15November2007

Facebook

Posted by Gary K under: General.

Yes, I’m on Facebook.  And you should be there too.  It’s an odd place, but largely very friendly.

In a way, it’s a bit regressive for the web.  Remember when AOL first started up, and AOL users couldn’t email anyone outside of AOL?  Many thought that was quaint, a very nice feature to have.  And then AOL users realized “WWW” stood for “World Wide Web,” and they wanted to break out and talk to everyone else as well.

As fascinating as Facebook is, it’s really a very simple concept, and a lot of fun sometimes.

I’m here, if you wish to “Friend” me.  Whether Facebook survives long into the future is anyone’s guess.  But the site is still growing, and, for now at least, I’m enjoying it.

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15November2007

Publish Your Own Book

Posted by Gary K under: General; Software.

Wow.  It’s been a while since I wrote on the blog.  I’ve been very busy.  Picked up some new and exciting web clients, and I’m looking forward to blogging about them here soon.  Still finalizing arrangements, but I’ll be busy in the near future here.

Ever thought of publishing your own book?  Now you can.  We write so much on the blogs — why not publish real books with all those wonderful words?  CafePress.com allows you create and sell many things, including books.  From their site:

Pricing includes book production, order management, fulfillment and customer service. You choose the retail price and earn the difference between the retail price and our base price.

The pricing is based on the number of pages in your book plus the type of binding you wish to offer. For example, the base price for a 100-page perfect-bound book would be $10.00, and you set the retail price. Base prices are the same the same for all book sizes.

I’m not publishing quite yet.  I’m still upset about the book I started in high school about the flying car that traveled through time.   That was long before Back to the Future.  If I had only tried to sell it to someone, I would at least have a case.

Oh well.  Live and learn.

I’m publishing the next one, perhaps on CafePress.com.

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19October2007

State Rep. Al Riley’s Campaign Site

Posted by Gary K under: Design; Portfolio.

State Rep. Al Riley's Campaign Site

State Rep. Al Riley’s official campaign site, just launched this week, ready for the masses!  I’m very happy with the way this site has turned out.  It was a bit of a “rush” order, but it turned out very nice.

Good luck on the campaign trail, Al!

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10October2007

Introducing State Rep. Al Riley’s Legislative Web Site

Posted by Gary K under: CSS; Design; Portfolio; Web design.

Rep. Al Riley's web site

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Shire Enterprises web creations announced the release of its newest design this week, the official web site for Illinois State Rep. Al Riley, of the 38th Legislative District. The site was designed using Adobe Dreamweaver 8.2, and images prepared and edited for the web with Adobe Fireworks 8.0.

The site can be accessed from http://www.repalriley38.com.

The site is a solid, CSS-based design with valid XHTML according to the standards dictated by the World Wide Web Consortium, an international consortium where member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. Valid code helps ensure that web pages will be viewable from standard browsers

The site is also accessible to people with disabilities in accordance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. According to Section508.gov:

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual’s ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.

The site also features a menu extension for Dreamweaver from Project VII, “Pop Menu Magic.” The extension interfaces seamlessly with Dreamweaver, and allows great flexibility for the web designer. The extension produces fully compliant code and menus in compliance with Section 508 standards.

Additionally, there are two photo galleries employing SimpleViewer from Airtight Interactive. The galleries reveal a fluid presentation of the photographs resulting in a striking display.

Rep. Al Riley was appointed by Democratic Committeemen to fulfill the remainder of State Rep. Robin Kelly’s term for the 38th Legislative District.

Shire Enterprises, Inc. is owned and operated by Gary Kopycinski, and is based in Park Forest, IL. Kopycinski is publisher of eNews Park Forest , the only online news magazine exclusively serving the Park Forest area.

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8September2007

Pop Menu Magic

Posted by Gary K under: CSS; Design.

I made my first purchase from ProjectSeven.com: Pop Menu Magic.  I’m not disappointed with the purchase.  While I enjoy creating my own menus, like the simple CSS menu I employed at Kopycinski.net — a site very much still in development — Project Seven does have some very nice products.

They’re a bit on the pricey side, but, you get what you pay for.  I did have to ask a few questions from support already, and received prompt answers from Al Sparber.  Very courteous, professional, to the point.

I’m using one menu for State Rep. Al Riley’s site, which I intend to formally announce this week sometime.  The web site is almost completed.  Stop back in a few days for the official release.

