Google’s hidden AR tool will blow your mind

When it comes to surprises, Google plays a good game. From brilliantly entertaining Google Doodles to the most genius Google Easter Eggs, the Google team clearly like to get creative and delight users with hidden gems. And this most recent offering is no exception. 

Google AR animals is a hidden augmented reality feature that allows users to view a 3D image of a search result. On AR-enabled devices, the tool is accessed using Google Search, with the question: How big is a wolf (for example). If the animal in question is available, Google will return the usual statistics – height, length, mass etc – above an arrow that users can click to reveal a ‘meet a life-sized wolf up close’ option. Press that and voila! A 3D version of the animal appears in the room.

Google AR animals

Click the arrow to reveal the 3D model

The 3D models themselves are a little crude (see our free 3D models to compare with other examples) however, they provide a realistic sense of an animal’s scale (seriously though, who knew a wolf was that big?) and movement. As an artist, this is a brilliant reference resource, offering insight to animal behaviour and movement (without the risk of losing any limbs, always a plus).

Animals include a lion, tiger, bear, alpine goat, timberwolf, European hedgehogs, angler fish and Emperor penguin. Each carries out actions synonymous with the animal. For example, you can watch (and hear) a lion roar, wolf howl and giant panda enjoy a piece of bamboo.

The feature was recently discovered by Vimeo co-founder Zach Klein, who referred to it as ‘magical’. 

As highlighted above, not only is this tool a brilliant art resource, but a super-fun (and highly addictive) feature to be enjoyed by all the family. 

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Walmart cameras 2020: the best digital, dash and security cameras at Walmart

The best Walmart cameras don’t have to break the bank. But there are a lot to choose between, so to help you decide which one is right for you, we’ve curated the top snappers that you can buy from the retailer for all uses, skill levels and budgets. 

These Walmart cameras aren’t just standard point-and-shoot digital cameras. In this guide, we’ve also picked the best DSLR cameras you can buy from Walmart, plus instant cameras, security cameras for your home or office, and dash cameras for your car.

Walmart is one of the biggest retailers in the world, and that means it has a brilliant range of products on offer – at very competitive prices. Whether you want to buy the best waterproof camera for your holidays, or an affordable, cheap DSLR for taking snaps of the family, or more you’ll find the best Walmart camera for you on this page.

The best cameras at Walmart right now

Best Walmart camera: Nikon D7500

The Nikon D7500 is our pick for the best DSLR camera at Walmart overall. It offers a brilliant balance of features and affordability. Sure, there’s more accomplished DSLRs at Walmart, but they are a lot more expensive. The Nikon D7500 packs in an excellent 20.9MP sensor into a compact and affordable body. Despite its relatively inexpensive price, the D7500 still offers a wide range of features, such as 4K video capture, tilt-angle touchscreen and 8fps burst shooting for high-speed action shots.

best Walmart camera: Nikon D850

If you’re looking for the ultimate DSLR at Walmart, then the Nikon D850 is the one you’ll want. This is our pick for the very best high-end DSLR camera at Walmart, which means it’s more expensive than the Nikon D7500, but for serious photographers the extra cash is well worth it. It comes with a massive 45.4MP sensor that delivers incredible images that are rich with details, and offers exceptional noise performance even at high ISOs. This is a DSLR camera that comes with more features than we can list here, and a robust build quality that allows it to cope with even the most demanding of locations.

OK, so this list has started off pretty Nikon-heavy, but we can’t argue with the Japanese company’s brilliant products. Not only does it offer the best all-round and high-end DSLR cameras at Walmart, with the D3400 it also offers the best cheap DSLR at Walmart. It comes with a brilliantly sharp 24MP APS-C sensor and a very good retracting kit lens. Overall it offers superb value for money, with features and performance that put some of its more expensive rivals to shame. Its simple button layout, along with its cheap price, means the D3400 is perfect for beginners.

Fujifilm’s X-T3 is our pick for the best mirrorless camera at Walmart. It improves on its predecessor in pretty much every single way, with a new 26.1MP X-Trans sensor benefiting from a higher resolution and better noise control. With 2.16-million phase detect AF pixels, X-T3 tracks focus smoothly as well. Add in touchscreen control, 4K video and 11fps burst mode, as well as a stylishly-designed body, and you’ve got one of the best cameras on sale at Walmart in 2018.

The OM-D E-M10 Mark III is one of our favorite Walmart cameras, as it packs a formidable amount of extras into a compact body that’s ideal for beginners, as well as seasoned pros. It boasts a 5-axis image stabilization system, decent electronic viewfinder, an impressive 8.6fps burst shooting speed and 4K video. Don’t be fooled by its small size and low price – this is a brilliant camera.

If you’re looking for the best waterproof camera Walmart has to offer, than the
FinePix XP130 is for you. It’s the perfect choice for family holidays at the beach, with a robust, waterproof casing and some nice features, such as a variety of fun filters to liven up your snaps and Wi-Fi connectivity for easy uploading and sharing to social media sites. It’s not the most rugged of waterproof cameras, and the simple-to-use button layout might frustrate more experienced photographers, but if you want a simple point and shoot compact camera for the beach, this is a brilliant choice.

The Sony RX100 IV proves that if you don’t mind waiting a bit, you can get some seriously impressive camera deals from Walmart. When it first launched, it was a pricey snapper, but no there are some brilliant deals to be had – especially at Walmart. You get some top-notch features, including a 1in sensor, 4K video recording, excellent pop-up EVF and 16fps burst mode and wireless connectivity. It can also shoot at up 960fps for slow-motion output!

A still image of the Netgear Arlo Pro 2 security system

The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 is the best security camera at Walmart. It’s a high-end set-up that offers a professional-quality security system for your home or business. The Arlo Pro 2 comes with a hub and two cameras. The cameras are capable of recording crystal-clear 1080p HD video, and can work either indoors or outdoors, thanks to their IP65 waterproof rating and strong magnetic mounts. It also features an 8x digital zoom, a ‘smart siren’ and a powerful Night Vision mode, giving you peace of mind when away from home. You can view the cameras through a smartphone app or web interface.

If you’re looking for an instant camera with a huge dose of retro charm, then the Polaroid OneStep 2 is definitely for you. With a design based on the original 1970 OneStep, this updated camera is just as easy to use as Polaroid’s original. As soon as you press the button, it prints out your photo on the classic square file (Polaroid I-Type). The film is a bit more expensive than its instant camera rivals, but for pure nostalgia and excellent photo quality, the OneStep 2 is definitely worth buying from Walmart.

Garmin is a well known brand for action cameras and fitness trackers, and its applied its experience to the Dash Cam 55, creating a feature-packed dash camera with brilliant image quality.  It’s by far the best dash camera for your car at Walmart, and thanks to its 1440p video capture at 30 frames per second, video footage is brilliant, and the 122 degree viewing angle is also decent, giving you a wide view of the road. It has a built-in GPS unit, so all footage is stamped with time and location, which can save a lot of time and effort if you are involved in an accident.

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The Mythical Mythical Man-Month

The Mythical Mythical Man-Month

The Mythical Mythical Man-Month

John Foreman

As a product leader at a tech company, I am a bottomless pit of need. My job as the Chief Product Officer at Mailchimp is to bring the product to market that’s going to win in a very competitive space. Mailchimp’s aspirations are high, and to realize them we need to deliver a substantial amount of product to the market. Oftentimes to many at the company, it feels like we are doing too much. We’re always at the edge of the wheels coming off.

And when you’re doing too much and you decide to do more than even that, you will inevitably begin to hear The Mythical Man-Month referenced. It’s like one of those stress-relief balls where if you squeeze one end, then out pops the Mythical Man-Month at the other end.

