News

Green Learning Academy

young girl holding a globe

St Maarten needs her children to be more environment aware and that’s exactly what the Green Learning Academy is going to do!

With the Green Learning Academy, another preschool is opened after Ideal Preschool and this location is better suited for French families as well, right in the heart of Cole Bay. Also convenient for boat visitors who are mooring for longer periods in the Simpson Bay lagoon and need to educate their children for a while.

The school’s motto has the environment and recycling our waste as important learning points to teach the children and that is very valuable for the future generation on this island.

The work involved setting up a basic site quickly, so she could take in new customers and showcase the professional photographs she had made. A Facebook page to match and use closed groups on Facebook to involve parents in an easy way while protecting the privacy of everyone.

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Website Maintenance for Ideal Preschool

Ms Mary needed an update of her existing WordPress.org website. Initial set-up was finished and she wanted to expand a little more beyond the basics. The theme has many unused features and someone had to help getting that done.

So I offered to jump in and update some texts, fill in some more blanks and dot a few i’s. I also updated the CMS and as many plugins as I could, while I was there. 

Now that the website is current, we’ll see if she would like to use more web services to improve the efficiency of her business processes with (cloud) IT.

Ideal Preschool with updated Google Maps location and actual numbers

St Maarten Dive Sites Map

st maarten nature foundation

I received an image with the locations of all dive sites in St Maarten from the Nature Foundation St Maarten, who’s website I maintain. They were using a few high resolution images of dive site maps for people to download but I was wondering if there was an easy way to turn the image into a scrollable, zoomable map on Google Maps?

Turns out there is! And it was really easy. Their source was a Google Earth KMZ file, which is just a compressed KML file, which is just an XML text file with GPS locations. So I opened a new custom map in Google Maps, unzipped the KMZ file and imported the KML file into my custom map. Voila!

Of course, I spend the next hour making it pretty and clearer (I hope) but the result is very nice, might I say.

Redesigned BY AMI restaurant website

by ami rotterdam

Over Christmas I recreated a website for my friend Ahmed. His popular restaurant needed a better style online to match the cool and colorful physical appearance of BY AMI in Rotterdam on the Kop van Zuid.

His designer had picked a couple of uncommon colors (mauve, ocean blue and gold) and finding a WordPress theme that allowed me to use those colors in a meaningful way was not as easy as that sounds.

by ami rotterdam
BY AMI – Urban Bistro

But I found one and Ahmed is really happy with the new site. Customers are also giving him compliments over the new website, so I guess I did a good job!

The new site gave an opportunity to present and group all the different services BY AMI has in a clearer way. The menus are recreated from PDF as JPG to limit compatibility issues we’ve had with iOS 😦 and the many group arrangements are now also clearly presented in the main menu. I used the colors to highlight certain aspects of the pages to keep it a little less static and black&white. A splash of mauve or gold here and there breaks the monotony nicely.

Cruise Ships Schedules of St Maarten

The Port of St Maarten has made their Microsoft SQL database of the arrival times of cruise ships in Point Blanche publicly available. That is really great! Lots of businesses, shops and operators depend on knowing if and when a cruise ship arrives. Planning, scheduling, supplies, stock and personnel are all influenced by the presence of a cruise ship or two. High season, which is approaching fast, even brings three, four or occasionally even five (!) cruise ship to the port of Sint Maarten.

cruise ships in dock
St Maarten Ship Schedules from Port of St Maarten

Interestingly though, they did not create an easy to remember hostname for their web server and they forgot to configure the IIS web server properly so that visitors are automatically forwarded to the proper web page. (The root page shows the default IIS 8.0 landing page instead of the schedule picker page.) Though I can live with it, I find it a bit sloppy and I decided to create a subdomain on my domain that points to their server using an easy to remember name:

http://sxmcruiseships.christianpeper.com/sxm

Sadly, I have to add the /sxm because the server won’t auto-forward you from the root of the web server.

By Ami: new restaurant, new website

by ami rotterdam

My old friend and sous-chef from my days working at strandclub Doen! in scheveningen, Ahmed, has his own restaurant in Rotterdam. On the Kop van Zuid, of all places. Fantastic! Because so many friends are helping him out with the restaurant, I decided to build him a brand new website. He’d already parked the domain so it was easily linked to WordPress.com for reliable hosting and protection.

by ami rotterdam

Ahmed is a new-age chef, using many Internet and online services for his restaurant, so WordPress was a no-brainer rather than hosting your own wordpress.org package somewhere. It will also be trivial integrating Lightspeed HQ POS services into the site and making scheduling for employees an easy online activity.

Seaside Nature Park St Maarten has a new website

Complete overhaul of an outdated Drupal website. Tracked down the host (TCOhost in UK) through whois and contacted them. Hosting packaged was paid up for three years, so they assisted me promptly.

Created a new site online in WordPress.com and reorganized the site in accordance to the in-take discussion with the client. Main activities are horse riding tours for cruise ship day tourists, riding lessons for locals, inhabitants and expats and the pet farm for children of all ages.

seaside nature park activities
3 main activities at Seaside Nature Park St Maarten

Main improvement is the streamlining of the order process. All pages are linked to a central booking for where the customer fills out the activity he or she is interested in and the request gets sent to booking office at Seaside Nature Park where it can be followed up.

booking form
Seaside Nature Park central booking form

Should a PayPal for Business be added, this setup can be easily extended to include payments and reservations.

Future improvements are daily or weekly blogging by the staff to showcase their passion for the park and their jobs and improved sales funnel to help guide potential visitors towards their purchase.

https://seasidenaturepark.com/

New St Maarten Nature Foundation site live

st maarten nature foundation

I’m very proud to show you the new website for the Nature Foundation of St Maarten!

st maarten nature foundation
Nature Foundation St Maarten

The old self-hosted WordPress.org site is still live and used but totally reworked. I made an export and imported it into a staging site on WordPress.com. Once satisfied, I exported that, cleaned up the self-hosted site by deleting all pages and importing the export file. Once the same theme was set, all that was left to do was customization.

Three focus areas are highlighted:

  1. Preservation,
  2. Research and
  3. Education.

Pages were put into one of these areas and (blog) posts also categorized into the same. This way, their work is visibly contribution to at least one of their focus areas. By going in and manually tagging blog posts, search engines and AI can (in the future) gain a lot of semantic information from the posts and pages, hopefully resulting in more organic traffic.

Divi theme was removed in favor of a free lightweight theme. Plugins were optimized or removed to make the site load faster. Backups are scheduled weekly and security increased, for self hosted WordPress sites are a common target for automated scans and hijacking. Eventually, I recommend the Nature Foundation move to WordPress.com and avoid having to do maintenance on software at a slightly higher cost. But it saves them from having to find a webmaster and either pay him or ask to do it “pro bono”.

St Maarten Radio Interview with Barista Christian Peper

Very proud to have gotten the chance to speak about coffee in Sint Maarten on the morning show of the popular island92 radio station with Dr Soc! There is so much that goes through your head on such an occasion that I’m pretty satisfied with how the interview went, although there are a zillion things that I’d change the next time!

“15 minutes of fame”, baby!

Hope you like it! See also https://nopressure.coffee/