Friday, April 20, 2012

What is UI Kit and Why You Should Use it

What is this “User Interface Kit” thing?

Impressionist UI

UI Kits are files (usually PSD’s, but the premium ones comes with a lot of additional stuff, as you can see above) with a lot of useful components – User Interface Elements – for user interface design. They come with the possibility of a lot of color variations and they easily integrate with your own design since they actually are done for this propose. They can also include patterns, brushes and asl files, which make the integration process even easier, you can play with colors, create new components and just include them as smart objects in your own design If you want.

They contain a lot of components that you just shouldn’t be designing, like default (and pretties) selects, checkboxes, slideshows, avatars, lists.

Also sometimes they include components that you don’t even think about using, until you see them. This is the case of those sliders form components. Before them designers and developers used simple input fields or select boxes but a clever guy noticed that a slider could solve much better this problem.
Also, User Interface Kits give you a lot of ideas to solve common problems, like navigation styles, breadcrumbs, CTA’s, icons, notification boxes, lists… And they are amazingly detail-oriented, so you end up with a much better result than if you were doing it by yourself, in no time.

So, how do they save me time? (beyond the obvious copy & paste)

Futurico UI

Think about it the same as when you find a good supermarket. You know that once a while you’ll have to search for new supermarkets or stores out there, but for 99% of the cases you’ll just go there, find what you want, pick it up, pay and go back home. No waste of time.

Imagine if every time you need to buy something you’d need to find a new store. Remember last time you moved? Yeah, just like that. That sounds completely crazy, right? Actually, I’m pretty sure that it’s what you’ve been doing so far with your designs. For every project you go out there and search a little bit about cool components to use.

So the key point is that a single UI kit can be used for virtually all your projects, and once you find a really good and complete UI kit you can just reduce to ZERO the component searching step.

Did I mention that they save you MONEY?

Ok, this one is quite simple. For freelancers and companies time equals money. Each second you spend doing unnecessary things you are losing jobs to your competitor.

And the opposite effect is, oh, so true.

If a guy spends 10 hours doing a layout that you can do in 4h because you don’t spend time doing unnecessary things you can just charge the DOUBLE of the usual rate and still 20% cheaper than him (crazy math, but you can check it if you want :D).

So, client is happy, you are happy, the other guy kills himself. Win-win.

Also, you can learn a lot from the roots!

Impressionist UI

Oh layers. Who doesn’t love them? So, the UI Kits (at least the good ones, you know) are all layered (shaped). So you get an amazing file AND you’ll know how to replicate the effect and do same thing in other custom elements.

You can also copy the layer styles and play around with a few of them, like pre-made effects (wooden, brushed metal, carbon fiber…), so you’ll learn a lot of cool stuff about effects, objects, organization and why not, color combinations and styles.

UI kits are for designers as Frameworks are for Developers


I bet you see a lot more projects based on Frameworks or CMS’ than built from scratch. That’s something that designers have a lot more to learn with developers: they are not ashamed to reuse stuff. There are plenty of code sharing services, frameworks, plugins, and themes.

But designers tend to do things on their own, just relying on inspiration. As a wise guy (Picasso, maybe?) said “Good artists copy, great steal”. Don’t be afraid to make use of things out there (as long as you don’t break copyright laws, of course). Don’t be afraid to don’t reinvent the wheel. Just focus on the key points, on the real uniqueness of your work.

And developers can just do things by themselves

In addition to what UI does for designers, they can also help developers. Since developers get a lot of things already made with UI Kits, they can just do projects without hiring designers at all. Same way that designers can just use WordPress and a theme, developers can just use UI kits and a little knowledge on design to get good looking layouts saving a few bucks.

Standardized interface

Impressionist Icons
Another important thing is about standards. Once you use User Interface Kits, Icon Packs and stuff like this, you’ll keep the same look for all elements in your website. People will look to different pages and different components and still feel that they are similar.

Also, they are made in a way that it’s easy to integrate new items. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in your UI Pack, you can create your own items!

It’s far way easier to completely change the look

Clients are crazy, aren’t they? So if by the end of the project the client calls you saying “Hey, how  about changing the whole design to pink? My wife would love it!” you can just change a few layers and you’re done. Also if even after the implementation client asks you to change all the icons the Front-End guy will love you, because he would have done the whole thing with sprites and just have to change a single image, not the whole code.

