Tag: google

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 27

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

You lucky ducks! Thanks to the holiday weekend, you’re getting your weekly dose of SpryHive early! So what are your July 4th plans? If you’re like most of us, they probably involve two things: hot dogs and fireworks.

A LOT of hot dogs (155 million), actually. We’re not sure if that includes the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Competition, but what’s another 69 wieners?

We also consume 213 million pounds of fireworks over the holiday. That’s a ton of shiny boomy things. Shiny things that take some precise engineering to get just right. Want to get even more technical? Try getting them to make shapes.

While you digest all that, we’ve rounded up the news of the week for you to read over as you count down the minutes until sweet, sweet, three-day weekend patriotic freedom.

Design

While we’re on the subject of American patriotism, if you take a step back and look at our flag, it’s a pretty lovely design. Some genius has created a poster that approaches our Manifest Destiny as a design challenge – 247 years of American flags visualized.

In less noble design elements, sometimes designers just get a little punchy and produce some really weird logos. Not the worst we’ve seen, but still. Pretty bad.

(Moving on.)

In an interesting conceptual project, what if we made passwords based on mnemonic memory rather than hackable strings of letters? Specifically, the ID Protocol uses movement, color, and storytelling to create infinite, personal online passwords.  We’ve already made our opinions on internet password security pretty clear. The ID Protocol might not be there yet, but we do love how it has managed to marry design and security.

Developers

As part of their ongoing outreach for the next generation of developers, Google’s offering free coding classes to women and minorities. Don’t want to wade through the (already huge) waitlist? Check out CodeAcademy.

Pretty smart move, considering that developers are one of the top recession-proof employment fields, according to Business Insider.

In things relevant to our week at Spry Digital, this automated end-to-end test makes continuous deployment safe by comparing before and after webpage screenshots for each release. Take some of the stress off.

Social Media

The news of the week was Facebook. If you felt a little extra cranky looking at Facebook sometime in 2012, it might not have been just you. We already know that social media can tend to make us a little more needy and depressed. Comparing our mundane lives to everyone’s artificially curated ones isn’t good without a hefty dose of reality. However, it came out through a study publication last week that Facebook was using some of their users as free lab rats without their consent. Basically, Facebook changed the algorithm that determined what posts showed in certain feeds with an interest in emotional content. If you saw a news feed that looked like everyone you knew was having a really bad day and then you posted a negative status as a result of that emotional feedback, Facebook might have been messing with you. The largest concern at the moment is that it doesn’t appear that Facebook’s experiment had few (if any) limits, not to mention the dubious “permission” assumed in their terms of service. Now, there are some rumblings that their experiments were far more extensive than the one reported on last week. Time will tell.

Depending on how you view it, it may just be another reason to stay a Facebook lurker or delete your account entirely.

Productivity

Some handy productivity add-ons, extensions, and ideas from the week:

Sometimes you need a little extra nudge to be awesome. The Momentum Chrome extension has your to-do list, weather, and focus of the day with a little personalized pep-talk. It’s not like your computer can give you a hug of encouragement, but it’s close.

Tired of keeping up with who you’re still waiting to hear back from in email? Unreplied lets you see who still hasn’t responded to your email. Need more help on your end? Boomerang reminds you when to follow back up with people. Both integrate with Gmail.

NOT that we condone this, but if you want to make whatever website you’re browsing look like the New York Times, Timesify applies a mask to make a site like Buzzfeed look instantly more intelligent. But you didn’t hear about it from us.

Making a case for Product Dev Fridays, what if you got all your work done by noon on Friday and then spent the rest of the day brainstorming how to fix problems and innovate? Think of it as focused daydreaming meets teambuilding. We think it’s pretty brilliant. Speaking of, there’s actually a science to brainstorming. It’s not just idle time. Creativity in problem solving is a learned trait, not always an innate gift. Make your brainstorming sessions as productive as possible when you know a few tricks to jumpstart the process.


That does it for this week’s SpryHive. Eat some hot dogs, light some fireworks, and enjoy your long weekend. We’ll be back here on Monday ready to go again!

