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The Aspiring Artist

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The artist today reaches his or her audience, produces work that is meaningful, and stays true to his or her own vision. The combination of being successful in these three areas can be difficult. This is true for all artists, but especially for the sculpture, the potter. How do you reach an audience but not give in to the foolish expectations of society? Plus, how do you use a medium that is three dimensional, unlike a two dimension painting?

Perhaps an aspiring artist should begin to work with simple designs first. In many ceramic classes students are first taught to make dishes, like bowls and plates. This gives them the opportunity to be creative while working on an easier project. The clay art plates these students create may not impress any New York City critics, but it gives them the opportunity to express themselves while first learning basic sculpting techniques.

Clay is an amazing material when creating art. The basic dish can be made from this earth material, and detailed polymer clay art can also express an artist’s view. The artist who is able to move from the simple to the difficult will also be able to produce meaningful work. He or she will develop three dimensional pieces that are true expressions of life and art as he or she sees it. Mosaics or ornate sculptures can show what an artist intends to be his or her vision.

The vision of an artist can be completed with the proper two dimensional covering. A good artist will use his or her painting ability while applying a glazing, and using the more complicated overglazes will be second hand nature. A glaze can set a ceramic piece apart from other art work, or leave it among the mundane. A strong artist will take the almost final sculpture and turn it into a masterpiece with proper application of glazes.

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Source by Alice Lane


E-Learning Using Semantic Web and End-User Programming Techniques

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Introduction

Although there are web modelling tools available it still needs considerable effort to adapt these tools for educational use. Research is needed into creation of Semantic Web models for educators to use in order to create learning objects and models. This educational modelling research should focus on the creation of a web based knowledge management system, and migration of simple models that are normally created in spreadsheets to a shared learning environment.

With the development of technologies under the broad terms of Semantic Web and Web 2.0 there are opportunities to establish a highly interactive web based learning environment. The constructionist approach to understanding problems is to learn about them by modelling them. This approach can be used in combination with research into enabling end-user programming techniques in order to provide an environment for non programmers to model their problems. Visualisation and interaction provide rapid feedback that gives a powerful representation of the environment to be modelled.

Many people would like to make greater use of computer technology but are hampered by the need to learn programming languages if they are to fully interact with software. Instead they are limited to the use of certain features that are provided for them. A further constraint is the cost of software, and it is important to develop free software and encourage a community of end-user developers, and modellers.

The aim should be to create a software development environment that enables people to customise their own software solution. This is an alternative to provision of software as a finished article that can’t be changed. The e-learning software can be customised without requiring programming expertise.

Methodology

A Semantic Web modelling infrastructure could be created to be the basis of future research in learning systems. In order to achieve these aims it is important to examine applications that assist in model building and critically review them. The system we could be used to promote engineering to a skeptical public who see the profession as poorly paid and dirty, ‘House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology report science and society’ [1], and remote from the public [2]. The aim of this research is to try to bring together the areas of E-Learning, End-User Programming and the Semantic Web.

Since Engelbart’s Augment [3] there have been attempts to create systems to aid learning. Papert [4] and Smith [5] built on the Augment research to develop a method of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) that can be applied to e-learning. These systems were defined prior to the Semantic Web. It is important now to re-examine and apply this research using Semantic Web/Web 2.0 tools and techniques. Some examples are available [6], more information about the history of end-user programming is available [7].

Mechanisms of Web 2.0 [8] applications include Google web spreadsheets [9]. These applications are increasing in popularity, and can provide modelling capability over the Web, the use of Web 2.0 for public policy is examined in [10]. The advantages of open source collaboration are that as well as allowing researchers to co-operate and work together where they share an interest; it also allows the untapped potential to be developed of those who do not have an official research position. This includes students, people employed outside the academic environment, retired people and amateurs who have useful expertise. Astronomy, for example, has harnessed skills of this very diverse range of people to make new discoveries. The expertise provided by anyone involved can be applied to feedback on usefulness, or ease of use of software, as well as actual involvement in software development. This means feedback would be sought from users of software even if they were not software experts. Researchers would benefit the community by providing education tools online and for libraries. This is different from other open source communities in that the intention is to make the software easier to use and develop, and so involve those who have not previously been capable of participating in software development.

An E-Learning and Modelling tool could bring together experts in science, engineering, systems modelling, computing, web development, and Human Computer Interaction. In any location there are likely to be several researchers examining a different part of a related overall subject, such as web based systems. This means there is a need to co-ordinate researchers, in computing and engineering in a project to link together work on information management and visualisation for modelling and decision support.

Many people who are experts in their domain want to create software models. Scaffidi et al [11] show that most people who develop software are end users not professional programmers. End-user programming is particularly important in this research to make it possible for people who do not have a programming background to create their own educational tools. Semantic Web tools and techniques can be used to create a web based end-user programming environment, these aims are also explained in [12]. People can then use this to create their own software. This software could allow interactive visual modelling of information. This corresponds to the type of work normally undertaken using spreadsheets for modelling, and web editors for knowledge management.

