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Most Recent Postshttp://www.ryanhafer.info/Keep up to date with Ryan's work life.en-usSo I Guess I Am An Architect Nowhttp://www.ryanhafer.info/a/So+I+Guess+I+Am+An+Architect+Now+128http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/So+I+Guess+I+Am+An+Architect+Now<p>My employer recently approached me with a unique request. he was interested in purchasing a new location for a sports bar. Rather than go directly to a professional architect, he came to me to at least put together a tentative floorplan for the new space.</p> <p>The first task was inding a suitable program to work with. There are many far more professional applications for developing floorplans, but they come with a far more professional price tag. Eventually I settled on the free Google application, SketchUp.</p> <p>Sketchup operates on a scaled to metrics platform and can be fairly easily manipulated. Objects snap to faces and edges relatively easily. Also there is a huge library of downloadable, user-submited 3d objects ready to download, drop &amp; modify onto the floor plan.</p> <h3>See the progression below:</h3> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/189.jpg" alt="" width="225" />&nbsp;</td> <td><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/192.jpg" alt="" width="425" />&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;<img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/190.jpg" alt="" width="225" /></td> <td>&nbsp;<img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/193.jpg" alt="" width="425" /></td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;<img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/191.jpg" alt="" width="225" /></td> <td>&nbsp;<img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/194.jpg" alt="" width="425" /></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>I realize that this is not as impressive as some actual professionals would do it, but imagine the time saved by an architect if the owner already has a good idea of what they are going to do with the floorplan. It would be fun and interesting to continue working with sketchup for floorplans. Perhaps my own home? We will see.</p>Mon, 20 Feb 2012 06:54:14 -0600Of Coldfusion, Components, Variables and Confusion!?http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Of+Coldfusion+Components+Variables+and+Confusion+126http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Of+Coldfusion%2C+Components%2C+Variables+and+Confusion%21%3F<h3><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/187.jpg" alt="" width="125" height="125" /></h3> <h3>The scenario:</h3> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>A coldfusion application.</li> <li>A component to process PayPal transactions.</li> <li>A new function to process refunds by transaction ID.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So I had everything tested on the developer site. Things couldn't look better even. I am a great programmer... Until American Express cards keep failing with a peculiar message about invalid field "ORIGID". I pour through the code and see nothing.</p> <p>But when the component is reloaded into the CF application, credit card processing works again. How strange is that? It must be something with the struct getting messed up.</p> <p>Not until the next day does it fully dawn on me!</p> <h3>The Explanation:</h3> <p>Every PayPal transaction request used the same variable name. The peculiar thing about Coldfusion is that a variable set in one component function is available to the other functions in the component UNLESS specified in the &lt;cfset&gt; declaration. On the development site, this was never exibited because the component is reloaded on every call. When on the live site, the component and it's variables are cached in the application.</p> <h3>The Fix:</h3> <p>Just reseting the struct before setting it's properties with a simple StructNew() call. So simple, but such an unexpected behavior of coldfusion. I suppose the best programmer would always redeclare their variable anyways, but this is a continuous learning process.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>Mon, 20 Feb 2012 06:37:44 -0600StilettosBoutique.comhttp://www.ryanhafer.info/a/StilettosBoutiquecom+112http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/StilettosBoutique.com<p style=""><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/179.jpg" alt="" width="649" height="418" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.stilettosboutique.com" target="_blank">Stilettos Boutique</a> in Buffalo Grove, IL commissioned my service to gain an online presence for their store. This website features a full feature set of e-commerce functions with a shopping cart, inventory management, and various other integrations.