IOT/Wearable Digital Design Engineer

Posted in Jobs on 17 August 2015

Step inside our world and you'll find one brilliant mind after another working together in a spirit of collaboration that is simply contagious. And through this shared dedication-this culture of innovation and exploration-we do more than deliver the latest technologies. We deliver the future. See for yourself. Look Inside.

That's where you come in. We need innovators and proven communicators like you to push our thinking. We need your strong collaboration and organizational skills, as well as your ability to effectively work with and manage teams. You will help push us to the next level. Joining Intel's Internet of Things means joining a dynamic team at a company that has established a reputation for innovation.

As a Digital Design Engineer, you will play an integral role in contributing within experienced teams to the successful definition of new Intel products whilst working closely with the Architecture, SoC Security, Physical and Manufacturing teams to ensure the design will achieve right-first-time silicon in high volume production.

Other responsibilities include:
Responsible for the logic implementation of complex design block(s) using RTL coding techniques Working with pre-Silicon validation engineers to develop cluster level directed/random tests and environments Working with the Physical Design (Layout) team on Synthesis, Formal Verification and Timing Convergence

Required Experience Hons. Bachelors/Masters in Electronic Engineering /Computer Science or equivalent
1 to 5 years of direct industry experience
A background in RTL level Digital IC Design using System Verilog* and/or Verilog*
ASIC and/or SoC design experience
A self-starter with the ability to manage your own time effectively
Ability to work well in a diverse team environment
Experience with industry standard development tools and methodologies Experience in unit level validation environment development, test plan generation and test case implementation for the verification of design block(s)

Please apply here.

Systems Automation Engineer

Posted in Jobs on 17 August 2015
Job Description
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is looking for a best-in-class Systems Automation Engineer for the Network Automation Operation team in Dublin, Ireland. This team is working in the heart of AWS global network. We are looking to hire motivated, best-in-class System Engineers for our Dublin engineering centre. The engineers within our team are instrumental in allowing us drive the stability and sustainability of our next-generation networks and to discover innovative ways to automate and scale our network as we expand globally.

Our ideal candidate is highly autonomous, very detail oriented, possesses strong written and verbal communication skills and has significant experience of supporting large scale, enterprise class networks. Systems Automation Engineers work hand-in-hand with Software Development teams and Network Operations to automate and invent new ways of operating Amazon's Next-Generation Network. Excellent written and verbal communication skills and an ability to interact efficiently with peers and customers is required, as well as experience initiating, driving and managing in-event conference calls. The desire and ability to work in a fast paced, collaborative environment is essential. In addition to providing top-tier management and support of Amazon's vast network infrastructure, Systems Automation Engineers are expected to develop best practices, refine operational procedure and constantly think pro-actively and with innovation.

This is an excellent opportunity to join Amazon's world class technical teams, working with some of the best and brightest engineers while also developing your skills and furthering your career within one of the most innovative and progressive technology companies anywhere.

  • Automate select network operation tasks through creation and maintenance of tools.
  • Be part of the team that shapes the Automation future in Network Operations
  • Deliver simple, sustainable and repeatable solutions and processes.
  • Work closely with our Network Engineering teams to ensure fast, smooth roll-out of new designs and products.
  • Drive standards across the network and ensure that we are fully compliant to those standards and policies.
  • Identify and troubleshoot recurring platform issues. Effective escalation of same to mid- and senior-level engineering teams for full resolution
  • Create and review documentation and process regarding recurring issues, new standard operating procedures, knowledge transfer material, etc.
Additional Responsibilities
  • Automate select network administration tasks through creation and maintenance of scripts and tools
  • Reduce the end-to-end cost of delivering packets.
  • Mentor more junior staff in network automation, including involvement in the formulation of a structured training plan
  • Participation in entry level interviewing
Basic Qualifications
  • Our ideal candidate is highly autonomous, very detail oriented, possesses strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills and an ability to interact efficiently with peers and customers is required.
  • The desire and ability to work in a fast paced, collaborative environment is essential.
  • In depth experience in working with Linux/Unix environments.
  • Excellent Ethernet and IP networking knowledge and extensive experience in the application of IP protocols.
  • Substantial background in large scale datacenter network implementations and support.
  • Bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering or related technical discipline
  • Software development skills are required, specifically in Python with 2+ years of experience.
Preferred Qualifications
  • Knowledge of major Internet routing protocols such BGP and OSPF
  • Knowledge of network hardware and packet forwarding architectures.
  • Strong Linux experience from provisioning to performance tuning, and a solid grasp on operating system fundamentals.
  • Excellent analytical skills.
  • Graduate degree a plus.

Please apply here.

