Adobe Ink and Slide

I recently purchased the Adobe hardware Ink and Slide. I have been working with it for a couple of weeks and thought others might to see my insights. Personally, I like the pressure sensitivity and ease of use with tools like Adobe Line and Sketch. Unfortunately, the tool is a bit pricey ($200). It only works with iPads (and only the 4th generation version). Hopefully, the price will come down over time and there will also be an Android version at some point. For those who can meet the requirements, I think you will like the tools.

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2014 National Web Design Contest – part 2

As I mentioned last week, we held our annual national web design contest in Kansas City in late June. We had competitions for both high school students and post-secondary students. This year, we had representatives from 35 states. All had to win first place in their state competition to participate in the national contest. These are some of the comments from our judges which I thought readers might find helpful. Obviously, I have removed references to specific teams.

Our judges provided some very positive overall comments. I thought these two exemplified what many judges thought.

“Every year the competitors keep getting better!”

“Overall, These are some of the best submissions that we’ve seen in a long time.”

In terms of the submitted work, I wanted to focus on two key areas – coding and design.

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2014 National Web Design Contest

I had the great honor of supervising our WebProfessionals.org national web design contest in Kansas City (June 24-27, 2014). We held separate contests for high schools and post-secondary schools. This year, we had representatives from a total of 35 states. Congratulations to the winners and to all who participated. Everyone had to win first place in their state in order to compete nationally. In both contests, teams of two were asked to complete a series of challenges which resulted in 3 web pages. Emphasis was placed on web standards, accessibility, and professionalism. Teams had to use their knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to complete these pages. Each team had roughly 8 hours to review the client work order, analyze what was being asked, develop their wireframes, storyboards, style tiles and initial analysis and then build the pages. It seems like a lot of time, but is not once you start the process. Teams were interviewed (by individuals who actually hire web professionals). Each team was also asked to complete an exam. We held debriefings for each contest at the end of the day of that contest. I wanted to use this forum to share additional observations. I will create a separate post dealing with comments from judges.

To address one question which is always asked – no, we can’t share links to the winning sites. Apparently, there were some problems with earlier contests and we have been asked not to share these sites since our initial demonstration competition in 2004. I understand that some may want to question judge decisions. That being said, I firmly believe our competition is one of the fairest I have even encountered. It is a double blind experience (judges do not know who the participants are and participants never meet the judges). After each competition, I upload all submissions to a central secure server which is accessed by the judges. We have practicing professionals (in a number of different time zones) examine the sites for their area of expertise. In a simple “back of the envelope” calculation, I determined that judges collectively made over 13,000 individual decisions when analyzing the sites. There is little chance for subjectivity. Each judge scores based on an established rubric and multiple judges review the same site and same criteria. We have a judge supervisor who then collects the results and assembles the final scores. So, knowing this, I wanted to share some additional thoughts (again, comments from the judges will be part of a separate post). Read more »

CSS Shack

I recently became aware of the CSS Shack project and thought it might be useful for readers of this blog. As I understand it, CSS Shack is available both as a desktop application (for Windows and Linux) and as a Chrome browser extension. I decided to focus on the latter (since it is a free extension and many readers of this blog are web design students with limited budgets). Why do I mention tools like this? It is mid-2014 and we have a number of browser environments where our pages will be viewed. Of course, all browsers display CSS-3 code in exactly the same manner (sadly, NO). Therefore, we need to employ browser specific instructions for various environments. These subtle differences must be accounted for (consider -webkit, -ms, -moz, -o, and the default that someday all browsers will recognize). If we want to include a simple gradient as a background, we need to employ a number of browser hacks. And it is quite easy to make a typo (or forget one). I may also want to meet with a client to rapidly prototype a page and this is another tool I can use for in browser design/ development.

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Adobe Captivate 8 First Look

I have been using Adobe Captivate for a number of years (and have come to rely on it more and more in the past couple of releases). I recently obtained a copy of Captivate 8 (the latest version). I thought it would be appropriate to take a few moments and review this tool It seems to have a number of significant improvements from earlier versions. Read more »

Hack.me Site

The CMWEB 270 class I teach covers many of the fundamentals of ethical hacking. Of course, one of the main problems one encounters when teaching ethical hacking is providing links to vulnerable websites. Yes, one can easily create a vulnerable site. However, many hosting providers don’t like you to post the vulnerable sites on their servers (for example, in a reseller account, it is possible to walk across multiple “sites” depending on the vulnerability being exploited). Wouldn’t it be nice if there was the ability to spin up a vulnerable sandbox, cover the exploits, and then remove the  sandbox. This is precisely what the Hack.Me is all about. This service is provided by eLearnSecurity and is free for academic use (you must agree to abide by their terms of service).

I thought it might be helpful to review some of the fundamentals of working with this environment. Obviously, you first need an account. Read more »

Adobe MUSE for Educators

I had the privilege of providing two sessions on Adobe MUSE as part of the Adobe Apps for Educators series which ends in July. These recordings were made on June 4, 2014.  Instead of a traditional blog post this week, I thought it would be better to provide links to recordings of both sessions. Both links will open in a new browser window/ tab. I hope you find them helpful. As always, I look forward to your comments.

I also developed a small website (in Adobe MUSE, of course) for reference during the presentations. This site also contains a link to the actual .muse file so you can download and modify the file using MUSE to better understand how to use the product.

Many thanks to Pip Cleaves and Melissa Jones for the opportunity to present on these topics.

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