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June 22 2013


Solutions for Creative Brand Marketing

Advertise here with BSA

There are only so many various methods for getting your company out there in the world. To be recognized among a global audience is spectacular, if you can manage to keep people interested. Running your own website is a challenge and branding is the key ticket for natural marketing. People who are able to associate with your website are more willing to share it around and jump on board.

In this brief article I would like to share a few different resources for creative branding. All of these ideas are more geared towards marketing, which can take a lot of time and practice to get it right. But when you start landing new interested people it is definitely worth the time. I hope that these resources may provide a good starting point for webmasters looking into brand marketing.

24 Hour Print

In the latest craze of online printing services we can find 24 Hour Print. This is a beautiful product with a truly honest turnaround time – one day for your product orders. It really is fantastic! I have been impressed with not just the design, but also the quality of their products. After going through some of the examples it is clear that you may select from a wide range of print marketing materials.

24 hour print printing services online internet shipping

With enough money you can have same-day business cards shipped right to your office. This is a brilliant strategy because you are paying for the expedited services while also managing your own overhead costs. The design work should be done ahead of time so that way you have branding which is already recognizable. If you want to get into deeper ideas why not purchase design brochures or bumper stickers?

Online Portfolio

Does your company have any products or designs to show off? It may be worthwhile to setup a small online portfolio on websites like Carbonmade. This is a brilliant open community for designers to setup their own portfolio of creative works. But it can also be used by companies and other businesses, too.

By generating an online portfolio you will have time to practice this branding. You can see what works and what doesn’t. Plus you’ll have the fun time of rooting around for older projects worth posting on the site. And then when people search your company name in Google, you can expect quite a few search results.

carbonmade portfolio website online theme projects internet

Targeted Advertising

The final big point you might want to try is webpage advertising. This means you would pay an agency or network a fixed price to run your ads on a website or group of sites. Many Internet marketers will swear by Google AdWords which is a fairly common solution. But it also requires a bit of planning to get your ads placed on the right websites.

Each payment is done by click, and you invest a certain amount of money into your AdWords account for this service. Then people are driven to your website and may check out other stuff online. It is a great marketing plan because you can directly implement the graphics/branding of your website into the advertisement.

Final Thoughts

The Internet is a large place with a whole lot of people. It can be tough to draw in crowds interested in your website. But just keep in mind how various marketing endeavors often end up running themselves with enough traffic. If you truly believe in your product then keep at it! Others will notice your determination and it will provide a lot of benefit to the community.

December 02 2011


16 Google Services And Apps For Your WordPress Blog

Google offers seemingly endless services and apps. Even though it began as (and primarily is) a search engine, today Google has a solution for every internet user’s needs. And when it comes to meeting needs, Google doesn’t forget the needs of web designers and developers. In this article, we will be taking at a look at some of the major Google services and how they can be useful for a WordPress user.

1. Google Custom Search

Google Custom Search creates a custom search engine for your website. You can tweak it to your heart’s content – it can search your entire website, parts of the website or even multiple websites specified by you! You can also connect your Adsense account to the ads displayed with the search results (free version). The paid version lets you remove ads completely (starting at $100 per year).

Google Custom Search

Google Custom Search

2. Google Web Fonts

Google Web Fonts is perhaps the best friend for web designers/developers looking to use non-standard fonts in their projects. This fonts’ directory lets you easily implement the CSS @font-face technique.

Google Web Fonts

Google Web Fonts

Google Web Fonts are totally free and can be implemented within minutes. You can either use a plugin or an @import command at the top of the CSS file (and then simply use the font’s name in your stylesheet). For instance:

@import url(‘’);

#body { font: normal normal normal 14px/20px ‘Droid Sans’, Arial, sans-serif; }

3. Google Adsense/AdWords

If you wish to have advertisements on your website, Google Adsense is the easiest way to start. There are many tutorials that let you get the most of Adsense, as well as numerous plugins that help you implement Adsense in WordPress.

Google AdWords

Google AdWords

With AdWords, you can use the Keyword Search to see the trends in search for specific keywords.

4. URL Shortener

WordPress has its own version of URL shortener in the form of – and this feature has now been very well integrated in Jetpack. However, Google claims its URL shortener is one of a kind! Further more, Google has also released its own URL Shortener API. So if you don’t already use it, it is time you started doing so. To get started, here is an excellent tutorial by Konstantin Kovshenin to help you get started with its integration in WordPress. If you do not wish to code yourself, there are many plugins out there to help you.

Google URL Shortener

Google URL Shortener

5. Feedburner

Who doesn’t know Feedburner? It is a great tool that lets you track your website’s progress, number of subscribers, manage RSS and email subscriptions, apart from setting up and tweaking your blog’s feeds.

Google Feedburner

Google Feedburner

6. Google Analytics

Everyone uses Analytics – well, almost! Analytics is a wonderful tool when it comes to tracking the progress of your websites, clicks, advertisements, referrers and other related information. You can target specific sections and see what portions of your website are more popular than the rest. For WordPress users, Definitive WordPress Analytics by Joost de Valk is perhaps the most popular plugin for Analytics. If you are not familiar with Analytics, you should consider tutorials by KISSmetrics.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

7. Google Website Optimizer

Google Website Optimizer lets you perform experiments to see what works best for your website and how you can boost its performance. In other words, it can be useful in ‘split-testing’ your website.

It is, however, fairly advanced in its operation and if you are looking for a simpler alternative, you should consider the MaxA/B WordPress plugin.

8. Google Libraries API

Google Libraries API contains code frameworks which can be used on many platforms, including WordPress. While the truth behind this claim is anyone’s guess, it is often said that the Google Libraries’ framework is faster than the one that comes packaged with WordPress itself. The easiest way to integrate Google Libraries’ framework is using a plugin, but just in case you are adventurous, you can code it manually along the following lines (I’d personally suggest you use this method in custom extensions/plugins preferably):



wp_register_script(‘jquery’, ‘’);



Code Credit: Frederick Townes

Google Libraries API currently supports Chrome Frame, Dojo, Ext Core, jQuery, jQuery UI, MooTools, Prototype,, SWFObject, Yahoo! User Interface Library (YUI), and WebFont Loader. You can check its developer guide here.

9. Google Chrome Developer Tools

Google Chrome now accounts for nearly 10% of total browser usage. It comes with its own set of Developer Tools, which is comparable to Firefox’s Firebug. Owing to the browser’s ever-increasing popularity, the extensions offered in Chrome DT are also on the rise.

10. Google Project Hosting

Google Project Hosting lets you maintain a project online. It is similar to Github in its mode of operation. You can host projects up to 2 GB in size for free, and it also offers you many features such as subversion, project wikis and issue tracking. From a WordPress user’s perspective, many heavy-weight projects such as Thematic are listed.

Google Project Hosting

Google Project Hosting

11. Google Checkout

Google Checkout is a service similar to Paypal. The best thing about Checkout is its excellent integration with many Google services, such as Adsense and AdWords. On the downside, however, it is not yet available in many countries.

Nevertheless, integrating Google Checkout as an alternative payment solution along side Paypal doesn’t seem to be a bad decision. For WP users, there are many plugins that can help you integrate Google Checkout in your website, such as Simple Google Checkout and LBAK Google Checkout.

12. Google Docs and Chart Tools

Google Docs is a web-based Office suite that lets you edit, create and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and forms. You can even live-edit documents with multiple users.

