Linkly #6 – Powerful Talks

Linkly is a curated list of interesting products, topics and talking points from the world of design and technology.

It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword. That a person can change opinions and influence people far more effectively with the written word than with brute force and a sword. In the modern day with an endlessly flowing stream of information right at our fingertips the opinions that stand out from the pack are those that are insightful and engaging, that reach into the lives of their audience and elicit a truly emotional response. 

Video does a brilliant job of creating a connection between the viewer and the speaker. It provides a far more human element to the exchange of information that respects the meaning and the value of the speaker’s intentions. This week instead of linking to articles from around the web that will inevitably end up at the bottom of your ‘Read it Later’ pile, take the time to watch these powerful and insightful talks about design and technology. 

Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

From the day that you’re born, you’re thrust into long, tough and hard years of education. Without consent, every child goes through pre-school, primary school, high school. It is assumed knowledge that school is what is best for kids. Ken Robinson goes down the path less travelled and asks the question, “Do schools kill creativity?” 

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

If there is one talk that you must watch in your life, and that has the potential to make the biggest impact on your work it’s Simon Sinek’s talk. He proposes the simple model for leadership, and the framework around which you can truly give people what they want, by asking ‘Why?’

Ira Glass on Storytelling


Nothing comes easy, especially mastering your craft. In this typographic masterpiece world renowned radio host of the popular podcast, This American Life, explains the 10,000 hours principle. That it takes approximately 10,000 hours of hard work, passion and persistence to become a leader in your field.

Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

Facebook’s COO delivers a brilliant talk on why less women reach the top of their professions. She offers powerful advice to women aiming to break form and strive to be leaders. A fantastic talk that is well worth taking the time to watch closely and that will open your mind to problems you didn’t know existed.

Jon Ronsen: How One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life

From the man who brought you, The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson takes a look at public shaming, and the role social media plays in the problem. He examines the problem and its effects on society as a whole.

Words are a powerful way to convey meaning and express ideas. Even more expressive, engaging and effective is the human voice. Standing on stage in the spotlight, with hundreds of people hanging on your every word. If you’re inspired by these talks you too can share your thoughts, and present them publicly, and potentially change the way people think about the world around them.

An Intro to Design Thinking – Part 1

Design thinking seems to be the buzzword of 2016. Since gracing the front cover of Harvard Business Review, more companies are claiming that they are a design lead organisations, many are asking how to become one and many more are asking what the hell is it?

The quick answer is, Design Thinking is a formal method for practical and creative problem solving.

Design Thinking has been around since the mid 80’s where it was commonly used in architecture and urban planning. During the 80’s and 90’s, Stanford University expanded on the concept of Design Thinking by teaching “design thinking as a method of creative action.” When IDEO was established in the early 90’s, it was then adapted to the business realm where it has slowly gained traction since.

There are different methods, processes and flavours of Design Thinking, but the core fundamentals are the same regardless of the flavour you use.

Design Thinking can be broken down into two parts; the first is the approach to problem-solving while the second is the process of problem-solving. This article is going to tackle the first half – The Design Thinking approach to problem solving. Establishing what to focus on when it comes to solving problems for a project.

Design Thinking has an approach to solving problems using three spheres; Human Desires, Technology Feasibility and Business Viability.

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To understand why this diagram has everyone talking about Design Thinking, let’s break it down. First off, it helps to understand what type of organisations or roles operate within each sphere.

Business Viability – Management and Business Consultants, Accountants, Business Analysts, etc.

Technology Feasibility – Software Developers and Programmers, Industrial Factories, Car Manufacturing, etc.

Human Desires – Market Researchers, Psychologists, Advertising Agencies, Actors, Humanitarian Aid, etc.

Understanding how these spheres interlock will help you understand the type of organisation you are a part of. It is important to note how these approaches differ in the way they solve projects and operate.

To illustrate this, below are some examples of different types of companies using components of the Design Thinking ideology and how they operate using different sectors of the three spheres.

