Archive for March, 2011

Sonoran: The next Helvetica

31 Mar


Introducing Sonoran, 2011’s most anticipated typeface release.

Nearly thirty years in the making, the highly anticipated Sonoran is finally here.

Typeface designers Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders first began work on Sonoran in the early 1980s, drawing inspiration from the classic Swiss typeface Helvetica. “Helvetica is a great font, people really love it. But it does have its flaws,” says Nicholas. “With Sonoran, our main goal was to fix Helvetica’s mistakes.”

Designed in 1957 by Max Miedinger, Helvetica is one of the most commonly used typefaces today. Itself based on Akzidenz-Grotesk, Helvetica was designed as a neutral typeface that could serve a variety of uses. Over the years, the typeface has turned into an modern icon of sorts, becoming the first font acquired for the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. Its legacy was documented in the 2007 film Helvetica, directed by Gary Hustwit.

Despite Helvetica’s success, graphic designers have struggled for years with its quirks.

With Sonoran, attempts have been made to solve these problems. Sonoran’s improvements are subtle, yet important, remaining metrically equivalent to Helvetica. When we inspect individual letters, you can really see how the typeface was improved:

Helvetica (top) compared with Sonoran (bottom)

“Helvetica is [almost] our ultimate typeface: objective, powerful, and delicate according to weight,” says respected designer Massimo Vignelli, a known Helvetica proponent. “If only its capital G didn’t have that annoying spur,” adds Vignelli, who once hired an intern for the sole purpose of de-spurring Helvetica. “Sonoran is a godsend.”

It’s not everyday we hear such high regards for a new typeface—it’s already been called the world’s first perfect typeface.

Reacting to the news, it seems some type foundries have taken down their websites today, perhaps to brace for the fallout—or as a sign of giving up.

“We’ve solved typography,” notes Saunders, one of the typeface’s designers.

Part of Sonoran’s success can be attributed to its robust multilingual character support (covering Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, Thai, and Turkish, to name a few), which is becoming increasingly important in today’s global marketplace. The typeface is also available in several weights and widths, including Narrow, Light, Black, Rounded, and Monospaced.



Filmmaker Gary Hustwit, who first learned about Sonoran during the filming of Helvetica, has been closely following the development of Sonoran ever since. With the typeface now complete, Hustwit announced a special director’s cut of Helvetica, part of the Design Triliogy boxset. “Sonoran is rewriting history, I had to tell the whole story,” says Hustwit. The special edition box set is due out late 2011 to early 2012.

Microsoft has also announced it will include Sonoron as its default operating system font starting with Windows 7.1, as well as with its latest Zune Phone.

The typeface will be released for public sale Monday, available from

UPDATE: The truth is out, see Sonoran: The hidden truths (April 4, 2011).


U.S. Government Open-Sources IT Dashboard to Help Cut Tech Costs

31 Mar

The United States government has made its IT Dashboard, a cost-cutting tool for federal transparency, freely available for anyone, especially other governments, to use and customize.

The IT Dashboard gives citizens important information on how the government uses tax money for technology initiatives across various agencies. Citizens can see how government investments are paying off, and they can compare types of IT spending over time by accessing easy-to-reach charts and graphs.

But this clarity of and access to vital information isn’t just good for citizens; it’s also used by the Federal Government, including Congress, to make important decisions about IT budgets and spending. Open-sourcing this cost-saving tool is part of the government’s larger plan to save on IT by eliminating redundant efforts. In other words, the IT Dashboard already exists and has been paid for, and the government isn’t going to hide that light under a bushel.

Here’s a video demonstrating some of the features of the federal IT Dashboard:

The government is working with Code for America for this release. In am announcement, CfA said, “The IT Dashboard was a major component of the process the Federal Government employed to save over $3 billion in just its first two years of deployment.”

In addition to the Dashboard, the government is also open-sourcing the complementary TechStat Toolkit, a set of tools and processes for reviewing any yellow or red flags that might pop up while using the Dashboard.

In this video, U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra talks about the results the government has seen by using the IT Dashboard and how those results were achieved:

But open-sourcing something like this isn’t a cakewalk. The government worked with FOSS and government experts, Code for America and CfA’s Civic Commons project to get the job done.

Project lead Karl Fogel wrote on the Civic Commons blog, “We knew from the beginning that a high-profile project can’t be open sourced casually. It’s not enough to just put an open license on the code, move development out to a publicly visible repository, and call it done.”

