Category Archives: Technology

Push Feedly articles to Microsoft Teams

Are you an informationholic? Do you wish you can share interesting stories with your teams to help extend their knowledge as well? Well now there is! After much trial and error, I figured out how to push articles from Feedly (my most favorite digital media aggregation tool) to Microsoft Teams (Microsoft’s answer to Slack with Office 365 subscriptions). For this solution we will use the following services:

  • Feedly Pro or Feedly Teams, sadly, cannot use Feedly Basic as it does not support the next requirement
  • IFTTT (If This, Then That), free, but to link to Feedly service, you need Feedly Pro or Feedly Teams.
  • Microsoft Teams
    • NOTE: you can use a similar configuration below but have output to Office 365 Groups or general email as well if you prefer or do not use Teams in your office. This article, however, focuses primarily on MS Teams.

The general concept is, when you see an article you are interested in, you can add notes and highlights to the article, then finally save the article to a personal board.  These features are actually new to Feedly and you can read more about them here (this is actually what finally got me to buy a subscription to Feedly Pro) – https://blog.feedly.com/boards/

Once the article is saved to a personal board, the IFTTT service will automatically pick it up, then POST a message immediately to the Microsoft Teams channel of your choosing.  An important note: In IFTTT we will be using Applets which are much easier to build compared to a full recipe which IFTTT provides support for as well. This means we will be limited to creating one applet per channel. If you want a single article to push to many channels, you will need to create separate applets or create a recipe without using the GUI (i.e. developer method, and beyond my current skill :-P)

Ok, let’s dive in and see what we have.

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Free access to popular project management and document management tools

Today I received a pleasant surprise. Atlassian now provides their popular project management and document management tools for free*!

* Ok ok, free is a very lose term. Up to 5 active users, but still what a great offer!

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App UI/UX Design on a Phablet, Struggle is real!

If you are a mobile UI/UX designer, life in the old’in days was fairly simple, you only had to concern yourself with a handful of screen sizes all around the 3-4″ size. Today is a different story. First with the Samsung Galaxy/Note series of phones, we were introduced to the phenomenon of Phablets, the merging of what were mini tablets and the smartphones, and Apple finally caught on to this trend 2 years ago with the iPhone 6 and 6S. Me, however, is slow to jump in so I am still sporting my iPhone 5.

So why am I writing this, yesterday I was on LinkedIn app ifor iOS which I am still working on accepting the more Facebook like and less career focus, but we cannot really blame the app, the trend of the service has moved that way, no I will not answer that math problem for the 1000th time, thank you very much, and the answer is always Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally!!!! Sorry, lost train of thought for a second there. Anyway, I was looking at a job advertisement, when I was trying to scroll through the page but the sucker would not move!

IMG_1534

I could not understand why. First, I thought it was just slow (I noticed this in their recent updates, especially on the Me tab), but even after waiting, still screen would not scroll.  I then Discovered what was going on… See the tab bar Highlights and Details? This is coded to stay at the top of the screen when you scroll past it.

IMG_1534.v2

You have to actually tap, hold and drag the small area between the page tabs and that app navigation bar –

IMG_1534.v3

If I were using a Phablet, This area would be larger, and probably closer in line with a more natural position, center of the screen, but due to the abnormal position, it is difficult to reach or even know that more information exists below.

So to my fellow UI/UX experts, remember that although Phablet is the new trend setter (particularly around 4.7″) we lonely 4″ and smaller folks are here to stay (thanks iPhone SE).

Web Fonts, a blurry line between UI and UX

I’m a technology hobbyist; love to follow everything related to technology, especially in relation to mobility. That is probably what attracts me to Apple so much. Anyway, I was on a search for latest news about Apple Watch as rumors are now swirling of an event in March. Anyway, long story short, I came across an article from a blog I don’t commonly follow, Macworld.co.uk. But as I was reading an article about latest rumors, I immediately noticed I was having a terrible time reading it. Here is a snapshot of what I am talking about –

Poorreadability

This brings us to the topic of today, selecting a web font, but what is more important UI (user interface) vs UX (user experience)? In my example above Macwrold chose to use a lightweight font called Aktiv Grotesk, a very pretty font, I must say BUT only if used correctly. Like any font, there are many ways to manipulate it, including Font Weight and Font Height.  Macworld is using it not only for first heading but subsequent headings. In the example above, h2, has the settings of:

Font Weight: 200
Font Size: 1.5em

Font Weight 200 turns the font into lightweight giving it the modern clean simple look. If we increase font weight to 300, we lose the goal of the font.

fontweidht300

That leaves us with Font Size. If you play with the Adobe Typekit or even better, codepen.io, you can fine-tune the CSS settings. After a few trial and error, I discovered that Font Size is best read at 3.1em or 50px as shown below while maintaining the preferred Font Weight:

ImprovedPixelWeight

So what is your thoughts? When should UI be sacrificed for UI in regards to font? Any other tricky fonts out there?

