Icenium: A cloud-based development platform for hybrid iOS and Android apps

I’ve been a long time user of Telerik controls, and have always depended on them to make my development project easier. Image my surprise one day when I went to their site to download my latest version of ASP.NET AJAX controls to see an advertisement for a product called Icenium.

Icenium is a cloud-based development platform that allows Web developers to build hybrid applications that can be installed natively for Android and iOS and distributed through their respective app stores. By combining the convenience of a modern development environment with the power and flexibility of the cloud, Icenium enables you to build hybrid mobile apps across multiple platforms. Integrated support for Apache Cordova enables you to build compelling applications that take advantage of the device capabilities, using nothing more than HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

Icenium consists of different types of apps: Graphite, Mist and Ion. Icenium Graphite is the Windows installed development tool that you install on your Windows-based computer. Icenium Mist is the multi-platform, browser-based development tool that you can access from anywhere through your browser. Icenium Ion is a mobile browser testing tool that is installed on the iPhones you want to test your mobile app — it’s used in lieu of having to register devices with Apple to be part of your provisioning profile.

Within Icenium you can use mobile UI frameworks like Kendo UI Mobile or jQuery Mobile to build apps that align with each individual platform they run on. During the development of your mobile app you can use the Icenium Device Simulator to experience how your application will look and feel in real-time across multiple device platforms and form factors, including smartphones and tablets. The device simulator is available in both Icenium Graphite and Icenium Mist.

Check out your changes as you make them—instantly—on all your mobile devices. Using Icenium LiveSync you can see changes made in real-time in the integrated device simulator and across all connected devices without having to recompile.

Icenium LiveSync provides a connection to your app as its running on one or more physical devices—iPhone, iPads, iPods, Android phone and tablets, and the Kindle Fire—and enables you to see changes made in real-time without having to recompile. This real-time iterative approach is nearly identical to the development approach used by millions of web developers who work in a code editor and a browser, seeing their changes as they make them.

The huge selling point for me on Icenium is that you don’t need a MAC to build a mobile app that runs on the iOS device. Using Apache Cordova, a.k.a. PhoneGap, in order to apply certificates and provision profiles you have to use a MAC. Icenium has this built into their interface. Through their system youcreating Apple provision and certificate within your Windows-based system.

Icenium is totally free until May 1, 2013 if you create an account now.

http://www.icenium.com

Can you really make money with affiliate programs?

I’ve been in this business for over a decade and one thing that has stayed consistent is the opportunities for web publishers to make money with affiliate programs. Just about every website you go to nowadays has some sort of affiliate/reseller/partnership program.

But can you really make money? And is the amount of money you might bring in really worth it? Well I intend to find out. Starting at the beginning of 2011 I’m going to perform an experiment with affiliate program opportunities to assess just how someone can make a living on their income from affiliate programs, like the author of ‘How to Make Money With Affiliate Programs’ published on the 2createawebsite.com website.

From the research I’ve done so far, the key to really making money is coming up with a good affiliate plan. You can’t just sign-up for every affiliate program you see and place links all over your site all “willy-nilly”. There has to be a strategy.

I like the affiliate strategy documented on WhyDoWeWork.com website. It emphases the following tactics:

  • Browsing through many possibilities – There are so many affiliate programs out there as I indicated earlier that it could make your head swim. Find the ones that either is the focus of your blog or website, or perhaps you are a subject matter expert in.
  • Create a landing page – I like this one! Most of us simply place the banner or link that the website provides and we’re done. We don’t put much effort into. But as web designers and developers we have a unique opportunity to give more focus to these affiliate products or services. This also gives you an change to enhance the SEO to this page, thus increasing your traffic.
  • Capture emails for future sales – I never thought about this one. Just because your promoting someone else’s product these are still your customers. Keep them up-to-date with new services, products and/or information.

Now so far if this sounds like a full-time job…well yeah I agree. But if it pays full-time money then it will definitely be worth it.

