Reading People’s Minds, Diane Rehm with Alan Alda

Today’s Diane Rehm interview with M*A*S*H’s Alan Alda wasn’t intended to be a user experience or content strategy talk, but it was a great segment on reading between the lines with people, using improv techniques to communicate better. He references the “curse of knowledge” inhibiting interpersonal communication and has a number of great anecdotal stories.

Listen on thedianerehmshow.org

Setting Decimal Precision in Sass When Compiling With Grunt

When you’re extending an existing Sass-enabled template in your local environment, you may notice your fresh instance of the template doesn’t quite match up with the demo template. For example, your line-heights, column widths, and other dynamic measurements are just different enough to drive you mad. If you use your browser’s inspector to investigate, you’ll likely discover your dev environment is rounding your computed measurements to the default of five decimal places. This is a common hiccup with Bootstrap, for example, where a base line-height of 1.428571429 becomes 1.42857. Continue reading →

Using Terminal aliases to easily switch project environments

If you work for an agency, chances are you have multiple development environments. Some clients have you mirroring their engineering team’s setup, others you created to your preference, and yet more are relics of past configurations you’ve forgotten about.

In this situation, I have a hard time remembering which project needs a “bundle exec guard” versus an “npm start” to get my SASS compilers, linting tools, and other gems going. Lately, I’ve been enjoying the use of bash aliases to both act as a more organized system of inventory, and to maintain my sanity when toggling between development environments. Continue reading →

Duplicating pages in-place in InDesign

I don’t know why I didn’t Google this until today, but it’s always bothered me the default “Duplicate Spread” feature in InDesign tosses your new page to the end of your document—always forcing you to have to drag it elsewhere.

To duplicate a page inline with the page you’re actively working on, hold down your option key (Mac OS) and drag the page you want to duplicate into the position you want it duplicated to (usually right after the master you’re duplicating from).

It seems the default should be to duplicate in-line, in the context of where you are working in the document. I’m not sure of a use-case where I’d want a single page thrown to the end of the document, unless I’m duplicating a batch of pages into a new chapter. In that event, I’d rather the single page duplicate in-line by default and a multi-select of pages request a decision similar to the PDF insert pages dialog.

T-Shirt maker roundup from SXSW15, and other random stats

Attending SXSW is a crazy ride on many fronts, but the first you are able to process mentally are the little things. As soon as you arrive home and decompress, you’ll pick up on the oddest of observations. These are a couple of mine.

T-Shirt makers, by the numbers

While removing tags from and washing all the free t-shirts I collected from SXSW, I thought it might be an interesting collection of manufacturers—for people who like numbers, or who order shirts for things: Continue reading →

How the movie industry drove us apart

I suppose part of aging is lamenting the way things used to be—”the good ol’ days.” Lately, I’ve been wondering why movies haven’t been resonating with me in the way they used to, and why suddenly, I’m much more drawn to the television series as dinner table fodder.

The answer I keep arriving at: None of us are watching the same movies. Theatrical releases have lost their ability to bring us together.

Why is this happening? We can wax about “Big Hollywood” or a decline in story quality, but I see the reason behind this shift being much more simple. There are just too many movies and they all whiz by faster than we can blink. Gone are the days you’ve watched the same movie as everyone you know. Continue reading →

Stop asking me to log in! Progressive authentication

I use the Fidelity app to manage a lump of rainy-day, retirement money. One of the features I love about the app is the home screen, where it summarizes today’s “movers” (best and worst performing) among the stocks and funds I’ve invested in. Now, this home screen doesn’t need to tell me how many shares of each I own or how much money I’ve made or lost, but it quickly tells me if I need to be paying attention. It gives me personalized, public information.

—or at least it would, if it didn’t require me to log in to see it. Continue reading →

12 handmade gifts to buy this holiday season

I love personal gifts and small businesses. If there’s one great side-effect of entering into a design career, it’s being surrounded by amazing talent and creatives of all types. Often, my friends and coworkers turn to secondary creative outlets.

The following are all people I have personal relationships with, who make great products you can use this holiday season—for a touch more personal than the CVS card rack, or the As-Seen-on-TV store. Continue reading →