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Iconsushi

Just a quick side note for everyone on this wonderful weekend. You may remember Iconsushi, a site I briefly talked about in Friday Focus two weeks ago. It’s my friend Prash’s (who helped create Devlounge with me) newest creation. It is now officially open for business, with two icon sets available for purchase. He’s hooking up Devlounge readers with a 40% discount by using the code DEVL07X when you order. Check them out!

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Design Focus

Friday Focus #51

We are now just one week out from the first anniversary of Friday Focus. It’s kind of weird to be sitting here thinking how quickly a year has really gone by…but I’ll get into all this reflection stuff next week. Enjoy the upcoming weekend everyone. Next weekend is November.

Sites of the Week

DreamsDrive is the personal portfolio of Roy Ng. Small and compact is the best way to describe this baby. It could definitely qualify as one of the smallest portfolios as ever seen. What do you think?

DreamsDrive

Second this week is FutureFabric. Cool name, even cooler work. FutureFabric is the portfolio of Guy Moorhouse, who also works at Airside.

Future Fabric

Wrapping up this week is the portfolio of Marius Roosendaal. This site makes the list because of its two themed designs. Based on what time of day it is, it will either show a day (light colored) or night (dark colored) version of the site. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Marius Roosendall

Hot Spot: Jobberbase

Check out this cool piece of script I came across this week. Jobberbase is an open source Job board application that will give you the ability to run your own job board. I know there are already plenty of paid job boards out there, so why would I be encouraging you to start your own? Well, Jobberbase seems like a great solution for anyone who may be looking to add a job board to their own site specifically for their visitors and a specific category. If anyone has used or starts using this, let me know how it is.

Jobberbase

Digg Weekly

Design99 Useful Resources for Graphic Designers
From the Digg description: I have used every one of these resources as a graphic designer and website developer and have hand picked all of these resources based on their usefulness and overall quality.

ProgrammingProtecting Your PHP/MySQL Applications from SQL Injection
From the Digg description: SQL injection is a serious concern for webmasters, as an experienced attacker can use this hacking technique to gain access to sensitive data and/or potentially cripple your database. Are you safe?

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Design

21 Album Art Covers for Inspiration

Design comes in many forms. Take album artwork, for example. Not only is it the packaging trying to sell the product, but many times, it is also being used to represent the style of the artist’s music on that album. Sometimes, album art can be so bad that people won’t purchase an actual physical copy of the album just because the packaging is horrible. Other times, people will already have every song on their computers, but yet they feel the need to go out and purchase a physical copy of the album and add it to their collection because it looks so good. I asked some members of Absolutepunk to list some of their favorite album artwork, and I’m now here to show off some true works of art to you.

21 Album Art Covers

The List

Below is a list of 21 (yes, odd number I know, but whatever) really cool album covers. Most were determined by the Absolutepunk members who participated in my thread (much thanks to them!), and some of the others were selected by myself. The list could have been a lot bigger (of course) but each of these covers has their own style, so I think it’s enough – at least for now.

Menomena – Friend & Foe
Album Art 1

Say Anything – In Defense of the Genre
Album Art 2

Jimmy Eat World – Futures
Album Art 3

Punk Goes Acoustic 2
Album Art 4

Mae – The Everglow
Album Art 5

Underoath – Define the Great Line
Album Art 6

Brand New – Deja Entendu
Album Art 7

Mae – Destination: Beautiful
Album Art 8 new

The Beatles – St. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club
Album Art 9

Dashboard Confessional – The Shade of Poison Trees
Album Art 10

O.A.R. – In Between Now and Then
Album Art 11

Sugarcult – Lights Out
Album Art 12

Finch – Say Hello to Sunshine
Album Art 13

Switchfoot – Nothing is Sound
Album Art 14

mewithoutYou – Brother, Sister
Album Art 15

Armor for Sleep – What To Do When You Are Dead
Album Art 16

Circa Survive – On Letting Go
Album Art 17

The Early November – The Room’s Too Cold
Album Art 18

Our Lady Peace – Spiritual Machines
Album Art 19

Sum 41 – Chuck
Album Art 20

Yellowcard – Paper Walls
Album Art 21

I Want More!

While putting together this quick list, I stumbled upon a really cool site dedicated to album artwork and nothing else. Check out Sleevage if you are looking for more album art inspiration. Or, if you are looking to see what covers absolutely suck, you may want to check out the Museum of bad album covers.

