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Dave Hall: Trying Drupal

Planet Linux Australia - Sat 16th Sep 2017 21:09

While preparing for my DrupalCamp Belgium keynote presentation I looked at how easy it is to get started with various CMS platforms. For my talk I used Contentful, a hosted content as a service CMS platform and contrasted that to the "Try Drupal" experience. Below is the walk through of both.

Let's start with Contentful. I start off by visiting their website.

In the top right corner is a blue button encouraging me to "try for free". I hit the link and I'm presented with a sign up form. I can even use Google or GitHub for authentication if I want.

While my example site is being installed I am presented with an overview of what I can do once it is finished. It takes around 30 seconds for the site to be installed.

My site is installed and I'm given some guidance about what to do next. There is even an onboarding tour in the bottom right corner that is waving at me.

Overall this took around a minute and required very little thought. I never once found myself thinking come on hurry up.

Now let's see what it is like to try Drupal. I land on d.o. I see a big prominent "Try Drupal" button, so I click that.

I am presented with 3 options. I am not sure why I'm being presented options to "Build on Drupal 8 for Free" or to "Get Started Risk-Free", I just want to try Drupal, so I go with Pantheon.

Like with Contentful I'm asked to create an account. Again I have the option of using Google for the sign up or completing a form. This form has more fields than contentful.

I've created my account and I am expecting to be dropped into a demo Drupal site. Instead I am presented with a dashboard. The most prominent call to action is importing a site. I decide to create a new site.

I have to now think of a name for my site. This is already feeling like a lot of work just to try Drupal. If I was a busy manager I would have probably given up by this point.

When I submit the form I must surely be going to see a Drupal site. No, sorry. I am given the choice of installing WordPress, yes WordPress, Drupal 8 or Drupal 7. Despite being very confused I go with Drupal 8.

Now my site is deploying. While this happens there is a bunch of items that update above the progress bar. They're all a bit nerdy, but at least I know something is happening. Why is my only option to visit my dashboard again? I want to try Drupal.

I land on the dashboard. Now I'm really confused. This all looks pretty geeky. I want to try Drupal not deal with code, connection modes and the like. If I stick around I might eventually click "Visit Development site", which doesn't really feel like trying Drupal.

Now I'm asked to select a language. OK so Drupal supports multiple languages, that nice. Let's select English so I can finally get to try Drupal.

Next I need to chose an installation profile. What is an installation profile? Which one is best for me?

Now I need to create an account. About 10 minutes I already created an account. Why do I need to create another one? I also named my site earlier in the process.

Finally I am dropped into a Drupal 8 site. There is nothing to guide me on what to do next.

I am left with a sense that setting up Contentful is super easy and Drupal is a lot of work. For most people wanting to try Drupal they would have abandonned someway through the process. I would love to see the conversion stats for the try Drupal service. It must miniscule.

It is worth noting that Pantheon has the best user experience of the 3 companies. The process with 1&1 just dumps me at a hosting sign up page. How does that let me try Drupal?

Acquia drops onto a page where you select your role, then you're presented with some marketing stuff and a form to request a demo. That is unless you're running an ad blocker, then when you select your role you get an Ajax error.

The Try Drupal program generates revenue for the Drupal Association. This money helps fund development of the project. I'm well aware that the DA needs money. At the same time I wonder if it is worth it. For many people this is the first experience they have using Drupal.

The previous attempt to have simplytest.me added to the try Drupal page ultimately failed due to the financial implications. While this is disappointing I don't think simplytest.me is necessarily the answer either.

There needs to be some minimum standards for the Try Drupal page. One of the key item is the number of clicks to get from d.o to a working demo site. Without this the "Try Drupal" page will drive people away from the project, which isn't the intention.

If you're at DrupalCon Vienna and want to discuss this and other ways to improve the marketing of Drupal, please attend the marketing sprints.

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Categories: thinktime

Fitting in all the way

Seth Godin - Sat 16th Sep 2017 18:09
It seems like a fine way to earn trust. Merely fit in. In every way. Don't do anything to draw attention to yourself, to be left out, to challenge the status quo. Go along with the crowd to get ahead....        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Appropriate collusion (organizing the weaker side)

Seth Godin - Fri 15th Sep 2017 18:09
Businesses with power are prohibited from colluding with one another to set prices or other policies. For good reason. Public officials and economists realize that it’s quite tempting for an oligopoly to work to artificially create scarcity or cooperate--it creates...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Project Management for Humans

a list apart - Fri 15th Sep 2017 04:09

A note from the editors: We’re pleased to share an excerpt from Chapter 6 of Brett Harned's new book, Project Management for Humans, available now from Rosenfeld Media.

