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Diary of a Maui Web Designer

Slowly Simmered Shiitake Mushrooms

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There have been several requests that I post another recipe. I admit, it’s been a long time. So, this one is for all of my Foodie friends out there. This recipe is what I call “vegetarian steak”. It’s great as a side dish, or can even be a main course if you eat it with a nice serving of brown rice since it’s rich and filling. It keeps in the refrigerator for a couple weeks, too.

shitake mushroom recipe

SERVES: Four

INGREDIENTS:
20 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. shoyu (soy sauce)
1 1/2 tsp. sugar (superfine)
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil

DIRECTIONS:
1) Start soaking the shiitake mushrooms the day before. I put them in a jar and fill it all the way up with water. You want to be sure all the mushrooms are submerged in water. Leave to soak overnight.
2) Reserve 1/2 cup of the shiitake water. Drain out the rest by dumping the mushrooms into a strainer. Remove and discard the stalks.
3) Heat the oil in a wok or large pan. Stir-fry the mushrooms over high heat stirring constantly for five minutes.
4) Turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Add the mushroom liquid, the shoyu and sugar. Cook until there is almost no moisture left, stirring frequently. Add the sesame oil and remove from heat.
5) Let the mushrooms cool on a cutting board. Then slice and arrange the shiitake nicely on a large plate.

The mushrooms come out so juicy and tasty. Enjoy!

Dried Shitake

Pearltrees Is A Fresh New Way To Bookmark

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pearltrees social bookmarking tool

Over the past month I’ve been playing around with Pearltrees, an exciting, fresh platform for bookmarking websites. It can even be described as a social bookmarking tool.  What makes Pearltrees so unique is its visual structure. It lets you organize the web the way you like in a visually pleasing way. It allows you to discover other people’s bookmarks (‘pearls’) and add them to your own list (‘tree’). Instead of using lists and folders to organize, your bookmarks are easy to see and find and organize.

Pearltrees is currently free to use. You simply open an account. It’s easy to use, especially after viewing their tutorial videos which give you a jump-start. You then begin with your first ‘pearl’ and then build a ‘pearl tree’. A ‘pearl’ holds a webpage that you are interested in. A ‘pearl tree’ (hence the name) is a grouping of similar ‘pearls’. For instance, if you’re trying to compile a grouping of websites that center around American cars, then the pearltree could be named “American Automobiles” and the different brands and models and information would be the pearls.

a pearl tree

My favorite feature is being able to search other people’s pearltrees for information that you’re interested in. You can then add their pearls to your own tree. You can also share a whole pearltree with someone. I can see how this could be used in classroom environment. If you’ve compiled a list of websites for students to view, it’s quite easy to share.

Another great feature is the “pearler” which allows you to quickly and easily add a pearl to your pearltree right from the webpage you are visiting and wanting to bookmark. You can also link your Twitter and Facebook account, which allows you to pearl the links you share through these social networks and also sends out postings of new ‘pearls’ you’ve added in Pearltrees. So, a two-way street.

There’s so much to explore and see with Pearltrees that it’s a little difficult to put it all into words. The best way is for you to take a look for yourself.
Visit Pearltrees and see how incredibly useful it can be.

Cost for a Quality Website

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These days, many small-business owners are lured by the make-it-yourself website tools and design templates hoping to save money in the end. With a bit of effort, it’s possible to build and launch a website for less than $250 by using a template. However, is this really the way you would like to present your business and message to the world? With a low-cost website? The better business decision is to work with a full-service graphic and web design company. Much more savvy!

So, what are the costs of a quality website? The cost for a website may range from $1200 for a very basic website to more than $50,000 for a much larger website with custom graphics, custom programming, and other options. Begin by thinking about your needs. The cost of your website will be based on the size and complexity. For example, a 5 to 10 page website that introduces your business and services will be much more affordable and cost considerably less to build than a website that processes purchase orders.

To begin, have a budget in mind, and work out an itemized list. Visit our Getting Started page for more ideas and tips. And, for more information on DzinePOD pricing, visit our PRICING page. Here are some basic costs to keep in mind while you are planning:

• Domain registration: Cost: $10 to $35 per year per domain.

• Hosting: Fees vary considerably based on the complexity of your website, estimated traffic and security requirements. Cost: Shared host, $8 to $50 per month; merchant plan, $25 to $250 per month; dedicated server, $125 to $1,000+ per month.

• Graphics: Unless you have existing graphics, including a company logo, you need to use stock art or pay a graphic artist. Cost: Royalty-free stock art, starting at about $10 per image; graphic artist, $50 to $150 per hour.

• Content development: Content development usually starts with you, but professional copywriting services can help. Cost: $50 to $85 per hour.

• Content management system configuration and implementation: CMS makes your site easier to populate, maintain and update. Cost: $50 to $85 per hour.

• Programming and/or third-party application fees: Programming includes online forms, e-commerce and CRM tools, as well as custom components necessary for your site to deliver what your business model calls for. Cost: $85 to $125 per hour and/or flat fees or rates for use of third-party applications. If you insist on building your site in Flash, expect to pay 25 percent to 50 percent more.

