Thursday, March 30, 2006

Lightbox JS v2

Overview

Lightbox JS is a simple, unobtrusive script used to overlay images on the current page. It's a snap to setup and works on all modern browsers. And honestly, this rivals flash presentations as it has its own "cool" transitions. And it's compatible with modern browsers as well as backward compatible. What more can you ask for?

Just yesterday I made a flash album by using Picasa and and exported it into a webpage by using SimpleViewer and it was really a professional way of presenting photos. One caveat though is that many of those who want a copy of the pictures emails me that they cannot save the pictures because it is emmbedded in Flash.

Yeah, I know that it is there in the cache. And the SWF only interacts with the XML to call the JPG pics. (did that make you dizzy?) But not all users are as tech savvy as you. So providing them an album that they can right click and save to their hard drive is much better. That's a usability principle right there. If your users can not understand it, it is probably too complicated for the average users.

What's New in Version 2.0

* Image Sets: group related images and navigate through them with ease
* Visual Effects: fancy pants transitions
* Backwards Compatibility: yes!

See Lightbox in action

Friday, March 24, 2006

Online Project Management

From 37signals.com, a privately-held Chicago-based company committed to building the best web-based software products possible with the least number of features necessary, comes Basecamp - an online project management tool. All you need is a modern browser (Firefox, IE6, etc)and an internet connection. What is amazing is it was hailed by a former executive of Microsoft Project. It must be good.

Basecamp turns project management and collaboration on its head. Instead of Gantt charts, fancy graphs, and stats-heavy spreadsheets, Basecamp offers message boards, to-do lists, simple scheduling, collaborative writing, and file sharing. Tens of thousands agree it's a better way. Farhad Manjoo of Salon.com said “Basecamp represents the future of software on the Web.”

And getting an account is a breeze. I know these guys are also usability experts so you would really expect an easy to use and an intuitive UI (user interface) for their products.

Go ahead, get a free or paid account, you should try it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Writely So

I found this great resource recently bought by Google and as a web designer my immediate idea was to use it as a form of CMS tool online, for other web contributors to use it as a tool and they dont need anything but a browser and internet connection

What does Writely do?

Writely allows you to edit documents online with whomever you choose, and then publish and blog them online.

What exactly can I do with it?

You can:

* Upload Word documents, OpenOffice, RTF, HTML or text (or create documents from scratch).
* Use our simple WYSIWYG editor to format your documents, spell-check them, etc.
* Invite others to share your documents (by e-mail address).
* Edit documents online with whomever you choose.
* View your documents' revision history and roll back to any version.
* Publish documents online to the world, or to just who you choose.
* Download documents to your desktop as Word, OpenOffice, RTF, PDF*, HTML or zip.
* Post your documents to your blog.

How much does Writely cost?


During the beta period, Writely is free.

What will it cost in the future?


Our hope is to have the basic service be free, with some extra features requiring a reasonable subscription fee*. We will also be charging license fees to corporations and partners.

http://www2.writely.com/info/WritelyOverflowWelcome.htm

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Free Web & Graphic Design Tools

Yes you can do web and graphic design, virtually free. But not without it’s learning curve and headaches. In my experience, it is more practical to combine freeware and licensed tools (who can beat Photoshop & Dreamweaver?)

Below are some of the freeware tools you can use, not only for web design but graphic design as well. These stuff are recommended by fellow web designers around the world and truly are marvelous. Enough rant, read on and learn!

Color my world


Color Schemer Online provides a simple interface that lets you select a color and instantly see 15 other harmonious colors.

Color Scheme Generator 2 takes a more scientific and complex approach; it includes tools for viewing monochromatic, contrasting, and analogic color schemes. It helps you create balanced colour schemes and see what they look like to people with various colour vision deficiencies.

Inexpensive or free images


A picture may be worth a thousand words. But to a designer, free photos may save a thousand bucks. Stock photography can be expensive—it’s not uncommon to have to pay a few hundred dollars per image, and that can quickly erode a design budget. Few clients want to budget for those things.

Fortunately, there are plenty of online sources for low-cost or free imagery.

