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Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 47

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

We are less than a week away from Thanksgiving, and everybody knows that the Holiday season is also Blockbuster season. Before heading to the movie theater this weekend, though, catch up on all the other news from the week with another dose of the Spry Hive.

Tech

Forget about self-driving cars and hoverboards. The real future of technology lies with this robot that will eradicate weeds on the farm.

samflipphone

Source = Samsung

While everyone is caught up in the smartphone sensation, Samsung is appealing to those who just want another flip phone.

Web & Apps

With the likes of Spotify and Apple Music reigning over music subscription these days, the services that helped build the industry, Zune, Rdio, and Beats music, have officially shut down.

Do voice commands and taps on a screen to control your smartphone seem too tedious at times? With this new app you can control your smartphone by simply drawing.

You’re mobile searches are about to look a lot different, as Google has begun streaming apps in their search results.

Design

Slack is commonly recognized as the best platform for communication among design and development teams. Now you can send your team a doodle with the integration of Sketchboard.

1-EN1VhczvRDU-_ZgSxGDDrA

Source = Medium

Not all mobile web design is created equal. This post points out some of the more commonly misused mobile UX patterns.

Development

Help diversify the world of development and spread the word about App Camp For Girls.

Getting up to speed on version control can go far in meeting your project deadlines, so learn Git and Github in a snap with these self-paced exercises.

Building a large application using Angular is no easy task, so here’s a closer look at the developmental process.

Misc.

Plan to rock your way to the grave? Well, this company will press your ashes into vinyl.

thg_legacy_mjp2_landing

Source = Lionsgate

Almost everyone has seen a movie that was a disgrace to the book it was based on. Here are the worst offenders of all time.

It’s no secret that the US Government spends billions of dollars a year on Information Technology, but what happens when one of these projects fails?


And with that, we have wrapped up another week of work and the news. Don’t forget to head to the grocery before it gets too crowded and stop by next week for a special Thanksgiving edition of the Spry Hive.

Drupal 8: It’s Here!

Posted by Julia Koelsch & filed under Drupal.

It’s been almost 5 years in the making. Over 3200 individuals contributed their time to update code and documentation. Today, we are thrilled to help celebrate the release of Drupal 8!

Why are we at Spry Digital so excited? We have been enthusiastic supporters and users of Drupal. Drupal is a powerful content management framework that allows us to craft websites and web apps.

New Features

With Drupal 8, many of the things we like about Drupal 7 have been improved upon, and there are plenty of new features to make creating sites with Drupal a great experience. Our development team has been meeting weekly to get up to speed on the changes in Drupal 8. Here are some of the new features we can’t wait to use:

Content Authoring

The content editing experience is much improved, with CKEditor included out-of-the-box, inline editing capabilities, better previews, easier multilingual configuration, more field types, and many more smaller improvements to make it easier to manage content.

Front End Development

Front end developers got a lot of attention with Drupal 8, mainly with the switch of the template engine to Twig. Creating creating rich, interactive experiences will be an easier and more pleasant experience!

Back End Development

There are many changes under the hood that will make back-end developers excited to use Drupal 8. The underlying architecture was completely rewritten, and now leverages the Symfony framework. This means that Drupal is now object-oriented, and can take advantage of other third party libraries since it structured more like other popular PHP frameworks.

Retiring of D6

With the release of Drupal 8 comes a date for the end of life for Drupal 6: February 24th, 2016. When Drupal 6 was released, it was a great step forward for Drupal, and included many compelling features for its time. But that was 2008, which is a very long time on the internet, and it’s time to let D6 retire. What does this mean for D6 sites? After February 24h, Drupal will no longer release security or maintenance updates. In order to maintain a secure site, we encourage you to look at upgrading to Drupal 7 or 8. Email us if you would like to determine how your existing Drupal site can be upgraded.

Reliability

The development effort for Drupal 8 also focused on stability and reliability, and many contributed modules have already been upgraded for Drupal 8. This means that the switch from using Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 will likely be swift.


We sincerely thank and congratulate all Drupal contributors, and look forward to all of the amazing things we will be able to do with Drupal 8!