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Startups – Many of today’s startups focus on a user needs and how technology can help or solve a problem. Unfortunately, many startups don’t focus on their Business Viability. Instead, they worry about acquiring users and scaling up with the hope of working out monetisation later on. In many cases, they fold because of ‘poor market fit’ (meaning, they couldn’t work out how to make money from their users). For example, while Twitter has millions of users, they are still struggling to solve their Business Viability at a level that is deemed successful.

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Agencies and consultants – Many Advertising Agencies, Market Researchers and large consulting firms look at what will work best for customers and consumers, though mostly from an initial Business Viability problem first. Companies tend to find a way for the human needs to fit within the business model they are developing. Solutions form plans that haven’t had any technology feasibility taken into consideration. Either the solution they come up with can not be delivered, or the execution is below what the customers and business expectations are.

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Enterprise – Seen in many large enterprise organisations, this is the most common or default approach companies take to running projects inside their business. With a business problem in hand, project managers turn to the company technology department to create a solution. The solution may be able to be built and be considered viable from a business point of view, but uptake is lacklustre within the market. Possibly not improving the customer’s experience or fulfilling any of their needs.

Where the Design Thinking approach is clearly different to the above examples, is that Design Thinking seeks to use ALL three spheres in the problem-solving process.

One of the core principles of Design Thinking is to solve a problem that the user has. In other words to take a Human Centred Design approach to each project. So, what does that mean and what does that look like?

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Rather than take a business problem and move through each sphere in a clockwise direction. For example, going to your technology department with a problem, asking them to solve the problem and only then checking if customers can use the solution.

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Start with the customers and move through each sphere in a counterclockwise direction. For example, see the problem from your customers point of view, Test a hypothesis with them, iterate on the learnings with customers and the technology department before closing the loop with stakeholders. This way of thinking uses Human Centred Design that not only solves the problem, but it is also technically feasible as well as desirable for customers.

If you get it right, you will land in the centre of the Venn diagram, which is sometimes called Innovation, but we prefer the term market success. Not all your projects will land in the centre of the diagram, but using a Human Centred Design approach will get you as close as possible within your constraints.

From today, you can use this approach for your projects, problems and goals. Ask yourself, who is the end user or customer? What do they want and what are their goals? Using this approach in your projects is the first step to understanding Human Centred Design and Design Thinking.

So, with your new understanding of how to approach a challenge with Design Thinking, let’s look at how to solve problems with Design Thinking coming up in part 2 of this Intro to Design Thinking.

Linkly #5 – Office must haves!

Linkly is a curated list of interesting products, topics and talking points from the world of design and technology. This week its all about innovative office products that inspire creativity and increase productivity.

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Stop watching the clock

We’ve all been there, sitting, watching the clock, waiting for time to pass. Tick tock, tick tock. Letting time cast its shadow over us, and rule our lives. Always looking for more time or for less time, time is never enough, or time is just too much.

Scott Thrift, Filmmaker and Designer, has produced an unconventional clock titled ‘Today’, that ditches the menial division of time into seconds that overwhelms. Instead Thrift seeks a more fluid perception of time. The Founder of ‘ThePresent’ lives in Brooklyn New York, and says the clock “is for people who have careers that are less about how many widgets you can make in an hour and more about the longer term thinking and being creative.”

I think the idea of re-framing time in this way serves as a gentle reminder to focus on the bigger picture, but whether or not the concept applies in a practical and modern utilitarian context is another matter.

 

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Alexa, what’s on my calendar tomorrow?

Amazon hopes to make your office smarter with the new Amazon Echo, personified through the word ‘Alexa’. Alexa offers over 1,000 features and skills that have been introduced since the virtual assistant’s very recent launch. While some features are better than others, Alexa can play your music, answer a vast array of questions, read you audiobooks, and cover the news. She can also control the lights switches, and even hail you an Uber!

