my other time constraints, feel it is more of a burden than I can handle. That said, one can earn money online, doing surveys.
- Went to the markets (Costco, Safeway, Food Lion) on separate days.
- Finished a book I borrowed from the library, "Cry of the Halidon" by Robert Ludlum. Thought I had read everything he had ever written.
- The $10,000 five year CD with my business bank matured, so closed it out and opened a new CD with another of my banks. The rate of 3.50% APY on a five year term CD was too hard to pass up at the other bank. My business and personal banks are large institutions with many branches. For most things like opening or closing accounts I have to make an appointment at one of the branches. My online banks do not have branches, however I love the fact I can open a new account without leaving home.
- Noticed tributes for Serena.
- Watching some of the many tributes for the Queen of England.
Monday, September 05, 2022
Let me say first of all, I owe a post about why my Instagram demos are no longer working (non-operational as of 11:00pm August 31, 2022 or when I noticed), however I am not happy about this situation, so I am going to put it off for now. A recent Youtube video demonstrates the demos were operational and I hope to correct the issue in the near future.
So, this post is about something that made me very happy, and how I justified everything.
What did I get?
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Saturday, August 06, 2022
Awhile back, I began to familiarize myself with the offerings of Node.js. What is Node.js?
That said, for security reasons, I prefer Java JDBC servlets to access online databases which is not as open as the Node.js offering. The popularity of Node.js prompted my research into this area.
Insofar as online demonstrations of what I can do with node.js, there are issues for me because both of my web hosts use the Apache Tomcat server- which I need to run server side Java programs. This causes a special setup requirement for Node.js support. Because I only need the support to demonstrate Node.js knowledge, I opted to provide the demonstrations in my local experimental software development environment via video.
The following video demonstrates tools I am using and software I have created in my two software development environments: production and experimental including a Node.js demo.
I again used Active Presenter to create the video presentation provided in this post. I continue to learn new features available within Active Presenter however feel I should spend a lot more time editing. I have time issues.
PS. Sorry about the decibel level on the NPR Station Selection demo segment of the video. I wanted to show the control features of the application and may have left too much of the original video in tack.
Also, why am I not looking into the camera?
I use a high resolution monitor for Zoom meetings and a separate camera (monitor does not have a camera). Configuration shown above. When I recorded this video, I continued to look at the monitor and not the camera located slightly higher and to the left of the monitor. Trying to learn from my mistakes.
Monday, July 04, 2022
A major software issue I wanted to look into- involved my Instagram API Demonstrations, as provided: here and here.
The problem involved thumbnail requests of the photos and videos, which initially were being returned from the API as same size photos no matter what size originally uploaded to Instagram. See this link for illustration, the thumbnail requests initially worked.
Recently, when I uploaded a new photo to Instagram via my new iPad mini, the problem became more evident because the app on the iPad did not crop the photo in the same manner as the Android version. That is what prompted my decision to fix the problem now, rather than later.
The following video, discusses and demonstrates updates to several QiSoftware developed software tools including the Instagram demonstrations.
I am playing around with Microsoft's Power Point 365 and Active Presenter for online videos and presentations which is how I created the video in this blog post. I consider this effort in the early stages and will continue to try to perfect my efforts in this area.
Hope you are having a nice holiday...
Friday, April 08, 2022
Working a number of projects this week. In mid-March, I began implementing the new interface for the Zillow Zestimate API Demonstration. In mid 2021, Zillow decided to retire the older Zestimate API, and I was a little slow in deciding whether to replace the tool.
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Tuesday, February 01, 2022
I have been working several projects. A major effort began January 12, 2022, however I am not going to discuss this project just yet. I have an ongoing post started, chronicling efforts for the project. It is taking up quite a bit of my time.
Other efforts? Taxes, mine, and others. I have been busy gathering all of the needed documents and tax statements for 2021. Happy to report my tax returns, both Federal and State were filed last evening. I use the online version of TurboTax for my filings.
Have a bit more work to do for this tax season, however feel my preparations should make it a breeze.
Another issue? About a week and a half ago, I noticed a problem with the WiredPages Sports page- sports scores widget. I was able to fix the problem, in short order, however decided holding off on installing the new tool.
