1. LooGix

 




 

LooGix lets you make GIFs from a minimum of two frames to a maximum of 10. You can adjust the size and speed to preset levels.

In addition to GIF-making, this service offers “special effects,” such as blurring, rotation, fading, etc.

Once you’re done, upload your GIF to social services, get the HTML code to embed or send it via email.

Click here to view this gallery.

If a picture tells a thousand words, then an animated GIF must be good for a few more. Whether you want to animate your avatar, get involved in a meme, or amuse your friends with a funny photo sequence, an animated GIF is a great way to do it.

We have found — and tried and tested — five free online services that make creating animated GIFs an absolute cinch. With click-to-upload functionality and simple settings to customize your creation, you’ll be a GIF-engineer in no time at all.

SEE ALSO: How to Animate Your Google+ Profile
Take a look through the gallery for a brief overview of the five free tools we’ve tried and tested. And remember folks, animated GIFs should be used sparingly.

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1. Transformation

Similar to Dove’s “Evolution” video, this timelapse clip shows the entire process of a beauty shoot.

Click here to view this gallery.

With ever-more sophisticated software, media photograph touchups are now commonplace and widely accepted.

But should it be so extreme? Some would argue that airbrushing images for the beauty industry’s version of perfection grossly distorts our ideas of beauty, creating a false benchmark that’s utterly unattainable.

At the very least, when you see the extent to which photos can be digitally altered, you’ll view future images with a healthy dose of skepticism. We’ve found nine YouTube videos that take you through the Photoshop transformation process.

SEE ALSO: Tool Reveals Which Celebs, Models Have Been Photoshopped
Take a look through our video gallery for some stunning transformation sequences. In the gallery below, take a peek at 15 dramatically Photoshopped “before and after” celebrity photographs.

 

Fergie

 




 

Click here to view this gallery.

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Tim Yeaton is the President and CEO of Black Duck Software. He has more 30 years experience working in the software community. Contact him at tyeaton@blackducksoftware.com.

Most people do not think of software developers as being high on the “social” scale. In fact, the (misinformed) stereotype for a typical developer is that of the introverted geek. But in many ways, particularly with open source developers, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Contributing to open source software is a profoundly social activity. Some of open source’s main tenets are collaboration, transparency and meritocracy, which require developers to collaborate and share at a highly productive level. And with over 500,000 open source projects on the Internet, there’s a lot of collaboration going on. It’s clear that by participating in open source communities, developers are engaging in productive social behavior.

While some people may picture open source developers as working quietly and in isolation, the reality is they may work on large projects with a wide community of collaborators. For example, Linux has nearly 10,000 contributors. Others may focus on small, personal projects, which may or may not draw the attention of the larger development community.

But even developers working on small projects are still working with other people. And virtually all new open source projects derive from those projects and the developers that preceded them, creating a vast body of work that accelerates innovation and fuels further collaboration.

Today’s open source developers are contributing to projects in very different ways than just a few years ago. What has changed?


Search + Social Media = Social Development


Two developments — search and social media — have changed the way coders work to create “social development,” a new style of software collaboration. Let’s look first at social media’s influence on it.

Social media’s impact has forced change (some good and some bad) in nearly every sector of the economy — including open source development. While communities such as Slashdot and Stack Overflow provided an early glimpse of social media’s impact on development in the FOSS community and encouraged developers to become more active within these and other communities, the effect took some time to achieve.

Today, it’s not unusual to see enterprise software developers more active in social media circles, even as enterprises themselves are evolving socially. According to a recent study by Forrester, developers are engaging socially; they’re joining communities to connect with experts, seeking answers to business problems and, like many people, networking for career advancement. The figure above shows the leading reasons developers join communities: to connect with thought leaders, gain expertise and engage in high quality discussions.

Web search has also enhanced the importance of social media among open source developers, affecting this new style of development. My company recently commissioned a study with Forrester to investigate the social habits of developers. As shown above, contributors to open source projects turn to online search first for information about development technologies, followed by social sites like networks, forums and other online communities.

Developers also share search results via open source or project forums, communities and more general social media tools like Twitter.

