Google Voice

The reason to use Google Voice is that it lets you use your existing phones. So you can use your home phone, but the person on the other end only every sees your Google Voice number.

Google Voice is a free virtual telephone number. It’s not a physical phone. Calls to your Google Voice number get forwarded to any phone (or phones) you choose and the caller only sees your GV (Google Voice) number.

You can also make calls using GV from any of your existing phones. You can start the call from the GV website. Either select a contact, or type in a number then choose which of you phones you want to make the call from. When you hit the call button, your GV number will call you. Answer that phone and GV will then connect your call and the person on the other end will see your GV number, not the number of the phone you are actually calling from. You will be using minutes and incurring long distance charges for the phone you are using, unless you also use Google Talk with Google Voice.

Google Talk is a text and video chat plugin for Gmail that now also can make telephone calls from your PC (or Mac). Calling within the US is free and there are inexpensive rates for several foreign countries.

Google Voice has many more great features, like transcribed voice messages. When someone calls your GV number, but you don’t pickup it gets sent to GV voice mail where it is transcribed (with varying degrees of success) and delivered to your inbox where you can read it.

But I primarily use GV for calling clients from my home line. To do that,  I go to my GV account, find the contact I want to call (or type in their number), then choose my home phone (from a list of phones I’ve activated with GV) and click the call button. My home phone then rings and the call is then sent to my client and their phone starts ringing. On caller ID, they see my GV number and I am able to use my home phone which has unlimited long distance and often better sound quality than my mobile phone.

I can just as easily plug in my headset to my laptop and cal using Google Talk. my client still would have seen my GV number.

Getting Started With SEO

The following is a list of a few helpful resources to get started with understanding and implementing SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is the process of getting your site into good shape so that search engines can find your content, index it, and then serve it up to people who are searching for it.

The term SEO it a loaded one, not everyone likes it and with good reason. There are ‘bad’ ways to do it that will piss off Google, you don’t want to piss off Google. The list below includes only ‘white hat’ SEO tips, tips that won’t piss off Google:

Free RAW Editor: Raw Therapee

Raw Therapee (THe Experimental RAw Photo Editor) is a treasure for digital photographers who shoot in RAW. It supports many RAW files types from the most popular Digital SLRs, details on supported cameras can be found on their site.

Raw Therapee opens and edits RAW files. Just point it to a directory of RAW files and it will generate thumbnails of RAW files (and JPEG files) from that directory. Double click on a thumbnail to bring it into the main editing window. Now you can make a wide range of modifications:

  • White Balance
  • Exposure
  • Highlight Recovery
  • Shadows/Highlights
  • Sharpening
  • Color Boost
  • Color Shift
  • Luminance Curve
  • Luminance Noise Reduction
  • Color Noise Reduction

These are the main options on the right hand side of the screen. On the left is a history panel listing each change you make. This is very handy, it allows you to simply click on an earlier action to see what the image looked like at that stage. And if you want to revert to that point, simply click on that action and continue working.

Raw Therapee Screen Shot

It is not a great way to manage your photo collection, Picassa does a much better job of that, but it is substantially better at making adjustments to an image. My work flow still starts in Picassa to quickly review my photos. I then delete the hopeless images and pick a few for further editing in Raw Therapee. Once editing is complete in Raw Therapee, I save the photo as a PNG. This is easily done with the “Save Image” in the lower right corner of the application and can be customized in the program options.

My initial response is that it is at least as capable as Photoshop (I have CS2), but probably better for ‘developing’ and image and certainly a lot faster. But it’s not a fair comparison, Photoshop is designed to do more then develop a photo. Raw Therapee is really in the same league as Lightroom and Aperture. I can not speak to how it compares to Aperture because Aperture crashed the first time I used it and I decided I did not need that in a photo editor and ended my evaluation there. I did use Lightroom during a 30 trial and really fell in love with it. I would purchase that Lightroom if it were not so overpriced. It is especially annoying to know that Lightroom was based on a free application.

The million dollar question: how well does Raw Therapee compare to Lightroom? I would prefer to use Lightroom, it has a broader set of tools. But, I use Raw Therapee because of the price. It’s free, but a program of so much value, I am glad to give the developers a ‘donation’. It is still under development so it might well become a threat to Lightroom.

Raw Therapee is available for Windows and Linux.

