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Recently I made a huge investment into my Facebook following: a $7.00 promoted post. I read a few white papers on how to best target my friends and family through social advertising, and came up with something I feel is pretty compelling.
I'm gonna type every word I know! Rectangle. America. Megaphone. Monday. Butthole.
Chairs are like Facebook
They let you relax. They let you have a conversation with someone close to you. They are comfortable, they are uniform, and they take money to use properly. Chairs are like Facebook.
By giving the option for users to promote their own posts, Facebook is taking us down the dark, dank back alleys of social networking. As opposed to transparent sharing, where my Mom rightly sees the bad decisions I just made in Las Vegas, everything must be viewed through a lens of skepticism.
In the immediate term I think this will simply leave a bad taste in the mouth of many users, however, the real danger is in the long term. If left unchecked, this kind of social interaction could degrade the core of how people interact on Facebook. How long before you have to pay for each post just to get it noticed?
Ainít no party like a Tupperware Party
My biggest problem with promoted posts is that it just doesnít feel genuine. I really canít ever see coming across one of these without wondering why my buddy just paid money to tell me that.
Itís the same feeling I would get if I walked in with a marble rye as a guest to a friends party, only to find out it was a promotional for Tupperwareís new Thatsaģ holiday collection. Gross.
The beginning of theÖ beginning
Iím actually not in the group of naysayers predicting the downfall of @finkdís empire. Perhaps itís because Iím actively engaged in building social tools for people that fills one of the only voids left by Facebook (Communities), or maybe itís just because I think distribution, and having 1/7th of all humans on your service is kind of a big deal Ė whatever the reason, I think Facebook will thrive for years to come.
Really, itís hard not to be reactive with these kinds of changes. In my own work, Iíve seen people rebel of the most mundane changes. Iím very interested to see how this concept evolves, and is managed to keep us away from the Social Ghetto.
Iíve been dabbling in security for the last month or so, thought Iíd share an awesome piece of software that has quickly become invaluable: 1Password. At a glance, it seemed to be a decent solution to managing secure information, and password variations (was it penguins0, or Penguins0?), but quickly found that I could use it to create ultra-secure passwords that I would never attempt to remember; I could set up each vendor to have a unique key that is virtually impossible to compromise. Cool beans.
With this approach, I use 1Password to generate a completely random password (at the max security the vendor allows), and then throw it into 1Password, my average password might look something like this:
Thatís a beautiful string. With such a strong key, you can kiss a password breach goodbye (not to mention that each password is unique from every other password).
Now, what happens if you need to access your passwords, but youíre not on a device you own? Well, just sync your 1Password keychain with DropBox, and you can easily browse to the web interface from your DropBox account and gain access to all of your security credentials.
Coming it at $69.99, itís not exactly a no brainer, but if your looking to beef your security, and manage credentials / sensitive information Ė itís a great solution. The Pro version of the iPhone app comes in at $14.99 (which seemed a bit pricy for companion software), but overall a one-time payment of ~$100 seems like a reasonable price for incredible security.
Today, Iím excited! For a long time Iíve wanted to renew my web-home, but simply have not had the latitude with which to address the problem. What I really needed was time to think about what I wanted to show case, and ultimately how it would be displayed. What I came up with is much more simple, and concise then anything Iíve ever made internally. My only real sadness is that Iíve lost my beloved ribbon, but for me removing the noise has brought into sharp focus the things I want to highlight. As par normal, Iíll address the whys and howís of some of the decisions Iíve made.
In 1964, Penzias and Wilson, two Nobel Prize winners (Physics) working at Bell Labs in New Jersey were consumed with finding the solution to a specific problem; background noise. No matter how they tried to perfect their instruments, they always received a consistent, vexing static in their supersensitive antenna. After much work, and some chance collaboration with colleges at Princeton, they found the source: The Big Bang. Itís a fantastic story, and well worth the read.
When I took the time to address the visuals of my site, I found similar noise all around. It wasnít that anything was massively out of place; there was just a lack of simplicity. What Iíve tried to do with the current visuals, is reduce the noise, and increase the simplicity; all without making it sterile.
