Tag: technology

Dispatches from the Spry Hive: Week 37

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under Tips.

This post is part of a weekly series featuring the latest buzz around the Spry Hive.

“You don’t think your way to creative work. You work your way to creative thinking.”
– George Nelson

Around Spry

Last weekend was the 3rd annual DrupalCamp St. Louis. DrupalCamp is a local conference for all things Drupal, an open source CMS that powers some of the world’s largest websites. Speakers and visitors came from as far as Chicago, Austin, and Belgium!

DrupalCamp St. Louis

Spry Digital uses Drupal extensively, and was proud to be a Platinum Sponsor for the event. Three team members also gave talks this year, which you can find below:

Managing Drupal Projects by Simon Yost

Type Systems! Why, What, How by Brian Goldstein

Doubleclick for Publishers and Drupal by Benji Damron


Graphic Design

Adobe Apparel

Courtesy Adobe.

Adobe has released a line of apparel that celebrates common stock photography themes, like “man sitting at desk, frustrated with technology.”


Typography

OpenType Font Variations is a joint effort by Microsoft, Apple, Google and Adobe to specify font formats, creating more harmony between font families and systems.


Webfonts are here, big time. If you aren’t using webfonts, should you be? This A List Apart article covers both sides of the argument for using webfonts, including adoption patterns and common challenges.


User Experience Design

UX Tools

UX Tools is a list of design, prototyping and collaboration tools that helpfully provides feature sets and pricing, to help you choose the right tools for the job.


Web Design & Development

Angular 2 has been officially released!


Everything you need to know about using color with A Nerd’s Guide to Color On The Web.


Gmail has been a little late to the game supporting responsive emails across their email clients, but now you’ll be able to use media queries for Gmail and Google’s Inbox.


Technology

Evernote is migrating all of its user data to Google’s Cloud Platform. That’s some 5 billion notes and attachments that Evernote believes users will be able to access in new and better ways thanks to Google’s machine learning APIs.


Misc

Further proof that we are all made of stars, solid organic matter has been found in dust particles on Rosetta’s comet.


CVS Keurig Cold Remedy

As we head into cold season, you can now bring the fight to colds with your Keurig machine.


Skip the tedious step of making coffee in the morning for your daily dose of caffeine. Power Toothpaste will give you the jolt you need.


 

There’s some web design and life hacking links to carry you through to next week, when we’ll have more to share from the Spry Hive!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 17

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

From chameleon tongues to Mobilegedon, Week 17 of 2015 provided plenty of glimpses into the future. The past week also brought about a slew of business & development advancements that seek to make the most of your workday!  If you feel like you’re already a month behind, don’t fret! It’s finally Friday and Spry Hive is here to fill you in! So, sit back, relax, and enjoy this week’s news as the markets of technology, business, and development take the helm.

Tech

festo20pressebild_opk2015_flexshapegripper-rgb_d67ff2f4bd0286f2f5cda0b084d2718e

SOURCE = Festo

Beginning this week’s spree of technological innovation, a team of engineers developed a robot mimicking the mechanics of a chameleon’s tongue. While there are an unimaginable number of industrial uses for such an invention, what do you think the commercialization of such a technology could spell for our future?

The pursuit of convenience has almost always been one of the major forces behind technological innovation. Thanks to a team at M.I.T., your phone and computer will always be at your fingertips, even if the device is across the room!

If you need help remembering things on a regular basis, then you may want to take a look at this invention. While it won’t hold your coffee mug for you or allow you to interact with a screen sitting across the room, the ingenious technology of this so called ‘smart button’ was developed to help you remember all of your daily tasks and chores.

Thankfully, you won’t have to put one of these smart buttons on your oil filter. Evidently, the team at Hubb has been working on an everlasting oil filter. Now you can feel good about ignoring your car manufacturer’s recommendation to get an oil change after only 3,000 miles.