</p> <p>The simplistic design gives a very friendly and clean interface for shopping. One of the key features of the homepage is a scrolling line-up of featured products. The products gracefully slide across and show-off the details of the shoe.</p> <p>Many improvements were made to the FashionBaker package to accomplish smoother operation and greater scaling.</p> <p style=""><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/180.jpg" alt="" width="649" height="418" /></p> <p style=""><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/181.jpg" alt="" width="650" height="417" />&nbsp;</p>Fri, 06 Jan 2012 12:39:43 -0600Google & Rich Snippetshttp://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Google++Rich+Snippets+96http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Google+%26+Rich+Snippets<p><img style="float: left;" src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/170.jpg" alt="" width="199" height="205" />Recently, I was noticing that certain sites had special listings in Google searches. For instance they had a category break down or breadcrumb of the page. I.E. &nbsp;- "Buy &gt; Hardware &gt; Hammer &gt; ABC Company Steel Hammer."</p> <p>So with a little digging, I was able to find the following article on rich snippets:</p> <p><a href="http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=99170">http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=99170</a></p> <p>These rich snippets are not guaranteed to show in the search results, but gives us the chance to have much sharper looking Google search results.</p> <p>I immediately wanted to implement this on my e-commerce site: ThePlasticBrick.com</p> <p>To see it in action:</p> <p><a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Atheplasticbrick.com+Flying+Ninja+Fortress">http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Atheplasticbrick.com+Flying+Ninja+Fortress</a></p> <p>To see the technical specification of Rich Snippets, please refer to the afore mentioned article from Googl.</p> <p>They also provide a testing tool:</p> <p><a href="http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets">http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets</a></p>Mon, 17 Oct 2011 13:11:30 -0500Preview of FashionBaker: End-User Cakephp Packagehttp://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Preview+of+FashionBaker+End-User+Cakephp+Package+65http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Preview+of+FashionBaker%3A+End-User+Cakephp+Package<p style=""><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/162.jpg" alt="" width="650" height="384" /></p> <h2>FashionBaker: What is it?</h2> <p>Quite simply, it is a self-developed cakephp-based package for creating websites quickly. I have been creating websites on the cakephp platform for some time now. It is quick to add functionality, but I wanted to take it a step further to be able to create websites very rapidly while simultaneously adding functionality across all websites using the FashionBaker package.</p> <p>Wordpress and Joomla are really great CMS and Blog platforms, but what if you could take it a step further? Fashionbaker lets you turn on and off modules like Blog Content, Product Catalog, and more (image 1).</p> <p style=""><strong><span style="font-size: x-small;">image 1</span></strong></p> <p style=""><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/168.jpg" alt="" width="650" height="427" /></p> <h2>Key Features</h2> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Code Updater </strong>- Keep your version of FashionBaker up-to-date with an easy update button. I am always improving coding methods and adding tweaks, function and even new modules.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Page Editor</strong> - Update small things like spelling. OR if you are comfortable with cakephp's view functions, completely change the output of a page.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Custom Layouts</strong> - Assign predesigned layouts to pages.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Links Manager </strong>- Add, categorize, and manage links to external sites.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Catalog Manager </strong>- Starting your ecommerce business isn't so complicated. Ability to add custom attributes to specialize in what you sell. Track sales and cost. Categorize products.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Google Merchant Center Integration</strong> - Out-of-the-box your web store will integrate with Google Merchant to get your products listed in Google Shopping search results.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Content Manager</strong> (Blogging) - Setting up articles is simple and intuitive. You can get a blog started in no time at all.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Polls</strong> - You can setup polls to attach to blog content.