Semantic/Web 2.0 Web Tools

The need is for an alternative way of representing these models, which does not require the user to write code. The tool created must make it practical to interact with and change educational models and to share information with others. Such a project can involve use of editing tools such as wikis [13][14][15], blogs, and semantic web editors [16][17][18] to allow discussion and explanation of the models.

There is an urgent need for Semantic Web tools to illustrate the benefits this technology can provide for education, ‘EASE: The European Association Semantic Web Education’ [19] explains this need. Some Semantic Web tools are available, explained by EASE and in the Jena User Conference [20] or being developed at present, but they are still difficult for people to make use of as they require a good deal of development expertise. REASE (the repository of EASE for learning units) [21] provides a way to find and create learning materials for industrial applications of Semantic Web technologies.

The key problem is enabling a Semantic Web infrastructure that will be the basis for future research in learning systems. To achieve this, a modelling environment needs to be created in order to allow people to customise their own models. This environment can be created using an open standard language such as XML (eXtensible Markup Language). As the high level translation this infrastructure would depend on tools developed in order to assist the user, provide an interface and manage the user interface. This is why tools should be used such as Protégé [13], Amaya [16][17][18]. Until recently XML has been used to represent information, and programming languages used for actual code. Semantic languages such as XML can be applied to software development as well as information representation, as they provide a higher level declarative view of the problem. Semantic Web techniques should be used because they can facilitate computer based communication. Berners-Lee defined the Semantic Web as ‘a web of data that can be processed directly or indirectly by machines’ [22]. Flexibility is essential when different people are not all using the same systems. To achieve this flexibility ontology languages such as the open standard OWL (Web Ontology Language) [23] can be used. OWL can be searched using SPARQL [24] because it is based on RDF (Resource Description Framework)/XML, and can be searched and accessed using XQuery [25] and XForms [26].

End-User Programming

An end-user programming project could involve co-operation with the Institute for End User Computing (IEUC) [27]. Other End-User Programming Consortiums are End-Users Shaping Effective Software (EUSES) [28] and Network of Excellence on End User Development (EUD.Net) [29]. An end-user programming environment can make use of ‘Program Transformation’. Program Transformation allows for writing in one representation or language, and translating to another. This is particularly useful for language independent programming, or for high level end-user programming that can then be translated to a language more easily understood by computer systems. This research is influenced by the theory of constructionism explained in [30] and the use of Logo for teaching [31] and [32]. This research could be particularly focused on the web environment, as this is cheap to support and allows for distributed modelling, and learning [30].

Human Computer Interaction

Use of the Semantic Web is to be a means for open standard representation of learning material, transformation into different representations as required, and for provision of a high level interface as a tool for model creation, and translation to educational objects. To achieve this is necessary to create a translator that converts the diagrammatic representation of a problem into e-learning objects. Translations could be performed into any programming or meta-programming language or open standard information representation language, the visualisation of the model created could be displayed on the web. A two way translation is needed between human and computer, and between different software environments. This definition used by Simons and Parmee [33] explains the aim “a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect on each other. The idea of a two-way effect is essential to the concept of interaction, as opposed to a one way causal effect”.

This communication strategy improves opportunities for end-user programming, sharing of information, and education of both users and computer software. The analogy of educating computer software to do what the user intends is called programming by demonstration in ‘Watch What I Do: Programming by Demonstration’ [34]. The user has the role of an educator of the software which acts as an apprentice to learn what is required. Learners are thus able to instruct the software and so program solutions, using an adaptive modelling tool. The education is then a two way process of the user learning from computer based software, and the software learning to do what the user requires. In order to enable understanding of the models and e-learning objects it is essential to visualise them and allow interaction. The visualisation can be depicted in various ways. Two examples are: as a tree (that can be colour coded to represent different types of information) and as an interactive SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) diagram of a component to be modelled. SVG is an XML based syntax so can be searched and modelled as such. Examples show a tree based representation of engineering components [35], and how a tree based representation is converted into an interactive diagrammatic representation [36]. Transformations are performed between a taxonomy representation of information into many different visualisations and software representations. This process converts an abstract representation of a problem to a concrete model created with the aid of two way communication between the user and the modelling tool.

Highly interactive web pages that act like programs to provide a user interface can be used to provide an interactive User Driven Programming environment. These interactive web pages can be based on visual programming languages such as Alice [37]. Interactive web programs can also be created using scripting languages and XML combinations such as AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML), which is an overall name for techniques to create highly interactive web pages. Ajax techniques for creation of interactive web models will assist computer literate end-users in programming tasks on the web [38].

