Bringing web applications to your Desktop

Prism

I played around with Prism a few months ago and was fairly impressed. Prism lets users split web applications 

out of their browser and run them directly on their desktop, Also known as a Site-specific browser. Prism has recently hit 1.0 beta, and is available for OS X and Windows. So far I’ve only used it for Gmail and Slacker radio and I recommend doing a quick search on flickr for “Gmail icon” or “Slacker icon” (or whatever site your making the SSB for) then use that image. If you don’t specify a image it uses the faveicon by default which is only 16 pixels square.

Another great SSB that I have been using on my Mac’s for a while is Fluid, Although as of this writing fluid has only reached version 0.9.6 so if your wanting something a bit more up to date you may want to stick with Prism.

http://prism.mozilla.com/

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Social Media And Business

What is “Social Media” and why is it important to your business? It’s important to use every edge you can. Social Media can separate you from your competitor. In a good way.  Many people interact online on a daily basis. Why not join them and start interacting with them? Show them what your business has to offer them.

Wikipedia defines Social media as:

“Social media is information content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. At its most basic sense, social media is a shift in how people discover, read and share news, information and content. It’s a fusion of sociology and technology, transforming monologue (one to many) into dialog (many to many) and is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers. Social media has become extremely popular because it allows people to connect in the online world to form relationships for personal and business. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).”

From a business owner’s point of view the most important things to focus on while using social media are…

  • Quality content – publishing useful information lends credibility to your business in the eyes of readers
  • Giving valuable information freely – by giving away information worth selling customers feel the need to reciprocate and a certain percentage then buy something from you
  • Creates two-way communication with prospects and customers – You can actually engage in two way conversations with customers personalizing your relationship with them

Quality – Among other things, your online presence needs to look professional and well-designed. Ugly templated sites won’t do anymore.  Keep in mind, well-designed does not mean you need to go spend thousands of dollars on a flash-enabled site. Although I used to love watching flash intros, I recommend staying away from flash now. I focus on building sites that look good without having to install extra plugins. Just make sure your site looks like you spent a reasonable amount of time on it and that it represents your company in a positive manner appropriate for your type of business.

And stay away from plain white backgrounds. They typically appear too bright making it difficult to read.

Check out this article at http://www.smashingmagazine.com which compares an up-to-date well-designed website vs. one that looks like it was designed 10 years ago.

Give Valuable information…and keep the information coming. If you keep your site static and don’t add updated information regularly, what reason do your visitors have to keep coming back? Even if it’s just a matter of keeping a photo gallery updated. You can accomplish this by displaying a flickr photo stream on your website. Set up a blog and keep new information flowing about products or services you offer. This keeps users visiting your site. Once they read something about a service you offer or a product you sell, they’ll be more willing to purchase it from the person they learned about it from. That can be you, or it can be your competition.

Create two-way conversations with potential customers and current customers too. Keep your potential customers informed about the services you offer and products you sell. If you post a few times a day on Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace, people that otherwise might never hear about you and your business get exposed to your message. Or you may see someone asking questions about a need one of the products would be perfect for. This opens the opportunity for you to give them as much information as you can.

Most importantly, this is often two-way communication so you not only get to talk, you get to listen to your potential customers as well.

What should you be listening for? Here are a few possibilities…

  1. What do your customers think?
  2. What are customers in your niche saying? 
  3. What are your customers actually doing?
  4. What are they spending their money on?
  5. How do you compare with others in your industry?

Where you should you start?

Sign up for and account at http://twitter.com/ and do some searches at http://search.twitter.com for users interested in the products or services you offer. Start following people that you find interesting and ones that seem involved you activities related to what you offer. Don’t spam them with direct messages. Twitter is more about offering interesting comments and adding value to the conversation. You can post links to interesting articles you’ve added to your blog or website.

Add your profile to Linkedin if you offer professional services of any kind. It’s a great place to connect to people that need what you have to offer.