The reason for the software installation delay- probably has more to do with the major effort, I alluded to earlier. I have done a lot to debug the new tool (scores board), however at this time I do not have the time to run more checkout- if there is a problem once installed online.
Thursday, January 06, 2022
Recently, I developed a Java JDBC Servlet that connects to the WiredShops Opencart database- allowing real-time quick reports of sales data.
The illustrations below show the development (local) mode output of the program.
I have ported several integrated databases, i.e., CIA's World FactBook, Commentrics, and Opencart to my local development environment.
I was pleasantly surprised with the ease in which I was able to access the Opencart data. In comparison to the other databases, Opencart is very straight forward as related to executing queries without having to make joined or multiple requests.
The new program is installed on Remix (Business Blog) and this blog in the lower area of the sidebar as illustrated in the graphic below.
Can a program like this be written in PHP rather than Java JDBC Servlet technology? Yes. I prefer Java because it executes faster and is less resource intensive. Opencart is written in PHP. That said, all of my websites use Java hosting services in addition to Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (LAMP).
To learn more about my WiredShops Opencart installation see this promotional article.
Monday, December 27, 2021
As previously discussed, site promotion for the new QiSoftware shopping site, WiredShops, was cancelled for the upcoming holiday season. The site went live the beginning of November (2021), however because of problems with payment processing and shipping times, the decision was made to forgo heavy site promotion.
Though the site has been live since November, there have been no sales. If you feel this is in error, please contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
The site is driven by the Opencart platform. At any given time, the Opencart administration panel reflects the number of visitors to the site.
Payment processing issues included problems with non-registered PayPal buyers. For some reason the payment processing for these types of purchases would hang and not process debit and credit card information.
Tests showed, buyers registered with PayPal accounts had less problems.
At this time, PayPal is a cost effective solution which protects both my commerce enterprise and buyers. I have no immediate plans to switch to merchant services offered by my business bank, even though this option is available.
Since mid-September, I have submitted 5 separate orders to my suppliers to check products and understand the process. I am pretty happy with the products I received and received all of the items ordered.
The early orders seemed to take forever to arrive, so I have tested other shipping options with better results. A big reason for the "no holiday promotion" decision this year, I wanted to understand how to correctly select shipping options.
The items I ordered as holiday gifts, using revised shipping options, arrived well before the holiday. I did not use next day service, and the order took about 12 days. WiredShops does offer next day service for an additional fee.
Abstract noise has provided that I have other problems that I would like the proper authorities to look into. Since, I cannot prove any of the allegations, I am looking into other ways to have this checked.
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
I was surprised to learn the site ranking resource, Alexa.com, I have relied upon since 2002 (qisoftware.com registered June 28, 2002), will retire May 1, 2022.
I am not sure why this came as a surprise. In March 2020, I developed a quick reference tool using Java Servlet technology to access the Alexa API. Below are illustrations of the tool's output.
In this business blog (Remix) post, I discuss new tools I developed that would be installed on my sites at a later date. The Alexa site ranking tool was one of the new tools.
I have too many security issues to install all of the software tools I develop. In this case, an additional problem related to Alexa API access costs.
This tool was slated for installation on the WiredPages Technology page. I felt the tool would have added another interesting resource for visitors to the site. I am sorry, I probably will not have the opportunity to install this tool.
Monday, November 01, 2021
I have been busy with any number of repairs; autos, sites, several of my programs. That said, I have been ordering inventory for WiredShops and ensuring some of the items listed, are exactly as I imagined.
Below, some of the inventory that has arrived over the last month (click on the image to see the listings).
Two of the sale items I really wanted to checkout were the waterproof riding boots and stretch slim leggings shown in the photos below.
I am very pleased with both items. The blouse is also a new purchase, however I have not listed it. I love the material (transparent crepe-like) and the colors suit my complexion, however there are one or two problems. Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) privately, if you are interested in the blouse.
I am not on an all out push to over market the new shopping site, however I did expect a little more action than I am currently seeing. Some of the site repairs seem a little to suspicious and my concerns are centered on overwhelming my web hosts and shutting everything down. I cannot afford to lose my core sites- over promoting my new shopping site, hence the reason I am taking a lowkey approach.
