TeuxDeux

The designer and blogger Tina Roth Eisenberg has come up with a neat little to-do service with a cute name: TeuxDeux. She has pared this free offering back to the absolute essentials of to-do-ness: seven days viewed at once, a list below, order or day of task changed by drag and drop, click twice to finalise a task, click little cross to delete. Future tasks are black, past are grey and present tasks are red. And that's it. It works. One might wish for additional features and email > task capabilities, but any additional features would tend to muddy what is a very clean interface.

Atlas of Living Australia

The Atlas of Living Australia is a user-friendly visualisation of data related to Australian ecosystems, species and conservation programs. Simple to use and well thought-out, the website exemplifies the massive power of the web in displaying a range of information and making it accessible and understandable. Users can check biodiversity in their own area, browse for species of interest or add their own records. So if you've just spotted the elusive Night Parrot, this is the place to let the world know.

Give Your PDFs some Fizz

Soda PDF is a free PDF reader (in a crowded field) that renders a PDF as if it was a 3D magazine. One turns pages by 'pulling' the page across in a realistic simulation of an actual page turn.  While emulating a print publication in such a literal way might seem retrograde, there is something satisying about the reading experience, and it is an aesthetically pleasing way to preview design work (particularly files destined for print). The effect renders very quickly and smoothly, and can be turned off if you want to go back to old fashioned flat viewing.

Neat Freaks United

File under: people with way too much time on their hands, or: how to make your fetish into a business. Austin Radcliffe spends his days shooting and curating images of objects arranged in aesthetically pleasing ways. In some ways his obsession is quite old school — collectors have long organised their finds by all sorts of esoteric criteria. While the neat aspect will probably irk messy people, the various collations, coteries and concatenations are often quite pretty, fun, and interesting for the sheer variety of things revealed in the world.

So Social

If you are a heavy user of social media and want to analyse your impact and efficiency in that sphere, Lifehacker co-founder and coder extraordinaire Gina Trapani has a tool for you. Thinkup "archives and analyzes your interactions across social networks", and ensures that information that Twitter, Facebook and Google+ might treat as ephemeral is preserved for future use and examination. Read this article and marvel at the amazing power of intelligently interpreted data.

The Past is a Foreign Country

Looking backwards in time is to be constantly surprised. There's always so much that has been forgotten, and is genuinely strange and unfamiliar Seen in detail, eras often belie their stereotypes. How to be a Retronaut posts themed photo galleries chiefly from any decade of the last ten. Topics include Colour tourist photographs from the Soviet Union (1960s), Harlem Street Scenes (1930s), Pepsi advertisements (1950s), an Apple Gift Catalogue (1983), portraits taken in fake snow (Victorian England) and abandoned buildings of Detroit (2000s) and many, many more. The photographs and ephemera are often hard to contextualise and integrate, yet in an odd way, bring the past momentarily into the present. 

Capture Your Screen

The Windows screen capture feature is effective but pretty basic — dumping the display into memory, available for paste into image editing software. Google has released a free extension for its Chrome browser that gives finer grained control over snapshots of browser windows. Once installed, users can select a user-defined area, the entire window or the active area, and define shortcuts that invoke the various options.

360 degree world

Google Street View gives users the chance to 'stand' on any of millions of streets and pan to see the scenery. But as every viewer knows, the average street is pretty prosaic, and the image quality is not fabulous anyway. Which brings us to 360cities. This immersive site has thousands of high resolution 360 degree images from all over the world — views of mountains, canyons, urban scenes, forest glades and massive crowds. The images are seamless, sharp and occupy your full screen with thousands of details that you can absorb at leisure. The interface is easy to navigate, piggybacking on Google maps (and also appearing as a layer in Google Earth), and once you get started, stopping is a problem. Check out some of their ultra high resolution images — the London Eye panorama is a jaw dropping 80 gigapixels.

Diamonds are Forever

Our client prospected for diamonds, and even diamond-hunters need a business card. Aside from the usual contact details, he was keen to give the reverse side of his card additional utility as a way of measuring objects and providing scale in photographs. He also intended to use it for jotting notes to include with samples. After ten years of use, he returned for an update and reported that the card/ruler had been very handy.

