CSS cheat sheets as Android apps: stop taping printouts on your cubicle walls

I need to work with CSS/XHTML often enough that I’d need a reference but rarely enough to make me memorize the damned properties, selectors and syntax. I used to print out CSS/XHTML cheat sheets and tape these on my cubicle wall for easy reference whenever I was working on a website.

Just as I was about to print new cheat sheets to replace the torn and smudged copies that I had, I found handy and infinitely better references—two free Android apps.

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Edit your website, blog design live and without breaking it

CSSVista is a tool any blogger or website owner will find useful. The Windows-only application allows you to load any website in Firefox and Explorer and then edit its CSS code live, with the changes showing immediately in the two browser windows.

cssvista CSSVISTA. The application makes editing website designs easy. CSSVista loads the page in Explorer and Firefox and allows you to edit the designs live, with changes showing up immediately. Click on photo to view larger image.

I’m working on a new website on online journalism and independent publishing and CSSVista saved me a lot of time in finalizing my site design. I use Drupal for the site, building on the Zen theme, a very good theme to base your design on. I will launch the new website early next week with an explanation on my choice of content management system.

What I did before I found CSSVista was 1.) I’d edit the template (Zen uses PHPTemplate) and CSS files in Bluefish, 2.) Upload the files into the server, 3.) Cross my fingers; and 4.) Hit reload like crazy to see the changes.

This process is tedious and I was about to look for ways for Bluefish to be able to edit the files directly in my web server or research on how to make Firebug work in my Ubuntu Linux installation when I found a link to CSSVista in the popular page of del.icio.us.

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Sun, sand, sea, and SEO

I spent two days last week in the paradise island of Camotes in Cebu for a talk on optimizing news websites for search engines and a training on using WordPress for the staff of Sunnex, the department that runs the Sun.Star website.

I’m the online editor of Sun.Star Cebu, a member of Sun.Star Network Online, and my role on the website is limited to overseeing updating of content for our paper’s website. I am not involved in the technical side of the website operations albeit I send suggestions once in a while. It might not be evident to outsiders but Sun.Star has different departments with different work cultures.

Camotes Island IT IS a testament to Camotes’ beauty that no matter how tiring and energy-sapping it was in the days leading to the seminar, we left the island wanting to come back immediately. Click on photo to enlarge.

For a long time, I’ve had a nagging suspicion that Sun.Star suffers from a Google penalty over something that is a result of a server configuration. I warned the staff about this before but did not have the evidence to back it up. I’d see it to be the case once in while when doing searches but I’ve never before had the chance to raise it to Sunnex.

Last week, I was able to confirm this while doing a search, for my presentation, to show the effect of a particular ‘negative crawling/ranking attribute.’ I don’t think I’m at a liberty to tell what this is but the solution is dead simple and the website should see substantial improvements in rankings and earnings if it’s able to fix this.

Last year, I suggested (and pissed off people who didn’t want “outsiders” to raise suggestions) a particular ad optimization tweak and made a bold prediction—that the Sun.Star website’s earnings will double if they follow my suggestion. I actually encountered resistance on that very simple ad optimization and was verbally abused. The earnings more than doubled since then. For my troubles, I’m now richer—but only in karma points in some online journalism heaven. They didn’t even have to spend for a lousy certificate or consume saliva to thank me for it.

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Better photo presentation in your website in 2 easy steps

Photos are best presented with captions or cutlines. The caption adds context to photographs and provides readers such information as the identity of the people in it, where it was taken and any other data not obvious in the photograph.

I used to publish photos with captions by creating an HTML table to contain the image and caption and then floating this within the text by giving the table a left or right alignment. Not only is the process cumbersome but many experts in web design advice against using tables for anything but tabular data.

There is a simpler way to do it.

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