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Date: Wednesday, 26 Nov 2008 13:43

In my online travels this week I have come across a site or two I wish to share with you. I was struggling with a site design and visited the usual CSS galleries we all know and love for some inspiration, but that was not where I found it. In my despair I started visiting random sites, in the hope of something setting off a spark and inspiring me. Then I came across two sites, each unique in there own way and I had my inspiration!

The first of these was Multiplayer Bingo

On first impressions its not a ’stunning’ site, but it was the colours that grabbed me. The bright pink’s and blue’s could be blinding, but the beige eases the eyes and in all they compliment each other well. Online Bingo is not my thing at all, but attention is drawn to the important areas of the site through the use of these colours and tempts you to give it a try and sign up. (although I didn’t, bingo is just not my thing!)

Another site which grabbed me was edubook.com

I love the colour scheme and layout on this site. Personally I think it looks awesome but then I have always been a fan of orange and black layouts! Every detail on this site has also been carefully planned. Articles are well layed out, you can easily get to a category you require such as SEO resources or the Internet marketing articles, and they are well presented.

Just from exploring random websites I was starting to notice that you can be experimental with colour schemes, go out on a whim and use bright colours but use them in an effective way. They have not been overused on either site, but they are dominant and do their job: draw your attention and inflame your curiosity of the site!

There are alot of great resources for finding colour scemes, wether it be css galleries, other sites or colour matchers etc. But why use those? Why not be experimental, splash some bright colours over a site but think about how effective they will be, and are they drawing attention to the correct areas?

Well, enough of me waffling on, i’m going to go experiment with colours!

Spill your thoughts below and if you find anything cool, share the love!

Jason

Author: "Jason" Tags: "Blogging, WordPress and Themes, Creativi..."
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Date: Tuesday, 18 Nov 2008 15:41

I was away on holiday a few weeks ago, and as much as it was cold, wet, rainy, windy (traditional British weather of course) I did manage to take what I considered to be reasonable photographs. This was fine until I got them off the camera and looked at them in full res. And they looked AWFUL! I then set about tweaking the settings until I had a set of photos I could be pleased with.

This is all well and good, but then I started looking into image editing a bit more. Now don’t get me wrong, I knew alot could be achieved with photoshop in regards to manipulation but I had never really explored enough, after all i have always used photoshop for web design! A few hours and many sites later I was AMAZED with the results people had, with suprisingly little work. Take a look at these:

 http://www.idigitalemotion.com/tutorials/guest/decay/decay.html

Please see idigitalemotion.com for information on this image

Please see 3dm3.com for information on this image.

These were just a couple of the examples I found, but two that jumped out at me. Seeing how these effects are created (and these are a couple of the simpler ones) makes me want to delve even deeper into photoshop.

But why wait until you get the images in photoshop? Why not be more creative whilst your out and about (or even at home!) TAKING the photgraphs. Here are a couple of links links to some great examples of this:

wambie.com
curiosidadesnanet.wordpress.com

If you really want to go all out and create some masterpieces, obviously alot more work is involved! After looking through these sites it has inspired me to maybe take my images that step further and create something unique, something I can be proud of. This is new territory for me, I have always used photshop for design purposes from school through to current day. Now it is time to explore the intensness of image editing it offers, and i’ll let you know how I get on!

Jason

P.S – After writing this post, I visited smashing magazine and found this which may be of interest, enjoy!
Smashing Magazine – Tilt Shift Photography

Author: "Jason" Tags: "Graphic Design and Print, Miscellaneous ..."
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Date: Tuesday, 11 Nov 2008 13:05
The Road ahead

Well here it is. I have been trying to think what to write for a first post, I mean it’s all about first impressions isn’t it? If you read something for the first time and it grabs you, your more likely to come back and see whats going on next time right? If you go for a job interview and you look a mess and are not prepared, your less likely to get that job because of a bad first impression. It’s the same with web design.

But what do you do if you have a client with very specific needs, and your all out of ideas? What about all those times your struggling to come up with a design, and by the tenth attempt you still haven’t nailed it? I stop designing. Take a break. Take a walk. Then I come back to the computer and research. I get inspired.

