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Smashing Newsletter: Issue #54

This newsletter issue was sent out to 100,833 newsletter subscribers on Tuesday, March 6th 2012. If you are not subscribed yet, feel free to subscribe to our email newsletter1.


Dear Readers,

It’s been two years already since we first started sending out the Smashing Newsletter. We’ve received a lot of various feedback since then, which motivates us to constantly keep improving on the quality of our newsletter issues. An anniversary post is planned for tomorrow on Smashing Magazine with some fantastic hand-picked books to give away — so be sure to pass by, find out how to win and try your luck!

The Smashing editorial team has been very busy in putting the final touches to the Smashing Books #3 and #3?2 coming up next month. If you still haven’t pre-ordered, there’s still time left for you to add your name among the other smashing readers on a special double page feature within the book.

2 Year Anniversary3

In today’s newsletter issue, we’ll be covering a discovery engine for curiosity, responsive navigation techniques, a free quality font, a color tool, how to use your phone to stop paper junk mail in your mailbox, and many more interesting topics.

We’re also giving away 1 ticket for the 2-day Interlink Conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada. The giveaway includes 1 conference pass, 1 morning workshop and 1 afternoon workshop to one lucky individual. To win the ticket, please tweet @smashingmag I'm ready to play some good ol' Vancouver dodgeball! #interlinkconf and we’ll be happy to announce the winner on the 13th of March.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter!

Yours sincerely,
The Smashing Team

Table of Contents

  1. Explore: Discovery Engine For Curiosity4
  2. Pull Down For Responsive Navigation5
  3. Is Your Front-End Applicant A Keeper?6
  4. Free Font: Poly, A Quality Serif Font7
  5. Color Encyclopedia8
  6. PaperKarma: The Junk Mail Nemesis?9
  7. Hackershelf: Free Books For Nerds10
  8. A Quote A Day11
  9. Designer As Craftsman: Made By Hand12

1. Explore: Discovery Engine For Curiosity

As creative people we love to discover new things, random curiosities or inspirational artworks to challenge our creative thinking and imagination. What’s a better way to learn about them than a well-curated blog in which every single post is dedicated to a random interesting thing that you probably wouldn’t stumble upon otherwise?

Explore: Discovery Engine For Curiosity13

If you’re interested in exploring culture, art, history and design, Explore14 is just the project for you. Dedicated specifically for students, this tumblog is a cross-disciplinary lens on what stimulates, what enriches, and what matters — an intellectual and creative incubator for cultivating your interests, and a discovery engine for things you didn’t know you were interested in, until you are. It features short snippets of knowledge, be it news, quotes, video presentations, artwork or history. Explore is edited by Maria Popova who is also the editor of Brain Pickings15, another human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, creativity and curiosity. (vf)

2. Pull Down For Responsive Navigation

Responsive design is difficult and time-consuming. Adjusting elements to fit the available screen size is not enough, the much more difficult part is to actually consider new patterns and solutions to present information and interaction meaningfully in every possible context. For example, when it comes to navigation, is turning inline-links into block-level elements for mobile the only solution? Maybe not.

Pull Down For Responsive Navigation16

Tom Kenny suggests to use Pull Down For Navigation17 as an option. “Pull down to refresh” was a concept first introduced to the mobile world by Loren Brichter in his Twitter app, and Tom applies the same paradigm to a different situation. His technique basically replaces a UI element with a natural gesture — when a user visits a website on a mobile device, a navigation bar is displayed. And when a user pulls down the bar, it displays all available navigation options which are not displayed by default.

Tom uses jQuery to get the height of the mobile navigation and then move the website up by that number of pixels. The script doesn’t quite work on Android yet, but it is released on Github18, so you can improve it and build upon it. And if you’re interested in more responsive navigation solutions, make sure to read Brad Frost’s article on Responsive Navigation Patterns19. (vf)

3. Is Your Front-End Applicant A Keeper?

Job interviews are a must to evaluate if an applicant is capable of what his CV claims. But if you really want to test his/her knowledge, you have got to ask some questions that go a bit further to get under the applicant’s skin. Darcy Clarke and a group of expert front-end developers compiled a useful list of interview questions for front-end-focused job interviews.

Is Your Front-End Applicant a Keeper?

Pick a couple of questions and the applicant will soon reveal his capacity. The questions cover topics ranging from community involvement and coding to personal sources of creativity and blogs. Your next job applicant will have to be well prepared. The questions are also available on GitHub20, so you can easily add more questions to it if you want. (sp)

4. Free Font: Poly, A Quality Serif Font

Everybody loves a nice-looking quality free font. Designing type is a very time-consuming effort, so when quality free fonts are released for free, usually it’s either designer’s generosity or a student type design project. José Nicolás Silva Schwarzenberg from University of Buenos Aires, has designed Poly, a free font designed specifically for a South American indigenous language Wayuunaiki. Fortunately, the tyepface can be used noy only by 305,000 Wayuu people but everybody across the world.

