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Bloggers: 6 Free Editing Tools For Better Writing

Posted by Harshad

Bloggers: 6 Free Editing Tools For Better Writing


Bloggers: 6 Free Editing Tools For Better Writing

Posted: 18 Apr 2014 08:01 AM PDT

Editor’s note: This is a contributed post by Issa Mirandilla, who writes about freelancing, writing, marketing, careers, personal finance and other business-related topics. Give her a nudge on Twitter or visit her website here.

After hours of researching facts and figures, organizing your notes like crazy, and hammering away at your keyboard, you’re finally done with your killer blog post. Congratulations for making it that far. Not all blog post ideas get turned into working drafts. Now, all you have to do is edit. That might take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on the quality of your draft.

Seems like a lot of work, eh? That’s not really an issue if blogging is nothing more than a hobby to you. But when your entire livelihood depends on your ability to churn out posts on a daily basis, spending too much time polishing each post is impractical and dangerous to your business.

Of course, quality isn’t something you should sacrifice, no matter how clogged up your blogging schedule is. To solve this dilemma, you can either hire an editor to clean up your work, or purchase editing software online.

But then, in those cases, there’s no real guarantee that you’ll get what you pay for. So what’s a blogger who’s strapped for time and cash to do? Why, use these free editing tools available online, of course!

1. After the Deadline

After the Deadline (AtD) doesn’t just flag and give suggestions for your spelling, grammar, and style. It also concisely explains the reasons behind the corrections given. That means that the longer you use AtD, the better a blogger you become!

According to the developers, AtD can:

  • Recommend the right word 90 percent of the time;
  • Detect approximately 1,500 misused words;
  • Help you write clearly and concisely using thousands of rules in "Plain English" style
  • Use statistics to find exceptions to grammar rules.

AtD is available as a plugin, add-on, or extension for platforms like WordPress, bbPress, Firefox, Google Chrome, OpenOffice.org Writer, and the IntenseDebate comment system.

2. ProWritingAid

Like AtD, ProWritingAid not only tells you what to improve, but also how to improve. It has the ability to generate a detailed analysis on overused words, sentence length, writing style, plagiarism, clichés, redundancies, "sticky" sentences, consistency, and the like.

Although you need to download the Premium version to enjoy all of its features, ProWritingAid’s free version is enough for most types of blog posts.

3. EditMinion

Don’t let the site’s inelegant design fool you. EditMinion takes only a few seconds to check your work for the usual signs of weak writing, like adverbs, overuse of "said", passive voice, ending with prepositions, tricky homonyms and more.

EditMinion generates a report card for your reference, and allows you to add "hashtags" for easier editing. As of this writing, though, the site is still in Beta stage, so use it with care!

4. HemingwayApp

Ever wish you had Hemingway’s terse yet punchy writing style? Well, your wish can come true now, thanks to the brilliant minds behind HemingwayApp. Here, your copy will be assessed based on readability, number of adverbs, number of complex words, and number of times you use the passive voice.

The app also detects spelling errors, although it’s not much help in the grammar department. In case you need to use it offline, a desktop version of the app is also available for $5.

5. WordCounter

Whether you want to check for keyword frequency, or you just have a tendency to be repetitive with words, WordCounter.com is the answer. As its name suggests, WordCounter counts and ranks words according to frequency. The apps is great for reducing redundancy and/or repetitive writing in your copy.

You can also include "small" words, use only root words, and adjust the number of words listed by the app. You can use this primarily as an analysis tool, checking your drafts as you keep honing them to perfection.

6. ClicheFinder

Do cliches drive you crazy? If "Yes", ClicheFinder might be a godsend for you. Just paste your post in the space provided, click the "Find Clichés" button, and presto! Every cringe-worthy phrase will be highlighted in red. You can either rewrite these phrases to make them sound simpler and fresher, or toss them into the back-burner like the blights on language that they are (har har)!

If you experience the message "Unhandled Exception: An unhandled exception was thrown by the application," don’t be alarmed. It’s possible that your text doesn’t contain any clichés at all, so the system’s going all wonky on you.

Wrap Up

Naturally, all these programs have their pros and cons. Tools are only as good as the people who use them, and these six editing tools for bloggers are no different. It’s still up to you to decide whether their suggestions/corrections to your blog post are worth it or not. In any case, here’s to effective and efficient editing!

Do you know other free, downloadable, and/or safe editing programs for bloggers that haven’t been featured here? Share them in the comments section!








Of Edges And Sharp Corners – 20 Cool Geometric Art Pieces

Posted: 18 Apr 2014 06:01 AM PDT

Geometric shapes are widely used in graphic design these days. You can find them on items like t-shirts to coasters. It's one of the big trends that is hard to define, encompassing complex and large-scale patterns as well as simple shapes.