There are hundreds of resources out there to inspire designers, but the problem is finding the right ones for any particular project. Im not saying if your stuck for a design idea to go and steal someone elses, but looking at well designed sites can inspire you to go the extra mile and create that fantastic design you have been chasing.

This is a daily routine for me, researching design and seeing what is out there, inspiring myself to go the extra mile with each new project. And every now and then you come across a gem of a site that gives you that inspiration you crave so much. Over the coming months I will be sharing my discoveries showing you the great sites, inspiring graphics and other great resources of inspiration. Who knows what may turn up!

Farewell until next time,

Jason

Author: "Jason" Tags: "Internet, Computing and Technology, Pers..."
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Date: Wednesday, 05 Nov 2008 10:01

Waving goodbye

Well, what can I say miLienzo.com readers? It’s been a while…

The last time I posted here was five months ago. Seriously, I consider that too lengthy a period of time to call this an ‘active’ blog. So what now for miLienzo.com?

Well, I have good news and sad news. The sad news is that my business and personal commitments mean that continuing to run this site isn’t an option. Already there are a few spots of mildew gathering in the corners of this site, so to prevent further neglect I have decided to step down from the helm.

The good news is that a keen and willing successor is in place to kick a new lease of life into the site. Jason Stone is a Graphic Designer within a web design and software development company from Essex UK. Jason is an experienced blogger and owns the popular Flash tutorial blog the-dude.co.uk. This is what Jason has to say:

“I am a long-term reader of Aaron’s blogs and I am very excited to be taking over milienzo.com, and breathing some life back into a great website.

Over the coming months you can expect to see a revived site, with new posts added weekly providing inspiration for designers and some ramblings on my day-to-day discoveries on the web, plus a few surprises – but you will have to wait and see!”

Jason will be taking full ownership of the site from 1st December but he is an author with immediate effect, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of him very soon.

For me however, an era has come to an end. I learnt a lot with this site and got to know some great people too. If you haven’t already, do make sure you subscribe to the feed at my new site, or follow me on Twitter.

Thanks for the support that I’ve always been shown and thanks for the wealth of information and knowledge that you have all shared with me. Forgive me as I wipe back a tear or two. Goodbye miLienzo.com.

Author: "Aaron" Tags: "Personal Thoughts and Musings, Blogging,..."
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Date: Thursday, 08 May 2008 19:56

When I sat down Tuesday week ago to watch Manchester United cruise through to the final of this years European Champions League (ho hum :) ), I couldn’t help notice an absolutely awesome Nike advert just before the game.

[See post to watch Flash video]

The two minute spot is directed by Guy Ritchie. I dont know, maybe with the likes of Rooney and Ronaldo in it, my opinion is biased, but I think it’s a great advert. I love the fast-paced almost surreal feel to it. What do you think?

Author: "Aaron" Tags: "Video and Animation, Advertising, Manche..."
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Date: Thursday, 17 Apr 2008 21:05

OpenID

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding OpenID at the moment, and there’s good reason for it too. The idea of one single login for all your Internet services has been the holy grail of online authentication for years.

OpenID differs from previous attempts at a global authentication system (Microsoft’s .NET/Live login) in that it is non-proprietary and decentralised. You are not forced to trust any one OpenID provider – you can choose who hosts your OpenID and if you fancy it you can even use your own personal website as your OpenID.

I know I usually try to register for online services with a consistent username/password combination, but this is not always possible. Wouldn’t it be great if we could log in to all our online service providers with one single login? Of course it would and that’s why we’re all interested in OpenID.

However, I read an article today by Kyle Neath on five reasons why he wont be getting on the OpenID train. Each of Kyle’s concerns are very valid concerns but fundamentally there is one issue that I think stands out as a potential show-stopper: OpenID is just bloomin confusing!

I can use any provider I choose to host my OpenID. In fact I can have as many OpenIDs as I like and switch providers if I want. I can associate my OpenID with my own website using something called ‘delegation’. Or if I prefer I can host my own OpenID by installing some PHP libraries and scripts. And, with my dozen or so OpenIDs, I can bunch them together and declare them as one using something called YARDIS.

And all this is BEFORE I’ve even logged in to anything…

So how does one log in to OpenID enabled services? You type in your OpenID, your are then redirected to your OpenID provider, you log in, and your are then redirected back to the place you were trying to log in to in the first place. I’m not sure how user friendly this all is?