I loved the game Tetris as a kid. I played the Game Boy version for hours. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the concept of little shapes coming together in a logical way to clear a goal. The pieces complement one another, yet they all naturally work in different ways. The game has stuck with me since I was a kid (and, no, I’m not a gamer). I now have it on my phone and iPad and find myself playing it when I’m on a flight or bored, waiting for something to happen (which is never these days). Whether I’m playing the game a lot or not, the idea of making tiny boxes fit in neatly and clearing out rows of work is ingrained in my brain. It’s the project manager in me.

But here’s the thing: What project managers do on a daily basis when it comes to managing resources or staffing is similar to Tetris, and it’s a big project management challenge that we all face. The biggest difference between resourcing and Tetris? The team members we’re trying to assign tasks to aren’t blocks. They’re human beings, and they need to be treated as such.

Your Team Are People, Too!

Let’s move away from calling people “resources,” please. We’re really just staffing projects or assigning tasks. We’re not using people to just get things done. We’re asking them to solve challenges that are presented in our projects.

Set the Stage for Organized Resource Planning

The challenge of managing a team is making sure that they stay busy and working on tasks, yet are not completely overbooked. It’s a difficult balance to find, particularly when your projects require a variety of skills at different times, which seem to change all too often.

At the most basic level, you want to set up a system for tracking your projects and your team members’ time on those projects (see Figure 6.1). A simple goal is to ensure that you can confidently commit to deadlines on projects with the knowledge that your team is actually available to do the related work. It seems like a simple goal, but it’s often a difficult one to keep up with due to changes on projects, changes in personal schedules (hey, life happens), and an influx of new work and requests. But it’s not an insurmountable challenge. In fact, a simple spreadsheet could help you, particularly if you’re managing a smaller team. At the core, you want to track these items:

  • Projects (List them all, even the non-billable ones, or the other things that aren’t projects but end up taking a lot of time—like business development.)
  • People (List every person you work with.)
  • Estimated time (Track hours, days, weeks, etc. Make your best guess—based on your timeline or calendar—on how much each person will spend on a project or a task.)
Figure 6.1: Use a Google Spreadsheet, Numbers, or Excel to input your project and team data.

A couple of notes on how to use a spreadsheet to forecast team availability:

  • This should be set up on a week-by-week basis to minimize confusion (use tabs in your spreadsheet for each new week).
  • Always consider the “nonbillable” things that people must do (like stand-up meetings, internal tasks, sales, etc.).
  • The final cell contains a formula that tallies the hours for you; if the hours go over your typical limit (think of a 40-hour work week), it will turn red to notify you. You’ll want to have a good idea for just how “utilized” someone should be (32 hours/week is usually a good target).
  • You can input the actual hours logged in your time tracking system if you’d like. It could help with future estimating. (If you’re not tracking time, check in with your team on time percentages to get a gut check.)
  • Check your estimates with your team to make sure that the hours actually align with their assessment of the task (This might help with avoiding that red number!)
  • Communicate these hours to the entire team each week. Making sure that everyone “is in the know” will help on any project. Discussing it with individuals will help you understand effort, blockers, and possibly even different ways of working.
Tools

The landscape for project management tools is changing constantly. There are a number of tools in the marketplace for helping you manage and communicate this data. If you’ve working with a team of 10 or more, you might want to abandon the spreadsheet approach for something more official, organized and supported. Bonus: Many of these tools handle more than just resourcing!

Here’s the thing—it’s not just about numbers. The issue that makes estimating a team’s project hours difficult is that everyone works differently. There is no way to standardize the human factor here, and that’s what makes it tough. Forget the fact that no one on your team is a robot, and they all work at their own pace. Think about sick days, vacations, client delays, changes on projects, and so on. It’s a never-ending flow of shapes that must fit into the box that is a project. Be sure to have an ongoing dialogue about your staffing plans and challenges.

