Link: 2017 Winners, The Motion Awards

There’s an absolute treasure-trove of incredible video production here. A congratulations all around to the winners. Just amazing work.

Here’s some of my favorite winners across multiple categories. 

Buck / Tinder – Invention of Together

Amazing storytelling. Tinder may get a lot of flack, but at least it didn’t violate the privacy of millions of people. I like Tinder, and I still think it’s vastly undervalued. I also believe the next prevailing Social Network empire will not be Facebook — it will be the Match Group.

Computer Team / Music Video: Washed Out Floating By

Was not expecting to see this in the list. But it’s a great video. I would love to see the process behind this video.

Gunner / Google Home App

Cool! These assets were built with Lottie, super neat!

VICE / Vice News Tonight Graphics

These are cool. Simple concepts, fast iteration. These are really really effective. I’d like to see local news reporting pickup on these kinds of graphics. Those whimsical non-representational, 3D texturized motion graphics we’re familiar with in local news are just so shitty.

Giant Ant / The Imaginary Friend Society / Finding Out You Have Cancer

A lovely, light-hearted piece from Giant Ant. A great spot, for a great cause. As if battling cancer isn’t hard enough, imagine being a kid with a cancer diagnosis. If you want to help the IFS, donate your imaginary friends here 🙂

PHP Namespaces

If you build or customize WordPress themes, coming across Namespaces are going to become more and more commonplace. I think they’re pretty cool. I have never enjoyed having to write (or parse for that matter), custom_functions_with_a_weird_long_name.

Steve Grunwell has a fantastic primer on Namespaces, and how to use them in WordPress. I also learned about Singletons (and their problems in a OOP environment) and why Namespaces are effective.

In short, functions are typically defined in plugins a variety of ways. Not long ago, developers might have written a function like this:

function get_recent_posts( $limit = 5 ) {
  return new WP_Query( array(
    'post_type'      => 'post',
    'post_status'    => 'publish',
    'orderby'        => 'post_date',
    'order'          => 'desc',
    'posts_per_page' => $limit,
  ) );

Innocent, naive function writing.

Function name collisions are were pretty likely to occur, so we got longer and longer functions which led to Class encapsulations, so these functions began to make a mess of your codebase with global variable declarations. Steve goes on:

From here, developers seem to have split into two factions: the first, dead-set on removing global variables, moved toward the Singleton pattern:

class MyPlugin() {
  protected static $instance;
  protected function __construct() {
    // Made protected to prevent `new MyPlugin()` calls.
  public function get_instance() {
    if ( ! self::$instance ) {
      self::$instance = new MyPlugin();
    return self::$instance;
  public function get_recent_posts( $limit = 5 ) {
    return new WP_Query( /* ... */ );
# Usage:
$plugin       = MyPlugin::get_instance();
$recent_posts = $plugin->get_recent_posts();

Yikes, what a pickle… But, behold! The proper (and more maintainable effort) with Namespaces:

namespace SteveGrunwell\MyPlugin;
use WP_Query;
function get_recent_posts( $limit = 5 ) {
  return new WP_Query( array(
    'post_type'      => 'post',
    'post_status'    => 'publish',
    'orderby'        => 'post_date',
    'order'          => 'desc',
    'posts_per_page' => $limit,
  ) );

What a wild and crazy ride! Seriously, give Steve’s post a full read.

Dave Rupert’s CSS Grid Resets (FitGrid)

A while back, Dave Rupert wrote a neat post on some of the subtle issues with CSS Grid. The Big Kahuna is, CSS Grid doesn’t play nice with <input>s (for now I suppose). Long-story-short, I recently had a quick project involving a web-form and CSS Grid. As Puzzling and as frustrating as it was to hack a solution — I came up short. Enter Rupert’s FitGrid™️! It’s was a real lifesaver. So thanks, Dave!

I just thought it might be useful to share FitGrid in its entirety for posterity. It’s basically a small set of CSS Resets for all of CSS Grid’s form problemos. Enjoy!

