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December 15, 2008

November 10, 2008

Strata-Art Updates

12 recent paintings by Richard Fox have been uploaded to the various galleries of Strata-Art. The homepage and main gallery pages were also updated accordingly. Previously, the main gallery page, like the homepage of last year was made up of a grid of small images that formed a larger one. This was simplified to just one large image with a smaller total file size. Just converting it to one large image already increased the load time because downloading one large file is quicker than downloading many small files that are the same total size as the large file.

Click here for Strata Art

November 8, 2008

Share This

You may have noticed the new icon under every post labeled "ShareThis." It's something we're looking into implementing on Frommers.com that will allow users to share pages via every major social media site on the Internet with a couple of clicks. I decided to try it out on this blog first since it's a much smaller site. They had a script just for Blogger that was pretty neat. Just by placing it on the page, every post has it's own unique action. The ShareThis code is based on JavaScript's location.href property. So implementing this on a full website will be pretty simple because the code won't change from page to page. On Frommers.com, it'll just be tedious because it has to be added to many pages manually as well as to some backend generating tools.

November 7, 2008

Into the Seasons

Opening Night Reception

November 1, 2008

Nightshift 2008

Photos from Hot Import Nights: Nightshift 2008 are up on RCT Performance now. The format is different than previous galleries. This time, it's a medium resolution Picasa slideshow. Having the photos on Picasa has many advantages:

  • Reduced development time
  • Automatically generated Flash slideshow
  • Hi-res downloads
  • Hosted content management system
  • Plugs into Picasa community
Click here for Nightshift 2008

October 22, 2008

Frommer's Atlantic City

The Atlantic City destination at Frommers.com is a little more complete now. With my most recent trip out there, I covered another portion of the boardwalk. Now the slideshow includes shots of Caesar's, Trump Plaza and Wild Wild West. It was also my first sunny day with blue sky at Atlantic City, so there are some nice wide views of the beachfront.

I left the main page images the same because I didn't want to repeat the same photos over again. The ones on the main page were from 2001, but can still pass for today.

Click here for Frommer's Atlantic City

October 21, 2008

Into The Seasons

"Watercolors by Kim Eng Yeo, a realist painter who draws inspiration from Nature, seeking its essence in her landscape paintings that fosters a keener appreciation - beyond decoration to the poetic and evocative."
Marilyn Sontag
Gallery Coordinator
Synagogue for the Arts Gallery Space

Kim Eng Yeo will be exhibiting at Synagogue for the Arts from November 6 - December 7. The reception will be on November 6 from 6 PM to 8 PM. Visit KimEngYeo.com for details.

October 4, 2008

October 1, 2008

Frommer's Community

After 11 years of using Web Crossing, Frommers.com expanded its community today by migrating over to Pluck. Instead of just message boards, the new suite added blogs, photos and video (coming in the future). It also integrated other portions of the site such as commenting and recommending of articles.

After researching a couple of vendors, Pluck turned out to be the best choice for the site. Technically, it was the most difficult to implement, but it was more important to develop correctly than plug into a quick out-of-the-box solution that would limit things in the future. The technologies used were JavaScript widgets, Direct Access API (DAAPI) and Representational State Transfer (REST) via ColdFusion. Customization was very technical as changes depended heavily on injecting code or overriding existing CSS. It helped that Frommers.com ran on ColdFusion technology because that opened up the options to solving each problem to going with either JavaScript or CFML.

Such a large addition to the site without a full redesign presented a problem because it had so many modules and there was no way to fit everything into the currrent 800x600 design. The Community section was expanded to 1024x768, but with only a subtle change to the top navigation to avoid disrupting user experience as people clicked into and out of the new section. It's essentially the same, but ther was more space added to the left and right of the row of section buttons. The buttons then had left and right edge definitions added.

Related: Frommers.com Community, Pluck Sitelife

September 20, 2008

SQL Injection Defense

Dragonsaber, KimEngYeo.com and Frommer's have been protected against SQL injection attacks. For more details on implmenting the fix, please read the paragraph below by ColdFusion guru, Ben Forta.