Google Docs

Google Docs

Google Docs can be embedded into WordPress too, if you so desire.

Along similar lines, Google Chart Tools let you create interactive charts for your blog.

13. Google Maps

The benefits of Google Maps are not unknown to anyone. You can integrate Google Maps on your blog using multiple plugins, of which the most popular one is MapPress, that lets you integrate Maps on your WP site in an easy manner.

Google Maps

Google Maps

14. YouTube

YouTube is another extremely popular Google service that lets users upload and share videos. From your blog’s perspective, you can easily upload the bulky videos on YouTube and save a considerable amount of bandwidth. With the advent of HTML5, integrating a YouTube video in WordPress is a matter of minutes using embeds – simply enter the URL of the video in a fresh line, and you’re good to go!

However, if you wish to have total control over the embedded video, you may consider using plugins such as TubePress or Viper’s Video Quicktags.

15. Google Reader

Google Reader is a free web-based RSS feed tool. If you wish to blog about stuff from your RSS reading pane, you can add a ‘Send to’ button for your WordPress blog (by default, such mechanism exists for Facebook, Twitter and few other sites, but a WP-powered blog).

Google Reader

Google Reader

You might be tempted to use WordPress’s ‘Press This’ function in Reader too, but sadly, that is not possible because Press This is javascript and Reader will need a full-fledged URL.

In such a case, we will need to post directly to press-this.php

To do so, navigate to ‘Send To’ tab under Settings in Google Reader, and click ‘Create a custom link’. In the URL field, enter the URL to your website, along the following lines:${url}&t=${title}&s=${source}&v=2

Make sure you substitute ‘sample-website’ in the above snippet with the URL of your site.

16. Google Summer of Code

While this is not an extension or an app, Summer of Code offers a wonderful opportunity for young talents to, well, do awesome stuff! WordPress has been a regular participant since 2007, and you can check about its progress on the codex.

To Sum it Up…

As we have seen, Google offers many services (don’t forget GMail) that can be employed to boost our WordPress blogs. Which of these do you use/do not use? Do let me know in the comments!

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November 25 2011


10 Useful Services To Sell Digital Goods Online

When I first heard of these digital selling services I was confused and asked – why can’t you just use PayPal? After doing further research I found out that there is a fair amount of risks that can be hazardous to your online business and everything’s just not that simple. Converting visitors into paying customers can be a serious challenge. The most cautious still consider internet sales a fraud. Inappropriate descriptions, ugly interfaces, a long checkout process – these are just few factors that prevent people from buying digital goods.

This is where digitally selling services comes in handy. So what are the advantages? Selling products with them is made as easy and pleasant as possible. All you have to do is upload your product, get the Buy Now button and watch the money roll in. These services let you focus on the product while they do the selling. The products are uploaded on safe and secure servers so you don’t have to worry about delivery and possible downtime. Most of these services provide more than one payment method so your visitors can shop in their local currency and use their preferred payment method. Want to expand your business even further? Create your own affiliate service with ease and watch the sales increase. And finally, you can track and monitor all your purchases, have a clear overview of products and all your activity in one place.

So you believe your business is ready to hit the global market? Are you ready to attract new buyers and keep them coming back? Continue reading and check out these 10 useful services for selling digital goods online.

1. Sellfy


Sellfy describes their service as the simplest way to sell digital products on your website. The process is quite simple – you create a product (design templates, ebooks, images, videos  etc), upload it to Sellfy and make money using generated ‘Buy now’ button.

Main features:

  • The products are uploaded to a secure cloud drive and after the purchase is made, delivered to your clients.
  • The buttons are cool looking and simply implementable into your website.
  • You can offer discounts for clients who recommend your product via Twitter or Facebook.
  • You will be able to see not only the sale stats but also discount campaign impact as shares and clicks.


  • 5% per transaction.

In the screenshot below you can see the user’s control panel. Here you can drag and drop files to create the product.


Once the files are uploaded you have to specify the name of the product, the price, your Paypal email address and information about discounts if you want to offer any.


When finished with that you’ll receive the HTML code of your button. You can later access it on your products dashboard.


2. PayLoadz


PayLoadz offers a secure digital goods ecommerce service for anyone to sell downloadable goods online. They enable tens of thousands of people to sell digital goods such as videos, video games, ebooks, software and templates to a large audience of buyers from their online store. PayLoadz can service the needs of beginners as well as enterprise level partners.

Main features:

  • Sell anywhere online – PayLoadz system works everywhere – your site, Facebook, Twitter, their store, blogs, etc. You are provided with simple purchase links and copy and paste HTML code to insert purchase buttons or shopping cart enabled buttons that work on all devices and platforms.
  • Secure file storage and automated delivery – file security is a high priority. Files are stored on the ultra-secure Amazon S3 platform.
  • Several payment systems – customer choice is what drives sales conversions. They need to be able to pay in a variety of methods. Credit cards, eChecks, ACH transfers, and existing account balances are some of the ways your customers can pay for your products.
  • Turn key affiliate system – every PayLoadz account comes with a turn-key affiliate marketing system which handles affiliate management, affiliate product promotion, and affiliate payouts.


  • $14.95/month + 5% per transaction. Payloadz also offers a free 7 day trial so you can try the platform out. What’s more, the transaction fees are only applied to actual sales, so you pay only when you get paid yourself.

Below you can see the product setup screenshot from a demo account. You can enter things like file format, category, keywords and description.


They also provide you with detailed statistics about the purchases.


3. E-junkie


E-junkie provides shopping cart and buy now buttons to let you sell downloads and tangible goods on your website, eBay, MySpace, Google Base, CraigsList and other websites. For merchants selling downloads, there is an automatic securing of the digital delivery of files and codes. If you are selling tangible goods, the shipping costs and inventory management is automatically calculated.

Main features:

  • Store your files securely on their server, or store them remotely on your own server
  • If you are selling single items, just copy-paste the Buy now buttons in your site.
  • E-junkie lets you add options like size, color etc. to your products
  • Calculate shipping & packaging automatically
  • Manage your inventory automatically
  • Create & manage affiliate program for all your products


  • Depends on the number of products you’re selling. Starting from $5/month.
  • E-junkie offers 30 day money back guarantee so if you are dissatisfied for any reason, E-junkie will refund your last month’s payment upon request.
  • Unlike other services E-junkie only require payment of a flat monthly subscription fee, there is no bandwidth cost and no transaction fees. Also You only need to start a paid subscription after your first week of free trial if you decide so.
  • Finally non-profit organizations are eligible for waive of monthly fees.

Below you can see the Add Product page and user admin panel.



4. Plimus


The Plimus landing page is decorated by a huge title which says – “sell more. Market, sell and buy digital goods and services around the world online and on mobile.” Indeed, Plimus is one of the largest and most serious services around offering great tools for sellers as well as affiliates. With the Plimus e-business platform, you have all the tools you need to take charge of your business and sell more.

Main features:

  • Plimus offers you the most extensive set of payment methods available in the industry.
  • Track and monitor your business in real-time with over 35+ standard reports and an unlimited number of custom report options
  • Protect your products with our extensive licensing, piracy and copy protection options
  • Plimus provides all the essential affiliate capabilities needed to help you build your own affiliates network at no extra cost.
  • Your shoppers belong to you, and you can market to them at any time using the robust newsletter feature


  • Depends on transaction amount range. Commission rates start at 75 cents.
  • Payouts are generally made to Sellers and Affiliates on the 15th of each month for the previous month’s sales.You can receive your payout via Paypal, e-check and Wire Transfer.
  • With Plimus you can protect your reputation by building reserves to meet refund and chargeback claims

Plimus has a very instructive getting started page where you can find useful guides for using the service together with some video tutorials.

