Tag: google

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 5

Posted by Ben Scherliss & filed under Tips.

It’s the final week of January and we’re excited to wrap it all up with some of the week’s best tech news and notes. We’ve got plenty to explore, so let’s get right to it.

Tech

Last week Microsoft announced it’s new browser named “Project Spartan” and this week we’re getting a closer look at the rendering engine behind it. It will still be a few months before the rest of us peasants can get our own personal look at it, but you can read about some of the first interesting new details.

Pocket Operator by Teenage Engineering, SOURCE = fastcodesign.com

Swedish audio house Teenage Engineering has designed a line of Pocket Operators which are synths and drum machines that emulate the style of Nintendo handhelds circa 1980-1991. The look is very cool and these can actually be a fairly powerful music making tool.

Web

There have been more than a few people up in arms about Marriott’s recent announcement of a plan to block personal wifi hot spots. Now an FCC commissioner’s comments are indicating that office’s own firm displeasure with the company’s intent.

On a similar but much more important front, the most important FCC vote of our lifetime is less than a month away. On February 26 the agency will vote to save net neutrality or allow Comcast and other ISPs create Internet “slow lanes.” You can make your voice be heard on Battle For The Net.

This week we learned of an extremely critical vulnerability affecting most Linux distributions. The bug, which is being called “ghost,” lets attackers execute malicious code on e-mail servers, host webpages, and carry out other vital functions.

In another blow to Flash, as of this week YouTube now defaults to HTML5 video for all modern browsers. YouTube first introduced support for HTML5 back in 2010, but citing limitations, held back. Among other benefits the hope is that the switch will allow videos to start faster and reduce average bandwidth.

For much of the past year, Google has been encouraging the use of the HTTPS everywhere extension. Naturally the tech giant carries a lot of clout, so many are listening. This article provides more detail on why HTTPS can be important.

Apps

Here’s a sign of the times: The iOS App Store distributed $10 billion to developers in 2014, which is about as much as Hollywood earned in the US Box Office. And the numbers don’t stop there. Other figures show that the App Store itself has also created a good deal more jobs than Hollywood.

It’s no wonder the breadth of apps is growing at such rates with helpful and potentially life-changing creations such as Be My Eyes. It’s an app which connects a network of volunteers (perhaps even you) to a blind individual in need of assistance, be it with reading product label or finding their way.

On a bit of an “odd couple” note, AT&T and Snapchat have announced that the two are teaming-up to launch a superhero series. The premise is geared toward an increasing population which uses mobile as a central means of entertainment.

As an alternative to the old “She lives out of town” line, the St. Louis-based startup @MyInvisibleGF offers “believable social proof” that you do in fact have girlfriend (when you do not). Never to miss an opportunity, Conan O’Brien pounced with his own spoof of the service.

CiviCRM

As an agency that provides nonprofit tech solutions, we’re always quick to share our affinity for CiviCRM. When it comes to integrating CiviCRM with popular content management systems though, we’ve always preferred its integration with Drupal vs WordPress. That’s why we are pleased to see that CiviCRM for WordPress is getting some love in the latest 4.6 version. CiviCRM is even calling the integration a “watershed moment”.

Speaking of CiviCRM, Spry also participated in CiviDay 2015 which took place via meetups around the world. The event helps people get started with CiviCRM, meet others who use it and learn from their experiences.

On the Homefront

A note that we’re proud to say that Sheila Burkett of Spry Digital has now joined the Board of Directors at the Arts and Education Council and encourage you to support them as well. Great job, Sheila!


So that puts a wrap on January 2015. See you here next week to kick-off a new month that will surely bring plenty of exciting topics to chat about.

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2014: Week 48

Posted by Ben Scherliss & filed under Tips.

Hi all, and thanks for dropping in to kick-off the ever-busy month of December. With the holiday season really revving-up we’ve got plenty of new, shiny goodies to share, so let’s get to it.

