Friday, May 18, 2007

25 Killer Code Snippets every Good Designer Should See

Round up 25 of the Best CSS, scripts, html, javascript, Ajax and widgets that you can use on on your website or blog (Part 5) .....

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5 Most Outrageous Inventions Ever

Including the "Twirl-a-Squirrel"

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The First Terabyte Hard Drive--Review

The terabyte era arrives, with Hitachi's 5-platter, 10-head 7K1000 hard drive. ExtremeTech puts Hitachi's latest hard drive on the bench and let you know how it performs.

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Torvalds tells Microsoft to put up or shut up

Torvalds, the leader of the project to create the Linux kernel, was contemptuous of Microsoft's claims and has asked Redmond to name the infringements so that their veracity can be challenged and workarounds found.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Google Wins Appeal on Copyright of Nude Images

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that Google did not infringe on the copyrights of an adult publishing company by displaying thumbnail images of its nude photographs, handing Internet search companies a victory by allowing the display of such miniature pictures in search results. This should mean that if you use thumbnails in your websites or blogs, the same fair use could be claimed.

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Scammers gaming YouTube ratings for profit

Spyware researcher says scammers are inflating the popularity of videos on YouTube and other sharing sites, often as a lure to Websites loaded with malicious programs

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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Lists and CSS

Step by step CSS list tutorials, this takes you through the process of building background image lists, rollover lists, nested lists and horizontal lists.

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Speed matters. Why don't other sites get this?

I spend a lot of time optimizing our site for speed - and the customer payoff is huge. I spend almost as much time wishing other sites would do the same thing. Alexa says our pages take .9 seconds, median, to load. Let's see how the other big photo sharing sites stack up, shall we?

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New process generates hydrogen from aluminum alloy to run engines

A Purdue University engineer has developed a method that uses an aluminum alloy to extract hydrogen from water for running fuel cells or internal combustion engines, and the technique could be used to replace gasoline.

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ReadyBoost doesn't really "Boost" Vista all that much.

Windows Vista's Windows ReadyBoost sounds too good to be true, and based on our extensive lab tests, it is. The technology promises to let you speed up Windows by plugging an inexpensive USB flash drive into your PC. But we found that while ReadyBoost may speed up Vista a tiny bit, it can also slow it down in some instances.

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ABC to Stream HD Shows Online [1280x720]

Disney-ABC Television Group claimed to be the first major television programmer to stream HD video online, at 1280-by-720 resolution.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wireless USB is the Future

Forget cables; the way you'll connect devices to your PC will be wireless. That's according to new research from In-Stat which predicts that Wireless USB will become the way to connect kit to your PC by 2008.

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MySpace News Brings Us Painful Screams of Silence

New poster child for the ghost town effect: MySpace News, the social news site brought to you by your billions and billions of friends at MySpace, the most popular social networking site of ever.

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XM Suspends Opie and Anthony, Fails Subscribers

By suspending Opie and Anthony, XM has violated its promise to subscribers.

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Most Addicting Flash Game You'll Play This Week

your a worm....or something, but you're moving really fast and trying to avoid dots that kill you. weird. addicting.

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Design Concept: Whoa! SLIQ is One Sexy Phone Concept

It's been a while since a cellphone has filled us with as much lust as this SLIQ design. It's a concept by Mike Serafin with no keypad and what he calls an "advanced touch interface." It better be pretty advanced, because we haven't been all that impressed with touch interfaces thus far.


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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Understanding Apollo

Basically, Apollo creates a new type of runtime bringing web apps to the desktop for a richer, more interactive environment. So far we have Finetune (a desktop music player similar to or Pandora), eBay's Apollo desktop (Project San Dimas) and Adobe Media Player (a web TV app, a video aggregator, using RSS, and player at heart).

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David Pogue's ''It's All Geek to Me'' debuts Friday

This Friday, The Science Channel debuts "It’s All Geek to Me," a new weekly series that brings Mac fan, O'Reilly author and The New York Times personal-technology columnist David Pogue's expertise on the world of technology to television.

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Web sites where You can submit free article for publication

One method for getting high-quality links is to write quality articles and submit them to other web sites for publication. Each article should include a link back to your web site. These links are better than links from link pages, because there tend to be very few outbound links on the article page.