SQL Injection Attacks, Easy To Prevent, But Apparently Still Ignored
I was just on a web site (no, not a ColdFusion powered site, and no I will not name names) browsing for specific content. The URLs used typical name=value query string conventions, and so I changed the value to jump to the page I wanted. And I made a typo and added a character to the numeric value. The result? An invalid SQL error message. Read more.
Ben Forta

September 4, 2008

38th Avenue Migration

38th Avenue Realty's website has just migrated from AccuWebHosting to Hostek, the same service as Dragonsaber. AccuWebHosting was an affordable basic host that only costs $4 per month. The move to Hostek was for future growth and plans add ColdFusion functionality. The transition was pretty smooth as tech support was helpful on both sides.

Click here for 38th Avenue Realty

August 24, 2008

A Walk in the Garden

The old version of Kim Eng Yeo's website has been archived in Dragonsaber's Classic section. It's also complete with a partially working demo so that users can get a feel of the page designs and graphics across the old site. There's been a lot of positive feedback about the old design with the wood & trellis motif, so it still needed a presence in the Web Design portfolio.

Click here for A Walk in the Garden

August 11, 2008

Frommer's Video & Mobile

Frommers.com posted a page promoting a new iPhone application created in partnership with Modality. There were actually 2 technological advances here:

1) iPhone App: This is the first Frommer's mobile app since the less known City-to-Go for the Palm VII in the late 90's. Even though it's only available for the iPhone & iPod touch, it will likely be successful because it's very visual and interactive, making full use of the devices' capabilities.

2) Video: Along with the app itself, the marketing department also worked on an instructional video to promote the application. This video is the first to be embedded on the site. Since this media isn't currently used in high volume on the site, YouTube was simply used for encoding and content delivery.

Click here to visit the Frommer's/Modality splash page

August 2, 2008

July 26, 2008

The Watercolors of Kim Eng Yeo

A year after the design update, Kimengyeo.com underwent a full redesign. The trellis and wooden elements were dropped for a more neutral and abstract design. The colors are similar to the previous design, but the lighter choices were used for the larger elements. All of these changes were meant to increase emphasis on Kim's paintings rather than trying to frame them with a matching design. The site also went to a 1024x768 design so that larger versions of each piece could be displayed.

The information architecture was also reworked to be more painting-centric and SEO (seach engine optimization) friendly. The previous site was more of a web presence with emphasis given to the "about" sections. On the new site, the painting were brought up to the forefront. Each painting section is a main section of the site rather than living under a "painting" section. The homepage is more text heavy than before, using natural language, yet getting the keywords in. The news section allows for updates that point to exhibitions or new paintings.

Click here for The Watercolors of Kim Eng Yeo

July 5, 2008

42-60 157th St.

A new Flushing apartment was added to the 38th Avenue Realty website. Like the Morningside Heights listing from last year, it also plugs in to Google Maps & Picasa Web.

This 2-bedroom apartment includes 2 full bathrooms, living room, dining area, kitchen, balcony & parking space. For details, hi-res photos & maps, click here.

June 16, 2008

Queen Mary 2

June 12, 2008

Strata-Art 2008 Updates

Strata-Art just went through a bunch of content updates. Starting from the top, the main page that features 3 paintings was redone. All three spots were replaced with newer pieces. On the backend HTML, Kerwin took the previously cut-up image and made it one large one. The one large image loads a lot faster for 2 reasons: 1) the total file size is a little smaller; 2) loading one image of a certain file size is faster than loading several images equaling the same file size.

Updated oil and watercolor paintings were added throughout the galleries. The News and Exhibitions sections have also been refreshed.

Click here for Strata Art

June 9, 2008

Frommer's BOS & HFX

Two more slideshows went up today with photos of Boston & Halifax, the two stops from my Memorial Weekend cruise on Queen Mary 2. Since these were cruise port stops, they didn't cover much, but I made sure to take a few general pictures and was even able to cover a handful of POI's (points of interest).

