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Today, we are pleased to announce Open Design Kit - a collection of remixable methods designed to support creativity and problem solving within the context of the agile and distributed 21st century workplace. We are creating this kit to share the techniques we use within our open design practice at Bocoup and teach to collaborators so they can identify and address design opportunities. As of the publication of this post, the kit can be accessed in a GitHub repository and it contains a dozen methods developed by fifteen contributors – designers, educators, developers from in and outside of Bocoup.

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Designing in a vacuum is challenging. It’s more than challenging - it’s hard, painful, sad, depressing, defeating, pointless, infuriating, lonely - you get my point? It can potentially be debilitating for a creative to be working in a silo, which from time to time could happen on a project. To address this, we are experimenting with some techniques to support pair designing at Bocoup.

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In between client work and working with my design colleagues on an internal project, I’ve been busy creating a Bocoup style guide. One of the fantastic things about Bocoup is that we make a lot of the tools we use to track our work, schedules, and skills—but we didn’t have an easy way for anyone who was making a tool to theme it in something that looked like Bocoup. What often happened is Bocoupers cobbled together styles in the best way possible from the sources available, scouring our repos for what could be reusable.

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Recent communication apps, like Slack, have lowered the barrier of entry for the use of bots to increase productivity. There are many techniques that I, personally, have tried in the past for time management, but none that I ever ended up fully adopting. Despite that, I always have been fascinated with what my colleagues were using.

I've known about the Pomodoro Technique for years, but incorporating it into my workflow has always felt interruptive. I had all but forgotten about the approach until our design team presented how they were using it recently.

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We've long been making bots with hardware, now we're making them with software too!

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Today, we're proud to announce the launch of the Johnny-Five Inventor's Kit! You can head over to Sparkfun's blog to read the full announcement from our very own Jory Burson, but here's the quick version:

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This year Intel and Bocoup joined forces to show what you can do at home with the Intel Edison and Johnny-Five. We built a roving robot with streaming video and touchscreen controls in a few days using off-the-shelf parts and under 600 lines of code. We named it Reconbot.

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In just my first weeks at Bocoup, I’ve been learning a lot about performance and how to make a site smoking fast. Recently, we were hired to audit and help a client understand what they could do to improve their site speed, and through this project I learned the nuts of bolts of actually implementing some of the things I’ve been reading about.

Audit

The first part was figuring out how the site was doing. I spent a lot of time learning how to use Web Pagetest and PageSpeed Insights and testing URLs to get a baseline understanding of where the site was at. It seems, from the outside, like this should be boring, but I actually found it fascinating.

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When you need to grow some plants, you can hire any ol’ gardener. When you need to grow Bocoup, only one Gardner will do: Lyza Danger Gardner!

Originally hailing from Oregon—where she co-founded the high-flying CloudFour—Lyza is now our second Bocouper living in the forests of Vermont.

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Last year we had a successful Knight Foundation Prototype Grant-funded collaboration with the University of Washington Interactive Data Lab (IDL) to improve their Voyager data exploration tool. At the end of our collaboration we knew we wanted to work with the amazing team from the IDL again, so we were thrilled when Jeff Heer & Arvind Satyanarayan approached us to help build the next version of Lyra. Lyra is an interactive, open-source visualization environment built on top of the IDL’s Vega visualization specification language.

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