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Top 20 Social Bookmarking Sites Ranked By Traffic - May 2007

If your looking for the best sites to help drive traffic to your blog or just looking for the latest informational gem on the web. Here are the top 20 largest social bookmarking sites ranked by a combination of Compete and Quantcast data. For each site, they show unique U.S. monthly visitor data as well as respective rank as of 5/15/2007.

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Audio Book Review: Rogue Angel - The Spider Stone by Alex Archer

by T. Michael Testi ( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

Rogue Angel: The Spider Stone is the third installment of the Alex Archer series, Rogue Angel. This story revolves around the West African slave trade of the middle 1700's, a group of Hausa warriors who died in the 1860 Civil War era Kirktown Georgia, an ancient map that exists on the legendary Spider Stone, and the African warlord who will stop at nothing to get it.

Once again I was treated to a Graphic Audio performance that really brings the listener into the story. The combination of sound effects and artistic vocal performances creates what Graphic Audio calls a "Movie in your Mind," and that is truly what it is.

Rogue Angel: The Spider Stone – Graphic Audio

The story begins when Annja Creed, the reincarnation of Joan of Arc via Joan's legendary sword, is called to investigate a significant find by fellow archeologist, Professor Noel Hallinger. The bodies of sixteen slaves from the Civil War era were found in a warehouse that is scheduled to be torn down. What is unusual is that these slaves have warrior weapons, and have apparently been murdered 150 years ago.

We quickly find out that others know of the Spider Stone and will try anything to get their hands on it. Most notably, the Yoruban warlord, Tafari, will stop at nothing to grab the fortune for himself. It is said that the trickster spider God Anansi, bestowed the stone upon the Hausa and that the map leads to a great treasure, but will Annja survive long enough to find it?

I think that Rogue Angel: The Spider Stone may be the best so far. The author has found a solid voice in the character and it shows in both the voicing as well as the story progress. This, as with the previous two volumes, is a good blend of action, adventure, supernatural powers and history. The rich characters that populate the story truly make it worth listening to; whether it is Roux (who makes a cell call), Garin (who has a prominent role in this story), or some of the new characters such as the old wizened woman Janeiba, or the Homeland Security agent, McIntosh, that bring the story to life.

The quality of the story and performance are two of the reasons that I keep coming back. You can also check out some of their other series as well. If you want you can down load of MP3 excerpt, or purchase the GraphicAudio Book from their on-line Store. The story comes three ways; standard CD, MP3 CD (the version I reviewed), and downloadable WMA with digital rights management.

Microsoft SQL Server "Katmai" Announced

Microsoft SQL Server “Katmai” Builds on Proven Success of SQL Server 2005, Empowering Customers to Manage the Data Explosion
Vision for next release of SQL Server announced at Microsoft’s first Business Intelligence Conference.

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( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

Temporary Projects in Visual Studio 2005

If you ever wanted to do a quick temporary project in Visual Studio 2005, let Donn show you how.

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( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

The Standards Way to Do Dynamic Data

Somewhere in between presenting static information graphics and complex, interactive data dashboards there's a need for a way to visualize moderately dynamic data on the web. Oftentimes the solutions you see implemented are clunky, for example, manually creating multiple frames of various data points and uploading them by hand.

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( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Top 10 Things Microsoft Loves and Hates About Open Source

Over the years, Microsoft has had some pretty harsh words (and actions) for the open source community in general and for Linux in particular. And with news this week that the company reportedly wants open source software users to pay royalties on 235 alleged patent violations, the relationship is obviously changing.

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Brian Shaler: "Writing Tools for Digg Users: The Inevitable Digg Effect"

" is an ideal target for creating instant gratification content. You can come out of nowhere and have tens of thousands of new users in 24 hours. An inevitable woe is the Digg Effect -- a sign of success and often the key to server failure." Sharing a programmer's experiences with and advice about avoiding the Digg Effect.

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Top 10 stupid online business ideas that made someone rich

We all know of the pet rock, the hula-hoop and mood rings all had two things in common, they were stupid and they made the developer rich. Well here are the ten stupidest online businesses that made people rich.

