Friday, July 30, 2010

10 Little Known Facts About Coffee

Coffee has been many things - stimulant, medicine and social drink. Discover some of the lesser-known facts about coffee and its long and tumultuous history.

Coffee, a drink a good proportion of the world couldn't do without, has had a long and colourful history. It has played a key role in civilisations from the Middle East to South America – as stimulant, medicine and indicator of overall coolness - and has won a devoted following. Here are ten lesser-known facts about coffee:

10 Facts About Coffee

  1. Caffeine, the ingredient in coffee that gives it that stimulating kick, was first discovered by German chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge in 1819, after an encounter with the great Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe, a keen amateur scientist in addition to his many other accomplishments, gave the young Runge a handful of Arabian mocha coffee beans, and urged him to analyse them.
  2. Coffee first enters the historical record with the Sufis of the Yemen, who, according to the sixteenth-century chronicler 'Abd Al-Qadir al-Jaziri, used a drink called “qahwa” as a stimulant to help them stay awake during their prayers.
  3. The coffee house first arose in the Middle East. By the early 1500s, the use of coffee had spread beyond the pious Sufis of the Yemen, and coffee had became a drink to be enjoyed in a social context, by all segments of society. Some coffee-houses were luxurious and impressive. In Coffee and Coffeehouses, writer Ralph Hattox quotes the Portuguese adventurer Pedro Teixeira (d1640) who describes a coffee-house in Baghdad: “This house is near the river, over which it has many windows and two galleries, making it a very pleasant resort.”
  4. The world's first café, a French adaptation of the Middle Eastern coffee house, was opened in Paris in 1689 by Francois Procope, a Florentine expatriate. It attracted a notable clientele over the years, including Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Balzac and Victor Hugo.
  5. The Royal Society, the world's oldest and most eminent scientific society, began in 1655 as the Oxford Coffee Club, an informal association of scientists and students. Its founding members included the astronomer Edmund Halley and physicist Isaac Newton. In 1662 they were granted a charter by King Charles II as the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge.
  6. The two main commercial varieties of coffee are arabica and robusta. Indigenous to Africa, they can now be found across the world, between 25 degrees North and 25 degrees South of the Equator. While robusta is a hardier shrub, they both require specific environmental conditions in order to grow.
  7. Coffee was originally regarded more as a medicine than as a drink. It was thought to cure a number of ailments, including drunkenness and asthma. Robert Burton, in the Anatomy of Melancholy (1632) listed coffee as an intoxicant, a euphoric, a social and physical stimulant, and a digestive aid.
  8. As coffee spread around the world, its use initially centred on the coffee-house. The social nature of these places, and their often lively political debates, meant they were frequently regarded with some alarm by the authorities, who periodically tried to ban them. The Mamluk governor Kha'ir Beg banned them in Mecca in 1511, although they soon re-opened. King Charles II's attempt to ban coffee-houses in 1676 was likewise short-lived.
  9. Coffee made its way to the New World in 1723, when French naval officer Gabriel d'Erchigny de Clieu managed to acquire a purloined coffee plant from the jealously guarded royal gardens at court, and smuggled it into Martinique.
  10. According to statistics from the International Coffee Organisation (ICO), the USA is the biggest importer of coffee, importing 23,575,457.7 60-kg bags of coffee in 2009.

