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The True Stories Behind 10 Popular Memes

hongkiat.com - 2 hours 32 min ago

A friend I know loves turning his friends’ photos into memes. He’ll browse through the Facebook photo albums of his buddies and select very unfortunate, candid derp faces to use, add some text, then unleash it onto his unsuspecting friends. That’s pretty much how memes are born.

But truth be told, not all memes go viral or make it big. Although memes are real easy to make, it is the strength of the meme and how we mortal folks can relate to it that ensures its popularity (or notoriety, depends on how you view this I guess) on the Internet. Many of the memes you have grown to love now are photographs of real-life people with real-life stories which almost always are not as depicted in the meme.

If you have ever wondered about who Overly Attached Girlfriend, Ridiculously Photogenic Guy and Sheltering Suburban Mom are in real life, this is the post to read. Here are the true stories behind 10 popular memes you love.

Scumbag Steve

It’s not hard to see why this meme was christened Scumbag Steve. Posted one fine day on Reddit, the photo alone seem to generate hate from the Redditors (maybe it’s the hat; maybe it’s the fur). The photo is often accompanied with text on jerk-like behaviour, hence the term scumbag.

The photo was actually taken by his mother when he was in rap group Beantown Mafia, and it was posted on his Myspace account back in 2006.

When the meme blew up his world, Blake Boston flipped everyone off, reinforcing their beliefs that he’s a scumbag IRL. Eventually he came round to accepting the meme and even took on the persona for his rap videos on Youtube. Now, he is a father to a little boy and works as a chef.


(Image source: Blake Boston)

Disaster Girl

Just look at that face. That look is depicted as the reason to why there are so many calamities in the world. The house burns in the background and this little girl gives you a smirk and a look that seems to say "I know something you don’t know about the fire". Creepy much?! Next up, world domination.


(Image source: jpgmag)

The truth behind this story? Well, it was a day in 2004 when local firemen decided to conduct a live demo with an actual burning building located 2 blocks away from where David Roth and daughter Zoe Roth lived. So it was a real fire, but it burned in a controlled environment under the watchful eyes of professionals.

David though caught sight of something else: the now-iconic sinister grin made by his daughter, which he captured with a camera then submitted to the now-defunct Zoomr (in 2007) and again to JPG Magazine (in 2008) where the image got some attention. Disaster Girl has since grown out of her sinister-looking days (check out her dad’s Flickr account) or has she?


(Image source: TravellingRoths)

Doge

Doge is the Internet slang for dog. Mostly they mean a particular breed, the Shiba Inu (which they nicknamed Shibe, I kid you not). You might have seen the fluffy little critter in photos and accompanied by a stream of monologue thoughts written in colourful Comic Sans font. Oh, and very bad grammar that denotes sarcasm. Such wow.

This particular Shiba Inu photo is the most popular for its hilarious-looking face. The dog was at the risk of being euthanised when it was rescued by Japanese kindergarten teacher Atsuko Sato (that’s her in the photo below). The dog, Kabosu, posed for her owner which was then posted on Sato’s blog and the dog charmed itself into the hearts of the Internet.


(Image source: The Verge)

Bad Luck Brian

Bad Luck Brian is that unfortunate kid, who just cannot catch a break. Imagine the worst possible case scenario for any possible scenario and that’s a regular Tuesday (or any other day) for Bad Luck Brian. The outfit and braces did little help to pull him out of the rutt and meme-makers usually use him to represent the worst day of their lives.

The truth couldn’t be more far off though. First off, it’s Kyle, nor Brian. He actually tried to reveal himself in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) sub-thread before the moderator removed it (the thread can now be found here). In the thread, Kyle said that the infamous photo was taken as a school photo, which his school principal made him retake since he was "pulling a face".

This is him now, quite possible not as unlucky, but with the same cute, dorky smile. Kyle makes Youtube videos and has a Facebook page where he embraces his Bad Luck Brian persona whole-heartedly.

Overly Attached Girlfriend

Guys who are on the other side of the friendzone fence would probably fall back on using this meme a lot. Crazy eyes here is the Overly Attached Girlfriend, and she makes Fatal Attraction look like child’s play. If anything your girlfriend does gives you the shivers or is slightly over the edge (or just simply deranged), this is the meme to use.

In reality though, Laina Morris is not the least bit scary and is actually quite stunning. The picture that turned her into a meme was actually taken out of a parody she was making of Justin Bieber’s "Boyfriend". The video which was shared by a Redditor, had lyrics like If I was your girlfriend / I’d never let you leave / without a small recording device / taped under your sleeve. It is no wonder why the Internet jumped the gun and crowned her as the Overly Attached Girlfriend.

The good news is Laina continues to post Youtube videos as her Overly Attached Girlfriend persona and mingles with all sort of folks – here’s a photo of her with TV host Jimmy Kimmel. Not bad, Laina.


(Image source: Laina)

Success Kid

The ultimate opposite of Bad Luck Brian, Success Kid is the meme to use when everything goes your way no matter what the circumstances. Just look at that ummph face, and that firm fist. If that doesn’t define success, nothing will.

However, Success Kid didn’t start out as Success Kid – the little boy’s picture was initially plastered all over MySpace with the caption "I Hate Sandcastles". It wasn’t until 2011 when a Redditor cropped him out of the original and gave him a new background turning 11-month old Sammy into Success Kid.

Today, the photo is used on billboards, and even in ads by Vitamin Water and UK’s Virgin Media. And if you are wondering if he still has the same look now that he is 7, hey, this is Success Kid we’re talking about, of course he does! Yeah!


(Image source: Laney Griner)

College Freshman

You’ve probably been in many of the same situations as College Freshman here – I know I have. College Freshman represents the thoughts, actions and feelings of the first-year college student (the kind who would buy all the textbooks lecturers recommend, because they were "recommended"). Eventually all college freshmen end up as Lazy College Senior – you know it’s true.

This picture of Griffin Kiritsy (who I’m glad to report is no longer a college freshman) was taken 5 years ago for an interview with Reader’s Digest. He didn’t take too well with the popularity of his meme, which is tough luck considering that he posed for another photo, and was subsequently morphed into Successful College Senior. At least the second one is a step up.

Sheltering Surburban Mom

Practice what you preach is lost on sheltering suburban mom. She is the kind of parent who would forbid you to drink or smoke, then stock up on vodka and cigars for the upcoming family holidays (you don’t know what it’s like!).

In reality, Carly Philips is a successful author of several romance novels and mother of two children. She was initially upset of the use of the now-defaced author-bio photo, particularly when it was posted on her Facebook fanpage.

It took several Redditors to explain to Philips that they were jokes and not made in her expense. Just so you know, Philips is definitely cooler than her Sheltering Surburban Mom persona – she lets her kids watch R-rated movies, young.


(Image source: The Romance Dish)

McKayla is not impressed

US gymnast McKayla Maroney is very much a real person. In the 2012 Olympics she fell during her routine and had to be contented with a Silver medal. While contemplating on her mistake, she unconciously made this "unimpressed" face which was captured in a perfectly-timed photography, thus propelling her into memedom.

She inspired not only the McKayla is not impressed meme but also a Tumblr page dedicated to her. In the spirit of good cheer, McKayla is impressed with the meme – good job, Internet. Since then, McKayla has met the owner of the Tumblr responsible for spreading the meme and has even pulled her famous unimpressed face with President Obama.

Ridiculously photogenic guy

If you have ever run a marathon, then you will understand how ridiculously impossible this guy can be so ridiculously photogenic during a run. Just look at that dazzling smile on runner B5917. Computer programmer Will King took photos of runners during the 2012 annual Cooper River Bridge Run at Charleston, South Carolina and caught the image of Zeddie smiling dashingly at the lens.

He put it up on his Flickr page, and a friend commented on Zeddie’s look before sharing it on Reddit. Charleston City Paper wrote a feature on him, identifiying him via his bib number and charting his rise to memedom and later on, Daily Mail scored an interview with Zeddie’s father Jack where we were sadly told that Zeddie is already in a committed relationship with his girlfriend for the past 5 years.

Shame, I know. Good Morning America though managed to get a chat with Zeddie who revealed that the photo was taken after he waved at a friend. As for his capturing the hearts of the Internet and his beautiful smile, just so you know, Zeddie is flattered by the attention. Here, have a photogenic screencap of him from the interview. You’re welcome.


(Image source: ABC News)

Related posts:

  1. Why Success Stories Of Others May Not Work For You
  2. 10 Viral Stories That Turned Out To Be Hoaxes
  3. The Stories Behind The Names of 20 Tech Giants You Know
  4. The 7 Sins Of Guest Blogging (Based On True Events)








20 Stunning Art Expressions That Create Public Awareness

hongkiat.com - 4 hours 32 min ago

When people think of art, they think of bizzare creations and beautiful intricate paintings hung up in museums. Essentially, the process of bringing an artwork to life is a creative one but art itself can also serve a purpose. It can be used as a way to raise awareness about issues that affect us in our daily lives.

In this instance, we’ll explore the creative innovations of artists who create their art not just for the sake of it but to get their message out to a global audience. Let’s take a look at these 20 creative ways art can be utilized to create public awareness. Maybe they’ll even inspire you to spread your own message.

Ice Books. Basia Irland is an artist and naturalist that works closely with water, especially rivers. Her Ice Books project uses river water to form books made of ice which contains seeds. The seeds within the books helps the river in many ways such as by slowing down the erosion of the river bank. It then slowly melts away to represent the effects of climate change and the thinning of ice due to the activities of humans. (Image Source: basiairland.com)

Red Polar Bear. Bjargey Ólafsdóttir is a visual artist, writer and director from Reykjavík, Iceland. The Red Polar Bear is one of the 350 EARTH art projects that focuses on motivating people to think about their environment and how they can get involved in making it better. The Red Polar Bear was made out of organic red coloring to show how polar bears are in danger because of climate change. (Image Source: flickr.com)

Waiting for the Climate Change. Isaac Cordal is a Spanish street artist that creates sculptures of little men dressed in grey business suits and installs them in unusual places. ‘Waiting for the Climate Change’ is one of his series that features 14 life-sized sculptures of these everymen submerged in water. His artwork is a critique of modern society’s view regarding climate change. (Image Source: cementeclipses.com)

Running the Numbers II. Chris Jordan is a digital photographic artist. The piece below entitled ‘Whale’ does looks like one from a distance but upon closer inspection you’ll find that it’s actually created digitally from 50,000 plastic bags that represent the number of floating plastic found in the world’s ocean. This is just one of the examples in his series that portrays the massive consumption of human culture. (Image Source: chrisriedy.me)

Selfridges’ Ocean Project. Helena Maratheftis is an artist, designer and illustrator who uses recycled plastic to create sea creature sculptures. She does this to draw attention to the dangers of polluting the oceans with plastic, as sea animals like turtles, often die from eating plastic debris. The plastic sculpture of a life-sized turtle featured here is a testament to that. (Image Source: helenamaratheftis.com)

Stories From The Changing Tide. As part of his time as a student artist in residence at Recology, San Francisco, Ethan Estess used recycled materials to create sculptures showcasing marine environmental problems. He wanted to show the world how the excessive consumption of materials by human beings is hurting the ocean. He used 8,000 coffee cup lids to create the incredible backpack that you see below. (Image Source: flickr.com)

Washed Ashore. Angela Haseltine Pozzi is an artist and educator who founded the Washed Ashore Project. The project is aimed at educating people about the huge amount of plastic debris that’s found within our ocean and waterways. SeaWorld Parks uses the sculptures of sea life such as fishes and turtles, made out of recycled marine debris, to create public awareness. (Image Source: washedashore.org)

Fumo. Created by the Ioglo design agency, Fumo is a fun interactive smoking pole for proper disposal of their cigarette butts. Instead of choosing a grim way to raise awareness, the creators decided on a different approach. The Fumo entertains the smokers through the use of music and LED lights when they get rid of their cigarettes in it properly. (Image Source: ioglo.com)

1000 Surfboard Graveyard. Chris Anderson is a graphic design student from Australia. His project consists of 1000 surfboards that are either old or damaged. The purpose of this Surfboard Graveyard is to encourage the public to reflect on issues concerning landfill as a graveyard for material goods, with surfboards being merely one of them. (Image Source: facebook.com)

SodaStream Campaign. Sarah Turner is an eco-artist and designer that mainly creates artwork from discarded plastic bottles. For the Soda Stream Campaign which promotes the message of ‘A World Without Bottles’, model Erin O’Connor is depicted posing in the iconic style of the Greek God Atlas. The sphere that she holds on her shoulders, which uses 562 plastic bottles, is a reminder of just how heavy the burden of waste consumption is on the world. (Image Source: sarahturner.co.uk)

Labyrinth of Plastic Waste. Luzinterruptus is an anonymous collective of artists. Made of over 6,000 water bottles, this particular one in Poland is meant to highlight the plastic waste generated on a daily basis. The locals can also take part by bringing their own plastic waste and the maze provides people with a fun but enlightening experience. (Image Source: luzinterruptus.com)