Software Engineer

Posted in Jobs on 17 August 2015

Software Engineer to join our development team. As part of this team, you’ll help develop products which enable our customers to streamline activities across search engines, comparison shopping sites and online marketplaces. We partner with the biggest names on the internet such as eBay, Google, Amazon, Bing, and Shopzilla. As a member of our product development team, you will have the opportunity to contribute and participate in the following capacities:

  • Participate in a fast paced agile development team building enterprise grade software systems.
  • Design and build advanced software solutions that scale across hundreds of servers and meet aggressive fault tolerance standards.
  • Work closely with numerous “A-List” players in the e-commerce industry, including Google, eBay, PayPal, Amazon, Microsoft, and more!
  • Identify, expose, and crush inefficiencies in our products, processes, and infrastructure. Thrive in an environment that challenges you to not just ask “Why?”, but also propose “How about this?”
  • Work with a team of peers who are smart, professional, pull their own weight, and share a passion for what they’re creating.

Required or Desired Skills

​ ​Ultimately we are looking for smart, self-motivated engineers who are excited about solving hard problems and thrive in a team environment. Attitude and raw ability are far more important to us then specific line item experience. With that understood, there are a few areas of experience that we would especially like to see as follows:


  • Bachelors degree or higher, preferably in Computer Science or related field
  • Strong familiarity and experience, at least 4 years, in C# with Microsoft .Net programming technologies on Windows-based platforms (IIS, Microsoft SQL Server, MSMQ, etc.).
  • Database query authoring experience, preferably with Microsoft SQL Server
  • Experience with XML, Web Services, SOAP, and/or REST
  • Working knowledge of ASP.Net and/or HTML
  • Ability to implement architecture and design patterns to help ensure that systems scale for well into the future.

Top Performers exhibit these characteristics as well:

  • Proven track record of creating scalable, industrial strength software products that scale to dozens or hundreds of servers in a distributed, fault tolerant manner.
  • Use of Agile Software Development practices such as Scrum, Kanban and TDD.
  • Experience with enterprise-scale transactional systems.

Please apply here.


The Benefits of Nature Based Event Design

Posted in Tips on 17 August 2015

Stepping off the plane and into the Pacific Passage after a busy work trip has to be one of my favourite things in the world. The Passage connects arrivals from US destinations to Canada Customs at the Vancouver Airport. Designed by Aldrich Pears, entry into the hall grounds me immediately with a blow of cool air, the sound of the sea, and the sight of salt-bleached cedar and fern-rich forests. As I step under the sheltering wings of a towering Thunderbird I settle into the calm happiness that is home.

The space is typically in dramatic contrast from where I’ve just come: the drab, concrete grey of an exhibit hall, or the tired anywhere-ness of a hotel ballroom. Striking me how much we have to gain when we bring nature into our event spaces and consider the benefits of biophilic design.


Benefits of Nature-Based Event Spaces

Proponents of “biophilic design” propose that humans are hard-wired to want to connect with nature. And that time spent in natural spaces can help reduce stress and improve health and cognitive function. TerraPin Bright Green LLC puts forward strong economic and social arguments for integrating nature-based design into a variety of buildings, including:

– Offices: Creating biophilic work environments for many of New York City’s office workers would result in over $470 million in recouped productivity value.
– Retail: Customers judge businesses surrounded by nature and natural features to be worthy of prices up to 25% higher than businesses with no access to nature.
– Schools: A study of daylighting in schools showed children learn 20-26% faster in natural daylight.
– Hospitals: Patients with a view to nature, instead of a nondescript wall, are more likely to experience hospital stays that are 8.5% shorter.

But what about events?

In the report Human Spaces, Professor Sir Cary Cooper indicates biophilic design helps:

– Increase well-being
– Improve productivity
– Enhance creativity
– Increase the likelihood of positive emotions

All helpful to event managers seeking to create happy attendees!

Naturally-designed spaces can also provide a sense of place, connecting event participants to the host destination in a more physical way, reminding them of the unique location they are in. This is particularly profound if native vegetation and authentic indigenous elements can be integrated.


The Challenge of Nature-Based Event Spaces

It all sounds great in theory, but the reality can be a different story. After all, a venue is not about to knock out a wall beside your meeting room so you can re-invigorate attendees with a dose of natural light following afternoon break. And physically taking your group outdoors presents a whole new set of challenges from safety to weather, added transport cost, access to technology and heck, maybe bugs!

Another thing to keep in mind: while LEED®-certified green building spaces may operate efficiently and sustainably, it does not guarantee the building will stimulate the human responses promoted by biophilic design. A venue space that does both might be considered a holy grail of “green” event venue design.


Making Nature-Based Event Space a Reality

Assuming you aren’t prepared to move outdoors entirely, you might approach nature-scaping your event in two ways: seeking out ready-built indoor spaces that have biophilic features, or attempting to transform a space through temporary décor.