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Comments</strong> - Allows direct interaction between your readers and yourself.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Portfolio Manager</strong> - Create projects and display your work with images and descriptions.</p> <p style=""><strong><span style="font-size: x-small;">image 2</span></strong></p> <p style=""><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/169.jpg" alt="" width="650" height="443" /></p> <h2>Fully Customizable Views</h2> <p>FashionBaker relies on the built-in cakephp Theme Daemon. Every site is essentially a "Theme." This means any page can be completely customized using the cakephp view functions, layouts,&nbsp;helpers, and elements. A simple print_r($this-&gt;viewVars); will show all data available for use.</p> <p>This makes the view, very flexible without being overly complicated. Understanding how cakephp views works is valuable though.</p> <h3>You can see it in action at the following sites:</h3> <p style=""><a href="http://www.ryanhafer.info" target="_self"><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/164.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p style=""><a href="http://www.ryanhafer.info" target="_self">http://www.ryanhafer.info</a> [here]</p> <p style=""><a href="http://www.theplasticbrick.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/166.jpg" alt="" width="650" height="518" /></a></p> <p style=""><a href="http://www.theplasticbrick.com" target="_blank">http://www.theplasticbrick.com</a></p> <p style=""><a href="http://www.kaydenceclothing.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/163.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p style=""><a href="http://www.kaydenceclothing.com" target="_blank">http://www.kaydenceclothing.com</a></p> <p style=""><a href="http://www.vanillafringe.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/167.jpg" alt="" width="650" height="451" /></a></p> <p style=""><a href="http://www.vanillafringe.com" target="_blank">http://www.vanillafringe.com</a></p> <p style=""><a href="http://www.shaepeppler.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/650/165.jpg" alt="" width="650" height="404" /></a></p> <p style=""><a href="http://www.shaepeppler.com" target="_blank">http://www.shaepeppler.com</a></p> <p>Bottom Line it is a work in project and hopefully, technology will not drastically change on me and make it all useless. If you are familiar with cakephp and would like to give it a try, I might be interested in working with you. You can contact me <a href="http://www.ryanhafer.info/contact" target="_blank">here</a>. The more people that I have using it, the smoother the product can become, and then everyone wins.</p>Thu, 16 Jun 2011 07:38:40 -0500Long Awaited New Look for Nikabutik.comhttp://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Long+Awaited+New+Look+for+Nikabutik.com+11http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Long+Awaited+New+Look+for+Nikabutik.com<p>With this re-style, we were trying to bring the site up to a contempory internet look. The site was starting to feel quite dated graphically and color-scheme-wise. So the things that have been updated are:</p> <div style="margin-left: 65px;"> <ul> <li>New Logo</li> <li>Wider Format</li> <li>Different Color Scheme</li> <li>Integrate Social Networking Icons</li> <li>Larger Images</li> <li>Clean Layout</li> </ul> </div> <div style="width: 40%; float: right;"> <h3>The Old Look:</h3> <p><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/img/articles/nika_old_site.jpg" alt="" width="250" /></p> </div> <div style="width: 50%; float: left;"> <h3>The New Look:</h3> <p><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/medium/159.jpg" alt="" width="350" /></p> </div> <div style="clear: both;">Judge for yourself and leave a comment if you like! <p>Visit the site at <a href="http://www.nikabutik.com">nikabutik.com</a></p> </div>Tue, 16 Nov 2010 12:01:08 -0600Wordpress, Blogs & Joomla - What's New!http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Wordpress+Blogs++Joomla++Whats+New-10http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Wordpress%2C+Blogs+%26+Joomla+-+What%27s+New%21<p>It has been an extremely busy last several months since I last wrote an update. The good news is that I keep sharpening my skills more and more.</p> <h2>So What's New?</h2> <p>I have found a few great people to work for and they seem to keep my work queue reasonably full.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.infohttp://www.ryanhafer.info/theme/ryan_2_0/img/articles/iheartgreenmedia.jpg" alt="iheartgreenmedia" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.iheartgreenmedia.com/">http://www.iheartgreenmedia.com</a>&nbsp;- Website Design using Wordpress. Design by Angela Leed at The Midas Center.