As I move forward into my Internet experiment I’ll keep my readers informed of my progress and any tips I pick up as I go. If you’re like me, you make recommendation all the time to your clients about products and services, why not get paid for it.

Here are some more resources you might find interesting about making money with affiliate programs, and stay up-to-date with my future posts related to my affiliate venture by subscribing to my RSS feed.

Use our calculators to help improve your site revenue

Share your experience or tips about making money with affiliate programs with us.

Web Designers Success Guide: how to profit from freelance web design (FREE e-book)

Download  of “Web Designers Success Guide: how to profit from freelance web design” by Kevin Airgrid.

Description of the ebook from their site:

Web Designer’s Success Guide is the definitive guide to starting your own freelance Web design business. The author, Kevin Airgid, grossed over $100,000 USD a year developing sites for various national level clients. In this book he gives designers step-by-step instructions on how to achieve the following:

  • Transition from full-time to self-employment
  • Freelance on the side to make additional income
  • Find new clients and keep them coming back for more
  • Market your freelance business
  • Manage your projects professionally
  • Price your services appropriately

Book Website: http://www.airgid.com/book/

Visual Studio Debugging Issue

For application development for .NET, my tool of choice is MS Visual Studio. Every once in while lately I’ve run into an issue that frustrates the heck out of me. I will be coding my app, make a breakpoint where I’d like to start watching the performance of the application, and click the green debug arrow. My application will execute and not stop at my break points. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, I tried even on some occasions restarting VS hoping it was just a gliche.

I learned that there is an issue or conflict with using IE8 as your debugging browser — which is what I use. It appears that if you have opened multiple instances of IE8 and you attempt to debug your project, you will more than likely encounter this issue where the VS debugger just will not stop and ignores your break points. How rude! Apparently IE8 has a feature called “Loosely-Coupled Internet Explorer” (LCIE) which results in IE running across multiple processes. Older versions of VS Debugger can get confused by this and cannot figure out how to attach to the correct process. (I guess that explains why it happens mostly in VS 2005.)

Well I might have open browsers because I’m searching for a solution or resource to assist with the project, so closing out all my instances of IE8 may not be the most convenient thing.

I found this quick fix to solve the problem. You’ll need to disable the process growth feature of LCIE.

  1. Open RegEdit
  2. Browse to HKEY_LOCALMACHINE -> SOFTWARE -> Microsoft -> Internet Explorer -> Main
  3. Right-click on Main and select to add a new DWORD value, and name it TabProcGrowth
  4. Click on TabProcGrowth and make sure the Value data is equal to 0, and click OK.

Now your VS Debugger should work just fine. Feel free … open as many instances of IE8 as your heart’s content! Happy Debugging!

Read more about LCIE – http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/beta/readiness/developers-existing.aspx#lcie

Original solution found at: http://weblogs.asp.net/abdullaabdelhaq/archive/2009/06/01/VS-Debug-Problem-with-IE8.aspx

Affiliate Marketing Programs: Picking a domain name

Happy New Year! As I indicated in a post at the end of the year entitled, “Can you really make money with affiliate programs?“, I’ve starting my experiment with affiliate program opportunities to assess just how someone can make a living on their income from affiliate programs. I began by signing up for a few affiliate programs just to understand the process. Some of them I got approved for, no problem, but got denied for a couple I was really excited about. When you sign up for an affiliate program you have to list your website. Well since this was my FIRST step, I only had ITGeekGurl to reference. Merchants obviously look at your site to see if there is a relevance or if you are targeting an audience in their “niche”…and obviously I wasn’t.

With that said, I think the first step is deciding who will be your target audience. Your target or “niche” can be as broad or narrow as you want it — I’ll chime in later on which one I think is best after the experiment. Then you’ll need to build your website, so you can have something for the affiliate merchants to see that you are targeting their audience. But whoa!!! — getting ahead of myself because before you can secure web hosting and build that site — You have got to select a domain name.