Star Wars

As we all know by now, The Force is about to awaken soon with a new Star Wars film. Now that we’ve gotten everyone’s attention, here’s a couple appetizers while we wait patiently until December of 2015. The Lego version of the trailer goes lock-step with the official version, even down to the length. Special effects appear to be a tad cheaper, however.

Then there’s this collection of the best parodies of the trailer, offering-up seven different twists.

Tech

Some just crazy news filtering-in that the recent SONY Pictures hack was even worse than everyone thought. There was a heap of exposed info released in the first 40 GB of data leaked by hackers, including movie scripts, employee social security numbers and passwords, and the word is there remains a total of 100 terabytes. Ouch.

Apple wants to help you avoid breaking your phone screen. So much so, that it has filed for a patent to design iPhones so that they actually rotate as they fall.

Lumino City, Source = COLOSSAL

“Handmade” and “Paper’ aren’t typically words you associate with modern video games, but Lumino City may change that. It’s producers created each set or “puzzle” by hand and then coded it. You’ll have to see to believe.

Apps

Sick of all those snooty baristas? Well, Starbuck’s is dreaming-up a new ordering service which lets you avoid dealing with another human entirely. Welcome news, as we already have far too much human interaction these days as it is.

Speaking of avoiding humans, Amazon has launched a food takeout and delivery service to compete with the likes of GrubHub and others. The service was made available as an app in the Seattle area last week with plans to expand.

For those of us who love to snooze, a new app called iCukoo offers a way to turn those unproductive minutes into charity. Essentially each time you snooze you rack up “debits” toward a charitable donation.

Web Development

For twenty-four days each December, 24ways.org publishes a friendly daily dose of web design and development help. If you’d like to learn a little more about what we do, have a look at the first part here.

How would you redo the Google interface? This was the question posed to four different designers and you can read their interesting and diverse answers here.

Misc

Copy in digital products is very important but it can also be very difficult to get right. Content Snippets collects specific copy examples from different websites and applications to provide inspiration for writing professionals.

Legos tend to draw-up a lot of nostalgia in many people. When we came across this manufacturer’s letter from Lego to parents in the 1970’s we were tickled.


So that’s it for the first week of December. As always, there will be much more in store next week and we hope you’ll join us then for another go-round.

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2014: Week 47

Posted by Ben Scherliss & filed under Tips.

Happy week-leading-up-to-Thanksgiving, everyone. It’s a special, yet nondescript limbo, as the laid-back innocence of the “non-holiday” season has now all but faded away. It is almost that time to dig-in our heels and embrace the inevitable, impending frenzy of gifts, family time and bad movies. But before that, we all get to engorge ourselves in a giant calorie-free feast featuring this week’s Spry Hive.

Startups

Spry Digital was thrilled to be a part of StartUp Connection this week, where some of the best early stage startup ventures in the St. Louis region were showcased. As always, Spry Digital was well-represented in the event’s resource fair, where we showcased examples of our work for startups, that included everything from branding to design and building and marketing web applications. We were all truly encouraged by the diversity of companies we heard from at the event.

At the end of the evening we awarded $1,500 in-kind to Arvegenix, a startup that is revolutionizing agriculture with the development of pennycress. Pennycress is a crop that will grow over winter between the corn-soy rotation thereby providing growers with an additional revenue crop which does not compete for food crop acres. We think you’ll be hearing a lot more about them in the near future. Congrats guys!

Speaking of startups, according to new research, St. Louis, Missouri is actually the fastest growing city in the world for tech startup funding. Dollar growth in the city grew by an impressive 1,221 percent between November 2013 and October 2014. This put St. Louis well ahead of Munich, Germany where funding grew at 728 percent.

The entrepreneurial footprint of St. Louis continues to grow, and as always, we’re honored to help some of the companies that are helping to shape our new economy.

Design

Dutch designer Christian Boer believes he has come-up with a dyslexic-friendly font to make reading easier for people suffering from the disorder. Unlike traditional fonts, his font called “Dyslexie” uses heavy base lines, alternating stick and tail lengths, and larger openings. These things give each character a more recognizable form, which is already being utilized by several large corporations. He’s also made it downloadable for free.