Published by Frederick Brooks back in 1975 (you remember 1975, right? When software development 100% resembled software development in 2020?), this book is rather famous amongst software engineers. Specifically, there’s one point in the entire book that’s famous (I’m not convinced people read anything but this point if they’ve read the book at all):

“…adding more men lengthens, not shortens, the schedule.”

Easy fix. I’ll just staff women to projects from now on (see the Return of the King and the fight against the Witch King of Angmar).

But let’s assume that Brooks’ point holds regardless of the gender identification of the software engineers in question. Here’s the point: software is difficult to build with lots of complex interdependencies. And everyone needs to work together to get it done.

As I add people to a team, they need to be onboarded and grafted into the project. Someone’s gotta carve off the right work for them. The team has to communicate to make sure their stuff all works together, and each additional person increases that communication complexity geometrically. And at some point, adding people becomes a burden to the project — not a benefit.

Here’s the graph from the book illustrating that point:

As you add people to tasks with complex interdependencies, progress grinds to a halt

Add people to go slow (Large preview)

This is absolutely a fair point. That’s why I hear it so much at work. Exhausted individual contributors and exhausted leaders alike will toss it out — we can’t go faster, we can’t do more, stop the hiring, read The Mythical Man-Month and despair! The only solution is apparently to stop growing and kill some projects.

When I as CPO say, “we’re going to do this thing!” the reply then is often, “OK, so then what are we going to kill?” The Mythical Man-Month turns product development into a zero-sum game. If we want one thing, we must stop another. Now, that’s an actual myth, and I call hogwash.

And taken to its pathologically misinterpreted (we’ll get to this) conclusion, the book apparently says that the fastest tech company is one that employs all of four people — four men, apparently. Anything more just slows it all down. Someone should send Amazon, Apple, and Google copies of the book, so they can fix their obviously bloated orgs.

The only problem with this approach is that in a space where the competition is growing and iterating and executing — merely tamping organizational growth — editing and focusing the workload to match can be a recipe for extinction. You’ll be more sane and less stressed — right until you’re out of a job.

And as the owner of product management for my company, I’m not unsympathetic with this need to slow down and focus. We must ruthlessly prioritize! No doubt. But running a product is an exercise in contradiction. I must prioritize what I’ve got while simultaneously scheming to get more done. But what am I to do in the face of the Mythical Man-Month?

Surprisingly, the answer to this question comes from Brooks’ same book. Here’s another graph in the same chapter:

Partitionable tasks requiring communication can still add workers and go faster

(Large preview)

There is a battle in scaling product development. If the work you’re trying to accomplish is purely partitionable, then go ahead and add people! If your work is all connected, then at some point adding people is just wrong.

If someone says that I absolutely have to kill a project in order to start another one, that’s just not the case. If the two projects require very little communication and coordination, then we can scale away.

This is why adding cores to a CPU can increase the experienced speed of your computer or phone up to a point — something engineers should know all about. Sure, adding cores won’t help me complete a complex single-threaded computation. But it may help me run a bunch of independent tasks.

The conflict for a product executive then between scaling and ruthless prioritization can be managed.

  1. You ruthlessly prioritize in places that are single-threaded (the backlog for a product team let’s say).
  2. You scale by adding more cores to handle independent work.

Very rarely, however, is anything fully-independent of all else at a company. At the bare minimum, your company is going to centralize supporting functions (global IT, legal, HR, etc.) leading to bottlenecks.

It’s All About Dependency Management

The job of a product executive then becomes not only creating a strategy, but executing in a way that maximizes value for the customer and the business by ensuring throughput and reducing interdependency risk as much as possible. “As much as possible” being key here. That way you can make the company look as much like the latter graph rather than the former. Interdependency is a disease with no cure, but its symptoms can be managed with many treatments.

One solution is to assemble a strategic direction for the company that minimizes or limits dependency through a carefully-selected portfolio of initiatives. The funny thing here is that many folks will push back on this. Let’s say I have two options, one where I can execute projects A, B, and C that have very little coordination (let’s say they impact different products), and another option with projects D1, D2, and D3 that have tons of interdependencies (let’s say they all impact the same product). It’s often the case that the Mythical Man-Month will be invoked against the former plan rather than the latter. Because on paper it looks like more.

Indeed, it’s less “focused.” But, it’s actually less difficult from a dependency perspective and hence fairs better with added personnel.

Keep in mind, I’m not saying to choose a bunch of work for the company that’s not related. Mailchimp will not be building a microwave oven anytime soon. All work should drive in the same long-term direction. This approach can increase customer experience risk (which we’ll discuss later) as well as the burden on global functions such as customer research. Keep an eye out for that.

Another treatment is to create a product and program management process that facilitates dependency coordination and communication where necessary without over-burdening teams with coordination if not required. Sometimes in attempting to manage coordination so we can do more we end up creating such onerous processes that we end up doing less. It’s a balance between doing too little coordination causing the pieces to not inter-operate and doing too much coordination causing the pieces to never get built because we’re all in stand-ups for eternity.

The contention in the Mythical Man-Month is that as you add folks to a software project, the communication needs to increase geometrically. For example, if you have 3 people on the project, that’s 3 lines of communication. But if you have 4, that’s 6 lines of communication. One extra person, in this case, leads to double the communication! Fun. (This is, of course, an over-simplification of communication on software development projects.)

Different people have different roles and hence receive different amounts of autonomy. Perhaps the project manager needs to communicate with everyone on the team. But does an engineer working on the API need to communicate with the product marketer? Or can the marketer just go through the product manager? A good process and meeting cadence can then eliminate unnecessary communication and meetings. The point is that Brooks’ intercommunication formula is an upper bound on coordination, not a death sentence.

Finally, use tools, principles, and frameworks combined with independent work over actual collaboration to combat interdependency symptoms. For example, if I can coordinate two teams’ key performance indicators (KPIs, i.e. measurements of success) to incentivize movement in more-or-less the same direction, then their independent work is more likely to end up “closer together” than if their KPIs incentivize orthogonal movement. This won’t ensure things fit together perfectly, only that the work I need to do to make them fit together in the future is less than it might otherwise be. Other examples might include using “even-over” statements, design systems, and automated testing.

So there’s a start. But interdependencies take on lots of forms beyond code. Let me give an example from Mailchimp.

Customer Experience Risk: The Hidden (But Acceptable?) Cost Of Firewalling Work

Since Mailchimp’s customer is often a small business owner who’s a marketing novice (and there are millions of small business owners turned marketers worldwide), we must deliver an experience that is seamless and immediately understandable end-to-end. We’re not afforded the luxury of assembling a Frankenstein’s monster of clouds via acquisition the way that enterprise players can. We can’t paper over poorly-integrated software with consultants and account managers.

As a consumer product (think Instagram or a Nintendo Switch or a Roomba), we have to be usable out of the box. For an all-in-one marketing platform meant to power your business, that’s hard! And that means each thing Mailchimp builds must be seamlessly connected from an experience perspective.

But, perfectly partitioning projects then introduces experience risk. It’s not that the code can’t be written independently. That can be achieved, but there’s still a risk that the products will look like they’ve been built by different teams, and that experience can be really damn confusing for the user. We bump up against Conway’s law — our customers can tell where one team’s work ends and the other team’s work begins.

So you try to connect everyone’s work together — not just on the back-end but on the front-end, too. In the ecosystem era, dominated by CX excellence from players like Apple, this has become almost table stakes in the consumer space. But this is a Mythical Man-Month nightmare, though not from an engineering perspective this time. It’s from a service design perspective. As we add more people to all of this “end-to-end” connected work, everything slows to a collaborative crawl.