Ready-Built Natural Spaces:

Ask your CVB or site selection company to identify venues and hotels that have done a good job of nature-based design. Specific things to look for include:

– Outdoor terraces and balconies that can be used for function space
– Views of the water, such as the ocean, lakes or ponds
– Abundant natural light through skylights and large windows
– Green walls and water features
– Gardens and outdoor greenspace
– Décor that uses natural materials, like wood and stone

Do-It-Yourself Outdoors-In

When designing a temporary event space with natural elements, it pays to think in patterns and senses. Terrapin Bright Green LLC provides a great primer on 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design. Translated for event managers their approach might call for:

Seeing nature: If lacking in the venue design, this might be achieved through digital signage and walls, backdrops, artwork and murals that include elements of nature. Weaving in live (or quality artificial) greenery can also help, whether that includes live herbal centerpieces instead of cut floral, hedge rows instead of stanchions or something as ambitious as an indoor garden, forest or water feature. Colour can also impact experience, and lead to different biophilic responses. For example, blue and white colours were found to instill motivation in office workers in EMEA, according to Terrapin Bright Green. While green, blue and white added a sense of happiness.

Hearing nature: This can be pretty tough in a bustling event environment. Which highlights the real opportunity: provision of a respite area where attendees can find something lacking at most events – peace and quiet! Perhaps in the form of a sponsored “zen” lounge, meditation space or personal recharge room. Try to select a location that is a quiet as possible, and perhaps includes headsets with natural sounds of running water, ocean waves or bird song.

Feeling nature: Textures such as stone, wood, sand, water and grass stimulate biophilic responses, attracting us to explore and touch. So think of these materials as you design onsite hubs, lounges and exhibit booths. If you’re looking to create an intimate and relaxing conversation space, get inspired by a campground theme, complete with a cozy fire. Wanting to stimulate reflection? Consider a tabletop sand garden.

On the wooden walls at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Patterns of nature: From seashells to rings on a tree, the patterns of nature rarely take straight edges and 90-degree corners. Curved pathways, circular lounge spaces and wave-like backdrops align with patterns found in nature, so consider them as an inspiration for staging and exhibit designs. Draped fabric that can billow and move can provide contrasts of light and shadow and lend an airy and creative feel to your space. Be careful, though, to not allow curved designs and superfluous materials to increase costs and waste.

Rhythms of nature: There is nothing that blinds the senses to a day passing quite like spending it in a windowless exhibit hall. Yet this is the reality for many tradeshows. Think about how indoor lighting or digital signs can be adapted to help convey the passing of the day. Perhaps by moving from dawn to dusk through a series of transitioning colours. And don’t forget about energy rhythms, which (if you’re like me) zero out at mid-afternoon break. This again highlights the opportunity to create places of refuge at your event where participants can seek some respite (where, yes, there may even be napping pods).

Indigenous elements of (human) nature: An aspect of nature-based design stresses connection with things indigenous to the land, including its people. Adding indigenous elements to your event design can be a powerful way to ground your attendees not only in the place they are in, but the people who live there, too. Event design elements might come through authentic interactions with First Peoples at welcoming ceremonies, for example. Or perhaps inclusion of their culture and artifacts in your event in respectful ways.

In Conclusion

While it’s not for every event, integrating principles of biophilic design into event space can help relax, restore and stimulate attendees. Countering the emotional impact of traditional concrete and boxed-in meeting environments that can leave us feeling deprived and depleted. What’s the best of nature-inspired space you’ve experienced at an event?




Apple September 9 Event: Here's What We Know About iPhone 6s (Or iPhone 7) So Far

Posted in News on 12 August 2015

It's hard to believe that it's only one month until the next Apple event. Soon enough we will be introduced to a slew of new Apple products.

The date for the event has not officially been announced, but speculation suggests that it will be on Sept. 9, which would line up with previous Apple event dates.

Of course, the main event is likely to be the introduction of a new iPhone, most likely to be called the iPhone 6s, although there's no official word that it won't be the iPhone 7.

Given the fact that last year's device was a rather large overhaul, it is likely that changes to the iPhone this year will be a little subtler. It is unlikely that we will see any large changes to the design of the iPhone, but we may see other tweaks, especially under the hood.

For example, it is expected that Force Touch, a technology that was first implemented in the new MacBook computer, will be included in the iPhone 6s. This will essentially give users another layer of control over their phones, allowing them to simply touch for one function, and then hard press the display for another. It is unlikely that Apple will put any important menus or options under Force Touch, but it will likely offer access to menus and features that could speed up the user's interaction with their device.

Apart from the Force Touch display, Apple will also implement its latest mobile processor, the A9 processor. It is expected that we will also see an improved camera system, a better LTE chip that offers a faster Internet connection, and other features.

The iPhone has traditionally had a hard time when it comes to battery life, and while the battery itself may not be substantially improved, iOS 9, the operating system running on the iPhone 6s, will include a power-saving mode that could save up to three hours of battery life on the iPhone. Some also suggest that the device will include support for USB-C, which would charge the device much faster. Others say that wireless charging may finally be supported on the iPhone 6s.

