Ben -

2016 was a Rough Year for Celebrities

I’ll just leave these here…

  • David Bowie (Musician)
  • Alan Rickman (Actor from ‘Harry Potter’)
  • Rene Angelil (Musician and husband of Celine Dion)
  • Dan Haggerty (Actor from ‘Grizzly Adams’)
  • Abe Vigoda (Actor from ‘Godfather’)
  • Paul Kantner (Musician and cofounder of ‘Jefferson Airplane’)
  • Joe Alaskey (Voice actor of ‘Bugs Bunny’ and ‘Daffy Duck’)
  • Dave Mirra (BMX Rider)
  • George Gaynes (Actor from ‘Police Academy’)
  • Harper Lee (Author of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’)
  • Tony Burton (Actor from ‘Rocky’ series)
  • George Kennedy (Actor from ‘Naked Gun’ and ‘Airport’)
  • George Martin (Music producer, famous for The Beatles)
  • Frank Sinatra Jr (The son of Frank Sinatra)
  • Larry Drake (Actor)
  • Garry Shandling (Comedian and actor)
  • Patty Duke (Actress)
  • Merle Haggard (Singer songwriter)
  • Doris Roberts (Actress from ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’)
  • Joan Laurer (Professional wrestler known as ‘Chyna’)
  • Prince (Musician)
  • Madeleine Lebeau (Actress from ‘Casablanca’)
  • Morley Safer (Journalist from ’60 Minutes’)
  • Alan Young (Actor from ‘Mister Ed’)
  • John Berry (Founding member of Beastie Boys)
  • Nick Menza (Megadeath drummer)
  • Burt Kwouk (Actor from ‘Pink Panther’ and James Bond films)
  • Muhammad Ali (Boxer)
  • Christina Grimmie (Singer, made popular by ‘The Voice’)
  • Anton Yelchin (Actor in the new Star Trek films)
  • Bill Cunningham (Famous photographer)
  • Michael Cimino (File director)
  • Elie Wiesel (Nobel Peace Prize winner)
  • Gene Marshall (Film director)
  • Barry Jenner (Actor from ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’)
  • John Saunders (ESPN broadcaster)
  • Gene Wilder (Amazing movie actor, famous for ‘Willy Wonka’ and ‘Blazing Saddles’)
  • Jon Polito (Actor from ‘The Big Lebowski’)
  • Arnold Palmer (Professional Golfer)
  • Leonard Cohen (Canadian poet, novelist, and songwriter)
  • Robert Vaughn (Actor from ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’)
  • Florence Henderson (The ‘Brady Bunch’ mother)
  • Joseph Mascolo (Actor from ‘Days of Our Lives’)
  • Alan Thicke (Actor from ‘Growing Pains’)
  • Craig Sager (National sideline sports reporter)
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor (Trailblazer of today’s celebrity-obsessed culture)
  • Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia of ‘Star Wars’)
  • Debbie Reynolds (Mother of Carrie Fisher and Oscar nominated singer-actress)

Current Chrome Addons

I recently realized that my core set of Chrome browser add-ons that I have been using for many years has morphed and changed over the years. Yesterday, I wiped one of my laptops to reinstall a fresh operating system and during the process of re-setting up my work environment, it occurred to me that many of the addons I used to use… I no longer need or use. So this post is to hopefully help other freelance web developers find new and useful tools for your browser.

The first addon is one that has stuck around forever. Different users may prefer different options but I’m a big user of the Web Developer addon by Chris Pederick. It gives me all the tweaks and tools I need to quickly analyze and manipulate a site.

Security and encryption with some of my communication are very important and due to my transient nature of my work (floating between multiple computers and locations) I don’t really have a “desktop encryption” setup. Instead I use the Mailvelope browser addon to generate and exchange encryption keys to protect my web-based email.

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WordPress Usage Survey

I’ve put together a quick survey/bunch of questions about how people use WordPress (from a plugin/theme/management perspective). I would greatly appreciate anyone who took the time to fill out the survey so I can use the results in an upcoming iThemes Training class along with some future focused writing/work. Thanks.

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Hosted Email Options

The options for freelancers who do client work in regards to hosting websites is much simpler than finding the right email solution. While I’m a big fan of LiquidWeb for any managed solution. I’m personally a bit more of a tinkerer who likes a little more control over the hosting environment. I use either and run an Nginx-based solution or utilize ServerPilot with DigitalOcean to provide a more locked-down PHP/WordPress setup.

But when it comes to email… that’s where the possible problems begin.

Why is Email Hosting a Big Deal?

First off, we should treat our web hosting environment with great care because this is the frontline, the “storefront” of our business. We need to do everything in our power to not compromise the integrity of our web hosting area. One of the easiest ways to jeopardize our website is by having some of the emails sent from the same server as our website labeled as SPAM. It could be because someone doesn’t remember signing up for our email list or they don’t like you anymore and instead of de-friending you on Facebook they simply start labeling your emails as SPAM. Whatever the reason, once your IP address associated with the server your website is being hosted on is tagged as a SPAM originator then it because a much larger mountain to climb to fix SEO and other associated problems.

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Creating a Simple Bitcoin Escrow System

I’ve been digging into BIP38 ( quite a bit lately and using an old abandoned code project as a foundation to build a Trustless Bitcoin Escrow System. BIP38 is all about encrypting private keys (if you don’t want to look it up). 🙂

You can check out the system here –

Right now feel free to test things out. Once I work out all the kinks I’ll move the site over to an SSL cert and tweak a few more things.

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The Disaster that is Dell

This is a recap of the disaster that has been occurring since early November with an order from Dell Computers. Currently, Dell is claiming they have refunded me and no such refund has appeared FOR THE PAST MONTH.

On November 13th, 2015, I decided to purchase a computer from Dell for the price of $788.70. The email confirmation came and all was great with an estimated delivery date of December 2nd.

On December 1st, I received an email saying that the order had been delayed, and provided a new shipping date of December 9th.

On December 8th, I received an email stating that I must take action because Dell would be automatically canceling my order because they had another delay. I felt this had gone on long enough and so I let the order cancel and chose NOT to proceed to their “consent to this delay” link.

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Ongoing Projects Update

It can be hard to keep track of all the different projects going on in my life and so I thought I’d get back to keeping a public record of things that are happening, things that need to be done, and things that I’m specifically focused on.

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Piano Needs a Good Home

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to buy my first new piano. A beautiful black upright Essex (from the Steinway family) piano that has been my friend in the dark hours of the morning and a constant companion to my wife’s entrancing voice.


In our effort to downsize and minimize (more on this in a future post) we are looking for a new home for our piano. Does anyone know of a good home?

Can Life Get Any Busier?

Stop the world I want to get off!

How many times a day do we feel like there is so much going on that we just can’t seem to stay on top of everything because we’re constantly being pulled in a thousand different directions. It seems that no matter how many to-do lists or organizational tools you use life overwhelms you.

So it got me thinking… are we being hampered or blocked from actually enjoying life and living life how we want? How often are our decisions and things that have happened earlier in our lives (loss of employment, financial difficulties, family issues, death of close ones, just to name a few) still having a stranglehold on how we live our life today.

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Tutorials and Training

Over the years I have discovered that I love learning. I love soaking up new skills and knowledge. Part of this desire to learn and grow is also the desire to share what I learn. So over the next few months, I’ll be sharing a number of different aspects of things I learn. And as a sneak preview… here are a few things we’ll be discussing:

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