May 29, 2015No Comments

My Morning UX Reads for Today

Thought I'd share what links I've been viewing before starting work this morning. I collect and review quite a bit of UX and UI related material, so I should share it.

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May 12, 2015No Comments

How I use OS X Tags

Tags, they are everywhere - and now in OSX. What does it mean? How do you use them? What's the difference between tags and folders? I have 8 tags in total, using 6 colours. Here’s how I use them.

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March 3, 2015No Comments

New Lean Project

In the spirit of Lean Startupness I'm pushing out images of a new app idea I'm working on. I'm just building the prototype now. It's so so new who knows what will become of it. But, I put it out there, because that's what Lean is all about.

February 25, 2015No Comments

How awesome is Hemingway (app)

OMG! Hemingway is my new best friend. I love the idea of writing well and Hemingwayapp is kicking my ass: I just wrote a lengthy post - and then ran it through the app. I got grade 8, which I was pleased with - as I thought my writing structure to be terrible.

According to Hemingway, 4 of my 42 sentences were hard to read. And 4 were also very hard to read (I'm guessing the same four). What a result!

Then Hemingway proceeded to trim my adverbs: 9 or fewer, please. And also politely informed me that 2 words or phrases could be simpler. How nice!

I'm not sure if I would have been so happy with Hemingway had he scrawled red ink all over my words...


update: I just updated my "long post" according to Hemingway which is now grade 7. i.e. one better. I couldn't bring myself to cut a coupla adverbs which I'm sure must belong there... damn you Hemingway. Surely some adverbs are not too many...?

update two: I'm addicted. I just run this post through and got grade 5. Adverbs are my obvious weakness, too many again. "Actually" and "totally" being my main problem words. Yeah, I think I can cut them.

February 25, 2015No Comments

How I built my mini-SaaS in the leanest way possible

When I was building my "first" real web app. I used a lot of resources: blogs and tutorials from other developers and the developer community in general. Without these resources there would have been no hope. So I feel it necessary to immediately give back some of what I received and write a brief-ish post about the broad development process behind a simple web app.

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February 25, 2015No Comments

Monospace Gallery: Late night SaaS


Yesterday I finally released the beta of my first lean SaaS project: The basic idea pivoted as I developed it, and finalised into One Click Portfolios for Dribbblers.

The idea is that a creative on the Dribbble community can login directly through their Dribbble account and get a nice, responsive portfolio layout with their work in their own vanity url.

It's a very simple app. My main aim was basically to become "fluent" in building quick apps. The strategy, then, was broken down into selecting the best technology & methodology for expressing this "fluency": in short, I chose a Node based framework called Meteor for super slimline development, and some features of the "Lean" Movement for streamlining the actually process.

It turned out to be a natty combination, because Meteor allows you to very quickly develop "concepts" and roll them out, so it works well with the Lean method of MVP and iteration.

I'm as minimalist a developer as I am a designer, and I have to say I'm well pleased with the limited amount of lines of code that were needed to put this app together: I'm guessing less than 300 lines of code (excluding libraries and frameworks of course). Distilled still further with preprocessors: namely; Jade, Stylus and Coffeescript.

I wrote a short post on its development How I built my web app, because I am sure there are designers and developers out there who will find the info useful: I know I found many similar resources useful while I was building it.

and now, onwards!

February 10, 2015No Comments

Live Design using Invision

I use Invision quite a lot. If you don't know about it, it's an online design collaboration tool for sharing and commenting on design layouts.

Live Sharing has recently been added, but it's crazy good. As I design a PSD (or Sketch), I save the file to the Invision Live Sync folder, which is like Dropbox. Invision automatically creates a jpg from that and uploads it for commenting and mods.

Invision is also pretty awesome in that it keeps also a history of design edits. So each save is then progressively added to the history, kinda like a design time-machine.

if you're a freelance designer, Invision is a key tool - along with Marvel and Slack.

Just a heads up.

January 28, 20153 Comments

How to customise the Blog grid when using Semplice

I’ve switched to Semplice as my go to WordPress CRM platform. I won’t call it a “theme”, because it isn’t really. As they say, it’s a toolkit. They don’t design the site for you.

