Expansion I-IV, About Me

Expansion I:  New Tools

Expansion I-IV, About Me 1
I love new tools.  It’s one of my favorite things in life.  Well, this week I’ve got a new set of tools, ones that I know a bit about, but never actually use:  Marketing.

In the next two months, Midnight Ryder Technologies is undergoing some major changes.  Marketing is something that’s frequently on my mind, but, somehow I never manage to actually DO it.

So a huge chunk of this week has been about building new tools for the company.  Business cards are nothing new for me (though I have a habit of running out and forgetting to put new ones in my pocket).  But things like fliers?  That’s majorly new for me.

The basic premise of the flyer was actually Meredith’s idea – an off hand comment she made while discussing the role of IT in business, and how a company should have as much trust in it as a person has in their family doctor.  I slapped that one in a note on my iPhone, and stewed on it for a day or so.  Then came back with an initial idea that I mapped out on computer a bit.

Problem was, I didn’t have the graphics to do the job the way I wanted.  The goal was flyer for a company that didn’t look like “Two Guys and a Laptop Consulting” (more on that in a minute) – everything had to be slick, professional, and nearly perfect.  SO I did something new – instead of sourcing the graphics myself, I bought a bit under $20 in stock photos (if I print more than 500,000 ads, I gotta relicense them.  I think I’m pretty safe there.)  So now suddenly I have graphics for it that are professional and sharp, without being stuff you’ve seen in clip art collections.

Then I did up some serious work on the background, and text for it.  I printed the first proof (originally printed on two different pages of photo paper, just to see what it would look like as a real advertisement) and gave it to Meredith (and then Lance).  The flyer has spent like four days or so bouncing between us all, going through multiple proofs until it’s finally ready.

We didn’t hit my goal, IMO.  We exceeded it.  Meredith is right when she says it doesn’t look like a company staffed by two people.  It looks perfectly professional.

Funny story – I don’t have a print shop that can print it.  I took it to Office Max (who, up until now, has always done an AWESOME job with everything from business cards to small flyers to a 5 foot tall poster.)  Lance and Meredith printer outperformed Office Max’s work by far.  So not only was it designed in house, we’re also printing, cutting, and folding them.  I finished the first small run for a meeting tomorrow, and they look amazing.  Completely amazing.

The last of the “phase 1” tools is being worked on now – the Midnight Ryder Technologies website has lost its “Midnight Ryder Bar & Grill” look (that’s what Meredith dubbed it) and is going with a MUCH cleaner more professional layout and design.  A very similar approach is planned with it, though it’s not ready yet (should probably be ready this weekend to point Meredith and Lance at to go comb it for errors and improvements.)  However, the front page is “done-ish” if ya wanna take a peek at what I’ve been up to.  I’ll drop a line on here when the full deal is up too – that way anyone else who cares can check my spelling and laugh at my errors too 😉

Expansion, Part II:  The O’Donnell Factor

Midnight Ryder Technologies has been a one man band forever.  April 7th, that changes – Lance goes to work with me.

There’s not a whole lotta people I’d work with on a full time basis, and Lance is one of ’em.  We’ve talked about doing this for a long time, but well… it just never ended up working out right, not enought money, etc.  For once I’ve got work lined up until it looks like July just with existing jobs.  And I’ve got money in reserve. 

For the next two months, Lance is garanteed pay, no matter if we have enough work or not.  After that, we have to have the work for it to continue that way.  (Well, actually, it’s not that simple mathematically – if we have ZERO additional work, I could support his paycheck and my bills for two months.  Increase the number of jobs, and that number streches out quickly.)

This does not come without a small bit of nerves on my part though.  If anything major goes wrong, I could have serious issues.  I’m supposed to have a new place at the end of the month, but, I’ve hedged my bets a bit.  I asked Meredith and Lance if I can stay another two months.  The reasoning is this – right now, if one or more of those projects got pushed off, I have $1500 in house bills (rent, gas, electric, blahblahblah) PLUS payroll to cover.  If I dont have that, then I just have “general bills” plus payroll to cover.  It garantees safety, even if I have a slow pay customer / pushed off project / etc. (Because I’ve got enough in cash to handle that for the next two months without a problem – what I have in hand doesn’t depend on others 🙂

I know – I may be worrying too much, but, fuck… I’ve got two mouths to feed, time to take it pretty god damned seriously.  ANYTHING that will improve the financial stability of the situation is an option for me (plus, I’ll sleep better at night knowing I’ve looked at all options. 🙂

Why is two months mentioned as a sort of breakover point?  Well, if we drum up enough contracts, and Lance wants to continue, then Lance becomes a partner, an actual owner of the company.  If we don’t see a point of stability, then in my opinion it’s going to be time to review the plan and see what else should happen instead.  It doesn’t mean the situation comes to an end, just that if we’re not stable at that point I want to make sure Lance is taking care of his best interests, even if it means finding better income somewhere else.