Selecting the right domain name for your affiiliate marketing website because your domain name will play an important part in the success of your site. Selecting a good domain name definitely isn’t as easy as it sounds, I’ve spent the last five days trying to come up with something. Most good domain names are already gone, unlike years ago when I was able to register ChildCareNetwork.com [wow, shouldn’t have ever let that one expire — thinking aloud].

There are two different types of domain names: brand name and keyword name.

A brand name is one that is easy to remember and recognizable which may or maynot reflect what the site is about it. Brand names should be short and/or catchy to be effective. I really like the Web 2.0 words for this type of domain name. Here’s a great Web 2.0 domain name generator.

A keyword name is one that is designed to work well with the search engines. It contains keywords that are informative and consistent with the way potential visitors will do their searches. Examples are: BestVegasRestaurants.com or CoolCustomTshirts.com.

A .com address is definitely best for an affiliate marketing website. The .com Top Level Domain (TLD) is the strongest and most memorable. Folks generally type .com when they don’t know the entire address of a website.

Make a list of desired domain names, then check them out with a domain name registry service for their availability. May registries will allow you to type different variations of the domain to check availability, but I found a cool tool online that checks the domain name you enter, but also variations of it automatically.

Once you find that great domain name is available, register it quick! However, don’t be discouraged if after days (5 to be exact) you cannot find an available domain name that really makes you go “wow—that’s it!”, there are market services available that allow you to get in contact with the owner of the domain and perhaps make an offer.

Other domain name resources:

Generating Thumbnails for Your Videos

I was recently working on a project for a client using a WordPress template that I integrated with VideoPress. The VideoPress plug-in I added allows the client to upload her videos and display them in custom players on the website. The WordPress theme that I used displayed thumbnails of the videos and allowed visitors to click on them to be directed to the specific video post, and the thumbnails images are set by the ‘Featured Image’ in the ‘Add New Post’ form for WordPress Admin.

Ah hah! here lied the problem. Where was I suppose to get those thumbnail images? Yes as a designer I had a few tricks up my sleeve but they all included some sort of video editing software and would have been too complex for my client. I needed something simple and quick.

The videos from VideoPress are displayed as Flash, so forget about right-clicking on the video image to save as a JPEG. I tried everything, and searched the web for keywords like ‘videopress’, ‘thumbnail’, ‘generate’. All I found were a bunch of unanswered questions from users just as lost as I was and some confusing plug-ins that didn’t indicated they supported VideoPress.

Then I came across the FREE Video to Jpg Converter application. It is a very powerful little tool that simply creates video snapshots and extract frames from video files to JPG files with one mouse click. You can extract for example every hundredth video frame or frames in every 10 seconds. Any one of those images can be used as the ‘Featured Image’ for your video post. Cool beans!

Free Video to JPG Converter

Free Video to JPG Converter

My video project’s challenge was due to the source of my videos [VideoPress]. However, if your project embeds video from other video publishing sites there are plenty of resources and information available to assist you in creating thumbnails for your videos. Here are a few:

Video Thumbnails – Video Thumbnails is a simple plugin that makes it easy to automatically display video thumbnails in your template. It supports: YouTube, Vimeo, Blip.tv, Simple Video Embedder, Vimeo Shortcode, and JR Embed.

Get img thumbnails from Vimeo videos – Using Vimeo Simple API this posts discusses the best way to get the image file to place on your website.

Generating video thumbnails for YouTube is very simple as long as you know the video-id. Use the following URLs for your thumbnail images in three different sizes:

http://img.youtube.com/vi/<insert-youtube-video-id-here>/1.jpg  http://img.youtube.com/vi/<insert-youtube-video-id-here>/2.jpg  http://img.youtube.com/vi/<insert-youtube-video-id-here>/3.jpg

Happy video blogging!

Decorating Your Website or Blog for the Holidays!

After you’ve festively decorated your home and place of business, don’t forget about showing that same holiday spirit with your electronic media.

