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!

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