Have you ever wanted to turn Play Doh into an old school NES controller? Or use your stairs as a piano? MaKey MaKey is for you. It's a simple circut board that plugs into your Computer via USB and uses alligator clips to pass the signal to your keyboard keys. Not only do I want one, but I think it opens up a world of possiblities for my kids to learn, make and create.
Currently MaKey MaKey is on Kickstarter and has blown way past their initial pledge goal so if you want one of these I'd suggest you do it fast before they have to cut it off. But seriously - banana piano!!
Nate and I had the pleasure of attending (and speaking) at ConvergeSE a few weeks ago, and while it's a little late for one of those “I take meticulous notes from every speaker and put them in one massive blog post” deals, I had to let everyone know what a great time we had.
Let's get this out of the way: ConvergeSE was by far the best conference we've been to. The talks were great, the workshops covered all sorts of interesting topics, but that paled in comparison to the people we met and the conversations that were had throughout the conference.
If you're tired of going all analog on your Moleskine notebook and want to embrace the new hotness, check out Paper for iPad. It's a free app with several brush types availble for in-app purchase, and it looks like it's a ton of fun to use. I have a lowly iPad 1, but if you managed to snag an iPad 3 with the massively hi-res display Paper will be sure to please. Oh, you might want to pick up a stylus, too.
While working on the new 47m site we decided that we wanted our portfolio images to look like they were in a browser. Easy enough, right? But I didn't want to save out every image with some fake browser thing at the top. That would be a huge pain if we ever wanted to change the style in the future. CSS to the rescue!
I've opted for a pretty simple browser design, but you could totally get crazy with url fields, back/forward buttons. That would probably require an image, though and I was trying to avoid that. To get the browser are at the top we need the containing div to use the :before CSS selector.
Note - I was going to have this all be one article, but it was too big and I don't want to bore you. So! Part Uno will focus on the design and stragegy while Part Dos will focus on the dirty technical details - from HTML5 & CSS3 to Responsive layouts and ExpressionEngine programming. Part Uno begins now:
Have you ever climbed to the top of a mountain, cooked a whole pound of bacon, ate it, hiked back down and built a mansion with your bare hands? That's what it felt like redesigning the FortySeven Media site.
Version 1 of fortysevenmedia.com was super gray and boring (seriously, it was gray). We were afraid to be ourselves and thought that in order to make it as a design studio we needed to be stuffy, businessy and impersonal.
Next year we sat down and decided that if we were going to have our own company we should darn well act like it. With version 2 we overhauled the identity, made snarky pages like “Don't Hire Us,” created a blog and before we knew it, we were getting business from all over the place.
We had stumbled onto something, and quite frankly re-designing that kind of success is scary, especially when it provides for your family. The Lizard Brain was in full effect. We got talked about quite a bit when we launched the old site and we didn't want miss that magic this time around. Every time I sat down to work on it I just got overwhelmed. Could we make something nearly as iconic as the first go around? Turns out it didn't matter, because after waiting 4 years we were becoming obsolete. Don't get me wrong, the business was doing better than ever, but the jobs coming through the contact form were less interesting than they were a few years ago.
Pears is a great idea from the Simplebits and Dribbble mastermind Dan Cedarholm - Create common UI patterns with the HTML and corresponding CSS for basic styling for a quick reference too. I think we all do this to an extent with snippets in our code editors, but this goes a bit further “pearing” them together (see what I did there?).
Even more interesting, it's also an open source Wordpress theme so you can use the framework to make your own pears.
Those ConvergeSE guys have great timing! Right on the heels of our brand new site they've launched the conference site. Besides the awesome scrolling design and robotic battle dinosaurs (scroll down and see what happens to him!) the conference itself looks amazing.
Nate and I will be doing a workshop based on the Kicktastic project we're working on, so if you want to find out our secrets in person, register on February 16th. We'll try not to ruin the otherwise great list of speakers.
