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Mind-Blowing Street Art By Smates

hongkiat.com - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 14:01

Whether you love or hate it, street art is something that is here to stay. Going beyond just traditional canvases and materials, street artists are constantly pushing the boundaries and and playing with ideas to make you stop in your tracks. One such street artist that is making waves now is Smates.

This Belgian artist uses space in a clever way that not only reflects the intricate detail of his works but at the same time clearly depicts a message in his work. From human faces that look right at you to playful and cool animals, Smates pieces will have you doing a double take.

Check out just some of his cool graffiti below and if you’re interested in looking at more of his stuff, his website and Facebook page features more of his amazing creations.



(This photo is based on a work by Karen Dillabough)

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10+ Collaboration Tools for Designers and Developers

hongkiat.com - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 11:01

Web designers and web developers are no strangers to collaborative projects. Perhaps you work in a small or medium-sized company, and have had enough of checking your inbox for new messages from your co-workers from the umpteenth meeting you have had in the first week of the month.

Rather than fall back on email and less-than-productive meetings, try out some of the online solutions that exist in the form of collaboration tools. These solutions are perfect for professional creatives, since they allow you to focus on doing a great job, rather than waste too much time on trying to keep the project wheels rolling.

Here are 14 collaboration tools designers and developers should try out, if they haven’t already given them a run.

Paymo

Paymo is an online project management tool that offers ‘digestible’ project templates, and proposes a clean way to take care of time tracking, task management, expense estimation, file sharing, interaction among team members, and invoicing. Paymo comes complete with widgets for Mac and Windows, and is also available as a project management app for Android and iOS. It also supports 16 languages. [Visit the site]

Creately Diagramming

Creately is the tool to use when you want to create diagrams of a database, sitemap, or even a UI or UML mockup. It also works great for group discussions on budgets or dispensing of resources with team mates. With it, you can hold live whiteboard sessions with team members or clients. It also comes with a series of fabulous diagram templates with tweakable layouts and Smart Shapes. [Visit the site]

TeamGantt

Keep all your team members on the same schedule with this project scheduling app. With each team member sticking to the schedule, you’ll be able to better manage the outcome of team projects, particularly if you are team leader. TeamGantt helps you establish task dependencies and project baselines, with integration with your desktop calendar. A must-have for web design and web development projects. [Visit the site]

Wrike

If you prefer the "social network" approach in your collaboration style, Wrike has you covered. With Wrike, users gain facilities like activity streams, newsfeed updates, and a Notification Center. Multiple team members can edit documents and modify task descriptions. Aside from that, Wrike also works across Android and iOS devices. [Visit the site]

Notism

Notism is a visual design feedback tool for creative teams where users can share, discuss and review design and motion work in a simple, effective and streamlined manner. Add clickable hotspots and turn static screens into interactive web and mobile prototypes. This platform also helps to improve your workflow and create better design layouts in a faster and more efficient way than ever before. [Visit the site]

Crowdbase

Knowledge is power, and Crowdbase is a lofty collaboration solution that understands that well. It lets you gather precious information, see activity stats and reports pertaining to certain user groups, and share files with your colleagues. Keep your team members up to speed so there are no weak links in your organization. [Visit the site]

Mural.ly

Most creatives wrinkle their noses when they’re supposed to work on UX design, yet also have to deal with software for project collaboration. Mural.ly can help you with that. Users can add any sort of content to its canvases, be it from their own folders, or taken from the internet. What is more, Mural.ly also includes a voting feature, handy for knowing which side your team mates are leaning towards. [Visit the site]

Teamfocus

Quick, what are the things you hate most about working in a team? If you say meetings, mishandled budgets and shoddy work, then you shoud take a look at Teamfocus. It’s allergic to emails, something most of us would love to claim to have. But jokes aside, Teamfocus helps you stay connected with your peers, meet your deadlines and work better as a team, while getting the job done efficiently. [Visit the site]

Fuze

Why type when you can talk, gesture, smile and have friendly banters with your colleagues. Fuze is the tool you need for a better way to meet and greet your fellow collaborators via video conferences and virtual meetings. Itworks for Mac, Windows, iOS and soon, Android too. Now if only it could do some magic with the different timezones global teams have to deal with. [Visit the site]

Podio

Podio has been featured multiple times on the site which is understandable since it is a great project management and chat tool to have. Work with the team via browsers and across the iOS and Android system with this, and if you want to take it a step further, they have an open API which you are free to extend in the direction that you need for your team. [Visit the site]

ViewFlux

The top most collaboration-enhancing venues go to great lengths to deliver visual solutions. One such tool is ViewFlux, whereby web designers are at liberty to store the source files for their designs, share photorealistic prototypes, and enable customers and team members to impart their views on it in an engaging setting. [Visit the site]

Glasscubes

Yet another stellar collaboration tool is Glasscubes. It has all you could wish for in a private platform for project management: a direct path to share files, gather feedback, communicate, and command a winning project. Besides, Glasscubes is currently employed by ringing brands like The Open University, LG, and British Council. [Visit the site]

PBworks

Secure, comprehensive and customizable, PBworks comes with a range of specialized solutions depending on the industry you are in. On top of being a great tool for designers and developers, it is also great for advertising and marketing agencies, education platforms, event organizers and also law firms, providing a safe harbor for any company’s confidential files. [Visit the site]

Redbooth

My one last recommendation for a collaboration tool is Redbooth, which boasts SSL-secure 256-bit encryption for hosting your company files. Don’t want your materials to be anywhere online? This splendid collaboration tool is also available on-premise, should you prefer to rely on the security of your own servers. [Visit the site]

Have you had the pleasure of working with any of these tools, and if so, did they fulfill your needs? Please tell us all about it.

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Samantha Lee Plays With Her Food With Deliciously Stunning Results

hongkiat.com - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 16:01

There are plenty of creative people out there who work with unconventional mediums. For Samantha Lee, her medium of choice turned out to be food.

Referring to herself as a ‘food artist’, Samantha Lee, who hails from Malaysia, is inspired by popular culture and the things around her. She’s been making making her culinary masterpieces since 2008 but started gaining attention when she started sharing them on Instagram in 2011.

Not only are her creations extremely adorable, they are healthy and wholesome as well. Featured below are just some of her delightful and detailed work, courtesy of her Facebook page. If you’re keen to have a more in-depth look at her work, take a look at her website and her Instagram.

Related posts:

  1. 15 Creative Photo Manipulations of Food








10 WordPress Plugins To Improve User Management

hongkiat.com - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:01

Working with WordPress you probably are familiar with the different roles you can assign members of your team. The roles include administrator, author, contributor, subscriber and regular user, each with their own roles, capabilities and restrictions, for instance, contributors can only edit their posts, whereas editors can edit everyone’s posts.

If, however you want to be able to have improved control over user management, here are a few WordPress plugins that can help you alter, extend or change the capabilities for different roles in your website.

User Role Editor

User Role Editor adds functionality and flexibility for changing role capabilities for user roles. The plugin shows the list of capabilities of each role, and you can enable or disable the capabilities of specific roles. This plugin also allows you to create a new role with its own set capabilities.

New User Approve

By default, WordPress will accept every new user registration. If you want to prevent every registered user from gaining direct login into the site after they register, use this plugin.

With it enabled, when someone registers, the Administrator (most probably you) will receive a notification email, then you can decide whether to approve or reject the registration. Approved users will get an email with login credentials for granted access to the site.

Members

Members make WordPress more powerful in terms of user accesibility. Aside for enabling editing, creating, and deleting roles and capabilities, it also allows you to set permission to control which content is available for any specific user.

Multisite User Management

Multisite User Management is great plugin if you enable your WordPress site as Multisite (see our previous post in this matter: Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Multisite). This plugin enables you to add users with specific roles to each site in the network.

User Switching

User Switching allows you to quickly switch between user accounts on your site. Instantly log out from your current account and log into the another account simply by clicking the “Switch To” button, once the plugin is activated. It’s particularly handy for user testing during plugin or theme development.

Advanced Access Manager

Advanced Access Manager is powerful plugin that controls access to specific areas of your site like posts, pages, categories, widgets or menus for a specific user, role or visitor. This plugin also lets you manage roles and Capabilities so you can create, update or delete any user role or capability.

Other features include securing admin login by limiting login tries, controlling access to media files, tracking logged-in user activities, and the capability to filter backend menu and metaboxes or widgets.

Delete Me

Delete Me is a plugin which allows users to delete themselves. Upon activating the plugin, the “Delete Profile” link will appear on the user profile pages. By clicking this button and confirming the choice, users can get their account, posts, links and comments all deleted in one go.

PauPress

PauPress brings CRM (Contact Relationship Management) functionalities to WordPress. This plugin allows you to build user profile and add as many custom fields as you need to provide more details about the users. With this plugin, you can keep track of each user on the site by monitoring their activities and logs.

User Meta Manager

User Meta Manager is a handy tool for modifying user metadata as well as adding custom meta. So, if you want to add new user input for example, telephone number or address, this is a good plugin to get that done.

WP-Members

WP-Members is a free membership management plugin that restricts content to registered users. While WordPress by default allows all content to be viewable by all, this plugin restricts all posts by default. You can however change the setting to restrict only some of the content.

The plugin comes with additional registration fields including name, address, phone, and email but if you need to, you can create your own custom registration fields.

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10 Hidden CSS3 Properties You Should Know

hongkiat.com - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 14:01

CSS3 have made designing web more exciting with the introduction of new properties. While you might know of the popular ones, such as the box-shadow, border-radius, and transform, there are plenty more properties that you may not have heard of or tried, but would be glad to know of its existence.

W3C is constantly working on new CSS properties to make the web much better for designers, developers and users. In the meantime, let’s take a look at these 10 properties you may not know of but should really check out.

1. Tab Size

Most code editors are equipped with Tab Size control that allows developers to specify the code indentation width made with the Tab key. It was only recently that we were also able to customize the indentation of the code embedded on webpages.

pre { tab-size: 2; }

Note that each browser may have their own interpretation of how long the tab-width unit should be. So, we may expect to see some discrepancies among different browsers. In terms of browser support, the tab-size property works in Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and Safari according to CanIUse.

2. Text Rendering

The text-rendering property will tell browsers how they should render the text within webpages. The text will be optimized for performance, legibility, or precision, which will eventually determine the text quality. Take a closer look at the kerning of the text in the following screenshot for a comparison between ‘normal’ text and optimizedLegibility text:


Comparison courtesy by AestheticallyLoyal

For more advice on good typography, check out Practical Typography.

