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Frantz
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« on: April 07, 2008, 03:13:22 PM »

Hey guys,
I am really going to show my lack of intelligence here, but how do you create a forum like this? What type of person or company would you be looking for? Would it be a guy in the yellow pages who says he/she is a web designer? How did you guys do it? Did you do it yourself? Would you do one for me? How much does it cost to put together? All that kind of stuff. I am sorry to bother you with this if this stuff is not apropriate here, but I am a const guy. I just finished merging two companies out here in UT. And we think that we need a good forum for our clients/exhibitors to interact in. The two companies that I just merged were HomeShow Daily and HomeCoach Owner Builder Programs. We now have design center type show rooms that are chuck full of designs and exhibits (aprox 25-30K sqft), and with the one stop shop aspect we merged the show rooms with the HomeCoach OB programs that is a OB consulting service for people who build their own homes and such. OB's did just under $300 mil here in the SLC area alone. Soooo....
Anyway, we want a forum like this for our clients/consultants/subs/suppliers to be able to interact with each other. I think that it would be absolutely amazing. Being able to go online as an OB or anyone else and get information etc from our group. I may be way off base here, but it was suggested by one of my OB clients saying that they all enjoy sharing their information and experiences anyway, so we should try it and include a way for the subs and suppliers that are exhibiting in the showrooms to chime in with good information as well.
Anyway. Thanks as always, I was just brainstorming.
Frantz
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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2008, 06:32:00 PM »

It's really quite easy to create a forum using this software. First you need to get a web hosting account and when you have that you go into your control panel, select the Fantastico icon which will open up into a list of self installing programs and click on SMF in the chat board list. You will be asked to provide a user name and password for your board and when you do this and hit return your board will automatically set itself up. You will then have to log into your new chat board and go into maintenance to set up your individual forum areas.

As they used to say Nothing To It But To Do It.   Wink
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2008, 06:41:51 PM »

Hey guys,
I am really going to show my lack of intelligence here, but how do you create a forum like this? What type of person or company would you be looking for? Would it be a guy in the yellow pages who says he/she is a web designer?
There are programs that run on webservers that you can use for forums.

Quote
How did you guys do it? Did you do it yourself? Would you do one for me? How much does it cost to put together? All that kind of stuff.
We have a special member . We threaten to drop off all our dirty underwear at his house if he doesn't do what we ask. See has brains when it comes to computers. Unfortunately he also has a job and a family so between that and this site we keep his spare time to a minimum.

Quote
I am sorry to bother you with this if this stuff is not apropriate here, but I am a const guy. I just finished merging two companies out here in UT. And we think that we need a good forum for our clients/exhibitors to interact in. The two companies that I just merged were HomeShow Daily and HomeCoach Owner Builder Programs.

You now are large enough that you need some form of IT support be it that you hire an IT person or contract with a firm. You need to look at this as an aspect of growth of the business.

Quote
We now have design center type show rooms that are chuck full of designs and exhibits (aprox 25-30K sqft), and with the one stop shop aspect we merged the show rooms with the HomeCoach OB programs that is a OB consulting service for people who build their own homes and such. OB's did just under $300 mil here in the SLC area alone. Soooo....
You need someone who is good with AutoCAD. They aren't cheap.

Quote
Anyway, we want a forum like this for our clients/consultants/subs/suppliers to be able to interact with each other. I think that it would be absolutely amazing. Being able to go online as an OB or anyone else and get information etc from our group. I may be way off base here, but it was suggested by one of my OB clients saying that they all enjoy sharing their information and experiences anyway, so we should try it and include a way for the subs and suppliers that are exhibiting in the showrooms to chime in with good information as well.
Anyway. Thanks as always, I was just brainstorming.
Frantz
Your suppliers are filled with unemployed brain surgeons. How do I know? Because I am also in construction. I work the electrical side of the industry. And have for over 20 years.

