Archive for May, 2007

Flash Inspiration: wildcard

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Just a quicky: wildcard has a few very nice flash visualizations. Just something nice to play around with for a bit. It’s also great for creating yourself a desktop wallpaper. ;)

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

A Periodic Table of Visualization MethodsWhile writing yesterday’s post, I came across the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods. As the name suggests, it’s a periodic table of faux elements, grouped into different categories, whereas each element represents a visualisation method (such as yesterday’s mind map). Hover over an element to see an example of each. So, next time you need to present statistics, or your boss needs you to create some buzzword-ridden slides, you might want to check the periodic table of visualization methods to see if there are better ways to present information.

Mindmeister: Collaborative Online Mind Mapping

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Mind maps are a great way to jump-start your creativity. In case you’re not familiar with mind maps: basically, you write down a a central term and in a “branching” fashion write down every word that comes to mind on that subject. The new words in return lead to new words that fit to those, and so on. In the end, you have a structured and hierarchical presentation of all the ideas that come to your mind:

Mind Map

I’ve done this numerous times for projects, and it really helps to grasp the full potential of the subject matter. Often, you’ll come to ideas you may not have thought of before. Letting your mind wander is not a problem (on the contrary, it’s the point!), since you’ll be able to pick out the branches and ideas that you deem useful.

It’s all the more fruitful when you have a friend or team partner brainstorming along with you. Until now, I’ve been using FreeMind, which is a great and highly productive desktop tool, but has one flaw: you can’t collaborate unless you’re sitting at the same computer, and ideas tend to come so fast you may be fighting for the keyboard. What about those sessions where the only connection you have is online?

mindmeister.jpgWell, a new project called Mindmeister promises to remedy this: they offer free online mind mapping that is (in my opinion) as intuitive and fast to use as FreeMind, with the additional advantage of collaborating with as many simultaneous users as you like. If you’re familiar with FreeMind, you’ll be glad to note that they’ve implemented the same keyboard controls that make the desktop client so easy to use (and on a side note, it’s prettier).
(Thanks, Kai)

MySQL Database Migration and Special Characters

Monday, May 7th, 2007

database.gifIf you’re a web designer who works with CMS systems, you’ll find that from time to time you’re going to have to do a little database migration. I usually create websites on my local test server and later on migrate them to their online servers. What often happens to me is that all the special characters get mangled up on the new server. Quotes et al turn into the weirdest combinations (“it’s” -> “it’s”). I’m pretty certain a few of you are nodding your heads in acknowledgment right now. Well then, it’s your lucky day: Michael Chu has written an article explaining why that happens, what you can do to fix it, and how you can prevent it in the future.

I Have a Book Fetish

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

Well, a small one, and hey, books are inspiring. And no, it’s not THAT kind of fetish, I just love reading. :) Kai from Stylespion passed this along to me and asked me to answer it, so here goes. (more…)

CSS Support in E-Mail: 2007 Edition

Friday, May 4th, 2007

E-Mail Campaign Monitor, one of the largest online services for newsletter management and deployment, has written up a new edition of the definitive guide to CSS support in e-mails. If you create newsletters, I recommend reading this, as Microsoft has managed to set back HTML e-mail by several years thanks to Outlook 2007. This info should prove very useful as a time and sanity saver.

AJAX: Selecting the Framework that Fits

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

AJAXWhenever I consider learning some AJAX, I find it frustrating trying to figure out which AJAX framework to use. In the article “AJAX: Selecting the Framework that Fits“, Dr. Dobb’s Portal reviews five popular AJAX frameworks, going by the criteria of widget availability, ease of maintenance, download size to client and available documentation. The reviewed frameworks are Dojo, Prototype with Scriptaculous, Direct Web Reporting, Yahoo! User Interface Library and Google Web Toolkit. If you want to skip reading the article: the Yahoo! User Interface Library wins, though your mileage may vary depending on your projects and criteria.

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