I found that the plugin that's doing the automatic photo resizing isn't perfect. It's tends to make diagonal lines a bit jagged when it resizes down. Being a perfectionist with my work, I actually did my own resizing and sharpening of some of my photos and reuploaded them, overwriting the automated versions.

Click here for the Boston slideshow

Click here for the Halifax slideshow

May 14, 2008

Donations to China & Myanmar

After the recent cyclone of Myanmar and earthquake of China, a large portion of the world's population were wiped out and that number continues to grow as the threat of plague increases. I've compiled a list of sites you could donate to based on CNN's old list. I personally link-checked all of them to make sure these 2 recent disasters were covered and easy to get to:

Please feel free to republish this post on your own blog. Click here to download the source code for Blogger.

Thank you.

May 11, 2008

NYC Photos (So Far)

There are a few photos in the NYC slideshow now. I have one of Trump Tower and another of Carnegie Hall. I spent one weekend taking pictures of various hotels, restaurants and attractions in Midtown West, but those are set on the backend as "POI (point of interest) only" photos and don't show up in the normal slideshow. There's currently no plan for how we're going to display those yet, but I just got a head start loading some in.

The backend of the photo upload process has also been streamlined. The system itself was built by Igor, a consultant and my counterpart, Chad. I added functions that would synchronize the JPG files on the development & production servers and most recently a system that would copy the updated HTML files/directories (w/ links to the slideshow) too. This allowed for making newly "photoed" destinations live faster.

April 26, 2008

Frommer's MX

Frommers.com just underwent a site migration a few days ago. The transition was transparent to the user for the most part since the upgrades were all on the backend. The hardware and server software were modernized. The hardware specifications are top secret so that part will be omitted for this post. The server, which surfers can find out using browser plugins and scripting anyway was switched from Netscape iPlanet to Apache, which is more widely used. For development purposes, the 2 web servers are identical. No code needed to be changed. All scripts and programs were simply copied over and just worked. For security reasons, regular FTP & Telnet were disabled on the new system, so a few programs needed some tweaking.

The most difficult change was jumping several versions of ColdFusion, from 4.5 to MX7. That's 3 versions and 3 companies ago! Some of the old code was modernized, but most of it already worked for the most part. The difficulties all stemmed from server configuration. Several attempts over the past year were made to move to CFMX7. The server would work great and pass several stress tests (based on traffic stats), but would then fail in a set period of time when dipped into live traffic. It was determined that only the Verity K2 search component of ColdFusion was causing the problem, which was the main reason for switching to a hosted search solution last month. The upgraded Frommers.com has been up and running for 3 day now and seems faster than ever. So the long time problem has finally been solved!

April 9, 2008

Frommer's Atlantic City

A bunch of Frommer's staff members have now uploaded photos to the website using the new slideshow system. When we first launched this feature, we had a bunch of photos for just 2-3 destinations. We're now trying to spread out the destinations more. I just added a few recent ones of Atlantic City from my family trip last week. I already had 2 photos up from 2001 on the AC main page that was a 2nd story panoramic shot of the Boardwalk & Taj Mahal. The new slideshow features mostly Taj Mahal and Resorts Casino since we just took a short day trip there.

Click here for Frommer's Atlantic City

March 20, 2008

Frommer's Omniture

Today, we went live with the new Omniture search engine on Frommers.com after weeks of tweaking and testing. Configuring the hosted search solution was interesting and gave me a lot of insight into how Google runs. With Omniture, we were able to adjust the search to work in the best way with each of our very different site sections. We could force certain results to show up at the top, control synonyms, display promotional features for specified search terms, index more than one site, etc. These were all things we couldn't do with the old built-in functionality of ColdFusion/Verity which was based on database queries. With this new search, Frommers.com is also up-to-date with the rest of the large sites on the Internet.