9 Timeless Nutrition Tips for Any Age

Your health is your life.  Make it a priority.
There are a zillion nutrition tips floating around out there.  Here are a few simple ones that have worked well for me over the years.
  1. Limit junk food or don’t eat it at all. – Whatever junk food you have in your kitchen, throw it out and replace it with healthy foods and snacks.  Look into other ways to comfort yourself and think of food as nutrition, not entertainment or emotional fodder.
  2. Go on a healthy food shopping spree. – Don’t look at prices.  Buy items that are healthy and appealing.  Fill your cupboards, pantry and fridge with healthy foods so you will not feel like your kitchen is empty.
  3. Limit eating out. – Most restaurant food has high amounts of sodium, sugar and fat.  There are few exceptions.  Spend more time with family or friends cooking together, or enjoy cooking for yourself.
  4. Visit a farmer’s market. – Because farmers markets make buying healthy food fun and interesting.  Most of the produce will be freshly picked, and taste heavenly compared to the refrigerated and thawed produce we get at grocery stores.  Many farmer’s markets have healthy homemade jams, local honey, hot sauce, or pickled this and that.
  5. Cut out the white stuff.Sugar has zero nutrition.  Cut out high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, too.  Sugar is linked to the growing obesity epidemic in the US and the rising rates of diabetes.  It is also linked to heart disease, which remains the number one killer of people in the US.  Use natural sweeteners in baking like raw honey, date sugar or molasses, which retains high amounts of nutrients.
  6. Exercise.  – No level of nutrition can make up the difference for lack of exercise.  Walking counts, as does taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard’s School of Public Health places exercise at the foundational base of his food pyramid.
  7. Eat at a table. – According to Michael Pollan’s latest book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, “No, a desk is not a table.  If we eat while we’re working, or while watching TV or driving, we eat mindlessly, and as a result eat a lot more than we would if we were eating at a table, paying attention to what we’re doing.  When eating somewhere other than a table, stick to fruits and vegetables.”
  8. Eat smaller portions by buying smaller plates. – I gave my giant-sized dinner plates to the Salvation Army and bought smaller square plates.  And I eat less because of it.  According to Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, in a study focused on size illusions, “People with a large bowl and a three-ounce scoop dished out 57 percent more ice cream than those given a smaller bowl and smaller scoop.”
  9. Cut out ‘beverages’ and drink water. – Water is free, whereas most beverages come with a price – a health price and a financial price.  One popular 12-ounce soda boasts a whopping 150 calories, and it offers no nutrition.  As a treat, drink tea instead of soda.
Remember, it only takes 21 days of doing something to make it a habit.  So pick one of the tips above and start making it a healthy habit today.

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating
Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies
The Chemistry of Food and Nutrition
Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition, Fourth Edition
Nutrition For Dummies

29 Semi-Productive Things I Do Online When I’m Trying to Avoid Real Work

You don’t always have to work hard to be productive.  Productivity can simply be the side effect of doing the right things.
So here’s a list of 29 semi-productive things I do online when my mind is set on avoiding ‘real work.’
  1. Check delicious popular tags like ‘useful,’ ‘tutorials,’ ‘tips,’ ‘howto,’ ‘advice,’ ‘entrepreneurship,’ etc. for interesting, educational articles to read.
  2. Watch one of the thousands of educational videos streaming at, Academic Earth and Teacher Tube.
  3. Read an online book list and find a new book to grab next time I’m at the library.  Here’s another list.  And another.  And another.
  4. Read a classic book online for free at Project Gutenberg, Planet eBook, or the E-books Directory.
  5. Research a new Do It Yourself project at DIY Network, Instructables, eHow, or WikiHow.
  6. Add to, delete from, or just generally sort my ongoing to-do list at Remember The Milk.
  7. Create a cool graphical mind map of some of my recent ideas at
  8. Email a close friend or family member I haven’t spoken to in awhile.
  9. Backup my recent photos, documents, and other important files online using Microsoft’s free 25 gig SkyDrive.
  10. Use Wikipedia’s random article function to pick a random article to read.
  11. Touch up on my math and science skills over a the Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare, or
  12. Send a paper greeting card directly to a friend or relative at enGreet.
  13. Start learning a new language online for free at BBC Languages or Livemocha.
  14. Watch one of the insightful 6 minute and 40 second presentations at Ignite Show.
  15. Use Memorize Now to memorize a cool joke, or poem, or whatever.
  16. Use Media Convert to convert video files I have on my computer into a format I can view on my iPhone or iPod later on.
  17. Listen to an educational podcast over at Odeo or via iTunes on iTunes U.
  18. Read one of the academic journals at the Directory of Open Access Journals.
  19. Share my favorite mp3s, photos, videos, etc. with friends and family using Dropbox.
  20. Get a free college education online using this guide from Lifehacker (or read one of the other useful articles on Lifehacker).
  21. Inspire and spark my creative mind by looking at a rolling slideshow of the highest rated photos on Flickr for the last 7 days.
  22. Catch up on a short history lesson at HyperHistory or The Internet History Sourcebooks Project.  Or find out what happened today in history.
  23. Take a fun, educational online quiz at Quizlet.
  24. Play an educational online game at Lumosity, Sporcle, Games for the Brain, or Math Run.
  25. Add a little gentle rain to my environment using and then simply meditate and relax in my computer chair for 10 minutes.
  26. Sell old stuff I no longer need on eBay and make a little extra cash.
  27. Find a new musical artist to listen to based on music I like at Grooveshark, Pandora,, or Deezer.
  28. Find out what’s happening in our world from quality international news sources like BBC News and Reuters.
  29. Write a blog post like this one.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Samsung B7320 Omnia Pro - The In Thing