As a result, today’s “social developer,” even if not an employee of a large enterprise, is participating more than ever with enterprises – or more specifically, with developers in those enterprises who are increasingly involved with FOSS communities of various types.

Social development arms corporate developers with a new toolset for producing innovative and high quality software at enterprise scale faster than ever before. This style of development wasn’t possible just a few years ago before search, social media tools and online collaboration tools made it possible to create software using social development techniques. Nevertheless, the evolution has been crucial to the success of businesses and individual developers.

Another pivotal change is the fact that enterprise IT organizations are now discovering the need to “go social” and join communities as a strategy for leveraging and using more open source software, especially mission-critical components. This significant trend reflects the reality that open source use is becoming a competitive requirement. Even within the firewall of an enterprise, the trend toward collaborative development to share best practices, facilitate code reuse, and enhance developer productivity is escalating rapidly.

Other environmental and technical changes have supported the emergence of social development. Communications between project committers — which until recently were conducted through IRC channels and wikis — have expanded with the increased number of social communities. And today more than ever, FOSS developers are actively seeking enterprise adoption of their code.

Another change is the emergence of sites like Github and Ohloh, a free community resource, which was specifically designed to support and encourage social development and to allow developers to give each other kudos (literally). The figure above also lists the contributors for a project called Restlet, a Java REST framework for web developers. Shown on the page are the developer profiles, kudos and code commitments to the project.

While social development isn’t a challenge for Gen Y developers, it still presents management challenges for enterprises, especially larger ones. Moving at web speed and using social tools still requires some adjustment. For example, new college hires expect to be community participants, yet large enterprises may not be comfortable with this level of transparency. Although open source projects are based on the notion of transparency, collaboration and meritocracy, some corporate policies may prohibit or limit this philosophy, just like some corporate cultures may resist the trend toward openness in development.

Social interaction and social development offer tremendous new opportunities for developers and enterprises. The advent of social media tools has changed the nature of community participation as much as search. If you and your organization have not joined the growing number of “social developers,” now is the time to start.

Disclosure: Ohloh is owned by the author’s company.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Goldmund

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This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Aaron Stibel serves as senior vice president of technology of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp, the leading provider of credit building and credibility solutions for businesses. He holds a BS in computer science from Johns Hopkins University.

There are a few ubiquitous projects that most computer science students remember: Hello world, the Fibonacci recursion sequence and the reverse Polish notation calculator, for example.

No project is more annoying to me than the dreaded MS Access database project. In my day, the project came in the form of a CD catalog. Now it is more likely to be an MP3 catalog or sometimes a college course catalog. Whatever the form, this project is typically a disappointing response to the job interview question, “Do you have any database experience?”

Technology moves quickly. I tell new college graduates to enjoy that feeling of knowing a technology that eludes your supervisor — because it won’t last. When a new crew of graduates comes along in a couple of years, they’ll be showing off languages that make AJAX and Ruby seem like COBOL and Pascal.

Our dependency on databases and data warehousing has exploded, mainly because storage has become a relatively negligible line item on IT budgets. Instead, software is the storage, retrieval, transformation and visualization of data. C-Level executives who don’t know Java Beans from coffee beans are now talking OLAP Cubes.

So with databases being part of technology and high-value businesses, colleges must start including databases all over the curriculum.

Of the top five highest-rated computer science programs — Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Cornell — none include a database course as part of the 2011 undergraduate degree requirement. Worse, the top four schools only offer a single database course as an undergraduate engineering elective. Graduate-level programs offer few additional options.

It never fails to amaze me how little database experience college graduates have. Most have no SQL experience, and I haven’t interviewed a single candidate who can design an ERD, properly tune a query or write complex SQL. This lack of qualifications is a major hindrance in today’s data-dependent world. Yet it doesn’t need to be. A single mandatory class would suffice.

My wish list of database requirements for a college graduate would be selfishly long. At the very least, however, graduates should be experts at SQL and have exposure to PL/SQL or T-SQL. A SQL tuning class that covers indexing and proper design would be great as well. Students should know what an ERD is, and how to design data architectures as well as they tackle data structures. Ask a software engineer what he uses more: a Red-Black Tree or a Table (the answer is obvious).

