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Dorm Room Tycoon: Information & Inspiration

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 07, 2014

Dorm Room Tycoon sounds like a startup founded by a 20-something cobbling together the next big Internet sensation. In fact, it’s a collection of podcasts with innovators in design, technology, and business. A wide range of design disciplines is covered, featuring the likes of Jeffrey Zeldman (webdesign and coding), Erik Spiekermann (typography), Swiss Miss (communication design), and Jason Saint Maria (interactive design). The interviews are a relaxed exchange, as DRT founder William Channer and the interviewee seem to wander from topic to topic. Listening to the podcasts is rather like overhearing two very bright people having a comfortable conversation.

Channer started DRT in 2011. As a creative and mobile product designer based in London, he was frustrated by the dearth of solid advice on building a startup business. Reading profiles of entrepreneurs in technology publications exacerbated his frustration, since most articles focused on irrelevant life stories, or perpetuated origin myths. Channer decided to conduct his own interviews that would focus on questions about process, drawing out practical advice and life experience. He chose the name, “Dorm Room Tycoon,” to reflect the idea of starting small and doing something big.  

Channer has applied what he’s learned from the DRT interviewees. Just this year, he launched Panda, a web app and Chrome extension, which provides a steady stream of news and inspiration. The web app provides a split screen with news feed of article links on technology, design, and job listings on the left, and thumbnails streamed from portfolio sites Behance, Dribbble, and Awwwards on the right. The news feed streams from technology and design aggregators, such as Hacker News, sidebar.io, and Layervault Designer News. Users can add the Chrome extension to their browser window, book mark the web app,  and subscribe to Panda’s  weekly newsletter.

Below: The speakers featured in Dorm Room Tycoon are tagged by color codes: red for business, green for technology, and gold for design.
Image © Doorm Room Tycoon. Used with permission.

Outdatedbrowser: Show them the Rainbow

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 31, 2014

Outdatedbrowser illustration © BürocratikWeb developers complain that testing websites for outdated versions of browsers is one of their biggest headaches (as well as a huge, frustrating time suck). Portuguese digital design agency Bürocratik has developed Outdatedbrowser.com, a lovely solution that encourages users (in the nicest, most colorful way) to update their browsers. The developers at Bürocratic have created a script that coders can incorporate into their website code. The script detects whether visitors to the website are on old browsers, warns them if they are, and offers a button-click to remedy the problem. If the user clicks onto the “Update my Broswer” link, a drop-down graphic permits them to select from the five most popular browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera.

The script works well at detecteing outdated versions of the five major website browsers, going back as far as IE6. The script also does not force the visitors to update their browsers, but rather simply makes the recommendation; users can continue to visit whichever website is utilizing the script unimpeded. This addresses concerns website designers have on behalf of users who are reluctant or prohibited from updating their browsers (such as individuals working in corporate offices with strict IT department restrictions on downloads).

Developers can download the full package of JSS, CSS, and language files from Github, and the Outdatedbrowser website offers simple instructions to embed the code.  A version of the package has been developed for coders working in WordPress, as well as a RubyGem package for Rails.  

Images © Bürocratik. Used with permission.

Outdatedbrowser screenshot © Bürocratik

oozled: Web Designers, Delete Your Bookmarks

Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 09, 2014

oozled logoLaunched just this month, oozled is a web developer’s dream: a web app which provides a steady stream of curated resources from accessibility through wireframing. Many of the resource categories are related directly to coding and production, such as mockup tools, HTML 5, responsive web design tools, and prototyping. Several other categories list resources to help web designers run their businesses (accountancy, legal), build their skills (online tuition, books, podcasts), add to their webtools (payment solutions, email marketing), and replenish their creativity (inspiration, colour – the app developers are from the UK). There’s even an alluring “Just Handy” feed, with eclectic resources such as goofy ipsums, Screen Sizes (an updated list of cross-device screen sizes), and JustDelete.Me (a how-to on deleting your account from web services).

oozled got its start when web/interface designer Dan Edwards compiled a list of his personal resources as a guide for local college students. He published the list on the blogging platform Medium, and invited readers were to contribute recommendations. Within a few months, over 200 resources had been added. Edwards teamed up with developer Ryan Taylor, and in May 2014, the beta version of oozled was launched.

Anyone can access the full list of resources, and a “The Latest 50” category directs visitors to the most recent additions. However, subscribing to oozled is free, and enables the user to subscribe to specific resource feeds, as well as submit their own favorite resources. oozled is currently in beta, but Edwards and Taylor have plans for the app, and promise that subscribers will have first access to any new features.

Below: a small selection of the resource categories. Used with permission.


oozled screenshot

Name It and Claim It: New Top Level Domains Released by ICANN

Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 02, 2014

ICANN logoAs reported by Petapixel in February, ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has released a new batch of top level domains. The new domains include .photography, .gallery, and .graphics, permitting creatives to end their URL with something more memorable than the ubiquitous .com (or much less sexy .net). As Petapixel points out, many of the new domains are geared to photography; the list includes .equipment, .camera, and .lighting.

Unfortunately .illustration has not been released, but .consulting, .marketing, .picture, .solutions, and .vision are available. (For those having a run of bad client relations, .gripe is also available.) The full list of top level domains is posted on the ICANN website.

Happy 25th Birthday, World Wide Web!

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 17, 2014

Web at 25 logoMarch 12th was the 25th birthday of the World Wide Web, and the anniversary is being marked with events and well wishes from world leaders, innovators, philanthropists, and ordinary folk. To mark the occasion, the World Wide Web Consortium and the World Wide Web Foundation have created Webat25.org. Visitors can view message from Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, leave a happy birthday message, read little-known facts and a brief history of the Web, and bookmark a calendar of events.

The Web was first proposed by Berners-Lee in March of 1989, as an “information management system” while working as a consultant at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The proposal intended to address the loss of information which occurred as the complex systems were developed at CERN. His vision was radical, a linked information system that would provide a “web” of notes, rather than a traditional fixed, hierarchical structure was quite radical at the time. His proposal wasn’t accepted but with the encouragement of his supervisor, Berners-Lee continued to work on his concept, coining the term “World Wide Web” for the project. (Earlier monikers included “Information Mesh” and “Mine of Information.”) By 1990, with the collaboration of other key innovators, he developed the first iteration of the Web, complete with HTML, URLs, and a browser.

Celebrations of the anniversary culminate with a symposium on the Web’s future on October 29th in Santa Clara. Berners-Lee is taking the anniversary as an opportunity to position global access to the Web as a basic human right, calling for a digital bill of rights. The World Wide Web Foundation has coordinated a Web We Want campaign to build support for “people’s online rights to a free, open and truly global web protected by law in every country.” The campaign solicits feedback from the public, offering small grants for anniversary events which will engage people in discussing and debating the Web’s future.

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