We’re getting such a kick out of these imagined posters for movie sequels. Who wouldn’t want to see Beetlejuice 2, or Bigger Trouble in Little China? It’s just fun. Worth noting and appreciating: the absence of  Police Academy 8.

Tech

Now, this is no small feet. Rather, very tiny ones. High-concept artist Jonty Hurwitz has created the smallest human sculptures ever assembled – too small, in fact, to be seen with the naked eye. Some of these sculptures can be seen standing tall inside the eye of a needle, or even on a human hair. You’ll definitely want to read on to learn just how he does it.

Source: Shortlist.com

Thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, and others, SSL certificates will be free and easy to install, starting summer of next year. At that time, a new initiative called “Let’s Encrypt” will start providing free certificates for any website in need. This, coupled with Google’s recent announcement that using HTTPS will give your site a slight SEO boost, leaves little reason for not securing your website.

After 10 years together, Firefox is breaking-up with Google as it’s default search engine. The browser is leaving Google for a 5-year partnership with Yahoo which will begin this December. Yahoo greatly hopes this marriage will benefit them in their mission to reclaim their former prominence in Web search.

Apps

Hard drives aren’t much different from any closet, basement or attic in the sense that they all fill-up with storage of things we no longer use or need. If you have these issues (that is, being human), take a look at DaisyDisk. We appreciate the visual map that provides a detailed overview of all your Mac’s files and folders.

Social Media

Having “fake” friends has an entirely different meaning in the social media era than it did 20 years ago. In fact, a recent article in the New York Times outlines that many celebrities, politicians and companies often buy fake followers to enhance their perceived popularity online. What’s even more surprising is that many of these fake accounts can even be programmed to retweet certain topics, favorite a tweet or follow anyone who follows them.

Development

Contributing to an open source project can be a struggle. So we love this write-up about on how to contribute to open source without being a [jerk]. A note that the language in the article is a little blue, but the line of thinking is more than noteworthy.

Take a look at RemoteIE, which allows you to test the latest Internet Explorer on Windows, Mac OS X, iOS and Android. It’s a free service from Microsoft, and the key is you’re able to run the latest version of IE on the Windows 10 Technical Preview without the need to run a new OS or heavyweight virtual machine on your device. According to IE’s Program Manager, “We know that developers on Windows 7 want a way to test on the latest builds of IE and that the broader development community is eager to have the latest Internet Explorer available on other platforms”

Could you use another GIT cheatsheet? The people at CodeKarate.com have you covered with this one, which we think fits the bill rather nicely.

Misc

Sticking with the imaginary front, humor us and check out these Superheroes and supervillains reimagined as 16th century aristocrats. You might be taken aback just to how well some of them make the transition. Batman and Wonder Woman somehow appear as if they could fit seamlessly into Game of Thrones. As for The Hulk, well…Um. Hmmm.

We all know it isn’t Thanksgiving until we see tiny hamsters eating a traditional meal. Luckily the crew at Denizen has us covered with this year’s installment. There aren’t any surprising plot twists, which is perfect, as it delivers exactly what we all continue to crave: tiny hamsters eating tiny intricately-prepared meals.


Well, that concludes our big “pre-holiday” meal for this week. Time to stretch-out on that couch and passively watch that football game while passively listening to that uncle of yours talk politics. But we do hope you save-up some room for our next edition. Like the holidays, it will be here sooner than you think.

Why Mobile-Friendly Websites Win At Search

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under Web Design.

It’s no surprise that mobile traffic and referrals from mobile sites like Facebook are surging. While it’s convenient having the web at our fingertips, websites that require you to pinch and zoom to read content or to interact with the site are becoming more of a nuisance. If your website is not built responsively (or “mobile ready”), you may be turning off visitors and potential customers.

To help users find mobile-friendly content, Google announced this week that they have made changes to search results that will call out sites that have mobile-friendly content.

Example of Google's mobile-friendly label

Example of Google’s mobile-friendly label

With the change, Google is adding a “Mobile-friendly” label next to sites that, according to Google, meet the following criteria:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

How do you know if your website is considered mobile-friendly? Google provides a mobile-friendly tester for that. Type in your address and in seconds you’ll know whether your site is seen as mobile-friendly by Google.