Note: Join the St. Louis Drupal Users Group’s official launch party for Drupal 8 this Thursday night at Spry Digital!

November New Team Members

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under News.

Web development is without a doubt a team sport, so we’d like to acknowledge all of the people that make it happen everyday at Spry. While we’re not always perfect as a company, every individual on our team is dedicated to their work and providing successful outcomes.

As we’re nearing the end of 2015, we’d like to highlight some of the new team members that helped make 2015 a success and will no doubt contribute to an even better 2016. Without further ado, here are four additions to the Spry family who you will hopefully get to know over time:

mcdonnell_james_round

James McDonnell

James joined Spry Digital shortly upon graduation from University of Missouri St. Louis, where he received his BA in Anthropology. That study path took James to Greece and allowed him to learn about the human experience and scientific analysis, that includes studying behaviors across the Internet. For Spry Digital, James works directly with clients as a Project Manager to execute on digital strategies and managing support issues. If his name or picture rings a bell, it may be because James curates the “Spry Hive” blog posts, published weekly on Fridays.

Player Stats:

  • Sign: Aries
  • Power animal: Komodo Dragon
  • Personality: Pessimistically optimistic
  • Geeks out with: Computer hardware, anthropology
  • Known for: Man bun
  • Music: Deerhoof, The Dodos, Animal Collective, Aphex Twin
  • Guilty pleasure: Letting phone die

 


Goldstein_Brian_round

Brian Goldstein

Brian comes to Spry Digital after several years in the WordPress and Front-End Development arena. He graduated from University of Missouri in 2007 with a BA in History. Following graduation, an on-the-job near brush with death left him seeking a less dangerous career path. Brian dove into web design and development and has not looked back since. When he is not working on the front end, he is speaking at Wordcamps across the Midwest, contributing to multiple blogs, and coaching junior football.

Player Stats:

  • Power animal: Fox
  • Personality: INFP (Myers-Briggs)
  • Geeks out with: Typography
  • Signature style: Jeans/t-shirt or suited up
  • Music: Explosions In The Sky
  • Famous last words: “I can lift that.”
  • Guilty pleasure: Where to begin?

 


Duffin_Joe_round

Joe Duffin

Our most recent addition to the Spry Digital team, Joe brings 20+ years of experience in providing digital strategy and integrated marketing solutions to clients. At Spry Digital, he will help clients develop their digital strategies and shape their owned and earned media to maximize results. At home, he can be found tinkering in the garage and spending time with his wife and daughter. Whether it be motorcycles or mountain bikes, he’s a fan of anything that goes fast on two wheels!

Player Stats:

  • Sign: Sandwich board
  • Power animal: Raven
  • Personality type: Proxima Nova
  • Geeks out with: Motorcycles, cooking
  • Collector of: Tools
  • Music: Wishbone Ash, Rory Gallagher, Procol Harum, Traffic, Jethro Tull
  • Talks a lot about: My daughter, philosophy

 


burkett_steven_round

Steven Burkett

Steven joins Spry Digital as a Senior Technical Architect. Steven is that rare individual that you can throw any problem at, big or small, and he’ll give you 20 ways to solve it. He picks up new programming languages like the daily paper. His astute math skills means he can assist clients with web products that require more statistical or programmatic logic. When not architecting web solutions, he also assists with Spry’s support and maintenance of our hosting environments. When he’s not coding, he’s building race cars and hurling them around racetracks at blistering speeds.

Player Stats:

  • Power animal: F. Catus
  • Personality type: A–
  • Signature style: height:180cm;background-color:#e4b98e;position:relative;
  • Geeks out with: Algebra and algebraic geometry
  • Collector of: Derelict RX-7s
  • Famous last words: “I drank what?”
  • Guilty pleasure: Arena rock

 


We’re excited to have them join Spry Digital and looking forward to seeing what great things we can build together. Help us in welcoming these new outstanding team members!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 46

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

While commercials and retailers have turned their attention to the holidays that are just around the corner, this past week was all about honoring our veterans. No matter what we were tuned into, though, there’s always some news that happens to slip right past us. Don’t fret just yet because it’s finally Friday, which means another dose of the Spry Hive!

