Site Reviews

PluralSight – Review

I just realized that I apparently never posted about PluralSight, even though I reviewed a bunch of courses I took there.

PluralSight has a lot of courses in many areas. This includes development, game development, art, devops and more. They also have smart systems that will evaluate you and suggest courses in a specific area, such as C#, Java, etc.

One area that is constantly mentioned on Reddit and other places is their .Net courses. These cover many minor topics that is hard to see elsewhere, and usually their coverage will be more to the point than a book – so that you know what you need to work with a technology.

The professional plan is US$499 per year. There are usually sales throughout the year, and I usually renew then. You can also get a free trial, and Visual Studio subscription get you some free time.

Their iOS app is pretty good. They have Android and Windows (with off-line course downloads) but I haven't used them yet.

Many courses also have closed captions, and you can change video speed, although for me that works poorly and changes itself often.

Overall, very much worth it for the specialized courses, specially for .Net developers. For others, Safari Books might be interesting because of the book AND video coverage.

Site Reviews

ICanLocalize Review

One thing that has bothered me for a while is that while the update system for STG FolderPrint Plus is mostly localized (English, Portuguese, French, German and Spanish) , my messages in it aren't.

I have used ICanLocalize a few years before for the translation of the site to Spanish, and was fairly satisfied – their system downloaded my site, allowed me to pick the pages I wanted translated and extracted text segments to minimize the number of total words. Then it is easy to pick bidders and have it translated.

They also have a system for small translations, which is what I used for this translation. For less than US$10, I translated the message to 3 languages.

Translation time was quite impressive – in less than half an hour I had the translation to German and Spanish ready. French took a couple of hours, but that was on a Sunday.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the experience, and I will probably use them again when I need to translate other segments of my programs.

Site Reviews

Software Engineering for SaaS course Review

Just finished the Software Engineering for SaaS course on Coursera . Very good, learned a lot about Ruby, Rails, Cucumber and RSpec. Took me about 30 hours, including the book, videos, and course assignments.

One thing to note and that is mentioned everywhere is that the Ruby and Rails segments have what they call an “accelerated pace”. This is important because they really mean it! While I understood enough to keep up with the assignments, they took a lot of web searches to be completed.

Ruby is quite interesting, specially given my main language, Delphi, which is quite formal. I did a lot of web apps with it in late 90s, but Rails is very far away from it. I realized it before learning more about it, but it is incredibly easy to make some very complex stuff up in it.

I really like Cucumber – a BDD (Behaviour Driven Development) tool. It servers as documentation and automated tests at once, and it is really readable:

[box type=”note” style=”rounded”]

Section of a Cucumber test for a site:

Feature: search for movies by director

Background: movies in database

Given the following movies exist:
| title | rating | director | release_date |
| Star Wars | PG | George Lucas | 1977-05-25 |
| Blade Runner | PG | Ridley Scott | 1982-06-25 |
| Alien | R | | 1979-05-25 |
| THX-1138 | R | George Lucas | 1971-03-11 |

Scenario: add director to existing movie
When I go to the edit page for “Alien”
And I fill in “Director” with “Ridley Scott”
And I press “Update Movie Info”
Then the director of “Alien” should be “Ridley Scott”


There is some support code for that, but surprisingly little.

RSpec – the TDD (Test Driven Development) tool –  uses regular Ruby code, but the nature of Ruby (plus the RSpec helper functions) makes mocks and several other details incredibly easy. You can just replace method calls with mock functions, and at the same time easily control the results and check how they are called. Awesome.

The course wasn't perfect (in particular, a lot of the videos were hard to read, although they are fixing that for the next edition), but I think it was pretty good, specially for free. Recommended.

Site Reviews

Stanford Natural Language Processing Course – Review

I have recently finished watching the last classes on the Stanford Natural Language Processing Course.

Natural Language Processing is used in many ways in current software, and the course was quite interesting and covered a lot of ground.

Some of the topics covered were:

  • Spelling Correction
  • Language Modeling
  • Text Classification
  • Sentiment Analysis
  • Parsing
  • Information Retrieval
  • Question Answering
  • Summarization

Overall, I really liked it and recommend it for anyone interested in the area.

It is free, and while I don't think you can get a certificate if you start now, you can still view all the videos and do the homework. And they plan to restart the course at some point, when you would be able to get certificate.

