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!


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.


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).



Source = Adobe

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


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!



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!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 40

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

When NASA opens the week with major news about a planetary neighbor, it’s hard to focus on all the other happenings from around the world. Thankfully, it’s Friday, which means another recap of the past week’s news, all in the Spry Hive!


It’s usually a good idea to keep liquids away from any electronics, but this new, liquid clock perfectly visualizes the flow of time.

Learning and following along with sign language has never been so easy with the new SignLanguageGlove.

Thanks to Netflix, you can turn your living room into a true home theatre with the click of a Switch.


World-wide fugitive Edward Snowden caught everyone’s attention when he surfaced on Twitter this week.

Digital Advertising

Advertisements have almost become an expectation when visiting a news site, but have you ever wondered how much mobile data we waste on them?


DSC_0090 (1)

If their new store in Brussels is a sign of things to come, then keep your eyes peeled for a major redesign at the Apple Store near you.

Trying to make your latest design scream, “America”? Your job just got a whole lot easier with this new guide for U.S. web design standards.

Clean up your folders and make sense of those duplicates with this simple version control app, Folio for Mac.


Create a lot of animations with CSS? Then you’ve got to check out Velocity.js, an engine so easy that it feels like cheating.

Move over Vagrant, you’ve been replaced! HashiCorp released their newest development/deployment tool for developers this week, Otto,

Gatsby lets you create dynamic websites with a plain text editor and React.js. Now that’s easy, and live!



Those living under a rock might have missed NASA’s major announcement on Monday where they confirmed the existence of liquid on Mars.

As if fast food wasn’t spooky enough already, Burger King has unveiled its Halloween Whopper that features a startlingly black bun.

We can’t guarantee that next week’s Spry Hive will include another major announcement from NASA (is discovery of little green men next?), but we’re sure to find some other tasty morsels from around the web. See you next week!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 39

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

Chipotle wasn’t the only company playing around with video games, space, or lawsuits over the past week. So, catch up on all of the latest news in another edition of the Spry Hive!



Source = Chipotle

Tired of taking fire from the competition over their alleged use of GMOs, Chipotle is making their point by letting you shoot down the additives!

Don’t think you’re so sneaky. Facebook and employers everywhere are well aware of how much time is spent on Facebook at work. Now you have an excuse, though, with the introduction of…(wait for it)…“Facebook at Work”.


Volkswagen is taking some serious heat from the USA. Unfortunately for the company, their rigging software can only hide the truth during an emissions test and not the news cycle.

The world of technology is chock-full of overly complicated bugs and hacks, but the latest flaw on Android is just plain silly.

The once unthinkable for Microsoft has now become a proud reality for the tech giant; the company has started using Linux to run it’s cloud.

Somehow, it seems only fitting that the individuals behind Cards Against Humanity are actually very interested in preserving our own humanity by supporting Women in STEM.


isotopic designs

Source = Nodegram

Looking for a little inspiration to end the year on a high note, or maybe just some eye-candy? You’ve got to check out the best isometric designs of 2015 (so far).

Having trouble convincing clients to buy those pieces of paper you value so much as a designer? Here is a helpful article on teaching the purpose of a style guide.

Learning should be constant, but it shouldn’t be a constant struggle. Use this guide to make it easier to keep up with the latest and greatest tools for web designers.


Wondering whether or not your favorite modules are ready for Drupal 8? Keep up with the latest news using this database that details the status of the top 100 contributed modules for Drupal 8.


Seeing the Earth as the size of a marble can change anybody’s perspective. Thankfully, a group of friends took it upon themselves to bring the scale of the solar system to us.

Pluto might not be considered a planet anymore, but it’s still a part of our gorgeous solar system! So, show our farthest cousin some love and check out the newest pictures of it’s landscape.

For the first time in decades we are seeing a video game like no other. Panoramical centers itself around meditative music that manipulates fascinatingly artistic and engrossing visuals.

In case you weren’t aware enough, there is only one day left in Sea Otter Awareness Week, so make it count!