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is booming right now, and companies like Lytro are learning to capture the 360 degree experience in a new way with their innovative camera, the Immerge.

Leading the way for journalists, the New York Times has begun pushing the immersive experience to users with stories from around the world.

ht_veterans_vr_hb_151111_12x5_1600

Source = Veterans United Foundation

Virtual reality has helped our veterans experience the war memorials from the comfort of their homes.

Lastly, are you wanting to experience VR but not sure where to begin? Get a Google Cardboard then begin with the Vrse app. There’s a high-quality immersive VR experience for everybody, we assure you.

Web & Apps

If you aren’t following Jim Kenney, the next mayor of Philadelphia, then you’ve got some catching up to do because his Twitter game is top notch.

The app called Yik Yak became popular in colleges and high schools across the country thanks to its sense of anonymity, but students are quickly learning that their words aren’t so incognito.

Design

Enjoy reminiscing about retro game design? Take a look at Gameartlover on Tumblr.

pantone smoothies

Source = Pantone Smoothies

Have even more fun picking your next brand’s colors with these pantone smoothies.

Development

The Goofus and Gallant characters had some choice words of wisdom for CSS users.

While we are all excited about the launch of Drupal 8, don’t forget to prepare for the end of Drupal 6.

We all encounter a uncaught exception from time to time. Next time you do, make sure you take a proper process dump using a tool like this Hapi plugin, Poop.

A headstone is the perfect place to leave a personal message for the world. Well, CommitStrip.com has come up with a list of epitaphs perfect for coders.

Misc.

Finding its way back to the big screen after twelve year, Pixar’s classic movie Finding Nemo is finally getting a sequel focused on Finding Dory.

Life can sometimes feel like a plane crashing down to Earth, but every once in awhile it’s good to take a step back and acknowledge that it’s going to be okay.


And like that, we have made our way through another week of news. Hopefully you found something entertaining or touching enough to share with your friends and family. As always, have the spryest of weekends and don’t forget to drop by next week for more!

Front End Does What?

Posted by bgoldstein & filed under Web Development.

On November 4th A List Apart hosted their latest online panel, “The State of Front End Development”. At Spry Digital, we love any chance to get together as a team, eat some great food, and learn how to improve at our craft, so we turned the panel discussion into a lunch and learn, something we do just about every week.

On the panel were some of the leading Front End Developers in the US today, like Una Kravets (@Una), Rebecca Murphey (@rmurphey), Jina Bolton (@jina), and Marco Rogers (@polotek). The panel was moderated by Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier) of css-tricks.com.

They all work on some of the most interesting and complex front end development problems around for companies like IBM and Salesforce, and startups like Clover.

 

The entire hour long panel is embedded above, but if you don’t want to take an hour to watch the whole thing, we’ve recapped it for you here.

What Is It You’d Say You Do Here?

The panel started with the question of “What is front-end development today?” Chris began by listing various web technologies like HTML (check) and CSS (check). Where this question got interesting were two points of contention. The first was on JavaScript, which is such a broad topic and has seemingly a new framework du jour every month. What everyone came to agree on was that, yes, knowing how to use JavaScript at some level is definitely part of being a front-end developer. Moreover, they all agreed that being an expert at Angular or React or another particular framework wasn’t necessarily that important.

The other point of contention was on related-but-definitely-distinct disciplines like User Experience, Visual Design, Optimizing Performance, and server side programming languages like Ruby, Python and PHP. The consensus was that good Front End Developers definitely do not have to latter day webmasters, or full stack engineers, but need to be aware of the issues and concerns that other designers and developers might to bring to a project.

I really liked hearing that; one of the reasons I joined Spry Digital is our belief that crafting great, nimble web products is a team sport.

This conversation about awareness of different disciplines led to a great discussion on the usefulness of “Front End Developer” as a title. The panelists didn’t come to a conclusion – there’s both the problem of the title not being very descriptive of the work and the problem of it not being terribly indicative of the technical skill a front end developer might have. One panelist quipped that the job title front end developer could include both “someone who can barely use jQuery and someone who could recreate jQuery”.