3. Font Stretch

Some fonts provide additional faces aside from the regular Normal, Bold and Italic. Helvetica Neue or Myriad Pro as an example comes with faces such ‘Condensed’, ‘Ultra-condensed’, and ‘Semi-condensed’. This is where a new property called font-stretch is introduced; it allows us to apply these faces.

We may use font-stretch in conjunction with font property like for instance,font-style. Here is an example:

h1 { font-style: bold; font-stretch: ; }

The font-stretch property currently only works in Firefox and Internet Explorer 9 (and above).

4. Text Overflow

The text-overflow property specifies presentation of content that is overflowing or truncated by its container. The default value is set to clip which simply hides the truncated text. Alternately, you can set it to ellipsis to depict the truncated text or content with horizontal ellipsis, as follows.

.content-box { text-overflow }

In case you are wondering, horizontal ellipsis is the three dots at the end which usually indicates omitted content.

5. Writing Mode

Not every language is written from the left to right direction. A few languages are instead written from top to bottom like Japanese or right to left like Arabic and Hebrew.


Image courtesy by AimiriFont

To accommodate these languages, a new property named writing-mode is introduced to let developers change the content writing direction through CSS. This code snippet, as an example, directs the content flow from the left to the right (regardless of the language).

p { writing-mode: rl-tb; }

To change the flow of content, moving from top to bottom, set the property with the vertical-lr value:

p { writing-mode: vertical-lr; } 6. Pointer Events

The pointer-events property allows us to control element behavior under pointer events like dragging, hovering and clicking. Using this, the affected link will do nothing when it is clicked; the link will be completely disabled, and will not even direct users to the address specified in the href attribute.

a { pointer-events: none; }

Due to some critical issues however the pointer-events property is put on hold until the next CSS revision, CSS4.

7. Image Orientation

In an image editor such as Photoshop, you can change the image orientation by rotating or flipping the image. Now CSS3 allows you to do the same to the images on webpages through a new property called image-orientation. Here is an example on how we can flip an image horizontally using this property.

img { image-orientation: flip; }

You can also retain the original image orientation by specifying the property value to from-image, like so.

img { image-orientation: from-image; } 8. Image Rendering

Similar to the text-rendering property, image-rendering defines the image quality on webpages, in particular when the image is forcefully resized. With the advent of this property comes a number of new values, and browsers have their own specifications in this matter. The crisp-edges value, for example, which preserves contrast and prevents blurry edges of images, is currently translated as -webkit-optimize-contrast in Webkit browsers and nearest-neighbor in Internet Explorer.

img { image-rendering: crisp-edges; image-rendering: -webkit-optimize-contrast;/* Webkit */ -ms-interpolation-mode: nearest-neighbor; /* IE */ }

It’s an experimental technology, so we will likely see a few changes in the implementation.

9. Columns

The columns property allows developers to arrange web content into columns with ease. We split the content into two columns like this:

.content { columns: 2; }

In the browsers that support this property – like Chrome and Safari – we will see the content arranged like so.

Coupled with CSS Shape and a bit of creativity, you can have a fluid and more enticing content layout much like what you see in a fashion magazine on your websites.

10. Flex

The flex property aims to make building responsive grid more seamless while solving a couple of issues in the current mainstream method for web layout arrangement – the float property.

On top of that, by using the flex property, the web layout will take the full height of its container, which was quite cumbersome to deal with previously (take a look at our previous post on this matter: Equal Column Height With CSS).

Now, assuming you would like to build a web layout that comprises of three columns, you can have the markup arranged this way.

<div id="container"> <div class="col">Column 1</div> <div class="col">Column 2</div> <div class="col">Column 3</div> </div>

Then, build them into columns using the flex property, like so.

#container { width: 600px; height: 300px; display: flex; } #container .col { flex: auto; }

With additions of decorative styles like font and background color, we will get the following result.

Related posts:

  1. UI Design: Applying CSS Based on Screen Orientation
  2. Better Paragraphs with CSS3 Hyphenation
  3. Customizing Browser Scroll Bar With CSS / jQuery
  4. 3 New LESS CSS Features You Should Know








5 Internet Acts That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity

hongkiat.com - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:01

Tired of the bad vibes you have been getting all year long? If it feels like your peaceful life is being uprooted from its core with disheartening news, take a break. Restore the faith with feel-good stories, and find comfort in knowing that there are a lot of good out there, because deep down inside, we all like to go to Heaven, even if some of us don’t believe in it..

Lucky for you we have an ever-expanding series of wonderful acts found on the Internet that will do wonders to your faith in humanity. If you like to see earlier parts of the series, check out our previously published compilations, or if you have a story to share with us, let us know in the comments.

Read also:

1. Lost and Found: Mother

If you don’t hold Redditors in high regard, perhaps this story will change your mind.

One afternoon in April 2014, Josh Goldberg discovered that his 59-year-old mother, May Goldberg with advanced Alzheimer’s, was missing. Mayhad apparently had walked out of her apartment and didn’t return. After searching and contacting the necessary authorities to no avail, Josh decided to ask Reddit for help.

It worked.


(Image source: Josh Goldberg)

Josh’s mother was eventually found by fellow Redditor geryorama, who had chanced upon Josh’s mother wandering around the street, recognized who she was, double checked her photo to confirm that it was her, then took her to a hotel lobby to contact authorities. He also contacted Josh to tell her that his mother has been found safe and sound. A grateful Josh duly rewarded geryorama for his kindness.

2. Reddit talked teen out of suicide

Here’s another one about Redditors, only this time they were saving one of their own. What would you do if you come across an actual suicide note online? While you think about that, let me tell you what a group of Redditors did when faced with the same situation.

Redditor NotARomanGuy has been suffering from depression for 8 years. He seeked solace by playing Minecraft (as CaesarOctavius) and by contributing to the Minecraft subreddit. But life happens and eventually he couldn’t stand it anymore and one day he decided to take his own life.

As a farewell to the other Minecraft Redditors, he posted a heartbreaking suicide note on subreddit r/UltraHardcore.


(Image source: Mashable)

Some Redditors recognized the name CaesarOctavius and immediately responded with kind words and anecdotes detailing the good times they had with him. But the support didn’t stop there.

50 other community members joined a TeamSpeak room — which allow users to send voice calls to each other — to talk him out of his plans. There was also intervention by Redditors from the subreddit r/SuicideWatch.

And everyone’s efforts paid off. An hour later, this was posted.


(Image source: Reddit)

3. 9/11 Photo Returned, After 13 Years

Ground Zero is a site synonymous with the tragedy of 9/11 that shook the world in 2001. It was also the site where someone found a wedding photo, one that haunted Elizabeth Stringer Keefe for 13 years. You see, Elizabeth had received the photo from a friend, who found it amidst the rubble. Her friend was moving away and had asked that Elizabeth do something meaningful with the photograph.


(Image source: E. Stringer Keefe)

She decided to return it to its rightful owner, in spite of what she might find on the receiving end. Every year on September 11, she would share it on various social media sites.

Every year on #911 I post this photo hoping 2 return 2 owner. Found at #groundzero #WTC in 2001. Pls RT pic.twitter.com/mZ9LdQqE7x

— E. Stringer Keefe (@ProfKeefe) September 12, 2014

Yet, no one came to claim the photo. Still, Elizabeth persisted. And that persistence paid off when one of the people in the photo, Fred Mahe, came across the retweet by country singer Blake Shelton. Fred went on to thank Elizabeth and was glad to report that all 6 people in the photo are alive.

@ProfKeefe 9/11 we remember what we lost. 9/12 we remember what we have. 9/12/01, I saw the best of humanity. Elizabeth is 100% 9/12 #9/12

— Fred Mahe (@FredWMahe) September 13, 2014

4. Stand Up To Bullies!

This story is one reason why we need to teach kids that all forms of bullying is wrong and not be dismissed as “boys would be boys” or “boys being mean”.

10 year old Jetta Fosberg had beautiful long blonde hair like this:


(Image source: Stand With Jetta)

… and a kind soul to boot. She decided to cut off her long locks and donate them to Wigs For Kids, which makes wigs for kids with cancer. For her kind act, she got bullied in school on a daily basis, being called nasty names by male students, chiding her for wanting to be a boy, all because she decided to cut her long hair short.

Her mother, Heidi approached the principal to take action against the bullies. Instead, the principal told Jetta to just "toughen up".

Eventually the bullying took a toll on Jetta, and her mother had to pull her out of school for her safety. Hoping to find support online and to cheer Jetta up, Heidi created a Facebook support page Stand With Jetta, which gained overwhelming support by visitors. Many also shared their personal stories and encounters with the bullies in their life.

Being the strong girl that she is, Jetta soaked up all the support, saying in an interview that she appreciate knowing that her haircut is cute, and that she is a good person. "It kind of helps me fight against [the bullies].”


(Image source: Stand With Jetta)

Her Facebook page also helped spread the word for Wigs For Kids, prompting many young girls to follow in her lead and donate their beautiful hair to those who need it.

5. Grandma Celebrates 104th Birthday In Style

Betty Musker will celebrate her 104th birthday on Oct 24. She however didn’t want anything, except perhaps a card. Betty’s family and the rest of the nursing home staff decided to surprise her with as many cards as possible for her birthday, and Betty’s great-granddaughter Vicky Thomas took to work by using Facebook to ask for cards for Betty. They were hoping to get 104, but got a whole lot more.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_GB/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

Post by Vicky Thomas.

Vicky’s post went viral and cards started to trickle in to the nursing home’s postbox in Warrington, UK. Not only were the cards from all over the UK, they were also from all over the world. There were so many cards that the local post office had to designate a special space for Betty’s cards!


(Image source: BBC News)

When October 24 came around, the staff gathered all the cards they have received to present to Betty, all 5,700(!) of them. Betty was understandably overwhelmed, and touched that so many “lovely people had taken the time out to send them”.


(Image source: BBC News)

And that, kids, is how you rock a 104th birthday.

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  3. 5 Times Internet Keyboard Warriors Didn’t Save The Day
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30 Tree Tunnels That Will Take Your Breath Away

hongkiat.com - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 14:01

Tree tunnels are one of nature’s curious and beautiful phenomenon. By definition, a tree tunnel is described as a road or street that has rows of trees grown on both sides. The trees somehow form a canopy overhead which gives the effect of a tunnel.

Some tree tunnels are natural due to the nature of the tree branches whilst others are man-made as they are grown that way using gardening techniques. Whichever they are, tree tunnels make lovely settings for photography as these photos of 30 magnificent tree tunnels from around the world shows.