Your suppliers can't handle anything more than email. Get a domain and a webserver. Setup email accounts for the bosses and sales people. Foreman also.
Your suppliers can barely handle spreadsheets. Let alone knowing what they have in stock. But the salesmen will tell you anything you want in order to make the sale.

The KISS principal is paramount here. While the forums are neat. For business they suck. Minimize the learning curve. Stick with email, pdfs, spreadsheets, webserver, and CAD. When you get better you can go into databases.

Scotty from Star Trek:
The more you hike up the plumbing the easier it is to clog the drain.

Sincerely,
Brendhan

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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2008, 11:49:00 AM »

Frantz,

I'm the guy you can "blame" for this forum. cool  At least the technical functioning aspect.   John gets all the credit for everything else,  it was his brain child and his vision for a non-commercial family friendly forum. That is what really makes this place what it is Smiley

PM me if you want to talk more.
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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2008, 06:15:32 PM »

If you are wanting to go with the forum software that this site uses, SMF 2 beta has finally been released to the public!
If you want more then forums you should go with come kind of cms (Content Management System) like Drupal, PHPNuke, Joomla, etc...  I'm actually really fond of DotNetNuke but, that's only available if you get a Windows server.

The nice thing about going to some sort of cms is the ability to expand.  You may only want a forum now, but what if later you want to collaborate on a wiki or add e-commerce...

I agree with Understudy that this might be a little bit of a learning curve and, if you are using this for a business you need to hire somebody that knows what to do when things go wrong (these are computers, something always goes wrong).

For example it's not uncommon for webhosts to drop down for a few days in a row.  For sites such as this it's not the end of the world, but what if that was your business?  Remember that it is really hard to switch between software.  If you are going to go with a forum remember it is very difficult if not impossible to change forum software at a different time.  Look around and see what forum software or cms is right for you, then pick a host that can run the software you want.
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JP
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« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2008, 08:08:34 PM »

Off subject, sorry, but have to say, Clegs, for a young lad, you sure got it going on brother, you make me feel like an idiot, which my wife would probably agree, and you're at least half my age. Very impressed with your brain power young grasshopper.


...JP
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Frantz
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« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2008, 08:41:38 PM »

Hey JP,
This is all about Frantz here!!! Lets keep the compliments to just me, HUH!!
Just Kidding, anyway thanks guys for all the stuff. I am definately looking hard at what to do now. I have an IT guy in our organization, but this is just a little beyond his scope. We are taking our stuff to the next level. We are rolling out 50 design centers in the next 5 years. We are currently doing about 1 every 2 months now. So I need to get a handle on this stuff to keep up with what we can and will do for this client/exhibitor interaction. It will be a big part of our success/failure...
We are using eXpresso to work our bidding room and spreadsheet correlation, and trying to get this forum up and running, and tie everything together somehow. I am sure that if I had the time to meet with about 40 different groups I could find a group and or organization that knows exactly what to do. My problem is time. We have to get this all going and going smoothly quickly before someone at Homedepot notices and jumps us.
Well that is the plan, again thanks so much for any advice. I will keep you all posted.
F
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« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2008, 09:08:41 PM »

Hey JP,
This is all about Frantz here!!! Lets keep the compliments to just me, HUH!!
Just Kidding, anyway thanks guys for all the stuff. I am definately looking hard at what to do now. I have an IT guy in our organization, but this is just a little beyond his scope. We are taking our stuff to the next level. We are rolling out 50 design centers in the next 5 years. We are currently doing about 1 every 2 months now. So I need to get a handle on this stuff to keep up with what we can and will do for this client/exhibitor interaction. It will be a big part of our success/failure...
This is not small business stuff here. This is big business stuff here.
Quote
We are using eXpresso to work our bidding room and spreadsheet correlation, and trying to get this forum up and running, and tie everything together somehow. I am sure that if I had the time to meet with about 40 different groups I could find a group and or organization that knows exactly what to do. My problem is time. We have to get this all going and going smoothly quickly before someone at Homedepot notices and jumps us.
Well that is the plan, again thanks so much for any advice. I will keep you all posted.
F
You are way beyond small business stuff here. If you are rolling out design centers as you discuss. You need an IT team. You are now at a point where you need to dedicate some time to crafting one. You have an IT guy but this is way beyond his scope as you mentioned. But this is now a bottleneck point. You need more than he can do for you and that is hampering your business. You have two options train him, which takes time and money. But even with that the workload will overwhelm him. You second option is create a team. Not a large one but one with the ability to grow.

