A Tempting Mechanical Keyboard

This Indiegogo campaign is working on a mechanical keyboard I'd actually put on my desk. It's inspired by classic typewriter design, even down to the loud click blue-switch keys that it sports.

I don't know if "Four Seasons: A Colorful Retro Mechanical Keyboard" could ever shake me off the current Apple keyboard, it's low profile, quiet performance, great response, and flush alignment with the Magic Trackpad makes any switch a hard sell, but damn if I'm not tempted by some of these finishes and getting a stand alone backlight.

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Shout-out to whatever humble copywriter who came up with the bullet point "Decent Typing Experience" on their campaign page.


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My Three Favorite Sketch Plugins

I've grown to become a fan of Sketch and it's approach to creating vector based designs, and as my expertise with the product grows, so too does my need for some little features that make my workflow more efficient and designs more organized and consistent. 

Here's my favorite Sketch Plugins as of this writing.

 

1. Automate Sketch by Ashung Hung

Automate Sketch is perhaps my most important plugin. I use it frequently to keep my layers in order with it's "Order Layers By" and "Order Objects By" command, removing unused symbols and styles from my documents, remove all hidden junk layers, and remove all empty groups.

My favorite use of Automate Sketch is by far it's "Tile Objects By Position X/Y" commands. I've bound them to keyboard shortcuts of CMD+Option+Control+X and CMD+Option+Control+Y. It allows me to quickly space out selected objects on my Artboards by a discreet number of pixels. So I can quickly space out objects mathematically rather than relying on flaky smart guides or just my eye.


2. Color Contrast Analyzer by Florian Schulz

It's as simple as it sounds. This plugin will take two layers and compare the colors to see if you're passing or failing accessibility guidelines of the WCAG. Most importantly, this plugin is incredibly light weight, and doesn't seem to slow down sketch. I've found other plugins that check my colors for accessibility simply too heavy with too much interface or launching websites while I work, Color Contrast Analyzer isn't any more than a small notification at the bottom of my Sketch window that tells me what I need to know. Just select two layers and hit go.

While I use this plugin a lot, there is one catch. It doesn't handle layer translucency. My cheat is to temporarily use the eyedropper to sample the objects color itself and then begin the select and alalyze process, then use the "undo" command to revert back to my partially transparent layer style.


3. Sketch Measure by Utom

If you're being meticulous about your comps, than you're probably delivering specs to your developers so you can communicate exact values for spacing, fonts, line heights, and more. Sketch Measure is my go-to plugin for making sure what was designed is what I'm communicating to my front-end engineers. I've worked on teams that use Zeplin and Invision in the past and while their automatic spec tools are decent, they often fail due to overlays, text boxes, and other intricacies of building things in Sketch.

Sketch Measure gives you all the tools you need to create specs, and the ability to manually adjust all of it to make sure everything is to an exacting standard. Plus it's toolbar even lets you show or hide every spec layer with one click, so your files dont feel bogged down and complex.


Honorable Mentions

While the three plugins above are more critical to my workflow, I've come across other plugins that I find myself using less frequently, but are still pretty handy in a pinch. I usually keep these plugins disabled in Sketch's prefrences until I find myself needing them in a pinch.

  • Rename-It by Rodrigo Soares — If you're OCD about controlling your layer names or prepping a file that someone else may be working on.
  • Select Similar Layers by Wessley Roche — For lovers of Adobe Illustrator's "select same" command, it lets you grab every object with a shared attribute.
  • Zeplin — One button export to a Zeplin project for sharing.
  • Confetti by Yummygum — a neat way to create an effect that would be time consuming by hand.
  • Sketch Palettes by Andrew Fiorillo — If you're one a team that needs to share the same color palettes for a project, this lets you wholesale add, replace, export, and load all of your global or document colors, gradients, and patterns.

Feature Creep

The myth of feature creep disguises the real problem: the inability to execute on the core value of your product.

I totally agree with that line. I could tell you stories of teams I've been on that insist on adding a new feature, or deal with "low hanging" fruit, while the product or business continues to rot from the inside due to everyone ignoring core problems.

Source: https://producthabits.com/feature-creep-is...

Numi looks incredibly fresh

Numi, is calling itself a Beautiful calculator app for Mac, and it caught my attention the other day so I thought I'd share it with you guys. I tried playing around with the app, and while it makes for extremely simple and impressive demo on it's website, I quickly ran up against limitations.

Natural language is a really hard thing to parse, it often requires wither complex algorithms and machine learning like what you find in Siri or Google Assistant for example (both services not always known for nailing exactly what you mean), or solutions require a seemingly endless database of brute-force rules to parse, making things pretty slow, and easy to break.

My Numi experience started very well. I downloaded the app from it's website, with no ask for any information from me, and within seconds it was in my downloads folder. Then upon first boot, the app offered to move itself for me. I really can't say enough how pleased I was with this operation, too often a clunk part of app installs on Mac involve putting something that was in my downloads folder and remembering to move it into my applications folder.

Nice touch

Nice touch

It was only two lines into writing my own math that I started to hit the limitations of the app. Numi either didn't under what "Square root of 900" was, or I wasn't saying it in a way it expected. In another statement, Numi was also confounded by the question "What's a 16% tip on $400?" but felt confident enough to answer "$464" to the words "16% tip on $400". The worst failure of the calculator was when it failed to put anything on screen for the phrase "eight plus one".

Do you expect your calculator to answer eight plus one?

Do you expect your calculator to answer eight plus one?

I'm not saying Numi is bad. I don't think it is, in fact I think there's a lot to like about it. Dmitry Nikolaev has a lot of good thinking that went into this product, and when it does work, it's really an excellent way of working with a calculator. It felt better to me, a light math user, than using even the default calculator on macOS or iOS. It also calls into the question the singular states of default calculators by showing multiple problems and solutions on a single page — one of the apps beast features.

What I am saying is that it's an application that highlights just how hard it is to make computers understand what people are trying to say is an easy to implement feature for devs, and how failure to parse any single piece of information with an invisible interface usually winds up with the user just giving up on it's reliability all together. I can't help but wonder how this thing would work if it was powered by one of the large AI assistants out there. It's simply to easy to make this thing fail, so I won't be adding it into my workflows unless it becomes more robust. Or at least, show error states and give me tools to correct my own syntax.