Tunnel of Love, Kleven, Ukraine. (Image Source: Oleg Gordienko)

Jacarandas Walk, South Africa. (Image Source: imgur)

Cherry Blossom Avenue, Bonn, Germany. (Image Source: Marcel Bednarz)

Hilly Autumn Avenue, USA. (Image Source: wallpaperstock)

Yew Tree Tunnel, Carmarthenshire, UK. (Image Source: Guy Stitt)

Bamboo Path, Japan. (Image Source: forwallpaper)

Wisteria Tunnel, Kawachi Fuji Garden, Japan. (Image Source: Unknown World)

The Dark Hedges, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. (Image Source: Travel And Tourism)

Ginkgo Tree Tunnel, Tokyo. (Image Source: sun-surfer)

The Tree tunnel, Halnaker, England. (Image Source: Daily Fresher)

Gormanston Fairytale Tree Tunnel, County Meath, Ireland. (Image Source: jacco)

Sena De Luna, Spain. (Image Source: BuzzFeed)

Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana, USA. (Image Source: BuzzFeed)

Cypress Tree Avenue, Point Reyes, California, USA. (Image Source: Bored Panda)

Avenue of Oaks, Dixie Plantation, South Carolina, USA. (Image source: Bored Panda)

Gyeonghwa Station, Jinhae, South Korea. (Image Source: Bored Panda)

Parque Francisco Alvarado, Costa Rica. (Image Source: Vytautas Šėrys)

Laburnum Tunnel, Bodnant Gardens, UK. (Image Source: Tony Shertila)

Sakura Tunnel, Tokyo, Japan. (Image Source: Masai Okeda)

Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho, Porto Alegre, Brazil. (Image Source: Stephen Messenger)

Maple Tunnel, St. Louis, Oregon, USA. (Image Source: Bored Panda)

Tunnel of Love, Kawazu-cho, Shizuoka, Japan. (Image Source: Agustin Rafael Reyes)

Jerez street, Spain. (Image Source: Aidan McRae Thomson)

Tree Tunnel, Neatherlands. (Image Source: Lars van de Goor)

Tree Tunnel, Maluhia Road, Koloa Town, Kauai, Hawaii. (Image Source: Parrish Kauai++)

Smuggler’s Notch State Park, Vermont, Connecticut, USA. (Image Source: Emlii)

Natural Tree Tunnel, Mendocino County, California, USA. (Image Source: Ultimate Places)

Maple tree tunnel, Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi, Japan. (Image Source: Flavorverse)

El Paseo del Espolón, Burgos, Spain. (Image Source: Vado a Spain)

Maekdo Ecological Park, Busan, South Korea. (Image Source: Busan Haps)

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10 Free Tools For Creating Your Own Maps

hongkiat.com - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 11:23

Maps are handy for a lot of reasons. Not only do they help us navigate through certain areas, they also enable us to learn more about the world and what it has to offer. What if you’re someone who wants to create a map instead?

Sure, there’s Google Map and Google Earth to help you out but there are actually other tools to choose from as well. Here we’ve gathered 10 free amazing tools that you can use to create your own maps. From maps that are conveniently made for sharing to ones that are quite interactive, the selection below has a range of things to satisfy your mapping needs.

1. Animaps

If you’re looking to create and view beautifully informative animated maps then this is the tool for you. Animaps basically extends the My Maps feature of Google Maps so that you create maps with markers that move, lines and shapes that change over time and images and texts that pop up on cue. The final result is an animated map.

If you send an Animap to your friends then it will display like a video which they can play, pause, slow and speed up. It’s simple to learn if you go through the basic tutorials. You can easily sign up for a new account on Animap or even sign up via your Facebook account. [Visit site here]

2. UMapper

UMapper is a useful map creation tool used by publications like National Geographic, Star Tribune, USA Today and other well-known organizations. UMapper provides an effortless approach in creating Flash maps that are easy to embed and distribute through a website or blog.

You can use any one of the top map providers such as Bing Maps, Google Maps, and Open Street Map to get your map out there. With the help of UMapper, you can also make money by displaying advertisements. If you’re keen on more features, you can have a look at the premium packages. [Visit site here]

3. Scribble Maps

Scribble Maps is a mapping tool that provides a comfortable platform for drawing and sharing maps. Using this tool, you can easily add custom images, place text and markers, draw shapes, calulcate distance, save a map in PDF format and much more.

You can also send maps to your friends or embed them on your website. The basic Scribble service is free while Pro Scribble Maps allows you to import KML files, spreadsheets and SHP files at a certain price. [Visit site here]

4.Click2Map

Click2Map is an easy to use mapping tool which allows you to create customized maps according to your needs. Click2Map conveniently lets you place built-in markers from their huge library to make your map more informative and interactive.

You can also add lines and polygons on your maps for various purposes such as to indicate a particular geographical area. Once you are done with creating your map, you can download your newly-designed map and publish it on your website/blog at no charge. [Visit site here]

5. ZeeMaps

ZeeMaps enables you to design and publish your interactive maps without having to sign up. By using ZeeMaps, you can place customizable markers and highlight countries, states and cities too.

A cool feature is that you can add video, audio or sound clips along with the markers. In addition to that, you can add customizable search fields for your map as well. ZeeMaps is offering free as well as paid versions at different prices which you can check out here. [Visit site here]

6. MapTiler

MapTiler is a mapping tool with lots of rich features. The features are top-notch as this tool is used by Google, NASA, Apple and other big organizations. With MapTiler, you can effectually render the geodata into map tiles that are highly suitable for Google Maps API mashups, MapQuest, Microsoft Bing and Google Earth amongst many others.

You can use MapTiler on Windows, Linux and Mac making this tool quite versatile. If this sounds interesting to you, there’s a free version that you can try out as well as 4 paid versions with different prices and different bundles of features. [Visit site here]

7. TargetMap

TargetMap is a handy tool for creating and publishing your maps. The website encourages a sense of community as sharing maps help to enrich and boost the knowledge of the participants. This is because once your map is published, you can compare it with similar maps done by others and this helps you improve.

You can also embed your maps into your website or blog. To use TargetMap as a free tool, you have to share your maps with others but if you want to keep your maps private then you can opt for the ‘Not to Share’ option. The free version of this option comes with limited features as opposed to the premium version, so what you decide on really depends on your needs and capabilities. [Visit site here]

8. HeatmapTool

HeatmapTool is a nice and easy tool for making attractive heat maps from a CVS file. You can scale the heat map as you like and conveniently update it in real-time. You can also cool down the heat map by dimming it accordingly and sharpen or soften the edges of the heated area as well.

Another handy feature is that you can create an overlay for the Google Maps API. Like the other tools, this one is free but if you’d like more advanced features, you can check the pricing here. [Visit site here]

9. GmapGIS

GmapGIS is a simple tool which is used for mapping purposes. You can easily draw lines, shapes, add labels, add markers and measure the distance on maps without using a Google account.

Once you are done drawing and labeling a map, a link is automatically generated for your map which you can share with others. With GmapGIS, you can choose to save the map in a KML format or view it in Google Earth. [Visit site here]

10. geoCommons

GeoCommons allows us to create, use and share rich interactive maps regardless of your experience with mapping tools. It lets you map real-time social data and over 50,000 available open source data sets. This is a great tool to view a large amount of data and to animate a map in just a few seconds.

You can also filter the data and maps in the GeoCommons database using any number, string or date attribute of database. If you’re interested in sharing your map, you can embed it within your website or blog and share it via social media. You can sign up
for free and start using its services right away. [Visit site here]

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8 Free Apps To Monitor Your Kids&#8217; Smartphones Activities On Android

hongkiat.com - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 16:01

These, days, there is no stopping a child from growing up without the influence of tech gadgets, online content, and the Internet in general. Being a parent is already a tough enough task, but shying away from the topic or completely shutting out technology from your children’s lives isn’t going to help.

What you can do however, is to have more control over what they are exposed to while on their gadgets, and this post will try to help you with that, particularly on Android.

Google Play Store may not have tougher restrictions than those found on Apple’s AppStore so if your kids own an Android device (or have access to your device at their liberty), you might want to set up some of these parental apps to help you monitor your kid’s online activities on the device. Some allow restrictions of online sites they can visit, the monitoring of their text or call usage, app downloads, location and how long they can spend on their devices.

If you are on iOS, check out this post on 5 ways to make your iOS devices more kid-friendly and child-safe, and if you are on Mac, we also have a list of 10 Parental Control Apps you can try out.

1. Kids Place – Parental Control

Kids Place is a comprehensive parental control app. Some of its handy attributes include a customized home screen showcasing approved apps only, the ability to prevent your child from downloading or buying new apps as well as a time feature to specify a schedule for using the smartphone.

On top of that, it’s also capable of blocking incoming calls and disabling all wireless signals. When you install and use the app for the first time, you have to first set a PIN for security purposes. [Get it here]

2. KuuKla Parental Control

KuuKla Parental Control App helps you tailor your Android device into one which is suitable for your child. It gives you the opportunity to select the applications that you want to appear for use on the home screen while disabling access to all other applications. It also allows you to define a schedule for using apps and the Internet on the smartphone.

Once you’ve download the app and registered your email address, a PIN code will be sent to the email address provided which can only be used by you to control the device. [Get it here]

3. Abeona – Parental Control & Device Monitor

The Abeona app actually comes with a complementary app called Device Monitor. Abeona – Parental Control allows parents to monitor the mobile apps usage of their child, view call logs and check whether the device of child is online or offline among other things.

The Device Monitor app must be installed on the child’s device in order for the parent to receive reports of device usage and location. The app is great for use on multiple devices, for instance if you need to get reports from multiple Android smartphones or tablets, all at once. [Get them here and here]

4. SecureTeen Parental Control

Worried about your teen being exposed to mature or adult content online? Try SecureTeen Parental Control which can filter out most if not all adult content. SecureTeen allows you to monitor your children’s online activities, applications they download and their location.

If you don’t like an app that’s installed on your child’s phone then SecureTeen allows you to shut it down, even if it’s still installed. SecureTeen can be managed remotely online by logging into the website. [Get it here]

5. Screen Time Parental Control

As the name indicates, Screen Time is a helpful app which lets you manage how much ‘screen time’ your kids get. The key features of Screen Time includes blocking different apps according to the time.

