Sly's a webmaster who's gaining more and more reputation every day. He's surpassed impressive physical obstacles and is proof that all it really takes is determination and a few brain cells to make it in this business.
GFY Ambush Interview thread on Sly
How the hell do you type so fast?
I get asked this a lot actually, followed by "how do you always spell everything right?" Fact is, I'm just really smart!
I use a voice recognition system called Dragon Dictate, some of you are probably familiar with Dragon Naturally Speaking. Dragon Dictate is the original voice system they came out with, its at least 8-9 years old, I've personally been using the same system and version since I was 14.
Why don't I upgrade? I've tried Naturally Speaking and just plain don't like it, it doesn't have various features that Dragon Dictate has that I consider essential. It would be nice to upgrade to new software though because Dragon Dictate doesn't work properly on Windows XP, but there are no other products on the market so for the time being I'm stuck with Windows 98.
How did AOL get you started in the industry?
As much as people hate on AOL, I think it helped a LOT of people get their feet wet in the online marketplace.
I started on AOL when I was a freshman in high school. I did the IM and chat thing for a while but I really got bored with it quickly so I started getting familiar with the web by surfing. As I surfed I realized that a lot of sites were just plain terrible and me with my big head decided I could do better.
AOL had a WYSIWYG editor for free that members could use to build their free homepages. I downloaded it and started playing around, eventually taught myself HTML through it. Then, I started building.
My first site was a fan page for the band Tool. I had pictures, lyrics, biographies, all the usual fan stuff. I'll never forget the day my free Geocities counter hit 700, I felt like a pimp, haha.
What was Webmasters-Pub? Free Web Templates?
After my band fan sites I realized there really wasn't a whole lot of money in them and if I was going to be spending so much time behind my computer, I may as well make a couple bucks at it. I was always a big fan of Webmaster-Resources.com (now SitePoint) so I decided to build my own resource site, I called it Webmasters-Pub.
Overall, the site really wasn't the greatest, LOL, but it did have a fair amount of articles written by myself, tutorials, resources, and even a few script freebies that I wrote. The weekly newsletter called The Weekly Brew was pretty popular and gave me my first check from the Internet. I believe it was from Everyone.net, at the time they had a free email plug-in that site owners could use to give their surfers free email addresses.
Through Webmasters-Pub I met a guy named Doni and we became good friends. He ran a site called Free Web Templates which was very popular and did very well. We put our minds and resources together to build up a small network of sites, mainly focusing on graphics. 123Wallpaper was our first joint project, we got into the desktop wallpaper scene pretty hard and did pretty well from it. I was a high school junior making $4k a month, I felt like a king. The wallpaper gig lasted a year before it all came crashing down, I'll touch on that more later.
How did max cash get you started in this game? What did you do for dee cash and skin traffic?
This is a 2 part question so I'll split this up.
First off, Max Cash... one day I was surfing porn and came across a "Webmasters Make Money" link. I clicked it and thought "wow, $35 per sale, maybe this is worth a try." I joined their message board and started learning everything I could, I think I even had an argument with Meloman about search engines, haha. Max Cash really believed in free sites, so thats what they taught. I built and submitted my first free site using their free sponsor content (free content was rare at the time) and wound up making my first sale.
I haven't sent Max Cash a sale in years, I think all of my old sites were deleted, but they sent me my first porn check.
Skin Traffic. I've known Jason the longest in this industry. When I was a newbie I found a thread on GFY looking for HTML guys, I contacted him and started doing work for him off and on for about a year or so. Eventually he launched Angels of Porn and a few other sites, wrapped everything up into Skin Traffic and I helped him get the word out. I did some affiliate rep work for a while, but eventually it gets very frustrating to do because I often found myself taking time out of my personal webmaster duties to help with his stuff and vice-versa. It got to the point where I simply didn't want to do it anymore so I decided to stop and I swore that I was finished with affiliate rep work.
Then Dee came along. Anyone who's met or knows Dee understands what I'm talking about when I say that he's very impressive. He told me about his program, the crew that was behind it, and what his plans were. He excited me. I figured... why not, this seems like a great opportunity, I'll give it one more shot. Dee is in the Philippines, I am in San Diego. The time difference became quite the problem, couple that with the fact that I again ended up stealing time from myself to work on his projects and stealing time from his projects to work on my own. It was a mess, one that I vow never to get into again.
Being an affiliate rep is not for me.
Talk about Epic Cash and your work with them.