Collaborative Modelling

Huhns [39] and Paternò [40] both explain that alternatives to current software development approach are required. The need is to translate from a model-based visual representation understood by users to software. Johnson [41] explains that successful interaction requires mapping between levels of abstractions and that translation between these abstraction levels required by users and computers is difficult. He explains that this problem often means systems are created that make the user cope with the problems of mis-translation. The representation of rules and information can be illustrated diagrammatically. It is possible to describe algorithms through concrete examples rather than abstractly. Models must be designed and visualised so that they convey to users a representation of a problem that assists with their vision of it. This subject is explored in [42] and is the basis of our visualisation techniques that enable users to create and understand models, which are translated into software representations.

Conclusion

Advantages of this research are : –

– Creation of an open standard online e-learning environment that is usable by non-programmers.

– Enabling of creation of e-learning objects by non programmers.

– Enabling widespread dissemination and sharing of models over the web.

– Provision of an educational resource for students, scientists, engineers, software developers, arts, and business.

– Increased user involvement in e-learning development to allow savings in cost and time taken for this development, and enable greater creation and use of educational tools.

– Availability of e-learning models and interactive visualisation of educational objects much more widely using browser based software.

– Enabling many more people to program.

– Opening up opportunities to people currently outside formal education.

This research can bridge the gap between computer literate people and e-learning software creation. This can give a practical illustration of the benefits end-user programming and Semantic Web techniques could provide for e-learning.

References

[1] Select Committee on Science and Technology Third Report Chapter 2: Public Attitudes and Values – Attitudes to engineering 2.39 – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldselect/ldsctech/38/3804.htm.

[2] Canavan B, Magill J, Love D, A Study of the Factors Affecting Perception of Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) in Young People (2002), International Conference on Engineering Education, August 18-21, 2002, Manchester, U.K.

[3] Augment – http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/amrc/seeds/PeterHale/EndUserHistory/Augment.htm.

[4] Seymour Papert – Logo –http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/amrc/seeds/PeterHale/EndUserHistory/Logo.htm.

[5] Smith, D. C., 1977. A Computer Program to Model and Stimulate Creative Thought. Basel: Birkhauser.

[6] Examples Page – http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/amrc/seeds/models.htm.

[7] History of End User Programming – http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/amrc/seeds/PeterHale/EndUserHistory.htm.

[8] Mayo, E., Steinberg, T., The Power of Information, 2007 http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/publications/reports/power_information/power_information.pdf?id=3965 Cabinet Office – An independent review.

[9] Google, 2007. Create and share your work online https://www.google.com/accounts/ManageAccount.

[10] JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) Technology and Standards Watch. 2007. What is Web 2.0? Ideas, technologies and implications for education.

[11] Scaffidi, C., Shaw, M., Myers, B. (2005). Estimating the Numbers of End Users and End User Programmers, IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing, (VL/HCC’05): 207-214 Dallas, Texas.

[12] Stutt, A., Motta, E., 2004. Semantic Learning Webs. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2004 (10). Special Issue on the Educational Semantic Web. ISSN:1365-893X – http://www-jime.open.ac.uk/2004/10.

[13] Protégé Community Wiki – User Driven Progamming – http://protege.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?UserDrivenProgramming.

[14] Vanguard Software Modelling Wiki – http://wiki.vanguardsw.com/bin/browse.dsb?dir/Engineering/Aerospace/.

[15] Visual Knowledge [http://www.visualknowledge.com] – Semantic Wiki.

[16] Quint, V., Vatton, I., 2004. Techniques for Authoring Complex XML Documents, DocEng 2004 – ACM Symposium on Document Engineering Milwaukee October 28-30 – http://wam.inrialpes.fr/publications/2004/DocEng2004VQIV.html.

[17] Quint, V., Vatton, I., 2005. Towards Active Web Clients, DocEng 2005 – ACM Symposium on Document Engineering Bristol United Kingdom 2-4 November – http://wam.inrialpes.fr/publications/2004/DocEng2004VQIV.html.

[18] Amaya, 2007. Welcome to Amaya – W3C’s Editor/Browser http://www.w3.org/Amaya/.

[19] Diederich, J, Nejdl, W, Tolksdorf R, 2006, EASE: The European Association for SemanticWeb Education, SWET2006 Beijing, China.

[20] Jena User Conference, 2006, Bristol, UK [http://jena.hpl.hp.com/juc2006/proceedings.html] – Proceedings (2006).

[21] REASE the repository of EASE for learning units [http://ubp.l3s.uni-hannover.de/ubp].

[22] Berners-Lee, T, 1999, Weaving the Web, Harper San Francisco, ISBN 0062515861.

[23] Bechhofer, S., Carrol, J., 2004. Parsing owl dl: trees or triples?. Proceedings of the 13th international conference on World Wide Web, NY, USA, pp 266-275.

[24] SPARQL http://dret.net/glossary/sparql – Simple Protocol and RDF Query Language

[25] World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), 2006. XQuery 1.0: An XML Query Language http://www.w3.org/TR/xquery/.

