HTML & Flash Websites

14 10 2010

A website is something you create to get your point across to the masses, and give the sea of people surfing through the net on any given day a reason to stop and smell the roses.  Your website is there to portray something you hold very dear, or something you find absolutely hilarious.  How do you want people to view, and ingest the media/info that you have compiled in one place for them to ingest?  HTML and Flash websites are worlds apart in their layout schemes, and user functionality.  Anymore, one cannot seem to exist without the other in our online universe.

First let’s look at good ‘ol HTML.  Boy she’s a beauty isn’t she?  Since the dawn of November 24, 1995 when HTML 2.0 was released upon the world, people have been using this time trusted coding system to program and build the web pages of tomorrow.  At first all it could really do was portray text, arbitrary colors, and some horrendous backgrounds.  Since the implementations of CSS and JavaScript into web pages, around 2000 thanks to Internet Explorer 3 people have been able to enjoy a bit more control over what types of behavior their websites have, as well as entertain the visitor more.  If you would like to visit one of the last bastions of pure HTML web design, head on over to Craigslist to appreciate the sheer simplicity, yet effectiveness of their system.

Flash first appeared mainstream when distributed as Macromedia Flash way back in 1996.  Shortly after adobe picked it up, and has been having a ball.  Flash started as a small implementation for websites, and really paved the way for streaming Audio & Video applications.  Since then flash has evolved into either adding interactivity to web sites, or building entire websites from scratch in the flash atmosphere.  It wasn’t until recently that Flash has become a bit more of a ‘stand-alone’ design tool.

HTML is becoming the crusty old tool of web design and the internet.  One thing to keep in mind is that the perfect website today is rarely going to be exclusively Flash or exclusively HTML.  A healthy balance of cleanliness and interactivity found by harnessing all of the different elements together can help make your web page one of the best ones out there.  HTML works great for formatting text, working out screen placement, and anchoring your data sheet.  HTML is great for building and supplying forums, forms, and basic articles on web pages.

There is a fantastic Flash based web site building platform derived almost entirely of flash called Wix.  The sheer architecture of their builder and the sites that it creates are quite impressive.  There is HTML integration so you can bridge over the things you want from across the web.  Wix is by no means the only WYSIWYG web design tool, but it is one of the best web design “Clouds” out there.

Flash websites have way more interactivity than any other HTML website I have seen.  With so many moving parts and flashing colors, its hard not to be entertained by all the commotion happening on the screen.  This interactivity adds a whole new sense of involvement or the user as well, and encourages them to explore and experience all that you have to offer.  Rather than browsing the older HTML pages that you have to scroll down for ages to search for the info you are looking for, Flash encompasses you monitor tightly, and encourages you to turn the page.  On top of that, it can animate a page turning.

Web design and surfing is a quickly evolving terrain.  HTML and Flash are going to continue working together over the next few years to bring us the even more unforeseen heights.  Do yourself a favor and start spending some time building your own web pages.  Once you create one, you won’t be able to stop!

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Free Drawing & Graphic Software

13 10 2010

As the onset of Open Source software has been making more headway in the past couple of years, there is a bounty of quality free software around for anyone to try on for size.  Some more notable than others, but most are very well made products, and regularly updated through a small army of programmers.  The most common license for these products is the GNU General Public License, but there are other, less notable licenses as well.  This licensing ensures the quality and trustworthiness of the products you will be using in the future.  Anyone who has spent some time with the Linux operating system will be familiar with most of this.  If you are not familiar with Linux, get familiar.  Without further ado, let’s get listing!

1. GIMP – The GNU Image Manipulation Program

http://www.gimp.org

GIMP is essentially a full on Photoshop alternative, and it is 100% free.  I use gimp for almost all of my graphic design, and you can save your files in Adobe friendly formats that allow you full functionality with any Adobe suite or products you may already own.  This program runs much more efficiently than adobe in my opinion, I just enjoy the interface more.  Sure, there are some shortcomings that you just cannot ignore, such as the sheer quality edge and color detection you have in Photoshop, but if this is not essential for you, then why bother.