March 17, 2008


The Frommer's site continues to grow at a rapid pace and it reached a point where a dedicated search engine needed to be added, replacing the built-in ColdFusion/Verity functionality. The obvious solution was to go with the new Google CSE Business Edition, which was perfect based on the information that had on their website. But we realized we couldn't go with it because their pricing model didn't favor a site of Frommer's size. I did intensive research over a 2 week period, signing up for just about every major and minor hosted search solution. In each of those accounts, I built a version of their search with the Frommer's design to make sure we could have as much freedom as possible with the customization. The list was narrowed down to 7 companies. After contacting all of them, some were eliminated because they either ended up costing more than Google or didn't have the resources to handle our size/traffic. 2 of the companies gave us reasonable pricing models, and Omniture was the most helpful and persistent. The demo given to us by their representative, Jim McTiernan was very impressive. The admin interface was far better than what Google had. Omniture also had a reputable client list that included Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Microsoft, Oracle, HP, CNN, Forbes, AOL, Sports Illustrated & NBA. So we signed the contract last month and started building the new site search immediately.

More to come soon...

March 8, 2008

China 2000 (Vol. 1 & 2) DVD Cover

The description for the China 2000 (Vol. 1 & 2) DVD Cover has been updated to include links to the original photos used to create the front and back covers. The two photos were part of a Suzhou series that was uploaded to the Frommer's Shanghai online photo gallery. All images were taken by a point-and-shoot panoramic film camera and retouched in Adobe Photoshop.

March 6, 2008

Eneos & Fujita @ RCT

RCT just became an authorized dealer for 2 more product lines... Eneos oil and Fujita air intakes. Both the homepage and line card pages were updated accordingly. The line card page allows users to visit manufacturers' websites for product details since RCT is a brick and mortar business. It also doubles as a link page for search engine optimization. Click here to visit RCT's line card.

February 19, 2008

Vermont Artisan Photos

Photos of the Vermont Artisan Design & Gallery exhibition are now up on Kimengyeo.com to liven up the promo page. The exhibition photo development process was steamlined last year when everything was databased. The front end is controlled by 2 ColdFusion templates... one for displaying the thumbnails and another for the closeups. All that needs to be done is photo resizing and some data entry, but no page building, reducing development time significantly.

Vermont Artisan Design Exhibition Photos

February 16, 2008

China Slideshows

I added 3 more slideshows to Frommers.com. Some of the major destinations already had a ton of professional photos from the Day by Day guidebook series. So I searched for photos I had of the smaller Chinese destinations.

Shanghai (side trip to Suzhou)
Huang Shan

These were all shot with a traditional (not digital) camera, scanned at hi-res and cleaned up in Photoshop. I also shot the photos you see on the main pages of Nanjing & Huang Shan, but those are not included in the slideshow because they were lo-res pictures from an old Handspring Visor PDA camera.

February 13, 2008

Microsite CFMX & CSS

Combining design with technology has always been Kerwin's goal. At the beginning of the year, Frommers.com launched a new feature called "Microsites," which consisted customized content for themes chosen by the editorial team. These "Microsites" included a main topic, with 7-10 categories. One of the items that needed to be developed was a graphical unit that would appear in the existing Trip Ideas section. It would also have to display the Microsite name along with a clickable listing of categories. For this little element, a small CFMX application would pull items from the database and save out an XHTML/CSS file that combined the photo with a translucent, clickable link list.

Click here for the Beach promo unit

February 11, 2008

Florals & Gardens

It's always nice to start out a new year with a graphical update to a website. Kimengyeo.com just had its homepage and painting main page graphics updated for a slightly newer look. 5 new paintings were added to the Floral & Gardens sections. They were actually older paintings, but were requested to be displayed by the artist's representative and haven't been displayed before under the current design.

Updates tend to be quick with this site because the galleries are dynamically controlled by CFMX & MS Access. Each painting and all of its attributes are stored in a database. The homepage and other main pages, while manually created, have graphical components that are templated in Photoshop.

February 5, 2008

Philippines 2007 DVD Cover

I didn't have any suitable photos for the Philippines DVD cover as all of my shots were family portraits. Luckily my sister,
stayed in the country a little longer and captured some great shots of Tagaytay Resort. The front cover was actually a portait shot as well, but it was in a high enough resolution that I was able to crop out the person and still get an interesting vertical composition. I used Sheila as the title font because it matched the look of the bamboo fence. A similar texture was used to fill the title. Colors were taken from the fence and tree leaves for a limited color palette.