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 26

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

Happy Friday, all! We’re past the summer equinox as of last weekend and the days are slowly getting shorter. This week marks the midpoint of the year on the calendar as well.  To celebrate, we’re bringing you yet another edition of SpryHive. We know you just couldn’t wait.

Developer News

Quick Hits

Google I/O

Google’s annual developers conference, Google I/O, kicked off this week. Packing more news than anticipated in to Wednesday’s conference, Google covered the bases of highly technical web, mobile, and enterprise technologies. The biggest takeaway from this year’s keynote was ANDROID. Android Everywhere. Android Auto. Wearable Android. Android TV.

Seriousness aside, they also branded cardboard. No joke. Google Cardboard is a cheap, DIY version of the Occulus Rift.

In other news, Google’s Project Ara could be the next big thing. By completely reworking how the smartphone is structured, Google is hoping to change how we interact with our phones. Imagine a free, open hardware platform to create a modular phone that does exactly what you want, upgrading individual pieces rather than swapping out the whole phone.  It could be a revolution in next-gen UI.

Coding for the Future

There are more and more clever ways to get kids engaged early to learn code. The next generation will grow up knowing how to write a string of code just as intuitively as the previous one could get online (or the one before that knew how to program a VCR). From board games for children to robots for toddlers, companies are finding ways to raise bilingual kids – fluent in their native language and code. More importantly, these companies are figuring out how to market their pricey products to parents.

Marketing News

Audience Behavior

Not to reopen the bloody “gif or jif” battle, but it seems there is a wide variety of accepted pronunciations and words for common tech terms. Find out how your audience uses them. On a similar vein, we also have a statistical analysis of common smiley emoticons. What does this all mean?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Social Media

We helped you out recently to create banner images for the new Facebook company pages. Here’s a great resource for creating engaging Facebook ads.

Miscellaneous

Finally, a mobile game app based on Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks. No Spam yet, but we can still hope.

If you like visualizing information, this brilliant site will show you the relative scale of the everything from the tiniest atom to the limits of the known universe.

If that information has you reeling, try this refreshing summer cocktail. While we just missed Negroni Week, this variant won’t disappoint.


That does it for this week’s SpryHive.  Kick back, relax, and rest up. Next week we get to start it all over again. Try to keep up!

 

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 25

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

Happy Friday, everyone and welcome to SpryHive. It’s summer vacation season and a lot of people are out and about on road trips. One of our favorite ways to pass the time is catching up on the backlog of podcasts I’ve missed during, well, LIFE.  If you’re going on the road and looking for some new audible treasures, here are a few of our favorites.

A quick survey of the Spry team recommends:

Let us know what you think!

ICYMI this week, Spry Digital Partner, Ken, treated us to a blog post about protecting your security online. There’s more to come but it offers a great first step toward making sure your data stays in your hands. Check it out.

Enough small talk. I know you’re really here for a quick hit of the latest. I saved you all the best. Pull up a chair.

Social Media Sound Bites

Proving that they are hip with the youths, the FBI made a hilariously bad list of “current Internet slang“. The hefty tome clocks in at 83 pages and treats the reader to more than 3,000 terms that no self respecting internet dweller has even considered using. Given that one of the new frontiers of terrorist recruiting is the internet, we don’t doubt they had the best intentions. Whether the end result is actually…. useful is probably lost in translation. IDK what they were thinking, but it made me ROFL.

We were treated to an accidental teaser a couple weeks ago and Facebook’s newest messenger app is now live officially. Meet Slingshot. Obviously designed as a competitor to Snapchat, Slingshot lets you send photos and 15-second videos to one (or more) friends you’ve recently “slinged” with. Like Snapchat, the content is promoted to be ephemeral.  Unlike Snapchat, the app boats a “reply to unlock” feature that could set it apart assuming people want to do that much work for a fleeting message. 