 _______  ___   _______    _______  ______    ___   ______  
|       ||   | |       |  |       ||    _ |  |   | |      | 
|    ___||   | |_     _|  |    ___||   | ||  |   | |  _    |
|   |___ |   |   |   |    |   | __ |   |_||_ |   | | | |   |
|    ___||   |   |   |    |   ||  ||    __  ||   | | |_|   |
|   |    |   |   |   |    |   |_| ||   |  | ||   | |       |
|___|    |___|   |___|    |_______||___|  |_||___| |______| 
by Dave Rupert
Read More:

 * Remove `min-width: auto` from Grid Items
 * Fixes overflow-x items.
.fit-grid > * { min-width: 0; }

/* Apply max-width to Replaced Elements and Form controls */
.fit-grid img,
.fit-grid video,
.fit-grid audio,
.fit-grid canvas,
.fit-grid input,
.fit-grid select,
.fit-grid button,
.fit-grid progress { max-width: 100%; }

/* Make file and submit inputs text-wrap */
.fit-grid input[type="file"],
.fit-grid input[type="submit"] { white-space: pre-wrap; }

/* Fix Progress and Range Inputs */
.fit-grid progress,
.fit-grid input[type="range"] { width: 100%; }

/* Fix Number Inputs in Firefox */
@supports (--moz-appearance: none) {
  .fit-grid input[type="number"] { width: 100%; }


Is Foundwork a Dribbble-esque network for artists and galleries?

A long time ago, in a state, not too far away… my girlfriend, my buddy Zac, and whole host of contributors — built Adhoc. Initially it began as a sort of contemporary artist database. Filled with interviews and editorials. We had submissions out the whazzoo and it was a lot of fun meeting new artists, and we even put together a couple of shows.

But after a while, each of us decided to abandon the project. Not out of malice or anything, but to focus on other things that began to take shape. Such as graduate school, moving to new places and among other things, building new web projects. Life goes on, ya know?

We left Adhoc online for posterity, of course. What do you take us for, we’re not monsters!

From left to right: Me, Leah, and Zac, 2015.

I often times can’t help but think about what Adhoc could have become. When things began to wind down, I pondered about the ripe for disruption area of art galleries. Galleries desperately need something between Basecamp, Shopify and LinkedIn. Something public, but something private. A common e-commerce framework they can all get behind, shared between gallerists. Every single gallery manages inventory and their web presence differently.

Folio, by Artsy is a close winner. But I feel like it misses the mark for two reasons:

  • No e-commerce solution for artists or galleries
  • Not really a network

Recently, Zac showed me Foundwork. It’s a neat place. It looks like Foundwork is in the very early stages of building a network amongst artists. Anyone can signup to get in contact with artists. There’s nothing useful here for galleries apart from artist discovery. But if there’s any semblance of what I wanted Adhoc to look like down the road — this is it:

While there’s no e-commerce solution in place, contacting the artist is built-in. Furthermore, Artsy has a writeup and interview with the founder, Adam Yokell:

“What if there was a tool that helped artists become more visible to an interested base of curators, gallerists, and academics?” Yokell tells me, over coffee on a recent morning in Brooklyn. And further, he adds, “What if curators and gallerists could search more broadly—but still deliberately—for an artist or artwork that resonates with their interests, or helps to develop their program, or relates to an exhibition they’re curating?”

I think this could really be the start of something cool for artists (and moreso for galleries). It looks like this network is built upon Rails too. Which I totally endorse. Super rad. My only question is, will there be artist > gallery associations down the line? For example, is an artist becomes represented by a gallery, does the profile reflect that? For now, I don’t think so.

I don’t know if they have a roadmap for this artist network, but I do know building associations between two models is simple and efficient. A possible example:

class Gallery < ApplicationRecord
  has_many :artists, dependent: :destroy
class Artist < ApplicationRecord
  belongs_to :gallery

I’d love to see this product evolve into into a network that whets the appetites of both gallerists and artists. Kind of like what Dribbble accomplished for designers and agencies when they announced Teams. It seems that right after that, Dribbble really took off.