Match Resource Skills to Projects

Projects only slow down when decisions are not made. In that magical moment when things are actually going well, you want to make sure that your team can continue the pace. The only way to do that is by connecting with your team and understanding what motivates them. Here are some things to consider:

  • Interests: If you have a team member who loves beer, why not put that person on the beer design site? Maybe you have multiple people who want to be on the project, but they are all busy on other projects. These are the breaks. You’ve got to do what is right for the company and your budget. If you can put interests first, it’s awesome. It won’t always work out that way for everyone, but it’s a good first step to try.
  • Skill sets: It’s as simple as getting to know each and every team member’s work. Some people are meant to create specific types of designs or experiences. It not only has to do with interests, but it also has to do with strengths within those tasks. Sure, I may love beer, but that doesn’t mean that I am meant to design the site that caters to the audience the client is trying to reach.
  • Moving schedules: Projects will always change. One week you know you’re working against a firm deadline, and the next week that has changed due to the clients, the needs of the project, or some other reason someone conjured up. It’s tough to know when that change will happen, but when it does, how you’ll fill someone’s time with other work should be high on your mind.
  • Holidays: People always extend them. Plan for that!
  • Vacations: It’s great to know about these in advance. Be sure you know your company’s policies around vacations. You never ever want to be the PM who says “Well, you have a deadline on X date and that will conflict with your very expensive/exciting trip, so, um … no.” Ask people to request trips at least a month in advance so that you can plan ahead and make it work.
  • Illness: We’re all humans and that means we’re fine one day and bedridden the next. You’ve always got to be ready for a back-up plan. It shouldn’t fall on your client stakeholders to make up time, but sometimes it has to. Or sometimes you need to look for someone to pitch in on intermediate tasks to keep things of track while your “rock star” or “ninja” is getting better.
Align Plans with Staffing

When you’re working hard to keep up with staffing plans, you’ve got to have updated project plans. A small change in a plan could cause a change in staffing—even by a few hours—and throw everything else off.

Save Yourself and Your Team from Burnout

If you’re busy and not slowing down any time soon, you want to keep this spreadsheet (or tool) updated often. If you’re working at an agency, knowing what’s in your pipeline can also help you. Stay aligned with the person in charge of sales or assigning new projects so that you can anticipate upcoming needs and timelines. In some cases, you may even want to put some basic data in your spreadsheet or tool so that you can anticipate needs.

Good Resourcing Can Justify More Help

The value of tracking this data goes beyond your projects. It can help business owners make important decisions on growing a company.

No matter what you do, be sure to communicate about staffing as much as possible. If you’re in an organization that is constantly handling change, you’ll know that it’s a tough target to hit. In fact, your numbers will often be slightly off, but you’ll find comfort in knowing that you’re doing everything you can to stay ahead of the resource crunch. At the same time, your team will appreciate that you’re doing everything you can to protect their work-life balance.

Stakeholders Are Resources, Too

When you’re working on a team with a project, you have to consider the stakeholders as decision makers, too. Let’s face it—no one has ever been trained to be a good client, stakeholder, or project sponsor. In addition to that, they are likely to be working on several projects with several people at one time. Life as a client can be hectic! So do everything you can to help them plan their time appropriately. In general, you should let the stakeholders know they’ll have to plan for these things:

  • Meetings: You’ll conduct a kickoff meeting, weekly status updates, deliverable reviews, etc.
  • Scheduling: You’ll need stakeholders to wrangle calendars to get folks into said meetings.
  • Gathering feedback: This sounds easy, but it is not. You will need this person to spend time with all of the stakeholders to get their feedback and collate it for you to make sure there are no conflicting opinions.
  • Chasing down decisions: There are points on every project where one person will need to make sure there is agreement and decisions can be made to keep the project moving.
  • Daily ad hoc email, phone calls: Questions and requests will pop up, and you’ll need timely responses.
  • Operations: You might need invoices to be reviewed and approved or change requests to be reviewed and discussed. The stakeholders will need to make time to operate the project from their side of things.

This is a lot of work. And just like PM work, it is very hard to quantify or plan. If you’re in good hands, you’re working with someone who has good PM skills. If not, give them the list above along with a copy of this book. But seriously, if you can assist them with planning their time, it might be as simple as including action items or to-dos for them in a weekly email or in your status report. Just remember, they are busy and want the project to run smoothly as well. Help them make that happen.

TL; DR

Managing projects is hard enough, but being the person to manage who works on what and when can be even more difficult. However, if you don’t keep track of this basic information, you’ll likely find it hard to meet deadlines and wrap up projects without major issues. Here are some simple things you can do to make sure your that your team stays busy, yet not completely overbooked:

  • Set up a simple spreadsheet to forecast projects and hours per team member.
    • This data should be based on what’s included in your project scopes and timelines—be sure to double-check that.
    • You may want to check out one of the resourcing tools that are out there now.
  • Be sure to account for a number of factors that you can’t necessarily control in this process—for example, interests, skill sets, moving schedules, holidays, vacations, and so on.
  • Account for your sales process if you’re in an agency and stay ahead of new project requests.
  • Remember that you’re dealing with people here.
Want to read more?