For example, you can block only games at bed time but still allow readings apps then choose to block all apps when it’s time for lights out. Screen Time also allows you to set a daily time limit on the apps you want to restrict access to. [Get it here]

6. Kids Zone Parental Controls

Kids Zone is another handy parental control app. The chore mode gives you the capability to set a time limit that determines when your child can use the smartphone.

Other notable features include relocking the device after rebooting, blocking phone calls as well as text messages and Internet access, blocking apps installation and in-app purchasing, and various other features. [Get it here]

7. Parental Control Board

The Parental Control Board app helps monitor, manage and track a child’s activities on a mobile phone. It can monitor a list of all installed apps on the phone and you can even restrict some of them such as YouTube or Google Play, if you need to. Get the precise location of your child at any time and control and see all call logs and SMS that goes through their phone.

One of the useful things that this app has is the ability for parents to setup black lists and white lists of phone numbers for incoming/outgoing calls and messages. [Get it here]

8. Norton Family Parental Control

This Norton Family Parental Control app allows you to see which websites are visited by your child. You can also restrict access to pornographic and inappropriate websites and can setup email alerts that notify you whenever your child attempts to do something that he/she shouldn’t.

If you don’t mind spending a bit of money, you can get the premium version which lets you view logs of text messages, monitor the apps downloaded by your child and even block some of those apps amongst various other features. [Get it here]

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8 Ways How Freelancers Can Launch Your Startup

hongkiat.com - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 11:01

These are great times to work as a freelancer. The freelancing industry is catching on like wild fire, with more and more money being poured into the mix. There are already tons of businesses using the industry. If you are a young, up and coming entrepreneur, you want your startup running on the lowest of overheads. Cutting costs and externalizing as much as possible is your No.1 priority.

That’s exactly what the freelancing industry can do for you. It’s a catalyst for rapid growth. But this needs to be done carefully. Sometimes you’ll want a firm, other times you need just one freelancer. There are also parts of your business you want to keep to yourself, and parts which are best managed by freelancers.

Here’s a guide on when, where and how to use freelancers for your startup.

1. Accounting

Yes, I am starting with accounting, the dreary, taboo topic nobody in the business world really likes to write about. That’s because it doesn’t really make for great headlines or high clickrates. ‘Experts’ love to hype things and talk about ‘business’ like it’s a Superbowl commercial: loud, simple and colorful.

The reality is, if you run your own business, accounting should be the most important thing for you. And no, it’s not always fun. That’s exactly why you need a freelance accountant working for you.

You don’t want a big accounting firm managing your startup. You’ll get as much attention as Shuffleboard competitions on Eurosport: really close to none (Shuffleboarding at its best. Your rivals probably wish you have long hours of “fun” with it).

So what you want is a freelance accountant, who will be on your call 24/7. As an entrepreneur, you are a jack of all trades especially accounting. Keep your hand on the pulse of the business. Ask questions. A lot. Don’t be afraid to look stupid in front of your accountant. That’s the one place you are allowed to be.

A freelance accountant will give you one-on-one time. You’ll have him or her under control. You’ll learn more. Go for local freelancers as opposed to hiring somebody you can’t meet. This is one place where freelancing sites aren’t that great. However, you can find accountants by:

  • Asking other entrepreneurs
  • Posting questions on accounting forums (that’s how I found mine)
  • Posting a listing on job sites
  • Looking for Facebook groups related to entrepreneurship and accounting
  • Reading finance blogs and interacting with other visitors
2. Marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are great tools, in the hands of the right expert. If you are a startup, go with a ‘lone wolf’, don’t hire the pack. Go for just one freelancer. If there’s any place you want to spend a little more, this is it. That’s because there are just so many phony individuals in this niche. Everybody is an SEO expert nowadays.

The truth is, experts do cost more, but don’t be fooled by the price tag. There are many dumb ‘SEO experts’ who cost a fortune. Real SEO experts get results – and results are the only thing that matters. Make sure you set goals for your expert and make sure his pay is conditioned by achieving those goals.

Don’t be fooled into hiring ‘social media experts’ or ‘market research experts’. That’s basically all hype. Do all the social media management on your own (here are some social media marketing cheatsheets to get you started) or if the volume of work is too big, through a virtual assistant. You just set the tasks, and then hire a decent, english-speaking VA.

The truth is social media isn’t hard. You just need to act like a real person. There are tons of tutorials out there on how to manage your Facebook, your Twitter, your Pinterest and every other profile. Try to read as many of them as possible and then get to work.

3. Design

If you are developing a website to help your business or your entire company relies on an e-commerce website, you should, by all means, use a professional freelance designer. From logo creation to website design, to banners and flyers, your company’s image really makes a difference. This is the second best place to invest your money in, after SEO and SEM (traffic is the most important thing by far).

Make sure your freelance designer knows a bit of coding. Great designers usually do. You want a design which is easy to implement, not just something which looks great. Also, it helps to know what your e-commerce site needs to have, so you know what you are getting into.

4. Coding

Now, for coding your site, that’s a totally different story. Great coders are usually very reluctant to interact with people. That’s why you want a freelance firm. More and more companies are enlisting their services on freelance websites. But if you can, work with a local company for the coding part. It will be easier to push them in the direction you’re wanting.

Another crucial reason you want a company, and not a freelance coder is the fact that you need an interface between you and the programmer. You need someone to put some pressure on the coder every now and then (and Lord knows that you won’t be able to scare him into delivering by writing in CAPS LOCK on Skype). A firm is just safer. They’re also less likely to steal your startup idea and more likely to get the job done fast.

5. Analytics

Here’s one ‘meal course’ you’ll want to handle on your own. Don’t hire anyone for this. You need to know what CPM, CPC, funnels, bounce-rates and all that other weird gibberish means. Again, there are loads of tutorials out there. Here are a few found here to get you started:

6. Newsletters (Writing)

This is such a delicate topic. If you’re a startup relying on sales via the Internet, collecting and maintaining an e-mail list is the absolute way to grow. Creating the newsletter then becomes a high priority task. Either daily, weekly or monthly, you need to take the time and practically create a sales letter from scratch each time you send out an e-mail to your subscribers.

There are some great freelancers/entrepreneurs out there who can work for you on this one. But they charge a lot. That’s not the way to go if you’re just starting out. This is one just for you.

First thing, you need to create is the prototype of your subscriber. If you haven’t already, ask your subscriber details about his age, sex, location and keep a history of how often he visits your site or buys from you.

Important note: keep changing the appearance of the newsletter, at least monthly. Experiment and keep an eye on your clickrates and open rates. I’ve personally doubled our clickrate for 2 weeks on one e-commerce site I owned by applying text-only newsletters, written in a personal, friendly fashion.

7. Blogging

There’s absolutely no reason why your company shouldn’t own a blog. I get it, you’re busy actually doing the business, you’ve got no time to write about it. Get a freelancer!

Hire a blogger. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling flake food enriched with beta carotene for ornamental fish. You can blog about it and people will visit. Sometimes, being the big fish in a small pound equals success. You never know, the blog might become a business in and of itself.

Just write!

8. Customer Care

Here’s one area you won’t want to work with any outside people. You’ll find cheaper local labor. And even if you don’t, it’s worth paying more to get a local person. Customer care (CC) is basically the interface between you and the customer. As such, CC creates the user’s experience. And medium to long term user experience is the most important factor in determining the success or failure of your company.

You want a local employee, whom you can supervise. A lot. Clients will create problems in places you thought didn’t even exist. Quite a bit of your input will be needed. The key to massively successful companies such as McDonald’s is the experience the user has when interacting with the company. Learn from that.

User experience is always worth investing in, even if it doesn’t yield immediate return.

Conclusion

Working with freelancers isn’t for everybody. We’re still a long way from reaching the full potential of the freelance industry. It’s still in its infancy. Some entrepreneurs prefer working with people directly, in a more hands-on fashion in an office environment. But if you’re a startup, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t leverage the opportunities this industry lays out for you.

By employing freelancers in certain key positions, your startup can have multiple departments, just like a corporation. And in the ‘virtual world’, your online presence will often times be more immaculate than that of big companies.

Related posts:

  1. How To Hire & Build An Awesome Team








10 Cool Sites To Create Your Own Comics Online

hongkiat.com - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 14:01

Contrary to popular belief, comics aren’t just for kids. They have the capability to tell a story in a visual way that is truly unique and an experience on its own. Generally, you can only create your own comics if you can draw. Or at least that’s the notion that most have.

These days every one who wants to is able to create their own comic stories online. With just a few simple clicks, you too can create you own characters that bring a comic strip to life. If you want to, you can even draw your own original characters. Featured below is a collection of 10 awesome online tools to create your own comics.

p.entry-image { margin-bottom:40px; } Create Your Own Comic by Marvel

Marvel Comics or Marvel Worldwide Inc. is an American publisher of comic books and related media. If there’s a company that knows what it takes to build great comics, it would be Marvel. This DIY comic site is simple and cool. You can use different scenes, characters and objects from the Marvel comic universe to create your own stories online.

Bitstrips

Bitstrips helps you create a cartoon version of yourself. You can give yourself a new hairstyle, add some makeup, adjust the size of the face as you like and even change the outfit. The image below is an example of my own attempt at creating a Bitstrip version of myself. Besides the browser version, they also have an app that was ranked as one of the top downloaded apps by Apple enthusiasts.

MakeBeliefsComix.com

MakeBeliefsComix is a free comic strip creation tool that provides students with a lot of characters, templates and prompts for building their own comics. This is so easy to use that a child could definitely use this with no problems. However, one limitation is the color. You can change the background color, but characters will stay black and white anyway.

ToonDoo

ToonDoo gives more freedom to your imagination. While there’s a standard set of characters and background templates, the service lets you create your own personas and even paint some objects freely. Moreover, here you can use your own photos in the comics and manipulate them as you like.

Comic Master

Comic Master is a flash-based site that’s easy to navigate. With this service, you can create your own comic heroes and craft original stories for them. Here, you go through a simple step-by-step process that starts with creating a layout and ends with an awesome finished comic strip.

Chogger

Chogger is a free comic strip creation service offering a good collection of editing tools. You may use existing images or draw your own. With Chogger, you can even take a picture from your webcam and insert it into your artwork. There’s also an option that lets you customize each frame you add.

Pixton

Pixton is a drag-and-drop comic creation tool which allows anyone to create their own comics regardless of their artistic talents. All you have to do is join the Pixton community and you can start sharing your creations with others.

Strip Generator

Strip Generator doesn’t really give you a lot of space to show off your personal style – you can only use existing characters and templates. However, there are a lot of options to choose from. To create your own comic, just pick a frame you like and drag characters and objects into it.