The latest fad today is to have a stylish handset that has some special features to take care of all day to day business along with entertainment requirements and Samsung B7320 Omnia Pro handsets are such phones.Samsung B7320 Omnia Pro has got some outstanding features and a classy body which is all the present generation wants in a phone and that is the reason why this phone will stay here in the market for quite some time.

Features at a glance:

The dimensions of the mobile phone are 11.7cm by 6.1 cm by 1.27cm and it has weight of only 102 grams along with fitted batteries.The TFT type screen measures 2.4" and looks awesome along with the QWERTY type keyboard. It gives a high screen resolution and that is the reason why the picture quality is so amazing in the mobile phone. The handset is in possession of 256 MB of RAM and ROM each and if the need be, one can expand the existing memory using the microSD memory card slot as much as required.

Some really good connectivity features and data features follow in with Bluetooth for connecting to other devices wirelessly, USB port for connecting to wired devices and EDGE technology for fast rate of data transfer in the phone. GPRS feature is also included in the handset to make it even more worthwhile.Working on the quad band GPS network, the handset provides excellent network coverage to the user. Also 3G HSDPA and HSCSD support plays a vital role in networking.

7 hours of talk time is what you get from a fully charged Samsung B7320 Omnia Pro handset. However, it is important that your usage of the phone complements the batteries. Otherwise the life of the battery is good enough.GPS navigation makes Samsung B7320 Omnia Pro a complete handset and enables the user to avail services which make them locate directions.

A Beginners Guide To Home Beer Making

Would you like to try to make your own beer at home, now you can. Home beer making is not as hard as people make out. Its actually quite easy to make great tasting beer that you can be proud of and enjoy drinking, once you know how. There are many different brewing kits that you can buy from the store that will help you with the process. Though sometimes the brewing instructions arent that great so I would advise purchasing a book on the subject to ensure you dont waste your money or get disheartened and give up.

When you're ready to try home beer making, you will need the following, together with the equipment in your brewing kit:

A malt extract, water, and brewers yeast.

Liquid extracts are usually in the form of syrup where as dry extracts are dry and can be stored longer than the liquid form. Eventually you will discover there are many different extracts to choose from all of which will make your brew taste different. Once you have successfully made your first batch you will need to restock on ingredients, especially if you have started off with a beer kit. Find a retailer online that offers a selection of ingredients so that you can experiment making different tastes. A common fact that most beginners dont know is that home beer making can be effected by the water the brew is made up of. Its best to use spring or bottled water even though some people report they get good results with tap water. Yeast is another big part of home beer making. Yeast is what ferments the malts and the sugars into the alcohol. This is what releases the carbon dioxide.

There are many different ways to make beer and the more resources you read youll soon discover how differently people go about home beer making. The only way to do it without confusion is to find the recipe that you like best then stick to it, following a guide each time you brew. Youll soon see that there are certain recipes that take longer than others and some will take no time at all.

Figure out which one you like the sound of and that fits into your time schedule but bear in mind the brewing process should not be rushed or you will end up ruining your batch or making your self sick. (Please note: Its very important to be careful and sanitary. You need to make sure that all the equipment that you use is sterile).

Home beer making is a great hobby that once mastered youll be able to share with your friends. As with anything practice makes perfection, so dont assume that your first home beer making attempt will be an award winning beer. Stick with it, follow a guide book from someone who has mastered the techniques from whom you can learn best practices, and very soon youll have a couple of bottles of home brew that you can be proud of.

