The job itself was relatively straightforward (I suspected all those technologies to not make it into the following century so I did not try anything fancy, plus, starting from close to scratch, only mastering regex was a big enough task in itself):
1) Clean up and export a Filemaker database containing about 10k records of the books we had in the catalogue
2) Create various templates
3) Make intensive and extensive use of BBEdit Lite and its regular expressions search/replace function
4) Create some nice and pro looking gifs
5) Make sure the thing respects standards (HTML 4.0 was still a draft then, CSS non existant, layout was done exclusively with tables, etc.)
6) Test locally the thousands of links
7) Upload, test again and wait for customers mails
Then I moved to Japan, where I still am, and did half a dozen static sites for various organizations, and then stopped.
Fast forward to today.
I'm relatively fine with my current activity: (very) small business owner in the translation/localization industry. I've done enough stuff in the FOSS world in the past 2 decades that I have my name as a l10n (or related) contributor in a good number of major packages, I've talked at conferences, done seminars, etc.
Now, with machine translation entering the market as a real and efficient actor I find that I want to go back to something more "creative" and especially more valuable: not just be the subcontractor that handles the Cantonese or whatever strings at the end of the development chain, but offer beautiful and well crafted things that will be internationalized.
I started working with a ex-printing industry partner and with her skills we have managed to bring to reality a number of nicely designed multilingual paper brochures. But print is dying and it's not a skill I feel like mastering right now (I can do some Illustrator scripting, thanks to a decade working with applescript, but I don't feel like moving in that direction, I can't draw anything better than stick characters for one...)
Then I met similar (very) small business owner at a local gathering and the contact was very good, and we exchanged cards and we left, and I checked her site and I thought I could help.
It was a badly hacked over-priced WP site, with no updated contents (she was more familiar with the FB interface and did not bother updating her blog on the site).
We decided to work together. She gave me all her access credentials and I started working the code, removing the dead parts, de-linking the useless ones, updating a few lines here and there.
Now I'm on my way to rewrite the whole site as a static pure HTML site with a nice CSS layout. She has published research articles that we're going to publish too. Word with Excel graphs. I moved everything to clean HTML and I'm checking what's the best way to convert the graphs to a web technology (actively checking SVG, and maybe CSS).
And I'm helping her with the online shop too. Taking shots of her products, re-learning photography (everything I know dates from the film era), processing the shots so that they look pro-enough that she can actually sell the goods (there is huge room for improvement in the photo area but it's not hard, I just need to sit with the manual, and take shots until I get the thing right). Now she is starting a separate organization and I'll be doing the site there too.
So that's a lot of changes in the last few months. Very exciting change. And also extremely close to what I was doing 20+ years ago and heading in a direction I like.
I've ordered a dozen books, I'm reading stuff all over the web, everyday, trying to put that into practice bits by bits between running the company, the 3 kids, life in general, etc. and not specifically in that order...
But... It is a huge amount to digest.
So right now here is what I need, and I hope some of you here can help.
CSS is where I want to rock and I found a huge number of really helpful ressources (the 2 CSS books by A Book Apart are excellent, Rachel Andrew is an amazing role model for somebody like me). But it is huge and I don't see how all the parts connect yet. I don't want to do frameworks too.
HTML... I had the printout of the 4.0 draft in my suitcase when I move to Japan. Now it has grown in something I can't fully grasp, at the moment.
PHP, there is a group of people who are locally very involved with the WP community. We even have one top actor in WP development leaving the West Coast to come live here with his family... So I feel I need to do more in this area, especially in the l10n areas. All the plugins that exist suck but the web must be multilingual now.
I need hints at paths, maybe a mentor (I tried "our" mentor program but the person "assigned" to me did not get back to me), maybe just a "quit reading and code" kick in the butt. I don't know. Or maybe there is something really obvious that I'm not seeing and that is the key to moving forward...