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Stealing IS a crime, right?

One of the web's greatest photographers, the Icelandic _rebekka, is having her photos ripped off and sold on ebay and elsewhere by . Companies need to know that posting a photo to the internet DOES NOT make it public domain! Let's shut them down!

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Book Review: Build Your Own Ruby On Rails Web Applications by Patrick Lenz

by T. Michael Testi ( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

In the past two years, Ruby on Rails has shaken up the web development industry by providing an application framework whose goal is to increase the speed and ease of web development. Computerworld named it number one of the "Five Hot Technologies of 2007." Ruby on Rails, often shortened to RoR or just Rails, is an open source project that is written in the Ruby language.

The goal of Build Your Own Ruby On Rails Web Applications is to shorten the learning curve for your ramp up to Rails. The platform is well suited to design-oriented people looking to build web applications as well as to those who are unhappy with the languages and/or frameworks they are currently using. The author clearly states "I don't expect you to be an expert programmer - this isn’t a pro-level book"

The book is divided into twelve chapters that guide you methodically toward developing a social website application. In fact, the application that you develop is based on the popular story-sharing web site

The first four chapters get you started in understanding what Rails is and how to install it; there are instructions for Mac OS X, Linux and Windows. You then get introduced to Ruby, a scripting language that you will use to develop your Rails application before you get into the Rails framework.

In chapter five you actually begin to develop the application, called Shovell. Here, Lenz describes using the Rails model generator to create a "story" model so that everything else can be built around it. He also discusses views and you then build a controller to handle communications between models and views.

Chapter six adds functionality via form helpers as well as building unit and functional test cases. Chapter seven looks at Ajax to add voting functionality and Web 2.0 for good looking effects. Chapter eight covers protective measures, or how to manage users and user's rights.

Throughout the core portion of the text, as well as the remaining chapters, the author is also, indirectly, teaching you about dynamic website development. You have HTML, CSS, XML as well as databases and both server and client code. I believe that by using Rails and the features of both Ruby and Rails, it makes this integrated learning almost seamless.

The remaining chapters cover more advance topics such as writing your own helpers, using callbacks, and creating complex associations. There is also more on unit and functional testing. The author describes the use of plug-ins and how they can add functionality to your site. He also describes benchmarking and debugging your site and then finishes up with deployment.

What you will learn from Build Your Own Ruby On Rails Web Applications:

• Build and deploy a complete Rails web application
• Use Rails' Ajax features to create slick interfaces.
• Reap the benefits of a best-practice MVC architecture.
• Work with databases easily using ActiveRecord.
• Create a user authentication system.
• Use object-oriented concepts like inheritance and polymorphism.
• Use migrations to manage your database schema without data loss.
• Achieve maximum code reuse with filters and helper functions.
• Analyze your application's performance using the Rails logging infrastructure.
• Benchmark your application to determine performance bottlenecks.
• Much, much more…

This is a perfect book if you are looking to get into Web 2.0 development and want a step-by-step guide to bring you up to speed. It does a good job of introducing Model-View-Controller architecture as well as laying out testing methods as being important with the implementation of unit and functional testing. Finally, I like the clear, concise and entertaining style that the author uses in presenting his material.

Book Review - Everyday Scripting With Ruby: For Teams, Testers And You by Brian Marick

by T. Michael Testi ( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

Everyday Scripting With Ruby is a book that is geared toward the computer user who is not afraid to scale new heights to try to improve their skills. The premise is that people who use computers routinely do many repetitive tasks that would be better offloaded for a computer to do. Often they think that programming it themselves is too hard, and they cannot justify hiring someone to write a program to handle their menial tasks. Using the Ruby language, anyone who is comfortable with a computer can now learn automate these tasks with a little training.

Ruby is an object-oriented scripting language that originated from Japan. It takes some of the best features from some of the best languages and combines them to make a simple and easy to use yet powerful system for processing tasks. It is freely available as open source software and is available on many platforms including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

Everyday Scripting With Ruby targets three audiences. First the "Tester," the person who is involved with the development of software but thinks that programming is too hard. The second target audience is the "Analyst" or someone who manipulates a lot of data. With Ruby scripts, they can automate mundane tasks and free up more time for more rewarding things. Finally, this book is for the programmer who hates to use complex programming languages to accomplish these smaller tasks.

