Marvelinthesky's Logo

website production, marketing and project management
photography, music, doodles and graphic design
travel, gardening, and finding peace

Finally, I Too Will Get to Use the Current Adobe Products!

Adobe is about to release CS5.5… and there was much rejoicing! But the best part is, they are going to have subscription editions (month to month) available for almost all of its Creative Suite applications! Wahoo! This means I can actually use the brand spankin’ new version of CS without the $XXXX upfront cost. I am pretty darn excited about it… and so is my travel fund!

Awesome Free Project Management Tool

I have used Basecamp, Central Desktop, Zoho CRM/Project, MS Project, iphone task and time tracking applications, and complex Excel workbooks with hand pieced Gantt charts to manage interactive projects (not to mention all the ones I demo’d in between!) and for the cost I have not been as impressed as the one I came across today. Clocking IT has answered my jobbyjob needs.

This impressive project management tool offers all the needs of a web project manager… and all they ask for is a donation (YES! FREE –> but as your conscious I must say you best donate to them or Ann Richards will take your ass out).

I was able to set up six client projects with three users and numerous task and associated milestones with ease. Clocking IT’s intuitive interface left me with no question on how to set up my projects and offered me plenty of customizable fields to make the experience better suited for my team and field. They also offered a widget for my iGoogle page (yes, use it daily) and an easy way to sync up with iCal so I can have all the info I need on my iphone calender.

I am pretty thrilled. This month was going to be killer if we didn’t stay organized and on top of our task/time… Clocking IT is going to let us do it, and on our budget for web-based project management tool… cough, nothing, cough, so thank goodness it was free! (YES–> I am going to donate too).

:)

Fascinationist

I am a contributor to the Fascinationist blog. It is a website that documents all the worm/rabbit holes and pink elephant paths web users find themselves following as they waste hours of their life away. If you like snippets of random things “worth” checking out… take a look at fascinationist.com.

Major and Minor Ukulele Chords (feel free to say thanks)

I’ve been creating chord charts and lesson resources for others that want to play the ukulele… seems like there is an interest. Since the ukulele site I am going to publish this stuff on isn’t up yet, I am going to post some of these resources here. So, without ado, here are the minor and major ukulele chords.

here are the minor and major ukulele chords

minor and major ukulele chords

Started a New Website –> How to Play Ukulele!

I have been working on several web projects for the last month and neglecting my own website! Sorry about that. To make it up to you I have finished the chord chart that I promised… and went ahead and started a whole new website devoted to providing resources to the beginning ukulele student. More to come on that (when I get it spiffy) but until then, here is the completed ukulele chord chart for A, A flat, B and B flat. You’ll have to wait for the rest of the chords ;) .

A, A flat, B, and B flat chord charts including minors, sevenths, ninths, etc.

Chord chart for A, A flat, B, and B flat

Ukulele Chord Chart with Notes!

I have been creating a ukulele chord chart which includes the actual notes that make up the chord next to the chord diagram! I drew several by hand and thought they were helpful enough that I should make a digital graphic of the chord chart to share with all ukulele beginners who want to understand the chords they are playing.

I expect I will have A, A flat, B, and B flat (including the majors, minors, 7ths, 9ths, minor 7ths, and major 7ths) done in a day or so… here is a sample of the ukulele chord chart.

Ukulele chord chart sample

Ukulele chord chart for A, Ab, B, Bb and the minors

World eBook Fair Starts July 4th! Thanks Public Domain.

The World eBook Fair begins July 4th and last for a full month!

This collective celebration of public domain material occurs yearly thanks to the contribution of Project Gutenberg, The Internet Archive, and the World Public Library.

By the end of the fair they will have about 3.5 MILLION audio, video, fiction, nonfiction and references books, and many more digital treasures available online for FREE!

I have been reading older shorts stories and novels by the likes of Miguel de Cervantes, Lewis Carroll, Franz Kafka and William Atkinson from my computer screen for a couples months now (thank you Project Gutenberg). That said, there are hints in the web breeze that perhaps an iPhone/Droid application will be launched during the fair to give the billions of smart phone users access to the wealth of free public domain content the World eBook Fair members have to offer at their mobile fingertips. Yay!

I am most definitely looking forward to July 4th… you might find me reading The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha via my phone while the fireworks float overhead.

SEO and Contributing –> Create WordPress Tools for DoFollow Luv

Contributing useful information and tools for the world to use is the best SEO action any web content creator can put to use.

  • One site that certainly rubs-off good SEO karma is WordPress. With a PageRank of 8 and a top 200 Alexa position, contributing a WordPress theme, plugin, and/or widget will reward you with not only an author homepage link, but a link to the tool’s homepage as well.

  • Also, if your site is simply awesome, think of submitting your site to their “Showcase” for great internet marketing benefit… SEO and traffic!

