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Still Alive and Kicking

June 24th, 2012 . by Anup



I’ll be the first to admit … its been ages since I posted. You’ll be happy (or not) to know that I’m alive , well and kicking.  I’ve made quite a few discoveries on my travels and quests for ultimate programming knowledge. I’ve also come to realize that the topic is way too important and big for one site alone to cover.

This time around I’ve opted for the non impressive and much simpler method of typing words into WordPress way of doing things in this post but please do take a leap of faith and try the links. I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised. That being said a little bit onto what I think readers of ServingNiches would find useful –

http://www.codeacademy.com -> A completely interactive way to learn coding especially in Javascript. My advice would be to tackle this before dabbling in any of the javascript frameworks (client side or server side) you’re likely to come across these days.

http://www.codeschool.com  -> Similar to code Academy but more inclined towards Ruby, Rails, Html5, Node.js, Backbone,js etc. (Highly Recommended)

http://www.safaribooksonline.com -> Every programming book I’ve come across in my life is here , readable online. This is a mother of a resource. (Highly Recommended)

http://www.udacity.com -> Stanford’s FREE online Course site. Great for a variety of topics like Statistics(Quantitative Analysis, Big Data etc.) , however you want to call it. Although not as highly established as the other sources, it still is worth checking out.

I very highly suggest the ridiculous amount of content the above sites put at your disposal. Do check them out.

Smashing Newsletters You Must Know About

July 19th, 2011 . by Anup



Smashing Magazine recently put out  “Email Newsletters Worth Subscribing To” . The attention to detail and the graphics in those newsletters are simply superb. But that’s not why you’re reading about it here on serving niches. They also happen to be the leading publications in their particular industry. So enjoy and don’t forget to subscribe to them . They’re worth your time and really do deserve your attention.

I’m not going to mention all of them, just a few of my favourites. A link to the entire original list has been posted at the bottom of the post.

The List :

  Brain Pickings
Random Interesting stuff put in a very interesting and graphical way. Simply superb I say.“culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity quenchers  and separating the signal from the noise to bring you  things you didn’t know you were interested in until you  are.”
 Daily Good Morning
Quality motivational advice in your inbox every day of the  week. Seriously fun stuff to start off your day with. If you  have any intention of being happy, then this is a good  thing to have in your inbox.
   Newfangled
New fangled discusses web design , development,  business , culture and design.
   Springwise 
“Springwise brings you the most promising business ventures, ideas and concepts that are ready for regional or international adaptation, expansion, partnering, investment and cooperation. It promises to inspire you instantly by getting the world’s most promising new business ideas and young ventures right in front of you. Choose between the daily newsletter, which features three exciting business ideas, or the weekly one, which rounds up the best of the week’s finds.”— Smashing MagazineAmazing stuff .
  Userfocus
Usability like design is one of those things people simply assume they know. There are conferences , workshops , countless books and experts with usability design in their job title and yet people assume there is nothing to know. This site discusses what’s hot in the world of Design.
   H&FJ Typography
All about typography. Simply amazing.
   Hacker Newsletter
This is not about security or penetration testing . Its about startups , technology , programming etc. Great Stuff.
   Javascript Weekly
All about Javascript. Stay on top of what’s happening in the javascript world by subscribing to this newsletter.

 

   wpMail.me
News , Articles , Themes and tutorials on WordPress. WordPress is growing in popularity fast and this helps you stay on top.

 

   Yoast
Yoast keeps you in the loop on various topics like SEO , WordPress Plugins, Theme development , Site speed etc. Run by the author of WordPress SEO Plugin.

 

   Django Weekly
Keeps you in the loop about Django. Django is a python based framework . If you haven’t already do check out the django framework.
   IBM Developer Works
You get to choose to receive info on a number topics. A number of top notch freebies that are well designed , structured and have brilliant content.
  Ruby Weekly
Save yourself hours of research on the Ruby programming language by subscribing to this newsletter. This is a sister publication of Javascript Weekly.
  Sitepoint
Sitepoint offers a number of newsletters. It covers everything from PHP, javascript to marketing and profiting from your online presence.
  Email Inspiration
One image to inspire your designs and get your creative juices flowing everyday. Can’t be explained really. Must be experienced.

The orginal document can be found here. Have fun and be inspired with these.

Ruby On Rails : RoR

January 13th, 2011 . by Anup



You no doubt would have heard about Rails or RoR or Ruby On Rails.
They all refer to the same thing.If you’re wondering what that is or if
it is for you , you’ve come to the right place. Ruby on Rails is huge these
days . Read on to know what its about.

Ruby on Rails, often shortened to Rails or RoR, is an open source web application framework for the Ruby programming language. It is intended to be used with an Agile development methodology that is used by web developers for rapid development.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_on_Rails

What that means is that Ruby On Rails helps you write Web apps Fast.  These days interactive websites are also referred to as web apps. Web developers would have had to code the whole app by hand. A lot of it would be commonly used functions. Needless to say this used to take time , energy and brain power. Brain power , energy and time better spent elsewhere like testing and thinking out the important sensitive functions of the site. Frameworks like Ruby On Rails reduce the time and complexity of writing up something like a Web App.

“Ruby on Rails is a breakthrough in lowering the barriers of entry to programming.
Powerful web applications that formerly might have taken weeks or months
to develop can be produced in a matter of days.”
–Tim O’Reilly, Founder of O’Reilly Media
Taken from http://rubyonrails.org/

This is a list post. Instead of trying to fit everything about RoR in one post, I thought I’d share links to some seriously great resources on RoR.