Looking forward to checking back in with Foundwork down the road.


Lobe, is a visual composer of sorts — for building, training, and exporting custom deep learning models. The interface is very Quartz Composer-esque. Check it out:

If you're in a hurry, watch from 6:12 for a walkthrough on how to create a project from scratch.

Lobe is a start-up from Mike Matas, Markus Beissinger and Adam Menges. Matas, an ex-Apple and ex-Facebook Silicon Valley designer veteran — previously released published this demo called The Brain (see below), which was entirely built in Quartz Composer. A fucking awesome demo.

No wonder Lobe looks like a Quartz composition. Keep in mind, this was published about one year ago:

This is really really exciting stuff. Building and training deep learning models are simple in concept, but complex in reality. Lobe, may just be the first visual tool to bridge that divide.

To quote John Gruber:

Lobe is to CoreML what Illustrator was to PostScript — a profoundly powerful tool that exposes the underlying technology to non-experts through an intuitive visual interface.

Gruber's analogy is probably the best, and he's right. When Desktop Publishing Software exploded in popularity the late 80's and late 90's, everything changed. Productivity skyrocketed, and progress in tooling, production and creative software just took of and to be honest, it never really cooled down. We're still in living in that same epoch, but having different conversations about the same problems.

Lobe truly exposes a whole new world of problem-solving to non-experts and that will lead to some really exciting tools. Hats off to everyone at Lobe. Remarkable work.

Surprise, iPhone X Sales Beats Expectations

The rumors were bullshit all along. The iPhone X is selling quite well. China and Japan are seeing positive figures as well.

From Apple's Second Quarter Results:

“We’re thrilled to report our best March quarter ever, with strong revenue growth in iPhone, Services and Wearables,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Customers chose iPhone X more than any other iPhone each week in the March quarter, just as they did following its launch in the December quarter. We also grew revenue in all of our geographic segments, with over 20% growth in Greater China and Japan.”

I'm not surprised at all. Turns out the rumors about sluggish sales were complete bullshit after all. I believe the iPhone X couldn't have come into the fold at a more perfect time for Apple. I do however wonder… will it be the last of its kind?

Going further into the press release, Apple's vast piles of money sitting abroad is expensive business for them. So, Apple is going to level their debt, and incur one-time 12% tax-fee and finally move their overseas cash to execute a stock buyback (among other liability dodges).

The Company will complete the execution of the previous $210 billion share repurchase authorization during the third fiscal quarter.

Reflecting the approved increase, the Board has declared a cash dividend of $0.73 per share of Apple’s common stock payable on May 17, 2018 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on May 14, 2018.

Good for them. Too bad they didn't move it last year at a 20% rate. Oh well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Update: Because MKBHD's tweets are fantastic


“The next Steven Spielberg is Anthony Scott Burns.”

Well, that’s what this Vimeo commenter said. This guy has an impressive resumé. Burns is a Canadian-bred filmmaker, visual effects artists, musician and producer — you know, like the rest of them. Is there something in the water up there?

Anyways, I came across this trailer over at and guess who scored this project? PILOTPRIEST a.k.a. Anthony Scott Burns:

I freaking LOVED Akira. I thought it was mind-blowing. I mean, it still is actually. It’s a landmark animation piece. It influenced everybody from Steven Spielberg to Rian Johnson. So much so that, the destruction of Neo-Tokyo in Akira is literally a tirelessly repurposed knock-off trope reused over-and-over again in live-action Marvel movies.

But at any rate, it’s really cool to see such talented people working on such incredible admiration project like this. You can read more about Awaken Akira, here.

Here’s PILOTPRIEST’s latest release on Bandcamp.

Very chill stuff. Ethereal. If I close my eyes, I’m transported to a Weyland-Yutani Marscape in the year 2089… or something like that. Good jams. Reminds me of my buddy Justin’s work, BOUT.