5. Fetch


Fetch is a digital delivery application that makes selling downloadable products simple. It seamlessly integrates with popular shopping carts and payment systems like Shopify, Goodsie, PayPal, and many others. Fetch is hosted software so there’s nothing to install and works on any platform.

Main features:

  • Hosted so there’s nothing to download or install.
  • Uncluttered, lightweight interface for efficient user interaction.
  • To ensure your data is never lost, Fetch is backed up daily and stored at multiple geographic locations.
  • Associate a single file with several products.
  • Allow previous buyers to download updated files.
  • Revenue and download statistics are shown in real-time.
  • Files stored on and delivered from Amazon S3.
  • Use Fetch at no cost on the free plan.


  • All premium Fetch plans have no restriction on the number of products, files, orders, users, or any other feature. Sell as much as you’d like without worry of costly commissions or order limitations.
  • Pricing depends on the storage size. Starting from $5/month. There’s also a free plan available yet the storage is limited to 1MB.

All premium accounts have unrestricted access to everything Fetch has to offer. Unlimited products, orders, downloads, and so much more. Fetch puts you in control of everything.


6. Pulley


Pulley is a simple way to sell your digital art, music, videos, photography, fonts, eBooks, software, and other downloadable products. With Pulley you can easily add your digital products and customize your account settings, sell from any website and the money goes directly to your PayPal account, secure download links are emailed automatically to your customer and view real-time statistics as well as complete order and download history.

Main features:

  • Stay focused on creating and selling your digital goods, and let Pulley handle the secure hosting, delivery, and tracking.
  • Embed “Buy Now” buttons into any website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, email, or anywhere else you can imagine.
  • Keep tabs on who bought what, when it was delivered, and whether or not they’ve downloaded it yet.
  • Speak to your customers in your own voice. Customize the emails people receive when they place an order with you.


  • Free 14 day trial. Sign up for any plan and use Pulley free and unrestricted for 14 days.
  • Unlike other services, Pulley doesn’t charge any commission or per transaction fees.
  • Pricing depends on the storage size. Starting from $6/month per 100MB.

The dashboard gives you a crystal clear overview of sales, top products, and activity in your Pulley account.


See all of your order activity and customer details presented clearly and precisely.


7. DPD


DPD makes it quick and easy to sell downloads. Sell downloads, automatically deliver your products, and run your own affiliate program with DPD. Get advanced selling features and options with no programming required.

Main features:

  • DPD allows you to customize your cart, delivery pages, and even emails with both simple WYSIWYG and advanced template editors.
  • DPD allows you to sell your downloads on an unlimited number of websites, each with their own customizations and options.
  • DPD protects your products from theft with a host of advanced security features so only the person who paid for your products gets access.
  • In addition to download only products, DPD supports downloads with generated keycodes, keycode only delivery, and simple tangible goods.


  • 30 day free trial. If you choose not to use DPD, do nothing- your account will automatically close and you won’t be charged a thing.
  • DPD does not charge any per-transaction, per-storefront, or per-product fees above and beyond the flat rate pricing above.
  • Pricing depends on the storage size and amount of products. Starting from $5/month per 500MB and 10 products.

8. dbox


This tool is your best buddy when it comes to selling digital goods through PayPal. Automate product delivery and keep track of customers and orders after their purchase on PayPal.

Main features:

  • Customers instantly receive your product upon completing their payment. No more manual labor required and happy customers guaranteed.
  • Your files are highly secure and redundantly stored on the amazing Amazon S3 network.
  • Seamless integration with PayPal, the global leader in online payments with over 78 millions accounts in 190 markets and 19 currencies around the world.
  • iPhone app of the Dbox webservice, which will surely make live easier for you. Monitor your products and track sales per day, week or month.


  • Free (1 product)
  • Basic: € 9.95/month (5 products)
  • Advanced: € 19.95/month (20 products)
  • Pro: € 39.95/month (50+ products)
  • All accounts apply for 30 day free trial.

After signing-up you need to add a new product and upload your digital file.


The product view presents you with the integration code.


In the settings section you can customize the email and adjust PayPal settings.


The Dashboard will show you the latest trends with new orders and statistics from sales.

9. Cerizmo


Cerizmo is yet another selling platform which was created to provide a simple and reliable way to sell digital goods online. After realizing the limitations of most digital product e-commerce systems, they created their own solution to address these problems.

Main features:

  • Sell products from your web site, blog, or anywhere. Copy and paste buttons on your site and start selling.
  • Downloads sent automatically to your customers. Make money while you sleep
  • Get paid instantly after a sale. The money will be deposited directly into your PayPal account.
  • The downloads are hosted on Cerizmo’s secure servers. No software to install, no servers to manage.


  • Depends on the amount of products and storage. Starting from $8.99/month per 15 products.

10. BitBuffet


With BitBuffet, you can sell single pay-per-download products through simple links or use PayPal’s built in shopping cart and receive the money via PayPal.

Main features:

  • Redirect your customers directly to the highly recognized PayPal payment page without any extra steps which can potentially lose customers.
  • If PayPal supports it, you can sell in that denomination. Don’t fuss around with other services that don’t offer multiple currency support.
  • With the unique “pay what you want” model, you can offer your product in return for a donation of any amount. A great technique for grabbing attention.


  • 10 products: $6/month
  • 30 products: $10/month
  • 80 products: $17/month
  • 240 products: $31/month
  • Unlike other services, BitBuffet doesn’t withhold your money until you hit the payout limit. Get your money instantly and securely through PayPal.

September 01 2011


Using Dropbox Like a Pro: Tips and Tricks

Dropbox is a free service that allows you to store all of your documents, photos, and videos online. It is an excellent and free tool for helping you securely store files that are crucial to your business or your life. It allows you to store just about any type of file you can imagine, and Dropbox gives you a generous amount of storage space to keep your files.

Before you start using Dropbox, there are two things you need to do:

First, you want to sign up for an account. It’s absolutely free. (If you decide later that you want to upgrade your account, you may upgrade and get even more storage. Just check the website for further details.)

Now click the link that says Log In. At the bottom of this box you will find a link that says “Create Account.” Click this link and follow the instructions.


Next, you’ll want to download the Dropbox utility and create a “Dropbox” on your computer. This is really simple, and you may use Dropbox on a PC, Mac, or even a mobile phone. Download the proper application for your technology and then install it. (You’ll need your username and password for this to log into your account.)

Once you get set up, then open your Dropbox folder and start dragging files into the folder to synchronize with your online account and store your files. Every time you drop a file into this folder it will sync with your files and folders online as long as you have your Dropbox turned on. (The easiest way to make sure this happens is to set your Dropbox application to load when you start-up your computer.)

Getting Started

After you’ve set up your account and added your files, now it’s time to log into your online account and understand all the features available to you.

Your first step here is to click on the Getting Started tab and follow the instructions. This will allow you to make sure you have completed all the steps in setting up your account. You are also offered an opportunity to make referrals and earn more storage space.


