Archive for January, 2007

Searchball – Web-based Google PageRank checker toolbar for Safari Jan 15 2007

It’s still an early prototype, but it the basic functionality is there – a toolbar that you can use with Safari to see the Google PageRank of the page you’re looking at.

Searchball – Safari Page Rank Checker

Alexa page rank checking will be added soon.

To use, just type in the domain you want to visit into the search box, then the website will open up in the bottom frame and the Google Page Rank for that site will show up in the top frame.

Jury Duty is boring… so far Jan 10 2007



Jury Duty, originally uploaded by gserafini.

Waiting for anything to happen. So far I’ve been here for 2 hours, read the friendly and informative “A Handbook for… JURORS” booklet that explains everything.

Boring. Thank goodness for internet / treo / laptop / the rest of life.

Jury Duty Jury Duty

OOOH, they’re calling numbers… I’m lucky #367. They just called about 40 numbers and no dice for my number. Doh. Oh well.

HOLY CRAP this is beautiful. Apple released their new iPhone today. Jan 9 2007

Apple released iPhone today

iPhone combines three products — a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, maps, and searching — into one small and lightweight handheld device. iPhone also introduces an entirely new user interface based on a large multi-touch display and pioneering new software, letting you control everything with just your fingers. So it ushers in an era of software power and sophistication never before seen in a mobile device, completely redefining what you can do on a mobile phone.

I still love my Treo 700p, but this is one temptingly beautiful phone / ipod / web browser / pocket computer. I can’t wait to see one in person.

Check out all the details: Apple – iPhone

The Devil’s Mercedes – 666 License Plate Jan 8 2007

Saw this after church today. I always thought that probably the Devil drives a Mercedes… 🙂

New website for First Church of Christ, Scientist – Orinda, California is now up! Jan 8 2007

Screenshot of new Orinda Christian Science church website

This is a site that we’ve been working on for a while for the Christian Science church in Orinda, California.

Check it out and feel free to visit them sometime if you’re ever in the area.

First Church of Christ, Scientist – Orinda, California – Welcome to our healing church

It’s powered by WordPress, of course.

Kristin’s opening tonight at Northwest Coffee of her ‘Mozart on Canvas’ paintings was a great success! Jan 6 2007

Kristin working on her latest and biggest Mozart painting

Tonight we gathered to celebrate Kristin’s latest work — a series of gorgeous paintings of Mozart and his times on canvas. The exhibition opened and was well attended by many of our church friends.

Pictures from Kristin's opening of Mozart paintings at Northwest Coffee Shop - Jan 5, 2007 Pictures from Kristin's opening of Mozart paintings at Northwest Coffee Shop - Jan 5, 2007 Pictures from Kristin's opening of Mozart paintings at Northwest Coffee Shop - Jan 5, 2007 Pictures from Kristin's opening of Mozart paintings at Northwest Coffee Shop - Jan 5, 2007 Pictures from Kristin's opening of Mozart paintings at Northwest Coffee Shop - Jan 5, 2007

Kristin’s paintings look wonderful in the space at Northwest Coffee (a fabulous coffee shop by the way) and will be displayed through the end of February. So drop by if you are in town and have a moment.

Northwest Coffee
8401 Maryland Ave
St. Louis, MO 63105
Google Map Directions

See the rest of the pictures from the opening here:
Kristin’s ‘Mozart on Canvas’ Paintings – a photoset on Flickr (slideshow)

Find out more about Kristin’s Letters to Mozart project.

Working at Vibe on Photoshop screenshot prototypes for the next version of VibeTV for a couple of days… Jan 5 2007

Going from pen and paper scribbles to finished Photoshop paper prototype

I’ve been working at Vibe Solutions Group again for a couple of days on Photoshop screenshot comps for some enhancements to their cool new video aggregator product called VibeTV.

You can see an example of the current version of VibeTV here: http://vibejournal.com/gabriel/tv/

The process that we’ve been going through is something like this:

  1. New features are conceptually developed (this was mostly done before I came in earlier this week.) This probably includes whiteboard drawings, vigorous discussions and figuring out business requirements.
  2. Pen and paper sketches of how the new features might work are done to provide an overall direction. This shows proposed locations of buttons, tabs, general layout. It is very loose and free-form. Often times a template page is scribbled out and then is photocopied many times to allow rapid drawing of design variations without having to re-draw the same elements over and over again.
  3. Photoshop work begins, fleshing out the concepts developed in the whiteboard and paper drawing stages. This is a critical step in the paper prototyping process that allows final design decisions to be made and where the ‘rubber meets the road’ — concepts that looked good on paper get realized in pixels and reality begins to happen.
  4. Screenshots are printed out to a color printer and are shown and iterations are done, moving and tweaking elements until the overall design feels right and fits together.
  5. Once the screenshots are finished and approved, final graphics can be prepared and delivered, ready for the developers to implement into code.
  6. The final screenshots are also used in the Product Requirements Document (PRD) to show everyone what the final application is actually supposed to look like. This can serve as an invaluable reference tool for everyone during the application development process because everyone is able to look at the finished picture of what they are trying to build.
  7. Photoshop source files are provided to allow further refinements to be made as necessary
  8. Eventually after the developers have had time to build the application functionality, the new application is released! Celebration time.

I’ll post a link to the updated application once they’ve finished coding the new features and there’s something new to look at.