Meanwhile, a team at the New York Times just freed up a lot of time and head-space during meetings with their new Listening Table! The company promises that their electric ears can be trusted and won’t record unless physically prompted to by a meeting attendee. All we want to know is, when can we get our hands on one?!

Business

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SOURCE = Ryan Ritchie @ Flickr.com

Do you always seem to be focusing on multiple projects at once? For those of us that claim to thrive while multi-tasking, put down the coffee, take a quick breath and read this article. Can you speed up each of your tasks, but slow the whole day down, by re-assessing your list of priorities?

Well, thanks to Google upgrading their search algorithm, Mobilegeddon is upon us. If you missed it entirely, head over to Ken’s blog post for the inside scoop on how this could affect your business!

The Listening Table isn’t the only thing capable of saving time around the office. If we are to listen to Sujan Patel, then squeezing your content for every last drop through republishing is the way to go.

Development

Aside from technology and business, the development world provided quite a bit of insight for the workplace.

SOURCE = CodeSchool.com

Git is our team’s preferred version control software (which has saved us from countless headaches), but it can be confusing for some new users to learn. For those who may be struggling, Taylor Wan’s newest article might be the crash course for Git that you’ve been looking for!

Continuing with the theme of education within development, our team found themselves discussing the website Servers for Hackers. The site provides free lessons on various topics like Ansible, SSL Certificates, Vagrant, Discourse, and more. That being said, to unlock the site’s full potential, you must eventually subscribe.

Developers have finally solved the awkwardness of clicking the ‘back to top’ button and bumbling past the silence of old content all the way up the page. Elevator.js provides the perfect amount of elevator music to alleviate the gawky ride to the top!

Last, but certainly not least, Mozilla Labs has released a new tool that makes collaborating as a team during the development of your new website even easier! Togetherjs.com provides it’s users with content that syncs in real time, both text and voice chat, and the ability to see a teammates cursor and actions in real time, among a slew of other features.


From Google to Mozilla to the New York Times, the trend we continue to see is that hard, focused work, creative thinking, and a little bit of silliness are all equally important in the markets of technology, business, and development. So, once again, thanks for stopping by to enjoy this week’s news! Feel free to contact us if you would like to further discuss any of the news from this week, and, as always, stay spry this weekend!

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 28

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

It was a bad week to be a Brazil fan.  One of the saving graces for us this week was having the World Cup on in the background on our “big screen TV” upstairs (spoiler: it’s really just a projector plus the white wall).

So far, Microsoft’s artificial intelligence – Cortana – has accurately predicted every match in the World Cup. That’s a track record better than Paul the Octopus.  Though Paul did out-predict Goldman Sachs. There’s also Shaheen the Prognosticating Camel in on the mix this year, but his success rate is …lackluster. Seriously. We couldn’t make this up if we tried.

Anyway, Cortana is predicting a Germany/Argentina matchup in the World Cup final. For what it’s worth,  Google’s data analysis predicts the same outcome using different metrics.

We’re betting on Germany, but we don’t have any psychic animals to back that up.

Design and Marketing

This look at the Brazil World Cup logo is a nice peek at improving the creative process on a VERY visible brand.  It’s a logo that has faced some design criticism and it’s impressive what a few small tweaks can do to make it better. When the entire world has their eyes on you, sometimes it worth a few revisions. Or there’s this version that a lot of people on the internet are feeling right now.

Speaking of logos, some sarcastic genius has re-imagined some well-known logos to say what were were all thinking.

Audience and Social Media

In the world of digital marketing, there’s a lot of conventional wisdom (not to mention platform pressure) to put your money behind sponsored content to get your brand in front of a wider audience.  However, audience behavior studies show that people are more skeptical of sponsored content and most feel deceived by it. In the end, it comes down to the lingering impression you want to leave with your audience. If it damages trust, is it worth it?

Another interesting discussion this week centered on A/B testing and the role of quality content. A lot of people believe that design and calls to action are the real selling points that make the difference between version A and version B. This article produces and interesting argument that high quality content matters just as much, if not more, than design. Of course, knowing when to test your copy is the sticking point. What do you think?