“I’ve been there, kid”

As a Front-End Guy and Designer I’ve seen both sides of this story. I can ensure you that UI kits do save a lot of time and hassle, doing really well a job that you shouldn’t be doing. At the same time, well layered layouts, especially for small and detail-oriented components are much better to work with.

So, what are you waiting for to use them?

Dream Career: How to Become a Professional Photographer

Most photographers get started the moment someone hands them a camera. For artists behind the lens, pictures reveal the smallest details and capture the biggest moments. However, there are all sorts of photographers, from the incredible realistic, such as nature photographers, to commercial photographers, and still others, those who enjoy journalism. The path to the right photography degree depends on your passion and goals for a career, but essentially, you want to be comfortable around a camera and understand the different settings, lighting, angles and positioning that you can only get from learning about your passion.
Photography career
There are also several levels to learning about photography. You don’t necessarily have to get a photography degree but it helps in certain fields and gaining the confidence of employers, though a well-organized portfolio and experience can also make others take notice of your expertise.

Photography: Just Starting Out

If you haven’t really done any professional photography or tried your hand at learning basic photography techniques, you may be in for a surprise as to how this art form develops. You’ll need a decent camera. Most photographers actually start out with a manual 35mm and learn about photo development in the dark room, while others go straight for digital photography. While learning on a manual can teach you more about the importance of lighting and positioning, digital photography can yield some beautiful results and teach you more about the current technology behind technology.
High end digital cameras are also a tad more expensive than your basic 35mm manual camera. As you begin, look online for some basic techniques and try your hand at taking photos for family and friends, see how you feel towards the camera. You also want to get some criticism for your photos, since learning to take criticism will be a large part of any education program or artistic profession. If you feel you want to get started right away, a two-year community college can give you a few courses on basics and a little advanced techniques for both manual and digital photography.

Photography: Taking the Next Step

The next step for someone who is really interested in photography is going to a fine arts college. Private and public colleges have fine arts program with a photography program. Some schools will even have a specific degree for photography. You may also want to partner your degree with a minor in another degree to fall back on or to partner with photography, such as journalism, film or environmental science. In a bachelor of arts program, you won’t spend all of your time with photography.
Usually, you have to take general courses in math, science and history to pass graduation requirements, but your degree’s core curriculum will center around fine arts and photography courses—including courses that focus on using cameras, lighting, setting, placement, studio and outdoor photography, action photography, cinematography, color theory and photo editing software. During this time, it’s important that you branch out of your comfort zone, taking pictures of all sorts of scenes, people, nature, inanimate objects, and developing an artistic expression through your photos. You want to start developing a portfolio of your best work towards the end of your junior year at the latest. While in school, you’ll also get used to critiques, which will become a necessary part of your art education.

Photography: Going Beyond the Degree

Earning a bachelor of arts degree is just the first step to gaining a better understanding of your artistic presence. The degree can only teach you about techniques, theories, and previous ways that photographers have used pictures to tell stories, capture moments and even expose emotions. Photographers usually start to experiment heavily with the art form in college, wanting to try new and exciting ideas that will expand upon what they’ve been taught. There’s no limit to the creativity that you can produce within an arts degree program, but you also have to take your creativity to another level and push towards higher art.
You should get involved as much as possible with organizations on campus, such as a newspaper, arts magazine, gallery, or meet-up groups. You can also look for opportunities to test your abilities, possibly by volunteering to take pictures of an event for a school group or looking for ways to become a part of a club’s street team. Once you have a good base of pictures to choose from, you should set up your own site dedicated to your photography and start developing more of an artistic presence.
The best photographers enjoy wonderful careers, working in a variety of fields, but the field is highly competitive. After college, you can continue to pursue higher degrees, but you can also take a break during this time to develop more of your abilities and perfect your talents. You should explore unknown places and stretch your imagination. You can also focus more on certain aspects of photography that interest you, such as photojournalism, studio photography, playing with lighting techniques and fine arts photography. As you begin to develop more of your skills, you’ll become better at using your camera and disregard what others think of your photography, choosing to follow your passions and developing experience. Take note of the lessons learned and continue to create art wherever your camera leads.

