Hey there, this site is pretty old now. I've decided to leave it up as I put a lot of work into it and would hate to see it disappear.


Uncle Neal

Jun 08

Well, I am officially an uncle. My sister Kate, gave birth to a baby boy June 6th (D-Day) at 3:30am named Liam Daniel Hurst. He weighed 7lb 11oz. He came about two weeks early so I was a bit surprised when my mom called to say Kate was in the hospital. For some reason I always hear about false alarms with child berthing so I wrote it off as that at first. She ended up giving berth to him overnight and she seemed to have handled it pretty darn well. Way to go sis!

Believe it or not I've never actually held a baby before (that I can remember) so I decided that he would be the first, being an immediate family member. I just try to be overly cautious with babies, so I held him on a pillow sitting down, and he was all wrapped up good and tight in a blanket.

I posted some pictures of him in my Photo Gallery section and I also posted a video in my Open Videos section. The video may not be too exciting but it does give a good representation of him which is all I was interested in.

The thought just occurred to me, maybe someday when he's older, he'll read this exact blog post online. How cool! Hello from 2009 dude!

Well that's all for now.


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Off The Grid

May 26

Well, my three day weekend is over and it's back to work again. For Memorial Day weekend I went up north with my family to our cabin in Bowler, WI. It's nice to finally be able to go up to the cabin again. For the past several years I probably made it up there less, than I have in the past couple months, so I'm making up for lost time.

I rode our four-wheeler around quite a bit, even running it through some big mud puddles and such. I also got the chance to take a bunch of photos and shoot some videos of the cabin and natural surroundings. To check out some photos from this weekend take a look at my photo gallery section. I also added some new photos to my wallpaper section of my website.

I finally got to do some shooting up at the cabin and we also did a 21 gun salute for my Grandpa, whose ashes were spread up north, and for other veterans. Overall it was a great weekend.

In other news, I saw the new Star Trek movie the other weekend and it was pretty awesome. I'd recommend anybody remotely interested in Star Trek go and check it out. Even if you don't like Star Trek I think there's a chance you could still like the movie as it was made to appeal to more people than previous work. I wrote up a review on it if you want to know more.

In house news, I had three separate people look at my house last week. I'm not really sure why I had so many at once but I don't think much will come out of them. Only one showing looked promising, which the people said they were interested in the house but just put their house on the market.

Live Long and Prosper

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10% Fired

May 02

I usually shy away from writing too much about work happenings on my blog, mainly because I used to switch jobs so often in the past that I tried not to expose too much to future employers, but I've more or less settled down now and would like to continue working at my current job for as long as they'll permit me to.

With that said, we found out Friday that they are cutting everyone's salaries by 10% for the next 3 months, and possibly further if sales don't improve. Our company seemed to be doing ok, at least from what limited knowledge I had. We had two layoffs back last November & December but no further layoffs since then. I was a bit surprised, and disheartened when I found out my paycheck would be 10% less each month.

I suppose the alternative would have been laying off another 30 or so people and our staff, at least in my department, is already bare bones with each of us very specialized in our job duties. This leads me to wonder who we could have possibly even let go had that been the route taken.

Mint.com To The Rescue...Sort Of

Mint.com In All It's Wonderfulness

The 10% less is going to be really hard on me to make my monthly payments. In April, I made a major effort trying to scrape up some more money using my favorite budget tool Mint.com. Mint.com imports your debit card transactions and groups them into categories. You can then trend these categories from month to month seeing where your money went. I highly recommend the site for someone keeping a tight budget as it helps you identify where all your money is going. By doing this you can then make the necessary adjustments in the following months to spend less in that particular category. It also allows tagging, which I use to identify excess or wasteful spending. For the month of April I managed to get my excess spending down to $6. In past months it was much, much higher than that. This is what depresses me the most, I spent $6 in excess spending in April only to get my pay cut by 10%.

Car Swap

In April, I also proposed swapping cars with Emily, a deal that benefited both of us. The car I was driving had her name on the title and I was paying her Mom for it. The car she was driving had a higher monthly payment and had both our names on the title. We swapped cars and I sold my car to my Uncle Harry (Thanks Harry!). Since I was carless my parents decided to borrow me their car until I could save up some money for my own. This was to save me $100 a month by not having a car payment anymore.

Who Needs Retirement

The other cost saving measure I took was zeroing out my 401k deduction from my paychecks. I had it at a reasonable amount but in order to save more money a month I bottomed it out.

A Futile Effort

Unfortunately all of this was a futile effort, because I've now taken one step forward and two steps back. I'm probably being melodramatic, but it's my blog so let me whine! I think, with the paycut I'm going to end up being worse off than where I started. It's to bad I could forfeit my health insurance or some other useless benefit that I don't use in order to gain my 10% back, but I guess I'll just have to be even tighter with my money from now on. Heck maybe I can save that $6 in excess spending next month.