Alongside the iPhone 6, there will be a number of other products revealed by Apple at the event. For example, it is expected that Apple will unveil a new Apple TV set-top box, which may even be released with an Internet-based video streaming service.


Apple is considering a huge change to the next iPhone. Here's how app makers are getting ready

Posted in News on 12 August 2015

When Apple unveils its next iPhone, there’s one area that’s expected to get a significant change — its screen.

Analysts and industry watchers expect the iPhone 6S will add Force Touch, which would let users press the screen like a button, to deliver a different command than simply touching the screen.

Apple hasn't confirmed this, but analysts that monitor the company's supply chain regularly and reporters with excellent track records have all said they’ve seen evidence that Force Touch is coming to the iPhone.

Force Touch is a new feature Apple has added to some of its most recent products, such as the Apple Watch, new MacBook, and new MacBook Pro models.

For example, you can press down on the Apple Watch’s screen to change its watch face. Or, applying slight pressure to the new MacBook’s track pad allows you to quickly perform certain functions — such as adding an event to a calendar or previewing a link in Safari.

Force Touch could fundamentally change Apple's most important product. Like Touch ID changed how we unlock our iPhones and pay for apps, Force Touch could make it a lot easier to zip around iOS.

That’s why some developers are already thinking about how Force Touch could be used to improve their apps, even though Apple hasn’t announced its new iPhone yet. Here are the biggest things we learned from chatting with app creators about how they view Force Touch.


It could be really useful for sketching and photography apps

A feature such as Force Touch could make it easier to access things like submenus within apps without distracting you from what you’re doing within the app, said Cole Rise, creator of the popular iPhone photography app Litely.

“I’ve definitely been thinking a lot about it in terms of its capabilities,” Rise said to Business Insider. “Say, if you wanted to change the color of something, you could Force Touch and it would change that.”

Force Touch allows you to access various options and shortcuts on the Mac today, but Rise has already started imaging the simplicity it could bring to his app beyond this.

“I think [of] Force Touch as a before and after,” he said. “We have this awesome before and after thing where we have to use two fingers, and people don’t necessarily know how to do that without reading the instructions. “[You place] two fingers on the screen to see how your picture changes. Force Touch may be a really good way to alleviate that.”

Matt Ronge, the creator of Astropad — an app that lets artists and photographers use their iPad to markup projects on their Mac — is also thinking about how Force Touch could benefit the iPhone version of his app coming later this month.

“We really want to take advantage of the variations in pressure,” he said. “Let’s say you’re doing some masking or you need to work on a background. Just using your finger you can get some pressure sensitivity.”


Force Touch could be huge for gaming

Gaming is another area that could benefit from Force Touch.

Paul Murphy, the CEO of Playdots, the company behind the successful games Dots and Two Dots, said additions like this provide inspiration for new gameplay mechanics in his apps.

"When we add a new game mechanic, it might just look like another 50 levels, but it's like a completely new game," he said. "The effort in creating the mechanic is like creating a new game."

Murphy said that whenever there's a big hardware or software change to the iPhone, his team is thinking about how it can shape future games. He said his team is currently working on new mechanics, but didn't mention any specific plans for Force Touch.

He did, however, cite the Lotus visual effect that appeared in newer, recently introduced Dots levels as an example of how the team changes gameplay with new mechanics.

"When the Lotus dot touches the board, it transforms the other dots adjacent to it, so the things that are coming out are new bits of content like that," he said.


AppleIt will probably provide some useful shortcuts

Rise pointed out another potential use case for Force Touch: Rather than shaking your phone to undo an action, such as typing in a text message, Force Touch could provide an easier way to backtrack.

“I think Force Touch is a bit more conducive, and it’s better for the user,” he said.

Erez Pilosof, who created the email-messenger app Hop, said he’s planning to use Force Touch as an alternative to the long-press gesture.

“Both will trigger the same action, but if you Force Touch it will be a few milliseconds faster,” he said in an email to Business Insider. “So basically I believe Force Touch will be the equivalent of a right mouse click.”


But it will have to be really simple in order to catch on, and some developers are still skeptical

Force Touch will only add value to the iPhone if it’s implemented in a way that makes sense and is easy to figure out, according to Rise. This will likely impact whether developers decide to integrate it into their apps.

“If Force Touch isn’t very discoverable, if people don’t think to do it automatically, then it’s something we won’t rely heavily on,” he said.

But it’s also up to developers to make sure they’re tying it into their apps in a way that makes sense.

“Say, if you hide the submenu for a very important feature, like adding a photo, under Force Touch and people don’t see a button, that might be hard to use,” Rise said.

Not all app creators are convinced that Force Touch would be necessary for their apps if it does debut on the next iPhone. Asher Vollmer, who made the popular game Threes, said he thinks most of his users will still be operating on older iPhones without Force Touch.

“I think it’s just too early to see what the potential is or if people even like it,” Vollmer said to Business Insider. “I have a hunch that people will sort of play with it but not make it part of any major interaction in their apps.”