Once Upon a Plastic Bag. Aida Sulova is a street artist who started a campaign in order to remind people to dispose of their waste properly. The anti-plastic campaign is based in Kyrgyzstan and uses her art to convey this message. Using the garbage bin as her canvas, the large photograph of a man becomes a symbol of how the waste will eventually come back into our lives and affect us. (Image Source: sulova.com)

7 Days of Garbage. Gregg Segal is a Californian photographer. His series captures various Americans lying in one week’s worth of their own trash. His portraits which features subjects from different backgrounds, is meant to be an eye opener regarding their excess consumption. (Image Source: adweek.com)

The Tackle of The Tentacle. The Miha Artnak is an artist and freelance designer that strongly believes in Utopia as an ideal guide for the evolution of humankind. His project uses plastic bags and cups to create a giant monster with tentacles. It amplifies the dangers of discarded plastic on our environment. The more plastic you use, the bigger the monster gtes. (Image Source: The artnak.net)

Chroma Paintings. John Sabraw is an artist and professor that fuses Science and Art together to create a unique artwork. His paintings use toxic substances to emphasize the effects of coal mining pollution. He extracts the toxic sludge from polluted rivers and turns it into amazing artworks. (Image Source: smithsonianmag.com)

The Blue Trees. Konstantin Dimopoulus is an abstract artist that creates social and ecological statements of art. The artist uses paint to color the trees blue as a way of promoting awareness about global deforestation to the public. The Blue Trees provokes the public into thinking about the importance of trees by portraying a surreal piece of nature. (Image Source: kondimopoulos.com)

Frozen Trees. LIKEarchitects, an architecture studio, created Frozen Tree using 2,400 IKEA plastic bag dispensers. There are 30 cylindrical structures, which made up this temporary Christmas light display that was located in Lisbon in 2011. The studio promotes environmental awareness and recycling through art. (Image Source: likearchitects.net)

March for Elephants. Asher Jay is an environmental artist committed to the cause of animal rights. The March for Elephants billboard project uses real hands to create the shape of an elephant as a way of bringing attention to the travesties of the poaching as well as the ivory trade. This shows that a simple helping hand can go a long way. (Image Source: theelepehantintimessquare.org)

Underwater Sculptures. Mathieu Goussin and Hortense LeCalvez of Forlane 6 Studio are two scuba diving artists that work with discarded materials by creating submerged sculptures and installations out of them. They created underwater sculptures using human’s daily waste such as clothes, streamers and furniture. Their art is a response to not only excess consumption but also towards climate change. (Image Source: fastcocreate.com)

Water Carrier. French artist, Elise Morin, turned 5,000 test tubes filled with colorful (but safe) substances into illuminated sculptures. Elise Morin and her team drained the artificial river before installing her structures. She uses Water Carrier to educate people about the waterway. (Image Source: elise-morin.com)

Editor’s note: This post is written by Gina Mark for Hongkiat.com. She likes to read, is interested in indie bands and loves to eat and travel.

Related posts:

  1. Food For Thought: 50 Impressionable Public Awareness Poster Ads
  2. International Marketing: Why Cultural Awareness Is Important
  3. 20 Stunning Futuristic Skyscraper Concepts You Must See
  4. Public Speaking: How to Nail an Interesting Presentation








6 Posters That Will Change The Way You Look At People

hongkiat.com - 7 hours 32 min ago

Words are interesting things. If you hear certain words often enough, you will actually start to believe them, regardless of whether they are true or false. Katarzyna Babis, an illustrator, understands this. Her response is 6 cleverly constructed posters aimed at raising awareness about the stereotypes that people are up against.

The issues highlighted in her posters covers things ranging from domestic violence to body image. These are sensitive topics to raise but they need to be highlighted to help educate the masses. If this has piqued your interest, take a look at the posters below and if you want your own to keep, get them here.

Related posts:

  1. Typography Posters: 20 Great Quotes To Inspire You
  2. Keep Calm & Love Your Web Designers [Posters]
  3. 10 Upcoming Technology That May Change The World
  4. Food For Thought: 50 Impressionable Public Awareness Poster Ads








30 Fresh & Free UI Kits for Your Next Project

hongkiat.com - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 15:01

Looking for more UI kits to expand your web designer’s library of awesomeness? Well, you came to the right place! In this post, I’ve handpicked 30 beautiful UI Kits that will definitely be of great help to your next project.

There is a wide variety of kits with different themes, styles and designs to choose from – flat, minimalist, two-toned and more. All you need to do is choose, download, and start using them!

These UI kits are made available for free so don’t forget to thank the designers who took the time to build, design, and release them on the Web without charge. Now, off to check out these awesome kits.

Blog/Magazine Flat UI Kit – [Visit page]

Bootflat – [Visit page]

Dark Admin Panel UI Kit – [Visit page]

Simple UI Elements – [Visit page]

Flat UI Kit – [Visit page]

Featherweight UI – [Visit page]

Pillow UI – [Visit page]

Flat Admin UI Kit – [Visit page]

Blog / Magazine UI Kit #2 – [Visit page]

Square UI Kit – [Visit page]

Minimize UI Kit – [Visit page]

Modern Touch UI Kit – [Visit page]

Metro Vibes UI kit – [Visit page]

Free Awesome Flat UI Kit – [Visit page]

Flat UI Kit – [Visit page]

Flat UI Kit 2 – [Visit page]

Flat Design UI Components – [Visit page]

Simplistic UI Kit – [Visit page]

Awesomeness UI Widgets- [Visit page]

Black UI Kit – [Visit page]

UI Kit – [Visit page]

Flat UI Kit – [Visit page]

Web App UI – [Visit page]

Flat Winter UI Kit – [Visit page]

Smooth UI Kit – [Visit page]

Responsive UI Kit – [Visit page]

Free Flat UI Kit – [Visit page]

Flatlyfe UI Kit – [Visit page]

Free Color UI kit – [Visit page]

Ultra Light UI Kit – [Visit page]

Related posts:

  1. 60 Free GUI Sets for Your Next Project
  2. Ultimate Infographic Resource Kits For Designers
  3. 10 High Quality Freebies For Your Next iOS 7 Project
  4. Fresh Resources For Designers And Developers – December 2013








Get Published (Part 2): Discussing Writing Terms With The Site

hongkiat.com - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:01

Last time, we talked about identifying your niche and the right site for you to write for. The process involves checking out the guest-posting guidelines, and understanding what the site needs, and what their readers are looking for.

This second part on our how to get published series will touch on what you can do before you pitch an idea to the site you want to write for. Yes, expect to have to do a lot of work, but understand that it’s necessary if you don’t want to end up pitching titles that won’t be accepted anyway. The earlier you recognize how your writing fits (or not) with a publication, the better.

Let’s take a look at how you can make a stand out pitch and some of the details to look into when dealing with the site you are hoping to pen articles for.

Craft a Standout Pitch

Want to pitch a title? Here are a few tips:

1. Give (Sincere) Compliments In Your Intro

Compliments show the editor that you genuinely gave a thought about their publication, not just their ability to give you a byline. If you’ve been following them for a while, this should be easy. For example, you can say "I’m John Smith, a blogger with a passion for history. I read your article last month about the Jamestown mysteries, and I must say, I was impressed enough with it to visit the place for myself."

Remember: Be sincere. Insincerity will backfire on you.

2. Be Original With Your Idea

Your pitch may be good, but if there’s already a similar article previously published on the website, the editor may turn it down, unless you can put a new spin on the topic that will still be interesting for the site’s readers. Speaking of which…

3. Emphasize How Your Idea Will Benefit Site Readers

This strategy is especially helpful if you’re not the most experienced or bemedalled writer in the editor’s queue. After outlining your pitch, say something along the lines of "I think this will benefit your readers, because…"

Or you can explain, in a sentence or two, how you’re going to gather information for the article (e.g. interviews, surveys, etc.) if your research will involve more than just the regular search by Google and read everything method. You want to show the editor that you’re serious about your idea, and of turning it into a full-blown article.

4. Include A Call To Action

As Rajiv pointed out, editors are a busy lot. You don’t want to force an editor to think too much about what to do with your pitch email. Most of the time it is a hit-and-miss; you just need to know whether you are getting a red light or a green one.

Always end your pitch with something like "Let me know if this is a good fit for your publication" or "What do you think of this idea?". If your title gets rejected, try to refrain from asking them what title will definitely be accepted for publication; that comes off as a little desperate and pushy. Instead, tell them you will write them again with another pitch soon.

Iron Out The T&C And Payment Options

Suppose that the editor said "Yes" to your pitch, in which case you’re probably doing the Happy Dance after the fact (if his/her answer is "No", don’t fret about it. There are better uses for your rejected pitch.) At this point, it’s your chance to prove that you’re a "professional writer". That means you’re reliable, you know what you’re doing, and you’re easy to work with.

How Much To Charge

This is also the point where you discuss payment with your editor. Don’t make the mistake of asking for payment only after your post is accepted, or after it is published (things may get real complicated if payment is discussed at so late a stage).

Sometimes, a website’s submission guidelines will specify how much they pay for an article, or for different types of articles. Sometimes, they won’t. In the case of the latter, you’ll be expected to negotiate a fair rate for an article on your own. What’s a "fair" rate, you ask? There’s no straight answer to that question, really.

You can refer to the going rate for similar publications. You can also estimate the time and effort you need to put into writing your article, take stock of your skill set, and come up with a ballpark figure based on that. While you’re at it, make sure you incorporate any extra charges for revisions, just in case.

Up For Negotiations

Now for the fun part: the negotiation process itself. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for negotiating, since the most appropriate strategy will vary on a case-to-case basis, bear in mind that the final terms should always be fair for everyone involved. When haggling your price, consider the needs of the publication you’re writing for, as well as your own.

Don’t forget to find out when and how you’re going to be paid as well. Some websites pay on acceptance; others pay on publication. "Acceptance" means you’ll receive payment the moment your editor green-lights your piece; "publication", on the other hand, means you’ll have to wait for your piece to show up on the website before you get paid. The latter usually takes weeks and/or months to happen, so be sure to prepare yourself for that.

Payment Methods And Rights

Your target website might prefer popular payment services like PayPal, or the alternatives listed here. To know more about invoicing your work, you can check out this article on how to do it professionally.

Aside from rates, you should also negotiate publication rights. Why? Because these rights basically determine to what extent a publication can use, re-use, and distribute your piece via print and electronic media. Since the concept of rights can be quite tricky, it’s best to consult a lawyer and/or refer to this article first before you finalize anything concerning rights with your editor.

Don’t forget to include information like your single point of contact, kill fees, allowance for revisions/rewrites, and deadlines, as detailed in this piece about freelance clauses. In case you have any reservations about the contract, or even the assignment itself, this stage is a good time to bring them up with your editor. You don’t want to end up with problems that could’ve been avoided if you thought things through first.

Your Work’s Not Done (Yet)

So now you’ve gotten everything straightened out and your post is written, polished, published and paid for, you might think you can rest. Well, sorry to burst your bubble but you still have to pull your weight marketing your article, the details of which will be covered in the third (and final) part of this series.

Stay tuned!

Related posts:

  1. Get Published (Part 1): Finding The Right Site
  2. The Myth-Busting Truth About Self-Editing in Freelance Writing
  3. Guest Posting: 8 Tips To Getting Your Submissions Published
  4. 5 Things to Do with Your Rejected Guest Post Pitch








How to Use CSS3 Blending Mode [CSS3 Tips]

hongkiat.com - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 09:01

Note: This feature here requires enabling from the chrome://flags page for it to work.

If you have ever used a graphic or photo editor like Photoshop and Pixelmator, you should already be familiar with Blending Modes. Blending Modes is a collection of modes that enables an object to blend with other objects, and thus producing contrastive output of the mix. If done correctly, Blending Modes could output a very enticing result, like this.



Blend Mode application in a logo by Ivan Bobrov

Blending Mode has been a feature found only in graphic and photo editors. Nowadays, you can find it in the CSS realm. Let’s take a look how it works.

Getting Started

It’s worth noting that CSS3 Blend Mode is an experimental feature. Firefox and Chrome are the only browser that ships with this feature at the time of the writing.

Note: In Chrome, before it’s able to render CSS3 Blend Mode, you will have to enable the Web Platform Features from the chrome://flags page.

Background and Mix Blend Mode

There are two newly introduced CSS properties regarding Blending Mode: mix-blend-mode and background-blend-mode.

The mix-blend-mode defines how the content of an element blends with other content underneath. While the background-blend-mode property, as the name implies, addresses the background color, background image, and the background gradients.

Like in Photoshop, we are able to apply the the following Blending modes to those CSS properties: normal, multiply, screen, overlay, darken, lighten, color-dodge, color-burn, hard-light, soft-light, difference, exclusion, hue, saturation, color and luminosity.