You can hire me to do this for you too

If you need Photoshop screenshots showing what a web application could look like that can be used for final production-ready graphics, drop me a line. I charge reasonable rates and enjoy the process of collaboration and helping people achieve their design goals.

I can work with you wherever you are with your idea, whether you have just a blue-sky idea or a back of the napkin sketch or detailed use-flow diagrams or even an existing product that you want to freshen up or redesign for better usability.

If you would be interested in my services, don’t hesitate to email me at: gserafini [at] gmail.com

More updates and improvements have been made to RSS2.com Jan 2 2007

I’ve recently made some more nice refinements to RSS2.com:

Recent Updates

  • Removed the voting links. There are TONS of places where you can register your approval or disapproval. A new site only has about 5 seconds to make a good impression. I had to decide whether voting on each entry as being good or bad was more or less important than giving my users (readers) what I really want to give them — the very best, low-resource requiring feed reading process. RSS2.com isn’t particularly optimized for people who obsessively catalogue every single thing they ever see on the net. For those people, there is digg, reddit.com, del.icio.us and a gobzillion other sites out there to help you keep track of things. RSS2.com is about giving you the ideal reading experience for reading what everyone else has blogged about and has published into their own RSS feed. Asking people to vote for individual entries seemed like too much work, and even I didn’t really use the feature that much. So, bye bye voting on individual entries for now. I’ll probably implement some click-tracking so that I can show people which entries were the most interesting or are the most interesting right now.
  • RSS feeds are now auto-discoverable. On every feed page, the source RSS feed is included in the <head> as a <link rel="..." /> tag. This means that if someone sees a feed that they want to subscribe to in another feed reader, they can do so easily (particularly using a browser like Safari or Firefox that makes auto-subscription to a discovered RSS feed easy). Also, the source feed URL is always shown in the Feed Info section of the feed page so you can copy/paste the link as well if you like.
  • Front page is a modified ‘river’ of news. The home page now features the one latest entry from the most recently updated feeds with a link to read the rest of the feed. This keeps a site like, for example, digg that publishes many new homepage stories every hour from dominating the whole homepage with entries as would happen in a river of news implementation that just published all of the latest items from all feeds at once. I know this because that is how I coded it the first time, and one site often dominated the entire homepage. Now you can get a sampling of a variety of different feeds that are fresh and current right now right on the homepage.
  • Mobile Palm Treo Edition Originally I designed the main HTML template for RSS2.com to be friendly to both mobile devices and to regular desktop web browsers. This led to tradeoffs for both browsers. In the next redesign I took the step of optimizing the page design for desktop web browsers, since they currently account for the majority of the page views and traffic to the site. I have a Treo 700p, however, and wasn’t really happy with the mobile web browsing experience. So, I added a check for Palm browsers and improved the reading experience if you are using a Treo to read RSS2.com by stripping out the stylesheet (for now) and reducing the number of graphics, keeping the focus on reading feeds (where it should be).
  • More favorites. There are now 25 feed favorites listed at the top of the page instead of only 15. It is enough that you can quickly check many different popular sites without getting overwhelmed by every feed in the system.
  • Changed tagline I changed the tagline (again) to be: “Read everyone’s news.” This better reflects the intent of the site — to become a place to get lost in content without distractions. Like a good book or an old-fashioned newspaper, where the story is more important than the advertisements. In today’s mental environment, I think providing a service that cuts down distractions has some value. I already like reading some sites better this way than going directly to them (in this way RSS2.com is just another RSS feed aggregator) but unlike most other aggregators there is no guilt factor when you haven’t read every item in a feed. It is easy, simple, fun, delightful. (See rightsumi for more of the overall design principles I’m trying to express in this project.)

Future Plans

Lots more features planned for this budding web application, including in no particular order:

  • OPML support. This is a no-brainer, and will make RSS2.com play nicely with other RSS feed reading applications. You will be able to both import and export all of your favorite feeds in OPML format.
  • Ability to read older items. This will allow you to browse through more than just the 10 latest entries in each feed. I’ll probably also add a feature where you can read a feed from the oldest entry through to the most current instead of the current standard default of reverse-chronological order
  • Ability to create named ‘rivers’ of feeds This will go hand-in-hand with OPML support, but will allow users to create their own version of the main homepage and publish that to share with others.
  • Better support for other mobile browsers I’ve found some good resources for identifying mobile and phone browsers to enable delivering a more optimized experience for them. This would include building a WAP version of RSS2.com to deliver the ideal RSS feed reading experience for all devices. This is a little bit in the future right now. If I get requests for this it will probably move up in the priority list…

So far I’m really happy with how quickly RSS2.com seems to be gaining exposure with more and more new users every day. It is growing and that is exciting and motivating to keep on improving it.

If you have any suggestions for future features or ways to improve the user experience even more, please leave a comment or send me an email: gserafini [at] gmail.com.

Cheers.

Stupid superhero test… :) Jan 1 2007

Your results:
You are Green Lantern

Green Lantern
85%
Superman
75%
Catwoman
65%
Spider-Man
65%
Wonder Woman
56%
Iron Man
55%
The Flash
55%
Supergirl
51%
Robin
50%
Batman
40%
Hulk
35%
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.


Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Found it by reading the TechCrunch feed on RSS2.com.

Happy new year everybody. Jan 1 2007

Happy new year!



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