Epic Cash! When Epic Cash first opened, everybody gave Trey a LOT of crap. It won't work, it will fail, etc. I was still pretty wet behind the ears at the time and wanted to learn more. I figured I could start with a brand new company and learn the ropes as it grows. Trey is Trey, he pisses people off, LOL, then they came crying to me. I thought it was pretty funny, if you know anything about me you'll know that I am impossible to offend, so his antics never bothered me. Anyway, as I was learning through Epic Cash I started working on my own projects. Again, time became an issue, along with difference in opinions.
That really should have been my first sign. I was too blind to realize it I guess. Affiliate rep is not for me!
And of course Epic Cash is still around doing well. A little birdie tells me they have some great new things coming out. Skin Traffic, Dee Cash, and Epic Cash have all turned into great programs. It seems I have a knack for finding the good ones. And now that I think of it, Jason and Dee have been working on some new hot stuff as well. Keep your eyes open.
Do I regret leaving any of those 3? Absolutely not. It was a decision I made, a good one, and I'm very happy to see them all doing so well.
Who is Moose and what do you do for him?
Moose and his partner own Phat Servers. Phat Servers is the hosting company that I personally have had an account with for about 3 years now and I have been handling sales for a little over 2 years now. In fact I see a lot of my clients in this very thread, haha. I really do enjoy handling sales, its a great break from building websites all day and it has given me the opportunity to meet and become good friends with a lot of great people. Furthermore, I really like and enjoy spending time with the people at Phat Servers. Its a great group of people that really work hard and know what they're doing.
I'm expecting an ICQ any minute now from our tech calling me all sorts of names for getting sappy. Yeh... fuck you too Mike.
Did you switch out of catholic school and go to public school because the priests and nuns were all pedafiles?
When I was 7 I was called into the backroom by the priest before class one day. It was dark, damp, and he made me get down on my knees. I'll never forget that day, my first confession was a horrible experience.
Actually I didn't mind it all that much, it was the only school I knew so I didn't really know the difference. I switched to public school because they were more accommodating to my needs. Not that the Catholic school WOULDN'T help me, its more a matter of they COULDN'T. They had a lot of steps in the school, they couldn't offer me an "assistant" to help me throughout the day, etc. Since public schools are paid for by the government, of course they have all of that stuff and are fairly accommodating.
I still went to CCD classes though and was confirmed. No, I don't go to church anymore and haven't since I moved away from home, though I do typically go with my family at Christmas.
Why did you drop out of school?
I graduated high school in 2001, afterwards moved to San Diego and attended SDSU. I was broke, dirt broke. A chicken breast and stuffing for dinner was a nice treat. I lived on tuna, rice, and those horrible frozen burritos you can buy in bulk. Not that different from most college students but my situation was a little different and a little more expensive, plus I couldn't get a job and all of my sites were pretty much dead, meaning no cash.
When I started at SDSU I had to take a couple of those introductory classes because I was from out-of-state. I figured it would suck, but be a breeze. Well, being in a wheelchair that makes me disabled. So I get sent to DSS, which is Disabled Student Services, they help disabled people with various issues. Most of the people that took advantage of this department had learning disabilities. So in order for DSS to help their students, they created a few special classes that catered specifically to the disabled. The learning disabled. Somehow they decided it was a great idea to put me in these classes. Now I mean no ill will to the learning disabled by any means, but anybody can tell you putting a relatively smart person in a class full of students with learning disabilities is not a good idea.
It drove me nuts. The simplest problems were huge ordeals that took a day to cover. We're talking fractions here. I went from trig and pre-calc to fractions. I felt insulted, but knew that I had to pass the class so tried to stick with it. Then a new problem arose, homework. I had nobody to help me with homework. I can't write, how the hell was I going to do my math work? I became so frustrated I stopped going to class and only showed up for the tests. I went from being a straight A student in my senior year, acing trigonometry, to a C student that couldn't pass his basic English and math classes.
So I'm sitting there, 18, broke as a joke, college is a nightmare, and I'm trying to study for a business degree. I needed to make a hard decision because there was no way in hell I was moving back home. I got to thinking... why am I going to study for 5-6 years for a stupid business degree that isn't going to get me anywhere? I would have needed a MBA or some type of specialty in order to get a decent job once I graduated. After thinking of it like that it all seemed completely ridiculous.
I finished off the year, I don't even know what my final grades were, I never checked. From then
Talk about the bomb.
Ahhh... the dot-com bomb. Most of us were probably affected in one way or another by the bomb.