It has been 40 years since SQL was invented. It’s time to add database courses to the mandatory curriculum. It’s time to banish the dreaded MS Access project. It’s time to add data to the core theory, applications, and systems concentrations.

Image courtesy of Flickr, lu_lu

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Adobe released the public beta of its new website creation software, code-named Muse, on Monday.

Unlike Dreamweaver, Adobe’s flagship web development tool, Muse is for graphic designers who want to create elegant websites without having to code.

We’ve been playing with Muse for the past two weeks as part of the private beta, and we are impressed with the tool’s functionality and featureset. What differentiates Muse from some other code-free website creation tools is this: the user interface and the design paradigms mimic those from other Adobe Creative Suite applications, namely InDesign.

This was by design. Adobe says that the majority of users who identify themselves as graphic designers — i.e., not web developers or interaction designers — still primarily work with print. Muse is for these users.

A common scenario is that a graphic designer will create a website in Illustrator, Fireworks or Photoshop and then pass the flattened file off to web designers who will then do their best to code the comp.

With Muse, Adobe hopes to eliminate that coding step for users whose sites don’t need lots of dynamic content — and who want to lay out and generate the code for their site with one tool.

Check out this video to see Muse in action:


Small Footprint, Lots of Features


Perhaps the most surprising feature about Muse is that it is an Adobe Air application, rather than a full-blown native app. That means it works on Mac and PC.

I’m not particularly fond of Adobe Air on the Mac; it tends to have sub-optimal performance. But in Muse’s hands it is fast, efficient, and auto-saves frequently.

This is a public beta, so crashes will happen. When they do, you can just start the app again and resume without losing too much work.

Muse was built to take advantage of certain HTML5 and CSS3 properties and to generate semantically-correct code. We’ve heard all of that before, but in our tests, the code that Muse outputs is clean and readable.

You can add your own HTML snippets or dynamic content information to a Muse page, and the app also comes with a set of pre-defined widgets. These widgets are written in jQuery and can be modified like any other element. CSS3 transitions are also possible to create in Muse; the process is seamless.

You can preview a page locally using the built-in WebKit browser or by opening up a file in the default app on your Mac or PC. This is great for seeing exactly how something looks in a browser before publishing.


Why Not Use WordPress?


The main question that comes up with these types of tools is this: why not just use WordPress, or some similar content management system?

Adobe’s answer is another question: how many types of designers actually need a database system?

For brochure sites, landing pages and sites that don’t have frequently changing content, a database web system usually isn’t necessary. If you can embed JavaScript, RSS feeds and other information into a site itself, a designer might not even need to bother with the whole CMS process.

That said, Muse could easily be used to prototype content that would then be implemented into a system like WordPress. For instance, a page and section layout designed in Muse could become a new WordPress theme.

In fact, users of the private beta are already exploring these kinds of options, and Adobe is open to expanding on them.


Publishing, Pricing & Availability


Muse is available in public beta now, and Adobe has said the program will be free until its official release in early 2012. That gives designers a chance to offer their feedback.

Once Muse launches under its final name in early 2012, it will be available by subscription. This is the first Adobe product to have a subscription-only pricing scheme and it will be $15 per month with a one-year commitment or $20 per month on a month-to-month basis.

Users who want to publish their sites can choose to use Adobe Business Catalyst for their hosting needs and publish directly from Muse.

If you have hosting setup elsewhere, you can export the contents of your site as HTML and upload the corresponding files, images, HTML and CSS files to your web server.


A Muse Site


Adobe’s website for Muse was created using the app, which is an impressive example of dog-fooding. Just to get a sense of what the app could do, I put together this layout for one of my domains, christina.is, in about 20 minutes. Most of the time was spent aligning the social media icons and aligning that text within the confines of a JavaScript accordion.

This isn’t the most beautiful site in the world — however, for less than 20 minutes of work, it’s not a bad start.

What do you think of Adobe’s new website creation tool? Graphic designers, are you interested in an InDesign-approach to layout and semantically generated code? Let us know in the comments.