At this stage this is where you need to look. You need dedicated server(s) at the least a co lo server. You need a web designer who is familiar with XHTML, PHP, JAVA, and SQL. A server tech familiar with DNS, FIREWALL, APACHE, FTP, POP, SMTP, DOMAINS, NETWORKING, and scripting. If you house the servers in your office you will need someone who can handle routers and switches.

Now I am going to express a personal opinion here. It is dangerous and highly inflammatory and 100% correct. Anyone who tells you they have an MSCE certification has toilet paper nothing more. I no more want them to touch a computer than I want someone out of a vocational electrical program in a panel.
Windows computers may be fine for workstations where everyone is using office or CAD or similar. However no server should ever run Windows. If you are not running a BSD or *nix server for the important items you are asking for a disaster. That is my opinion. I make my living on the items that reinforce that opinion.

You are going to need to find the time to create the proper team. You are going to need to be prepared to spend a few bucks also to create a worthwhile team. This is important and needed time to do correctly.

Now when it comes to the hardware side I am more than willing to go over those issues with you. That is what they fly from one end of this country to the next for . However software is something that needs to be handled by people you can deal with right than and there.

Sincerely,
Brendhan

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JP
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« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2008, 09:10:51 PM »

Hey JP,
This is all about Frantz here!!! Lets keep the compliments to just me, HUH!!
Just Kidding, anyway thanks guys for all the stuff. I am definately looking hard at what to do now. I have an IT guy in our organization, but this is just a little beyond his scope. We are taking our stuff to the next level. We are rolling out 50 design centers in the next 5 years. We are currently doing about 1 every 2 months now. So I need to get a handle on this stuff to keep up with what we can and will do for this client/exhibitor interaction. It will be a big part of our success/failure...
We are using eXpresso to work our bidding room and spreadsheet correlation, and trying to get this forum up and running, and tie everything together somehow. I am sure that if I had the time to meet with about 40 different groups I could find a group and or organization that knows exactly what to do. My problem is time. We have to get this all going and going smoothly quickly before someone at Homedepot notices and jumps us.
Well that is the plan, again thanks so much for any advice. I will keep you all posted.
F

 Kiss


...JP
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« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2008, 09:21:34 PM »

Soooooo Brendan,
How much do you cost?Huh When will you be in SLC next???
I think that you are absolutely right. I have just never needed this kind of stuff before. So thanks for the help, and any suggestions are very welcomed here. It sounds like I need a team. Any ideas where to find one. I think that there is an "IT team" store just down the road. Do I want the red ones or the blue ones???
Thanks guys
Frantz
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« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2008, 10:07:57 PM »

Soooooo Brendan,
How much do you cost?Huh When will you be in SLC next???
I think that you are absolutely right. I have just never needed this kind of stuff before. So thanks for the help, and any suggestions are very welcomed here. It sounds like I need a team. Any ideas where to find one. I think that there is an "IT team" store just down the road. Do I want the red ones or the blue ones???
Thanks guys
Frantz

I am not a cheap date. Smiley

But let's discuss your IT team.
You can place an ad on craigslist.
http://saltlakecity.craigslist.org/
They aren't uber expensive.
Craigslist uses an email coder to make your actual email address hidden.
Ad #1
Server technician.
Must be familiar with Linux, BSD environments.
DNS, FIREWALLS, SSH, APACHE, FTP, POP, SMTP, DOMAINS, NETWORKING, DHCP, and shell scripting. A minimum of three years experience.

resume to be sent in either pdf,rtf,odt,txt or doc.