MorgueFile, for example, organizes its collection of free high-resolution photos into simple categories such as Animal, Objects, People, and Still Life

Stock.Xchng has a massive selection: more than 150,000 photos. iStockPhoto isn’t free, but each image costs just $1 to $3, and the quality of the photos is better than what you’ll find at most free sites. And you can search the Web with YotoPhoto, a search engine that scours the Web for free images.

What’s your browser?


Most web designers think that they have to design for IE (Internet Explorer) and hack their way to make it work in others browsers.

Sorry folks, that is not the way it’s supposed to be.

This is how it should be. Design your website and make sure it works in browsers that support web standards like Firefox, (and personally I like Opera but not too many uses this at this time). When it is working in a web standard browser, then you hack your way in making it work in IE. That way, you ensure that your work will work in any browser.

MeasureIt, a Firefox extension by Kevin Freitas, is a simple tool that can help refine your design process. While viewing a page in Firefox, you drag a rectangle across the page—over a graphic, for example. A shaded box appears giving you pixel values for the width and height. It’s a helpful diagnostic tool, perfect for making sure your designs add up.

It’s your online measuring tape - CSS gives Web designers the power to accurately control their page layouts. With pixel-accurate placement, you can dictate where a banner, sidebar, or graphic should be placed on a page.

Web Developer Toolbar - An essential extension for any web developer/designer as it provides a raft of incredibly useful features all under one roof. You will wonder how you ever managed without it! The Web Developer extension adds a menu and a toolbar to the browser with various web developer tools. It is designed for Firefox, Flock, Mozilla and Seamonkey, and will run on any platform that these browsers support including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

You can turn off JavaScript to see how a page works without it; add a graphic outline around all block-level elements to quickly identify layout elements on a page; display the size (in pixels) of any block or image on the page; view any cookies currently set for the current Web site; make sure all the links on a current page work; validate HTML and CSS; and plenty more. Web Developer belongs in every Web designer’s toolbox.

Web photo album


JAlbum -this gallery software makes web albums of your digital images. JAlbum aims to be the easiest to use and most powerful tool in this category - and free! My favorite skin for this tool is the banana album.

With JAlbum, no extra software is needed to view the albums, -just your web browser. Unlike "server side" album scripts, JAlbum albums can be served from a plain web server without scripting support. You can also share your albums on CD-ROM.

AutoViewer is yet another Flash image viewing application. AutoViewer is designed to display a linear sequence of images and captions, and also includes an auto-play feature (hence the name). It’s free to use -  download and see instructions on how to use.

PostcardViewer is a free Flash image viewer. The interface is based on the real world metaphor of a set of postcards shuffled onto a surface.

SimpleViewer is a free, customizable Flash image viewing application. It can be used for a more formal approach like weddings or corporate images.

And more...


Of course there are more, but that will be in my next post so that you won’t have to read long text. And you won’t be bored.

Cryptainer LE - Free 128bit Encryption Software - Secure your data and ensure absolute privacy with this powerful encryption software. It 's powerful 128 bit encryption, creates multiple 10 Mb encrypted containers (drives) on your hard disk. These encrypted vaults can be loaded and unloaded on need. You can view, modify and hide all types of file with a single password.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Good to Great [Inspirational]


"Good to Great" is a book by Jim Collins. It is a research, based on companies that performed well above expectations and foresight. This book outlines the things that these companies did well and their similarities.

Five years ago, Jim Collins asked the question, "Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?" In Good to Great, Collins, the author of Built to Last, concludes that it is possible, but finds there are no silver bullets.

Collins maps out three stages, each with two key concepts. These six concepts are the heart of Good To Great and he devotes a chapter to explaining each of them.

* Level 5 Leadership
* First Who... Then What
* Confront the Brutal Facts
* The Hedgehog Concept
* A Culture of Discipline
* Technology Accelerators

But the one of the things I remember is the Stockdale Paradox which states...

You got to have unwavering faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties but at the same time you got to have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.


Read the book. This is one of the most thought provoking books I have ever read.