If not, it may be a good time to consider a responsive website redesign so that you don’t lose out, as we expect this feature will drive more traffic than ever before to sites that have been optimized for the mobile experience.

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2014: Week 46

Posted by Ben Scherliss & filed under Tips.

In a week during which the human race somehow, some way managed to land a space explorer on a freaking COMET, much of the news was naturally dominated by the Moon of Kim Kardashian. But then, maybe this is why we compile Spry Hive each week. We’re out here trending a little differently with a little tech, a little development, and some silliness too. So let’s get on to it.

Web

If you read last week’s Spry Hive, we discussed Mozilla’s launch of a new browser for developers. As an additional part of it’s tenth anniversary the company is also launching a special release of Firefox with new features that it says puts the user in control. Much of this appears to translate into one word: privacy. New additions include a pre-installed search option which doesn’t track the user’s identity or search results and a “Forget” feature which clears-out recent activity.

With Google’s recent announcement that https sites are a positive factor in search engine rankings, many with http addresses are taking notice and coming on board. Google itself also provided a few additional positive points as to why a non-ecommerce site should go https, such as the protection of data integrity and the trust factor amongst users. If you also find that interesting, Bill Hartzer expounds a bit more in this article.

Tech

Tuesday Microsoft released a gang of hot fixes for a set of bugs called Schannel which, according to the company, could be one of the most serious threats that the Windows operating system has faced in years. As this affects nearly every version of Windows currently on the market, here’s more detail as to why you should drop what you’re doing and apply the latest update now (if you haven’t already).

Big Hero 6

Animation takes another big step forward with the release of Disney’s Big Hero 6.The film features the debut of Hyperion, which is a cutting-edge light rendering software that Disney’s artists and engineers have been working on for the past two years. In simpler terms, the software tracks how light rays bounce off multiple objects in an environment before they enter your eyes. “Seeing is believing,” may have never been as fitting as it is now.

Development

Do you suffer from “Blank Walls Syndrome?” Do you tend to think every nook and cranny is screaming for an object, painting or piece of furniture? Well, often these same urges can overcome Developers during site builds as well. It’s a concept called horror vacui, which is the natural tendency of humans to fill empty spaces with stuff. As this writer explains, the lesson for both interior design and development is simple: “If you want your software to be perceived as valuable, don’t fill every empty corner with some kind of feature or widget.”

Not to be outdone by Google’s debut last week, Amazon has now followed with their own announcement of it’s first docker-centric product. Their EC2 Container Service for managing Docker containers on its cloud computing platform. It’s available in preview now and developers who want to use it can do so free of charge.

If you’d like to manage all of your Vagrant machines in one place, take a look at Vagrant Manager for OS X, which is both customizable and has indicators for which VM’s you have up or halted.

From our friends at Javascriptissexy.com come these guides for learning Meteor for both beginners and seasoned developers. They even start-off with a comprehensive overview of the technology before you invest any time and resources.

If you’d like a little primer for SVG’s and their benefits, we like this write-up on Styling And Animating SVGs With CSS. They also go over how to export and optimize SVGs, techniques for embedding them and how each one affects the styles and animations applied.

Misc

What’s in a Gnome? Well, a lot for non-profit Gnome Foundation, which recently challenged Groupon’s use of it’s trademarked Gnome namesake. Groupon attempted to strong-arm the small company and take over the “Gnome” name for it’s new tablet point-of-sale system. The non-profit then raised over $87,000 in donations to oppose registration for the trademark, and Groupon eventually backed-off.

So, you think you’ve got skills? Well, let The Skill Project be the judge of that. Their aim is to build the largest, most accurate skills database ever made by allowing a diverse and skillful community to contribute their individual skills to a global map. The thinking is that humans have been around for centuries, yet we have no actual comprehensive database of all the various human skills.


