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Archive for June, 2011

Envato Freelance App Bundle

By Steve Wilkison | No Comments

Freelance Mac App BundleEnvato is offering a “Freelance App Bundle” that includes eight Mac apps, a book about freelancing and three bonus files for the low price of $49. The items normally sell for over $300. These “bundles” are usually really great deals, especially if you don’t already own any of the software included. This one is specifically geared towards “freelancers” but I think the apps, files and book would be very helpful for anyone, especially students. Here’s what you get:

  • 1Password (worth if for this alone!, a great password app that saves you tons of time, I couldn’t live without it)
  • Billings (time billing software)
  • Text Expander (a great typing shortcut utility  that I use often)
  • LittleSnapper (screenshot and website capture)
  • WriteRoom (writing software)
  • Radium (internet radio)
  • Arq (online backup)
  • Alarms (task management)
  • How To Be A Rockstar Freelancer Book
  • Translucent Business Card template
  • Highlight WordPress Theme
  • Ultimate Client Manager

You can find the bundle at the Envato Code Canyon website. But hurry, the deal ends on June 29th.

New Computers!

By Steve Wilkison | No Comments

Oh, yeah, they’re here! New computers in 205. And they are awesome. We’ve got 15 brand-spankin’ new iMacs. I stopped by today and they were in the process of installing them all and setting them up. Then they’ve got to install all the software (including CS5.5 I’m being told!) and after that we’ll be up and running. Specs you ask? Sure thing:

  • 27″ 16:9 widescreen LED-backlit glossy display (that’s 2560px by 1440px resolution)
  • 2.7GHz quad-core processor
  • 4GB of memory (two 2GB chips)
  • 1TB hard drive (that’s TB, as in a terabyte, 1,000 GBs)

Now, here’s something those of you who know me will find amusing and ironic. The “teacher’s” computer is only a damn 21.5″ version! So, all you students get nice, big 27″ monitors and I get a little stinking 21.5″ one. Something about the interface with the overhead projector I’m told. I think someone just thinks it’s fun to torture me! Here’s a shot I took while they were setting up these puppies:

New Computers

Trip To France Meeting

By Steve Wilkison | No Comments
Cafe In Vence

An outside cafe in Vence, just outside of Nice

Thursday, July 14th, 12 noon, room 801

Yep, we’re going to France. Steve Wilkison will be leading a group of Watkins students (and maybe staff and faculty as well) to France in May 2012. Actually, the trip is open to just about anyone. So, you’re welcome to bring your boyfriend, girlfriend, Mom, Dad, husband, wife, etc. And you don’t even have to be a Watkins student to come along. Really, anyone can sign up to come with us. The more the merrier!

We’ll have our first informal information meeting on Bastille Day, Thursday, July 14th at 12 noon in room 801 (upstairs above the cafe). Bastille Day is a huge French holiday, their equivalent of our Fourth Of July. There’s no obligation, this is strictly an informational meeting to answer questions, tell stories and find out who might be interested in going with us. You’ll have plenty of time to make up your mind, you won’t need to make any commitment at the meeting.

Steve’s going to bring lots of books, guides, maps and other French related materials for us all to look through and get excited over.

We’ll provide lunch!

We’ll leave Nashville on May 15th and return on May 26th. That gives us 12 glorious days in France. We’ll spend three days in Paris and then begin traveling around the country. We’ll stop in Chartres, St. Malo, Normandy, Rouen, Nice, Monaco & Eze. If you’ve never been to France, this is the trip you’ve been waiting for.

Steve’s been to France almost two dozen times and he really knows his way around. Some say he’s obsessed with the country (they might be right). We’ll also have a dedicated guide 24/7 while we’re there.

You can get lots more info about the trip, including details and costs here.

Watkins students can even sign up for college credit from the trip!

So make sure to drop by and visit with us.

Fall Classes Begin August 18th

By Steve Wilkison | No Comments

Fall ClassesWe’ll be offering three Web Development classes this Fall: Web Development I, Web Development II and Web Development III. All three classes are required for current Graphic Design majors. Steve Wilkison will be teaching Web I & Web III, James Muspratt will be teaching Web II.

