Free For All: Grab Bag

Body: 

Multi-Lingual Placeholder Text

I love Lorem Ipsum as much as the next designer, but after so many, many (many) years of using it, it can get boring. Even more importantly, Lorem Ipsum’s bastardized Latin doesn’t include accented characters common to, well, every Latin-based language except English. Therefore, if you’re trying to fill a non-English copy hole or examining a fuller range of a font’s character set, Lorem Ipsum isn’t your best choice for dummy text. Unfortunately, even the internal dummy text creators in InDesign, Illustrator, and QuarkXPress suffer from the same limitation—unaccented, English-based text generation.

AdhesionText is a free solution to these and other problems. This nifty browser-based generator will generate for you dummy text with or without punctuation, numbers, and accents, and you can choose the case of the text—sentence case (the default), UPPERCASE, lowercase, and Title Case. And, it does all of that in all the following languages:

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Catalan
  • Portuguese
  • Dutch
  • Turkish
  • Russian
  • Ukranian
  • Greek
  • Greek Monotonic
  • Armenian
  • Arabic
  • Persian
  • Hebrew
  • Bengali
  • Devanagari
  • Gujarati
  • Sinhala
  • Malayalam
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Khmer
  • Hangul/Korean

To use it, first choose the language set from the top-right. For instance, if you wanted to generate Ukrainian placeholder text, choose the Cyrillic set; for English, French, Dutch, and other Latin-based languages, choose the Latin set. Then, in the "Insert Characters" column, click on the lowercase/mixed case or uppercase set to insert the correct codes into the Characters field on the left, set the Language field to match, choose your options, and click Get Text. The resulting dummy text will be generated below the form, ready for you to copy.

Placeholder Image Generator

Now that we’re armed with a better than average dummy text creator we need a dummy image creator as well. That’s where the humbly-named Random Image Generator comes in. It’s a browser-based tool that quickly creates for you any number of dummy, for placement only graphics in sizes you specify. The images the generator creates are from simple abstract patterns, so your clients will never confuse them for the real thing. Just enter the dimensions of the images you need in pixels, set how many images you want the generator to produce, and then select a style of abstract pattern, or choose Random to get a nice selection, and then click the Go! button. If you need FPO images for print projects, don’t fret: pixels are roughly equivalent to points, so simply enter the point dimensions of your image placeholder into the Random Image Generator.

Chromo Color Clock

Chromo is from the minds who blend science and culture through design at Prote.in. It’s a little different than the type of freebie I usually cover in Free for All. It’s not imagery or code you can include in client projects, nor is it an add-in to a popular design application; it’s a freebie for your use specifically. In and of itself that’s not new to Free for All—I cover plenty of freebies to enrich the lives and businesses of designers themselves, things like apps to run your business, screensavers and wallpapers to enliven your environment, and even, once four years ago, print-your-own Halloween masks of political candidates. This freebie, Chromo, could prove as trivial and fleeting an interest as those Barack Obama and Sarah Palin masks, or it could become a valuable health- and productivity booster for you.

Chromo is a clock that displays the date and time in a unique fashion for a unique purpose. The block on the left—yellow at this time—is the day and date. Its color corresponds to the Lunar Chromo, the upper scale, below the two blocks. The color of the day is determined by the position of the day in the lunar cycle, with the New Moon falling on orange then progressing through the spectrum into magenta (First Lunar Quarter), cyan (Full Moon), green (Last Lunar Quarter), and back to orange and red in the New Moon phase. Similarly the time of day in the right block is presented in its own 24-hour spectrum, beginning with cyan at midnight moving through green, yellow, orange, red, magenta, purple, blue, and then back again to cyan as the day draws to a close. Leave Chromo onscreen long enough and you’ll see the blocks to either side making those transitions.

The purpose to all this color-coding of time is to improve mental and physical health. It’s an experiment by Prote.in based on a theory that visual input—specifically colors—have an effect on the amounts and timing of the release of the hormones serotonin and melatonin, which, if you aren’t aware, are major contributors to one’s mood, anxiety levels, and even sleep and hunger rhythms. The theoretical purpose of Chromo is to help regulate those hormone levels by exposing the brain to colors that stimulate their release in the proper amounts, at the proper times. Therefore Chromo, Protein believes, could potentially cure jeg-lag, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and other light/time related illnesses. This jibes with other SAD treatments I’ve heard of because Seasonal Affective Disorder, a large concern during this time of year, is the result of the brain not receiving enough sun-temperature light and possibly, by inference thereby, warm colors.

Is Chromo the cure? I have no idea, but the science behind it makes sense to me. Is Chromo cool? Yes, definitely. I’ve had it displaying on my computer in a desktop widget of sorts for over a month now. But it’s not only cool as a clock you can use, it’s also a neat example of what can be programmed in Flash.

At best, Chromo could help you maintain your mental health this fall and winter, which, of course, has a direct bearing on your work. At worst, Chromo is a cool gadget to watch for a few minutes. Either way, give it a tick or two.

Calculate Your Hourly Freelance Rate

How do you determine your hourly rate? Guessing? Do you base it on your competitors’ rates? Hopefully you don’t determine your rates based on averages you see in Elance.com and other sites because that’s a no-win exercise in futility. Many of us freelance creatives fall into the same trap of under-charging for our services. Let’s face it: we’re right-brain creatives, that’s what makes us so good at our jobs. Doing the numbers, determining how much we need to make per year, per month, per day, per hour, in order to pay the bills and enjoy the lifestyles we want is a totally left-brain activity, so some of us struggle with it. If you share in that struggle, this next freebie is for you.

Named appropriately Your Rate, this simple form will figure out for you what you need to charge per hour. All it asks is three simple questions: How much money do you need and want to make per month? How many hours per week do you want to work? and How many weeks of vacation would you like to take each year? This last question in particular is easily forgotten by freelancers when calculating rates, so I’m very glad to see it included in the form. Answer those three questions and the Your Rate form will return your new hourly rate. Charge that for the same number of hours per week that you enter in the second field and you will make your monthly nut from the first field. It’s simple cause and effect.

Free Fonts

Now that you’ve checked out a few freebies that require a bit of thought, here’s a selection of no-brainer goodies to grab—free fonts!

Polaris

Lorena

Beaver

Comfortaa (3 Weights)

Franchise Bold

What can I find free for you? Want more free fonts? More Photoshop brushes? How about more online applications that do this or that for free? Tell me in the comments what you’d like to see in future installments of Free for All, and I’ll do my best bloodhound impression to track it down for you.

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.

Liked This? Read These!

Site offers free custom placeholder images for web and print work Read More
P22 announces the P22 Music Text Composition Generator, a free online music utility that allows any text to be converted into a musical composition. This composition is displayed in musical notation... Read More
Dummy Text Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet. That Latin-esque nonsense phrase is forever imprinted on the gray matter of generations of creative professionals. Even most clients know it, or at... Read More