100 Things I Love On the Internet

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This is the 200th post on RyboMedia (hence the 200 “o’s”).

To celebrate this milestone, I’ve put together a list of 100 things I love about the internet. Why not 200? Read until the end and you’ll see. Enjoy!

    50 Random Goodies

  1. Overusing hashtags.  #awesome
  2. Watching The Office on Hulu the day after it airs.
  3. Blogging.
  4. SideReel.  Where else can I go to find links to watch my Scrubs and Friends?
  5. SquaredEye.  Because they rock and look perty.
  6. Amazon wishlists.
  7. Tupac is alive!!!
  8. Pandora.  Seriously, the more I use it the more I love it.
  9. Hey Ya! acoustic style.
  10. Graffiti t-shirts.
  11. Restaurant.com.  Admittedly, it was better when I had a lady friend, but still an awesome place to get gift certificates dirt cheap.
  12. Joupes.  Yeah right, I’m going to list 100 things and not do some self-promotion?
  13. Farmville.
  14. Kobe Bryant highlight videos.
  15. Wookieepedia.  It’s a Star Wars Wikipedia.  Need I say more?
  16. HTML color code charts.  Far more useful than you’d expect.
  17. Nerds proposing.
  18. More nerds proposing.
  19. Horrible, horrible, horrible albeit hilarious parents.
  20. Amazing dance skills that I will never have.
  21. The Star Wars tattoo chick.  Actually not a turn on for me, but still quite interesting.
  22. Google Reader.  Sharing is quick and easy, and I can star items for later, more intense reading just like Gmail.
  23. Retrievr.  If you’ve never used it, it lets you find Flickr images by color.
  24. Google Image Search.  It makes staring at my future wife so, so easy.
  25. ESPN Fantasy Football.  I’ll never play football so this is as close as this 160 pound white boy gets.
  26. Cute dogs.
  27. Google Chrome.
  28. Google Voice.
  29. Google cake.
  30. Google.
  31. The best song ever, sung by Percy Sledge and Michael Bolton (live footage).
  32. SEEN painting the Hollywood sign.
  33. Bob Parsons.
  34. Listening to NBA games for free.
  35. The things I’m going to put my kids through (because I’m a Star Wars junkie).
  36. This dude.
  37. Hungry Howies.
  38. Extensive graffiti guide.
  39. Awesome pictures of cute babies.
  40. What up with that?!
  41. Personality driven ministry.  #SARCASM
  42. Nature in all it’s beauty.
  43. Really, really, really good web design.
  44. A 63-can color test.
  45. DRM-Free mp3 downloads for less than $1
  46. Listening to the exact songs I want…for free! (Yep, same as above)
  47. Google Chrome Extensions
  48. Mitch Hedberg
  49. My cousins baby trying to hug my dog.
  50. Star Wars Adidas shoes!
  51. 50 Blogs