In a heartwarming coming of age story, it’s being argued that Reddit, the massive forum-based crowd sharing platform, has finally earned the self appointed title of “the front page of the internet”. After a few rough starts and some rough instances of vigilante journalism, Reddit is being taken seriously as a breaking news source. Reddit engineers developed a moderated live-thread system that aims to keep the site at the forefront of live-news sourcing and reporting. If you’ve spent any time on there lately, you’ve likely already seen the benefits – news stories appear on Reddit sometimes days before national news picks it up, usually with more depth and cited sources.  Is this the future of journalism? I’m sure you’ll find that answer on Reddit before you see it anywhere else.

Developer Delights

What do you get when you put a server, a workstation, a PC, and a phone in a room with a little candlelight and some Barry White? Ok, it’s the internet. I’m sure there’s some variety of porn for that. But really, what you’d get is is HP’s newest offering, called simply (and slightly ominously) The Machine. Based on a completely unique and highly specialized design, The Machine can process 160 petabytes of data in 250 nanoseconds. Excited yet? Hold on. Samples won’t be out until 2015 and products won’t be rolling out for another three years after that. But it’s pretty shiny to think about.

Unicode added 250 new emojis to the latest Standard Update. Given that many major software platforms make use of Unicode, this means there is now a beginning of support for new emoji to arrive on smartphones soon. It sounds like Apple has been working closely with Unicode for this update, especially. Look for the Vulcan salute, a hot pepper, and a chipmunk to be headed to your text messages soon.

Speaking of new, Firefox 30 appeared last week and with it, some tips and tricks for developers. However, if Firefox 30 is, like, SO last week. don’t worry – the Firefox Beta channel for 31 is already up for Linux, Mac, Windows, and Android. Developers will happily note that Firefox is pretty much giving everyone an early birthday present a bunch of features that will make dev life a lot easier like a canvas debugger and an eyedropper tool.

Another great release for developers, ZURB has rolled out Foundation 5.3, or Foundation for Sites. ZURB promises that they’ve closed hundreds of issues and Sites is virtually bug-free. They’ve also included some new features to make dev life simpler, like an icon bar and a newly revamped switch component that doesn’t require JS.  Check out the full stats in their announcement.

Adobe’s got it in for your apps. The latest major update to their Creative Cloud includes a software development kit for mobile devices, potentially allowing third party developers to embed select Adobe technologies within their iOS apps. Making that Instagram selfie look flawless could be getting a lot easier.

Marketing Mayhem

Verizon’s new #InspireHerMind campaign is not only beautiful, it’s hoping to get more parents and caregivers invested in encouraging young girls to pursue STEM programs. Along a similar vein, Google’s Made With Code initiative is trying to address the obvious gender gap in tech by getting girls involved in elementary. We readily approve of both of these developments.

When marketing is good, it can be really, really good. But (and the nursery rhyme says), when it’s bad, it’s horrid.  This week, the Mexican government did some major backtracking after public outrage over it’s latest campaign to encourage breastfeeding, The campaign needlessly sexualized women while simultaneously addressing concerns that don’t actually exist for the average new mother. Demonstrating an epic fail of understanding your audience, marketers admitted the concept was a little premature. The campaign has been scrapped and sent back to gestate a little longer.

If you’ve ever seen a fast food ad that made your mouth water only to be disappointed in the real life results, this cuisine crusader’s project is for you.  Frustrated at the lackluster presentation and misleading marketing rampant in the fast food industry, he politely asked for a do-over. Turns out, with a little more effort, that burger and fry can actually look pretty appealing.

 Neat Things

Science may be nearing the ability to rebuild bones based on beer byproducts. Drink up for happy hour. You’re doing good in the world.

AMAZING things we bet you didn’t know you could do with Google Spreadsheets. Not going to lie, this is way more exciting that it should be. I’m a sucker for a sexy spreadsheet.

Hold on to your butts. The Steam Summer Sale just started. If today’s your payday, kiss that check goodbye.


That’s it for SpryHive this week. If you need us, we’ll be drinking a beer and pwning n00bs until Monday.