This excerpt from Project Management for Humans will help you get started. Order the full copy today, as well as other excellent titles from Rosenfeld Media.

Categories: thinktime

Impossible, unlikely or difficult?

Seth Godin - Thu 14th Sep 2017 18:09
Difficult tasks have a road map. With effort, we can get from here to there. It might surprise you to realize that difficult is easy once you have the resources and commitment. Paving a road is difficult, so is customer...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

OpenSTEM: New Dates for Human Relative + ‘Explorer Classroom’ Resources

Planet Linux Australia - Thu 14th Sep 2017 11:09
During September, National Geographic is featuring the excavations of Homo naledi at Rising Star Cave in South Africa in their Explorer Classroom, in tune with new discoveries and the publishing of dates for this enigmatic little hominid. A Teacher’s Guide and Resources are available and classes can log in to see live updates from the […]
Categories: thinktime

A List Apart volunteer update

a list apart - Wed 13th Sep 2017 23:09

A note from the editors: A few days ago, we announced a reimagined A List Apart, with you, our faithful readers of nearly 20 years, contributing your talents. The response from this community was humbling, thrilling, and, frankly, a bit overwhelming. If you volunteered to help A List Apart and haven’t heard back from us yet, here’s what’s up.

To the many wonderful souls who have so far volunteered to help A List Apart, thank you very, very much for your emails! And if you haven’t heard back from us yet,  please excuse the delay. We’ve been inundated with messages from hundreds of potential volunteers across a wide spectrum of disciplines and potential task groups, and we are going through your messages slowly and carefully, responding personally to each one.

Some of you have written asking if we might be interested in having you write for us. Gosh, A List Apart has always welcomed articles from our community. Guidelines (plus how to submit your first draft, proposal, or outline) are available at alistapart.com/about/contribute. Please check them out—we’d love to look at any topically appropriate article you care to submit. 


But writing articles is far from the only way to support and make your mark at the new (19-year-old) ALA.

Meet the groups!

If you’ve expressed an interested in organizing or hosting an ALA-themed monthly meet-up, or have other ideas that can help grow community, we’ll invite you to join our newly forming COMMUNITY group. If EDUCATION AND OUTREACH is more your thing, we are starting a group for that, as well. There are other groups to come, as well—a list of our ideas appears in the original post on the topic, and there may be more groups to come.

How these groups will work, and what they will do, is largely going to be determined by the volunteers themselves. (That’s you folks.)

As we’re starting the work of supporting and organizing these groups on Basecamp, you can’t just add yourself to a group, as you could on, say, Slack. But that’s okay, because we want to approach this somewhat methodically, adding people a few at a time, and having little written conversations with you beforehand.

Our fear was that if we launched a bunch of Slack channels all at once, without speaking with each of you first, hundreds of people might add themselves the first day, but then nobody would have any direction as to what might be expected—and we might not have the resources ready to provide guidance and support.

By adding you to Basecamps a few at a time, and hopefully identifying leaders in each new group as it begins forming, we hope to provide a lightly structured environment where you can design your own adventures. It takes a little longer this way, but that’s by design. (A List Apart started in 1997 as a 16,000-member message board. Big open channels are great for letting everyone speak, but not necessarily the best way to organize fragile new projects.)

If you are interested in contributing to those projects, or curious about a particular area, and told us so in your initial email, we will eventually get to you and assign you to the right slot. If you haven’t yet volunteered, of course, you can still do so. (See the original post for details.)

Editors, developers, and designers


But wait, there’s more. Developers: if you have standards-oriented front-end development experience and would like to help out on day-to-day site maintenance, occasional minor upgrades, and an eventual redesign, just add yourself to A List Apart’s Github front-end repo: github.com/alistapart/AListApart.

Those with backend experience (particularly in ExpressionEngine and WordPress), you will hear from us as we work our way through your emails.

Editor-in-chief Aaron Gustafson and I have also been going slowly through your mails looking for additional editorial help. We’ve already found and added a few very promising people to our volunteer editorial staff, and will introduce them to you soon. If you’re an editor and we haven’t added you yet, not to worry! It likely means we haven’t gotten to your email yet. (So. Much. Email!)