Start off by downloading a very festive holiday wallpaper to your computer desktop(s). I tend to lean toward the more contemporary wallpapers so here are a few of my favorite resources:

Next, decorate your website or blog to show your spirit and wish your visitors a Happy Holiday. I used to work for a government agency that every Christmas, I would have a snow scene that would replace the header section. On their timekeeping application where I had branded a little man running with a giant clock in his hand, I replace it with a similar image but the little man had a santa hat on. If your website uses a photograph of your city or some other landscape, replace it with a winter scene with the same focal point — unless you live in California or somewhere else where Winter looks like Summer.

Here are a few resources to give your website that extra seasonal flair:

If your website or blog uses the WordPress or Joomla platform, try out one of these Xmas templates to replace your current design during the holiday season:

Wait, what about your social networking site, you definitely have to decorate it as well using these resources:

Perhaps you’d like to make your own holiday design. Here are some tutorials and tools for assisting you in doing so:

Don’t forget about your mobile device. Show your holiday spirit with these mobile wallpaper and themes:

Last, when you’re sending out those Christmas cards through the US Postal Service, don’t forget about sending special holiday wishes via e-mail using some of these resources:

Please SHARE with me your websites and blogs that you’ve decorated for the holiday season, or other holiday resources for web or blog designs. Perhaps you can be an inspiration to others.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Black Friday!

Usually I’m not really into the “Black Friday” frenzy. While all the other shoppers are out getting deals, I’m getting that extra 40 winks I so deserve after cooking a full course meal for my family and friends the day before. But with the economic times the way they are, no one can refuse to grab a good deal. With that said, I’m still not sure I’ll be out and about on Black Friday, but I definitely will be in front of mycomputer trying to get whatever bargains my high-speed internet allows to me get to.

Here are a few I’d like to share with my fellow developers and designers that I’ve found so far:

Xigla — Web-based software applications developers can integrate into their web projects. I’ve used the News Manager and Newsletter App for projects and it’s pretty cool. Their Black Friday special is 40% off discount any of their .NET applications. Just go to their web site at http://www.xigla.com, select the .NET product you want, proceed to the order page and when prompted, enter the following COUPON CODE :  TURKEY.

GoDaddy — a web hosting and domain registry site, is offering $4 Domain Names w/ Coupon Code: cjcBLACK09

Amazon Go to their site NOW and get some great Black Friday deals. If you’re looking for something to make some quick videos for YouTube, check out the Coby 1.44-Inch TFT LCD SNAPP Mini Camcorder/Camera CAM3001BLK for $19.99 (reg. 45.99). 

MacMall — Are you a mac user? Go to the MacMall and see their Early Black Friday Blowout . The iPad wasn’t on sale but you still might find some nice deals.

Dell Visit their Black Friday Sale site to save a few dollars on hardware you might have been thinking about buying. They’ve got an IOMEGA 500GB Portable Harddrive for $54.99. Who can’t use some extra backup, right?

Black Friday Website — This website features the released (leaked) ads for different vendors. This is definitely a MUST see. (http://www.black-friday.net/)

Another Black Friday Site — This one is definitely worth checking out. (http://www.blackfridayonline.com/)

zwani.com myspace graphic comments

Making Your Website or Blog Your Business: Workshop Notes

On July 30, 2010, I participated as a panelist for the 2010 NABJ Conference (National Association of Black Journalist) workshop entitled, “Making Your Website or Blog Your Business”, held in San Diego California. The workshop, organized by Premier Multimedia Group, LLC, featured Kim Betton, owner of Premier Multimedia Group and founder of SmoothJazzTimes.com, Isiah Carey of Isiah Carey’s Insite and myself Lisa Dowdell of Lisa Dowdell Consulting. The expert panel shared information, experiences and resources to help its attendees make money with their websites and blogs.