Smart Storage Tips for a Clutter Free Bedroom

The bedroom is the area in the house that is more personal and private. One spends most of his time inside the bedroom especially when much rest is needed. Hence, since it is a personal room, one’s belongings and important stuff including clothes, jewelries and others are also inside it. There would be a need to organize all the things inside the bedroom in order to make it clutter free. It is also necessary to do that so that you will not find it hard to look for your own stuff.
There are many ways to create storage spaces in your bedroom. Choosing one depends on the type of room you have and it also depends on your storage needs. Today, we will give you some tips on how to create smart storage space in your bedroom to have a clutter free room. Look into the tips below and choose which one best suits you.

1. Open storage.

Open storage
Image: Vhychenq
Try for open storage especially if your bedroom is only small. Place some items on it like some displays, books and others. Look for spaces on the wall where you can place a shelf or you may also opt for a standing open shelf.

2. Go up.

Go up
Image: Modelrenz_2011
If there isn’t enough space in your room, you can smartly opt for storage by using the areas on the upper part. You can maximize spaces on top of tall cabinets by placing open cabinets or even closed cupboards. You can also place open shelves on some wall areas but do not use all of the space for it will make your room look crowded.

3. Create a work space.

Create a work space
Image: Natski08
You can add a work space inside your bedroom by placing a long slim table where you can do some of your work. See to it that there are drawers in it where you can place all the items for working. This way, you can avoid clutter and you can immediately locate your stuff that you use for working.

4. Use drawers.

Use drawers
Image: Johnmarts
Using many drawers can give you ample space for much stuff to keep. This can keep your things away from dust and this can also help you organize them. Take note of where you have placed your things. Organize them by arranging your belongings in a manner that those related and connected to each other are placed alongside each one. This can save you time from looking for it.

5. Have a dresser for clothes.

Have a dresser for clothes
Image: Torring
Place your clothes in one area and that would be your dresser. Hang some of your clothes and fold others. It depends on you which ones you have to hang or fold. You can also organize your clothing arrangement. Most people place their clothes according to its usage. Like party clothes are in a separate cabinet while casual wears are on the other side. This would make it easy for you especially when you are in a hurry to dress up.

6. Bed storage.

Bed storage
Image: Ikea
Of course, you would need to change your fabrics from time to time. So, you have other sheets and comforters with you. You can place that in another cabinet but it would also be smart if you use the area under your bed. Or you can place that behind your headboard if you have a cabinet there. Making use of your bed as storage area is a good way of saving space.

7. Use vertical storage for jewelry and accessories.

Use vertical storage for jewelry and accessories
Image: Penzlake21
Females usually have some jewelries and accessories. Place that on hooks or on hanging storage on the wall. Some make use of decorative hangers. But if you have lots of stuff, you can opt for ground storage by using a tall and slim armoire.

8. Have multi-purpose storage areas.

Have multi-purpose storage areas
Image: Hotarubi
If you do not have enough space, you can opt for multi-usage. Like if you want a side table, you can use low ground storage for it. It can be used as a storage for your stuff and a side table also. Even your working table in the room can also be a good storage place.

9. Use storage containers.

Use storage containers
Image: Bokkins
You can also make use of some storage containers like boxes or plastic containers. They come in different shapes and styles which can be suitable for whatever you will store in it. If you want to place it under the bed, there are large and slim containers that can be good for it.

10. Use floor to ceiling shelves.

Use floor to ceiling shelves
Image: Yaug_03
Maximize your space by putting up floor to ceiling shelves inside your bedroom. This way, you will be able to use all the spaces and you can store your belongings safely inside it. This can be good if you have a large space for it. If your room is small, you can also have one but maybe just a bit slimmer.