If the title isn’t meaningful, does it matter whether you are a generalist, or should you specialize in a specific framework or technology? Fortunately this question was easier to answer: not only is front end development broad enough to include specialization under it, but most of those specialities are in demand. If you have or are willing to develop a speciality, you can basically pick where you want to work and the problems you want to solve.

Leveling Up

Piggybacking on the conversation about technical skill was a conversation about what determines a Junior Front End Developer from a Senior Front End Developer.  Unanimously the panel agreed that years of experience doesn’t play a determinative role in whether someone is Senior or Junior. Rebecca Murphey did comment however that experience does yield know-how in solving problems and working with colleagues. What most of the panel agreed on was that a Senior Developer has to be able to multiply the effectiveness of the team. This can happen in many ways, whether by teaching Junior Developers and improving their skills, or helping the team work better together. In fact, some of the panelists suggested that the only difference between a Senior and Junior Developer might be their ability to be a “force multiplier.”

Sine Qua Non

All of the panelists agreed that a healthy intellectual curiosity and a willingness to embrace changing technologies, standards, and practices was necessary for every front end developer, regardless of seniority.

It was a great panel that really helped me and our whole team at Spry think a little bit more clearly on what Front End Development is and is not, and what we should be expecting from Senior Developers as we continue to grow as a company.

Tweets

A smattering of the tweets I live tweeted out during the panel:

Other people’s best tweets:

Have your own thoughts about what it means to be a Front End Developer? Share your comments with us below.

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 45

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

Halloween may have been this past weekend, but that didn’t stop the working world. In fact, the holiday provided plenty of inspiration for designers, developers, and, of course, the internet. So, try not to fall out of your seats, and enjoy another week of the Spry Hive.

Tech

Superman isn’t the only one who can see through walls anymore, as developers at MIT have harnessed the superpower using wifi.

transparent-aluminum-640x425

Source = Naval Research Laboratory

Move aside, Glass. Furthering the legacy of Star Trek, Dr. Jas Sanghera has proven the feasibility of transparent aluminum.

Web & Apps

Step up your internet game with the ultimate Gif dance party.

If you’ve never heard of Basecamp, it’s about time to catch up. As of Nov. 3rd, Basecamp 3 is already available.

Have you been a fan of Snapchat’s sense of anonymity? Well, the company just reserved the rights to store your selfies.

Evidently, after luring customers into using OneDrive with unlimited storage, Microsoft has decided to drop the too good to be true offer, resetting the max limit at 1 Terabyte.

Design

Love the design of historic artifacts? Take a look at the Massimo and Lella Vignelli papers on Tumblr.

 

Mike Wasowski

Source = Go Monster Project

Acknowledging how creative our kids can be, the designers at Go Monster Project have created some stunning digital renditions of monster drawings from children.

Development

If you haven’t already heard, Drupal 8 will finally be released on November 19th! Join the celebration and find a release party near you.

Bring the weather to your users with Rain & Water Effects.

Interested in learning more about Apple’s cryptography?

Responsiveness is taking over the web, so be sure you keep up on all your CSS, jQuery, and JavaScript.

Front-end development has been, well… developing. So, what do we know now about the community?

Misc.

Watch out now, studies say your cat may want to kill you!

Space

Before NASA held another major press conference this week, the US Space agency put out an open call for the next generation of astronauts that will guide humanity to Mars.


So, as you can see, the holiday weekend did everything but hinder the week’s productivity. Hopefully you found something worth sharing with friends and family. Don’t forget to stop by next week for another dose of the Spry Hive!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 44

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

With Halloween only a day away now, the week’s news cycle has been heavily focused on preparing for the holiday. That didn’t stop the working world, though, which means we all have some catching up to do. So, sit back and enjoy this extra special Halloween edition of the Spry Hive.

Tech

glowforge 3d laser printer

Source = Glowforge

After running the largest 30-day crowdfunding campaign ever, printing your dreams into reality just became an in-house job with the newest 3D Laser Printer, Glowforge.

InFocus is setting out to redefine the meaning of “pocket pc” with their new Windows 10-based PC, Kangaroo.

Web

Already feel like emoticons and emojis are grossly overused? Well, now they’ve made their way into the courtroom.