The following is a review of the information and resources provided during the workshop:

Subject Matter or Niche – When starting a new website or blog, find a subject matter that interests you, or that you feel others might find interesting. You can even start a website based on a personal experience that you have. Take for example the blog called “Photography is Not a Crime” which evolved from a photographers experience of being jailed for taking a picture of a police officer against his will. Through his blog the author documents 1st Amendment violations against other photographers around the country. 

 www.compete.com is a website that allows you to do a comparative analysis on your potential competition — find out how many page views they accumulate, what keywords visitors use to  find them…etc. This will give you insite on your potential market. You can compare up to three sites for free.

Domain Name – Once you’ve selected the subject matter of your website or blog, you’ll need to register a domain name to help others find you on the web. Some of the top registrars are: Register.com, GoDaddy.com and Network Solutions. My personal favorite is GoDaddy.com, but as I recommended to the audience, never pay full price. You can always find a coupon for a percentage off your purchase at websites like retailmenot.com.

When selecting domain names, also think about the top level domain (TLD) that you will use, such as .com, .ws (stands for website), .mobi (used for mobile websites), .org (usually for non-profit site), .me and so many more. If you select a primary domain name that is not the traditional .com, try to obtain the .com version as well to be used as a redirected domain name. Years ago, it was easy to get the perfect domain name, but nowadays, it feels like all the best .com versions are gone — It’s time to be creative in your name.

One option is to buy an existing domain. It might cost you more but if it’s a name you just “have to have” then go for it. One advantage is that the average age of top ranking domains in search engines is 7 years old — none younger than 2 years old. Another option is to create a name for your website that utilizes the TLD and/or subdomain in its name, such as del.icio.us. DomainNameSoup.com has tools for creative domain names — such as a tool for creating word combo names like Flickr (from the word Flicker).

The panel recommended that you ensure your domain name is registered in your name, not your webmaster’s or designer. This way you have total control over your domain name and this eliminates complications when trying to switch webmasters. Check out an earlier blog entry for more key tips to obtaining your domain name.

Hosting your website or blog – There are many options out there for website or blog hosting. Free blog hosting is available through: WordPress.com, Blogger.com and Blogspot.com. Additionally, there are some reasonably priced shared hosting services available such as Siteground.com, GoDaddy.com, Web.com and 1and1.com. Your web designer may also provide shared web hosting or should be able to work with any of these third party hosts. Look for shared hosting that provides redundancy with close to 100% uptime and regular backups of your site. Whatever the hosting selection, be sure you have access to your web hosting account and files. Don’t be held hostage by your webmaster, you should be able to have access to your files to move them to a different hoster if you find it necessary.

Content Management Tools (CMS) – A good CMS will allow you to manage your own postings and articles on your website. Back in the day, owners had to contact their webmaster every time they needed to update some information on their site. With all the great free and commercial CMS products on the market, this inconvenience is a thing of the past. Sure, some structural or design changes may still need to be left up to your designer but adding, editing or deleting posts should be as simple as writing in a word processing application like MS Word or Wordperfect. Depending on the structure of your postings, you can download and install on your website one of the free CMS tools such as WordPress.org, Joomla.org, or Drupal.org. If your design budget is small, there are plenty of ready-made design templates out there that work with one of these CMS tools. More complex structures may require a commercial or custom CMS product.

Getting Content For Your Site – Besides your own writings and posting, there are several content sources available to add content to your website or blog. Some of these include news feeds from other resources — Feedzilla.com or FreshContent.com are two examples of website that allow you to embed news feeds in your site. You can also integrate update feeds from FaceBook or Twitter. If you are looking for images and photos for your site, royalty-free stock images and photos can be purchased from iStockPhoto.com, VectorStock.com, 123rf.com, or GraphicRiver.net. You can obtain inexpensive images and photos and sometimes a few free ones on these sites.

Other types of content you can add to your sites are embedded videos from YouTube.com — with this you can have a section of videos that feature content similar to your website. On Widgetbox.com you can find different widget tools and applications that can be embedded on your site, for example, if you have a site that talks about the increase of mortgage rates, embed a tool that allows folks to calculate mortgage rates based on a specific loan amount. Also try the content platform Squidoo.com for embeddable articles and information.

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