Web Development I is an introductory course which covers basic HTML and CSS. Web Development II builds upon the material in Web I and continues to explore HTML and CSS, as well as several other technologies. Web Development III is a “lab” course designed to give students lots and lots of hands on practical experience building websites and putting their skills to use.

Depending upon enrollment, some classes may be open to non Graphic Design majors. So, if you’re majoring in something else but want to learn about Web Design, or if you’re not a current student at Watkins but would like to take one of these classes, please contact us. We’d love to have you in the classroom.

You can learn more about each class at on the Classes page of this website.

A Free Web Book!

By Steve Wilkison | No Comments

Thinking Web: Voices Of The CommunityThe folks over at SitePoint have released a free book (in digital form: pdf, epub and/or mobi) that is a real treat. It’s titled Thinking Web: Voices Of The Community and it’s a collection of articles written by various members of the SitePoint community and it covers a lot of ground in the web development world.

Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll find in the book:

Chapter 1 – Anatomy of a Website by Ralph Mason
Ralph’s chapter looks at the building blocks of a website, from hosting through to favicons, with everything in between. If you are new to the world of web, then this is the article for you.

Chapter 2 – Designing in the Dark by Alex Dawson
Alex examines the ideas of web accessibility and talks you through the process of identifying your audience and ensuring that your sites meet their needs and expectations.

Chapter 3 – Everything Must Go by Alex Dawson
Alex is back, this time discussing the concepts of web accessibility in more detail. If you want some practical advice to ensure that your sites work for everyone, then this is a must read.

Chapter 4 – Going Freelance by John Borda
You might be the best web developer in the world, but if no one knows that then it’s of very little use to you. John looks at some of the things that a freelancer can do in order to make a successful career in the cutthroat world of web development.

Chapter 5 – Successful PSD to HTML Freelancing by Paul O’Brien
In this chapter, CSS expert Paul talks about the intricacies of quoting on and carrying out a PSD to HTML conversion job. He points out some of the pitfalls and explains how to avoid them.

Chapter 6 – Write Email Markup That Doesn’t Explode in the Inbox by Coyote Holmberg
If writing electronic newsletters is something that is on your radar then this article by Coyote will be invaluable. In it she discusses the dos and don’ts of writing HTML emails from the design stage right through to the sending.

Chapter 7 – Make Your Website Stand Out from the Crowd by Ursula Comeau
Social media has become so commonplace that it can’t be ignored if you want your business to succeed and Ursula explains how important social media and blogging can be to your website and your online marketing strategy.

Chapter 8 – Information Organization and the Web by Sherry Curry
You might have the most valuable information on the planet on your website, but if it is hard to navigate then the chances of people giving up before they ever get to it are great. Sherry talks about good strategies for organising and labeling your information so that it is accessible and easy to find.

Chapter 9 – Using Vector Graphics to Build a Noughts & Crosses Game by Clive Wickham
In this tutorial, Clive outlines how you can easily build a simple game of Noughts & Crosses using interactive vector graphics and explores two ways of presenting it, via SVG and HTML5 Canvas.

Chapter 10 – Efficient Actionscript by Christian Snodgrass
Christian examines a selection of some of the more useful Actionscript tips, tricks and techniques for use in mid-to-large projects.

Chapter 11 – Databases : The Basic Concepts by Nuria Zuazo
Databases are a must for any dynamic site and some basic knowledge is necessary to make the most of your database. In this article, Nuria looks at some of the intricacies of the modern day database and how you can harness its power in your own sites.

Chapter 12 – The Iceberg of TCP/IP by Robert Wellock
Robert skims the surface of the massive subject that is TCP/IP and looks at a selection of protocols focusing on what is most relevant to web design or general home computing.