How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time
Strong Waters: A Simple Guide to Making Beer, Wine, Cider and Other Spirited Beverages at Home
New Brewers Complete Homebrew Beer Making Kit

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Garlic Butter Rolls

garlic bread rolls
For those of you swoon over garlic twisty bread but can't bring yourself to order whole pizza to make the delivery worthwhile, this one's for you! They are scrumptious!  Dip some in marinara or serve them with a salad and pasta! You could also eat them alone, directly from your kitchen counter. No one will know. Promise.
To push them over the edge of deliciousness, I am going to tuck a little bit of Parmesan cheese in the middle of each roll before I form them into little dough balls next time!  This was a request from my husband who is a certified twisty bread lover. He wanted them cheesy with more of a garlic presence; so I will appease him next round! I suggest using a little cooking spray in the muffin tin because I had 3 of them stick! You'd better believe I chiseled them out with a knife and ate them! Wouldn't want to let any dough go to waste now would we?

I used Trader Joe's  plain pizza dough for this batch! So convenient!
trader joe's pizza dough
Start by mincing 4 cloves of garlic. Set aside.
pressing garlic
While your dough is getting to room temp, get your muffin tin ready and put some oil in a little bowl.
waiting for dough to rise
Cut the dough into 12 pieces. Form into balls and place them in the muffin tins.
cutting up the rolls
Put a pinch of garlic on top. Next time I will fold the sides over so there's garlic inside as well as on top!
pinch of garlic on top
Brush the tops with olive oil and place in the oven for 15-18 mins.
brush with olive oil
Here's what they look like after 17 minutes in my oven.
out of the oven
Dip them in a bowl of melted butter and parsley. Lube them up! Then add salt on top.
toss with melted butter and parsley
You have yourself a very delicious little garlic knot/roll.
light inside

Garlic Butter Rolls

(recipe Real Simple Magazine)
Makes 12
  • 1 pound plain or whole wheat pizza dough (thawed)
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley

  1. Tear pizza dough (thawed according to package directions) into 12 pieces and place in the cups of a 12-cup muffin tin. (I suggest spraying the bottoms of the muffin tin with cooking spray so they release easily!)
  2. Divide 4 cloves chopped garlic among the pieces of dough, pressing them into the centers. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 425° F until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes.
  3. Toss in a bowl with melted butter and chopped parsley; season with salt.

Top 6 Beer Destinations in Germany

A trip to an atmospheric Bavarian beer garden or a Cologne beer hall is a Germany must but with well over 1200 breweries in the country, it’s hard to know where to start. Famed for location, age, popularity, atmosphere or sheer number of beer-related sights, here are our top six beer destinations in Germany (with bonus beer glossary!):


Of course, Munich. No visit to Munich would be complete without a visit to a raucous beer hall or family beer garden and there are plenty of places  to choose from. The Hofbräuhaus is Bavaria’s (and possibly the world’s) most celebrated beer hall. Bury your head in an enormous stein before checking out the medieval vaults and pretzel-shaped postcards.
Pour over old brewing vats, historic photos and some of the earliest Oktoberfest regalia at the Bier & Oktoberfestmuseum, Housed in a 14th-century timber-framed house this museum provides a potted history of Germany’s national tipple.
Talking of Oktoberfest, this 16-day extravaganza is held from mid-September to the first Sunday in October and draws over six million visitors. A special dark, strong beer (Wies’nbier) is brewed for the occasion and Müncheners spend the day at the office in lederhosen and dirndl in order to hit the festival right after work.
Munich was also winner of Lonely Planet’s best beer cities in the world poll.


The most tempting tour offered by the Bamberg tourist office is the self-guided Brewery Trail that showcases the Franconian Brewery Museum and includes beer vouchers and a souvenir stein in the price. While in Bamberg, also check outKlosterbräu, a beautiful half-timbered brewery – the oldest in town.
For a fascinating look at the brewing process, head to the enormous Maisel’s Brauerei-und-Büttnerei-Museum, just outside Bayreuth. A tour takes you into the bowels of the 19th-century plant, with atmospheric rooms filled with 4500 beer mugs and amusing artefacts.
Klosterschenke Weltenburg has been brewing its delicious dark beer since 1050 and is the oldest monastic (now state-of-the-art) brewery.