An ordinary triangle or a circle can totally change a photograph or illustration giving it new mystery, depth and meaning.

Here, we’ve put together 20 clever art pieces showing how circles, squares, rectangles and triangles can create stunning alternatives of what we don’t normally see in art. In the list, we feature creative business cards, illustrations, posters and editorial pieces that feature geometrical forms.

Have a browse through these creative creations and who knows, maybe it’ll encourage you to create some awesome geometrically inclined designs of your own.

Wolf in sheep skin by Kevin Harald Campean

Mixed Media by Sarah Eisenlohr

neutral. by LyKy Dragos

Space Out by Ross Bruggink

Polyanimal Project by Matt Rudinski

Lumi – Killscreen Magazine by Nicola Felasquez Felaco

Alice no País das Maravilhas by oraviva! designers

Geomas Type by Josip Kelava

Geometric Reveries by Bob Sparks

Typeforce 4 Submission Announcement by Will Miller

Thrift Store branding & collateral by Ally Simmons

ANIMAL SLANG by Marc Vila

Working Simply by Design Etiquette

Sea Level Album Art by Jeremiah Shaw

Yosemite X Eason Lee by Eason Lee

Basement Jaxx Single Cover by Sam Aylard

Encounter Mara by K&i Design Studio

Tanagram Furs by Patrick Sluiter

Calling from The Wild by Adam W-E

Hipster Illustrations by Kristýna Konečná








A Look Into: Google’s New & Improved Official Camera App

Posted: 18 Apr 2014 03:01 AM PDT

For any smartphone user, no matter which mobile OS you are on, the camera app is one of the more oft-used apps. Many of us opt for third-party camera apps because they are more solidly built than what the stock apps have to offer. But now, Android users may want to reconsider trying out the new and improved Google camera app, just released in the Play Store. If you cannot download the app via Play Store, download the APK file directly here.

Lens Blur slider for Google Camera app

It’s better, sleekier and has a few pretty cool feaures you would want to try out, like Lens Blur and Photo Sphere. And better yet the official Google Camera app is no longer confined to Nexus and GPE (Google Play Experience) devices only. You can run it on any Android device running KitKat 4.4 and above.

New & Upgraded Features

The previous stock Camera was found wanting both in design and functionality, so this new Camera app is definitely a long-awaited improvement. Most of the app functions as a typical in-built camera app but what distinguishes this new revamped app from the previous version is the updated Photo Sphere and the new Lens Blur function. Let’s check out what this app has to offer.

Lens Blur

Lens Blur is finally here, a feature that allows your device camera to focus on a target while having the background blurred out. This is a common feature found on Single-Lens Reflex (SLR/DLSR) cameras, and it’s now available via this app.

In Lens Blur mode, you just have to shoot the subject, then slowly raise the device while keeping the subject in the center of the frame. The app will help guide you through the process with on-screen instructions.

Lens Blur tutorial

You can adjust the blur level after you have captured the shot. The blur level will only focus on blurring the blackground, not the subject. That will happen as long as the camera can tell the difference between your subject and the background.

Blur slider

Photo Sphere

This one is an app that will give the panorama mode a run for its money. It’s far from a new feature but you’ll definitely love playing around with it once you get the hang of it.

The moment you fire up Photo Sphere, you will notice 4 dots on the four sides, left, ride, up and down, after you make a snapshot. These dots are there to help you focus your device camera to create the perfect Photo Sphere. Shift your camera to align with the dots and the app will help you stitch the images together. How far can you go with this? A full 360 degrees!

Photo Sphere interface

There’s more, the new Photo Sphere can now capture up to 50 megapixels, providing more details in your photo sphere picture. Here is an example.

Other Features

There are a few other minor tweaks to some of the other features, namely:

Improved Panaroma – The newly improved Panaroma mode, allows you to capture the full width of a scene in higher detail.

Google Says No To Vertical Video – Don’t you hate it when you take a video that ends up in the wrong orientation? Unlike photos, videos can’t be rotated just as easily. This Camera app will remind you to rotate the device when you try to capture a video in vertical mode. You can ignore the warning and still record your videos this way, but do reconsider by watching this video first.

Camera app interface

Better Interface – Did the previous Camera app frustrate you with its interface? Fret no more. Features are now labeled properly, taking out most of the guesswork. Instead of the old sliding arc controls, the Camera features are now presented nicely in a menu by swiping to the right and by tapping on the menu button at the bottom right.