If you’re not familiar with SitePoint, it’s a fantastic organization that hosts forums, publishes books, offers online training and much more. It’s well worth checking out their various sites. In addition to the forums and online training they have individual sites dedicated to mobile development, ruby, online learning and website design. Visit their main site and you can find articles from and links to all their network sites.

The book is free, so what have you got to lose. Go get your copy now!

A Concentration In Web Development

By Steve Wilkison | No Comments

A Concentration In Web DevelopmentYes, it’s true. As some of you may have heard we are hoping to begin offering a “concentration” or “track” in Web Development as part of the Graphic Design program here at Watkins. If everything goes well, before too long any Graphic Design major may opt to “concentrate” on Web Development. We’re still in the very early planning stages of working out all the details, so stay tuned and we’ll let you know as things develop.

This is great news and it’s been a long time coming. Web development, web design, interactive media, mobile app development, Flash design, all of this and more is a huge field right now and more and more employers are looking for skilled, educated graduates who can work in these areas. We want to take Watkins to the forefront of what colleges and universities are doing and make our school the place to come if you want to learn about Web Development. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll even have a complete Web Development Department!

Organizations For Web Instructors

By Steve Wilkison | No Comments

Teaching Web DesignNow that I’m teaching web development full time at Watkins, I’m very interested in networking with other instructors at the college and university level who teach web design and/or development. I think it would be great to start some type of organization for web instructors to share ideas, problems, solutions, etc. I’ve done some research via Google, but can’t seem to find any existing organizations along this line. If you know if any such organization or group, please let me know.

As more and more colleges and universities begin to offer more and more courses in web design and web development (as well as mobile app development, Flash development, etc.) I think a real need is developing to put instructors in touch with each other. Many of us are developing our curriculum completely on our own and it seems it would be very productive to see what others are doing and how they are approaching different topics and subjects.

Here at Watkins we currently have three Web Development courses, all of which fall under the Graphic Design Department. We are hoping to begin a “concentration” in Web Development in the fall of 2012 as part of a student’s degree. I’m hoping to begin offering more specialized courses in coming semesters that cover some of the exciting new technologies and marketing opportunities that are emerging. I’d love to offer a class dedicated strictly to WordPress development. It would also include an introduction to PHP and MySQL. A course on “Social Networking” would be great as well. Students could learn how to design and build custom pages for Facebook, how to utilize opportunities on Twitter and YouTube and lots more. I could easily teach an entire class on JavaScript and jQuery and another on HTML5 and CSS3. And a class on building apps for iOS and Android would, of course, be a no-brainer. Students learn about most of these topics in the current three classes we offer, but having dedicated courses would open up so many more possibilities.

I’m spending some of my time this summer looking at programs from other colleges and universities and trying to get an idea of how others are approaching teaching these subjects. It’s a real challenge because so much in our field changes so fast and so frequently. You really have to stay on top of things and constantly consider reworking the classes and the curriculum. I hope to reach out to some of the other instructors and teachers at various schools and get their ideas and input.

If you teach web design, web development, coding, Flash, mobile app development or really any other “web” related technology I’d love to hear from you. I think we all have a lot we can learn from and share with each other.

The Watkins Web Blog

By Steve Wilkison | No Comments

The Watkins Web BlogAs part of this new site dedicated to the Web Development classes at Watkins we are starting up a special blog. Steve will be posting regularly to this blog, but all students, both current and former, are invited to contribute to the blog. Friends of our are also welcome to contribute. You can write about anything you want (as long as it’s related to the web or other interactive and tech related subjects).

All you need to do is email Steve and he’ll set you up as a contributor on the blog. Then you can share your thoughts, ideas, opinions, complaints, etc. with the rest of the world. And yes, current students will get “extra credit” for participating on the blog. We know you have a lot on your mind so sign up now and start blogging with us.

Fall Classes

By Steve Wilkison | No Comments

Fall ClassesWe’ll be offering three Web Development classes this Fall: Web Development I, Web Development II and Web Development III. All three classes are required for current Graphic Design majors. Steve Wilkison will be teaching Web I & Web III, James Muspratt will be teaching Web II.

