About D. L. Keur and her website design and development history
I don’t even think I can remember the URLs of all the websites I’ve designed and developed. I remember two of the first we took on. That was Classic Baskets, Inc., and a car parts e-commerce site that subsequently went national, way too big for me to handle. I passed the car parts one off to a webmaster group I trusted, a mistake, probably, since, in time, that account alone would have generated enough income for us to retire in comfort. Classic Baskets got cold feet when the online business started to boom. Hallmark or some other big company like that (I don’t recall, exactly) discovered Cheryl’s lovely work and wanted to contract for her to fulfill their requirements. She did look at expanding — into creating a factory — but decided it was too much. That happens a lot, actually. It happened with AuraLightCandles.com, too. It happened to a local package and airport service. A marine parts company was the only one of my business rescues that stuck it out when the Internet brought them success — a sole proprietor operation that went from deep in the red to a solid bottom line with net income of 12k a month for the owner.
From a webmaster’s perspective, when something becomes so big and unwieldy that it requires constant monitoring by at least two or three people 24/7, everything else in life takes second place, a luxury I didn’t have with my responsibilities for taking care of livestock and elderly parents, both. I had a four person team and it was all we could do to keep up with it. All of this went on during a time when, with the software available, webmastering was a huge, time-consuming effort just to keep the sites stable and up and running.
There was Aura Light Candles, Moose Express, Whitetail, Bonner Cab Company…. There was New Age Marine Parts, Ellisport Bay Marine, and marinepartsman.com. There were numerous band websites, author websites, a martial art forum, a critique group; there were vanity websites for people getting married, greeting card websites, a who’s-who website, real estate and appraiser websites, accountant websites, lawyer websites, private file-sharing sites for people needing to pass files electronically back and forth to their lawyers for litigation purposes, those requiring strict confidentiality and identification verification, this before any software was available for the purpose. So we wrote it ourselves, and, being extremely paranoid when it came to anything running on a script with input fields, we really locked everything down tight.
It’s funny. At that time, our clients, and their customers and clients, truly appreciated our efforts and didn’t mind that they had to hop through some tough hoops to prove who they were to even access the URL. A script placed on their computers was the only thing that allowed them to access their URL, and, was that script tampered with, destroyed, or lost, they, like anyone else who attempted to access that URL were banned from even accessing the site, much less any page on an encrypted server.
Logins were assigned, randomly-generated using long user name/pass-phrase GPG encrypted security. Lose your personalized access script, lose your user name and pass-phrase, and you had to get on the phone with us, FAX us proof of identity, receive a code giving you access to a custom script we generated on the fly, then your initial access to the URL was done with us live monitoring your IP. Today, when cybersecurity is even more critical, people have no patience for that kind of thing, so I’m very glad that there are now dedicated companies who handle this. Back then, though, because the platforms and architecture hadn’t been developed, we were always pushing the outer limits of what was possible, and doing it.
In our history of web development, I fondly remember one client, in particular, mostly because his call came out of the blue …because of a job I did for someone else, somebody important who this guy knew and trusted who named me “trustworthy, smart, and honest.” The call came in from a gentleman who started, owned, and ran a concrete wall sawing company in California. He needed me to rescue his domain, which was locked up and being held for ransom by a Florida webmaster he’d previously engaged and who proved unethical.
A conference call with him to ICANN with all their various hoops required for proof of ownership and proof of ID, all done via FAX, and I got it shaken loose for him. Then he wanted me to build him a website …which I did. I wrote it in the straight HTML of the time when display monitors were usually 800 x 600. Despite that, I’m proud to say that that original build lasted for about a decade, not breaking even as the size of display monitors grew bigger and bigger.
Ten years is a long time for a website to last that hasn’t ever been touched to update or upgrade it, but the site held despite being code written in 2000, though, finally, displays sizes reached the point where even my over-width background’s tolerance couldn’t hold. I knew the site desperately needed to be upgraded long before, but two calls showed that he was satisfied with it and completely disinterested in fixing it. (“Don’t fix what isn’t broken.”) But it would break. I knew that. Still, he was happy with it as it was, even though it wasn’t keeping pace with the Net and technology. So, that original website stayed up through 2015, even with the background repeating horizontally. (This was built before you could limit repeating on the x and/or y axis.) You can see it here:
Today, the site is still up, and, finally, recently (in 2016), the website has been updated to modern architecture, though it is still using one of the original graphics I built for it. It’s CWSCO.com.