Other than the third fix I noted above, using tools and frameworks rather than over-watchers and stage-gates, there is another release valve: make some deliberate customer experience trade-offs. Specifically, where are we comfortable releasing an experience that’s disconnected from the rest (i.e. that’s sub-par)? Accepting risk and moving forward is the product leader’s job. And so you use some criteria to sort it out (perhaps it’s not holding new, low-traffic areas of the app to the same experience standards as your “cash cows”), and make a decision (e.g. iteration and learning over polish on adjacent innovations). This, of course, extends beyond design.

You can always short-circuit Brooks’ law by choosing to firewall efforts, including efforts that, in a perfect world, shouldn’t be firewalled!

I’ll caveat this by saying the software I build doesn’t kill anyone. I wouldn’t advocate this approach if I were building a medical device. But at a marketing software company, I can deliberately isolate teams knowing that I’ve increased the odds of incompatibility as a trade-off for scaling up personnel and moving faster.

I’m sad to admit that the Mythical Man-Month is a reality at my company, and I suspect at yours as well. But it’s manageable — that’s the bottom line. Parallelization and dependency mitigation offer us a way out that limits the near-mythical status of the Mythical Man-Month. So the next time the stark dichotomy is raised at your company (scale to go slower or give up your aspirations) remember that if you’re smart about how you line up the work, you can still grow big.

Don’t Forget About The Softer Side Of Scaling

Keep in mind that managing the Mythical Man-Month will not stop engineers from invoking it like dark magic. They’re invoking the principle not only because there’s some truth in it, but because scaling just sucks (always) from an emotional and cognitive perspective. If I think I’m paid to write code and solve customer problems, the last thing I wanna do is change up my routine and figure out how to work with new people and a larger team.

As you scale your company, remember to empathize with the pain of scaling and change. A team that adds even a single member becomes a whole new team from a trust and cultural perspective. People are tired of this change. That means that while you go about managing and mitigating the Mythical Man-Month, you’ll need to manage the emotions surrounding growth. That’s perhaps the most critical task of all.

Strong belief in the Mythical Man-Month by a team in and of itself can bring its conclusions into reality. It’s basically the equivalent of the belief in flying in Peter Pan. If the team believes that scaling will slow them and they don’t buy into the change, they will indeed slow down.

So as you work to manage dependencies and introduce tools to help scale, make sure you clearly communicate the why behind the practices. Get folks involved in selecting the work and processes that mitigate man-month issues, because when they’re part of the change and their outlook changes, suddenly scaling becomes at least culturally possible.

Smashing Editorial
(ra, il)

Discover the unknown stories behind everyday icons

There are symbols all around us that we take for granted. We know their meaning, use them every day and never question them. Some have fairly obvious origins, such as the use of a lightning bolt to indicate high voltage or a flame to indicate that a material is flammable. But there are others whose stories are less apparent. 

Why does an ‘S’ with a line through it represent the US dollar? And why does a circle containing a vertical line and two angled lines signify peace? Here we trace the fascinating origin stories of eight everyday icons.

(To get your hands on all manner of free icons for use in your design work, see our free icon sets post.)

01. The power icon

everyday icons

We know what it does, but why?

Thanks to the globalised distribution of electronics, many symbols used in technology are recognised all over the world, the ‘play’ symbol being an example. But the meaning of the power icon is less obvious. As a sign of how unintuitive it is, television remote controls for a long time came with ‘power’ or ‘standby’ printed alongside the icon for clarification. The ‘O’ and line ‘|’ had previously been used separately to indicate ‘on’ and ‘off’ positions on rocker switches, so when advances made it possible to replace these with press buttons, a new icon combining the two positions emerged.

The symbol showing a circle intersected by a vertical line was originally intended only to show a soft-off, or standby, rather than a hard-off, but it has been so misused and misinterpreted that the International Electrotechnical Commission, which regulates such things, now advocates its use as a power icon. 

Despite a widely shared theory that the symbol represents a ‘1’ and a ‘0’ in binary notation, the IEC says they are not numbers but a vertical bar and a circle. The vertical bar represents a closed circuit through which current will pass, and so the device is on. The ‘O’ represents an open circuit, meaning the device is off.

02. The ampersand

ampersand on a plain background

We can thank Roman scribes for this elegant logogram’s existence

The ampersand is adored by designers and typographers all over and offers a world of creative possibilities, but just why does this elegant logogram denote the conjunction ‘and’? The symbol appears to date back to the tradition for scribes writing in old Roman cursive to use a ligature combining the letters in ‘et’, the Latin word for ‘and’, in the first century AD. It had already come close to reaching its current appearance by the time the Carolingian minuscule script had become the calligraphic standard in Europe in the 9th century.

The symbol was apparently so often used that it was considered a letter in the alphabet in Latin, and this tradition was carried over into English in the early 1800s, the symbol being tagged on after the letter ‘Z’. Schoolchildren would be made to recite, ‘X, Y, Z, and per se and,’ per se meaning by itself. The slurring of this final phrase by a generation of children gave the ‘and per se and’ its current name in English: the ampersand.

03. The peace sign

everyday icons

Peace out. The peace sign began as the symbol for one specific movement

It’s known all over as the peace symbol, but just what does a circle containing a vertical line and two angled lines have to do with world peace? The symbol was actually designed for one specific grassroots organisation, the UK’s Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC). 

It was put forward by a designer called Gerald Holtom as a symbol to be used on lollipop placards on the group’s protest march from Trafalgar Square to the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston in 1958. His inspiration? He based the design on the shape of a figure using flag semaphore to communicate the letters ‘N’ and ‘D’ (for nuclear disarmament). 

He also considered that the two downward angled arms that form the semaphore signal for ‘N’ represented a gesture of human despair at nuclear arms proliferation. The symbol is striking, easy to draw and doesn’t need to be straight, which made it perfectly adaptable to pin badges, patches and bumper stickers. It was adopted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) but never copyrighted and was soon picked up by groups in other countries, becoming a symbol of 1960s counterculture in general. Groovy!

04. The Smiley

everyday icons

One unofficial version of the smiley face

Another symbol that became a counter cultural icon, the smiley has its own intriguing story. Believe it or not something that became an icon of the 1980s acid house scene is actually the copyrighted property of the entirely real London-based Smiley Company. 

The first yellow smiley seems to have been created by graphic designer Harvey Ross Ball in 1963. He was commissioned to design a graphic to boost morale at a Massachusetts insurance company and came up with a smiley face with oval eyes and a slightly off-centre smile. He never copyrighted the image and it soon started appearing on badges, stickers and greetings cards in the US, especially after it was printed on 50 million pin badged by the owners of two Hallmark shops in Philadelphia in 1971. 

But meanwhile in France, journalist Franklin Loufrani began using an extremely similar smiley to flag up positive news stories in the newspaper France-Soir. Loufrani, however, saw the design’s potential and registered it with the French patent office. He actively promoted its use, printing it on stickers and handing them out for free to help it catch on. 

In 1996, he and his son Nicolas founded the Smiley Company in London and now own the symbol in around 100 countries. It’s reported to be one of the biggest-grossing licensing companies in the world, and has mounted legal challenges against Kumon, Walmart, Joe Boxer and others who have developed their own face symbols.

05. The @ sign

everyday icons

Some symbols get a second lease of life

Nowadays it’s almost impossible to imagine electronic communication without the @ symbol. Pronounced ‘at’ in English, but called the ‘snail’ in Italy and ‘monkey tail’ by the Dutch, it’s a symbol we use every time we send an email, tag someone in a group message or on social media. 