Further Reading

The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography

From the filmmakers website:

But it wasn’t until 1980 that Dorfman found her ultimate medium: a rare large-format camera devised by the Polaroid Corporation. The instant photographs it produced were enormous—20 inches wide and 24 inches tall—with saturated colors and unparalleled detail. Dorfman was bewitched by the scale and clarity of this magical camera. The B-Side traces Dorfman’s love affair with the 20×24, while also presenting the wide range of formats Dorfman’s portraits and self-portraits haven taken over the years—from early 2-¼” negatives to prints produced by Polaroid’s even larger-format 40×80 instant camera.

If you’ve owned the magic of an instant camera, you probably understand Dorfman’s love of instant photography. What you’ve probably never seen, is a 40x80inch instant photograph.

Truly remarkable. Dorfman’s whimsy traits are literally the physical manifestation of the instant format itself. Excitable, fun, playful and true. This is going to be a fun doc to watch.

You can rent or buy the film from iTunes, Amazon, Vimeo or Google Play at

The Current Museum Salon: Permanence

Ben Fido-Radin is a rad dude. He’s curating a show on May 23rd, 2018 titled, Permanence at their SoHo space. The introduction, written by Fido-Radin:

Throughout centuries, artists have engaged with the impulse to memorialize, to be remembered, and the impulse to collect, archive, and preserve. If one looks closely enough, one sees however that permanence is really just change in slow motion. Nothing is permanent. Nothing lasts forever.

What may art teach us about long term thinking, and the seemingly futile pursuit of permanence? Is the immaterial — that which is transmitted through time by means of tradition and collective intellectual stewardship — more enduring than the physical artifact?

Thrilling stuff! Shigeko Kubota, Morehshin Allahyari, Jodi, Rafäel Rozendaal and Olia Lialina will be showcasing new work (among other artists). In 2012, Lialina wrote an absolutely moving essay titled Turing Complete User, that shook me to my core:

In general the WWW, outside of Facebook, is an environment open for interpretation.

She goes on, giving life to the essay from which it bears its name:

There is nothing one user can do, that another can’t given enough time and respect. Computer Users are Turing Complete.

And finally, she ends on dissecting a metaphor that evolved into something else altogether:

An effort must be made to educate the users about themselves. There should be understanding of what it means to be a user of an “all purpose automatic digital computing system”.

General Purpose Users are not a historic accident or a temporary anomaly. We are the product of the “worse is better” philosophy of UNIX, the end-to end principle of the internet, the “under construction” and later “beta” spirit of the web. All these designs that demand attention, and ask for forgiveness and engagement formed us as users, and we are always adjusting, improvising and at the same time taking control. We are the children of the misleading and clumsy Desktop Metaphor, we know how to open doors without knobs.28

Needless to say, I’m really excited about this show. Hope to see you there!

Further Reading from Ben’s website:

More Works from the Artists:

From The (Previously) Richest Man In the World

From 2010 through 2013, Carlos Slim Helú held the title as the wealthiest man on Earth. Briefly overtaking Bill Gates title was a big deal at the time. Slim has a storied career. He grew his wealth investing in wide variety of Mexican industries when no one else would: construction, soft drink companies, printing, real estate, bottling and among other things, mining.

The title of wealthiest person alive, as of writing this, is currently and unsurprisingly, Jeff Bezos.

Slim’s website, available in English (y en español), is a bit dated but has some real nuggets. He once penned a letter to students (of university) regarding a variety of topics. From privilege, overcoming strife, risks, responsibility and success. It’s easy to dismiss words from monumentally entrepreneurs, but Slim is a expressively thankful, sagacious and dense like iron. It’s a beautiful read.

The entirety of his letter, for posterity:

Carlos Slim, in a letter to the university community, gives advise to the most outstanding students on what, in his opinión, are the most important things in life.

Mexico City, June 1994

I write to you this letter in order to share some of my life experiences, hoping it will contribute to your education, your way of thinking and living, your emotional well-being, your sense of responsibility to yourselves and to others, your maturity, and above all, to your happiness, which should be the result of your daily existence.

