Ada is a fulltime freelancer. She enjoys design and writing and tries to keep pace with the all the latest and greatest new developments in technology

Ada's articles

  1. 5 Great GIMP Plugins for Designers

    One of the best things about GIMP is the availability of tons of plugins, scripts, extensions, and other resources. Thanks to these goodies you can extend the functionality of the program in the direction you need. There are dozens of great GIMP extensions, so it was a challenge to pick only 5, but as these […]

  2. 12 Android Tutorials for Beginners

    If you want to learn Android programming there are a lot of Android tutorials and other learning materials online. There are lots of beginner tutorials and tons of advanced tutorials from various sources. We at SitePoint also offer a new Android development tutorial every now and then.

    When there is so much information and you are a beginner, it’s easy to get confused about where to start. To make it easy for you and with no illusions that this list of Android tutorials is the best or complete, here are 12 Android tutorials to start with.

    Not all the tutorials and their content are strictly beginner beginner focussed. Some of them start out for beginners and then delve into more advanced topics. So if you can’t follow everything in every single tutorial, don’t get desperate or frustrated.

    If you encounter a hurdle, just spend more time with the tutorial, reading it a couple of times if necessary. If you are still not on friendly terms with it, there is no drama – just move forward and revisit it later.

  3. Showdown! 5 Online Image Compression Tools Compared

    Last year the HTTP Archive Report released the disturbing news that average page size on the web had increased 32% (to an average of 1.7Mb) in 2013. If that is even close to correct, it’s astonishing news.

    Although, predictably, JavaScript, HTML and CSS all increased, more than half the increase was accounted for by imagery. It was a case of bigger images, bigger files and more of them.

    While in some rare cases there isn’t a lot you can do to cut the size of an image, thanks to increasingly clever compression algorithms, more often than not you can drastically reduce the file size with minimal to no image quality loss.

    As you might expect, not all compression tools are created equal. Some produce poor quality images, while barely affecting it’s filesize, while others perform near miracles to almost any image.

    Some graphic programs come with image compression tools on their own. However, in my experience, standalone image compression tools are often a better option because they are designed specifically for this job.

    Of the many standalone image compression tools, I’ll review online tools only. The reason is they are cross-platform and are accessible from everywhere. Additionally, they provide from good to excellent to fantastic image quality, so we are definitely not trading accessibility for quality.

    In order to make the comparison as fair as possible, I’ll use the same images across the services. This way we can compare file sizes of the output files and make a balanced judgement of their quality.

    On the other hand, if a particular image does not come out great with a particular service, this doesn’t mean the service is bad, it could be a problem with the image.

  4. Design Minimalism: What, Why & How.

    Minimalism is one of the most influential styles today – from design, to architecture, to music, to literature. In fact, there’s every chance that you’re a fan of minimalism even without knowing it.

    Minimalism? That kinda like not designing something, right?

    Not really.

    As the name implies, minimalism is certainly not a lavish style. A 60′s grandchild of the Bauhaus movement, minimalism continued the trend of artists to break away from the lavish, highly-decorative styles of the past.

    Decoration had become so dense that it had begun to undermine the function the grasp of the main idea of a design, sculpture, or painting.

    Minimalists asked the question: How much can you strip away from an item — paintings, scupltures, buildings, furniture — without losing its essential purpose and identity?

    So, Minimalism is just keeping things simple, then?

    Close, but not quite. There are a lot of definitions of minimalism around, and here is one of the best:

    1. Minimalism: A school of abstract painting and sculpture that emphasizes extreme simplification of form, as by the use of basic shapes and monochromatic palettes of primary colors, objectivity, and anonymity of style. Also called ABC art, minimal art, reductivism, rejective art.

    2. Minimalism: Use of the fewest and barest essentials or elements, as in the arts, literature, or design.

  5. 5 Free Web-Based Photoshop Alternatives

    For a lot of designers Photoshop is the only graphics program that will ever cut it. While Photoshop unquestionably offers a lot, it’s certainly isn’t the only software to answer your needs.

    Most of you have heard about GIMP (or maybe even use it) as a Photoshop alternative. There are at least a dozen more desktop alternatives for Windows, Mac, or Linux.

    But today, I want to talk about growing band of increasingly impressive web-based, OS-independent Photoshop alternatives. I do need to state that these programs are not complete replacements for all Photoshop functionality. They aren’t that.

    So, if they aren’t a complete replacement, why bother?

    Firstly, if you examine your workflows, you’ll likely find that you use the same 5% of functions 95% of the time. As cools a s ‘content-aware fills’ and ‘puppet warps’ are, you realistically may only call on them half a dozen times a year (or less).

    Cut, paste, crop, layers, text tool, opacity, color adjustments, masks and lasso selections probably covers off a large percentage of what you do.

    Secondly, if you’re like many of us, you probably operate two, three or even more computers.

    Installing a fully-fledged, resource-intensive graphics apps on each machine may not be smart, or even possible — from a financial or performance perspective.

