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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    Cool Tool of the Month: Catalog Choice

    In honor of Earth Day, this month’s Cool Tool goes to Catalog Choice, a free online service that help consumers stop unwanted junk mail and help companies save money while respecting consumer choices. This, of course, helps Mother Earth by reducing unnecessary waste of natural resources.

    Simply create a free account and opt-out of thousands of catalogs and mailings all at once. It is not just catalogs, you can opt-out of coupons, credit card offers, even phone books. Catalog Choice monitors over 19 million opt-out requests since the site launched in 2007 and according to the organization’s president Chuck Teller 90-95 percent of catalog companies honor the opt-out requests immediately. This is good news, given an estimated 19 billion catalogs are mailed out each year (that’s 53 millions trees to you and me).

    For $20 a year, you can join Catalog Choice ‘s Premium Unlisting Service which removes your personal information from third-party marketing lists and personal search services.

    So if you are getting way too much clutter in your mailbox, Catalog Choice may be the Cool Tool for you.

    No Flop for Flip but We Must Say Goodbye

    Cisco announced today it is restructuring its consumer business and is closing down the Flip product line. It is with some sadness we say goodbye to the Flip video camera but it was inevitable that such transient technologies will be pushed aside by cheaper, more powerful products like the iPhone.

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    Need for Speed

    As web developers we are constantly tweaking our sites for every nanosecond of efficiency. Some of us can recall the days when web surfers had to (gasp!) dial-up on 300 baud modems to connect to the Internet. We are concern with website optimization because we’re good programmers but we’re also good marketers. If you don’t engage your visitors within 10 seconds, they are gone.

    No company appreciates the need for speed more than Google. Over the years Google has provided webmasters a cadre of optimization tools but the one that I want to revisit today is Page Speed Online. Type in a web address and Google returns a Speed Score along with suggestions on how you can improve your site’s performance. This could be anything from leveraging browser caching to minifying your JavaScript and CSS files. To help organize your time, suggestions are prioritized as follows:

    • High priority. These suggestions represent the largest potential performance wins for the least development effort.
    • Medium priority. These suggestions may represent smaller wins or much more work to implement.
    • Low priority. These suggestions represent the smallest wins.

    The really cool thing is that the suggestions change depending on whether you view the site via a desktop browser or a mobile device. Given more and more people are now surfing the Web on smartphones and tablets (upwards of 60% and growing fast), this is extremely beneficial to site owners and mobile marketers alike.

    For a limited time Google is offering $75 to get started with Google AdWords. Obviously, $75 is not much of an ad spend but if you were curious about AdWords, it is a safe way to try it without costing anything. Google allows you to run ads until the $75 is spent, no need to supply a credit card.

    I received an email today from stock photography community Dreamstime with the subject line All downloads free today? I’ve used Dreamstime in the past for finding “cheap” royalty-free stock photography and so figured this was legit. Then again, it is April Fools’ Day.  The email goes on…

    On this day the customs say always keep your tongue in cheeks, play many practical jokes and tricks, and don’t buy everything you hear or read today. Speaking of which, here’s an unbelievable deal for you: EVERYTHING IS FREE TODAY! Or is it? You’d better believe it or tomorrow you’ll see that April Fool has come and gone.

    Here’s the link… believe it or not.

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