P.S. I’ve moved my blog over to Blogger. And I have a section for Photography News and Reviews. WordPress and Blogger are both great and I can’t really say one is better than the other.

HTML – Definition List – My New Favorite Thing

It is sad when one gets so excited with such a trivial bit of obscure code. That is what has happened to me… again. This time I stumbled across the Definition List tag. It operates similar to other types of lists, you start with a containing tag <dl> and populate it with a list of items. But, where it differs from ordered and unordered lists is that there are two item types in the list; Definition Term <dt> and Definition Definition (or Data Definition) <dd>. Most all browsers will render the two lines differently, typically indenting the <dd>, like so:

farm
a place to grow food
school
a place to grow knowledge

The code looks like this:

<dl>
<dt>farm</dt>
<dd>a place to grow food</dd>
<dt>school</dt>
<dd>a place to grow knowledge</dd>
</dl>

But, what got me so excited was the prospect of being able to seamlessly style to different types of data in a list. It is when you add CSS to the mix that things get interesting. Rather then showing you what can be done by adding CSS, I encourage you to go give it a whirl.

You might ask how I got this far without having learned anything about this before. That is one of the pitfalls of being self taught, and rather haphazardly self taught at that. I tend to wonder around HTML learning little bits here and there, I took no structured course, just learned what I needed when I needed it. It is a process that works as everything I learn gets puts into action right away and the chaff gets dismissed. But, it also leads to holes in my knowledge of HTML and CSS.

Safari on Windows?

I need to have a Mac if for nothing else so I can test and debug the web sites I create. Every browser has its quirks and some of the sites I work on have a higher then average Safari user base. That’s one reason I bought the MacBook last year, even though I primarily run XP on it. But now, Apple has removed my need to have a Mac with their release of Safari for Windows.

I can only guess that they are using Safari as a tease to Windows users in an effort to wet their appetite for more Apple software that can only found on the Mac. But that seems a bit of a stretch to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it. As a grumpy user who is not willing to sacrifice an ounce of system performance, I run XP on my Mac with Boot Camp, not Parallels, I have to reboot into OS X to test web pages. Well, not anymore, now I can run Safari right there in XP next to Firefox and IE7.

The newest rev of the MacBook Pros really peaked my interest and I am seriously considering upgrading in the fall. But the release of Safari for Windows has given me pause, serious pause. Because now I don’t need a Mac anymore. I have to weigh if it is really worth dropping an extra $200 for Vista and Parallels if I get the MacBook Pro. Hmmm…

But, in one way this release is not out of keeping, it continues the intrusion into Windows space started with Quick Time and iTunes. And it is a nice alternative, except a great alternative already exists in Firefox.

My guess is that Safari usage (on windows) will settle down somewhere between Firefox and Opera, closer to Opera as anything past Firefox is really just for the fringe who simply want to be different, and let’s be frank, who want to be difficult. As much as I like competition in the software arena, the desktop version of Opera is pretty unattractive. I use it a few times a week, but only for testing. It’s just too buggy and I have not found that it does anything better then Firefox. Heck, I’d rather use IE7. Oh, actually, Opera (and IE7 for that matter) does do RSS better then Firefox. Firefox is poop when it comes to RSS.

Portable WordPress

OK, so now you have XAMPP on your flash drive and you’re showing it off to all your friends. One of them (the wise-guy) will ask, “uhhhh… so, what’s that good for?” DOH! Well, here is an idea to avoid this moment of embarrassment and shame, “Well.” you say, “I use it as a development environment for customizing WordPress.” Smack-down! You win.

That’s right, if need a sandbox for developing WordPress and you don’t want the whole world to see your mistakes, you can install a local copy of WordPress and mess about with it to your heart’s content. This works if you install it on your local hard drive, or on your flash drive. It goes where ever you have XAMPP installed. And here are step by step instructions on how to do it. These directions start with installing XAMPP on your local hard-drive, but to install it on a flash drive, follow my instructions, then pick-up again after that’s done. Also, when creating the database, I found my options did not exactly match what is in the tutorial, but is was nearly the same: utt8_unicode_ci.

XAMPP: The Easy and Simple Web Server

XAMPPAre you an HTML and CSS jokey like me who needs to occasionally dabble in the magical art of PHP, or some other, server side environment? Are you deathly afraid of and confused by this stuff. Me too. But I found XAMPP a couple of years ago and it is a simple and easy web server you can install on your own computer to run a web server and test out some PHP. It runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris. I run it on XP.