</p> <p><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.infohttp://www.ryanhafer.info/theme/ryan_2_0/img/articles/angela_leed.jpg" alt="angelaleed.com" width="250" height="177" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.angelaleed.com/">http://www.angelaleed.com</a>&nbsp;- Website Design using Wordpress. Design by Angela Leed at The Midas Center.</p> <p><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.infohttp://www.ryanhafer.info/theme/ryan_2_0/img/articles/aspen_exterior.jpg" alt="aspenexterior.com" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.aspenexterior.com/">http://www.aspenexterior.com</a>&nbsp;- Website Redesign with Dreamweaver Templates. Design by Joseph Marshall at Direct=Success.</p> <p><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.infohttp://www.ryanhafer.info/theme/ryan_2_0/img/articles/cactc.jpg" alt="cactc.org" width="250" height="163" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.cactc.org">http://www.cactc.org</a>&nbsp;- Website Redesign with Dreamweaver Templates. Design by Angela Leed at The Midas Center.</p> <h3>On my own, I have been working on the following:</h3> <p><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.infohttp://www.ryanhafer.info/theme/ryan_2_0/img/articles/shae.jpg" alt="shae updated blog" width="250" height="192" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.shaepeppler.com/blog.html">http://www.shaepeppler.com/blog.html</a>&nbsp;- Revamp of the Blog layout</p> <p><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.infohttp://www.ryanhafer.info/theme/ryan_2_0/img/articles/certified.jpg" alt="certifiedreportingco.com" width="250" height="167" /></p> <p><a href="http://certifiedreportingco.com/">http://www.certifiedreportingco.com</a>&nbsp;- Website Redesign using Joomla (in progress).</p> <p><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.infohttp://www.ryanhafer.info/theme/ryan_2_0/img/articles/asap.jpg" alt="asap plumbing and HVAC" width="250" height="181" /></p> <p>ASAP Plumbing &amp; HVAC - Website Design (in progress)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Keep watching for these projects to go live and for new projects on the way.</p>Fri, 05 Nov 2010 08:14:39 -0500New Rolling Stone Adhttp://www.ryanhafer.info/a/New+Rolling+Stone+Ad-9http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/New+Rolling+Stone+Ad<p>Today I completed the proof for an advertisement for Vintage City Guitars. They are a used and vintage guitar dealer. The advertisement will run in an edition of Rolling Stone Magazine which has a readership of approximately 12 million people.</p> <p>This will probably be my most widely circulated piece of graphic design work.</p> <p>I created a photo mosaic for the background which I think will help to distinguish the ad from the competing ad space.</p> <p style=""><img src="http://www.ryanhafer.info/images/view/xmedium/142.jpg" alt="" /></p>Wed, 18 Aug 2010 12:01:46 -0500Upcoming Designs & Websites!http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Upcoming+Designs+%26+Websites%21+8http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Upcoming+Designs+%26+Websites%21<p>Lately I have been busy with a few big projects that have been keeping me pretty busy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I am doing a total redesign of mygear.com. It will feature a newer sleeker appearance and some new functionality. Everything is getting polished off and tightened up.</p> <p>Here is mygear.com <a href="http://www.mygear.com">now</a>.</p> <p>Here is mygear.com <a href="http://96.61.192.105/sites/mygear13/">after</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another project that is in the works is a redesign in collaboration with my friends at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.directsuccess.biz/">Direct=Succes</a>. The site being reworked is zippysrestaurants.com.</p> <p>The &nbsp;<a href="http://www.zippysrestaurants.com/">BEFORE</a></p> <p>The <a href="http://zippys.fashionbaker.com">AFTER</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Keep checking back to see what else I am up to.</p>Wed, 14 Jul 2010 08:34:52 -0500Putting the Product Forwardhttp://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Putting+the+Product+Forward+7http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Putting+the+Product+Forward<p>One of the best things that I learned this previous year was an article in a magazine called Before &amp; After. The implored the reader to focus on the product.</p> <p>Often it is easy to get distracted with all the details of a design and lose focus on the real purpose of the design. We like our glossy buttons, our cool grunge effects and our colorful palette. All these things have no worth unless they are complementing A) the product and B) the Message.