He continued to note that for the Dashboard, Civic Commons had to ensure that all the code and documentation was safe for public use (i.e., not classified or a government secret) and audit the code; reduce dependencies on proprietary libraries; write documentation; ceate non-sensitive, non-classified sample data; work with the Drupal community; and much more.

Interested parties can download the Dashboard code now at SourceForge. While the Dashboard is intended to help governments cut costs and manage IT budgets, we can see such tools coming in handy at just about any large company, tech or otherwise.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, GottfriedEdelman

More About: code for america, it dashboard, open source, U.S. government

For more Dev & Design coverage:


Zetros, Zetros, Golly! Ultra-Luxury Mercedes-Benz 6×6 RVs Tackle Mongolian Wilderness (And We’ve Got Interior Photos)

31 Mar

In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, there are a couple of guys who’ve done well for themselves in the business world. One owns a brewery that specializes in German-style beer; the other made his bones in the mining industry. Sometimes, they like to use eagles to hunt for wolves in the Altai mountains.

Now, after a long day of raptor-vs.-lupine action, your average Mongolian businessman might be content to retire to a lean-to by the side of his Land Rover, settling down with his companions and birds of prey for the night. These two, however, have decided to wet-sand the bejeezus out of the concept of roughing it. They bring the indoors with them, bolted to the chassis of Mercedes-Benz Zetros 6×6 trucks. Equipped with a 7.2-liter diesel inline-six that thwacks out 959 lb-ft of torque, the Zetros has three locking differentials and routes the power to all six wheels through a transfer case with a 1.69:1 low ratio.

The interior’s where things really get nutty. Far more opulent than our beloved GMC MotorHome, these custom-built living stations were designed and constructed by Hartmann in Alsfeld, Germany and outfitted by RV-interior specialist Huenerkopf. They feature fully insulated walls, furniture designed to withstand the harsh realm of the Gobi desert, a fully equipped galley, and perhaps most important, heated marble floors and a combo bidet/toilet in the head. One of the trucks also features a parking bay for a quad.

Tech amenities include two TV monitors (in 40- and 46-inch diagonals)—ironically seen in these pics showing a documentary about the wonders of the wild world—satellite communications and a Mac-mini based media hub plugged into a Bose sound system. It’s all run off four 220-Ah batteries charged automatically by a diesel generator and two 80-watt solar panel units mounted on the roof.

In the 1982 cinema classic Conan the Barbarian, the eponymous hero spends some time bunking with a Mongol horde. After a day of battle, a general asks his jubilant charges a simple question, “What is best in life?”

A proud Mongol warrior immediately replies “The open steppe! Fleet horse! Falcons at your wrist and the wind in your hair!”

“Wrong!” interjects the General. “Conan! What is best in life?”

“To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!”

What if the answer were actually both? These custom Zetros trucks may well be your rides.

(Check out our gallery below for even more photos.)


Interview with a Successful 10 Year Old Blogger

31 Mar

I often get asked a lot about what it takes to make a blog, and if it’s really possible to make money online. The answer is always the same… it all depends on the amount of work and time you put into it. It is possible to build a business through blogging, affiliate marketing and have it become your full time job. The interview below is with Bradley Nordstrom, a 10 year old affiliate and blogger who is very well known for commenting on several Internet marketing blogs. While juggling his homework, after school activities and just being a kid… we were lucky enough to snag this exclusive interview and I think you’ll find that it is a very entertaining read and a great look into the life of one of the youngest affiliates and bloggers the world has ever known.

Tell us a little about your background info about yourself. Where are you from? How old are you? How long have you been using the Internet?
I am from Wellington, Florida and I still live there now. I am an awesome 10 year old and my birthday is October 20th. I have been using the internet for 5 years now. I first started blogging with my blog cthen when I turned 9 I got into affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is one of the most important things I do to make money now next to blogging. My parents and I also run an infotainment paper called “Tidbits”. You might have heard of it.

What accomplishments so far are you most proud of?
The accomplishments I am most proud of is being a young 10 year old that makes over $5,000 a month. I am also proud of being invited to People To People International which is a organization that picks kids from all over the world and those kids get to go to different countries. I will be going to Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland.

Your main website is How cool are you and how did you get to be so cool?
I am awesomely cool and I got this cool because I have a cool blog. My cool blog helped me get really cool because my blog has cool blog posts.