Blend Mode options in Photoshop Layer panel.

Using CSS3 Blend Mode

The Google logo is colorful, and has been shaped in many forms for the Google Doodle project. In this post, we will carry out the Blend effect on the Google logotype to illustrate how this new CSS3 feature works.

First, let’s set the markup: we wrap each letter with a span element so we will able to specify different colors as well as style rules for the letter.

<h1> <span>G</span><span>o</span><span>o</span><span>g</span><span>l</span><span>e</span> </h1>

Then, we add the colors for the Google brand, derived from BrandColors. Herein, we select the element by using the nth-child selector, letting us apply the styles without having to add additional HTML classes to each of the span element wrapping the letters.

.demo-wrapper .title { letter-spacing: -25px; } span:first-child { color: #4285f4; position: relative; z-index: 100; } span:nth-child(2) { color: #db4437; } span:nth-child(3) { color: #f4b400; } span:nth-child(4) { color: #4285f4; position: relative; z-index: 100; } span:nth-child(5) { color: #0f9d58; } span:nth-child(6) { color: #db4437; }

At this stage, here is how the logo turns out. The logo now looks more densed as we decrease the whitespace between the letter at -25px through added code.

Now we apply the Blend mode.

The original colors of the logo as well as the colors of the intersected letters turns out more vivid.

We have applied the logo with both Opacity and CSS3 Blend Mode. The output, as expected, is distinctive; the colors of the Google logo with the opacity applied looks stale and faded. See a demo of their comparison in action below.

Further resources

Related posts:

  1. CSS3 Repeating Gradients [CSS3 Tips]
  2. CSS3 Linear Gradients [CSS3 Tips]
  3. CSS3 Image Reflection [CSS3 Tips]
  4. CSS3 Circular and Elliptical Gradients [CSS3 Tips]








20 Creative Uses Of Lego You Need To See

hongkiat.com - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 17:01

The world will probably never get tired of the wonders of Lego, even if it definitely hurts when you step on one. Painful feet massage aside, the popular brick toy continues to astound us with the many things we can create with it, from mega structures to constructing movie scenes.

The sky is the limit to what you can create with Lego, unless of course, you don’t have an unlimited supply of Lego bricks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring out your childhood Lego collection to create practical everyday things or as a simple lifehack. To that end, here is a list of 20 creative uses of Lego ranging from simple to mind-blowing.

Gift Box

Could this be the answer to less trees being chopped down for wrapping paper? It would definitely be an interesting way to house a present for a geeky friend. Best of all, it’s Lego, so you can always reuse it for something else instead of adding to your pile of boxes in the attic. (Image source: PopClip)

Game Controller Organizer

Do you have multiple gaming consoles and the many remote controllers that come with them? Are they always jumbled up in a drawer? If you create a few of these, that mess in your drawer will be a thing of the past. Kudos to Lifehacker reader David Stoeckl for the idea. (Image source: Lifehacker)

Cable Holder

This lifehack is so simple that you’d wonder why you didn’t think of this before. Lego Minifigures (minifigs) have hands that are just the right size to hold your cords. You can now say goodbye to tangled wires as you organize your various wires with the help of this little people. (Image source: Lifehacker)

Bus Stop

There is a legit bus stop in London made entirely of Lego. It may be temporary but the details on it are astounding like the lettering on the various parts of the stand (It’s quite witty too!). There are even smooth pieces on the seats, so that sitting is not a painful wait. (Image Source: gizmodo)

Accessories

Wearing normal pieces of jewellery is so mainstream. Be a hispter instead by making and wearing Lego accessories like earrings, necklaces and rings. Even a couple of Lego cufflinks can help you stand out in your everyday normal work wear. (Image source: Whimsy Love)

Clock

Telling time shouldn’t be a chore. Nor should it only be limited to telling you when lunch time is. Opt for this cool clock instead that’s also pretty easy to DIY for your home or office. Counting down the minutes to lunch time will never be the same again. (Image source: Our Nerd Home)

Desk Organizer

The best thing about Lego is that you can build things however you want. Which means if you don’t like the desk orgnizers in the market you can always create your own with as many sections as you need. And they don’t get knocked down as easily as the plastic ones either. (Image source: Cthuliz)

Prosthetic Leg

When occupational therapist and clinical researcher Christina Stephens lost her leg after an injury, she decided to create a Lego prosthetic leg. Well, the idea was suggested by a colleague but she did it anyway. Take note: Do not try this at home.

Phone Docking Station

You’ve probably come across a few of these. Some are simple with only a few bricks to hold up the phone. Some decide to take it to the next level with a specific theme or by adding wheels. It’s Lego, so it’s up to you to customize it however you want. (Image source: Technabob)

Coin Sorter

Ironically enough, coin sorters are expensive even though what they’re sorting is money. If you have enough Lego pieces, you can cut costs by making one instead. The mechanism behind this coin sorter is really simple, as the sorter relies on a slope and the weight of the coin.

Computer Keyboard

Why isn’t this selling at my local computer shop? I don’t know about you but this is the ultimate geek dream. The brainchild of Jason Alleman, this Lego keyboard came into being after Alleman found a discarded keyboard in the streets and pick its insides. Thanks to his tinkering, it actually works.

Keychains

Create a unique keychain by threading it through a Lego piece that has holes. Or you can opt to drill a hole into a Lego brick. Whatever strikes your fancy really. Pair it up with a Lego board on your wall to act as a keyholder and you’ll never lose your keys again. (Image source: Minieco)

Air-Powered Car

Again, why isn’t this a thing in the first place? This crowdfunded car was built by Steve Sammartino and Raul Oaida. Who wouldn’t want to drive round town with a cool girl by your side? The car is made up of 500,000+ Lego pieces which includes the engine and it runs on air. (Image source: Super Awesome Micro Project)

Mouse Trap

Trapping mice is now a fun thing when you can build a mouse trap out of Lego like how Peter and his son did for Lifehacker’s MacGyver Challenge. If you think pesky little mousies don’t deserve to reside in beautiful Lego traps you can always… Well, we’ll let you figure that one out. (Image source: Lifehacker)

Pet House

Create a house for your pet just as designer Alex Jones did for his dog Kisha. He even made a Lego fire hydrant and some steaks to go with it. Awww! This sure beats buying or building a dog house out of boring ol’ wood. (Image source: Dogs)

Fill Cracks In Buildings

Reclaim your city and its buildings by filling all the nooks and crannies with colourful Lego bricks. German artist Jan Vormann started Dispatchwork to add a little colour to drab and grey cities. It’s an ongoing project that has different people from various countries participating. (Image Source: Greenthorne)

Gattling Rubber Band Gun

This is not just a few bricks slapped together to create a gun shape. Yes, you’ve read this right. This is a gun made of Lego that shoots rubber bands. This dangerous but fascinating project was constructed and designed by Sebastian Dick. Watch it in action here. (Image Source: MOC Pages)

Furniture

If there can be an entire house made of Lego, why not pieces of furniture? Sure, some things like chairs may be uncomfortable but you’ve got to admit a Lego lamp would look very chic. Plus Lego bricks are perfect for building walls and tables. Speaking of which… (Image source: inthralld)

Miniature Roller Coaster

Move over, motorized train sets and car circuits. This working miniature roller coaster was built by Lego enthusiast Adam Tucker. The ride goes on forever as the carts are set to play in an infinite loop. We think it lacks some Lego minifigs. Watch it move in this video. (Image source: MOC Pages)

Train Map

London must really love the Danish brick building toy as they celebrated their underground train’s 150th anniversary with Lego. These train maps are displayed at 5 stations, namely South Kensington, Piccadilly Circus, Green Park, Stratford and King’s Cross. (Image source: Metro)

Have you come across other uses for Lego? Let us know in the comments below!

Related posts:

  1. 25 Movie-Themed LEGO Constructions You Haven’t Seen Before
  2. 15 Star Wars Scenes Re-Imagined With Lego
  3. 10 Creative Professionals With Amazing Jobs You Wish You Have
  4. 20 Creative Ideas To Use The Space Under Your Stairs








Basic &#38; Essential Command Lines Every Web Designers Should Grasp

hongkiat.com - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 15:01

You may have come across instructions in web design and development tutorials that tell you to do things like npm install or git clone, etc. These are Command Line Interfaces (CLI). We use them to tell the computer to perform specific tasks, usually by typing specific commands from Terminal and Command Prompt.

Terminal and Command Prompt may not be the most convenient tool to use, particular for web designers, which is quite understandable, since web designers may be more familiar with graphical interfaces. Yet, tools like Yeoman, Bower, and Google Web Starter Kit operate through command lines.

If you aren’t a fan of typing commands, this post will start you off with just a few basic command lines to help you familiarize yourself with them.

But First…

We need to talk about Terminal and Command Prompt. Both are powerful apps that give you access to the core of the OS you are on. Once you make a change to it, the change is not reversible so whatever you do with these two apps, should be done with caution (and preferably if you know what exactly you are getting yourself into).

The second thing to know is that you won’t be able to use the mouse to move the cursor within Terminal or Command Prompt. This means no searching or highlighting text with the cursor. Everything is done on the keyboard and therefore keyboard shortcuts are your new best friends.

Note that some useful command lines may not be found in Windows. So, for Windows users, I would suggest you to use Cygwin, UnxUtils, or Windows Services for UNIX Version 3.5 which brings some UNIX utilities to Windows. Now, it’s time for you to rub your hands in glee and begin.

1. Change Directory

Often you will have to navigate through directories. Terminal and Command Prompts both use the same cd command to change your current directory to the destination specified within the command. Say you want to go to a folder named foo, you type:

cd foo

You can see below, the current directory is shown before the blinking cursor.

You can navigate directly to the sub-directory of foo, like so:

cd foo/sub-folder

To head back to the previous directory or go one level up of the current directory, type:

cd .. 2. Create a New Folder

Another command that you may find in need often is mkdir. This command creates a new directory with the specified name. The following command, for example, will create a new directory named foo.

mkdir foo

We can also create multiple folders at once. This example below will create three directories named foo, hello, and world all together at once.

mkdir foo hello world

The mkdir command is compatible both in Terminal and Command Prompt.

3. Creating New File

Use thetouch command to create an empty file. For example:

touch filename.html

You can specify more filenames, as follows, to create multiple files at once.

touch file.html style.css 4. Moving Files

Use the mv command to move a particular file to a folder. This example below moves the style.css to a folder named /css.

mv style.css /css

You can also make use of the mv command to rename files and folders. This example below will rename the index.html into about.html.

mv index.html about.html 5. Copying Files

Type cp command or copy, if you want to copy a file or folder. Below is an example where we copy index.html and name the new file to about.html.

cp index.html about.html

If you are running on Windows, use the copy command instead.

6. List Directory Content

This is one of the commands that I personally use often, List Directory or known as ls. With this command, you can list the content of a directory.

Specifying a folder name ahead of the ls command will list the content of the folder specified, for example:

Furthermore, you can also retrieve the details of the listed content such as the directory date (created), directory permission, and the directory owners. To do so, type ls -l or simply ll.

The ls command, however, will only work in a UNIX shell. You can run ls command in Ubuntu and OS X, but not in Windows. In Windows, type dir command instead.

7. Open Files

The open command will open files of folders in the default app. This command below will open the folder Desktop in Finder.

open ~/Desktop

The following command will open a .txt folder in TextEdit, which is the default app in OS X to edit plain text file.

open readme.txt

Windows users should use edit. Given the same example, you can run:

edit readme.txt 8. Creating Symbolic Link

Symbolic Link or Symlink works like a shortcut folder, but the system will treat it as if it is an actual folder. My personal favorite of Symlink utilization is to synchronize folders from /Dropbox to my /Sites folder, which is where I put all my web development files.

This is how the command is specified:

ln -s /source /destination

To create a Symlink from your /Dropbox to the /Sites folder, run:

ln -s ~/Dropbox/project ~/Sites/project

Windows users can use the mklink /d command.

9. Using Nano Editor

You may find that you need to create a new VirtualHost with a new domain name. This is where you will have to edit the hosts file that records the domain name and the pointed IP address. The quickest way to edit the hosts file is by typing.

sudo nano /etc/hosts 10. Sublime Text CLI

Sublime Text ships with the CLI, subl, that enables us to operate Sublime Text through Terminal and Command Prompt. With the subl command you can, for example, open a file. The command, however, will not yet be recognized when you type subl in the Terminal.

To add Sublime Text CLI, run this command first.

ln -s "/Applications/Sublime Text.app/Contents/SharedSupport/bin/subl" ~/bin/subl

After that, you should have access to the subl. Running the following command, for example, will open the file style.css.

subl style.css

Including the --add with the command will open the file or folder within the currently opened Sublime Text window.

subl --add foo

For other uses, you can type subl --help.