For more on Emily Siy's work, visit www.emilysiy.com.

For a hi-res view and more details on the Philippines 2007 DVD Cover, click here.

February 4, 2008

Niño & Julie's Wedding DVD Cover

This is the 2nd non-travel DVD cover in a row and since there will be more of these coming in the future, a new subsection called Occasions & Events was broken out yesterday.

In this piece, the subjects had to be the newlyweds, which limited the choices and as with most occasions, ruled out using landscapes. One of the challenges with this cover was fitting the title into the given photo on the front cover. The abstract wavy shapes were taken from the iMovie HD theme used on the DVD menu, but they also reflect the barong that Niño is wearing. For more details and a hi-res view, click here.

February 3, 2008

DVD Main Page Updates

The DVD covers were rearranged on the Print Design main page. The three featured covers now consist of the most recent event cover, the most recent travel cover and one classic. Since the Philippines cover has a green palette and the other two are red and white, it was placed in the middle for layout symmetry.

The DVD main page has also been updated. The covers are now broken out into two subcategories... Travel and Occasions & Events.

February 1, 2008

Miniature Opera House

This image was created slightly over a year ago, but is being featured again on Frommers.com as they highlight Australia during February 2008. It was placed on the homepage as a means to draw attention to the monthly contest. The surreal look made up of crystal pond ripples and perfect clouds is more eye-catching that the standard, generic Opera House photo. Additionally, a hi-res version of this image was also used for a Facebook app.

Click here for details

Vermont Artisan Design & Gallery

Kim Eng Yeo will be showcasing some of her work at the Vermont Artisan Design & Gallery in Brattleboro, VT regularly (1st Friday of each month). The Exhibitions section of her website has all of the details. Her biography has also been updated.

January 23, 2008

More Frommer's Slideshows

Please click on the links below to view some of Kerwin's photos recently uploaded to various Frommers.com slideshows:

Full Slideshows
Wiltshire and Somerset

London Photos
Tower Bridge Engine Room
Tower Bridge Engine Room
Jenny Lo's Teahouse
London Underground
Harrod's at Night

January 21, 2008

Starry Sky

The background image of Dragonsaber was slightly modified to make the stars pop out a little more. The blue stars are now lighter with some cyan added. It's a lot more visible, but still doesn't interfere with the text links and copyright in the footer. Previously, they were too dark and barely appeared on some monitors.

January 20, 2008

Web Design & Dev. Links

The Web Design & Development Links were recently tested and cleaned up. There were just a few updates:

Clarkstown High School North's site was restructured (they're using ColdFusion now!), so a lot of URLs changed, including the Art Department's.

The New York ColdFusion User Group changed their URL... they were able to get the .COM and scrapped their old .ORG address.

Ungreek Toolbot dropped off since it goes to a 404 error now. We were unable to find a good web-based replacement for this, but there's an equivalent Firefox plugin called Dummy Lipsum.

An online RGB-HEX converter was added.

January 14, 2008

Morningside Open House

The listing for the 1-bedroom in 509 W. 122nd St. has been updated. After deeper research and meetings with the owner, 38th Avenue Realty was able to get the price down to the correct market value. It was previously overpriced by $100,000. The updated listing also has a couple of new photos since the owner did some touch up work on his floors over the past week. There will likely be an open house every Sunday from 2-4pm until it's sold, but check the NY Times listing for open house updates.

January 13, 2008

R & R Retired

The R & R Dyno entry was moved from the Web Design Portfolio's main page to the Classics page. R & R Dyno was a partnership run by Ryan Chua's RCT Performance and Ron Delatorre's RJ's Custom Piping. Over the past year, Delatorre moved his business out of town and Chua took over operation of the dynamometer completely. Updated information about dyno services can be found on RCT Performance's In-house Dyno page.