2008 == 1999

At least for me it does.

1999 was the year my company finally realized it needed to be on the web in some way. I had started to suggest the idea to them in 1996 and they put up a cursory contact information page in 1998, but it wasn’t until ‘99 that they decided to actually try and create a presence. 

I mean, who was I that they would listen to anyway. I was a graphic designer and had been here for less than a year, and the web was still so unknown to to most people and companies.

But ‘99 changed all that and we solicited bids from ‘Web Development Companies’. Companies that would handle all aspects of the design from graphics creation, HTML page building and any backend programming that needed to be done.

What we had decided we wanted was to put our newspaper online. We needed an editorial section that would hold that days stories and an archive, and a used equipment section that would consist of a search engine for the equipment and detail pages for each machine.

Well, we ended up with several bids that went from 13,000 all the way up to 100,000 and my company was not prepared for these numbers to say the least.

So I took my shot. I told them I could do it, and they actually believed me.

I still remember the call from my boss over the weekend asking if I thought I would really be able to handle it and I said of course I could (Not mentioning that I had never built a page in my life), and he said that when I came in on Monday, I was no longer to work on the publication, and that my full time job was going to be creating the website. 

They did contract the cheapest of the companies to do some backend programming and with them we launched the site in early 2000, and it was probably the busiest, most stressful time of career to that point. But I loved it.

With the exception of one piece of VB Script that I still use, I had re-written all of the code myself within the next 2 or 3 years, and continually updated the look, changed and added features as needed and rolled out updates on a daily or weekly basis for the next 8 years.

But now its happening again. It’s time for us to move forward and re-build from the ground up, and I’m getting that feeling again. I stressed and REALLY busy. It’s time to add things to the site that I have never built before.

I have been asked to stop the incremental updates to the site. To be honest I have been asked to stop doing anything to the site, and now have a month and a half to deliver the look and basic functionality of a new website and 5 other web related products. Including new admin sections, newsletters, and a video library that can do everything that a service like Brightcove can do, but built in house by me.

And then I have another month or so after to make it all work.

It will still be an ASP/SQL site. I hate .NET and moving to PHP/MySQL isn’t in the cards. Although I do have a PHP version of the site that mirrors the functionality of the active site. I’m sure it’s because of my knowledge of ASP vs PHP, but I can’t get the PHP site to work as fast or as well as the ASP version.

It will of course try to be standards based, having tables only where necessary, and I will use this as an opportunity to add some AJAX-y goodness to the site where appropriate. 

And Flash, with the video comes a lot of Flash. We shall see how that goes, but it will be interesting and I’ll report on it here.

After 12 years of the same company, this could be exactly what the complacent designer needs to get in gear.

King Corn – SXSW Premiere

Been a while since I’ve actually seen this movie, so this review probably won’t do it justice, but this documentary tells the story of 2 people moving out to the midwest and buying there own acre of land to grow corn and follow it through the production process.

What we find out over the course of the movie is how bad corn actually is for you and most startling how it is used in the beef industry.

I would definitely recommend this movie, it changed my wife’s shopping habits completely, and encourage everyone to see it if you get the chance.

Suffering Man’s Charity – SXSW Premiere

This was an… extreme film to say the least. Graphic in its use of language and violence and extreme in its performances, this film was quite an experience.

The performances in this film, which basically amounted to a two person play, were way over the top while staying quite entertaining. Alan Cumming, in I believe his directorial debut, was able to pull a performance from David Boreanez, who previously seem to come from the George Clooney school of brooding acting, that I didn’t think possible. They way these two are able to run around the house expressing themselves the way they do really made this movie quite memorable for me.

Whether audiences will ever get to see this in a theater, I don’t know. But if there is ever an opportunity to see this film, seize it, you will enjoy it.

Diggers – SXSW Premiere

This is an enjoyable film. Lean, tight, not a lot of fluff. It has a direction and stays with it till the end.

A nice, dramatic turn for Paul Rudd, who I’m used to seeing in comedy, playing a soon to be out of work clam digger in 1970’s Long Island, as the larger corporations move in and take all of the jobs. As he and his sister deal with the death of their father, he and his friends have to deal with the reality of losing their jobs in the increasingly corporate world.

Strong performances across the board make this a great little actors movie. Unfortunately, I don’t believe it is destined to hit many theaters, so this will have to be a DVD movie for most people, but I would highly recommend it as it was one of the best movies at SXSW.

Knocked Up – SXSW Premiere

This will probably go down as the best movie appearing at SXSW this year, and the most popular.

The lines to get into this movie were unlike any of the other films I had seen for any film at the festival, including the opening night premiere of ‘The Lookout.’ And the movie does not disappoint in any way.

Seth Rogan plays Ben an out of work, internet wanna be loser living off of a fourteen thousand dollar settlement he received 10 years ago from a postal truck accident. Katherine Heigl plays Allison Scott, a recently promoted E Television personality, who on a night of celebrating and through a verbal misunderstanding gets pregnant after a sexual encounter with Seth Rogan. Hilarity ensues. And it actually does.

I haven’t decided if this was funnier than ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’ or not, because it is so different in its tone. Still equally as vulgar of course, but different in a way that more people can relate to.

The supporting cast is great in this movie, especially Ben’s roommates and their thoughts on life. Equally as entertaining are Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann as Allison’s sister and brother-in-law, with a tremendous highlight of the movie being a getaway trip to Vegas.

This is definitely a movie to see in the theater and I believe it will be released in June. I’ll probably have to see it again as in the old Paramount Theater the sound system couldn’t compete with the laughter in the audience.

Flakes – SXSW Premiere

Flakes was a movie I was looking forward to seeing at SXSW.

Starring Zooey Deschanel and Aaron Stanford, this romantic comedy centers around a cereal bar and Zooey’s desire for Aaron to motivate himself a little more and follow his rock dreams and get away from his dead end job. Along the way a rival bar opens across the street and Zooey jumps ship in order to try and help Aaron’s motivation.

Movies starring Deshanel usually have a quirk factor that wasn’t present here, and at the same time, sorely missed. While entertaining, there was nothing significant that would make this movie stand out above any other romantic comedy that hits the theater on an almost weekly basis.

The performances were fine, the story fine, and overall the movie was… fine.