</p> <p>It is my suggestion to always start a design off with your main objective. Really focus on what's going to bring attention to it. Where you want it.</p> <p>For example, I am working on a website that sells LED lights. I could have it look like a typical e-commerce site with tons of links menus and product thumbnails. However, I opted for placing a large image of the product right in the middle of the page.</p> <p>All your attention is drawn to the product. It dominates the design. The LED lights are the utility that a consumer is buying. They will discover the brand name and more about the options later.</p> <p>Perhaps, the brand is what's important to the end-viewer, then put the Brand logo, name and colors right in front of their face.</p> <p>Such a simple concept that can improve any design and I believe make companies more successful.</p>Wed, 14 Apr 2010 08:19:34 -0500CAKEPHP FX View Helper v01.00http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/CAKEPHP+FX+View+Helper+v01.00+6http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/CAKEPHP+FX+View+Helper+v01.00<p>I have been wanting a method to easily create custom font headings on the fly. Using a cakephp helper I can easily accomplish this. Now all I have to do is enter my text with the handy cakephp FX view helper.<br /><br />Download: <a href="http://www.ryanhafer.info/files/downloads/fx.zip">http://www.ryanhafer.info/files/downloads/fx.zip</a><br /><br />Install:<br />1 - Just place the extracted fx.php file in your app/views/helpers directory.<br />2 - create the directory app/fonts and add any .ttf files you want to use.<br />3 - Add "Fx" to the controller var $helpers array.<br /><br />text2image (string $text, array $Options=array())<br /><br />Creates the heading image as .png file and returns an image tag of the text value with options applied. Created images are cached in the /app/webroot/img/fx directory.<br /><br />Default Options<br /><br />"height"=&gt;22, The height in pixels of the heading. Should generally be larger than&nbsp; the font size.<br />"width"=&gt;160, The width in pixels of the heading.<br />"font"=&gt;"kremlin.ttf", The font to be used for the heading<br />"colorHex"=&gt;"", Hex color of font. NOTE: setting Hex will override any RGB color.<br />"colorRGB"=&gt;"139,35,35", RGB color of font.<br />"size"=&gt;20, The font size in pixels of the heading.<br />"angle"=&gt;0, The angle of the text output.<br />"style"=&gt;'', The styling to be applied to the outputted image tag.<br />"shadow"=&gt;true, Boolean for creating a 1 pixel drop shadow of the text.<br /><br />Example:<br /><br />&lt;h1&gt;<br />&lt;?php<br /><br />$fx-&gt;text2image("I love Design",array("style"=&gt;"border:0px","font"=&gt;"arialblack.ttf","colorHex"=&gt;"C0C0C0"));<br /><br />?&gt;<br />&lt;/h1&gt;</p>Mon, 22 Feb 2010 13:39:56 -0600Why I Don't Like Flash Websiteshttp://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Why+I+Don%27t+Like+Flash+Websites+5http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Why+I+Don%27t+Like+Flash+Websites<p>Often when you <script src="http://www.ryanhafer.infohttp://test.ryanhafer.info/js/tinymce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js" type="text/javascript"></script> are browsing the internet you come across a great looking site with neat images and great effects. More times than not, it's been made with Adobe Flash.</p> <p>Naturally, you are going to want something like this. So people will show often show me all these cool effects and full screen sites with big dynamic images.&nbsp;</p> <p>These things are very neat, but lets get down to what websites are for. Generally they are for presenting information to the public and possibly being able to purchase contact you. That being said, you have to maximize the navigation and accessibility of the site.</p> <p>A flash site will make the following 2 factors significantly more complicated. They are Search Engine Optimization and Mobile browing.</p> <h3>SEO</h3> <p>If you visit a flash site you will notice that usually the url of the site doesn't change as you navigate it. This means you only have one page of content in the search engine spider's eye. However, there may be ways to circumvent this through the use of robot.txt files, but this is going to be a substantial increase in work to develop.</p> <p>Also it is much more complicated for search engine spiders to determine what text and content is important within the site. That is, if it is able to read the flash site's content at all.</p> <h3>Mobile Browsing</h3> <p>Since the iphone, it is no secret that mobile browsing is on a huge rise. As of yet, there is no adobe flash support in any mobile browser that i am aware of. When phones are able to support flash, that will open a great deal of browsing possibilities, but you cannot code today for tomorrow's capabilities.