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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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Notes from TEDxLitchfieldED

Category : Around The Office, What I Read

I was able to attend TEDxLitchfieldED on June 28 at the IBM conference center in Southbury, Conn. Overall the event discussed the future of education and smarter cities. I was also curious to see their setup as I’m beginning the planning phase of my own TEDx event, TEDxBushnellPark.

The opening segment was a group activity to build a tower from marshmallows, pasta, tape and string. This was an awesome idea. It immediately woke people up and forced them to start interacting with one another.

The conference room lighting was dark, but with cool red flood lighting on either side of the stage.
There were 2 Camera people and 4 Cameras

Digital Learning for All Now: Jonathan Costa at TEDxLitchfieldED
Are there differences between college and workforce ready?
How are they different?

“If you ask the wrong question, you will get the wrong answer”

Quote from Deming:
Common causes (Systemic, predictable, controllable)
Special causes (Random and unpredictable and beyond control)

As you prepare for special causes, we inevitably do it at the expense of the commons

To get kids ready for a digital future, we need to show them how to use new technology.

We used to think that kids using technology would lead them to sit in a room by themselves. Now, teachers are finding that most of what these kids do with technology is communicate with one another.

What happens to learning when everyone can get anything from anywhere? IE: Wikipedia.
Its impossible for teachers to teach 21 century skills if they dont possess them themselves.
If we limit access, we limit ability.

Every time we spend an annual budget on books and analog tasks we fail to turn ourselves into a digital school system which can leverage the advances of technology and create a more productive learning environment.

If you could afford to do it, would you do it?
When the right thing to do becomes the least expensive thing to do – there are fewer barriers to doing it. We are quickly getting to that point in education.

Wrong Question: Are we getting kids ready for the workforce, or are we getting them ready for college? And is getting them ready for college different than the workforce?

By pouring complete faith into testing we are pushing a special cause (a perceived weakness in reading writing and math) onto everyone and limiting kids from learning about everything else. It’s a model that doesn’t allow for creativity… and what if we’re wrong?

Examples of Responsive Design and a plea for Device Agnostic Design

Category : Art & Design, Cool Websites, CSS, Slick Code, Technology, What I Read

Below are a few of my favorite examples of Responsive Web Design, the practice of setting media types allowing the design to scale to adapt to whatever the size of the screen that the user is using.


Device Agnostic Design
An article from Smashing Magazine talks about Device Agnostic Design which is a great future proofing advancement from responsive design. Being device agnostic means that you use your content to set break points, not the device you want the content to display on. This is important because if we spend time developing content for specific devices we are creating the next developer nightmare. There is no way to predict the size or aspect ratio of screens in the future. What happens if you design your site to perfectly fit your favorite tablet only to discover that the next generation of that same device has a slightly different sized screen.

For now, it seems as though developers are at the mercy of hardware makers. All we can do is hope they create some sort of a standard, and quick. In the meanwhile, we’ll have to make design decisions based on the content we want to show. After all, content is King.

Book Review: Don’t make me think 2ed Edition – Steve Krug

Category : What I Read

Last week I read Steven Krug’s book, Don’t Make Me Think – A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. I learned that most people ask totally the wrong questions when designing a site. Further, without being able to test our solutions in any sort of a real world atmosphere it’s impossible to know what we’re doing is right. The largest reason for this being that there is no “normal” internet user just as there is no “standard” website.

People ask the wrong questions all the time regarding web design. The best example I can think of is given in the book when a group is meeting about a project. The project manager asks how they can save space in the header of the page. A designer suggests using pull downs and a developer, who has a secret personal bias against pull downs, counters saying that pull downs won’t work with their java. The marketing person counters by looking for data on the subject of pull downs. Everyone is silent. This is a stalemate. Anyone who enters this argument now without asking the right questions is going to lose for a few reasons:

1.       People are voicing their personal opinions, not facts, about the issue.

2.        The only things that matter are: if the clients for THIS project will be annoyed by pull downs, if the site benefits in usability or user comprehension, and if there really is a technical issue because of your java. The last is the least important because if this is a code issue most code can be “made to work” if the reasoning is good enough.

It’s about asking the right questions as opposed to having all the answers. To get the answers to some questions the best way to do this is to run a usability test. Steve does a great job explaining how to do this in his book for almost nothing in a single day. The information you reap from this process will astound you.

One thing most designers/developers need to forget is that there is no “standard” internet user. When designing anything you should consider your target audience and who those people will be instead of catering for the “average person”. The other day a prospective client of mine handed me her business card printed on a 3×5 index card. I was taken back. It was huge. Then I realized why: she worked at a retirement home and the people who she regularly gave her card to were older with poor vision. It all made sense. For this business the “average client” needed larger text to be able to read it comfortably. Even though it brakes the common convention of business cards to have a standard size it worked best for their clientele.

That’s it for this week’s blog. Now that I’m done with this book I’ll be finishing Wikinomics, and also diving into my Yahoo Ambassador training.

I recommend you read the book.
Don’t Make Me Think – Steve Krug
Available at amazon.com

Check back next week for a new article about breaking another web standard: Putting the navigation on the right for enhanced usability.