C O O L T O O L S
Here's where we share our favorite tips, tricks and tools. To contribute, email the guildmaster.
N E W
Quick and easy screencasting: ScreenCast-o-Matic.com! Go there. Click Record. Do your thing.
Need to convert one file format to another? Check out Zamzar. Upload your file. Pick your conversion. Wait for an email. Go pick it up. Easy, and FREE!
Carbonite.com - Back up all your data automatically, keep it securely online. Seems real easy, and it's cheap.
Need help with color? Check out Kuler, from Adobe. Make your own schemes or use ones that other users have created. Fun, free, good, and pretty cool!
Topic: My Company 101
You're an independent contractor. You're a freelancer. You take projects on the side. Is business picking up? Is it time to create a more formal entity?
Attorney Dan Smith covered topics that pertain to this subject such as:
Listen to a podcast of this event at http://www.cvillepodcast.com/?p=191
Getting Started on eBay (PDF). This is Jack Smith's write-up from the eBay Workshop he gave to the Neon Guild. Lots of great tips!
G E N E R A L S T U F F
Got a question about...anything? Highly likely that someone has asked it before. First place to go is Google Groups, formerly known as Deja News. This is a collection of usenet newsgroup discussions, and it's the motherlode for info about everything.
with all the devices out there now, it's imperative to see how your site looks to folks who don't have what you have.
Our favorite: BrowserStack.
Live Web-Based Cross Browser Testing Instant access to all browsers across platforms. Forget clumsy virtual machine & mobile setup. Save time & money. 30 minute free trial
Our other favorite: Adobe Browser Lab
Free. You need an Adobe ID to use it, which is also free.
C A S C A D I N G S T Y L E S H E E T S
A Designer's Toolbox
This was a demo about making better websites using a variety of resources. It's from 2006 and is showing its age, but still has some great info.
The slide show is at www.neonguild.org/guildslide/
It has links to all the resources and pages created for the presentation. The site that was created is here.
W3.org keeps a list: http://www.w3.org/Style/CSS/learning.en.html
Max Design, Articles and Presentations. Written by Russ Weakley, these are some of the best step-by-step learning resources I've found. Be sure to check out the Float Tutorial, Select Tutorial and List Tutorial areas.
CSS Zen Garden - See what can be done when markup is separated from content. Hard to believe, but all the pages have exactly the same content.
Having trouble figuring out style sheets? Learning how to use CSS really saves a ton of time and keeps web site designs consistent. A nice tool is StyleMaster, which writes the style sheet for you. www.westciv.com
C O L O R
Well-Styled Color Scheme Generator. You can get some very interesting color palettes here. Go play.
Easy RGB - Lots of ways to get colors here. I like the Harmonies area.
Check out ColorSmart at Behr.com. It's for their paint, but you can get some really nice palettes. It's under "explore color" from the home page.
Color Schemer is an online tool (or you can by the software that shows which colors go together. Lighten, darken, RGB and HEX. Pretty cool! www.colorschemer.com/online/ The "pro" version, Color Schemer Studio, is really good.
Exploring the Spectrum: Designing With Color - Color theory can help you understand the basics of designing with color.
D Y N A M I C H T M L
There are lots of sites out there, but a favorite is Dynamic Drive. Lots of neat cut 'n paste code. Nicely organized. Check it out at www.dynamicdrive.com
F O N T S
For those of you who do design work, one of the major pains in the butt is trying to figure out what font was used in a particular item you might be trying to recreate.
Check out What the Font? a pretty handy ID service. Make a clean image of what you're trying to identify, upload, and their font engine will show you a bunch of likely matches based on your image.
Can you ever have enough fonts? No! What follows is a list of sites that offer free fonts:
Cool Archive - 950 fonts for both Mac and PC.
Font Freak - Claims to be "the largest free-/shareware font archive on the net"
HighFonts - lotsa fonts, and other free stuff.
Finally, consider two usenet newsgroups:
The first one gets more action, but both are good, particularly if you need to identify a particular font, or would like to request a font.
G R A P H I C S
Adobe Xchange is your place for actions, plug-ins, extensions, tutorials, and other helper files that allow you to easily add new features to Adobe products. You can even create your own files, upload them, and share them with the entire Xchange community.
