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Notes from An Event Apart Boston 2012 I had a great time at An Event Apart Boston, 2012. Ill post some photos soon. The conference avoided deep dives into code in favor of showing WHY you would do reactive design. As Eric Meyer said "My...

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Judging the CT Student Innovation Exposition (E-Commerce)... Want to know what the next 10 years will look like? Ask a high school student. Their creativity isnt limited by their knowledge of what we currently call technological limitations. They have a vision of...

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The Value of Feeling Appreciated as an Employee in... Whether you’re a new employee or the vice president of the company, everyone wants to feel valued, even appreciated, in the workplace. Not only does it improve morale and make the workplace a more pleasant...

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The difference between classic and motion tweens in... Here it is: If you're used to doing things "the cs3 way" then you can continue to do so with the classic tween tool. It works the same way as you remember, using key frames as normal, but you cannot...

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PHP: If (equal to AND not equal) - eliminate form spam... Just learned a great function of PHP thats already made my forms a lot better. A while back I wrote an article about eliminating form spam without captchas by using css to hide a text input box for bots...

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Why Traditional Captchas No Longer Work

Category : General Web Info, Technology

Captchas is a test run to determine that you are human, and screen out the bots, scrappers, and automated spam that finds it way to all things good and wholesome on the internet. You see them everywhere: e-commerce site, blogs, hotmail, myspace, and so on. The trouble is that more and more administrators are finding that advanced screen readers have become better at decoding text than humans with poor vision. The end result is that the most significant impact of adding a poor captchas to your site is to limit the use by your intended audience, the real humans using your site. Contunue Reading

Working on Sharepoint Back at Fathom as a Subcontractor

Category : Around The Office, Humor, Technology

So I’m back to work at Fathom as a subcontractor reskinning a sharepoint interface. The css file is a massive 5400+ lines. Its written in several styles of short hand and thats just the core.css file. Then there is the IE style sheet which is chuck full of IE only fixes and hacks. Its mostly trial and error getting the right selector; without the search feature in FF dev bar this would be impossible.

All told I think I’ll spend about 2 hours designing the interface and 10 hours putting it into the css file. That was the original estimate, but I think we’re going to end up more about 12 by the time its all said and done. Guess We’ll know later. I’m off to tattoo.

The Economy and… The Lingerie Football League

Category : Humor, Politics

A few people have asked me what I think of the bail out and the economic fallout we’re living with at the moment. I don’t pretend to know everything, but what I do know isn’t encouraging. Gold has been forecast by Peter Schiff to hit $5000 an oz. This is a huge appreciation in metals. Or is it?

The inverse of this would be to look at the deflation of the American Dollar, which is like .02 cents from the 1917 dollar. Had we stayed on the gold standard we might be getting paid $500 a week, but a barrel of oil would be $3.50 a barrel. If you want t know more about the economic crisis I’d suggest watching a little video. Its only 10 minutes and will do a fair bit to explain the current crisis.

I find it hard to talk about economics and not have it end on a somber tone. To help alleviate that I have included another video, this one of the lingerie bowl. For those of you who don’t know, the lingerie bowl puts 7 girls made up of more plastic than the pads protecting the guys and wearing little more than shoulder pads playing football. Watch the friggen video already.

The Best FireFox Applets You Must Have

Category : Cool Web Programs, Technology

I think everyone has a list of FF applets they recommend. These 6 I would not live without.

1. Plain Text Copy
Allows you to copy just the text from the highlighted selection without any embedded html. Let me say that again: You can copy the text without copying the html code that will screw up the formatting in whatever you’re pasting to. No more weird tables, h1, or links.

Just clean copy, just like the name says. This applet is the reason I wrote this article. When I found this today and I almost started to cry. Do yourself a favor and get it here before even moving on to the rest of the list

If you really like this then you might want to check out Pure Text 2.0, which strips the HTML from any copy and paste function you do on your computer. (Think about not using Word to Notepad to Blogging software)

2. SEO QUAKE

A browser bar that gives you tons of information about the current page. You get Alexa & Google PR and inbound yahoo links on one side, Keyword density and whois info on the other at the click of a button. Awesome.

There is an option to also have the information appear on screen. Generally I have this turned off as it slows page load time but it does provide additional information and PR info for each link on the page.

