My former boss at Saint Gobain Abrasives left the company to start his own consulting and product business after I left. He is a world reknowned expert in coolant technology for grinding applications, as well as general process improvement for grinding processes. That probably means very little to most of you. However, in his world, he is famous. And his world is actually pretty big. Pretty much everything you see around you including your disk drives and your shoes couldn't have been made without grinding wheels and sandpaper. Saint Gobain Abrasives, our former employer, is the world's largest abrasive product manufacturer with about $2B worldwide sales. They are also one of the largest employers in the state of MA.
John is also one of the coolest guys I know and the coolest boss I ever had. He's also British and fits the mold quintessentially... right down to the incessant use of lame puns.
Anyways, I offered to build his website for him when he went out on his own. He instead had a friend's son put something together for him while he got his business off of the ground financially and figured out what his focus was going to be. The site is definitely a candidate for sitesthatsuck. But, it did the job for him.
I am in the middle of putting up his site and we've built it on top of wordpress, so that he can manage the content and because it is easier than starting with notepad or visual studio. In fact, the ease of putting up pages on wordpress was amazing. I wouldn't hesitate to use wordpress to manage content for almost any small business's website. It makes the process extremely simple. In a few hours last night, I put up this. (It isn't done yet, by any stretch of the word. I plan to have Eric rework the graphics and color scheme and I still have to massage some of the content pages and a bit of the css layout.) Nonetheless, by starting with wordpress and having the ability to choose from 1000s of already built layouts, the process of building a sharp looking website that is easy to manage couldn't be much easier. Dreamhost, like a lot of other hosting companies, makes it even easier by enabling the wordpress install process through a web interface.
And the coolest part about this whole thing is that I've convinced him to start a weblog. I believe it is the first weblog on this subject. Imagine that, the first weblog to address a multi billion dollar industry!!!!! The way I see it, there is huge room for niche weblogs. Gawker is just getting around to launching a gambling weblog. That means, there are millions of HUGE industries in need of a weblog, or that could atleast benefit from a well designed one with expert writers. Although there is opportunity for me to start and write on any topic, I am looking forward to contributing to Ask Dr. Cool. I am not a world renowned expert like John, but it be a shame to let 6 years of product design, process design and sales engineering experience in grinding go to complete waste. If anything, I'll be getting him off the ground and proving to him that a blog can help build a business.
Next up, I want to build a site like this on drupal with bryght to compare the ease of use between drupal and wordpress. One thing is for sure, blogging and open source is starting to effect geeks beyond the "tech geeks". It will soon even matter to the grinding wheel business.