With that, we’ve reached the finish line of Week 46. Come on back around next week for another full serving, and we’ll have you covered. And as always, please do leave a thought or comment below – we’d love to hear from you!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2014: Week 45

Posted by Ben Scherliss & filed under Tips.

If you’ve gotten over Halloween’s candy corn headrush you’ve likely come to and realized that it’s already November. And that means two things. The first being we’re only a stone’s throw away from the holiday season. And the second being it’s time for another ever-friendly addition of Spry Hive, of course.

Here’s the buzz for Week 45:

Misc

Are you finding real life a little too “real” for you? Then take a gander at these insanely realistic Sims and Sims City creations. Now, the Seinfeld characters look a tad fit and and modern, but the Friends bunch is downright uncanny. But be sure to check out “Spiderweb town,” which is seriously righteous.

For everyone who has always wanted to know what an actual comet landing would look like in animation, you’re in luck! The European Space Agency has put-together a cute cartoon detailing the adventures of Rosetta and Philae, the space probe and robotic lander which are about to attempt the feat in real life. It’s nice to see that per the animation they’ll be conducting their mission with big smiles on their faces.

Design

Apparently there is such a career as a Paper Engineer. And if you thought that was just a silly rhyme, you’ll be amazed at some of the functional objects Peter Dahmen has created out of paper. A bit of a happy accident, he learned his craft when he discovered it would be impossible to safely transport projects for his graphic design class on his train commute without damage.

You ever wonder how people with those giant phones are able to use them one-handed? Well, it’s not all possible due to any special skills or freakishly giant hands. As with any mobile technology, there’s a lot more than meets the thumb. People like Luke Wroblewski put some serious creative thought into design solutions for overcoming our “growing phone” pattern. This article by the man himself provides a really neat overview.

Tech

If you’re tired of spending hours searching for that perfect funny cat pic, then forgetting where you found it, you’ll want to go grab the Fetching.io plugin. This helpful tool searches the full text of any website you’ve visited from any device. It runs in the background, and more or less operates like your own personal Google. It works well even if you only recall a few keywords such as “funny, cat, pics.”

Skin Buttons

Now, here’s something which really pushes our buttons. Skin buttons, to be exact, which are working buttons projected onto the skin via small lasers on a watch. These “buttons” can then be engaged the same way an icon on a smartphone would be. Their size can even be increased or decreased depending upon preference.

We’ve all got too many passwords. They’re almost like the traffic lights of personal technology. And now there are a few proximity-based apps which want to help you run those traffic lights. There are a few we’ve been exploring such as Keycard and Proximator. The concept is simple: walk away, and your Mac will lock itself, walk back and it will unlock. Your physical proximity is sensed by using your iPhone.

We can never resist serving-up a little dose of creepiness. Well, more like about 73,000 doses, but who’s counting? A website by the name Insecam is taking advantage of IP cameras worldwide whose owners haven’t changed their default passwords. While this site is in effect aggregating these feeds, it is something which could be dug-up with a simple Google search

Development

Next week on it’s 10th anniversary, Mozilla will be launching a new browser for developers. They are appropriately calling it fx10, and the intent is to allow developers to “debug the whole Web” without having to switch between tools. As for the rest of the details, they are playing rather close to the vest for now, but here’s a bit more info.

Google has announced the alpha launch of Google Container Engine, a new managed service for building and running Docker container-based applications on its cloud platform. Now anyone will be able to run complicated applications super-efficiently inside of Google data centers. With it, you’re also not locked into the Google Cloud Platform and can still continue to use other cloud providers.

eCommerce

One would think that all consumers see the same pricing whether searching by web or mobile. But a recent study found quite the opposite. Incredibly, prices listed by some major retailers as well as hotel/rental car sites were all over the board. Price offerings even varied according to the brand of device from which the searches were made. All a reminder of the not-so-nice side of how companies use big data.


 

Time to shut-down our session for this week. Everyone have a great weekend, and by all means please remember to change those passwords. Also on that note, that wallpaper behind you is a bit outdated, btw.

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2014: Week 44

Posted by Ben Scherliss & filed under Tips.