On this tab you’ll find your files. Check to make sure you have loaded all of your files, as well as loading them in the right folders. Unless you want others to have access your files, load your files outside of the public folder but inside of the Dropbox folder. Since you can customize this area as you like, create and name your folders anything you want and then load your files appropriately.


Track all your account activity in the Events tab. With the Events tab, you can use it to help you if you accidentally delete files or you lose track of them. Use this tab to help you track down the files and decide where your files went. Event is also an excellent way to decide if any unauthorized activity has taken place in your account. You won’t use this tab much, if at all, but you’ll be glad you have it if you misplace anything.


One of my favorite tools on Dropbox is the Sharing tab. The sharing tab makes it super easy to share files and folders with your friends. In fact, there are actually two different ways to do this.

First, you can generate a link to the folder you want to share. To do this, move the folder you want to share to the Public Folder within your Dropbox. Once you have moved the folder, go to the Public Folder and right-click on the file or folder you want to share. This allows you to generate a direct link to the file.

The second way to share files is to email the link to those you want to share them with. Just click “Share a Folder.” Choose the folder you want to share. Follow the prompts on the menu. When you are ready to send, enter the email addresses of those you want to share the files with. Those receiving your email will get a link to the folder and can download the contents.


One of the things I like best about Dropbox, besides its flexibility, is that it offers an extensive help file. Get all your questions answered here. You will also find more applications for your mobile phones. This includes the Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, and Android. (If you are using Dropbox on your computer, you will find applications for Windows, Mac, and Linux.)

Different Ways to Use Dropbox

1. Store your business files and folders. (I store my manuscripts for my books.) With this option, consider storing your files according to purpose or type.

For example, if you have a lot of marketing software you need to back up, then create a folder for it. You may also consider function. I store all the files for website updates I want to complete inside of a folder by that name. I also have a folder for tasks I complete. By creating these folders, it saves me a lot of time locating projects I’m working on.

2. Store videos or any other files you sell. You can even send your buyers directly to the folder where you have stored their purchased files.

Heres’ how you do it: Create an autoresponder and download page. Add the subscription box to your download page so your customers can subscribe. Write an email for your autoresponder and make it the first email in your autoresponder series. Include the download link inside of this email.

3. Keep backups of your backups. If you delete a file, it’s not a problem. Dropbox maintains a copy of all deleted files for up to one month. All you have to do is log into your account and “undelete” the appropriate file. Your files will sync back into your folder on your computer.

4. Take everything with you. It doesn’t matter whether you are using these files on your computer or on your mobile phone, you’ll always have access to them even when you are offline. As I mentioned are apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry. Download the free app and install it on your phone. This is especially useful if you shoot photos with your camera in your phone.

One consideration: if you are using your mobile phone to get access to your files, you can’t upload files from your phone to your Dropbox. (You can only download.) In this situation, I would recommend you sync your phone and computer. Dropbox allows multiple devices so you will always have access to your files no matter where you are.

Whether you are taking a trip, or you simply want to share photos with friends and families, you can use Dropbox. For example, you are planning a trip out the country. You have an itinerary and other documents related to your trip. You also want a place to store any photos you make so you can share them with family and friends.

By installing Dropbox on all of your devices, this problem is easily solved. Sync your devices every time you make an update, and you’ll have everything you need when you need it and where you need it.

December 15 2010


Tools and services I couldn’t live without in 2010

Every Builder needs a hammer or something equivalent to make their everyday work and / or life easier and more enjoyable. In the past year, I’ve signed up for both free and paid tools and services that have made my life easier as an independent Graphic Designer, while also getting rid of a few from last year that weren’t quite doing it for me. I often get the weekly email of preferred apps / services / tools that would help make ‘x’ job easier, so after reading a friends, Whitney Hess, blog post on her Top 10 Tools of 2010, I thought many of you might enjoy the same. I’ve also stacked the in order from ‘I would cry if I woke up without it’ to ‘This is quite handy and use if weekly.’


I’m sure there is no surprise here, but honestly if you are not using Dropbox or haven’t upgraded yet to more storage you are surely missing out. This past year I’ve upgraded to the 100GB plan, which means I’ve moved all of my work files, personal documents, Little Snapper ‘inspiration’ library, iTunes library, and iPhoto library and is now accessible whether I’m on my laptop, iMac, or someone else’s computer. I’ve even found myself uploading a large file that takes a few minutes, leave the house, open the iPhone’s Dropbox app and email a file off to a client – can’t beat that! This is certainly the ‘I’d cry if I no longer had Dropbox in my life’ tool.


I’ve really come to love Cloupapp over the past year. With a simple keyboard shortcut you can quickly share links of a webpage you are viewing, upload files, or take screenshots of images that generates its own short URL that copies automatically to your clipboard.

I’ve come to create my own uses for it as well. For one, I love the Photoshop Raindrop integration. It allows me to keyboard shortcut the frontmost Photoshop canvas I am working on and uploads an image, which I typically will send over to clients for approval. The reason I love this Raindrop is due to the fact that I can tell when the client has viewed it (has URL click tracking) and it helps the client visualize what the website comp will most closely look like in the browser. Fast and simple – what’s not to love about it? Oh yes, there is also the Cloudette iPhone app that syncs with Cloudapp where you can generate short Cloudapp URLS, view hits and visit your past uploads.


I’ve been using Wufoo for around 3 years now and functions great for my online Project Worksheets. Simple to set up; customizable if need be; saves me plenty of time when clients get initially in contact and helps weed out the serious clients from the non. I am currently using the $14.95 per month “Ad Hoc” plan (since I need more fields)and its been well worth it.


I’ve just become a 1Password user this year and honestly can say I feel a bit guilty for jumping on the bandwagon so late. This tool not only saves me time, but frustration as well – not to mention great security with the long passwords it generates. For those unfamiliar, it stores all your passwords and allows you to access them with, you guessed it, one password.

What I most love is the keyboard shortcut for when you arrive to a site that requires your login, in my case, I hit Shift + Command + ‘down arrow’ and it automatically fills in the fields and logs me in. The iPhone / iPad app is also mighty handy for those on the go moments.

Little Snapper

I’ve mentioned Little Snapper a few times in past blog posts and it deserves yet another mention. Meant for capturing, archiving and organizing inspiration, I’ve used it t build a database of great UI elements, websites, color palettes, and more with notes of what I like or could use some improving.

Alfred app

For those familiar with Spotlight on the Mac, Alfred app is similar but on steroids – meaning its faster, prettier, smarter, and more useful. If you haven’t caught the trend that I love keyboard shortcuts from the above mentioned tools, yet again you assign a handy keyboard shortcut to bring up the slick Alfred search box, which can then control your iTunes, search files and folders, browse the web or your bookmarks and more.


Simplenote is a great solution to… well Simple note taking. While I mostly use it as an iPhone app, it also has a great web interface that automatically syncs up. I use it for everyday note taking to an ongoing “remember to pack for vacation” list.


This year has been wonderful with webfonts and I couldn’t imagine it without Typekit. Paying $49.99 a year for beautiful, high-quality fonts at your finger tips seems like a steal to me. I’ve used it for everything for client sites to my personal sites, including FF Dagny Web for this here blog.

What I particularly love about Typekit is the innovation and improvements that get pushed out almost weekly. The folks there really have their act together and are generally excited about pushing web fonts further and faster.


