Thoughts

MacHeist – It’s More than Just Loot

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I’ve just begun participating in what maybe the most addictive game-fourm hybrid on the Internet, MacHeist.  Essentially, Mac fanatics can test their puzzle cracking skills and chat with other Mac users all the while earning licenses to some great Mac applications.

As much as I love working through a thought-provoking mental maze, I think what has been most enjoyable and useful so far is the conversations with other Mac users and the variety of advice put forth.

Best tip so far: Download Caffeine

Caffeine is a nice little app that keeps your Mac from automatically falling asleep or dimming. I have found this quite useful for getting my TV online fix, so Mac users, go check it out.

Custom Gadget Case

Monday, February 16th, 2009

As mentioned before, I have an iPod Touch.  Since I use it practically everywhere, I wanted a nice sturdy case to protect it while in transit, via my pocket, a purse or backpack.  A simple Google search brings up oodles of shoddy plastic techinicolored containers that offer minimal style and functionality for far more than I was willing to pay.

So I took a cue from crafty site and sought out information on hollowing a book:
http://how2dostuff.blogspot.com/2006/02/how-to-make-secret-hollow-book.html

I’m rather pleased with how it turned out, click the image to view larger:

Custom Case

Fontify Yourself

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

I have always wanted to create my own font, and have always planned on learning the software to develop various explorations in typeface design, but also for the vain purpose of having a typeface of my own handwriting.

In keeping up with the practices and various coding languages used in web design, I have had little time available to hone such a skill set. Fortunately for me, YourFonts.com provides exactly what I was interested in without needing to investing all the time, the opportunity to create a unique typeface both quickly and cheaply.

As soon as I stumbled across the site, I eagerly printed out the template.  For my first attempt I chose to stick with my own handwriting and quickly scratched out the alphabet and headed to the scanner.  I had a little trouble uploading a PNG, so I would suggest saving your file as a JPG. After a few minutes I had created “Sam’s Scrawl” and began playing around in Illustrator.  As I tested out my new font, I discovered that I was a bit to hasty with writing out the characters.  I then tweaked my initial scans in Photoshop and began the uploading process anew.

scrawlsample

I am pleased with the final result, however, the typeface would not be suitable for large size uses as it it is comprised of sharp vector shapes rather than organic curves.

Download Sam’s Scrawl for your own personal use.

Creative Commons License

The Supvertising Bowl

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Most Super Bowls barely grab my attention, I didn’t even watch the game the year my home team won.  Obviously, I am one of those people who “just watches it for the commercials.”  Perhaps I will admit to enjoying this year’s nail biter of a game, maybe it was due to  this year’s lackluster advertising efforts.  It seems that overly sentimental horses and slapstick tomfoolery don’t really do it for me.

However, I did greatly enjoy this imaginative gem from Coca-Cola:

Also of note, The New York Times posted this interesting graphical interpretation of Twitter posts during the game.

Answers about Analytics

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I include the free tool Google Analytics on all of my website development projects, as it provides clients with a good overview as to where people are coming from, how they got there, and what they hope to achieve while at the site.

Despite my love for this addition to my collection of web tools, I often misunderstand a great deal of information about it.  I sometimes lack a precise definition as to what each metric is measuring or how to really extend use of the software to get as much out of it as possible.

Fortunately, Analytic’s grandfather, Google search, has once again delivered.

Official Google Analytics Blog
Go straight to the horse’s mouth for the latest information and goings on with features and updates on their own software.  On a related note, never underestimate the power of the Help section.

Google Analytics Maximized: Deeper Analysis, Higher ROI & You
This more advanced article provides 9 tips for making you into an Analytics Empress/Emperor.  My favorite being number 8, make use of Analytics ability to provide information about internal site searches.  I had no idea this aspect existed and activated immediately on the sites I manage with a search feature.
Also check out the author’s archives on analytics for more insights to what you can learn from your implementation of Analytics.

5 Google Analytics Features You May Not Know About
A repeat of some earlier suggestions, however, the last tip cannot be overstated. Filter out your own visits. This is especially important if you check your site frequently, which you should, or if you have hired any one else to assist in the process.  Get the static IP address of as many of your internal visitors as possible and filter them out now.

Google Analytics Interface Tutorial [YouTube]
An often underutilized place to find information on just about any topic is YouTube.  This video tutorial is a good overall introduction to Google Analytics, perhaps a nice link to send to clients unfamiliar with the software.  Although, I do often revisit basic tutorials on all of my skill sets as more technical documents may overlook basic features that I may have never heard of during my initial research.

Update, a wonderful article from Smashing Magazine:
A Guide to Google Analytics Tutorial and Useful Tools
Covers more angles than I thought existed. The review of tools provided extends the usability of Google Analytics.

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