Why did you start this business?
It was actually accidental. Back in 2006 I was getting hit up by a small charity to do some phpBB work, for free. I’m guessing they came across my work for one of my modifications, found my email address and figured I was competent and it couldn’t hurt to ask. It didn’t involve much time so I said sure, happy to do it. And they came back with a few more requests and recommended me to some friends. Emails started coming in my inbox regularly.
It didn’t take too many of these before I realized that it was foolish to give my talents away when there were plenty of people that were happy to pay me. So it slowly gathered momentum. I earned a few hundred bucks my first year with no website and no marketing. Eventually I realized it made sense to create a domain rather than stuff it into a folder under my potomactavern.org site and I became semi-official. Since then it has kept growing, as a very part time business to (now that I am retired) my primary source of supplemental income. It keeps me out of bars and houses of ill repute. 😉
Why should I trust you?
Good question. Well, first of all I don’t usually charge for work in advance so you pay when the work is done, so if it isn’t to your satisfaction you have some leverage. Second, if you think about it, it would be stupid of me to abuse your trust as any business depends on trust. Third, I have lots of satisfied clients. The main reason my business has taken off is that I get repeat business. I still get new customers every month but at least half of my business is now from established customers who have better things to do. Fourth, while your site is undoubtedly very important to you, to me it’s just another forum. My job is to get in and out as quickly as possible, do a quality job and then leave you alone until you need me again. Most likely I have another client waiting in the wings.
I can be found on Google My Business, which means that I’ve been authenticated in that Google mailed a postcard to my address that I used to verify my location. Maybe that helps.
Are you a phpBB expert?
There is no institute you can go to to get certified in phpBB forum administration, customization and modification. There are undoubtedly people in the phpBB community with more and better skills than me. For example, the principle developers and many people in the phpBB support and developer forums. Some of them offer services as well and you are welcome to contact them. I first tried phpBB as my forum solution in 2002 for my potomactavern.org domain. Within a year I had written a digests modification for phpBB 2 that became quite popular but also served to help me fully understand the software. I do encounter new situations now and then but my expertise mostly comes from learning by doing. I encounter variations of mostly the same issues over and over again. This makes me generally fast and agile. Most problems can be fixed in a couple of hours of work, which is why my labor rate is quite reasonable.
What services do you offer?
It’s all explained in great detail on my services page.
How are you paid?
Usually by PayPal, but sometimes by personal check, money order or via venmo.com.
How secure is the information I send you?
Generally I ask that when you send me confidential information (such as your site access credentials) that you use my secure form. This site uses HTTPS so all data is transmitted securely. An email is generated from this information and arrives into my GMail account. GMail can tell if an email travels unencrypted through any part of its path and it shows no issues.
I do retain your emails in GMail because I frequently get requests for tweaks or new task orders and it saves time if your access credentials haven’t changed. However, I have my GMail account set up for two factor authentication. This means in order for me to login to GMail I must go through a two step process. The second step is to enter a security code that Google sends me to my cell phone, a number it does not share. So you can have confidence that lacking possession of my cell phone and my GMail password no one (at least outside of my household) can see the information you send me.
I do not retain any passwords you send me in a password manager.
I use a Mac and my entire hard drive is encrypted.
In short, I can’t think of many other ways to be more secure with the information you provide to me. Of course there is always some risk, but it is minimal.
Are you a developer?
Tell me more about you so I can know you as a person
I had a long (32 year) career with the U.S. federal government doing mostly programming, database work and for the last ten years running a large enterprise real-time website for the U.S. Geological Survey, this one in fact. I retired in 2014 and moved with my wife from Northern Virginia to western Massachusetts. I am currently living in Florence, Massachusetts which is a village in the city of Northampton. I have one grown up daughter, two cats and live in a nice single-family house in a 55+ community with lots of friendly neighbors that socialize mostly with each other. I also teach as an adjunct instructor, most recently at Greenfield Community College. I taught IT courses at Northern Virginia Community College off and on for fifteen years. Teaching and this consulting keeps me busy but not too busy, giving me opportunities for enjoying nature, exercise, biking and general R&R.
How long will you keep doing this work?
Mostly I enjoy the work. It keeps me productive and engaged and stimulates my passion for IT while allowing me to work in a niche area. I have no plans to quit. I’d probably be doing something computer related and nerdy otherwise, but at least I can make some money from this business.
What’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Use my service inquiry form. It’s a secure form.