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 →

Mobile Only: How to build and launch a website from your phone

As a thought experiment, I wondered if it was possible to design, develop, and launch a custom website from my phone, without touching a tablet or computer.

Spoiler alert: I could.

In fact, not only was it possible to build a website from my phone, but I was able to do it in less than a couple hours of research and work, using only free apps. The following post will give you the step-by-step on how to launch your own mobile-only website.

For this experiment, I used an iPhone 4 running whatever the last version of iOS was it supported. I didn’t use any external displays or input devices. Continue reading →

Mobile Only: Rise of the computer-free web designer

Around twenty-five years ago, I was resting my right hand onto my first computer mouse. A cognitive bridge formed between an external input device and an Apple IIe monitor, positioned on an upright plane. I utilized that unnatural mental model to create digital pictures in MacPaint, followed by Kid Pix. Little did I know, that intimacy with the mouse and its keyboard sibling would be foundational to my career as a website designer all these years into the future.

With that, I’m humbled and amazed that within the last five years, my lifetime of personal computer training has been upended by today’s handheld, touch devices—and that within the next five, our industry of “desktop” designers and developers will be eclipsed by tweens designing and deploying websites from their wrists. They’ll publish as such, because they’ll have not formed the same cognitive bridge as we contemporary adults did.

By 2020, many of our interactive design competitors will have never owned, touched, nor seen a personal computing device as we know them today.

The age of the designer in a task chair will have effectively rolled out the door, into obsolescence. Ludicrous? Science fiction, even? Let’s review the trend… Continue reading →

Geeks eat more pizza in smaller groups

Back in 2008 or so, I got involved in DC’s burgeoning tech meetup community. Fast forward a couple years to 2010 when my office moved into a new space with a great venue for hosting my favorite meetups. We started with DC PHP and immediately after, WordPressDC. Then DCjQuery (now DCJS), followed suit.

With three related meetups going, we were getting a lot of traffic and cross-pollination of members. There was also no shortage of sponsorship for food and beverages—though we were typically, BYO. Pizza is common fare for a meetup, just because it’s easy and doesn’t require too much in the way of incidentals like plasticware. Continue reading →