[26] Bruchez, E, 2006. XForms: an Alternative to Ajax?. XTech 2006: Building Web 2.0 16-19 May 2006, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

[27] Institute for End User Computing http://www.ieuc.org/home.html.

[28] Network of Excellence on End User Development EUD.Net http://giove.cnuce.cnr.it/eud-net.htm.

[29] End-Users Shaping Effective Software (EUSES) http://eusesconsortium.org/.

[30] Resnick, M., 1996. Distributed Constructionism. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on the Learning Sciences Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, Northwestern University – http://llk.media.mit.edu/papers/Distrib-Construc.html.

[31] Papert, S., 1999. What is Logo? And Who Needs it? An essay. LCSI’s book, Logo Philosophy and Implementation. http://www.microworlds.com/company/philosophy.pdf.

[32] MIT Logo Foundation, 2006. What is Logo? http://el.media.mit.edu/Logo-foundation/logo/index.html.

[33] Simons, C. L. Parmee, I. C., 2006, A manifesto for cooperative human / machine interaction, object-oriented conceptual software design, Advanced Computation in Design and Decision Making group Technical Report TR091006 – http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/~clsimons/Publications/CooperativeInteraction.pdf.

[34] Cypher, A, 1993, Watch What I Do Programming by Demonstration, MIT Press, ISBN:0262032139.

[35] Hale P, http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/~phale/Flash/FlashHCI.htm – Spar – Tree based representation.

[36] Hale P, http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/~phale/InteractiveSVGExamples.htm – Interactive Examples.

[37] Alice [http://www.alice.org/-] Alice v2.0 – Learn to Program Interactive 3D Graphics.

[38] Cagle K, AJAX on the Enterprise, AJAXWorld conference, October 4, 2006 – http://www.oreillynet.com/xml/blog/2006/10/ajax_on_the_enterprise.html.

[39] Huhns M, 2001, Interaction-Oriented Software Development, Journal of Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering.

[40] Paternò F, 2005, Model-based tools for pervasive usability, Interacting with Computers Vol 17(3), pp 291-315.

[41] Johnson, P., 2004. Interactions, Collaborations and breakdowns. ACM International Conference Proceeding Series; Proceedings of the 3rd annual conference on Task models and diagrams

[42] Crapo A W, Waisel L B, Wallace W A, Willemain T R, 2002, Visualization and Modelling for Intelligent Systems, Intelligent Systems: Technology and Applications, Vol I Implementation Techniques pp 53-85.

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Source by Peter Hale


An Introduction to Barcodes and Why They Have Become So Important

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The barcodes that are attached to clothing items and any other type of merchandise that you are purchasing are a series of printed line bars that vary in width. These are used to identify the item and each item will have its very own barcode. The bars are normally spaced evenly with a specific width that represents the information which is stored in binary digits. These codes can be decoded by a laser or optical scanner which is attached to a computer network. When the scanner scans the bar code the information within the code is transferred to the computer screen.

A barcode is actually part of a complete set that includes a computer, software, scanners, printers and labels. The printers are either thermal transfer printers or direct printers. Mobile terminals can also be used for mobile data acquisition. These come with a built-in scanner as well as a reader, a display unit and keyboard. The Point-of-sale area is also equipped with a barcode system such as high output laser or optical barcode scanners and some have trigger devices for hands-free scanning.

Barcode Software

The software that is used to create the barcodes will vary according to the operating system that is used on the computer. Microsoft Windows is the easiest operating system to find software for. Even so, Apple Macintosh computers offer the best barcode creating software. These computers are perfectly suited for DTP, prepress as well as the graphics segment. Barcode symbology is what the barcode has to incorporate. This is the barcode language that makes the automatic calculations and multiple output options which support the image formats such as PNG, TIFF, JPG and EPS (post-script).

Even though dedicated barcode generators provide the best solutions there are cheaper options that include barcode fonts. Even though this is an option, business owners cannot expect the same quality of barcodes with these fonts.

When choosing software, it is important to keep in mind that it needs to be highly specific and selected according to the application. What this means is that there is different software for print logos, sequential barcodes as well as barcodes that offer product images next to them.

Barcode Scanners

There are many types of barcode scanners available on the market today. The very first barcode scanners were referred to as magic wands as a nickname to their look. These were adorned with a single light-emitting diode (LED) plus a single photo detector. The entire barcode needed to be swiped in order for the want to have the ability to decipher the code. In today’s world the most desired are laser scanners. These utilize a moving laser beam that reads the barcode accurately even though it has super fast speed. Small businesses may not use these as they are often times out of reach price wise. If money is a concern these business owners can opt for the less expensive CCD scanners which use a row of LEDs and photo detectors.

