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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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Make Twitter 1.1 work on WordPress

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Twitter 1.0 has been sunset by Twitter so it is no longer functional. As a result – all plugins and themes which used this API no longer work. You must now use the new v 1.1 API.

The best WordPress Twitter 1.1 solution I have seen so far is this little gem: Twitget by Boštjan Cigan.
Its free, installs easy, and there is a silent yet effective YouTube video to help guide you on your way through the Twitter applet creator.

The widget allows you to add custom html to let you revise the css in ways that actually wern’t possible in any of the tools I saw in 1.0 so kudos to Bostjan for expanding the features and making this problem into an opportunity.

I’m currently using this plugin on another site of mine: http://www.TEDxBushnellPark.com
Hope this help.

Can You be a Little Bit Agile?

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I had the pleasure of attending a presentation from Susan Burk, Principal of Top Five To Seven LLC, about adopting pieces of agile development without embracing all of it. Essentially, being “A Little Agile” shop. Can it work? Why do large companies tend to do this? What parts are indispensable?

My notes are as follows:

Obstacles Large Organizations Face:

  • HR Considerations:
    • Allocations – Resources must have 100% load to be considered efficient
    • Roles – People are rigidly defined in a role
    • Incentives – Personal incentives  given primarily for personal goals
    • Regulatory Constraints:
      • Finance, Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals
      • Incremental Delivery – Must release all at the same time
      • Scale – “Agile cannot be used on large projects”
      • Distributed Teams – “Agile has to be done on site”
  • Documentation Requirements – Real or Imaginary
    • Who reads the documentation and write the required amount of documentation.
  • Architecture Requirements
    • Key people have to commit for the origination of the project or the project will suffer as a result.

3D Adoption: Agile Adoption of Agile

  • Roll out practices with business value
  • Paves way for futre agile advancement
  • Introduce more concepts over time
  • Address corporate and culture concerns early
  • Conduct leadership / platform level retrospective

Where can you compromise?

  • Create a fully agile team
    • Slowly introduce these practices to other areas
    • Add Primary and Secondary roles to resources instead of additional projects
      • Create ‘Generalized Specialists”
  • Documentation Requirements:
    • Ask to change the format and product only what what has a clearly defined “consumer”
    • The tests for your project can generally be used to document what it something should do and how it would work. Perhaps use Epic stories or Use cases to describe a function.
  • Architecture Requirements
    • Set up “Platforms” or “turfs” allowing designers and architects to specialize in broader areas and allow for cross pollination.
    • Key roles must commit to project during start up.

Where CANT you compromise?

  • Stories written from business perspective must deliver business value on each iteration

Companies can benefit from:

  • Agile coaches + Mentoring
  • 3 projects before people really get it

Success Stories:

  • IBM: Websphere – They were eventually producing software faster than their customers could consume it.
  • Michael Mah
  • Merask Shiplines

Read: Jefferson and the Art of Power
Scott Ander, or Ellen Goldensteiner

Launched TheHOTSpace.com

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The HOTSpace.com is the temporary name and home for The Hartford Open Technology Space, a Hartford Hacker and Maker Space.This site will be the best way to get a view of whats going on within the space as it will warehouse all the links, documents, and discussions we have had about the space.

Key resources at this point are the Mailing List, Blog, and Forum.
Eventually I would like to see meetup and class schedules, list of equipment / wishlist, member or project bios and other fun content, but first I suppose we should finish setting up the space.

The beginning of The hotSpace (Hartford Open Technology Space)

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After a great Open Studio weekend I’ve decided that I want to look into making a Hartford Hackerspace.

The tech & entrepreneurial communities within Hartford have grown considerably in the last few years and I think a Critical Mass has been struck. Now, we need a space.

The goal of this venture will be to create an “open” technology working space for the downtown area of Hartford. This space will rent out private work stations and offer many of the amenities of working within a larger community such as office resources and hardware, meeting spaces and technical support, receptive community members, classes and events, and of course, gourmet coffee.

A facebook group has been created:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/429751137090798/
Other documents will be made available as they are ready for public consumption.

Save the Date: TEDxBushnellPark is 6/22/2013

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Mark your calendars for June 22nd, 2013.
The topic is: Improving the Community.

The rest is still in the works as the speaker list is still developing and the location is TBA. However, I’ve been meeting potential speakers and am in talks with several venues. I’d like this event to showcase the innovative work that Hartford is doing to improve not only itself, but also the world as a whole.

There will be more announcements in the future and work has already started on the website and social media pages.
Anyone interested in contributing to this effort is welcome to contact me. Please include your reason for taking interest, what you think you can help with, and your favorite TED video.

Currently looking for:

A/V Tech(s)
Event Coordinator
Grant writer
Interns

Examples of Responsive Design and a plea for Device Agnostic Design

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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.

http://robot-or-not.com/
http://bostonglobe.com/
http://clearairchallenge.com/
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/

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.

Khan Academy: The Future of Education

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The Khan Academy already has a million users learning everything from basic math to trigonometry and beyond, it can serve a few million more. Imagine a world where you child does homework in class and watches lectures at home, at their own pace whenever they want. They can rewatch old lectures to relearn things and they can pause it whenever they need to. Now, all the time in class is spend with individual students. Welcome to the future of education.