Lore has it that Alpirsbach is named after a quaffing cleric who, when a glass of beer slipped clumsily from his hand and rolled into the river, exclaimed: All Bier ist in den Bach! (All the beer is in the stream!). A prophecy, it seems, as today Alpirsbacher Klosterbräu is brewed from pure spring water. Two beers are thrown in for the price of a brewery tour ticket.


Beer reigns supreme in Cologne where over 20 breweries produce the local variety called Kölsch, which is served in skinny glasses called Stangen. At Brauhaus Petersdrinkers knock back their Kölsch in a web of highly individualistic nooks; Früh am Domis a warren of a beer hall; and Päffgen has been pouring Kölsch since 1883.


Jever, the capital of the Friesland region, is famous for its pilsner beer and Friesisches Brauhaus has been producing dry pilsner since 1848. Brewery tours allows visitors a peek behind the scenes and travel through the production and bottling facilities, as well as a small museum. Reservations are essential.


Half of Germany’s breweries are found in Bavaria and not the north but one brewery in particular has long washed beyond the shores of Germany to establish itself as an international brand. You can see where the wares come from during a two-hour tour of the Beck’s breweryProst!
Thanks to the tradition of the Reinheitsgebot, German beer is supposed to be unique in not giving you a Katzenjammer or Kater (hangover). However, party-goers downing 5 million litres of the stuff at Munich’s Oktoberfest must surely disagree!


Alkoholfreies Bier Nonalcoholic beer.
Altbier A dark, full beer with malted barley from the Düsseldorf area.
Berliner Weisse With around 2.8% alcohol content, draught (Schankbier) is mostly brewed in and around Berlin. It contains lactic acid, giving it a slightly sour taste, and a blend of malted wheat and barley. Top fermented, it’s often drunk mit Grün (with green or woodruff syrup), or with a dash (mit Schuss) of raspberry (Himbeeren) syrup.
Bockbier, Doppelbock These two strong beers are around 7% alcohol, but Doppelbock is slightly stronger. There’s a ‘Bock’ for almost every occasion, such as Maibock (usually drunk in May/spring) and Weihnachtsbock (brewed for Christmas). Eisbock is dark and more aromatic. Bock beers originate from Einbeck, near Hanover.
Dampfbier (steam beer) Originating from Bayreuth in Bavaria, this is top fermented and has a fruity flavour.
Dunkles Lagerbier (dark lager) Dunkel (dark) is brewed throughout Germany, but especially in Bavaria. With a light use of hops, it’s full-bodied with a strong malt aroma. Malt is dried at a high temperature, lending it a dark colour.
Export Traditionally with a higher alcohol content to help it survive a long journey, this beer is closely associated today with Dortmund, and is often dry to slightly sweet.
Helles Lagerbier (pale lager) Helles (pale or light) refers to the colour, not the alcohol content, which is still around 4.6% to 5%. Brewing strongholds are Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and the Ruhr region. It has strong malt aromas and is slightly sweet.
Hofbräu This is a brewery belonging to a royal court (Hof) – for some time in Bavaria only a few nobles enjoyed the right to brew wheat beer.
Klosterbräu This type of brewery belongs to a monastery.
Kölsch By law, this top fermented beer can only be brewed in or around Cologne. It is about 4.8% alcohol, has a solid hop flavour and pale colour, and is served in small glasses (0.2L) called Stangen (literally ‘sticks’).
Leichtbier (light beer) These low-alcohol beers are about 2% to 3.2% alcohol.
Leipziger Gose An unusual beer, flavoured with salt and coriander, this contrives to have a stingingly refreshing taste, with some plummy overtones. Tart like Berliner Weisse, it’s also often served with sweeteners, such as cherry (Kirsch) liqueur or the almond-flavoured Allasch.
Malzbier (malt beer) A sweet, aromatic, full-bodied beer, this is brewed mainly in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.
Märzen (March) Full-bodied with strong malt aromas, this is traditionally brewed in March. Today, it’s associated with the Oktoberfest.
Obergäriges Bier Top fermented beer.
Pils (pilsener) This bottom-fermented full beer, with a pronounced hop flavour and a creamy head, has an alcohol content of around 4.8% and is served throughout Germany.
Rauchbier (smoke beer) This dark beer has a fresh, spicy or ‘smoky’ flavour.
Schwarzbier (black beer) Slightly stronger, this dark, full beer has an alcohol content of about 4.8% to 5%. Full-bodied, it’s fermented using roasted malt.
Untergäriges Bier Bottom-fermented beer.
Weizenbier, Weissbier (wheat beer) Predominating in the south, especially in Bavaria, this is around 5.4% alcohol. A Hefeweizen has a stronger shot of yeast, whereas Kristallweizen is clearer with more fizz. These wheat beers are fruity and spicy, often recalling bananas and cloves. Decline offers of a slice of lemon as it ruins the head and – beer purists say – the flavour.