The book is divided into an introduction and five sections. The introduction and getting started section is an overview of what will be accomplished and the best method for success. It will also provides assistance for installing Ruby on a computer and making sure that everything is running correctly. The next sections build four separate projects with the purpose of enhancing the reader's skills and building his or her knowledge of Ruby.

"The Basics" is a project that will teach the reader how to create a system to compare two text file "inventories." The reader is given an old file and then needs to create a new file. The goal is to create a dynamic script, that when run, will note changes in the two files. While the program is somewhat trivial, it teaches a lot of important concepts within the Ruby language without getting bogged down on a complex project. The techniques would be handy for automatically comparing differences in many other files such as logs.

"Growing a Script" is about creating project that "reaches out to a version control system"; in this case the VCS is Subversion, an open source product that saves its files in text. While this would not work for the VCS that I use, it does a fine job of teaching the reader how to manipulate text files.

"Working in a World Full of People" introduces the reader to Ruby's power of Screen Scraping. That is, visiting a website and scraping the data and putting it into a comma separated value file (CSV) that can be used by a spreadsheet or to import into a preferred database program. The programmer can get into some real meaty issues of file manipulation and the use of regular expressions to parse data.

"The Accomplished Scripter" works on a project called "Watchdog" that monitors long running tests and programs. It will teach the reader how to install and configure Watchdog. In this project the reader will be learning how to work with frameworks and modify code to manipulated for custom uses. The project teaches the reader how to send text to instant messengers or email with the status of a project. Here the reader learns how to handle inheritance, working with superclass' as well as subclasses.

"The Back of the Book" contains the glossary, solutions to exercises, and the bibliography.

Everyday Scripting With Ruby is a well written introduction to the Ruby language. While it may be too simple for an experienced Ruby developer, an experienced programmer coming to Ruby would find it easy to read and a good place to learn Ruby incrementally. Some one who is not a programmer by avocation, but enjoys mucking around a computer, will find it a wonderful treat!

Book Review: The Photoshop Anthology: 101 Web Design Tips, Tricks and Techniques by Corrie Haffly

by T. Michael Testi ( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

If you are like a lot of web developers I know, you can work with HTML, you can work with databases, you can work with the language with which you program, whether it be PHP, Ruby, ASP.NET, Java or any of the other popular web languages. You are probably even gifted at what you do. Where I have seen a lot of people cringe is when the development manager or customer comes in and says, "I need a new button that looks like this!" Or, "Can we get a background that looks like my wood floor?" Or even, "Can you make that text curve around that globe and make it look like it in motion?" I can already see that deer-in-the-headlights look on your face. "I..I..I am a programmer," you stutter. "I'm not a graphics designer! I can barely spell Photoshop!"

Have no fear. Corrie Haffly is to the rescue with her book The Photoshop Anthology: 101 Web Design Tips, Tricks and Techniques. This isn't your typical Photoshop book. This book is really focused toward web developers: those who are comfortable with the programming aspect of web design but may have limited experience with graphic side of web development. The author begins from the base and works up providing you with the ability to actually learn how to create useful items for your web design.

The book is contained in nine chapters that start you out by showing you around in Photoshop, getting you comfortable with navigation and learning some basic techniques. In chapter two, you will begin learning the basic skills that you will need to grow in you use of Photoshop. Most of these are simple skills that show you how to work with layers, shapes and documents. You will learn how to sample colors from image files, fade images, and work with drop shadows and transplant backgrounds.

In chapter three, you learn how to make buttons - something frequently needed in web design. You learn to make simple flat buttons, beveled buttons as well as ones that are chiseled, embedded, metallic, plastic, glass, and have a watery feel. Once you complete all of these, you will be on your way to creating your own effects and designs.

Chapter four is about creating backgrounds. These include striped, pixel, brushed metal, wood-grain, stone and paper. You'll be emulating, your boss's wood floor in no time. Chapter five works with text, here you will be wrapping, stretching, curving, and warping text. You will make it glow, outline, glass, adding shadows, patterns, changing shapes and making it move.