Still a little nervous about installing a web server on your computer, how about installing it on a USB flash drive? No problem! Download the ZIP archive (not the EXE, that’s for regular installs) from their site and extract it onto your flash drive. Then simply run the setup_xampp.bat file, let it run for a minute and presto! Instant web server!

Now XAMPP is like any other program in that you have to start it before you use it. In the folder on the flash drive there will be file called: xampp_start.exe, double click it and the server starts up. Windows may give you a warning, click through that. A terminal window will open up (small window with black background and white type), don’t close that, just minimize it.

Now you have a web server running! Great now what. Well, first check to see if it is working, open your browser and type in http://localhost. You should see something like, “Welcome to XAMPP for Windows Version 1.6.2 !”. Yea, it works!. If it does not, you are going to have to look elsewhere, I barely know how to run it.

OK, now you want to use it to render those PHP pages you created. Here is the thing you need to know, the files you are developing need to be in the Xampp folder. Not just any folder, the htdocs folder, like: E:xampplitehtdocs (assuming your flash drive is letter E). So drop a folder (let’s call it ‘web-content’) with some PHP files (one of which should be named index.php) in there and type in “http://localhost/web-content”. If your PHP files are written correctly, you will now be looking at them all processed and looking like they will when uploaded to a server (assuming that server runs PHP).

To shut the web server down, look for the “xampp_stop.exe” file in the main XAMPP folder and click that.

I run XAMPP Lite by the way. It’s a smaller install and since I don’t know how to use any of the added stuff that comes with the full XAMPP, I figured it was a better choice.

Newsletter #4

Oops, looks like I missed an issue or two. No worries, I will refund all subscriptions fees for the past two months. I was too fat and bloated from the holidays to reach my keyboard, but I am back now.

This installment is designed to make you paranoid as I am discussing, once again, Scammers and Spammers.

Oh, and of some note, I have changed my name and web site. Crucible Design has been moth-balled, my new and improved business name is James Fryer Design Services. My new web site is JamesFryer.com. And accordingly, I have a new email address: jfryer@jamesfryer.com.

This month’s Main Feature was prompted by yet another piece of spam I recievied:

There are many ways to make money, some less honest then others. One of these ‘less honest’ ways involves companies representing themselves as some ‘official’ Internet source and trying to scare people into paying several hundred dollars a year for flimsy (and unnecessary) services. Here is one of the more benign examples: I received a fax the other day from “Official Internet Registry & Optimization Bureau” warning me that, “Major search engines may not be able to prioritize content on your site…” And it starts off with, “Forward to Accounts Payable” in large text. Why this sounds like a scam:

  • The name, there is not government mandated Bureau of Internet Registry & Optimization
  • The company logo is made to look like and official government seal, but it is not
  • It came to me as fax spam, no legitimate company uses this ‘marketing’ technique

I call this one rather benign because the fax does state in a couple of places that the service is not mandatory. But there are far more aggressive scammers out there that might contact you by fax, email, or telephone trying to convince you that there is some critical service you are missing. They may try to scam you into paying exorbitant rates for anything from Domain Registration to SEO. But they may also be interested in steeling away your domain name. So hang up the phone, throw out the fax, or delete the email. If you are concerned about the renewal of some service, call me or call the company with whom you have registared your Domain Name. Go straight to the source.

Every month (or so) the Crucible Design Newsletter will endeavor to enlighten you on issues relevant to your web site, the Internet, and related issues. The goal of this newsletter is to offer new tools, or new ways to use tools, to increases your effectiveness in the way you use the Internet and the computer.

If you have any trouble viewing this newsletter in your email application, you can find it online here with past newsletters: http://cdnewsletter.wordpress.com, but that will be soon updated to: jfdsnewsletter.wordpress.com

Scammers and Spammers

Identity thieves can some times get some of your personal data, but not enough to do anything with. But they will use it when the contact you to convince you that they are someone that they are not, like your bank or credit card agency. For instance, a thief may have gotten your name and the last four digits of your credit card from a discarded reciept and looked up your phone number online, or the phonebook. Then they will call you pretending to be your credit card company and ‘prove it’ by giving you this data to ‘confirm’ their legitimacy. Once you are on their hook, they will ask for another piece of information from you, like the rest of your card number or the expiration date to ‘confirm’ that they are speaking to ‘the real you’. If you proceed to give them this information, you have completed their objective and they can now use your card, or open a line of credit, or any number of nefarious things that you will not like.