Paid Search Versus Search Engine Optimization

2004 Google Chief Engineer Craig Neville-Manning insisted that Google maintained a strict separation between the search index part of Google and the paid advertising part. Sometimes this separation was referred to as a "Chinese Wall" between organic search engine results and paid search engine results, but this terminology fell out of favor once Google started trying to gain suction in the harshly competitive market in China, and the recent Google in China drama has definitely kept the term buried, but that's another whole story.

The question is, does Google still live up to this separation between paid and organic results? They insist that Adwords is totally separated from organic search engine placement, that the two are in parallel channels and as such will never meet. What exactly does this mean in practice?

Rumors that Google offers tech help in achieving better organic search results placement to those who drop big money on paid search results have long circulated. They appear to have been true, at least in a few situations, according to minutes of technical assistance meetings between Google's engineers and some of its big ad spenders. The bottom line is that the engineers were giving away information that was mostly the kind of stuff you or I might find in the Webmaster Guidelines. Is that information more valuable coming from the mouths of Google's tech wizards than it is coming from the Webmaster tools? It's hard to say for sure.

Is this something the average webmaster should be up in arms about? Maybe not. The big spending advertisers make up most of Google's revenue for paid search. Any business with a brain will do what they can to hang onto their best customers. That's why Google designates an account representative for each major advertiser. It's a bit of a chicken or egg situation: did Google do this to keep its biggest customers happy, or did the big customers feel entitled to technical help, having written checks with lots of zeroes on them?

The big divide, it would appear, is between the advertiser with a small budget and an advertiser with a big budget. If Google is providing face time with its engineers to the big advertisers, is it possible they'll kick in some other perks in the future? While it's easy to go all slippery slope with this, it does make you wonder. If Google, as it maintains, never sells higher ranking in search results, are they indirectly doing it by letting big ad spenders meet with their engineers? Are the big companies getting the recipes with the real secret ingredients, or do they get the same as you or I get from the webmaster tools, only straight from the engineers rather than the help pages?

Most internet users find organic search results much more relevant than paid search advertisements, but "most" doesn't mean 90% - it's more like 61%. In other words, nearly 40% find paid search ads more relevant than organically generated ones. This means that paid search versus organic search isn't so much an either / or proposition as it is a "how much SEO versus how much paid placement" proposition.

Studies, such as one done by iProspect in 2004 teased apart the various sectors of the over all internet user demographic and determined that how much you emphasize organic versus paid search depends on five things:

1. Gender - A higher percentage of women than men like paid search ads 2. Employment Level - A higher level of partially employed, unemployed, and users who did not graduate college find paid search results more relevant 3. Education - The more educated a user is, the more likely he or she will prefer organic search results in terms of relevancy 4. Length of Internet Experience - the more years a person has been using the internet, the more relevant they find organic search results 5. Frequency of Use of Internet - the more often a user gets on the internet, the more relevant they tend to find organic search results

However, it's important to note that in all these categories, organic search results prevailed by splits of 65%/35% to 60%/40%. So no matter what demographic your site targets, you can't discount search engine optimization, even if you put a lot of money into online advertising. You can't throw all your eggs in one basket and hope to succeed at e-commerce.

Here's an analogy. Have you ever been shopping in the springtime for plants for your garden and marveled at the selection of tall, bright flowers that are already blooming? Chances are good that the nursery they came from added lots of fertilizer of the type designed to produce lots of quick growth and blooming. The thing is, the root structure isn't always that great, so you have to be careful transplanting them so that you'll get good root growth, because without good roots, those early forced blooms will fade quickly and not be replaced with the kind gained from long-term care.