Around the Blogsphere: Flash, Firefox, Chrome, UWP oh my!

Final Bow for Flash estimated in 2 years

With recent acceptance from Adobe with Creative Suite 2016 parting ways with Adobe Flash, more and more signs point to the final bow (goodbye) to flash in next 2 years. Per a report from Encoding.com, as referenced in The Verge article (http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/27/10840480/flash-dead-in-two-years-webm), Flash makes up only 6% of multimedia for mobile and Web today, down from 14% in 2014. The article points out some interesting observations of what is actually replacing Flash today, with what appears to be a final battle between the royalty-free codec WebM (http://www.webmproject.org/) commonly found in HTML5 and H.264 with its eventual successor H.265 to support 4K video.

Firefox Introduces Push Notifications for Desktop

A feature that has been around for a while now in Chrome and Safari, Firefox now has jumped on the Push Notification bandwagon.  Push notifications with desktop browsers brings the benefit of content providers push information to the user without requiring them to have their site open in the tabs. If you are an active user of Chrome for instance and use Gmail/Facebook, you might have noticed popup notices in the bottom of your screen, these are push notifications (of course, if you allowed such services).  Why is this important? This opens new possibilities in ecommerce for example. Cart Abandonment results in large potential revenue losses. Instead of sending a traditional email which results in loss of valuable time, we can now push a notice to a customer to complete their order in a timely fashion.

Read More here:

Support in Microsoft Edge browser is still classified as “under consideration”

Chrome for iOS Supercharged

Chrome on iOS has just released a new update (v48). The biggest change is that they trashed their own rendering engine in favor of iOS 9’s extendable engine WKWebView, resulting in significant drop in crash rate and faster JavaScript execution (i.e. it is super fast, putting it on par with Safari).

http://9to5mac.com/2016/01/27/chrome-ios-stability-speed-wkwebview/

Chrome Desktop Enhanced Security

Chrome v48 (for Desktop), released yesterday, has a new security panel in the browser’s DevTools (F12). This will help clarify content origin, certificate validity and other items related to your browsing safety.  Read more here – http://blog.chromium.org/2016/01/introducing-security-panel-in-devtools.html

Visual Studio helps port iOS apps to UWP (Universal Windows Platform, aka Windows 10 App)

Microsoft has a feature in Visual Studio that helps developers port existing iOS app code to the UWP to help close the app gap between Windows 10 mobile platform and well-established iOS. To support this effort, Microsoft has been releasing a series of articles, all of which is introduced here – http://www.winbeta.org/news/ios-developers-get-introduced-to-visual-studios-for-developing-universal-windows-10-apps.

**Updated** Skype misbehaving? Upgrade today! and a helpful tip for the future

UPDATE:  Appears that the Check for Updates in the Skype app is not pushing version 7.18 automatically (i.e. it is not marked as a “recommended update” yet from MS), you have to manually download the update from Skype.com for now.


 

So I forgot to post a notice a month ago (shame on me) but at the time, Skype version 7.17.X (for Windows) had 2 crippling issues:

  1. Messages would appear our of order for different individuals, and,
  2. Messages refused to mark as read, unless you manually right click on the contact and select “Mark as read”.

Personally, I saw issue #2, not so much issue #1, but many saw one or the other (or both). At the time, the best solution was to download an older build and go back to 7.16.X.

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Hidden Gem: Creating GIFs with SnagIt

Recently I have been on a kick with creating GIFs to help provide visual reproduction at work, but did not want to deal with MP4s. I originally used SnagIt desktop app to create the video (I LOVE SnagIt, and Camtasia at that) then I used an online tool to convert. This worked but, way too many steps. But what if I could do it with SnagIt directly?

I did some searching on SnagIt community site and came across this blog  Techsmith has a free (YES FREE) extension for Google Chrome browser that lets you capture either screen grabs or videos (more details here). And now (well back in November 2014), one of the export options is GIF (if video is recorded under 20 seconds).

Sadly, this feature is not built into SnagIt Desktop or Camtasia, too bad… hopefully in future release it will be added. At least there is a workaround. 🙂