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Monthly Archives: January 2012

[originally published 31 January 2012 08:00]

From (which bills itself as The Curious Side of Smashing Magazine) comes

Help Wanted: Websites for Finding Design and Programming Jobs

The post lists 18 sites for finding Web design work, including both traditional job boards and freelance referral sites.

Curiously, however, the post doesn’t list Stack Overflow Careers, the job board arm of Joel Spolsky’s Stack Overflow tech advice sites. Stack Overflow Careers claims to have the best job listings from great companies. From what I’ve seen, it’s a great site. In fact, I’ve encountered attractive jobs just “in passing”, while looking up answers on the Stack Overflow advice boards or reading Joel’s blog.

BTW, while I was looking for Stack Overflow Careers, I happened across this post from the ServerFault blog:

So You Want to Get a Job in Information Technology?

(ServerFault is one of the Stack Overflow sites, of course)

But I digress – what are the 18 sites listed in the Noupe post?

  1. Freelance Switch (freelance – duh! – jobs for design, development, writing, illustration, Flash)
  2. Smashing Jobs (full time and freelance positions for design and development)
  3. Sensational Jobs (design and development jobs)
  4. WP Hired (full time and freelance, for WordPress theme design and plugin development)
  5. WordPress Jobs (jobs for designers, developers, bloggers, and WP installation/maintenance)
  6. Authentic Jobs (full time, freelance, and internships, for design and development)
  7. Coroflot (design jobs – you can upload your design profile)
  8. Woojobs (WordPress design, development, and support jobs)
  9. Krop (fulltime and freelance for designers, directors, and other Web “creatives”)
  10. Behance (designers, directors, and other creatives)
  11. 37 Signals (design and development jobs – 37 Signals is the developer of BaseCamp and Ruby on Rails, BTW)
  12. Programmer Meet Designer (“A great website that lets designers and programmers find each other” – cool!)
  13. Elance (if you’re a working freelancer, you probably already know this one)
  14. oDesk (combines freelance postings with an online time tracking setup – allows employers to track the time the freelancers spend working on projects)
  15. People Per Hour (design, development, and writing positions – fixed fee as well as by the hour)
  16. ScriptLance (freelance for developers, writers, designers, and marketers)
  17. Guru (freelance for design, programming, writing, and marketing)
  18. GetACoder (for designers and writers as well as coders – er, developers/programmers)
For more information (and links to all the sites), check out the Noupe article.

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. 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 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 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 on Smashing’s Facebook page.

However, the Grid Portfolio theme is just one of several elegant free WordPress themes on’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


[originally published 6 January 2012 20:51]

A few months ago, I ran across a short post on Website Magazine on Inspiration: 5 Destinations for Designers

 The five destinations are:

Of the seven sites listed above, I found Layer Tennis the most fun. What is Layer Tennis? From the site,

This is the Third Season of our live design events called Layer Tennis. Matches are played using video, animation, sound, photos, type and lots more, but the basic idea is the same no matter what tools are in use. Two competitors swap a file back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing the work. Each artist gets fifteen minutes to complete a “volley” and then we post it to the site live. A third participant, a writer, provides play-by-play commentary on the action, as it happens. A match lasts for ten volleys and when it’s complete, Fans tell us what they think and we declare a winner.

As Website Magazine said in their review, Layer Tennis is a hoot whether you’re a Web designer or not.

The other six sites are work – work you enjoy doing, if you’re a designer, but serious work nonetheless. Layer Tennis is pure fun.

If you want to find out more about the other sites, check out the Website Magazine article.

When I installed Microsoft’s Visual Web Developer Express Edition last year, I was surprised to find that the available downloads included a package for writing Windows Phone 7 apps. Surprised, because I was not aware that any Windows Phone 7 devices were actually on the market.

Now it’s 2012, I own a Windows Phone, and Microsoft continues to support developers and would-be developers for Windows Phone 7.

Besides the Express Edition capabilities, Microsoft has made Programming Windows Phone 7 available for download free. The book is authored by Charles Petzold, well-known Microsoft Windows expert programmer and programming book author. This 1000-page ebook contains the same content that you can buy in printed version on Amazon, but it’s available free for the downloading from Microsoft.

When I first began considering a Windows Phone as a possible replacement for my aging Android phone, I wondered if Microsoft was committed enough to the success of the Windows Phone to hang on and try to get significant market share. Recently, I’ve become convinced that Microsoft is in smartphones to stay, and will take a chunk out of the smartphone market in much the same way they carved out a portion of the gaming console market – by sheer force and serious investment.

