This site showcases the (mostly) digital work of Andrew DiFiore from both Virtual Arts Studios and answerYES Interactive as well as random thoughts and experimental projects too volatile to be contained anywhere else.

 
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    This month’s Cool Tool post goes to FFFFallback, a handy little bookmarklet that lets web designers easily test different fallback fonts for their web-based creations.

    To install, simply drag the bookmarklet to your browser’s toolbar (only works for browsers that use WebKit such as Chrome, Safari, and FireFox). To use, simply click the bookmarklet and it will scan the current web page’s CSS for existing Web Fonts and list them on the right side of your browser along with input fields for changing the fonts and font styles (e.g. font-size, color, line-spacing).

    FFFFallback was created by two self-proclaimed “professional nerds” Josh Brewer and Mark Christian who eke out a living at a little known company called Twitter. You can download the source code on github.

    Looking for Web Fonts to fill out your @font-face tag, start with Google’s open-source fonts (with over 400 fonts). If you don’t mind paying a monthly fee for fonts then try Adobe’s Typekit (with over 700 fonts). There is a free plan under Typekit but you only have access to a “trial library”  (at last count 192 fonts) and requires you to display the Typekit badge.

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    Everything connected to the Internet requires an IP address, a dotted quad number that looks something like this: 192.168.100.100. This is the current Internet Protocol (IP) known as IPv4.

    Aside: given the vast number of new devices accessing the Internet, IPv4 is quickly running out of unique addresses and is likely to be replaced by IPv6 but that’s a topic for another post.

    When working with Internet Protocols it is sometimes handy to verify what your IP address is (e.g. proxy detection, connecting to a remote desktop, or troubleshooting with tech support). This is where this month’s Cool Tool comes in.

    What Is My IP Address not only reports back your actual IP address number but all the info associated with it such as city, state, country, and company name. Ever wonder how some websites “know” your location? This is how.

    Cool Tool of the Month: FileZilla

    This month’s Cool Tool spot belongs to FileZilla, one of the best open-source FTP, SFTP, and FTP over SSL/TLS (FTPS) clients available on the market for free (under the GNU General Public License). FileZilla is cross-platform, supporting Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and more. As of this writing the latest stable version of the FileZilla Client is 3.5.2 and for the FileZilla Server it is 0.9.40. Documentation of both the Client and the Server is made available online at the FileZilla Project Wiki.

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    Cool Tool of the Month: Adobe Kuler

    I’ve been using this Cool Tool since it was release a few years back and like many of the products that come out of Adobe, it just gets better with age. Adobe Kuler is a free web-based application for creating and sharing color themes. It is incredibly powerful tool for Web designers but quite frankly it is pretty useful tool for anyone who works with color themes for anything (such as packaging or interior design).

    Adobe applies the same color-theory algorithms found in its Creative Suite so you can easily generate color themes from scratch (using the color wheel), from an uploaded photo (or pulled in from Flickr), or started with one of 500 million themes donated by the Kuler community. Once created, your color theme can be imported into Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Fireworks, or Flash. I could go on but this video from Adobe TV does a fine job summing up the features.

    Recently, Adobe rolled out Kuler for Android v3.1 or higher (no iOS version as of yet but Adobe is working on it and you can be notified here when it is released).

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    Cool Tool of the Month: Onswipe

    I was actually going to post Onswipe as a Cool Tool back in June but found the start-up was still experiencing some growing pains. Nevertheless, I was optimistic that the good folks at Onswipe (namely co-founders Jason Baptiste Andres Barreto) would grow up fast. And they did, culling $6 million in VC funding for trailblazing.

    Onswipe bills itself as a magazine-style publishing and advertising platform for tablet devices. They have some big name publishers like Ziff Davis, Slate, and Marie Claire. Nice. But the idea I really like is Onswipe makes it “insanely easy” to convert ordinary WordPress blogs into a slick touch-screen friendly e-zines. They do this with open-souce PHP and NodeJS with a MongoDB database on the back-end and HTML5/CSS3 (and their own JavaScript framework called SwipeCore) on the front-end.

    It is pretty simple to get started: create an account, select a layout, and pick a custom URL like touch.virtual-arts.com. You can have Onswipe auto-detect the user’s device and redirect to this URL but you will have to update the primary domain DNS settings with a CNAME record (call your domain registrar to help you with this step). The application also lets you specify a Google Analytics ID for tracking site usage.

    Overall a nice first step in the right direction if you don’t mind relinquishing some design. Clearly the greater advantage is to ad-driven sites with lots of content. I’ve yet to delve that deep into the publication end and suspect there are some limitations but the convenience of delivering content to touch-screen devices without the hassle of redesigning your site is compelling (at least for the short-term). Something to keep an eye on.