Friday, December 17, 2010

It's Snowing

This time every year I try to add a little snow to my web pages. There are two ways that I know of to do this. The first is with flash. Flash is not difficult and all that is involved is action script that is available with a simple search.

The second method is with javascript.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WordPress Nextgen Gallery

Notes from the Underground WordPress.

Bonnie Cotier's explanation of how to upload the Nextgen Gallery to your WordPress blog.

[gallery id="0"]

This is a test of the magic gallery plug in.

I will also want to check out the create a photo gallery tutorial found at

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to get multiple pages from same website to rank on first page of Google

How to get multiple pages from same website to rank on first page of Google?

Multiple page indexing on Google is now common place. If someone is searching for what Google deems as a very specific search toward a particular website, it will list up to 7 pages. According to Google, this applies “for queries that indicate a strong user interest in a particular domain."

You can read about indexing generally here.

I think the question needs to be refined - "How to get sub-pages from same website indexed by Google?"

There is discussion out there with the general conclusion that the "generation of these additional links are based upon user-behavior based information".

Some attributes that should be considered include:

* Popularity associated with a web page,
* Likelihood that the information on a web page will be accessed by a user,
* Likelihood that the information will be useful to a user submitting a search query, or;
* Other factors associated with the quality of a web page.

 I need to think about this and get back to this post.

Monday, November 22, 2010

RSS in Plain English

Two things to know.

First, "emailusers" on WordPress. This app sends out an email to registered customers who want to see your latest blog post.

Here it is explained(fast forward through the bull),

Second, is the RSS feed. Here it is, RSS explained in plain English.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Show a bigger image with javascript

Displaying a bigger image by rolling over a thumbnail with the cursor is not difficult. Dreamweaver already has the javascript code for it. An explanation of how to use Dreamweaver to achieve this effect is found at DigitalFamily.

I am looking at this because I need to use this or a similar function to display products on a page from a small thumbnail image. By rolling over the thumbnail with the mouse, one gets a larger image displayed in a separate area. One issue that I need to consider is creating a box where the larger image will appear.I also wonder how to achieve this effect in Blogger.

Online catalogs like Gap use a similar tool to great effect.

There is a stripped down code readily available. I have copied this completely from GeekswithBlogs, so don't give me any credit.

<html xmlns="">
<head runat="server">
    <title>Untitled Page</title>
    <script type="text/javascript" language="ecmascript">
        function ShowBiggerImage(obj)
            document.getElementById("LargeImageContainerDiv").innerHTML = "<img src='" + obj.src + "'+'width=150 height=200' >";
        function ShowDefaultImage(obj)
            document.getElementById("LargeImageContainerDiv").innerHTML = "";
        function move_Area(event)
         event = event || window.event;;;
        document.onmousemove = move_Area;

    <form id="form1" runat="server">
            <asp:Image ID="Image1" runat="server" Width="60px" Height="80px" ImageUrl="~/Images/FretsOnFire.jpg" onmouseover="ShowBiggerImage(this);" onmouseout="ShowDefaultImage(this);"/>
        <div id="LargeImageContainerDiv" style="position: absolute; z-index:2"></div>

Friday, November 12, 2010

Best of Traditions

Not another blog! The blog wars continue. WordPress battles blogger for supremacy in the blogging wars. This new blog platform has its proponents. The chief advantage is the functionality that WordPress provides. It just looks a little more professional than Blogger. Lest I forget, there is also and Overblog site that is popular in France.

Unlike Blogger, this site is set up using Bluehost as the host. The cost is a paltry $6.95 a month. The site can be edited with Dreamweaver CS3 as well as the latest CS5. The set up is described in the following tutorial.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Adobe Business Catalyst - Blogging

The tutorial for blogging on Adobe Business Catalyst is here:

The link does not work, find the tutorial in the admin console under videos.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Zen Cart, a search for peace of mind shopping.

This article is a reprint of an article by Zen Cart, the subject of the review, uses osCommerce as its shopping cart function. Disclaimers are important, and the reader of this article should be aware that the reviewer represents Nexternal a paid for shopping cart function.(Modified image from the public domain by way of Clipart.