Developers

We covered the highlights of Google I/O a couple weeks ago.  This week, we wanted to zero in on the nuts and bolts of the upcoming Android L and what it means for developers. In short, Android L (no clever dessert moniker yet) will follow up Android 4.4.2, also known as Kit-Kat. L offers a completely redesigned interface built on new Material Design principles – meaning it will be more user-focused while embracing upcoming technology. Google’s also putting a LOT of stock in to Android wearables like watches. Could we be working toward using biometric data as user authentication next?

All of these changes are bound to create new headaches and enticements for developers. L comes with 5,000 new APIs and a 6-bit support. Mashable’s Ask a Dev feature has a nice rundown for you.

Miscellaneous

Quick hits that don’t fit anywhere else but we thought were awesome enough to share:


That’s it for SpryHive this week. Let us know if you come across a squirrel with winning lotto numbers or a dog that knows who’s going to win the World Series. There might be some money in that. Or at least 15 minutes of fame.

Catch you next week!

 

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 24

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

As we close out week 24 out of 52, the calendar also treats us to Friday the 13th alongside a full moon. Don’t get all friggatriskaidekaphobic on us. After all, it’s just a coincidence and not the freakishly rare celestial event that some have led us to believe. Besides, June’s full moon is more commonly called the “Strawberry Moon” or “Honey Moon” because of the agricultural season. We think that sounds a lot tastier.

Let’s take your mind off the lunacy and deliver a quick hit of news from the week in today’s edition of SpryHive. Onward!

Getting Social (Media, that is)

Facebook

Changes to Facebook’s company pages are forced live starting today. If you’re a digital marketer who was caught unprepared, that alone might be a good reason to hate this particular Friday the 13th. Lucky for you we’ve already taken the sting out of designing a banner image that fits the new dimensions. Bookmark our Facebook company pages banner image blueprint.

A startup that analyzes your Facebook posts and compares your personality to your friends’? It’s a thing now. We have a quibble a little with their metrics, but overall, everyone in the Spry office had fun with this one.

The Onion made good on their promise to create a parody site for Upworthy and its ilk of clickbait headlines. Couldn’t have happened to a more worthy candidate. Lose yourself in the ClickHole. Now spam everyone in your Facebook feed with some snark. Turnabout is fair play.

Twitter

Tweetdeck, a popular Twitter app for desktops, went on lockdown Wednesday fearing it had been hacked – all because a teenage boy wanted to use tiny hearts in his tweets. A couple days ago, some Tweetdeck users noticed strange popups showing up within the client interface. Turns out, the bit of code the 19 year old added to his tweet (to display a heart icon) acted like a worm, telling other Tweetdeck accounts to share the message. Tweetdeck has been patched but you should probably log out and log back in to be safe. No news on if the teen will just switch to emojis.

Developer Goodies

DevOps STL

Remember our DevOps project? It has an official, recurring date. Join us! Get your DevOp on.

Learn to Code, Learn to Think

It’s no secret that learning to code is a great investment in your employment future. However, recent research is showing that learning to code also benefits general logic and reasoning ability.  Even if you aren’t into computer science, critical thinking will always be a marketable skill.

Get the Gist of things

Our Devs think Gists are great. For those not hip to Gist, it’s basically a way to save and share snippets of code on Github. All gists are Git repositories, and enjoy all the features of a repo, including forking, versioning and viewing diffs. But they are not easily organized, either for yourself or as part of a code library for your team. So we were pretty excited to come across the GistBox app. GistBox creates a sharable code library for your whole team that boasts a really sleek UI. We’ve definitely got the gist of things.

 

Cool things that we can’t reasonably squeeze in elsewhere

All Hail our Robot Overlords?

For the first time, a machine passed the Turing Test and Sci Fi geeks everywhere started having to breathe into paper bags. Well, sort of. It’s success is debatable, but we’ll get to that in the second paragraph. In short, the Turing Test measures a machine’s ability to exhibit intellient behavior equal to, or indistinguishable from, a person’s. This week, a chatbot in London convinced judges it was a 13 year old boy. It probably didn’t ask for Doritos and the latest Call of Duty game, though.