Barcode Printers

Barcode are stuck to products so that they are easily identified when scanned. They are printed on self-adhesive labels using barcode printers. These printers come in two forms: Thermo Transfer Printers and Thermo Direct Printers. The thermo direct prints the barcode directly on the label using heat and light. This is somewhat reminiscent of the first fax machines. Optimal for small barcode print jobs, these barcodes are normally not kept for a long period of time.

Thermo transfer printers utilize heat sensitive ribbons that are placed between the print head and the label. Applying heat to the ribbon creates the transfer of ink from the ribbon to the label. The cost of these labels is more than the direct version but they are more durable. This type requires ink and ribbon which must be replaced from time to time.

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Source by Neil T Jones


Professional Website Design Companies Give Technical Edge Over Others

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Now that there are a number of websites in the virtual Internet world, standing tall in the group and keeping competition at bay becomes a bit difficult. The only recourse is to avail the services of a professional website design company.

What are the ingredients of a professional website? A professional website is not only appealing to the visitors but also efficient and effective at closing the deals and generates revenue for the website owner. Giving a professional look to the website is what is expected from a professional website design company.

Is the website Design Company really professional or just claims to be professional? This can be known by the feedback and the testimonials from the earlier clients of the website designing company. It is better to seek this information directly from the client rather than blindly trust what is being mentioned in the website.

Making the best user of the latest technical advancements for the efficiency of the website is the mark of a genuine professional web design company. This kind of web design firm sees to optimize the utility of the website and design it on the basis of study of the final website users. When the professional website design company is technically sound the efficiency of the website is seen on two fronts, the viewer’s perspective and search engine (SE) perspective.

Viewer’s perspective:

The web 2 content technology facilitates the website designer with the following features:

1. Creation of logos that can appeal strongly and remembered by the visitors

2. Decoration of the web page with latest template design styles and attractive background

3. Attraction through colorful boxes that highlight special offers and business information

4. Alteration of the font color, font type and font size

5. Attraction is more effective than the looks of the website based on the technology of the past

6. Segmentation of the business can be highlighted with the help of colored boxes

7. Creation of smart and attractive icons that make the navigation easy

Search Engine Perspective

The use of CSS makes the website light in weight and quick to download. A fast downloading website is considered search engine friendly because it positively affects the ranking on the search engine list page.

Appropriate use of technology permits the web designer to make the website theme meaningful and unique. The search engines consider uniqueness as one of the criteria for indexing the search engine list.

The use of styles like web 2 design technology makes the coding style effortless, easy and with the least java script numbers.

The services of a technically adept and professional web design company can make a vast difference between a successful website and static website.

Copyright © 2010

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Source by Bryan Bell


Fresh Content For Google

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Google is always looking at your website for fresh content and when Google sees fresh content it tells the whole world. It’s been proved that when websites change content, their position in Google improves.

To keep your website content fresh you can:

* Pay web designers for updates, or

* Learn HTML and CSS coding and update it yourself, or

* Use a good online Content Management System.

To pay web designers is the easy way, but they have their own timetables, so your website may not get updated as quickly as you like.

You can learn HTML and CSS to update content yourself, but will it look good on all browsers? You need to keep yourself up to date with HTML and CSS as Browser versions change the rules. Will you need to buy and learn to use software like Dreamweaver?

There are many good Content Management Systems, but some are costly to install. Is there any free CMS?

Yes. Most Linux hosting plans using cPanel provide FREE installation of utility software including blogs, site builders and content management systems. Just a couple of clicks, set a password, and the system is installed ready to use.

We have tried most of these installations and found that the easiest to use is WordPress. Popular for a long time as blogging software, WordPress has been improved over time so that now the blogging can be disabled and a static page can be chosen for the home page of a website. An advantage that WordPress seems to have over some other CMS is that it constantly being updated to maintain its security. We know of other systems that get hacked.

New themes (layout and styles) are continually being written for WordPress and some of these themes have hundreds of options to change layout and style. The beauty of WordPress is that you can change themes without losing any data. Inside WordPress admin is a section for browsing and installing new themes.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is taken care of in WordPress with its Permalinks, a system of automatically making the web address of each page look search engine friendly. Instead of the URL of a page looking like yourname.com/?page_id=1234 which is bad SEO, it can look like yourname.com/mexican-vacation which is good SEO.

Some web hosting providers, like us, will install WordPress free with a theme to suit a client’s website. The client then can just type in, or copy and paste their text into a WYSIWYG box, just like in word processing. To change an existing website to WordPress, the hosting provider can copy the website to a temporary location like host.com/yourname, setup WordPress at yourname.com, then you just copy from host.com/yourname and paste into yourname.com.

The WYSIWG text area has two tabs, “Visual” and “HTML” so that you can see the HTML coding of what you have entered. Of course you can even enter your own HTML.

When you add new pages you can choose to have them as main pages or subsidiary to main pages, and you can decide on the order in which pages are listed. You can set a hierarchical system of subjects and sections.