Once you’ve grasped the command lines including these basic commands, you will find that using command lines is leaner than using GUI counterparts for doing certain tasks. I hope this list can help you get started.

More: Using Command Lines

Here are a few posts that allow you to do things via command lines.

Related posts:

  1. Installing WordPress Through Command Line
  2. Install PHP, Apache, And MySQL In Mac Without MAMP
  3. Using Kit Language in Windows and Linux
  4. Solving Grunt “Command Not Found” Error in Terminal [Quickfix]








Controlling CSS3 Animation with steps() Function

hongkiat.com - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 09:01

Animation is one of the greatest features introduced to CSS. In the past, web animation was only available in the JavaScript or Flash territory. But, today, many websites opt to use CSS for adding subtle animation. In previous articles, we have gone through how to do some cool things with CSS animation like adding a marquee effect and adding bounce effect to something.

In this article, we will once again dive into CSS animation. This time, we are going to discuss a CSS animation function, steps(), that enables us to control the animation’s movement — don’t freak out, it’s not as puzzling as it sounds. Let’s take a look.

So what is it?

Normally, the animation in CSS will go straight from start to end at the specified duration. steps() is part of the animation timing function. It allows us to control the animation to move gradually. The very best example that shows how the steps() works would be the second hand of an analog clock; the clocks second hand does not move continuously, instead its movements are split into stages. So let’s replicate it with CSS animation and steps().

Replicating the Second Hand of a Clock

Let’s first add the keyframes that will rotate the Second Hand for 360 degrees; the rotation will start at 90 degrees (or at 12 o’clock). Note that the following code may need a prefix (-moz-, -o-, and -ms-) in order to work across browsers.

@-webkit-keyframes rotation { from { transform: rotate(90deg); } to { transform: rotate(450deg); } }

The second hand will move steadily every second and complete a 360 degree rotation in 60 seconds. Thus, here we will set the animation duration for 60s and this tells the browser to complete it in 60 steps with steps(60) like so.

.second { animation: rotation 60s steps(60) infinite; transform-origin: 100% 50%; //styles decoration background-color: #e45341; height: 2px; margin-top: -1px; position: absolute; top: 50%; width: 50%; }

We have created two demos for this; one with steps() and one with linear. You can see the different moves from this screenshot below.

At this point, hopefully, you can figure out and imagine how steps() works. To see the demo in action, follow this link below.

More Inspiration…

In addition, here we have collected a few terrific experiments and demonstrations that exploit steps() from many web developers. Check them out and I hope you can derive some inspiration from them.

Related posts:

  1. How to Create Bounce Effect with CSS3 Animation
  2. Animate.css – CSS3 Library To Create Animation Easily
  3. A Look Into: Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) Animation
  4. An Introduction to CSS3 calc() Function








10 Notorious Hackers That Made Headlines

hongkiat.com - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 15:10

When people hear of the word ‘hacker’, they usually think of those who are considered black hat hackers. As opposed to white hat hackers, who hack computer systems to help patch flaws in the security, black hat hackers hack for more illicit gains. Whether it is for money, personal information or just for the thrill of it, black hat hackers wreak havoc on computer systems and usually leave a trail of victims behind.

In this post, we will briefly look into the lives, motivations and outcomes of 10 hackers who have made the headlines by targeting and hacking into large organizations and even governments. Some bear good intentions while other have no qualms of hacking for personal benefit, but no matter what their reasoning is, these are hackers that keep major organization on their toes when it comes to the security measures they employ in their systems.

1. Hector Xavier Monsegur (Sabu)

Sabu is well known as one of the founders of LulzSec, the infamous black hat hacker group that broke into and stole information from government and corporate websites, all mainly "for the lulz" or in other speak, entertainment. His real identity was eventually discovered by the FBI and he was given a choice: turn informant or go to prison.

Monsegur chose the former and co-operated with the FBI, hacking with his Lulzsec team all the while keeping tabs of their activities and reporting to the feds. This eventually lead to the capture of the other members and the end of Lulzsec. Monsegur spent a mere 7 months in jail due to his co-operation. Count him lucky because his original sentence was supposed to be a good 26 years.


(Image Source: SiliconBeat)

2. Kevin Mitnick

Kevin Mitnick was a hacker before computers were cool, or mainstream. His first hack was done when he was 15, back in 1978, through a method known as social engineering, involving a ticket puncher and dumpster diving. Basically, he could get all the free bus rides he wanted with a counterfeit punch card.

His first computer hack though was for unauthorized access to the computer systems of Digital Equipment Corporation. He was jailed for 12 months plus a 3-year supervised release. He broke the 3-year agreement when he hacked into Pacific Bell’s voice mail computers, and an arrest warrant was released in his name, which he succeeded in avoiding for 2.5 years.

During his time on the run, he went on a hacking spree, using cloned cellphones to hide his location and breaking into the systems of some of the largest cellular and computing companies. He was eventually caught and made to serve 5 years in prison. He now runs a computer security firm, Mitnick Security Consulting.


(Image Source: Computing.co.uk)

3. Gary McKinnon (Solo)

According to US prosecutors, Scottish hacker Gary McKinnon was responsible for committing the "biggest military computer hack of all time" – he hacked into 97 US military and NASA computers in 2002. And it wasn’t just a simple break in as the incident happened less than a few months after 9/11.

He did real damage to US military infrastructure, halting munitions supply to the US Navy’s Atlantic Fleet and for some reason, he left taunting, anti-American messages on the computers. McKinnon has Asperger’s Syndrome and when he was caught, McKinnon, he claimed that he was only looking for proof of UFOs, anti-gravity technology and free energy suppression.

The US government tried to extradite him for trial but could not do so due to his medical condition, and the fact that medical experts consider him a suicide risk should he be made to leave the UK to stand trial. At the end of a 10-year tug-of-war, prosecutors decided to drop any plans to prosecute him on UK soil due to the complications of him being in the UK and the evidence and witnesses being in the US.


(Image Source: The Guardian)

4. Ehud Tenenbaum (The Analyzer)

At the age of 19 in 1998, Israeli hacker Ehud Tenenbaum was the head of a group of hackers that managed to break into the computer systems of the NASA, the US and Israeli military, and several US and Israeli universities. They installed backdoors to get classified information. Then-US Deputy Department of Defence John Hamre called it "the most organized and systematic attack to date" – they thought the hack was done by the Iraqi government.

In order to stop the attacks and capture the hackers, several branches of the US government assembled their agents and started an investigation (codenamed Solar Sunrise). They finally manage to capture the Tenenbaum and his team. In 2001, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison of which he served only 8 months.

He was later arrested again in 2008 for hacking into financial institutions and stealing credit card numbers – damages totalled around $1.5 million. He pleaded guilty and accepted a plea bargain for his cooperaton in the investigation.


(Image Source: Wired)

5. Jonathan James (c0mrade)

When he was 15, Jonathan James was caught breaking into the BellSouth and Miami-Dade school system. This led to the discovery that he had backdoor access to a division of the US Department of Defence – basically he had access to thousands of employee messages.

He had also hacked NASA and obtained the source code for life support functions at the International Space Station. The intrusion caused NASA to shut down their computers for three weeks, and $41,000 to patch the system. James was arrested and made to serve 6 months in a federal correctional facility.

Later in 2007, James was under suspicion of helping some of his hacker friends commit a massive computer hacking spree which compromised the credit information of millions of people. He repeatedly denied involvement but was raided by the Secret Service nonetheless. In 2008, he committed suicide by gunshot to the head, believing that he would not receive proper justice.


(Image Source: Tom’s Hardware)

6. Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden became a household name by blowing the lid off the NSA’s spying program. The agency had been spying on regular Americans in an unprecedentedly massive scale. How did Snowden get his hands on evidence to prove that allegation? Well, he didn’t really need to rely on hacking tools. Like Mitnick, all he had to do was use social engineering – oh, and he took advantage of a broken security policy to get access to the files.

You see, Snowden was working as a system administrator for the NSA and was able to access the majority of their top secret documents, and there was basically no one auditing him for potential leaks. If he couldn’t get a document, all he had to do was get the credentials of someone who had access – people already assume sysadmins had access to them already.

After the revelations, Snowden fled to Russia where he obtained political asylum.


(Image Source: CNET)

7. Andrew Auernheimer (weev)

weev is a grey hat hacker and Internet troll, first gaining notoriety for claiming responsibility for a hack done on Amazon where books on gay issues were reclassified as pornography. He is very well known for his trolling antics, once becoming the president a group dedicated to trolling the web with malware, website hacking and shock images.

From this group came Goatse Security, a grey hat group created to distance themselves from the trolling antics of the former. In 2010, he helped find a vulnerability on the AT&T website that exposed the emails of iPad users, some of which include those owned by celebrities and military officials.

While they eventually turned over the exploit to AT&T, they had first gone to a news agency to share their discovery. This lead to a criminal investigation where he was charged by the FBI for the hack and was given 41 months of jail time.


(Image Source: The Guardian)

8. Julian Assenge (Mendex)

Today, Julian Assenge is known as the creator and public face of Wikileaks, the online organization that publishes leaked government and corporate documents. But before all that, way back in the late 80′s at the young age of 16, he was known as Mendex and together with two other hackers formed International Subversives, what they consider to be an ethical hacking group.

He went on to hack into several high profile targets such as the US Department of Defence, NASA, Lockheed Martin, just to name a few. He was eventually caught while hacking into Nortel in 1991 at the age of 20. He pleaded guilty to 35 charges. He managed to avoid heavy penalties due to perceived non-malicious intent and a disrupted childhood, caused by his mother being part of a controversial New Age group and frequently moving about.


(Image Source: Wikipedia)

9. Jeremy Hammond

Jeremy Hammond is a political activist and he uses his computer hacking skills to aid in his activism. For example, during the 2004 DEFCON, he encouraged "electronic civil disobedience" to the audience as a form of protest against the annual Republican National Convention.

He founded HackThisSite, a way to train would be hackers with all the tools of the trade, describing itself as “a non-profit organization that strives to protect a good security culture and learning atmosphere”. He mostly got into trouble with the law with his activism, from refusing to follow police orders when protesting.

But what finally got him arrested (and a 10 year sentence) was the hacking of the private intelligence firm, Stratfor, in 2012. He had leaked an obtained client list to Wikileaks and donated an additional million dollars via stolen credit cards to several charities. An interesting titbit you might like was that Hammond was actually caught by Sabu (from #1) who was working with the FBI as an informant at the time.


(Image Source: RT)

10. The Jester

The Jester is an internet vigilante and self-described grey hat hacktivist. His real identity is unknown except for the fact that he is a former soldier that had served tours in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The Jester made a name for himself by hacking several websites he perceives as anti-American.

His first public attack was against the Taliban and other related jihadist groups on the Internet. He also hacked the website of the Westboro Baptist Church for disrespecting the funerals of American troops. He has also DDoS several websites that he claims are endangering American troops abroad, such as Wikileaks.

Not only that, he has hacked countries that show support for Snowden, such as Ecuador, DDoS-ing their stock exchange and tourism website. The Jester is still active on Twitter and his blog, where he gives his opinions regularly.

www.wikileaks.org – TANGO DOWN – INDEFINITLEY – for attempting to endanger the lives of our troops and 'other assets' #wikileaks #fail

— JΞSTΞR ✪ ACTUAL™ (@th3j35t3r) November 28, 2010

Related posts:

  1. How You Are Helping Hackers Steal Your Data
  2. Five Notorious Facebook Attacks (Learn How To Protect Yourself)
  3. Golden Rule to Internet Security: Change Your Passwords
  4. Phishing Attacks And How To Prevent From Being Hooked








A Guide To Getting Published: Finding The Right Site

hongkiat.com - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 12:01

Having one online article published is great, but having multiple articles published is awesome. And, often, the latter has less to do with your writing skills, and more to do with how you handle your articles before and after publication.

That’s not to say that writing skills don’t have their place, of course. If you want to make a living as an online writer or blogger, you should, at the very least, know how to write. This may seem obvious, but judging from the usual quality of online content, it’s surprising – not to mention alarming – how many people ignore this basic fact.

Anyway, let’s get back on topic. Suppose you are, in fact, one of those writers who can effortlessly churn out beautiful prose with your eyes closed. That’s all well and good… except there are also thousands of writers around the world who can do the same thing. Which begs the question: How do you stand out in such an enormous crowd, especially on a place like the Internet where everyone’s doing their best to attract attention? Glad you asked!

Find Websites In Your Niche

Your first order of business is to figure out what you want to write. What do you like to think about first thing in the morning, and before you go to sleep? What topic(s) can you go on and on about for hours without getting exhausted? Do you have any experience, skills, and/or knowledge unique to you?

Once you have a definite answer to those questions, that’s the time you start searching for websites to write for. Use keyword combinations like "(your favorite topic)" + "write for us" or "(your favorite topic)" + "guest post". During your search, you’ll notice that many of the websites turning up won’t pay for contributions. If you want to write for more than just the "exposure", you can add the word "paid" to the keyword combinations suggested above.

