Go Duck Go

If you'd like to search the web without every keystroke being logged, analysed and monetised, try Duck Duck Go, "the search engine that doesn't track you" (and is blocked in China). Of particular interest is escape from the "filter bubble". Many google and Facebook users are unaware that search results are subtly tailored to their user profile and history on that service.  So you may miss out on interesting links because Google automatically demotes them according to your perceived preferences. 

Large File Transfers: One Time Box

Large file transfer is big business. Anyone who has tried to attach heftier files to an email will soon want a better way. Dropbox is an excellent option, as is ge.tt, wetransfer or hightail. One Time Box represents interesting new look a fresh look at the underlying use-case. Just set up a 'box', upload your files into it and email the link to the recipient. No need to part with contact details or anything else. The service is free, with a total file size limit of 1GB, and uploaded files last one week.

The Brave New World of the Sharing Economy

Benjamen Walker's podcast "The Theory of Everything" investigates the new world being shaped by the big tech companies. A recent series of three podcasts (instaserfs) looked at what Walker calls the "On-Demand Economy", a development more advanced in the US than elsewhere. An associate of Walker attempts to live by working for Uber, Lyft, Manservant and other online services. He finds working without rights, for very little money and constantly hurried along by staff-facing apps to be a stressful affair. The lack of empathy shown by most of the companies in this space for those who actually provide the service is quite striking. A sobering corrective to the usual line that the customer experience is all important.

Typography for Lawyers (and everyone else)

Matthew Butterick set out to school lawyers in presenting their printed and online material in the most readable, transparent way possible. That online campaign has morphed into a body of advice applicable to all who want their message to assisted rather than impeded by their use of type, white space and other elements of design. Butterick has even designed typefaces for use in legal and other high information content contexts. When Erik Spiekermann is on board, you know his approach and advice is solid. Highly recommended. 


Word in a Browser

'Free' and 'Microsoft' were once words rarely uttered in the same sentence. Today, no longer ascendant and under pressure from Google's free browser-based text and spreadsheet editors, Microsoft offers its signature word processing and spreadsheet products in browser form, at a price of $0.00 (for personal use). The browser-based offerings are not as fully featured as the non-free desktop versions, but they are at least as good as Google's alternative. And surprisingly for anyone used to the ugliness of pre-cloud Microsoft interfaces, the portal is very clean, minimal and attractive.

Microstock Photography is a Hard Way to Make a Living

An interesting article detailing the thinking behind the very successful microstock photography service Shutterstock. Submitting artists find it surprisingly hard to get into, which is great for users (most stock art sites could do with a much higher bar to entry). The most successful photographers and artists on Shutterstock reputedly earn six figure incomes, but keeping up with the image search zeitgeist must be a somewhat stressful way to earn a living.

Project Naptha Finds Text in Images

This interesting Chrome browser extension attempts to liberate text in images on websites. It can "highlight as well as copy and paste and even edit and translate the text formerly trapped within an image". Modern web designers tend to leave as much text "live" (and therefore available for search indexing) as possible, but in all other cases, Project Naptha might save users from having to retype text. It has robust handwriting recognition and is also good at character recognition against busy backgrounds.