The symbol is perhaps also an unlikely survivor because not so long ago the majority of people would not have been able to say what purpose it served. The Spanish name for the symbol comes closest to its original meaning – they call it the ‘arroba’ after an old standard of measurement, and it seems that in the 1500s it was being used by European merchants to denote units of wine called amphorae. 

Both merchants and mathematicians continued to use it to signify ‘at the rate of’, but for most people the symbol was obscure and close to becoming obsolete. Its resurrection came in 1971 when computer scientist Ray Tomlinson sent the world’s first email via ARPANET. Needing a way to address a message to someone working at a different computers, he simply chose the key that was used the least, and gave the humble @ a whole new life.

06. The hash

everyday icons

The hash is #backforgood

The hash is another now ubiquitous symbol that was given a new chance by the social media age. Hashtags allow us follow trending topics on Twitter, find topics of interest on Instagram, and have even come to name political and social movements. 

But like the @, the hash was originally used for measurements, and had long fallen out of use. Previously known as the pound symbol, it derived as a simplified version of the ligature ℔ which was used as an abbreviation for ‘libra pondo’, or pound weight, in the 1800s. 

In Britain it became known as the ‘number sign’ to differentiate it from the pound sterling and because it would sometimes be used to mean number when added before rather than after a number. They symbol was added to telephone keypads by Bell Telephones in the 1960s but rarely used until voicemail services developed in the 1980s. More uses would be found for it later in computing. It was used to label groups and topics in internet relay chat in the 1980s, and this inspired Twitter’s adoption of it to allow users to tag topics of interest.

07. The heart

everyday icons

The heart continues to receive love

With Valentine’s Day approaching, we’ll soon be seeing a lot of this symbol. The heart is one of the most widely used symbols in graphic design. But with its two rounded lobes and pointed base, why does it look so unlike a human heart? 

There are many theories behind its origin, including those that say it was not intended to look like a heart at all, but the intertwined necks of two swans. Other theories say it represents other parts of the human body, the shape of ivy leaves – which were associated with fidelity – or silphium, a North African plant with heart-shaped seed pods. 

As for its ubiquity in graphic design today, part of that comes down its use by designer Milton Glaser as a logogram in his I Heart NY brand in the 1970s (listed as one of our best logos in the world). The incredible thing about the heart symbol is that despite being so used it never seems to become cliché.

08. The dollar sign

everyday icons

A bag of dollars, or pesos?

For greetings card companies and flower sellers, Valentine’s Day means $$$. But then this is another symbol with a mysterious origin. In English speaking countries, this glyph is most commonly referred to as the ‘dollar sign’, usually in reference to the US dollar although it’s also used for other dollar currencies. 

But the symbol is also used throughout much of Latin America to denote everything from the Argentinian peso to the Nicaraguan córdoba. There are various theories as to its origin. One is that it comes from an abbreviation of ‘peso’ as ps, which occurred in the 1770s when English-Americans had trading relations with the Spaniards.

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The best video editing apps in 2020

The best video editing apps prove that you don’t need a powerful – and expensive – PC to edit and create professional-looking videos. All you need is your smartphone or tablet, an imagination and a bit of skill.

Because the best video editing apps are made for smaller, touchscreen, devices, it means they are user friendly, so you don’t need to pour over manuals or watch tutorials to get started.

Instead, you should be creating great-looking videos in no time at all. Another bonus is that the best video editing apps are a lot cheaper than their counterparts on PCs and Macs, and the right app will turn video into glossy and professional looking clips, that can be constantly tweaked and improved wherever you are. 

The apps we have chosen here combine both intuitive interfaces and powerful tools, making them the ideal place to start your video editing journey. 

However, if you need something that packs more of a punch, check out our roundup of video editing software. And if you want a bigger screen to edit on, we’ve selected the best laptops for video editing just for you.

Best video editing apps: Premiere Rush on a variety of devices

Premiere Rush is a free video editing app for short videos

Let’s be honest: on first encounter, Adobe’s professional video editing software, such as Premiere Pro, After Effects and Audition, can be a little intimidating. However powerful these tools are, there’s definitely a considerable learning curve, and newbies wanting to knock out a quick video for YouTube, Snapchat or Instagram Stories will often be looking for something easier to pick up and play with. So last October, Adobe launched Premiere Rush, which is designed specifically for anyone wanting to process video clips quickly and upload them to a social network.

Available for free on iOS, Android and desktop, the app is designed to be easy to use. That’s obvious the moment you open it up, and see a simplified interface featuring large icons and panels, making it especially great for touchscreen use. And when you come to start using it, typical tasks like adding videos to the timeline through drag-and-drop, or mixing in background music, are intuitive and fuss-free, involving the minimum number of clicks. 

The app offers four video and three audio tracks for editing. As you’d expect, its export options are optimised for every social media platform you’ve heard of, including Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Vimeo. Alternatively, you can just export the video to your local machine, or save it to the cloud so you can access it on all your devices. 

Overall, this tool is by no means as powerful as Premiere Pro, and you wouldn’t want to make a feature film with it. But if you’re just putting together relatively short and straightforward online videos, it’s going to have everything you need. (And if it doesn’t, its Creative Cloud integration means you can always open your saved Rush project in Premiere Pro and tweak it there instead.)

GoPro Quik

If you have a GoPro then give this a go 

If you have a GoPro then the GoPro app is for you. The GoPro app makes it easy to automatically import your footage and create videos synced to music in just a few clicks. You can add photos and time lapse sequences to your videos and impress your friends with gauges and graphs to show how high and how fast you went. 

Create video clips to share on YouTube and Facebook and go through frame-by-frame to find the ideal high-quality still that will want to make viewers take a look at your clip. If you subscribe to GoPro Plus you get access to a huge variety of extra soundtracks and you can auto upload photos and videos to the cloud for editing anywhere. 

Best video editing apps: LumaFusion interface

LumaFusion is powerful enough to do pro work on your iPad

If you’re looking for professional-level editing on your iPhone or iPad, then LumaFusion is quite frankly the only game in town.  

Aimed at mobile journalists, filmmakers, and video producers wanting to capture footage while on the move, it offers six video/audio tracks for photos, videos, titles and graphics, plus an extra six audio tracks for narration, music and sound effects, in an interface that will be familiar to Final Cut Pro users. 

It’s incredibly feature-rich, offering native support for 4K UHD, insert/overwrite capability, keyframing, colour correction, full support for PAL at 25fps upon export, a fully featured audio mixer; lossless export, support for vertical video, advanced title creation tools and more.

Note though, that’s there’s no syncing between devices as yet, so you can’t start editing on your iPhone and then continue on your iPad, for example.

Best video editing apps: Kinemaster Pro on smartphone

Kinemaster Pro offers feature-rich, multi-track editor on your Android mobile

KineMaster is a top-notch, pro-level video editing app for Android. Supporting multiple layers of video (on supported Android devices), images and text, as well as multi-track audio, it enables you to trim video clips and layers precisely at frame-by-frame granularity, while audio clip timing can be adjusted with sub-frame accuracy. 

KineMaster also offers instant edit previews, precise volume envelope control, colour LUT filters, speed controls, chroma key compositing and 3D transitions. It’s free to download, but note that with it adds watermarks to videos, which you have to take out a subscription to remove.