At the time Doni and I were running our wallpaper sites. We had a couple wallpaper sites and several other sites in our network. Due to the high bandwidth usage and the price of bandwidth at the time, we used a hosting company that offered unlimited bandwidth called CommuniTech. A lot of our friends were using them as well. Needless to say, between us and our friends we really hit their bandwidth pretty hard. In the summer of 2000 they decided to tighten the strings a little bit and kick the top 20 bandwidth users off. That exact week Doni was away on vacation and for whatever reason I didn't have access to the servers. Neither of us had a full complete back-up of the site, just bits and pieces. Our site was essentially deleted from their system. We would have to build from the ground up again.
At that same time the markets started to get shaky. People were realizing that the Internet stocks weren't as great as they were hyped to be. Internet companies were closing down left and right, including our main sponsors. So we had no sponsors and half a site, we decided to fold up and go our own ways.
I took a break for a year or so and focused more on school. Doni continued to run his Free Web Templates with another guy we met and they ended up creating a couple other successful template sites. I still talk to Doni every 6 months or so and last I knew he was doing pretty well for himself.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Iowa and Illinois, usually I just say Iowa because that was my main residence. My parents divorced when I was 6 and had split custody between me and my 2 brothers. It sucked going back and forth all the time, but thats the way it was. Though sometimes I miss it, I cannot stand the weather so will never move back. I have thought about getting a condo or small house there though, would make visiting so much easier and enjoyable, plus they're incredibly affordable.
Why did you choose San Diego as a place to live without going there first to check it out?
I was stuck between San Diego and Tampa. Then I remembered that I hate humidity so took Tampa off the list.
I wanted out of the mid-west, period. I wanted to get away from family and live my own life, start over and do things the way I wanted to do them. I wanted nice weather, people that would treat me halfway decent, and a nice area to live with lots to do. Everyone always raves about how amazing and beautiful San Diego is, so I figured why not. My dad and I had planned on coming out for a visit but things just didn't work out.
It really didn't matter to me because I knew that pretty much any place would be better then my hometown. Right before fall session of school we loaded up my van with everything we could and started the drive. That was the longest drive of my life and I never want to do it again. Driving across Western Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Eastern California is boring as hell. There's absolutely nothing.
I've been living here for 4 years now and really have no complaints. I like it, not sure how much longer I'll stick around though.
Where do you find your pink apparel?
Ahaha. Apparently Simple has it!
Last year at the San Diego show JFK snapped a picture of me. When I got home I found the pic and it appeared as if I had a pink purse, there was one sitting on my lap. So now I always get crap about having a pink purse or just a purse period. Simple claims he bought one for me, yet he STILL hasn't given it to me despite several opportunities. I think his wife found it and he had to give it to her to avoid affair accusations.
Why did it amaze a lot of people that you did well in school?
People develop prejudices fairly easily. Its natural. If you see 50 dogs running on 4 legs, odds are the 51st dog is going to be running on 4 legs as well.
With that said, I suppose a lot of people in wheelchairs aren't exactly "normal" in mental capacity. Well, probably most aren't. Then you have me, I'm fairly smart. Not a genius, but fairly smart. I was always at the top of my class, took all of the honors courses, never studied... everything just clicked for me. Overall, people seemed to be amazed that I knew more than most "regular" students and didn't fling my poo across the room.
Why don't you use your parking pass?
I think parking passes were designed for those that really need it. Perhaps the elderly with trouble walking, someone with leg problems, etc. Their sole purpose is to make it easier for a troubled person to get in and out with ease. The problem with parking passes these days is EVERYBODY has them. I swear if you sprain your pinky you could get a temporary pass and I think that is complete bull shit. There are people out there who legitimately need the pass to help them out and some lazy asshat takes it upon himself to screw them out of a parking space.
I really don't use my parking pass very often for 2 reasons: 1) I really don't need it, my wheels work perfectly fine and 2) there's never any parking spaces available due to the asshats with sprained pinkies!
Talk about your medical condition and the physical limitations it causes.
Mood depending, this is the part where I make up an elaborate and tragic story about what happened. Usually an accident of some sort. Followed by the truth which always gives the listener a sigh of relief, which I always find funny.
This is the question that people always wonder but are afraid to ask, so they resort to making assumptions and starting rumors. Some of the rumors I hear are ridiculous and hilarious at the same time. I really don't understand why people don't just ask.
You asked, so... when I was a baby I started walking really late. My parents took me to the doctor several times but they couldn't figure anything out, they attributed it to flat feet. When I was 6, my little brother started having similar problems. We both got checked out again and were diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. There are literally over 40 different types of MD and the severity of each type differs greatly. The type my brother and I have is extremely rare, I can't think of how to spell it without looking it up, I'd probably have to ask my mom actually.