Write Comics

Write Comics is another simple site for creating comics stories. You don’t need to register or fill in various forms. Select a background from the menu and choose your characters and speech bubbles. And just like that you have your own comic.

Witty Comics

This online tool would be extremely useful for teachers and students who are learning languages. This service allows you to portray dialogue between two characters. All you need to do is pick a pre-drawn scene, select your characters and add some text to it.

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5 Things You Can Do With HTML Meta Tag

hongkiat.com - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 11:01

Meta Tag is used to store a piece of information on a web page. Essentially, it is information about data. Its purpose is for browsers and search engines to understand and know the page better.

As web developers, we’re used to setting the page description, author, or keyword via meta tag. However, there are a number of meta tag capabilities that most of us probably aren’t aware of. Here I’ve put together 5 meta tag features that you may have not heard of before.

1. Controlling Browser Cache

When you visit a web page, it stores the web page in cache to make it load faster in subsequent visits. You may have come across an instance where your page is not updated with the changes that you’ve made. This is because the browser shows you the cached page. To prevents this, you can disable browser cache by using meta tag. To disable browser cache, you can use:

<meta http-equiv="Cache-Control" content="no-store" />

This meta tag is recognized in Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. Even more so in IE, where you can use more values and specifications to disable caching, as follows.

<meta http-equiv="Cache-Control" content="no-cache" /> <meta http-equiv="Pragma" content="no-cache" />

You can also set an expiration date to ensure that the browser will show the file that’s fresh from the server, rather than from the cache.

<meta http-equiv="expires" content="Fri, 18 Jul 2014 1:00:00 GMT" />

The meta data above means that document is considered expired after the specified date and time. If you set it to “0“, the browser will check for a fresh new document on each visit.

2. Setting Cookies

Similar to cache, cookies is a small piece of data that is stored in the browser by the websites you’ve visited. Websites may reuse the cookies to tailor some website functionalities. A real everyday example is when you shop in an online store. If you’ve added a few items to the basket, as long as you have not yet checked out, the items will remain in the basket even though you have left the browser for several days.

To set cookies on meta-tag you can use:

<meta http-equiv="Set-Cookie" content="name=data; path=path; expires=Day, DD-MMM-YY HH:MM:SS ZONE">

name=data is the name of the cookies which determines the values set in it. path is the path of document. Whereas, the value of expired indicates the time and date when cookies are deleted from your computer. If you leave the expired date empty, the cookies will be deleted once you quit the browser.

As an example, if we want the cookies to expire on 31 January, 2015 we can set:

<meta http-equiv="Set-Cookie" content="name=data; path=path; expires=Thursday, 01-Jan-2015 00:00:00 GMT"> 3. Refreshing Web Pages

You can set a page to refresh after a certain period. meta http-equiv="refresh" specifies a delay in seconds for the browser to refresh the page automatically. This meta-tag specification below will make the browser reload the page every 5 seconds.

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="5">

Below, you can see that the page is automatically refreshed by the browser.

4. Redirecting

We can also use the refresh meta tag to redirect a page to a specific destination. This following example will lead us to example.com after we view the page for 5 seconds.

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="5; url=http://example.com/">

You can see it live below.

To redirect the page immediately, set it to 0, as follows:

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=http://example.com/"> 5. Page Transition

You can also apply transitions to your web pages with meta-tag in a way that is similar to PowerPoint. The syntax of page transition with meta tag looks like below:

<meta http-equiv="page-enter" content="revealtrans(duration=seconds,transition=num)" /> <meta http-equiv="page-exit" content="revealtrans(duration=seconds,transition=num)" /> <meta http-equiv="page-enter" content="blendTrans(duration=sec)" />

Note that this only works on ancient Internet Explorer since page-enter and page-exit are Microsoft’s proprietary meta tag specifications. You can specify how long the transition will run for using duration. The Transition should be filled by a number/integer between 0 – 23 that refers to the transition type provided by Microsoft. Whereas, <meta http-equiv="page-enter" content="blendTrans(duration=sec)" /> is another value that comes without a transition type.

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6 Things We Love To Do When Social Media Is Down

hongkiat.com - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 14:01

For many people, social media is heavily integrated into their daily schedule. It seems impossible to go a day without checking our social media accounts, and while we wouldn’t voluntary do so, there are times when the social network site may experience some downtime.

“Blasphemy!”

Okay, calm your horses. It’s no big deal. A little downtime won’t hurt. There will be fewer pings from our phones, fewer pictures to go through or statuses to like. It’s not like it’s the end of the world. Is it?


(Image source: ITProPortal)

Unless you are a hit with actual downtime of your favorite social media sites, you probably would laugh at this like it was no big deal. You may even deny the existence of the 6 stages of withdrawal one would experience when their favorite social media sites go down. But mark my words, if you spend as much time on these networks like I think you do, this is probably what your meltdown looks like, starting with…

Stage 1: Denial – “This Can’t Be Happening”


(Image source: Mashable)

Hmm… something went wrong, huh? No matter, let’s hit refresh. Hmm… it’s not working. Let’s refresh again. There must be some mistake. Again, with the refresh; okay, breathe, it’s a temporary setback, a glitch. Let’s check the connection, see if it is up and running. Or it could be the browser acting up, let’s try another browser.

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

Well, err, maybe it’s the router, let’s turn everything off then on, multiple times. Oh, let’s not forget the wires: unplug, plug it in, restart, refresh.

Oh my god, this is for real, nothing is working. The site is down. Cue panic mode!

Stage 2: Solidarity – “I’m not the only one!”

Okay, let’s not panic yet. Take deep calm breaths, let’s check out other social network sites to see if we’re the only ones facing this bleak moment in Internet history. What’s that top trending hashtag of the day. OMG, #facebookdown.

This really is happening, now. Everyone is affected. What else is there for me to do?

Stage 3: Confusion – “Why must this happen sobs”

FACEBOOK IS DOWN!?! WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING WITH MY LIFE?! DON'T. WANT. TO. CONTEMPLATE. EXISTENCE. *brainsplosion*

— Adam Mordecai (@advodude) August 1, 2014

Complain/cry collectively. ‘Cause that’s what we all do. And we’ll do it on good ol’ reliable Twitter. Unless (God forbid) Twitter is down too. Gasp! Oh noes, where do we go to vent our lamentable circumstances and hashtag it with #firstworldproblems?

Oh Instagram is working? Yes! We can selfie our faces of despair with the error message, to mark this as a dark day in history.

“Where were you in the Great Facebook Crash of 2014, dad?” ”On Twitter son, but I Instagramed about it”

— Simon Thomsen (@SimonThomsen) June 19, 2014

Let’s get this up on Instagram, it’s a quick fix. Maybe it can even help us outlast the downtime, unless…


(Image source: Mashable)

OH WOE IS US.

Omg Instagram is down!!?! We're all gonna diiieeeee pic.twitter.com/FfIrmUSFsQ

— Rou Reynolds (@RouReynolds) August 28, 2014

NO!! #instagramnotworking pic.twitter.com/2jysNcsm9X

— Daily ReHash (@DailyReHash) April 12, 2014

Stage 4: Sarcasm – “LOL U mad Bro?”

Well, some of us can handle social media downtimes better than others, using the power of SARCASM and by storming another popular social media network, temporarily. Cue all the memes and tweets about reverting back to the Stone Ages and going outside to enjoy real life.

When Facebook is down, i imagine a siren going off in the Facebook HQ, sprinklers going off, and people screaming everywhere #facebookdown

— Tommylandz ツ™ (@tommylandz) September 3, 2014

Even Obi Wan can sense the voices crying out in terror. #facebookdown pic.twitter.com/LPKSvqG1I2

— J. Graeme Noseworthy (@graemeknows) September 3, 2014

Thousands are roaming the streets in tears shoving photos screaming'”DO YOU LIKE THIS?! DO YOU?!” #facebookdown pic.twitter.com/OfLAqswrRB

— Pixable (@pixable) September 3, 2014

While we are on the subject, if you are part of your brand’s social media team make sure to capitalize on the situation. Because nothing sells better than making fun of social media’s downtime, amirite? Bonus points if you get more followers for your spot-on humor.

#facebookdown? May we be of service? pic.twitter.com/O5SHfeWR7M

— Red Bull Switzerland (@redbullSUI) October 21, 2013

Looks like #Facebook is having a BREAK right now. Have a BREAK, too! :) #facebookdown pic.twitter.com/rBhH4CMqKS

— Nestle KitKat PH (@kitkat_ph) June 19, 2014

#FacebookDown! maybe…it's time to go outside? :O Pic credit: http://t.co/QMttZIw9Q9 pic.twitter.com/DIBwWTxOLo

— DiGi (@DiGi_Telco) June 19, 2014

Stage 5: Desperation – “Click on all the things!”

We are done wailing. We are done trying to laugh along with everyone else. But we are not quite ready to continue being a productive member of the workforce yet. It’s been 5 whole minutes, that’s enough time for the techies to get the site back up, right?

Let’s try our luck.

Nope.

At this point, the withdrawal signs are showing, you are at the brink of calling 911 because it’s a crime for this to keep continuing. But then…

#Facebook is not a Law Enforcement issue, please don't call us about it being down, we don't know when FB will be back up!

— Sgt. Brink (@LASDBrink) August 1, 2014

Even the police want no part of this. So what’s a social media addict to do?

Stage 6: Acceptance – “Okay, back to work”

We have come to accept the fact that the site is never going back up at this moment. As this point of realization, perhaps a little work won’t hurt. Besides, your hands are getting jittery and your mind needs to be engaged.

Before you know it, you have managed to clear your inbox, complete your reports, clean your workspace, talk to your colleagues face-to-face, and get some natural D from your stroll outside the office.

For the first time in months an enormous growth in work output is about to happen #facebookdown pic.twitter.com/Jfz4B4vqqN

— Pixable (@pixable) September 3, 2014

Maybe, this downtime isn’t such a bad thing after all. Maybe this is proof that we are strong enough to not consistently check our Facebook news feed. Maybe that tweet can wait, and that selfie doesn’t need taking. Maybe now, we can focus on that startup, invent or discover something new, or even take over the world!