Best video editing apps: iMovie on iPhone

iMovie ships free with i-devices, so you may as well give it a try

iMovie is Apple’s very own video editing app, and it’s been shipping free with new Apple devices for a while now. It’s not as powerful as Luma Fusion, but on the plus side that means it offers a clean, intuitive interface that makes it easy to edit footage and add titles, music, voiceovers and photos. 

First launched in 2010, the latest version of app supports 4K on iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro, and later devices. You can save videos to the iCloud drive, stream them to an Apple TV via AirPlay, and everything integrates beautifully with Apple Photos, Mail and Messages.

While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend iMovie for professional video editing, the friendly and straightforward interface provides everything you need to knock out a short, good looking video. And as the app comes free with your iPhone anyway, there’s absolutely no reason not to give it a go.

Best video editing apps: Filmora logo

Filmora is free to use, with no hidden tricks to force you to pay 

If you’re an Android user looking for a simple and practical way to edit online videos that doesn’t involve a steep learning curve, Filmarago is worth a look. It’s very easy to use, and can help make your videos look impressively professional thanks to a range of themed filters and effects, 

Unlike its desktop sibling, it’s also free to download, and won’t stamp a watermark or place a time limit on your clip either, so it’s well worth giving a try. Admittedly, some in-app purchases are available, such as songs and effects, but your videos can work perfectly well without them, and the internal ads aren’t especially intrusive either.

Best video editing apps: Apple Clips on four different phonescreens

Apple Clips offers fun video editing for all the family

Apple Clips is a fun app that allows you to create and send video message or tell video stories with filters, animated text, music, emoji, and stickers. 

Primarily aimed at children and families, and featuring characters from Star Wars and Disney, it’s lightweight stuff, and we wouldn’t previously have even included it on this list. However, the recent update to the app in April has brought it a little closer to being a serious video editing app.

The latest features include more diverse sharing options (share videos via AirDrop or email, save them to Files, or upload them to cloud storage services); the ability to create songs in GarageBand and add them directly to new or existing videos; and a new camcorder filter to give your videos a retro video camera look.

Best video editing apps: Filmmaker Pro interface

Filmmaker Pro offers cool features such as chroma keying and video grading

Filmmaker Pro is another good choice for pro-level video editing on your iPhone. It comes with 30 excellent filters, for example, not to mention 17 transitions and Audiometer assisted voiceovers. It offers video grading, a superb green screen support, nearly 200 different fonts for your text overlays and advanced tools such as chroma keying, 

Note though that, like many tools on this list, the app is free to download, but doesn’t provide you with the full feature set; for that you’re directed to in-app purchases. It also watermarks your videos, and if you want to remove them then you’ll need a monthly or annual subscription. 

In other words, consider this to be a paid-for, subscription-based app, and treat the free download as basically a free trial version.

Best video editing apps: Power Director interface

Power Director lets you add background music and sound effects to your clips

Cyberlink’s PowerDirector is kind of an Android equivalent of iMovie (above) – though it’s also available for iOS. The app’s easy-to-use interface lets you arrange and edit your scenes on a timeline, as well as add titles and transitions. There’s also a good selection of effects, the ability to add background music and voiceovers, a photo collage maker, and support for slow motion. 

The downside of the free version is that you’ll have watermarks added to your videos, but a one-off $5 in-app purchase will remove these, as well as letting you export at 1080p rather than 720p.

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Best code editors 2020: Your guide to the top options

Finding the best code editor for your workflow can have a huge impact on your productivity. There’s no shortage of code editors on the market and selecting the one that is right for your developer needs can transform your workflow. Typically, developers do not fit into a single type, and the same goes for code editors. While one editor might work for one developer it might not suit another. So it is critical you take some time to figure out which is the best code editor for you.  

A best-fit code editor will make any developer more efficient at writing code. It will be a personal assistant helping examine code for less mistakes and show where edits need to be made. And, just as importantly, it will need to be customisable, allowing for the creation of a custom UI and an intuitive user experience. This is critical as you will most likely be looking at your code editor screen for hours on end. 

With a host of text editors, code editors and IDEs out there, how do you decide which one is for you? Whether you are looking to try out your first editor, or are looking to switch to a new editor that has some hot new features you want. Then this guide is here to help.

On this page, we’ll take an in-depth look at what we think are the five best code editors for developers and designers. Page 2 offers some more options to try out if you don’t get on with the tools on this page, then on page 3 you’ll also find information on what is a code editor, and how to pick the right code editor. 

While you’re considering your toolkit, check out our roundup of the best web design tools, and our guide to the best antivirus software to keep your precious programming safe.

5 best code editors for developers and designers

best code editors: Sublime Text 3

Sublime Text is the editor that really changed the way code editors worked. It is lightweight, open and ready to edit your file almost as soon as you have managed to click the button. This responsiveness is one of the things that makes Sublime Text the best code editor in its class. If you want to open a file and make a quick edit, waiting for a few seconds for loading may not sound like much, but the delay can grow tedious. 

Another big benefit of Sublime Text is that it is crazily extensible, with a huge and ever-growing list of plugins available to install via the package manager. Options include themes with which to customise the editor’s appearance, code linters (which can assist with more quickly locating any errors in your code), Git plugins, colour pickers, and more.

Sublime Text is free to download and start using, but for extended use you’ll need to shell out $80 for a licence – and the programme will remind you fairly regularly about payment until you cough up. If you decide to pay, the same licence key can be used by you for any computer that you use, so you can enter the same code on all your machines to make the payment reminder popup go away. The paid licence, however, is perhaps Sublime Text’s biggest downside – there are a number of competitive products available to developers for no cost.

best code editors: Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code is a code editor developed by Microsoft, and surprisingly, is open-source software. VS Code is perhaps the closest code editor in this list to being an IDE. It is very robust, and is also one of the slower programs when starting up. However, while using it, VS Code is quick and able to handle quite a few interesting tasks, such as quick Git commits or opening and sorting through multiple folders’ worth of content.

VS Code has seen a meteoric rise in popularity – it is continually growing its user base and attracting developers away from other editors. VS Code has a built-in terminal, as well as built-in Git support, both of which are big winners for fans of this program. Its ‘IntelliSense’ feature offers autocompletion of code as well as information on the parameters of functions and known variable names.

best code editors: Atom

Atom is open source and developed by GitHub. In its initial development, it was heavily influenced by the new style of editor made popular by Sublime Text. However, there are key differences: Atom is free and open source, and offers easy out-of-box integration with Git and GitHub. Atom has historically had performance and stability problems, but those have diminished significantly as it has matured. It’s true that it still launches slower than some editors, but it’s just as reliable and quick to use as any of the rest after that.

Further reading: Get more from Atom text editor

best code editors: Brackets code editor

Brackets is Adobe’s open-source editor, and seems to be a very well rounded software. It doesn’t natively support as many languages for syntax highlighting as some of the others (but it still has quite a few). Because of its focus on front end technologies, it also supports CSS preprocessors like Less and Sass. 

Brackets doesn’t come out on top on many of the usual speed and reliability metrics, but it does have several unique features worth investigating. It is mostly configurable via its menus, whereas most of the other editors in this list require you to edit configuration files (you can also edit the configuration file in Brackets if you prefer). 

There’s also an interesting feature for quick CSS editing. You can use a hotkey to pop out a small section on an HTML page, then edit any CSS rules that are currently affecting the element that you have selected. This means you can quickly locate a styling problem and fix it without having to waste time searching around.