To avoid this, don’t give any information to someone who is calling you claiming to be your bank or credit card agency. If it is a legitimate call, tell the person that you will call them back, then call the institution on their main number and either continue the business they had with you, or report that there is potential fraudulent activity on your account. The same principle applies to email correspondence. If you get an email that you are unsure of, go to that companies web site and see if there are any problems. But do not click on any links in that email, they may look OK, but they may take you to a fraudulent web site.

This is an old scam that predates the Internet. And it is not limited to financial institutions, a thief might pose as your cable, phone, utility, or some other vendor company to get more information about you to use for their own ends.

I am not trying to make you paranoid, but I probably did, sorry. If you think you might be the victim of fraud or identity theft, you can put either a three month, or seven year fraud alert on you credit profile with the three major Credit Bureaus. And here they are:

Equifax
Direct Line for reporting suspected fraud: 800-525-6285
Fraud Division
P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374
800-685-1111 / 888-766-0008
www.equifax.com

Experian
Direct Line for reporting suspected fraud: 888-397-3742
Credit Fraud Center
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
www.experian.com

Trans Union
Direct Line for reporting suspected fraud: 800-680-7289
Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
Phone: 800-916-8800 / 800-680-7289
www.transunion.com

The Google

Google Analytics is a free Google product that tracks detailed usage statistics of a web site. It lets you see information about who is looking at your site and how they are looking at it. It does not give you the name and address of a visitor, but it does tell you their city or town. It also offers details about their computer including the web browser, Operating System, screen size, etc… Two of the more valuable metrics are referral sources and key word usage. Referral sources tells you where your visitor is coming from, whether the be from Google, or a colleague’s web site. Key words are what your visitors are typing into a search engine that results in finding your web site.

It is also integrated with AdWords, Google’s paid advertising service, so you can closely track where your ad money is going.

It is an extremely powerful tool, but be warned, it is not terribly friendly to the uninitiated. It is a professional tool, and unless you are willing to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty, it will mostly just confound you. But that should not make you feel bad, I use it sporadically and it frequently confounds me.

Recommended Site

The Dilbert Blog: I thought you all might need some diversion after my little paranoia rift. Actually, the Dilbert Blog is often rather intelligent, but also rather funny, or disturbing, sometimes all three. Scott Adams is one of those people that is so smart it sometimes makes me wonder why I bother getting out of bed in the morning. I hate smart people, that is why I married one, to bring her down. Didn’t really work out that way though, she has me pretty much wrapped around her little figure. Which is a rather good trick as her little figure is really very little and I am not. Anyway, dilbert.com is also great, that is where the daily dilbert strip can be found, as well as old strips. If you have not read Dilbert before, it is not just for geeks, anyone who has worked (or visited) corporate America can appreciate Scott’s insights.

What is CSS anyway?

Casscading Style Sheets is a web technology that goes hand in hand with HTML. CSS is a method of applying style to a web page. That style can include many things including font, font size, font color, positioning of elements on the page, page color, element color, etc… In the old days of web site development, the ‘style’ of an HTML page was limited and rather painstaking to declare. CSS adds many new formatting and styling options and makes is more simple to implement. It allows for the style of the web site to be controlled from a separate document. The advantage to this is that updating that separate CSS document effects all the pages in the site and saves the developer from having to update each HTML page individually.

Here are two examples of the same web page, This One has a CSS file attached to it, This One does not. See the difference? The page is the same, but with and without CSS applied.

The Return of the Peek-A-Boo

I thought the Internet Explorer 7 had fixed the peek-a-boo bug, but I was wrong, it is still there. I came across this while creating a new site with a floated element. My jaw nearly fell off when I launched the new site in IE7 and saw the floated element disappear. The text in the element is still ‘there’, but invisible. I can still click on the now invisible links inside the invisible floated element.

I set the containing element’s height to 1% and the floated element is now visible in IE7 (always was in Firefox).

How amazing that Microsoft was not able to fix such a long standing bug.

Newsletter #3

In This Issue
Main Feature: Data Backup
The Google: Google Docs
Client Spotlight:
DR. David Kruger: MentorPath.com
Recommended Site: Techdirt.com
FreeWare: FileZilla & YouSendIt.com
Web Tech Revealed:
What is Flash Anyway?