Design

deep algorithm picasso

Source = Karl Stiefvater

Deep learning algorithms have been taking over the internet recently, and now you can turn any photo into a classical work of art. Someone has already reimagined previous presidents in the style of Picasso.

People have been designing replica Batmobiles since the comic series first surfaced. That said, how many of you have ever seen a Batmobile go-kart?

Development

Github is central to the workflow of millions of developers, and has made a huge impact on open source development over the years. Did you know, though, that the companies hardest worker isn’t even a person?

Creating a beautiful, user-friendly form has never been easy. Check out Typeform today.

Looking for a way to test and build upon your coding skills? Then give thanks for Codevember, a 30 day challenge of 30 creative experiments.

If you frequently use jQuery, then you have to take a look at these tips that everyone should know.

Misc.

greenland melting

Source = New York Times

No matter what you want to call it, Earth’s geography continues to change around us at an alarming rate. Recently the New York Times released an amazingly beautiful piece on Greenland melting away.

Thanksgiving isn’t the only day people look forward to in November now that the Friday after has become the biggest day for sales out of the year. Don’t make any plans to stop by REI though, as they encourage everyone to go outside instead.

St. Louis, and everyone West of the Mississippi, celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the iconic Gateway Arch this past Wednesday.

Halloween

We have all seen some fascinating carvings as we get closer to the holiday, but have you ever used a pumpkin to play tetris?

Proving that there is indeed life after death has never been easy, but “paranormal investigators” are making the most out of modern technologies and techniques to help bolster their case.


And just like that, we are one step closer to the holiday weekend and the beginning of November. Have fun out there, stay safe, and don’t forget to stop by next week for another dose of the Spry Hive.

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 43

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under Tips.

We’re only a week away from Halloween. While we’ve been stocking our candy jars and preparing for a litany of kid jokes this week, we also celebrated Back To The Future Day and were teased with more Star Wars goodness. Even with all of that, we’ve had time to curate some choice selections from around the Internet, so sit back and enjoy this week’s Spry Hive!

Around the Web

Back To The Future Day has passed, and expectedly, we were inundated with Marty and Doc references to where it seemed nothing else mattered on the Web. We still enjoyed this effort that reminded us of BTTFII’s predictions for the year 2015.

Instagram thinks that you’re going to want to capture special moments with a new app called Boomerang. Not a video. Not a gif. Boomerang takes photo bursts from your camera and stitches and loops them to create an entirely new content type.

YouTube is overhauling their revenue model and customer experience with the announcement this week of a $10 premium plan that will eliminate ads from the platform. Would you pay for an ad-free YouTube?

Mashable has turned blogging into a science. Check out how they predict the virality of any given blog post.

There’s no doubt that Stanford and Wharton are considered a couple of the finest learning institutions in the world. Learn how they also rule Twitter as top business schools.

Advertising

A PepsiCo Exec got the attention of ad agencies with this shot heard round the world.

Fitbits malware

Source = Wired

Security

Wearable health technology is booming. A hacker now claims that your Fitbit may be spewing malware to other connected devices (Fitbit denies the claim). We’ll keep watching to see how this plays out.

Web Design and Development

Let’s face it, today’s design tools were not conceived to design for fluid canvases like the Web. Josh Puckett has been thinking about this problem and demonstrates how a design tool could work for adaptive designs.

If you’ve been itching to learn how to build interfaces with the React JavaScript library, this tutorial may strike your fancy.

There’s already a post-CSS movement… so naturally there should be PostHTML. Consider us intrigued.

Tired of looking at Bootstrap site after Bootstrap site? With this Chrome extension you can turn off Bootstrap styles and JavaScript, but be warned: the results may be less than flattering.

Misc

NES, perhaps the most iconic gaming console ever, turned 30 this week! Thanks for continuing to bring out the kids in us!

This Ft. Worth prosecuting attorney goes by the name Law Hawk. We think he needs to pair up with Walker, Texas Ranger, stat.

No denying our Gen X side… We love Star Wars and we love the Beastie Boys (RIP Adam Yauch). Director J.J. Abrams clearly shares our affinity for both with the new A Force Awakens character, aptly named Ello Asty.