More About: adobe, Adobe Air, muse, Web Development, website creation

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In the same way that bar codes don’t have to be boring, quick response codes can also be creative. Thanks to a 30% tolerance in readability, you can have some real fun with clever designs. Besides looking good, this can also make them more successful.

“Designer QR codes are not only a way to make your 2D barcode stand out, but they also add a more human element to the otherwise cold and techie appearance,” says Patrick Donnelly, QR code designer and expert. “This could be the difference between someone scanning your code or not.”

Take a look through the image gallery for 15 brilliant designs created for a range of businesses from big names such as Disney, little names such as local restaurants and even conceptual ideas. Let us know in the comments if a clever design would make you more likely to scan a code.

1. Ayara Thai Cuisine




Designed by Paperlinks, a charming elephant drawing adds a dash of Asia to this LA restaurant’s QR code.

2. True Blood

HBO’s True Blood season 3 was the first TV series to get a designer QR code in an ad, thanks to a collaboration between Warbasse Design, .phd agency and SET Japan.

3. Magic Hat Brewing Company

This clever code from Patrick Donnelly is made up of bottle tops and links to the beer company’s mobile optimized Facebook page.

4. Help Japan Now

Chances are you’ve already seen SET’s “Help Japan” design. As well as extending the code to make an instantly recognizable red cross, the faux parts of the code contain related symbols for an arresting overall effect.

5. Louis Vuitton

Another SET creation, QR codes get playful with a dose of Takeshi Murakami-influenced design for Louis Vuitton’s mobile website

.

6. Corkbin

Wine app Corkbin gets the Paperlinks treatment with a design that co-ordinates with, and even features, its distinctive logo.

7. Disney

Cliffano Subagio spotted these awesome Disney codes in Japan where QR is a well established marketing tool.

8. Discover LA Tourism Bureau

This Paperlinks code is both cool and calm with made-you-look palm trees that add a special design touch.

9. Pac-Man

An experimental design from Patrick Donnelly, we love the witty, retro appeal.

10. Greenfield Lodge

The dots from Greenfield Lodge’s floral logo are replicated throughout the design to great effect.

11. M&Ms

Anther concept design from Patrick Donnelly, we like the idea of arranging real-life objects into a scannable code.

12. The Fillmore Silver Spring

Paperlinks added musical instruments into this concert venue’s design, a neat way to tease consumers into reading the code.

13. Burtonwood & Holmes

Artists Tom Burtonwood and Holly Holmes have fun by extruding the classic code design with a code-within-a-code concept.

14. The Wine Sisterhood

As well as integrating elements from the group’s logo, we like how Paperlinks made the design appear painted with wine.

15. TIME

These striking TIME covers from SET show just how creative you can get with QR codes.

BONUS: Farmville

Patrick Donnelly is such a QR code enthusiast, he spent months on Farmville “growing” a design!


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If your favorite part of July 4 celebrations is the fireworks, then we’ve got a fun gallery for you. We’ve found five tools that offer virtual fireworks you can enjoy right at your desk.

Whether you want to send someone an animated message, play around to create a mesmerizing browser show or add fireworks to your own site, we’ve found web sparklers to suit.

Light the touchpaper, stand at a safe distance and rocket through the gallery. You can find out more about the tools by clicking on the blue title text at the top left of each slide. Let us know which ones you like in the comments below.

1. Enjoy Canvas Fireworks




This hypnotic HTML5 Canvas experiment offers three different shapes of fireworks that you can control with your mouse for a 3D wow experience.

2. Write a Message in Fireworks

This is tons of fun. Compose your own message and see it written across the London skyline in fireworks. You can also share it with an automatically generated tiny URL.

3. Add Fireworks to Your Own Site With Fireworks.js

You can add fireworks to your own site with this nifty Javascript animation experiment. Or if you’re just firecracker-curious, you can play around with it on the dev’s site.

4. View Augmented Reality Fireworks

Simply print off the marker, fire up your webcam and you can enjoy your very own miniature augmented reality fireworks show.

5. Go Old School With Fireworks Just For You

Dating back to 2002, this particular desktop show is perfect for kids, offering mesmerizing fireworks generated by the click of your mouse.