3. Stumble Upon

Whats not to love about this program? Sure, its a time waster – but depending on how you set it up you’ll find some of the most interesting (and sometimes relevant) tid-bits of information on the web. Click a small button on your task bar to be taken to content other users have previously tagged as worth stumbling on or add your own sites to the growing list. The more people that stumble to your content and give it a thumbs up – the more it will circulate.

4. Download StatusBar

I don’t even remember how Firefox did with downloads before, but I LOVE how it handles them with this add on installed. Downloads appear at the bottom of the browser window and track the percent complete. Once downloaded you can open the file, the container directory, or clear the item from the list. Otherwise you can continue to access the file in following sessions, and files even continue to download from one session to the next if they did not finish.

5. PDF Download

Simple popup that allows firefox to open a PDF directly from the website, without having to download it first. This might not seem like much, but I get sent a lot of pdfs and this is a handy way to check the file out quickly and then decide where to save it. Its a better order of opperations for me – I dont know what Id do without it.

6. Web Devlopers Toolbar – A few tips I’ve learned

Everyone has the WebDev toolbar on their “must have” lists. What they dont have are these tips:

* Press Alt-E to open the CSS of any page. You can edit it here on the fly and it will render as newly written in the content area above. Once you’re done with it you can save the CSS file locally and then open the page with dreamweaver.
Vuala! CSS is done. (For FF – make sure to test in IE & good luck with that!)

* You can edit the HTML of any page by going to Miscellaneous drop down menu. Why these two are not closer together I don’t know, but they appear as a tabbed interface at the bottom of the browser. Very handy to have them both open when you’re trying to do build outs. Doesn’t auto complete like dreamweaver, not for the novice.

* Stick and Unstick – Once you have written your code you can “stick” it. Normally if the CSS of a page chages so does the code you can edit. If you make changes and the page refreshes or reloads, your code is lost. This prevents that and you can refresh the css to reload the content from the current page.

* Press Ctrl Shift F to open the Element Info panel. This thing rules. Not only does it tell you the type, class and id of the element you select, it also tell you the width and height, plus parent and child elements. This is hugely useful for trying to decode the miles of css rules accompanying most wordpress, sharepoint, or similar template driven services. There is a window which displays the css path to get to an element. If you copy and paste this line into your CSS file you WILL select that element. Trouble is: The only way you can copy it is to get to field without overlapping any other elements. On a mac  you can use spaces to trick the mac into letting you move screens and come back with your cursor near the top. Coming down from the top allows you get to copy the text without rolling over another element and resetting this field. PC users can use another window over the content (or alt-crt-delete – not kidding you) to move over inactive content and selected the text.

Why is this useful:

Say you wanted to select a specific link in your WP template and dont have a clue how the author wrote the template, you can either spend an hour going back and forth trying to find the rule for comment h2 links from new users alternating between even and odd posts OR look at the string:

html > body > div #frame > div #container > div #content > div .left_side > div .entry > div #end > ul .related > li > a

which becomes:

html body div#frame div#container div#content div.left_side div.entry div#end ul.related li a

and now it targets that element exactly. You can slim it down and it should still work fine. Too far though and you’ll start selecting other elements, which may or may not be your intent.

Good luck with these tips.
Hope they save you some time and aggravation.

Thanks going to Porto, that last bit was almost all you.

Back in the Saddle Again

Category : Around The Office, Technology

About 3:45pm yesterday I was once again a free man. Was I happy about losing my job to a failed economy? Of course not, but being totally self employed again is sort of an unexpected pleasure. I’ve cut myself from bartending as well so this is the first time I’ve not had a job of some sort besides working for myself since I was 14. Sort of feels like I’m on vacation; which might be called ironic because I never took one while I was working at Fathom.

So how am I going to make bills?
Same way I always have:  web design and hopefully this blog will help a bit too. I’ll have to clean it up, and do something to generate some capitol from it. I’m not paying for college with it (actually I am) but anything I can get at the moment would be great. Might also take up tattooing again on the side for my fun job. I still have my equipment and I get requests all the time. There I go again, adding in more and more… at the start of this blog I was unemployed – now I’ve got shit to do again.

To all my faithful readers, thank you.
According to analytics I see a few more than 1,200 a month. Not too shabby.
If any of you happen to work at really cool design firms, in any country – Im talking applications and am willing to relocate – the time seems about right for that.

In the meanwhile, Thank you Fathom and everyone there I learned a lot in my brief stay. Best of luck to us all in these hard times.