You are privileged within society due to your talents and efforts, and for the best reason, your own worth.
Success is not about doing things well or even very well, or being acknowledged by others. It is not an external opinion, but rather an internal status. It is the harmony between the soul and your emotions, which requires love, family, friendship, authenticity and integrity.

To be as exceptional as you are is a privilege, but it also entails many risks that can have an impact on values that are much more important than professional, economic, social or political “success”. Emotional strength and stability are in the interior life, and in avoiding emotions that erode the soul such as envy, jealousy, arrogance, lust, selfishness, vengeance, greed and laziness, which are a poison that is ingested little by little.

When you give, do not expect to receive. “Fragrance clings to the hand that gives the rose,” says a Chinese proverb. Do not allow negative feelings and emotions to control your mind. Emotional harm does not come from others; it is conceived and developed within ourselves.

Do not mix up your values or betray your principles. Life’s road is very long, but it is traveled fast. Live the present intensely and fully, do not let the past be a burden, and let the future be an incentive. Each person forges his or her own destiny and it may influence reality. Do not ignore it.

Live with positive feelings and emotions such as love, friendship, loyalty, courage, joy, good humor, enthusiasm, peace, serenity, patience, trust, tolerance, prudence and responsibility. Do not allow their opposites to invade your soul, may they pass quickly from your mind, do not allow them to stay there, banish them. You will make mistakes many times, it is normal and human; but try to make them small, then accept, correct and forget them. Do not be obsessed by them; heaven and hell are within us. What is most valuable in life does not cost anything but is very precious: love, friendship, nature and what man has been able to achieve with it; the forms, colors, sounds, smells that we perceive with our senses can only be appreciated when we are emotionally awake.

Live without fear and guilt; fear is the worst feeling men can have, it weakens them, inhibits action and depresses them. Guilt is a tremendous burden in our lives, the way we think and act. Guilt and fear make the present difficult and obstruct the future. To fight them, let us have good sense and accept ourselves as we are, with our realities, our merits and our sorrows.

Staying occupied displaces preoccupation and problems, and when we face our problems, they disappear. Thus, they make us stronger every day. We should learn from failure, and successes should be silent incentives. Act always as your conscience dictates, because it never lies. Fear and guilt will then be minimal. Do not block yourself in, do not ruin your life, live it with intelligence, with soul and senses aware and on the alert; get to know their manifestations and train yourselves to appreciate and enjoy life.

Work well done is not only a responsibility to yourselves and society; it is also an emotional need.

At the end we depart with nothing, we leave behind only our work, family and friends, and, perhaps, a positive influence which we have planted.

My very best wishes,
Carlos Slim Helú

How to Knock Off a Bag

I don’t normally purchase leather products. I’m no vegetarian either, unlike my better half. I do however, live and die by Michael Polan’s adage: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

That being said, leather isn’t for everyone, and ethical debate aside — The Saddleback Leather Co. knows how to make a truly remarkable bag. Properly. No bullshit. It’s a lovely video production, and Dave is a really good dude:

If you don’t believe me, read his Saddleback story. It’s really, truly something else. He had some tough times. Also, Dave is one hell of a writer. I enjoy coming across these stories, because there’s always a silver-lining, for example:

In 2003, Blue and I ended up living in Juarez, Mexico in a not so nice neighborhood and rented a $100/month apartment with no hot water. I saved so much money living there that I was able to send a little money for 5 more bags, then 8, then even a dozen at a time.

Where’s this headed…

So, in 2006, just after a trip through Costa Rica and Panama, I moved to El Paso, Texas, met my super funny and hot wife, Suzette, on and got married 6 months later.

Ohhh, there it is ☺️

Sidenote, this one will make you cry and sob because Blue was such a good boy, and integral to the founding of Saddleback. I did some digging around their blog, and there’s pet tribute section on their website. You can share photos and stories of your dearly departed pet with Saddleback and Co. Truly one of a kind.

Never change Dave Munson, never change.