  • And if that wasn’t enough… once you have a WordPress profile, posting in their forums also sends a personalized link to your site. I am a big fan of the “New Ideas” WordPress forum.

Thank you WordPress contributors for all that you do!

How to Grow Really Tall Tomato Plants

One way to support your tomato plants without the use of a tomato cage is by planting a piece of rebar next to your tomato plant! The process is easy and you can usually find the supplies around your neighborhood.

tomato plant tied to bamboo stake

For every tomato plant you will need:

  • a 2 foot long rebar that is 3/8 or 1/3 inch in diameter
  • a 6-10ft straight bamboo pole

You will also need:

  • a mini sledge hammer (or regular hammer)
  • a roll of plant tape

When you plant your tomato plant hammer a rebar about 6 inches away from the plant stalk (make sure not to damage any roots). Hammer the rebar almost completely into the ground leaving only about 4 inches above ground. The rebar should be sturdy once planted firmly into the ground.

Next, firmly situate the bamboo onto the rebar. The hollow bamboo inside should fit snuggly around the rebar and go down as far as it can (into the earth a couple inches).

You don’t want the bamboo to move that easily so when it is propped on the rebar make sure doesnt lean or move… it is the tomatoes support column!

Now as the tomato grows, use the plant tape to loop the stalk of the plant to the bamboo. There is no need for tomato cages at all!

Before you know it, your tomato plants will be taller than you! My tomato plants ended up being taller than 7 feet.

 

Being Present and Focused Drawing Mandala Art

For the last few years I have been using mandalas to focus and bring my mind back from any place it wondered off to. They are basically circles (within a square) with ornate geometric symbols, sigils, and/or stories within them.

Wikipedia.org has a great quote about them:

In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts, as a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.

There are many mandala coloring books available but they are also very easy and fulfilling to create by hand. One of the easiest ways to create a mandala is by drawing geometric shapes within themselves. For example, first draw a circle, then put a square within that circle letting the corners of the square touch the circle’s sides, then put a circle within the square, a triangle within the circle…etc., and decorate however you like!

Mandala flowerdoodle in vibrant inks

Mandala flower doodle in vibrant inks


Next time you find your mind wandering or overwhelmed break out that pencil or pen and find an old paper bag to doodle a mandala on. Remember, it does not have to be pretty or perfect or have some great symbolism. Just see what flows out of you when you let your mind calm and focus in on creating each line.

doodle mandala

mandala doodle

New Website? Try Search Engine Submission.

If you just created a website, have your taxonomy/URL structure ready to go and are wondering what to do now, first things first, submit your URL to search engines to crawl.

  • Google
    Every search engine wants you to have an account with them for you to be able to submit your site. Google requires a Google account, how novel. Once you have an account go to Webmaster Central and sign into webmaster tools. Go ahead and add your site then make sure to verify it. I find the easiest way is simply to add the meta tag into the html head tag. It should go in the head section, before the first body section. Webmaster tools has some other options to look into such as location targeting… go ahead and explore the tools Gman is offering.
  • Yahoo
    Yahoo wants you to have a Yahoo account… so if you don’t yet, go ahead and get one, then sign in at Yahoo Site Explorer and submit your webpage. You’ll have a couple options on how to verify the site, as always, adding a meta tag to the header seems easiest, especially for WordPress sites.
  • Bing
    For Bing you will need a Microsoft hotmail account then sign in here: http://www.bing.com/webmaster. You will have the option of uploading a file to your site or simply adding a meta tag to the header, sounds familiar huh.

If your site is established definitely submit it to DMOZ.org and make sure to follow their guidelines for submission… they’re stricter than most.

Want more? There are thousands of directories on the net, start submitting your site to the free ones and get noticed (watch that pagerank appear :) ).

Mind Maps! A great way to start anything.

To begin, if you don’t know what a mind map is, here is the wiki.

Mind maps are great for organizing thoughts… *live* thoughts especially. This point was really driven home when one of the founders of the Austin Film Festival (Barbara Morgan) said she created a mindmap at the beginning of every project and used it in her brainstorming sessions. It is an excellent tool for capturing ideas before they disappear behind the next thought, and quickly grouping ideas to get a better sense of the bigger picture.

I’ve done mindmaps for interactive projects, risk analysis, brainstorming, life goals (put your name in the center), things to pack, things to make, pros/cons… all kinds of stuff. Just stop before you start introducing Gantt elements to the spiderweb of tasks… ;) mind maps can only take you so far into a project.

And remember, a mind map is to be seen, not filed away. Display it prominently, add to it, cross things out (don’t erase–>an idea always has possibilities) let it live through the project with you.

Looking for mind mapping software? I do not particularly want to endorse one mind mapping program over the next, so I will let you do your own search (but there are many that are free out there!). I do believe the best way to mindmap is by hand (so you can doodle while you document!), but that is not usually the easiest way to inclusively document in a tech meeting nowadays.