In chapter six you work with images. You will be able to adjust tones, whites, contrasts and make colors more vivid. You learn to lighten or darken areas on an image, combine images, clean up dust or scratch marks, match lighting or fix red-eye. Chapter seven guides you into manipulating images to create a magnifying effect, make the foreground standout, put a picture into a product box or curved surface, as well as making product photos for an eCommerce site.

In chapter eight involves building a new web page-sized document. Using the techniques learned in the book, you will be able to create all of the images, backgrounds and menu items to navigate your web page. You will see how to slice and dice your layout, optimize, and save the elements to use on your website.

Chapter nine completes the book with advanced techniques such as automation, batch processing and animation, instructing how to watermark photos, work with layer sets and create a web photo gallery.

The Photoshop Anthology is not really a book for photographers, graphic artists or illustrators. Although each of these groups can certainly learn techniques from this book, it is not to whom this book is aimed. This is really a book for web developers and web designers. It is really a must read for those who can do the programming side of development but are intimidated by the graphic side of web design. Through her solution-discussion method of explaining each of her techniques, the author provides a firm foundation from which to tackle your graphic fears.

Book Review - Learning MySQL by Seyed M.M. "Saied" Tahaghoghi And Hugh E. Williams

by T. Michael Testi ( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

Learning MySQL is geared toward those people who don't know a lot about deploying and using a database management system, or about developing applications that use a database. By using MySQL, the leader of open source database management systems, along with the PHP and Pearl programming languages and this book, the authors attempt to provide a readable introduction to managing data.

The book has 18 chapters divided into six parts. To work with this book you will need a computer that is running Window, Linux or the Mac OS X operating system; a web server, the one introduced here is the Apache web server; and the PHP and Pearl languages for programming specific tasks to MySQL. Each of these is available for free on the web, and described in the book in the introduction.

Part one provides the overview of the book's content and focus. The authors describe how MySQL fits into the realm of information management tools and technologies. They explain how to set up your system and how to configure the software on differing systems. Finally they introduce the text-based interface to MySQL Server and how you can use it to control almost every aspect of the program.

Part two, Using MySQL, begins with the how-to of proper database design. You will learn how to determine what features your database will need and how items relate to each other. You will learn how to read data from existing databases, how to create new databases, what queries are, how to use them and how to nest them. You will find out about importing and exporting data as well as internal information on how MySQL process a query. You will also be given an overview of how to prevent unauthorized access to your data.

Part three, Advanced Topics, will teach you how to back-up your data and how to recover from a loss if your hardware does crash. You will learn how to use configuration files to fine tune the behavior of your MySQL server. It is here that you will also discover performance tips that can improve your overall performance.

Part four, Web Database Applications with PHP, will explore the world of database applications beginning with an introduction of the PHP language and how it can be used to work with your MySQL database. Then the authors, by designing a wedding gift registry, will show you the basics of designing your application.

Part five, Interacting with MySQL Using Pearl, present an easy to use introduction to the Pearl programming language. By using the Pearl DBI module to connect to MySQL data, you can import, export as well as store and read information. They finish up by creating a Pearl CGI module to create dynamic web pages that can interface with a MySQL database.

Finally there is an appendix that contains the entire source for the wedding gift registry. You can also download the source as well as other items such as useful links, feedback and errata found in the book.

If you are wanting to learn how to work with databases and feel intimidated, Learning MySQL may be just the ticket. It is well written, easy to understand and develops in a logical, easy to follow manner. By the time you get through the book, you will have a good overview of SQL databases in general.

If like me, you are not a PGP/Pearl programmer and, don't really want to be, there is still almost 400 of the 560 non-appendix, non-index pages, that deal directly with setting up and running a MySQL server, and who knows, your eyes might drift and you may end up learning PGP or Pearl anyway.

If I had one complaint, it would be the appendix containing the source for the application. It is a personal pet peeve of computer books that I have had for almost 20 years. Put it on a disk, put it on the web, just don't put it in a book. I would have preferred to have a summary of commands as the appendix.

That being said, I think that if you want to get a good solid foundation into how to build MySQL server databases, manage and manipulate them, then Learning MySQL should be on your shelf.