Your paid search results can get you some quick growth right off the bat, but if you don't have the root structure of good content, frequent updating, and smart use of keywords and tags, those paid results can't prop you up for very long. Sure, you can always start a new advertising campaign to goose your site's ranking, but that alone isn't enough to get you steady, sustained growth over the long term. It's not an either / or proposition: both are necessary for the best results.

Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies
Search Engine Optimization For Dummies
The Small Business Owner's Handbook to Search Engine Optimization: Increase Your Google Rankings, Double Your Site Traffic...In Just 15 Steps - Guaranteed
The Truth About Search Engine Optimization

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top Music To Inspire Your Designs

Like many of you I listen to music while I design. These are some of the top tracks that really get my creative juices flowing. I’d like to know your thoughts on listening to music while you create. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Does it help inspire you or is it just an annoyance or distraction?

If you like to rock out to music while designing like I do, let me know what music inspires you in the comments. This is just a little taste of my music library and I may post a few more in the future, who knows. Enjoy!

Scorpians – Rock you like a hurricaine

Tangerine Dream – Love On A Real Train

Like A Dog Chasing Cars from “OST Dark Knight”

The Bloody Beetroots – Butter

Viva La Vida – Coldplay

Dont Stop Believing – Journey

All The Wine – The National

Ride The Lightening – Metallica

Yellow Submarine – The Beatles

Walking on a Dream – Empire of the Sun

Last Man Standing – People in Planes

A Perfect Lie – NipTuck

Stronger – Kanye West

Window Licker – Aphex Twin

This Years Love – David Gray

Everybody Must Get Stoned – Bob Dylan

Enter Sandman – Metallica

Reign in Blood – Slayer

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin

Clubbed to Death – Matrix

The Evolution of Adobe Flash: From 1996 to 2010

Adobe Flash is arguably the most popular multimedia platform today. Users can watch videos, chat, and play games thanks to the capabilities of the Flash player. Content creators are afforded almost unlimited power due to ActionScript 3′s powerful features.
Flash wasn’t always the rich and advanced platform it is today, however. It started as a vector animation package named FutureSplash Animator in 1996 and 14 years later, it’s going strong, with a desktop, mobile, and server-side presence.

FutureSplash Animator – 1996

FutureSplash Animator Splash Intro Screen
The first version of Flash, called FutureSplash Animator, was created by Jon Gay and Charlie Jackson, co-founders of FutureWave software. It was the animation extension of FutureWave’s SmartSketch, a vector drawing application. The first version of FutureSplash Animator was shipped in 1996 and a mere 7 months later, Macromedia bought FutureWave and renamed FutureSplash to simply Flash.
FutureSplash Animator Interface Screenshot

Flash 2 – 1997

Flash 2 Splash Intro Screen
Flash 2 wasn’t marked by many new features, but it was the version that a lot of old-school Flash users (including myself) started with. The main addition was the library feature, which allowed users to store, organize, and export their various assets. Flash 2 was already capable of button rollovers, sound effects, and type, so it quickly became the avant-garde tool for illustrators, animators, and nascent web motion graphic artists.
Flash 2 Interface Screenshot

Flash 3 – 1998

Flash 3 Splash Intro Screen
Flash 3 came out a year after Flash 2, and brought with it a host of new features. Movieclips were introduced, transparency was added, and the projector format made standalone executables a viable format for Flash animators. Actions made their debut and Flash movies inched ever closer to the incredible interactivity seen today.
Flash 3 Interface Screenshot

Flash 4 – 1999

Flash 4 Splash Intro Screen
By the time version 4 came out, Flash was the de facto standard for animation on the web. The fourth version pushed the application into even more advanced territory. The tools were changed, as were their icons. The interface now allowed for users to move between scenes and objects. The new Inspector panels, similar to today’s Info and Transform panels, made control over objects and animation more precise. The Library was redesigned, with folders added, and editing in place now available.
Flash 4 could arguably be called the breakout version of the software, since motion tweening now took center stage, instead of being hidden in cumbersome menus in the past versions. Layer control, such as visibility, locking, and outlining became an integral part of the interface. Flash also started supporting the MP3 sound format, making music players and unwanted soundtracks a routine part of the internet.
Editable text fields were included, as was the Get URL action (with POST and GET variables!). Load Variables and Load Movie were also introduced, creating a fantastic array of possibilities. Flash experiments became very popular as users leveraged the new powerful features to create amazing new applications and demos.
Flash 4 Interface Screenshot