But I’m really fucking looking forward to this.

Now, Lance and Meredith haven’t just depended on me for work.  Instead, they’ve both brought things to the table to help make sure we can pack in as much work as possible as quick as possible.  (I’m dealing with a married couple, not just A partner ;-)  This is good in a lot of ways – just a bit less stress on my shoulders, but also means they are motivated to make this happen.  He’s not just milking a paycheck outta someone – it’s investing in a future.

The next couple o’ months are gonna be busy as hell, I hope.

Expansion III:  Secret Wars

I’ve had one of my “secret projects” on hold for a bit.  As soon as I finish the website, I’m going to polish it and release it.  I had put it on hold until the iPhone programming environment was released (and it’s been released) to see about porting it to the iPhone along with Mac and Windows. 

Well… it’s June before the first third part iPhone apps will ship.  And even then, it’s going to be chaos for a bit to get a release out because of how the developer program works. 

Back when I was actually actively developing games, Jeff Tunnell (a guy who’s released something like 49 games in his career) had an interesting piece of advice to alot of the indie developers, which boiled down to “Just release the damned games.  You can add new features in version two, but right now you’re making zero dollars off of version one until it’s released.”  So I’ll take that bit of advice, and in the next couple of weeks I’ll release a beta to anyone who wants to play with it.  I think a couple of people (Heather being one of those) will enjoy it – it’s called Experience For Life, hybriding videogames with real life motivation. (But don’t repeat that until after it’s released into the real world 😉

Experience For Life already has a laundry list of 1.1, 1.2, and 2.0 enhancements.  But might as well just get the damned thing out there and make some money with it for now – extra revenue streams just help make this whole thing go much easier and less stressful 🙂

That’s not the end of the secret projects though.  Lance knows what one of the others I’ve been brewing up is (Though I’m not sure I’ve discussed it with Meredith), and I should be able to show the first results of it around the end of April (at the earliest).  Ya’lls are gonna laugh your asses off at that one.  Which is the goal 🙂

Expansion IV:  Testing The Tools

And tomorrow I have a bit of a meeting with a gal I met at Office Max (Ok, quick aside – I don’t find a whole lotta women interesting beyond the sexual level of interest.  However, this gal was one o’  those instant attraction sorta things that remind me there’s still pleanty of interesting women out there.  Too bad she’s married! :-)  I’ve got all my stuff ready (which isn’t that much) and threw it in the car just to make sure I can’t forget anything (another habit I’ve been developing which is just fucking do things RIGHT NOW so I can’t forget.).  Basically, a test run of my new tools for marketing – someone outside of the “team” gets to see the new fliers for the first time, and I’m interested to see the reaction.

About Me…

Expansion I-IV, About Me 2
So I’ve been off my various toxins for what, two months now?   Sure, I’ve had a couple of cigars since I quit, but have been good.  Caffene and non-stop drinking of soda is gone.  I still have a sugary drink from time to time, but if I buy a sprite or root beer, it may last for a couple of days on my desk before I actually get it all drank. 

Overall, It’s been a very positive set of changes.  And I feel very good.

Funny thing is… the scales say I’ve gained weight.  I’m at 230 now.  Huh.  But if you asked me how I feel, I’d have to say I feel like I’ve lost about 10 or more pounds.  And I feel like I LOOK a hell of a lot better.  Actually, I also feel like I have more muscle mass.

I’m not sure if that’s just a matter of perception on my part or what.  Guess it doesn’t really matter in the end result, but, it’s nice to see that the changes in my lifestyle seem to be somewhat permeant so far.  Only time will tell if it’s truely permeant or not 🙂

Brandon has decided I better start working out, and is trying to drag me into lifting weights and running with him at the YMCA.  On the surface this sounds like a good idea, but, I need ta’ figure out how to make that work inside of a reasonable schedule, that way I don’t have to worry about it conflicting with this or that (Since working out is the first thing to go if I’ve got a schedule conflict.)

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