From left to right: Aaron Frerichs, Mike Irvine, Seth Adam, Aaron Van Noy, Nate Houstman, Donna Conn and Donna's daughter Kathline Kay Conn at Oyama Sushi & Steakhouse.

Cedar Rapids WordPress meetup group at Oyama Sushi & Steakhouse

Our meetup group (Cedar Rapids WordPress Meetup Group) usually takes place at the Linn Area Community Credit Union/Business Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but maybe I was supposed to reserve the room? Don White I let you down. My first co-hosting of the wordpress meetup didn’t go as well as I had planned. But like I was trained to do, adapt, overcome, and conquer. And that is exactly what we did. So we all headed to Oyama Sushi & Steakhouse in Cedar Rapids and had the meeting there.

We ended up working on http://simplestrokesmassage.com owned by one of our unexpected guests tonight, Donna Conn, L.M.T. She is a new business owner and needed help with her WordPress website. Let’s just say I think her head was swimming with the pages of notes and information that were jotted down: SEO tips, Plugins to download, Widget help in the footer and Google Analytics was installed by me on that site. Plus much much more!

We always have a blast at these meetups no matter if we have a set plan or we just wing it (like we ended up doing tonight). I originally planned that we would go over the REST API and even posted a video of the REST api & a webinar on angular js andwp REST api on the meetup page. Often when someone comes in needing help we all help out and give them a crash course in what we know.

Side note: If you are looking for a WordPress Meetup in Des Moines, Iowa area be sure to check out the that slack channel. I’m also a member of that group but not a Co-Organizer of that group.

Fellow Nerds talk about technology at TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

Geeks talk shop at TechBrew. Hosted at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City, IA on Mar 8, 2016

What: TechBrew Iowa City
When: Tue Mar 8, 2016 5pm Central Time
Where: Forbidden Planet, 111 S Dubuque St, Iowa City, IA
Why: Because getting tech geeks talk shop out from behind the desk is really a good thing!

TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

Friends geeking out at TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

Friends geeking out at TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

Fellow Nerds talk about technology at TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

Fellow Nerds talk about technology at TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

People at Startup Weekend In Cedar Rapids, Iowa

My Experience at Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids March 4th 2016 #swcr16

StartUp Weekend Cedar Rapids logoThis will be my second Startup Weekend that I’ve attended, but my first Startup Weekend in Cedar Rapids (my very first was Startup Weekend Iowa City). I’ve decided to pitch my app idea this time. My mentor David Oliver told me to pitch my idea at the Iowa City startup, but I was worried that someone would take my idea. However, I’ve been so busy and have never had the chance to get working on this project. So this time I’ll be taking his advice and giving my pitch (a total of 1 min) to say in a concise manner what my idea is.

My 1 minute “pitch fire” speech (60 seconds goes FAST):

So what is my pitch? Well, here it is from beginning to end.

Hello my name is Aaron Van Noy. I’m a full-time website designer and marketer with a passion for pinball and tech. My idea is to create an app that plays nicely with preexisting social media sites using their APIs. The photo based app is called Crowd Zoo (subject to pivot at any time). This app will allow people to check-in to an event like a wedding, a sporting stadium or even an event like this, Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids. When groups use our Crowd Zoo app, small photos will automatically stream from right to left on everyone’s device. Simply flick up to auto post on the user’s predetermined favorite social media. Someone is always taking a picture from a better angle than I and I’d love to post it on my stream. All photos in this app will be geotagged with precise location of the picture. Stage 2: The event coordinator can prompt all users to participate in a “group photo” in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 CLICK! Images can then be stitched together on the server to create a matrix style fly around effect or a crowd walk through. These photos may give enough information to even create a 3D world walk through at a later time. So who is with me to start this Crowd Trainer App (Looks like I’ve already pivoted)?!

Last minute change. Told to SCRAP above & focus on the solution:

I was advised by multiple people from the Startup Iowa’s Slack Channel (Becky Smith, Trevor Carlson, Riley Eynon-Lynch, Mark Hadley, Tim McDougall and others) to NOT focus on the solution, but focus on the problem. Because people understand it from that perspective better. People have the same issues that they can fully grasp and relate to! So here I am hours away from my first pitch… and I’m changing how I’m going to pitch it. I honestly don’t think I would have enough time to pitch everything about anyway.

New redesigned “pitch fire” speech will be passionate and mostly off the cuff:

So I will be focusing on the problem and who is feeling the pain of the problem. Not the solution.

  • Problem of retweeting/reposting live event pictures cross platform
  • I know that person over there got a better picture from that angle than I.
  • Scour social media to find the image
  • Live icon preview of all pictures
  • Simple flick uploading
  • Use geotagged images for Matrix affect.
  • Wedding walk though
  • Get everyone to take a picture at the same time
People at Startup Weekend In Cedar Rapids, Iowa

People at Startup Weekend In Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Start with a game called “Half Baked”:

Start of Half Baked game at Cedar Rapids Startup Weekend

Start of Half Baked game at Cedar Rapids Startup Weekend

Grab random words during Half Baked game in Cedar Rapids

Grab random words during Half Baked game in Cedar Rapids

During the game Half Baked

During the game Half Baked

A game called Half Baked with the words Tasty Hippo

A game called Half Baked with the words Tasty Hippo

Video of the accepted pitches at Startup Weekend:

Team Collab Music:

I joined Collab Music and quickly ran into problems with the basic idea. The word Pivot come out of my mouth Friday night. It was a dominant word as we discovered more about our potential clients… Musicians.