Analysts and Wall Street worried about the next iPhone

Posted in News on 12 August 2015

APPLE is slumping as the usually high-flying tech company struggles to impress investors with the burden of raised expectations.

The world’s most valuable public company saw its stock price drop for a fifth straight day on Tuesday, falling as much as $5.19, or 4.4 per cent, to $113.25 as investors fret over China’s economy and whether Apple can keep growing at the pace it’s maintained over the last few quarters.

Apple shares closed Tuesday at $114.64 — down 14 per cent since hitting a record $133.60 in February. That puts Apple in a “correction”, which is Wall Street jargon for price declines of 10 per cent or more from a peak. The slide has wiped out a whopping $96 billion in Apple’s market value.

Apple sold more than 47 million of its signature iPhones in the last quarter, or 35 per cent more than a year earlier. That drove the company’s profit and earnings above Wall Street estimates. But demand for the iPhone and Apple’s new smartwatch still fell short of some analysts’ more bullish predictions, and executives gave a forecast for the current period that was also lower than some analysts expected. That has sent the stock into a decline since Apple reported earnings on July 21.

KGI Securities, which has an accurate track record when it comes to predicting the success of future Apple products is now forecasting zero or even negative growth of iPhone sales in the last quarter of 2015.

The firm believes that Apple is only likely to sell between 65 million and 75 million iPhones in the quarter, in comparison to the 74.5 million it sold during the same period last year.

They believe that this will be due to a weaker Chinese economy along with the iPhone 6s only receiving minor updates.

Apple’s current slump isn’t as severe as an earlier slide that began almost three years ago, in a period when investors worried that the Cupertino, California, company had run out of ideas to counter growing competition from other smartphone and tablet makers. Apple shares fell 45 per cent from a split-adjusted peak of $100.72 in September 2012 to a low of $55.01 in April 2013. By June of that year, however, the stock had embarked on a steady climb upward again.


Colour trends in web design for 2015

Posted in Tips on 11 August 2015

It's the decade of vibrant colour when it comes to web design, says Jerry Cao. But are you on board with the latest trends?

While the way designers use colour changes dramatically based on trends and time periods, we are definitely designing in the decade of vibrant colour.

Red, orange, pink and bright green, blue and purple have become the focal point of web design projects across a variety of industries. Designers are pairing bright colour choices in a way that was almost taboo a few years ago and even straying from the website colour choices dictated by company branding.

Don't miss this

The result is a beautiful rainbow of bright, energetic and fun colour that, when used well, provides emotional direction for the design and visually emphasizes on-screen text and graphics. This fearless colour scheme isn't for everyone, but the trend is versatile enough where almost any designer can take advantage of using vibrant colour – from a full page design with a magenta background to kelly green lettering in a black and white design framework.

In this article, we'll explore some of the design techniques described in the free ebook Flat Design & Colours.  


Cues from fashion and interior design

The colour of the world around us is one of the strongest influences on our choices in web design. In fact, cues from fashion and interior design seem to have an increasingly strong influence on colour trends across all aspects of design right now.

If you look to the runway and through pages of fashion magazines, colour is everywhere. Neons, bold prints and black and white with colour accents are the height of fashion.

From skirts to bags to polos and even hair extensions, colour blocking (with a pair of bright hues) is near universal. When it comes to your home, colour is also a bold choice from wall colours to the cushions on patio furniture.

How colour is used in the physical world translates to the digital world as well. As described in Web Design for the Human Eye, the goal of all design is to connect with the user – the more relatable the presentation, the likelier (and stronger) the emotional connection. colour trends in the real world and in digital projects are inexplicably linked for this reason. As long as colour is a popular trend overall, it will live on for website designers as well.


Flat colour palettes

Two major developments ushered in the emergence of vibrant colour in web UI design – high definition displays and the popularity of flat design. While flat design likely played the stronger role in expanding the use of colour, the technology behind it made the rich hues feasible.

With more pixels per inch on screens, the digital rainbow has greatly expanded to suit our maturing taste in design aesthetics. Monitors of every size, from desktop displays to the iPhone – can actually render all the colour options designers use today.

Designers used to worry about web safe colours (there were just 216 of them) so that all users could see exactly what the designer intended. That concept is dead and buried – W3Schools surveyed users in 2014 and found that more than 98 per cent of users had devices capable of displaying millions of colours, removing technology as a barrier to the creativity of colour trends.

Around the same time Retina and other high definition displays gained popularity, flat design (a trend that is still going strong and evolving) roared onto the scene. One of the key components of the trend was the abundance of bright colour. And while flat outlines were not for everyone, many of the colour choices and emotions users felt when interacting with these hues were highly desirable

Flat colours have evolved and toned down as they adapted to a variety of other projects. These bright, deeply saturated hues are often seen in colour palettes that include one to three colours (rather than the expansive palettes associated with flat design) or to create a strong accent, contrasting element or focal point.


