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By Cynthia Scott | Tuesday, November 02, 2010

WordPress week at lynda.com

You asked for WordPress courses, and we heard you. We have three new WordPress courses coming online this week.

New in the Online Training Library® is WordPress 3.0 Essential Training with author Morten Rand-Hendriksen. Morten is a gifted teacher and WordPress expert who is eager to share his knowledge with you. The course includes a walkthrough of common tasks in WordPress, from setting up an account to launching self-hosted sites. Also included are tutorials on inserting media, installing plugins, creating custom themes, and incorporating search engine optimization.

Soon, tune in to Chris Coyier’s new course, WordPress 3.0: Creating and Editing Custom Themes. I am very excited to bring Chris Coyier’s unique voice to the lynda.com Online Training Library®.

Wrapping up our new WordPress releases this week will be WordPress: Creating Custom Widgets and Plugins with author Drew Falkman. Let us know what you think!

By Cynthia Scott | Tuesday, September 07, 2010

First Look course about HTML5 released

We’re thrilled to have released our course, HTML5 First Look with James Williamson. This much anticipated training course provides a high-level look at HTML5 in its current state.

Topics include: • Understanding the history of HTML5 • Using new tags • Understanding HTML5 semantics • Coding ID and class attributes in HTML5 • Structuring documents • Building forms • Exploring HTML5 native APIs • Encoding and adding HTML5 video • Exploring associated technologies such as CSS3

Happy learning! While you’re exploring HTML5 First Look, keep track of what you’d like to learn next. We’re working on developing future HTML5 courses and we’d like your input.

By Cynthia Scott | Wednesday, September 01, 2010

lynda.com author Paul Trani on creating sites with Flash CS5

As part of our ongoing Flash training courses, we just released a new course that guides viewers through the steps to creating a web site with Flash Professional CS5: Creating a First Web Site with Flash Professional CS5. This project course is a good follow-up to Flash Professional CS5 Essential Training. It gives you a chance to practice your new skills, and results in a usable project that can be repurposed to suit your needs.

By Cynthia Scott | Friday, July 09, 2010

New interactive design course on Papervision3D

This 3D image of a skybox was created in Papervision3D.

As part of our ongoing training courses in Flash, we’ve just released a new course in Papervision3D. I had a chance to catch up with lynda.com author Seb Lee-Delisle to talk to him about his experience with this fascinating 3D software.

Q. What is Papervision3D and what does it do?

A. It’s just a whole bunch of ActionScript files that gets compiled into your swf in the same way as your custom ActionScript would, although the Papervision code is complicated and there are hundreds of class files.

Papervision3D calculates what the 3D objects should look like in 2D and then uses the Flash drawing API (moveTo, lineTo etc) draw the 3D objects in real time.

Q. What are some of the most surprising uses of Papervision3D you’ve seen?

A. I’ve seen Papervision3D used for 3D interfaces, racing games, and kids’ websites like our own Plug-in Media projects for the BBC, Big and Small, and ZingZillas. Even MLB.com use it for their 3D pitch simulations!

Q. What foundation skills would people need to get the most out of Papervision3D?

A. Ideally you would have a basic understanding of ActionScript programming, and a familiarity with Flash Builder (previously Flex Builder).

Q. In your opinion, what’s the most interesting feature in Papervision3D?

A. Just the fact that you can now render full 3D objects in Flash is brilliant. And the Collada file importer means that you can now create your 3D objects in apps like Maya and 3DStudio and watch them come to life in interactive projects.

Q. What are some of the main issues for developers?

A. Papervision3D is a software renderer, which means that you won’t get the sort of performance that you’re used to in full hardware rendered 3D like in modern console games. But in the course I show you the easiest way to get started along with all the insider tips and tricks to getting your projects optimised and running beautifully.

View Papervision3D 2 Essential Training in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.

By Cynthia Scott | Friday, June 11, 2010

Short-term fix to Dreamweaver CS5 and WordPress course

Many thanks to the alert members who let us know that we were missing information in our recent Dreamweaver course, Dreamweaver CS5 and WordPress. We want our titles to be helpful to all members, and really appreciate hearing when we can do better.

As soon as the title went up, we started getting feedback that the first chapter, “Setting up WordPress,” needed additional details to help Windows users install the WampServer—namely, that PC users should create their site in the c:\wamp\www\ folder. We’ve added an overlay to the last video in Chapter 1, “Establishing the Dreamweaver site,” and this short-term fix is up on the site now, thanks to your input. If you tried to use the course and had trouble, please try this extra step.

Please, continue to let us know what details you need to take advantage of this or any one of our courses. Hearing from you helps us create the ideal training with the details that you need. We look forward to hearing from you.

By Cynthia Scott | Monday, March 22, 2010

Dan Ariely’s SXSW® talk and the responsibility of form design

I’m just back from the whirlwind that is the Interactive Media track at the SXSW® (South by Southwest) conference, and I’ve got a lot on my mind. One special highlight for me was the opportunity to hear Duke University professor Dan Ariely speak. I am so intrigued by his work. He wrote the book Predictably Irrational, which takes a look at non-rational forces at work on decision-making.

What really got to me was his illustration of the important role of designers. His main point was that defaults matter because when faced with complex decisions, people do nothing. Even when it comes to decisions that will have significant impact, people tend to decide based on how the choice is presented rather than the consequences of the choice.

The result is that whoever designs the interface, in effect, makes the choice for a large number of people. That’s a lot of power.

This is a re-creation of the chart Dan Ariely showed at SXSW to demonstrate the power of default form design. Click on the image to see it full size.

For example, Ariely showed a bar chart comparing organ donation across several counties. On the left was a series of countries with donation rates from 0 to 28 percent. On the right was a series of countries with near 100 percent donation rates. One assumption might be to explain this by looking at cultural differences. However, it was easy to see pairs of culturally-similar countries (such as the Netherlands and Belgium) with opposite donation styles.

It turned out that the driving difference was the default form design. For the countries with low donation rates, the donation form asked them to opt-in. For the countries with high donation rates, the donation form asked them to opt-out. That’s it. That default design difference has been steering people to make a choice that has had a huge impact on their loved ones, their country’s medical system, on other people’s survival rate, and on other people’s families and futures.

It is surprising to think that something so personal, and with so much impact, could be driven by form design. Ariely pointed out that people like to think that they have agency over their lives, especially regarding deep issues that matter a lot. But his research shows that, at even a low threshold of complexity, people tend to go with the default option. He backed up his assertion with multiple examples from the seemingly insignificant, such as what kind of jam to buy, to the hugely significant, such as whether and how to participate in a 401 (k) plan.

For me, the value of Ariely’s discoveries is to 1) be more aware of my own decisions and how they are shaped by default options, and 2) to realize and embrace the responsibility that designers have in creating the future.

Whose work is inspiring you?

By Cynthia Scott | Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meet the new program director for Web & Interactive Design: Cynthia Scott

Hello members! I’m Cynthia Scott, the new Program Director for Web & Interactive Design here at lynda.com.

One of the reasons I’m working at lynda.com is that I believe in the power of transformation. I have seen how people can light their own fire by taking advantage of the rich, deep quality of resources at lynda.com. It is an honor to be part of the team.

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