2. Blender – model – shade – animate – render – composite – interactive 3d

http://www.blender.org

Blender is a quality 3D modeling platform, also created under the GNU license.  It can be used for creating everything from 3D models and smoke simulation to creating animated films or video games!  Quality wise, Blender stacks up to other comparative programs, aka Maya and 3D StudioMax, rather well.  Sure it is limited in lack of Font Preview for text, lack of N-gon-based modeling workflow and some missing modeling tools.  It also is on the leading edge with advanced algorithms utilized for its UV unwrapping.  Basically, compare the price tag of Maya or 3D Studio to Blender and you definitely get what you don’t pay for.

Just a sample of what Blender can do:

 

 

3. Google SketchUp

http://sketchup.google.com/

Sketch up is essentially a simplified AutoCAD.  It has some one-dimensional aspects to it as well, and you can build houses for display in Google earth.  The simplicity lies in the interface, and the projects really just seem to come together.  I downloaded it on a whim, and wound up losing hours to trying to recreate my home, and building my dream one.  With some nice snap-to options, and a fun scaling platform, its worth the download.  And hey, who doesn’t trust Google?

This is really just scratching the surface of quality free drawing, image manipulation, and 3D modeling software out there, but if I had to pick, these are my top three.  Once you get into open source, or Google for that matter, it can be really hard to quit.  Hopefully this can help send you down a long and happy road of new, healthy computing options.





Why Having Your Own Website Can Be Essential

7 10 2010

In today’s professional world, having an online presence is something can only help to portray you appropriately in the professional world.  It is a way to start the ‘Business of You’.  The great thing is that in today’s day and age, with all of the online resources available to us, the ability to achieve this seemingly daunting task is much easier than most people think.

First let us cover some of the reasons why this tool can be helpful both personally and professionally.  When done right, a website that acts as an online portfolio/resume can do much to simplify the channels that people have to go through to receive detailed information about your professional life.  You can include hobbies, interests, and anything else you may find applicable.  Sure your Facebook or MySpace page will touch on these, but having the creative control over the design, and how people ingest the information you are deciding to share with the masses.

The great thing about running the ‘Business of You’ is that you can begin to incorporate a business, or entrepreneurial mindset to the way you approach searching for, or applying to jobs.  Not to mention the confidence one can have when you walk into an interview and hand over a Resume, with an attached business card which has the address to your website.  Once there your ‘client'(employer) may search extended info on you.  They could download a PDF of your resume, follow links to some of the other companies you have worked for, and SHOW superiors what makes your professionalism more valuable than the other 500 people who applied without their own webpage.

You have to understand that business standards are starting to expect employees to have at least a Facebook page when considering employment.  With the added dimension that this adds for, you should be prepared to go beyond this by offering even more.  This added responsibility on your behalf can be taken to the next level with your personal website.  It can be done on one page with a simple layout, or five pages with music and photo galleries.  Whatever the career path or lifestyle being focused on, your website will capture and accentuate all the best parts!

One thing many people think is that it is expensive to start a web page, confusing, and something you need to pay thousands in order to tackle.  Truth be told, there are website design companies out there, a.k.a. wix.com that allow you to very simply and easily (or involved and creatively) design and publish your own webpage with a ton of options, and a beautiful interface. if you wanted to have your own domain name, such as http://www.johnsmith.com, just head on over to GoDaddy.com and purchase your domain for around $10.00 for the year.  Or you could by a .info instead of .com and pay about $2.00 for the year.

All it takes is a bit of time and commitment, but when all is said and done, the sense of approval and satisfaction you will feel balances out the time and bit of money spent to get you up and running.  Companies like Wix have a wealth of help and support in order to get you up and running, and there is always Google for those questions that you just can’t seem to get answered.  What are you waiting for, get out there and start building!