Ad #2
Website designer
Must be familiar with XHTML, PHP, JAVA, FLASH, and SQL.
Samples of work and references a must.

send price listings and examples to foo@foo.com

Now another recommendation is to get with a local Linux User Group
http://www.sllug.org/
http://www.plug.org/

Many of them will have consultants. It is definitely a step in the right direction.

Now the notes if they send you resumes in doc format it is considered a weak sign no good server tech that uses a nix environment runs office as primary document writer.

For web designer if they tell you to put a large flash logo on the front page drop them like a hot potato. While flash is nice and has it's place taking up the entire front page is just a sign of poor quality.


You are going to need to write down in simple terms what you need to convey to customers, sales, office staff, foreman, and suppliers. Don't get elaborate 3-5 items max per group.

Drawn in sketch what you would like for your front page to look like. Discuss functions later. Talk to a local high school art program about using them to design the front web page. What a great real world assignment.

Have the artist work with the web designer to incorporate the design. Then go after the functions.

Now you will need me when you are ready to cable the new office building and you need the routers and switches and the phone system. And that will make the cost of the merger seem cheap.


Sincerely,
Brendhan

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Frantz
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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2008, 03:58:17 PM »

Brendan,
Excellent, I am going to go through this right now and get my brain around this. I am just going to have to dive in and gain some understanding. I know that we have a pretty powerful server at our store in Boise. I am getting an understanding of that now. I have shelled out a lot of money for a lot of stuff. I hope it is all up to snuff. I will rifle through this and spend some time and get back to you.
Thanks so much.
One of my current Owner Builders is a prof at Neumont Colledge here in SLC, it is a computer software dev colledge or something like that. The kids pay like $15K a semester to attend or something.  He is always asking me if I need some kids to do some side work for credit and such. Sounds like I need to give him a call.
Thanks again Brendan for all the advice

F
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« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2008, 02:04:58 PM »

Quote from: Understudy
Anyone who tells you they have an MSCE certification has toilet paper nothing more. I no more want them to touch a computer than I want someone out of a vocational electrical program in a panel.
Windows computers may be fine for workstations where everyone is using office or CAD or similar. However no server should ever run Windows. If you are not running a BSD or *nix server for the important items you are asking for a disaster. That is my opinion. I make my living on the items that reinforce that opinion.
Haha, you make big claims.  No doubt you could give me plenty of examples to back this up, but, then again, I could give you plenty of examples the other way too.  Got a Windows server that has been up for more then a year without being restarted, still runs just as fast.

Frantz, I am 17 years old, am a Jr in Highschool, have no college degree, and I can already do the stuff that Understudy was talking about.  I've set up dozens of BSD, Mac, Linux, and Windows servers and they're still running strong.  All the technologies Understudy talked about I know, the point is, PHP, MySQL, SSH, etc... they're not that hard.

But, being a good coder, writing clean script is very difficult and takes a lot of experience.  That's why I'd make sure that the person has projects and samples to show you and has plenty of experience.

Also, if the words FrontPage, Webmaster, Splash Page, or anything like that come up, watch out.  I've also talked to some people who contract out web development and have learned, if you are paying for it, they shouldn't have a put a little link to their site at the bottom of every page.

If you don't want to have to manage the server, "in house" there are places that let you rent space in server houses where they do all the network configuration for you.  They also have more benefits such as, faster connections to the internet, they tend to be placed in areas that don't get as bad of weather for power outs, etc...
But then again, you are relying on a third party to manage that stuff for you, and that also can have it's consequences.

(PS If something I say contradicts with Understudy, go with Understudy, he's sooooo much smarter then me evil)
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« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2008, 06:05:10 PM »

Quote from: Understudy
Anyone who tells you they have an MSCE certification has toilet paper nothing more. I no more want them to touch a computer than I want someone out of a vocational electrical program in a panel.
Windows computers may be fine for workstations where everyone is using office or CAD or similar. However no server should ever run Windows. If you are not running a BSD or *nix server for the important items you are asking for a disaster. That is my opinion. I make my living on the items that reinforce that opinion.
Haha, you make big claims.  No doubt you could give me plenty of examples to back this up, but, then again, I could give you plenty of examples the other way too.  Got a Windows server that has been up for more then a year without being restarted, still runs just as fast.
Uptime is not a sign of a good server.

