Productivity, technology

Install Your own USB Wall Outlet

USB Wall Outlet


If you’re like me you have tons of gadgets all over the house and can’t remember what needs to be charged at what time. Unfortunately, we don’t really think about the battery life of our gadgets until it’s time to use them. It’s so frustrating when you want to use a device only to be stopped cold by a dead battery.

I came across a great tutorial on CNET on how you can install your own USB port into a regular wall socket without too much effort. I didn’t give this too much thought at first since I’m not really electrically inclined, but I must say, when I actually looked at the video I was impressed – this was actually something that I could do myself!

I felt like I had to share this because I really think this could be useful to so many people.

Sharon Vaknin made a great How To video for this here: http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57389548-285/how-to-install-a-usb-wall-socket/

Do you have any other tips that can help us out with all the technology in our lives?

design, Productivity, Programming, Web Development

Getting Started With jQuery

Recently, I got an invite to learn jQuery in 30 days. Now, I’m not a programmer by definition but it’s always a good idea to add to your skill set and I love to learn new things so I was definitely curious. First off, I wasn’t really sure what jQuery was and why I would need it.

This is a brief definition of what jQuery is:

“jQuery is a library that makes it quicker and easier to build JavaScript webpages and web apps. Often with jQuery you can write a single line of code to achieve what would have taken 10-20 lines of regular JavaScript code.

jQuery is itself written in JavaScript, and comes in the form of a single .js file that you link to from your webpage. Your JavaScript code then accesses the library by calling various jQuery functions.”


Ok, sounds good, but what does that mean to me? So I go in search of a better explanation:

Huh?? Did you get that?..I sure didn’t. Lets try that again:

Ok..I think I got it. I’m very intrigued now and will see if I can at least wrap my head around the basics in the 30 day tutorial lessons. You can download jQuery and use it for free. There are tutorials available on the site that will get you up to speed fairly quickly. If you use jQuery and have any additional tips  I would love to hear them.

Blogs, facebook, Productivity, Social Services, video

Tell A Great Story With Storify

I love blogging and sharing information that I find across the web on any given subject as soon as I see it. I came across this great tool called Storify which lets you do just that in a nice visual format.

The way it works is that you pull information from Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, YouTube and many others into one big story that you can then share with your friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook. Now the idea of this is really simple and you would think that this would be really easy to use. Unfortunately, I found a few stumbling blocks when I tried it out. Once I developed my story, I couldn’t export it to other programs such as WordPress or Tumblr even though it says that you can do so. Upon further investigation, I found out that you can only do this on WordPress if you have a self hosted account and the plug-in (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/storify/?utm_source=Users). I also couldn’t find any way to delete the snippets that I had to create once I was finished using them in my story. Do they just sit there forever? That would seem to get confusing and cluttered after a while. There also doesn’t seem to be a standard help section or forum to answer questions.

Overall I like the concept of the platform because you can gather a lot of information very quickly and share it immediately. I also liked that when you publish your story to your twitter account, it also notifies the author or tweeter to let them know that their content was used in your story. This is a great way of course to generate goodwill with other writers and bloggers. I really hope they get past these small quirks because as it stands now this platform is a little limited. If you use this program with WordPress or Tumblr I would love to know how it works for you.

Here is an overview of Storify:

Photos, Productivity, technology, video

Free Programs That Can Make Your Life Easier

Everyday I come across tons of free programs that can definitely make your life easier if you have the patience to learn how to use them. Having a computer background I often wonder how easy these programs would actually be for someone who might not have the time to learn an extensive program with a lot of bells and whistles. I came across 2 that are very easy to use right away but offer tons of great features that you can discover at your own pace.

Open Office

This program is like a free version of Microsoft Office with all the same features that you would pay hundreds of dollars for. You can create documents, spreadsheets and presentations very quickly. I tried this one out a couple of months ago because I wanted a doc editing program for my laptop that I could use on the go. Without reading any of the tutorials I was able to create a document in about 5 minutes and save it into my docs folder. I don’t use spreadsheets very often but I was able to create a simple table in about 10 minutes. I honestly thought that there would be a major learning curve here but if you know anything about Microsoft Office this wont be a painful switch at all. The only thing that I had to remember was to save my file to a .doc format so that I could read it in Microsoft Office on my desktop. Here is an example of Open Office:

 

Gimp

Gimp is the closest free program that I have found to Photoshop. There is a download available for Macintosh as well (http://www.gimp.org/macintosh/ ). Gimp lets you do simple photo alterations, create web pages and brochures, as well as draw and paint with text just as easily as Photoshop without the major expense. Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve, but I was able to put together a simple one-page brochure in about 30 minutes my first time using it. There are also numerous tutorials available on line and at Gimps official website to get you up to speed fairly quickly. Then you can take your time becoming a pro. I’m sure I will be using this one a lot more often since I realized how extensive the program actually is. It’s definitely worth the effort of learning. A quick review of of Gimp:

