Meet new ARTHR!

Meet new and improved ARTHR

We’re excited to introduce a brand new version of ARTHR, our free online layout tool.

Since we launched ARTHR in 2009, it’s been the easiest way for our customers to design their own newspapers – just drag and drop content into a print-ready tabloid template. Our latest updates should make things even easier.

Here’s what’s new:

  • Cleaner, more organised user interface
  • Bulk image uploader
  • Choice of single page or spread view
  • “Delete” option for articles and images
  • Image and article banks so you can re-use content you’ve uploaded

We’ve printed nearly 300,000 newspapers made with ARTHR and can’t wait to see what you do with these new features. It’s never been simpler to make your own newspaper – try it out!

We’d love know what you think of these changes. Email support@newspaperclub.com with your feedback.

Posted by Sarah | Comments Off on Meet new ARTHR!

Filed under: announcements, ARTHR, developments, engineering

One Password to Rule Them All

Password security, while not the most glamorous topic in the world, is a massive issue for everybody. Companies with a distributed team sharing accounts (Twitter, Instagram, etc) face extra issues, some of which we’ve come up against here at Newspaper Club.

Our team is spread all over the world – London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Leipzig, and Boston – and until recently there’s always been a question over how best to centralise and share passwords for group accounts.

We recently did an audit (and produced a very pretty map) of all of our systems and services. This quickly established that we have lots of them – each requiring secure passwords, multiple accounts for different staff members, and the ability to be easily updated. Personally, I have more than 70 Newspaper Club logins and there’s no way to remember them all, let alone make sure they’re all secure.

So what do we do? The most sensible option: use a password manager.

The principle is pretty simple. Every account you use has login details stored in a heavily encrypted file (often called a Vault) which you unlock with a master password. Using a browser plugin, your details are entered automatically each time you log in to a different system. Amazing, right?

Even better, password managers automatically generate complex, secure passwords and store them in the Vault for the next time you need them. You can identify weak passwords from your dark past and easily replace them with new, shiny, secure ones. Still amazing, right?

There are many password manager options (LastPass, Keeper, Mitro, 1Password, etc) but at Newspaper Club we settled on 1Password. I’ve been using it for years and would argue it still has the strongest feature set for our purposes, plus it’s also friendly to use for non-technical users . It uses a a local file-based vault (meaning the encrypted file is stored on a device we own) rather than a cloud-based vault at the mercy of a big service outage or overnight bankruptcy.

With a password manager, your master password will become the most important password in your life and, if you use your password manager properly, it’s the only password you need ever remember. It needs to be secure and memorable.

password_strength

It may be surprising to learn that a password doesn’t need to be complex to be secure. The trick is to think of your password as a phrase rather than a word. To borrow an example from the always brilliant XKCD, the password ‘correcthorsebatterystaple’ (four random but common words) has 44 bits of entropy. The password ‘Tr0ub4dor&3’ looks better right? You’d expect it to be more difficult to guess? But that’s not the case –  from a computer’s perspective it’s actually far easier to guess, with only 22 bits of entropy.

Basically, you’re best off picking a phrase from a book, jumbling up the words, and using that as your One Password To Rule Them All. Change it regularly, check it’s strong, generate all your other passwords, and your local friendly CTO will be a happy man.

Posted by David | Comments (1)

Filed under: engineering, team, technology

We’re Hiring: Freelance Developer

We’re recruiting again! This time, for a freelance Ruby and Javascript Developer. You can work remotely or (if you prefer) be based out of our Birmingham or Glasgow offices. If you, or anyone you know, would fit the description below then we’d love to hear from you. If you’re feeling generous and are willing to spread the word on your social medias then that would be very helpful! On with the blurb…

Newspaper Club helps people make and print their own newspapers. Since 2010 we’ve printed over 7 million papers, built a tool for designing a paper in your browser, and launched a print-on-demand marketplace. We’re in the process of redeveloping several of our online systems and are looking for developers to join us.

This time around we’re looking for freelancers to join our existing technology department, specifically to work on our customer facing website. You’ll need to be comfortable writing solid, semantic, HTML, JS and CSS. Ideally you’ll be well versed in SASS and HAML (or ERB) and have a good understanding of Ruby on Rails.

You don’t need systems administration experience but being comfortable with Linux would be a big plus, as would using Git and GitHub to manage source code. Some familiarity with Configuration Management tools such as Chef or Ansible would help too.

As we’re a distributed team we use Slack, Basecamp, and Trello along with other tools, and clear communication skills are a must.