However, for many the Turing Test isn’t the be all end all of artificial intelligence. Considering that it was theorized at a time when computer technology was just beginning, the test only measures intelligence without cognition. AND it conflates intelligence with sentience. With the acceleration of our technology, we’ve been able to utilize more and more pattern recognition in our programming (resulting in more intelligence) but we haven’t been able to create self-awareness within our programs (indicating true sentience). So while we’re not quite veering into Philip K. Dick territory yet, we do have to appreciate how far we’ve come.

Goooooooooooooooooooooaaaaaaal!

If you’re not a soccer (or futbol) fan, the next three weeks are going to sound something like this for you:

sportsball

For everyone else, the World Cup started yesterday and people are losing their minds. What a ludicrous display.

Don’t worry, we can even make this about the tech to justify including it in the weekly SpryHive roundup (because the IT Crowd alone can’t carry it). This year’s tournament is using a new technology that aims to prevent “ghost goals”. Germany’s fans are pleased.

Getting into the global spirit, Twitter has brought back Hashflags, which are exactly what they sound like. Hashtag + flag. Whenever you use the three-letter country code of your favorite team after a hashtag, Twitter will include a tiny national flag within your tweet (and no, the tiny flag doesn’t count against your character count).

Wherever you are and whichever team you’re pulling for, kick back with the most popular beer in that country. We can’t say we’re thrilled with team USA’s, but thankfully, we have a delightful selection of microbrews locally to distract us. Or drown our sorrows depending on how the Cup goes.


And that’s about it for this week’s SpryHive! Have a great weekend, watch some soccer, and we’ll catch you Monday to start it all over again!

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 23

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

Happy Friday and Happy National Donut Day! The Spry staff had their morning sugar rush courtesy of Strange Donuts, a local shop responsible for this amazing photo project. We really like the behind the scenes making of from a design perspective.

Grab a box of crullers and a hot cup of coffee and kick back and relax with your friendly neighborhood SpryHive. You want links? Lucky you! We’ve got links!

Tech News

An Apple a day…

Unless you were vacationing under a rock this week, you probably caught wind that Apple made some pretty interesting announcements at WWDC 2014, its worldwide developer conference. We got to see the future of Apple with a look at OS X Yosemite and iOS 8. While most people were expecting some hardware announcements, their software stole the show. We’ll spare you a play-by-play with this summary of the 22 most important things Apple announced.

Apple is already running into some criticism from designers for the selection of Helvetica Neue to replace Lucida Grande. Neue is being dinged for potential under-performance in its web functionality and appearance at smaller sizes. However, typograpy-philes have been expressing their love of Helvetica for a long time (there’s even a movie about it). We agree, it’s clean and slim, but is this a case of form over function?

Women in Tech

De-coding women

It’s no secret that development can be a bit of a boy’s club. Some have even called it “brogramming”. Often, this attitude manifests in subtly hostile and misogynistic assumptions and language that lets women know they’re not welcome. The latest example came from Atlas Camp – a developers conference run by software developer Atlassian, who makes Spry’s internal chat program HipChat. A presenter compared a plugin framework to his girlfriend, saying it “doesn’t play well with others”, “demands attention”, and “complains a lot”. For their part, Atlassian denounced the presenter’s comments as not being part of their company culture and issued a lengthy apology.

Re-coding women

Sadly, incidents like Atlas Camp aren’t isolated. How do we encourage women and girls to step in to the ring and get involved with more tech and coding? Simply put, we need to talk about it more. We need to make it more acceptable and encouraged. This excellent Op-Ed from this week’s New York Times offers a lot of resources. More and more startups are springing up across the country to address this question. Locally, LaunchCode has started a new offshoot called Coder Girl. Even a cursory Google search will let you know that this isn’t an isolated initiative; similar programs are gaining steam across the United States via broadening participation by girls in STEM programs and the Equal Futures Partnership.