Wait, what’s that sound? Oh, the site is up. Ooo, 4 new notifications. Ooo, new updates. Click, click, click…

Related posts:

  1. Everything You Need To Know About Facebook’s Latest News Feed Design
  2. Five Notorious Facebook Attacks (Learn How To Protect Yourself)
  3. 5 Essential Things You Should Know About Facebook Nearby Friends
  4. 15 Facebook App Tips And Tricks For Android Phones








9 WordPress Plugins To Detect Malicious Code In Your Site

hongkiat.com - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:01

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) used by people either for simple blogging or other purposes like setting up an e-commerce store. There are plugins and themes to choose from as well. Some of them are free while other are not. Often, a few of these themes are actually uploaded by people who have tweaked them for their own gain.

They could possibly filled with malicious code that can easily hack your blog. Sometimes, backlinks to their sites are also added into these themes and a normal user has no idea how to cope with these backlinks. In this post, we’ve gathered 9 effective tools to deal with malicious code in a WordPress theme or website.

1. Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC)

Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) is a WordPress plugin which scans the source file of each installed WordPress theme for malicious code such as hidden footer links and Base64 code. Once it detects any malicious code then it shows the path to the particular theme, the line number and a small piece of the distrusted code which makes it easy for a WordPress administrator to directly analyze a particular piece of suspicious code. [Get it here]

2. Exploit Scanner

Exploit Scanner can scan the files and database of your website and also detects if something dubious is present. While using Exploit Scanner, you must remember that it will not prevent your site from a hacker’s attack and it will not remove any suspicious file from your WordPress website. It is there to help detect any suspicious files uploaded by the hacker. You will then have to remove it manually. [Get it here]

3. Sucuri Security

Sucuri is a well reputed security and malware scanning WordPress plugin. The main features offered by Sucuri are monitoring of files uploaded onto the WordPress website, blacklist monitoring, security notifications and much more. There’s even remote malware scanning thanks to the free Sucuri SiteCheck Scanner . The plugin also offers a powerful website firewall add on which can be purchased and activated to make your website even more secure. [Get it here]

4. Anti-Malware

Anti-Malware is a WordPress plugin that can be used to scan and remove viruses, threats and other malicious things that may be present in your WordPress website. Some of its important features include customized scan, complete scan, quick scan, removal of known threats automatically and much more. You can register the plugin for free at gotmls. If you are not into “phone home” scripts then avoid this plugin as it uses the “phone home” feature to check for updates. [Get it here]

5. WP Antivirus Site Protection

WP Antivirus Site Protection is a security plugin for scanning WordPress themes as well as all the other files uploaded on your WordPress website. The main features of WP Antivirus Site Protection includes scanning of each file uploaded on your website, updating their virus database on a regular basis, the removal of malware, sending alerts and notifications via email and lots more. There are also certain features that you can pay for if you want even tighter security. [Get it here]

6. AntiVirus for WordPress

AntiVirus for WordPress is an easy-to-use protection plugin which is helpful for scanning WordPress themes used on your WordPress website for malicious codes. By using this plugin, you can get alerts for viruses in the admin panel. There’s also a daily scan where you’ll get email notifications if anything suspicious pops up. It can also whitelist your site and there’s plenty of other features. [Get it here]

7. Quttera Web Malware Scanner

The Quttera Web Malware Scanner helps to scan a website for protection against malicious code injection, viruses, worms, malware, Trojan horses, etc. It offers some nice features such as scanning and detection for unknown malware, blacklisting status, a scan engine with artificial intelligence, detection for external links and much more. You can scan your website to detect malware for free while other services cost $60/Year. [Get it here]

8. Wordfence

If you’re looking to defend your website against cyber threats, you could try the Wordfence plugin. It provides real-time protection against known attackers, two-factor authentication, blocks an entire malicious network (if detected), scans for known backdoors and does plenty of other things. The services mentioned are free but there are also some advanced features which you can get with payment. [Get it here]

9. Wemahu

Wemahu is a crowd powered malware scanning WordPress plugin used to find malicious code in the files and themes of your WordPress website. With this, you can monitor your files for changes, execute regular scans on your website and receive reports via email among various other features. [Get it here]

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20 Pattern Tutorials For Your Future Designs

hongkiat.com - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 16:01

Different graphic and web design projects require different design elements and patterns are just one of them. They can be used as a background or foreground in various situations, depending on your needs. You can even use a pattern that you’ve created yourself to add a personal touch to your work.

Today, I’d like to share 20 pattern tutorials for Photoshop and Illustrator that you can use in your future designs. The best part about these tutorials is that you can set your imagination free and customize each pattern as you like. From nature-inspired patterns to more abstract themed ones, there’s plenty for you to choose from. Some of these tutorials require 2-3 hours of your time but it’s definitely worth it.

Create a Summer Underwater Seamless Pattern in Adobe Illustrator. You can channel your excitement for summer with this adorable summer-inspired underwater seamless pattern that features cute marine animals.

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Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop tutorial: Design damask patterns for wallpaper and homewares. Steven Bonner is an expert in repeating pattern. In this lesson, he guides us on how to create a damask pattern in Photoshop and Illustrator.

Quick Tip: How to Create a Quick and Easy Diagonal Pattern. Creating diagonal patterns can be a bit of a challenge but with this manual you’ll be able to do it easily.

Geometric Pattern in Illustrator. Take a look at this tutorial if you’d like to learn how to create a simple vector geometric pattern in Illustrator. You can play around with colors to customize this too.

Adobe Illustrator tutorial: Create quirky repeating patterns. Create a repeating pattern that looks like a map with Illustrator. This tutorial is quite long and time-consuming, but the beautiful end result makes it worthwhile.

How to Create a Spring Floral Pattern in Adobe Illustrator. This spring floral pattern would make a classy background for a wedding blog. Follow the tutorial if you’d like to recreate this.

Adobe Illustrator & InDesign tutorial: Design a geometric pattern for a poster. This awesome vivid abstract pattern seems like a tunnel to nowhere. By the end of this gudie, you’ll know how to turn it into a retro poster.

Adobe Illustrator tutorial: Use Illustrator’s Live Trace to create a vector pattern illustration. This pattern is totally mind-blowing. The tutorial uses the method of tracing photos to create this surreal and endless pattern.

How to Make a Quick Kawaii Candy Corn Pattern for Halloween. Who says Halloween has to be over? Use the Pen Tool, the Blob Brush Tool, and Pattern Options to create this sweet candy corn pattern.

Adobe Illustrator tutorial: Master Illustrator CS6′s new Pattern tool. In this guide, you’ll see how to use the Photoshop CS6 Pattern Tool to make repeating elements inside vector scenes.

Creating geometric patterns in Illustrator. Geometric patterns are still pretty trendy. Follow this tutorial to create a colorful cube pattern.

Create a Sweet Honeycomb Pattern in Adobe Illustrator. This honeycomb pattern looks realistic doesn’t it? Maybe you should try it out for yourself…

Illustrator tutorial – How to create diagonal seamless pattern. There are many uses for a diagonal pattern, so this is useful for any kind of graphic design project.

Create an Abstract Geometric Background with AI & PS. You can create this simple abstract geometric background with ease using this tutorial.

How to Create an Easy Geometric Aztec Pattern in Inkscape. This manual will show you how to create an Aztec inspired pattern in Inkscape.

How To Create an Easy Abstract Blur Pattern Design. In this tutorial, you’ll learn the process of creating an amazing geometric gradient pattern in Illustrator and Photoshop.

How to Create Web Pattern with Custom Shape in Photoshop. Use Photoshop custom shapes to create this interesting pattern.

Create a Colorful Geometric Pattern in Photoshop. Here’s another cool geometric pattern in this collection you can try out.

Quick Tip: Create a Complex Pattern by Nudging Smart Objects. Master the repeating pattern technique with this cool tutorial. It showcases how to create the complex pattern using smart objects and the nudging technique with your arrow keys.

How to Create a Bright Geometric Circle Pattern in Adobe Illustrator. This tutorial will teach you how to create a geometric circle pattern in Illustrator.

More Photoshop Tutorials

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10 Useful Github Features You Need To Know

hongkiat.com - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 11:01

Github is now the place where programmers and designers work together. They collaborate, contribute, and fix bugs. It also hosts plenty of open source projects and codes of various programming languages. What’s more, Github also released a desktop application for both Windows and OS X that allows anyone to integrate Github within their workflow seamlessly.

But, there is more to Github than meets the eye. A number of features are somewhat hidden beneath the neat user interface and hence are overlooked by many. So, here are 10 Github features that you might not know.

1. Drag and Drop Gist Code

Gist is Github’s very own facility that allows you to host code snippets. You can also browse and find a large number of code snippets of a variety of languages. Using Gist is downright easy and should be intuitive. But, did you know that you can add codes directly from files? Simply drag and drop the files on the Gist, the codes within the files will be immediately copied. It’s quick and saves you a lot of time!

2. Creating a folder via the Web Interface

While many of us may manage Github repositories through the free Github app, Github has also built what they called WebFlow. It allows us to manage repositories through Github’s web interface.

And this is how you create new folders or files in directly in Github. End each new input with a / to create a new folder. Or, specify a file extension and hit Commit a New File to create a new file.

3. Using Git URL Shortener

These days people like sharing things from their photos, statuses, and news in Twitter. If you are a Github user, you might also want to share your Github repository. Yet, the repository URL is sometimes too long to be shared in Twitter, which only accepts 140 characters.

Certainly there are plenty of options to shorten the URL like Bit.ly and Goo.gl, but why not consider using Github’s very own facility, Git.io? Git.io will shorten the URL of your Github repository. There is also the command line interface for Git.io to shorten the URL through Terminal using the gitio command.

4. File Finder

Besides creating new files, you can also navigate through the files in any repository quickly. This feature is not visibly obvious as it comes in the form of a keyboard shortcut.

Hit the T key to activate File Finder. Press the ↑ and ↑ jump over files up and down. Or, type the file name to select a specific file you already have in mind.

5. Using Github Emoji

Emojis or emoticons are tiny icons that depict an expression of some sort (mostly in the form of faces). In Facebook and Twitter, people often express their feelings with emojis.

Actually, you can also show emojis in Github. Find all the Emoji characters and codes in the Emoji Cheat Sheet. The emojis can be added in README.md file of the repository, Wiki, and in the Issues thread.

6. Using Github Command Line Interface

Whilst most people like working using a GUI, there are still some who prefer using CLI (Command Line Interface). This is where Github CLI comes in. Github CLI is initiated with hub. It brings extra commands that can be used along with the git commands. The full list of the features can be found in the Hub repository page.

7. Linking Lines

Sometimes, you might want to share and point out specific lines within the file of your repository. Github allows you to do this by adding #L followed by the line number at the end of file URL (take a look at the example below).