So, now you can enter the weekend with a new view on life and a few new talking points. Don’t forget to stop by next week and, as always, have the spryest of weekends!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 38

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

Roller coasters and preteens weren’t the only ones breaking records and setting precedents this week, so enjoy another dose of the Spry Hive and catch up on all the news!


feeling prosthetic

Source = Darpa

This week in Tech brought quite a touching story… Researchers at Johns Hopkins have developed a neural prosthetic that returns the sensation of touch to its owner.

This one on the other hand… has us seeing red.


Users Beware: Some websites are beginning to identify and strike back against those running ad blockers.

Facebook is finally developing a dislike button, but they are exploring options that would make the feature less alienating and more empathetic.


Facebook empathy design

Source = Wired

Almost immediately after Facebook spoke their piece, designers jumped right into the challenge of designing empathy.

Your design team becoming too chummy and designs too processed? Don’t forget that it’s okay to fight with each other.

Life becomes stagnant when learning is no longer constant, so check out these 50 books every web designer should read.


It’s no secret that the Web has been held together with popsicle sticks and glue. It’s been a fun ride, HTTP, but it’s time to move on.

Forked a repo and can’t get up? You may need first aid for git.

Web designers, ensure that you’re pleasing users instead of making them sick. Take these resources for a spin and learn how to make your animations more accessible.


Our stomachs are already dropping and turning at the sight of Cedar Point’s newest world-record breaking roller coaster.

What is this magic? Trust us when we say your life will change after trying these cotton candy grapes.

Forget the gondola men of Venice. Visit Osaka, but not without your wasabi! Evidently, the city’s turned their river into a conveyor belt of floating sushi.

Space exploration is inherently exciting, but we were on the edge of our seats reading about these two preteens who sent a homemade ship to the edge of space.

So, keep an eye out for giant balloons in the atmosphere and new features on Facebook. Don’t forget to stop by next week, as it will surely bring even more exciting news!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 37

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

The fact that Fall is almost here means a few things for sure. The newest line of Apple products are on their way and the NFL has kicked off the regular season by adopting some real-time technology. That’s just the beginning of this week’s news though, so sit back and enjoy your weekly dose of the Spry Hive!



Source = Apple

This past week Apple, the ever-popular tech giant, announced their iPad Pro, touting desktop-level hardware alongside their newest accessories. The one piece that really has artists and designers clamouring, though, is the announcement of the Apple Pencil.

With the regular season beginning this week, the NFL has made it a lot easier to follow every game using their new app for Windows 10 that gives real-time stats and field position of every player. How is the NFL able to provide such an experience, you ask? By placing RFID chips on all the shoulder pads.


Looking for an easier and more organic way to jot down some notes, create diagrams, or even make a checklist on your mobile device? Then you’ve got to check out the new app called Paper, available for free in the Apple App Store.


ALA_428_Safer-Web-Animation_960_251_81 (1)

Source = A List Apart

Appealing to as many people as possible is a fundamental aspect of design. While some people have begun complaining about the shift to dynamically and swiftly changing content with sidescrolling and parallax effects, many might not have considered how these features are affecting those with vestibular disorders.

It’s no secret that the number of applications available to designers seems to be growing exponentially these days. Attempting to make sense of all the utilities and how they are really being used, Subtraction.com surveyed more than 4,000 people from 200 different countries. Well, the results are in and there is finally a list of the tools designers are using today.


While last week’s discussion of Angular vs. React focused on how quickly React has been growing, some may still be wondering, “Which one is right for me and my project?” Well, Benton Rochester from effective thinking is here to help you decide.

For those who don’t know, SEO by Yoast is the go-to plugin on WordPress for your Search Engine Optimization needs. For those who did know, you’ll be happy to hear that the extension is finally coming to Drupal.


Reminiscent of SeinfeldVision, an extraordinarily talented video editor has created a video that flawlessly brings together characters from dozens of classic films. Including the likes of Scarface, the Terminator, and the Mask (just to name a few), Hell’s Club is something you’ve got to see to believe.

