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links for 2010-02-27

  • In the quest of becoming a good UI designer, you can come a long way by reading books, attending conferences, formally educating yourself, trying out tutorials, or just experimenting on your own. However, if you want to go into hyper-speed in bettering your UI design skills, the best way to learn is to work with other designers. Find them at your workplace, hire them, or spend time online in the User Experience- or Interaction-Designer world.

    For learning on your own, I have collected a list of various resources that will help you on your way to becoming a good designer. However, before you start, choose your specialty: don’t try to learn everything. Choose your desired skills and branch out from there.

  • This time, I created another text effect based on paper craft. A popup paper craft effect such as those found on kids books. The process is fairly simple. A couple of gradient layers and the bending of a shadow is enough to give the basic effect of a paper cut word inserted on a folded paper.

    Hope you like this effect and share your results in the comments section of this post. There is a lot of room for enhancement of this effect by playing with paper textures and brushes.

  • (tags: mac tips)
  • See What's Copied
    Tynt Insight technology tracks what’s being copied off your site and automatically adds a link back to your content with every paste.
    Get More Visits (that's why you might use tynt)
    Sites using Tynt Insight have seen double the amount of visits to individual pages via our automatic attribution link.
  • The new standard doesn't seem to leave room for such creativity by most state workers, who must follow an "acceptable use policy" and only use social media sites "to fulfill the business requirements." Only authorized users can participate, and some sites should be disabled to prevent "unnecessary functionality" such as instant messaging. The agency should curtail or eliminate "web links to other web sites, such as 'friends' " so users won't be led to inappropriate material. Users can only speak on behalf of the state if authorized, and within the scope of that authority, and must identify their names, titles, agencies and contact information.

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links for 2010-02-26

  • Many agree that tables are a phenomenon in user interface design: they are very important parts of user interfaces but often overlooked. Tables show structured data and their purpose is to make that data readable, scannable and easily comparable. The thing is that in many cases tabular data is obscured. This is why tables have bad reputation and many find them boring.

    The truth is that they are everything but boring. Even people who need tables in everyday work hate tables and sometimes are frustrated to the point of screaming. And it shouldn't be this way. Here are some of the patterns that can help in creating less evil tables.

  • We launched our Facebook fan page earlier this month and as with all Facebook pages only Facebook Insights program is available to page administrators. Facebook Insights shows demographic details and interactions on your pages BUT limited to show information of fans only. It is far less sophisticated and comprehensive when compared to the free Google Analytics. One of the limitations of Facebook Fan pages is that you can only run limited Javascript on it and Google Analytics needs Javascript code included to correctly track visitors. We have successfully managed to get ALL functions of Google Analytics working on our Facebook fan page (including visitor statistics, traffic sources, visitor country, keyword searches with all other powerful reporting & maps overlays etc).
  • Never before has there been a web-based Subversion browser that is as beautiful as it is simple. Imagine being able to quickly give users fine grain access to your repositories without the hassle of having to ssh into your server and run a bunch of commands.
  • In a kind of Wikipedia of textbooks, Macmillan, one of the five largest publishers of trade books and textbooks, is introducing software called DynamicBooks, which will allow college instructors to edit digital editions of textbooks and customize them for their individual classes.

    Professors will be able to reorganize or delete chapters; upload course syllabuses, notes, videos, pictures and graphs; and perhaps most notably, rewrite or delete individual paragraphs, equations or illustrations.

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links for 2010-02-25

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links for 2010-02-24

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links for 2010-02-23

  • (tags: ux testing)
  • Ever read about a new technology or product that instantly makes you think — Wow, just wow! Well that just happened while reading a very interesting announcement from our friends over at Cisco. The announcement describes a unique approach to connecting multiple disperse cloud data centers / infrastructures. (Some refer to this as the InterCloud) Cisco is calling the technique Redundant Arrays of Independent Data centers. The approach uses Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) to extend Layer 2 Ethernet LANs by encapsulating the traffic.

