Monthly Archives: August 2013

50 free Photoshop actions to create stunning effects

Photoshop has a powerful programming language built-in that allows you to record tasks as an ‘action’ and replay the steps to complete the task automatically. Not only can you record your own, but you can also import actions, opening up a whole range of effects and time-saving options. Here we’ve rounded up some of the best Photoshop actions that are free to download and install.

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The 130 best free fonts

The best free fonts, from vintage-inspired typefaces to slap-you-in-the-face slab serifs. Read on for a slice of typography heaven…

We’ve scoured the web to present you with a fine and varied selection of free fonts. Including scripts, serifs, and a range of ligatures, these fonts will give you greater flexibility in your designs, and add to your arsenal of design tools.
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Redmond abandons Microsoft Tag. Where does QR Code go from here?

Yesterday Microsoft made the not-so-surprising announcement that it would no longer be supporting its Microsoft Tag system. Rest easy, all you Microsoft Tag fanatics out there– the technology will continue to live on in the hands of a company called Scanbuy. But Microsoft’s involvement with it will formally end in two years, on Aug. 19, 2015.

The name may not ring any bells, but chances are you’ve seen the garishly colored boxes dotted here and there on the Web or in magazines. Microsoft Tags are/were the software giant’s response to the QR Code, usually (though not always) built out of impossible-to-miss primary colors (cyan, yellow, and magenta) and specifically designed so that the companies that created them could easily track the types of users who were scanning them. It sounded like a good idea, but the technology never took off, undoubtedly due to competition from QR Code and rank user disinterest.

According to Microsoft’s announcement of the shutdown, Scanbuy is “the largest provider of QR Codes,” so the technology is passing into what seem to be good hands. Some have raised eyebrows over Scanbuy’s ownership–it is backed by Microsoft rival Google–but this is such an insignificant part of Microsoft’s business that it’s difficult to get too worked up over the conspiracy theories.

In an interview with CITEworld, writer Nancy Gohring asked Scanbuy CEO Mike West why anyone would want a technology that even Microsoft–notorious for making bad bets like this–didn’t even want any more. West responded that Tag still has plenty of users, and that its proprietary nature was appealing to some big brands: “We don’t have to worry about some random person creating a Microsoft Tag code generator and releasing rogue codes with malicious intent. All the things that QR Codes have as a negative don’t exist with Microsoft Tag.”

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WebKit supports srcset attribute on img elements

WebKit now supports the srcset attribute, making it easier to deliver high resolution images to high resolution displays without inconveniencing anyone else.

The srcset attribute is similar to the -webkit-image-set CSS function, in that it uses 1x, 2x, 3x modifiers to tell the browser which image to choose. For example, the 2x modifier marks the image that should be used if the display has more than two device pixels per CSS pixel. A blog post from WebKit.org explains that the srcset attribute can be thought of as “the markup equivalent to the CSS feature”.

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Facebook Leads an Effort to Lower Barriers to Internet Access

MENLO PARK, Calif. — About one of every seven people in the world uses Facebook. Now, Mark Zuckerberg, its co-founder and chief executive, wants to make a play for the rest — including the four billion or so who lack Internet access.

On Wednesday, Facebook plans to announce an effort aimed at drastically cutting the cost of delivering basic Internet services on mobile phones, particularly in developing countries, where Facebook and other tech companies need to find new users. Half a dozen of the world’s tech giants, including Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericsson, have agreed to work with the company as partners on the initiative, which they call Internet.org. Read the rest of this entry

Flat design threatens tablet usability

Flat design and improperly rescaled interfaces are the main threats to usability, according to web usability consultant Jakob Nielsen’s latest tablet usability study.

Nielsen said flat design is the main threat to usability as it makes it difficult for users to “see what they can do”, calling for a “golden middle ground between skeuomorphism and a dearth of distinguishing signifiers for UI elements”.

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Turn HTML and CSS into a hosted CMS in seconds

It really is that simple: Cloud Cannon uses the Dropbox API to make your site live and editable straight away. All you need to do is add to every div that should be so, and put your files into Dropbox. Your clients can then add their content and make their edits directly in the browser.

It works with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and there’s no need to anything special beyond adding this class. It works fine with things like Wufoo, Dreamweaver, MailChimp and so on. Read the rest of this entry

Investigation finds fake Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter followers

Investigation finds fake Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter followers could be misleading consumers

How much do you like courgettes? According to one Facebook page devoted to them, hundreds of people find them delightful enough to click the “like” button — even with dozens of other pages about courgettes to choose from.

There’s just one problem: the liking was fake, done by a team of low-paid workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, whose boss demanded just $15 per thousand “likes” at his “click farm”. Workers punching the keys might be on a three-shift system, and be paid as little as $120 a year.

The ease with which a humble vegetable could win approval calls into question the basis on which many modern companies measure success online — through Facebook likes, YouTube video views and Twitter followers. Read the rest of this entry

YouTube’s Founders Challenge Vine and Instagram With New Video App

After months of teasing, the wait is over: Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who brought us the video-sharing site YouTube, are taking the wraps off their newest project, a video creation app called MixBit.

Versions for Apple mobile devices and the Web will be going live on Thursday, and an Android version is due in several weeks.

On the surface, MixBit resembles two other leading video apps, Twitter’s Vine and Facebook’s Instagram. As with those apps, users press and hold the screen of their smartphone to record video. Instagram users can capture up to 15 seconds of video, a bit longer than Vine’s six-second maximum. MixBit allows 16 seconds. Read the rest of this entry

Two Providers of Secure E-Mail Shut Down

Two major secure e-mail service providers on Thursday took the extraordinary step of shutting down service.

A Texas-based company called Lavabit, which was reportedly used by Edward J. Snowden, announced its suspension Thursday afternoon, citing concerns about secret government court orders.

By evening, Silent Circle, a Maryland-based firm that counts heads of state among its customers, said it was following Lavabit’s lead and shutting its e-mail service as a protective measure.

Taken together, the closures signal that e-mails, even if they are encrypted, can be accessed by government authorities and that the only way to prevent turning over the data is to obliterate the servers that the data sits on. Read the rest of this entry

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