You can also select a range of lines by specifying the starting and end lines within the #L parameter. The #L10-15, as an example, selects line 10 to 15.

8. Task Checklist

Github extends markdown to cater to its own need. Now you can add a list of checkboxes in Github using - [ ] or - [x] to denote a checked item. Please note that the checkbox will only appear in a list item; the [ ] sign have to be initiated with a dash sign ‐. Here is an example:

- [x] create a post. - [x] create a page. - [x] add images. - [ ] published the post.

This code will turn into:

9. Map, CSV and 3D Rendering

Gihub supports CSV. If you include a .csv file, Github will render your CSV file into an interactive tabular data format. It even allows you to search through it. Aside CSV, Github will also automatically render Map with the geoJSON format and 3D with the STL extension.

10. Get Octodex

Last but not least, did you know that Github has a variety of versions of its mascot, Octocat? Google has its Doodle, while Github has Octodex. Octodex is a collection of creative alternate version of Octocat. There, you can find Labtocat, Femalecodertocat, Octoliberty, Spidertocat, Megacat, and a bunch of other cool Octocats. You can use Octodex as you personal avatar. Refer to the FAQ page for more on the use policy of Octodex. (Image Source: Octodex)

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A Look Into: Firefox Developer Edition

hongkiat.com - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 16:01

After a short tease, Mozilla has officially released Firefox Developer Edition. It’s a new browser aimed specifically at web developers. Although it hasn’t been announced officially, it looks like it will be replacing Firefox Aurora at some point.

Judging from the name, the official announcements and the landing page it looks like Firefox Developer Edition is the first large browser built for development, not just supporting it. It contains a multitude of debuggers, panels and other utilities, plus it uses its own profile so it can be run alongside regular Firefox more easily. Let’s take a look at what it offers.

User Interface

The interface changes in the Developer Edition already hint at a developer-centric approach. The toolbar is noticeably narrower than both Chrome and regular Firefox while adding more buttons by default.

It’s fairly obvious that the new default theme is dark, which is possibly the result of some clever UI testing. It is extremely important to find everything at a glance while developing. A one second delay in finding something could amount to hours a month. I personally prefer the light colors for casual use, but the dark UI was great in my initial tests.

If you prefer the default theme you can switch the developer edition theme off very quickly using the “Use Firefox Developer Edition Theme” button by going to Menu -> Customize.

On the other hand, there are some interface choices which puzzle me. I’m fairly sure that bookmarking will be far less used in this version and most developers know the Ctrl / Cmd + D key combination to make it happen. The fact that there is a dedicated button for this; the bookmarks section, the downloads section, even the Developer Edition start page seems a bit unnecessary.

First Impressions

My first impression was that there’s nothing I haven’t seen before here. This is even reinforced by Mozilla on the landing page:

“It’s everything you’re used to, only better”

Developer tools handle about the same as they do on regular Firefox, WebIDE and Valence can already be used. Only slight cosmetic changes make the Developer Edition different than Firefox.

That being said, there is an underlying feeling of a good direction here. It seems very much like Mozilla has been waiting to create this version of Firefox for a while, they were just waiting for a critical mass of developer tools and know-how. It feels like they’ve created a framework in which to place future tools and methodologies and put them to the test.

In more developer-friendly lingo: it seems like the Developer Edition is a fork of the regular version which was made just now, with a few tweaks. From here on out, development will intensify and focus specifically on this product, separating it from regular Firefox and making it the go-to place for developers. Or at least that is the intention.

One of the biggest indications of how Mozilla plans to position the Developer Edition is the inclusion of Valence (more on this later). Mozilla’s stance on Valence is this:

“The Adapter is still in its early stages, and is available only as a preview. We do not yet recommend using it for day-to-day work.”

It seems that the Developer Edition will receive tools earlier than regular versions of Firefox. While it doesn’t seem likely that Mozilla will remove developer features from Firefox, perhaps some upcoming ones will only be added to the new Developer Edition. I for one support keeping bloat out of browsers and welcome this new direction.

WebIDE

One of the most prominently advertised features is WebIDE. Added in Firefox 34, it is a replacement for the App Manager – it enables you to run edit and debug Firefox OS applications using the Firefox OS simulator or an actual device. In other words, it is what Xcode is for iOS.

Valence

Valence is essentially a cross-browser debugging tool. It allows the developer tools to work with a wide array of browsers. At the moment the main targets for Valence are Chrome on Android and Safari on iOS. The technical details of this are a bit difficult to comprehend, so have a look at this video done by Mozilla:

Developer Tools

If you’re familiar with developer tools in regular Firefox, then it’s pretty much what you’d expect. Invoke it using Ctrl / CMD + I or right-click on an element and click “Inspect Element”.

Inspector

The Inspector gives you a collapsible tree view of the page DOM. When you hover over an element in the DOM, it is highlighted on the page which is super-helpful for figuring out dimensions and where things are in general.

Doing it the other way around is even more helpful. By clicking on the top right icon as per in the screenshot above, you can cruise through the page and elements will be highlighted under your cursor. In many cases, this is a more viable way of inspecting something when it is in the midst of overlapping elements.

The Inspector allows you to double-click to edit the contents or properties of an element. One trick which may be useful to know is that the DOM can be traversed using the arrow keys, you can even delete and undelete using the delete key and Ctrl / Cmd + Z command.

Clicking and dragging in the DOM will highlight a portion of the DOM, the bounds will be shown on the web page, another great tool for visualizing your HTML structure and CSS code.

The CSS rules for any given element shows up in the sidebar giving you a quick read and easy editing access.

Console

The console is a window that shows aggregate information from CSS, JS, Net, Security and Logging. It is mostly used for Javascript debugging and tracking down missing resources but can also be used to issue commands, even via jQuery.

Debugger

The console is great for quickly logging some script issues and making sure your code works on the first try. If you want to figure out some more complex problems, you’ll need to use the debugger.

By setting breakpoints in your code, you can pause the execution of the Javascript code before that point. You can view where the execution is in the code and you can modify variables before moving on.

This not only enables you to figure out bugs but also lets you test various use cases pretty quickly. It won’t replace unit testing but it will give you deeper insight and a great companion to them!

Style Editor

The style editor is a great place to write styles and see the results applied live. You can select any of the stylesheets loaded or you can import and create new ones on the fly. Any modified file can be saved easily.

While this is an amazingly handy feature for little tweaks, it isn’t so convenient for more complex environments that work with preprocessors. These environments can be set up, but the overhead of doing so is about the same as using a preprocessor which has live reload enabled.

Performance

The performance tool was introduced with Firefox 34 and is a replacement for the JavaScript sampling profiler. It allows you to create extremely detailed performance profiles down to the the toll that reflows and paints, Javascript and CSS parsing takes and more.

Profiles can be saved and imported easily, so you can compare profiles to make your applications streamlined to the extreme!

Timeline

The timeline tool is not available in the regular version of Firefox by default, it enables you to see what operations are performed by the browser engine. The tool will display reflows (layout), restyle, paint, console and DOM events.

Network

The Network tab is great for gaining insight into the requests that your website makes while it loads and while it is being used by users. It provides an overview of resources and status codes, along with the time it took to load and when the loading took place.

The bottom filter allows you to look at specific asset types, a particularly useful tool for figuring out AJAX calls using the XHR type.

Clicking on any asset displays its response and request headers, cookies, parameters, response and timings.

One of the most useful features is the ability to start a performance analysis on your website by right clicking and choosing the appropriate option. This will bring up two pie charts which compare a cached and an un-cached load.

Responsive Design Mode

The responsive design mode allows you to view how your site will look in different sized windows. This is not a true emulator so results may vary somewhat, but it is great for previewing the outcome of media queries.

Once in responsive mode you can switch between preset screen sizes, click and drag for custom sizes, change orientation and simulate touch events.

When developing, I usually change the browser window width and leave it be until I’m done but I find that the responsive design mode is great for final checks and for looking at states in-between breakpoints.

Conclusion

In a nutshell: while there aren’t a lot of brand-spanking new features for developers who keep up with Mozilla news, the direction is very promising. I look forward to a lot of tool-specific features like Coffeescript, Sass, Less and others.

Perhaps even compiler and other processing tools could be added to make Firefox Developer Edition a true developer package, and not just something we use to look at our end result with.

As a seasoned developer, I already have tools to compile my scripts, create final builds, automate general programming tasks, error-check my code and live-reload my browser. If a browser would offer some of these features, it may make some aspects of my work a lot faster. I’ll be following this project with great interest and I suggest you do too.

If you have any thoughts or already have some experience with the Firefox Developer Edition, let us know what you think in the comments.

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Top 6 Sins of Article Writing

hongkiat.com - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 11:01

A wise man once said: “Tell me where I’m going to die, so I won’t go there.” One way to figure out how to do something is to figure out how not to do it first – then invert.

Take article writing, for instance. To learn it, you can either (1) plow through a ton of Internet resources on the do’s of article writing; or (2) keep an eye out for these basic, but important, boo-boos, and cut them out as soon as you spot them. Here, I’ve put together the 6 sins of article writing.

1. Missing Mission

Problem:

You want to talk about Topic 1, but you’re also itching to discuss Topic 2. Oh, and Topic 3 also looks interesting, but then there’s Topic 4…

And then there’s the rub. If you don’t have a clear, singular idea of what your article is about, or what you want your article to do for your audience, you’ll struggle with the rest of your piece. Your travel article may end up looking like a personal blog post, or your sales copy may look as though it’s more appropriate for a user’s manual.

Solution:

Imagine what your ideal reader looks like. Then, imagine that you’re facing this person right now, and the person asked you: “How would you sum up your topic in one sentence?” Give the most concise answer you can come up with, and try to center the rest of your article around your answer.

And…Presto! You have a focused, coherent article that doesn’t try to be too many things at once.

2. Ho-Hum Headline

Problem:

Your article is otherwise informative, engaging, and bookmark-able, but you’re getting only a handful of hits for it. If that’s the case, you may need to work on your headline, since 8 out of 10 people read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.

Solution:

Many writers prefer to start with a headline and write their article from there, but your case may be different. If so, you can write the article first, figure out the article’s main benefit for your target reader, and compose your butt-kicking headline based on that benefit. For example, instead of a so-so and done-to-death headline like “How to Write a Good Article”, you can use “Article Writing 101: 5 Steps to Wowing the Socks Off Your Readers”.

Be careful not to use hyperbolic words in your headline, though. If you develop a reputation for writing click-bait articles (i.e. articles that have attention-grabbing headlines but have little in the way of good content), your readers won’t be so keen on clicking an article of yours the next time it shows up in their feed.