Web Development I is an introductory course which covers basic HTML and CSS. Web Development II builds upon the material in Web I and continues to explore HTML and CSS, as well as several other technologies. Web Development III is a “lab” course designed to give students lots and lots of hands on practical experience building websites and putting their skills to use.

Depending upon enrollment, some classes may be open to non Graphic Design majors. So, if you’re majoring in something else but want to learn about Web Design, or if you’re not a current student at Watkins but would like to take one of these classes, please contact us. We’d love to have you in the classroom.

You can learn more about each class at on the Classes page of this website.

Featured One

By Steve Wilkison | No Comments

Luke Howard: Snowcat PressMy Name is Luke, and I am a Web Developer and Illustrator in Nashville. <- that’s all you really need to know | this is all fairly superfluous -> I graduated from Watkins about a year ago, but while I was in school I somehow managed to successfully start my career as a freelance designer/ illustrator (successful of course is a very relative concept, but I didn’t starve). So I continued to do that after I graduated, but I really wanted to find a part time web development job because Steve had really made me fall in love with coding and I needed some way to pay back all of my student loans. So I tricked this music marketing company called Crowdsurf into hiring me part-time and giving me a salary. Well I didn’t really “trick” them, its just a really good gig and I’m not sure how I got it, so I have to assume I inadvertently did something underhanded. So now I get to build websites for musicians in the morning and draw pictures and make art in the afternoon/evening, perfect scenario.

When I’m off the clock I volunteer a lot of time with non-profit social justice organizations, I build mopeds, read books, drink beer and whiskey (not in excess), sit on my porch in east nashville, and listen to lots of music. If you want specifics on any of those things feel free to get in touch with me.

A few quick suggestions, If I may be so bold: Don’t be a willfully ignorant american consumer. Don’t be a democrat. Don’t be a republican. Don’t disrespect your parents. Don’t put the word “Designer” on your business card (people don’t know what that means and they will call you and ask you to do ignorant things). Don’t use dreamweaver, suck it up and learn to hand-code everything, dreamweaver is the devil (go buy a copy of textMate). Dont use javascript for image rollovers (use css). Go ahead and include the following code in css for all of your anchor tags: -webkit-transition: 0.5s ease-in-out; -moz-transition:0.5s ease-in-out; -o-transition:0.5s ease-in-out; transition:0.5s ease-in-out;

you can see some of what I do over at snowcatpress.com
you can
or you can tweet/DM me @snowcatpress

Recent Projects

Honor Society

Honor Society
Custom theme running in wordpress 3.1
html5 but nothing fancy (mostly just using it for some of the new layout elements like <nav> and <section> and and I’m using a javascript shiv to make sure that ie and older browsers create those elements if they dont natively support them)
a little css3 for the hover transitions.
Orbit slideshow jquery plugin by @zurb
Juitter twitter widget for jquery (not sure who wrote this but its pretty cool)
Flash MP3 player by Flabell
Oswald font from the google fonts api
Google Analytics for WordPress
MailChimp
Shadowbox JS
WP-paginate

Ashylyne Huff

Ashlyne Huff
This girl is touring with the back street boys this summer. With the exception of the massive photo of her, she let me make a pretty tasteful functional site.
Custom theme running in wordpress 3.1
good bit of css3 for the transparency drop shadows and hover transitions but it all fails gracefully.
Soundcloud Premiere app (which is awesome and really well made)
Twitter Fountain
custom tweet from anywhere widget that I made using the twitter api
If this comes down you will always be able to find it here
main site uses soundcloud a good bit and the disqus system for socially integrated commenting (same comment system that tumblr uses) and a couple fonts from the google directory
MailChimp
Gigpress
Twitter Widget Pro
Slimbox
WP-paginate
Google Analytics for WordPress

Britney Spears

Britney Spears Tour Page

WhoozNxt

WhoozNxt
First custom tumblr theme that I designed and coded.
nothing fancy, just fun.

website by Steve Wilkison