Free Font: Poly, A Quality Serif Font21

Poly Free Web Font22 is a medium contrast serif font, optimized for the Web, and efficient in smaller sizes. Originally designed for agglutinative languages with long words, they are now complete with additional diacritic characters. The typeface is carefully balanced between the x-height and the character width, with attention to diacritics, bringing high legibility to even the smallest of sizes. Poly is available in the Google Web Fonts23 library as well. (af)

5. Color Encyclopedia

As designers, we work with colors, their nuances and combinations every single day. However, sometimes we need more information than specific values, be it CIE-Lab, Hunter-Lab, CIE-Luv, CIE-LCH, XYZ and xyY values, color shades or appropriate color schemes. If you’re working with colors regularly, you might be interested in ColorHexa24, a free color encyclopedia.

Color Encyclopedia 25

You can use it to convert the color code to other systems, blend two or more colors, create a gradient between two colors, and match schemes with complementary colors. Even if you don’t need to create a pallete, it’s fun to study each color and their possibilities. (tt)

6. PaperKarma: The Junk Mail Nemesis?

Have you ever come home after your vacation, unable to open your door because the junk mail piled up waist-deep behind the door? That’s an exaggeration you’ll probably only experience in slapstick comedy. Still, the annoyance caused by all the excess paper in your mailbox is real, not to mention the horrendous waste of wood. If this bothers you, you could give the PaperKarma26 a try.

PaperKarma: The Junk Mail Nemesis?27

The tool allows you to unsubscribe from the junk mail in your snail-mailbox. All it needs is a clear photo of the senders information — which can be just the company name and the mailing address — and your own postal information. The app takes care of the rest by contacting the junk provider and asking him to stop filling your mailbox. Here’s the snag: so far PaperKarma has a big database of only US companies — which means, Smashing Magazine will still keep receiving junk mail for quite a while. The tool is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phones. (jc)

7. Hackershelf: Free Books For Nerds

Have you recently been on Amazon looking for a book, say Menezes, Oorschot and Vanstones Handbook of Applied Cryptography, and wondered how many meals you would have to skip, until you could afford it? Okal Otieno came out with a new, legal book-sharing site, Hackershelf3028 where you might find it.

Hackershelf: Free Books for Nerds29

Hackershelf3028 caters to tech-oriented readers and nerds. At the moment you will mostly find theoretically oriented books — many of which deal with programming and computer linguistics. A book can only be submitted to Hackershelf if the author has granted explicit permission to distribute or share links to their work, accessible at no cost to the reader. On Hackershelf, you will find many books released in the Public Domain, and you won’t be defrauding the authors of the books. (jc)

8. A Quote A Day

What once began as a simple idea of posting a new image with a related quote every day became a huge project named 365 Days of Tumblr31. Aaron Christopher Judd gathered beautiful photos and artworks and assigned each picture with a quote that fits perfectly to the picture’s mood — for every day in a year.

A Quote A Day32

In this showcase, all images are tagged and have notes from the author himself as well as by the readers of his tumblog. Now, that’s a dedication worth pursuing! (tt)

9. Designer As Craftsman: Made By Hand

Because of the nature of the Web, we tend to think of our creations as volatile creatures with a short lifespan. They’re usually neither permanent nor enduring; they’re changing and adjusting, so we don’t put a lot of thought into the timeless aspect of our work. When was the last time you thought about your project as a lasting artifact, as something that you leave behind for other people to use many years, or even a decade, later? As a designer, do you see yourself as a marketer, artist or a craftsman?

Designer As Craftsman: Made By Hand33

Made by Hand34 is a short film series celebrating the people who make things by hand — sustainably, locally, and with a love for their craft. The project was created out of the belief that the things we collect, consume, use, and share are part of who we are as individuals. It tells the stories of craftsmen who put a lot of time and effort into producing quality work, and features the objects and products that they create. Be it a knife maker, a distiller, a cigar roller or a beekeeper — every story has something to learn from and to apply to our craft. We should be proud of the work we do and how we do it, and this project teaches us to do just that by exploring how professionals from other industries are doing that. (vf)

The authors who have contributed in this newsletter issue are: Iris Ljesnjanin (il), Vitaly Friedman (vf), Stephan Poppe (sp), Talita Telma (tt), Ana Flasker (af), Jan Constantin (jc).


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The Smashing Editorial prepares bi-weekly newsletter issues with lots of love and appreciation for the good ol' web with the latest tips and tricks for designers and web developers. Vitaly Friedman, Smashing Magazine's editor-in-chief, started this project back in early 2010. Today, we can't imagine a better way of informing and communicating with our fans and readers!

  1. 1

    Has Hackershelf gone down? Can’t seem to access the site.

    • 2

      just tried the link, worked for me

      re-edit, there are two links, the first one (above pic) does NOT work, the second one (below pic) does work.


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