Making Friends on the Web

Some of us are introverts. I’m an introvert. I can spend a whole weekend inside working away on my computer and be surprisingly content.

Even though I’m alone at a desk, I still have the potential to make friends all around the world. I’ll never forget the time a girl from China messaged me on Skype. She asked me to help her with a Photoshop project.

She lived in Hong Kong. I don’t know how she knew I would be able to help with her Photoshop project… I had literally helped another student with a similar project that day.

Closer Than You Think
This is the travel poster I designed for the unknown overseas college student. I was hoping that she would study the layers and learn how shadow effects worked. (Insert eye roll here)

The day she reached out, I had accidentally turned my Skype settings to allow anyone to message me. At first, I was surprised that someone from Hong Kong was trying to message me. I thought she might be a scammer. But, she quickly mentioned the Photoshop project and because it paralleled with what I had helped another student with earlier that day, I listened.

uiw-mac-lab-communication-art-aaron-garcia-geekdomAt the time I had a work-study job at UIW where I helped students with creative projects on Mac computers. I really enjoyed sharing what I knew about Final Cut Pro X, Photoshop, WordPress, and Apple computers in general with students and faculty. They would ask me how to do this and that, each time I somehow knew the answer.

I’ve spent more than a decade with my eyes on a screen. If the computer were a physical world, I could say I’ve seen many countries. I’ve learned how to edit videos, photos, extensively explored Excel’s capabilities, configured DNS Records, run virtual machines, created ISOs, recovered deleted files, experimented with steganography, generated strong passwords, used Terminal, made PDFs searchable with OCR, converted various file types, created encrypted archive files, opened a Bitcoin wallet, designed a font, I’ve installed many operating systems, and the list continues.

For as much time as I’ve spent alone on the computer, the Internet has introduced me to many new people who I’ll never meet in person. I’ve held conversations with Londoners and Asians. I use software from Canada and Switzerland. I’ve made friends and had many arguments with people from around the globe on social media.

I’ve found that I prefer making friends. Skip the politics, there’s more to life than that.

I recently commented on K.C. Wise’s blog blackbunchedmassmom.com. I read her about page, which will inspire improvements to my own. I feel as if I know her, even though I’ve only read a few posts and her about page. It was a great post, inspired profound reflection, I recommend giving it a read.

While there are those who insist meeting in person is a prerequisite to forging a lasting friendship… I point out that for the heavy thinkers — it is our thoughts, our souls that are boundless and can travel across the world; echoing into time.

Obama needs no introduction. With as much as we’ve seen him and heard him speak, it’s like we know him. Social media gives us the opportunity to experience a similar phenomenon mutually.

So if you want to be my friend, simply comment on my blog and follow me on Twitter. The Internet is the world’s largest mixer. We may know how easy it is to argue with a complete stranger, but how about transforming strangers into friends?

Making a Website Just Got Easier

On the morning of March 29, 2008, I purchased paleolithicfilms.com and launched my first website with Apple’s iWeb. I followed the instructions to connect my MobileMe hosted website, with Yahoo, my registrar; entering the appropriate information into the A Record field.

With no guidance, at age 16, I had a website. I remember frantically pacing around the kitchen waiting for the DNS records to refresh while trying to convey this monumental achievement to my parents. I was ecstatic! Months of guessing, Googling and waiting for the dots to connect lead to what I believed, at the time, to be a breakthrough.

I’ve come a long way since then. So has the Internet. I can now complete the same process in under 2 minutes. It’s so easy for me now that until I wrote this post, I forgot what it was like to not know where to start.

There was no one who could help me, or rather I didn’t know who to ask, or even what to search for. All I knew was I wanted a website. I wanted to be like the big shots, you know Google, Yahoo, and Apple. I wanted my very own .com.

Maybe there are others like me? Maybe you want one too, but don’t know where to start? If so, you don’t have to spend months in search of where to begin, like I did. I’ll point you to shortcuts that will make this process seem really easy.

It took Christopher Columbus seven years to convince royals to grant the five-week journey to the new world—today it takes a few seconds to book a six-hour flight on Expedia. The distance hasn’t changed, but how we get to our destination has.