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18August2007

New Look for the Blog

Posted by Gary K under: Design; Hosting.

One of the nice things about WordPress blogs is the versatility.  Changing themes is a snap, and I rather like this one, called, Autumn Concept 1.0, created by Ed Merritt.  Photography by Peter Hellebrand.

I always add my own code to the CSS of any theme, but this one already appears to be very well put together.

Did you know that some people devote their entire domain to a blog?  Yes, it’s true, you can get free blogs at Blogspot.com and event at WordPress.com, the truth is, you get what you pay for.  You don’t have access to your CSS at those sites.  You’re essentially stuck with what you get.

Start a blog at Shire Enterprises!  Fully installed blogs start at only $150 plus the cost of domain registration and hosting.

Enough with the commercial.  Enjoy the new look.

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18August2007

Meet the Tall Grass Artists

Posted by Gary K under: CSS; Design; Photography; Portfolio.

Tall Grass Artists Collage

Tall Grass Arts Association, an art gallery in downtown Park Forest, IL, is a very busy place.

Now, Park Forest itself is an interesting town. By way of full disclosure, I do serve on the Park Forest Village Board, so I do have a bias in promoting my town. The village has struggled to bring businesses back to the town after its erstwhile “Center” suffered a devastating loss of businesses over a decade-and-a-half ago. But the Arts (capitalized, out of respect) never left. The downtown area is home to two art galleries, the Illinois Theater Company, a beautiful theater, and home office for the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Tall Grass gallery is thriving. Just came home from an opening of the new exhibit, Ink.

The wonderful collage at the top of this article is a collection of various pieces by current Tall Grass artists, something I threw together last night when doing the most recent update for the Tall Grass Arts Association web page. My most recent addition to the site is a collection of pages featuring various artists from the gallery. My favorite page is the face page with the artists’ names. The tiny “T” bullet next to the names is a nice touch, showing what CSS can do for us.

I maintain the site. The design, though table-based, is really very attractive. Put together by Sergio Gomez, it is very solid.
Thought you would appreciate the design, and the collage. We really have wonderful artists.

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17June2007

Shire Enterprises Now On A Dedicated IP

Posted by Gary K under: Hosting.

69.89.23.83

That’s today’s magic number, and the magic number for all clients of Shire Enterprises, Inc. That’s our Dedicated IP at Bluehost.com, our preferred host.

What’s an IP? Our friends at Wikipedia have put this together:

An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is a unique address that certain electronic devices use in order to identify and communicate with each other on a computer network utilizing the Internet Protocol standard (IP)—in simpler terms, a computer address. Any participating network device—including routers, computers, time-servers, printers, Internet fax machines, and some telephones—can have their own unique address.

An IP address can also be thought of as the equivalent of a street address or a phone number (compare: VoIP (voice over (the) internet protocol)) for a computer or other network device on the Internet. Just as each street address and phone number uniquely identifies a building or telephone, an IP address can uniquely identify a specific computer or other network device on a network. An IP address differs from other contact information, however, because the linkage of a user’s IP address to his/her name is not publicly available information.

A dedicated IP address is not shared by other domain names; it is unique to your domain name and your space on the server.

The benefits to our clients are many. Among these:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – For some reason, sites on a dedicate IP show do better in the search engines. There are quite a few things we do “behind the scenes” to make sure our web sites show up closer to the top of the rankings. For example, if you sell “widgets,” and who doesn’t, then what is to distinguish your site from any other if someone wants to buy “widgets” in your home town? So, someone goes to Google and does a query for, “Widgets in Park Forest.” A site that is properly optimized will show up before sites that are more poorly put together.
  • Dedicated IP = Friendly IP: Many hosts allow so many sub-accounts on one IP , and some many be spammers. And an IP can get banned by various spam blockers because someone on that IP is unscrupulous, and if that happens to your IP, then your email (and all others on that IP) can get tagged by these organizations as Spam, and you then get your email blacklisted. It would be, if you have a small list of subscribers or depend on INCOME of a legitimate list. So your email would never be delivered.

These are just some of the ways we’re working to make Shire Enterprises the ultimate design and hosting experience for our customers.

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2June2007

DNS Has Migrated*

Posted by Gary K under: Hosting.

After perhaps a bit too much soul searching and agonizing, I am moving Shire Enterprises, Inc. from midPhase to BlueHost.com. I hear very good things about BlueHost. It’s taken a lot of my time so far, but I anticipate success in the long run.

