Digital Dreams

Coming Soon – Resources to Help You Get Started Coding

Does this sound like you?

You’re in college pursuing a Computer or Information Science degree, or maybe you’re just a regular Jane looking to learn code because, hey, it’s fun!

Whatever the reason, you need to set up your own development environment but lack the funds to buy a fancy server and a bunch of software. So where do you turn for help?

Look no further, for I am here for you.

Over the next several weeks I will be posting articles on a variety of free (or almost free) resources to get you going. All of the resources I’ll be featuring are Windows-based since that is my development environment, but most of them also have offerings for MacOS and Linux as well.  So keep an eye out and expect them to start appearing in the next couple of weeks.

Black Hat

Word Spinning and Black Hat SEO

I recently received (what I consider) a spam comment encouraging me to check out a “tool” that will allow me to create unique content for my blog “…with a single click of a button”. My curiosity peaked, I checked out Google to see what this thing was all about. What I found shocked me so much I had to write about it.

To use this tool a person would copy the text from an article and click a button. The application changes a bunch of words around and spits out “unique” content. You’re then supposed to use that content in your own blog to boost your SEO ratings.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but that sounds like a clear-cut case of plagiarism to me.

Questions of intellectual property aside, there’s a few issues I can see with using this kind of tactic. First and foremost no automated tool is going to catch the subtle nuances of language. Much of what we say isn’t what we say but implied in subtext, “reading between the lines” as it were. Secondly, computers are great at a lot of things, but understanding context is not one of them. Much of how we say things depends greatly on the context in which it is said. Simply switching the word “apple” with “orange” can completely alter the meaning of a sentence. If the point is to generate content that makes sense to humans, these tools fail miserably.

I’m proud of the fact that everything you read on this blog was hand crafted by me. Sure, I’d like to post more often but that’s part of being human. I have a day job, a family, other commitments… all of which need and deserve my time., so I write when I can which isn’t as often as I’d like to. Would I like to boost my SEO rankings? Sure I would. I’m just not willing to sell my soul to do it.

Digital Dreams

Responsive Design – Algorithm to Center An Element using JQuery

Positioning an object on a web page is simple to do in CSS, but doing it responsively is trickier. Given the number of devices and potential viewport sizes a user could be using it’s nearly impossible to anticipate how your design will look in all possible scenarios. Basically you just have to try to account for the most likely variables and hope it works out.

I came up with a simple algorithm to dynamically center an object on the viewport. In my case I am using jQuery as the scripting language of choice, but the basic algorithm should work regardless of the scripting language you choose.

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Paint and Brush

WordPress 101: Part 4 – Customizing with Themes, Plugins, and Widgets

One of the wonderful things about WordPress is its extensibility and customization options. You can customize nearly every facet of WordPress to suit your needs. Customization is particularly simple with the use of  Themes, Plugins, and Widgets. Today’s tutorial is going to discuss what those things are and how they make your site function to your needs.

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Emulating Mobile Devices with Chrome Developer Tools

It is no secret I am a huge fan of Google Chrome. I installed it some time ago with intending to use it for testing only, but it has since become my default browser because of the robust and invaluable developer tools built right into the browser.

Today I learned that Chrome has a great feature in the developer tools that allows you to emulate a mobile device.  From the Developer Tools Dialog, select “Show Console” show console , then click “emulation”. From there you can select the device you want to emulate. What impressed me most was the wide variety of devices Chrome can emulate ranging from the Kindle Fire, to a variety of iOS devices, to a plethora of Android devices.

Emulation Panel
Emulation panel in Chrome Developer Tools

While the emulation won’t run full applications, it is still a valuable tool when designing responsively or optimizing a mobile interface.

Pretty cool, huh?


Announcing my Newest Project: SimpleCMS

I recently began working on a new project that has me pretty excited. I’m calling it “SimpleCMS” because it is basically a stripped down Content Management System. I’m very much aware that there are many such systems available, but this is mostly a learning platform. As such I’ll be posting updates on its progress and eventually plan to release the source code under the GNU Public License (GPL).

SimpleCMS will basically query a database and dynamically publish the contents. It will consist of three basic parts… The public face, the admin face, and the back-end. I’m still working out the details, but I’ll post more about it once I flesh them out.

Type Setting

WordPress 101: Part 3 – Configuring WordPress

Type Setting
Courtesy Joana Croft via

It’s been awhile coming, but welcome to part three of my WordPress 101 series of tutorials. In the first two parts we talked about what WordPress is, its place in the world of Content Management Systems (CMS), how to install it, and had a brief overview of the administration panel also known as the Dashboard. In today’s installment we’re going to dig into the base configuration within the Settings Panel to get you up and running in no time!

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Little Ones Christian Preschool is Live!

I just wanted to post a quick note to say the website for the new preschool is now live. I’m actually rather pleased with how it turned out. There’s still some information that needs fleshing out which I would normally like to have had done before going live, but the client felt it was more important to get up and running.

Check it out…

Design, Develop, Inspire!