Further Reading

Interview with Dave Munson :: Saddleback Leather Co. – Carryology – Exploring better ways to carry

An Inside Look at The New York Times Publishing Tech Stack

As a WordPress Guy, and advocate for online publishing — I’ve always been curious about the New York Times digital publishing “stack.” A lot has changed since the printed word.

Text editors, paragraph blocks, header arrangements, interactive graphs, revision history, and data structures — journalists these days have a lot more responsibilities to handle than just a story. They’re more akin to data scientists or librarians handling meta-data with caution and organizational finesse than the classical depiction of journalists.

I was surprised to read that the New York Times employs a CMS called Oak, which was built on the backbone of a simple text editor called ProseMirror. An un-opinionated open-source text editor. I was taken back by this line: 

ProseMirror structures its main elements — paragraphs, headings, lists, images, etc. — as nodes. Many nodes can have child nodes — e.g., a heading_basic node can have child nodes including a heading1 node, a byline node, a timestamp node and image nodes. This leads to the tree-like structure I mentioned above.

It’s neat to see their CMS take on a node-tree structure (which is ultimately a appropriation other have taken as well such as HTML/XML/JSON). It’s smart. I would have loved to see what their process and CMS looked like before.

Did you notice the parent-nodes have a similarity to another data structure paradigm, say blocks? In WordPress-land, blocks are coming soon, and once that happens, the data-structure pandora’s box will have been opened. In the simplest, most modest comparison, Gutenberg will only have parent blocks. No children. But that could all change later down the road. 

Food for thought: if the New York Times can transition to a successful implementation of complex data structures, modern CMS composer capabilities — surely WordPress/Gutenberg could employ similar techniques and follow in that same spirit.


Link: Scuttlebutt Regarding Apple’s Cross-Platform UI Project

Gruber has a interesting scoop on Apple’s Project Marzipan — the future of UIKit and AppKit looms.

From John Gruber:

I’ve heard a few things, from first- and second-hand sources. Mostly second-hand, to be honest, but they’re all consistent with each other.

THE NAME: There is indeed an active cross-platform UI project at Apple for iOS and MacOS. It may have been codenamed “Marzipan” at one point, but if so only in its earliest days. My various little birdies only know of the project under a different name, which hasn’t leaked publicly yet. There are people at Apple who know about this project who first heard the name “Marzipan” when Gurman’s story was published.

WHAT IS IT? I don’t have extensive details, but basically it sounds like a declarative control API. The general idea is that rather than writing classic procedural code to, say, make a button, then configure the button, then position the button inside a view, you instead declare the button and its attributes using some other form. HTML is probably the most easily understood example. In HTML you don’t procedurally create elements like paragraphs, images, and tables — you declare them with tags and attributes in markup. There’s an industry-wide trend toward declaration, perhaps best exemplified by React, that could be influencing Apple in this direction.

This “Project Marzipan” sounds like a very Apple response to the growing ecosystem of cross-platform disjunction among developers.

To name a few: React Native, Electron, PhoneGap, Cordova, and that’s just barely scratching the surface. Each framework has a different approach to cross-platform development from language choice to library dependancies, but they all more or less solve the same problem.

It’s true the entire industry is moving to adopt declarative control over interfaces. For instance, Slack is basically a CRUD application, and the actual app installed is merely a front-end Electron app. I mean, for one, it’s a simpler paradigm. 

I’m not saying every app needs that architecture nor is effective. But for many, it works — and as of writing Slack is valued at $5 billion. So, if Apple can’t produce a cross-platform (or at the least, an Apple-ecosystem-only-cross-platform) framework, they should invest more resources to service workers and progressive web apps (PWAs) like Microsoft.

Service workers could be the future of how apps are distributed (cached), so millions of users can use these apps offline. But that’s a topic for another day.

The heart of Gruber’s post — Apple is going back to the drawing board and we may soon see a cross-platform UI framework for the Apple ecosystem. It’s exciting stuff an Gruber knows something that we don’t. The project’s real name.
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