Information Wants to be Free

Most major web-based service providers  are currently "free". They make their money by mining your personal information for commercial gain. They know an increasing amount about your location, past purchases, interests, search behaviour and networks of online friends. They can target you with advertising so specific that admen of the pre-digital age would feel faint with envy. In other words, even if you feel you are getting a good deal from Facebook or Google, they have their hands in your pocket. They will never forget what they have learned about you. Promises to safeguard your information notwithstanding, nowhere is it writ in stone that the information they harvest will always remain "safe". We rush towards these new services with little thought to future consequences. Perhaps future digital citizens will be less concerned with privacy than we currently are. Nonetheless, the concentration of your information in the hands of a very small number of companies should give us all pause. A less worrisome future might allow people to control their own identities, store their own personal information and decide in fine detail how much they wish to reveal to the public at large. There are already protocols being developed to allow this, and no doubt they will become much more powerful. Such an approach might allow for a richer, more nuanced online social world than the narrowly commercial model currently in the ascendant.
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Getting Your Portfolio Online

Artists, photographers, illustrators, cartoonists and designers all need to get their work seen by as many eyeballs as possible. Many do not have specialist web design skills, and balk at the cost of having a web designer put together a customised folio for them. Fortunately in the new world of free cloud services, several businesses offer simple but elegant online folio solutions. My personal favourite is Behance, a business best known for offering services and conferences to "creatives". Their folio service has a strong social media focus, encouraging users to follow other designers, rate their work, give detailed feedback and generally promote themselves. The upload process is very detailed and offers a reasonable amount of customisation. The whole experience is slick and the aesthetic is pared back and very readable.
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Beyond Web-Safe Fonts

Bloggers and web designers have been limited to a very small suite of fonts that they can be fairly sure are installed on almost all machines. A number of solutions have recently emerged to extend this range. Google offers a number of free fonts which your site or blog can reference. This allows your readers' browsers to automatically request the font from Google's server, and presto, you can use a non 'web-safe' typeface. The range currently available is limited, but hopefully as the popularity of this service increases, more will become available. Information on the blog plugin can be found here, and the official Google fonts blog is here.
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Writers Resources from AWM

A very useful list of resources originally found here: http://www.awmonline.com.au/

Industry blogs for Australian Writers: AWMonline Guide

Industry News and Views

Australian Book Review

http://australianbookreviewblog.blogspot.com/
Contributors include editor Peter Rose and other ABR staff, and guest bloggers from the world of letters.


Barista
http://barista.media2.org/
A personal blog by screenwriter David Tiley, featuring filmmaking and culture news and views.


Booksller and Publisher
http://www.booksellerandpublisher.com.au/articles/
Bookseller and Publisher magazine's online news covering the Australian book industry.
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Refreshed page

We don't normally work on websites, but a print client wanted our input on their home page. Our draft eliminated the clutter of the original site, highlighted key menu items and separated breaking news into its own column. In common with print design, type on a web page needs room to breathe and a clear sense of hierarchy. RFA
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The Colour of Money

The psychology of colour seems more popular science than real science -- a collection of guesses and just-so hypotheses. Yellow is calming, red is about power, green is the colour of success, except when they are not (meanings vary from one culture to the next). It is interesting, however to see which colours the world's largest corporations gravitate towards. Red and blue, anyone?
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Cover for Nannies

nannies_2Our client wanted a cover design that emphasised the positive aspects of nannying. We used clear, direct typography, simple, child-associated colours and a large area of saturated colour to attract attention. Our design aims to reinforce the idea of a no-nonsense, practical, take-anywhere guide for real-life nannies. Besides, we have a small weakness for book covers within a book cover.
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Robots in Space

With the imminent end of the Space Shuttle program, it is tempting to think space exploration is in decline. But the Shuttle stayed in low Earth orbit, and her robot brethren have been busy exploring an entire solar system. In fact, there are currently more craft orbiting, encountering, sampling, photographing, sniffing and trundling over other bodies than ever before. These devices are using more sophisticated instruments than ever, and returning amazing science results at a fraction the cost of anything containing a human being. We are uncovering a whole new solar system, full of unexpected wonders, and it is a pity that the general public is not more aware of it.
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Watching the Cloud

Here are some recommended sites for people struggling to keep up with the latest in Web/Cloud/Social Media. Mashable -- short, punchy news stories covering a broad spectrum of web-related topics Lifehacker -- odd but compelling mix of news and practical tips BoingBoing --  entertaining, eclectic and not particularly useful news items. Tech Crunch -- more in-depth articles on tech and web topics (in-depth by web standards, anyway) This Week in Google -- Well, it's really a podcast and it isn't just about Google, but this link takes you to the show notes and lots of useful web/cloud links mentioned on the show.
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Looking for a Shared Office Space?

For some micro businesses, the cost of a standalone office and related expenses is prohibitive. Yet not everyone is cut out for working from home, and many businesses need meeting facilities. Enter new services such as Open Office, which aims to hook up businesses with excess space with professionals looking for a few workstations to call their own.  The idea is great, the rental prices very reasonable, and some of the spaces advertised are pretty funky. However, there are distressingly few of them. Hopefully the service will catch on and the range of prospective shared spaces will increase.
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