3. Sub-Par Sub-Headings

Problem:

You managed to reel readers in through your headline. But, for some reason, these readers don’t seem to take time to read your article, as evidenced by your high bounce rate. It could mean that you don’t use enough sub-headings, or your sub-headings just aren’t as interesting as your headline.

Solution:

As a writer, you may be wary of “listicles” (articles in list form) in general. Here’s the thing, though: Sub-headings break up your article’s intimidating walls of text, making it more digestible for your readers. Sub-headings don’t have to get in the way of your creativity; in fact, they’re actually great for exercising those wordsmithing muscles.

For example, you may have noticed that every sub-head in this article (with the exception of the one for the conclusion) uses an alliterative pair of words. They give a nice rhythm to the article, and will (hopefully) make the points here easier to remember.

4. Prissy Prose

Problem:

“This is a sentence. This is another sentence. I will follow up the last sentence with another sentence. This sentence ends this paragraph.”

Individually, those last few sentences are grammatically correct, but together they sound “off”. They’re robotic, lifeless, and feel as though the writer just wanted to hammer out some words and get his job over with.

Solution:

You may have heard this advice before, but it bears repeating: Write like you talk. Or, more accurately, write like how your best self would talk: confident, authoritative, and respectful of your audience’s sensibilities.

5. Wordy Words

Problem:

It’s possible to take the whole “Write like you talk” thing too far, though. For example: “Hey, uh… I just want to talk to you about article writing, and I have so many things to say, and they’re quite important, so…”

Solution:

Admittedly, I’m guilty of this too. What I do is write a draft as fast as I can, then cut out all the unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, usage of passive voice, “be”-verbs,”that”, and “there” later. I don’t always follow this rule to the letter, though, since there are times when including those “unnecessary” words actually makes the article flow better.

6. Constipated Conclusion

Problem:

You’ve poured so much of your creative energies into crafting your headline, intro, and body, that you forgot to save some for your conclusion. You end up with parting words that feel flat, and leave readers feeling cheated somehow.

Solution:

Don’t give away everything in your intro. The intro’s job is to hook your readers in, while showing them the general premise of your article. The conclusion’s job, on the other hand, is to tie up the loose ends in your premise, while leaving your readers with a feeling that they’ve just alighted gracefully from – rather than thrown out of – the train that is your thought.

Anything Else?

Personally, I’m a “keep a few guidelines in mind” kind of writer, rather than a “stick with a ton of rigid rules at all times” writer. When you’ve been in the wordsmithing business long enough, you tend to develop an instinct for what works and what doesn’t, and that spills over into your work. The best advice I can give is this: Write often and long enough, and you’ll master those pesky writing “rules” in no time.

Here Are More Articles On writing…

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12 WordPress Plugins To Manage Front-End Content

hongkiat.com - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 16:01

WordPress is a great platform for managing a blog, website, portfolio, etc. but is limited when it comes to the way you manage your content – everything is done from the backend of the blog. This means that even if you need to edit something quickly on a post or page, you’ll need to go to the backend to do so.

Granted, there are other things that can only be done from the backend like uploading media, creating categories, switching themes, creating new posts, and more. But having to constantly go to the WordPress Admin area just for a small change can be a huge setback if you have other things that require your attention.

Wouldn’t it be much easier if you could edit your content, add new posts, add new categories and such from the front-end? Thanks to the plugins on this list, you can. Below you’ll find 12 useful front-end plugins to use on your WordPress blog.

Front End Upload

With this plugin, your visitors can upload files to your Media Library from the front-end of your blog. Just add a simple shortcode where you’d like the form to appear. You’ll get a notification when new items have been uploaded. The plugin has taken a number of precautions to ensure your safety and to protect you against malicious file uploads. [Get it here]

Front End Login Form

As the name suggests, this plugin adds a login form to the front-end of your blog. It’s a huge timesaver and really convenient. No longer will you or your members have to go to /wp-login or /wp-admin to log into your blog; you’ll be able to do so from wherever you’d like – via a shortcode. [Get it here]

WP Front-End Repository Manager

WP Front-End Repository Manager gives members of your site the ability to upload files and create directories. It includes AJAX-based validation, progress bar for uploads, customizable dialog messages, and you can restrict file types and sizes. Your members can add details to their files, and you can add custom file meta input fields for them to fill in when uploading files. [Get it here]

Front-End Editor

Don’t want to go to the WordPress dashboard for quick fixes? This is the plugin for you. With Front-End Editor, you can make quick changes to your content (pages, posts, comments, widgets, and more) from the front-end of your blog. It uses the same permissions as your backend so if a user isn’t allowed to edit from the Admin area, they won’t be able to edit from the front-end either. [Get it here]

Front-End Help / Feedback Widget

This plugin adds a quick messaging widget to your blog’s sidebar. Visitors can use it to send queries, request help, provide feedback and create support tickets. You’ll receive a simple email letting you know that a message was received, and you’ll get a link in the email so that you can quickly respond to the user. [Get it here]

Front End Theme Switcher

The Front End Theme Switcher plugin adds a drop down menu to your blog (in 1 of 4 locations) so that visitors can change the theme of your blog. With this plugin, you’re not limited to a single theme, and your visitors can choose their preferred look in seconds. [Get it here]

Back End Instructions

Back End Instructions delivers instructions to clients who require instructions on how to run their new WordPress site (built by developers) or readers with instructions on how to use a site. This plugin also serves multi-author blogs; the owner can add a checklist to the front-end of the blog. [Get it here]

DJD Site Post

If you accept guest posts on your blog, DJD Site Post adds a responsive front-end blog post editor to your blog (on a page or in the sidebar) letting guests write posts without having to go to the backend. There’s also translation options. [Get it here]

Frontend Publishing

Have a group of writers you regularly publish on your blog? Frontend Publishing allows them, once registered, to submit, edit, and delete posts from the front-end of your blog. All posts that meet your guidelines will be added to the pending queue, those that don’t will automatically be filtered out. You can also add instructions into the form, letting members know what can and can’t be included in their posts. [Get it here]

Guest Posts

Guest Posts allow both registered and unregistered users to use this front-end publishing form to submit posts. New submissions will then be added to the pending queue. It also saves the author’s name and email, making it easy for you to give credit to your guest authors. You can also automatically send a custom Thank You message after a post is submitted. [Get it here]

Live Edit

If you need to edit the title, content or any Advanced Custom Fields on your template, this is the perfect plugin. It provides a slide out panel for editing. With this plugin, you can specify the DIV elements that you want to be able to edit, thus creating multiple edit regions on a single page. [Get it here]

User-Dashboard

The name says it all: this plugin adds the user dashboard to the front-end of your blog. The registration/login form along with forgot password, edit profile, and edit profile picture will all appear on the front-end. Just add the shortcode to a post or page and the dashboard will appear. [Get it here]

Conclusion

As you can see, these plugins can prove to come in handy for different tasks in WordPress. It’s just a matter of figuring out what you need and what works for you. Do you use front-end plugins on your blog? If so, which ones are you using? Let us know in the comments.

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Frankendesign &#8211; When Re-Using Old Designs Makes Sense

hongkiat.com - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 11:01

Do you all know the story of Frankenstein’s monster? A mad scientist attempts to create a living creature using parts from a myriad of individuals. Designers often have a lot in common with this classic tale, using elements from their old designs to create new ones for completely different clients.

This of course raises the question: is it ethical to do what I like to call “Frankendesign”? When is it a good time to dig up old work and repurpose it, and when should you create something entirely new?

Check The Legalities

First, I have to state the obvious disclaimer: when a client purchases exclusive rights to your work, that means they alone can make the decisions about where and how to reproduce it. It’s what they’re paying for, after all. So always make sure you have legal permission to use any previous client work that would be recognizable.

If no one can recognize it, then it’s probably fine to use. To be on the safe side, make sure you own the rights to your work. The topic of intellectual property and selling rights to design work can and has filled entire books, but as a side note, unless there’s a specific reason a client needs exclusive rights, it’s probably better not to offer them.

Time Factor

In many art and design fields, reusable graphic elements are called assets – the designer creates them once, and they can be used over and over in many different projects. A typeface is an example of a common 2D design asset. Some type designer created it one time, and you bought the license to reuse it again and again.

Another type of asset is a template, or a fixed composition that allows you to drop in designs in infinite combinations, knowing that they’re always going to look good together. Templates can be formal (Adobe software usually comes with dozens of pre-made templates that are free to use), or – my favorite – simply custom made compositions that suit your own style and needs.

Time constraints factor in big here. If you need, say, a custom layout for a WordPress theme, and your client has given you a tight deadline, it makes sense to simply use a template from something you’ve done before, switching out the actual design elements for new ones relevant to the project.

Dig Into That Huge Backlog

If you’ve been designing for awhile, you’ll eventually build up an enormous backlog of work, everything from early drafts that were never used to full-blown projects that were killed at the last minute. Variations, revisions, that thing you did for your mom for her church’s bake sale. Whatever it is, you’ve probably saved it.

Even if you only design part-time, it’s inevitable that you will accumulate many gigabytes of designs: logos, navigation buttons, custom type and lettering, vector illustrations, and so on. This is great for the designer on a deadline, because it means that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you sit down to do a new project.

If you’re not already in the habit of cataloguing your old designs, I would recommend getting started on that ASAP. Not only will it help you find exactly the type of asset you need right when you need it, it will also give you the opportunity to study your old work, rather than just toss it in a folder somewhere.

Use Old Work To Get New Ideas

That leads us to perhaps the best use of old designs: inspiration. Designers are often inspired by old work they did, using it as inspiration to create new work. Perhaps there was an idea that wasn’t appropriate for that client at the time, but that you now want to explore. Or maybe you print out a previous layout or sketch and use it in a mood board to show a new client your thought process.

Another reason to study old work is so that you can get better as a designer. The more you examine what you did in the past, the easier you can correct mistakes and avoid technical errors going forward. I make it a habit to reorganize my old work every quarter at least, browsing through for old dogs that I can teach a new trick or two.

What Do You Think?

Do you use “Frankendesigns” in your work? What do you think of the practice – should designers reuse their old work more, or less? What insights have you learned from repurposing your old work?

Related posts:

  1. 5 Latest Web Development Tools You Should Know
  2. Designers: Why Writing Your Own Copy Helps
  3. Fresh Resources For Designers And Developers – September 2014
  4. Designers: How Being Opinionated Can Increase Your Visibility








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