Keeping it Grounded: Why We Avoid the Cloud (Sometimes)

The Cloud

Don’t get me wrong, the “Cloud” is great. Being able to utilize existing apps and not having to worry about updates or security is a huge time saver. But when it gets down to it, “In the cloud” is a buzz term. When translated to laymen speech it means “Storing your data and running your applications on an offsite server, somewhere”. It’s that “somewhere” that is a legal gray area for us, and for certain clients. For example; let’s say we’re working on a project for Microsoft, but are storing documents and files on Google servers. The two companies can (and do) collaborate, but what if they don’t on this project? And we’re storing sensitive Microsoft information with Google? It could cause legal issues if a dispute ever came up. This is the primary reason why we choose to self-host the vast majority of our infrastructure. The services we self-host include a Git server, bug tracker, wiki, file syncing server, and a custom built timetracker. Having a local server host all these services allows us to be extremely agile in development and with our workflows.

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Thoughts on Responsive “Art Direction”

In the creative community, there are discrepancies in how people use design-related lexicon. Terms like “Creative Direction”, “Asset Production”, and “Design” are often used interchangeably and inaccurately. It can be confusing.

“Art direction” in particular, means different things to different people, and there’s a recent trend in using this term to describe specific processes surrounding the production of scalable assets in responsive systems.

For example, according to the Google Developer’s documentation on responsive images:

“[c]hanging images based on device characteristics, also known as art direction can be accomplished using the picture element. The picture element defines a declarative solution for providing multiple versions of an image based on different characteristics, like device size, device resolution, orientation, and more”. – Google Developer Documentation.
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Better Typography for Any Web Project

Using the SCSS Baseline Type Utility

Typographers and type enthusiasts will attest that aligning a typeface to its baseline grid is an essential part of any text-heavy design. Maintaining a consistent vertical rhythm is an important part in the creation of beautiful typography and layouts. This is accomplished easily in programs such as Adobe InDesign. However until now, I have yet to find a tool that easily accomplishes this with web type, while remaining flexible to the individual needs of a project.

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Breaking Into the Web Industry

Taking Your First Steps

Finishing school and stepping into the industry is both daunting and exciting. Having gone through the process of graduation and job searching myself just a year ago, I want to shed some light on what to expect and offer some tips along the way.

After working at gskinner for one year, I was fortunate to attend the grad show where I had first met Grant when I was a student. Along with the CTO and Creative Director, we observed the new grads and discussed possible hires. It was an eye opening experience, learning how management assesses talent. It allowed me to empathize with the hopes and fears of the new grads as they try to find a way into the industry. Luckily, the web platform is broad and provides a large pool of jobs to fill.
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How I Picked Quality Headphones Using Teamsourcing

My headphones died, and the cheap replacement pair I picked up sounded terrible. At the time, a $20 pair of Sony on-ears seemed like a reasonable idea. But when I plugged them in I heard as much static and clipping as music. They were quickly returned, and I was left with the realization I was unfamiliar with headphone brands and didn’t know what would make a good pair for office use. I decided to use an approach we often used for solving problems, teamsourcing! Teamsourcing borrows directly from the concept of Crowdsourcing, using the experience and knowledge of your team to recommend solutions. I asked the team in our group chat what they would recommend for a decent set of headphones around $100, and embarked on a teamsourcing adventure. Continue reading →

Technitone.com is back!

Create Music with Technitone (again!)

In 2011, we worked with Google on a Chrome experiment to demo the then-new Web Audio API. Although we were only tasked with coming up with something that could show the new audio features, our (often-excitable) team came up with a project that pushed our capabilities in a ton of technologies, including WebGL, Canvas, web sockets for multi-player, and CSS animations. For a great technical dive into the original Technitone.com we launched with, check out the html5rocks.com article!

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Scripting Google Spreadsheets

Turn your Google Spreadsheets into JSON without doing anything!

A while ago, I did a Flash project that was fairly heavily text-oriented. To help keep track of all the text, all the strings were given labels and placed in a JSON, spanning about 1500 lines and calling almost 4000 different references all throughout the code.

Later on down the road, the client contacted us and told me that they wanted the language of the strings in English and in French. Alright, no problem, just have to manually update these 4000 references and run checks to see what language is being used … no, ain’t happening like that.

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QA for the Modern Web

Most of the products we deliver at gskinner are web-based applications. This means that one of our major goals is to have a QA process which ensures that they look and behave as expected across target devices and browsers, while having a fallback plan for those not supported. It’s a challenge in the modern web, especially when new technologies in the browser landscape are constantly emerging, while others are being refined or completely removed. This is the reason why we have a QA process that continues to evolve and expand. Here are a few ways that we currently approach it.
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