Alexa’s exciting potential shines through Amazon’s Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), the opens up the technologies to third party developers and unlocks an endless potential for powerful integrations. In this way Amazon’s humble virtual assistant is at the forefront of the ‘Connected Home’ concept and could very well be the key to Home & Office automation becoming the reality we’re hoping for. Alexa is now a regular attendee in our Bilue boardroom.

Hot Tip: Ask Alexa if she can rap! 

 

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Shortcut the shortcuts

Most pixel pushers and software developers rely on keyboard shortcuts to maximise speed and efficiency when working. Keyboard shortcuts are fast, but what if there was something faster?

This finger-aware shortcuts system can detect how a single key is being pressed and can be configured to do whatever you want it to do. Pressing the letter ‘G’ with the index finger on your left hand would work exactly as you’d expect it would, but pressing it with the index finger on your right hand could perform an entirely different action. It could launch a google search, search a definition, or even copy and paste.

As humans become more computer literate, and children start to learn to type with keyboards at earlier and earlier ages, the potential for pushing the boundaries of human and computer interaction broadens. Interactions that were once incredibly difficult, such as pointing a mouse, and typing letters on a keyboard, are now second nature. This poses an fascinating question about the ways that humans will be interacting with technological interfaces 10, 20 and even 30 years from now!

 

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Shivering in the office?

Crank up the heat with a touch of a button. I for one, think this is genius. WristQue is a project from a group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who are creating a low-power wristband equipped with sensors that monitor how comfortable wearers feel to adjust temperature. Imagine if it knew you were in a particular meeting room at a certain time most days, it could set the preferred temperature before you arrive. Brilliant!

 

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Cleaner office air

This air purifier is designed to look better than the typical ugly plastic tower and, if you like, it can also grow a bunch of basil for your lunch. The EcoQube Air is essentially a mini-greenhouse, complete with lights and a soil-less hydroponic system that boosts air quality indoors. Better air quality = improved productivity!

 

 

 

Linkly #4 – WWDC Predictions

Linkly is a curated list of interesting products, topics and talking points from the world of design and technology. Last week was all about Google, so we only thought it was fair to give Apple a go too. WWDC is only a few weeks away and we’ve curated a list of predictions our team at Bilue are hoping will turn into a reality at this years event.

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iOS 10 Concepts

Macstories have published this concept video for iOS 10. Some of our fav ideas include the Control Centre updates, system dark mode,  revamped Messages app and improved iPad multitasking!

 

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Siri Smarts

There is speculation that Apple is planning on releasing a Siri SDK to allow developers to tap into Siri functionality and open up clever possibilities for apps inside the iOS ecosystem. We’re really interested in seeing how this might change how people interact with their devices and if talking to Siri in public becomes more conventional.

 

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iPhone 7 and iOS 10 rumours

Zac and Benjamin from Happy Hour have released this podcast where they talk through iPhone 7 and iOS 10 rumours. Also mentioned is Apple Car, how smart connectors could work with the phone, removing the iPhone home button and more! An easy listen where they talk through some interesting ideas.

 

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Apple Music Changes

This article makes mention of a colour scheme change from magenta to black and white, larger album artwork images, smart playlist functionality and a moments style feature where you can track what music you were listening to at particular points in time or place. Apple loves to pull the heart strings!

We’re all super excited to see what is unveiled at WWDC. If you have more to add on the topic, we’d love to hear your thoughts and predictions!

 

Linkly #3 – Google>Skynet

Linkly is a curated list of interesting products, topics and talking points from the world of design and technology. This week is all about Google…and some other cool things too, such as headphones that listen to YOU and power suits! Not referring to the 80’s style of suits with massive shoulder pads, although, they do empower…

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The 10 biggest announcements from Google I/O 2016

Definitely not a company that allow themselves to stand still, they have thrown a whole bunch of new ideas, apps and tech at a wall and now it’s the user’s time to figure out which will stick.