How did you get to be so good at creating websites at such a young age?
Well it all started at “StarBucks”. My dad owned a company that created websites. I was really bored at Starbucks so I asked my dad if he could teach me how to make a website and he said yes. So from that day on he kept teaching me all kinds of stuff I couldn’t even understand. From that day on whenever we went to the bookstore I got either a HTML or CSS book that taught me everything I needed to know to make my website the best in the world.

How did you come to learn about affiliate marketing? Is this something you want to do when you grow up?
I learned about affiliate marketing when I was 8 1/2. My dad was an affiliate marketer when he was young and he taught me some affiliate marketing. Everyday after school he would teach me one part about affiliate marketing.

What do you think it takes to be successful as an affiliate?
To be a successful affiliate you have to be able to sell at least one product a day. You also have to be able to like being an affiliate.

What have been your biggest failures and frustrations with your websites and schoolwork?
My biggest failure was not listening to my parents for my science project. I had a different answer than they had and I was wrong and they were of course right. My biggest frustration I had with my website bradleyiscool was not posting in 3 weeks! I was on vacation and had no access to the net so I just had to deal with it.

What have you been up to recently? What projects are you working on?
I am creating a business that is going to make wordpress blogs for people. The name of the business is WildWebPro.

What are your greatest strengths?
My greatest strengths are meeting people and making friends.

What are your greatest weaknesses?
Milk is probably my greatest weakness. I can’t stand the look and taste of milk.

What motivates you?
Being invited to special groups pretty much is the only thing that motivates me.

What is the best advice you’ve been given and try to apply it to your life?
My dad teaching me how to blog is the best advice I ever got in my life pretty much.

Who has impacted you most in your life, and how?
My dad because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be getting this interview right now.

Where do you want to be 10 years from now?
I would like to be living on Hibiscus Island in Miami and have a few high end cars like maybe a 7 series BMW and a few Lambo’s and Ferrari’s. I would also like to make a million dollars a day. I actually know someone that does make a million dollars a day.

How do you like to spend you free time? What do you do for fun?
I like to spend my free time sleeping. What I do for fun is blog. Blogging to me is my favorite thing to do. It is fun and is easy to do. I can tell my fans that I have been to disney world or I can tell them about affiliate marketing.

As you get older, what career choices do you think you will make?
I will probably have the same career choice as a blogger and being an affiliate marketer. I think I might own a multi-blillion dollar business.

Feel free to leave any questions you may have for Bradley, as I’m sure he will be active in the comments area. You can also visit Bradley’s blog at

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Today’s New Funny Pic

30 Mar



What if JC Penney Link Buying is Just the American Way?

30 Mar

British SEO tools company, Linkdex, has released data to Search Engine Watch that suggests, in their assessment, that JC Penney's link buying strategy was simply just good business sense.

Linkdex (not to be mistaken with Searchdex, the company accused of brokering the links), argues that from their analysis of competitor links JC Penney saw a gap in the market and aggressively chased the opportunity. Perhaps, the SEO should be commended for clearly understanding how Google's algorithm works, rather than villified for using 'dirty little secret' tactics that are proven to work and generate money? After all, it's not like anyone can get arrested for buying and selling links. Not yet, anyway.

Click to read the rest of this post...


Meet +1: Google’s Answer To The Facebook Like Button

30 Mar
Nearly a year after Facebook Like buttons spread out across the web, Google has announced its own rival, the +1 button. It launches today as part of Google’s search engine, allowing you to “+1″ the search results and ads that you like. And in a few months, it’ll be arriving...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Are You Sure It’s Not a Banana?

30 Mar

funny graphs - Are You Sure It's Not a Banana?

‘Cept Banana Is Weird in English Too

Graph by:


Submitting 1 LOLVoting 100 TimesVoting 10 Times

Via: made it myself


‘Scam’ Keyword Suggestions Vanish from Google Autocomplete

30 Mar

Google's autocomplete feature no longer contains the word scam. The autocomplete feature offers results based off search volumes (i.e., if you're seeing something suggested, it is being heavily searched for). However, search queries containing the word "scam" are now filtered out, forcing users to type in scam for themselves rather than see it offered as a top suggestion.

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10 New Twitter Tools That Will Make Your Life Easier

30 Mar

10 New Twitter Tools That Will Make Your Life Easier

Twitter continues to add a staggering amount of 460,000 users each day. In order to be fully equipped to stay on top of this popular web service, you can use Twitter tools to help. Here are 10 fresh, new Twitter tools that you can use to achieve greater productivity on Twitter-related tasks.