Welcome the third installment of the JFDS Newsletter. If you get tired of it, just let me know and I will remove your email address from this list.

Before we get to far and I loose your interest, it is worth a few moments to take a look on the horizon about what Microsoft is up to. The two rather major projects that they have been working on are here (mostly). Internet Explorer 7 is available now and will probably be part of your next Windows Update. This is a long over due update to a woefully bad browser. Microsoft has made it more secure and added ‘tabbed browsing‘, but as a recent survey of reviews shows, it is still behind Firefox.

Windows Vista is Microsoft’s next version of windows, set to replace Windows XP. This too is long over due and has been gutted of its more promising features. Never the less, if you have not heard of it, you will begin to hear about it soon as it is scheduled to be rolled out to corporate users this month and consumers on January 30, 2007. There is a new ‘rendering engine’ (that is the part that controls how things look on screen) that looks nice, but is a power hog and will not run on many current computer systems. If you don’t have a high powered computer, it might be wise not to upgrade just yet. And if you are looking to get a new computer next year, Vista will be your new operating system (unless you go to Apple) so make sure the computer is powerful enough to run Vista.

This is quite a big month for computer technology. Not only is there a new operating system from Microsoft, but the PlayStation 3 (a wildly expensive gaming system that I do not think will fair well against the Xbox 360 over the long haul) and the Nintendo Wii (a much cheaper gaming system) are also being released this month.

This month, in addition to the regular columns, I have added a new section: Client Spotlight where one of my client’s business and web site will be spotlighted (hence the name).

Every month the Crucible Design Newsletter will endeavor to enlighten you on issues relevant to your web site, the Internet, and related issues. The goal of this newsletter is to offer new tools, or new ways to use tools, to increases your effectiveness in the way you use the Internet and the computer.

Data Backup: Carbonite.com

CarboniteI hope that none of my clients have ever had a major computer meltdown that resulted in data loss, and I hope that none ever do. But, computer failure is a real threat to your business and your personal life, how many family photos do you have on your computer? There are a dizzing array of products on the market to backup your data. Most come in the form of CDs/DVDs or external hard drives and are hard to use, time consuming, and expensive. And the biggest problem is that, most likely, the backed up data is sitting a few feat from the primary data! That is, the backup hard drive is only a foot or two from the computer it is backing up. Sure, that guards against a spontaneous computer malfunction (unless it involves an exploding battery), but what about fire, flood, act of God, annoyed cat, bored dog, or one of any number cataclysmic event?

OK, enough with the hypotheticals and scaremongering. Here is your solution: Carbonite.com. Carbonite is a service that automatically backs up your files onto the Internet as you work. The backed up data is far from your office and it’s cornucopia of potential catastrophes. It is simple to setup, once you create an account and download there application, you need only choose those files and file folders that you want backed up and then let it run. The first backup may take some time depending on the size of the files you are backing up and the speed of your Internet connection. After that, Carbonite monitors the selected files and uploads them when you edit them, automatically. As Ron Popeil would say, “Set it, and forget it.” Two other features of this service make it a no brainer; A) it is cheap at $50 a year, and B) there is no limit to the amount of data you can backup. got 120 GigaBytes of data, do it.

I have been using this for a few months, and it has been working well, but I have not had to use the “Restore” mechanism yet, so I can not comment on effectiveness of that. But the described process is straight forward, login to your account and hit the “Restore” button to begin the process. This can also be done as a simple way to migrate you data to a new computer. This is the simplest and cheapest backup solution I have seen.

Sorry, the Mac version is not yet available unless, like me, you are running XP on your Mac.

The Google

Google DocsLast month I introduced you to Open Office, a complete and free office suite comparable to Microsoft Office. It is a great application (or suite of applications) and came in handy once again a few weeks ago when I was putting together a presentation for the Texas Furniture Makers Show in Kerrville, Texas. I used ‘Impress’ their Powerpoint clone and was very pleased.

But it is not a Google product so why am I continuing to gush about it here in Google’s space? Because it leads into two free Google products: Google Docs & Google Spreadsheets. As their names imply, the first is a word processor and the second a spreadsheet program. They are both rather basic so don’t look to do too much advanced editing with either. Don’t get me wrong, they both do what they do well and meet my needs amply. But they are no match for Open Office.