</p> <p>I find it highly annoying when sites use flash navigation bars. Then I go to visit the site on my phone and I can't do anything!&nbsp;</p> <h3>Other Factors</h3> <p>Another thing to consider is that often you will have to install flash on computers and some people are not technically gifted enough to perform this action.</p> <p>Internet Explorer 64-bit does not support flash. So those security nuts out there who like 64-bit browsing will not be able to use it either.</p> <h3>Conclusion:</h3> <p>There is a time and place for flash. I use it on my own site to create a greater impression on the end-user. However, I do not believe that it would be wise to short change the capabilities of HTML/CSS/Javascript which are accepted and can be rendered near perfect in all browsing enivornments.</p> <p>I imagine the time will come when flash is capable of working on everything; However, the internet is still setup to handle HTML primarily and the capabilities of HTML will inevitably be expanded upon.</p> <p>Final question: Considering Flash is very Application like, why do you not see Google use it when they are trying to expand what you can do in the browser (gmail, google docs, google maps)?</p>Sun, 14 Feb 2010 09:48:24 -0600So You Want A New Website?http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/So+You+Want+A+New+Website%3F+4http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/So+You+Want+A+New+Website%3F<p>Many people that I have recently <script src="http://www.ryanhafer.infohttp://test.ryanhafer.info/js/tinymce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js" type="text/javascript"></script> talked to want a new site but are unsure of how it all works. I will walk through the basic steps I take to work through and develop a site that the customer likes.</p> <h3>Content</h3> <p>Unfortunately, it does take work on the part of the customer. I cannot be the creator of your content without a great deal of involvement in your business. I do not know what information is important or what is going to most effectively reach your audience. I have ideas and I can share them, but the best scenario is if the customer develops the content.</p> <p>So the first step in the process is for the customer to know what information they want to include in the website. If you don't know what you want, I most certainly do not.</p> <h3>Processes</h3> <p>Second, I need to know what the site should do. Assumed is general navigation, but a modern website can do so much more than just display email. Some standard functions of a website include contact forms, user registerations, file uploading, access restriction.</p> <p>Theme Components</p> <p>Most companies have logos and colors that are typically used in their material. Generally the website should match any materials distributed so that users can be sure they are on the correct website.</p> <p>Upon request, logos and similar can be created too.</p> <h3>Mock Up</h3> <p>My next step is to create a mockup of the homepage. This serves as a base for what I call the "look", meaning the basic colors, general layout of content, and basic site navigations. It can be as elaborate or minimal as the customer desires, but it should always make an impression on the end-user.</p> <p>Mock ups are sent as static images. They do not "do" anything, but are a visual representation.</p> <h3>Programming/Coding</h3> <p>Once a look has been agreed upon, I convert that image to code. I have test servers that I use to simulate what the end-site will look like. These test-servers can be made available to customers as well.</p> <p>This is generally a longer step in the process as it is very technical and potentially time-consuming. Once it is completed you will have a site that does "do" something.</p> <h3>Pre-Publishing</h3> <p>Once all the pages have been made and the site is in a functional status, then revisions begin. There are generally things that I do not catch and content changes needing to be made. The length of this step is relative to the customer and the size of the site.</p> <h3>Publishing</h3> <p>Once everything has been "polished" and tested. The site is uploaded to a host of the customer's choosing. I do not host any customer sites. Another round of testing is immediately required to ensure that there are not server related problems.</p> <h3>Post-Publishing</h3> <p>I do provide technical assistance for a period of time (around 2-3 months) after the site has been published for any errors that may be present.</p> <h3>Guarantee</h3> <p>If anyone is unsatisfied with the end-result I am happy to work on a solution.