1. The Archivist

The Archivist

This tool gives you insights and data about a specific search term. Simply search for terms that interest you and The Archivist will present you with plenty of information such as how much the term has been tweeted, top users that use the term, how many retweets the term has gotten, and more. It also lets you search for topics and hashtags, and gives you amazing visualizations about the Twitter activity surrounding them.

The Archivist allows you to download the data so you can go and pull it into presentations, reports and other analytics tools.

2. Tweriod


This Twitter tool analyses your tweets and your followers’ tweets and then gives you a graph of times of the day and days of the week your tweets will have the most visibility. Super simple and very useful. It’s an app that attempts to answer one question: What times are your followers most active?

Tweriod saw development at a great pace in the past few weeks. It started out as a simple service a few months back, but has recently received an overhaul in its design and in its algorithm.

3. ManageFlitter


ManageFlitter has been around for a while; however, a few weeks ago, the app rolled out an overhaul and launched a pro version of its service. Managing your Twitter followers is now easier than ever before.

With ManageFlitter, you can unfollow Twitter accounts that don’t follow you back, users that clutter your Twitter stream, and people who’ve stopped using Twitter.

There is no signup or registration process; you simply connect using Twitter’s authentication system and off you go.

4. Buffer


(Full disclosure: I work at Buffer.) There exist many different tweet-scheduling services out there. However, Buffer gives you a simpler and hassle-free solution than other services you might know of (such as Hootsuite or CoTweet). Buffer allows you to add many tweets at once, without flooding your followers with too many tweets back to back. All you do is throw a few tweets in your Buffer and the app then schedules them for you throughout the day. No need to figure out when to tweet. It gives your Twitter stream better consistency.

Another great feature is that you’re able to add tweets to your Buffer from any web page using a browser extension.

5. Hashable


This high profile New York City startup gives you a chance to document all the relationships you make on Twitter and other social networks. It’s a new way of sharing the people you have met and can become an online space you can always go back to as a contact list.

It works in a very simple manner: You simply tweet out hashtags alongside an introduction or piece of information in reference to the person you have met.

What you’ll appreciate with Hashable is that it will store all this information in the form of a log so that you can keep track of your contacts. And it’s good fun to use, too.

6. Qwerly


Qwerly gives you a place to put all your Twitter contacts and other social networking profiles in one place. Another one of these all-in-one apps? I hear you, but Qwerly allows you to make this a fun and convenient experience.

All you do is sign in using Twitter’s authentication and it automatically pulls in all the information for you. Qwerly saves you all the trouble of manually entering your information. In addition, it helps you connect with more users by telling you what other people are up to.

7. Twileshare


You most likely know that there are several file-sharing tools out there for Twitter. In the past few weeks, I tested a few of them, and my decision is firm that Twileshare is the best one out of the whole bunch.

You simply upload files and share them with your followers, all in one tweet. The files are safely hosted on Twileshare’s servers and you get a generous storage space of 1GB to start out with. You’re able to share a variety of file formats such as PNG, GIF, JPG, DOC and PDF files. Another neat feature on Twileshare is that you’re able to see the amount of views your files get.

8. Twoolr


This app gives you detailed statistics about everything happening around your Twitter account. It tells you about your mentions, retweets, the words you’re using, the progression of your follower count, and more.


At a market share of just above 10% of all Twitter usage, it was only a matter of time til Tweetdeck would extend its functionality. allows you to write updates longer than Twitter’s 140-character limit. The first part of a message over 140-characters will be tweeted alongside a link to a new platform Tweetdeck created so that your followers can view the entire message.

It comes in super handy when you need to reply or send out tweets without having to resort to cutting down your message. It even allows you to include embedded videos. is sort of like Posterous on top of the Twitter platform.

10. Proxlet


This tool allows you to mute certain tweets without unfollowing the person altogether. It also eases the pain of finally getting rid of Foursquare tweets and tweets about trending topics that you no longer want to hear about. You can do this under Settings by blocking whole hashtags, terms or apps.

Proxlet works on Tweetdeck, iPhone and other Twitter clients.

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About the Author

Leo Widrich is a Social Media enthusiast with an extra large addiction to Twitter. As Co-Founder of Buffer, he blogs at the Buffer blog every week to help their users make the most of their service. Say "Hi!" on Twitter @leowid.