• Usability testing: Cost: $35 to $50 per hour (plan for at least half-hour per page).

• Analytics: Google Analytics is free, and it’s quick and easy to install. More robust analytics tools vary in price. Cost: $50 to $85 per hour to set up and configure Google Analytics or other programs; $50 to $5,000+ monthly fees for more robust systems.

• Blog: Adding a blog to your website or separately is an additional cost to consider. Cost: $500 to $2,500 first-time setup including graphic design, programming and configuration.

Because most web programming and web design services are ultimately billed at an hourly rate, the total cost of your website hinges on the site’s size and complexity. If you are interested in a quote from DzinePOD, please take the time to complete our Website Planner — Brand New Web DesignWebsite Re-design. This will help you through the planning process, and it will help us give you a solid quote.

How to Backup your WordPress Database and Files

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WordPress is a strong and solid website publishing application, but since it’s hosted on a web server and data is stored in a database, it’s crucial to backup your blog or WordPress website quite frequently just in case catastrophe strikes and you lose all of your content… and thus… no more blog or website…. poof… all gone. By backing up your website frequently, you will be able to restore your website to what it was before it was obliterated into nothingness. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

You should always run backups on three important elements of your website.

  • the database
  • wp_content folder – which has your themes, plug-ins and uploaded content
  • wp_config.php file – which holds your access information
  • I know it seems like a huge chore to have to backup all of this information, but believe me, if something goes wrong, you’ll be happy you did.

    Let’s look at the database backup first. There is a simple, automated way to backup your database which is much better than doing it manually. A manual backup, I admit, is a lot of work. WordPress offers a great plugin that makes database backup a breeze.

    To install the plugin, go to Plugins, Add New, then search for WP-DB-Backup (by Austin Matzko). Click install now, and activate it. The database backup plugin will appear under Tools in your WordPress dashboard. So, click on Tools, and then Backup. This plugin, by default, will backup your entire database. It even copies your spam comments and post revisions. You can exclude those by checking the boxes, but I suggest leaving them in so that you have a complete copy of everything you had.

    wordpress backup

    Then you have two options for backup. You can either backup immediately, or you can schedule backups. I suggest scheduling backups. If you add content to your blog or site on a daily basis, choose once hourly or twice or once daily. If you post once a week, then a weekly backup should be sufficient. You may want to set up a gmail account to receive the backup emails if you do a hourly or daily backup since you’ll keep getting backup emails, which can get irritating after a while. So, type in your email address in the box and click schedule backup. If you want to, you can also run a backup right away by going to the Backup Options section and choosing Email backup to: with your email address and clicking Backup now.

    So, that was how to backup your WordPress database files. Step 2 is to backup your themes, plug-ins and uploaded content. These are all located in your wp_content folder. You’ll need to create a folder on your computer that is specifically for these backup files. You can call it WPbackup and place it where you will be able to find it later, like in your documents library, or wherever you like. This is the folder where you will place your backup files. The way to do this is by using your FTP, browse to your blog files, find a folder named wp_content, and simply drag the wp_content folder into your new backup folder on your computer. This lets you backup your themes and plugins, plus all the other files you’ve uploaded onto your site, including videos, photos. it even backs up all the upgrades for your theme and plugins. I recommend you do this back up at least once a month, by just dragging the new wp_content folder from your FTP into your backup folder on your computer. it will simply overwrite the old content, and add in any new content. If you want, you can even date your backups so that you will know when you did your last backup. Once a month should be sufficient.

    Step three, is backing up your access information. Go back to your FTP client and find a file called wp_config.php. Drag this into your backups folder. This file contains the code configurations that shows how WordPress communicates with your database. It’s important to back this file up because if catastrophe strikes and your WordPress crashes completely, you can actually replace every single file in the WordPress installation, except for the wp_config.php file and wp_content folder. When you drop in these backed up files, your WordPress will come back up and work properly. So, if disaster strikes, all you need to do is clear out your FTP of all files, then bring in a fresh copy of WordPress, then bring in your backed-up wp_config.php file and your wp_content folder. Then everything will go back to normal.

    Running complete and continuous backups of your database, themes, and uploaded files, along with your access files will ensure that if anything does go wrong with your site or blog, you can always restore it quickly. Doing backups may seem like a hassle, but trust me, you’ll be so happy you did.

    Advertising Campaign: Kilimanjaro Rifles

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    Our client Kilimanjaro Rifles allows us to push the boundaries and take creative chances when it comes to their marketing, design, advertising, packaging, promotions and website. They have a distinctive look and feel that is communicated through these mediums. Our role is to create fresh and strong images that communicate to the world who they are.

    Here are two new advertisements we created for Kilimanjaro Rifles that are set to be published in the newest issues of these national publications: Sporting Classics, Sports Afield, Boone and Crockett, DSC Game Trails, and SCI Safari.

    Click on these advertisements to see a larger view.

    Kilimanjaro custom rifles Timeless Beauty Ad
    Pinnacle Ad