All right, let me just don some protective gear before addressing typography. Actually love what Trent Walton said on the subject:
ďSetting type on the web can feel a lot like grilling a steak in front of a crowd of your pit master friends.Ē
Agreed. One of the sentiments echoed from readers of my last version, was that longer articles quickly became difficult to read. The reason for this should be apparent, itís a small, sans-serif font, and when you get that many words over the breadth of a thousand pixels, it can be overwhelming. Originally Iíd made this decision in favor some somewhat compactifying my site, but patently, thatís wasnít the right choice.
For now, Iíve incorporated a beautiful Serif font for my solution. At 18pt, it makes for a beautiful read. Headlines are provided in the equally stunning Sans-serif face. I love the interplay that these two make on a single page Ė so from a typography view, Iím very happy.
On the development side, I still have a bit of work to do. Iím interested to try a progressive Viewport Sized solution, but for now the sizes are given in em, of course based on a 16pt base. In the near future, Iíll be using media queries to size the typography up and down according to the viewport size (an interim solution until Viewport Typography has wider support).
One of the greatest challenges to my web-home is to somehow capture all of my interests / works on a more or less comprehensive level. Up until now, any side projects Iíd done, or tools Iíd created were only tangentially connected. With this release, Iíve been able to gather some of these things up, and display them in my about section.
Right now this is only a view of me professionally, in the future I hope to be able to merge more of my passions than web development into something that is at once, catholic and yet not overwhelming. An attempt to showcase more of these passions has been made in my Timeline.
This has been a pet project of mine since I first saw it introduced on Jeff Croftís site. Thereís a great conversation / linked article via Zeldman where they discuss ďthe merits of self-hosting social content and publishing to various sites rather than aggregating locally from external sources.Ē
For me, the idea of it is taking ownership of everything I publish, be that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Dribbble Ė anything I put on there want to aggregate into my own list, which is 100% under my control. On a later article, Iíll describe exactly how I created this aggregate Ė itís surprisingly simple, and only requires a minor knowledge of any backend language / data storage.
The Dark Mark
In the few years that Iíve been publishing content, Iíve never felt the need to create a ďmarkĒ or ďlogoĒ for myself as a brand. I still donít Ė but the mark you see there does draw a nice parallel with the Creative Commons license, under which I publish much of my content. On the flipside (quite literally), my trusty penguin scamper can still be seen safeguarding and maintaining my domain.
When it came time to start migrating pixels to code, I knew I wanted to push the boundaries (as usual) of web browsers. Of course, the site is built entirely upon a responsive grid (still some more work to do here), and is supported on an em based scaffolding Ė this allows me to scale the site up and down, depending on device and available space. Right now Iím using this only in a limited capacity, but in the near future Iíll (again, quite literally), expand it to a fluid solution across large and small viewports.
As Iíve yet to learn how to be concise in my writing, hereís the skinny without the stories:
- Minimalistic Visual Design to highlight the content rather than the background
- New Typefraces expand readability, and expand / contract to devices
- Entirety is a better showcase of where I am engaged professionally (eg Balllrs, CSSButton.me, Open Source code, Side Projects, etc)
- Timeline: New fancy thing that aggregates and stores my published content from a variety of vendors, and displays it here for any curious reader
- The Dark Mark: New mark that represents me, given by Voldemort
- The usual blend of progressive techniques mushed together (CSS3, SVGs, RWD, OOJS). New and awesome WordPress solutions, OOJS.
So thatís it! Iím excited to finally have my podium back, and you can be sure Iíll be nerdraging, sharing, and publishing tasty web again in no time.
Quite often Iíve found myself taking a quick screenshot of my finder window to create a wrapper for a website or mock. A few months ago I decided to stop repeating this process, and create a simple smart object that I can just copy / paste my designs into whenever I need a nice looking wrapper. I've found it quite useful, and have added it to my arsenal of design resources. Give it a try, let me know what you think!