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Free For All: This Stuff's Worth Paying For, But You Don't Have To!

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Sansational Free Font
Available in three Roman weights, Sansation by Bernd Montag is an elegantly modern san serif type family inspired by Sebastian Lester’s Neo Sans and Neo Tech. The next update to Sansation will reportedly see italic versions. Until then, Sansation isn’t usable as body text, but it does make for sharp headlines or logo design.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Fireworks Toolkit for Creating iPhone UI Mockups
I heard a rumor that Apple has come out with its own mobile phone/PDA/iPod amalgamation. Although I can’t see such a ridiculous device gaining popularity, should you need to design apps or mockups for this iPhone thingy, you can get a head start using Meta*spark’s iPhone user interface elements. Contained within an Adobe Fireworks template (one version for CS3, another for CS4), the iPhone Mockup Toolkit contains dozens of vector-based buttons, dials, sliders, menus, and symbols that can be modified and incorporated into your iPhone mockup design.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Online Business Accounting
Looking for a free and friendlier alternative to QuickBooks? Ubikwiti (pronounced “ubiquity”) is an online accounting system that lets you manage clients, vendors, products, services, income, and expenses from any location with a browser and Internet access. You can record your sales and invoice clients; register payments received and track cash and receipt expenditures; and build P&L, tax-time, and many other reports to maintain precise control over your business finances.

The user interface is customizable and easy to use — as the site promises, “You don’t have to be an accountant!” If you are an accountant or a bigger organization, Ubikwiti offers paid applications tailored to various company sizes and industries. Freelancer and small-to-medium business folks may be fine with the free basic services, which include the features I noted in the previous paragraph. Also free is a personal account that gives you online checkbook and expense tracking.

For privacy and safety of your sensitive financial information, Ubikwiti secures user data on US-based Amazon.com data centers.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Smush Those Images
Even in the world of broadband, images online should be as small in file size as possible. They mean faster page loading for your visitors — and thus less chance they’ll get impatient and leave — and less bandwidth used by your site — which equates to lower hosting bills. Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks can all compress images during export to Web formats JPG, GIF, and PNG. However, Smush.It can really downsize things. Stoyan Stefanov and Nicole Sullivan of the Exceptional Performance team at Yahoo! created this Web-based, open-source image optimizer.

Upload your Web-ready images and watch as Smush.It wrings every last drop of space from them, or use a browser bookmarklet to send an entire page of images to Smush.It. Seconds later you’ll be presented with the results of the compression, showing how many unneeded bytes were wrung out, and given the chance to download all the newly compressed images in a ZIP archive. Watch out for file format changes, though; Smush.It likes to change GIF to PNG when doing so can save space.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Screen Caliper
This next freebie is based on the workings of a tool that’s commonplace on the desks of mechanical engineers, woodworkers, and gunsmiths, but rarely found in creative pro toolboxes: a Vernier caliper.

Caliper, a cross-platform Adobe AIR application, does at first blush what any other screen ruler does: measures the width of onscreen objects or the distance between two points. Take a moment to try it out and you’ll note several features that make Caliper different from the typical giant yellow ruler or screen grid overlay measuring tools.

This app from BetaDesigns can measure items by aligning the lower jaws to the outside of the screen object or by aligning the upper jaws to the inside. Although opaque (a usually undesirable feature in screen rulers), Caliper’s slim design and upper/inside and lower/outside jaw measurements make it less obtrusive than most see-through screen rulers. A huge plus is the fact that Caliper measures not just width or height on X and Y axes, but it can also rotate up to a full 360-degrees to measure distance at any angle. Clicking the right side of the screw-like graphic on the tool’s leading end rotates the caliper clockwise 1-degree at a time; clicking the left side rotates counterclockwise. Holding the Shift key while rotating constrains rotation to multiples of 45 degrees. You can move the entire tool around the screen in 10-pixel increments using the arrow keys while holding Shift; use the arrow keys without Shift to nudge it 1 pixel at a time.

BetaDesigns’ wish list for future versions includes alpha transparency, X/Y coordinate display, measurement in units other than pixels, multiple-monitor support, and application skinning.

Please note: Free for All will often link to resources hosted on external Web sites outside of the control of CreativePro.com. At any time those Web sites may close down, change their site or permalink structures, remove content, or take other actions that may render one or more of the above links invalid. As such neither Pariah S. Burke nor CreativePro.com can guarantee the availability of the third-party resources linked to in Free for All.

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Posted on: April 13, 2009

Pariah Burke

5 Comments on Free For All: This Stuff's Worth Paying For, But You Don't Have To!

  1. johnkramerdesign

    April 13, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    You might want to warn people that the free font has terrible kerning pairs (or none at all?)

  2. I think you just did, John. :-)

    Thanks for the tip. It’s a work in progress–sort of a beta type family from what I can tell–which in itself is very interesting. Hopefully future versions will bring not only italics (as promised by the designer) but also more glyphs, kerning pairs, and other features. Sansational is a great start, though.

    –Pariah

  3. Hooray! Thanks for the great email and freebies!

  4. To me, the screen caliper looks like a poor ripoff of the old iconico caliper I’ve been using for years. On checking iconicos’ site today I found that he’s now charging for it but it is still impressive.

    colaboy

  5. The second the Calipers popped into view it was clear that a tool was at hand which I’ve needed for all my years in computer graphics. It will be good when the already mentioned variety of units of measure will be available but, for now, it’s absolutely perfect and much appreciated in Hawai`i. HawaiiBill

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