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Zach LeBar

Zach LeBar is a freelance web and graphic designer. Billing himself as a web craftsman, he takes great pride in his work, giving time and attention to the details and nuance of what he builds. Zach also dabbles in the world of amateur photography, and has a passion for writing. He's written for Mac.AppStorm, Web.AppStorm, and is always yammering on over at his blog.

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You know that sinking feeling you get, when you realize something has just disappeared from your grasp forever? That stomach twisting pain at something that cost so much money, or so much time, something that’s practically irreplaceable just disappearing into thin air. I hate that feeling.

The proliferation of digital goods in our lives is a double edged sword. While on the one hand, their simplicity, portability, and in many cases increased fidelity are all benefits to digital items, the ease with which they can also disappear can be frightening. While it may be difficult to misplace a wall shelf full of vinyl records, an MP3 library can vanish with a couple of key strokes. And while I’m not prepared to debate the pros and cons of building an analog library versus a digital one, I am here to show that this apparent fragility of digital things can be overcome.

Backing up your digital life is actually a pretty large discussion. It can encompass virtually everything you do and use with regards to computers. We’re talking everything from digital assets like photos and videos, to potentially sensitive material like work-related documents or databases, to your online assets like social media postings and email documents. That’s a lot of important data. Today I’ll be highlighting a solution to backing up one niche out of all of those things: your website, all thanks to a service called Backup Machine.

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The Web is an ever-changing place. What’s hip this week is forgotten by the next. The half life of an Internet meme feels like it’s less than five minutes. But we love the Web because of that, don’t we? It’s not just the content of the Web that ebbs and flows, the technologies that underpin it change just as quickly. While the fights for the victor may last longer, and wide-sweeping changes don’t exactly happen overnight, they do eventually happen.

We’re at another turning point in the history of the Web. Like the Browser Wars and the Web Standards Movements before them, mobile devices have taken the world by storm, and completely changed the landscape of the Web. There’s a responsive movement in the web design community to make sure the Web works its best everywhere the Web is available. And yet there’s been a rather large elephant in the room: Flash. Flash isn’t available on iOS. It’s barely available on Android. It’s a divisive influence on the Web.

But it’s Adobe’s Golden Boy, isn’t it? Their cash cow, the key piece of their secret plot for world domination. Well, it might’ve been. But then they announced their latest labs project, an HTML5 animation tool. This is called Edge. And it’s different.

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In a lot of ways, the sharing of recipes harkens back to times past. To a time when family recipes were closely guarded secrets, when picnics and get-togethers were an every weekend affair, and showcasing those family specialities was a point of intense pride.

Sharing recipes was an intimate thing, but in the Web 2.0 world, recipe sharing joined the list of digitally social things to share. Like music and video and status updates about your life, a cacophony of sites sprouted up around the idea of sharing recipes with your friends, family, effectively the world. Beyond that, skilled culinary experts started embracing the blogging culture, spreading their knowledge and sharing their passion with all who would listen.

But as of late, there hasn’t been much innovation in the field of recipe sharing and curation on the Web. Most sites are pretty straightforward, nothing out-of-the-box or original to speak of. Until now.

Enter Gojee. They have a different take on the curation of recipes. Less interested in user generated content, Gojee culls the best recipes from some of the best sources on the Web. They present it in a beautiful, cutting-edge manner. But enough with the summary. Let’s dive into Gojee, see what it has to offer.

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Look back six years ago, to the year 2005, and the Web is a different place. The Browser Wars are still raging, and while Netscape is putting up a valiant fight, Microsoft and Internet Explorer are looking more and more invincible. It looks like the Web will fall to the evil Empire, and there’s little that anyone can do to stop it.

And then, on June 7, 2005, Bertrand Serlet stepped onto the stage at WWDC and announced something no one really saw coming — the soul of Apple’s little upstart browser, Safari, was being open sourced. And it was called WebKit. Apple was once again trying to give Microsoft a run for their money, and they were going about it in a totally different way then anyone would’ve expected.

Think about it for a second. Apple is a notoriously secretive company. Why would they want to oversee an open source software project? To answer that question — and to properly judge how successful this open source endeavor has been — we have to take a look back at WebKit’s roots. But I’d also be remiss if I didn’t touch on what WebKit is becoming today, and where it could be heading tomorrow. Knowledge of the past is important, because it helps us understand the present — and to better prepare for the future.

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It’s that dreaded word in any small development team: support. Anyone with a love for software design or development probably doesn’t have a great love for customer relations. They feel more at home pushing pixels in Photoshop or writing code in a text editor. They’re familiar with email, sure: email’s ubiquitous, it’s simple, and any self-respecting geek understands email.

So what if your support system was based in email. Email, with a little extra umph. That’s what Help Scout promises to be. Leveraging email and the true ubiquity of it, Help Scout adds in layers that aid with specific tasks that small support teams face each and every day. Let’s take a look at how Help Scout works. (more…)

Social networking. It’s human nature to fear the unknown, and in the realm of current technology, the unknown is now social networking. And granted, there’s plenty to fear. Like every innovation before it, horror stories have been told about the dangerous effects of these new social networks. There’s obvious issues when you’re sharing personal information with people who’s identities can’t be confirmed. But then there are the brighter sides to these digital networks with social connections. We get to add a social layer to our digital lives, sharing those artifacts of pixels and code that are important to us now.

So what if you could have the best of both worlds? What if you could get all the benefits a social network provides, but wrapped in a protective bubble of encryption, something where you choose who’s allowed in. That’s what Minigroup aims to provide. Let’s take a look at what they have to offer, and just how painless and feature-rich this private social network is.

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Even though they’ve been late to the game, Safari’s extension support has spread like wildfire. People who are passionate about Safari are also passionate about making it the best in can possibly be. A robust community has formed here. And it’s my pleasure to bring to you, dear reader, a sampling of some of the latest and greatest Safari extensions available today.

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Tumblr. With its creation it tried to usher in a new style of blogging, something more like an expanded tweet and yet still a rather shrunken weblog. The focus on mixed content, pictures and video and audio and text, was well received by the web community, and as a platform, Tumblr continues to grow.

From the design world, Tumblr’s easy themeing capabilities helped it gain a quick following from amateur and professional alike. Today we’ve roundup 15 awesome Tumblr themes from some of the best designers in the field.
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There’s no question that one of the premier features of the Firefox web browser is extensions. Since Firefox’s inception they’ve been a part of what differentiated it. And even now, when every major browser on the market offers some kind of plugin architecture, the depth and quality of Firefox’s add-on catalog still reigns supreme.

The best part of Firefox’s add-on community is its continued dedication to creating new and exciting things. We’ve rounded up 20 Firefox extensions you may not have heard of before. Perhaps a couple of perennial favorites made our list too, but for the most part we’ve culled together some of the latest and greatest that the add-on community has to offer.

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Welcome to The Cloud. You’ll hear that just about everywhere these days. One of the biggest software categories to make the move to the Web is document-based productivity tools. The unquestioned leader in that realm is Google Docs, which lets you create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

But to truly qualify as “desktop replacement” software, you’re going to need to be able to do everything that you can with your current editor of choice. Today we’re going to take a look at a common need from a spreadsheet program – chart creation.

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