Customer discovery and interviews:

Customer discovery and interviews at Guitar Center

Customer discovery and interviews at Guitar Center

Closeup of walls of guitars of Guitar Center in Cedar Rapids, IA

Closeup of walls of guitars of Guitar Center in Cedar Rapids, IA


Watch it live on Twitter! Use the hashtag #swcr16:



Startup Weekend (powered by Google for Entrepreneurs) icon
Up Global logo

Assistive Technology Helping Web Accessibility and User experience

Assistive Technology Helping Web Accessibility & User Experience

Iowa Web Accessibility UX and Inclusive Design LOGO (#A11y)
We went to the Iowa Web Accessibility, UX & Inclusive Design meetup. This time it was held at the Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research. The evening started off with Amanda Lewis (Graduate Assistant) & Patricia (Patti) Bahr (MSE, ATP, RET) Director, stepping us though what it may feel like to be learning disabled, blind or hard of hearing. For me (being dyslexic) this was an interesting experience in realizing all of the obstacles I’ve had to deal with in my life. Once the group had a chance to experience empathy toward disabled members in our society, we proceeded to learn about some of the tools that modern technology gives people in need: From standalone apps like BeeLine Reader, Snap&Read Universal to Nuance’s Dragon®.‎ We also went over an extensive library of Google Chrome™ plugins like Voice Note II and Read&Write (my two favorites). To keep them all organized I recommend using Extensity!

So why learn about all of the tools available to people who are blind, hearing impaired, learning disabled, etc? Because programming a website that is user friendly across the board is just that important. We had lots of fun at this event at the University of Iowa.

Learning disability simulation of drawing within the lines:

This little mirror trick isn’t as easy as it looks. Cover your drawing hand and use a mirror at the top of the paper to draw within the lines while the “teacher” goes around praising some for doing such a wonderful job (yet no one really was) and says perceived negative things to others that are quickly internalized by the students who are having a hard time just following this simple star. It makes me truly sympathetic to people with disabilities who know what to do… but their bodies simply won’t let them do it.

Amanda Lewis, U of I Graduate Assistant talks about dyslexia and how teachers teach

Amanda Lewis, U of I Graduate Assistant talks about dyslexia and how teachers teach

Mirror Activity simulates having dyslexia or learning disability

Mirror Activity simulates having dyslexia or learning disability

Reading simulation: What it may feel like to be Dyslexic or Learning Disabled:

In the beginning you are given several words that were translated for you into this made up “dyslexic” language. As soon as you turn the page, it becomes more complex. Learning new “words” and remembering old fictional letter combinations turns out to not be as easy as the reader thinks. Before you know it the story is over and the “teacher” begins to ask you questions. The realization is that you struggled so much to read the text you didn’t have time to comprehend what you just read.



Reading a story as a Dyslexic student may read it

Reading a story as a dyslexic student may see or read it. Not so easy after all.

Learning to use modern tools that should be accessible to the websites we produce:

VoiceNote II was a little funky, but for the free price tag you can’t go wrong. It was able to read just about anything that was viewable on the computer, from websites to .PDFs and more.

Comparing Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking to VoiceNote II and other apps

Comparing Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking to VoiceNote II and other apps


WordPress meetup dinner Cedar Rapids, Iowa

WordPress meetup group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa | Creative Corridor

wordpress logoTuesday night at the Creative Corridor Meetup. I love these meetups! You get such a unique mashup of professionals and amateurs who all have the same common root of learning WordPress even better. At a glanceWordPress is pitched as “blogging software” but the advanced users know the extreme power that can be released! I was personally able to help out Clayton Gill a self-proclaimed “rookie” who uses WordPress for blogging and for a nonprofit website. He was having an “odd thing happen” each time he tried to back up his site to do an upgrade to the most recent version of WordPress. It would progress to about 60% each time on GoDaddy’s cPanel hosted servers then fail. It looks like Big Ten Web Design has had the most clients that still like GoDaddy’s legacy hosting and who haven’t made the switch to managed WordPress (2018 update: GoDaddy is still using slow PHP 5.6 for managed WP hosting, and is not recommended overall, most of our clients websites now use PHP 7.1 or better). I run into this very same problem myself years ago and also from time to time if I forget to increase the max_input_vars in the .user.ini file.  See references on linked pages:

We also discussed alternatives to GoDaddy hosting and it is the overwhelming decision that there are a bunch of better hosting companies out there.
digitalocean.com, siteground.com, kinsta.com (Runs on Google Cloud Platform)

Alternative DNS options:

Learn more about Premium DNS and why it’s so important to have one to mitigate distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Then somehow I hijacked the entire meeting with a long discussion about the best methods of moving multiple websites to a new hosting company. I’ve been eyeing a migration over to Digital Ocean with its strong community of support.