  52. SiteSketch101 Teaching You How to Blog with Passion, Power and Profit
  53. BlogussionBlogging Discussion, Tips & Tricks
  54. ColorFreak – Make sure to check out the Banksy piece!
  55. KomodoMedia – BEAUTIFUL site, great design-related posts
  56. UnmatchedStyle – Reviews of beautifully designed websites
  57. Webdesigner Depot – One of the coolest header images I’ve ever seen on a site
  58. The Design Cubicle – Well researched, deep posts on blogging and web design
  59. Design Milk – Neat design, from home furnishings to computer equipment
  60. ThinkVitaminCarsonified’s Blog About the Web
  61. Desizn Tech – Great design blog (CSS, textures, etc)
  62. CrazyLeaf Design Blog – Beautifully designed blog
  63. Daily Blog Tips – What’s it sound like?
  64. Blog Oh! BlogWanna sizzle up your WordPress blog?
  65. WordPress JediFeed your WordPress Demons!
  66. Unique BlogCreate A Blog That Stands Out From the Crowd
  67. Million CluesTechnology Guide for the Digital Citizen
  68. Spyre Studios – The blog of a small but high quality design agency
  69. Lumos Studio PhotographyGreat photography from an old teacher of mine
  70. Allan Cole Roberts – More grat photography from a great web designer
  71. The Official Gmail BlogNews, tips and tricks from Google’s Gmail team and friends
  72. Rands In Repose – Great writing, make sure to check out the Nerd Handbook
  73. iGeekTrooperOn the Front Lines for the Geek Empire
  74. Necessary CoolThe Premier Guide to All That is Cool (That’s me!)
  75. Cope2 – Personal blog of graffiti legend Cope2
  76. Senses Lost – Graffiti pics, interviews, product reviews, and other cool stuff.
  77. Jersey Joe Art – Blog of graffiti icon Rime
  78. Hurricane Game – That’s right, I’m a big fan of The Game
  79. Chip OglesbyRandom Whatness
  80. Jeff Elder –  On Charlotte Networking
  81. LakersNationFor fans.  By fans.
  82. The No Look Pass – Great NBA blog by Lakers fan
  83. Cleveland, Curveballs, and Common SensePutting 2 and 2 Together Since 1987
  84. People of Wal-Mart – You guessed it – pictures of Wal-People
  85. Fail Blog – Funny FAIL pictures and videos
  86. Awkward Family PhotosSpreading the Awkwardness
  87. eSarcasmGeek Humor Gone Wild
  88. SocialWayne – Tech tips and tricks!
  89. Jasongraphix – The journal of Jason Beaird
  90. Technically Incorrect – Awesome news related to tech stuff…yep…
  91. Chris Pirillo – Great posts by a true all-around geek
  92. BDawg – Great blog from a good friend of mine, unveiling web apps, etc.
  93. Conversion Rate ExpertsTurning Clicks into Customers
  94. Joupes Blog – Of course I’m going to put it here.
  95. Tynan on TechTechnology from a jaundiced perspective
  96. Carrie Underwood – More of a news feed, but it helps me stay up to date with my lady
  97. BoingBoing – Tech, gadgets, science, culture and art news, etc.  Whew.
  98. Download Squad – Latests in tech news and software downloads
  99. ISO50 – Great photography and design work by Scott Hansen
  100. GeekDad – Logic puzzles and other awesome geeky things
  101. The Star Wars Blog – Need I say more?

Now, granted, this post would have been a whole lot more effective if I had 200 items in my list. However, I seriously doubt you’ve read this far…and even fewer of you would have if I had 200 things. SO, here’s the challenge.

By this time next year, I would love to have a completed list of 200 things (blogs, videos, awesome Twitter people, whatever!) – half of them mine, half of them yours.  Lame?  I don’t care, it’s my blog.  Start commenting.

The Unofficial Color Reference Pt. 2

This is the second installment of the Color-Reference collection.  You can see the first post here.

This reference was somewhat popular, possibly more due to the neat looking graphic than actual usefulness.  However, I’ve decided to do another one.  This collection lists the main colors for Digg, Technorati, Reddit, and Joupes.

colors2

* Please note that these may not be the “official” colors of the respective sites. I have done my best to double and triple check all of these on their actual sites.

ConvergeSC Video Footage

The ConvergeSC speaker videos were just posted today. Watching clips from them, I am reminded how much fun it was, how much I learned, and how much I have forgotten already! The speakers were EXCELLENT, and I am so glad there is video footage so I can go back and watch these presentations again.

If you weren’t there, consider this a free web conference – fantastic tips, fun presentations, and maybe a little humor too. Here are a few of my favorite design talks from the conference, though it is honestly hard to name favorites as each presentation was excellent. To see the rest of the videos, go to the Vimeo page. Enjoy!

DNC, RNC Website Review

As a rule, I do not discuss politics on this website.  I have several reasons for this, the most selfish being simply that when people hear me rant and rave about – well, anything really – they tend to not listen to anything else I have to say.  I hope that some of the information I post here might be helpful to someone, and I don’t want my own personal beliefs to jeopardize that.

However, I watched a video the other day that inspired me to do a comparison of the Democratic and Republican party websites.  While the video is certainly biased, it had very good points about the importance of imagery and media in today’s world – especially in regard to politics.  Let’s face it – it’s 2009.  Any popular party, organization, service or group should have a good website.  It’s amazing how often large organizations look over design and content structure when building their site.