Hands on with Zen Cart


Zen Cart
is a PHP/MySQL open source shopping cart. It is completely free, and comes with
source code which you can freely modify. The software is developed by a
community effort. The code is based on the popular
shopping cart. The goal of the Zen Cart project is essentially to make an easier
to use version of
which can be installed more quickly, modified more easily and have a more usable
configuration out of the box. Being a community
effort, many of its users are very passionate. I expect a small group of them
will disagree with anything negative said about Zen Cart, be it correct or not,
so I may incur their wrath at some points in this review.
This review is based on my experiences while creating an online shop for a
client using Zen Cart. As every shop has its own unique needs and requirements,
your experiences will vary.


Installation was fairly straight forward. I did get confused once or twice
and have to manually tweak one or two files, but I suspect most people will have
a smoother experience than I did. As usual, just create your MySQL database
first and have the details handy.

Initial Impressions

As with most shopping carts, it comes with an out of the box skin and
configuration. This seemed to be serviceable, although the skin wasn't terribly
attractive and it seemed like a lot of options were turned on, making the interface a bit cluttered for my liking. This is a minor problem, as the various
modules are easily turned off.
The administration interface is reasonably well laid out and is attractive
enough, although the number of options is overwhelming. It was hard to know
where to start to set things up as there are so many options, which is a mixed


Zen Cart ships with a few skins, there are more available for free
and commercially. My client had very specific design requirements, and so I
needed to get deep into the skinning. Frankly, I was disappointed. If you want
to make superficial changes - maybe change the color, the font, the logo, the
module headings, etc, then it would be a fairly painless experience. If you want
to get deeper into the skinning, expect a significant battle and some mid-level
PHP skills required. Skinning is such a fundamental concept I don't think it
should be this hard. For example, one requirement was that some
modules have a unique appearance. By default, Zen Cart requires all modules in a
column look identical. While I managed to work around this, it was time
Changing text that appeared in the user interface was relatively easy in
most cases, although sometimes some hunting was required, it certainly wasn't
nicely centralized. The admin interface even comes with its own search tool to
help find files, demonstrating how common this problem is. The folder structure
seems confusing and I found it hard to locate the right file. I'm sure there's a
reason for the structure, but I couldn't work it out and haven't experienced this
problem with other shopping carts or similar products.

Product Management

There is a wide range of product options. Creating a product via the web
interface is relatively straight forward, and there is a free add on called
"Easy Populate" for those wanting to create their products in bulk. I didn't
bump into any product features that couldn't be handled in a default install.
For instance, product reviews, stock management and automatic thumbnail creation
were all handled easily and out of the box. I did struggle to find out where to
change some of these options - once again, the administration interface is a
little overwhelming and not always clearly labeled. As an example, my client
didn't want stock levels showing for products, and it took some hunting to find

Payment, shipping & taxes

There is a wide range of payment gateways available for Zen Cart. Only a few
are installed by default, but many more are available for download. Installing
new payment modules (or other modules) is a relatively pain free experience, and
while it could be simplified further, is definitely better than most. There is
no cutting and pasting of code, simply a matter of copying a few files into the
right places. There's a good chance your payment gateway of choice is supported
by Zen Cart.
I was impressed with the shipping module. There is a very flexible range of
options, but despite it's power, it's relatively easy to use. All the options
you'd expect - shipping by weight, by number of products, flat rate, etc, are
all easily supported. Your shipping requirements would have to be quite unusual
to not work in a default install. Management of taxes was similar, flexible and
easy to use, with support for different regions. Configuring taxes was similarly
An area that could be improved is the checkout process. This process is
critical to minimize shopping cart abandonment, and while not bad I felt it
could have been made easier. My biggest objection was that it was unclear to the
customer when payment was to be handled. While most Zen Cart shops will probably
be using a third party payment processor such as
or Paypal where payment is handled
on an external site, in the mind of the customer this is still part of the
entire payment process, where as Zen Cart gives the customer the impression that
payment is a completely separate step. The Zen Cart developers could take some
tips from other products such as
who handle this process much more smoothly.