If you haven’t discovered the joys of Instapaper you are truly missing out. From the website to the iPhone and iPad apps, Instapaper is a must have for me, especially catching all the great links on Twitter and having no time to read them at the given moment. The reading experience is enjoyable, has nice features such as tilt to scroll on the iPhone and iPad and the ability to easily share what you’ve just read.

Reeder for Mac (and iPhone / iPad)

First let me start off by saying that I’ve been using Google Reader for years and every time the next “big desktop RSS reader” comes out, I give it a go for a day or two and then I’m right back to the web interface. However, since Reeder for Mac has been released (in Beta), I’ve been using it solid for about 2 weeks now and have no plans of turning back.

The folks behind Reeder really have a knack for simplicity, design, details (just look at how you can customize the unread count on the app box or display it as a normal badge), and forward-thinking. I also love the support of gestures while reading, browsing to the next article, etc., in addition to features like Readability integration for improved web reading experiences and ‘sharing’ services built in for a number of great sites. Don’t forget the beautiful iPhone and iPad versions of the app as well.

Little ipsum

Well maybe I could live without this one, but Little Ipsum definitely is a handy menubar tool that I’ve used often this past year. I’m all about being in the right place at the right time and Little Ipsum hanging out in my menubar is a good fit.

Worth mentioning:

CopyPaste Character

I keep this bookmarked and accessible from my browser’s toolbar. I often can’t remember all the extra shortcuts so CopyPasteCharacter gets used around once a week at the least. Click and copied and ready to be pasted.


BackTweets allows you to subscribe to incoming Tweets that link to your site, blog or whatever you want. Running this blog and most of my work online it’s nice to see all the good and bad things being said. This way I am able to respond or react accordingly or just monitor what’s being said.

What are some tools, services or websites you couldn’t live without this past year?

October 20 2010


Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

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In the mid-80s the desktop publishing revolution began with the introduction of the Mac Plus, Aldus PageMaker and the Apple LaserWriter printer. It took quite a few years for these tools to make an impact on the design and publishing world, but once they did, there was no looking back.

In 2010 we see a similar revolution starting to take shape with web fonts. Even though @font-face was introduced in the CSS2 spec in 1998, it wasn’t until this past year that all in-use web browsers added support for it. This year we’re seeing a wave of web font services being marketed, and this could have a profound impact on web typography.

Web font services, like Typekit and now the Google Font API, have captured a lot of attention. But in the past 3 months there’s been an explosion of new services; services like Fonts Live, Fontdeck, Webtype and others with conjugated names involving “Font” or “Type”.

While all of these services are unique, they each provide a tool for web designers and developers to legally display professional fonts on their website. The guide below compares 10 of these services, breaking down the pros and cons of each. We hope this comparison will help you make a more informed decision on which service to use when you venture into the ever-growing, sometimes confusing, world of web fonts.

[By the way, did you know we have a free Email Newsletter? Subscribe now and get fresh short tips and tricks in your inbox!]


Typekit, Inc. is a popular web font service from Small Batch Inc and founder Jeffrey Veen. Typekit was one of the first services on the scene and is currently one of the most widely adopted services on the market.

Fonts-11 in Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

Font Selection
4000 (about half of these are through the Typekit library, and the other half via licensing arrangements with foundries who sell their own web licences)

Advantages Over Other Services
Strong platform integrations. Typekit is a scaled service, with well over 80 million unique users each month.

Extremely easy setup for designers and developers, allowing integration within minutes. Integration with Google Font API and blogging platforms including WordPress, Posterous and Typepad. The full font library is available via most plans for a single low price, allowing customers to try different fonts on one site as well as use different fonts on multiple projects. Now offering Adobe fonts. Enterprise customers can self-host using their own CDN. The service allows you to host custom fonts. The simple free plan doesn’t expire.

Implementation requires JavaScript (although on the Typekit blog they list some reasons that JavaScript-based implementation has its advantages). Fonts are not available for desktop use.

Free trial account includes the use of 2 fonts on 1 website. Paid plans start at $24.99 per year (2 sites, 5 fonts per site). The more popular plans allow unlimited font usage on unlimited domains.

Fee Schedule
Annual subscription

Our Experience with Typekit

Setting up TypeKit is fairly straightforward. You just set the domains you want to use (the free trial site includes one domain and up to two fonts) and then build your Kit by adding fonts. A little JavaScript inserted into the header pulls in all the necessary CSS information. You can also reference the fonts in your own CSS, and use wild cards when adding to your list of allowed domains (e.g. * will work on

As is the case with any web font service, there is a brief delay before the proper font is shown, but it’s barely noticeable. Since Typekit’s fonts are loaded via JavaScript, Typekit offers tools to control the loading process, so delays are not as noticeable to the user.


Webtype is a recent creation of The Font Bureau, Ascender, DevBridge, and font experts Roger Black and Petr Van Blokland. Webtype is all about quality and boasts “fonts for the highest quality online typography, including typefaces which were designed from scratch specifically for onscreen reading”.

Fonts-12 in Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

Font Selection

Advantage Over Other Services
Font quality

Quick and easy setup. Flexible pricing. Ability to host custom fonts as well as self-host. JavaScript-free integration. Desktop license available.

Some fonts are expensive compared to other web font services.

Free 30-day trial on all fonts. Fonts start at $10 per year per site.

Fee Schedule
Annual subscription

Our Experience with Webtype

Webtype was easy to set up and use from the signup process on. Just browse and purchase fonts (a 30-day free trial license is available for testing fonts) and then create projects. Select the font you want to use for each project and you’ll be given a link code and CSS selector for each font. Then you copy and paste them into your HTML and CSS files and you’re ready to go.

Make sure you click “Save” from the CSS resource page that gives you the code, or it won’t be live. Resource size is also given on this page, which can be helpful if you’re trying to estimate bandwidth usage. The load time for the font was possibly a bit slower than some of the other services here, despite the small file size of the font tested.


Fontdeck is a relatively new service by Clearleft and OmniTI. It was conceived in March 2009 by Jon Tan and Richard Rutter as a way to bring quality fonts to a wide audience while levelling the playing field for type foundries. It went into private beta in January 2010 and was open to the public in June of 2010.

Fonts-13 in Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

Font Selection
600, with plans for this number to be doubled before Christmas.

Advantage Over Other Services
Only pay for the fonts you want to use. No bandwidth limit. Unlimited trial periods for all fonts (with a 20 IP address cap).

Easy to set up. Affordable options available. Automatically include similar style fonts in the font stack. Pure CSS with no JavaScript required.

No self-hosting option available. Fonts not available for desktop use.

Some free fonts, but most start at $2.50 per year per site.

Fee Schedule
Annual subscription (which applies only to fonts on live web sites; as mentioned, all fonts have unlimited trial periods).

Our Experience with Fontdeck

Fontdeck was incredibly easy to set up. While it does require manual insertion of the CSS selectors into the stylesheet for your site (which is by design, to give designers as much control as possible), it provides the code for this immediately without the added step of setting up a stylesheet (the link is ready as soon as you select to add the font). Prior to purchasing the license, the first 20 visitors to your site can see the font.

I did find that I had to add the subdirectory to the hostname in order to get it working. But all the options and controls are located on a single page for each font, making it easy to update settings. Fonts are displayed quickly, but as with the other services, there is a split of a second when you can see the default font.

One added bonus from Fontdeck is that they include similar style fonts in the font stack, in case the user’s browser doesn’t support @font-face, and to help with the perceived change in text. Many of the other services just use the default font or a generic serif/sans-serif.

