The ultimate social media spec sheet

Advise

If part of your design job is providing your company/client with images for social media use, you know how tedious it can be to keep up with what image sizes to use for what purpose on which site.

Thankfully, we have Advise.

Advise provides social media ad and image specs for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other popular social sites.

Weather in the Mac’s menubar: Welcome back, old friend

Years ago I used to have an app that showed the weather in my designated cities in the menubar. It wasn’t overloaded with features, it was free, and it worked great. Then it stopped working, and users gave up waiting for updates.

Years went by without a peep from the developer, until…

Meteorologist
Meteorologist has finally been updated to work with Yosemite and El Capitan. Completely re-written in Swift, the new version looks the same, but works much better.

I like that I can get a snapshot of the weather where I live, where I work, and a number of other cities with a click of an icon in the menubar—without all the data-sucking maps and doc-dads of other weather apps. If you’re looking for a weather app, I encourage you to give it a try.

Should you outline your fonts before output?

InDesign Outline Fonts
InDesign offers the ability to outline your fonts before output, much the same way as Illustrator. Outlining the fonts (sometimes known as converting to paths) prevents the potential for missing font errors and a host of other issues. But it’s not without a catch. There was a time when service bureaus and printers wouldn’t accept your files unless the fonts were outlined, but for the most part, that time has long since passed.

InDesignSecrets has the definitive guide to outlining fonts that offers a new way to outline your fonts in Acrobat DC, preventing that gotcha when you do it in InDesign.

How to force your Mac to shut its pie-hole at startup time

Sound icon

When your Mac powers on, the process starts with a (usually) loud and obnoxious boot chime like the one below.

I love the sound the first time I boot-up a new Mac, but after that it can be quite annoying. If you have your own reasons for not wanting to hear the startup chime, you can temporarily or permanently disable it.

To temporarily disable the startup chime, simply hold down the Mute key (F-10) on any supported keyboard as soon as you hit the power button or select the restart menu item from a running system.

For a more permanent solution, enter the following text exactly as shown in the Terminal app:
sudo nvram SystemAudioVolume=%80
Enter your password, and Shut Down (it must be a Shut Down, not a Restart) your Mac to see if it works.

It should work for most Macs, but if it doesn’t then try substituting the “80” part with a pair of characters from 0-9 or A-F, depending on your system. You can check to see what method your system uses by typing the following in the Terminal:
nvram SystemAudioVolume

For those who don’t like fussing with the Terminal, you can download Onyx for free and go into the Login tab and click the Turn Off button for the Startup Sound. This method is probably going to be the easiest for most people.

New Google logo & icons in vector format

Google logo & icons

EpicPxls has provided the new Google logo, and icons for Google, Google+, Maps, News, Business and Translate in vector format. They look great. At first glance, anyway.

The bad news is that EpicPxls chose the most convoluted and sloppy way to provide the icons to you. The file you will download is a single tiny PSD file. Each icon is saved in a Layer Group in the layers panel that contains various Shape layers for each color in the icon. So technically they are vector art. They’re just not the easiest to work with.

If you choose to select the appropriate shapes and paste them into Adobe Illustrator to save them as individual proper logo files (as I have), you’ll also notice that you may need to do some cleanup work on the paths.

Still, this is much easier than trying to find the official vector files on Google’s own Developer site.

So, what exactly is branding?

Mention a luxury brand like Rolex and the associations that spring to mind are likely to include wealth, prestige, status, craftsmanship, heritage, exploration. Whatever your take on someone who sports a $30,000 Daytona, it’s probably going to be different from what you think when I mention Swatch. Fun, colourful, cheeky, playful, inexpensive… and no less a reflection of its wearer than a Rolex.

The fact that a cheap, mass-produced Quartz timepiece keeps time more accurately than a hand-crafted masterpiece costing the price of a small car is irrelevant.

Brands ceased to be expressions of product truth a long time ago; in branding, perception trumps reality.

What your customer thinks of you when they hear your name. THAT is your brand, not your logo, your font, your colors or your website.

The Apple Mac App Store sucks: Reason #237

Mac App Store fail

It seems like every time I have to update an Apple application on my Mac (not an OS update) using the Mac App Store, I experience obnoxiously slow download speeds, and a plethora of update issues. The screenshot above shows off what happens almost every time I update iMove (it happens with Pages & Numbers as well, though not Keynote).

The fact that I’ve already endured a painfully slow download of a 2GB+ update to iMovie 10.1.1, and am able to launch the app and use it doesn’t seem to bother the App Store app. It continues to tell me that I have an iMovie update. It continues to try to download the 2GB+ iMovie update. It continues to suck donkey balls.

I’ve tried all manner of fixes, but the Mac App Store app just insists on sucking donkey balls.

What doesn’t fix it:
• Restart Mac App Store app
• Log out/in from App Store Account
• Log out/in from iCloud
• Log out/in from Mac
• Restart Mac
• Deleting all .plist files with the word ‘store’ in them

What does fix it:
• Re-downloading the giant and slow-downloading ‘update’ of iMovie

So to summarize… the Mac App Store sucks donkey balls. Phil Schiller (recently placed in charge of the Mac App Store at Apple) has his work cut out for him.

Is “above the fold” web design dead?

web-above-fold-is-dead
For years, web designers and their clients have had the idea that the most important content must live above the fold (the area viewable in your browser window without scrolling). Back in the days of 14-17 inch monitors, slow modem speeds, and static web pages that was absolutely true. But does the idea that the important info must be above the fold still hold true when we now have 24-30 inch LCD screens with extremely high resolutions?

Everything I’ve read the last few years say absolutely not. In fact, many studies are beginning to reveal that larger numbers of viewers are finding the most valuable information below the fold—likely due to blog-style sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) where information is presented in a top-down updating list instead of static navigation and content locations.

HugeInc has published the results of their study on user scrolling in Everybody Scrolls. The results, perhaps not so surprisingly, is that everybody scrolls nearly 100% of the time.

While this is just one study, I suspect that the vast majority of people have been trained to scroll over the years. As for me, I almost always scroll—if for no other reason than so many sites I visit have the area above the fold filled with annoying content rotators and oversized intro graphics.

I take this as a reminder that rules are meant to be questioned and/or broken at any time.

Free font: Rockfire

Rockfire font

Rockfire is a great display font that’s perfect for titles and logo work. Designed by Jay Cobs, Rockfire is 100% free for personal and commercial use and includes upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and a limited punctuation set.