ColorTransform Demo Application

As a follow-up to my last post, I’m posting an app I made with Flex to demonstrate the effects of ColorTransform, both on a single colored object, and a Jpeg image.  Click the link below to start the app.  Once it shows up, use the color picker to choos a color.  This will change the color of the large square displayed on the screen.  Slide the slider controls around to create a color transformation.  As the color transformation occurs, you will see the newly created color appear as a circle within the square.  The jpg image will also reflect the color transformation.


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A Self Hosted Career Blog in 10 Easy Steps

It’s been said that blogging is an essential step for boosting your career prospects these days.  It can be a supplement to your resume, a good way to keep in touch with folks in your industry, a way to tout your knowledge, or gain deeper insight into topics you (think you) know about.  Business minded people say blogging is a way to ‘brand’ yourself, or market yourself to employers, clients, partners, friends, or whomever.  Whatever the reason, I decided that I needed a career blog.  If you make the same decision, here’s an easy way to get started…

  1. Make a list of your favorite blogs (at least 5) related to your career. Read these often to get inspiration, and to see how blogging is done.  You can see a few of my fav’s in my Blogroll.
  2. Learn about career blogging. Penelope Trunk offers some great advice and reasoning for starting a blog.  Dan Schwabel is a proven ‘self-promoter’ and recommends blogging as an essential career tool.  I saw Dan speak in person in Boston, and although I think his technical ability is a bit lacking, he definitely knows his stuff when it comes to self promotion and personal branding. His entire website has plenty of useful tidbits to think about when promoting yourself online.  Also, there is a free eBook from Rockable Press called, Rockstar Personal Branding that is worth checking out.
  3. Pick a name. Buy that domain. You’ll need an address for your blog.  Forget about free blogs like eric.blogspot.com or ect203093.wordpress.com – they are as unprofessional as you can get.  At the very least, you’ll want firstnamelastname.com, and perhaps .net, .us, and .org as well.  There’s much to think about when buying a domain name (or names), so check here, here and here for some useful advice.  Once you decide on a name, go to a registrar and buy it!  I’ve used name.com and GoDaddy to register domains.  They are both about the same price, and have similar features.  GoDaddy has pretty good telephone support, and you can click here to save 10% at GoDaddy.com.
  4. Get a web hosting account. Websites live on web servers.  For a small website, you generally want to rent a small portion of a server for your website.  This is called ‘shared hosting’.  You pay a small amount per month for a certain amount of space, bandwitdth, and software on a professionally configured web server.  I recommend HostingZoom (I’ve used them for years).  I’ve also had good experience with Dreamhost, and heard good things about Lunarpages, Bluehost, and HostGator.  Go to one of these sites and sign up for their basic linux plan.  They all have Fantastico, which easily allows you to install WordPress (among many other great webapps).
  5. Learn about WordPress and install it. After you sign up for hosting, log in to your web host account’s Control Panel (cPanel). Find the Fantastico Icon, click it, then follow the onscreen prompts to install the latest version of WordPress.  Here’s a easy video that shows you how, and here’s a more comprehensive video.  If you’re wondering why you need to buy all this stuff just to use wordpress instead of using wordpress.com, the answer is freedom and flexibility.  With wordpress.com and other free blogging sites, you are limited in what you can post, the plugins you want to install, and features you can use.  You often have to pay extra for ‘upgrades’ such as a custom domain name, and widgets for your blog.  With your own hosted installation of WordPress, the sky’s the limit!
  6. Get a new theme.
    1. Find a theme and download it. Tons of free themes are listed on wordpress.org. Find one to your liking, and click the download button.
    2. Learn to use FTP. An FTP program will transfer files from your computer to your web server (which is where your website lives).  Download FileZilla if you don’t have it already – it’s a free and open source FTP program for Windows, Mac, and Linux.  Type your site name in the “Host:” box, then your username and password in their respective boxes, and use Port: 21, then click the Quickconnect button.  You should connect to your web server and be able to see all the folders and files.
    3. Install your new theme. You must copy the new theme’s folder to /wp-content/themes/ on your web server, then activate the theme from your WordPress administration menu (click “Design” then “Themes”).
    4. Watch this video if you need help.
  7. Write an About page, 2-5 posts to publish immediately, and another 2-3 posts for the coming week (or two). Start by brainstorming a few blog posts about related to you and your work.  A mindmapping tool can be a big help, or just use good ol’ pen and paper.  Come up with a few posts before you publish any.  A blog with only one or two posts will not garner any readers or impress anyone, so make sure you start with at least five.  Type out the posts in WordPress, save them, put leave them as ‘unpublished’ until you are ready to unveil your blog.
  8. Be confident in your ability to proofread, or have a friend to edit your first few posts. A blog that is impossible to read won’t be read.  Use spellcheck, common sense, proper grammar, and spellcheck again.  If all else fails and you are convinced your articles are terrible, hire a copywriter on elance to proofread your work (more on this later).
  9. Post your content! Set the “Publish Status” of all your posts to ‘published’ and you are on your way! Tell all your friends and family about your blog and spread the word.  Don’t forget to write 1-2 posts per week until you become way to busy with all the new work you’ll be getting, or become a professional blogger and start posting every day.
  10. Share your content! The blog isn’t going to do much good if nobody sees it.  Let friends, family and co-workers know about your new site.  You can try the Wordbook plugin to automatically update your Facebook mini-feed with your blog posts.  The Sociable plugin is good as well. It allows you to put all those nifty little Web2.0 icons on your blog so your readers can share your posts on Digg, Twitter, Technorati, del.icio.us, and many others.  Be sure to take some advice from the pros on how to promote your blog around the internet. Remember those favorite blogs from step 1?  Engage with the authors, comment on their posts, link to their interesting posts, and maybe someday they’ll mention you on their blog. It takes time, but almost certainly gets people viewing your posts.

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