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 17

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

Guys. Hold up. Tomorrow is DrupalCampSTL. How have you not grabbed a ticket yet?

We’re putting the finishing touches on our presentations so we’ll keep this SpryHive short and sweet!

  1. Have a Grunt Gulp down some Broccoli at Brunch. Or, how to give your CSS a spring cleaning tidy up.
  2. Webfonts are beautiful but also a little load heavy. A friendly hint to get your sites to load faster.
  3. Cagematch: Inline SVG vs Icon fonts.
  4. 30% of people already get the bulk of their news from Facebook. Obviously, Facebook wants in on that action.
  5. Lost Andy Warhol works found on old Amiga disks. Give that man another 15 minutes.
  6. Cookie-less, cross-device marketing. It’s a thing.
  7. The internet is going private and the demand for bandwidth is up to 138 Tbps. That is a LOT of LOLCats. 
  8. An attempt to create a universal icon set for verbs. What do you think – is “headbanging” a daily use word? We think so.
  9. The most egregious (and hilarious) misuses of quotation marks. Bad, grammar, bad! Go sit in the corner.
  10. Last week we brought you Google Easter eggs. This week, have some Chrome Experiments for your entertainment.

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 14

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

It’s the first SpryHive of a new month! We’re pretty excited (and a little baffled where the first three months of 2014 went, but we’re not complaining)! National Women’s History Month may have wrapped up with the end of March, but stay tuned for more awesome things like the Red Chair Project.

In other news, you may have missed the Early Bird registration, but there is still time to grab your tickets for St. Louis’ DrupalCamp. We’re thrilled to be sponsors.

On to the links of the week! Ten links enter, one links leaves the SpryHive Thunderdome.
Just kidding. But that would be pretty awesome, wouldn’t it?

  1. Reason #123,634,790 why great passwords and security are important: you won’t have to call the FBI because your site’s been stolen.
  2. Google ends Wildfire, the social media management platform they JUST bought.
  3. The ultimate in real-time crowdsourcing, see what people on Twitter are thinking with Qaster – everyone’s Q&A in one spot.
  4. Colleges are hip with the youths, begin using Snapchat. In related news, Snapchat probably no longer cool.
  5. Wikipedia unrolled a massively huge redesign to all of their sites.
  6. Speaking of redesigns, Spotify paints it black, focuses on album art and experience.
  7. Slick app, UpTo, syncs all of your calendars (Facebook, too)!
  8. About to pull your hair out trying to remove the background on a photo? Wizards use Clipping Magic.
  9. InstantClick is a JavaScript library that dramatically speeds up your website.
  10. We attended the UMSL Digital Marketing conference this week. As you’d expect, someone Storified it.

That’ll do it for this week. Have a fantastic weekend and we’ll catch you on the flip side.

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 13

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

Happy Friday, folks! We had a visitor this week and posed for pictures. Curious? Read more.

We’ve been busy bees this week so most of our clickable tidbits are heavy on the tech details.  Hopefully, you’ll find something you can use.

  1. Another Javascript framework? See what makes Ractive.js different.
  2. A neato front-end trick using SVGs and Custom Fields in WordPress
  3. Want to level up your knowledge of Flexbox? The Complete Guide to Flexbox.
  4. Controlling image loads within your code.
  5. We’re big fans of Google Drive and were excited to play around with some of their new add-ons.
  6. Obsessive about your Android apps but wary about security? Stick with the Play Store to avoid Malware.
  7. More of an Apple person? Check out the move to bring iBeacons into the home.

That should wrap it up for this week. Get outside, make something, be awesome.

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 10

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

Happy Friday, everyone!

In case you missed it, the Spry Team is growing! Last week we announced three new full time hires. We’re pleased as punch. They’ve all fit right in and added to the positive energy in the office.  Here’s some of the links that had all of us chatting.