All the reports you expect to see are found out of the box. Sales, most
popular products, customers, order status, etc, are all available. There isn't
any highly sophisticated reports such as sales by search keyword, but that's not
found in many expensive carts either. The conclusion on reporting: don't expect
in depth analysis, but you should have all the essential information needed for
day to day running.


Being a free product, there is no formal support. You basically have 3
options. Look through the source code and work it out yourself, post to the
forums and hope for the best, or pay someone to sort it out for you.
I found the source code for Zen Cart to be somewhat convoluted. I tried to
make a few small tweaks and found it time consuming. Admittedly, PHP isn't my
strongest language, but I found what I saw confusing. I have comfortable hacked
other PHP shopping carts with no issues. You'll need to be at least a mid-level
PHP coder in order to be able to work through the source code in a meaningful
way. There does seem to be a small range of people able to give paid help. I
requested a small modification via rentacoder, I wasn't overwhelmed with bidders
but found someone who did quality work for me at a good price.
The forums are ok. They aren't the busiest forums in the world, and one or
two questions went unanswered. The replies I received were reasonably good and
helped me with a few problems.
There is some documentation available. There is an FAQ on the web site which
did help me out with one or two questions. There is also a detailed
administrators manual available as a PDF file. It is helpful in parts, but
mostly just steps through the screens you'll come across and provides a little
bit of detail, the sort of thing that should really be done inline on the site.
There is a small "how to" and troubleshooting section, but not thorough enough
for my liking.


Overall, Zen Cart is certainly a powerful piece of software. Zen Cart is
worth considering if your requirements are very basic and you aren't very fussy
about the look & setup of it, or if you enjoy hacking PHP and are moderately
good. However, if you want a complex store up and running quickly and cheaply,
I'd recommend thinking twice. Personally I would rather build my business and
focus on how I can increase sales than spend hours hacking PHP files (or paying
someone else to do it).
Article courtesy of Shopping Cart Reviews.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Review of Adobe Business Catalyst

Trying to find an honest review of an online product these days is difficult. Take Adobe Business Catalyst for example. This platform for hosting a website and setting up an ecommerce site is great idea in a world where business people need a simple and effective way to post their own content on the internet. The web designer uses Adobe Catalyst to set up the website, using a template provided by Adobe Catalyst or one of the customers own choosing.Once the site is set up the customer can add content as if he or she were using a simple word document.

As simple as the idea is, the execution of Business Catalyst by Adobe leaves the user wanting more.And finding an honest review of the potential problems is difficult when Adobe is able to pepper the search engines with its own op eds. Still, I did find this review by Freelance helpful.

The best part of the review for me are the actual user comments at the end of the Review. There is a cost to anything worthwhile, and BC's cost although high is not insurmountable if it delivers. Second, the learning curve is a bit steep. Lions, and tigers, and bears or Modules, and catalogues, and menus - oh my. My experience with getting anything out of a can is that it tastes great if you like soup. But, if you want to doll it up into something else, it is still going to look and taste like soup. So too with BC's templates, you can add your own images and content, but there is a certain sameness to the look. And then there is the problem of adapting your images to the size constraints of BC's template.

One other problem with BC for me is the navigational dead ends one runs into, which is surprising considering that this is an Adobe product. For the most part I feel as if I am moving one way though the folders and web pages and unable to simply go back. It is irritating especially so when the concept of the site is simplicity.

I was attracted to BC for two reasons: the use of modules simplifies updating of the site; and, the ability to upload products quickly. These are a big plus to my work, now if I can just get past the other issues.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Power of Photography

David Griffin, the photo director for National Geographic, tells us that the power of a photograph is in its ability to tell a story. The story of Annie the elephant will break your heart. Or consider the "crucifixion" of a shark to describe the depletion of the oceans fish life.

David tells a poignant story of how his young son was about to be overcome by a powerful wave at the seashore. Father rescued son, and years later in recalling the moment with his son, both were surprised at how each saw the moment so differently.This story connected with me personally as I remember a similar dangerous moment with my young daughter and younger son, swimming in the middle of the Potomac River near Harpers Ferry. In the middle of this immense river, we floated on flimsy air mattresses bought at Walmart and hour earlier.The weather turned cold, a storm swept in, and we were there in the middle of the river with lightening crackling around us. How I wish I had a photograph of that moment.