11. Have built-in storage.

Have built-in storage
Image: Jhayarsamson
You can create a closet in the wall. This way, it can appear like a part of the wall that opens. This is truly space saving but this should be done while the house is still being built. Doing this, you will have more room for your stuff without eating up spaces inside.
Having a good storage system inside the bedroom is important in order to create a clean and organized room. You will not like to rest in a cluttered room for instead of having enough rest, it can even add to your stress. So, free your bedroom from clutter by using the right storage system for your room. Also, storage areas can add beauty to your bedrooms aside from helping you keep your belongings.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Barbados Restaurants

When people plan their Barbados vacation they usually think Sea and Sun…. Think again. Restaurant and Food standards in Barbados are extremely high, with chefs from the island winning international culinary awards and competitions year after year. Good food is very important to the average Barbadian with Many young teens already skilled in preparing food at home and I mean preparing food from scratch not instant meals.
There are many highly trained chefs on the island both expat and local and the range of cuisine is astounding and includes Mexican, Chinese, Thai, French, Italian, Indian, Local as well as Caribbean cuisine.
Whatever your mood for the evening or depth of your pocket there is a restaurant that will suit your needs as they vary from casual atmosphere and very reasonable prices to Posh and oooh la la prices.
There are also the dinner cruises or as I like to call them “floating restaurants” which can be quite large boats complete with floor shows or intimate catamaran cruises both of which can be very romantic.
Also popular on the island is “Oistins”. This is a fishing village which has numerous kiosks which prepare local food for sale at night. The price usually ranges from approximately U.S. $8 – U.S. $13 per person and the taste is just as good as any of the restaurants on the island. On Friday nights there is a party as well with music and dancing that usually lasts until Midnight.
There are quite a few establishments on the island who serve dinner from around 6:30 p.m. and then at about 10:30 you realize that the entire atmosphere has changed to a nightclub atmosphere and will continue in party mode till at least 2:00 a.m. Some close their doors as late as 4 or 5 in the morning.
For nights that you just want to stay at home there is also the option of ordering in. While the selection available is not as large as it would be in bigger countries there are a few restaurants and fast food restaurants that do deliver.
Checking out the restaurants is very important when planning a holiday. Remember little lady is on holiday too she does not want to be stuck with the cooking and washing up afterwards. Also relationships are built on memories and what could be more romantic than intimate dinners together not always possible with our hectic lives.
When deciding on where you will eat there are a lot of consideration to keep in mind such as the type of food served, the price, location as well as ambiance. With this in mind it is no easy task in choosing what is right for you. This is where a good travel guide can really come in handy as they usually have pretty in depth information on there restaurants which can include photographs and menus as well to help you make your choice.
Choosing a local travel guide, that is one that is actually run by locals can be your wisest choice as they usually can give you first hand information on the restaurants as well.

Kenya – 10 Must do Activities for Travelers

Africa has become a popular tourist destination in the past several years. Its unique culture and vast expanses of land have made it a unique destination for many travelers. Most vacations include seeing wildlife and the landscape, learning about tribal culture and experiencing some of the bustling cities that quickly grown to become hotspots. Below is a list of just some of the things to do and places to see when traveling to Kenya.
Many people travel to Kenya for the express reason of going on a safari. The national parks protect much of the wildlife, making a safari a good chance to view some rarely seen animals. It’s not uncommon to see elephants, buffaloes or even a lion while on safari. This kind of wildlife, along with the beauty of the African plain makes Kenya one of the most popular spots for safaris in Africa and even the world.
Wildebeest Migration
Wildebeests migrate between Kenya and Tanzania every year between the months of July and October. During this migration, they cross the Grumeti River. In recent years, camps have been built so that tourists can watch the migration, complete with crocodile attacks and hundreds of thousands of wildebeests.
Swahili Coast
The Swahili culture is a mix of African, Indian and Arabic cultures. This mix has made it a unique culture that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The Swahili coast also has many beach resorts, where travelers can spend time on the beach and swim in the Indian Ocean.
Tribal Villages
Kenya is home to a number of tribes that still live in the same way their ancestors have lived for thousands of years. One of the most famous of these is the Masai. A visit to a Masai village will educate travelers on their way of life, culture, traditional clothing and dances and much more.
Mount Kenya
Mount Kenya, the highest mountain in Kenya, is 17,057 feet at the top. This peak is an almost vertical climb, so trekking to the top is best reserved for trained and professional mountain climbers. However, there are many guides and tours that will take travelers almost 13,000 feet up the mountain. This provides for amazing views of Kenya and the surrounding country.
Kenya Beach
If Mount Kenya is for mountain climbing, Kenya Beach is for scuba diving. Watamu National Park, which runs along Kenya’s coast, has world famous diving. The reef is well preserved and the exotic fish that live there are easily seen at almost any time of year.
Although Kenya is known for the reefs, mountains and plains, there are also big cities that have become popular amount travelers. Nairobi, in East Africa, has a night life that includes clubs and restaurants that tend to have an adventurous flair. There’s also the National Museum of Nairobi which houses some of the oldest human remains on Earth.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
In recent years, hot air balloon rides have become a popular way to see Kenya’s national parks. These rides offer 360 degree views of the parks, and often the wildlife is more present. These rides usually only last for a few hours, but they provide a view of the parks that can’t be beat.
Dhows are smaller sailing boats that were historically used by Arab traders in the 8th century. Today, they make for a unique way to see the coast, and can be either economic or luxurious depending on the Dhow. Normally, travelers sleep on board the boat, and eat seafood caught daily.
Rhino Spotting
As mentioned above, safaris are a great way to see wildlife such as lions and elephants. However, Rhinoceros tend to be a little more cautious and are rarely seen. Lake Nakuru National Park is one of the new parks in Africa with a large rhino population. This makes the southern end of the lake, where most of the rhinoceros reside, a popular spot for travelers.
Kenya has become a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. For example, Canadian travel experts state that Nairobi is one of the fastest growing vacation destinations. With so many things to see and do in Kenya, it’s not a surprise that it’s experience such a growth in tourism. Many also believe that as Kenya continues to grow and to preserve its wildlife and culture, tourism will continue to boom as well.

