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Cryptocurrency itsnicethat.com

Jon Marshall wants to get kids into cryptocurrency

Another beautifully designed tech product with Pentagram steering the visual design (see my post from last week) – this time aimed at introducing kids to the world of Cryptocurrency. For some reason this feels Black Mirror-esque, but what doesn’t these days? A collaboration with fintech start-up company Pigzbe, the new work wants to help “children and their families learn the principles of 21st century finance through cryptocurrency savings and hands-on play.” Sure beats settling down to all 704 pages of Thomas Piketty’s economic tome Capital. The project is currently on Kickstarter. If you have kids, maybe consider backing it? (Just don’t put all of their college savings into it and expect that to pan out.)

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Data visualization learnui.design

A color palette generator for the design 'impaired'

This “Data Color Picker” looks like a spectacular tool for any developer out there (like myself) who appreciates the value of a good color palette, but lacks the ability to put one together. You’re not alone! (This tool is for generating equidistant palettes for data visualizations, but it can most certainly be used generically.) Creating visually equidistant palettes is basically impossible to do by hand, yet hugely important for data visualizations. Why? When colors are not visually equidistant, it’s harder to (a) tell them apart in the chart, and (b) compare the chart to the key. I’m sure we’ve all looked at charts where you can hardly use the key since the data colors are so similar. You pick the “endpoint” colors and it generates all of the colors in-between. Very cool.

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Arun Venkatesan arun.is

Why are tech companies making custom typefaces?

The most obvious reason is cost. Developing a custom typeface can eliminate the recurring licensing fees that must be paid to foundries. IBM and Netflix claim to save millions of dollars per year by switching from Helvetica to IBM Plex and Gotham to Netflix Sans, respectively. I hadn’t considered the on going costs of licensing as a factor, but it totally make sense. Although, that’s not where Arun ends this. He goes into the much finer details of the typefaces, the medium, how screen types have changed, and more. Companies like Apple and Samsung, with their wide portfolio of digital and physical products and services, have united their brands and products under a singular typeface. Apple went further and didn’t just work within the numerous constraints posed by both the digital and physical world. In creating San Francisco, it reinvented how type is rendered altogether. I dig the question Arun ends with, “Should custom typefaces exist?”

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Machine Learning fastcompany.com

Pentagram designed the prettiest computer chip you’ve ever seen

These IPUs (Intelligence Processing Units — a term new to me) with visual design by Pentagram for Graphcore are really pretty. Also, I think the tech may be cool but it’s a bit over my head so maybe you can tell me? Here is their brief spiel: Our IPU systems are designed to lower the cost of accelerating AI applications in cloud and enterprise datacenters to increase the performance of both training and inference by up to 100x compared to the fastest systems today.

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Andy Clarke stuffandnonsense.co.uk

Redesigning your product and website for dark mode

Andy Clarke on the Stuff & Nonsense blog: Implementing dark mode is easy, but designing for it is less so. Here are some things you should consider when designing a dark mode version of your product or website to ensure you maintain accessibility and readability, and a consistent feel for your brand between Light and Dark. It’s all the rage to “dark mode all the things” right now, but Andy’s practical advice on the topic is great. Finding the right palette and the consequential typography decisions needed, are good to keep in mind.

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Benek Lisefski UX Collective

Are designers who can code "more valuable"?

That depends — in particular, on what type of designer you’re talking about. I’m glad to see Benek re-broach this topic, because a fresh perspective on the subject can remind designers to consider rounding out their tangential skills. Especially skills that could extend their current primary skillset. The dividends, can, quite literally pay for themselves. The value in being a modern designer who knows code isn’t that you can replace the job of a front-end dev…but that you know the ins and outs of it. It’s about understanding what developers are talking about so you can participate in discussions that cross between design and front-end. If you’re a designer “hired to do an array of jobs on a project” then you can expect a bump in the value you present individually to the business/team you serve.

