Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Amazon Associates Program

When I started doing all of this, I monetized a couple of projects with the Amazon Associates Program.  This allowed me to highlight a few products from the Amazon catalog on my sites that my users may be interested in.  If they chose to buy through Amazon, I would be paid a small commission.  They also have banner ads like the one below:

I think this is a great way to start to monetize any online business. Since the Amazon catalog is so broad, there will surely be something of interest for your audience.

Monday, October 15, 2012

South Florida Business Attorney

I'm happy to report that my wife, Alexandra Sierra-De Varona, has finally hung up her shingle and started her own law firm.  She's focusing on on commercial litigation and business law cases.  If you're looking for an attorney in Boca Raton, give her a call.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Energy Efficient Industrial Lighting Site

I've recently launched a new e-commerce site catering to commercial and industrial facility managers looking for energy efficient lighting products. is your lighting retrofit super store. The site was created to provide the widest selection of energy efficient warehouse lighting, commercial retrofit kits and energy efficient industrial lighting. We have the products and expertise needed to help you complete any lighting retrofit project. Our top seller is the 4-lamp T5HO high bay that can be used in almost 85% of existing warehouse retrofit projects.

Energy efficiency is of paramount importance for our country's economic future. In our blog, I describe many of the rebate and incentive programs available from state and utility companies for lighting retrofits as well as highlight many of our success stories. I want to hear from you! Send me your before and after pictures and I will be happy to feature them on our site. is more than a discount online fixture catalog - we are a trusted partner for your energy efficient lighting retrofit project. If you have any questions or feel that I can be of any additional service, don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Getting the XSPF Web Music Player to Work with DNN

I've been banging my head against the monitor for a while trying to get Fabricio Zuardi's XSPF Web Music Player to work under DNN with no luck. That was until I read this thread on the DNN forums and found out that IIS has to be configured to serve .xspf files in order for this to work.
The XSPF Web Music Player is a flash-based web application that uses xspf playlist format to play mp3 songs. XSPF is the XML Shareable Playlist Format. The software is written in Actionscript 2.
Here's the process that I went through to get the player to properly stream music on my site:
  1. Download the version of the player you want to use. I went with the extended version so that visitors can see the name of all the tracks in our playlist.
  2. Upload the .swf file to a location on your server and note the full path to the file. You'll need this later.
  3. Upload the MP3 files to a location on your server that is web accessible and note the full path to these files. This can be a subdirectory off of your portal directory, for example:
  4. Since we went with the extended version of the player, I had to create an XSPF playlist file for the player to read. The format is very simple. Visit the Quick Start page for a summary of the syntax. I got tripped up initially with how spaces and special characters have to be encoded in the XSPF file. I had spaces and apostrophes in the names of my MP3 files so the file was invalid. I solved this by just giving simple names to the files. You'll want to Validate your XSPF file to make sure it's correct.
  5. Log into your DNN portal and create a page that will house your MP3 Player. I added a standard Text/HTML module and set it to not display the container. Edit the text of this module and switch to the Basic Text Box entry mode in the editor. Copy and paste the code below but change the YOURDOMAIN/PATH/YOURPLAYLIST references as appropriate. You can also change the width and height if you would like.
    <object classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase=",0,0,0" id="xspf_player" width="300" align="middle" height="320">
    <param name="allowScriptAccess" value="sameDomain">
    <param name="movie" value=";autoplay=true">
    <param name="quality" value="high">
    <param name="bgcolor" value="#e6e6e6">
    <embed src="value=" playlist_url="http://;autoplay=" true="" quality="high" bgcolor="#e6e6e6" name="xspf_player" allowscriptaccess="sameDomain" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="" width="300" align="center" height="320"></embed>

  6. At this point, you can save the update to the module and view the page to see if you've got anything. At first, the player rendered on the page, but it would not load my playlist. If this is the case for you, you should make sure that IIS is set to serve .xspf files. Since my host provides a Plesk control panel, I'll describe how to do this in Plesk.
  7. Log into your Plesk control panel.
  8. Click on your domain.
  9. Click on the Web Directories icon.