There are also icons for uploading and positioning images and other media. One trap is that you are allowed to upload images of any size and let WordPress optimize the image to fit the place where you want to display it, while storing the original image. That’s OK, but if you upload hundreds of poster sized photos of 2 megabytes each you can quickly fill up the disk space of your hosting plan. We advise using your graphics program to optimize your photos to the best size for your web page before uploading them to your website.

The WordPress theme that we use allows two left and two right side-bars, which with the center area makes a five column web page, although we don’t know any one who uses four side bars.

Other layout options include fixed width pages or percentage width pages, font families, font colors, font sizes, font styles, link effects, background colors, background images, header images, alternating header images, text over header images, logos and favicons.

The navigation can be across the top before or after the header image, down a side bar, or both. Colors and borders and hover colors of navigation buttons can be set. Widgets (items in the side bars) can include text links, image links or both. Links can be divided into categories, some with images, and some without.

SEO options include setting title, description and keyword tags, and whether the page title shows before or after the website title in the title tag. The title tag can be one of the most important areas of a web page for search engines.

For the keen there is also an option to add your own lines of CSS. In brief, the theme is totally customizable.

The biggest advantage of WordPress as a content management system is that in a few minutes you can add fresh content to your website. Search engines like Fresh Content.

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Source by Ken McKay


Computer Programming Languages Made Easy

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Programming computer languages typically belong to any of the two types- compiled and interpreted. Compiled programming languages are implemented by using compilers, which are translators that generate machine code from source code. The compiler can translate the source code into intermediate form, which is known as byte code. In interpreted programming languages, the programs are not directly executed by the host CPU, but they are executed by a software program called interpreter.

It is advisable to start with programming for beginners like BASIC. There are several basic compilers and interpreters along with commercial programming like Visual Basics from Microsoft.

Though there are several types of BASIC, it is advisable to start with QBASIC. In order to run QBASIC, you need to get to DOS and then find out the icon “MS-DOS”. Double click on it so that you can get “C://WINDOWS>. Type QBASIC and press the enter key. If you get a blue screen with something like guide, it means that you are ready to program.

If you want to learn programming with a simple syntax, you can go for LOGO. LOGO is used for functional programming. It is known for its turtle graphics, which is a method of programming vector graphics by using a cursor. You can build more complex shapes like squares, circles, triangles and other figures with the help of this language.

Though there are many good beginners programming languages, it is worth selecting C, C++, BASIC and Java, which are great for learning and support. C is a popular programming language that has facilities for structured programming. It features a static type system to prevent unintended operations. C++ is a compiled general purpose programming language and is an enhancement of the C programming language. It offers more than 30 operators, which cover basic arithmetic, comparisons, logical operations and manipulation. JAVA derives much of its syntax from C and C++. The Java applications are compiled to byte code and they can be run on any JAVA virtual machine, irrespective of the computer architecture. Modula 2 is a great teaching language that is ideal, if you want the power of C++ and the friendly syntax of BASIC.

It is advisable to have an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that supports several languages for the purpose of editing, in addition to indenting and syntax highlighting. Integrated Development Environment is also known as Integrated Debugging Environment that offers you some facilities for developing software applications. An IDE consists of a source code editor, a compiler interpreter, automation tools and debugger.

The source code editor is designed to edit the source code of the computer programs. It simplifies the process of inputting the source code, by auto completing and bracket matching functionalities. Build automation helps to compile source code into binary code. It runs tests and creates release notes. Debugger is used to test and debug other programs. It offers some sophisticated functions like running a program step by step and pausing the program to examine the present state.

When you are just getting started it is essential that you learn the basics of computer programming. This will enable you to gain a solid foundation upon which to build you knowledge and experience.

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Source by Steven Winters


A Day in the Life of (This) User Experience Designer – Part I

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What do I do and how do I do it? – Part I

It’s hard to write about yourself and what you live and breathe every day, but here’s a shot. My design work pretty much comes down to really sticking to a process. And the best process that I’ve found for problem solving, which is essentially “what I do” (I’m just fortunate that the solution happens to be something engaging and visual for the user experience), is a process I learned way back in design school – it’s called the I-D-E-A-T-E Design Loop. Many designers/agencies use the word “ideate” as more of a verb – “to create an idea.” Also, they often have their own snazzy names for the pieces of this loop, but they are all nearly identical. What’s important is that there IS a process because this is what really helps us designers navigate a creative initiative through organizations or businesses with many different players.

It never ceases to amaze me how useful this cycle has been for not only design related problems, but many other types of simple daily problems, like…planning a trip or shopping around for the best deal on a car. It’s all about focusing on what we’re trying to accomplish, and coming up with a solid game plan to make decisions, take action, and step back to evaluate success.

I – Identify the problem.

D – Develop a design brief.

E – Explore possible alternatives.

A – Accumulate and assess the alternatives.

T – Try out the solution. OR – Test the alternatives.