Wednesday, October 06, 2021
I spent most of September (2021) learning about online commerce and why Amazon.com is amazon.com.
WiredShops is now open and the cart is in production mode. Note, I am using PayPal exclusively to handle all transactions securely through their gateways.
I am happy I decided to add to my skill set in this area. Opencart was an easy application to install and configure for my needs and I am satisfied with the results. Some of the major tasks associated with this project, included:
- Understanding drop shipping.
- Automating the process using APIs.
- Creating a Microsoft Access database to track all of my orders.
- Selecting and obtaining inventory I could afford to maintain.
- Analysis of shipping times and costs.
- Ensuring compliance with the state of Maryland insofar as sales tax.
- Research of products, sourcing the products (ensuring I can backup sales activity with actual inventory), and adding the items to my shop.
- Issues with browsers and CORS. Spent a Sunday afternoon researching Font-Awesome problems which turned out to be because of browser CORS related issues and the fact my sites use Apache Tomcat.
- Legal disclaimers.
The illustration below shows the new sales and use tax number I applied for to ensure I am in compliance with Maryland laws and sales tax regulations.
My core business is software consulting and advertising. I pay taxes on income derived from consulting and advertising activities as reported to the state and IRS. Sales tax on items sold in state through commerce is different and must be reported and collected at the time of sale.
As noted above, I also created a new database to maintain orders. I needed to ensure my orders and the drop shipping orders were in sync. Below an illustration of the design view of the Orders table.
Finally, one of the items I wanted to have on hand, the earrings shown below.
Quite honestly, I used to wear a different type of earring to the office. Today, I wear a pair of inexpensive diamond-like studs. I do not want my mask to snare an expensive earring. I was pleasantly surprised by the weight and how these earrings looked. I can also afford to lose one.
I enjoy researching products and adding them to my shops. I wish I could afford to order everything and ensure it is exactly- what I hoped it would be, however WiredShops does accept returns.
I will probably get back to programming and other projects, but I have to say- I thought this whole experience, very interesting. I am happy I have something to do if other areas of my life and business are not taking up too much of my time.
I worked at Circuit City part time for about three of the four years while in college. A lot of the part timers were college students. I enjoyed my experience in this area-- and understand retail operations in the "brick & mortar" sense. I love learning new things.
Saturday, September 11, 2021
In August (2021), I began researching how new commerce initiatives are being adopted. I wanted to understand how independent retailers are using services like PayPal Here and PayPal Zettle. See this post.
Pop up shops are becoming very popular and owners are using their card readers to handle their (POS) transactions. Listed below, several Youtube videos I watched to get an idea of how these Popup Shops work.
I researched Artsy Ki's (last video) online shop which showed how she used her online presence to help drive sales.
No, I am not planning a pop up shop, however I did want to learn more about software support services or advertising I might offer retailers who are thinking of- or actually working in this area.
- Researched where and how to setup an online shop.
- OpenCart- self hosted option selected.
- OSCommerce self hosted option.
- Shopify shop- (hosted on their site) and similar sites researched. Cost factors an issue. Most who use these types of services, do not have the time to come up to speed in terms of the software skills required to maintain a self hosted shop.
- Because I chose a self hosted service (OpenCart), I had to use the drop shipper's API resource to link my shop's products to the service's products. So I also had to come up to speed on the use of the API. Automated linkage was provided for shops hosted on eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce, SquareSpace, etc.
- Registered a new domain, wired-shops.com. Cost $10.74 per year. wiredshops.com was available, however cost was well over $4000. (As of 9/11/21, visitors may access the site, however the PayPal hookup is set to the sandbox account). I was lying in bed early, Tuesday morning (Septemeber 7th, 2021), and decided on a site name wiredshops.com. Half an hour later, I had wired-shops.com registered. I used to provide web hosting services, the reason it was easy for me to register the domain so quickly. I then added the domain to qisoftware.com hosting as an addon domain for testing.
- Drop shipping services researched.