    What really jumped out at me was the statement that "the process of setting up OTV involves only five commands and five minutes of time." Compare that to weeks or months of architecture needed for an MPLS or dark fiber interconnect.

  • I had the good fortune to attend and present at the Gov 2.0 Camp in LA this last weekend put on by Alan Silberberg (@You2Gov) and Lovisa WIlliams (@Lovisatalk). Kudos to both Alan and Lovisa for the great event that they put together. It was an impressive gathering of people and ideas – both in person and online. Attendees included representatives from Microsoft (one of the sponsors), Google, the Kennedy School at Harvard, a Hollywood screenwriter and many, many others. Here the four primary things I came away with.

    It’s about the people. This isn’t a new concept, but one that frequently seems to get lost in the noise about Twitter, Facebook, and other social media tools. Annie over at ReThink wrote a great piece about it here. And to be clear, it is about both the end-user constituents and the people about government. There are people on both ends of the conversation. Yes, one represents and is bound by an institution, but they are still people.

  • Having analyzed the solid number of comments, we’ve revealed the most popular web design trends according to our devoted audience. They are:

    – white space;
    – huge typography;
    – huge images;
    – minimalism;
    – out-of-the-box layouts;
    – change of perspective;
    – and finally elements transparency.

    These web design trends appear to be that important key of users’ attention, carrying on an intrigue feeling to click in. The ones to lose in trends voting are one-page layouts, slideshows, hand-drawn designs, oversized headers and footers, speaking navigation and multi-column layout.

  • A pet peeve should be like a pet theory or a pet story — a tic or fancy that you nurture in your bosom and make your own. You can have a pet peeve about people who mispronounce "mascarpone." But it's odd to use the phrase for off-the-rack gripes that everybody shares. Saying that you have a pet peeve about "thinking outside the box" or "Your call is important to us" is like saying you have a pet theory that you should feed a cold and starve a fever.
  • Two significant and closely related trends in enterprise computing this year are the growth of Software-as-a-service (SaaS) and social computing. By most accounts, both are gaining ground quite rapidly while still not being used for core business functions or mission critical applications in most large firms, at least not yet.

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links for 2010-02-22

  • These days, particularly with the advent of Google Maps, Yahoo Maps and OpenStreetMap, et al., there are a multitude of options for an individual to employ in displaying data geographically. Of course, there are, and will always be, technical options that require some level of programming chops. Fortunately, the pool of drop dead easy implementations that anyone can throw together with ease has grown a lot over the last few years. Then, there is the growing middle ground, lying somewhere between easy but rigid and difficult but flexible. Personally, I tend to hover in this netherworld, leveraging existing code, services or tutorials when possible but occasionally finding myself diving into the more technical areas when necessary and learning a lot in the process.

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links for 2010-02-21

  • The iPhone has a great feature now that allows for the owner to activate a burglar alarm or even use the stolen phone as a megaphone to scream out that the phone has been stolen. Laptops haven’t had features like this until now. This great clip will show you how to enable this feature on any computer using a free software called Adeona.

    The software tracks your computer and sends its location to their server for you to use. If you have a Mac you can also take pictures of the thief which will come in handy when you take the location and the image to the police in order to recover your stolen laptop.

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links for 2010-02-19

  • On a daily basis I view all sorts of websites and all kinds of designs. One thing in common with successful templates on ThemeForest or with websites around the web is strong visual hierarchy. Often times I see templates that have a great concept going but has poor visual hierarchy. I’ll cover what visual hierarchy is and some great examples in this article.
  • he 24 agencies required to comply with the Open Government Directive have begun soliciting citizen feedback on how to improve transparency, participation, collaboration, and innovation in government. Agencies are using IdeaScale to facilitate two-way feedback with citizens. To date, over 700 ideas have been submitted!