Another thing that particularly irks me is that there are many services who offer to host your OpenID. However, some of these services don’t seem to allow you to log in with an OpenID that is provided by an alternative provider. Which isn’t very open and kind of defeats the purpose, as well as add to the confusion.

Out of the murky OpenID fog that is occupying my brain, one thought is overwhelmingly clear: OpenID still has someway to go. I clearly don’t fully understand it yet, and I’m a self-confessed nerd. My Mum and Dad are simply not going to get it, and until they do OpenID will remain that dreamt-of holy grail.

Author: "Aaron" Tags: "Internet, Computing and Technology, Auth..."
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2008 22:00

Caroline Murphy

Last week I was asked to participate in a group interview project organised by a handful of blogger-designers on the Estetica Design Forum. With my lifelong ambition for a Friday evening chat show at the forefront of my mind, I eagerly agreed.

I was asked to interview 24 year old graphic designer and self confessed geek-girl Caroline Murphy from Newcastle in the North East of England.

Tell me a bit about yourself and what you do for a living?
I’m 24, living in the east end of Newcastle with my partner and little kitten. I work full-time for a firm called Armadillo Creative and also try and freelance in my spare time under CM Designs.

Tell me more about your love of design and creativity. How did it all start?
I think it has always been with me; apparently when I was 3 I won an art competition! But, I’ve always been into drawing but was extremely precise and neat. My mum told me it was graphic design and from then on I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

Before we go any further, one crucial question: Mac or PC?
I’ve used both, but PC is the one for me! Mac’s do look good, but I like to be able to customise and upgrade my PC to no end, myself. Yes, I am a geeky girl.

So you run your own business and work in an agency? How do you squeeze it all in?
With great difficulty!! It was OK when I was part-time for the ‘Revenue, but now its very hard when I’m working over 40 hours a week. But as always I get there in the end: persistence and a lot of tea!

Hows the Freelance side of your career going? Is it something you intend to push further or are you happy being an employee?
Its had its up and downs, I didn’t expect to start freelancing so early in my life, therefore its been a steep learning curve, but I do wish to gain experience every day and hopefully do more work for more clients in the years to come. My dream would to be in my own small creative firm, alongside friends that have that same interest.

If I came to you with an ideal project that filled you with joy, what would that project be?
Oooh gosh that is a hard one. Sounds odd but I like someone quite demanding and knows their own mind, so it would inspire and encourage me to create something big and wonderful!

Where can I go to see examples of your recent work?
You can find my main portfolio blog at www.caroline-murphy.co.uk and my less serious side at http://playboy-bunnie.deviantart.com

When you’re feeling down and uninspired, what do you do to get the creative juices flowing again?
I flick through my Computer Arts magazine, look at inspiring art on deviantART and if that doesn’t work, me and my boyfriend go to the coast for a drive and chill out.

Do you have any advice for the kids out there?
Work hard, play hard. Keep your chin up and you will get there, maybe not tomorrow, but you will someday!
Oh, and don’t take drugs!

What about the ones that are looking to start a design career?
Do listen to those who are already doing the job you want; not everyone is right just because they are older. A bit of education and experience (not either or) goes a long way. Don’t loose the enthusiasm you have as a young person. Its OK to be different.

Last but certainly not least, what song is getting played the most on your iPod right now?
I don’t own an iPod (shock horror) but I have a lovely new head-unit, and at the moment its Tidy Boys – Heavens Cry (Til Tears Do Us Part).

The other Estetica interviews

Author: "Aaron" Tags: "Graphic Design and Print, Career, Creati..."
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Date: Monday, 07 Apr 2008 08:39

Aaron Russell screenshot

Wow, it seems ages ago that I first mentioned that I was thinking about launching a new site. It’s been almost three months since the idea popped in to my head, and about six weeks ago that I first started sketching ideas, but the day has finally come.

I’m delighted to announce my new blog, the purpose of which is to promote my freelance web design work, officially open.

The aim of my new site is certainly to better position myself for my freelance activities, hence the way the homepage has been used as a kind of shop window. However, I intend the blog element to provide a useful resource for web and graphic designers and I hope to to carry on much of the what this blog has been doing up until now.