As might be expected, a majority of those who volunteered offered their services as designers, developers, or both. The number of emails we’ve received from folks with these skills is humbling, touching, and a bit overwhelming. We have not yet begun to dig through this particular pile of mail. So if you haven’t heard from us, that’s why. (But, as I just mentioned, if you’re a developer, you can add yourself to our front-end repo. So do that, if you wish, and say hi!)

We love you

Hope this helps clarify what’s up. We are grateful for every single email we’ve gotten. We will eventually speak with you all. Thank you all again.




Jeffrey

 

Categories: thinktime

Building on maximized systems

Seth Godin - Wed 13th Sep 2017 18:09
If you eat beef, you're probably using a maximized system. It's a commodity, and every part of the chain is under huge pressure to increase yield and cut corners. The animals are pushed to the brink, and so are the...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Patterns and Purpose, an Excerpt from Animation at Work

a list apart - Tue 12th Sep 2017 23:09

A note from the editors: We’re pleased to share an excerpt from Chapter 2 of Rachel Nabors's new book, Animation at Work, available now from A Book Apart.

So we can use animations to tap into users’ visual systems and give them a cognitive speed boost, terrific! But before animating every element of our designs, we must learn when and how to use this new tool: with great power comes great responsibility, and so forth. And as animation must vie with many other concerns for development and design time, it makes sense to spend our resources where they’ll go the farthest.

This chapter sets you up with some core animation patterns and shows you how animation applies to a greater system. Then you’ll learn how to spot cognitive bottlenecks and low-hanging fruit, maximizing the impact of the animations you do invest in.

Common Animation Patterns

If you’ve looked at as many examples of animation on the web and in app interfaces as I have, certain patterns start to emerge. These patterns are helpful for identifying and succinctly verbalizing the purpose of an animation to others. Here are the categories I’ve found myself using the most:

Transitions take users from place to place in the information space, or transition them out of one task into another. These tend to have massive impacts on the content on the page, replacing large portions of information.

Supplements bring information on or off the page, but don’t change the user’s “location” or task. They generally add or update bits of additional content on the page.

Feedback indicates causation between two or more events, often used to connect a user’s interaction with the interface’s reaction.

Demonstrations explain how something works or expose its details by showing instead of telling.

Decorations do not convey new information and are purely aesthetic.

Let’s have a look at each of them and see how they impact the user’s experience.

Transitions

The web was originally designed as a series of linked documents. Clicking on a link caused the browser to wipe the screen, often causing a telltale flash of white, before painting the next page from scratch. While this made sense in the context of linked text-based documents, it makes less sense in an era where pages share many rich design elements and belong to the same domain. Not only is it wasteful of the browser’s resources to be recreating the same page layout over and over, but it also increases users’ cognitive load when they have to reorient and reevaluate the page’s content.

Animation, specifically motion, can facilitate the user’s orientation in an information space by offloading that effort to the brain’s visual cortex. Using a transition between changes in task flow or locations in information architecture ideally reinforces where the user has been, where they are going, and where they are now in one fell swoop.

For example, on Nike’s SB Dunk page, when a user clicks a navigation arrow, the current sneaker moves out of the way while the next sneaker moves in from the opposite direction (Fig 2.1). These transitions clearly show the user how they are navigating along a linear continuum of sneakers, helping them keep track of their place and reinforcing the spatial model of perusing a real-world row of sneakers.

Fig 2.1: On this Nike page, transitions are used to navigate forwards and backwards along a linear continuum of sneakers. (Watch the accompanying video.)

On another shoes site, fluevog.com, transitions move the user from task to task (Fig 2.2). After a user starts typing in the search field, the results are animated on top of a darker backdrop. This transitions the user from the browsing context to refining their search results, streamlining their focus while also reassuring them that they can get back to browsing without much effort.

Fig 2.2: On Fluevog’s website, transitions move users from the browsing context to the searching context. (Watch the accompanying video.) Supplements

While transitions move the user from state to state, supplemental animations bring ancillary information to the user. Think of times when information complementary to the main content of the page appears or disappears in view: alerts, dropdowns, and tooltips are all good candidates for a supplemental animation on entry and exit.

Remember that these animations need to respect the user’s Cone of Vision: will they be looking directly at a tooltip appearing next to their cursor, or will their attention need to be directed to an alert on the side of their tablet?

When a user adds a product to their shopping cart on glossier.com, rather than taking them to a whole new shopping cart page, the site merely updates the user as to their cart’s contents by popping it out as a sidebar (Fig 2.3c). While a transition would snap the user out of browsing mode, this supplemental animation lets the user dismiss the shopping cart and continue shopping.