Nokia has committed itself to Windows Phone 7, and a Nokia representative tried to bolster industry perception of that decision by claiming that young people are abandoning Apple iOS devices en masse. Personally, I think that’s ridiculous. For every Apple user who switches to Android or Windows phone devices, there are probably 10 new iPhone or iPad customers.

However, I do think Windows Phones will take a huge bite out of Blackberry’s dwindling market share. In fact, I think Microsoft will have Blackberry for lunch, and start nibbling on Android’s market for dessert.

To do that, however, Microsoft will have to build up the Windows Phone Marketplace. They’re definitely trying, with this free ebook, Windows Phone 7 integration in the Express Editions, and other programs. Currently, the Marketplace stands at over 37 thousand apps. This is a small fraction of the Android Market (which just hit 400,000 apps) and the iPhone App Store (over 450,000 apps). However, the Windows Phone Marketplace is coming up fast – in fact, the Windows Phone Marketplace grew by over 400% over the past year.

Google’s Android Market hit 400,000 apps last weekend. Do you believe Google thinks that’s enough apps?

If so, think again. In fact, Google has just announced a program to increase the number of Android developers – and it’s free.

Google Android Training is an online training program. Currently, there are 34 lessons in 11 sections. Google plans to add more lessons in time.

If you want to join the ranks of Android developers, Android Training is probably a good place to start.

[originally published 4 January 2012 16:09]

Many years ago, I read and was inspired by Seth Godin’s book on user flow design, The Big Red Fez.

Seth never used the term “user flow” if I remember correctly. But The Big Red Fez was all about the desirability of articulating the goal of one’s website, then designing the “funnel” to control the user’s journey from his/her arrival on the site’s home page or other landing page, through intermediate steps or pages, and on to the desired goal.

Today, Smashing UX Design features another take on this idea of crafting the funnel – Stop Designing Pages And Start Designing Flows. The article makes many of the same points that Seth made 10 years ago, but it’s aimed at Web professionals, where Seth’s book was aimed at business owners and what Paul Boag calls website owners.

One point in the Smashing Magazine article that I don’t remember from Seth’s book is the idea of stacking funnels. It’s based on a well-known principle in big-ticket sales and marketing – that you usually can’t make a big-ticket sale without developing a relationship first.

In Web marketing, this relationship-building may be the first “sale” – that is, first-time visitors arrive on your site thanks to a Facebook ad or a link on a friend’s Wall, or perhaps a banner ad on another site. You build a User Experience (UX) “funnel” to convert those first-time, low-information visitors into subscribers (say, to an RSS feed or email newsletter). The output of that UX funnel is the input to the “real” funnel – that is, a link from a newsletter taking the subscriber directly to a product page and a purchase.

Reading the article has caused me to reassess my strategy for a site I’m doing for a local nonprofit organization. I’d been thinking of little more than an online brochure, but reading the Smashing Mag article has reminded me that a proper job requires more than a brochure page.

I recommend Stop Designing Pages And Start Designing Flows to anyone learning to design Web sites. Even if your expertise is more technical and less marketing, the insights in this article are invaluable for any Web professional.

From CodeAcademy (via TechCrunch and LinkedIn) comes Code Year. Sign up (with a valid email address) on the Code Year site, and you’ll get a new programming lesson in your inbox every week.

From the TechCrunch story:

Codecademy co-founder Zach Sims tells me that the courses will be a mix of everything so people have “well-rounded basics,” beginning with Javascript and then continuing to server-side languages like Ruby and Python.

I’m already working on server-side Python and plan to work on Javascript later, so I probably won’t be working through the Code Year lessons for myself. However, I think I will sign up to see how the lessons are ordered and how challenging they look. Watch this space for more!


[originally published 2 January 2012 23:21]

This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids

This December, in a surprisingly simple yet ridiculously amazing installation for the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, artist Yayoi Kusama constructed a large domestic environment, painting every wall, chair, table, piano, and household decoration a brilliant white, effectively serving as a giant white canvas. Over the course of two weeks, the museum’s smallest visitors were given thousands upon thousands of colored dot stickers and were invited to collaborate in the transformation of the space, turning the house into a vibrantly mottled explosion of color…The installation, entitled The Obliteration Room, is part of Kusama’s Look Now, See Forever exhibition that runs through March 12.

The story was on the Colossal Art and Design blog. The blog is full of similar inspirational examples of art and design. Check it out any time you need some inspiration or just a break from commenting on Facebook.