Category: Internet

Adding a snowstorm effect to your Web site

You may have noticed a lot of Web sites this past month which feature animated snowflakes falling down the page in the background. Pretty nifty for the winter months and holiday season. It’s a fairly simply Javascript effect which you can customize quite a bit. You can learn more about the Snowstorm Javascript Effect here. The downloadable Snowstorm Javascript allows you to have the falling snowflakes collect at the bottom of your browser window, adjust the speed of the falling flakes, and even follow your mouse as you move it across the page (wind effect) if you wish. Note: Just for fun, move your mouse over the blinking Christmas lights at the top of the page for a cool effect.

Inspiring Web site header graphics

Toxel has listed 24 beautiful and creative Web site headers for your inspiration. Some of them are simply stunning. By the way, if you haven’t bookmarked Toxel in your RSS reader & Web browser, you should. They often list truly inspiring articles and imagery.

Finding and using Flickr images for free

Blog posts and Web pages look better with images, this is a fact. But where can you find images to use that don’t cost a lot? You could turn to some of the free stock photo sites out there. Some are pretty decent, but most of the images have a distinct “stock photography” look about them. Instead, try using images from Flickr.

Creative Commons License

Photo by Spoon Monkey @ Flickr

Before you say “the images on Flickr are copyrighted, so they can’t be used for commercial work,” think again. Flickr offers thousands of great images under the Creative Commons, allowing you to use them absolutely free, with little more than a photo credit in some cases. Flickr offers non-copyright images in the form of several different licenses under the Creative Commons. The type of license the photographer chose to license the image under determines what restrictions you’ll have in using the images. Typically, these restrictions are limited to commercial vs. non-commercial, photo credits, and re-distribution.

Attribution license is your friend

The best Creative Commons license you can choose is the Attribution License. Images that fall under the Attribution License allow you to freely crop and alter the image, and use it any way you see fit for free, just as long as you credit the photographer. Generally speaking, you’ll know you’re looking at Attribution License images when you see one of the two icons above on the page.

Creative Commons images

Photo by Hyunlab @ Flickr

You can make your search for Attribution License images easier by starting on the Flickr Attribution License page. As I said earlier, there are several different kinds of Creative Commons licenses. The Attribution License is definitely the most flexible, but there are others that allow you to use Flickr images with more restrictions. For more info on the other available licensed images, visit the Flickr Creative Commons page.

YouTube supports deep-linking in videos

YouTubeYou may not have noticed, I didn’t, that YouTube now supports deep-linking in their videos. Deep linking means you can tell the video exactly where to start playing – perfect for long videos where you only want to show off a portion of it. The code is easy. You simply add #t=XmXXs (substitute the Xs for the minute and seconds where you want the video to start) to the end of the link code. For instance: In the link above, the video is 2:42 long, but when you click the link to view the video, it starts playing at the 20-second mark. Unfortunately, deep-linking does not appear to work when you embed videos in your own site. Hopefully Google adds this feature to YouTube soon.

19 Creative Halloween advertisements

There must be innovation and creativity involved in any successful creative advertisement campaign. In this article at SmashingApps, you can see how different companies conveyed their marketing/promotion message for their products or services for the Halloween Season. All of them are worth taking a look at, even if most are for beer companies with bottomless pits of money for ad budgets!

History of the World Wide Web

With all the technology improvements to the Web over the last several years, it’s hard to believe that the Web is still in its infancy. Despite popular belief, Mosaic (later changed to Netscape Navigator) was not the first Web browser. Mosaic was released in 1993 and was simply the first popular one used by the general public. The first Web browser, known as WorldWideWeb (see screenshot below), was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in February 1991, the same guy who invented HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) in 1989. WorldWideWeb, later renamed Nexus, ran on the NeXTSTEP platform, which of course was formed by Apple’s Steve Jobs. Berners-Lee developed the software on his NeXTcube while working for CERN. The original code still resides on that NeXTcube in the CERN museum. Unfortunately, we’ll never get to see that code, because the computer is a historical artifact. While we were still using technology like Gopher, FTP, Usenet and various text-based BBS systems to access the Web (prior to the WWW), large corporations jumped on the bandwagon early. The oldest registered domain name was, registered in March of 1985. It didn’t take long for other companies to catch on. In 1986, Xerox became the 7th domain registered, followed by HP (#9), IBM & Sun (#11), Intel (#13), AT&T (#15), Boeing (#26), Adobe (#42), Tandy (#50), and Unisys (#50). On February 19, 1987, Apple Computer registered (#64). As is typical, Microsoft followed the leader and finally registered in May of 1991. For a list of the 100 oldest registered .com domain names, click here.

New animated Web graphic format

One feature that got little to no press at the time of launch of Firefox 3 is a new animated Web graphic format. Until now, Web designers had two options, Flash and animated GIF format. However, users of Firefox 3 have another format available to them, Animated PNG format(APNG). What’s the advantage of APNG? For starters, animated GIF files are limited to 256 colors and do not support partially transparent pixels. APNG supports a full color spectrum, just as normal JPG and PNG files do. It also supports full or partially transparent pixes. Unfortunately, because it’s not a Web standard just yet, it’s only available to Firefox 3 users. The Firefox logo above is animated, the fox is spinning around a stationary globe, but you’ll only see it in Firefox 3. In order to create APNG images, you’ll need Firefox 3 and the APNG Editor extension. The APNG Editor not only allows you to create APNG images, but you can also edit animated .gif images, frame-by-frame. The editor offers a simple set of options and looks a lot like the animation panel in Photoshop. I absolutely hate the constraints placed on me by the GIF format. It’s just so restrictive. I hope the APNG format takes off and gains a lot of popularity, because it’s certainly a lot more flexible. You can read more about the Animated PNG format at the Mozilla Web site, and download the APNG Edit extension here.

Google adds more control to Gmail IMAP

Google recently announced the addition of more IMAP control to their popular Gmail service. Gmail IMAP Controls, a Labs feature, now allows you to choose which labels to sync in IMAP-enabled desktop email client software like Apple’s Mail application. You can enable the new features by visiting the Labs tab in your Gmail Settings and ticking the enable radio button for Advanced IMAP Controls. After enabling the feature, visit the Labels tab and checking which Labels you wish to show up in your desktop email client software. Turning off “All Mail” in particular will cut down the amount of time (and amount of email) that your email app of choice takes to sync with Gmail’s servers. This also has the desirable result of having less email to search through and keep track of. There are a whole lot of feature additions at your fingertips via the Labs tab in your Gmail Settings, so make sure you check in there every once in a while to see if there’s something new and useful.