R E C Y C L I N G
Reclamere, Inc. provides a "safe, legal and healthy way to recycle electronics." They take almost anything that is electronic: TVs, stereos, batteries, cell phones, magnetic tapes, printers, copiers, fax machines, etc.
S E A R C H E N G I N E S
The best site devoted to search engines and how they work is Search Engine Watch.
To check your site's link popularity according to MSN, Lycos, HotBot,
and AltaVista, go to:
As this site states, "The number of links to your site from other sites is key to the success of your site. The more links there are, the easier you are to find and the more traffic you will get."
Another way to improve ranking is by using the right keywords. A cool tool is Wordtracker.Wordtracker helps you find all keyword combinations that bear any relation to your business or service - many of which you might never have considered.
You'll find out how popular these keywords really are. Then for each major search engine, they'll show you the chances of making the top 10.
There's a free trial that you'll find interesting. To get the full version, you can pay for a day, week, month, 3 months or year of service.
S T O C K
Looking for photos and illustrations? Here are our picks:
istockphoto.com - our favorite.
Fotosearch Stock Photography - search over 50 stock companies at one site.
Stock Photos at Can Stock Photo - Can Stock Photo's database includes more than 2.5 million images and stock footage clips. Downloads start at just $1!
ArtBitz - offers a nice collection of vector-based editable .eps files that are great for illustrations and icons. Reasonably priced, some free downloads available.
Picturequest.com has a great selection of both photos and illustrations.
ClipArt.com is the best site we've seen for good clip art, fonts and photos. Membership is cheap, and worth it! www.clipart.com
Images.com has a really nice selection of illustrations, although getting pricing information out them is a bit of a trial. For web work, single image--really expensive!
Image Grabber from Random Eye Technologies is a nifty Web-based utility that can streamline the picture-research process. Image Grabber lets you perform keyword searches on numerous stock-photography Web sites simultaneously.
S T O P P I N G S P A M
K-9 Anti-Spam (freeware): http://keir.net/k9.html
K-9 is an anti-spam email filtering application that serves as a proxy email server between your email client and your mail server. Some of its features include a whitelist, blacklist, and best of all, an intelligent statistical analysis of all words, HTML coding etc. to tag messages as spam which can then be filtered out. Within a few weeks it will catch 99 to 99.9% of your spam (depending on mail volume) and patterns of email use.
ASS Maker (freeware)
Email Address Encoder
As most of you know, posting your email address on your website is a sure-fire way to guarantee a healthy dose of spam delivered to your Inbox for years to come. But it doesn't have to be that way.
One way to stop spam when you sign up for memberships, post on message boards, etc., is to get a free email account that you don't care about and use that. Another way is to get a free, disposable email address. Check out spamgourmet, which provides them. Be sure to read the FAQ.
There's a great discussion at A List Apart that discusses various ways to foil spambots. Read it at www.alistapart.com/stories/spam/discuss/
T I M E T R A C K I N G
Lots of sophisticated time trackers out there. TimeStamp keeps it simple. It's a little timer that runs in your system tray. Set your hourly rate, turn it on. Free, but author accept donations. PC only.
T I P S A N D T U T O R I A L S
Learnvisualstudio.net - contains over 525 video tutorials -- over 100 hours of training. $52.50 for one year, $140 for lifetime.
Lynda.com has something pretty cool. If you want to learn Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, UltraDev, Illustrator, Acrobat, and design principles, you can access dozens of topics and thousands of Quicktime movies any time day or night, for only $25 per month. Lots great free demos and tutorials there as well!
Websitetips.com. Provides HTML tutorials, graphics tutorials, articles, tips, information and resources to build or improve your website presence. Their tagline is "We scour the web so you don't have to!"
U S A B I L I T Y
An excellent resource for designing usable, useful and accessible web sites and user interfaces is Usability.gov.
STC Usability SIG is a forum to share information and experiences on issues related to the usability and user-centered design.
Jakob Nielsen is the king of usability. Many of you cutting-edge designers will hate what he says, but you should listen to him anyway.
U T I L I T I E S
Mike Lin has created a bunch of really handy Windows utilities. Check out his site at www.mlin.net
please, give something back and contribute some cool tools of your own!