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

Category : Web

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.

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!

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.

How to Host a Successful Group Meeting (over, and over, and over…)

From creative brainstorm meetings at interactive firms to co-op living meetings about weekly chores (and friendly issues ;) ), here are some guidelines on how to host a successful group meeting.

Have a meeting champion.

  • This person will run all the pre- through post-meeting necessities: creating meeting agenda, notifying attendees, scheduling, hosting meeting, keeping meeting on track, assigning duties (like a note-taker), publishing relevant info, etc.

Have an agenda.

  • This gives you a structured outline for the meeting and sets group expectations.
  • First item is always (1) welcome (call to order), “this is what we’re here to do”; second item is always (2) introductions (short and relevant… not necessary if group knows each other); third item is always (3) here is the agenda do we need to add anything.

Everyone creates and agrees on ground rules.

  • Do you want mobile devices and laptops on or off? Do you want criticism allowed or an open embracing environment? Is there a moderator everyone should expect to keep meeting on track? Should a subject not be brought up because an hour long tirade always follows? One person speaks at a time? Is a high level of respect required?
  • This is only something you have to do for new meetings, if this is a weekly “repeating” meeting the idea is you can reuse the guidelines setup for a meeting of that sort.

Document all comments and assignments where everyone can see them in “real” time… that’s live.

  • Have a centralized screen (laptop, projector, tv, whiteboard) with a live feed from the “note-taker.” This works well with digital writeboards where multiple users can access content such as Basecamp or Google Wave.
  • Always make sure to document who does what by when.

Designate a centralized place for all meeting-related communication accessible by all stakeholders.

  • I especially like structured content management systems for this due to their searchability, version control, and team accessibility.

Reuse Agendas and Ground Rules

  • Find what works for your specific group and allows meetings to be efficient as possible. Nothing needs to be rigid; all is adaptable!