99 Designs – Crowdsourced Visual Design

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I’m a huge fan of crowdsourcing and have been following and using mechanical turk for years.  Using technology to reach out to workers or experts who can then in turn work when they want.  It is a simple concept but also very powerful and is the way of the future.   It is efficient economically because it is helping suppliers (workers) meet demanders (businesses).  The key to modern crowdsourcing is to define the unit of work property so that it can be executed independently and in parallel.  My fascination with crowdsourcing, design, technology and entrepreneurship made me a fan of 99 designs right from the start.

With 99 Designs has a 200K+ vertical crowd (community) of designers that can work on your tasks.  For example if you need a logo you can create a job then designers can submit their proposals.  One of the cool things is that anyone can “work” on your task often just for the hope of getting select for the next round.  This means that you can get 100+ designers to submit initial proposals then you can start narrowing the field down and do another iteration against the crowd further refining the logo.  At first this does not seem that impressive but it really is quite amazing.

I can’t wait for an opportunity to try it out.

zsh is the shznits

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My brother operates a computer better than anyone else I know.  So when he gives me tips and tricks, I listen.   Not only can he type incredibly fast but he has also gone out of his way to learn tools and shortcuts that lead to superior productivity.  The thought process is that spending one hour now can save tens or hundreds of hours later.  Its somewhat like the “teach a man to fish” attage but for computers.  Once, after watching a two hour tutorial on vim he was showing me completely unintuitive but crazy useful features like programming keystroke macros.

The other day my brother and I met coffee to discuss some projects.  Peering over my screen he said that I really needed to get z-shell (zsh).  I said I hadn’t heard of it and asked why I should get it.   The answer, not surprising, was a demo of it in action.  Nothing revolutionary, but a lot of little subtile things that make using it and developing on mac waaaay better.

Install Instructions, easy just CURL command

https://github.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh

Really easy install.  Just curl command then a few adjustments to your mac terminal preferences to make sure its the default shell.

Solarized theme, again easy

http://ethanschoonover.com/solarized

The theme creator Ethan Schoonover is ridiculous with his rigor.  Just check out his site and you’ll know when i’m talking about.

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Super clean shell, no long paths.  I feel great after typing clear!

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Case insensitive Tab Autocomplete

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Git integration that changes everything!  Repo, branch and status on command line.

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Git Autocomplete.  

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Great color coding and theme support

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Some nice commands that don’t come standard on mac terminal like ‘ll’ for listing files with details.

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The more I use zsh the better I like it, I don’t really understand why everyone doesn’t use this.  I can’t wait to find out more features.

Change default save location of screenshot on Mac OSX

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IMAGE SOURCE: http://www.globaldelight.com/blog/

Mac OSX lets you easily capture screen shots of your entire screen or just a specific window using:

Command + Shift + 4

I use this functionally often and got tired of captures being saved to my desktop (the default). To change you simply run terminal and change the system default:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Pictures/Screenshots/

Make sure the directory exists first or it will not work.  To have the changes take effect, you then must type:

killall SystemUIServer

Another useful trick is to be able to screen cap directly to clipboard and never store the screen shot on your drive. This makes it really easy to paste into documents or e-mails. To do this

Command + Control + Shift + 4 (not f4).

Its a bit hard to execute the keystroke with one hand so you can use two hands then use the mouse to select the area you want to capture.

Font Awesome is Awesome

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Font Awesome is an open source free font + css that is the Webdings of 2013.  The font contains countless vector based icons that can be used in a variety of applications.  Kudos to Dave Gandy (@byscuits) for coming up with such as clever packaging and sharing it with the rest of us.  There are several reasons why this is truly Awesome:

  1. You don’t need to create and include tons of images with your site
  2. Small sizes mean fast download
  3. You can leverage the full power of CSS
  4. Ridiculously easy to integrate
  5. Cross browser support for free
  6. Standard package will be on CDN for better performance

I look forward to incorporating this simple but Awesome “Font” into my next project.