So, we’d have to be fools to ignore the 800 pound gargoyle in the room and not start-off by wishing everyone a Happy All Hallows Eve. And falling on a Casual Friday when you have people who are not only dressing-down for work, but dressing as unrecognizable characters and objects begging the question, “Now…what are you supposed to be?”

All Hallows Eve

If you’re like some of us grinches, you might take a little pride in doing as little as possible to observe a day when so many others go over-the-top. If that’s the case, you may enjoy this collection of Last Minute Costumes for techies like ourselves. We’re partial to the Instagram and Ice Bucket Challenge versions, but the right one will come to you.

Why not do a little something different and delve into some things you likely didn’t know about this day? It may not be shocking that Trick or Treating stems from an ancient form of begging. But did you know that hundreds of years ago, the “Tricks” used to be rather raucous and violent pranks? Or perhaps you didn’t know that bobbing for apples was used to predict which girl would marry next, and even to whom. Or it might be interesting to hear that carving pumpkins (or Jack O’Lanterns) was actually inspired by a drunken farmer named “Stingy Jack” who unwisely attempted to trick the devil. Here is a run-down of a few others.

SOURCE: Pizzacomedy.com

We’ll move on from the topic by leaving you with this really fun and clever IKEA Halloween commercial which pays a little tribute to The Shining while also enticing late night shoppers. Now, it’s a bit creepy, but they’re not gonna hurt you…

Tech

So, on to a timelier scary note, the news broke that Wal-Mart’s “CurrentC” was already hacked. This coming just after a spokesperson sited not supporting Apple Pay because,”Ultimately, what matters is that consumers have a payment option that is widely accepted, secure, and developed with their best interests in mind.”

And the latest quarterly earnings release from Amazon turned into a total fright-night when it was revealed that the company has $83 million worth of Fire Phones that it can’t sell. Adding insult to injury (with a sprinkle of irony) to the cauldron, the device is currently rated as only 2-stars on Amazon’s own store page. Ouch.

Speaking of Apple, CEO Tim Cook has always maintained a good level of distance between his role with the company and his private life. But yesterday Bussinessweek published a rather moving essay written by Cook in which he confirms that he is in fact, gay, and “I consider being Gay one of the greatest gifts God has ever given to me.”

If you’re still getting used to Lollipop, there may be a sleek feature or two you’ve missed, especially considering there was no single event to highlight them. But not to fret. This list will get you up to speed on all of the ambient-display-tap-and-go-face-recognition-quick-settings details before you can say, “OK, Google.”

Apps

Instagram seems to have bewitched more users each time we see an updated usage chart. Difficult to believe, it was once left for dead on the drawing board. Four years now after it’s initial launch, this article revisits with one of it’s co-founders and examines why Instagram worked.

If you love a song so much that you’d like to let it play forever, then have a peep at Infinite Jukebox. The web app will let you upload your MP3 to generate an ever-changing version of the song. It even allows you to take control of the velocity.

If you’re looking for a quality ASCII art editor and you’re running on OSX, then you might want to check out Monodraw, which lets you create some nifty text-based art. Since it’s just simple text, it can be embedded practically anywhere.

Web & Development

When Greek philosopher Heraclitus declared “The only constant is change,” he could have never even imagined the existence of the internet. Yet now with the world-wide-web being over 25 years old, Paul Boag believes some major changes are in store for 2015. He envisions some rather eye-opening trends, even including the decline of the website itself.

Take a look at Zenhub, which is one of the latest project management services which aims to make working with GitHub faster and easier. Some of the features it offers are task boards, file uploads and instant feedback. It’s currently only a Chrome extension but a FireFox plugin is promised soon.

Misc

We happen to believe that the internet is a place reserved for efficiency in hard work. But if you’re one of the rare people who actually enjoys wasting time on the internet, the University of Pennsylvania has a class for you, officially titled just that. The idea is interesting, being that we all create a lot of writing and content in our tweeting, posting and commenting, and it holds some form of value…someplace.