More Cover Art Information

There is also a great article on AOL Music about the supposed “fading out” of album artwork because of the increased amounts of music that is downloaded. The article, titled “Picture Worth a Thousand Songs?“, shows that designers are still fairing just fine, with physical copies of the album still playing a major role in the music, and sometimes even the success of the album.

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Design Focus

Friday Focus #50

Time to celebrate the big 5-0! I guess that’s why today’s focus is rather late compared to the last few weeks (we were out celebrating all night). But anyways, here we go with edition fifty.

Sites of the Week

Kicking things off this wonderful 50th edition of the focus is Sikker, the Portfolio of Nicolás Calabrese. It is nice to see a portfolio displayed in a different way, and the dimming / highlighting of work really works well here on this simple, dark portfolio.

Sikker

Next up is IconSushi. IconSushi is new icon marketplace started by my buddy Prash (co-conspirator of Devlounge and owner of Mintpages), which he has been working on over the past few months. I had a chance a while back to check out the first icons from the first set, and they are looking very nice. The site is now up, but the service has not yet fully launched, but it will soon. Nothing like a little pre-launch hype.

Iconsushi

And wrapping things up this week is Newsweek. The site was recently redesigned and features a very nice clean feeling to it. A bold reader header gives way to the simplistic, organized fashion of the rest of the layout – but it is nice.

Newsweek

Digg Weekly

DesignFlash-Based Galleries for Your Images
More list madness from our buddies at Smashing Magazine (I have another list in store sometime this weekend that they have yet to do). A large list of flash-based galleries you can use for your portfolios or simply to show off your images.

ProgrammingPreventing Spam without captcha
From Digg Description: “I hate CAPTCHAs because it discourages lots of users(specially in impulsive mood) if they make a single mistake on first try. Here is how I tackle SPAM attacks on the comment form of my blog without using a CAPTCHA. You can use this technique for any kind of form on your website.”

Still on the market..

The hunt for a suitable new owner continues. It has a been a rough couple of weeks, with myself struggling to find the time to do anything but school work. I’m sure you are all tired of hearing that, and believe me, I’m tired of saying it. But, as the owner of the site, I feel it is important to have a personal connection with you [the readers], and I’d rather share news like this with you then keep you in the dark. Today I made a post on Mashable about the site situation. So if you see this, please don’t get all too worried.

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Strategy

A Preview of TNX: A New Text Link Service

TNX

I was recently asked to review TNX, a new text link buying and selling service, similar to Textlinkads or other text link marketplaces. There have recently been a lot of reviews about this service, so rather than try to cover everything, I’m going to focus on the one side of TNX that would beneficial to people like me who own sites and are trying to monetize – the website publisher section.

Selling Ads on Your Site

Upon first visit to the TNX site (which I like to pronounce “Tee-N-Ex” although the actual pronunciation is “Thanks”), you are presented with two options: one for website publishers, and one for advertisers. Each link will take you to a FAQ about the service from the specific angle you might be interested in using the service for. Let’s take a look at a few of the Website Publisher FAQ’s:

Note: These are straight from the FAQ.

  • Q:How do I benefit from adding a TNX system code on my website?
    A: When system code is placed on your website all the links that are purchased by advertisers will be automatically displayed on all pages that have TNX system code included. Whenever link on your website is sold to one of our advertisers, you get paid. The more pages you have on your site, the more links you can sell. Price of each link sold to our advertisers is calculated upon you page’s search engine rating. Links on all pages of your website are sold automatically, all you need is to place the TNX system code on all pages you want to sell links from.
  • Q: What is TNX commission?
    A: TNX charges its members just 12.5% both, advertiser and webmaster to cover all expenses including web hosting, moderators salary and the most important – advertising all over the Internet so more people join.
  • Q: Can I control link ads on my website?
    A: Yes! Once ad space on your website is sold, you can see list of all links and URLs in your control panel. You will have an option to block ads, delete them or ban the entire website which advertising you don’t like. We guarantee you will never see advertising of pills, drugs or any kind of ads that do not follow advertising policy. Every day we deny over 10,000 ads that do not comply with our policy.

On the left side of the FAQ page, I happened to stumble upon a Profit Calculator. I figured, what the hell, let’s see what’s possible. Upon entering in your url, the tool will calculate the amount of pages on your site and the link popularity. Once that is done, you have to adjust the PR for those pages. I set all of ours at PR6 (although we recently slipped to PR5). The calculator estimated I could make $8971.88 a month if I sold 2 ads per page.

TNX Calculator

Enough messing around – it’s time to register.