The ShopTalk show is a live podcast by CSS Tricks/Wufoo master Chris Coyier and Paravel pointman Dave Rupert. Chances are we'll talk about the Kick Awesome Show and maybe even this new website! Send in your questions now or join us live to pick our brains.
I never thought I’d be looking for a way to scrounge up the extra money to buy a thermostat, and yet here we are. Nest looks like a fantastic product from former Apple employees Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. Packed with all kinds of sensors, gorgeous industrial design and intelligent software that learns your routines, you can tell the details have been sweated over for a long time. Take a look at the installation guide to see what I mean.
Long story short, these guys are tackling a huge problem with current iterations of thermostats and helping us to save energy and money, all while making it fun. Go check it out →
Background gradients in CSS3 are a pain. Multiple syntaxes, color stops all over the place. And that’s just for a linear gradient. Anything other than that makes my head hurt. Thankfully Jumpzero has just released the beta of their Gradient App.
It’s a beautiful, simple app that makes it easy to select the exact colors you need, the direction and type of gradient, and then it spits out all the vendor prefixes you could possibly imagine. It will even do RGB and RGBA in addition to HEX codes. The UI is really great and I find myself actually enjoying making gradients. Who’d have thought?
I have no idea what Gradient will eventually cost, but you can grab it for free while it’s in beta. So go do it. Now!
As we’re working on a new version of the ol’ FortySeven Media site, we’re looking at putting together one of those fancy adaptive/responsive layouts. The one thing that has always seemed difficult was images. Even if you can scale an image down, you’re still probably loading the full size image on mobile which defeats the whole purpose.
The choice of a typeface, the care given to kerning and to readability—it all sends a powerful signal. When your business card is nothing but Arial on a piece of cardboard, you’ve just told people how they ought to think about you… precisely the opposite of what you were trying to do when you made the card in the first place.
I love that Seth Godin is bringing this sort of awareness to people who never thought about it before. And thankfully we’re smack in the middle of a type revolution on the web. It’s only going to get better from here.
Mac OS X’s built-in Archive Utility is a handy tool that lets you easily expand ZIP files downloaded to your computer. However, the zip files by default stay behind, leaving your Downloads folder cluttered. Luckily, there’s a way to modify the preferences and have the downloaded zip files sent to your Trash.
This has always bugged me, and I’m glad to finally have those zip files magically disappear after unzipping. Sometimes it’s the little things, you know? Thanks, Tony!
Here’s the deal: We’re making 50% more money this year and we want to let you guys (and girls) in on what we’re doing differently. It will of course be done in typical 47m fashion with loads of style and fun, but we need to know if you’re interested.
Here’s the thing. I really try not to gripe about things like an application icon. If it’s horrible you can always go make one yourself, right? But the Twitter for Mac icon saga warrants some kind of discussion.
In case you didn’t know, Twitter for Mac is actually sort of Tweetie for Mac 2. The difference being that Twitter hired the creator, Loren Brichter and so version 2 was aptly re-named. In fact, the original Tweetie for Mac was so good that many people kept using it long after it went months without updates and no promise of a new version.
It’s time for the semi-regular year end post from FortySeven Media! 2010 was a nutty year filled with lots of traveling, some great client projects and some even better personal projects. Let’s get started, shall we?
Speaking, Conferencing and Traveling
While we got our first taste of web conferences back in 2009, 2010 took it to a whole other level.
First off was LessConf in Atlanta. With speakers like Jason and David from 37 Signals, Cameron Moll, Chris Wanstrath from GitHub, Dan Martell, Clay Hebert and Peldi Guilizoni of Balsamiq we were energized and encouraged to keep making kick-awesome stuff.
Next was EECI2010 the US Edition in San Francisco. I got to speak at this one and we were reunited with a bunch of our old friends from the Leiden conference back in 2009. The city was fantastic and we even got to meet a few of our long-distance clients while we were there!