An interesting design decision is that Brackets doesn’t use tabs at all for showing open files. Rather, there is an open files menu in the top left, above the file tree. If you’re using the split-window view, this open tabs list also splits ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ for easier location of the file you’re looking for. VS Code uses a similar open files menu, for example, but also uses tabs. In Brackets, this enables maximum screen real estate, but could be a jarring experience if you’re used to tab navigation.

best code editors: Vim code editor

Vim is perhaps the most contentious code editor in this list. Vim is a command line software, included natively with Linux operating systems and macOS, and available for download for Windows. Vim is a favourite for many old-school programmers, and keyboard enthusiasts. 

The program is navigated entirely via the keyboard, making it much faster and more efficient – but only if you make the effort to learn how to operate it. It is also extremely customisable (to the extent that a command line program can be customised). You can use a number of keyboard shortcuts to speed up the code editing process, and even better, create customised commands to fit your own workflow.

Vim earns the award for the steepest learning curve and perhaps one of the worst user experiences overall, due to its complete lack of UI. Learning how to navigate Vim isn’t all that challenging, but building the muscle memory of shortcuts and figuring out how best to customise the editor (which you needs to do to get the best from this programme) takes a lot longer. 

Vim is incredibly stable, fast, and a real joy to use for veteran command line aficionados and new, interested users alike. If you have the time to learn it, Vim can really increase your coding productivity, and it’s a nearly seamless cross-platform experience, with so little UI to consider.

Next page: More great code editors

06. Notepad++

Code editor - Notepad++

  • Price: Free
  • Platform: Windows

It’s been around for a long time now, but Notepad++ deserves a place on this list, because it can still compete with the best text editors around. This option is for Windows users only, and is still being actively updated. For no money whatsoever, you get a capable (if sometimes workmanlike) editor with plenty of features, and you can also mess about with the interface to suit your preferences. It’s the work of Paris-based software engineer Don Ho. 

07. GNU Emacs

best code editors: GNU Emacs code editor

  • Price: Free
  • Platform: Windows, OS X, Linux

There are various incarnations of Emacs but one of the most often-used is GNU Emacs; a free, extensible and customisable text editor. It’s one of the most powerful editors out there and as such takes a while to learn your way around. Features include content-aware editing modes and full Unicode support for nearly all script types. 

08. Komodo Edit

best code editors: Komodo Edit code editor

  • Price: Free
  • Platform: Windows, OS X, Linux

Komodo Edit is a powerful but basic code editor. It offers multi-language support, multiple selections and autocomplete, plus the ability to track changes or view a Markdown version. There’s also a more fully featured IDE, which you’ll need to pay for.

best code editors:  Buffer Editor code editor

09. Buffer Editor

  • Price: $17.99
  • Platform: iOS

If coding on the go is your thing (and you’re an Apple fan), Buffer Editor could be a great option for you. This iOS app is designed to make it easy to make quick changes to your website via your iPhone or iPad. It offers split view or fullscreen modes, and you can quickly switch between tabs. It also connects with BitBucket, GitHub, GitLab, Dropbox, iCloud ,Google Drive, SFTP, SSH and FTP servers.

10. CoffeeCup HTML Editor

Coffee Cup HTML editor

  • Price: Free version, or $29 (free trial available)
  • Platform: Windows

CoffeeCup HTML Editor offers two different code editor options. There’s a free version, which is great for beginners looking for a simple text editor. With it, you can create new HTML and CSS files from scratch or edit existing site files. Alternatively, there are a bunch of customisable responsive themes you can use to kick-start a new project. There’s also a paid version, which includes a more features, such as HTML and CSS validation tools and a table designer.

11. Coda

best code editors: Coda code editor

  • Platform: OS X
  • Price: $99

Text editor Coda (now on version 2) is a OS X app that offers plenty of handy features. Alongside the usual code editor options, there are some interesting features – for example, Find and Replace includes a ‘Wildcard’ token that makes RegEx one-button simple, and Coda Pops enable you quickly create colours or gradients, using easy controls, as you type. 

12. DroidEdit Pro

best code editors: DroidEdit Pro code editor

  • Platform: Android
  • Price: $2.49/£1.99

DroidEdit Pro is a slick code editor for Android tablets and phones. For the low price tag you get an app that looks great and works nicely for coding on the move. The simple interface gets out of the way, and the app supports syntax highlighting, bracket matching, Dropbox, and SFTP/FTP. There are also configurable shortcuts, to cut down on hunting and pecking on smaller Android device keyboards.

13. Textastic

best code editors: Textastic code editor

  • Platform: iOS
  • Price: $9.99

Textastic is a code editor aimed specifically at coding on the iPad (although there are iPhone and Mac versions). Along with all the usual bits and bobs you’d expect (FTP/SFTP support, local and remote preview, syntax highlighting), you get a handy additional row of keys on the virtual keyboard that provides fast access to regularly used characters. There’s also TextExpander support for working with and expanding snippets.

Next page: How to choose the right code editor

What is a code editor?

Code editors are the bread and butter software of many developers, designers, and even writers. Complex integrated development environments (IDEs) are often too bloated and heavy for smaller tasks, such as working on a single project or file. On the other hand, basic text editors such as Notepad on Windows or TextEdit on macOS are underpowered for the tasks of editing code – too many necessary features are missing, making code editing cumbersome. 

The interim type of software is the code editor. They shine at just this task, editing single files or single projects, managing a folder’s worth of content. Crucially, even the slowest of main code editors in the out list are still much faster and more responsive than dealing with a fully-fledged IDE.

best code editors: laptop screen

Code editors sit between IDEs and text editors in terms of capabilities

Code editors often used to be very different on each operating system, but many of the editors in this list are cross-platform and work to ensure that the experience on different operating systems is very similar. This enables programmers to shift between work and personal computers, or even shared devices, and still get things done without having to adjust to a different environment. 

In addition, many of the code editors here can have their behaviour modified via configuration option files (things like setting tab lengths, line lengths and wrapping, autocompletion, syntax highlighting, and more). This ability to dictate the program’s appearance and behaviour lets the programmer maximise the usefulness of the software, while the defaults enable a casual user to have a pleasant and useful ‘out of box’ experience.

How do you pick a code editor?

Picking a code editor can be a challenging task. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you know what you need. What features are most important to you? Keyboard shortcuts? Appearance? Speed? Stability? Cross-platform experience? Open source? Syntax highlighting options? 

Consider what you would like your editor to do for you. Do you enjoy autocompletion of function names, or automatic closing brackets or tags? Or do you find those things frustrating? Do you put a lot of stock in the ability to change the colour scheme of your UI often and easily, or are you a big fan of a simple light or dark mode? Do you wish to perform Git operations directly from your editor?

The list of potential features is endless, so figure out which are most important to you

The list of potential features is absolutely endless, and only you can say which are the ones that are the most important to you. Which make you more comfortable, efficient, and productive? Decide on your priorities, and then take a look around and find the editor software that ticks off all the boxes.

Another important note about choosing a code editor is to allow time to invest yourself in the software. Take a moment to look through the available settings, plugins, or other extensions. Find out which things you can change or set up to ensure that the experience is the best that it can possibly be for you. Getting your editor customised to your needs and spending some time with it will give you a real taste for whether it is to your liking or not.

This article was originally published in net, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers and developers. Subscribe now.

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Enhance your business skills with this digital marketing crash course

New year, new goals! Start the year off right by learning new tools to make you stand out in 2020. With The 2020 Full Stack Digital Marketing Certification Bundle, you’ll find new, improved techniques in digital marketing to make this your best year yet. 

If you’re aiming to grow your business this year, you’ll want to make sure your business cards stand out – here’s our roundup of the best business card templates around. 

And read on to learn more about some of the helpful courses included in the bundle, that is currently priced at only $39, a whopping 98 per cent discount.