Fonts Live

Fonts Live is a new web font service from Ascender Corporation — the company behind the “Droid” fonts for Google’s Android mobile platform, the “Segoe” family of fonts for Microsoft Windows, and the Ascender Fonts desktop font web store. Fonts Live is similar to Webtype (both were developed by DevBridge), however, Fonts Live serves fonts exclusively from Ascender and its partners.

Fonts-14 in Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

Font Selection

Advantage Over Other Services
Font quality

Flexible pricing. Desktop license available. Option to self-host web fonts. Integration with Google Font API. JavaScript-free integration. Now offering Hallmark fonts.

Some fonts are expensive compared to other web font services. Back-end was among the least user-friendly of the services featured here.

Free 30-day trial on all fonts. Fonts start at $10 per year per site.

Fee Schedule
Annual subscription

Our Experience with Fonts Live

Setting up Fonts Live is a bit more labor intensive than setting up some others featured here. Setting up the service wasn’t without its bugs, either. First of all, read the documentation before you start, or you’re likely to get confused. With the first font I tried (Corsiva Italic), the site was unable to set up the resource and kept returning errors. It also created blank files for each of these failures, meaning I had to go in and manually delete them. Not sure if this was just an exception for that particular font or if it’s a more widespread problem. There was no mention of it in the site’s documentation.

I had better luck with the second font I tried (Romany). This time it created the resource without any issues. From there, you have to insert the stylesheet (“resource” in Fonts Live terms) link in your header and then insert the font family, style, and weight for whichever elements you want styled. The plus side here is that you don’t run into issues with your original stylesheet interfering.

Once it was up and running, however, it was noticeably faster serving the fonts than TypeKit, though this is likely due to smaller file sizes in the fonts used.


TypeFront is a hosting-only service which lets you upload a font you already own, as long as it has a web-friendly license (make sure you read the license agreement carefully!). Once you add the domain(s) you want to use, TypeFront provides you with the code to add to your website.

Fonts-15 in Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

Font Selection: N/A

Advantage Over Other Services
Ideal for do-it-yourself designers and developers who understand the ins and outs of web typography.

Inexpensive. No noticeable delay when displaying web fonts.

You must supply your own fonts. Requires a solid understanding of your font license agreement.

Free plan offers 1 font and 500 requests per day. Paid plans start at $5 per month (Australian dollars) and include 10 hosted fonts and 5000 requests per day. 30-day trial on all paid plans.

Fee Schedule
Monthly subscription

Our Experience with TypeFront

Once you’ve signed up for an account, uploading fonts is simple. Just make sure the fonts you’re using have a web-friendly license. From this point you have to enable the format you’d like to use for the font (included are EOT, OpenType, SVG, TrueType, and WOFF — at least for the font I used). Once one of those formats is enabled, you have to add domains.

After you’ve enabled your formats and set up the domains you want to use, you have to copy the @font-face code into your CSS files and add the font to your font stacks. The big advantage TypeFront has over the other services listed here is that there is no noticeable delay before the correct font is displayed.


Fontspring offers downloadable fonts for self-hosting. Unlike a hosted service, Fontspring provides downloadable font files and sample code to host web fonts on your own.

Fonts-16 in Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

Font Selection
1,937 families

Advantage Over Other Services
No recurring subscription fee

Large font selection. No recurring fees or bandwidth restrictions. Desktop license included.

Font quality varies. Self-hosting only, which requires additional setup and technical skills.

Free or up to several hundred dollars depending on the font family

Fee Schedule
One-time fee

Our Experience with Fontspring

Because these are self-hosted files, it’s a bit harder to get everything set up properly than it is with the other services here. When you purchase and download a font that includes an @font-face license, the download package includes all the files you’ll need for web implementation, including the various font file formats like EOT and WOFF.

I found it easier to just copy and paste the stylesheet information included into the existing site’s stylesheet. Once that’s done, you need to make sure your fonts are loaded into the same folder as your stylesheet (or change the URL information in the CSS). Add the font to your font stack and you’re ready to go.

The speed at which the fonts loaded was roughly the same as for most of the other services here. The advantage to using this service is that you own a permanent license to the fonts, without any recurring annual fees and with no restrictions on bandwidth or traffic. Web Fonts

Web fonts from is a new venture from Monotype Imaging, the largest font distributor on the web. currently has, by far, the largest web font selection with more than 7,500 fonts.

Fonts-17 in Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

Font Selection

Advantage Over Other Services
Large Font selection

Currently the largest selection of fonts on the web. Exclusive home to popular fonts like Helvetica, Frutiger and Univers. Support for more than 40 languages. Use on unlimited domains. Download up to 50 desktop fonts per month with the Professional plan. JavaScript-free integration available to Standard and Professional subscribers.

Relatively expensive on a price-per-font basis when using a limited number of web fonts. The font selection interface is slower than average.

Various tiers ranging from free up to $500/month. With a free tier, you have the ability to use any of 2000 fonts on an unlimited number of websites (up to 25,000 page views). Standard and Pro tiers will give you access to any of over 7,000 fonts. All pricing is dependent upon page views.

Fee Schedule
30 days

Our Experience with Web Fonts

The service looks pretty straightforward. You set up a project with as many domains as you want and then select the fonts you want to use for that project. Selecting fonts is a bit slow (it takes 30 seconds or more for a font to actually be added to a project), but not enough to be prohibitive. There’s a huge selection of fonts and powerful tools for sorting through them, in addition to search capability.

From there, you have to enter each CSS selector for which you would like to use a web font and select the font used for that particular selector using a drop down menu that lists the fonts you already selected for the project. One place where really stands out is in the options you have for publishing your new web fonts. There are two different JavaScript options — an “Easy” option and an “Advanced” one — that let you add the fonts to selectors directly in your stylesheet rather than just through the web interface, as well as two non-JS options (also “Easy” and “Advanced”).

Again, the site was a bit slow overall but the end result is just as fast and seamless as any other service listed here.

Google Fonts

Google Fonts, announced last May, represents Google’s foray into web fonts. Google offers the service free of charge. Although the selection is currently limited to certain public domain fonts, it has the potential to have a significant impact on the future of web fonts.

Fonts-18 in Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

Font Selection
60 (including international fonts)

Advantage Over Other Services

Easy to implement. Fast font loading. Google’s WebFont Loader lets you use their service with multiple web font providers.

Small font selection in the Google font directory. No support for iPhone or iPad (Mobile Safari).


Fee Schedule

Our Experience with Google Fonts

The Google Fonts API is probably the easiest of the services listed here to get started with, mostly because there is no sign-up process. You simply browse the fonts they offer, select one, and then get the code. Link the stylesheet in your website’s head, and then add the font to the font stack in your stylesheet.

The service is very fast, with only a barely noticeable lag before loading the proper font. The fact that there are no limits on usage of the service puts it among the top contenders on this list. The only major drawback is the limited number of fonts available.


Kernest is a hosted or self-hosted (you can also use Fontue, Kernest’s open source web font serving engine) web font tool that converts fonts into web font ready formats and sample code.

Fonts-19 in Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

Font Selection

Advantage Over Other Services
Most fonts are free

Open source web font serving engine. Large font selection.