If we hadn’t split from Britain all those years ago, we would all have one more excuse for celebrating this week. Evidently, Queen Elizabeth II has finally surpassed Queen Victoria as the longest-reigning monarch in all of British history.

And with that, another week is in the books. Grab yourself some fish & chips or a nice pint of beer, it’s finally time to relax and enjoy the weekend. Thanks for stopping by for your weekly dose of the Spry Hive!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 35

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

Welcome back to the Spry Hive! In a week where we discovered that some of our jobs would be in danger if 5th graders were allowed to design and develop, there was no shortage of news and events to cheers us all up. So, sit back and enjoy catching up on this week’s news, from major moves in the US Chess Federation to widespread internet outages.


Ever since the advent of video games in 1947, developers have worked tirelessly to create an interactive experience that looks and feels as real as possible. Well, the geniuses behind Realm Pictures on Youtube may have finally figured it out, utilizing services like Omegle, Skype, and Chatroulette to create ‘Real Life’ video games, turning their interactions into absolutely hilarious videos.

There have been some major, unexplained outages across the world since last evening. Though it’s become clear that Level3, one of the world’s largest Internet Service Providers for products like Xbox Live, Craigslist, and HBO Go, is dealing with some internal difficulties, the company has left its customers in the dark in terms of the outages’ cause.

Are you the type of person that would love nothing more than to bring your cat to work everyday? Aren’t we all? Well, now you can get your feline fix in the office with this new online generator that allows you to recreate the purr of your furry friend.

We appreciate a little help when it comes to organizing our personal projects. That’s why we use Trello, a system of lists and workflows that makes it easy to complete any project. The tool’s applications are boundless, and to help users get the most out of the platform, Trello has released their own list of ideas as inspiration.


mad max

Source = Takumi

If you are a fan of the new Mad Max movie, Fury Road, then you have got to check out this reinterpretation of the story. Created by Japanese artist Takumi, the story is retold by masterfully combining the movie’s post-apocalyptic themes with the cryptic design of Egyptian Hieroglyphics.

While some designers have already begun migrating away from Adobe with other programs stepping up their game, the longtime king of creative software may have hurt themselves even more with their most recent updates to InDesign CC. Evidently, Adobe has decided to not include a slew of common fonts and typography, essentially leaving designers stranded.


Staying busy at the home base, we don’t make it to nearly as many conference as we’d like to. That’s why, when we came across this list of recent conference talks worth watching, we just had to share!

While you may be a master of code and development in general, how much do you know about the servers running and sharing your programs? A little sysadmin knowledge can go a long way for a developer, so, we want to introduce you to Servers for Hackers, which now offers all of their videos for free!



Source = Random House

There is no denying it, folks. We love history, we Love comics, and we LOVE beer. So, you can only imagine the joy and excitement around the office after we found out that a team was releasing a comic book about the 9000 year history of beer.

Some big news came out of Jackson,Wyoming this week as the town announced its plans to reduce the costs of transportation and food in general by using a vacant lot to build a gigantic, indoor, and public greenhouse. Thanks to their unusual, yet innovative, methods, the project is being heralded as one of the world’s first vertical farm.

While some sports fans in St. Louis are still reeling from the possibility of losing their pro-football team, the city’s chess fans just received some major news. Evidently, Fabiano Caruana, who currently sits as the 5th best chess player in the world, has decided to leave team Italy and relocate to the Gateway to the West, pledging allegiance to the US Chess Federation.

So, we hope you could once again find something entertaining or worthwhile to take away from the Spry Hive. Don’t forget to stop by next week and have the spryest of weekend!

Spry Hive Week 34

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

Welcome back to the Spry Hive! Between all the Star Wars hype, news surrounding NASA, and advancements in solar power, there is no doubt that we were all reaching for the stars in one way or another this week. So, sit back and enjoy the tales of this week’s dreamers, innovators, and thought leaders.

Web & Apps


Nowadays, there seems to be an emoji for just about any item and any situation. Thanks to Eric Andrew Lewis, the illustrated text icons can now be used to build some of the cutest (and sometimes most disturbing) mosaics of your favorite pictures!