Learn top search tools

It’s no secret that the job market can be extremely competitive (if you’re looking for a new one, check out our design jobs board for new career opportunities around the globe). With these 12 comprehensive courses, you’ll be equipped with everything you need to learn new skills and market yourself and your brand, no matter your goals for 2020. 

You’ll have lifetime access to tutorials on Google Analytics, the most widely used tool to grow a business, and gain a full understanding of the platform to analyze real-time audience and behavior reports. Learn the ins and out of Amazon SEO and advertising, create an online advertising campaign with Google PPC Ads, choose the right keywords that rank the highest and bring traffic to your site, and so much more. This course will teach you how to get any business to be seen online and flourish to its full potential in no time.

Explore the power of social media

The complete courses on Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, and LinkedIn allow you to use the power of social platforms to convert awareness, engagement, and sales. A 72-lecture course will teach you the proper way to use your personal Facebook profile, business pages, and Facebook’s paid marketing to promote your business in the most efficient way possible. 

You’ll soon learn how to generate valuable leads with a few clicks, produce profitable videos that sell, learn how to grow your subscribers on YouTube quickly, and so much more, making your resume thrive with useful skills for your next endeavour. 

Learn best practice

With hundreds of lectures and lessons on digital marketing tools such as Mailchimp, one of the leading email marketing platforms, you’ll be able to design and plan creative content in the best way to bring the most buzz. You’ll learn the principles and strategies that work for email marketing, push notifications, digital advertising, and more, plus have access to examples and exercises that implement them with real-world scenarios. The bundle will equip you with industry best practices to convert more leads, and you’ll even earn a certification of completion after you finish each course. 

Access to The 2020 Full Stack Digital Marketing Certification Bundle is valued at over $2,000. For a limited time, this bundle is price-dropped to only $39, a saving of 98 per cent. With all the content available 24/7, you’ll be able to effortlessly finesse your digital marketing skills and bring valuable growth to every project in 2020. 

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Asus ProArt PA90 mini workstation review

The Asus ProArt PA90 mini workstation is part of a recent trend towards custom-designed, compact PCs that are properly equipped with the right hardware to tackle the most heavy duty software tasks. Inside its cylindrical chassis is a workstation that would deliver impressive 3D performance even in a traditional PC case, only here it’s been precisely designed to squeeze a powerful PC specification into a case that measures 176 x 176 x 365mm. 

It bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple’s current ‘trash can’ Mac Pro, the ageing black cylinder version, and it fills the same niche. It’s perfect if you want to be able to get on with proper 3D design (why not check our Blender tutorials for advice in this area) but don’t have a lot of space, or are simply fed up with big black PC boxes. It can be placed under, on, or next to a desk without getting in the way, hidden in a corner, or in any unobtrusive place you can think of. 

To compare the Asus ProArt PA90 mini to similar machines, read on. Or see our pick of the best computers for graphic design. (Spoiler alert – the Asus ProArt PA90 makes our list.)

Asus ProArt PA90: Hardware specs

Asus ProArt PA90 review

The PA90 offers plenty of ports including two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports

The PA90 comes equipped with a six or eight-core 9th-generation Intel processor, up to a Core i9-9900K running at 3.6 GHz (4.7 GHz max), up to 64GB of DDR4 memory, an Nvidia Quadro P2000 or P4000, space for both an M.2 SSD and a SATA SSD up to 512GB each, and a 2.5-inch hard disk up to 1TB. The components are liquid cooled with air expelled through a removable grille at the top that’s illuminated with blue LEDs when the PA90 is turned on, as well as via a grille at the back.

The case feels chunky, weighing a solid 5.8kg. There are plenty of ports, although fewer than on a typical desktop motherboard: two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, four DisplayPort outputs and Ethernet at the back, with two USB-A ports adorn the front below the power switch. There are also connectors for a bundled Wi-Fi antenna. And there’s a major design bummer. It needs two external power supply bricks, one of which uses a standard IEC (kettle) power lead and the other a three-prong lead. And, all of this is yours for just £3090. 

Asus ProArt PA90: Graphics

Asus PA90 review

A 9th-generation Intel processor ensures that the PA90 has plenty of power

Although it’s called a Mini PC, it’s only the desktop footprint that’s small. The 36.5cm height is necessary for the hardware and cooling, and it means the PA90 stands taller than most mini PC cases.

An issue with the idea of custom-designed workstations like the PA90 is that not all components can be upgraded. You can upgrade the memory and storage, but graphics card and processor upgrades are pretty much impossible. That’s understandable, but it detracts from the overall value, especially when you’re spending so much on a workstation. 

A related question is whether Asus will continue releasing future versions as new generations of graphics and processor hardware become available. The P4000 has recently been superseded by Nvidia’s Quadro RTX 4000 for example, and the 10/14nm 10th-generation Intel processors are on the way. If not, the specification will age badly, making the PA90 a relatively worse-value purchase as the hardware ages.

Asus PA90 review

Stellar performance comes at a very high price

The PA90 is a great specification for 3D, CAD, audio and video editing. The Core i9-9900K is a brilliant CPU, with its 4.7 GHz clock frequency and eight CPU cores making short work of single or multi-threaded tasks.

Although the graphics performance falls about 25% short of the Quadro RTX 4000 we’ve recently tested in a full-sized desktop PC, it still put in a really fantastic showing in SPECviewperf 13, with results that beat other desktop towers equipped with the same GPU.

The gap widens in the OpenCL LuxMark and CUDA ArionBench tests, where P4000 performance in the Asus ProArt PA90 is approximately 50% under the RTX 4000, which is to be expected.

Asus ProArt PA90: Should you buy it?

Noise was only noticeable when the graphics card whirred up quickly at the start of an intensive 3D test, but went back to near-silent again afterwards. This could be a killer feature – the PA90 is very quiet, which is valuable for environments that are sensitive to noise.

But despite the stellar performance, this all comes at a very high price. Proprietary board designs with a custom case and cooling elevates the cost of the PA90 beyond that of a standard desktop PC with the same components. Therefore, it’s filling a relatively small niche – those who are willing to dig deep into their wallet for a capable 3D system that won’t take up too much space.

Trouble is, the PA90 faces tough competition. Asus’ rival Corsair has announced a similar system, the Corsair One Pro i180, but the real challenge is from Mini-ITX systems that are sold by pretty much all independent vendors. These can be configured with similar hardware, including water cooling, processors with eight (or more) cores and even more high-end Quadro graphics cards, including the RTX series. 

Like the PA90, these systems are squeezed into astonishingly tiny cases, but unlike the PA90, are built from off-the-shelf components, meaning a cheaper overall cost and better upgradability. Given £3,000 to spend on a computer with diminutive dimensions, we’d prefer that route over the PA90.

This article originally appeared in 3D World. Subscribe here.

Read more: The best laptops for video editing

Star Trek Picard: Piccadilly station gets a Trekkie takeover for new show

Commuters in London today may have noticed a major tube station looking a little different – Piccadilly station has been transformed into a Star Trek haven, complete with pun-tastic new name that we fully approve of.

The enterprising new look is dedicated to Starfleet icon and franchise mainstay captain Jean-Luc Picard. The whole station has been given a makeover, from the Piccadilly roundels that have been replaced by Startfleet emblems, to the signage, which now reads ‘Picardilly Station’. (For more ways to make a splash on a large scale, see our roundup of the best billboard advertising campaigns.)

The station takeover has been masterminded by Amazon Prime, in collaboration with Transport for London and Links Signs. It’s all in order to create a buzz around the upcoming series Star Trek: Picard, which will be available on the popular streaming platform from 23 January. As you’d expect, it’s only temporary – Trekkies who want to check out the intergalactic makeover will need to get there today or tomorrow (15 and 16 January).

