George Cave / designedbycave.co.uk

Designing the interface.
Engineering the experience.

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Microsoft Teams video effects

This week, offices across Europe and North America had their first taste of remote working thanks to COVID-19. For many, this meant learning to use Microsoft Teams, which saw almost 40% more traffic this week than last. I wanted to experiment with making the video chat in Teams a bit more…fun. Zoom, the big rival to Teams, already lets you select virtual backgrounds. But the method here goes much, much further and it’s suprisingly easy to do. I’ll show you how!

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20 years designing for the web

This month marks twenty years since I started designing for the web. Back in May 1999, the peak of my front-end development was pasting mouse trail effects from Dynamic Drive. My first client site two years later used Frontpage Express to colour in table cells in a calendar. It would be five years before I got a mobile phone and attempted a special mobile WAP page.

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Chaining LCDs

The humble LCD screen is the staple display output in every electronics starter kit. They typically consist of a 16x2 character display, powered by a COB (chip-on-board) Hitachi HD44780U display driver. Sparkfun have a very cool video of this manufacturing process for these should you be curious. Despite higher resolution OLED SPI screens being quite ubiquituous, these displays still have a certain retro appeal to me.

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Orientation

Recently I’ve been experimenting a lot with understanding orientation data. Processing and interpreting device orientation seems to be one of the few areas where the Arduino platform of sensors doesn’t quite abstract away all of the technical challenge. The primary output from any one of the many 9DOF (degree of freedom) boards available is a set of measurement points for acceleration, magnetic field and gyroscopic rotation. It is not immediately obvious why combining these is not a trivial exercise.

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Better DFMA, with a telephone

Last week I bought a wonderful old rotary dial telephone from a flea market in Germany. The original intent was to gut the insides and refit it for a more digital future, however the internal design is such a masterclass in design for repair, servicing and documentation that I haven't yet had the heart to butcher it.

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