The shopping cart sidebar uses an additional supplemental animation to quickly and subtly attract the user’s eye: a progress meter gradually fills to show how much the user needs to spend to get free shipping (Fig 2.3d).

Fig 2.3: Glossier.com uses supplemental animation to show and hide the user’s shopping cart, keeping them in the shopping context longer without forcing them into the purchasing context. (Watch the accompanying video.)

This shopping cart process has a third animation pattern going on: the Add to Bag button gains a spinning icon when clicked, which gives the user feedback as to its loading state (Fig 2.3b). Speaking of feedback…

Feedback

Animation can give users direct feedback about their interactions. A depressed button, a swiping gesture—both link a human action to an interface’s reaction. Or the flip side: a loading spinner on a page indicates that we’re waiting on the computer. Without visual feedback, people are left wondering if they actually clicked that “pay now” button, or if the page is really loading after all.

On the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s site, hovering over a button causes its color to fade from red to blue, indicating that the element is interactive and ready to react to user input (Fig 2.4). Button hovers are classic examples for this kind of animation, partly because the gain of giving users visual feedback on buttons is so measurable and important to business.

Fig 2.4: On the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s site, hovering on a button triggers an animation that gives the user feedback that the element is interactive. (Watch the accompanying video.)

Design studio Animal’s site uses a bar of color across the top of the page as well as an animated version of their logo to indicate the page’s loading and loaded states while providing interest and reinforcing their “wild” branding (Fig 2.5).

Fig 2.5: Design studio Animal uses a progress to let users know how much of the page has loaded, and an animated logo to indicate when it’s fully loaded. (Watch the accompanying video.) Demonstrations

Demonstrations are my personal favorite use of animation. They can be both entertaining and insightful. These animations put information into perspective, show what’s happening, or how something works. This makes demonstrative animations perfect partners for infographics. One thing all demonstrative animations do is tell a story, as you’ll see.

“Processing…” pages are an opportunity to explain what’s happening to users while they wait. TurboTax makes good use of these processing pages (Fig 2.6). After users submit their US tax forms, it banishes any remaining anxiety by showing them where their information is headed and what they can expect—all while reinforcing their brand’s friendliness and accessibility. (It also helps that the animation distracts users from a rather lengthy page load with something visually engaging!)

Fig 2.6: TurboTax both informs their users and masks long page loads by demonstrating what’s going on after the user submits their US tax forms. (Watch the accompanying video.)

Coin famously uses demonstrative animations to explain their consolidation card’s value proposition to curious visitors as they scroll through the site (Fig 2.7)—no need to press play and sit through a video ad or wade through paragraphs of expository content. This page is the very essence of “show, don’t tell.”

Fig 2.7: As visitors scroll through Coin’s site, the company’s value proposition plays out in front of them. (Watch the accompanying video.) Decorations

It’s not hard to mistake decorative animations for demonstrative animations. But there is a key difference: where demonstrations bring new information into the system, decorative animations do not. They are the fats and sugars of the animation food pyramid: they make great flavor enhancers, but moderation is key.

The best way to spot a purely decorative animation is to ask, “What can a user learn from this animation? Does this guide them or show them something they wouldn’t know otherwise?” If the answer is no, you might have a decorative animation on your hands.

Even though they get a bad rap, decorative animations can help turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Revisionist History’s site uses decorative animations judiciously to bring flat illustrations to life. The animations add just enough interest to allow for the visual content on the page to be more austere, letting users focus on the podcast (Fig 2.8).

Fig 2.8: Revisionist History’s site uses decorative animations to add visual interest to non-visual media. (Watch the accompanying video.)

Polygon.com epically used animated illustrations to create centerpieces for a series of console reviews. These decorative animations may not have added new information, but they crucially reinforced the Polygon brand. They also helped each console review stand out from the competition, which at the time sported indistinguishable photographs of the same devices.

Fig 2.9: Polygon uses decorative animations as a showstopping feature to stand out from the competition. (Watch the accompanying video.) Want to read more?

This excerpt from Animation at Work will help you get started. Order the full copy today, as well as other excellent titles from A Book Apart.

Categories: thinktime

Optimized or maximized?

