Must have app for designers – correct values from “colours in the wild”

Must have app for designers – correct values from “colours in the wild”

If you do any design work, you know how frustrating matching colours can be. Unless you have what I call perfect colour pitch, it’s frustrating.  Well, I found an app that takes the guess work out of the job. Check out the criminally easy to use app, Camera Color Picker from Thomas Barthélémy. I’ve been playing around with it and having fun standing on the balcony, picking out colours from around the neighbourhood. Yes, it’s that good.

Icon for the app Colour Picker Features:

  • snap to to use
  • free
  • intuitive layout
  • Colours can be saved and turned into pallets
  • Shows RGB, Hex and HSV codes

 Camera Color Picker (CCP) is one of the most practical apps I’ve used and have already found it invaluable when trying to match colours I see “in the wild”.  It’s free, open source and Android only.  It will need access to your camera, but other than that, it doesn’t seem to ask for the usual litany of “can we access your address book, location, life, mating habits” etc before it works.

To capture a colour, tap the colour picker icon (lower right of the screen) and run your phone over the item. The circle changes colour as you move the phone around. If it’s too dark, turn the flash light on to compensate (see the small lightening bolt top right corner). Once you have the colour, tap the circle to capture it. Want to save the colour? Hit the little save icon.

Here’s a sampling of how it works:

Screen capture of the Colour Picker app picking the blue off an awning Screen capture of the Colour Picker app picking out a shade of green Screen capture of the Colour Picker app picking out blue from the sky

It’s remarkably accurate, even from a distance. The #5d739a blue was captured from an awning blocks away from where I was standing. The app did a pretty good job isolating the correct shade.   Once you have the colours saved, you can create colour pallets or just save individual colours.  To see the RGB, hex and HSV codes tap the colour and up comes the info.

Colour Picker pallet Screen capture of the colour blue codes Showing colour red pallet

As a bonus, you can share the colour values with someone via email. The program clips a small colour chip to the attachment and sends the three colour codes. This is great for collaborative projects. 

The developer has a small video demonstrating the app’s functions.  Follow this link to download the app to your Android phone.

Video email signatures – next fad in pissing off customers

Video email signatures – next fad in pissing off customers

A friend spotted this and posted it on his FB feed:

Screen capture of site promoting video email signatures

Email signatures – the next phase in pissing off customers

After my initial knee jerk reaction passed, I settled down into a deep loathing of the idea, as did pretty much everyone I polled.  It’s a disasterous digital marketing concept that should have the plug pulled before it even gets off the ground.  The concept is straight out of a scammer’s wet dream. Create a little video of yourself promoting your product/self/company and use it as your email signature. First, the pitch should be in the email itself, not a superflous link that takes me to an external site so I have to listen to more blather. It’s bad enough the internet is littered with autostarting video ads, now this?

Second issue comes from my perspective as a computer consultant.  I teach my customers to be wary of links in emails. If you don’t know the person, don’t click. You never know where that link will take you. There’s a lot of scams out there so better to be safe than sorry. I know others who do the same.

“If you’re on a customer-facing team like sales or customer success, a video email signature can help you connect with your customers on a more human level”

Well, if you have your video professionally done, maybe it might work. But emaills littered with thumbnails of Joe Blow standing against a weird patterned background with bad edit cuts isn’t going to cut it. I’ve watched a lot of promotional videos and ones done without the benefit of editing skills come off looking unprofessional or creepy.

Look, if you’re a sales team, you don’t want to irritate people. It isn’t a “pattern breaker”, it’s a one trick pony that will cause audience fatigue rather quickly. Unless you are 100% sure that customer will enjoy your video, DON’T. Signatures should be to the point – give me the info I want – name,  phone #, email, website. Leave off all the fancy doodles, artwork and videos.  There is already a serious sense of email overload out there and this is adding to the problem.  If I start seeing this show up in my inbox, I’ll assume it’s more spam and toss it without ever giving the person a chance.

How about using this as your pattern breaker – be concise. Don’t add to the fatigue.

Screen capture is from “How to make a video email signature


Oh I like this! A new Edge extension for YouTube

Oh I like this! A new Edge extension for YouTube

I was poking the Microsoft store with a stick again to see what would fall out and look what tumbled out: Enhancer makes a number of changes in the way YouTube behaves, including volume control with a quick flick of the mouse wheel. It does other stuff too, but the ability to scroll the volume is exciting. Yea, yea, I really need to get out more, but seriously, it’s great. Enhancer, by MRFDEV Web Development, offers a number of options, including blocking ads, disable auto play, set automatic screen size, and much more. It’s worth a trip to the store to check out, especially if you watch a lot of YouTube. I personally like the option to preset the video to start on a specific screen size and quality and disable auto play.

