LEGO Military, SW Republic Commando, and Shop Updates
SSL Update LEGO Shop Decals Nova Refuge
Boy, have I been busy lately. And yeah, I know I say that all the time, but I guess that's because I just keep getting more and more busy as time goes by. And I only expect it to get worse before it gets better. At any rate, I do have something to show for my efforts this time...
- In the LEGO section, you will now find a link to the Modern Military Special Force minifigs my brother recently made. Check 'em out, if you haven't already:
- Also in the LEGO section, I've added something under (gasp!) Star Wars. This may come as a bit of a shock, so get ready:
- And finally, last but not least, a HUGE UPDATE TO THE SHOP. The link in the banner above should now lead to the new location: http://www.saber-scorpion.com/shop
In addition to MANY new products scattered throughout the Decals section, I've totally rearranged everything into packages, like they were when I first began selling my decals. I know many of you may not like this chage, but it had to be done. My business has been REALLY picking up lately, and while I really appreicate the extra work, it has been taking up more and more of my time, since it takes so long to put together huge orders of so many individual little decals. The use of packs and sets like I have now will greatly expediate the processing of orders and allow me more time to work on new products and other projects for the website... not to mention college, which I will be returning to next year after a two year break. So I appreciate your continued support, and if you can't find a package that suits your needs, just let me know and hopefully I can put together some new ones so that everyone gets what they want.
On the plus side: Shipping is now free on ALL decal orders (though this may change in the future - so take advantage of it while you can!), and thanks to my new and far easier PayPal processing method, there is no longer an extra PayPal fee. Enjoy!
- Well, maybe that wasn't "finally," since I have one more thing to say. I know I've made a hundred different promises on a release date for my upcoming novel, Nova Refuge: Warrior Born, but none of them have ever come true. In fact, it seems like if I tell someone "Oh, around Christmas," or "Oh, before summer," it only ensures that I will not meet the said deadline. It's rather embarrasing, to say the least. But to help you understand where I am in the publication process, I've put together a bit of a progress meter, which I will post a new version of with each update. Here's the one for this update:
If any of you are thinking this wasn't much of an update considering how long it's been since the last one, I just want to make it clear how much work it's been trying to get the new shop up and running. If you find long descriptions of the pain I've had to experience in this process boring, you should stop reading now and just check out the other updates. If you like reading about my misery, continue...
(begin long, boring story of pain and woe)
Upon deciding that I needed a new shopping cart system that would ensure a more streamlined ordering process for both the user and myself, I set out to find a PHP cart system that could be run directly from my new dedicated server and give me a fancy storefront that could accept direct PayPal payments. I did not, however, want to pay for this, since there are so many good free things on the Internet these days (hahaha... right). So I started looking for Open Source PHP shopping carts, and immediately happened upon OSCommerce (the OS stands for Open Source, of course), the most popular system and the only real one I could find. It looked a little ugly and un-user-friendly, so I searched for a derivative that would already be set up a little better. The main one everyone seemed to talk about was called Zen Cart, so I downloaded it first.
The download took forever on my cruddy Internet connection and killed it because of HughesNet's completely retarded "Fair Acces Policy", so I couldn't do anything much online for another 24 hours. When I was finally able to operate again, I unzipped the files and began uploading them to my server. I thought this would be a fairly quick process, but it ended up taking NEARLY ALL DAY. Then when I got around to actually installing the program on the server, it said I need some kind of weird PHP extension I did not have installed.
I don't have much experience with PHP beyond what I've had to deal with to get this forum running and keep it updated, so I wasn't sure how to install a new extension. Apparently it involved something called recompiling with the new extension activated? How did I do that? It took me ages to figure it out, and eventually, after hours of searching, it all boiled down to a single command line I had to run in UNIX (my server uses Fedora Core). Wow. Okay, so then I finish installing Zen Cart and check it out.