The type I have actually has very little to do with muscles, its a neurological disease. In short, it deteriorates the myelin sheath surrounding your nerves. The myelin sheath acts as a sort of insulation and allows the electrical impulses from your brain to reach various points on your body. With a deteriorated sheath, those electrical impulses have a more difficult time getting to where they need to go or they just plain don't get there at all. I could be a little off on this, I'm an Internet marketer not a neurologist, but I think I'm pretty close. Again, I'm sure my mom could correct me, she did a lot of research on it years and years ago.
Physical restrictions? Well, my brain isn't telling my body what to do. Well, it is, but the message gets lost somewhere. So its sort of like I'm paralyzed (which a lot of people assume), but I'm really not. My sensory nerves are still pretty good so I can feel. In other words, if you kick me at the next show just to test me out I'm going to be mighty pissed!
Discuss the strange comment made to you by a doctor recently.
This goes back to the prejudice comment I made earlier.
When I went back to visit my family a couple weeks ago I setup a doctors appointment because quite frankly its a bitch getting an appointment here and my eyes were really bothering me. So I get checked out and he prescribes me some eye drops, as I'm leaving he says "well its good to see your mind is still healthy".
I left the office and made a comment to my dad about it. I think that is one of the funniest comments anybody has ever made to me. My mind is still healthy? I about fell over laughing. Most people would have been pretty pissed but I like to find comedy wherever I can, and that did the trick that day.
Why do you come to GFY?
Business and entertainment, primarily entertainment. Some of the stupid stuff that comes up here daily is pure comedy.
Its also a great way to keep in the loop regarding recent happenings and news. I have met a lot of great people here over the years as well, though I'm beginning to think the best place to really meet people is the shows. Board talk seems to be the same over and over again.
Can you drive? What kind of car do you have? Pics.
No, I can't drive. I don't even have a vehicle, haha. I am thinking about buying a van pretty soon though, I've been looking around and they have some pretty nice setups. Its no BMW, but it'll work: http://www.amsvans.com/?page=vanDetails&id=783
Thoughts on government aid for the handicaped?
Oh Christ... years ago I was extremely opinionated about this type of stuff, and vocal. I still have an opinion, but over the years I've become less vocal and have realized that I can be pissy and bitchy all day, but it still isn't going to get me anywhere. So now I tend to mind my own business more and do whatever it takes to do the things I want to do.
Handicapped and disabled is such a broad term, its hard to even summarize my opinion. I'm basically of the belief that if people really want to better their life and get out of a rut, they will find a way to do it. I have and I know many others who have as well. I don't believe in hand-outs, I think they make people lazy and dependent on a system that needs their vote.
Someone commented to me today actually that when you think of someone in a wheelchair you think of someone sitting at home watching TV all day. I think thats terrible and I wish it would change. I know that when people face tough times they often think their life is over, they lose hope. They turn to the system that doesn't really care about them and they never get off. The system says "hey, we'll give you some money and IF you happen to get a job, great, we'll stop giving you the money". What kind of incentive is that for somebody to get their shit together and move on with their life? None.
I almost fell victim to that system. My senior year in high school a group of counselors got together and basically decided what I should do with my life. I was good with computers, "oh he should be a programmer, let's get the wheels in motion." I hated programming, I didn't even really like computers, I treated them as a tool and nothing more. I did not want a career in computers. My dad knew that and he pushed me. My dad always expected me to do better than what I did because he knew I could, all while everyone else was happy I didn't scream obscenity during class.
I'm going off on a tangent here so I'll try to wrap it up. Bottom line. People need to be pushed. They need to be expected. And they need to know that they can have a better life, they just have to find the want.
What do you have to do to be able to travel?
It really depends where I'm going or what I'm doing. If I'm visiting family, I travel alone. The airlines are fairly accommodating and they help me when possible.
Now if I'm going to a show, I always bring someone with. My roommate gets a lot of free trips. He likes going to the shows with me so it all works well. It does get expensive though.
What do you make the most money at now?
I have about 4 different revenue streams, its hard to pin-point which one exactly does the best. I have hundreds and hundreds of free sites, those are my main money makers. I have free sites of all different types. Everything from link lists to TGPs to stand alone free sites.
A lot of people think I just do sales for Phat Servers, that isn't the case at all. I send traffic too, and even a couple sales every now and then!
Do you own or rent? Pics.
Right now I'm renting a house, planning on buying something within the next year, just haven't decided where yet. House prices in San Diego are pretty crazy right now but they seem to be leveling off and within the next year may start dropping. The place I'm renting would probably be appraised at around $450-500k, which is absolutely ridiculous. There's no way in hell I would pay that to live here.
My place is just a typical house, nothing fancy. It is in a pretty decent neighborhood though, a real family oriented neighborhood. Very safe, I like it.
