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VectorMagic: How to make your images into merchandise

I’ve come across an interesting service that might be of interest to artists. Stanford University has a website up at http://vectormagic.stanford.edu/ that claims to be able to convert static images (raster pixel based) into vector based images (mathematics based, scalable) in a manner that loses very little of the original look. Why is this important? Well, to print or make merchandise out of artwork it is often important to resize the image to different sizes, which raster based images often times do very poorly–especially if an increase in size is necessary (think poster printing). A vector based image is based on a mathematical formula that can be increased or decreased and retain the exact same look and information (you are basically just adding or subtracting numbers), so you can scale a vector image to any size.

The best part of this new service is that it’s currently free. It is semi-limited right now though in that it claims to be optimized more for logos–so scaling your aunt Bertha’s birthday party photo probably won’t work well–but for most people getting their logo or other artwork into vector form for free in a high quality form is a no-brainer.

I’d be curious to hear from anyone who uses the service if it worked well for them. I’m not an artist so I can’t really judge these things. Feel free to send me an email or post on the Harknell.com forums about it.

New Dojo Javascript toolkit for free

If you are anything like me you absolutely hate Javascript coding. It’s got to be the most annoying crap language ever designed, or at least in the top 5. So, it’s a good thing when other people have taken the bullet and created a toolkit that allows you to simply reference a command to cause a complex thing to happen. The Dojo toolkit may end up being a great free resource to anyone who wants to add complex Ajax/Javascript stuff to their site but can’t stand the annoyance of coding it up (or more likely, don’t know how to code it).

Exciting Developments in Open Source: Magento Commerce

I am always excited to see new Open Source web package development, and none more so than Ecommerce solutions. I’m really excited about a new system I discovered recently called Magento Commerce. I haven’t had much time to fully evaluate it, but from what I can see, these guys are building a really super store website system. It looks just as good as any professional online store, with all of the features you’d expect. The fact that you’d normally have to pay a ton of money to get something like this developed, and this is open source and free, is spectacular.

The only lingering questions are how secure this program is, how easy it is to work with, and how difficult it is to upgrade it. But all I can say is if you have been struggling with OSCommerce or any of those other free store site programs, I’d suggest taking a look at this one.

Webcomics becoming more established: Comicsby.us

As time passes there are examples of how something becomes more established in a certain genre or area. In this case, webcomics already have quite a few large hosting services (like webcomicsnation, keenspot, etc.), some news sites (comixnews, fleen, etc.), and now they have a new social bookmarking site dedicated to passing around comic links: http://www.comicsby.us/. As time passes we will certainly see more of these markers toward full acceptance and general usage.

Little Tips: Who loves you?

One of the better things to pay attention to other than visitor traffic is who is linking to your site. If you are getting a large amount of linkage odds are you’re doing a good job on developing your site (unless of course every site that links you has “sucks” at the end of it’s URL name). The easiest way to check who’s linking to you (besides looking at your pingbacks and trackbacks) is to google yourself. The more specific version to look at though is Google Blog Search. While regular links on websites are good to know about, it’s what people are saying in their personal blogs and forums that gets you the real meaty information about how you’re doing. I definitely recommend doing this at least once a month to see how far out your site has reached into the Internet.
There’s also the possibility that you might find someone using your content illegally, so that’s good to know also.

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