“The promotional overhaul allows Amazon to reach audiences to inform them about the release date in a creative way, celebrating a fictional character whose legacy will go down in history,” says Paul Cox of Links Signs. “In the words of Captain Picard, we think it’s really set to ‘engage’ the public!”

The new series was unveiled at the recent New York Comic Con. It will focus on Captain Picard’s later years, and see Sir Patrick Stewart returning to the iconic role. Check out the trailer above for a taste of what to expect.

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Tweak your portfolio for 2020

A new year means if not out with the old, then at least in with the new. And that means it’s the perfect opportunity to refresh your portfolio. To take a moment to check the fundamentals are in order, ensure it’s up-to-date and includes only your best work, and there are no lurking errors that need to be fixed. 

Once all that’s done, it’s time to think about new tweaks and changes you can make to keep things looking fresh as we enter a new decade. In this article, we look at some of the latest trends in portfolio design that you can use to get your own portfolio looking razor-sharp in 2020.

For some best-in-class inspiration, check out some of our favourite portfolio examples.

01. Break the grid

portfolios for 2020

Kwok Yin Mak’s asymmetrical portfolio surprises the viewer

Offering a fresh and unexpected layout will grab a visitor’s attention from the outset and shows your creativity. One great way to do that is to break free from conventional layouts with more open composition, asymmetrical grids or unusual text orientations that surprise the viewer. 

The horizontal, asymmetrical design of New York-based designer Kwok Yin Mak‘s portfolio includes menus in unusual places, moving elements, cursor effects and information spread all over the site. It leaves visitors surprised and even slightly disorientated at first, but in a very pleasing way that encourages you to explore more. 

Looped horizontal scrolling allows you to take in the whole site easily, white space keeps it clean, and clicks take you zipping across the page. The effect is all the more arresting for the beautiful blend of English and Chinese text in different orientations, showing how a bilingual site can work. 

Home Societe keeps things classy within its asymmetrical layout

If you like this style, the business site Home Societe provides another inspiring example of how a horizontal, asymmetrical layout can make a big impact. For a more conventional approach but with elements of asymmetry, agency site Wokine uses a split screen to generate interest. 

02. Go bold

portfolios: Oliver Guilleux

Olivier Guilleux presents bold colours and type, and even an image of himself

No designer could have failed to note the popularity of big and bold colours and type in 2019. It’s a trend set to continue in the new year and with many prospects looking to emulate the style, it makes sense to show you speak the language. Beefed up  type and saturated colours helps shout your portfolio claims loud and proud.

Graphic designer Danilo De Marco makes maximum impact with large Neue Haas Unica type, which switches from black to electric green when the cursor moves over it. Tobias Ahlin uses big one-word headlines to clearly demarcate different the sections of his portfolio, and digital designer Thibaud Allie uses hugely oversized type that’s impossible to ignore. 

You can’t miss Danilo De Marco’s outsize lettering and fluoro colour palette

Olivier Guilleux puts the focus on his name with big type and a colour gradient, but also a bold image of his own face – we love the animated quiff that blows in the wind. Elsewhere, web designers like interactive developer Vincent Saisset are giving bold display text even more character with 3D, animated or manipulated fonts that make the letters seem alive.

03. Cut straight to the goods

portfolios 2020

Peter Komierowski sets straight about showing his work

The online world is a crowded space. We can sometimes feel we’re in a virtual arms race of clever text and cursor effects. So sometimes a simple and straight-to-the-point approach can make viewers sit up and take notice. For a portfolio, that means showing the best examples of your work upfront. While flashy effects can make an impact, sometimes getting straight to the goods can be a relief for a prospective client. 

Illustrator and visual designer Peter Komierowski‘s portfolio takes us straight to a simple single-page collection of the logos he’s designed. It might feel like a cold introduction, but there’s a link to the About section, where we find a natural-looking photograph and a down-to-earth personal description. The portfolio works well because it shows us what Peter does first, and if we like what we see and want to know more, it’s backed up with a presentation that makes him seem like a guy we’d like to work with.

04. Create a video

Portfolios 2020

Dan Paris’ video showreel makes for an effective portfolio background

In 2020, audiences want information more quickly than ever, which means video content is fast becoming a must for communication in any field. Creating a showreel is an obvious choice for animators and motion designers, even if it’s simply an embedded video like this showreel by Derek Panke. But designers of all kinds can take advantage of the power of video. 

It can make an impact on a portfolio as a background behind text as shown by Dan Paris, while agency showreels are becoming increasingly cinematic. French agency Septime Creation‘s showreel runs through UI designs for everything from video games to finance, accompanied by a bombastic film trailer soundtrack. 

For UI designers, video can show the experience of their work in a way that screenshots can’t capture. But still graphics can also be effectively presented in a showreel, like in this annual recap by 3rd floor shown above. Video is also a way to tell your story, where you’ve been and how you’ve evolved, or how you work in an engaging way, like in this example from Beauvoir.

05. Combine elements in collages

Portfolios 2020

Brand Affair stands out afar with 3D images on a flat background

Flat design has been huge in recent years, and the trend now is to combine it with more realistic 3D imagery. Including this combination of elements in your portfolio is a great way to refresh things and show you’re on trend for 2020.  

Russian agency Brand Affair uses the combination to stand out from the other animals out there, with 3D images of a flamingo, a giraffe and a chameleon floating on a flat background. Web design duo Dose Media offer more subtle edits on the image of themselves on their portfolio site.

06. Add a strong personal message

Portfolios 2020

Gloria Lo makes a personal statement that links to different sections of her portfolio

Competition for the best design roles is so intense now that in 2020 you need to stand out not only in visual presentation but also in personality. More designers are opting for more personal pitches that sell their character, interests and story as well as their creative talents. If you can, say something about your ethos, attitude or overall world vision, to get hired for how you create as well as what you create. 

UI designer Vera Chen‘s profile uses a small text intervention to make a clear statement about how she sees her work: “I create better experience for users people”. With her portfolio’s simple colour palette and ample white space, the statement stands out.  

Frontend developer Iuri de Paula talks us through his CV step by step, and Gloria Lo makes an interactive statement by turning the four key verbs that describe what she does into links to different sections of her portfolio. Done with humour or simplicity, a meaningful personal introduction can make a memorable impact.

07. Go progressive

Portfolios 2020

Build in Amsterdam uses a PWA to offer the sleek UX of a native app

It takes more work than building a standard responsive website, but for web designers in particular, 2020 may be the moment to consider making your profile a progressive web application. Touted by many as the future of the internet, progressive web apps (PWAs) are lightning fast and beautifully engaging. 

PWAs run on web technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) like regular web apps but use JavaScript Service workers to provide the high performance and rich experience of native mobile apps, including almost instant feature likes push notifications and other extras that deliver great UX. Sticky headers and floating menus and navigation buttons can make your site more engaging as well as easy to use. 

The other advantage is that with more prospective clients opting for DIY drag and drop site builders, offering PWAs is a way to stay ahead. And there’s no better way to show a client why they should consider a PWA for their own website than being able to say “my website is a PWA”, and providing it as an example of what can be done. 

Digital agency Build in Amsterdam’s PWA portfolio site offers the sleek user experience of a native app in which the case study feels like you’re entering a new portal. Web designer Daniel Spatzek‘s portfolio site incorporates many of the elements mentioned above, including big type, a strong personal message and a surprising layout. The fact the site is a super smooth PWA makes the experience all the more impressive for visiting prospective clients.

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