Conclusion

Like any other app, there are still a few drawbacks to this app. For instance, when taking a photo in Lens Blur mode, your photo will be automatically reduced to around 1024×768 resolution – the image quality will take a hit.

But if you need more motivation to try this app out, know that the Android Police have torn down the APK and found out that in the near future, Google will update the app to include Photo Sphere Live Wallpaper, Advanced Camera, Time Lapse, Wide Angle Mode, and much more.








How to Create Post Draft In Jekyll

Posted: 18 Apr 2014 12:01 AM PDT

In the previous post, we have shown you how to install Jekyll and publish your first post with it. If you have followed it, you can see that creating a post is a breeze; we simply create a new Markdown file, save it within the /_posts folder, and it will show up in the blog immediately.

That, however, could be a problem if you have put your blog online. Your post may have unfinished sentences, contain errors, and a few other things that should not be seen by your readers.

That’s why we usually create a draft first before pressing the Publish button. So, in this post, we will show you how to create a post draft in Jekyll before it hits the public eye.

But first, let’s start up the Jekyll server with the following command line.

 jekyll server --watch 

File and Directory

Prior to version 1.0, working with a draft in Jekyll is hardly manageable. There are numerous ways to deal with it.

Some have set published: false in the post files to prevent it from being published, and some put future: false in the configuration file to prevent Jekyll from generating posts with a future date — which still will be published once the date rolls around.

Now, Jekyll has made things simpler to control.

Jekyll relies on strict directory structure. In the case of creating drafts, we need to create a new folder named _drafts. We put all drafts into this folder.

The draft file name does not have to include the post date; we can just name it this way:

Jekyll will ignore this folder. You can write your post as usual, and it won’t be displayed out in the open yet. Once you are done with your post, you can put it in the _posts folder, and add a proper date in the filename.

Hold on?!

Hold on, can’t we just create any folder? Well, the _drafts folder name is the official naming convention to put your drafts in. We technically can name the folder anything, but doing so would prevent us from previewing our drafts.

In Jekyll, we can run the jekyll command with the --drafts flag to preview the drafts: jekyll server --watch --drafts Refresh your blog, and you will see the draft appear on the blog. The draft will be displayed with its latest modified date.

Conclusion

We have shown you how to create a draft in Jekyll. It’s quite simple. But we can make the workflow from draft to publication more streamlined with the help of a plugin. We will discuss it in the next post. So, stay tuned.








Input Dominant Color From Image To Background With AdaptiveBackgrounds.js

Posted: 17 Apr 2014 10:01 PM PDT

When showcasing something on the Web, some developers often find a hard time deciding which backgrounds is most suitable for use. A good combination of the background with the right content can affect the user experience substantially. For some designers, they prefer to use some of the dominant colors inside the content itself – AdaptiveBackgrounds.js can do that for you automatically.

AdaptiveBackgrounds.js is a free jQuery plugin that helps you easily adapt the most dominating color in your content as part of the background. It was built on top of RGBaster, made by the same developer.

Basically, it’s a plugin to extract the color palette of an image to get to the dominant color. The first time the page loads, the plugin will extract the color from the image. The extracted color is then applied to the image parent. You can see how it works in this gif.


(Image Source: AdaptiveBackgrounds.js)

Getting Started

AdaptiveBackgrounds.js requires jQuery library to work. Although it’s built on top of RGBaster, you don’t need to include it anymore. You can get the plugin file from its GitHub page.

Then include all the required files to your project like so:

 <script type="text/javascript" src='js/jquery.js'></script> <script type="text/javascript" src='js/jquery.adaptive-backgrounds.js'></script> 

Adapt Dominant Color

We’re going to try this tool out, and use it to extract the dominant color from this image Double Arch photograph by Kartik Ramanathan, then apply it to the parent element.

In order for the dominant color to be applied into an element, you should put the image as the child of it. Inside the img tag, give the data-adaptive-background attribute, like so, so that the script can get the color:

 <div class='wrapper'> <img id="img" src="images/double-arch.jpg" data-adaptive-background='1'> </div> 

If you directly put the img on the body, then all of the body will be applied with the dominant color.

Next, call the plugin by adding this little javascript code:

 <script type="text/javascript"> $(document).ready(function(){ $.adaptiveBackground.run() }); </script> 

And so we’ve got the dominant color applied to the image.

For more examples and additional settings, you can visit the AdaptiveBackgrounds.js documentation page.

Final Thought

With AdaptiveBackgrounds.js, you will get only a static color. You might want to try give your background a little more color for an attention-grabbing result. If you do, check out the AdaptiveBackgrounds.js demo page for more ideas.








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