</p>Tue, 02 Feb 2010 18:33:44 -0600Businesses and Social Networkinghttp://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Businesses+and+Social+Networking+3http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Businesses+and+Social+Networking<p>Lately I have noticed several of the people that I do design work for requesting me to design/add links off their websites to their various social networking pages.</p> <p>It seems like lately, every website you visit has these links somewhere on their homepage at least. They are extremely easy to setup and execute, but what is the ultimate advantage of connecting with end users?</p> <p>ADVANTAGE 1</p> <p>You connect with users on the sites they already are frequenting regularly. You do not have to try and pull them away from sites that they are on to display your company's message.</p> <p>ADVANTAGE 2</p> <p>It adds a level of professionalism if you are present in all the normal venues that other company's are using.</p> <p>WHAT IT WON'T DO</p> <p>These pages aren't going to help your search engine results by adding in-bound links (the popular method google uses to determine page rank). These pages aren't going to send consistent traffic by just being present on the internet. These pages will not spark interest in end-users by existing.</p> <p>Having these pages can't really hurt you. That being said, it won't really help you unless there is real content on these various pages and profiles that is interesting and engaging to the end users.</p> <p>In my personal experience, I have only facebook fanned one company that has made their presence known after adding.I became a fan of "Slurpees". They regularly insert well-written, status into my facebook "feed" with a humorous edge. Since I do actually like Slurpees, it often catches my eye when they do updates.</p> <p>CONCLUSION:</p> <p>Unless you are a top-wanted brands (i.e. - Prada, Louis Vuitton), just throwing up some pages on social networking is not going to help you at all. Just adding a link on your homepage is probably not going to help you that much even. If you want to connect with people on their typical sites, you are going to need to invest time to develop interesting content and really promote your social networking pages.</p>Tue, 26 Jan 2010 09:28:15 -0600High Quality FLV encoding from DVDhttp://www.ryanhafer.info/a/High+Quality+FLV+encoding+from+DVD+2http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/High+Quality+FLV+encoding+from+DVD<p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Tonight, I was faced with the task of cutting high quality .flv video clips from a DVD. The best method I have found so far involves, the oh so powerful FFMPEG application. I run a Windows OS on my workstation so this was the first obstacle in my path.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">I was eventually able to find the windows binary distribution at the following the link:</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;"><a href="http://sourceforge.net/projects/mplayer-win32/files/FFmpeg/">http://sourceforge.net/projects/mplayer-win32/files/FFmpeg/</a></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">I unpacked the program to a folder I created: C:\ffmpeg\.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Next, copy the *.VOB from the DVD disc to your hard drive. Open up a windows explorer and right click on your dvd drive, mine was D: drive, then click on the option to explore. Navigate to the TS_VIDEO directory; this is where you will find the .VOB files. You can just copy and paste these files in a directory of your choosing.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">To leverage the full feature set of ffmpeg, you must use the command line. So start a command prompt, and change to the directory of ffmpeg. In my example that would be the following command: &ldquo;cd <a href="file:///C:/ffmpeg">C:\ffmpeg</a>&rdquo;.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Through much effort, I came to using the following commands. Each one seems to vary a little bit. So you will have to find out what quality you are looking for and potentially, what your server can stream to viewers.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in; padding-left: 30px;">ffmpeg.exe -i [INPUT FILE] -ss [START POSITION IN SECONDS] -t [DURATION OF CLIP IN SECONDS] -ab 48k -ar 44100 -vcodec flv -b 400k -g 160 -cmp 3 -subcmp 3 -mbd 2 -y [OUTPUT FILE]</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in; padding-left: 30px;">ffmpeg.exe -i [INPUT FILE] -ss [START POSITION IN SECONDS] -t [DURATION OF CLIP IN SECONDS] -ar 22050 -ab 56 -r 25 -f flv -b 400 [OUTPUT FILE]</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in; padding-left: 30px;">ffmpeg.exe -i [INPUT FILE]-ab 48k -ss [START POSITION IN SECONDS] -t [DURATION OF CLIP IN SECONDS] -ac 2 -ar 44100 -f flv -deinterlace -nr 500 -s 640x420 -r 30 -b 270k -me_range 25 -i_qfactor 0.9 -qmin 8 -qmax 8 -g 500 [OUTPUT FILE]</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Example