While it was challenging to learn how to build my first website unguided, today I can hand this skill over to you on a platter. I love helping people. I will admit it’s hard to see what took me years to learn, taught in just a few minutes—but that’s progress. It’s about leaving the world a better place than we found it. And if it wasn’t for all those who came before me, who developed the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, we wouldn’t have the wonderful experience we call the Internet today.

I encourage you that when you’re tempted to withhold information because you feel that a person hasn’t earned or worked for it, remember that most of our knowledge is unearned. Many of the mathematical concepts we use today were developed by those literally jeopardizing their health and even losing their lives trying to discover them.

That being said, click here to discover the easiest way to build your website. If you have any questions or want to accomplish something specific, click here to get in touch with me. I accept payment via PayPal which will enable me to perform these services full time.

Are the New TLDs Worth Getting?

There’s no dispute .com is king. For many people .com is the internet. But tech savvy people know that there’s a lot more Top-Level Domains (TLDs) out there.

Besides .com there’s .net, .org, .edu, .gov, .biz, .us and so on. There are even country TLDs like .ru for Russia and .it for Italy. There are over 200 countries in the world, so you can imagine that list would be fairly long.

Then ICANN opened up topic and industry specific TLDs like .blog, .church, .school, .tech and so on. Which brings us to the question of this post: Are these new TLDs worth getting?

Yes and no. This is an opinion. Google has stated that all TLDs will be treated fairly. So in theory, there’s no problem in getting one. People do not look at the domains that closely in a Google search anyway.

The Cons of the New TLDs

But, when sharing a link such as aaronjosephgarcia.blog you may run into a short term problem with auto-hyperlinking. Your messaging app may not recognize aaronjosephgarcia.blog as a URL and therefore it won’t be clickable like aaronjosephgarcia.com would be. And that can be a real bummer, if you’re trying to share a link.

Also, most people won’t remember .blog and will most likely substitute for .com. And that won’t be good either. About the only thing the new TLDs are good for is looking clean on a business card.

The Pros of the New TLDs

All that being said, eventually all messaging apps will recognize .blog and .com equally. And at which point things might change. Google might start to recognize these new TLDs based on the category they’re in. And if you’re one of the early adopters to select a short TLD, it might be worthwhile in the future. Example last.fm.

How to Set up an SSL

One way to get a free SSL is to migrate DNS control of your domains to CloudFlare. By default, CloudFlare offers a free “Universal SSL”. Under the “crypto” menu select “Full” for the SSL box.

cloudflare_crypto_ssl_full

The process takes 24 hours before your certificate works consistently. After 24 hours have passed you can force your website to only be accessed through https. This option is found under page rules. You’ll want to create two rules for your non-ssl URL: http://yourdomain.com and http://www.yourdomain.com and turn on “Always use https”.

agarciatv green lock

If you don’t wait to turn on forced https your website will work intermittently for 24 hours in 30-minute intervals. But don’t worry, it will start working tomorrow!

Mobile First Design

Let’s face it, our readers prefer purchasing a new iPhone every other year than buying a computer. Computers are for nerds. There I said it.

In 2015, designing a website for desktops and laptops when our readers will only view it on their iPhone is embarrassing to say the least. So, when are we going to start designing with the predominate mobile audience in mind?

It’s the dominating statistic: 61% of my website viewers are on mobile. The majority of these views come from iPhone’s Safari browser. This is a trend that I’m seeing everywhere including with older demographics; even 65+ (I work closely with the oldest operating HOA in San Antonio and eight public golf courses).

Using a computer just as much as your iPhone makes you elite. Unfortunately, not everyone is elite. That’s why we cannot design for ourselves anymore (not that we ever should have). Some leave their laptops off most of the time. I guess laptops remind people of work and school.

So moving forward, we need to ask our friends to check out our websites as we are developing them. If they grow impatient with how slowly it loads or how many finger flicks it takes to scroll down the pages – redesign it. The desktop versions of our websites are the best around, scoring a 77 easily in Google’s PageSpeed Insights, but if the mobile site makes our audience put down their phone in boredom, that’s a clear sign of failure.