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While I was writing the first iteration of Evolving Code Monkey, I’d read that “Content Curation” was Important.

I just didn’t know what Content Creation was.

Here’s Beth Kanter‘s classic take – Content Curation Primer.

EvolvingCodeMonkey returns!

Courtesy of Mashable.com, here are 8 quick tips from “young entrepreneurs” who found ways to improve conversion on their landing pages – 8 Landing Page Remedies to Boost Conversion Rates 

Have you ever had to write a case study where you work? Or have you thought of writing one to help your chances of finding a better job?

Here’s Christopher Butler of Newfangled.com – he’s Rethinking the Case Study.

And here’s Smashing Magazine’s case study when they dropped their separate mobile website and began Adapting To A Responsive Design.

I turned up a couple of interesting pages when I was trying to figure out if, as a wannabe front-end designer, I needed to get up to speed on Photoshop (short answer: yes, yes I do).

An answer by user SLaks at Programmers.StackExchange.com pointed out:

Large sites are developed with text editors, not visual designers.
Depending on the backend technology, people probably use Visual Studio or Eclipse.

Graphics are done in Photoshop.

Dreamweaver is not used.

But are Eclipse or Visual Studio still the go-to text editors for front-end design?

James Lutley is a front-end designer living in England. Last year, he posted a long article, My 2012 front-end web development workflow. His text editor of choice is Sublime Text 2. Among other tools, James is partial to SASS / Compass, Git / GitHub, and Markdown. One of his selections from 2012, Adobe’s Shadow, seems to be on the threshold of a major relaunch as Adobe Edge Inspect.

In 10 Front-end developer tools you can’t live without, WebDesignerMag asks, 

Ever wondered what the pros use in their day-to-day workflows?

Why, yes I was, as a matter of fact. WebDesignerMag also points to Sublime Text as their first choice for serious text editing. They also mention WebStorm and RubyMine, IDEs for Javascript and Ruby from JetBrains.

Besides text editors, the article discusses five different Javascript frameworks — backbonejs.orgemberjs.comangularjs.orgknockoutjs.com, and meteor.com.

WebDesignerDepot.com’s list of Essential tools for every web designer includes some of the usual suspects, like Adobe’s free Kuler, Dribbble.com, Google WebFonts, Balsamiq wireframing tool, 960 Grid, and the like.

One tool I found particularly interesting was Radiant CMS, a Ruby-based Content Management System. I’ve been studying Ruby since January of this year (ever since the place where I work adopted it as an alternative to an ancient scripting language that hasn’t been updated since about 1998). A few days ago, I looked up Ruby blogging and CMS software as a possible alternative to WordPress, and I saw Radiant mentioned then. I wasn’t sure the package really had “legs”, but it looks like I’m going to have to check it out.

For the past year, I’ve let this blog go while working as a Toastmasters Area Governor. Actually, I let the blog go before that – but I certainly didn’t take time to bring it up to date since I got the Area Governor post last August.

I’m wrapping up my first year as an Area Governor, and signed up for a second year – but now that I know what to expect from that, I can devote some time and attention to other things.

Unfortunately for me, the blog software I was using (BlogEngine 2.5) crashed, and I’ve been unable to restore the blog on its original hosting. I’m going to have to bring it back online by copying the text from an XML dump, which will take some time. But the Monkey will be back up as soon as I can manage – and I’m going forward with new posts as well.

If you blog, you’re probably aware that January 18, 2012 has been chosen by many websites as a day of protest against the draconian Stop Online Protection Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) under consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, respectively.

Sites that are planning to participate in the protest will be black, with a protest message in white text.

However, sites that have the same message on multiple pages, or copy a protest message from another (unrelated) site, could have their Search Engine Optimization ranking reduced, since Google rates sites with non-unique content very low. To prevent this, Google’s Pierre Far recommends that sites return a 503 HTTP status code while the site is blacked out.

The 503 status code tells Google’s “spider” that the site is temporarily unavailable. Google won’t attempt to index the content on the site while the 503 status code is being returned, and one’s Google search engine ranking won’t be hurt on January 18th.

If you have a WordPress site and wouldn’t have a clue how to hack WordPress to return a 503 status code, you’re in luck. WordPress.org has a plugin available for the January 18th protest. The plugin will return the 503 “site temporarily unavailable” status code and allow you to customize your blackout page with your own message.

The installation is simple:

  1. Unzip sopablackout.zip and upload the contained files to the /wp-content/plugins/ directory
  2. Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress

Unfortunately for me, this blog (Evolving Code Monkey) and my current career / career change / content creator blog (Edward Spurlock CC) use the BlogEngine.NET blogging software, and no one has released a plugin to allow a BlogEngine blog owner to easily blackout the page(s) and return the 503 status code.

The best I’ll be able to do will be to work up a custom theme (if I can do so in a hurry) and post temporary posts for the day, while leaving the rest of the blog online (viewable in the custom theme). That, and I can change my profile pic on Facebook and LinkedIn to be a black square with “stop SOPA” in white letters.

If you’re using WordPress on your own domain name for your blog and want to participate in the blackout, download, install, and configure the SOPA Blackout plugin before tomorrow!

And if you want to change your profile pic on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter for the day to join in the protest, visit BlackoutSOPA.org or create a blackout pic manually.

A week ago, I wrote about the launch of Google Android Training, Google’s effort to increase the number of Android developers.

Now, Google has followed up by launching Android Design, “your place for learning how to design exceptional Android apps.”

Looking at the Creative Vision link, I believe Android Design is focused on introducing existing Android developers to the new look of Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0). Now that Google has established Android as the most popular OS for budget smartphones, they are going after Apple’s leadership in the style arena.

If you’re just starting to learn Android app development, you’re probably spending most of your time on Android Training and other sites like it – as you should. But bookmark Android Design for when you’re ready to go beyond basic functionality and move into real style.

[originally published 7 January 2012 13:16]

Smashing Magazine shared a link to the Grid Portfolio theme by dessign.net on Smashing’s Facebook page.

However, the Grid Portfolio theme is just one of several elegant free WordPress themes on dessign.net’s site. All the themes are designed to showcase visual work, but the demos are configured to show different features.

For example, several themes feature links to one’s social media presence, such as Facebook page and Twitter feed. The Visual theme‘s demo is particularly rich – in addition to Facebook and Twitter links, the demo’s social media links include Tumblr, Flickr, Dribbble, and Forrst. Also, the Visual demo has the Blog enabled (unlike most of the other free themes’ demos).

All the themes have a video preview tour. The tour I watched was oriented toward showing how to set up the theme after downloading it, rather than marketing all the gee-whiz features of the theme.

If you’re involved with design, photography, or other visual arts, and you need a new WordPress theme for your site, check out dessign.net.

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