Monotone colour schemes

One of the most popular ways to use vibrant colour, monotone colour palettes use a single colour with a mixture of tints and tones to create a unified yet nuanced visual design.

Vibrant colour lends itself to monotone palettes because it allows the designer to use a bold, maybe even unconventional colour without trying to match it to other colours. As we all know from the complementary, analogous, and triadic colour schemes, choosing multiple colours is one of the most surprisingly complex yet impactful decisions for the web.

Look at Line Quality (below) as an example. Lime green is not the easier colour to pair tastefully with others, but here the dominance of the colour in combination with an image of a Muppet icon in the same hue creates a highly dramatic visual effect.

Because the background and foreground image are all one colour, the remaining elements such as the crisp white lettering, the company logo, minimalist navigation and the call-to-action ghost button are still easy to find on the screen even though they are visually muted in comparison.

Monotone colour schemes are one of the easiest and most effective ways to use a lot of colour without falling into the design trap or creating a site that feels chaotic (a common issue with vibrantly coloured web interfaces).

This type of colour scheme also allows a company to use colours in ways that might live outside of their traditional branding without worry of matching or issues with readability.


High contrast colour

Vibrant colour is core to the minimalist design trend as well. Pops of colour provide emphasis and points of entry in stripped-down designs that might otherwise be lacking.

High contrast refers to any colour that is very different from the background. In a minimalist context, you're likely to see any form of colour with high saturation against a black, white or gray canvas. Points of great contrast become the visual center of the design, telling users where to look at what to do in a framework that may otherwise be too simple.

Hega uses colour only for a button in a minimalist design framework, which immediately draws the user's attention where the designer wants. Because the touch of colour contrasts with the white background and black image, the "Case Studies" button clearly communicates a call to action without explicitly urge the user to click.

Studio Stylistik uses that same concept with strategic teal lettering, buttons and even the jacket on the model for emphasis against a dark background. By using the same colour applied in different points that form a zig-zag formation, the site retains a unified look while leading our eyes to each point of interest highlighted in teal.


As you can see, vibrant colour isn't useful just for calling out a single element on the page – you can also create a natural vertical rhythm by repeating in moderation according to the human scanning patterns explained in Web Design for the Human Eye.

Bold colour works so well because it is, by comparison, a complete opposite of the starkness of minimalist design. More Sleep, above, uses colour brilliantly against a dark background. The coral red is easy to read and draws attention to the words on the screen first and the image behind it afterward.

The thick red line beneath the headline creates visual balance, which is extremely important considering that red communicates passion and even violence. Again, this is why colour can be so tricky: apply too much too strongly, and your design immediately crosses the emotional spectrum and becomes loud and overbearing.


Common colour associations

When it comes to bold colour, it is important to consider a little more than just aesthetics.

Designers need to think about meanings and cultural associations that are connected to certain hues. While these common feelings are not always set in stone, they should be part of the conversation when talking about colour for a design project. Let's examine some of the colour associations:

  • Pink: Romance, youth, confidence, sensitivity
  • Red: Love, passion, danger, urgency
  • Yellow: Fun, optimism, happiness, caution
  • Orange: Warmth, ambition, enthusiasm, creativity
  • Green: Nature, luck, growth, safety
  • Blue: Harmony, tranquility, trust, honor
  • Purple: Wealth, power, spirituality, calmness


Beyond 2015

As the overall design trends start to swing back into outlines that are less flat, colour will do the same. Bright, bold colour will stick around and work more as an element on its own, rather than as a supporting piece of another trend.

Designers will return to using some techniques that have fallen out of fashion (such as gradients) and make them captivating again with bright colour.

The Impossible Bureau (below) does a beautiful job of this. The site pairs a dark, minimal framework with a hover state featuring a bright purple to pink to orange gradient. Expect to see more designers experiment in this way and use bright gradients for user interface elements or as background patterns.

Zample+me (below) uses that same concept with a full-screen bright coloured background gradient.

Bold colour is already beginning to emerge as the dominant visual for website design. When combined with bold typography, bright colour creates a stunning visual for websites that do not feature many images or illustrations. Two simple elements work together to create an even more powerful aesthetic.

Bold colour is a technique with lasting power for a variety of design styles. Vibrant hues are attention-grabbing and can add a touch of modern flair to almost any design style.


Top 10 Tips & Tricks for Oracle SQL Developer

Posted in Tips on 11 August 2015

Being a short week due to the holiday, and with everyone enjoying their Summer vacations (apologies Southern Hemispherians), I reckoned it was a great time to do one of those lazy recap-Top 10-Reader’s Digest type posts.

I’ve been sharing 1-3 tips or ‘tricks’ a week since I started blogging about SQL Developer, and I have more than enough content to write a book. But since I’m lazy, I’m just going to compile a list of my favorite ‘must know’ tips instead. I always have to leave out a few tips when I do my presentations, so now I can refer back to this list to make sure I’m not forgetting anything.