If you’re a generalist, or someone with multiple interests, think about one or two topics you can imagine yourself writing about at least once every day. Because, hey, if you’re going to write about things for a living, you might as well love what you’re writing about, right?

Read The Guidelines Carefully

If you want to know what kind of submissions a website accepts, the easiest way to do so is to read their writer’s guidelines. Here, they’ll specify what they’re looking for, what they’re not looking for, payment terms (if applicable), rights, and other policies.

Sometimes, a website posts its editorial calendar. Be sure to check that one out in order to come up with a timely pitch. Oh, and don’t forget to look up their reading period, which is usually specified in the writer’s guidelines as well.

If they don’t have a calendar, and you’re not sure whether your pitch is what they’re looking for at the moment, you can also…

Be A "Ninja"

Even after reading the guidelines, you’ll want to check out the site’s archived articles. They’ll give you an idea of the types of articles that resonate the most with the site’s target readers, and why. With that information, it’ll be easier for you to tailor your submission accordingly and increase your chances of getting accepted.

So how do you identify the old articles that "click" with readers? Look for the ones with the most number of shares on social networking sites, as well as those with the most active discussions in the comments section.

These numbers may not be the most accurate measures of whether those articles are "good", but in any case, they indicate an ability to engage readers, which is the main reason those articles were published in the first place.

Be Familiar With The Site & Audience

If that seems like too much work, you can always browse through the ones labeled "Trending", "Top Articles", "What’s Hot", "Popular Now", etc., and observe what they all have in common. You can also subscribe to their social media pages and/or e-newsletter.

Through these, you can:

  • Assess what kind of audience the website has;
  • See "patterns" in the type of content they’ve been publishing recently;
  • Evaluate their online marketing strategy, and the effectiveness thereof;
  • Based on the criteria above, decide for yourself whether they’re worth writing for; and
  • Learn something new on a regular basis. (What could be cooler than that?)

If you have friends who are online writers/bloggers, and are in the same niche you want to break into, you can ask them for feedback on the best/worst sites to write for. This is a good option if you don’t have the time or the energy to search for target sites on your own.

Wrap Up

Remember that the guidelines are there to help relay information to you before you have even made contact with the people behind the site. Rather than skim through the guidelines, analyze what the site is looking for before you make your pitch (which is another title on its own; don’t worry, it’s coming) so you can show them that as a writer, you really did do the homework required.

Coming soon, how to make a proper pitch of what you want to write, coming to terms with the site and what to do after your post has been published (to make sure you can get more writing jobs).

Bonus: More On Guest Blogging

Related posts:

  1. Guest Posting: 8 Tips To Getting Your Submissions Published
  2. 5 Things to Do with Your Rejected Guest Post Pitch
  3. The Researcher’s Guide To Successful Freelance Content Writing
  4. The Myth-Busting Truth About Self-Editing in Freelance Writing








Designers: Where In The World Should You Be Working At

hongkiat.com - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 10:10

There’s a romantic mythology around certain cities. In fact, all you have to do is mention them, and a thousand images are conjured up in your brain, the product of decades of history and popular culture references. Paris. Milan. London. Rio de Janeiro. New York. No matter where you live, you’ve likely heard of these places, and you know exactly what they are famous for.

But which cities (or countries) are best suited for professional designers? Where can designers have access to the most potential clients, a great culture of design appreciation, and all the other accommodations that creative professionals need?

The question today is: where in the world should designers work? Let’s survey the options.

Home Is Where The Designer Is

The best place to work, hands down, for most designers, is wherever you feel “at home.” When a creative professional is grounded in a place, surrounded by inspiring people, places, and things, they are compelled to use this environment in the most productive way possible. You can “absorb” all the best, most inspiring things about your environment like a sponge, channeling them into more innovative designs.

Another thing to consider is the design community that exists wherever you choose to settle down. Are there many design professionals and organizations around you? This can either be a bad thing (“I need to move to a place with more designers!”), or a good thing (“I can be a trendsetter in this part of the world, yay!”). It’s up to you to decide what your priorities are as a designer, and whether or not you need to be in a “high design” or a “low design” area to produce your best work and find the most awesome clients.

Shaking It Up

For a certain minority of the world’s population, feeling “at home” is a negative thing, rather than a positive. These folks may feel a strong pull to be constantly on the move, and if they’re designers, that means packing up and roaming the globe in search of the next new source of inspiration.

If you find your greatest inspiration in Berlin for awhile, then decide you need to move to Vancouver, Tokyo, Sao Paolo, Sydney, or somewhere else, don’t ignore the pull of your design muse to pack up and go. It all depends on how you feel about the unique personality and culture of a city.

Read Also: How To Keep Your Design Skills Fresh

Networking From The North Pole?

Well, sure, why not? After all, the internet has brought the entire world virtually at everyone’s fingertips. More people are connected online than ever before, and the need to physically travel to a certain location because there is a larger community of creative professionals there is decreasing massively.

With Skype, social media, and email, just about any designer can work from anywhere in the world. It may take a bit more creativity to fashion just the kind of working life you want, but hey – you’re a designer. It’s your job to be creative!

Where The “Hot Spots” Are

There are some cities which are traditionally considered “designy” types of places – cities which embrace design on perhaps a greater level than others. New York City, Berlin, London, Tokyo, and Stockholm are among the more famous of these “design cities.”

There might be a larger design community living there, which provides greater opportunities for in-person networking (which, despite the popularity of the internet, is still very important to a designer’s career). Also, there are plenty of other cultural events going on in other creative fields – art shows, theatre performances, independent filmmaking, et cetera – that will undoubtedly give you plenty of inspiration for your design work.

But that’s not to say the rest of the world is simply uninformed when it comes to design. There are plenty of cities and countries with emerging design trends, which are busy incubating their own superstar designers. Also, it depends on your taste and your cultural expectations when it comes to great design. You may be from, say, a cultural background which is ambivalent about modern, European-influenced design, and may prefer the burgeoning design hot spots of Asia, Africa, or South America.

Design Is Everywhere

Design is all around us. After all, everything that has made our lives better is due to someone designing a solution to a common problem. In that respect, every place needs designers, and potentially any place can be an ideal incubator for creativity and inspiration. There may be some obstacles that you will need to overcome in smaller or less well known places, but it can certainly be done, and you can enjoy a fulfilling career pretty much from anywhere.

In the end, don’t worry too much about your location. Again, your job as a designer is to improve people’s lives – and you can (and should) do that from anywhere in the world.

What Do You Think?

Where in the world do you live and create? How does the city you live in influence your design work and your career mobility?

Related posts:

  1. Collaborations: The How And Why Of Working With Other Designers
  2. Designers: How To Gather Ideas That Will Impress
  3. Designers: 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Get More Projects
  4. Should Designers Be Obligated To Explain Their Process?








10 Portable Batteries For Your MacBook

hongkiat.com - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 17:01

One of the things that the MacBook has going for it is its pretty solid battery life except if you have to be on the move a lot. It is not advisable to leave your MacBook plugged into a power source for long periods of time as it will shorten your battery’s lifespan. But if you are always travelling with your MacBook, it won’t be easy to find a power source to plug in, when you are running low on juice. That’s where portable batteries come in to save the day.

Portable batteries power your laptops like powerbanks power your smartphones and tablets – giving you a constant power source, at your disposal. They are also compact and light, and thus easy to bring about. If you are looking for external power packs to keep your MacBook running for longer, here are 10 great battery backups you should check out. Note that most of the battery packs in this list do not come with the Apple Magsafe connector.

1. GreatShield LuminousPower External Battery Pack

GreatShield LuminousPower is a 7800mAh capacity external battery pack made for portability. It comes with a built-in short circuit to prevent your MacBook and the battery from over-charging or over-heating. There are 4 LED lights to show the battery level and charging status plus a dual-LED flashlight that can be used as a torchlight, if you need it. GreatShield is powered by a Samsung lithium-ion battery that promises over 500 charge cycles.

[Get one - $29.99]

2. 52,800mAH Ultimate External Battery For Macbooks

This battery can power up your MacBook for days and has multi-voltage capabilities ranging from 9V to 20V plus two USB ports capable of charging 2 iPads at the same time. There’s even a multiple safety system protection to help you charge your MacBook safely. To know the battery’s current remaining power and what voltage it’s running at, just look at the smart display in the center of its body.

[Get one - $449.95]

3. Lizone 40,000mAh High Performance Mac External Battery

The USB port on this battery will provide MacBooks with an output of 5 volts while the DC voltage output is around 15-24 volts. It uses Li-ion Panasonic cells, with overcharge and discharge circuits included for device protection. The main DC output port is compatible with all Apple MacBook Air series, MacBook Pro series and any other MacBook series. If you’re looking for a size bigger than 40,000mAh, Lizone has you covered here.

[Get one - $199.99]

4. Mobile Freedom External Laptop Battery

This universal lithium battery pack provides charging capabilities to most laptops, including the MacBook. It comes with a battery capacity of 130Wh. If your MacBook lasts for 3 hours, this external battery can provide your MacBook with another 9 hours of run time. If you’re looking for an external battery pack that can both charge your MacBook and your other laptops, this one will do the trick.

[Get one - $199.99]

5. 12/16/19-100 External Battery Pack

This is another battery pack for both laptops and MacBooks that come with 100Wh battery capacity. It should provide around 4-6 hours run time. The LEDs indicate the current running voltage (12V, 16V and 19V) as well as battery life indicators. The battery weighs around 1.8 pounds, thus it is easy to carry around as a backup battery. This external battery pack is also capable of charging most of your USB devices.

[Get one - $199.99]

6. ChugPlug

ChugPlug is the perfect companion if you dislike having your MacBook connected to an outlet all the time. It charges and powers your MacBook Air and 13 inch MacBook Pro easily using your existing cables. The battery is based on lithium polymer. ChugPlug supports both 45 and 65W MagSafe power adaptors and it provides enough power for you to use your MacBook, even while it’s being charged.

[Get one - $159.99]

7. Hyperjuice 1.5

The Hyperjuice 1.5 is designed to support all MacBooks including those with retina display. It also comes with two 12W USB ports, which lets you charge your other USB devices plus a 4-stage LED light indicator. This means you can charge multiple devices simultaneously. Hyperjuice 1.5 is available in 4 different capacities which are 60Wh (16,000mAh), 100Wh (27,000mAh), 150Wh (41,000mAh) and 222Wh (61,000mAh); prices vary.

[Get one - $169.95-449.95]

8. Hyperjuice 2

Just like the Hyperjuice 1.5, Hyperjuice 2 is also designed to support all Macbooks including those that comes with retina display. It also comes with dual 12W USB ports plus an advance OLED battery status display. Moreover, Hyperjuice 2 comes with an upgradeable battery cell, casing and logic board. The Hyperjuice 2 is only available with a battery capacity of 100Wh at the moment.

[Get one - $299.95-399.95]

9. BatteryBox

BatteryBox is a portable battery pack that can fit in the palm of your hand yet can still power your MacBook. BatteryBox can provide up to 12 hours of power for MacBook Air and 6 hours for MacBook Pro, which is also equivalent to 8 iPhones. It runs on its own BatteryOS to ensure that the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is properly controlled. Besides MacBooks, BatteryBox can also charge any device via its USB port.

[Get one - $139.95]

10. Energizer XP18000 Universal AC Adapter with External Battery

Energizer XP18000 is an external battery pack that weighs around 1 pound and can extend your MacBook’s battery life by doubling its running time. It’s even powerful enough to charge up to 3 devices at the same time. This external battery also comes with inbuilt short circuit protection to provide a safe charge. Its 18,000mAh battery capacity translates to up to 6 hours of battery life. You will need to get the MagSafe connector though, before you can start charging your MacBooks.

[Get one - $164.99]

Related posts:

  1. 10 Awesome Accessories For Your Brand New MacBook
  2. JUMP Cable: A Smart Charging Cable That Doubles As A Battery
  3. 20 Creative Macbook Decals & Skins To Attract Attention
  4. ZenDock: Manage Your Macbook Cables With A Single Dock








20 Tips For VLC Player Users

hongkiat.com - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 15:01

VLC is probably the most versatile video player you can download due to its amazing ability to play almost any codec you throw at it. This alone makes this app a worthy addition to your software suite. While most people use VLC as a simple video player, it is so much more than that. VLC is the Swiss Army Knife of video players with features that are hidden and unknown to the casual user.

These features include the ability to do video recording, playing Internet radio and video, simple editing; just to name a few. To go through the number of hidden features VLC has could fill an entire wiki (which it does). So instead of you reading through the incredibly technical wiki, we have gathered the best 20 VLC tips and tricks you may not know.

Note: The tips included here are done using the Windows version of VLC, unless specified.

1. Convert Media Files

Did you know that you can use VLC to convert your media files into a wide variety of formats? The app lets you choose exactly how you would like to convert them or you can simply use a given preset.

