Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Assignment K

Our assignment for this week was to work through a step-by-step guide on building iPhone apps with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, as opposed to Objective-C, which author Jonathan Stark explains is difficult to learn. Stark makes a great argument for the inconveniences of using Objective-C and the difficulty of getting your app approved through Apple… as well as the challenges of debugging while trying to keep app approval rates up. Because of the increased flexibility and relatively far shorter time it takes to develop a web app via open source technologies, this alterweb can prove far more appealing to those interested in developing their own web app.
I learned a great deal from this book because he takes you through the steps of adding/changing code, and he offers you a screenshot of how those changes should appear. Personally, I find I learn most effectively when I am offered this kind of guidance, added with the opportunity to go through the steps on my own. I truly believe you can’t excel in writing code unless you do it over and over again. This is what my first programming professor explained to my class, and he was absolutely right. This assignment is a great stepping stone to applying this same concept, and I look forward to utilizing other resources as opportunities to practice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Assignment J

I have been considering potential career paths a great deal lately, as well as the experience I will need to pursue those careers. Thankfully, I have had the privilege of participating in the MIT program and have already learned a great deal. However, the recent decline in jobs has drawn many individuals who are involved with IT either in school or in the workplace to grow their knowledge in their own personal time, making them more competitive in the job market. There are a wealth of sites out their that can assist one's self-teaching in sharpening programming skills or perhaps learning another language via step-by-step tutorials. A few sites that I really learn a lot from include Landofcode.com, w3schools.com and java.sun.com. All three of these sites offer a brief overview of the topic, a few examples, and opportunities to practice on your own.

I was talking with a friend the other day concerning the increasing need for higher and higher degrees of education in order to obtain a job/salary of choice. Over the decades, the average level of education seems to have grown from high school diploma, to bachelors, to masters... and most recently, many of my friends and associates are looking into going back for their doctorate! I had finally concluded not too long ago that getting a masters has become a given requirement like the bachelors of a few years ago... only to now wonder if getting a doctorate degree will be what is needed to self oneself apart in this increasingly competitive job market.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Assignment I


Ignorance is Not Bliss

It was not until I made the big move from my Dell to a Mac that I finally faced the issue I had been dodging for YEARS... online storage. To many, backing up your data may be something that has been a habit since you 1st owned a computer. For myself, it was something I thought was a good idea but not really necessary. I'm just thankful I was able to change my mind before being hit with the infamous "computer crash" nearly all of my friends have faced at some point during our undergrad years. I chose each time to ignore the countless horror stories of losing final projects and papers in an instant, knowing in the back of my mind that I could be next...but not caring quite enough to do anything about the impending danger.

Baby Steps

I'm still not completely sure what my hesitation was when it came to backing up my data. I have to admit, being on the other side looking back, it really wasn't a huge fuss. However, it was a major decision choosing which online backup tool/service to use. I thought, "If I'm going to bother doing this, I might as well do it right". But I had no idea where to start. Finally, I began asking family, friends, professors, etc. what they use and/or what they would recommend. I also did some research on the internet, but didn't feel comfortable trusting the online reviews I perceived to be biased.

Freedom is Not Free

As I received feedback from those I knew, I began to realize that this was going to cost me... maybe not a lot, but it would cost. I was initially enticed by the advertisements for "FREE online storage", only to be let down when I discovered the storage space was insufficient. I eventually accepted the inevitable and moved forward. I then went back and forth on whether to pay for a monthly or yearly subscription thinking "Well, the yearly IS cheaper, but this is new to me ad I'd rather try it out for a month and see how I like it". Then it came to me. Instead of paying just yet, I could use a trial backup and see how it goes. But disappointment found me once again when I realized this "trial" was not an accurate depiction of what I would be paying for. The amount of features available in the full subscription were not available in the trial. I couldn't back-up or organize my files in the manner in which I anticipated, so it was back to the drawing board.

The All-Invincible Mac

At one point in my internal battle, I considered not backing up my computer at all. Besides, it was practically invincible, right? I clearly remembered reading in sheer amazement that Macs don't get computer viruses... or was it PC viruses? Ah yes, I revisited the site which assured "Mac OS X doesn't get PC viruses" :) But my joy was short-lived. I then stumbled upon another page which read "Why your next PC should be a Mac". Wait, so the Mac is a PC but Mac OS X doesn't get PC viruses? As I read further non-Apple sites and articles, my confusion only grew. I would read that Macs never get viruses, which would be followed by something more like "It is very rare or unlikely. Most recently, it has been my understanding that Macs rarely get viruses only because almost none have been created yet. So while Mac users are mostly safe for now, it is essentially a waiting game. And I would rather be safe than sorry...