Seth Godin - Tue 12th Sep 2017 18:09
I once drove home from college at 100 miles an hour. It saved two hours. My old car barely made it, and I was hardly able to speak once I peeled myself out of the car. That was maximum speed,...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Toward cooperation

Seth Godin - Mon 11th Sep 2017 18:09
It's tempting to be oppositional. To see the different as the other. To dominate, to win, to move up as others move down (because in the zero sum game that we've built around us, that's the only way). But a...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

OpenSTEM: Guess the Artefact #3

Planet Linux Australia - Mon 11th Sep 2017 09:09
This week’s Guess the Artefact challenge centres around an artefact used by generations of school children. There are some adults who may even have used these themselves when they were at school. It is interesting to see if modern students can recognise this object and work out how it was used. The picture below comes […]
Categories: thinktime

The musclebound baby

Seth Godin - Sun 10th Sep 2017 18:09
That's pretty unlikely. When we see someone with well developed abs, we don't say, "oh sure, he was born that way." Instead, we realize that a lot of effort went into it. The same thing ought to be true for...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Russell Coker: Observing Reliability

Planet Linux Australia - Sat 09th Sep 2017 21:09

Last year I wrote about how great my latest Thinkpad is [1] in response to a discussion about whether a Thinkpad is still the “Rolls Royce” of laptops.

It was a few months after writing that post that I realised that I omitted an important point. After I had that laptop for about a year the DVD drive broke and made annoying clicking sounds all the time in addition to not working. I removed the DVD drive and the result was that the laptop was lighter and used less power without missing any feature that I desired. As I had installed Debian on that laptop by copying the hard drive from my previous laptop I had never used the DVD drive for any purpose. After a while I got used to my laptop being like that and the gaping hole in the side of the laptop where the DVD drive used to be didn’t even register to me. I would prefer it if Lenovo sold Thinkpads in the T series without DVD drives, but it seems that only the laptops with tiny screens are designed to lack DVD drives.

For my use of laptops this doesn’t change the conclusion of my previous post. Now the T420 has been in service for almost 4 years which makes the cost of ownership about $75 per year. $1.50 per week as a tax deductible business expense is very cheap for such a nice laptop. About a year ago I installed a SSD in that laptop, it cost me about $250 from memory and made it significantly faster while also reducing heat problems. The depreciation on the SSD about doubles the cost of ownership of the laptop, but it’s still cheaper than a mobile phone and thus not in the category of things that are expected to last for a long time – while also giving longer service than phones usually do.

One thing that’s interesting to consider is the fact that I forgot about the broken DVD drive when writing about this. I guess every review has an unspoken caveat of “this works well for me but might suck badly for your use case”. But I wonder how many other things that are noteworthy I’m forgetting to put in reviews because they just don’t impact my use. I don’t think that I am unusual in this regard, so reading multiple reviews is the sensible thing to do.

Related posts:

  1. Is a Thinkpad Still Like a Rolls-Royce For a long time the Thinkpad has been widely regarded...
  2. PC prices drop again! A few weeks ago Dell advertised new laptops for $849AU,...
  3. Laptop Reliability Update: TumbleDry has a good analysis of the Square Trade...
Categories: thinktime

The power of community learning

Seth Godin - Sat 09th Sep 2017 19:09
It's easy to imagine that some things have to be the way they've always been. That music has to be delivered on a round platter. That an overnight stay needs to be in a hotel. And that learning is solely...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Francois Marier: TLS Authentication on Freenode and OFTC

Planet Linux Australia - Sat 09th Sep 2017 14:09

In order to easily authenticate with IRC networks such as OFTC and Freenode, it is possible to use client TLS certificates (also known as SSL certificates). In fact, it turns out that it's very easy to setup both on irssi and on znc.

Generate your TLS certificate

On a machine with good entropy, run the following command to create a keypair that will last for 10 years:

openssl req -nodes -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout user.pem -x509 -days 3650 -out user.pem -subj "/CN=<your nick>"

Then extract your key fingerprint using this command:

openssl x509 -sha1 -noout -fingerprint -in user.pem | sed -e 's/^.*=//;s/://g' Share your fingerprints with NickServ

On each IRC network, do this:

/msg NickServ IDENTIFY Password1! /msg NickServ CERT ADD <your fingerprint>

in order to add your fingerprint to the access control list.