To start, go to Media > Convert / Save, add a file and click Convert / Save. From here you will select the desired codec to convert to.

2. Play/Download Online Videos

You can actually use VLC to play and download online videos. You can use the full suite of tools to manipulate video playback or save them for later play.

To start an online video, go to Media > Open Network Stream. Press the Network tab, enter the URL of the video and click Play. To save it, instead of Play, choose Convert.

3. Record A Currently Playing Video/Audio

If you want to record and capture a snippet of a video that you are playing, VLC has an option to do so. To enable this feature, on the menu bar, click View > Advanced Controls. Extra buttons will appear on the app. While playing a media file, click on the Record button to start recording. Press again to stop.

Recordings will be saved in the Videos folder for videos while audio will go to your Music folder. On the Mac version, go to the menu bar and click Playback > Record or use the shortcut CMD + ALT + r.

4. Record Desktop

VLC is able to record a video of your desktop, acting as a screen recorder. To enable desktop recording, go to Media > Convert / Save. Go to the Capture Device tab and on the Capture mode drop down menu, select Desktop. Select your frame rate under Desired frame rate for the capture and click Convert / Save. Finally select your codec and the destination and click Start. To stop recording, click the Stop button.

5. Record Webcam

You can record a video in VLC using the webcam. Go to Media > Open Capture Device and select DirectShow from the Capture mode drop menu. From here you will select the video and audio device from where it will capture. Click Play and VLC will stream from your webcam. Use VLC’s ability to record currently playing video and you have yourself a webcam recorder.



(Image Source: AddictiveTips)

6. Rip A DVD

Did you know you can use VLC to rip your DVD’s into your computer? It’s a simple way to create an archive of your DVD’s for backup purposes or a way to view them when you do not have access to the physical disc.

Go to Media > Convert / Save and click on the Disc tab. Under Disc Selection, click on the radio button of the media disc you are using and check No disc menu. Make sure the selected Disc device is correct and click Convert / Save. Choose the codec you wish to save in and save it with the extension that is compatible with your codec.

7. Remote Control VLC From A Browser

There is an option available to use a web browser as a simple remote control for VLC. This is incredibly useful when running VLC on a media center PC, as you can control it using a laptop or your mobile phone.

To enable this feature, go to Tools > Preference, and click the radio box All under Show settings. Next, go to Interface > Main Interface and tick the Web check box. Then, under Interface > Main > Lua, set the Lua HTTP Password. Remote control through the browser should now be enabled.

To test this, on your browser with VLC installed, go to localhost:8080. It will ask for the password and once given, it should display a remote control interface for VLC. To use this on another device, you will need to find the IP address of your devices’s browser. Add the address on your device’s browser with :8080 appended to it, for example 128.0.0.1:8080. Your device is now a simple VLC remote.

8. Video And Audio Effects

VLC gives you a multitude of tools that allows you to manipulate the video and audio of any given media. To see the tools available, go to Tools > Adjustments and Effects. From here, you will see tabs that contain the A/V manipulation tools. On the video side, you can adjust colors, crop, rotate video, add filters, etc. With audio, you get the usual equalizers to tune your music.

9. Subscribe To Podcast

If you are looking for a very simple podcast subscription app, VLC can fill that need. You can use the app to subscribe to your favorite video and audio podcast and view them all within the app.

To subscribe to a podcast, got to the Playlist sidebar, under Internet, there is a Podcast option. Hover your mouse cursor over it and a + will appear. Click on it and add the RSS for your podcast. On the Mac version, go to the Podcast option and press Subscribe to add the RSS URL.

10. Play Internet Radio

VLC provides Internet Radio channels on its Playlist sidebar for you to browse and search for online radio stations. If the provided stations don’t interest you, you can play your favorite channel by getting the station’s URL and opening it using Media > Open Network Stream.

11. Video Wallpaper

Ever wanted to have a video playing as your desktop wallpaper? There is a simple way to toggle this using VLC. Go to Tools > Preference. Click on Video and under the Output drop down box, select DirectX (DirectDraw) video output. Save and restart VLC. The next time you play a video, an option will appear on the right-click menu under Video to play as a Set as Wallpaper. Choose it and the video will then start playing as your desktop background.

12. Add Watermarks On Video

You can add your own watermarks on a video through VLC, bypassing a need for a dedicated video editor to do so. Do remember though that you will need to use VLC’s recording feature to save the video with the watermark.

To start, go to Tools > Effects and Filters. Click on the Video Effects tab and under the Overlay tab, you will get options to either add in your logo or a simple text to the video.

13. Play Video As ASCII Characters

For a bit of fun, VLC allows you to display a video all in ACSII characters. To enable this fun feature, go to Tools > Preference and click on Video. Under the Output drop down box, choose Color ASCII art video output. Your video will now be displayed entirely in ACSII. Now try watching ‘The Matrix’ like this.

14. Play Media Contained In Archive Files

If you have a ZIP or RAR file that contains a media file, you can actually play them within VLC without extracting them. Simply open them with VLC and it will play all of the files contained within.

If the file is broken up into pieces, just open the first part of the archive in VLC, making sure all the files are within the same place. This is a good tip when you don’t want to waste space decompressing the video.

15. Scrobble To Last.fm

If you are a heavy Last.fm user, you can scrobble the music you play through VLC. To enable it, got to Tools > Preference. On the Show settings radio box, click All. Click on Interface > Control interfaces and tick the check box for Submission of played songs to Last.fm. Then, under Interface > Control interfaces > Audioscrobbler, enter in your Last.fm credentials.

16. Take A Snapshot

Ever need to take a snapshot of a video you are watching? VLC has a way to do so. Simply use the shotcut Shift + s on Windows and Linux or CMD + ALT + s on OS X. The picture will be saved in your OS’s respective pictures folder.

17. Bookmark A Video

You can bookmark a part of a video so that you can return to it later on, if you feel like replaying a certain part of a video. To bookmark a video, go to Playback > Custom Bookmarks > Manage. The Edit Bookmarks window will pop up. Press the Create button when at a section of a video you would like to bookmark.

18. Add Subtitles

If a video you have doesn’t come with subtitles, you can add your own by finding an SRT subtitle file for the video and adding it in. To add the subtitle, play your video and go to Subtitle on the menu bar and click Add Subtitle File. If you want VLC to play it automatically, place the SRT file in the same folder as the video and make sure it uses the same file name as the video file.

19. Double Or Slow Down The Playback Speed

This feature is incredibly useful when you are watching a media file primarily for the content, such as podcast, audiobooks, recorded lectures, etc. To start, press ] to fast forward by 0.1x for each press. To slow it down, press [ instead. On the Mac, there is a slider to control playback speed, located in Playback.

20. Extensions And Plugins

Just like Firefox, you can extend the functionality and appearance of your VLC player. There are a variety of extensions and skins available on the VideoLAN site. Take a look and see what appeals to you.

Some of the extensions enable you to automatically get subtitles, info on the actors, as well as lyrics to songs, among other things. Skins, on the other hand, allow you to modify the look of your media player and there are many available that are sure to fit your taste.

Related posts:

  1. Record Screen Activities On iOS Devices With Reflector
  2. Convert Your Google Drive Files with DriveConverter
  3. Convert Video, Audio & Images For Different Devices With Adapter
  4. How to Create A Web-based Video Player








Create And Customize Maps With Google Map Builder

hongkiat.com - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:01

There are now plenty of geolocation-based WordPress themes available. They provide customized maps so that the users can easily find specific places like restaurants, event venues, hotels and more. I noticed that some of web developers have been including their themes with map support and often use it within the contact page.

They utilize maps, Google Map to be exact. And as you may have noticed, Google Map is one of most powerful map services on the web. Customizing the map can be easily done using map styles API control. But it requires one to understand javascript programming a bit.

Try this brand new Google Map Builder, a tool to easily customize your own Google Map. It has a pretty nice and friendly user interface. You can build the map with just a couple of selections from the select box and you don’t even have to code.

There are many options for you to control the look of the map. You may also insert your custom marker icon and places. And the best part is it has 75+ readymade map themes from Snazzy Maps.

Overview

Google Map Builder works exactly the same like customizing Google Map using map styles API. It gives you a User Interface (UI) that is nicer than what you can do with plain Javascript code. Within the tool, all options are located in the left panel, leaving the remaining space for the map.

At the top, you can provide the map with the API key which is useful for monitoring the application’s Maps API usage. The size and coordinates of the map center can also be defined easily.

The options on the left are used to customize the look of the map: zooming, map control, dragging, map type and map theme. All the changes will be automatically previewed in the map.

Adding Custom Marker

This tool lets you easily add your custom marker to map places. To do this, firstly you need to provide your marker icon URL and also the address of the place you want to mark.

With this Hospital Building icon from Map Icons, this is how to add the marker.

To start off, as the icon is about a hospital, then I will enter the hospital’s name to the Add Marker(s) text field. You may also give some addresses (one per line) here. When you add an address, the map will automatically locate it, so make sure the address and the map are as accurate as possible.

Then put the icon url in the Marker Icon URL field.

And here’s the result.

Get The Code

Now that you have customized the map, the next step is to put it on the Web. To get the code, scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll see the Get Code button.

Just hit the button then the code will appear above the map. Here, you’ll get the javascript code inside the script tag and CSS style for the map size, like what you have if you styled the map manually. Easily copy and paste all the code and put them into your HTML before the head closing tag.

Final Thought

There are lots of options provided in the Google Map Builder, but most of them are only for map control. To customize the map’s look, you can only depend on themes from Snazzy Map, but if they are not to your liking, you can customize the map manually (this tutorial may help) or work with other tools such as Google Maps Colorizr or Google Styled Map Wizard.

Related posts:

  1. How to Rename Google Maps Bookmarks on iOS & Android
  2. Google Maps For iOS 6: What’s New and What’s Hot
  3. Bringing Back Google Maps on iOS 6
  4. How to Style Google Maps








5 Open Source Synthesizers You Can Build And Hack

hongkiat.com - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 15:01

The whole do-it-yourself (DIY), open source maker electronics scene that’s really gained in popularity over the past few years has led to a lot of really interesting devices and kits appearing on the market. The great thing, of course, is that it isn’t just limited to computing and robotics enthusiasts: musicians have benefitted from this open source DIY movement too.

We’ve started seeing a lot of synths with open access to both the hardware schematics and the software or firmware (if any) at the heart of the synth.

DIY synths aren’t a new thing, but until a few years ago they used to be either super simple square wave toy synths or complex analog synths, with very little in between. These days, there’s a lot more to choose from, especially with the advent of microcontrollers running easily hackable firmware.

Here are 5 great open source and DIY friendly synths that you can play, build, modify or even use as jumping-off blocks for your own synth creations, listed in rough chronological order.

1. Mutable Instruments – Shruthi

Mutable Instruments’ Shruthi is a hybrid digital and analog monophonic synth that uses an 8-bit microcontroller to generate two oscillators plus a sub frequency oscillator. The Shruthi-1′s oscillators are quite capable, though, and aren’t just limited to the square waves that you normally expect from DIY synth kits. Since they’re digital, the oscillators are also capable of wavetable synthesis and a smorgasboard of weird and "out-there" digital tones, such as formant synthesis and bit-crushed videogame-esque sounds.

The filter is all-analog, and by default the Shruthi comes with a four-pole low-pass filter. However, the fact that the filter is on a separate PCB means that you can easily swap filters, and there are a lot of different flavors of filter available for you to buy or build. The Shruthi-1 also has an audio input, so you can use the filter to process external audio. The Shruthi-1 only comes in kit form and will require assembly. [$203 kit; $39.50 - $75 enclosures]

[ Buy | Source ]

2. Lush Projects LushOne

The LushOne is a system of small, low-priced synth modules, covering everything from base oscillator and filter combination, to sound-shaping envelopes to some effects and additional control. All of these modules are connected to each other using small patch leads, letting you route signals and create sounds totally from scratch. The base unit contains two digital oscillators with five waveforms coupled to an analog filter, like most other synths in this list.

The Contour kit adds an ADSR envelope, a voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA) and a ring modulator. There’s also an Echo kit for adding echo effects to the LushOne. The LushOne can be controlled via MIDI, but it also can interface with other modular equipment, since it has control voltage (CV) inputs for elements such as oscillator pitch and filter cutoff. The LushOne base unit and the additional modules all come as kits, and requires intermediate soldering skills. [$117 - $129 modules; $76.50 - $119 cases]

[ Buy | Source ]

3. PreenFM 2

The PreenFM 2 is an open source, polyphonic, frequency modulation (FM) synth, with quite a lot of features packed into a small case. The PreenFM 2 actually consists of four separate and independent synth instruments in one little case.