I don't have any pictures on my computer, maybe later I'll take some but it really is nothing special
How old are you?
Last month I turned 22.
Were you involved in porn before being of legal age?
No, I was 18. Though when I was 17 I was going to join up with a friend of mine and start. We were going to run all of the money through him. He ended up getting into drugs pretty hard and I've only talked to him once since.
Thoughts on drugs and booze at webmaster events? Do you drink? Do drugs?
I drink occasionally, really not very often. I'm more of a social drinker but I do like having a beer or mixer when I go out to eat or grill here at home. A nice cold beer and juicy steak on a hot summers night is just fantastic.
I've smoked weed or pot or whatever the hip term is once to see what it was like. It was fun, but it really didn't interest me that much. I'm kind of a control freak, as in I like having as much control of my personal life as possible. Doing drugs kind of takes away from that. You lose your control. Even alcohol does that which is why I very rarely to get drunk.
Drinking and drugs at shows? I drink at shows, so obviously I don't have too much of a problem with it. If you can control yourself when drinking, I see no reason not to enjoy yourself with a beverage of choice. I really don't have a problem with drugs, what you do on your time is your business. I think some people are a little too obvious or anxious about their drug use, they wear it like a banner, which seems pretty silly to me.
How the hell did you get the hottest girl at Sr.Frogs in Cancun last year to give you a lap dance?
I saw all of you guys coming in and I slipped her a $100 bill for a few minutes of grinding.
Me and my buddy were just sitting at the bar having a couple drinks, watching all the drunk chicks dancing on the tabletops, and waiting for the rest of the crew. Next thing I know this incredibly beautiful chick in a short red dress is buying me a drink and climbing all over me. I sure as hell wasn't going to turn her away. Now that I think of it, she looked just like Raven Riley. Maybe it was just a dream? Haha.
Who do you look up to in this industry? In life? Who do you look down on?
There are actually quite a few people I look up to, most are of the younger generation. Dee, Pipecrew, Santeria... each of these guys are my age and have done very well for themselves. I also look up to a lot of the guys that have developed good solid programs over the past couple years. OC Cash, Dee Cash, Skin Traffic, Epic Cash. I'm missing several, simply drawing a blank right now.
In life, I guess I look up to my grandpa and my dad. Both just regular guys that have taken their regular jobs and turned them into something really good. Through my dad I learned that wise spending is all you really need to go from rags to riches. He isn't exactly rich by any means, but has more assets and has done more in his life than anybody else he works with simply because he knows how to spend money wisely.
I try my best not to look down on anyone, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't. People that have work dead end jobs their whole life and hate every day of it. It isn't really a matter of looking down on them or feeling sorry for them, I really don't know how to explain it. I simply don't understand what it would be like inside to not want a better life for yourself and your family.
What's you life expectancy? Does this affect how you look at the word?
The average life expectancy for someone with my condition is the late 20's. There are instances of going into the 30's but those are more rare.
Does it play a part in how I look at the world and make life decisions? Absolutely. It played a part in me dropping out of college and also me moving to San Diego. The better weather here is much better for me and I enjoy it a lot more.
Overall, I think I have a very different perception of life than most people and I think my disability and my life expectancy are directly tied into that.
What kind of porn turns you on? Discuss in detail.
Funny thing is I never really searched for porn before I started building sites.
Hmm... I like girls with big boobs, petite, and even better if they're Latina. As far as porn goes, I really like the "pretty" softcore stuff. Mac and Bumble, Twistys, Playboy, stuff like that. And I must confess, I love getting the flyers from Frederick's of Hollywood.
If all high end luxury and sports car manufacturers made wheel chairs - which one would you get and why? Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, etc
This question is hilarious. I really have no idea. I like nice cars but don't really have a favorite company. And even the top line companies like you mentioned, I only like their very high-end cars. The base models don't do it for me at all. I like SUVs, but not the luxury ones. Something like a Tahoe would be nice.
I am looking into adding hydraulics to my chair so I can be big pimpin' like Gabe from WEG Cash. I saw his car picking up all sorts of chicks, I need to try it myself.
What kind of art do you like?
Is this a standard question? Most of the questions have some type of punchline, I don't know if I'm missing something here or if you really do want to know what kind of art I like, LOL.
You know, I'm really not into art. If I something I like I would definitely pick it up, but there isn't any specific kind of art or artist that I like. I've been to a couple art museums but nothing really stood out. Wish I had more to offer for you here but I don't!
Pics? LOL, what? I have no idea what kind of pictures you want me to post.
I think its funny and I love being talked to as if I have an IQ of 65. I find it extremely entertaining but my friends hate it, haha.
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