I2 -
*Findability - the ability of users to identify an appropriate website and navigate the pages of the site to discover and retrieve relevant information resources
- Better practices in Findability will help build a better foundation when coding for SEO
- SEO is Strategies and tactics used for improving how easy a search engine can find a site that best fits the requested search, so SEO improves findability
- The better your Findability the better your Usability
- Like usability, findability applies broadly across all sorts of physical and virtual environments (http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/the_age_of_findability)
- Better findability increases accessibility
*Findability/Information Architecture:
- Good IA can help decrease the cost/time associated with findability

I3 -
* General iPhone Web page best practices
* Working with the viewport
* CSS for good iPhone Web pages
* The WebKit and using it's features for iPhone Web apps
* the iUI

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Assignment H

In my MIST 7700 class, I have had the opportunity to work with OpenOffice. Though I had heard of it many times before and had been sent odt files, I held off on downloading it until this class. One feature I really appreciate is "find & replace". This has been useful in my conversion of two Managing Data Exchange chapters from XML format to Global Text Project Format. Without "find & replace, this process can be rather gruesome. Thankfully, this function enables you to select all text in the document that has the same style, and change that entire group of text to a different style. With the extremely long document I had to change, being able to do this in a couple of clicks made all of the difference. Also, completing this task was completed with less errors in changing styles.

In general, the transition to OpenOffice from Microsoft Office has not been as smooth as expected. Though I have no problem at all opening preexisting .doc files in OpenOffice and also have the option to save it as a .doc or odt. file, I have not had the same luck in opening my Access database files. I'm still trying to research and see if I may be missing something (i.e. some other method of perhaps converting the database file before trying to open it), but nothing has worked initially. I still need to try opening spreadsheets, but I assume this will not be an issue.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Assignment G

G2 - Wordia Video Preparation -

Best practices for producing and distributing video on the Web.

Say there is a company that has produced a great how-to-video on making widgets. The next thing they need to think about is how they are going to publish or distribute this video on the web. When posting videos online there are a couple of things to consider. First what is the goal of posting it? Is it to start a viral marketing campaign about a social issue or is it to provide a service on the company's website to draw more people in? And secondly, what kind of web server does the company have and how knowledgeable is the webmaster?  The answers to those questions can help the company decide whether to host the video on their on server or post your video to a sharing site such as YouTube. 

Benefits and concerns of a company hosting its own videos:

Hosting your own video can draw more visitors to your site, enable you to customize how everything on the page looks, and one can choose to sell ads or not. There are a few things that need to be in place before this is a viable option. First, you have to know how to work with the video files if you are going to host your own videos. The webmaster will have to encode the video into a different format to incorporate it into the website. For example a lot of videos are edited using mpeg or avi but to put them on the web in an easily usable form they need to be in Flash (by Adobe) or Quicktime (by Apple).  Most web videos are streamed using Flash. The second thing to consider is can I afford the bandwidth? Video files are large and require a lot of bandwidth to host.

Search Engine Optimizations tips:

Limit each page to one video, allow the URL to be specific to a video, place all videos in a central folder/directory, use an embedded player in the page instead of a popup, use text on the page to describe the video, use tags and meta tags to help search engines, submit the video to Google sitemaps  to help speed up the indexing of the video for search, and allow users to share the video with friends by providing the url or providing social networking links.

Benefits and concerns of a company posting videos: 

Unlike a hosted solution that requires video conversion, the posted solution takes care of converting the video files, and they pay for the bandwidth. Also, most of these sites, like YouTube, MetaCafe, or GoogleVideo, have a good reputation and a large user base that is constantly watching videos and sharing the videos with friends. This is a great solution for any type of viral marketing campaign. Popular YouTube videos are tied into universal search (incorporated into Google "web search", people don't have to be specifically searching for videos to be shown videos on that topic ) in Google which is a great way to publicize a video. Going with a posted solution however,  you lose the full customization over the look of the page and whether ads are shown. In most video sharing sites, ads are displayed. Some ads maybe images or text but some maybe videos that play before your video is shown. In some cases this could be an ad for a competitor.

Search Engine Optimization tips: 

Post your website URL in the description of the video, create your own account/channel/brand to allow people to follow all of your videos and any future updates, use your url in a watermark in the video because these might be copied and posted elsewhere (it is viral), allow comments and ratings to generate user excitement and discussion, and use tubemogul.com to upload the video to all major sharing sites and see analytics on those videos. TubeMogul looks like a very powerful tool for businesses or individuals to track videos all over the web.

Information from http://www.reelseo.com/seo-best-practices/

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Web Site Attractiveness

Web pages can be made to look more attractive and appealing by considering several factors that will initially attract, as well as keep the attention of viewers. You can make your site more aesthetically pleasing by using a particular color scheme that will arouse positive emotions, changing the layout to be more user-friendly, or altering the messages and titles to fit those that will draw in the visitor.

Many people think that SEO and SEM are the same thing, but they are slightly different. In actuality, while SEM (Search Engine Marketing) increases website traffic and "stickiness" by increasing its visibility in search engines, SEO is different in that it accomplishes this via unpaid, "natural" methods. All in all, the main purpose of SEO/SEM is to put a website higher on a list of results, increasing the chances that it will be chosen. Those searching for the most "popular" or "legitimate" site typically expect to find it at the top of their search results, ignoring sites at the bottom of the page or the pages that follow.

Other design elements that can contribute to the attractiveness of a website include:

1. Audio/Music - adding an audio/music file that plays upon entering the site can aid in setting the intended theme or mood.

2. Font - Readability is essential in encouraging visitors to read the content of your site. While it may initially look nice to have an elaborate cursive font, it loses a great deal of functionality when it comes to reading.

3. Form/Shape - You must decide if you want objects and shapes on your site to be sharp and harsh, or if you want them to be smooth and flowing. Sharp lines can be used as an abrupt and shocking way to draw in site visitors, or you mmay use the latter to foster a tranquil experience.