Each of these instruments is quite well-equipped, with seven different modulation sources, a powerful arpeggiator sourced from Mutable Instruments’ algorithms, an effect slot for filters as well as one gate effect. Each instrument can be set to respond to different MIDI channels so they can be played independently, or set to respond to the same channel for really rich tones.

The PreenFM 2 has between 8 and 16 voices of polyphony, great for big chords. It responds to MIDI via USB, so you can plug it directly into your computer and control, sequence and play it directly from your digital audio workstation (DAW) of choice, without needing any MIDI ports or MIDI to USB converters. It also supports a USB stick for storing presets. It even supports presets from Yamaha’s classic DX7 synth. The PreenFM 2 comes as a kit, case included, and will need assembly. [$252]

[ Buy | Source ]

4. LittleBits Synth Kit

No list of open source synths would be complete without one of the highest-profile open source synth kits available today, the LittleBits Synth Kit. Designed in conjunction with Korg, the LittleBits Synth Kit is a collection of small synth modules that are completely modular – like the LushOne – and just snap together like Lego blocks, letting you create some reasonably full-featured synths from some basic building blocks.

Modules include a dual oscillator module, a filter module, a keyboard, an envelope and a micro sequencer, amongst others.

And, since the Synth Kit is built on the same platform as all of the other LittleBits kits and modules, it’s very easy to integrate a synth into other, more complex electronics creations. The LittleBits Synth Kit is a bit lacking in connectivity at the moment, but connectivity modules – MIDI, CV and a USB input/output module – are coming over the course of the year, letting you integrate it into your existing workflow a lot easier.

The circuits are all open source, although the connectors themselves aren’t. [$159]

[ Buy | Source ]

5. Meeblip Anode

The Meeblip anode is the latest synth in Create Digital Music’s line of Meeblip synthesizers, one of the biggest names in the world of open source hardware synths. The Anode is a hybrid digital and analog monophonic synth that combines square wave digital oscillators with a rich analog filter that covers a lot of sonic ground.

The Anode has a particular emphasis on generating bass sounds, and if you give a listen to the demos, you’ll find that the combination of 8-bit digital oscillators and an analog synth really help it create some rich and in-your-face bass sounds.

The Meeblip Anode might seem toy-like, but it’s a very capable synth: beyond the oscillators and resonant analog filter, you have some basic envelope controls, pulsewidth control for the oscillators as well as a low frequency oscillator (LFO) that can modulate either the filter cutoff or pitch of the oscillators.

Like most of the other synths in this list, the Meeblip Anode needs to be controlled over MIDI; you can use a MIDI keyboard to do this, but you can also use an iPhone or iPad if you get a MIDI adapter. The Meeblip Anode comes fully assembled. [$139.95]

[ Buy | Source ]

Related posts:

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  4. 10 DIY Kits & Modules To Experiment With Electronics








15 Tips &#38; Tricks To Help You Master Prezi

hongkiat.com - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 12:01

If you need to create presentations for high-powered clients, or impress lecturers and professors in university, you may have heard of (or are already using) Prezi. Prezi is a cloud-based presentation tool and is known for its zooming user interface (ZUI) allowing you to easily break down or go into things in detail.

As it was created to replace slide presentations, Prezi’s interface and visual story-telling makes it ideal for conveying information interactively.

Prezi is not new but if you are just starting out, it may be a little disorientating to use, beyond the basics. Granted, it will also take you a while not to get over-excited with the zooming feature but that is a different topic for another day. But if you would like to give Prezi a try, we’ve compiled 15 tips and tricks to help you get started and make the most of your Prezi-making journey.

1. Importing From PowerPoint

If you already have a PowerPoint presentation ready and don’t want to build slides from scratch on Prezi, just import your slides over. You can even choose to do it either slide per slide or all at once.

  1. Select the Insert tab from the top bar in the Edit mode.
  2. Next, select PowerPoint from the drop-down menu.

  1. You can now choose the PPT or PPTX file you want to import. Wait for a bit for Prezi to load the slides.
  2. The slides will appear on your right hand side. You can either choose to drag individual slides to your Prezi or click on the Insert All button at the top.
2. Using “My Collection” File

If you foresee yourself using Prezi often or are a power user, you will be using the same symbols, logos and images constantly. Instead of copying and pasting them from previous Prezis, you can store them in ‘My Collection’ and easily access them for future Prezis.

  1. To add content to My Collection, first right-click on the element you want to save.
  2. Select Add to My Collection from the drop-down menu.

  1. To use the element in a Prezi, access the Insert tab on the top of the bar in Edit mode.
  2. Select From My Collection in the drop-down menu.
  3. Choose the content you want to add and click the Insert button.
3. Creating A Path

As there are no slides in Prezi, Paths determine the presentation order of your information. It contributes to the transition of one info to another. There are no set Paths, so it is highly flexible and editable.

  1. First enter Edit mode. Click Edit Path on your left sidebar.

  1. Now click on the objects in the order you want them to appear.
    You can also choose to drag items you want based on your order.
  2. If at any time you want to delete something from your Path, simply hover over the object until an X icon appears. Clicking on it will remove it from the Path.
4. Drawing And Using Frames

Having frames is a good way to group elements together. Like PowerPoint, Prezi allows you to adjust the size by drawing the frames. Prezi even has an invisible frame option, which organizes content without a visible frame and helps to add Path steps.

Frames, however, work best when it fills the whole screen without other elements from your Prezi creeping in. The normal screen or monitor aspect ratio is 4:3, although there are some that are 16:9.

Tip: To get your frame to fit within that ratio, hold down the Shift key whenever you are drawing a frame.

5. Moving Multiple Objects At Once

Most times when you are editing your Prezi, you are bound to accidentally move something and lose your formatting, especially when you are trying to move multiple elements together. By grouping them, you’ll be able to minimize this.

  1. To select multiple objects hold down on the Shift key then click on each object.
  2. Lock the objects by clicking on the Group button that appears on top of the selection.
  3. You can now move your group wherever you please.

6. Fade-in Objects

You don’t have to just rely on Prezi’s zooming effect to make your presentation interesting. Use the fade-in animation to make your points or objects appear.

  1. When in Edit Mode, click on Edit Path, which is at the top of the left sidebar.
  2. Select the frame that you want to animate. Click on the star symbol that appears in orange.
  3. When the animation wizard appears, hover over the element you want to fade-in.
  4. Click on the element to apply the fade-in effect. It will immediately play the animation.
  5. Click Done on the top right corner once you’re done editing.

7. Adding A Voice-over

A Prezi presentation can basically present itself when you add sound to it. This feature is ideal for tutorials or when you want to embed Prezis on your website. Take note that you have to record your audio file beforehand using external sound recording software.

  1. In Edit mode, first select the Path you want to add sound to at the left sidebar.
  2. Click on the Insert tab on the top bar. From the drop-down menu, select Add Voice-over to Path Step.

  1. Choose the audio file you want to add. The file will take a while to upload onto your Prezi.
  2. Once done, you can click on the triangle to test play the sound.
  3. When finished, click Done to resume editing your Prezi.
8. Editing Collaboratively

You don’t have to be physically next to a groupmate or partner to work on a presentation together. You can both edit it online and see each other’s edits in real-time. You can have up to 10 people collaborating with you on a Prezi.

  1. First, click on the Share button located on the top right in Edit mode.
  2. Select Share Prezi from the drop-down menu.
  3. A window will pop up. Type in the person’s email address in the Invite people field. Select Editor from the drop-down menu next to the field and click Add.

  1. The person will receive an email address linking him or her to the Prezi’s Edit mode.
  2. The full list of people working on a Prezi is located on the sidebar on the right.
  3. You can invite more people to edit as you go by accessing that right sidebar. Click Invite to edit when you expand the sidebar.
9. Printing A Prezi

Do you normally give out your slides as handouts? You can do the same with Prezi by first converting it into a PDF file. Each Path will be turned into a PDF page so you might need to edit your Path, as the flow of the document may differ from the presentation.

  1. Click on the Share button on the top right in Edit mode. Select Download as PDF from the drop-down menu.

  1. It will take a while for your Prezi to convert. Once it’s done, a new option will appear asking you to Save PDF.
  2. In the pop up window, type in the name of the Prezi and choose a location to save it in.
  3. You can now print the PDF file.
10. Presenting Remotely

Prezi has this function called Prezi Meeting. The function allows you to remotely conduct presentations for anyone, anywhere, in real time. You are allowed to invite up to 30 people to view your presentation.

  1. To use this, first, click on the Share button on the top right in Edit mode. Select Present remotely from the drop-down menu.

  1. A window will pop up with the link to your Prezi. Send it to whoever you are supposed to present to.
  2. The recipient who clicks on the link will be redirected to the live presentation you will be giving.
11. Set On Autoplay

You can set your presentation on autoplay and have the presentation loop on endlessly. You can then embed this presentation on a website as part of a product presentation or an explanation video. Here’s how to set your Prezi on autoplay. You can find instructions on how to embed the Prezi in the next section.

  1. If your Prezi doesn’t have a Path, create one first.
  2. Enter Present mode and click on the clock icon at the bottom right of the screen.

  1. From there, select the time intervals you want, to pace your Paths.
  2. To stop the autoplay, simply click on the clock icon again and select Off. You can also press the Left and Right arrow keys on your keyboard.
12. Embed Prezi Into A Website

You’ve written a blog post and made a Prezi to illustrate your points better. Or maybe you’ve made a Prezume (that is a Prezi as a resume) and would like to feature it on your website. You can do that by embeding the Prezi into your website.

  1. Click on the Embed button at the bottom of your Prezi.
  2. In the pop up window, set the settings you want on the size and interactivity of the Prezi.

  1. Once done, click on the Copy code to clipboard button to get the embed code.
  2. Insert the code on your website.
13. Sharing And Privacy Settings

If you only have a free account on Prezi, you can’t set your Prezi on private. You can however set your sharing settings to prevent people from saving a copy of your Prezi. By setting it to Public, people who search for your Prezi can only view it.

  1. After selecting your Prezi from the library, click on the Share button at the bottom of the Prezi.
  2. A pop up window will appear. Uncheck the I’m okay with people reusing my Prezi option.
  3. Alternatively, you can click on the second button on the far right bottom of your Prezi. You’ll be redirected to the same pop up window.
14. Bring Prezi Along Offline

Prezi relies on Internet connection for you to present, unless you’re using the Mac or Windows Prezi application. If you’ll be presenting in a place with low connectivity or do not want to risk getting your connection cut off, download a portable version of your Prezi. This way you don’t even have to sign in to your Prezi account to present and you can even save it in a USB drive.

  1. First select the Prezi you want and go to its Edit mode.
  2. Click on the Share button located at the top bar on the far right.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Download as portable prezi.

  1. It will take a while for your Prezi to download. Prezi will confirm that it’s done and will save your Prezi as a zip file.
15. Keyboard Shortcuts

Make the most of Prezi by using keyboard shortcuts. Do note that if you want to use the keyboard shortcuts you have to turn it on. To do that, go to the options tab on the right hand corner and enable keyboard shortcuts by clicking On.

Shortcut Action F Draw frame and change frame type L Open new canvas S Draw a shape and change a frame type P Go to Path mode 1 Zoom in when editing 2 Zoom out when editing 3 Rotate object clockwise 4 Rotate object counter clockwise Delete / Backspace Delete selected object(s) Ctrl + S Save Prezi Ctrl + Z Undo last action Ctrl + Y Redo last undone action Ctrl + D Duplicate selected object(s) Ctrl + C Copy selected object(s) Ctrl + V Paste copied object(s) Ctrl + Shift + M Toggle screen ratio Ctrl + Shift + C Open Prezi CSS editor Ctrl + Shift + D Duplicate and flip images and arrows Esc Finish current action or close open dialog Space Enter between Edit and Present mode Right , Left Move forward and back respectively along Path in Present mode Up , Down Zoom in and out respectively B Blackout screen when presenting (press any key to return) Space Advance along Path Esc End presentation Bonus: For More Presentation Resources

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  4. Synchronize Web-Based Presentation Slides with Impress.js and Impressr [Quicktip]








Designers: How To Gather Ideas That Will Impress

hongkiat.com - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 09:01

More and more designers are turning to blogging to get their ideas about design out there and be heard by the greater design community online. However, there’s one special problem that many of them have: they have nothing really interesting to say about design. They will blog about things that are unimportant, or boring, or that no one really cares about.

It’s essential that designers who blog have something interesting to say. If you don’t have this one down, you’re going to get nowhere fast in the blogging world. No one will stick around to read bland, uninformative content. Let’s explore some ways designers can develop an interesting blogging voice that keeps readers coming back for more.

1. Read, Read, Then Read Some More

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until I can’t say it anymore: if you’re not reading, you are doing a great disservice to yourself as a designer. Books are the main portals through which everyone – designers and otherwise – gain wisdom which they can apply to their lives. Now, you may think that you need to read a lot of books about design specifically. And you do. But you also need to be reading about other topics as well.