After registering, either as a website publisher or advertiser, you are presented with the TNX Dashboard. From here, you can generate the code to add to your site, add a new site, sell your TNX Points (used to buy links), create a new campaign, and view and manage your current campaigns (among other things).

TNX - Dashboard

TNX - Quick At A Glance

You may have noticed how I said you can sell your points. Well, what exactly do points have to do with all this? Points are how advertisers purchase links on your site. Points currently cost $1.20 for 1,000 points.

To get your site setup, you first need to ad the appropriate ad code to all your pages which you want to have ads on. The ads will be placed their dynamically, so once you ad the code to the pages you want, you won’t have to go back and manually edit them every time you have a new advertiser. Once you have added the code to your pages, you have to add your site to the system. It will take about 1-3 days to get approved.

TNX - Adding A Site

Other ways to make money

Maybe you are not interested in having text links on your site. That’s alright, because TNX also has an affiliate system which will allow you to place banner ads or your own links to the TNX service, and earn “TNX Points”. Now, you might be thinking, what do I want points for, I want cash! You can either turn around and use those points to purchase some link ads for yourself, or you can sell the points, either back to TNX themselves, or to another user.

Concerns with the advertising policy?

Many people get nervous with text links, especially a dynamic service where the code controls what is and isn’t shown on your page. No one wants to see their pages littered with links to purchase Viagra pills or anything like that. TNX does have a good advertising policy, which states that they will not approve links that “have nothing to do with the chosen subject or contradict it. Also, we will not approve campaigns that advertise pharmaceutical products and gambling.” Plus, because you can manage what ads get approved or not for your website, you have even more control over what kind of ads will be shown on your valuable pages.

Overall, if you are looking for another link marketplace alternative, give TNX a try. Have you ever used them? Let me know in the comments below.

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Design Focus

Friday Focus #49

Happy Friday everyone. Edition 49, just three weeks away from a year. Wow, are you as surprised as I am?

Sites of the Week

Week 49, and the first site this week is BillQ. BillQ is another billing / money management web application. Both the site and the application are very clean, but there are many of these around these days, and I’d actually have to have some money in order to actually try them out.

MyBillQ

9rules, the social network the content network, also finally released “Ali 2″. As the network I once belong to, I figured I’d share the news. And just for the hell of it, I thought I’d also love to point out how much more content is showcased in this new version. 4 “Most Popular Articles” (apparently based on views over the past 48 hours) and 5 “Most Popular Topics” (from 9rules notes).

9Rules Ali 2

And rounding out this weeks three is the Sundance Film Festival. A great festival to check out if you live in the area or just love independent movies. It’s hitting Park City, Utah (US) from January 17-27, 2008.

Sundance

Digg Weekly

Design9 Artists Who Will Blow Your Mind
[From Digg Description] Remember, the following jaw-dropping pictures are of paintings or sculptures. Even if you think photo realistic art is pointless (which I’m sure some people do) there’s no denying the skill and patience involved in these creations.

ProgrammingNothing amazing again this week.

New Side Project

Just a little heads up. While I am still busy trying to find a buyer for Devlounge, I am also in the process of getting together things for a new small project of mine, one that won’t require any content adding of my own so I can just “set it and forget it”. I don’t want to give anything away (plus I don’t know exactly what I’m going to call it yet), but I will tell you that is it going to help a lot of you if you’ve ever been in my situation with trying to sell a site and having discovered that there aren’t really any places where you can say “my site is for sale” besides forums and Sitepoint’s Marketplace. This project is also doubling as my Senior Project for high school, so I have to do a lot of analyzing of marketing, prices, etc. We’ll see how things turn out.

Articles sitting on the burner, waiting for me to light the match

I have some articles I’ve been waiting to write, but it seems like as soon as I get home from school every day, before I know it it is time for me to go back to sleep and start the daily patterns of life all over again. I am going to work hard to get them out over the next few days. Please excuse all the excuses I have had over and over for the past few weeks for the lack of new content – I just need to get over my busyness and get some things published. Soon. Hopefully.

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Friday Focus #48

Edition 48. Yes, that’s f o r t y e i g h t.

Sites of the Week

Kicking things off is TEN (Teaching Excellence Network). Pretty nice for a network dedicated to teachers. Obviously their web department doesn’t need much work.

TEN - Teaching Excellence Network

Next we have a really minty design. This is the portfolio of Laco Janic, a graphic designer hailing from Slovakia. There is plenty of work in this portfolio, so don’t be surprised if it takes you a while to scroll through.