Site Reviews

SpritePad – make CSS sprites in seconds

CSS 3 LogoSpritePad is a pretty cool tool to make CSS sprites. You can literally make them in seconds.

You just drag and drop the images into place, and the site generates a PNG you can download and the CSS to use each sprite.

Very cool, and free so far.

Site Reviews

DirtyMarkup – HTML/CSS/Javascript Cleaner

HTML 5 LogoJust wanted to mention DirtyMarkup – a nice, simple HTML/CSS/JS cleaner.  Just paste your code, choose your options and press Clean – and in a few seconds, you get a nicely formatted version of your messy code.

Site Reviews

HTML 5 Please

HTML 5 Logo
HTML5 Please is a pretty cool concept.

Whenever your application requires an HTML 5 feature that the user's browser doesn't have, their API shows a nice screen with browsers that support that feature, including newer versions of the user's browser.

A nice way to get people to update when the new features would actually be useful.

Site Reviews

Stanford Online AI Classes

This year, a whole batch of free online classes became available from Stanford professors. I've always been interested in AI, and so I took Introduction to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning .

Both courses cover AI, but the first does more of a tour of the field, covering a lot of topics. The second is only about Machine Learning, which covers algorithms that can learn from existing data. There are many applications – recommendation systems, search engines, computer vision, OCR, speech recognition, and much more.

The classes were video based, usually with subtitles available.  One interesting thing about the Machine Learning course is that you had downloadable PDF notes of each class, and also that you could view the videos at 1.2 or 1.5x speed – a big time saver.

I liked both courses, although Machine Learning does come across as more immediately useful given its more practical nature. It also had practical programming exercises (in Octave).

For Introduction to AI, some of the most interesting modules were right at the end, when the tools you needed were already presented – Natural Language Processing and Robotics (including some cool stuff about how Google's self driving car works).

I can recommend both courses if you are interested in AI.

I'll also be taking the Natural Language Processing next year.

Site Reviews

Ben Hunt’s Web Design Course Review

This year I took Ben Hunt's Pro Web Design Course. I learned a lot from it – and was able to raise my websites' ranking for several keywords, and got some extra traffic too.

The main reason I took the course was after reading Ben's books Save the Pixel, Convert! and seeing his videos on

There are a lot of good ideas on those books and videos, and good SEO analysis of both a page factors and potential competition for keywords is very important.

The course consists mostly of videos, although there are some downloadable page examples and resources. The videos are downloadable, which is nice for a couple of reasons – first, you can keep them after you are done with the course, and second, you can download and watch them with a player such as GOMPlayer, which allows you to view them at a fast speed. I used 1.2x most of the time, and on subjects I already mostly knew, I'd use 1.5x. That can save quite a bit of your time.

The explanations on the videos are quite clear. The main objective of the course is teaching Web Design as a profession. But if you make your own website (as I do), you can still use almost everything.

The classes range from basic HTML, designing on PhotoShop – pages, buttons and other elements, basic Javascript and PHP, a lot on WordPress – specially designing themes, and a very important and under represented theme, good SEO on page design, keyword research and landing pages. In my opinion, this is one of the strongest areas in the course.

One interesting thing is that the course is constantly receiving small updates. In SEO, which changes all the time, this is really important.

The only thing I really thing is missing in the course are transcripts from the videos.

If you actually want to become a professional Web Designer you also get many useful lessons on the specifics of the business, such as specialization, handling your clients and business strategies. And I believe the SEO training is invaluable – too many web designers make pages that rank miserably because they don't grasp more than the basics (and sometimes not even them).

Overall, I can really recommend this course for both Web Designers and people with sites that they want to improve.

Check out Ben Hunt's Pro Web Design Course

Update (25/June/2013): All videos from were added to the course! These are the reason I got on the course in the first place. They consist of SEO, copy and design analysis of sites, and are full of great information and ideas . Some Marketing MasterClass webinars and other were added too. But please note that if you get the monthly version of the course, these are only available after 6 months!

Site Reviews

Usability Bundle

The World Usability Day Bundle site is now available.

It has a lot of usually expensive usability tools with a huge US$3800 discount (well, US$3950 if you use the link above – you get a US$150 extra discount).

Of course, that is still US$1220, but for serious usability professionals this is pretty cheap.

If you are interested, you should hurry as it is only available for 2 days.

Go to World Usability Day Bundle site to get the discount.