Configure ZNC

To configure znc, start by putting the key in the right place:

cp user.pem ~/.znc/users/<your nick>/networks/oftc/moddata/cert/

and then enable the built-in cert plugin for each network in ~/.znc/configs/znc.conf:

<Network oftc> ... LoadModule = cert ... </Network> <Network freenode> ... LoadModule = cert ... </Network> Configure irssi

For irssi, do the same thing but put the cert in ~/.irssi/user.pem and then change the OFTC entry in ~/.irssi/config to look like this:

{ address = "irc.oftc.net"; chatnet = "OFTC"; port = "6697"; use_tls = "yes"; tls_cert = "~/.irssi/user.pem"; tls_verify = "yes"; autoconnect = "yes"; }

and the Freenode one to look like this:

{ address = "chat.freenode.net"; chatnet = "Freenode"; port = "7000"; use_tls = "yes"; tls_cert = "~/.irssi/user.pem"; tls_verify = "yes"; autoconnect = "yes"; }

That's it. That's all you need to replace password authentication with a much stronger alternative.

Categories: thinktime

First aid matters

Seth Godin - Sat 09th Sep 2017 11:09
Without a doubt, it's long-term, consistent and persistent effort that makes real change happen. Systemic change is a process, not an event. But as we watch Irma bear down on millions in Florida, it's worth remembering that first aid brings...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Common traps, worth avoiding

Seth Godin - Fri 08th Sep 2017 18:09
Don't be trapped into accepting shame from someone who is trying to keep you from doing something you have every right to do. Ignore the mob that would like you to feel badly for not fitting in. Categories are rarely...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

New A List Apart wants you!

a list apart - Fri 08th Sep 2017 00:09

As A List Apart approaches its 20th anniversary—a milestone in independent, web-based publishing—we’re once again reimagining the magazine. We want your feedback. And most of all, we want you.

We’re getting rid of advertisers and digging back to our roots: community-based, community-built, and determinedly non-commercial. If you want to highlight local events or innovations, expand your skills, give back, or explore any other goal or idea, we’re here to support you with networking and backing from the community.

In recent years, we’ve seen our rich universe of diverse, creative blogs and sites implode—leaving fewer and fewer channels available to new voices. As more content centralizes into a handful of all-powerful networks, there’s a dreary sameness in perspective and presentation.

This creeping monopolization is a sad echo of how media worked in the 20th century. It doesn’t reflect 21st century diversity and empowerment. It’s not the web’s promise. It’s not how it’s supposed to be.

We have no beef with networks like Twitter or Facebook, or with companies like Apple and Google that currently dominate our communal digital space. We just think diversity is about expanding and speaking up—not consolidating and homogenizing.

Define the next decade with us

A List Apart has always been more than a publisher; we’re an ecosystem of practitioners who are passionate about our craft. We’ll keep finding and sharing great articles—we’re just taking it to the next level.

Two ways to pitch in

If you want to put your favorite skills to use, expand your professional experience, or have a goal or idea for A List Apart, we’re here to listen. And if you’d like to support us in some other way, we’ve made that easy, too. Currently there are two ways to pitch in:

Teams

Use the email address at the bottom of this message to let us know if you want to create or join a team that “owns” some area you’re interested in, such as:

  • Design & development
  • Community service and local meetups/events
  • Education and entry level/advanced resources
  • Book/resource coverage and reviews
  • Editorial: Editing, acquisitions, and email
  • Social media, SEO, or marketing
  • Project management
  • Your suggestions!
Membership

If you don’t have time to volunteer but still want to support us, you’ll be able to offer other forms of help—for instance, making a small, monthly donation via Patreon to help cover our expenses. This will also grant you membership benefits. (Details at Patreon.)

Sharing is caring

More about all of this will soon be revealed. Meantime, if you have feedback or questions about what we’ve shared so far, kindly fire away in the comments. (Hey, how’s that for an idea? A comments section that’s positive and not divisive.)

As we imagine the next 20 years of web design, there’s a lot we don’t know—other than a strong hunch that accessible, semantic HTML will continue to be the bedrock of it all. But one thing we do know: the web, in its reach and its potential, is too important to be left to the mercies of a few powerful companies, however well-intended they may be.

If you’ve a mind to do so, please help us keep our little corner of the indie web alive and well. Help the open web stay open. Help us build the future. To get involved, email us at contact@alistapart.com—or share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

The independent content producer refuses to die!

 

Jeffrey Zeldman, Publisher
Aaron Gustafson, Editor-in-chief
& the gang

 

 

Categories: thinktime

Airbrushing

Seth Godin - Thu 07th Sep 2017 18:09
When they began airbrushing the models in fashion magazines fifty years ago, no one complained much. Everyone knew, we thought, that it was some sort of make believe. But then they started airbrushing our food. And then vacations. And family...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

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