So without further ado…

1. Configure Your Preferences

Yes, there are a LOT of options. But you don’t need to worry about all of them just yet. I do recommend you take a quick look at these ones in particular. Whether you’re new to the tool or have been using it for 5 years, don’t overlook these settings!


2. Disable Extensions You Aren’t Using

If you’re not using Data Miner, or if you’re not working on a Migration – disable those extensions! SQL Developer will run leaner & meaner, plus the user interface will be a bit more simplified making the tool easier to navigate as well.


3. SQL Recall via Keyboard

Access your history via the keyboard!

Cycle through your recent SQL statements just using these magic key strokes! Ctrl+Up or Ctrl+Down.


4. Format Your Query Output Directly to CSV, XML, HTML, etc

Have the query results pre-formatted in the format of your choice!

Too lazy to run the Export wizard for your query result sets? Just add the SQL Developer output hints to your statement and have the output auto-magically formatted to the style of your choice!


5. Drag & Drop Multiple Tables to the Worksheet


SQL Developer will auto-join the related objects. You can then toggle over to the Query Builder to toggle off the columns you don’t want to query. I guarantee this tip will save you time if you’re joining 3 or more tables!


6. Drag & Drop Multiple Tables to a Relational Model

A pretty picture is worth a few dozen DDL scripts?

SQL Developer does data modeling! If you ctrl-drag a table to a model, it will take that table and any related tables and reverse engineer them to a relational model! You can then print it out or export it to HTML, PDF, etc.


7. View Your PL/SQL Execution Output Automatically

Function returns a refcursor? Procedure had 3 out parameters? When you run these programs via the Procedure Editor, we automatically capture the output and place them into one or more data grids for you to browse.


8. Disable Automatic Code Insight and Use It On-Demand

Code Editor – Completion Insight – Disable Completion Auto-Popup (Keyword being Auto)

Some folks really don’t like it when their IDEs or word-processors try to do ‘too much’ for them. Thankfully SQL Developer allows you to either increase the delay before it attempts to auto-complete your text OR to disable the automatic bit. Instead, you can invoke it on-demand.

9. Interactive Debugging – Change Your Variable Values as You Step Through Your PLSQL

Watches aren’t just for watching. You can actually interact with your programs and ‘see what happens’ when X = 256 instead of 1.


10. Ditch the Tree View for the Schema Browser

There’s nothing wrong with the Connection tree for browsing your database objects. But some folks just can’t seem to get comfortable with it. So, we built them a Schema Browser that uses a drop down control instead for changing up your schema and object types.



Build an API for microservices in 5 minutes

Posted in Tips on 11 August 2015

In 2002 (yes, more than a decade ago), Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, famously mandated that all internal development teams at the company must expose their data and functionality through Web services interfaces that can easily be consumed. He further specified that there would be no other form of communication other than via these APIs, that they must be “externalizable,” and that anyone who does not follow this edict will be fired.

The UI-tweaking apps for GitHub will come from third parties like ZenHub -- and GitHub is fine with

One might question his management style or whether this makes sense for all internal systems, but you can’t deny the massive growth and success of AWS that sprung out of this architecture. Today, Amazon’s market share of the growing $16.5 billion cloud infrastructure services space is greater than all of its competitors combined.

Earlier, in the late '90s, enterprise software CEOs including Oracle’s Larry Ellison touted the rise of microservices using an older term, “service-oriented architecture,” or SOA. At the time, SOA patterns made sense conceptually, but enterprises had a difficult enough time transitioning from client-server to Web-based applications, and SOA was largely considered “nice to have.” In 2007, Ellison noted that uptake of SOA was slow:

People have to understand when you have a fundamentally new computer software architecture, SOA, it takes a long time for adoption… Moving to SOA is not as easy as flipping a switch.

How times have changed. While moving entire legacy IT systems to a microservices-based architecture might not be as easy as flipping a switch, creating new APIs should be that easy, and it behooves companies of all sizes to make this a goal and core competency to remain agile and competitive.

APIs and microservices as a core competency

APIs are especially important in the world of modern enterprise and consumer software where ecosystem adoption drives success of the solution. APIs dictate how developers can create new apps that tap into other services, be they social networks like Facebook and Twitter or enterprise utilities like Dropbox and Slack.

Currently, there are three primary options for developers looking to build APIs, each with their corresponding pros and cons:

  1. Do it yourself. Developers can build APIs from scratch on their own. This allows the most flexibility and control, but it takes time to build all of the foundational components and it requires you to think about how to scale and manage the APIs.
  2. Use an MBaaS solution. This is a viable option that can help you save a significant amount of time and provides the infrastructure to scale your APIs. However, you have no control over how the signatures (headers, query parameters, and so on) of the APIs are defined, and cloud-based MBaaS design tools cannot easily connect to systems behind firewalls or run locally on a laptop for rapid development.
  3. Use an API management platform. Some API management solutions offer tools and frameworks to build new APIs. These are powerful tools that also provide capabilities for governing, scaling, analyzing, and even monetizing your APIs. However, these solutions are often quite complex and expensive to deploy and use -- not quite the “flip a switch” easy option we are looking for.