Flash 5 – 2000

Flash 5 Splash Intro Screen
Flash 5 ditched the old ’90s look of the application and roared into the new millennium with a host of new features. The Info and Transform palettes finally came into their own, as did a few other newly-floating ex-Inspectors. The shared library made collaboration across several movies trivial. The most important feature of the new release, however, was the introduction of ActionScript. Previously, users built up actions using a dropdown menu. Freedom (and syntax errors) reigned as now users could script anything they wanted. Flash experiments became even more numerous and Flash games took off.
Flash 5 Interface Screenshot

Macromedia Flash MX – 2002

Macromedia Flash MX Splash Intro Screen
Flash MX was the starting point of a long descent into increasing complexity. Flash became integrated into the MX suite, Creative Suite’s precursor, and it finally made a distinction between designer and developer in the application. UI components were introduced, as was XML. The Free Transform tool was added along with layer folders. The most defining feature of this release was the introduction of video support. Streaming video became commonplace and laid the groundwork for YouTube.
Macromedia Flash MX Interface Screenshot

Flash MX 2004 – 2003

Flash MX 2004 Splash Intro Screen
More components, ActionScript 2, and Unicode support. Flash MX 2004 marked the emergence of “enterprise” Flash, moving the software further away from its humble origins and towards being the dominant RIA platform.
Flash MX 2004 Interface Screenshot

Flash 8 – 2005

Flash 8 Splash Intro Screen
Flash 8 introduced filters and blending modes to simplify special effects for animation. Object drawing was also introduces so Flash would behave more like Illustrator, reducing the learning curve required for its idiosyncratic approach to drawing. End cap control was introduced along with stroke hinting, ensuring the best appearance of straight lines so far in the program’s lineage. The addition of custom easing curves allowed animators to fine-tune the speed of tweens. The Sorensen codec used for video in the past versions was replaced by the On2 VP6 codec and, coincidentally, YouTube went live just three months later.
Flash 8 Interface Screenshot

Flash CS3 – 2007

Flash CS3 Splash Intro Screen
Newly integrated into the Adobe Creative Suite, Flash CS3 revamped the interface, added better handling of videos, and made skinning components easier. CS3 also introduced motion export which allows users to animate an object and apply the same animation to an entirely different object. The release was marked by comprehensive integration with the rest of the Creative Suite, particularly Photoshop and Flex, and the introduction of ActionScript 3.0.
Flash CS3 Interface Screenshot

Flash CS4 – 2008

Flash CS4 Splash Intro Screen
CS4 added inverse kinematics, another interface overhaul, the Motion Editor, which allowed for granular control over animation properties (similar to a dope sheet in 3D programs), and basic 3D support.
Flash CS4 Interface Screenshot

Flash CS5 – 2010

Flash CS5 Splash Intro Screen
Flash CS5 improved the code editor, the inverse kinematics, added code snippets, and introduced new XML-based file formats, .XFL and .FXG, to simplify source management and reduce the errors associated with the old binary-based file format. CS5 furthered suite integration along by including Flash Catalyst, a new tool designed to make exporting assets from other Creative Suite applications to Flash easy and painless.
Flash CS5 Interface Screenshot

The Future

Flash has had an illustrious history, starting as a simple vector package and ending up as a complex, extremely capable, and versatile platform. For some, its transition from pure animation to RIA and games has been overwhelming, but the possibilities Flash allowed countless artists, animators, developers, and designers to explore have more than made up for the complexity along the way. The future of Flash as an animation tool looks uncertain, as SVG, JavaScript, and CSS3 inch ever closer to replacing the need for a special vector animation package. However, it’s one of the best choices today for RIA and game development and looks to remain that way for years to come.

Adobe Flash Pro CS5 Student & Teacher Edition
Adobe Flash CS4 Professional Classroom in a Book