So, what then, makes them special. They are applications that run over the Internet. Think of Hotmail and Outlook, both are email applications, but the first works in a browser only when you are online, the second runs on your computer and can be used anytime (though you can not send and receive email while off line).

The benefit of an online application is that you can work on it anywhere from any Internet connected computer. That means that you don’t have to bother with bringing you computer with you on your next trip, just use the computer in the hotel, Internet cafe, or the one at your parent’s/child’s house. Another advantage is that documents created with these online applications can be very easily shared with others. If you are developing an article with someone on the other side of the planet, you can easily collaborate on one document without emailing it back and forth.

I am writing this newsletter in Google Docs right now. I use it for the newsletter so I can get to it anytime from anywhere and add a new idea.

I have long struggled with how best to keep track of my hours (so I can bill you and afford that fancy bicycle in the window). In the past, I tried every method from paper to digital, with one unifying consequence, I would loose track of it. Google Spreadsheet offers me one central location to store my hours and it has worked for me like a charm. No mater which computer I amusing, I can easily track the hours I slave away to improve your sites.

These two applications are also very friendly in that you can upload Microsoft Office and Open Office documents into it with no problem. Also, and very importantly, you can export from Google Docs & Spreadsheets into common Microsoft Office and Open Office file types and download it to your computer. Oh, it also exports to PDF for no charge, yet another handy little feature.

Client Spotlight

MentorPath.com
Dr. Krueger mentors professionals and executives on the art and science of success strategies: ‘Mind over Matters.’

In his own words:

“Success involves creating a new story inside and outside: an evolving internal model combined with new experiences. I help my clients write the next chapters in their life and business stories. As executives and self employed business people develop their success skills, they come to know themselves and others better. They apply human dynamics to strategic growth and personal fulfillment.”

“Are you doing what you are passionate about? Have you fully developed your talents? And do those two go together?”

David’s sight offered new challenges in integrating payment systems coupled with delivering digital downloads. He offers both audio (MP3) and book (PDF) downloads. By using the combined power of PayPal and E-Junkie (to be covered in a later issue) his site can now receive payment and deliver products automatically.

David’s site also offered the opportunity to work with a graphic designer, Walid Khalil, who created a clean and expressive logo/masthead.

David was also kind enough to share his thoughts on my performance:

“As a product and web designer, James Fryer is the best. His business savvy and “No problem” approach makes him a unique collaborator. He has also empowered my clients to achieve extraordinary success.”
-David Krueger

Recommended Site

Techdirt.com focuses mainly on tech related news, but from a much smarter angle then most. The writers have a much better grip on legal issues surrounding technology and they have a dangerously sharp wit. A very smart blog.

FreeWare

FileZillaFileZilla is an FTP (File Transfer Protocal) program. It is simple, works flawlessly, and is free. FTP is used to transfer files over the Internet, the most common usage is to upload files to a web server. As an example, once I have finished the files that I create for your web site, I then use FilleZilla to connect to your web server (web host) and use it to transfer the files from my computer to your web site.

YouSendIt.com is not a program per say, but it is related to Filezilla in that it lets you transfer files over the Internet, but it does it more easily with email. Log on to YouSendIt.com, upload your file (using your browser), specify an email recipient, done. The recipient gets an email with a link to the file that they can then download. Sending large files as email attachments is bad because email is not designed to do that and the file can be corrupted, it can jam up your recipient’s inbox, and your email service probably has limits to the file size you can send. YouSendIt.com alleviates these problems. With the free service you can send files up to 100 MegaBytes.

Web Tech Revealed

What is Flash anyway?

Flash is a web technology for creating animated and interactive content for publishing on the Internet. It is powerful and flexible. It can be used to create simple animated text to fully interactive games. It is often used to add visual interest to a web site through animation and is a good tool for telling a story visually. Flash files can be integrated into a web page or a whole web site can be created in Flash. Here is a site that is an interesting use of Flash: http://www.leoburnett.ca.

Not everyone is a fan though, Jakob Nielsen, says, “Flash tends to degrade websites for three reasons: it encourages design abuse, it breaks with the Web’s fundamental interaction principles, and it distracts attention from the site’s core value.” Granted, this is from an article from six years ago, but, as he mentions, many of the problems remain. I am also generally not a fan of Flash. It is a little too vulnerable, can not be indexed by search engines, and can not be made to be accessible to the disabled.