And so, without further introduction, here is my (unbiased, I hope) review of the Democratic and Republican National Committee websites.

dncrnc

Above are screenshots of both the DNC and RNC websites.  Right off the bat, you will notice a few things.  The layouts themselves are actually very similar – suspiciously, even (note the 2-column portion beneath the left-aligned main image).  Both sites use very patriotic colors and graphics.  You will also notice that the “Contribute” button on the DNC site is bright red – immediately drawing your attention to donate money to the party.  While it’s not overwhelming, it certainly is one of the first things you notice.

The very next thing I saw was the header.  Both sites use left-aligned header text.  However, the RNC simply displays “GOP.com”, while the DNC reads “The Democratic Party”.  Now chances are if you’re going to the site, you know what the GOP is, and what it stands for.  The point of a site header, however, is to tell the reader where they are and what they are reading.

One of the biggest differences in the two sites is the emphasis on social media.  Both sites link to the main networks, though the delivery is completely different.  The DNC uses classy (but cool) image links and rollover color effects, while the RNC only lists the 3 main sites using very basic, somewhat fuzzy images and no rollover effects.

dnc_social

rnc_social

Another major difference is the background image.  The RNC website uses a very plain 2 colored background image, while the DNC site has a snazzy star background, which gives the impression that the stars are flying out of the site’s main content.

I discovered my biggest disappointment with the RNC website when I clicked on any of the only three navigation options.  Each one opened into a completely different design – new colors, a different header – new EVERYTHING!  In fact, the blog page simply looks like a WordPress theme gone terribly wrong.  Consistency between contained material is fundamental to web design.  Not just good web design – basic design.

rnc_content_pages

There are a few other small things that really bug me.  For instance, favicons.  I am a big believer that every website created should have some sort of favicon – no matter how basic (just look at the DNC’s).  More and more people are learning how to add shortcuts to make their web browsing more efficient, and favicons are used for Chrome application shortcuts, etc.  The point is, your site needs one.  And the RNC doesn’t have one.

In the same manor, the page title of the DNC site (“The Democratic Party”) is much shorter than the RNC (“GOP.com Republican National Committee”).  This means that in a normal tab, half of the RNC title is hidden.  Again, not a huge deal, but remember, it’s the details that take a site from decent to great (as our friend @squaredeye taught us).

I do like the rotating images and site articles on the main page of the RNC website (though sharper images and neater header text would be nice).  However, adding a margin of 10 or 15 pixels to the bottom would make the 2 button links below stand out a lot more and would present a far less cluttered site.

On a final review note, I’d like to say that using offensive language on any website should be done very carefully.  There are times when it is absolutely appropriate.  However, calling the Democratic Party blog “Kicking Ass” might not be the best idea.

It hurt me a little to write this post.  You see, I’m conservative.  The only reason I say this, of course, is because I just wrote a very negative review of the Republican National Committee’s websites.  I want to make it clear that this is solely based off of design.  Don’t believe me?  Take a gander.

Now, to be fair, the DNC website isn’t all that great either.  It has a lot of elements that could be better, though it is leaps and bounds greater than it’s counterpart.  I suppose my point in writing this post is simply to show how important it is to put time, energy, and (get ready) – money – into good design.  It can go a long way in making a great first impression, which (especially in this society) may be all you get.

The Unofficial Color Reference Pt. 1

If you’re into any type of web design, chances are you’re familiar with ColorZilla. For those that aren’t, this handy little Firefox add-on will allow you to take the color from anything you see on the web. This can come in handy when you’re trying to match colors of well-known sites, or simply see a neat color scheme and want to save it.

Either way, it’s sometimes good to have a list of popular color schemes. Sometimes using ColorZilla isn’t an option, or at least it would be tedious to find and record multiple colors. For this reason, I will be putting up a few color schemes from popular social media sites.

Part 1 includes 4 of the most popular sites. Most of these are sites that allow 3rd party relations (or at least offer some sort of API), which means designers are often looking for colors to match. Even if you don’t want to use exact matches, inputting a base color into one of the many online color-scheme generators can give a wide range of nice looking choices.