Next set up a flickr account and start uploading pictures, making sure to let everyone know via twitter when you upload new images. Next start expanding your company’s website to embrace social network technology.

I’ll delve deeper into Social Media in future posts.

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Flickr Photostream In WordPress

flickr-logoPerhaps you noticed in the top right of the page I’ve added my flickr photos. This is auto-updating, as soon as I upload new images to flickr they appear here on my site as well. And its super easy.
flickrstep1

First head over to http://www.flickr.com/badge.gne, We are going to use the HTML Badge for this. On the next step we have a few options about the type of content you’d like to display. You can choose to display all of your public photos and video or perhaps just your content with a specific tag associated with it. You can even limit it to only display content within a specific flickr set. You even have the option to display all public content from everyones uploads, and yes you can specify specific tags for this as well.

To get the layout I use, select not to display your portrait, leave the number of images to display at 3 (4 isn’t an option we will override this in the next step anyway). Choose to display your most recent images, (or you can opt to display random images) Select Square for the size and for orientation select None (Because you want to style it yourself).

flickrstep5Go ahead and skip the Colors step because we are going to style this ourselves with a bit of CSS. Don’t worry what it looks like at this step, in fact we only care about one thing on the next step, the bit of code I highlighted in the image. However we need to change this code just a bit to load 4 images instead of 3 and to make the code Valid. First lets replace all the & with & and then we need to adjust count=3 to count=4 your end code will look somewhat like this (This will pull MY 4 images not yours be sure to get the code from the flickr page to pull your images).

appearance_widgetsNow that we have the little bit of code we need, lets get it ready to place in the WordPress sidebar. WordPress Widgets are also known as “sidebar accessories” which are WordPress Plugins or add-ons to your WordPress blog sidebar. Developed by Automattic for WordPress and WordPress.com blogs, WordPress Widgets allow the easy addition of design elements, gadgets, content, images, and more to your WordPress sidebar to personalize your blog without knowing HTML, PHP, or any code. Many WordPress Plugins now come with a Widget version to allow easy addition to the sidebar. One Widget type is Text which allows us to input our own HTML or Plane text, We are going to use this Widget type.



appearance_widgetseditor2Now that we have the Basic code put together, we need to style it, so we need to add some CSS to the WordPress CSS file, Don’t worry its not as hard as you think, WordPress has a built in editor for doing this. (The following Instruction’s assume your running the latest and greatest Version of WordPress, If your not UPGRADE! if you don’t know how, Use the Contact link at the top of the page or leave a comment to get ahold of me, I offer WordPress Upgrades as a service, contact me for more details)

Select Appearance from the Left Sidebar, then select Editor, okay we are going to edit the Style-Sheet at the bottom. Once the editor is up scroll all the way to the bottom and Paste the following code in.

#flickr {
width:165px;
height:150px;
margin-left:12px;
}
#flickr a img {
float:left;
margin:0 0px 8px 8px;
background:#3f4e4e;
padding:4px;
width:62px;
height:62px;
}

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The Craft of War: BLIND

Check out this video by percula posted on vimeo.com according to percula this is only his second personal creative work he has ever posted, if this video is any indication of his tallent I not only hope we see more work from this individual but I hope he gets a serious job offer from someone soon. Bizzard if your reading this get ahold of this guy quick =)

So far the comments on the page have nothing but high praises for this individual, (you can also catch a HD version of the video at that link) so check it out and leave some feedback of your own.

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Writing Your First iPhone Application

I wanted to share somthing I found over at pragprog.com now that the iPhone 2.1 SDK has been officially released and since Apple has Droped the NDA from the iPhone development scene, How-to’s are sprouting up everywhere.

Take a sec and go check out this post for a look into programing for the iPhone if your interested they have a free 22 min video avaliable and if you like that they have 5 more videos at $5 a pop. 

http://pragprog.com/…/writing-your-first-iphone-application

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