As a professor I think this is a great twist in the classroom paradigm. This allows more time to be spent with each student helping them individually. There are tools and dashboards that allow a teacher or mentor to see what exercises a student has done, what they struggled with, and what they know. Using this you can even ask a student who gets it to help a struggling student as the first to respond and assist.

Best of all, it’s FREE and on the internet so anyone in the world can be a student. Your kids can be helping tutor children in Africa. You can be a mentor to others in your field and you too can learn from literally thousands of topics. With groups Khan Academy and Wikipedia we can get one step closer to making quality education available to everyone.

5 Ways to Reduce the Number of CSS Classes you use

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You can greatly reduce the number of css classes you use in a project by some best practices while writing or reviewing CSS code.

Use a CSS style Reset:
Browsers come with a default styling for most elements but unfortunately these definitions are not the same across all browsers. Even something as simple as a

tag can be interpreted differently across different browsers. (Bottom vs top margins in older versions of IE 6/7 vs FF and Chrome). Using a CSS reset makes all the default inherited definitions the same and will simplify your debugging while reducing the number of styles needed to account for different default element styling.

There are a number of resets you can find with a quick search. The most extensive is Eric Meyer’s reset, and this maybe a bit overkill as you will have to redefine all properties of every element. Experiment and see what works best for you and how you code. The CSS clear I use is attached below.

If you want to look into this further or if you want t help deciding which reset is right for you, a great article can be found from SixRevisions.

Create a Common CSS library:
Put all your generic one definition selectors in one place (generally the top as this will cascade better–more on this below.) If they only have one definition then you can very likely reuse the class elsewhere in the document. Keeping a generic name will allow you or someone else to easily understand the classes being used. Think float-left, float-right, clear-float, em, caption, highlight, center-text, center-auto, etc… I’ll list this out in another tutorial in the future.

I also declare all the colors used in a project as stand alone classes so I can quickly add them to a class without having to recreate a whole new class just to account for a change in text color.

I may not use the whole library in every project, but I use at least 75-80% and I know my commonly used code is there, and keeping all the colors in one placer makes it easier to copy and paste for other styles.

Cascade your CSS:
I start general and the work my way to being more specific. Using more specific selectors will allow you to drill down in setting properties. If you do this correctly you can greatly reduce the number of !important tags you use in your stylesheet.

CSS hierarchy: Element >> ID >> Classes >> !important >> DOM

Use Bug Killing CSS:
There will probably always be quirks among the many browsers creating the need for browser specific style sheets, but these style sheets should be as simple as possible. They should only list the properties for definitions that need to be overwritten to work in the given browser. Do not copy the entire rule. (I know this seems obvious-Its OK to laugh- but I’ve seen this on major websites).

Validate your CSS:
Don’t forget to use the w3c validation tools. This is the best way to spell check your style sheet in addition to checking syntax of all your elements. Plus, you’ll have the piece of mind knowing that your code is standards compliant.

SOPA Protest tomorrow. See you on Thursday.

Category : Uncategorized

This website will be “blacked out” in solidarity with the SOPA Protest for Thursday, January 18th, 2012. The internet needs to be protected in the same way as the press, and for the same reason.

If you’re just now learning about SOPA and Protect IP – scheduled to be voted on by the senate in the near future then you might want to do your research quickly – as over 30,000 websites will be down tomorrow to protest this ineffective, business killing, nanny-state, double speaking bill.

In the name of “internet security” aka (profit protection) the MPAA, RIAA, along with the Chamber of Commerce want to change the way the internet works from the router up. They want to be able to remove ANY website’s DNS listing because someone might have posted a link to a copyrighted material SOMEWHERE on the website. No court hearing to see if the plaintiff actually controls the rights, no appeal if they are wrong, no recourse for you to claim damages… just another way to frighten and kill competition from the same people who were VERY willing to sue single moms and students for downloading music and movies instead of adapting their business models to a new medium.

In case you didn’t already know Im talking about RIAA, MPAA, Chamber of Commerce, and an evil gang of media thugs (CBS, ABC, FOX, COMCAST, DISNEY, etc). These media thugs claim that there is a culture of thievery on the internet, and that may or may not be true, but what the forget to mention is that THEY CREATED THIS CULTURE – and whats more they PROFITED FROM IT.

CBS, for example, owns C|net, which was the exclusive distributer of Kazaa and Limewire in the mid 1990s and 2000s. C|net makes money every time someone downloads an application from them from referrals and advertising, sometimes up to $5 a download. With over 500 million downloads between just these two applications it’s safe to say they might have made more than a billion dollars creating this online culture. Now that phase I is complete they want to use this online community WHICH THEY FOSTERED AND PROFITED FROM as justification to rewire the internet in a way that coincidentally will make them even more money while creating unknown security and architectural problems for the rest of us.(http://www.filmon.com/cbsyousuck/)

Use Underscore and !important to defeat IE6 bugs

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http://modxcms.com/about/team/rthrash/css-hacking-important.html

http://www.wellstyled.com/css-underscore-hack.html