- Legal issues researched. Keep in mind, Qisoftware is a registered business entity in the state of Maryland.
- Currently, working on a Terms & Conditions statement for the shop.
- Sometime ago, I signed up to use the USPS API resource (see this QiSoftware demonstration page), so it was easy to insert the correct registration information in the OpenCart shipping module to handle shipping estimate calculations.
- Thinking about a couple of programs to write Excel and json data for import to the drop shipping service.
Below, a screen shot of the homepage of the new shop. It is still in setup mode. I liked the default template that was installed when I setup OpenCart.
Currently, I am adding more products to my shop and linking the products via the API service. I plan to make this a more automated task, however right now it is rather tedious. What is the reason drop shippers cannot automate the service for self hosted shop owners? Self hosted shops tend to have more custom mods and are inconsistent insofar as how to handle import and export data.
This has been a good learning experience for me and I feel I know a great deal more.
On Thursday, September 2, 2021, there was a major issue in my life which has been mostly handled, however the fact that I have been able to get this far with this project (during this time) surprises me, given I knew nothing about drop shipping. This is not for everyone. I want this post to show, I had a lot of pieces in place to be able to do this. This could be very expensive if the proper research is not in place.
Saturday, August 28, 2021
The following interface, is a Java Servlet powered by the CJ Product Search API using GraphQL. The jQuery widget integrated directly within the program- provides the display and navigation of the products.
The jQuery widget was adapted from a CJ supplied interface which uses affiliate specified product selections for showcase. An example is provided in the last post.
The interface demonstrated in this post- allows site visitors to specify the search criteria.
I am currently beta testing the tool. Once complete, the program will be installed in the main site area (qisoftware.com) as a CJ Product Search API demonstration for potential clients.
I am still deciding on user interface issues, e.g., how many rows to display. Leave a comment if you wish to respond or have a program bug report.
Disclosure: I sometimes use affiliate links in content. This will not cost you anything. There is a chance I will receive a fee if my affiliate links are used for purchases. Thanks for your support. Also see the site wide disclosure policy using the link at the bottom of each page, labeled "Disclosure Policy".
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Years ago, when I first started developing applications using the Commission Junction (CJ) API, SOAP using WSDL were the technologies in use.
Today, the CJ Product Search API uses GraphQL.
Those familiar with SOAP/WSDL APIs, probably understand the complications involved with using Java Servlet technology to develop applications using the SOAP protocol and WSDL definition language.
This to say, yesterday when it took all day for me to figure out how to request data via a Java Servlet- using the newer CJ Product Search API and GraphQL, I was a little surprised.
As shown in the illustration above (CJ's GraphQL test page), it was not because I was unfamiliar with GraphQL. The Yelp API uses GraphQL, so I had the opportunity to research this technology in 2018.
The problem, I had to figure out how to send the correct data from the servlet to the service, and I could find very little in the way of documentation. Illustrated in the following graphic, some of the tools I use when testing new APIs I want to work with.
Around eight last night, I finally found the answer. Below the response from a successful servlet "GET" request as rendered within the Netbeans IDE output pane.
I plan to provide a demonstration of the CJ Product Search API using GraphQL on one of the QiSoftware Product pages, similar to the Instagram API demonstration.
What will the demonstration of the CJ Product Search API provide? The widget below, illustrates some of the designs of major designers- that will be available when the demonstration application is installed.
Saturday, August 21, 2021
Recent popular browser releases have set new style and site tracking defaults. Shown on the right, an example of the new default HTML radio button. Though the azure blue is striking, I felt it distracted from areas where I use radio buttons, so I decided against the new default style for WiredPages.
It turns out, changing the new default radio button style was not an easy task and I ended up using a CSS workaround I found online. Below, before and after illustrations of the fix I implemented for WiredPages to keep the overall style of the site consistent.
Note, I have not installed the CIA World Factbook interface used in the illustrations above, however the fix is demonstrated on the live WiredPages listed below:
- Business & Markets
- The FCC interface at the bottom of the Media page is being replaced, see this post, the reason the radio buttons reflect the new default for modern browsers and not my update.