Do you know of any other free programs that are fairly easy to learn? Please share them with me.

design, Productivity

A fun way to develop your creativity

Psykopaint is a great tool for drawing and painting on the web. It allows you to paint from a photo or just freestyle if you’re truly gifted. I’m a budding artist so I use the photo feature which has a lot of brushes as well as spray cans and ribbons which allow you to make some very creative designs. I love the pencil feature too if I just want to freestyle a bit without feeling guilty. This the first painting I made:

Bahamas Original Photo
Origional Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bermuda Psykopainted
My Psykopaint Creation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok..granted I’m not that good, but I’m working on it. If you like your creations you can save them and come back later. You can also save it you your computer. Of course it also has the basic tools like zoom, capacity, eraser, color picker and text options. You can export your creations for the web for free with a watermark, purchase coins to obtain a full size un-watermarked printable copy or send as postcards to your friends. You can also gain coins for sharing your creations through Facebook and posting on the site gallery. If you’re interested in drawing and painting you should definitely give Psykopaint a try.
Check it out here: Psykopaint

design, design events, Productivity, technology

Upcoming conferences featuring web design and social media

With the start of the new year approaching I’m sure were all starting to think about how we can develop ourselves both spiritually and creatively.  With that we also start to think towards fresh and new ideas that we can bring to our projects and to our clients. I found some great events coming in the new year which might help to spark your creativity.

New Adventures Web Design
“We’re working closely with our speakers over the next few months to ensure we bring you engaging, relevant, joined-up themes, and we’ll introduce all eight topics here in late 2011. Note also that our provisional schedule is subject to change.”
When: January 18-19, 2012
Where: Nottingham, UK at the Albert Hall

Web Visions
“WebVisions explores the future of the Web and mobile design, technology, user experience and business strategy and it’s bringing its Indie/DIY/Maker vibe to venues around the world, with awesome workshops, sessions, studio tours and networking events.”
When: January 18-20th in NYC (Visit website for upcoming dates)
Where: New York City, Barcelona, Portland, Chicago and Atlanta

An Event Apart
“An Event Apart is an intensely educational two-day conference for passionate practitioners of standards-based web design. If you care about code as well as content, usability as well as design, An Event Apart is the conference you’ve been waiting for.”
When: February 6-8, 2012
Where: Atlanta, GA, USA at the InterContinental

design, Productivity

Choosing the right design firm for your project

I’m sure many clients are concerned when they start a new project whether to use a large design firm or a smaller one to help them reach their goals. There are some factors that should definitely be considered when making the right choice for your company.
Consistency – You know the old saying, “Too many cooks spoil the pot”. Sometimes when you have too many different people on one project, the overall consistency is lost in the shuffle. Using a smaller firm means in most cases that there is a lot more control over the project as a whole.
Miscommunication – Communicating information through many people is like playing “telephone”. The final outcome might not be what was first envisioned for the project. The less people making decisions means more personalized service and less confusion over changes and updates.
Agility – In my experience, most clients are slow when starting off a project but once they see things coming together they want things done as soon as possible. A larger firm might have a slower process when it comes to completing a project. A smaller firm will more than likely be able to adjust their schedule in order to get a project completed at a pace that’s in tune with the clients’ expectations.
Cost savings – Many larger design firms might have a large budget to work with but this also means that there might larger fees involved as well. A smaller firm will most likely be able to work with the client on a more flexible pricing strategy while still insuring that the project is completed on time and on budget.
Personal relationships – Social networking is a great way to bring attention and great clients to any company – large or small. Larger firms seem to have the advantage since they have a large consumer base. Smaller firms on the other hand normally build their client base slowly and have a much more personalized social networking experience to offer their clients and customers overall. This can be just as valuable in the long run. Definitely a win-win for everybody.
Please share your thoughts and let me know what you think.

Productivity, Social Services

Do You Like When A Company Offers Live Chat?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was asked recently how I feel about companies having a live chat on their website and if it actually helps visitors. I personally think it does because sometimes you don’t have time to talk on the phone and may just have a general question that can be answered pretty quickly through chat. I feel live chat is a very useful tool for a website and should definitely be used if you have the staffing. I like knowing that the company I’m thinking of interacting with and possibly purchasing from feels that I am important enough to have someone on staff dedicated to answering my questions in a timely manner.

I would really be interested in what you think about online live chat. Have you ever used this service and if so did you have a good experience? Please share your thoughts.

Productivity

Multitask the easy way with IFThisThanThat

I’m obsessed with finding easier ways to do things. I mean why not complete multiple tasks when you can right? I was told about a site called IfThisThanThat which is a godsend in so many ways. I helps you send things to multiple places at one time so your actually multitasking without a lot of effort. You can send articles to anywhere to read later, put photos in dropbox and send documents to your email. The possibilities are endless. I use it to send reminders to my calendar of upcoming events which saves me a bunch of time. You should definitely give this one a try. I’m sure you will find a recipe that will save you time as well.

Check it out here: www.ifttt.com