Janic Portfolio

Built by Buffalo, our final site of the week, has done some really slick looking work. Their newest site, Rememble, looks to be really cool. I hope on reviewing it sometime this weekend (in between SAT’s and a bunch of other things).

Built by Buffalo

Digg Weekly

DesignSuper Slick Dusky Lighting Effect in Photoshop
This is a really cool effect, and a very long and detailed tutorial. By the comments on the site itself, lots of people are enjoying, so hopefully some of you will find it useful as well.

ProgrammingMicrosoft to Release .NET Framework Source Code in v3.5
From the Digg description: Microsoft will begin by offering the source code (with source file comments included) for the .NET Base Class Libraries ASP.NET, Windows Forms, ADO.NET, XML, and WPF. The source code will be released under the Microsoft Reference License (MS-RL).

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Sitepoint’s Ruby Book for Free

Just thought I’d make a quick note that Sitepoint has released their Ruby on Rails book titled Build Your Own Ruby on Rails Web Applications up for free for the next 60 days. Some of you may remember that we reviewed the sample we were provided of this book, and it looked pretty promising. You can get it here.

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Interviews

Keegan Jones

It’s one noob after another. Today we check in with Keegan Jones, designer at Firewheel Design and one of the men behind Iconbuffet and Blinksale. Not to mention he also promotes how big of a noob he is on occasion.

Devlounge: Hello Keegan, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Mind introducing yourself for anyone who may not know you?

Keegan Jones

Keegan Jones: Hello internets, I’m Keegan Jones. I am a designer for a small company in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas called Firewheel Design.

DL: How did you get started in design? Was it a life long hobby, or just something you kind of picked up on? Did you go through any specific schooling for it?

KJ: Back in 1999, my family got a 400MHZ iMac DV (graphite colored, baby!) for Christmas. At the time, I was in high school and skateboarded a lot. I started editing skate videos in iMovie, and wanted a place to post them online.

One day I was at the library and checked out a book titled “HTML for Dummies”. I installed a version of Adobe Golive (which I wouldn’t recommend), and started aimlessly figuring out how to put together a website. My dad, who is also a designer, brought home a copy of Adobe Photoshop 5.5. Long story short, I wasted a lot of time in Golive and Photoshop and ended up building a website called “Ollie Jones“.

To answer your question, I haven’t gone through any specific schooling for web/design stuff. Most everything I learned from reading books and looking at good design. When I got my first job at Neubix, Ryan Sims was a big influence and helped me become a better designer by critiquing my work.

DL: Firewheel Design, your design studio, is responsible for some truly kick ass products, which I’m sure most if not all of our readership is familiar with in both Blinksale and IconBuffet. What is it like running two successful projects like that our used by thousands upon thousands of people every day. Is it intimidating at all trying to get things “perfect”?

KJ: We have a lot of fun with Blinksale and IconBuffet. Our main goal is building things that we use ourselves, and hoping others will too. Thankfully, it has worked out so far. We don’t worry too much about getting things perfect. It’s easier to evolve by listening what users want.

Blinksale and Iconbuffet

DL: For IconBuffet, what made you decide to allow users to “trade” free icons [through Free Delivery] with each other? In terms of marketing, has it worked successfully in getting more people to register and / or purchase premium icons?

KJ: For IconBuffet, we wanted to build a community around icons. Trading icons with others is the basis for our social network. It definitely has helped bring more people to the site. I’m actually not sure if the increase in registered users has translated into more purchasers of premium icons.

DL: According to the Firewheel splash at the moment, the doors have been locked while you work on a new project. Is there any way we can pry out any little bit of information about what this new project may involve?

KJ: Mums the word on our new stuff. If it peaks your interest, go to Firewheel Design and enter your email addy. We will drop you an email when we launch (which should happen before the end of the year).

Firewheel Hard at Work with their next project

DL: Last summer when we talked to Ryan Sims, The Big Noob was basically turned off. Since that, it’s made a powerful return, most notably with some sharp blue Noob shirts that even you have sported. What brought the Noob back out from the shelf?

KJ: The Noob was turned off because a lot was happening in our lives. Brad Smith and Ryan Sims had just moved to Boston, and I to Dallas. During that transition, we didn’t have time to keep fresh content coming. But life has settled down now, and we are back. Noob power!

DL: Alright, last question. When not designing, what are your other main hobbies?

KJ: I enjoying playing Xbox 360 (currently a lot of Madden ’08), pretending to be a photographer, making silly videos, hanging out with friends, and trying new restaurants.

Thanks for your time!