Google Home seems like the next obvious step for them in their attempts to create the next Skynet. This is their first step into a connected home but for me personally I find that having a stand alone “thing” won’t be of much use, until it can be connected to more elements in the home. I need the ability to check my front door is locked and that I turned off the iron while I’m at work, I need that in my life to help soothe my anxiety.

The other stand out is the VR framework called Daydream. It basically gives developers more access to the Google framework so they can further explore the possibilities of VR and VR gaming.

The last standout would be the updates to Google Search, making it act more like a personal assistant. It will be interesting to see how far they go with this for the next release especially in places like Australia, where we often get shafted from cool features. Let’s just hope it continues to be more helpful than Clippy.

But one feature presented at I/O needs it’s own link. See below.

 

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Google’s understated glory at I/O

Not the most flashy of things, not the sexiest or the most headline worthy, but easily the best from a user perspective is Google’s Instant Apps. How often do you download an app, simply to use it once or at max twice, only to leave it gathering dust in the app draw, until a day as to which you run out of storage and go on the hunt for useless apps to delete? Well Google have fixed this will a great, bleedingly obvious solution. Need an app for a one time use? Just run it virtually on your phone and close it when you’re done, no downloading, installing or anything. I for one think this is one of the best new features on Android N.

 

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These new Nura headphones listen to YOU!

Sounds like something from the Twilight Zone? Well i’m sure there is an episode about it somewhere, fan made or otherwise. These headphones with in-ears as well, analyse the small sounds generated by your ear canals. This all gets processed and then the headphones alter the sound they emit to create perfect harmony (pun! boom!). I think it’s an interesting idea, but whether or not it works is another matter, and whether it sounds pleasing is another matter again!

 

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A step towards sweet as POWER SUITS!

Think about how much untapped solar energy hits the earth everyday. That leads us perfectly into solar suits that we wear everyday to become all powerful superhumans. Imagine wearing a t-shirt that charged your phone, or hooking up your clothes that are on the clothesline to your electric dryer to dry some clothes! This newly developed solar cell membrane is like a band aid that allows solar energy to be stored. It’s hard to see now why this is important, but a few years down the track this could be the future, especially for powering wearables and even future Mars missions. POWER SUITS!!!

 

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Nokia is back!!!

They are back and now planning to run Android. After the initial smartphone boom, Nokia tried to keep in touch with their Symbian OS, but after a few years of pretty much no sales at all, they were bought by Windows to run the Windows Phone OS. After again, a few years of no sales, they kind of drifted off into the ether. But they are back and are planning to run Android, like they really have a choice. I would really like to see a stock Android phone from another company other than Google. 

 

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After Effects animations to iOS apps with SQUALL!

One of the toughest parts of being a designer is communicating an idea, especially when it comes to interactions and animations. One of the toughest parts of being a developer (I imagine) is understanding what a hipster Clarke Kent is trying to get at. “…like it’s gotta move outwards from the button, but fade in at the same time, maybe slightly delayed, I dunno we’ll see what it looks like.” Prototyping tools have come a long way in helping with this but there is still the gap in between a Prototype and the actual app. After Effects is not strictly a prototyping tool, but rather a really powerful and loved animation tool, being able to animate in After Effects and bring it in exactly as it is into the iOS app, seems like crazy talk. But SQUALL allows you to do exactly this. I think app loading pages are soon to get some really beautiful animations. 

 

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Twenty-two Ways Ramsay Bolton Could Die

Storytelling still plays a very large part in out lives, if we think back to the days of when we were wearing bear pants and hunting mammoths, we were telling stories via cave paintings and “ohw” and “ahh”ing to each other. I find it amazing that Game of Thrones have created two of the most hated characters in all of storytelling, I know that every GOT fan is just waiting for the day Ramsey dies, because he is the new Joffery….WARNING: that was a massive spoiler. My money is on Reek…or whatever his name is now. 

A Little Delight

When designing software we tend to be focussed on the “overall look and feel”. That is the combination of the visual design, or the UI and usability.