E – Evaluate the results.

“Rinse. Repeat as needed.” It’s really that simple.

Ok, so “what does that all mean?” Let’s explore each of these steps.

I-Identify the problem.

To get to the end, we have to know what we’re shooting for. It’s much easier to carve a path to that end if we write down or formally declare our ultimate mission, so that we can continually refer to it as we go along and ensure we’re on track. I begin by finding out what my clients see as their design problems or issues.

* Listen. Watch. Observe. I gather, absorb and digest what they have to share on insights, research or findings about user behavior, the usability experience, and feedback in order to see if the problems are actually problems and not just symptoms of a bigger problem, or sometimes not really the problem at all. This stage is also where good note-taking comes in very handy.

* If I’m working on a team with other usability professionals, we share ideas and knowledge about other similar problems or projects we’ve encountered in our collective experience, to check for any similar patterns.

* Then, Assess. I minimally assess the situation based on what I now know. I start noting areas of concern and trying to itemize the issues uncovered in the information gathering sessions.

* For anything I don’t understand, I ask follow-up questions and do further research. Dig. Scour. Search the marketplace. Ask around too.

* Then finally, I Assess again (because what I thought I knew might not be quite spot on). We can then begin to hypothesize what might be the problem and move on to developing the Design Brief.

Stay tuned for Part II of ‘A day in the life of [this] user experience designer’ as I discuss the ‘D’ in my acrostic – develop a design brief. So come on back. There’s a lot I have to share.

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Source by Karen Fojas Lee


Availing the Services of Appropriate Website Designing Company

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The demand of customized website designers is on the rise because business identities, non government organization, government organizations and even individuals are queuing up to get a website of their own. There are many web design companies offering web design services.

Which web design company should one hire for getting the web page designed? Selection of the right company can be difficult but not impossible. Some of the vital factors that need to be considered for this selection are as follows.

Costing:

If the costing is higher than the possible return on investment (ROI), it can lead to loss. If the costing is cheap then there are chances of the ROI not being optimized and inferior kind of website. One needs to clarify with the company about other services being included in the package. The Website features, the content and the services like hosting play a pivotal role in costing. Some of the key issues pertaining to costing of website design are cost of the entire project, monthly fee for hosting the website, customization, writing the content, multiple concepts or a single concept prior to web designing, and finally the comparison of quotes from different professional companies.

After Sales Service:

This is one of the crucial factors that need to be considered before placing the order with any company. If the company does not pay any attention to the performance of the website on the internet and is not accessible by the customer it reflects that the website design company is not interested in any feedback from the customer. Customer service is indispensable for web site development, good will and finally referral market. A website is a virtual creation on the internet, but the customer service should be realistic.

Goodwill:

The good will of any web design company is dependent on some indicators also known as credibility indicators such as 24/7 customer service, telephone support, google ranking, contract, fulfilling of the commitment and finally the feedback from the customers who have already availed their services.

Experience:

The web design company should have enough experience of servicing the client of the same industry. This is needed to know the prospective consumer behavior and market segment to be targeted. This helps in the customization of the website and optimizing the return on investment. Lack of experience can lead to waste of time, money and effort.

Add-ons:

The additional services such as web hosting, registration of domain and SEO are also offered by many company under a single roof. This plays an important role in costing and also catering to the customer needs. One of the best examples is about a client asking for changes in the website.

Time:

The website has to keep pace with the changing technology. Usually it takes a month or two to complete the designing of a website and host it on the internet. If it takes longer time the competitors move ahead at offering the services to your customers and as a consequence you lose business.

Haste is waste. A quickly designed website can be harmful to the business too. The turnaround time for designing the web page should be justified.

Copyright © 2010

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Source by Alex N Baker


Laptop Skin – Dress Up Your Laptop With Unique Skins

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Want to stand out among all the other laptop users on your next coffee shop visit? You can do so with laptop skins. They are decorative laminates for your laptop’s outer surface, similar to a decorative sticker. It is usually made of thin elastic material so that it stretches firmly across your laptop. Some companies even offer suede skins for their customers. It protects your laptop from scratches from constant use and transport. Plus, it earns you some serious style points!

What are the available designs?

Laptop skins can come in plain, basic colors which is perfect for people who just want a cover for their laptop. Usually, this type of skin bears the logo of a company or the maker of the skin. Others who prefer to use the skin to decorate their laptop can choose from different elaborate designs and colors. Many websites offer design themes such as animal prints, retro, nature, graffiti, patterns, flowers, vector-type and sports. Some skins even bear masterpiece artworks such as the Mona Lisa, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. A few companies even offer customization jobs where people can send in their designs or even photos to be made into skins. With the many design options available in the market, there is something out there that fits your personality.

Buying tips

1. Choose a removable laptop skin that can be safely removed without leaving spots or damage.

2. Choose laptop skins made of high quality material to effectively protect against dust and scratches. If you work in a cold environment, look for a neoprene skin which provides insulation.