BONUS: Join the HTML5 Fireworks Festival

If you’re handy with HTML5 then join the “Hanabi fireworks festival” by forking the sample code, or creating your own from scratch. The resulting entries will then be revealed as an online spectacular on July 7.

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The Web Development Series is supported by Rackspace, the better way to do hosting. Learn more about Rackspace’s hosting solutions here.

Earlier this week, web-based code hosting service GitHub released GitHub for Mac, a free Git client for Mac OS X that makes managing and interacting with GitHub repositories and sharing code a snap.

Git is a distributed revision control system (DVCS) developed by Linus Torvalds for managing the development process of the Linux kernel. It’s a great way for teams to collaboratively share code. Like other DVCS tools, Git was designed for use at the command line.

GitHub for Mac isn’t the first GUI-based Git client for Mac OS X, but the fact that it’s free, well-designed and integrates beautifully with the world’s most popular Git host certainly sets it apart from some of the other options. That isn’t to say that apps like Tower, Gitbox, GitX and Sprout don’t still have their own merits, but GitHub for Mac sets a high bar for other Git clients.

Within 24 hours of its release, GitHub for Mac has already been installed by more than 30,000 users.

The app uses Chameleon, a port of Apple’s UIKit for iOS to Mac OS X. Chameleon was built by The Iconfactory for its fantastic Twitterrific for Mac app.

The user-interface of GitHub for Mac is top-notch; browsing through histories, looking at commits, switching branches and syncing changes is a snap.

The app is fast and it makes it easy to add a new repository to your GitHub account, share code, clone branches that don’t exist on your local machine and do standard push and pull requests. You don’t even have to use GitHub as your Git remote (though obviously, the program was optimized as such). You can set a remote manually and push, pull and sync changes within the app.

GitHub has also added a fantastic new “Clone in Mac” button on its website that makes cloning a repository a snap. I don’t commit a lot of code to GitHub, but I follow a lot of different projects and frequently download repositories and releases from the site. Being able to clone a repo directly in GitHub makes it easier to watch for updates, sync changes and also manage my own branches and forks locally (and if I choose, publish my changes publicly).

For a 1.0 release, the GitHub team did a great job. The app will be updated on a regular basis (a few bugs have already been fixed) and we look forward to seeing the app become bigger and better.

Do you use Git? If so, how do you manage your code and interact with remote repositories? Let us know.


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If you’re a .NET dev who likes the sound of predictive bug-squashing, you might want to give Armadillo a shot.

This handy tool runs in the background and analyzes your code, flagging lines that need to be corrected. It follows you as you test your code and creates a safety net, protecting your work from regression bugs.

Armadillo creates validation scenarios that are continuously verified as you modify your code. If a bug is found, Armadillo pinpoints it so you can debug the code in question without running the whole app.

And best of all, as the software learns more scenarios, it is able to prevent more bugs. Armadillo will also show you unverified code so you can add validation scenarios yourself.

Armadillo works on Windows machines and can be used with Visual C# on Visual Studio 2010 to prevent bugs in WPF, WinForms and Console applications. ASP .NET and SharePoint scenarios protection is coming soon for web app support.

You can get a 21-day free trial, or you can subscribe for $25 each month. Commercial licenses, ideal for .NET shops, are $299 plus a $99 annual maintenance fee.

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Fitness app developer RunKeeper has made its API available to the public, enabling developers to make use of its “Health Graph,” which organizes and correlates a variety of health and fitness data.

RunKeeper’s Health Graph integrates fitness sensor data, such as GPS trackers, Wi-Fi body scales, sleep monitoring devices and heart-rate transmitters, with eating habits, workout schedules, social interactions and more to help users track and understand their health and fitness choices in a holistic, highly correlated manner.

RunKeeper’s apps for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7 can help users understand how their social habits affect their sleep and workout patterns, which in turn affects their health.

Now device manufacturers and app developers — including launch partners Foursquare and Zeo — can tap into this same data, as well as RunKeeper’s social features, like its FitnessFeed and sharing integrations with Facebook and Twitter. Founder Jason Jacobs explains the API in a blog post.

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