Entrance to Linn Area Community Credit Union - Business Center

Entrance to Linn Area Community Credit Union – Business Center

WordPress geeks around the table at Linn Area Community Credit Union - Business Center

WordPress geeks around the table at Linn Area Community Credit Union – Business Center

WordPress meetup dinner Cedar Rapids, Iowa

WordPress meetup dinner Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Wordpress geeks having dinner after Linn Area Community Credit Union - Business Center

WordPress geeks having dinner after Linn Area Community Credit Union – Business Center

Hanging with Rachel L. from Yelp Iowa City, IA

Yelp marketing help in Iowa City, IA: Yelp Iowa City Event

Yelp logo I had fun hanging out and talking shop/marketing with Rachel LeBeau (A quite talented lady! See Website & Esty shop) from Yelp Iowa City at The Java House today. We discussed several free options that Yelp offers and ideas to best utilize them. For Big Ten Web Design’s clients, we usually only recommend getting the back link and the free service. We just haven’t seen the ROI (Return on Investment) for clients in the past. Several of our clients have used it, then have come to us for advice, and we have guided them towards other more viable options.

Hanging with Rachel L. from Yelp Iowa City, IA

Hanging with Rachel L. from Yelp Iowa City, IA

February TechBrew in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at the NewBo Ale House

TechBrew Cedar Rapids, Iowa at the NewBo Ale House

Tech Brew logoWent to the Cedar Rapids TechBrew event at the NewBo Ale House tonight. I was able to mingle with a diverse group of people who are in the technology community. Doug Savey & Dan from Enseva, an amazing company that specializes in custom cloud-based solutions with their amazing servers and maybe the highest speed internet in all of Iowa! Mingled with Jeri Frank from Asset Rover. Asset Rover is currently in Beta and offered as a free tool to analyze your real estate investments, so you can LIVE! Plus had dinner with the owner of Evil Twin Software, Mr. Eric Chrisman. He creates custom built apps for businesses.

From left to right: Mike Irvine, Don White, Nate Houstman, Aaron Van Noy and Andrew Miller

Cedar Rapids WordPress Continuing Education meetup group

wordpress logoFantastic evening of sharing, learning and hanging out with fellow friends at the January 20th 2015 WordPress Meetup at Creative Corridor in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Tracking billable hours:

https://toggl.com

~50 pages worth of plugin recommendations:
http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/298401/Documents_for_download/Ultimate_guide_to_plugins_07.pdf

Great web firewall service: Sucuri.net

Concatenate JS and files:
https://wordpress.org/plugins/autoptimize/

SEO blueprint that I use:
https://bigtenwebdesign.com/our-program/seo-process/

Scrum boards:
https://trello.com
https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira
https://www.17hats.com
Video Blog at:
http://www.wpwatercooler.com
http://wordpress.tv

All in one events calendar:
https://wordpress.org/plugins/all-in-one-event-calendar/
Here’s a list of some theme creators that have good support. These themes are built on the Genesis Framework. You would need the base Genesis Framework from StudioPress to use these themes. ($60)
http://www.studiopress.com/
https://www.web-savvy-marketing.com/
https://prettydarncute.com/

Our favorite forms:
http://www.gravityforms.com

Business directory form:
https://wordpress.org/plugins/geodirectory/
https://wordpress.org/plugins/business-directory-plugin/

eCommerce:
https://www.woothemes.com/woocommerce/

Themes:
http://my.studiopress.com/themes/genesis/
http://themeforest.net/item/avada-responsive-multipurpose-theme/2833226

 

From left to right: Mike Irvine, Don White, Nate Houstman, Aaron Van Noy and Andrew Miller

From left to right: Mike Irvine, Don White, Nate Houstman, Aaron Van Noy and Andrew Miller

Tech and Freelancers lunch in Iowa City

Tech, Web & Freelancers Lunch in Iowa City, IA

Startup Iowa logo startup Iowa City logoWe joined 8 other tech industry members in the Iowa City area for a Freelancers lunch and discuss how to better interact with clients. From using videos to show clients what we worked on that day to digital scrum boards to just email. We were all in agreement that dealing with clients, that email maybe one of the worst things to use. Phone calling using a google voice number was far above just sending end of day emails. But in short is what is manageable for you and the client. Its not always an easy thing to balance or find.

Tech and Freelancers lunch in Iowa City

Tech and Freelancers lunch in Iowa City

Participants of Startup Weekend Iowa City 2015

Fun at the Startup Weekend Iowa City 2015

Startup Weekend LOGOHad fun participating in the 2015 Iowa City Startup Weekend! I worked on several projects. All pivoted and ended up going in lots of different directions. From a “Daily Special” app for local restaurants to fun but simply not practical “Corn Caucus” that was at first designed to be a satirical look into Iowa politics but also pivoted into a kids book later on in the weekend.


It isn’t all ways hard work!

My group at Startup Weekend Iowa City 2015

My group at Startup Weekend Iowa City 2015

In the video below the Corn Caucus Crew is discussing the characters in the book that we ended up working on for this project.