Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Selling 12″ Powerbook G4 keyboard for parts [SOLD!] Dec 8 2007

Powerbook keyboard parts

We just replaced Kristin’s laptop’s keyboard since the up, down, right shift and enter keys don’t work anymore.

I listed the keyboard on eBay, so go there and bid on it if you’re interested in it for the parts.

Thanks!

Check out the eBay Listing: Apple 12″ PowerBook G4 Keyboard Keys (Full Set) NR!

New car insurance site is now up Oct 18 2007

I’ve had this domain name for a while and finally built something on it. The idea is to figure out good ways to save money on car insurance. We have USAA for ours, which makes it nice because it is a pretty good rate. Some people need extra help, though, to find the best prices. Hopefully this site will assist them in their search.

Check it out: Car Insurance Connection

It is built using WordPress, and will hopefully pay for itself through the Google Adsense ads.

New site is up for Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini – Award-winning author and illustrator Jun 5 2007

I’m happy to announce that Kristin’s new site is now finally live. It’s all converted to a full WordPress site now.

New website is finally live for Kristin

Check it out: Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini – Award-winning author and illustrator

Adding new feeds to RSS2.com is working again Jan 27 2007

I’ve fixed it so that adding feeds to RSS2.com should work again now. There was a small flaw in the logic for adding the feeds that I hadn’t caught. All fixed now.

So far there have been almost 130,000 total items retrieved from almost 700 feeds since it the site launched in December.

Check it out and add your feed if you want: RSS2.com – Really Simple News For You

The secret to getting your website featured on the frontpage of RSS2.com Jan 22 2007

New RSS2.com homepage

If you’ve ever tried to get your website featured on the front page of a site like digg, reddit, or Slashdot you might have felt frustration when you didn’t get the right number of votes to make it.

There is a site called RSS2.com that will automatically put your website’s content directly on its homepage.

How to get onto the homepage

Here are the 3 easy steps for you to take to get your website featured on the homepage of RSS2.com:

  1. Go to the site and make sure that your RSS feed is in the database. The easiest way to do this is to paste in the URL for your RSS feed into the “Read a Feed” input box at the bottom of the page.
  2. Verify that your existing site RSS feed was imported correctly. You should be forwarded to the page that shows you your feed’s page on RSS2.com if it was imported successfully. (For example, the page for this site is http://rss2.com/feeds/Gabriel)
  3. Publish a new item on your website. RSS feeds are updated every 5 minutes so you should only have to wait for a minute or two. Refresh your feed page until you see your new item appear. Now check the homepage. Your new item should be at the top of the list, and will remain until 9 newer items are published by other people in their RSS feeds.

Bonus tip #1 – how to get into the top 30 feeds list

If you want to make it into the top 30 feed list (featured at the top of every page), all you have to do is tell people about your RSS2.com page that features your feed and increase your view count. The easiest way to do this is to use the RSS feed stats widget at the bottom of your feed page (copy and paste the HTML into your blog sidebar or another HTML page) — note that your site must allow <script> tags to enable the live updates of your RSS2.com feed stats information. You can also promote yourself to the top 30 by linking to your feed page in your blog roll and by sending the link to your friends.

Bonus tip #2 – Pretty site icon

To have your site icon show up nicely in the all feeds page and in the explore lists make sure you have a favicon installed for your website. RSS2.com will look for that and use it for your site icon. If it doesn’t find one, it will use a generic one that doesn’t set your site apart from any of the other ones. See the Wikipedia entry on favicons for how to get one installed for your site if you don’t already have one.

So, 3 easy steps to get your website content promoted on the RSS2.com website.

Try it for yourself: Submit your site to RSS2.com

(P.S. It usually accepts most Atom feeds as well as RSS feeds.)

Update on recent enhancements added to RSS2.com Jan 16 2007

I’ve made a bunch of improvements to RSS2.com lately:

All feeds in RSS2.com

Feeds
You can now view all feeds in the system by going to the http://rss2.com/feeds/ page.

Paging has arrived - RSS2.com
Paging
You can now page through older items than just the latest 10 items. This is a pretty nice enhancement. This way you can get caught up.

Now featuring 30 favorites

Top 30
The top 30 most popular feeds are now displayed instead of just the top 25.

OPML Export - RSS2.com

OPML Export
If you want to grab a copy of the OPML file that contains all of the subscribed feeds you can get it on the feeds page.

Latest stats:

RSS2.com stats

Also on the technical backend, I improved the speed of a couple of the SQL queries and also implemented 301 redirects for any requests made to www.rss2.com (meaning that if a user types in www.rss2.com they’ll be redirected to rss2.com without the www). Paging nerdly McNerdlington…

Visit RSS2.com and experience “Really Simple News For You”

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.

RSS2.com new design is live! Dec 27 2006

RSS2.com screenshot

RSS2.com new design is live! – Individual feed page, originally uploaded by gserafini.

I’m pleased to announce the release of a major facelift for RSS2.com – the site that makes reading a feed easier than ever. The new design places emphasis on easy reading of content – using Georgia as the default reading font, em sizing so that fonts can be increased or decreased properly in all browsers, the ability to vote an entry up or down and thereby influence the RSS feed score for a given RSS feed.

The feed featured in this screenshot is by Waxy.org.

Here is the RSS2.com link for Waxy’s link RSS feed: http://rss2.com/feeds/Waxy.org-Links

You can create a user account in seconds and begin adding and reading your favorite feeds. Coming up next is OPML support for both importing and exporting lists of RSS feeds.

Check it out: RSS2.com

New release of Collabofit Online Fitness – Your Online Fitness Club Dec 6 2006

We’re pleased to announce a new release of Collabofit – Version 1.1.

There are a number of new features and lots of bug fixes. Check it out.

Collabofit Online Fitness – Your Online Fitness Club



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