Really, the bain of my existence is my house, my life's second biggest mistake. If I could just sell my house, life would be dramatically different. While I really like my house, and being in it, it isn't helping me paying 2x the amount I could pay for a lush apartment.

Stupid, but lovely house

Well, I think I'm finished complaining for now. Thanks for reading the whole thing.

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Content Is King

Apr 18

Well, It's been a full month now since my last blog post so I apologize for not posting something sooner. Frankly, I would post more blog posts, more often, but I don't have a lot to talk about, well I don't have a lot I can talk about.

I thought I would write a blog about my website over the past year now. A little over a year ago it was really just a place for family and friends to chat with one another but that all changed in March of 2008 when I started writing my Geek Speak Articles. Now my website is 10% family and friends (and that's probably even lower now that I lost a family member that posted quite frequently) and 90% Geek Speak Articles.

Content Is King

Take a look at my visits graph from January 2008 to March of 2009. I started writing articles in March of 2008 and we can see what a big difference that made in my traffic:

NealGrosskopf.com Visits

Then in October of 2008 it all changed with my CSS Browser Hacks article which basically shot my website into a whole nother' echelon. I guess the point I'm trying to make is if you want to have a successful website, you need to give people a reason to visit it, and I've found that content is king. The articles that I wrote are the primary reason people visited my site and continue to be.

Search Engine Optimization

Another big contributor to my site's success has been the search engine optimization (SEO) that I've applied to it. Basically what this is, is using certain words and phases in my articles to try to rank higher in the search engines such as Google. If a user searches for the same or a similar phrase that I've used then my website will show up higher.

The graph below shows that people who visit my website and used a search engine has been rising steadily, especially after I started writing articles:

NealGrosskopf.com Search Visits

The Future?

The future of my website will probably entail having to switch my hosting options. Currently I have the cheapest hosting through 1and1 which costs me about $4 a month. At the rate my website is growing I'll have to upgrade or switch to another provider in the next year or so. Another headache will that, I will eventually need to stop using Microsoft Access as my database backend and use something more scalable (and works with classic asp, mind you).

And remember...content is king.

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Kind Words & Website Launches

Mar 17

I was checking my recent comments RSS feed today and noticed two new comments, which is how I am able to so quickly respond to people on my website when they post something. What set these comments apart from others is they were very considerate ones compared to most. I figured I'd post them in my blog as a form of thanking the commenter's for giving me a self esteem boost and a good laugh. I also need an example of "quotations" in my blog/article posts because I felt like styling those with my fancy dancy blockquote styling technique.

The first comment comes from Pierre Loubert. (Oh I also forgot this also gives me the chance to show off my new comment styling as well as the ability to link directly to a specific comment).

OK, this has nothing to do with what I am looking for, but I thought I'd tell you how amazing your site design is! Wow, incredible, beautiful and it works in Google Chrome! I like the colors and the transparent "fx"s. Bravo!

I then got a second comment on my "Someone Ripped off My Website's Design! Now What?" article from "Scorned Designer" which if you follow the link he provided, is a pretty comical letter to a competitor that stole their web design.

Neal, You've already handled it pretty professionally, with a much cooler head than most people would probably approach this situation with. I've only seen one more unique way to handle the same situation, when BustedTees, put up a dedication to nerdy shirts, when they borrowed their design.

In website news you may notice, when you hover over this post (on my home page) you will see a "read more" box pop up at the bottom of the post. I added this in with a little JQuery juice. One complaint I've had about my past three renditions of nealgrosskopf.com was that my home page required a lot of vertical scrolling. I tried to fix this with my latest design by doing a two column layout for the home page. I checked my version 2 nealgrosskopf.com design and discovered that it's home page actually required less scrolling than my current one. This angered me as I thought the design would have fixed the problem (which is may, my current content may have just been longer). Anyway, to fix this shortcoming I added a "read more" box to the bottom of my blog posts and reviews, since those are usually my longest blocks of text. If you click on them it should slide down and show the rest of the post. Pretty neat, eh?

Website Launches

Finally, I launched two new websites at work last Friday which I am very excited about. They were both for our consumer line of product, whereas we are primarily a commercial washer & dryer company.

The first website is our Speed Queen Home Laundry website:

Speed Queen Home Laundry website

The second website is our Huebsch Home Laundry website:

Huebsch Home Laundry website

I've been working on both these websites with my co-worker Brian, for several months now, and it feels great to finally get them up there. When we launched both sites last Friday, it was very stressful and things didn't go like we planned. It also seemed like people were more interested in telling me what was wrong with the site rather than what they liked about them, but I've gotten past that and am now proud of them once again.

I should point out that both sites should have the same or simliar content between them simply because one site is marketed towards Canada while the other is for the U.S. Both of these sites were also where I first learned JQuery so I'll always have a few memories with them regarding that.

Check them out and let me know if you like them.

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