David Griffin also notes that photography can bring us hope as well despair by showing us photographs of injured Iraqi war veterans regaining their lives. The story being that we are all human beings who experience pain and pleasure, and, sometimes, just want to be understood.

This reminds me of the simple verse, "All God's creatures big and small, the Good Lord loves them all."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fair Use

Sometimes one needs a break from work.

This photograph by Jacques Carra published in Linternaute is just the break one needs on a cool fall day. This is the countryside at Romans-sur-Isere.
For more photographs by Jacques, click on the link.

Romans-sur-Isere is located in southern France near Grenoble.Visit Romans-sur-Isere.

The image is used under the Fair Use Doctrine, in that use of the image is for non-profit educational purposes.Credit for the photograph is given and the image is not full size. The image does not constitute a major factor in the this blog.The image is otherwise readily available on the internet.

The issue of images on the internet is discussed in Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corporation (280 F.3d 934 (CA9 2002) withdrawn, re-filed at 336 F.3d 811(CA9 2003)) affirming the right of search engines to use thumbnail images.

What constitutes non-profit educational purposes will be defined on a case by case basis. Time Magazine, the owner of the Zapruder video of the Kennedy assassination, could not prevent use of still photographs for educational purposes. Factors which determine fair use include the commercial use of the image, the otherwise availability of the image on the internet, and the proportionality of the use of the photograph.

A good example of fair use is reproduction of  Shepard Fairey's famous Obama "Hope" and the photograph shot by Associated Press photographer Mannie Garcia. Is it clear that one is based on the other? While the image can be reproduced here for educational purposes, Fairey's use may have constituted plagiarism. The issue of plagarism and fair use are different. Whether Fairey plagiarized Mannie Garcia's image is not clear, but use of the two images to discuss the issues of fair use is certainly justified.

WordPress vs. Blogger

How WordPress sees itself. 
“WordPress is a state-of-the-art semantic personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. What a mouthful. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time. More simply, WordPress is what you use when you want to work with your blogging software, not fight it.”
Apples and oranges - Any comparison between WordPress and Blogger requires a look at both the function and operation of the two platforms for blogging.  WordPress and Blogger both function as a free source for publishing blogs, although WordPress creates the opportunity to use its files and folders on the blogger's own URL. This is a huge advantage for the professional who both wants and needs the independence that WordPress offers.

The operation of the blog on both WordPress and Blogger is simple and straight forward. The nod in simplicity of operation has to go to Blogger.Establish a google account, sign in to blogger, and pick a theme. After that you are off and running. Modifications to the blogger layout are simple. For the truly simple minded, go to the design tab in the menu and then edit the different elements of the layout by clicking on each element. You can also edit the html, but remember to save a copy of your original code as mistakes often happen and blogger will notify you of the error.

A second advantage to Blogger is the unlimited number of blogs that are permitted. For the erudite blogger and the the Renaissance Man who wants to be heard on multiple issues, blogger supports multiple blogs, all of which can be managed from a single Google account.

Editing a WordPress theme is something I am unfamiliar with. Merchantos give a good overview of the process and I will come back to it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

1StopTutorials created tutorials that I want to come back to when time allows.

Here is the tutorial on xampp installation. I have CS3 on my home computer and laptop, so am I out of luck on the php virtual server?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How Good is Your Website?

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," it is said.

So can beauty in website design be measured? Not if we are talking about the value of the website to one person or a small group of individuals. Only the Smiths are interested in the Smith's family reunion. Still, if the website is intended for mass appeal, then its popularity and its beauty can be measured by metrics.

There are design elements and then there are stats.To learn what a website should be in terms of search go to Smashing Magazine annual article on the top ten designer tips about everything but design. Read the article and see what is meant.

Smashing Magazine did the article in 2007, and then updated it in 2008, and 2009 on the top ten designer tips for websites. It is a good read for the newly initiated, and a good review for those who think they know it all.

First, get your site score from Nibbler - 30,000 websites tested and growing.