In return, we’ll offer a competitive daily rate, flexible hours, and a relaxed working environment. We believe in having fun, doing work we’re proud of, and going home on time.

If this sounds like you, we’d love to hear from you. Send an email to jobs@newspaperclub.com, describing why you’d be right for this role, with a link to your site, CV, portfolio, GitHub page, or similar.

Posted by David | Comments Off on We’re Hiring: Freelance Developer

Filed under: engineering, hiring, team, technology

An introduction from David

The Engineering Department

Hello!

I’m David, the new man in charge of our small (but perfectly formed) Technology/Engineering Department at Newspaper Club. I took over as CTO when Tom departed to pastures new (pun absolutely intended) a few months ago and I figured it was about time I said hello. I definitely wasn’t gently prompted to write this by our resident social media expert Sarah… honestly…

We’re now in what could be called Phase 3 of the technical development of Newspaper Club. Tom led the development of some cool toys when we were a startup, those were built upon and developed over the last few years, and I’ve now got the exciting job of directing and developing the tech to support the rapidly growing business that Ben, Russell, and Tom started more than 5 years ago.

A bit about me: I’ve been coding since I was 7 (1989!) and have fond memories of STOS on my first computer, an Atari 520 STFM. It smelt funny, ran hot, but was totally bulletproof and never let me down. I had pre-internet days of dialing into local BBSs and many blazing rows over excessive phonebills with my (ultimately quite understanding) parents. I spent a lot of money buying dodgy pirated games from the Barras and I lived through what I guess most people would think of as the birth of the modern internet. I even spent some time writing for a silly money VC funded gaming company called Barrysworld.

While the internet was sorting itself out in the early 00’s — seriously, it was rubbish — I spent my time working as a live sound engineer in venues and festivals. For a couple of years I co-owned and operated an art, education and event space called Boxxed, a shell of a Victorian warehouse that we converted and is now, ironically enough, a hub for startups in Birmingham. While I was there I was introduced to the pure joy of Ruby on Rails (as well as the horror of JS) and decided it was about time I came back to coding. That was about four years ago and since then I’ve freelanced, co-run an agency, consulted, and have now settled in at Newspaper Club to build some cool tools.

I’ll be making regular posts here talking about our technology stack, our infrastructure, what projects we’re working on, and what makes us tick. We’re a small business and as such there’s very rarely a dull moment — my Trello board has a ‘high priority’ list that only ever seems to get longer, plus we’re pretty intensively working on two super-secret projects that we’ll announce properly in the not too distant future.

So that’s it for now. Next time we’ll talk tech. :-)

Cheers,

David

Posted by David | Comments Off on An introduction from David

Filed under: announcements, engineering, team, technology

Some Downtime

A quick announcement from the Engineering Department…

We’re going to be offline from 8am on Tuesday 20th January for up to two hours.

Tom, our co-founder and Head of Engineering, has been down the server mines prepping our systems for a big move over to AWS. He’s leaving us at the end of the month so this is going to be one of his last big technical outings at Newspaper Club. You can read a bit about the clever bits here.

By the time The Great Server Move of 2015 is complete we’ll be able to use words like ‘high availability,’ ‘failover,’ and ‘nuclear bomb proof’ and not just be saying it to sound impressive. Unless it all goes horribly wrong.

You can still contact us by email at support@newspapclub.com, plus feel free to harass Tom on Twitter while it’s going on, he likes a challenge.

Over and out.

UPDATE: All done! Normal (AWS based) service is resumed. Carry on.

Posted by David | Comments Off on Some Downtime

Filed under: engineering

Newspaper of the Month: The Weekly Push

The Weekly Push, a digital tabloid newspaper for Facebook's engineering team

Our Newspaper of the Month for March is The Weekly Pusha collection of articles posted each week in Facebook‘s engineering offices around the world.

“The Weekly Push” is what the Facebook team calls the process of pushing out updates on their production site. Think of it as an advice column for software engineers.

The Weekly Push, a digital tabloid newspaper for Facebook's engineering team

The 28-page digital tabloid addresses specific challenges on Facebook’s codebase, with contributions from Facebook employees and help from the Facebook Analog Research Laboratory.

The first issue collects more than a year’s worth of issues tackled by the Facebook team – it’s valuable advice condensed for the company’s staff and an interesting look at the day-to day-challenges faced by a technology office.

