How To Create An Interactive Web Background With CSS


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There are a lot of flat, boring web sites out there, but there are also a lot that are interactive and sometimes even include fun little surprises. Today, I’m going to show you one way to create a fun little interactive surprise in your web page design. David, a regular reader, pointed me to this page and asked how they accomplished the effect with the footer image that changes (click the link and watch the bottom of the page while scrolling down slowly). The effect is what I tried to illustrate below.

Background CSS trick example

Pretty cool, right? The best part is that this is super easy to achieve. Below, I’ll walk you through a few easy steps I completed to create my own interactive background.

Step 1: Create your images

To make this trick really work you want at least two images. The first is a two-toned image that represents the before and after imagery. For my example, I used grey on top and black on bottom. The second image is the gradient that creates the illusion. The gradient should fade in from the same top color to the same bottom color as your before/after image. Try to make both images close to the same height, but experiment with the positions of your artwork. Also, this works better if the two pieces of artwork don’t overlap each other. Just as important is the format. GIF files may work, but generally, PNG images are best.

Step 2: Create HTML

The HTML is really very simple. Inside your body tag, you want a div element with a class of “wrapper” and inside this, another div element with a class of “push”. Below those, you need a div element with a class of “footer”. You can use different names, as long as they match the CSS when you’re done. Be sure to fill up the “wrapper” div with enough content to make the visitor scroll.

Here’s my HTML:

Step 3: Create your CSS

The final step is to create your CSS. This can be inside your HTML page or in its own .css file that the page loads. Either way, set up the CSS for the body and each div element you created as seen below. Of course, the height and margin values may be different for your usage.

With the third step done, the only thing left to do is check it in a browser and adjust as needed. Here’s the rough example I threw together here . I didn’t spend a lot of time on it, but for my example, I created a before/after image using a circuit diagram I found online and a one-color version of my logo. I also kept the skulls image for my demo because I liked it.

Quick Start Kit

I breezed through the steps a little, but it shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish if you have some knowledge of web page development. In any case, the easiest way to try this out is to create a new before/after image and play with what I’ve already done. For this reason, I packaged up the code, images, and a layerd PSD of my before/after image to get you started. Try it out for yourself and if you put it online, link to it in the comments so we can see.

How To Install Animated Windows Backgrounds


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Most people are familiar with screen savers in Windows. When your computer has been idle for a certain period of time, the screen will go blank or animate in some way to keep the screen you left up from burning into your monitor. Over the years, screen savers evolved to entertain. Chances are pretty good that you or someone you know has had a virtual fish tank as a screen saver at some point. The problem is that you’re usually not around to enjoy your screen saver when it’s activated. In this article, I’m going to show you an easy way to animate your desktop while you’re using the computer. The video below has a few examples from my own setup.

In the video, I just demonstrated a few of my favorites, but you can also use it as an example of how to set a video as your background once you have Dreamscene installed. You might have also noticed that I’ve removed any junk icons from my desktop and set my program dock and task bar both to auto-hide. The less you have in the way of your background, the more you’ll enjoy it.

What You Need To Get Started

– Dreamscene: The Windows 7 Dreamscene patch is here (32 bit). 64 bit is here.
– Video loops: The ones I’m using are a bunch from dreamscene.org and the aquarium I found on YouTube.

That’s it. Just grab a video or two and the patch and get started below.

How To Install Dreamscene

Installing Dreamscene is pretty quick and easy to accomplish, but you will need to reboot. Bookmark this page so you can come back to it and wrap up anything else you have open. When you’re ready, just follow these steps:

1. Open the Dreamscene patch you downloaded
2: Copy and Paste DreamScene.dll to %windir%\system32\
3: Copy and Paste DreamScene.dll.mui to %windir%\system32\en-US\
4: Run Dscene.reg
5: Reboot

(%windir% is the path to your windows directory, generally C:\Windows. Instructions may vary with an OS other than Windows 7 64 bit)

After installation and rebooting, you can set any .WMV or .MPG video as your desktop background. To do this, just find a video on your computer, right-click on it and click “Set as Desktop Background.

Find More Dreamscene Videos

Finding a bunch of videos on sites like dreamscene.org is great, but remember, you can use any wmv or mpg video, so there’s a whole lot of possible Dreamscenes all over the web for you. If it loops, that’s best, but a longer video will work, too. Sites like YouTube have an abundance of videos, but you might try just searching Google for free video loops.

Comment below and link to any video loops you find that you really like.

How To Screencast On Your iPhone


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Yesterday, I posted about how to jailbreak your iPhone running firmware 3.1.3 in 60 seconds. After jailbreaking, I tried playing with ScreenSplitr and saw other apps that let you see your iPhone screen on your computer. The problem is that most require you to be tethered to a computer or have both your iPhone and the computer on a wifi network. I found something much easier for creating videos of your iPhone screen.

After jailbreaking, I installed Backgrounder on my iPhone. It lets you run things in the background, which the iPhone still doesn’t do (until 4.0). What I found was that some video recording programs will still record in the background and others will not. Of those that will, a couple will record everything displayed on your screen. Below is a video I made showing regular video, then my screen, then back to regular video. The whole thing was recorded using a iVideoRecorder ($0.99 in the app store) and Backgrounder. It was not edited at all and was uploaded to YouTube right from the phone.

As you can see, it was pretty simple to share my iPhone screen activity with you without the need for a computer. This is great if you want to, for example, show people how to take and edit iPhone photos on the beach or how well a navigation program works with a live demonstration. Give it a try and let me know what you think.