Self-hosting only, which requires additional setup and technical skills

Free or up to $15

Fee Schedule
One-time fee

Our Experience with Kernest

Kernest has a great selection of free and paid fonts available. Free fonts could be set up without having to sign up for an account. Just find the font you want to use, make sure the permissions are acceptable for your intended use (not every font is allowed to be used on commercial sites, for example), and then copy and paste the link and CSS code into your files.

Kernest works as well as any of the others on this site, with minimal lag time before the fonts load.


Typotheque is a graphic design studio and type foundry located in the Netherlands. Their hosted web font service includes a relatively small selection of Typotheque fonts. Typotheque was the first foundry to start its own web font service, and all fonts are designed in-house.

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Font Selection
32 font families, many supporting various styles and languages; this means there are over 500 single fonts.

Advantage Over Other Services
Use on unlimited websites

Option to purchase a full (web and desktop) license. Over 250 languages supported, and from those up to 5 languages can be embedded. All fonts are exclusive to and designed by Typotheque. Offers self-hosting for large websites.

Limited font selection (although this is only true because their fonts are exclusive) and monthly bandwidth (500MB for each font within a font family).

20% of the full desktop license (ex. Fedra Sans Std Book: Full @ €90, Web @ €18).  Includes 500MB monthly bandwidth.

Fee Schedule
One-time fee (€5 for every extra GB over 500MB)

Our Experience with Typotheque

Setup is similar to the other services listed here. Just select the font you want to use and the domains on which it will be used, add the stylesheet link to the head of your page, add the font to your font stacks, and you’re ready to go. Lag time for the font to load is comparable to the other services. The biggest drawback is the lack of font selection, but as mentioned, this is due to the fact that their fonts are exclusive to Typotheque.

The service did return an error when generating the font subset, but it appeared to work fine, so not sure if that’s a bug or if there would actually be problems with more extensive testing.


WebINK is a hosted web font platform developed by Extensis, a software development company based out of Portland, Oregon and specializing in font management.

Fonts-21 in Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

Font Selection:

Advantage Over Other Services
Can be affordable for the right type of user

Affordable pricing structure (similar to Typekit). Decent selection of fonts. Offers access through a desktop application called Suitcase Fusion 3 (Mac and Windows). This application has a live website preview mode for testing different fonts, and something called QuickMatch that finds the closest match to the chosen font on your computer.

Confusing interface and back-end. Each plan is limited to 4 websites (Note: Each user can set up as many “Type Drawers” as they want, allowing 4 websites per Type Drawer; so really the number of websites is only limited to an individual plan within a single user account, whereas the number of Type Drawers is unlimited).

Free 30-day trial on all fonts. Packages start at $0.99 per month (only includes “Promotional” font selection) for 1GB usage and up to 4 websites.

Fee Schedule
Monthly subscription

Our Experience with WebINK

The WebINK interface is probably more confusing than the others listed here. The service allows you to create an unlimited amount of Type Drawers to hold the fonts for your different projects. To add fonts from the library into your Type Drawers, you need to click the “add fonts” button within a specific Drawer. Going directly to the font library will not allow you to have direct access to your Drawers, so this takes some getting used to.

Once you get the fonts you want into your Type Drawer, setting them up on your website requires adding the @font-face information to your stylesheet and placing the fonts into your font stacks. The speed at which the font loads on the site is about the same as any other service.


Font-Face recently scrapped its project after the recent Google Font announcement. However, according to their website, they are “hatching a new plan” so we may hear more from them yet.

Fonts-22 in Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

How to Choose a Service

There is no “right” answer when it comes to choosing a web font service. Selecting the proper service usually depends on what you or your client need. You could ask yourself the following questions to help assess your needs:

  • How important is font selection? Are there specific fonts you need?
  • How important is font quality to you and your clients?
  • Do you require a self-hosting option?
  • Do you or your client have a budget? What type of fee structure would be ideal?
  • Is iPhone and iPad (Mobile Safari) support important?

Based on your answers to these questions you should be able to use the quick comparison chart below, along with the more detailed information above, to make an informed decision, or at the very least find a few starting points to start digging deeper (also be sure to check out the great chart @font-face face off).

Fonts-23 in Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

Quick Overview

Here is a short overview of the services reviewed in this article, including the number of fonts in each, advantages over other services, price and fee schedule.

ServiceFontsAdvantage Over Other ServicesPriceFee ScheduleTypekit4000IntegrationsPlans start at $24.99AnnualWebtype365Font qualityFonts start at $10AnnualFontdeck600Pay-per-useFree / $2.50 and upAnnualFonts Live499Font qualityFonts start at $10AnnualTypeFrontN/ADo-it-yourselfPlans start at $5MonthlyFontspring1,937 familiesNo recurring feeFree to $100sOne-timeFonts.com7,500+Font selectionFree or up to $50030 daysGoogle Fonts60Easy to implementFreeN/AKernest2,450Most fonts freeFree or up to $15One-timeTypotheque32 familiesUnlimited websites20% of desktop licenseOne-timeWebINK2,000AffordablePlans start at $0.99Monthly


Web font services, like any relatively new popular technology, are complex and rapidly proliferating.  While there is no “perfect” service, it’s promising to see such a wide variety of companies entering the industry and continually raising the bar for web fonts. I hope this breakdown helps you get a better handle on what’s available. If you’ve had your own experience using a web font service, please let us know in the comments.

Related Resources

Disclosure: This article was co-written by Andrew Follett and Cameron Chapman. Andrew has provided consulting services for Ascender Corporation. Impressions were written exclusively by Cameron. All facts were checked and updated by Louis Lazaris.

© Andrew Follett for Smashing Magazine, 2010. | Permalink | Post a comment | Add to | Digg this | Stumble on StumbleUpon! | Tweet it! | Submit to Reddit | Forum Smashing Magazine
Post tags: embedding, font-face, fontdeck, Fonts, services, typekit, typography

June 22 2010


How To: Turn Android Based Phone Into Wireless iTunes Remote Control

The iTunes media player is used by many people. Its integration with the App Store allows you to easily stream and purchase the music you like. Although it has an unusually large download size (when compared to other media players), its interface features combine to form a competent media player that has many fans.

If you are an iPhone or any other Apple device user, you might already have stumbled across an application or two that enables remotely controlling iTunes. But if you own an Android smartphone, the chances to find an iTunes compatible app are very slim. TuneRemote however, is an Android application that is not only compatible with iTunes but also lets you control the player remotely through your phone.

Read on the following the 5-step guide to learn how TunesRemote can be used to wirelessly control your iTunes player.

Step 1: This is for Mac users. If you are a Mac user, you will first need to configure your firewall in order to enable remote controlling of iTunes. Go to System Preferences -> Security, then click on the Firewall tab. Click on the Set Access for Specific Services button and select iTunes from the Application list (click on the + to add application).


Step 2: This is the second step for Mac users and first for Windows users. Open iTunes and enter its preferences. In the Sharing tab, make sure the Share my library on my local network is checked. If you want tighter security, you can assign a password for the sharing.


Step 3: You can now start up TunesRemote on your Android smartphone. Most probably it will automatically find and add your shared iTunes library. In case the library is not automatically detected, you can manually add your library by accessing TunesRemote’s Manual Add option and entering your computer’s IP address along with the following pairing code: 0000000000000001.


Step 4: Now head back to iTunes where you will now be able to see an Android device option in the side pane. Click on this option and enter 0000 in the passcode screen; you will see a resultant screen confirming successful connection.