  1. One in 10 Americans think HTML is an STD. This is what comes from promiscuous forking, people.
  2. Making embedded code work for responsive content.
  3. Creating a unified visual world – inside Wes Anderson’s visual themes.
  4. Use Sculpin to generate static HTML pages for rapid deployment.
  5. Twitters’ crashlytics being used by app devs.
  6. Two intriguing new apps – one to track caffeine, the other, a bacon alarm.  We’re jittery and hungry now.
  7. A peek behind Google Maps’ redesign.
  8. Admit it, you miss the hacker scene from Jurassic Park. You’re in luck.
  9. Speaking of dinosaurs, entering the Konami Code on Vogue UK’s site produces some very fashionable velociraptors.
  10. More acquisitions – Yahoo buys Visify.

That’ll do it for this week. Have fun out there, guys. Be good.

 

 

Dispatches from the SpryHive 2014: Week 4

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

Where did January go?! It was a blur of being bundled up from the frigid temperatures and popping Vitamin C supplements to fend off the various strains of plague that have been bouncing around town. We’re wrapping up the first month of 2014 and looking forward to February and warmer temps!  But we get ahead of ourselves.  Here’s what we chatted about this week:

  1. The Beatles of typography are breaking up.
  2. Google Ventures has created a digital library with everything for entrepreneurs. Pull up a seat.
  3. A great article from Forbes showing how cities can rewrite their brand narratives. St. Louis makes an appearance as a tech hub!
  4. ICYMI: Facebook released it’s data on what makes a viral post. The science of how memes spread on Facebook.
  5. A beautiful, hand-drawn font project.
  6. Drupal camp 2014 in STL this April. Get in early.
  7. Gamification is quickly becoming de rigeur for everything. Even developers. Learn to code while in gameplay.
  8. Two states didn’t have a single girl take the AP computer science test. How can we get more young women in tech?
  9. Quick hit of delicious code: A different approach to vertically aligning content in a div.
  10. Learn and explore GitHub via Google.
  11. This clever Kickstarter gadget will allow you to capture any color from your environment and immediately see the corresponding paint and design colors.
  12. Building a Customer Management App Using AngularJS and Laravel.

Stay warm out there!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive: Week 51

Posted by spry & filed under Tips.

How are you liking the WordPress update we told you about last week?  We’ve been really digging it.

We’re busy little elves – trying to cram all of our end-of-year work in to the last days of the year and looking forward to our office family party tonight.  But we’re already daydreaming about sugarplums, eggnog, and a marathon of Christmas movies to come next week. In the meantime, here are a few things that kept us buzzing and focused this week:

  1. A jquery plugin that selects the dominant color in a photo to create some really delightful adaptive backgrounds.
  2. Spotify makes their mobile streaming option free (but only for shuffle mode).
  3. Inspiration to go paperless: Per ounce, printer ink costs more than the most ridiculously expensive perfumes. Should we package it accordingly?
  4. We did not buy this. Promise.
  5. Twitter backpedaled on changes to “block” function.
  6. ICYMI: Google made some changes to Gmail that affect email marketing.
  7. Want to apply to be part of the first human colony on Mars? 200,000 people already have. Fine print: It’s a one-way ticket.
  8. No Internet Week, understanding tech addiction in the digital age.

Just a reminder: Our offices will be closed much of next week so we can spend time with our loved ones for the holidays.  But never fear! If you have a pressing Spry service question, you can always reach us at support@sprydigital.com.

Spry Hive Week 12: A Spring Classic

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under Tips.

It’s time again for that sugary jolt of sweet things found on the web. Stuff your mouf full of Peeps and enjoy.

  1. Works every time. [Link]
  2. Turn any site into a maze that you can navigate with your phone. [Chrome Maze]
  3. Drag and drop grids are neato. There’s a jQuery plugin for that: [Gridster.js]
  4. Lou Ferrigno gives his body 110%, should you? Actually, an article about font sizes in a responsive world: [Link]
  5. The future of Firefox.
  6. Don’t look at this if you have a font addiction. You will want them all. [Link]
  7. Because everybody wants to create their own Mailchimp: [Sendy.co]
  8. Look, none of us are getting any younger. [Star Wars Episode VII Conceptual Poster]