Small list of features for EnhancerOne screen of the possible changes Enhancer can make to Youtube


The only teeny thing I have to complain about is accessing the controls. They are placed at the very bottom of the page (very unobtrusive) and occasionally a bit tricky to click. I have a couple customers who have control issues and wouldn’t be able to tap that tiny control panel without a major hassle. It would be nice if the pop up was a little larger.

A screen grab showing Enhancer Controls at the bottom of the page To download it for Edge browser, fire up the Store app and search for Enhancer. It also comes in Chrome, Firefox and Opera flavours so you get to choose which browser you prefer.


My perpetual whine about extensions for MS Edge at an end – Web Developer Checklist

My perpetual whine about extensions for MS Edge at an end – Web Developer Checklist

Last time I looked at Microsoft Store’s extension offerings, it was a forlorn and desolate place. Not a lot available, much to my ever loving annoyance. I like playing around with extensions, even silly useless ones. Today I decided to see if there’s been an increase and what do you know, the offerings have grown to 42! Still not a lot of choice, but a marked improvement since Christmas.

I decided to test drive an extension called Web Developer Checklist by Mads Kristensen. It turned out to be anything but silly and a potential boon to web designers.

It’s the only offering in the Microsoft Store by the developer, and is available also for Chrome and Firefox. It’s a kickass little extension designed to help web developers check that they are using best  practices on their site. Everything is compact and easy to use with a lot of helpful information, quickly accessible with a mouse click.

Handy little extension to have. It tipped me off to a couple improvements I should be exploring.

My sole complaint is a minor, quirky one. The screen on the left is from Firefox and the one on the right is from Edge:

It took me a few minutes to figure out the ace was a misinterpreted check mark. Like I said, very minor issue.  Other than that, there are no real issues. I was interested in seeing it snagged a few different issues with each browser. That’ll be a project to look at tomorrow.

Visit Mads Kristensen’s website here


Distractions & fun courtesy of Microsoft Bing

Distractions & fun courtesy of Microsoft Bing

As if there aren’t enough time wasting things online, Microsoft offers a few simple, free games to help you along in your work avoidance endeavours. Wander over to and click on the little hamburger grid on the top right corner: Bing's Fun and Games

You don’t need to sign in or have a Microsoft account to play they work on all the major browsers.  Hidden away are  a variety of games ranging from trivia to jigsaw puzzles to suduko. Some are quite challenging (Suduko comes to mind) while others are basic and far too easy. Great if you don’t want to concentrate and only have 5 or 10 min to kill.

Here’s a sampling:

The jigsaw puzzles are limited and easy to slap together. I managed the “hard” one in under 3 min.   Good if you want to turn your brain off for a few minutes.

Screen capture of Bing's crossword puzzle

Rubiks cube is fun to piss around with, but alas, like the cube in real life I’m hopeless.

Screen capture of Bing's Fun and Games Rubik's cube And yes, Suduko is offered:

Screen capture of Bing's Suduko game

You are given the option of easy, medium and hard games. Hopefully the hard option is better than the shamefully easy to solve jigsaw puzzles. Give it a whirl, it’s free.

Bing’s Fun and Games offers suduko, sliding tiles, Rubiks, crosswords, jigsaws, 2048, trivia challenges, and a geography quiz. For those of you who prefer a hard copy of your suduko or crossword, skip down to the bottom of the page and click on Bing’s printable puzzles. Here, you can pick the puzzle you are interested in. If you’re a hard core suduko fan, look at the top of the Bing page where all the categories are strung out and click on 3D suduko. Be warned – not all the puzzles offered come with solution sheets. Like I said – hard core! This feature simply takes you to the Bing search page, so you can fine tune your search.

More ways to avoid work, hidden in the Bing menu. Enjoy. Hopefully Microsoft will bump up the challenge level and offer more games in the future.




Win 10 Creators update – how’d my old laptop do?

Win 10 Creators update – how’d my old laptop do?

Screen capture of settings panel on Creators Update
I took the plunge and upgraded to the Win10 Creators edition last week.  Couple of reminders – make sure you’ve done a backup before doing any major update. Chances of something going wrong are small, but you never know.  Microsoft has issued a warning, when this article was published, that there may be issues with Bluetooth connectivity after the update. They are working through problems now. So, unless you love troubleshooting or don’t use Bluetooth, hold off on forcing the Creators update.