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I started building websites in 1997. In 1999, my husband, who’s very much more talented than I (read: braver) when writing scripts, joined in when I took on several very large commercial projects, one of which required writing a custom script and a corresponding program that could re-assemble the data from that script in a safer, less vulnerable way than was then available with the SSL servers and software of the time. We also had to figure out methods to calculate more accurate national and global shipping rates via UPS, USPS, and Fed-Ex according to zip and country/province codes, rather than use the rather blunt approach available from those shipping services to online installations in that era.
There was figuring a way to be able to do audio conferencing via live-server interface.
No matter what we did, it seemed we were always pushing the boundaries of available software and programs.
We also gained a reputation for rescuing brick-and-mortar businesses who were running on skinny to no profits, or even running in the red, turning them into solid, profit-generating enterprises via the Net. That was because we built websites with the end-user and the business’s needs in mind, and because I had (and still have) an uncanny ability to write copy that does well in the search engine algorithms, able to get a site up into the top ten on all the major search engines, even when competing against top tier companies.
In the mid-2000s, when PHP implementation and dynamically delivered websites became the rage, I wouldn’t play. I’d looked at the code, and I was leery of the high vulnerability I found there. But dynamically delivered websites were what people wanted, and I just wouldn’t go there. I stuck to what I knew was safe and, therefore, comfortable with. Eventually, I backed away from anything e-commerce that required a MySQL database and SQL queries. Using Perl and flat file databases was fine. I could protect that. But not PHP/MySQL with all its built-in vulnerabilities. I refused to be party to anything that could compromise people’s credit card information and personal data, and the vulnerabilities were pervasive. Luckily, they’re a little less so now, since PHP frontends fed by MySQL databases has become the norm.
I’ve always had a saying, “If it can be input, it can be exploited.” And it’s proven true from the onset. It’s true today. Every website out there that allows a field to be input via a web browser is extremely vulnerable to being used for exploits. It’s even worse now. So, ultimately, the only thing that is still ‘safe’ is using plain old HTML and CSS in non-interactive webpages locked down with defined character sets. Of course, that’s extremely expensive to build into a good, visitor interactive experience, so we use the best available option and depend on backups, security lockdowns, convoluted user names and passwords, and a bunch of other tools. Then, cybersecurity experts find yet another potential for exploit, and the coders get busy with a patch, and we all upgrade as soon as the patch is tested.
This is all probably sounding pretty boring and too basic. That’s okay. I’m not here to speak Geek. But I think you get the idea, which is, in short, what I don’t trust for myself, I won’t suggest for you.
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I’ve long since reduced my client load. Starting in late 2010, I became my aging mom’s primary caregiver. According to the state, she had to come live with me and my husband or we had to move in with her, else she had to be placed in a home, not because she wasn’t of sound mind and relatively of sound body, but because she’d gotten lax in caring for herself. So, because I had promised never to place her in a home, because of the effort required of me to care for her, I got most of my clients to move to other webmasters I recommended. The handful I kept are still with me. And now that Mom has passed on, I can take on a few more. Those of my clients who have agreed to be contacted can provide you references if you contact them via their phone number or their website’s contact forms: Jeff Jensen via contact form on Selling208.com, after April 15th: Edward T. Schroeder via contact form on Choi TKD, Max Nolan, 208-610-2058, Laura Belgrave via contact form on LauraBelgrave.com.
WEBSITES [find the original screenshots]: Keymaster, Classic Baskets, Inc., Aura Light Candles LLC, Opposition Party (the southern rock band), RB, LSO, FAR, TH, LA, CWSCO, MPM, NAM, EPM, NIC, Blue Horizons, BonnerCab, CP, HC, S208, CTKD, LB, FWL, KM, [lawyer 2005], [restaurant 2008], Fullington Collection, [Dog Lady], [Cat Rescue], [Luthern Church], [do we want to show the bridal sites? I don’t think so], MA1, TLK, BlueSky, TripTrav, LogFurn, XXP, Serius, Yumewe, epoc, Faraday, Swarm, KJG, DC Franchise, filesharing site, Guitarman, Sweetpicker, JudasNightmare, farmtomarket, RockingO, BarSTX, Renegade, smarttips, sneer, coloradohighcountry, GCLibrary, CodeCrypt, Signals, Tripeze, Zig, valacious, HermansDeli, TreeSave, pet rescue LS, PoppaJames, LipServiceLLC, TomatoPie, WisCoTeam, EECCO, Torment (the band),