Disney Prosthetics

Source = The Verge

We expect that Marvel and Star Wars costumes will be popular with the trick-or-treat crowd next week. Disney is helping to make the dreams of being a superhero a reality for some kids with missing limbs with these prosthetics.


We hope that your week brings you all of the excitement that the season has to offer. Make sure that you get outside to enjoy some stunning Fall foliage, and join us for next week’s Halloween edition of the Spry Hive!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 42

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

While the first debate for Democratic Presidential Candidates took over our feeds this week, a world’s worth of news flew right by! So, sit back, relax, and catch back up with your weekly dose of the Spry Hive.

Tech

Dandelion

Boeing shocked the tech world with the lightest metal ever, which happens to be 99.99% air.

Without the help of Comcast, or any other large ISP, the town of Chattanooga, Tennessee now offers internet speeds of 10Gbps!

Web

Use caution with Adobe’s Flash Player, as the company just announced a critical vulnerability in the software.

Following Google Chrome’s lead, Mozilla recently announce that Firefox will stop supporting plugins.

It’s always nice to hear someone own up to their mistakes, especially when they are internet advertisers.

Apps

Math class just got a lot more musical with the newest mod for TI graphing calculators.

Design

151009145016-lexus-cardboard-3-super-169

While it’s no hoverboard, Lexus’ latest design was inspired by origami…and cardboard.

Here are a few UX habits that will aid any designer.

The countdown to Halloween has begun! Get excited with 31 days of your favorite horror characters, illustrated and motion animated.

Development

While Foundation 6 is still in production, Zurb has released a Sass library for custom CSS animations, Motion UI, for free.

Once again attempting to create a more user-friendly experience on the mobile web, Google has announced a new project for developers aptly named Accelerated Mobile Pages.

Misc.

Ever thought you’d have a shot at graduating from MIT? Well, now you have a better chance than ever, as the university announced their first degree using free online classes.

Forget about water on Mars, astronomers may have just found signs of life in space.

Evidently, some people were surprised to find Microsoft using the Start Menu to display ads. Thankfully, this feature is easily turned off.


And with that, we have caught up on at least a few of the stories that didn’t take center stage this week. Keep preparing for the fast-approaching Halloween and don’t forget to stop by next week for another weekly dose of the Spry Hive!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 41

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

As we move into October, NASA has unlocked a trove of old mission photos and robots decorate beaches. Sip on that pumpkin latte and enjoy another dose of the Spry Hive!

Tech

As if it wasn’t already hard enough to find a job as an artist these days, robots have started taking their jobs at the beach.

From the company that advertises their device as, “The tablet that can replace your laptop,” we present the new Surface Book – Microsoft’s first laptop ever.

Web

What do you get when you mix Twitter, eBooks, and Music? A quirky yet awesome karaoke generator for any party!

Haven’t updated Internet Explorer to IE11 yet? Well, it might finally be time, as Microsoft is cutting off support to IE 8, 9, and 10.

See your face from a different perspective with this webcam manipulator that’s full of emotion. You’ll want to zoom in to see what’s really going on. (WARNING: do not click if you are prone to epileptic seizures or motion sensitivity).

Design

comet1

Source = Adobe

Hey, UX designers, Adobe is working on a new prototyping tool that works beautifully with Creative Cloud called Project Comet.

Development

Looking to put a little bounce into your next web animation? You’ll love Popmotion.

Some Google interface developers have shared how they create better user experiences by optimizing their web products using the RAIL Model.

We love Gulp for how it speeds up front end development tasks. Now it’s even easier to use with one of our favorite code editors. Check out Sublime Gulp.

The tickets have been selling fast for the inaugural WordPress Community Summit, WordCamp US 2015, so grab yours while you have the chance!

Misc.

1232

Source = NASA

Still don’t believe we landed on the Moon? Well, see for yourself with the 8,000+ photos from the Apollo missions, recently released by NASA.

Now, we know the internet is a place for cats, but this puppy playing with baby goats will steal your heart.

Fallout 4 is one of the most anticipated games being talked about right now, but nobody is as excited as this guy.


We hope you were able to lose yourself for a while with the baby goats, artistic robots, and other stories from the week. Don’t forget to come back next week to grab your weekly dose of the Spry Hive!