    Unfortunately, the current implementation introduces slight privacy concerns for users. This is due to the fact that the sites automatically assign the user’s email address (minus the domain) as the profile name. This occurs when the user signs up for an account while making their first post. Since many internet users have accounts from a small list of free email providers (e.g., Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.), this implementation makes it possible to compromise the privacy of some user email addresses and, by extension, other off-site information.

  • After six months of tutoring, functional MRIs of the brains of eight Experience Corps volunteers showed improvements in regions of the brain involved in thinking and the ability to organize multiple tasks. Called "executive function," it's a skill that's crucial to maintaining independence in old age, said study author Michelle Carlson, an associate professor in the department of mental health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

    At the outset of the study, the women were considered at high risk of cognitive impairment because they were low income, had completed an average of 12 years of school (high school) and had low scores on a test of cognition.

  • EngagingCities helps urban planners understand & use the internet. We write about new online developments & give practical advice. How can new technologies make your planning processes more participatory, collaborative or effective? Which online tools best suit your needs & how do you use them effectively?

    Why We Do It:

    We want to see our cities being shaped by truly engaged citizens with the help of experts, not by experts for consumers. We are curious to see how the emergence of participatory culture in our society and the rise of interactive technology (aka Web2.0) impact urban planning processes – what will Urban Planning 2.0 look like? By observing and experimenting with innovative planning processes, we want to influence the discussion about the future of our field, & share insights, along with resources, guides and best practices of this new urban planning practice with other urban planners, architects, developers, policy makers, educators, economists, urban enthusiasts.

  • At Maximum PC, computer hardware is our bread and butter. We review it, preview it, and just generally love to talk about it. Unfortunately, hardware becomes less important with each passing day, as more and more software moves onto the internet. We're not looking forward to the day that our PC's become Chrome OS-style thin client, but we have to admit, some web apps are pretty awesome.
  • This brief presentation fit into 20 minutes during a packed agenda this morning, so I wanted the audience to know some of my unconference experience, find encouragement to attend these 'camps' and have resources they might use to find future Government 2.0 conferences.
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) along with the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), today announced the winners of their seventh annual International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.

    The winning entries include extraordinary photographs, illustrations, videos and graphics that reveal intricate details of life and the world around us–down to the smallest scale. The winning visualizations range from a video that uses found objects to explain the epigenetics of identical twins, to an electron microscope photograph that catches self-assembling polymers in action as they grip a green orb, offering a powerful message about cooperative efforts to save the Earth.

  • FlowingData is the visualization and statistics blog of Nathan Yau. I highlight how designers, programmers, and statisticians are putting data to good use. Sometimes I write viz tutorials.
    "A few months back, the Caltrans Performance Measurement System (PeMS) opened up a brand spanking new forum where people could discuss how they used the group's traffic data. They created an email list to tell everyone about the new forum. The problem is that PeMS used a single address to email everyone. So when someone "replied all," he would in turn email every single person on the list.

    What followed was a long thread of emails that (entertaining) morning. This is that email thread. It got ugly quick (and kind of inappropriate towards the end). Let this be a lesson to you site administrators."

  • Volunteer 15 hours each week in exchange for free room and board. Weekends are normally free to experience the culture by traveling around Europe. (Check this later)

    Imagine living in Rome, Florence or any of the amazing Italian cities and receiving free room and board from your adopted host family.

    The Need: Volunteer 15 hours a week helping your host family with Conversational English. That's it. Many Italian families want to learn English or get better at speaking English through conversation. They are willing to provide a private room and 3 home-cooked, healthy meals each day.

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links for 2010-02-18

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links for 2010-02-17

  • The Washington State Archives recently published a records management advice sheet entitled “Electronic Records Management: Blogs, Wikis, Facebook, Twitter & Managing Public Records” that provides guidance to state and local government agencies regarding the retention of public records of posts to social networking websites such as blogs, wikis, Facebook, and Twitter.

    The advice sheet provides five (5) factors for agencies to consider when managing the retention of public records created or received through social networking sites. These factors include determining whether the posts are public records (yes, if the posts are made or received in connection with the transaction of the agency’s public business).

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