Summary of eHow articles for February

Warholized What's down there?

It was cats and kids month in my personal life. In my writing life, here’s what I did at eHow in February. (The CSS attribute selector article appeared here first, in an easier to use format.)

Playing with the WordPress Theme Generator

As I said yesterday, I was off to play with the WordPress theme generator. It took me a few minutes to figure out what the various labels on the forms controlling the selections meant. I couldn’t quite squeeze the whole page plus the theme preview on the right into my available screen real estate, so I was doing a lot of scrolling around to see the effects of my choices. It took me about 15 minutes to create a red, white, and blue theme. I confess I didn’t carry through with the next step. I did not download and install the theme. So I cannot report on how that goes. Here’s a picture of my 15 minutes of effort

screen shot of the preview of the theme

If you have the ability to add some background graphics and other customizations to the code and material you get from the theme generator, you could no doubt make a nice looking blog.

On the other hand, if you have the ability to do that, you may not need the help you get from a wizard that will generate a theme for you. What do you think?

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100 Free Tools and Templates

Those on a budget (aren’t we all) will love some of the suggestions for free software, site designs and other tools at Design Vitality’s The Open Source Web Design Toolbox: 100 Tools, Resources, and Template Sources. There are some open source HTML, CSS, and image editing tools listed that might appeal to web designers and to teachers who need updated software in their teaching labs.

The tool I’m going to try out the minute I finish posting this is the WordPress Theme Generator. The options for a wordpress theme include setting body size, sidebar location, number of columns, menu layout, and colors. You end up with a WordPress theme zip file to install.

What Business Can Learn from Open Source

Paul Graham gave this talk, What Business Can Learn from Open Source, at Oscon 2005. It is long, but worth the time. His points relate to the passions of the unruly and unpaid who create open source or innovative weblogs. It ties right into the point I was making in my previous post about the woman who sleeps with babies.

Here’s an excerpt of what he said, “So these, I think, are the three big lessons open source and blogging
have to teach business: (1) that people work harder on stuff they
like, (2) that the standard office environment is very unproductive,
and (3) that bottom-up often works better than top-down. . . . When I say business can
learn from open source, I don’t mean any specific business can. I
mean business can learn about new conditions the same way a gene
pool does. . . . I think the big obstacle preventing
us from seeing the future of business is the assumption that people
working for you have to be employees. But think about what’s going
on underneath: the company has some money, and they pay it to the
employee in the hope that he’ll make something worth more than they
paid him. Well, there are other ways to arrange that relationship. . . . “

How to boost a site’s credibility

The Web Credibility Project – Stanford University: “As
part of the Persuasive Technology Lab, we are investigating such questions as:

  • What
    causes people to believe (or not believe) what they find on the Web?
  • What
    strategies do users employ in evaluating the credibility of online sources?
  • What
    contextual and design factors influence these assessments and strategies?
  • How
    and why are credibility evaluation processes on the Web different from those
    made in face-to-face human interaction, or in other offline contexts?”

In addition to the research results, an email newsletter and credibility teaching materials are available. Qualified academics receive a free two-week credibiity training course outline and materials that go for $1500 commercially.

Open source WYSIWYG editor

Here’s an interesting open source tool: Nvu – The Complete Web Authoring System for Linux, Macintosh and Windows Nvu allows page editing using tools based on the Mozilla composer and FTP. It claims to work on any platform and looks promising, although I have not downloaded and tried it myself.

While we’re talking open source, let me not forget Plone, which is an open source content management system with plenty of support and help. Plone works on any platform and is based on Zope, but you don’t have to know Zope to use it.

ADDENDUM May 12, 2011: The developers of Nvu have released a new open source WYSIWYG editor called BlueGriffon that you should look at if you’re looking for free software for web design.