Have you been looking for a simple, legitimate solution to secure your company’s communication? Well, then Silent Circle was built for you. While they do offer a small number of silent devices, their heavily encrypted communication apps are the immediate innovators as they are available for desktop, Android, and iOS.


Evidently, Samsung is among those who believe bigger is better, at least in the market of storage capacity. The company recently announced that they will be releasing a Solid State Drive that features a whopping 16 terabytes of storage. That kind of size doesn’t come without an enormous price tag, though, as the device is estimated to cost somewhere between five and seven thousand dollars.

In a move that had some managers and players calling for an instant replay, MLB’s commissioner, Bud Selig, had declared that smartwatches were banned alongside smartphones in the dugout. Luckily, the decision was overturned after further review, as the league’s front office finally learned how the devices works.

Google announced a new program this week that aims at saving you some headache and money. By combining their current Google Maps 3D modeling data with their new solar mapping data, the company has made the process of upgrading to solar panels a whole lot easier with Project Sunroof.


While some attentive Harry Potter fans out there might be freaking out at the fact that someone tarnished one of their beloved books with the iconic Star Wars logo, everybody else can agree that these designs are magical. Founded by Yuto Yamaguchi, the company OruFun specializes in the art of folding book pages into amazing 3D designs, aka putting those dusty books on your shelf to good use.

Whether you’re designing an app for the desktop, smartphone or watch, the process just got a little easier and a lot more animated. With the introduction of Principle for Mac, you can create a beautiful user experience that utilizes animation, interaction, and multiple screens.


Thankfully, flexibility within your web page doesn’t require daily stretching and yoga training like your body does. All it requires is Flexbox! For those of you that may have heard us raving about it in previous blogs, but still struggle with understanding the modules basics, here is a great explanation of how it works.

Are you using WordPress to fulfill your blogging or website needs? Well, you’ll be happy to know that version 4.3 of the platform, also known as “Billie”, has been released and comes packed with features that will make content creation so much easier.



Source = Disney/Lucasfilm

When Disney acquired the rights to the Star Wars brand and franchise, we knew there would be more in the works than the reboot of a legendary movie series. Well, this week plenty of fan undoubtedly wet themselves following the announcement of two Star Wars theme parks, one in Orlando and one in Anaheim.

Unlike anything affiliated with Star Wars, NASA is scraping the bottom of their funding barrel as budget cuts take their toll on the US space agency. While we knew that a few programs would have to be dropped, nobody expected that they would get to the point of raiding museums for spare parts just to fulfill prior obligations to the International Space Station.

If you find yourself looking for a visual aid to help ponder the complexities of life’s cyclical nature, or you just like trains, then you’ve got to check out this mesmerizing, bi-directional kinetic sculpture.

And with all of that, we find ourselves a couple of rotations closer to the end of Summer and the beauty of Fall. We thank you for stopping by and wish you the spryest of weekends!

Meet Web Developer Matthew Atkins

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under team-profile.

Matthew Atkins (@matthewatkins) has been a member of the Spry Hive since April, 2015. As a seasoned graphic designer, user interface designer and front-end developer, Matthew is a student of all things design and Web. He is always exploring new design patterns, scripts, tools and processes that create better experiences for users in applications and on The Web. He is as comfortable designing and scripting a web application as he is developing an entire front-end framework for large-scale websites.

With a Bachelors of Arts in Graphic Design from Eastern Illinois University, Matthew’s early career included numerous graphic design gigs where he was able to hone his skills as a graphic designer, that would eventually lead to web and user interface design. Matthew began making websites in 1999 with table layouts using HTML and began exploring what CSS could do as early as 2003. Around 2010, Matthew began using his knowledge of HTML, CSS and Javascript to turn his own creations into dynamic web experiences professionally. Since then, he has continued to develop his craft in all areas of web design and development, including Javascript, PHP and Ruby on Rails. He is no slouch at branding either, creating fun engaging brands for companies that carries through to every touch point within a web product.

Softly spoken but driven by the desire to deliver quality digital products and sharing his knowledge with others, Matthew has been an invaluable member of our team. Look for Matthew to continue to leave his mark on brands and digital products we produce for them.