A new option for easy API building

There are newer solutions on the market, such as AnyPresence JustAPIs, that enable developers to quickly define and deploy APIs within minutes. You don’t have to be a back-end architecture expert to use this type of tool, which includes a Web-based administrative console of quick declarative API definitions, familiar JavaScript syntax for business logic, and a high-performance server binary for Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X that can easily run on a laptop or be deployed in production to any cloud or on-premise infrastructure. If you have an API management solution, you can deploy JustAPIs behind your API gateway to govern and monetize the APIs created.


The benefit to solutions like JustAPIs is the broad variety of use cases they enable. For example, you can use JustAPIs for the following:

  • Build or prototype new APIs from scratch, try different designs for A-B testing, and see which ones developers like the most
  • Build modern, RESTful APIs that make multiple calls to legacy Web services and combine the data into a single JSON (or any other format) response
  • Build APIs that mimic the signature of your production APIs, add sample response data, and use them for innovation days or hackathons
  • Build a proxy API layer on top of old back-end servers while you migrate to a new back end, minimizing impact to client apps code

Once developers have an efficient, scalable platform and process to build and deploy APIs, it opens up many possibilities for innovation within an organization. Whether you are building APIs for external consumption, to enable internal cross-platform apps, to expose IoT device controls, or to implement a microservices architecture for a pet project, rapid API building and deployment is a core competency that all modern developers can benefit from.


Build an API in five minutes

Enough talk, let’s roll up our sleeves and start building our microservices core competency. This brief, hands-on tutorial shows you how to create a new API with AnyPresence JustAPIs. Before you start,download the free trial version of JustAPIs and follow the Quick Start Guide to set it up.

We will be creating a Proxy Endpoint that uses JavaScript Logic Component to return a simple “hello world” message with JSON format.

(Important note: The instructions in this tutorial refer to the sample Proxy Endpoint called “A JSON Hello World proxy” in the sample API that you imported when following the Quick Start Guide steps, and they assume you have the JustAPIs server running. If you have not imported the sample API or started JustAPIs, please do so now.)

Step 1. 

Find A JSON Hello World Proxy, which should appear in the list of Proxy Endpoints, and click the edit icon that appears when you hover over the row:


Step 2. 

When you are in edit mode, you will see that this Proxy Endpoint has several properties that were specified when it was created:


There are a number of points to note here: 

  1. The Proxy Endpoint’s name is A JSON Hello World Proxy, which is used for display purposes in the Admin Web App.
  2. The Active status is set to on, which means this Proxy Endpoint will run if the server receives a request for it.
  3. This Proxy Endpoint is assigned to the Devenvironment, and any environment variables used in will be populated from the Dev environment.
  4. This Proxy Endpoint is assigned to the Hello World group.
  5. There is one route defined, which is a Get method at/helloworld.json. This means that if the Host ishttp://localhost:5000, the full URL for this Proxy Endpoint ishttp://localhost:5000/helloworld.json.

Step 3. 

Note there is one step in this Proxy Endpoint Workflow that is a Logic Component. Click on the Logic Component icon to view the details of the first step in the workflow:


You will see that this Logic Component is composed of several substeps:

  1. Conditional is set to If, which means that any JavaScript logic specified in the Conditional Logic block must evaluate to true to continue. Otherwise, the workflow will skip to the end.
  2. There is no Conditional Logic specified, so the workflow will move to the next substep.
  3. The Logic block has two lines of JavaScript. The first line is:

response.headers["Content-Type"] = "application/json"; 

This first line specifies that the Response Object’s HTTP header “Content-Type” should be set to the value application/json. This is the standard setting when returning JSON formatted responses via HTTP, and it’s what you will typically use when creating RESTful API responses.

The second line sets the body of the Response Object:

response.body = JSON.stringify({message: "Hello World"});

This line uses a JavaScript helper method called JSON.stringify that converts a JavaScript value to a JSON string (more information here). The actual string we are returning is {message: “Hello World”}.


Step 4. 

Now let us test this Proxy Endpoint. Open a new browser window or tab and invoke the Proxy Endpoint using the following URL (if you have changed the default host, please use your new hostname instead):

You should see the resulting message in your browser window:

Congratulations, you have built your first API! OK, it’s not exactly flipping a switch, but it's darn close. You can, of course, flip the Active switch on your Proxy Endpoint to turn it on or off.


Now that you know how to build and deploy APIs faster, there are no longer any barriers to becoming a microservices expert within your organization, whether you work for a one-person startup or run a 100-person IT group at a large corporation. You can try out the other JustAPIs tutorials available and let the world know about the awesome APIs you've built.


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