replacements:</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in; padding-left: 30px;">[INPUT FILE] = C:\ffmpeg\in\VTS_01_2.VOB</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in; padding-left: 30px;">[START POSITION IN SECONDS] = 729</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in; padding-left: 30px;">[DURATION OF CLIP IN SECONDS] = 51</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in; padding-left: 30px;">[OUTPUT FILE] = C:\ffmpeg\out\output.flv</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">I also wanted to pull an image thumbnail from the videos, Here's a quick and simple command line that I used:</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in; padding-left: 30px;">ffmpeg.exe -i [INPUT FILE] -y -f image2 -ss [CAPTURE POSITION IN SECONDS] -sameq -t 0.001 -s 320*240 [OUTPUT FILE &ndash; ie: screenshot2.jpg]</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">The end result can be seen at <a href="http://www.shaepeppler.com/">http://www.shaepeppler.com</a></p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong></p> <p>Handbrake is an excellent tool for ripping DVD to various more common video formats like mp4, avi, etc.</p> <p><a href="http://handbrake.fr/">http://handbrake.fr/</a></p>Wed, 28 Oct 2009 18:14:10 -0500Magento: Impressive Open Source E-Commercehttp://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Magento%3A+Impressive+Open+Source+E-Commerce+1http://www.ryanhafer.info/a/Magento%3A+Impressive+Open+Source+E-Commerce<script src="http://www.ryanhafer.infohttp://test.ryanhafer.info/js/tinymce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img style="float: left;" src="http://www.ryanhafer.infohttp://www.magentocommerce.com/img/logo.gif" alt="Magento Commerce" width="171" height="47" />Recently I have been looking into the possibility of building an e-commerce site on the <a href="http://www.magentocommerce.com/" target="_blank">Magento</a> platform. These are my investigative impressions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Good:</p> <ul> <li>Open Source Edition</li> <li>Lots of Extensions</li> <li>Full Catalog control</li> <li>Out of the Box Integrations</li> <li>Good System of template/theme control</li> </ul> <p>The Bad:</p> <ul> <li>Learning Curve</li> <li>Lots of Layers of Code</li> </ul> <p>Installation was not very difficult. Originally I was installing on my localhost test server.</p> <p>After installing I tried to log into the admin. To my frustration, it would not accept my login.&nbsp;Apparently,&nbsp;there are browser/cookie related issues when running apps from http://localhost/*. This was easily resolved on my WAMP stack by setting up a virtual host and changing my system32/drivers/etc/host.</p> <div> <p>It took a little time to get the feel for what all Magento can and can't do. To my pleasing, it seems to do more than it can't do.</p> </div> <div> <p>The catalog side of the system is very impressive. The first step seems to be setting up attributes. These attributes can be qualitative or quantitative, like color, shape, size. Further, you can configure the attributes to act as filters.</p> </div> <div> <p>Next you build attribute sets. When listing a product, the first option is to give it an attribute set. There are also options to make a product configurable based on pre-determined attributes.&nbsp;</p> </div> <div> <p>When you are adding a product the interface is intuitive but not necessarily simple because of the amount of options available. Adding photos works great because you can upload multiple images at once and sort them, etc.</p> </div> <div> <p>Also included in the basic options are the ability to add cross-sells, up-sells, and related products.</p> </div> <div> <p>Other neat features include the ability to readily integrate technologies like, UPS, USPS, Fedex, Paypal, Google Checkout, Google Analytics, Google&nbsp;Optimizer, and more.</p> </div> <div> <p>Extensions add more value to the platform as well. Many things that I was wanting the site to do, were readily available by extensions. Including but not limited to Ajax cart adding, jQuery image zoom, Blog module. Creating new modules, plugins seems to be possible but not all that simple from what I am gathering. It takes a little searching to find information on developing extensions.</p> </div> <p>The templating method has many layers but offers designers a lot of control over their design. I believe the structure goes interface, theme, layout, blocks, skins. So building everything may not be easy but it should offer a great deal of control that you don't see in other systems.</p> <p>I believe that Magento is offering a superior product for e-commerce use. See a demo of the system <a href="http://www.magentocommerce.com/demo">here</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>Tue, 20 Oct 2009 07:14:51 -0500