Follow Matthew on Codepen.

Team Player Stats

  • Sign: No Left Turn
  • Power Animal: Luck Dragon
  • Personality Type: Laid back
  • Geeks out with: Apple everything
  • Signature style: Neat
  • Collector of: Fine Bourbon
  • Favorite bands: The National, Brand New, Mumford & Sons
  • Favorite movies: Donnie Darko, Army of Darkness, Wet Hot American Summer, Never Ending Story, Back to the Future
  • Guilty pleasure: Super cheesy horror movies
  • GoT character you most identify with: Samwell Tarly

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 33

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

Welcome back to another edition of the Spry Hive! Did you hear about the major changes to Google’s corporate structure or the exciting announcement from Winona Ryder, Michael Keaton, and Tim Burton? Well, then strap on your seat-belts and get ready to catch up on all of this week’s news!


s2 vs aw2

Sources = Samsung (left); Apple (right)

During Samsung’s Unpacked 2015 event, the tech giant announced their newest smartwatch. Dubbed the Gear S2, this model will use Samsung’s Tizen OS, a new (but familiar) user interface, and a traditional, circular watch shape. As they are clearly trying to one-up the already popular Apple Watch at this point, how do you think they will compare?

In other news, some technophiles are warning consumers to stay away from laptops released by the tech company Lenovo. Evidently, they have been using the BIOS to change Windows’ system files during a clean install. This means they are essentially making it impossible to clean the hardware of their bloated, unnecessary software.


Over the past few years, Google has been scooping up small, innovative businesses left and right. Throughout this period of rapid expansion, it became increasingly difficult for consumers and investors to define what the once humble search engine company actually does these days. So, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google’s founding fathers, created Alphabet Inc. and announced that G is for Google.

For those of you using Mozilla’s Firefox browser, be sure to check which version you are currently running. In out-of-date editions, attackers are able to access and copy local files through a bug in their PDF reader. So, to be safe, make sure you are running version 39.0.3 or higher.



Source = Joe Freedman

If you haven’t seen the Cycloid Drawing Machine created by Joe Freedman, then you’ve been missing out! Luckily, Jim Bumgardner has released a digital simulation of the machine for anybody and everybody to try out online.

Most UX designers understand that the practices and methods used in the industry are in constant flux. As network connectivity continues to be built into an exponentially growing list of devices and methods of data collection become more abundant & sophisticated, some believe that users are becoming the new designers.


Does your development team use Github to help collaborate on, manage, and organize their files and work? Well, you’ll be happy to know that Github Desktop was finally released on Windows and OS X this week, making the system faster and easier to use.

Recently, in an attempt to fight off the smug trolls in development, Chris Coyier, a writer at CSS-Tricks, sent out a fill-in-the-blank tweet that read, “Front end development is hard because __________.” While it may already seem like common sense, some individuals still need a healthy reminder that front-end development is development.



Source = Coloring Flower Machine

Next time you are about to do some shopping on Amazon, take a minute to count how many adult coloring books appear in their list of best sellers. You may be surprised to find more than a handful, but psychologists have been explaining that coloring acts as a form of relaxation, stress-reducer, and is actually comparable to meditation.

After twenty-seven long years, Winona Ryder has confirmed that she is finally teaming back up with actor Michael Keaton and director Tim Burton. While we will realistically have to wait until 2016 to see any glimpses of their work, fans can rejoice knowing that their beloved Beetlejuice will be back for round two.

This week wasn’t all fun and games, though, as citizens in the city of Tianjin, China were caught off guard by an unexpected, disastrous explosion. So, be sure to send your thoughts, prayers, and aid to our fellow humans suffering in China as they mourn those who were lost, begin to recover from the damage and rebuild their city.

And just like that, another week of exciting news has passed right by. While we can find joy in the announcements of Beetlejuice 2, Samsung’s Gear S2, and our new excuse for buying more coloring books, make sure you take some time and reach out to those in less fortunate situations. So, go make the most of your weekend and don’t forget to stop by next week!