However, as technology steadily progresses, digital products, be it hardware or software, are becoming more simplified and usable.

So what does this mean for design? Are we all heading towards a monotonous, standardized wasteland of templates and patterns?

Well, maybe. But if products intend to stand out from their increasingly capable competitors they’ll have to utilize a much more delicate element of design: emotion.

Products that are designed with emotion in mind have the ability to ‘delight’ their users, surfacing positive emotions. This, in turn, encourages frequent engagement which transforms a functional product into a pleasurable one.

Below are a number of examples of how design elements can be used to delight.

 

 

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Mailchimp – If you continually click MailChimp’s high five hand, the hand will start turning red.

 

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Gilt.com – When entering your email address in the sign up form, the domain name will autocomplete for the common domains. 

 

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Google Hangout – When you type “Happy new year” at the start of the year, a cute, fun animated GIF will display in the conversation.

 

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Medium – The feed cards highlight how long an article will take to read.

 

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Digiday – Articles have a ‘TLDR’ (Too Long; Didn’t Read) button to summarise the article for you.

 

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Google Hangouts – When anyone asks `Where are you` in the conversation, a ‘share your location’ button automatically appears.

 

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Google Translate – When to listen to the translation audio for the second time it is dictated at a slower speed.

For more great examples of the little details that make big differences, check out http://littlebigdetails.com.

Linkly #2: Zuckerbots Rollout!

Linkly is a curated list of interesting products, topics and talking points from the world of design and technology. This week we highlight Facebook’s F8 conference, designs big hitters and a t-shirt that helps you travel.

 

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Zuckerbots Rollout!

Facebook’s F8 conference is one of the tech worlds biggest events and this years event had plenty of interesting talking points. But the one that took centre stage was the launch of Facebook Messenger’s chatbots, an artificial intelligence platform that allows businesses to provide contextual, and automated interactions with users. 

 

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Digital intimacy

IDEO, the north star of design studios, have decided to start their first podcast series: How Might We. The first episode is an interesting exploration into how technology is changing the way we view and relate to intimacy.

 

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Bilingual in seconds…kind of.

Ever been travelling in a foreign country and found yourself making exaggerated hand signals and weird sound effects in an attempt to get your message across? Well, the creators of ICONSPEAK have and they decided to design the travellers communication utility belt in the form of a t-shirt.

 

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Interview with a Designer

An in-depth interview with design legend Milton Glaser, and his greatest client, Brooklyn Brewery founder Steve Hindy. An insightful look at a thirty year client relationship and friendship built on mutual admiration and respect.

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Plug in your plant

Yep, just plug your phone into your pot plant and let Photosynthesis do the rest. I want to believe that this could replace your traditional power socket charger, but have my doubts. No matter what, it’s a nice idea and a good way to add some life to a particularly bland element of the tech life.

 

Game on!

Many of the Bilue staff have a long commute to and from work which leaves plenty of time for gaming. I asked everyone around the office what their favourite games to play were and why. The games ranged from simple problem solving concepts to dramatic adventures through rough terrain. With a combination of visually rich imagery and awesome sound effects, this list should help you out on your next train ride home. Get your game on!!

 

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Alto’s Adventure

Anna: I love how the visuals transition through various times of day and weather patterns, there’s an infinite mountain and a series of goals that need to be tackled. The goals are hard enough to keep you feeling slightly infuriated when you can’t do them but easy enough that you feel like a pro. The sound effects and landscape give off a soothing vibe which puts you in a good mood for the day. A great little game to keep me entertained on my train ride.

  

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Monument Valley 

Min: Beautiful graphics aside, what sets this game apart for me is the movement in an isometric aesthetic; where the designs appear 3 dimensional & at a 30 degree angle on all sides. It means that every screen is an illusion and the constraints are unclear, which gives the game such depth and allure. In an isometric world, they’ve managed to make the complex simple.