Well, the Midnight Hour is upon us (in terms of speaking), so time to snuff-out the candles on the week and the month of October. Be safe out there kids, we’d hate to miss you when we reconvene for next week’s Spry Hive.

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2014: Week 43

Posted by Ben Scherliss & filed under Tips.

Well, we’ve barreled ourselves forward in time all the way into week 43. It seems like just yesterday when it was week 42 and things were so simple. Just think, if we only knew then what we all know now. So, before the days slip by and we find ourselves suddenly into Week 44, let’s get to these week’s hot topics.

Social Media

Social Media seems to be in constant transition. MySpace has now been a punchline for years. The youngsters have fled Facebook for Instagram and Snapchat. Meanwhile, many adults have either been on Google+ all along, or are dipping their toes into it. But there’s a new ship on the horizon you’ve likely heard about, and that is Ello. Ello exploded onto the scene about a month ago, boasting itself as the new social media network which promises “No Ads Ever.” Now they’ve raised $5.5 million to file as a Public Benefit Corporation, legally restricting them from taking advertising. We’ll all be watching closely to see how that shakes-out.

Apps and Tech

Uber for private jets? Dating Apps for the top 1%? Hashtagged under “First World Problems,” there are a variety of new startups out there that are striving to make life easier for those who live on Easy Street. No longer do you need to ring a bell; now you can simply tap your phone. Need a few additional reasons to cringe? Here are 8 of the most First-World startups on the planet.

Why not just put an end to all these phone-cluttering Apps altogether? Well, this article believes they may already be dying-off in favor of a more “centralized” functionality (i.e. Cards). Seems that with every step technology takes forward, we in turn learn how to remove more unnecessary steps in our processes.

SOURCE: Medium.com

Games

The game SimCity is 25 years old. TWENTY-FIVE. Now that we’ve got your depression, it’s pretty wild to take a look back and compare it with what it used to look like. It’s also a great opportunity to catch up with it’s creator, Will Wright, to gain a better grasp as to what SimCity represented to him.

Google

If you think it’s time for email to evolve further, Google agrees. Their new mail app called “Inbox” (now, that shouldn’t confuse Mom at all) comes from the creators of Gmail. Key tenets include “Highlights,” “Bundles,” and “Reminders,” creating a bit of a virtual “headquarters” for all your stuff.

If anyone can make Google Glass look relatively hip, it’s singer/songwriter/producer/dancer FKA Twigs. She pulls it off rather well in her latest music video where she not only wears the glasses, but uses them to record her video while dancing and getting resourceful on the web. That’s some 21st-Century multitasking, right there.

Development

Twitter appears to be getting a little…feisty. At it’s developer’s conference this week it announced a new software development kit called Fabric, which could potentially touch every mobile user. “How” you ask? By luring developers to build Twitter into every app that gets written. If your eyebrow is raised too, here’s more info.

Matt Korostoff recently did his first Drupal 8 site build. During that process he quickly began to realize that as opposed to D7, there were very few resources out there for D8. This made Matt very sad. So he began compiling a list of 27 questions (and answers) from his efforts, all of which you can find here.

The number of women in Computer Science has dropped drastically since the mid-80’s, and a major catalyst for this change may surprise you. Seems there could be a possible correlation between this drop and the emergence of personal computers in the US household, which were largely marketed to younger men. The movies Weird Science, Revenge of The Nerds, War Games… See any pattern in the target audience?

DevOps

We want you to check out Bowery.io, which is a cloud-based automation of a development environment.  How about the ability to set-up your work environment in less than 30 seconds? Indeed it is a brave, new world.


A quick note that tomorrow, October 25th is Make A Difference Day, the nation’s largest day of service and volunteerism. If you’re not signed-up for something, no worries — maybe just take it as an opportunity to ponder something you could be doing.

That should be just about enough to digest for this week. Thanks again for dropping-by, and by all means if you have a comment or thought please post below for us!

 

 

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 30

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

We survived National Hot Dog day and Batman Day. We did do our patriotic duty and ate hot dogs for lunch and we shopped local at our neighborhood independent comic book shop for the latest Batman comic. We even attended the Internet Cat Video Festival, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like in the best possible way. The internet IS truly made of cats and we dearly love the internet.