Quote
Frantz, I am 17 years old, am a Jr in Highschool, have no college degree, and I can already do the stuff that Understudy was talking about.  I've set up dozens of BSD, Mac, Linux, and Windows servers and they're still running strong.  All the technologies Understudy talked about I know, the point is, PHP, MySQL, SSH, etc... they're not that hard.
They are not hard to learn. It is hard to write good code that is clean and functional.

Quote
(PS If something I say contradicts with Understudy, go with Understudy, he's sooooo much smarter then me evil)

Oh dear god no. Please hire the teenage why they still know everything.

Okay I have to go now my stomach still hurts and my wife thinks something is wrong with me because I am laughing so hard.

Sincerely,
Brendhan

PS.

I am framing this quote.

Quote
Frantz, I am 17 years old, am a Jr in Highschool, have no college degree, and I can already do the stuff that Understudy was talking about.  I've set up dozens of BSD, Mac, Linux, and Windows servers and they're still running strong.  All the technologies Understudy talked about I know, the point is, PHP, MySQL, SSH, etc... they're not that hard.

This is priceless.

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« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2008, 06:48:49 PM »

Quote from: Understudy
Uptime is not a sign of a good server.
This is off topic, but then what makes a good server.  Objectively speaking the answer cannot be, "Anything that's not Windows."  The reason I ask this is I'm planning to go into a field like this and currently I've been in the frame of mind that if you can get a server 100% uptime and it performs to do what you want it to do, then it's good.
I'm primarily an .NET developer, so I write my websites in ASP.NET (Microsoft's competitor to php) so I need to use Windows servers.
I keep up with php, ruby, python, and perl some just so I'm not illiterate to the other side, plus I do a lot of work via SSH (something that I miss incredibly when I'm stuck on a Windows server).

Quote from: Understudy
They are not hard to learn. It is hard to write good code that is clean and functional.
Yes, that's why I won't write php script for money (actually, depends how much...) yet because I'd write really ugly code, I need something like ASP .NET, xhtml, and ajax to be in my element.

Quote from: Understudy
Okay I have to go now my stomach still hurts and my wife thinks something is wrong with me because I am laughing so hard.
Oh no!!!  Hopefully this is laughing with me, not at me, but oh well.

Now back to business
Quote from: Frantz
Excellent, I am going to go through this right now and get my brain around this. I am just going to have to dive in and gain some understanding. I know that we have a pretty powerful server at our store in Boise.
One thing I need to remind you of is security.  What is this server already being used for?  You don't want an server with corporate financial information connected to the internet.  If the server has extra resources I'd recommend virtualizing another server for web, another one for database, and another one for mail.  That way if an exploit is found in one, it won't be able to carry as easily to the other, or some, such as Database, wouldn't need to be connected to the internet at all.  I'm not sure what they use for linux virtualization, vmware?  I know if you have a windows server 2008 you can use HyperV.
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« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2008, 03:31:49 PM »

Excellent, this kind of discussion is why we need a forum for my owner builders. Everyone has an opinion, and just because it is different doesn't make it wrong. Only in my business(construction) one different opinion usually lands you in Court!! One guy comes in and says, "I would never have done that", and boom the homeowner is on the phone to some slip and fall attorney wanting to sue the bastard contractor that made their life miserable. Now I know that we contractors have a rep for a reason. That is why I created the HomeCoach program, so people that wanted to could manage their own projects and use us as consultants(everyone is happy). But I ramble. Anyway, I am really looking forward to having a forum up and running for my clients and potential clients to have at it, with a little contractor intervention inbetween for the good of all.
Still trying to get my brain around the whole thing... I will let you know if that ever happens.
F
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