 

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Kiwanuka

Sye: I am not sure what it is about this game in particular that I enjoy, maybe it is the bright colour palette, the simplicity of the mechanics, or the difficulty of later puzzles? More likely though, a combination of the above.


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Two Dots 

Anna: There are a never ending amount of levels so great to just keep plugging away at. It’s a simple problem solving concept that kicks your brain into gear for the day.

 

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Lumina City

Sye: Lumino City’s shining achievement is the deep sense of warmth achieved by its story, art direction and more stunningly the fact that the “city” was first modelled with real paper and cardboard. This deeply artistic approach drives a sense of comfortable familiarness and adventure that keeps bringing me back.

 

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Path to Luma

Marcelo: It’s a relaxing game with some intelligent puzzles where your goal is to help recover planets from pollution. The artwork is astonishing and the soundtrack very relaxing.

 

For anyone wanting more…

1. Check your passport is valid and book a flight to the next annual Game Developers Conference which is otherwise known as the GDC. Ok maybe not…but be sure to check out their website for a look inside the future vision of the gaming industry. 

2. Be sure to watch Good Game (Episode 10). They did a special on GDC last week. Lots of interesting stuff! 

Linkly #1

Every second of everyday thousands of new entries enter their way into the internet. Sometimes it’s hard to find value in the sea of countless cat videos, memes and YouTube videos of people unpacking things they just bought.

Linkly is a curated list of just some of the links that we came across and found interesting this week. The ones that inspired us into thinking more about design and technology and how we can make our lives richer.

 

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Less flowers and trees more climbable rock walls!

A really great concept of an outdoors, adventure playground in the middle of New York City. Although a pretty far stretch, we would love to see it influence the next generation of city park designs and giving people the opportunity and even excuse in some cases to live a more active life.

 

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Space X “launches” themselves into the record books

 

In 1969 NASA scientists sent three astronauts into space, travelling at 11,000km/h, they successfully got two of these guys on to the surface of the moon to play golf and then, got them back home with no harm done to them except a bad case of Jetlag. All this was done with a NASA computer no more powerful than the last smartphone you chucked in the bin. The tech may seem funny now, and really kinda irresponsible, but looking back now, their technological advance pushed us into unseen territory.

Now we see the new generation of space tech. Seeing Space X launch a rocket guided purely by wire and then land the whole rocket onto an autonomous barge in the middle of the ocean sent chills down my neck and makes me think we are only scratching the surface of what we can do.

 


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“Anti-design” creates the most comfortable runner ever!

Designing the most simple, purest thing, can the be the hardest thing in the world. Negative space that was once your friend becomes the enemy, keylines your old faithful, turn their back on you and make your designs look like a blueprint, but maybe we should stop “trying” to design.

The creator behind the world’s most comfortable runners explains his approach to anti design.

 

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NASA image of the day

Second Space nerd article i know, this one isn’t too complicated i just really like being able to see the sound barrier being broken.

 

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And lastly something to warm the soul

These are the types of things that really inspire me. I love music, more so drums and tech and design, and there is no better payoff for me than to see them come together to help someone achieve their goal and fulfill their passions even though sometimes the barriers can be unfairly high.

It’s a simple solution, iPad running software, into an amp. Simple but one of the most meaningful.

Design inspiration: Gradients

Over the last little while some of the team at Bilue have been finding ways to relax. You may have read our Meditation post from a few months back. Well, to continue down this path of finding ways to zen out we’ve chosen to collate some of our favourite visuals that help us relaaaax. Use them for your wallpaper, stick them up near your desk, we guarantee you that gazing into one of these juicy gradients whilst listening to some calming tunes for a few minutes will leave you feeling refreshed.

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Sky series by Eric Cahan

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Double Vision by James Turrell

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Visual Gradients by Jordan Provo.

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ManvsMachine x Nike by Ten Studio.

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Gradient Wave by Subliming.

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Zero by Sydney Sie.

death-valley-gradient.jpgDeath Valley by Jordan Sullivan.

 

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