Here’s our roundup for this week’s news for developers, designers, social media, and random bits of fun.

Developers

Code School is a startup that’s investing in a massive gamification of coding education. Using jingles and online games, they aim to get anyone interested in learning code, but specifically are looking toward young girls and minorities. They want to transform coding for the masses. Apparently, Google sees a lot of promise in their business model – they announced a partnership with them at Google I/O.

Google’s redesign of Google Docs gives us a sneak peek of Google’s new design language – Material Design. We mentioned Material Design a few weeks ago when it was introduced at Google I/O.  Now, Docs is much more streamlined and turns user interface into a physical object. We’re in to it. What do you think?

If you can’t wait to get your hands on Apple’s Yosemite, the beta came out this week. Here’s how to install it. Use this knowledge responsibly.

Design and Content

A great landing page is the perfect marriage of elegant code and engaging design. And we’ve all seen some pretty cringe-worthy ones. Everything should lead toward the conversion – what do you want your audience to do or take away from your site? This article from the Page Fights podcast peeps picked apart 20 landing pages for their success or failure (that were owner-submitted) and offered insights that everyone will find helpful.

Even the best writers need another set of eyes to look at their content, even if they don’t admit it. Clear language boosts audience engagement and separates the USA Todays from the Dostoevskys of the world. One of our content writers has recommended the Hemingway App Chrome extension before and it has proved useful for proofreading and gauging reading level. Now, they’ve made their program available as a Desktop app. All the great features, plus available offline and adds the ability to save your work.

For you typography fans, we loved this art project that cleverly arranges mail to recreate iconic fonts in a visual representation.

Social Media

We know that cat photos are one of the building blocks of the internet, but they also give away a lot of data on their owners. “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” is a computer project that can identify where pet owners live based on data encrypted within the photo of dear Mr. Fluffy. I bet you never considered your cat guilty of espionage.

Foursquare

Foursquare made news this week by unveiling its new makeover and finally giving us a better idea of the game plan following the appearance of sister-site, Swarm, in May. The new Foursquare ditches the check-in in favor of offering users recommended places to go based on their location. If you’re really itching to check-in somewhere, you’ll have to use Swarm for your fix after this week. Bad news? Say goodbye to earning badges. But we don’t need no stinkin’ badges.

Facebook

Facebook is still facing some flack from the reveal last month that they were experimenting on users without their consent. If you ever feel like you want to cut the cord from Facebook, this social experiment gives you a way to do just that (with your permission, of course).  99 Days of Freedom encourages users to ditch the service for just over three months and see how they feel. Tempting, isn’t it?

But then Facebook goes and introduces the ability to save links and other interesting bits from your feed to check out later. We can’t say we’d mind that additional usability feature. Could this mean they’re eyeing Pocket (formerly Read It Later) next in their slow march toward internet domination?

Miscellaneous Bits (Mostly Science)

Turns out, our miscellaneous links from this week are nearly all super nerdy, but we’re ok with that.

Under 24 hours after a photo of a pretty blase lizard was posted on Reddit, it became a pretty solid meme thanks to PhotoShop. Check out some of the best incarnations of the unimpressed lizard meme.

The Guardian paper asked a bunch of scientists what would happen when robots gained sentience and took over the world and made a video of their answers. This is a serious question, people. We need to be prepared for Skynet. Forewarned is forearmed.

Speaking of super esoteric theoretical science – we present to you the in depth biology of the Sarlacc.

I bet just about any of you can identify the Millennium Falcon, but what about other Hollywood space ships? We admit, we did pretty well on the quiz. Office record was 9/10.

And finally, to bring this whole bit back to earth, take a look inside the workstation of the NASA computers that launched the Apollo missions. 45 years ago this week, it was pretty fly for it’s day. Not like this dual monitor set up, but then again, what is? So swag it hertz.

dual monitors

Another week, another SpryHive! We like keeping up with the current trends relevant to our interests. We hope you like reading them just as much! See you next week.

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!