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CSS webflow.com

CSS Grid sorcery! (build CSS Grid layouts visually with Webflow)

This must be of the dark arts. Never before has this level of visual UI and control been given to the masses, carte blanche — wow, truly impressed. From Vlad Magdalin (Webflow co-founder and CEO) on Twitter: CSS Grid in @webflow is one of those features that makes me fall in love with our mission all over again. The power and flexibility this places in designers' hands is mind-blowing, and it the amount of creativity this can unleash is super inspiring! 😍https://t.co/mPlezTPgZv pic.twitter.com/INe3N0LEqI— Vlad Magdalin (@callmevlad) October 10, 2018 The video attached to this tweet has been viewed 23,000 times (so far)!

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Dennis Reimann dennisreimann.de

UIengine 1.0 – a workbench for UI-driven development

Dennis Reimann: The UIengine is a tool to build pattern libraries and documentation for design systems. It helps designer and developers to work closely together and offers features to boost their productivity. Alternatives already exist in the ecosystem (Fractal, Storybook, etc). Why reinvent the wheel? Most of the existing tools focussed on the component development, but lacked ways to also provide good documentation. Some were limited to using a specific templating language or framework, which was suboptimal for me: As a freelancer I am working on many projects and each one has its own set of constraints and requirements. I wanted to build a tool with an open source license, which I could use and extend with every project I work on.

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Josh Comeau joshwcomeau.com

Dynamic Bézier curves

If you’ve been looking for a fun, interactive, deep-dive into Bézier curves, this blog post from Josh Comeau is for you. Also, this is Josh’s first post to his new blog, which is also open source on GitHub — so the following is a nice intro for what to expect. The whole reason I started this blog was that I wanted a way to build dynamic, interactive articles that are more effective at sharing and teaching concepts. Unlike with plain text on Medium, this blog is a fully-powered React app, and so I can create and embed interactive elements that help the reader build an intuitive understanding of the subject being presented. These dynamic “flattenable” Bézier curves are a perfect subject for this format, as they have underlying complexity that would be difficult to explain with words alone. And here’s what to expect from this post on Bézier curves. In this maiden blog post, we’ll go through the basics of working with Bézier curves and SVG in React.js. We’ll learn how to build dynamic curves that respond to user input.

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Joel Califa joelcalifa.com

Tiny wins

Joel Califa writes on his personal blog about small interface changes to GitHub that have saves millions of developers immeasurable amounts of wasted time and anxiety. One small change can add up to a big win. High frequency actions (such as creating new PRs on GitHub) take place millions of times a day. A given user might go through the same flow several times per week, per day, or even per hour. These flows become a part of their lives. If there is even a slight inefficiency or frustration, it compounds with every use. One confusing moment that takes an extra 5 seconds—repeated multiple times a day in perpetuity—adds up to a lot of anxiety and wasted time. My takeaway? Don’t underestimate the impact of seemingly small interface changes!

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Jon Rohan GitHub

Using Figma to build Octicons

Jon Rohan writes on the GitHub Blog: To support your project’s contributors it’s important to make the contributing experience as frictionless as possible. Migrating our Octicons to Figma let us cut out painful steps in our previous workflow. Having their API available for automating the work has allowed contributors to contribute using powerful platform-agnostic design tools without any overly complex setup. This seems to be one of the first major steps I’ve seen to use a platform-agnostic design tool like Figma, which lets you design, prototype, and gather feedback all in a browser based design tool. Couple that with a robust API and some robots to automate things as well as open up your design flow to contributors.

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iOS fastcodesign.com

3D face tracking UI experiment with iPhone X

Peder Norrby created TheParallaxView, a UI experiment for his iPhone X, that gives it a trompe-l’oeil effect. Trompe-l’oeil is an age-old trick used by painters to create the illusion of 3D depth on a 2D plane. On the iPhone X, it’s downright mesmerizing. The touchscreen itself seems to melt away as the phone transforms into a portal to an infinite abyss. Angle the phone, or your own head, and you can even peek inside, as if you’re looking through a peephole into another room, or inspecting a can of Pringles for the last few crumbs. The source is on GitHub — plus check out this blog post and this Twitter thread for more of the backstory.

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