The Weekly Push, a digital tabloid newspaper for Facebook's engineering team

The content is put together by Editor-in-Chief Roy McElmurry. “The Weekly Push started out humbly in the Seattle office,” he tells us, “where its content and simple format was well received. Then a visitor from Menlo Park spotted an article in Seattle and inquired about getting these articles posted in California.”

“Since then we’ve added several offices are are currently publishing in Seattle, Menlo Park, New York, Boston, Vancouver, London, and Tel Aviv.”

The Weekly Push, a digital tabloid newspaper for Facebook's engineering team“The topics for the articles were initially chosen largely for their impact in the author’s daily work experience, but topic choice shortly branched out to include employee requests and submissions.”

Today, articles are often suggested and written by teams that wish to spread the word about some best practice or little known product or feature.

The Weekly Push, a digital tabloid newspaper for Facebook's engineering team

Designer Tim Belonax lays out the content with a mind for sparking visual interest in The Weekly Push. “Each subject is illustrated using its title, providing a creative constraint as well as a consistent voice,” Belonax says. “Since the Push is always up around our offices a re-imagining of its presentation was necessary to draw people into something that is familiar.”

Flip through The Weekly Push in The Newsagent to see what Facebook’s engineers have been up to lately. Thanks for printing with us!

About Newspaper of the Month

Every month, we give a £100 Newspaper Club voucher to one paper shared in The Newsagent. If you’ve printed a paper with us, share your paper (through the settings in your account) for a chance to win.

Posted by Sarah | Comments Off on Newspaper of the Month: The Weekly Push

Filed under: case studies, digital tabloid, engineering, Newspaper of the Month, The Newsagent

At work with Tom

Tom

Tom spoke with Magculture about Caravan Club bunting and our new print-on-demand Newsagent. It’s up on their blog now if you want to head over and have a read.

Posted by Sarah | Comments Off on At work with Tom

Filed under: engineering, news and press, The Newsagent

Newspaper Photo Filters

 

 

all-pagesBefore a recent trip to Berlin I wanted to experiment with printing a newspaper to use as photo filters. I printed a single copy of a digital tabloid with a shape, pattern or colour on each page.

DSC_0008

The pages then work as filters. To do this, I expose each photo twice: the first exposure with my camera pointed at the thing I want to photograph and the second exposure pointing at the newspaper. This can be done with any SLR/DSLR or a smartphone (may require an app).

DSC_0018

The newspaper is ideal for a portable set of filters – light and easy to fold into a pocket. Plus, the texture of the newsprint adds to the charm of the overall effect.

DSC_0290

It’s easier to shoot the subject first and the newspaper second. Anything white on the newspaper page will be obscured in the final image, with detail appearing in the dark areas.

 

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I tried to remain experimental with these photos, not anticipating the effect the filter would have on the image and enjoying unexpected results.

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As an experiment it worked well. On the next paper I’m going to keep the patterns to a minimum and use simpler shapes and colours.

Posted by Ralph | Comments Off on Newspaper Photo Filters

Filed under: case studies, engineering

Long Good Read 004

Long Good Read 004

We popped into Guardian Coffee earlier to take a look at the Long Good Read issue 4, available today. It’s brilliant to see how far it’s come in just a few issues. (Find out more about the project.)

There’s a great selection of articles from all sections of the Guardian: from Doctor Who to Pussy Riot to Proteus.

This time round we’ve tried to explain what’s going on under the hood, with a natty centre spread designed by Ralph (at the top of this post).

Long Good Read 004

For each article we’ve unpacked the reasons for including it in the paper, showing how the algorithm (and sometimes the editor) makes its selection.

Long Good Read 004

Pick up your copy this week, for free, from #guardiancoffee in Shoreditch. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Long Good Read 004

Posted by Tom | Comments (1)

Filed under: case studies, engineering

New product pages!

productpages

We’re happy to announce that we launched some new product pages yesterday. We hope they’ll make it easier to figure out which type of paper will best suit your project, with a handy tool to calculate how much your newspaper run will cost and when it will be delivered. We’ve also added links to some brilliant examples of each size and style, to show off the many ways our customers have made the most of the formats. Let us know what you think!

Posted by Sarah | Comments Off on New product pages!

Filed under: announcements, engineering, news and press

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These are the posts from the Newspaper Club Blog filed under engineering.

We’re here to help everyone make and print their own newspapers.

Thanks for stopping by the Newspaper Club blog. Here you can read the stories behind some of the best papers we’ve printed—and meet the happy customers who made them. We’ll also post occasional updates about what’s going on behind the scenes and inside the presses.

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