I think this is one of the best emails I’ve received at work.
Most websites that you visit on a daily basis are tracking you. But who is tracking the trackers? Ghostery is!
Ghostery, a little tool from Evidon, shows you the invisible web by displaying who’s tracking you, giving you a chance to learn more about each company it identifies. It’s a free tool to install and will work with most web browsers.
On visiting The Guardian news website, Ghostery shows that they have eleven (11) trackers on their page. This includes advertising trackers (that exist to serve adverts), widgets (things like Facebook Like buttons), analytics trackers (tools used to track visitor numbers), and beacons (trackers which serve no other purpose than to track your activity).
With Ghostery, you’ll have the chance to block these trackers en-mass. When you first install the extension, you’ll be asked to configure it. It sounds complicated, but they make it a breeze — take a moment to familiarise yourself with what each of the categories mean and choose wisely.
It’s also good to understand who is behind these tools. LifeHacker recently posted a story claiming that Ghostery is there to help advertisers and that Evidon sends information about blocked advertising to the advertisers so they can better formulate to avoid being blocked.
The feature they’re talking about is ‘GhostRank’. It’s an opt-in feature that will collect anonymous data about the trackers you’ve encountered and the sites on which they were placed. This data is sold as reports to businesses, specifically the ones that wish to advertise to you. However, since this is switched off as default, there’s not too much cause for concern.
If you’re keen to take one step closer to protecting your privacy online, give Ghostery a spin.
When they came to me, they had a pretty good idea of what they wanted their website to look like. I did a little spring cleaning here and there, along with quickly coding a new custom WordPress theme.
The website content is written in Norwegian, so if your foreign-language skills aren’t up-to-scratch, then you might not have a clue what’s going on. Men hvis du snakker norsk, sjekk den ut!
Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good rumour. I’m not all-in for the gossip-mongering, but I think it’s built-in nature of any British person to have a keen ear for something that nobody else knows, on the chance that they could be getting a bargain or good deal. Just walk up to me and start your sentence with "Pst! Have you heard…" and my attention will be captivated, instantly.
So, that’s just one of the reasons why I’ve had to keep tight-lipped for the past month or more about the ‘new thing’ we’d been working on at Opera Software HQ — a new web browser for your iPad called Coast.
It feels like it’s drained a vast amount of my time from my life-schedule for as long as I can remember, but looking back at the timestamps on my office MacBook, I got involved in the project from mid-to-late July. I was tasked to “make a website”, but everything seemed to need a little more love than that.
I spent the first week playing with the product, drawing up different concepts for product logos and a branding direction. Around thirty different styles were narrowed down to a small handful of about four or five, from which a final one was decided upon.
Next-up, I started working on concepts and a content plan for the websites, iterating on the logo several times over, finding a colour palette that works, crafting the icon, sourcing photography, cutting together video footage to create a mood, and wound-up getting my heels stuck in with the guys working on the product to bring the same style you see today into their ‘clean-room’ interface.
All the hard work and late nights seem to be paying off so far. It’s brilliant to see tweets and reviews like this:
Opera’s Coast browser is very nice, surprised it took so long for something like it to show up, it’s revolutionary. — @d0m96
Very impressed by the Opera Coast browser for iPad. Lots of sensible design decisions. — @bazzacollins
It looks fast, fluid, polished and fun. — Time.com
Since the original mocks, the typeface has been changed to the official brand font for the Green Party, TheSansOffice Bold, and small tweaks have been made to other supporting text and the icon.
I’m still quite happy with the concept of using an icon based around a sapling, which then matures into a fully-fledged Green Party logo / party member, and am looking forward to seeing it used (or possibly abused) out in the wild.
And so, the non-work design work continues…
It seems the non-work design work that I was attempting to do has it’s fast and slow periods, but what I’ve found is that when I’m busy working on something and growing tired of ideas or inspiration, it really helps to just jump on something completely different — and that’s precisely what I did the other night when I started to redesign the WiMP for Windows Phone experience.
For those that aren’t familiar with WiMP, it’s easy to explain it as the ‘Norwegian equivalent of Spotify’ and not a website that shows random YouTube videos. I found myself jumping off some late-night work I was doing for Opera Software (my real work) and starting on concepts for the app. I didn’t get much further than the image in this post before falling asleep on my bed — only to wake up a few hours later, in the early hours of the morning, to find my room illuminated by the glow of the MacBook monitor.
Come the morning, I quickly started mocking up a ‘Now Playing’ screen too, before jumping back onto Opera work over breakfast.
My friend Ben has made lots of songs before now, but he’s just made another one under the new moniker of Yo’true, which consists of members of Tubelord and Data.Select.Party (both exceptional bands in their own right).
You can and you should download the new song from one of the following musical distribution outlets. It’s called ‘The Dough’ and you should expect some more material to be released soon on Rogues Records.
As part of my ongoing efforts to do more non-work design work, I’ve found myself helping out a friend with some branding work for a new company, ‘Velvet Seduction’.
Velvet Seduction will be an online store, tailored for a lesbian market, selling all manner of sex toys and related goods. Whilst the work is fresh off the drawing board and still prime to a bit more love, the aim is to build a strong visual identity that has a more premium feel to it, that plays less into the hands of the obvious route in this market.
Imagery used should resonate with the target audience and ideally adhere to the 35mm film, lo-fi impression (used in the examples given); where shots of a suggestive nature work well for the image, don’t fall into the standard ‘glamour’ shot category, and are tasteful, not pornographic.
There’s a whole range of ideas floating around right now about how this could develop and it will be interesting to see how it’s received.
I have the best friends.
velvetseduction.co.uk — coming soon.
This morning I received a poster in the mail for Oxyana — a feature length documentary directed by Sean Dunne that I, in a small part, helped contribute funding towards.
Oxyana focuses on a portrait of Oceana, an old coal mining town in West Virginia that has become the center of the Oxycontin epidemic. The documentary was nominated for two awards at the Tribeca Film Festival and Sean went on to win the award for ‘Best New Documentary Director’.
The film will be available to rent and buy on DVD, Blu-Ray and as a digital download from July 1st, 2013.
Every so often I’ll find myself making a playlist of songs on whatever music service I’m using at the time. It’s all new music that either I’ve heard in the past few days or that someone has recommended to me.
Let me know if what you love / hate from the list.