    Thirdly, if we’re already storing and sharing files across the cloud, it makes a lot of sense to share functionality that way too. Our browser can be our new desktop.

    In this article, I’ll review a handful of the best browser-based graphics alternatives for doing just that!

  6. A Better CAPTCHA: Are We There Yet?

    CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) are a nightmare for any usability expert but if we want to reduce spam, we do need them or something else in place.

    While there are numerous CAPTCHA alternatives (or less known CAPTCHA varieties), actually none of them if good enough for mass use on the Web.

    Some of the CAPTCHA alternatives that exist can be used as a CAPTCHA replacement under some circumstances but they won’t solve the problem in general. And the problem is a pretty real one – CAPTCHAs hurt user experience and conversions.

    The Perfect Anti-Spam Solution

    I bet we’ve all seen ads of various anti-spam products that claim they are the ultimate anti-spam solution. However, you don’t need to be a genius to read past the marketing lingo to figure out that a particular solution is either easy to break (hence unreliable), or requires too much effort (i.e. is not user-friendly), or generates too many false positives/negatives.

    A user asked in an old thread at StackExchange about CAPTCHA alternatives and listed the following requirements any such alternatives should meet:

  7. Simple Ergonomics Tips for Desk Jockeys

    Human bodies are an ingenious but strange design solution. Not fast by animal standards, but we cover the ground well. We have above-average vision, good climbing abilities and excellent fine motor skills.

    One thing we’re actually not very well designed for is sitting.

    In fact, one 2012 study suggests sitting for extended periods is more damaging to your health than smoking.

    A hundred years ago, this wasn’t so much of a problem. Most of us spent our days rivetting ships, toiling in fields or striding a delivery route.

    Unfortunately, as desk jockeys and code monkeys, we spend most of our waking hours in front of a computer by necessity.

    Comfortability is very subjective, but there are some more or less universal ergonomics rules how to arrange your work environment to reduce trauma and increase productivity.

    Firstly, what is Ergonomics?

    Ergonomics is a relatively modern term – it was first used in 1949. It comes from the Green “ergon,” (work) and “nomoi” (natural laws). Ergonomics is essentially usability, so it should naturally resonate with designers.

    According to the definition in the Merriam Webster dictionary:

    • ergonomics: a science that deals with designing and arranging things so that people can use them easily and safely
    • ergonomics: the parts or qualities of something’s design that make it easy to use

    The purpose of ergonomics is to increase your productivity and to keep your health. In some countries, legislation makes it mandatory for employers to ensure ergonomics in the workplace, but this isn’t the case everywhere.

  8. 6 Super-Useful Chrome Extensions for Designers

    If you are a Chrome user, you probably love it for it’s speed and simplicity. However, no matter how much you like simplicity, sooner or later you’ll need will add some extra functionality you desperately need.

    In such cases, it’s extensions to the rescue.

    If you were a Firefox user before you switched to Chrome (or perhaps you time-share between browsers), you probably already know that most of the Firefox add-ons you love are available for Chrome as well.

    Today we’re going to look at some of the most useful Chrome extensions for designers. I am not writing about the Web Developer and Firebug add-ons that are emblematic for Firefox as they’ve been well covered elsewhere.

    also going to avoid the add-ons I reviewed in the 6 Great Firefox Extensions for Designers article, too. Not all of them are available for Chrome, but the ones that do include are: ColorZilla, YSlow, Open With (only Firefox and no Mac OS version).

    You might want to try them as well.

  9. 6 Great Firefox Extensions for Designers

    Of the hundreds of Firefox extensions, I would guess there is hardly a designer who hasn’t heard about Chris Pederick’s Web Developer Toolbar, and Joe Hewitt’s Firebug.

    They are arguably the two extensions that made Firefox what it is today, and are literal must-haves for even the most hobbyist of web developers.

    But that’s not where the extension fun ends. There are quite a few designer-centric Firefox extensions that may well have slipped under your guard.

    It’s always hard to find time to try them all, so hopefully we can do some of the legwork for you!

    Some of them are standalone Firefox add-ons, while others are installed on top of Firebug — so in a sense they are Firebug add-ons.

    Whatever their background, here are 6 lesser known, yet useful Firefox extensions for designers.

    1. ColorZilla

    I don’t know if ColorZilla is takes third most popular Firefox extension for designers, but it is certainly one of the most useful because it offers a lot of functionality in relation to colors.

  10. Learn GIMP: From Greenhorn to Guru in 19 Lessons

    GIMP is a very popular graphic program, and though not as popular as Photoshop, there are a good many designers who use it as their first choice.

    While it has some universal features shared by many other graphic programs, as we discussed in the Linux Design Tools: High-end Design on a Low-end Budget? article, it comes with many differences as well.

    One of the most notable differences between GIMP and Photoshop is the variations in their GUIs. These differences go beyond pure cosmetics. I know how frustrating it can be when you can’t seem to accomplish a basic task with GIMP, that’s always been a breeze in Photoshop.

    That’s why I’ve compiled this list: to get you over that ‘frustration hump’ and into making cool stuff sooner.