My opening article is a list of 25 design and creativity blogs that have inspired me. This is a way of thanking all the bloggers I have interacted with and learnt from over the past 14 months. Please head over, have a read and subscribe to the new RSS feed. And you would be doing me a massive favour if you could Stumble or Digg the article?

What happens to miLienzo.com now?

I want miLienzo.com to stay. I’ve actually built up quite a successful little site here with decent traffic and subscriber numbers, so it would be a shame to let it go. However, the truth is running two blogs may be more than I can manage.

My intention is to use this site more for my personal ramblings – somewhere where I can let of steam and post links to weird and wonderful things I see around the Internet – somewhere where I don’t necessarily have to think too carefully about what I am saying. I like the idea of distinguishing between my professional freelance blog and my personal random ramblings.

For the next month that is how I will try and run things in which time I can assess how manageable running two blogs simultaneously is. If all goes well I will then redesign miLienzo.com and give it a fresh coat of paint for a new life.

Many thanks for all your support through this – I know my postings have been few and far between for some months now and I appreciate you sticking with me. Thank you!

Author: "Aaron" Tags: "Personal Thoughts and Musings, The Creat..."
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Date: Thursday, 03 Apr 2008 19:44

Of course you do because they are absolutely awesome! And luckily for you I want to raise awareness of a genuine competition where one is up for grabs. In fact, not just one is up for grabs but one every month!

Pinstripe Trader

I’ve just completed developing a Facebook application for IGM Investmore. The application is a trading game/competition where you are given £50,000 of virtual cash to spend on stocks and shares on the London Stock Exchange.

The game uses real data straight from the stock exchange so as the prices go up and down in real life, so do the prices of your virtual investments. The aim is obviously to make high returns off your investments – which is easier said than done.

The cool bit is that IGM Investmore are offering a free iPod touch to the most successful trader every month, and this is based on the highest percentage return which means anyone can win it any month – it doesn’t necessarily favour those that have been playing it for months on end.

There are other goodies up for grabs too so if you’ve got a Facebook account, why not head over to the Pinstripe Trader application now and start trading.

I’ll post again soon detailing how I found developing a Facebook app.

Author: "Aaron" Tags: "Internet, Computing and Technology, Pers..."
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Date: Saturday, 15 Mar 2008 13:25

I Love Social Bookmarking

On a recent comment on the I Love Social Bookmarking plugin page, I was asked by shegs of GamersBeyond how to add a custom site to ILSB. Well, as luck would have it, it’s actually really easy so I will walk through the stages here.

Ingredients

  • A social bookmarking site – there are millions out there to choose from.
  • An icon – I wont describe how to make an icon, but you will need one (preferably PNG) size 20 x 20 pixels.
  • A submission URL – each site works slightly differently so you will need to find out the format of how URLs are submitted.

Place the icon and edit the CSS

This first bit is really easy. Simply put your icon in the plugin includes folder along with all the other icons. Make sure you have named it something sensible.

Next you need to open up the plugin’s style.css style-sheet (also in the includes folder). See the list of classes that show the background images for each social network site? Add a new one using exactly the same format (replacing ‘mysite’ with your chosen site):

  1. .ilsb-mysite {background-image:url(mysite.png);}

Add the site to the PHP array

This next bit is slightly less easy. But still easy. Open up ilsb.php and scroll down until you find the show_icons array. See the format for how each separate site is defined? Well that’s right, you need to create a new one using the exact same format which will look something like this.

  1. 'show_mysite' => array(
  2. 'selected' => 'on',
  3. 'url' => 'http://www.mysite.com/submit.php?Url=%BLOG_URL%&Title=%BLOG_TITLE%',
  4. 'title' => 'Add to MySite',
  5. 'anchor' => 'MySite'),

See. I told you it was easy

That, ladies and gentlemen, is it. You may need to click the ‘Reset Defaults’ button in ILSB admin options screen if it doesn’t show up immediately.

If you do add any extra sites, do let me know via the comments here or my contact form, and I will consider putting your custom sites in the next release.

Author: "Aaron" Tags: "Blogging, WordPress and Themes, Web Desi..."
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