Aviary, a robust online image editor that used to cost $24.99 a year for the full version, is now available for free. According co-founder Michael Galpert, a "recent round of funding (by Spark Capital, Bezos Expeditions & others) enables [Aviary] to finally achieve this goal." The full announcement is available here. -M
assertTrue( ) documented an amazing trick: In Firefox, you can make any page editable. Granted, the changes aren't permanent, but with this trick you can make minor changes to a page before taking a screenshot, or you can show someone how edited text should look on the page without copying the page into another program.
All you need to do is copy this code into the address bar and hit enter:
Then start editing.
In seconds, I can transform the IllinoisLegalAid.org Form Library from its original form into a shorter, cleaner version for a handout or presentation.
Original Form Library Page
|Edited Form Library Page|
To turn it off, reload the page (or get fancy with Greasemonkey). - K
Sitepoint, an online resource for Web professionals, put together a short guide to image file formats used on the Web. A great resource, this post contains a description of three file types (GIF, JPG, and PNG) and explains what each format is best for. - K
Be warned: this post is off topic. I apologize to those readers who are here for the good tech pointers and our opinions. This is neither. Feel free to skip to the next post. I won’t be hurt.
Still with me? Great. Get ready for a treat. Kevin Brooks, an English professor from NDSU and a board member of African Soul, American Heart, blogged about Andrew Filer earlier this week. Andrew wants to photograph every dot on the North Dakota map. The list of towns that he’s photographed is extensive, although he’s not yet made it to a few key cities: Fargo, Hankinson, Ray, and Zap. (How could he not start with the city famous for Zip to Zap?)
But Andrew has taken pictures of my hometown--Mayville, North Dakota. So, if you’ve ever wondered what Mayville looks like, here’s your chance. You can see pictures of my favorite drive-in, A & M, as well as Videos Plus, the local video rental store where my parents eat at least once a week. He didn’t take a picture of the elementary or high schools, but he has taken pictures of Clifford, Galesburg, and Portland, the three other towns in my school district. (That’s right. My high school, May-Port CG High School, had students from four towns, but my graduating class had just fifty-two students.)
And that concludes our tour of Mayville. Back to your regular scheduled programming.-K
By now, you should know that you can't just wander around the Web picking any ol' image to use as you please. You usually need to have permission first, and in a lot of cases, that permission costs money.
But don't fret, you can still find free images online. In fact, any work created by the US Government can't be copyrighted, and Uncle Sam has been kind enough to make several public domain image collections available for the public to use. For example:
- The Library of Congress American Memory Collection. This collection contains images from America's history - the Civil War, the Depression, World War II, settlement of the Great Plains, and so on. Ansel Adam's photographs from the Japanese-American Internment Camp, Manzanar, which are at the top of the list, are worth a look.
- The National Archives Charters of Freedom. This collection contains images of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights.
- The National Archives Picturing the Century. This collection contains images from National Archives collection that represent events and circumstances during the 20th century.
Of course, before using any of these images check that they are in public domain. Especially on the National Archives site, you can run up against some donated works that do have copyright restrictions. - K
So you've been put in charge of a web site design project, but you don't know a PNG from a GIF image, and your mother still tells you that your outfits don't match. Where do you turn? If you are looking for a quick read, I would recommend Jason Beaird's book, The Principles of Beautiful Web Design.
I happened upon this book while scanning the list of authors giving technical book readings at South by Southwest Interactive. Since I was looking for a book on "good" design and figured that someone willing to get up and give a book reading in front of techies must have something pretty interesting to say, I ordered it from trusty Amazon.
Overall, I was pretty pleased with my purchase. Jason gives a quick overview of web design principles without assuming that the reader has a lot of technical knowledge. In five short chapters, he quickly covers the basics - layout and composition, color, texture, typography, and imagery. And along the way, he develops a simple example to show the reader how to put it all together. For me, this book had two highlights. First of all, the chapter on imagery was amazing. I've played around with Photoshop and GIMP, but I've never gone much beyond the basic tools. Jason's examples have encouraged me to stretch beyond my comfort zone and have given me enough information so that I should be able to replicate some of his techniques. The second nugget was when Jason pointed out two free web tools: the WellStyled Color Scheme Generator, which helps pick out color palettes, and the Colour Contrast Check, which checks to see if foreground and background colors provide enough of a contrast.
Before you run out and buy/borrow this book, a couple words of caution:
- This book is for beginning designers. If you have been exposed to a lot of color theory or have done a lot of graphic design or page layout, much of this book will be a review.
- This book won't teach you HTML or CSS.
So now, budding web designers, go, read, and learn. - K