The other issue I wanted to discuss as related to new browser releases, is a security feature that prevents modern browsers from accessing data and information from a referenced site- from that which is actually being visited.
In my case, the problem is mostly overridden by Apache Tomcat configuration settings, enabling the setup of cross domain permissions for the two domains I use i.e., qisoftware.com and hosting-q.com.
My main site of course is- qisoftware.com, however I use hosting-q.com to host many of the programs integrated within the pages of WiredPages (a sub-domain of qisoftware.com) and other areas of qisoftware.com.
If you find you have problems accessing some of the tools on WiredPages, and you are using Firefox or Safari on an iPhone, try the setting features illustrated in the following diagram for each browser type.
Chrome browsers should not present a problem because they use the Apache Tomcat overrides. It is not that Firefox and Safari handle the Apache Tomcat configuration incorrectly, it is more that the setting can be overridden locally.
That said, Chrome today, is the most popular browser and most users should have no problems accessing referenced external site resources from the original calling domain/site if the site administrator has setup the configuration correctly.
The following illustration provides browser market share worldwide data for July 2021 according to StatCounter Global Data.
W3Schools also tracks browser statics, however the data is based on visitors to its site, though still very useful in that it is a popular site.
Privacy and security issues have become very important in the browser developer community, and I have done a lot of research to handle some of the new security procedures that have been put in place. I am always interested in problems, so if you have one with WiredPages insofar as program access or other programs on qisoftware.com please leave a comment and let me know.
Saturday, August 14, 2021
The WiredPages Media page offered visitors a means to quickly access FCC licensing information for media stations and outlets. Recent changes to the FCC's site dictated other measures be found for the retrieval of this information.
Sometime ago, I started work on using XML feeds provided by the service, however ran into problems with TLS issues. Because of the recent changes to the FCC site, I started looking at the problem anew on Friday, and completed most of the work for a new Java Servlet to handle station CallSign search requests.
Below, some of the screengrabs I captured earlier today illustrating how the tool will work once installed.
I have been working several projects lately, including cosmetic updates for several of the WiredPages, as illustrated below.
Other recent projects:
- Pop-up Shops: Researching ways others are using their credit card readers.
- Android Studio and PayPal Here & Zettle SDKs (Coming up to speed)
- Site Monetization
I will be discussing some of the interesting aspects of the other projects listed above, in the coming weeks.
Monday, July 05, 2021
Several weeks ago, I completed work on a process that pulls comment counts for this blog from the QiSoftware.com installation of Commentics.
The first step in this project was to replicate the qisoftware.com Commentics database in my local development environment.
I then developed the inner join SQL call I needed for efficient retrieval of the counters. Initially, I developed a php program using the SQL call, however later decided I wanted a less open program for the online version, so opted to use Java Servlet/JDBC technology. I also believe, Java JDBC/Servlet technology is more efficient than php.
This project is notable, because it utilizes AJAX which I have not wanted to incorporate into my programs.
Why? AJAX data prep is open source for one, but the other big problem- older browsers did not support AJAX. Though, I have done very little with AJAX in the past, I found this to be one of the easiest parts of this project and I am glad I had the opportunity to work with this very powerful resource.
So you want to know why I have not installed the counters on this blog? Initially, I felt I was providing a lot of open source technology using AJAX, however after I setup everything, decided that because only one blog post had comments (my test comments), the earlier work to install comments on this blog was enough for now.
If I leave everything as is and fail to get more feedback in the way of comments, most of the main pages will appear as they do now, a comment png image with the word Comments, with a link to the entry post. I only update the Comments link text if there is a comment count greater than zero. If there is only one comment, the update also changes the word from Comments to Comment.
I only wanted to make one call to the database (per page visit) even though there are several entries on each page. The counts are on the pages with category, archive or main page entries. Any page with multiple entries. Individual entry post pages have the comment area rather than the link.
Setting up HTML <div>s and syncing innerHTML updates were the main efforts for this project. I am happy with how this project turned out and will probably install the program online if I begin to get more comments.
I feel as if I am entering a new phase and have to get used to providing so much in the open area. AJAX and JQuery are too powerful for me to ignore and these days- most browsers support these two powerful resources.