This site showcases the (mostly) digital work of Andrew DiFiore from both Virtual Arts Studios and answerYES Interactive as well as random thoughts and experimental projects too volatile to be contained anywhere else.

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    This month’s Cool Tool is actually a set of SSL Certificate Tools from SSL Shopper that help webmasters and average Joes troubleshoot problems they may have installing SSL certificates (not like that ever happens). The SSL Checker, CSR Decoder, and Certificate Key Matcher all came in handy recently when trying to sync up the SSL Certificate issuer on a separate Web Server Host where the private key and CSR were generated. It was a big help and thought others would appreciate the convenience. The only limitation I’m aware of is that there is no validation of intermediate certificates. For this you might try Why No Padlock.

    This one is for the typographer inside every Web designer. Since the inception of the Web, designers have toiled with the lack of font options for their online creations. Typically, if you wanted to make sure your non-graphical text rendered smoothly and consistently across all browsers across all platforms, you stuck to the handful of system fonts made available on both the Mac and PC (e.g. Arial, Verdana, New Times Roman).

    Sometime in 2005, Mike Davidson and Mark Wubben invented sIFR (Scalable Inman Flash Replacement), a clever little “applet” that used JavaScript and Adobe Flash to dynamically replace text elements on HTML pages with Flash equivalents (based on text-to-flash replacement technique by Shaun Inman, hence, the name).  sIFR was not suitable for body text and required a call to the Flash player for each rendering which could slow page-load times. Other non-Flash variations emerged such as FLIR (Facelift Image Replacement) which replaces text with dynamically generated images (using server-side scripting language PHP) and Cufón which uses JavaScript and vector graphics to write fonts from an XML font file (e.g. TTF, OTF, PFB). But these too had their shortcomings.

    Then in 2010, the Google Font Directory emerged from Google Labs, leveraging the “power of the cloud” to provide high-quality Web fonts anywhere regardless of the browser or device (you can read the announcement on the official Google Code blog). Google has made adding these fonts to your Web pages incredibly easy for even the non-technical, using CSS3 and the Google Font API. Just select a font and follow the steps for copying and pasting the code into your Web pages. All the fonts are open-source so there are no copyright worries.

    Cool Tool of the Month: Check Usernames

    If you ever been frustrated when registering  a unique username on Twitter or Foursquare or Digg then is your quick relief. This tool (powered by KnowEm) lets you check the availability of a username across 160 popular social networking and social bookmarking sites. If this is still not enough then you may want to consider creating an account under KnowEm which not only checks over 550 social networking sites but also domain registrars as well as the US Patent and Trademark Database.

    Cool Tool of the Month: iPad Peek

    This month’s Cool Tool goes to iPad Peek. Though not a true iPad emulator and therefore not that meaningful for developers, it is still a nice tool for designers to see how their work may appear inside the iPad viewing area. Clicking the iPad border will rotate it between portrait and landscape.

    iPad Peek uses jQuery and CSS3 so be sure you’re running a relatively new browser. Don’t get too excited if you see your Adobe Flash movies playing, the iPad still does not support Flash.

    iPad Peek was created by software engineer Pavol Rusnak (@pavolrusnak) who has made the source code available for download on GitHub.

    Cool Tool of the Month:

    The tiny icon that appears left of the web address on your browser is commonly known as a favicon (name so after Microsoft introduced the convention in 1999 with their release of IE 5) but it is also known as the bookmark icon and website icon. If you are really interested, you can read all about the favicon’s long history and its basic implementation on Wikipedia.

    The favicon was standardized in HTML4 by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and is now supported across all modern browsers and mobile devices. If you don’t create a your own favicon then most systems will use a generic favicon or generate one from the source page. But as web designers and site owners, we want to preserve our brand every way possible so taking a moment to create a custom favicon is just good practice.

    There are lots of tools for creating the .ico file format but when you need something free, simple, and fast then can’t be beat. Typically, I upload the 16×16 .png version of my icon and let generate the .ico version. handles transparency and variable sizes. You can also create an favicon from scratch one pixel at a time.