“Can you at least tell me if there’s a possibility of coming back to Chicago after the 18 month training is done?“

 

“We do have a Chicago office, but no I can’t say.”

 

Not one detail could be shared regarding what my job would be, where or with whom. The one thing they did share; “You won’t have to go to Afghanistan if you don’t want to.”

 

They wanted electrical engineers, but when I think about that phone call what they really wanted were adrenaline junkies – high on the idea that one day they’d be trained to break someone’s arm with a pinky toe, or improvise explosives from half a can of soda and magnets from an old VCR.

 

But I live on the west side of Chicago you guys. Though many people here are very nice, and it isn’t quite the hellscape some might believe – I’ve seen a guy poop in the middle of the street. And yea you can see that outside Wrigley after a game, but the point being I’ve seen my fair share of junkies. They’re usually too tweaked to know they even have toes much less how to break an arm with one. And good luck getting them to take apart a VCR – they don’t usually have the dexterity to work with those tiny screwdrivers.

 

I think about that phone call every now and again, and as I wrap this first month at Doejo I wonder what part it played in the string of events that led from engineer of electrons to well – engineer of electrons. The device you’re reading this blog on, and the devices with which it was designed/coded/served are driven by never-ending streams of digital signalry, and them thar signals ain’t made from ice cream or delicious cheese. I’ve designed electronics for over a decade at this point, and if cellphones or laptop displays had ice cream inside I would’ve found the crap out of it by now.

 

Similarities to hardware design teams:

These talented people work incredibly hard. Projects at Doejo vary in complexity, but are front-loaded with a lot of creative thought put toward making robust, viable, and easy to use products – while staying flexible to evolving project needs. Despite a team’s best effort, sometimes a project schedule may slip. People don’t dwell on it or point fingers. They work together and work the problem. They get it done.

 

Differences:

Doejo doesn’t do much with electronics (not yet muhahah), but the projects they’re involved in require the skill-set of many disciplines – which means there isn’t the homogeneous kind of environment I’ve usually seen. I’m nothing if not adaptable though, so I don’t bring anything from my time in big-corporate to this culture that isn’t truly going to be helpful (except the chocolate-chip cookie overflow from when my wife feels like baking). Other differences in the office include: an almost inordinately-high use of animated GIFs, great coffee, and fantastic catered lunches. To all of which I say, “what the shit is happening here?”

 

I’m hopeful the things I bring from my former career (I don’t mean cookies) get better as time goes on (the cookies can’t get better), and I’m not spending my day learning new tools, jargon and trying to wrap my head around the exciting, beast-of-a project I’m on. I look forward to building things with this cool group of nerds, and all the new things I’m bound to learn from them. Except for street pooping you guys – I’m good there.

Al Candelario


Lately I’ve been blown away by the graphics incorporated into UI and HUD for visual effects in film. It’s an interesting genre of VFX that seems to be getting more and more attention lately when it comes to design and animation. The time, thought, and effort being put into creating well designed interfaces and displays for these fictional future technologies really puts an extra layer of realness into the film, pulling the viewer just a little bit further into the story. There are even individuals now specializing in just Graphics User Interfaces for Visual Effects. Here is a small group of some of my recent favorites.

SIMIAN GUI by Kristoffer Brady

Kristoffer Brady just recently put together a great montage and case study for his work on an upcoming independent film, SIMIAN. With over a decade of experience in design he has now has taken his career towards focused on GUI design and visual effects.

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(more…)

Adam


With only two days until we open our doors, SPACE is taking shape more and more every minute. This past Saturday we welcomed a Dinner Lab Chicago into our not yet finished space to host an awesome event and it turned out even better than expected.  Dinner Lab is an organization created to bring strangers around the same dinner table for a social dining experiment that puts the spotlight on up and coming chefs.  The cocktails were well crafted and the tapas style food preparation was absolutely delicious.  I could have easily indulged in two to three rounds of every course.  I got there early to make sure the folks from Dinner Lab were set and ready to go.  The transformation was fantastic. They used our desks as tables lined up down the center of the loft space and delicately set each one with menus and small votive candles.  I took a deep breath and then sat back and watched as group after group filed into our new space.  I’ve spent nine weeks anticipating what it might be like to finally feel the energy that comes from a group of people gathered in one place.  It was more than I had imagined.  I watched as people looked around, marveled at the view, laughed and shared stories under the quaint string lights that dangled above the tables.  The success of this event means there are more to come.  I’m ready.  Let’s open the doors!

SPACE & DinnerLab Collage logoWritten by Heather Bodie

Zhenia Koval


Say you have a responsive website design that very image intensive, as I did recently. You want to ensure the clients images come across clear and sharp on all devices, but you don’t want to have to worry about mobile devices needlessly loading in larger versions of the image that they won’t end up displaying.

Given the slow pace of modern browser adoptation, it will be years before we’re able to widely support to the proposed <picture> and srcset solutions. But here’s a quick look at how these they will work.

The picture element wraps a list of one or more <source> elements declaring a media query and a srcset.
The comma seperated list in the srcset attribute indicates the name of the file to load depending on the pixel density ratio of the display: `large.jpg` for normal screens, `large-@2x` for Retina displays. Below the `source` elements is a fallback image. With this markup, we can expect the following behavior:

  • Mobile devices would load small.jpg
  • Screens larger than 600px load large.jpg,
  • Screens larger than 600px with a screen pixel density ratio of more than 2.0 would load large-@2x.jpg
  • Devices that do not support the picture element will load the small.jpg image by default.

Luckily, through a combination of polyfills, we can reproduce rough the same effect.

DPI

Enter Picturefill.js

Picturefill.js is a Javascript polyfill available in two flavors: Version 2, which mimics the approach used by the <picture> element for use in the here and now and Version 1,
which uses <span> elements and custom data attributes to accomplish the same behavior. Here’s what Picturefill 1.0 looks like in action.

Practical Usage

A lot of my work at Doejo involves building sites on WordPress. Naturally, clients tend to manage these sites on their own after launch and it’s impractical to expect them to upload both a normal and Hi-DPI version of each image they upload in the Media Uploaded.

To assist in the process, I like to install WP Retina 2x. This plugin will generate both versions of on an image in each of the themes specified image sizes, when provided with a quality high resolution source image. WP Retina gives you several options for configuration and my preference is to use the Retina.js option. Retina.js will determine if a visitor is using a Hi-DPI device and if so, will attempt to load Hi-DPI version of each image, assuming they’re named with the standard ‘-@2x’ suffix convention.

So what does that mean? It means we can leave off the redundant data-src <span>s for the Hi-DPI images and get a much cleaner, DRY-er code block.

Now, let’s throw in some WordPress.

Bryan Paronto

Web Developer


We had the greatest pleasure working with host Anna Lyudkovskaya of Вкусный год (Delicious year). Check out the promo video!

Zhenia Koval