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Source by Ilse Hagen


How an Affordable Website Design Can Benefit Your Business

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These days, most small businesses are realizing they need to jump on the digital bandwagon and join the ever-growing online community. The Internet is the only dynamic advertising medium around that’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Once you have your site up and running your website begins working for you non-stop. With hundreds of millions of searches being performed each day it is crucial that small business make the move now to take advantage of this incredible opportunity for exposure and growth.

The Challenge –

Most small businesses don’t have the capital of fortune 500 companies, to put forth as a long-term investment. There is a common misconception among most small business owners that in order to have a successful and thriving online presence they need to invest anywhere from $3000 to $10,000 in up front costs. I am here to tell you that there are a number of ways to establish your web presence for as little as $50/month.

Affordable Website Design Options

The Free Affordable Website Design Site

There are currently a number of free resources online that will allow you to create your own website generally limited to the templates that each company will provide. This option is generally best suited for an individual with a hobby who is not really concerned with the long-term prospect of their online presence.

Benefits

  1. The most obvious is that its free
  2. Your hosting is also free

Limitations

  1. Customization Limitations – With a free website builder your will generally be given a number of set template options to choose from. Initially this might seem like a good thing, but if you are serious about brand identity for your company this tends to be a problem.
  2. Technical Savvy – Generally most people do not have the tech background required to utilize all of the tools provided in an effective manner. Commonly people will get half way through the design process and realize that this not what they initially signed up for, leaving frustrated and without a finished product.
  3. You Don’t Own Your Website – This is a big one, especially when thinking in terms of long-term goals. When you create a website on free website builder platform you don’t own that website. If for some reason the company goes under, the website goes with them. Many times companies will start out with a number of free options but as they grow they start introducing limitations that only allow users a limited number of options on the free version. As technology evolves so do the tools that you are utilizing and these companies have the power to change their minds about what options they want to support for free.
  4. Internet Marketing Problems – One of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make is not buying their own domain name. They will use something like JoesHomeGarden.weebly.com as their domain and think nothing of it. The value of your website is always carried in the domain name itself. So if you are marketing for a domain name that belongs to another company you are actually doing their own marketing for them for free. This is the reason that free online website builders exist, they have created a system where their clients are doing the work for them. As mentioned before is this website is going to be used to display artwork that you do as a hobby on the side, its not really a big deal. But if you are an established company that is planning on growing your online identity for the next few years you need to make sure that you own your domain name.
  5. Poor website performance– Your website may crash frequently due to overloaded host servers.

The Next level Up in Affordable Website Design

If you are still reading this you’re probably seeking to gain a more established long-term online presence. The current market is saturated with website design companies that will charge you anywhere from $300 to $100,000 for a website. The question is… how do you know what company to choose?

Many of the big name companies recognized for their hosting and domain names services also offer a website design option. Generally their services tend not to be executed as well as that of a smaller local website design company. This is because the “website design” product that they are offering is just a side shoot of their primary services and thus does not generally get as much attention from the department heads in terms of product development and tends to be shoddy and have the “cookie cutter” appearance.

Your best bet is to find a small to midsized company that specializes specifically in website design and Internet marketing. This is something that they do everyday, and generally these website design companies will be able to provide you with better customer service and attention to detail specific to your personal needs.

Benefits

  1. You will own your domain name– Owning your own domain name is imperative as cited above. It is always in your best interest to create your own account, purchase your own domain, and work with your website design company to get the information updated as needed to connect your domain name to your host.
  2. Your website can be Customized to fit your needs – Working with a small to midsized company will allow you to be able to get customizations like custom designed galleries, and unique interactive widgets that are not generally available at the others.
  3. No design hassle or technical skills necessary – Small companies know how to communicate with those that have limited technical knowledge.
  4. Personalized Approach – You will generally be dealing with one person, instead of being passed around from sales to design then to tech and to billing.
  5. High Quality Design – Smaller design companies spend a lot of time on the design aspect of a website. Because they are smaller they are generally not limited to the monopoly mentality experienced at a corporate design firm that values speed over value.
  6. Website Built for Search Engine Efficiency– Extra care is will be put into all aspects of your website including the infrastructure and focus on how search engines interact with your website to gain the most optimum visibility.

Limitations

  1. You have to pay or this service
  2. 24/7 Support may not be available
  3. Smaller companies don’t have the resources to support a 24/7 staff. Although they will generally resolve your issues faster because of the unique skill sets acquired by a smaller staff.
  4. Development time may take 2-3 weeks
  5. Rather than a few days, largely due to attention to detail on your project.

Always do your research when committing to a design company. With some preliminary research I guarantee that you will save yourself hours of hassle with a company that either doesn’t provide what you need, or doesn’t care enough to get the job done right.

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Source by Thomas Belnap