  10. In my version of Plesk, there is a "MIME Types" tab at the top of the screen. Click on that tab.
  11. Click on the "Add New Mime Type" icon. and enter ".xspf" as the Extension and Choose "Custom" and type "application/xspf+xml" for Content (without the quotes).
  12. Restart your IIS or Application Pool.
  13. Test your page again. This time, your player should come up and start streaming your music.
I hope this helps.

Friday, January 12, 2007

New Project

I recently volunteered to redesign my daughter's school's site. This will include migrating over approximately 120 email addresses to a new server and reworking the landing page and the site for the parish, too. I decided on using DotNetNuke v4.4.0 as the content management system and have alredy had the folks at St. Joan create an account with EasyCGI for hosting.

Even though EasyCGI offers all of the features we needed on their X4 plan (unlimited email addresses, tons of bandwidth and disk space), the first 48 hours with them left much to be desired. EasyCGI is a platinum sponsor of DotNetNuke, but this is a bit misleading. They do offer an automated install script for DNN v4.0.3, which is a bit dated. Since I wanted to go with the latest version and I wanted to install it in the web root, it took me some time to figure out what to do. This led to me having to wait for their support staff to respond to my voicemails and support tickets. If you don't specify that the support staff can call you back at any time, they will only reply from 9AM to 9PM. I found the fact that I was put into voicemail annoying. I wouldn't mind waiting for the next support rep and having the option to leave a message.

Here are the steps if you're trying to install DNN on an EasyCGI hosted account's domain root:
  1. As soon as you create your account, create a support ticket to have the "NETWORK SERVICE" and "ASPNET" users given modify and write permissions in the domain root. Also ensure that your account is set to use the right version of ASP.NET (v2 for DNN4.x.x)
  2. Log into the web-based control panel and navigate to Website/Domain Management for the domain you're working on and go into the MSSQL Databases section.
  3. Add an MSSQL database.
  4. Add an MSSQL user. This is the username and password you'll be using in the connection string for DNN.
  5. Check the box that gives your new user access to your new database.
  6. You should have the DNN install package ready to go. Open the web.config file and update the connection string sections (x2). Comment out the SQL Server Express versions and modify the SQL Server 2005 version to include your server address ( and user credentials. You can also change your error display settings to show full error messages while you're developing by searching through your web.config file for "RemoteOnly" and changing that to "Off"
  7. Upload your install package to your web space.
  8. When all of the above is done, including the NTFS permissions in step 1, navigate to your domain name. This kicks off the DNN installation. When it's done, it will give you a link to navigate to your new portal.
Hope that helps.

Friday, April 07, 2006

What to do on a Sea Trial

I know it's been a while since I post, but I came accross this and couldn't think of another place to put it so that I would be able to find it in the future.

We've been looking at getting another boat and I've started going out on a few sea trials. It's difficult to think of what to do when you're on someone else's boat that will give you some confidence of how good it is. I found this comment posted by Clark Roberts on Boston Whaler forum that gave good suggestions for what you should look for:
My suggestion: test drive each and put through paces; steerage at idle speed, backing down, coming to plane, hands off straight ahead, list in cross winds?, access to bow (fast, safe, easy??), ventillation in cabin, lowest comfortable cruising speed?, hard turns, climbing and decending large cruiser wakes, vision and seating at helm, stand up comfort and throttle position at hand, docking/line handling/cleat&chocks.. etc..etc..etc... often it's the small things that account for a pleasurable boat! Others may have other suggestions... do your homework and "fly before buy"! No, I don't own either but I did spend the night at a Holiday Inn Express last night! What? Happy Whalin'... Clark... Spruce Creek Navy

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Florida Gator Nation Network

Calling all UF Gators out there! Be sure to check out and sign up with the new Florida Gator Nation Network. It's UF's social networking site. They've done a fairly nice job implementing Affinity Engine's social networking engine and have even tied in your UF record with the profile. If you do join, feel free to look me up and send me a link request.