If you read this message, we are at the new site, safely migrated.

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22May2007

Case Analysis: ASHCROFT V. FREE SPEECH COALITION

Posted by Gary K under: Legal.

I’m taking a class with the International Webmasters Association, “Legal Issues for Web Designers and Content Managers.” Just into the second week, the following is my homework from week one, a case analysis on ASHCROFT V. FREE SPEECH COALITION.

Ashcroft lost. Enjoy:

Gary Kopycinski
Legal Issues for Web Designers and Content Managers
Case Analysis, Week 1
May 20, 2007

Case Selected: ASHCROFT V. FREE SPEECH COALITION
Complete name of the case:
No. 00795
JOHN D. ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL, et al.,
PETITIONERS v. THE FREE SPEECH
COALITION et al.
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF
APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

The case was heard before the United States Supreme Court. The decision was rendered April 16, 2002.

Specifically, two provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 (CPPA) were struck down by the court. The first:

Section 2256(8)(B) prohibits any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture” that “is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

In short, any image that might appear to be a child was subject to is subject to CPPA. The court held that this was overly broad:

For instance, the literal terms of the statute embrace a Renaissance painting depicting a scene from classical mythology, a picture that appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

In essence, once Government starts drawing lines prohibiting free speech, where does it end? The court decided that the risks were too great.

The court held that the second provision, §2256(8)(D), was quite broad:

Section 2256(8)(D) defines child pornography to include any sexually explicit image that was advertised, promoted, presented, described, or distributed in such a manner that conveys the impression it depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

The key phrase in this section, according to the court, is conveys the impression that the material depicts minors in sexually explicit conduct. Here, the court argues that the trailer of a movie might be considered child pornography, even if the film itself contains no sexually explicit scenes involving minors, but the trailer suggests that such scenes might be found in the movie. The court says this goes too far.

In sum, §2256(8)(B) covers materials beyond the categories recognized in Ferber and Miller, and the reasons the Government offers in support of limiting the freedom of speech have no justification in our precedents or in the law of the First Amendment. The provision abridges the freedom to engage in a substantial amount of lawful speech. For this reason, it is overbroad and unconstitutional.

The decision covers a number of other possible scenarios, such as the argument that images of virtual children engaged in sexual activity might encourage people to participate or seek out that type of activity; or that such images might be used to lure children into compromising situations. However, the court says that many other things might be used to accomplish these same ends, and the Government cannot ban everything.

The mere tendency of speech to encourage unlawful acts is not a sufficient reason for banning it.

In short, the court concluded, the prohibitions of §§2256(8)(B) and 2256(8)(D) are overbroad and unconstitutional.

Analysis for Web Designers
While sexual exploitation of children is a horrible and heinous act, the court was not arguing that these activities should be tolerated. The problem, as the court saw, was that free speech would suffer if these prohibitions went unchallenged:

The Government cannot ban speech fit for adults simply because it may fall into the hands of children. The evil in question depends upon the actor’s unlawful conduct, conduct defined as criminal quite apart from any link to the speech in question. This establishes that the speech ban is not narrowly drawn. The objective is to prohibit illegal conduct, but this restriction goes well beyond that interest by restricting the speech available to law-abiding adults.

In short, the court argued, “The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.”

While no scrupulous web designer would argue in favor of child pornography, the court made a distinction between what is real or what is a virtual creation. Perhaps one of the most telling passages is one prohibition which was not challenged in this case, and which the court also did not challenge, Section 2256(8)(C) prohibits a more common and lower tech means of creating virtual images, known as computer morphing. In short, if a designer were to take an image of a real child and alter it so that the child appeared to be engaged in sexual activity, the fact that a real child is used in the original image removes this from the decision before the court:

Although morphed images may fall within the definition of virtual child pornography, they implicate the interests of real children and are in that sense closer to the images in Ferber. Respondents do not challenge this provision, and we do not consider it.

Using an image of a real child then does fall under the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996. Designers must exercise extreme caution, therefore, when using images of children. While many examples of distorted images of adults may abound online and on television (e.g. The Onion, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and numerous blogs and online publications), images of children are strictly off- limits.

Given that sexual exploitation of children is one of if not perhaps the most grievous and atrocious offenses possible in our society, the ruling gives broad permission for the creation of virtual images.

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