Hiking In Italy’s Western Alps

Some of the best things about Italy are found completely within the Western Alps, if you’re a hiker. Of course there’s the country’s highest peak, which no hiker can resist. Then there is Italy’s oldest national park, also found in the Western Alps. Count the amazing variety of flora and fauna, the alpine meadows, and accessible yet remote wilderness areas, and you have the perfect setting for a hiker’s dream vacation in beautiful Italy. Discover Colonna mine or encounter wildlife throughout Vallone del Grand Nomenon. Reach your personal goals and try for the six-day trek along the Alta Via 2, known as a particularly challenging route. From Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso (Gran Paradiso National Park) to Valle d’Aosta, to Monte Bianco (the highest peak in Europe), there is a series of wonderful pathways for hikers and walkers who will find that traversing the Western Alps to be the experience of a lifetime.
Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso will stun you with its beauty: deep lateral peaks and plunging valleys below will amaze even the most seasoned hiker. The valleys were cut by glaciers, which left behind the jagged silhouettes and sharp peaks for which the Alps in general have become famous. There are numerous glaciers still within Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso, including Italy’s highest mountain, Gran Paradiso.
Gran Paradiso is just about 13,324 feet high and full of magnificent larch. Larch is a deciduous conifer, the only type found in all of Europe. Some trees get to be over one hundred feet tall and great stands of larch form sweeping green canopies in the sky which will protect you from the sun as you walk or hike the mountain. Besides larch, hikers will welcome Norway spruce, Arolla pine, and silver fir. The Arolla pine should be especially revered because it’s in decline here in Italy. Furniture makers and others crave the beautiful wood for their products, and the pine has been exploited for many years.
Gran Paradiso also hosts several species of birds that are rarely, if ever, found anywhere else in Europe. Take the Bearded Vulture, which was hunted almost to extinction in the 1800s because it was thought to feed on domestic animals. Since the 1970’s, however, it’s been reintroduced and is now making a comeback. Also, while scaling the mountain, keep an eye out for white partridges, owl, jackdaw, alpine chaffinch, and spotted woodpecker. You might even see a lynx if you get to the higher, rocky areas during summertime. When it’s cooler, they come down into the valleys.
Getting to Alle d’Aosta is easy: take a SAVDA bus from Torino (Turin) or Milan. It’s also near France’s Annecy, Chamonix, and Vald’Isere, and Switzerland’s Martigny, if you’re in either of those neighboring areas. There are also regional trains to Aosta, via Chivasso if you’re leaving from Milan. You can also drive: take the A5 from either Turin or Milan.
Accommodations in Valle d’Aosta include moderately-priced small hotels around Aosta and in the suburb of Sarre. Use any one of these as you base, and enjoy the wonderful experience of hiking Italy’s Western Alps, and Valle d’Aosta.