Step 5: You are all done. Congratulate yourself on being able to control iTunes through your Android smartphone. Now invite your friends over and show off your phone’s abilities.

You can search for TunesRemote at the Android Marketplace; if you cannot find it there, download the .apk from

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December 02 2009


How To Increase Your Productivity with Project Bubble

Project Bubble

There are a lot of tools out there for helping freelancers with productivity. I wanted to share a free, web-based tool that I have been building in my spare time called Project Bubble.
Project Bubble is a free, easy-to-use and fun project management tool. Easily manage your projects, invoices, time sheets, clients and files. I also wanted to share a few others that I have looked at over the past few months in my efforts to find decent web apps to help my productivity.

It’s a problem of motivation

Has anyone seen that film Office Space? It’s one of my favourite movies ever. Peter Gibbons get’s asked why he isn’t being very productive at work:

petergibbonsThe thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care. It’s a problem of motivation, all right?

I love that film. Do you ever find yourself feeling unmotivated but you know that you have a load of work to do and if you don’t have a productive day everything is going to just slip behind and deadlines won’t get met?

You need the motivation to do the work that’s all, and if you can get organised and in to ‘the zone’ you will be able to get lots done. How do you start though? Do you have all these projects whizzing around your head or have a hundred Stickies on your desktop with all the tasks you need to do?

You might not be able to afford a project manager to organise it for you, so what you need is a bit of software to do it for you. You log in, and it says this:

“Hi Stu, you have 3 active projects on today. 1 of them needs to be finished today, and you have 3 to-dos (like ring the client, and organise the meeting) before you finish that task. Don’t worry about the other 5 projects, they can be done later in the week.”

Perfect, right?! Well that is why I decided to build my own software to meet this need. Before I go in to how I did that, let me just share some other apps out there that are amazing.

Project Management With Ease

Thanks to modern browsers and frameworks like jQuery there are a lot of cool web based apps now that handle project management. Obviously BaseCamp springs to mind, but there are countless articles on BaseCamp out there. Yes it’s amazing, and loads of organisations use it, but it’s costly. As a freelancer I wasn’t prepared to pay the fees that BaseCamp charged, and I still thought it could be a lot simpler.


Active Collab

ActiveCollab is a great tool. I really like it because you can manage projects, tasks, milestones and invoices altogether. It’s got a very nice, easy-to-use interface and makes doing the management a complete breeze. Not only that but you can share your projects and tasks (though I’m the only one in my company at the moment, as are most freelancers). ActiveCollab offer a free trial, but then they charge to use the service.


NoKahuna is also very easy to use and they offer a free version which is great. You can create public or private projects and set up tasks or messages for a project. You can even upload files to a project or message. It has a dashboard so you can see an overview of your projects. It’s a simple system (when free), but you can pay for more features if you want.



I found Nirvana recently and it looks amazing. It has an Apple-esque design so obviously the user interface is bound to be easy to use and familiar. You can manage tasks, milestones and projects but also you can export them as well which is helpful. It’s invite only at the moment, but you can sign up for an invite on their site.

Bubbling With CodeIgniter

So after looking at what else was there I thought I’d have a go at making my own. Thanks to CodeIgniter, I was able to build this app, called Project Bubble, in just 2 weeks. I came up with a friendly name, got a friend to do a logo and then just uploaded it to the web. The following video contains an introduction to Project Bubble:

Project Bubble | Project Management Made Simple from Halogy on Vimeo.

I was the only user for months, and it was perfect for me. I would login in the mornings and it would tell me what projects were active, who my top clients were and what tasks needed to be done today. Obviously I had to update it at the end of the day ready for tomorrow, but it took a lot of stress out of the day. One of the most important things for me in the architecture of this app was just to keep things simple and not too clumsy. So I used a lot of jQuery, AJAX (tools to make things load smoothly and quickly), and tried to design it in such a way that you could see all your projects, to-dos and be able to re-order them on the go.

Then came the need to have a system for invoices. What would be so cool is if I could just generate an invoice off a project that I had been working on. The tasks could act as items on the invoice, so I could set the time spent on each task, set how much my fees were and then click Generate and it would make a PDF which I could send to the client. First though I wanted to see what else was out there.

Getting the Boredom out of Invoicing

I used to make documents for every invoice using inDesign. It was a fiddly and lengthy process, but the up-side was my invoices looked really nice. However, when a client gets your invoice the first thing they think about when they receive it is not “ooh what a lovely looking, nicely designed and well branded invoice”, they are thinking about the cost of course! So auto-generated invoices are ok, if you can find the right tool out there to make them for you.

There are LOADS of systems you can use that do this. Some have been around for a long time, for example I remember using a tool years ago that I installed to my web server and it generated invoices for me automatically with my logo. However what people want these days is not to have the hassle of having to manage and host software, they want cool ‘Web 2.0′ apps that are really easy to use.

So here are a few:

Invoice Machine

Invoice Machine

The Invoice Machine is amazing. I really like it because it’s just so simple and there are lots of buttons and icons to do stuff. With TIM you can create your itemised invoices, set tax rate, discounts, and even choose a theme. Then with a permalink, send them to your client and they can pay with PayPal, which in turn marks them as Paid. It’s got a really nice interface too. They charge to use the service, it’s free though for 3 invoices per month (but I can’t imagine many businesses surviving on 3 invoices per month). TIM haven’t been active for a long time, apparently it’s because they are working on a massive update? You can follow them on Twitter (@invoicemachine).


Found MoneyBird recently, and they are very friendly. The service is very similar to Invoice Machine only they offer an SSL which can be very useful and bring comfort to your clients because of the added security. They offer a very generous (all-in) package for just $14.00 per month, as well as a free version for 3 invoices again. Again, on Twitter they are @moneybird.

Back to Bubble

So inspired by these amazing web apps I decided to add invoicing features to Project Bubble. As I mentioned earlier it would be cool if you could just run an invoice off against a project, so keeping in the same flow of ’simplicity is best’ I added a system that did just this. I tested this feature with a client recently and simply created an invoice on a closed project (with tasks), clicked on Send, and they paid with Paypal. Bingo!

This kind of system is great because it takes a lot of time, hassle and stress out of our days. When our days are full of coding or being creative with designs and branding we don’t really want to be doing all that management stuff!

Have a go…

A few weeks ago I decided to share Project Bubble with the world, and now you too can use it for free. I’ve had lots of feedback and tried to build the features in as people have requested them. Also people have been requesting language translation and lots more, which is brilliant and I hope to do this soon. Of course PB doesn’t have tools like BaseCamp integration, or Gant charts – but I think if you want things like this then you should definately look at the premium tools out there, like ActiveCollab.

So why am I doing it? And will it always be free? I think mostly PB will always be free yes, though to cover hosting costs I might charge to use the Files part of it later on, but I just enjoy developing and sharing web-based creations like this and getting feedback – so keep your thoughts coming! Incidentally, if you have found any other apps (free or otherwise) that help productivity feel free to share.

December 01 2009


Which hosting service do you suggest and why?

Choosing the right hosting company is a crucial aspect for the success of your web site. When I switched from Blogger to WordPress I spent a lot of time looking for a company that offered high-quality services at an affordable price. After some days of researches I decided to host Woork Up on MediaTemple.
Now, after three months, I can say I’m really satisfied about their service and in particular about the customer support that helps you solve quickly every issue.
And you, which hosting service do you suggest to use and why? Please leave a comment, thanks!

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