Read about anything else you have a vague interest in, and, if you can manage it, things you know almost nothing about. Any unusual perspective gained through reading a book will certainly broaden your perspective as a designer, and also will give you an endless source of fascinating material to create blog posts about.

2. Travel

Dust off that passport and go sightseeing once in awhile. You never know what sort of inspiration is waiting for you in another city or country. It may surprise you to find inspiration in even the smallest villages in the most remote places.

Even at home in your own city, there are likely things you’ve never seen and places to explore. More and more people in recent years have started taking so-called “staycations” where they stay in their own towns and play the role of a tourist. They go to new areas they’ve never been, and learn some fascinating tidbits about the city where they live.

Travel can be an incredibly inspiring experience for the designer who is looking for things to blog about. All of the restaurants, shows, art galleries, parks, shops, and landmarks hidden in places most people never bother to look can provide you with a steady stream of content for years – perhaps even decades.

3. Make Friends With Designers & Non

It’s not called a community for nothing. Making friends with other people in the design community seems like an obvious thing to do, but you would be surprised at how many designers – especially freelancers – work almost completely in isolation. It’s easy, after all, to get into a rhythm of working at home in your pajamas, and not bother to get out and network with other people in your industry.

I will confess to falling victim to this one myself. Working at home definitely has its advantages, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have things any other way at this point.

Connect!

But you really have to work hard to make those vital connections to other people in your line of work, especially when you’re not being compelled to work together on a team project. Send an email or two now and then to a designer whose work you admire, or contact them through social media. Chances are they could use the conversation as well.

People outside your industry can also provide you with much-needed perspective about the world outside of design. And if you’re going to be working with non-designers as clients, this is very valuable information for you to have.

Again, it can be hard for freelance designers to keep up steady communication with those outside their immediate circle of family and friends, but it’s definitely an essential step to having things to write about, both design-related and not.

4. Make it personal

If you’re not being yourself on your blog, there’s no point in blogging. Yes, it’s important to stay on brand and cultivate a certain presentation that your readers can appreciate, but it should all be genuine and unique to you. Clients and fellow designers want to see the real you – don’t be afraid to let your opinions be known. Even if they’re controversial or edgy – especially if they’re controversial or edgy.

Continuing on a similar theme, you should also be sharing the things you love with your readers in terms of design. Do you have a favorite style or design period? Or maybe there’s some contemporary designer who is doing amazing things in some obscure corner of the Internet. Let people know about it.

Do you use blogging to gain traction as a leading voice in the design industry? What are some of the things you’ve learned through increasing the spread of your ideas about design?

Related posts:

  1. Designers: 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Get More Projects
  2. Do Designers Live In A Bubble?
  3. 20 Things to Replenish Your Idea Vault (When You Run Out Of Ideas)
  4. Tastemakers: A Look At 10 Influential Living Designers








20 Inspiring Ideas For Minimal Home Living

hongkiat.com - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 17:01

The common idea most of us have when it comes to living space is that we are quickly running out of it. Rent and land is expensive in areas of vast opportunities and yet there are very creative people who went ahead and took the little space they have and made the most out of it.

We’re talking about smart micro-living where home owners make use of smart, stowable furniture, multi-purpose home fixtures, clever architectural designs or a combo of all three to cut down on the size of homes, without eating into the comforts we have grown accustomed to.

In this post, we will be looking at 20 amazingly tiny houses, some at less than 200 sq ft area, that will make you ask yourself if you really need all that space in your home right now. From studio apartments to vertical houses, these designs showcase the amazing architectural feats that redefine how much space we actually need for comfort living.

Mini Dwelling Tower

Located in Nada, Japan this 3-story high house contains a parking spot, living room, 2 children’s room, one bedroom and plenty of storage space – all within 398 sq ft. [Visit Page]

River Side house

The house is build right at the end of a road, next to a river, and holds 312 sq ft area of living space. The 2-story house has 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, dining room and kitchen. [Visit Page]

Gap’s House

So this architect found a space between 2 houses – okay, he found a gap, a 97 sq ft gap which he turned into a home with a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom spread across 3 story. Talk about extreme home designs. [Visit Page]

Keret House

This is probably the narrowest house you can find. With an area size of only 46 sq ft, this double-story house connects from one space to the next via ladders yet looks comfortable and homely enough for a home owner who doesn’t mind a daily vertical ascent. [Visit Page]

The Tiny Tack house

Prefer a rustic, more countryside style of living? Try the Tiny Tack House. At only 140 sq ft, every necessity and comfort expected in a home is compacted into this house in Snohomish, Washington. [Visit Page]

Tiny house On wheels

In only 207 sq ft, this tiny hOMe project fully embraces the sustainable living lifestyle with a propane heat source and compost toilet. Inclusive of appliances, cabinetry and furniture, this is available for a little over $33,000. [Visit Page]

Cedar Park Tiny house

Made of bamboo, this tiny house fits a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room inside 250 sq ft. It is located in Texas, and if you are interested, you can buy it for $25,000 while it is still available. [Visit Page]

Rhossili Shepherd Hut

This beautiful looking shepherd hut is a holiday house that you can rent for days or a week. The hut is located near Rhossili Bay, and inside you can find 2 beds, a kitchen, and a small living room. The only bad news is you need to share an outdoor toilet with other campers at the campsite. [Visit Page]

Tiny Project

If you think that rent is killing you, why not build one on a flatbed trailer like this guy Alek Lisefki, the proud owner of this tiny house. His house area size is only 8 feet by 20 feet, but it is a 2-level house complete with a kitchen, bedroom, shower, and living room. [Visit Page]

Tiny Vertical Madrid Apartment

If you don’t have enough space to go horizontal, then why not go vertical. This apartment has a 200 sq ft area and is found in Madrid. To get from one space to the next, expect to do a lot of climbing. [Visit Page]

130 Square Feet Micro Apartment

130 sq ft is close to Ikea level micro-living and yet this micro apartment still has enough space to house a workspace, a kitchen, a bathroom plus a rolling bed. Even the stairs and tables include hidden storage to fully utilize the space. [Visit Page]

Didomestic Apartment

Know any apartment that is full of trapdoors and moving walls? Well, now you know of at least one. This 621 sq ft has many slots to store away furniture and storage spaces inside the walls and ceilings. The tables and benches can be lowered via handles on the wall then stored away for extra space. [Visit Page]

Harbour Attic

This apartment is located somewhere in the fishing village of Camogli in Italy, a nice-looking 377 sq ft apartment that is smartly designed to make use of every available space. The quaint place known as Harbour Attic has enough space for 2 bedrooms, a studio, living room, bathroom and kitchen. Each room can be stored away for extra space. [Visit Page]

AP 1211

AP 1211 is an apartment of 398 sq ft area that has been turned into 2-story apartment with almost all the necessities included. The lower floor has a large daybed, kitchen, refrigerator and some cleverly designed cabinets. The floor is connected via a black spiral stairway to the second floor where you can find the bedroom and the bathroom. [Visit Page]

Barcode Room

This Barcode room can transform into many spaces: a bedroom, a workspace, a kitchen – all according to the needs of the resident. Thus, if you want to have a guest over, you may change the room layout according to your wish because the walls are on a track that you can move freely. [Visit Page]

East Village studio Apartment

This studio apartment has 500 sq ft of space to play with and the amazing architect team changed the once-cramped home to a high-class, cleverly designed home complete with high-gloss cover over its wall and storage spaces. The place has a workspace, living room, kitchen and bed. [Visit Page]

Multi-functional Studio

Talk about storage central. This previously cramped apartment of 215 sq ft has been transformed into a multi-functioning studio to store the owner’s 2D art collection. There is a foldable bed and cupboards for storing books, photos and the likes. [Visit Page]

240 Square Feet Apartment

A homely and comfortable design of 240 sq ft, this apartment in New York contains a bedroom, kitchen, living room, mini-library, plenty of storage space and even a hidden washing machine. [Visit Page]

237 Square Feet Micro Apartment

This beautiful micro apartment of 237 sq ft can house a family, and quite comfortably too. It has a kitchen, shower room, dining table and plenty of storage space kept high up, accessible by ladder. There is also plenty of storage space underneath their beds, talk about compact living. [Visit Page]

Mini Studio Apartment

129 sq ft of space is more than enough for a single person, if you know how to transfrom your furniture from say a sofa into a full bed or to turn your staircase into makeshift storage space. In spite of the small size, this studio apartment has a kitchen, a dining place and a shower room. [Visit page]

Related posts:

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  3. 30 Truly Creative Ways To Light Up Your Home
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8 Types Of Email Titles That Often Get Ignored

hongkiat.com - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 15:01

When an e-mail pops up in your inbox, what do you usually do with it? Do you open it, ignore it, or shoot it straight into the “Trash” bin? It depends, right?

It depends on what’s written in the subject line.

See, the subject line tells you, at a glance, whether the sender’s message – or, more accurately, the sender’s purpose – is worth your attention. As a sender, you can either write the subject line right, or you can do one of the following things, which will definitely get your email pushed aside.

1. Get Too “Cutesy”

Example: Bet you won’t be able to resist opening this e-mail!

Why it doesn’t work:
It’s one thing to be witty. It’s another to come across as trying too hard, which is exactly the impression you’ll get from the sample e-mail above. When you’re in doubt about how to write your subject line, remember this: Clarity trumps cleverness. You can combine both, of course, but that takes some practice.

What can work:
This e-mail will help you [insert clear benefit for reader here] today

2. Type in ALL CAPS

Example: VERY IMPORTANT E-MAIL

Why it doesn’t work:
Your e-mail may be the most urgent in the history of urgent e-mails, but if your subject line looks like the online equivalent of shouting, it’ll still get ignored. Use the “CAPS LOCK” button only when necessary (e.g. proper nouns like John Doe, Empire State Building, World Cup).

What can work:
Very Important E-mail

3. (Ab)use Punctuation Marks

Example: Please, Please, PLEASE open this e-mail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why it doesn’t work:
Punctuation marks have their place, yes, but as with the “CAPS LOCK” button, that place isn’t the subject line (most of the time). Besides, a subject line that looks as though it was written by a drunk 15-year-old at 3 AM doesn’t exactly earn you points in the professionalism department.

What can work:
Please open this e-mail

4. Promote, Promote, and Do Nothing But Promote

Example: Random Product for Sale!

Why it doesn’t work:
Your recipient may be stingier than Ebenezer Scrooge, but if you at least specify a benefit in your subject line – rather than being a little too blatant in your attempt to part your recipient with their money – you’ll get a better response.

What can work:
Don’t Miss This 50% Discount on [Insert Product Here]

5. Be Vague

Example: E-mail

Why it doesn’t work:
Okay, I know it’s an e-mail (thanks, Captain Obvious!), but what kind of e-mail is it? Is it an uplifting message about getting through another boring day at the office? Or is it an ongoing promo about a product I’ve been dying to buy for the past few months? C’mon, don’t make me waste my next few seconds figuring that out for myself!

What can work:
A message about [insert e-mail subject here]

6. Be Generic

Example: News Alerts from The Daily News Deliverer

Why it doesn’t work: This one may be slightly more descriptive than a vague subject line, but it’s no better. Why? Because it doesn’t give the recipient an urgent reason to open your e-mail other than: “Hey there! We hope you’re willing to waste a few precious minutes trying to find something interesting in here!”

What can work: Breaking News: ‘Daily News Deliverer’ Figures Out How to Write Subject Lines

7. Write Kilometric Subject Lines

Example: This e-mail will help you ditch that soul-sucking corporate job, find a beautiful wife, buy an equally beautiful house in a swanky neighborhood…

Why it doesn’t work:
Yes, your subject line should be descriptive, but not to the point that it’s longer than the entire border of Russia. In fact, a study found that e-mails with 6-10 word subject lines are more likely to be opened than e-mails with 11-15 word subject lines. (Fun Fact: Most marketers are used to doing the latter.)

What can work:
This e-mail will help you live your dream life

8. Write Nothing

Example: [no subject]

Why it doesn’t work:
If there’s nothing written in an e-mail’s subject line, it’s reasonable for the recipient to assume that there’s nothing worth reading in the e-mail either. That said, if the reason you don’t have a subject line is an honest mistake (e.g. you clicked the “Send” button too soon), you can always resend your e-mail, along with a sincere apology and a polite request to disregard the previous e-mail.

What can work:
[insert a subject line here]

A (Parting) Reminder on How to Get It Right

Okay, we’re finally done with how not to write e-mail subject lines. Now what?

We start writing them right, of course. We start writing subject lines that (1) stand out, in a good way, from the usual drivel that clogs up people’s inboxes; (2) concisely describe the e-mail’s contents; and (3) clearly spell out to the recipient what they’ll gain from opening the e-mail.

If you don’t want to bother with subject lines, you can always communicate with others the old-fashioned way: either through snail mail, or through face-to-face conversations.

Bonus: More Things You Can Do With Your Emails

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