There are more hints, just go to Smashing Magazine and read on.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Notes from the Underground - One

"For what is man without desires, without free will, and without the power of choice but a stop in an organ pipe?" 

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The following are a few notes to myself from Class One in Dynamic Dreamweaving.

1. Grid frameworks and the 960 fluid layout.

2. Links to stylesheets will slow down loading. Use import.

3. Media query will let you know which device is being used.

4. New html5 elements include: text-shadow, box-shadow, linear-gradiant, and border-radius.

5. Install google reader, get delicious.

6. Read sixrevisions and smashingmagazine.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh My! What layout is best?

"Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!"  Dorthy says in The Wizard of Oz. The web designer like Dorthy walks through the enchanted forest in which he or she is confronted with a dizzying, if not frightening array of layout choices. How does one decide what layout is best?

Image from Henri Rousseau's, The Sleeping Gypsy.

I have two children - a daughter and a son. Separately, each one will ask who is my favorite child. My response is always, "I don't have a favorite." My daughter might be better at one thing, my son at another. It is the same answer that I give when asked what my favorite meal is - What are you in the mood for, Italian, French, Chinese, ...? Diversity is a great thing. I like choices. Choices make the world a more interesting place in which to live.

Choosing a layout is a confusing mix of facts and questions. What type of content will fill my site? What is the purpose of my site? Who will read the site? And on and on. Surely, a web designer would agree that the layout for the N.Y. Times and the Huffington Post will differ from Amazon or Overstock. Or that a photographer's site will differ from a butcher, baker, or candlestick makers. Then, there are bloggers, but they too come in all shapes and sizes. (Edit this paragraph.)

The 960px layout provides a great amount of territory in which to place content. For newspapers and sites in which content is more important than design it is the ideal layout.

However, a 780px or 800px layout may provide design layout advantages. The primary design advantage is the use of white space to highlight the content. At least one graphic designer says,
At least 20 % of an ad should be blank (white space). Ample white space helps gain attention, create contrast, and unify the ad. According to Albert Books, white space is probably the most underestimated element in advertisements.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

HTML 5 - a Summary

Good things come to those who wait - and so it is with HTML 5, the new generation of code. A simple preview is available at A List Apart.

An intensive discussion is provided by Mark Pilgrim in an amusing article, Dive Into HTML.

What we all worry about is browser support if we are brave enough to use the new HTML 5 and CSS3. Read Taking Advantage of HTML5 and CSS3 with Modernizr by Faruk AteĊŸ. for an article that could be titled "what me worry".

Or be patient. As Sam Cooke said, "Change is gonna come."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shadows and Rounded Boxes on Blogger Images with CSS3

Gone are the old days when shadow boxes and rounded corners were created in Photoshop and pasted in your web site as an image. Now with CSS3 the same effect can be created in Blogger with coding.

Let's experiment with an image. Later, we can progress to the header or other element. Here is what the image will look like when you are finished adding the CSS:

Image with rounded corner and shadow box.

Image with Shadow Box only

How to do it.

Insert the image into Blogger. Now, get the CSS3 code to create the effect. I used Fetchak's excellent tutorial to get the code. It is simple and to the point. Here it is for a class called box.

.box {
-moz-border-radius: 15px; /* Firefox */
-webkit-border-radius: 15px; /* Safari and Chrome */
border-radius: 15px; /* Opera 10.5+, future browsers, and now also Internet Explorer 6+ using IE-CSS3 */

-moz-box-shadow: 10px 10px 20px #000; /* Firefox */
-webkit-box-shadow: 10px 10px 20px #000; /* Safari and Chrome */
box-shadow: 10px 10px 20px #000; /* Opera 10.5+, future browsers and IE6+ using IE-CSS3 */

behavior: url(; /* This lets IE know to call the script on all elements which get the 'box' class */
Since this didn't take, I inserted the styling directly into the element tag of the posting in the edit html view.

style="-moz-border-radius: 15px 15px 15px 15px; -moz-box-shadow: 10px 10px 20px rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: yellow; color: white; padding: 10px;" width="320"

You can look at the source code of this blog and see how it was done.