Below are the hex codes for the primary colors on these sites.

social_media_color_schemes

* Please note that these may not be the “official” colors of the respective sites. I have done my best to double and triple check all of these on their actual sites.

Potential Logos

A good friend has been working with me to design a few logos for the site.  I say working with to mean, I tell him a general idea and he spits out awesome sketches.  Anyway, he’s completed a few (all very tentative) and we’d like you to look at them.  Let me know which ones you like – comment, email, or tweet your favs. Remember, these are just sketches – the final with be more detailed and clearer.

Thanks!

rhino1

rhino2

platy1

platy2

platy3

Easy On the Eyes – The 7 Deadly Post Sins

As you may well know, good content is the key to successful web logging. Got that? Ok, now it’s time to make it readable. After all, what’s great content if it’s hidden beneath not-so-transparent layers of garbage?

One of the distinguishing factors between good and great blogs is the readability factor. Here are some tips I’ve come up with to help push your site to that next level.

Letter Spacing

    Adding a little extra space between your letters is one of the easiest things to do – and it’s one of the best ways to make your posts more readable. Too often, sites leave the default spacing on letters. This, combined with smaller font sizes and serif fonts, leaves readers squinting to make out the difference between “rn” and “m”.

Line Spacing

    Along the same lines (ha! how appropriate) as letter spacing, line spacing allows you to open up your content and let it breathe. This adds just a touch of whitespace in your actual post, which can make your page feel cleaner.

Break Up Those Paragraphs!!!

    Nothing is worse than going to a blog where the author has neglected to break up content into paragraphs. Nothing. This is why newspapers have columns filled with blocks of text – often spread across multiple pages. Here’s a secret – people don’t want to read a lot, but they will keep reading if “a lot” is split up into more manageable chunks. I mean, seriously – you know what I’m talking about, right? Blogs where authors ramble on about nothing in particular, while not once hitting the “enter” key? Blogs that go on and on and on and on and on about personal stories, detailing every single bad thing that happened to them, using run on sentences, improper grahmerr and lots and lots exclamation marks!!!  Honestly, relationships are tough, but that doesn’t mean that I need to go to your page and read about them.  I don’t have time to spend reading your life story, about how he dumped you and you cried, then you dumped him and he cried.  I honestly don’t even care that you both then later dumped each other and cried together – I have things to do.

    See what I mean? I hope I’ve taught you a lesson, and that you’ll never commit this atrocity against a poor, unsuspecting reader.

Use Decent Grammar

    I’m not a great writer. I’ll be the first to admit that. My old English and Rhetoric teacher, J.P. Stephens will be the second and my old British Literature teacher will be the third. Either way, most of the time I am able to use somewhat decent grammar.

    Using decent grammar isn’t difficult. Basically, it goes something like this. If you’re unsure whether or not to use caps on something other than a proper name or the first letter of a sentence – DON’T DO IT. If you aren’t sure whether to add a fifth exclamation mark to your sentence – don’t do it!!!!! If you’re tempted to use some sort of abbreviation in your writing – omg, please don’t do it.

Use That a:hover Carefully, Mister

    Never ever make the text size in your link hover class bigger than a normal link. When someone hovers over a link on your site, be it text or an image, nothing on the page should move up or down.

    Great hover effects make the user mouse over your link again, just to see it. Nobody will admit they do this, but they do. Hover effects should add to the flow and balance of your page, just like your content, images, and colors.

Be Consistent

    This is by far the area in which I struggle the most. Pick something and stay with it. Readers want consistency (unless it’s consistently bad), and well designed, easy to read posts will keep them coming back.

Think About Where Your Blog is Being Read

    If you’re serious about blogging (and even if you aren’t), chances are you have an RSS feed, which means that not everyone is reading your blog on your website. Different readers can render content differently, so it’s important to keep in mind how some of the more popular RSS readers may format your posts.

And that’s it for now. Now, keep in mind, I am by no means in a position to give instruction to bloggers, as I am not successful by any stretch of the imagination. However, from observation and personal experience, these have been some of the most helpful and effective ways to make your posts more readable.