Developer Goodies

“What’s this built with?”

Find a site you really like? Take a peek under the hood with Built With. Billing itself as a “Technology Profiler” (among other things) it’s one of our go-to resources. It offers a snapshot of all the technologies found on a site to help devs and designers make more informed decisions. Even better, there’s a Chrome extension that makes sneaking that peek a total breeze.

Learn Swift

With all the buzz Apple had in the news this week, there’s been a flurry of interest around their newly announced programming language, Swift. Swift is the successor to Objective-C for creating iOS and OS X apps. If you want to learn it, Apple is offering a free eBook from iTunes.

Miscellaneous Goodies

LEGO just *gets* us.

Two LEGO tidbits from this week. Based on public interest and petition, LEGO announced that it will be rolling out a women scientists set. We can’t wait to get our hands on it. Also, in LEGO’s latest ad campaign an artist re-imagines famous works of art using LEGO bricks creating pixilated, but recognizable, works of art. On both counts, we do advise you NOT to step on them. We hear it’s pretty much the worst.

Rock out with your HTML out.

If you need a little afternoon distraction, we’ve got you covered.  Check out the HTML5 Drum Machine. Makes getting into your work groove even easier with a good beat.

13 minutes of “WORTH. IT.”

You might remember our soapbox on net neutrality from a couple weeks ago. It’s a topic that’s not going away. John Oliver takes on net neutrality and motivates an army of internet dwellers – “for once in your lives, focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction. Seize your moment, my lovely internet trolls!” And, man, they did. Between Oliver and impassioned Redditors, 45,000 comments and 300,000 emails went to the FCC. The general rule of the internet is “Never read the comments” but that FCC site might be worthy.

—–

That’s it for this week. You’ve got a whole weekend to recover from your donut-induced sugar coma.
We’ll catch you on the flip side. Pass the TUMS?

 

Sit With Us To Inspire Women in Tech

Posted by spry & filed under News.

This week we had a very special visitor: A chair. More specifically, the Red Chair from Sit With Me, a project of the National Center for Women & Information Technology. The team at Spry Digital took a seat to take a stand to support women in technology. Given that we are a woman-owned technology firm, this cause is very close to our hearts.

Why a red chair?

The red chair is symbolic. When women and men “sit” to take a stand, they validate women in computing and IT and recognize them for the important role they play in creating future technology. The red chair gives all of us a constructive way to show our solidarity and invite others to participate. The bold red color grabs attention and encourages action. By “sitting together” we hold space for an honest conversation and create a platform for online and offline discussions about our challenges and hopes for the future.

Spry Digital with the Red Chair

From Julia Koelsch, Spry Digital Co-founder/Partner:

Technology touches nearly every aspect of modern life today, so it’s critically important that women are creators and leaders in technology. My hope for this project is that women and girls see that interest in technology isn’t unusual, and that they are a valuable part of a growing and supportive community.

From Ken Moire, Spry Digital Co-founder/Partner:

As so much of what we build requires empathy for users, I predict that women will play an even more critical role in architecting, engineering, designing and developing our solutions in the future. I sit to take a stand to encourage young women coming up in the field of computing and IT to stick to it and know that their contributions are important and necessary.

From Sheila Burkett, Spry Digital Co-founder/Partner:

I heard about the Sit With Me project at a National Center for Women in Information Technology event in St. Louis, where I was the keynote speaker. The event recognized five young women from St. Louis area high schools who are interested in IT. As a technology leader, I feel it is critical to encourage diversity on technology teams and to show young women that you can be successful in the IT field.

julia-red-chairken_red_chairsheila-red-chair

We were thrilled to participate in this project because we believe it’s critical for companies like ours to help foster a technology community where women and girls feel empowered to participate. We are here because of the iconoclastic women who proceeded us. Spry Digital is working to ensure the next generation of girls have a seat at the table.