Sites running on Ruby on Rails :

Shopify: E-commerce made

Penny Arcade: Comic

Sortfolio

http://twitter.com/

43things

Geni

Scribd

Inkling Markets

A List Apart

Free Resources :

http://tryruby.org/ –  Learn ruby from the convenience of your browser. This is meant to be a quick and dirty short   tutorial. Not like the others.

http://guides.rubyonrails.org/ – Guides on rails from the Official Rails Site.

http://articles.sitepoint.com/article/learn-ruby-on-railsLearn Ruby on Rails: the Ultimate Beginner’s Tutorial from Sitepoint . Check out the related articles column too.

http://netbeans.org/kb/docs/ruby/rails-quickstart.html – NetBeans Tutorial on using Rails

http://railstutorial.org/ – Ruby on Rails Tutorial

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/03/19/getting-started-with-ruby-on-rails/ – Smashing Magazine’s getting started with Ruby on Rails.

http://thinkvitamin.com/category/code/ruby-on-rails/ – Thinkvitamin’s tutorials on Rails.


Not So Free Resources :

http://www.lynda.com/home/ViewCourses.aspx?lpk0=835 – Lynda.com’s tutorials for RoR. They’re not free but worth it if you’re looking for short , easy to understand tutorials.

http://www.sitepoint.com/books/rails2/ – Sitepoint’s book “Simply Rails 2” . This book is perfect for the beginner. You need to know some HTML and CSS. But nothing else.

https://www.packtpub.com/building-dynamic-websites-with-ruby-on-rails/book – Packt Publishing’s building dynamic websites with ruby on rails.

Optimizing CSS and Javascript

January 11th, 2011 . by Anup



Once you’re done optimizing images , you should work on CSS and Javascript files. One way to do this is by aggregating all your CSS files into one big CSS file and all your JavaScript files into one big Javascript file.

This helps reduce http requests which in turn leads to faster loading times for your website.

Another tip would be to delete redundant CSS declarations. Remove CSS declarations that are not in use.

Move CSS on top and Javascript to the Bottom.

CSS declarations or file includes should be in between the section. This way browsers will know how to display the page before they even get to the HTML .

JavaScript files belong at the bottom , right before the </body> tag.  This prevents JavaScript code from rendering the page while things are still being requested.

Minify CSS and JavaScript

We’re going to use Minify and JSLint for this next part.

Copy all your JavaScript onto the clipboard onto the corresponding input field in Minify.

Then click “Hit Me”. and use the resulting JavaScript on your website.

Minify – http://www.reneschmidt.de/tools/minify/

JSLint – http://www.jslint.com

Make sure you check the JavaScript once again after it is minified to ensure it is still working before replacing existing JavaScript files.

Making CSS and JavaScript External

It is considered good practice to not use inline CSS and JavaScript. Always have them in external files. That way they’re easier to edit, reduce the size of the page, cache easier and reduce load times which leads to a better user experience.

That brings us to the end of the optimizing JavaScript and CSS post.

Until Next Time.

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Optimizing Images

January 7th, 2011 . by Anup



Building on the previous blog post on website optimization , this post is going to be on optimizing images on your site. If YSlow displayed that your images should not be scaled in HTML or make favicon small and cacheable, then this post is for you.

Correcting Dimensions in IMG tags

A lot of people do this. They use ,say an image that is 1200 x 784 pixels, they want displayed at 120×90. They then use html to scale it down. This practice works as in it displays fine but not on the optimization and site speed end. You see if you use Html to scale the images usually by using the img tag, transmitting the image will take a long time.

<img src=”something.png” alt=”something” width=”120″ height=”90″ />

There are a lot of tools out there which can help you do this. I personally use Paint.NET. Its free and easy to use. You can download it from http://www.getpaint.net/

You should resize any pictures or images you may add in the future using this program or your editor of choice. But ofcourse editing existing images on the website will take way too long and generally could be work.  We don’t need more work , we got plenty.

That brings us to our next step. Firefox’s YSlow comes with a tool called Smush.it Smush.it is our shortcut when it comes to image optimization. Reducing images, art, screenshots etc. would have been a lot of work otherwise.

How to use Smush.It

Open up Firefox .

Open up YSlow.

Under the YSlow tab, you should see four tabs on the top left. Click on Tools tab.

Click on All Smush.it™ . This should open a new window and you should see your images either being processed or optimized. You’re going to have to download them as .zip

Unzip them and upload the optimized images back to your server replacing the previous images. Preferably overwriting them. Repeat them for other pages of your site.

Info on using sprites to reduce emoticon load times for forums.

I’ve not looked into this much because it doesn’t apply to me . But an indepth explanation on how to use CSS Sprites to reduce load times can be viewed using the link below
http://sixrevisions.com/css/css-sprites-site-speed/

Content Delivery Networks .

This part can become an expensive affair. If you can afford this then by all means do so. It is worth the price and your website visitors will thank you for it. Now for the rest of us there are alternatives.

I use CloudFlare. It is a CDN that comes bundled FREE with a HostGator account. If your site is huge and the solutions that follow don’t help you out much , then I suggest getting a hostgator account to use cloudflare. Serving niches uses Cloud Flare. It is one of the many reasons I think anybody gets to see this Site. So it works wonderfully.

copyblogger.com uses http://www.netdna.com/ the Net DNA Content Delivery Network. So that could be another option you’d want to check out.

Googling “Content Delivery Network” should give you more options. I say this because I don’t too have much info what CDN’s the major websites use.  Bigger websites tend not to discuss their technology choices too much.

That brings us to the end of the Optimizing Images Blog Post. Next time we’ll look into working with CSS and Javascript on our pages to help optimize our website and entice visitors to stay longer.

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