It turns out it's a piece of crap. The interface is hideous and hard to use, the customization is much more limited than I expected (and complicated), and worst of all, the program simly will NOT accept purchases from customers unless they have created an "account" - an extra bit of trouble that I know (from personal experience) not everyone is going to want to bother with. So after all that work, I decide that it's not worth it even trying to wrestle with Zen Cart anymore, and I uninstall the whole thing (delete the files, delete the database tables, etc.) and start over again from scratch.
I still wanted to use an OScommerce storefront hosted on my own server, however, and I felt certain there must be a better one out there. My next stop was something called Magento, which everyone said was really new, fresh, happenin', and modern. All of that sounded kind of repulsive to me, but after looking at the demo, it certainly looked a lot cleaner and more professional than junky Zen Cart ever had. So it was off to download Magento! I felt that since I knew what I was doing this time, it wouldn't be as much work, although, of course, the download took forever on my cruddy Internet connection and killed it because of HughesNet's completely retarded "Fair Acces Policy", so I couldn't do anything much online for another 24 hours.
Once my Internet had been resurrected, I began uploading the files. There were even more of them than with Zen Cart, so the process was very slow. It took hours... and then it took more hours... and then it was night time, so I let it upload overnight... and then in the morning, it still wasn't done, so I let it upload a while longer... and then it took all day again. HOLY CRAP. In the end, I estimated that it took almost exactly 28 hours for the entire program to upload to my server. That's just plain wrong. But the install process should be easy, right? Wrong. Turns out I need another PHP extension, this one even harder to get than before. Another couple hours of searching all over the web for how to install it, and I'm finally ready to begin my Magento experience.
It turns out it's a piece of crap. Sure, it's a lot prettier and easier to manage than Zen Cart, but it suffers from some of the same problems (very hard to add custom payment methods, for instance, such as my "pay by cash" method), and it's FULL OF BUGS. One bug simply makes it so customizable items added to the catalog never appear in the bloody shop. I was forced to join the Magento support forums and found that they were CHOCK FULL of people with hundreds of bugs, all of them demanding support and complaining about the fact that Magento was basically beta-level software released far too early so that the company could cash in by making users pay for support or "professional installation." I got fed up with all the bullcrap, and guess what? I uninstalled Magento. That's what I get for installing some program that can't even spell "Magneto," I guess.
By this point, I think you can sympathize with my decision to simply give up on OS Commerce programs entirely. In fact, I pretty much decided that I was not going to find anything like I wanted as a free PHP program installed on my own server. So I went back to my starting point (PayPal's list of shopping cart systems that can use PayPal Express Payment) and looked for something else. I happened upon a free, web-based shopping cart "system" called uh... I forget what it was called. I guess that's what happens when I look at hundreds and determine that all are worthless. This one seemed okay - it worked a lot like my current system (RomanCart) in that I had to design all the pages myself and link to the cart using HTML coding. The key difference was that this new site allowed for direct PayPal payments without charging an extra yearly fee like RomanCart did. So I started trying to set it up with some new shopping cart pages on my site. Making all the new pages myself was more work than I had hoped to do, but oh well. It seemed that was the only way I was going to get it working.
It turns out it's a piece of crap. The website was clearly written for extreme newbies with no need for extensive customization. The "add to cart" buttons, instead of being written in HTML like RomanCart's, are simply links to Java applets hosted by THEM, meaning THEY decide what they look like, with no input by me at all. They looked horrible. Not only that, but the system made NO allowance for international orders! Other countries weren't available, nor could shipping options be configured by country! The whole site was basically simplistic and primitive, only good for some newbie wanting to sell T-shirts to locals in their area or something equally pedestrian. So much for that.
So what did I do, in the end? Why, just go add an item to your basket at my shop page, and you'll see. That's right: I went back and paid the yearly fee at RomanCart. I went right back and kept using exactly what I was using in the first place. It's so ironic that it would be funny if I hadn't wasted weeks of my life essentially accomplishing nothing. But then, they say Thomas Edison invented a thousand methods of illumination that didn't work before he came up with the lightbulb, so I guess that's just the way it goes.
I think I'm going to go play a game now. I'm almost done conquering North Africa in Medieval II: Total War. Sounds way more interesting than dealing with this mess.
(end long, boring story of pain and woe)