The install:

Oh my, it took a long, long time to install. Painfully long. So long, I was convinced something had gone wrong.  It took a staggering 3 ½ hrs to install (not counting the download).  My laptop is about 4 years old so it should install faster on a new machine. But patience is needed.

First look:

The first time I put the machine to sleep, I was faced with the dreaded screen of death. The system crashed when waking.  Turns out to have been a very simple issue – one bad driver. That’s it, reinstalled the wifi driver and things have been rocking along since then.


Wow – big improvement in overall stability. As I said, I’m using an older laptop, abt 4 years old and it’s a bit slow now and periodically freezes when opening large apps. I’ve been holding off getting a new machine until the new AMD chips are available for laptops. Since the upgrade, the freezes have all but vanished and apps & programs open quicker. To be honest, I’m surprised. I didn’t expect a noticeable difference. But, yea, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Wamp etc are all running smoother and faster.

Turning on Game Mode in the options panel seems to have given the entire computer an impressive boost in speed. So, that’s an option I’d recommend you turn on if you’re working with an older machine. Not really sure if it will make a difference on a new computer, but give it a try anyway. But on my over used and much abused laptop, both gaming mode and Creators has given it a new lease on life.

The initial bootup though hasn’t seen an improvement. Is it faster? Hmm, maybe a bit. But not enough to jump up and down about.

Edge browser has seen a significant increase in stability and speed.  While I like Edge and felt there was much potential in the browser, I have had a few beefs with it’s stability. It has a nasty habit of failing to load pages that Chrome and Firefox breeze by. As well, it would lock up on a lot of page running scripts with maddening regularity, again pages that Chrome and Firefox had no issues with.  It’s faster and, at least on my machine, rock solid. It blasts past pages that previously hung it up.

A few more extensions are showing up in the Microsoft Store, with a couple worth looking into now that the Edge stability has improved. Oh and the store? Can’t believe it’s the same store I bitched about so much in the early days. It loads fast – no more little circle in an endless loop of anticipation.  If you haven’t looked at Microsoft Store yet, do. It’s worth the time.

One major irritant has been fixed.  The feature to disable the trackpad mouse when an external is plugged in, stays enabled.  It’s one of those things that got under my skin and thankfully it works now.

The new trouble shooting tools are huge leap forward, especially for the average user who doesn’t have a nerd friend to come over and fix things. The previous offerings were spartan and didn’t really do much. I never found them terribly useful. The trouble shooting tab (found in Update & security) has a substantial list of tools to fix the usual suspects.


Reports are true, users can no longer disable updates. Yes, we should all keep our systems up to date, but there are times when you don’t want an update to come screaming through.  I can see this being a problem down the road.

The control panel is still there, but gone is quick access via right click on the start menu. I nearly had a panic attack when I first tried to access it.  If you’re like me and you see control panel as a security blanket, you can use search to find it.  Right click on the icon in the search window and pin it to the Start menu or Task bar for quick access. The bulk of features are easily found in All Settings, but sometimes it’s easier to rustle around in the control panel.

Nice features:

Mail has been revamped. It seems to be less buggy and obstinate. I found the constant freezes or refusal to retrieve mail frustrating. To date, the integration with Edge is faster.

There is a nice feature which can’t be accessed on all accounts if you have more than one email account installed. It’s the “Other” feature. Flakey name aside, you can now sort your email into “Focused” and “Other”. Focused presumably be the important, primary emails and “Other” a holding pen for non-priority mail like newsletters or mail from the relative who sends 20 joke emails a day.  Word has it, MS is planning on expanding it to function on all accounts, but until then, it’s available on the primary email only.

Win10 now comes with a night light that dims the blue haze that screens/monitors cast.  The problem with monitors is they cast a blue light that tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime. Makes it harder for the brain to shut down. Microsoft now gives you the option to turn off the blue in favour of softer, warmer colours. These are easier on both the brain and the eyes. Users can set a timer so the night light effect turns on automatically.  Here’s a tip if you’re a migraine sufferer – use night light if you don’t have the luxury of stopping work. Makes big difference.

Lots of other features I haven’t fully explored yet, but plenty to play with, including the revamped Microsoft Paint program – Paint 3D. A cursory look is eye popping.  If you aren’t in a hurry to upgrade, wait until Microsoft pushes it to your computer. If you have an older machine, be prepared for a longish installation.  But while you’re waiting in line, make sure you do that backup.