Semplice really is the "designers best kept secret", just as they sell it, because, you know, it basically just puts the good-old twitter bootstrap grid features into WP: And a designer needs nothing else. All he needs is a container and an image to fill it with.

Semplice is great for simple custom pages, and portfolios and the like - it uses industry standard tools - but it’s weak on the blog layout tools: If you want a better blog layout other than the default you will need to add your custom css, and do some tweaking on the actual grid, in the html editor.

The custom css is easy. There is a box for it. But what if you want to change the grid? Well, it's not so tough. Semplice uses bootstrap (v2) so all we need to do is go into the Appearance -> Editor and change the classes on the blog layouts we want.

For example: I didn't like the default 8 columns grid layout on the blog, so let’s change the default 8 column span blog layout for 6 columns: 8 is too long, 6 is Goldilocks.

Open the editor and the format-standard.php file, then look for the span8 offset2 class. Change it for span6 and offset3.

Of course, change it for whatever tickles your fancy.  Er.. that’s it. Have a nice day now.

UPDATE: I've updated to version 2.0 and they seem to have changed the blog formatting (and lost my changes). I looked under-the-hood and found they have moved the widths to some invisible option that is inaccessible. So, for now, I needed to actually hack the code until they make the option available: For you information I changed the format-standard.php file and commented out the line with the option altogether and manually added my span6 as above. Pretty crude, but their discussion forums are impenetrable. Hope they fix this. This is the line you need to comment out for now:

if(get_field('skinoptions_content_width', 'options'))

Update Two: Check the comments below, someone found out it has now been put into Advanced Styling option. So we are all happy.

January 10, 2015No Comments

Nginx, Ghost & Proxies: Spaghetti Junction

I'm currently in the middle of a serverside nightmare trying to setup various Ghost blogs on one server. Between nginx confs, ports & Ghost configs - well, I'm just having a great time. What the frick is going on?

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January 10, 2015No Comments

Code Folding in Vim

Detractors of Vim highlight its many native flaws - yet there is a unlimited supply of extensions for those who look. Code folding is a pretty handy tool for coding, especially for closing tags.

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January 10, 2015No Comments

How to create a github repo from the command line

The awesome thing about the command line is the intimate relationship you build up with the internet (as opposed to the world wide web). Not to mention the time saving... Why open a browser, navigate to github, click here and there to create a repo, when it can be done in one line from the prompt?


Here's how:
curl -u "" -d '{"name":"yourdesiredreponame"}'

What is going on here? We are basically injecting data directly into Githubs database, via their API.

We are using curl (a tool to transfer data from or to a server) to call the Github API which we pass our username -u "email" and we specify that we pushing data with the -d '{"name":"var"}' flag.

Inside the data object we push to Githubs database we can specify more items than just the name, such as if a repo is private or not.

FYI here is the github API documentation

UPDATE: It's also possible to simply use the awesomeness of Hub - a command-line interface for GIT

December 7, 2014No Comments

How to build the simplest Meteor package

Today I am going to explain how to create the simplest Package for use with Meteor. I had a little trouble pushing out a simple template from a package to the app, so today I’m going to explain how it’s done.

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December 6, 2014No Comments

The Desk app & my new writing fixation

Ok, so this is my first post in a new era of blogging. My website is being/has been updated to be more blogging friendly, and I’ve been frantically researching the best tools for the job.

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October 15, 2014No Comments

Upcoming Lean WordPress Blogging Theme

A new Lean WordPress Blogging theme is on the way: The design has been pressed, and the hot coding potato has been passed to the awe inspiring Nick Davis for, well, coding.  More updates to come.  In the meantime this screenshot will just have to do.  (By the way, if you're the owner of the face in the design avatar - please don't sue me, I just couldn't help using such an awesome image - I'll take it down if you ask...)

September 3, 2014No Comments

Looking for Mailbox Desktop Betacoins? I got ’em

If you know Mailbox, I know you want Betacoins to get your mitts on the desktop Beta.  I'm lucky enough to be "in" and it's truly awesome to have it - finally I feel in control of the emails.  It's truly amazing.  Ping me @derrybirkett if you want some Betacoins (I got three so its first come first served).